St. Theresa's Prayer

May today there be peace within. May you trust that you are exactly where you are meant to be. May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith in yourself and others. May you use the gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you. May you be content with yourself just the way you are. Let this knowledge settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love. It is there for each and every one of us.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

NOTICE

Children are a gift from God. Motherhood is a vocation.

God never gives you more than you can handle. His grace is enough.

God knows better. He knows what he's doing. He doesn't make mistakes.

 

If this is so, than what God has gifted me with is just as He intended and He will give me the grace to fulfill His will.

 

Breastfeeding Molly

 

Can I have such confidence in this, when every day I wake up tired and dreading the work to be done? Or is it me, that in dreading it, that has not accepted the gifts He's given? Can I work myself into a state of dragging myself to bed late each night after a day of cleaning and caring for my family, and still be grateful? Yes.

 

I've grown bitter towards the life I asked for. How dare I scoff at God for what He must consider to be the greatest of blessings…

 

I see a messy house… He sees a lovely home.

I see piles upon piles of laundry… He sees that my children are clothed and playful.

I see lawn mowing, weeding, staining, repairs… He sees land to roam on, flowers blooming, and handiwork.

I hear children whining… He hears children begging for time with their parents.

I hear about our debts… He hears that we are providing the best we can.

I hear silence between me and my spouse… He hears our prayers of thanks for each other.

I feel tired and worn… He feels that I've been busy living and need to let go of unnecessary worry.

I feel lonely… He feels sad that I've forgotten He's always there and gave me a family and friends to lean on.

I feel unappreciated… He feels the same.

 

So when I look back on my day of sorrows and woe, stresses and chaos, debts and chores… I must consider what the Lord sees, hears and feels about my day and PRAISE HIM for it. Why? Because He gave me another day.

 

Another day to see, hear, feel and act differently.

Another day to be grateful that we are fed, clothed and sheltered.

Another day to be grateful for a yard to relax and play in.

Another day to be grateful for a home that memories are made in.

Another day to be grateful for my children and spouse who keep me company, love me and need my talents and love to make this day special for them too.

Another day to offer up my hardships and sufferings to save lost souls.

Another day to know, love and serve God better in all that I have, all that I am and all that I do.

 

I am so blessed, if I'd only notice.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Family Centered SIXTH Cesarean

It was out of our humanity that we conceived a child,

but it was from our faith in God and cherishing all life

that she was born.

Growing In Grace: 23w2d

 

An eighth pregnancy was definitely a surprise. But as before, we knew it would be a good one.

 

I knew I'd get bigger, when I was already big.

Growing In Grace: in my tummy wk38

 

I knew my youngest wouldn't be my baby anymore.

Growing in Grace: Little HandsGrowing in Grace: Last night as my baby

 

I knew we'd be maxing out our suburban.

Growing in Grace: Fully Loaded Suburban

 

And I knew it would mean more diapers, more food, and more self help books.

Modest Mommies: Cloth Diapering SetupMichalek Kitchen: Making freezer meals

Growing in Grace: Nighstand reading

 

But when I packed up our children for Grandma

Growing in Grace: Going to Grandmas

Packed my bags

Growing in Grace: Hospital Bags

And hitched a ride to the Hospital

Growing in Grace: Hospital Prep

We knew that everything was going to go wonderfully.

Growing in Grace: 6 Cesarean Delivery

As she was placed upon my chest and began to nurse.

Growing in Grace: Family Centered Cesarean

And my baby and my husband got to be there - the whole time.

Growing in Grace: Happiest Moment

 

She's beautifully perfect.

Growing in Grace: M 2 days old hatGrowing in Grace: M 2 days old

Just like the others.

Growing in Grace: Family Visits

Things went so well, we couldn't wait to bring her home, so we left earlier than ever before.

Modest Mommies: Infant Carseat going home

 

It's been challenging at home, but everyone has had their chance to hold and love her.

Homegrown Catholics: Saint Patricks Day

Growing in Grace: Big Sister

Growing in Grace: New big brother

Growing in Grace: The Girls 2014

Growing in Grace: Biggest BrotherGrowing in Grace: Big Brothers

 

It is NOT easy to be a mother of many children. But I love them, and I am glad that God called me to be a mother to such delightful young souls. It's not about me and what I want for my life. Most likely, it's about them and who they will become and the lives they'll touch. God has a plan for each and every one, even if I didn't plan any of them. Who am I to mess with God's plan!?

Growing in Grace: Mommy Selfie

God is good!

