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A Reflection on the Presentation

A Reflection on the Presentation

The Presentation of Jesus at the Temple by Giovanni Bellini, ca. 1469

And after the days of her purification, according to the law of Moses, were accomplished, they carried him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord: As it is written in the law of the Lord: Every male opening the womb shall be called holy to the Lord: And to offer a sacrifice, according as it is written in the law of the Lord, a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons: And behold there was a man in Jerusalem named Simeon, and this man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel; and the Holy Ghost was in him. And he had received an answer from the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Christ of the Lord. And he came by the Spirit into the temple. And when his parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the law,He also took him into his arms, and blessed God, and said:Now thou dost dismiss thy servant, O Lord, according to thy word in peace; Because my eyes have seen thy salvation, Which thou hast prepared before the face of all peoples: A light to the revelation of the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel. And his father and mother were wondering at those things which were spoken concerning him.And Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary his mother: Behold this child is set for the fall, and for the resurrection of many in Israel, and for a sign which shall be contradicted; And thy own soul a sword shall pierce, that, out of many hearts, thoughts may be revealed. Luke 2:22-35 

There were two aspects to Mosaic Law following the birth of a Hebrew child. According to the Law, a woman needed to undergo a period of purification 40 days after the birth of a male child. Secondly, a sin offering would be required to be made in the Temple. Although the Blessed Mother, by virtue of the virginal conception of Christ and her continued virginal integrity after His birth, was exempt from this aspect of Mosaic Law, it is a beautiful testament to her humility and obedience that she chose to submit to the Law, traveling to the Temple in Jerusalem with Joseph and baby Jesus to do so.

The typical sin offering was a lamb and a turtledove, but because of their poverty Mary and Joseph were allowed to make a sacrifice of a pair of turtledoves or pigeons. It shouldn’t pass our observation here that Mary was indeed presenting and giving her son to God, following the Jewish precept of offering the first born son to the service of God. This offering would be fully manifested 33 years later when He would become the unblemished lamb sacrificed as expiation for the sins of all mankind.

The Holy Family was met at the Temple by Simeon, who inspired by the Holy Spirit, recognized the babe as the promised Messiah. He took the Child in his arms and made several prophecies regarding Jesus and His mother. In particular that Jesus would be a sign of contradiction, destined for the salvation of the world and the Blessed Mother’s fate would be closely tied to her son’s even sharing in his suffering and redemptive work. 

The painting of this scene between Mary, Jesus, and Simeon by Giovanni Bellini is a fantastic work of Renaissance art. Mary and Simeon intently hold each others’ gaze; sharing this intimate moment of revelation. The Child is wrapped tightly in swaddling clothes but one cannot help but notice how similar they appear to burial wrappings–a symbol and foreshadowing of the prophecy just spoken by the holy man. 

The Feast of the Presentation, celebrated on February 2, is often referred to as The Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary or Candlemas.  A lovely tradition on this feast is the blessing of beeswax candles by the priest to be used throughout the year and in a procession for the feast–making a lovely connection to the prophecy by Simeon that Jesus would be “a light to the Gentiles”.

This brings us to a neat little aside. What do Candlemas and Ground Hog Day have in common besides falling on the same day?  Both have fun connections to the prediction of the end of winter weather. Just as Punxsutawny Phil predicts 6 more weeks of winter if he sees and is frightened by his shadow, the weather on Candlemas makes a similar prediction:

If Candlemas be fair and bright;

Come winter, have another fight.

If Candlemas bring clouds and rain;

Go winter, and come not again.

 

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Your Catholic Birthing Center Experience (from a Fifth Time Birthing Center Mom to Eight)

Your Catholic Birthing Center Experience (from a Fifth Time Birthing Center Mom to Eight)

Well, soon to be eight kids, anyway. ?

So…first…MY Catholic birthing center experience/s.* ?

*I do not actually birth in a Catholic birthing center. I am just sharing tips for Catholics to bring into a birthing center. ?

As I sit here, I’m staring down the barrel of my fifth experience birthing at a birthing center. Well, technically fourth (I’ll explain a bit further down), and between these experiences and the three hospital births, I thought it would be fun to share what’s worked for me over the years and what hasn’t.

I remember feeling like I needed to pack everything under the sun for my first labor.

