Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Story of My Snuggle Bug

I know it's been a while....."Circumstances alter cases," as Fr. Tim would say. It's been a flurry of activity around here, and no two ways about it. First the birth of my Sweet Little Pumpkin, then a death and funeral, then Thanksgiving, and here it's already Eleven Days Since My Snuggle Bug Arrived.

And so.....the story you've all been waiting for:

The Birth of my Little Pumpkin!


Two weeks ago, I knew that labor was going. It was Sunday afternoon, and after Mass we made a stop to pick up a few last-minute items (new shoes for two of the kiddos, a couple of other things), and I Just Knew that we had to come home. It was the same feeling I had when labor began for the Pickle.

But it was not to be that day! Eventually things petered out, but not before we had our midwives, Chris and Billie, and Pumpkin's Godmother T. here with us. They all ended up spending the night with us and then going home Monday morning.....without having witnessed a birth.


My Darling stayed home on Monday. I don't know what other choice he really had; neither of us had any sleep at all Sunday night, of course, so we two mostly rested on Monday. Nothing really happened labor-wise, but since Chris had brought the birth pool, I was able to spend some time just relaxing in the water. That was heavenly (!) and it allowed me to really relax my body, which I desperately needed to do.

Tuesday late afternoon we started up again. Not much really happened during the day, but that evening things got a little more active.

Until the pool broke.

(Well...sort of.) The pool itself is constructed of a rigid foam material, not unlike the mats you can buy for a layer of insulation between a sleeping bag and the cold ground. There is a vinyl liner that goes all the way around it like a sleeve--covers the bottom, comes up around the inside edges and to the floor on the outside like an apron. Then we put another layer of clear plastic inside it as Our Own Personal Liner. There's a rope that then goes around the edges to anchor the plastic and to put tension around the pool and hold it together. The only problem was.....the rope snapped.

Enter that fabulous layer of vinyl, which (along with me, CONTRACTING, for Pete's sake!) held the pool together while My Darling raced out to the garage to grab a nylon ratchet strap (like you use to hold down cargo on top of the car on a trailer) to put in the rope's stead. (Now mind you, we laugh hysterically when we think back about this or tell the tale to the moment, I was panicking, I assure you! But it really was such a comedy of errors--I only wish we'd had a camera set up to take in this scene!)

That's all fine and good, you think, but not only did we realize then that the liner had a tear in it (which we discovered because My Darling's knees were then getting wet...but BEFORE the carpet got wet, thanks be to God!)--so then we had to empty the pool, re-line it with different plastic (and we were out of clear, so we had to use depressing black!) and then refill it--but it was also enough excitement, thankyouverymuch, that labor STOPPED.

S. T. O. P. P. E. D.

Rats again.

Only to pick up again Wednesday morning--and this time, it stuck around to see what was what!

At last!

And while I was rather certain that my water had broken on Sunday afternoon, there was no doubt at all on Wednesday morning at about 10:45. I felt the tell-tale pop, and that pretty well gave it away.

Enter labor. Took off it's coat. Stayed a while.

I must apologize in advance--if I heard this from someone else rather than having it happen to me, I'd feel cheated. But this really is what happened.

Labor was a joy! I had intense contractions, but not many contractions. They were just effective is all. And the surprise was that they didn't hurt. At. All. They were work, yes, but not painful in the least.

So I labored about it. We called the midwives and T., and my friend V. (who was to be my doula). T. and V. were delayed for various family reasons, and by the time they got there, I was at nearly done, for Pete's sake...and the contractions had been good, but I still had some work ahead of me to do. Chris suggested that I get onto my hands and knees with my rump up in the air and my face in the mattress. I did. The contractions STOPPED. So we waited a while, told some jokes, talked about the weather (balmy, at 41 degrees--compared to seventeen below zero when My Monkey was born!), and after a bit V. asked me if I wanted her to use some pressure points.