Friday, January 10, 2014

Family Centered Cesarean Planning

Edward is Born
We are so excited!
  A Family Centered Cesarean is the result of my search for the best, most natural c-section delivery I can possibly have. Thus far my doctor is on board and we're very excited for these little but marvelous changes. The main difference with this repeat cesarean is that I will be allowed to see the birth, hold my baby to my chest immediately and keep her with me during recovery. Minimal separation.

Here is the ICAN post about it:

And this is the inspiring video featuring the God-send of a midwife who made it possible.

This is a sample of the birth plan I handed over to my doctor. Most things already happen, but it's all laid out and my bolded sentences are my top priorities. Feel free to copy it!
BIRTH PLAN
During Surgery
  • No antacid prior to surgery. I will take 2 Prilosec the night before.
  • Put IV in my non-dominant arm, Not hand.
  • Get my husband in the surgery room asap.
  • I’d like a non-drowsy, anti-nausea med if possible (Zofran)
  • No sedatives after birth. I want to remember my baby’s first day of life.
  • Monitors on me to be placed on my back instead of chest to make room for baby.
  • I'm keeping my placenta (for encapsulation)
Baby
  • Please lower the screen just before delivery so I may see the birth of our baby.
  • Slow delivery allowing physiological autoresuscitation, similar to vaginal birth for clearing lungs.
  • If possible, allow the cord to continue pulsing after the birth so Baby may start breathing on her own while still attached to the placenta. About a 2 min delay.
  • Please allow for skin-to-skin contact immediately after delivery and evaluate Baby on my chest.
  • Keep cord long for daddy to cut while baby is in my arms.
  • No Eye Gel, No Hep. B vaccine. No circumcision. I will sign the waiver ahead of time.
Recovery
  • Once back in our room to recover and been checked as stable, we would like to be alone with Baby to nurse.
  • We would like to keep Baby with us at all times. If Baby must go to the NICU due to medical reasons, my husband will follow. My husband or I will accompany the baby for any out of room checkups.
  • I am willing to be up and walking as soon as possible
  • I would like my Catheter out early the morning after surgery
  • I would like to eat and have the IV removed as soon as possible after surgery
  • I will be nursing on demand and whenever Baby is fussy to help stimulate my milk to come in and to soothe Baby. No pacifiers or supplementing without my permission.


A PACKING LIST for a Cesarean Delivery
Sabrinas Here
Mom:
Robe, Nursing PJs, Slippers, Nursing Bra
Nursing Cover, Nursing Bracelet
Pillow with fun, identifiable pillowcase
Personal Hygiene and Makeup (teeth, hair, face, body)
Opt nursing pillow
Going home clothes (think comfy, stretchy)
Eye glasses & case/wipes

Great Dad - Tom
Dad:
PJs & pillow
Snacks/Drinks, cash for food
Camera, Phone, Contact List

Edward is Born
Baby:
(In same suitcase or diaper bag)
First photo and/or going home outfit
Pacifiers
Blanket, hat, etc
Car Seat (cover)

Edward is Born
Misc:
Ipod, CDs, DVDs, Books/Reader, Camera
Gum/Mints
Tape to hang cards/drawings
Opt Hobby - crochet/knit
Visitor Gifts, sibling gifts
Edward is Born

Thursday, October 24, 2013

My Natural Family Plan Worked

Well, not really. I've been doing NFP for years now, but we're still refining it. Apparently I'm more fertile than I thought I'd be early on in the cycle, and not always good at reading the signs. But we're always happy when it comes to adding another family member. Each one is such a delight, and we wouldn't change a thing.

What really "worked" is Our Openness to Life!

Large Family Baby Gender Reveal - Homegrown Catholics

Click on picture to enlarge and read our thoughts!

 

We are thrilled to announce that our "Brady Bunch" days have arrived [Except for Alice]. We are expecting a GIRL in February and she'll tie us up having 3 girls and 3 boys! We'd be excited either way, as such news is always joyful - after a short adjustment period. I must admit, I was a bit nervous at first - but I'm so giddy. In fact, I told Tom God's will is simply too funny not to smile. This was definitely His plan and not ours, but we're very okay with it!

 

(Tom is really happy too, the picture is just a joke!)

 

It should be an interesting year, as we sold ALL our girl clothes sz0-5T just last year. We also sold our bassinet, maya wrap, Breastfriend nursing pillow, playpen, and other baby items. Fortunately, I love to shop, sew and find bargains on Craigslist! I happened to keep the car seat and bottles, though I plan to give breastfeeding a good try again. (Doesn't work out for more than 3-7 months for me.) Our local Just Between Friends (second hand/consignment) Sale is on the calendar. And I'm already to sew up a Ring Sling, Car Seat Cover, Nursing Cover, cloth diapers and Dresses courtesy of my large stock of fabrics for my Modest Mommies home business.