My first hospital birth. I wasn’t necessarily a planner at the fresh young age of 20, but I thought I had a decent handle on what I’d need. Turns out, I hadn’t anticipated rapid labor being a part of the experience, something that would turn into even faster labors with each child.

My longest labor was with my eldest in 1996. I trusted the doctor’s input and he said the baby would be too big for my body frame, and suggested an induction. It did not occur to me at the time to challenge his opinion because it was commonly seen then as accepting the doctor’s opinion as the best acceptable professional opinion. Why wouldn’t I trust his expertise? And so, with a variety of choice labor inducing and pain relief drugs (one of which made me feel so loopy it felt like being drunk), I began what would be the longest of my precipitous labors at 38 weeks – 3.5 hours.

Each labor afterward would get increasingly shorter:

  • 3 hours with #2 (I was induced at 37.5 weeks due to too many signs of pre-eclampsia; the doctor barely made it in time)
  • 1.5 hours with #3 (I showed up for my induction at 38w6d already at 6cm). I begged the doctor not to leave to go back for his office appointments and ultimately he did not.
  • The fourth kid threw us all for a loop as we found out private insurance in Texas did not cover maternity, so we opted to go to the area birthing center. We had not anticipated pulling over and delivering him in the parking lot of the library in the middle of the night en route to the birthing center, but that’s what happens when I apparently don’t have an induction. ? At 38 weeks, my labor with him was well under an hour and I woke up just minutes outside of transition. My husband is listed as one of the “mid-wives” (mid-husband, really!) and it’s a story we love to regale every year, lol. That set up a huge amount of anxiety for my next pregnancy, and why wouldn’t it? No one – NO ONE – sets out to give birth in a car, and if my past labors were any indication, it was imperative that I have a serious birth plan in place. Giving birth at home unassisted seemed extremely imprudent, given that I was GBS positive with #4 and the statistics were not in my favor that that would not be an issue with subsequent pregnancies. 
  • From then on, I felt strongly that being monitored during labor was absolutely necessary. With kiddos 5, 6, and 7, my active labor at the birthing center came in at a ridiculous 20 minutes each.

So, now that you pretty much have the downlow on my labors, how did the hospital experience differ from the birthing center and what should you pack?

Birthing centers typically encourage a much shorter stay. The primary difference in the essentials is you need less of all items, and typically, the hospital will provide you with many of the essentials that a birthing center won’t. Though the time to stay varies from birthing center location to location, my overall stays have averaged between four and six hours after birth. 

I know a LOT of my friends love love LOVE hospital stays and sort of consider them a mini-vacation, lol, but that was never my experience. Truly, the birthing center option (that we fell into quite by accident, thank you very much awful insurance that doesn’t cover maternity) has felt more like a homey experience that has gotten better with each child. As a grand multipara, I have had the same midwife deliver all of my birthing center babies and I have appreciated her no-nonsense German (like, true legit straight from Germany) bedside manner. She has been – much like my German descent husband – the perfect for my birthing experiences. What I also love about this particular birthing center over the past 12 years is that they have a wide range of midwifery care, bringing in and sustaining midwives from Germany, France, the UK, and even Canada!  I have also been pleased to see their care programs unfold and seen how they have handled patients, including the expansion of the center from one office building to occupying two. They offer centering programs, in which you can join a small group of other moms due around the same time and talk about specific topics. This time I decided to “treat myself” to these small groups (a huge change from facilitating groups over the years at church!) and hopefully share some insights as the old lady momma of the group. We meet once a month and then every other week as we get closer to our due dates and our midwife appointments are wrapped up into those meetings. 

Something else I love is that the postnatal care includes not just me, but also my baby in the following weeks. This allows me to focus on care with one provider for up to six weeks after baby is born, vs. seeing an OB/GYN for myself and immediately seeing a pediatrician soon after. I should mention we have a great pediatrician who I get along with really well, but in those first few days/weeks, having one place to do a check up for mom and baby is SO much easier to coordinate than multiple providers, especially when you are already running on exactly zero sleep.

So now that I’ve given a small primer in birthing centers, let’s begin with all the things you’re going to want to consider bringing.