Hit me! I gave her my hand and she went to work. And it Worked! More contractions, more work, but still no pain. And there was time in between these contractions. At one point I said, "We have enough time in between these things to go out to eat!" (Even at a place with ssslllllllloooooooooooooooowwwwww service, like AppleBees!) We laughed. We joked some more.

Then Chris checked me. I had just a little way to go, but still with some hard work to get done.

At this point, it was about 5:00, and T. and V. Just Knew...and they took the kids and went to McDonald's.

Now the pain.

But it was only for 20 minutes, and then I was able to get into the water. I gave a couple of good pushes, and there was her head.....and it was that place that by all rights should burn like fire...and it didn't. I reached down and felt her silky little head, and I was just marveling at it! I could feel the top of her wrinkled up little forehead and the sweet softness of her brand new hair, and I just smiled and smiled and said, "Hello, Baby! I love you! You're so soft!" I couldn't have gotten the huge grin off of my face if you'd paid me!

And Chris said, "You know, you could push the rest of your baby out and actually hold him!" (Because this whole time, we were convinced [by heart rate numbers] that it was a boy!) And it was like I suddenly remembered that...Oh yeah, I'm here to do something, aren't I?! Well, so I did. I pushed the rest of her out with the next contraction (and as with the others, there were about 4 or 5 minutes between them!), and literally just as Chris was lifting my Little Pumpkin up out of the water and onto my chest, the kids walked in the door!

I just sat and loved on her for a few minutes and then T. said, "Well what do we have, for Pete's sake?!" I said, "I don't know, I haven't looked yet!"

And I looked......and she was Our Little Pumpkin! Our Snuggle Bug!! Her birth time was 5:57 PM...she weighed 7 pounds on the nose and was 20 1/2 inches tall.

Reepicheep cut the cord. Monkey kept gently saying (through his immense grin), "Pumpkin is here!" Pickle was quiet and looked away a lot. (Typical 10-year-old boy, I guess!) The Frog was enthralled, but quiet.

Physically, I've healed very well.

And I'm trying to let my heart immerse itself in the joy of this beautiful birth, while at the same time being so intensely sad for our very dear friends who very suddenly and unexpectedly lost their little seven-week-old baby boy just four short days after my Little Pumpkin was born. He was not sick; he was not injured--he just simply...stopped. This baby was the sixth child in their family, but the fourth little Saint in Heaven for them (they've suffered three miscarriages as well). Beginning tonight, our family (and several others) is praying a Rosary Novena with this dear family in mind, set to end on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.

God has already allowed my Little Pumpkin to help begin healing the hearts of this dear couple. During the reception following his funeral Mass, they each held her--they asked to hold her. And God bless them, their faith is so strong that even Monsignor commented during the homily at the funeral that not once did he hear the questions that so many parents rightly ask, "Why us? Why our baby? Why our family? What kind of God does this?" No, their faith remains rock solid, because it is based on the Rock of Jesus Christ. They keep in mind that our children are not ours; they are His. It is a faith truly inspiring to all who know them, and it is a comfort to know that they have such solid ground. They will need it in the days and weeks to come.

Needless to say, it's been something of a roller coaster, both terrible and wonderful. I know full well that Satan does not want us to feel the joy of our blessings; rather he wants us to question our worthiness in God's eyes....and I do not intend to let him win. My humble prayer for myself is to stop allowing the fear of losing my own precious baby to override the joy of her birth.

Please pray, at this beginning of Advent, for all families who are suffering losses, that they may find hope in this beautiful time of year.

Pray also for the couples who want so much to bring children into the world and raise them up, and who find themselves in circumstances which make this dream difficult.

Pray for those who deny themselves of the warmth of the love of Christ, for whatever reason, that their hearts might be softened by the love of a Child.

And Rejoice! Praise the Lord that we have this lovely season of Advent to gladden our hearts as we anticipate the joy of The Birth!!