 

Pray for us, as we are in the midst of deciding whether or not to stay and shift things around, add on, move or build. After buying a new nine-passenger Suburban, we don't have much wiggle room in our budget.

 

Blessings to all our family friends, be they small or large.

Tom & Melissa

 

Its A Girl reveal

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Done Having Children

Open to Life copy

How can I be "Open to Life" when "I'm Done?"

Many couples, whether it be after their first, third or sixth child come to a point where they decide their family is complete. We are ready to do new things we couldn't do with little ones, or perhaps we've maxed our finances and stress levels. Therefore, we've decided to not have any more children. BUT we're a couple who follows God's desire for us to be open to life and not use contraception or sterilization. Our only choices are abstinence and Natural Family Planning. (And we all know the abstinence thing ain't happening.) How can we be "open to life" when "we don't want to have any more children?" In this situation we ask ourselves "Why is it so hard, when we've done the right thing all along? Am I now being closed to God's will by not wanting any more? Why can't I have surgery when we're so certain? NFP was great for conceiving children, but how effective is it at avoiding pregnancy?"

These are great questions, all which I myself have pondered before and after each pregnancy. All eight pregnancies, including two miscarriages and five cesareans thus far. There is much that the church and its teachers have to say about this. But sometimes hearing from someone who's experienced this battle can provide the support you need to be confident about your choice to let God take charge of your family and be at peace with whatever may come.

3rd Pregnancy
 
Many have read My Pro-Life Story and know that in the beginning, becoming pregnant the first time was not as much of a joy as it could have been. My first pregnancy was while we were engaged, so the joy was dampened at first with shame felt amongst my family and friends for having had premarital sex. To some I simply stated that the difference between us and them was that "we got caught" because we chose not to use contraception. To others we simply asked for their prayers. Fortunately we were already in love and planning to have a family. After our wedding at five months pregnant, there came acceptance and we could move into baby bliss. We knew it wasn't the right order of things. After asking God for forgiveness for our poor choices in the Sacrament of Confession, He took that moment and made it beautiful. Years later, we can't imagine how our life would be without our first or any of our children.

In the beginning, many are not charting. They're not necessarily trying to get pregnant or not to get pregnant. For many, it just happens when it does. Obviously there are many who struggle with fertility, and others who postpone pregnancy until after certain goals are met. Then there are those like us who forget that we can have control over our passions when the time isn't right. The main point is, in most early marriages, the couple wants to have a baby. It's not a complicated decision at this point.

It was just months after she was born I yearned to have a child that was born of our married love. To be able to share the good news with others. Using the basics of NFP we had learned at our engagement retreat (which is not enough by the way) we followed my cycle to try to conceive.  My cycles kept getting further apart, as far as 70 days and no pregnancies. But finally God knew it was time for us to have a son. At the ultrasound, I found out that I was a whole month further along than I had thought. Before I knew it I had two children, a girl and a boy. Many commented on their beauty and what a complete family we were. Complete? Really, with just two children? I grew up as an only child until age 9, we adopted a newborn sister, and then when I was 15 my mom had my brother. My husband just had a brother 16 months younger than himself. I wanted our children to experience near aged siblings that would become playmates and lifelong friends. I did not feel our family was complete. After two cesarean deliveries, my doctor thought it wasn't wise to consider more births. At that young ages of 22 and 24 I didn't take the time to ask and research about VBACs and I didn't take more classes on NFP to space out my children as needed to heal.  I simply felt ignorant and powerless about what I should or shouldn't do.

Young couples need proper guidance by faith abiding couples in their parish and family. It's good to have that mentorship early on so a couple has a place to confidently go when they are not sure what to do. They need to hear that no person can advise them how many children is enough and learn how to respond to people who dismiss their calling to parenthood.

Some time went by, and I did become pregnant again only to loose him in the 6th week. No one had ever taught or talked about miscarriages, and the lack of support and information threw me into my deepest depression. After beginning therapy and anti-depressants we decided that it was best to give up on the idea of more children, at least for now. Armed only with our basic knowledge of NFP, we just tried to avoid fertile times. That joy of anticipating a child turned into a deep sorrow and it became harder to be intimate because of constant worry. It was very hard on our marriage and our faith. I was in a state where I didn't want to confide in God, and to me, His will stunk.