SPIRITUAL THINGS

// Tote bag – I would recommend a separate bag for these items, as you don’t really want to be pulling your bible out of a stack of adult diapers…I would hope. ?

// Personal photo for focal point

// Small religious artwork or statue for focal point – no need to overthink this. Chances are, if you’ve decorated your house in some small way, you probably already have something on the wall or in a frame that you can pick and add to your bag. 

// Crucifix for focal point

// Bible

// Rosary

// Candle – depending on the set up in your birthing room, you may or may not have space to set up a candle. Ask ahead of time to get clearance on that. You can likely pick up a candle from your home church or, barring that, the local Catholic store.

// Devotional

// Holy water

// Journal & Pen – it might seem crazy, but if you are laboring at home with a slower labor, journaling can be a great way to document the event and how it unfolds. You might even find that you want to write when you get to the birthing center. Typically, by the time you get there, they want you to be following the 4-1-1 rule of four minutes between contractions, lasting one minute, for one hour in duration at minimum.

// Prayer intentions – if you have precipitous labor like me, you can always do this ahead of time. I tend to take requests weeks ahead of labor, knowing full well that when it’s “go time” I won’t be able to focus prayerfully. If you’ve ever had the pleasure of a rapid labor, you know what I’m talking about. It’s like being pushed off a cliff, and so for that reason I decide to pray for intentions ahead of time. The best plan is the one that works for YOU. 

// Religious socks – these DARLING socks by Sock Religious will keep your feet warm AND do a bit of evangelizing for you. Our couples group gifted us and another couple some baby items recently and among them was a pair of these socks. I know what I’ll be wearing in labor!

ESSENTIALS FOR YOU (AND YOUR SPOUSE)

DURING LABOR

// Things to pass the time – playing cards or other games – mind benders, go fish, read, have someone come in and give you a massage or chiropractor adjustment, sing karaoke, write a letter to your bebe, order take out (to eat AFTER baby has arrived…trust me on this one), watch some Netflix or Prime on your laptop or phone together, distract yourself by answering some emails…if you are able, sleep.

// Electronic devices – phones, chargers, laptops, video cameras (if you’re still kicking it old style with your Super 8 ?)

// Music – make a few different playlists, from Gregorian chant, classical, jazz, piano music, or even rap or heavy metal – hey, no judgement here, lol. You just never know what you’re going to want to listen to DURING labor, so have a variety of playlists at the ready and just tell your loving husband to pick whatever you’re in the mood for. You might actually surprise yourself when you are in labor!

// Liquids (bottled water, sparkling water, Gatorade, broth, etc.)

// Light snacks – I’ve found the birthing center to be a bit more lenient with foods during labor, although I will say it’s probably not wise to chomp down on an entire meal just prior to or during labor. A granola bar, a honey stick, some ice chips…they all get the job done!

// Birthing ball – yes, birthing centers carry these, but they are made in various sizes and depending on your height, you may need something bigger or smaller. If you have one at home, consider bringing it to labor in.

// Sports bra to labor in

// Swim trunks for your husband for water births

POSTPARTUM CARE

// Homemade meal or a fresh quick meal from the grocery story to keep in the fridge to eat after baby is born. Birthing centers typically have an oven or microwave so you can heat food. Once you’ve given birth, have someone on staff throw that food in the oven and start warming it. It’s time to EAT!

// Pain medication – it’s important to start this RIGHT AWAY after baby is born and to continue care. Put reminders in your phone every four hours, alternating between aceteminophen and ibuprofen. More on this down below.

// Nursing bra

// Robe

// Change of pajamas

// Nipple cream

// Nursing pads

// Tucks pads or witch hazel

// Frida Mom cold therapy pack

// Heating pad

// Toiletries – you probably won’t be there long enough to use everything, but our birthing center has a shower, so take advantage of the help they’ll give you while you bathe after laboring! Then you’ll have what you need like deodorant, shampoo and conditioner, brush, comb, soap or body wash, a hair clip or tie. My guess is you won’t be up for using your L’ange products, but hey…you do you, Brand New Mom. WHATEVER makes you feel like a new woman is totes fine. ?

// Change of clothes – don’t forget your underwear…rather…just skip ahead to adult diapers. See more below under Care Hacks for You and Bebe

// Adult diapers – see below under Care Hacks for You and Bebe

// Comfortable shoes

ESSENTIALS FOR BEBE

// Baby’s going home outfit – you won’t need this until it’s time to go home. They tend to wrap the baby up nice and warm in a blanket they have. 