Friday, November 21, 2008

A little piece of Heaven on earth.....

.....and her name is Little Pumpkin.

It's a GIRL!

Born on Wednesday, November 19th--the Feast Day of St. Agnes--was my sweet Little Pumpkin. She came at 5:57 PM, just in time for supper. Weighed in at 7 pounds, and measuring 20 1/2 inches tall, with a full complement of dark hair.

I'll post her birth story in the next few days...but at the moment I'm very busy falling madly in love with my sweet baby girl.

Everyone is thoroughly enchanted with her, of course......especially the Monkey, who insists on smooching her at every possible turn.

More to come soon!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Nearing the end?

Chris will come today. Maybe she will take one look at me and take great pity and tell me that she will give me something to get labor really and truly going.

Ok, likely not, but I needed to say it.

I've gotten to the point in pregnancy when I can be up and around, doing what needs to be done--just in time, of course, for that point in pregnancy when it hurts to be up and around, doing what needs to be done. Not complaining; just being honest.

It's the point when I really want to whine and cry and whinge to no end about how uncomfortable I am, how much it hurts to walk, how it's difficult to sleep, how flipping from one side to the other in the bed is really time-consuming and painful, how I have to use the loo every fourteen seconds and yield practically nothing....and the thing is, all of it is true, but I'm trying so hard to keep things in perspective--so most times I just keep my trap shut.

I know that all of this is part of what brings about the new life in our family. I know that this physical discomfort is fleeting--it will absolutely not last, and when it's gone I'll have forgotten it nearly immediately anyway. I know that suffering is part of being human, and that so little is asked of me when seen in the shadow of the Cross.

I know that in a matter of days, I will be holding a sweet bundle of wriggly love, smooching little cheeks and smelling a sweet head, marveling at the velvety softness of brand new little feeties, and falling absolutely in love with another small soul.

Yesterday was a bad day. Yesterday found me all too human, breaking down emotionally, and taking my frustrations out on my family. Of course, I thought to myself, everyone is conspiring against Mom to make things as miserable as possible. The children cannot (or will not, for Pete's sake) stop their squabbles long enough to remember that they love each other. My Darling husband thinks it's cute when I waddle (can you believe the nerve?!) rather than noticing that every step is painful. All these things added up for a rather explosive temper fit on my part. There were tears, there was blowing of the nose, there may have been a raised voice and harsh verbiage. Never mind the part where everyone has been sacrificing around me to make things happen in our home--the kids are just kids, for Pete's sake, and have really been doing their best (mostly) to get their chores done. And of course, My Darling has been grocery shopping and cooking, in addition to keeping on with the addition, working full-time to support and provide for our family, and still he is loving and supportive of me emotionally and just takes everything in and copes with it.

I am well blessed.

Still, yesterday Perspective was nowhere to be found. Completely MIA.

And today, alas, is shaping up much the same way, although it looks like it might get better.

We have Mass tonight with our dear Bishop, followed by a dinner of appreciation for the couples involved in the Marriage Preparation ministry.

I hope there's Confession offered before Mass......

Sunday, November 9, 2008

....And here we are--Thanks Be To God!

We did it! We made it to 36 weeks. The Pumpkin is growing larger (and larger, and larger...) with every passing moment. In truth, I'm starting to feel a little nervous about just how big this baby might get! At any rate, we can now take each day as it comes, and whatever day this baby decides it's birthday should be will just be.

Chris came on Friday morning and gave me the green light to (as she phrased it) "get up and jump around" if I wanted to--which I do, but let's face it: that's not likely to happen at this point! My Darling joked that he would bring the little trampoline into the living room. At least I think he was joking!