Couples, before you get married - go to a Natural Family Planning class offered by your clinic or church community. It will tell you so much about your body's natural cycle of fertile and infertile days. Know that there are support groups for infertility and miscarriages. You're never alone in this.

Now just a few months later, during one of those emotional, make-up sex moments… we got pregnant again. I was on anti-depressants and felt unconnected to my body and emotions. It was only days after I realized I was pregnant that I miscarried again. With me in a dazed state, it seemed clear to my husband that we had to become better at this Natural Family Planning or give into the world's methods of contraception.  Something had to change. I'll just say we didn't get to the research fast enough, because just a month later we were pregnant again.

So here we are, pregnant with our third child, fifth pregnancy. Fortunately the hormones helped balance out my disorderly thoughts and we were joyful once again. Therapy was a huge help. When our daughter was born, we went right off to NFP training for breastfeeding mothers and follow-up classes together to avoid pregnancy. It seemed the right thing to do because we were now at three cesarean deliveries, increasing the risk of rupture, and I was on medication. Three children, we felt complete, and life was fun. We were finally pulling our marriage together. Yet, all the while, the doctor kept discussing tubal ligation and other contraceptives. I wasn't prepared and he advised me to seek my priest's advice "in this situation" thinking there was some loophole to our faith for "someone like me." The following posts came after speaking to friends, priests, and researching.
 

Wicks Fathers Day (4)
What I still can't figure out is why it took me 7 years into my marriage and five pregnancies to find out what my faith required and what being "open to life" meant. Why aren't couples taught this during marriage prep? Why aren't these things discussed during life classes in school? Why aren't mothers talking openly about these things when we get together? The days of being hush-hush about our sexuality is long over. It's time for open discussion and adults feeling confident to research faith and science before making hasty decisions about their fertility. It is time for a generation that teaches teenagers and adults in appropriate ways, so that no woman or couple is left wondering or alluded way before they become sexually active.
 
As you'll read in those linked posts, it took a lot of research, discussion and encouragement from the right people for us to realize that we weren't being open to life as God intended. We were making assumptions because we had been so embarrassed to talk about it. But with our new resources, we were armed and ready for discussions with medical professionals and friends. We were ready to use NFP to avoid pregnancy the best we knew how, but we were open to the possibility that God had more gifts of children waiting for us. We were never again going to say "We're done" incase God wasn't done. The more we talked about it together and with others, we became more confident in our choice.

It was after this new streak of confidence that despite our best efforts, God made a way for us to conceive a fourth child, a son. This was a most joyful pregnancy because we put all our trust in God. We put aside fear, anxiety and past notions. Putting all our trust in God's plan for us, and the miracle of God bringing us this child, we couldn't be happier. He was conceived because we were intimate just before signs of ovulation had occurred. We followed all the rules, but God made a way.

Would you believe it happened again!? When he was two, God blessed us again! Sometimes in marriage, when you are truly open to life, and you're truly "excitable," you just say to your spouse in the moment - "If we're meant to get pregnant again, tonight's the night!"  And you're at peace with whatever comes. At this point it didn't seem so impossible to have a large family as all our friends were in the same boat and doing fine. At four we simply had a starter family, and now with five we were experienced parents. Some told me it gets easier after five. (I'm still trying to figure out why they say that?)

Branson MO or Bust

Now I must say, after five children, we realized we were maxed out for energy and parenting. Being open to life had a new meaning. It wasn't easier, it was harder. It wasn't about the multiple cesareans. It wasn't about the lack of space or craziness in our household. It became financially stressful to consider more children, and as a mother I felt at my limit. Last year I took a real grasp on my health issues and made some big changes. We started looking forward to having children growing up and not having to worry about a baby's needs. Homeschooling took up a lot of time, and dividing time amongst 5 children was often a challenge. We sold and gave away a lot of baby clothes, toys and maternity items. It was just this spring I was confident that God smiled at our family and understood we were okay with moving to the next phase of our family. I was okay that I had had my last baby.
 
Florida Vacation 2013

Couples reach this point at some time. As we get closer to 40 years old, we realize that we'd like to retire with children out of the house. We create new goals including vacations, education, careers, social and more. It is not selfish to move into this phase. It's a natural part of maturing and spending your time doing things you love to do as a person and as a family. At this point, being open to life doesn't mean getting pregnant. It means not changing your body by any artificial means that could prevent God from inspiring new life. Again, you need the confidence that God is in control of our lives and His way is infinitely better than our own.