// Baby blanket

// Diapers – our birthing center provides a few, but if you plan to go the cloth diaper route, consider bringing your own with you.

// Wipes

// Diaper cream

// Car seat + base 

CARE HACKS FOR YOU AND BEBE

// Adult diapers – you think I’m crazy for saying this, but…you will THANK ME when you pick up a package and forget those flimsy little overnight pads in those first few days. Not does it get the job done, it removes all kinds of stress and worry about leakage and spills. Just do it.

// Nightstand must haves – have water available in large quantities by your bedside so you focused on healing and not walking too much soon after getting home. You’ve got your pain medication reminders set on your phone – great! Now, have them available at your bedside. Stay on top of your medication, especially if you are nursing. Nursing brings with it sometimes painful contractions as your uterus starts to shrink. Have some energy bars on or near your nightstand. Eating when you feel hungry is important, but make sure you are getting the right kinds of calories and nutrients. 

// Cord care – roll the diaper down to give that little belly button and cord room to breathe and heal. Don’t get it wet – you can do a wet wash cloth bath. Use tucks medicated pads to squeeze out the witch hazel onto the cord for quick and healthy healing. The cord will dry up quickly if you use the witch hazel with each diaper change.

// Navigating meconium diapers – the best pro tip I’ve got for you is to keep some olive oil on hand. Rub some on baby’s bootie and the meconium will not stick to his/her bum. If you forget to do this, you will end up with a 10 wipe diaper and a screaming baby who does NOT like all that rubbing on his/her bum. A nice thin layer of olive oil will keep the meconium in the diaper and off baby.

 

 

 

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Fatherhood Ink Slingers Loss Martina Motherhood Parenting Respect Life Vocations

Your Ultimate 2019 Pregnancy & Infant Loss Resource Guide

Your Ultimate 2019 Pregnancy & Infant Loss Resource Guide

Each year, on October 15 – National Pregnancy & Infant Loss Day, Catholic Sistas has made it a priority to share the vast and varied experiences of our writers (and friends writing guest pieces) on the impact of the loss of our children. This year, we thought we would share past posts (scroll down to the bottom of the post for a link to our archives on this topic), but take a different direction. Oftentimes, moms and dads have no idea what to do after they’ve been told of their baby’s loss. Add to this, many medical establishments (and sadly, even some parishes) are ill-equipped to even answer practical or spiritual questions, leaving the grieving couple (and children, too) to grapple and muddle their way through the trauma feeling isolated and alone.

This guide is intended to be thorough and give parents a place to through according to their needs, be it spiritual, in solidarity by reading through others’ accounts, or simply finding resources to work through the logistics of planning a burial, finding a Catholic cemetery that has a garden specifically for lost littles, and the steps for finding a priest to handle the burial rites. To make this guide simple, the information will be linked by category. If you have any additional resources you feel fit the scope of this post to be considered for next year, please don’t hesitate to email me at Martina@CatholicSistas.com.

 


NAVIGATING GRIEF

How do I break the news to my other children? This book, Loving Baby Louie, was written by grandparent and Catholic apologist and author David Currie and his wife Colleen. This family is close to the hearts of Catholic Sistas because their daughter, Alison, is a friend of Catholic Sistas. She wrote about the loss of Louie a couple of months after his death and before the book was written because she understood how important it was to not just share her story, but to reach other women and families dealing with similar tragedies. I invite you to read her story, and then purchase the book to support this wonderful family. Consider buying several copies to give to others in need.

My spouse and I are grieving differently. How can we best support each other through our loss? Grieving Together: A Couple’s Journey through Miscarriage, a book written by Laura and Franco Fanucci might be of some comfort.

How can I go about asking friends and family to remember our children through their grief? Though this was written for grief in times of sudden loss, there are some practicals that can be easily implement through the loss – miscarriage and infant loss.

A friend suffered a loss. How can I help both she and her family? Read this to find some good ways to help and read about some things to avoid doing in this time of great loss.