Since I had the approval of my ever-wise midwife, I went with my family to Mass on First Friday. Afterward, we went to the home of some very dear friends for supper, along with two other families and Fr. E. and Fr. B. (who is our chaplain this year, since Fr. E.'s new duties keep him so busy he can scarcely find the time to breathe, for Pete's sake!). What a perfectly lovely time we had, with a big, delicious meal graciously spread before us by equally gracious hosts, several rounds of cards for the men, satiating conversation for the ladies, and general merriment for the (19!) kids. Just to be in the mix of it all was such a tremendous blessing, I can barely express my gratitude.

Thanks be to God!

Yesterday morning, My Darling took me and the Monkey along with him on some errands. Since it was my first time out in nearly a month, there were a few things which had long been on my priority list that I had hoped he would have time to pick up.

Ah-ha: the key word here is my priority list.

We stopped and picked up some odds and ends, along with a package of teeny tiny diapers for the Pumpkin, and The First Outfit. I'm not always so picky about what my children wear--modesty is always a priority, of course, but hand-me-downs are the standard rule of play. That First Outfit, though, has to be just the right thing. I like to have something new, purchased specifically for each baby. I've saved them, of course, with the intention of passing them down so that if they are blessed by children and choose to use their First Outfit for their babies, they can. I've been looking and looking online to see what's out there, but it's never the same as going and looking through the racks and touching the fabrics and imagining my sweet baby's face and hands appearing, dressed in whatever my heart settles on.

I finally saw something that was just right--a set of three cotton sleepers, with matching t-shirts, gowns, receiving blankets and hats. I have enough to put together an outfit suitable for either boy or girl, and now I finally feel like everything is in place, and the Little Pumpkin can make a grand entrance any time.

You hear that in there, Little Pumpkin? Any time. Any old time would be just spiffy.

I know that patience will be well rewarded, but it's a virtue I've never been blessed with.

Especially now that I waddle rather like a penguin.


Mass this morning was overwhelming in its beauty. My perspective was of one who's been deprived nearly of the very air, finally able to gulp in all I wanted all at once.

In addition, My Darling and I had listened to a presentation by Steve Ray while we were out and about yesterday morning. In talking about the history of written scripture and how unavailable it was to early Christians, he explained how people would memorize what they heard at Mass--the Scripture readings, especially. They had to; they didn't have Bibles unless they were the absolute upper-crust of wealthy, and even if they could afford them, there was a pretty high likelihood that they couldn't read anyway. (Bibles in churches were chained to the pulpit not to keep them out of the hands of the common people (who couldn't read them anyway--but could sell them if they chose to), but because they were so incredibly valuable that the Church wanted to keep them in a place where they were accessible to be read to all of the people. Their worth was about three years' wages for the average laborer at the time.) He said, "They memorized them as if it was the last time they would ever hear them. Can you imagine how differently you would view the Mass if you thought each time that it would be the last time you'd hear those words?"

Well that's a great thing to say to a hormonal woman who's prone to emotional outpourings anyway! (Yes, I sit on the throne as Queen of the Weepy People...and I hold court several times a day...) So while I was at Mass today with my family, this thought kept running through my head..."What if this truly was the last time I could go to Mass?" Not even in the sense that you never know what tomorrow will bring, just what if it was the last time? What if I had to live out the rest of my days without the beauty of the Mass? Without receiving Jesus sacramentally? Without hearing the Word of God in nearly every single spoken word that is part of the liturgy? Shouldn't I be absorbing every single word, every action, every prayer--every single time--as though that truly was the case??

Remember that air I was suddenly able to gulp?


I've cried at Mass before, but not with the sheer wonder in my soul at what a miracle it is that I can walk into any Catholic church any time I want and attend Holy Mass. People around the world die for this. Their sacrifice for the Mass is so inspiring that it has pushed me to feel even more deeply appreciative of the Sacrifice of the Mass.

I think Pumpkin sensed the intensity of Mama's emotion. While Mass is usually a rather active time of day for my sweet babe, things were relatively subdued this morning. Oh, everything's absolutely fine--we're rocking and rolling this afternoon--but during Mass, things were very subtle.