Because of the changes in my diet and thyroid supplements, my cycle was getting a little harder to chart. It wasn't predictable as before. But I had confidence in the rules of NFP for avoiding pregnancy. After years of charting, I got a really good idea how it works.  I look back today and saw I did take a risk during a logically fertile time (thick mucous one day, followed by 4 days dry, intimacy, then a return to fertile signs with a peak day). So while NFP is 99.9% effective when followed correctly, God takes that .1% chance and can make it happen. God's mysterious ways have lead to my current and eighth pregnancy with our sixth child.

"We were done!" I cried. "God, give me the peace I need to accept this pregnancy as your will, as it is certainly not mine." I've cried in the arms of my husband, trying to add humor to let go and be happy. "Good thing we just bought a nine passenger Suburban!" This was not the plan we had. "Where's the baby going to sleep? We've sold so much!" I've prayed for reminders of joy this will bring to our family. "The kids are thrilled! They're already discussing names, like Yoda and Leia."

Anyone who makes plans that go awry are certain to be disappointed for awhile. Being pregnant when you do not want to be can bring horrible thoughts and feelings, but do not despair! Seek God! Because when his GRACE takes you beyond those ill thoughts, YOU CAN FIND JOY! You can make a new plan!

Writing this at six weeks pregnant, while there is much newfound joy, there have been moments of uncertainty. In those moments, I cry out to God for guidance, peace, grace, wisdom, and patience. All I can do is trust in God. He hears and answers me with one word.

LOVE.
Ludys 94th Bday
What does it take to be a good parent?
UNCONDITIONAL LOVE.
What does it take to accept unwanted pregnancies?
UNCONDITIONAL LOVE.
What does it take to move past infertility and miscarriages?
UNCONDITIONAL LOVE.
What does it take to manage a large family?
UNCONDITIONAL LOVE.
Where does this love come from?
GOD. Because GOD IS LOVE.
He inspires it, we feel it, we share it.

"Love one another, because I have loved you." - John 13:34-35

"Do not be afraid, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, surely I will help you; Surely I will uphold you with my righteous hand."  - Isaiah 41:10

"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, And before you were born I consecrated you…"   - Jeremiah 1:5

"Behold, children are a gift of the LORD, The fruit of the womb is a reward."  - Psalms 127:3

"Whenever a woman is in labor she has pain, because her hour has come; but when she gives birth to the child, she no longer remembers the anguish because of the joy that a child has been born into the world."  - John 16:21

"But women will be preserved through the bearing of children if they continue in faith and love and sanctity with self-restraint."  - 1 Timothy 2:15


All my love,
  "Fertile Myrtle"

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Prioritizing Your Marriage


Read my guest post entitled "Prioritizing Your Marriage" ! It has been featured on Hot Summer Nights. Every day in July you can read great advice and ideas for your renewing your marriage over at Enter Under My Roof. She is hosting "Hot Summer Nights" with guest posts from various writers including myself!  We'll discuss Marriage, Passion, Love and Faith!  

"Prioritizing Your Marriage" Links
*My Article on HSN
*The New Task List - free to print!




"Marriage. One of the greatest gifts we've been given, yet - sometimes - one of the things we take most for granted. This July, spend 30 days with us as we bring you a different article each day focused on real life marriages, passion, love, and faith. We'll be exploring things like: Keeping the passion alive (or where to go looking if it's missing) •  Making it through tough times • The natural stages & progression of marriage • Including God in your marriage • Ideas for alone time • Being married to a non-Christian • Celebrating anniversaries • Falling back in love with each other • The intimacy of spending every night with “the one” • What the Bible says about marriage  • ...and more."

Hot Summer Nights Links
*Posts Igniting July 1st
*Date Night Ideas Linkup
*Share the Love

Rules on Making Love and Babies


I have done extensive research about sterilization. Coming upon another cesarean delivery, I was told my risks of rupture increase with each surgery and pregnancy. (not necessarily true, but none the less...) I was faced with the decision to rely solely on Natural Family Planning or chose tubal ligation or another form of Birth Control. Well, as a practicing Catholic, I wanted to be certain that I was not going against the church's teachings. I wanted to know what those teachings were, and how they applied to my situation.


Thursday, June 20, 2013

Music to my ears

My girls are ages 5 and 10. I've been catching amazing moments when they sing or hum songs, not realizing we're listening. The songs on the radio can be captivating, and just like their Mommy and Daddy, they love a good beat to groove to. Not saying that we're the best at dancing or singing, but music moves our feet as much as our soul. I am excited to bring out the performers in my children, since they remind me of myself when I was younger.  [No Mom, please don't bring out the video again.] We are sharing with them our favorite old classics, finding new ones to enjoy, and helping them put Praise and Worship Music at the top of their song charts.