What if I don’t know if the baby was a girl or a boy? Prayerful discernment of a name is really all you need. It’s less important that you know the sex of the baby and more important to name the baby. If it’s something that is really pressing on your heart and mind, you can always pick a name that is gender-neutral. 

Should we name our baby? Ink Slinger Michelle does a beautiful job of sharing her own story of losses and the names they discerned. You can also share the name of your lost littles through the Shrine of the Unborn’s book of life in New York City or the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

Remember that this child had an impact on your life, and naming allows you to acknowledge his or her unique identity, as well as your own grief. You can pray for the soul of your child by name, as well as ask them to pray for you. Your child is now an intercessor for you, before God in Heaven, and a part of the communion of saints: according to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “Indeed, the great mercy of God who desires that all men should be saved, and Jesus’ tenderness toward children which caused him to say: ‘Let the children come to me, do not hinder them,’ allow us to hope that there is a way of salvation for children who have died without Baptism” (no. 1261).

A few options for naming your child:

  • If you are concerned that you might name the baby the wrong sex, try to find a gender-neutral name.
  • Look at the day the baby died, the day you found out you were pregnant, or his or her burial date, and choose from the list of Saints who have that as their feast day.

We weren’t able to baptize our baby before the loss. Now what? The CCC states in 1261: As regards children who have died without Baptism, the Church can only entrust them to the mercy of God, as she does in her funeral rites for them. Indeed, the great mercy of God who desires that all men should be saved, and Jesus’ tenderness toward children which caused him to say: ‘Let the children come to me, do not hinder them,’ allow us to hope that there is a way of salvation for children who have died without Baptism. The Hope of Salvation for Infants who die without being Baptized is also a good read.

Is it possible to get PTSD from the stress of miscarriage and infant loss? Absolutely, and it’s not something you want to take lightly. If you or someone you know or love is showing signs of PTSD, PLEASE seek help. There is nothing wrong with asking for help. Read more about the connection between PTSD and miscarriage and infant loss here.

Read a father’s response to the loss of a child herehere, and here.

How do I normalize my loss/es? It’s hard. Grief is a weird thing that, truthfully, will take as long as it will take. You can’t rush it, but you also don’t need to let it drag on. If you are constantly in prayer about it, ask God to place that peace in your heart when the grief comes to a level place. One thing we did as a family was to talk about our babies whom we had named. We ask them at the end of our evening prayers to pray for us. We talk about them as though they are part of the family – because they are! And when referring to how many children we have, I will – depending on the type of conversation and how that is going – share about our losses. I have never felt right keeping that a secret, and it also models to my other children that our small army of saints IS a part of our family, every single day. Here is one of my witnesses about our third loss.

People keep referring to my lost baby as an angel, or saying “Heaven gained another angel,” but I know this is untrue, as angels are pure spirit and humans are both body and soul. Should I ignore or say something? It’s tough and I know people generally are trying to be supportive and kind in those moments and comments, but you are correct that people in heaven are not angels. All in heaven are called saints, though, which is why we can refer to Michael, Raphael, and Gabriel as saints. But man is not and never will be considered an angel. We humans are unique in creation and have a special dignity. It would seem that we have to change from human to something else in order to enter heaven and that can inadvertently have a lot of negative consequences, philosophically and theologically speaking.


PREGNANCY & INFANT LOSS RESOURCES

I just found out I am miscarrying. What do I do next? First, I am so so sorry for your loss. Whether this is your first loss or not, the grief you are feeling is real and raw. I’ve found the best way to move through the grief in a healthy way is to simply BE in those moments of emotion. It will lessen with time, but if you allow yourself to have those emotional moments, it ultimately helps you to process. As for the practical side of what to expect with your body in terms of pain, how long will it take, how do I collect the baby, this link may help you out.

What do I use to catch the remains of my miscarried baby? Heaven’s Gain sells a miscarriage kit that will help guide you through the process, both spiritually, and physically.