I can barely wait to have my beautiful baby in my arms as it is, and now in addition, I am anxious in my heart to have my baby in my arms at Mass. I want to bring this child into the church and allow the sights, sounds and smells to permeate this precious baby's heart and soul the way they do mine. Is there anything more beautiful?


Any time, Little Pumpkin.

We're ready.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


Four days left until I can putter around my home, nesting like the Mama Bird I feel I am these days.

My little nest has nearly lost it's charm, although I've surrounded myself well: books, laptop, remotes, cordless phone (what would I do without technology?!), a veritable rainbow of embroidery floss, hoops and needles, and a stack of pre-ironed towels to complete, basket of pedicure/manicure supplies, crossword puzzles--and all of this is to keep me busy between moments with the kids (of which there are plenty!)...and of course my Survival Kit: Bible, Rosary and Magnificat!

Four days. Four more (short, please Lord!) days. I can do four more days.


I've specifically avoided political entries thus far. While I enjoy a lively talk with people face-to-face, I don't necessarily relish getting into politics in a forum where just anyone, seen or unseen, can attack what they think are the entirety of my views and beliefs because of a sentence or two. I'll leave comments enabled for the time being, and we'll see what comes of it. I just want to be clear that I'm not making these statements to draw some big debate, and quite frankly, I don't know that I have the energy for one at the moment (I'm very busy...............).


I am upset about the results of the presidential and senatorial elections, although I can keep the economical side in perspective. We will see soon enough that the wealth has already been spread to those who actually choose to actively participate in our society. We will see soon enough that you cannot force an economy to grow "from the ground up"--the poor cannot pay the rich. Taxing the already taxed will not make this country greater. Encouraging reliance on government will only serve to increase our fiscal problems, but encouraging business development and healthy competition in the marketplace will help things move along in a positive way. (Did you know that the top 1% of wage earners in this country pay 39% of the taxes? The top 25 % pay 86% of taxes? And the top 50% pay 97% of taxes. This means that the bottom whole 3% of all taxes are paid by the bottom 50% of tax-paying wage earners. And that doesn't even count the entire sub-population who don't make enough, and so don't qualify to pay taxes--roughly 35% of the entire population! Thanks, all you "greedy, undeserving rich," for employing us, paying us, and then paying our bills. Spread the wealth, ha. Trickle that up!) Are you picturing me on my little cyber-soapbox?

That's all going to work itself out in the next couple of years though...because in two years there will be another election, and the next opportunity to correct these mistakes.

But that's not my real concern. My real concern lies with the ignorance of life, and the alignment of so many against the miracle of every human life, from conception to natural death.

I am praying for the Mercy of God to be upon all those who engage in or enable or promote the destruction of human life at it's most innocent and vulnerable.

This morning, as My Darling and I prayed together, and the Little Pumpkin was stirring as usual, the tears began and I could not stop them. I didn't even really want to try. So many lives are lost every day--lives of human beings who did not enlist as adults into a military unit with the intention of defending their country, and therefore understanding that conflict or combat could mean death. Lives of individuals who did not make the mistake of "magically appearing" where they could not know that they were not wanted, and will therefore pay the ultimate price for the sins of their mothers and fathers. Lives of tiny babies who are perfectly formed or not, who will survive outside their mothers' wombs or not, who were "planned" by human beings or not (because every life is ordained by God!), and who will be treated so cruelly that were we to see it in action on the street we would not hesitate to put ourselves between the violence and the innocence.

Please, God, have mercy on us and on the whole world for our silence, for our inaction, for our lack of compassion, for our sinful and willful neglect of this entire defenseless segment of society. Convert the hearts of those who seek these actions, and convict the hearts of those who fight for what is good and right.

May this time serve as a lesson in humility for all of us as children of God.

May the Divine's assistance remain always with us, and may the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercies of God, rest in peace.