I don’t have anything to bury – I had no idea I was supposed to collect the baby’s remains. You know what? It’s OK. Seriously, it can be disheartening and a huge source of stress to not bury your baby – this happened with one of my lost babies and I was looking. If you need to, grieve as part of healthy coping, but know that you did NOTHING wrong. You can still have a memorial said and a marker made that honors that sweet little soul. If you look at our family marker, notice that the wording for Michael Christopher is different than the other lost babies, Felicity and Sarah. There was nothing I found to collect, so the wording simply reflected that. Ultimate Pregnancy & Infant Loss Resource Guide 2019

BOOKS

Loving Baby Louie: Hope in the Midst of Grief by Colleen and David Currie

Blessed is the Fruit of Thy Womb: Rosary Reflections on Miscarriage, Stillbirth, and Infant Loss by Heidi Indahl

PINTEREST

Miscarriage.Infant Loss board

 


BURYING MY BABY

Should I bury my baby? Yes, although it is not required. “The local ordinary can permit children whom the parents intended to baptize but who died before baptism to be given ecclesiastical funerals.” (Code of Canon Law, Canon 1183.2). The graces and healing that come from the closure of a burial are worth prayerful consideration as well.

Do I need to bury my baby in a cemetery? This varies from state to state, but depending on the gestational age of the baby, you may, in fact, be able to bury your child on your property. As someone who buried in my own backyard, and later came to regret that decision when we moved, please feel free to email me about specifics on why I ultimately found this to not be the best decision. Martina@CatholicSistas.com

Who do I contact to have my child buried? You have a few options, which will be further explained below. You can call your parish priest and leave a message, contact the person in charge of bereavement at your parish (which in some cases may still be the priest depending on the size of your church), or you can contact a local Catholic cemetery and ask for help. 

I’m overcome in my grief and the hospital is telling me I can’t take the remains of my miscarried child home. What are my options? Read this post first, as it will be a good first step in going over your options, from arrival to the hospital, what to pack, and how to treat those who give you both stellar and subpar care in the hospital.

ADDITIONALLY: If you give birth at a hospital, make sure you tell the staff (ahead of time if possible) that you want to take the baby home. Sadly, some hospitals treat younger gestation babies as medical waste and will dispose of them accordingly unless you request otherwise. Older gestation babies (the age will vary, but starting at around 18-20 weeks) are usually kept in the hospital morgue and are easy to request for burial. Even if you requested genetic testing, you should still be able to come back to the hospital to retrieve the baby.

How do I contact a priest to help me with the burial rites? Contact your local church and ask to speak with or leave a message with either the person in charge of bereavement or with your priest directly. If a receptionist tells you that’s not something the priests handle or that they don’t really handle miscarriages, insist on speaking with or leaving a message anyway. You will find plenty of personalities that may not speak to your grieving heart – push through, anyway and leave that message. The person who coordinates funerals or the priest directly will get back in contact with you. Additionally, you can contact the cemetery and they will be able to assist you in locating a priest.

How can my parish best serve grieving families? This article is a MUST READ for all parishes. Many times, Catholic churches do a good job of assisting families in times of death and burial – the pastoral element MUST be present, but when it comes to miscarriage and sometimes even infant loss, it can be a challenge to bring solace and help to the family. 

How can I assist other families in their time of grief? This article by Heidi Indahl provides great insight into the role Catholics play in supporting others through these times.

Can I even buy a casket small enough for my child from an early miscarriage? Heaven’s Gain is a good place to start – they carry caskets for first trimester through third trimester losses as well as infant urns. Trappist Caskets will also send you a FREE casket and an engraved cross when the parents speak directly with the Monks.

Resources and help burying your baby in TexasMary Claire Project

Resources from the Arlington Diocese (Virginia)

 


ARCHIVES

General collection of articles of Ink Slingers and friends of Catholic Sistas of both pregnancy loss and infant loss.

 


A BIG THANK YOU

Heidi Indahl of Work and Play, Day by Day

Catholic Miscarriage Support

Mary Claire Project

Heaven’s Gain

David Currie

 

Categories
Domestic Church Fatherhood Ink Slingers Martina Motherhood Parenting Respect Life Spiritual Growth Vocations

The Worst Best Advice I Got as a New Mom

The Worst Best Advice I Got as a New Mom

Time, it goes by so fast – enjoy her while she’s little.

That bit of advice came from a virtual stranger at my cousin’s high school graduation. I remember like it was yesterday. A new mom, I held my then three-week old baby in my arms. I knew it all and that comment just rolled off my back. Time did NOT go by fast in my world, kind stranger. It felt like it went by painstakingly SLOW. Each moment felt dragged on, but my youth and immaturity were to blame in how I viewed the world at the time.

Today, as I sit here writing this, it is my youngest daughter’s second birthday – January 14. My sweet Emmaleine Rose, whose birth we awaited with quiet anticipation and anxiety, as she was our first baby after three consecutive losses. She is number 7 to the world, and number 10 in our family, after Felicity Gertrude (Gertie), Michael Christopher, and Sarah Olivia.

Time – it does go by fast. In my head, I’m still the young mom, even though the mirror tells a cruel contradictory story. But you know what? I wouldn’t trade any of it. Time goes by entirely too fast. It reminds me of another common phrase heard among veteran parents:

the days are long, but the years are short.

Somewhere along the way, time just sped up with no regard for how I felt. Rude. As it stands now, I have an almost 23 year old daughter (who is closer in age to ME than she is to her youngest sister), followed by a 17 year old son who will soon be 18. Two adult children, and five more in the pipeline. The next one down the line will be 14 in less than three weeks, but my youngest keeps me grounded. She’s barely two. She reminds me to slow down, to appreciate the small things because she, too, will be 22 one day. And when that happens, I will be the one saying to my children of their babies:

Time, it goes by so fast – enjoy her while she’s little.

TheWorstBestAdviceIGotasaNewMom


A Parent’s Prayer

Loving God,
You are the giver of all we possess,
the source of all of our blessings.
We thank and praise you.

Thank you for the gift of our children.

Help us to set boundaries for them,
and yet encourage them to explore.
Give us the strength and courage to treat
each day as a fresh start.

May our children come to know you, the one true God,
and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.

May your Holy Spirit help them to grow
in faith, hope, and love,
so they may know peace, truth, and goodness.

May their ears hear your voice.
May their eyes see your presence in all things.
May their lips proclaim your word.
May their hearts be your dwelling place.
May their hands do works of charity.
May their feet walk in the way of Jesus Christ,
your Son and our Lord.
Amen.

Categories
Alison W Ink Slingers Mary Motherhood Prayer Saints Vocations

Dearest Sisters…Please Pray with Me

Is there anything more motivating than the love we have for our children? I think God does that on purpose. How sanctifying it is to be a mother, be it a biological mother, foster mother, adoptive mother, or spiritual mother. How personal it is that our children find joy in this life; how vital that they find the path God has for them. Someone once told me that every mother is only as happy as her least happy child. I think there is amazing truth in that. We are so intertwined to our children. In a way, their lives make ours. It is a great vocation to be a mother…we literally hold the future in our hands.

For 17 years, St. Monica begged God to save her son, St. Augustine. Without her determined faith, would the world have missed a great Doctor of the Church? Would the world have read his 200 books or encountered a thousand edifying sermons and letters?

I know St. Monica has prayed for me in the most difficult moments of my life. I’ll spare you the horrid details, but on her feast day a few years ago, answers came. A truth was uncovered. The truth sets us free, even when the truth is terrible. Naturally, because of that, I have a great love for her.

What is most inspiring is the example St. Monica left. She stood in the midst of sin and anger, yet still pushed forward to sainthood. She watched her son live a life that glorified Satan, but after nearly 20 years, he would return to the faith and go on to leave an everlasting impact on the faith. Her answered prayers are what we now recognize as the great St. Augustine. What a model example for mothers in this world!

It is a horror that so many of our children are losing faith and being attracted to worldly things. But this is a horror St. Monica knows all too well, which is why she is an ideal intercessor for Catholic mothers today. 

For Christmas this year, I received a chaplet of Saint Monica. Through all of my years of asking for her prayers, I did not know she had a chaplet. I sobbed while discovering these beautiful prayers and truly united my tears to the prayers of this beautiful devotion. You can learn more about the chaplet here

In this life, emotions such as despair, anger, blame, suspicion, doubt, and fear will come. But if we aren’t careful, they will destroy our souls and the souls around us. How lovely that in this chaplet, we not only pray against those destructive emotions, but also pray to replace those evils with hope, love, forgiveness, trust, faith, and peace. We all need healing. We all need grace to do so. We need Heaven’s help. We need the prayers of saints so much! 

How beautiful that St. Monica and our Blessed Mother are praying mothers, for a mother’s love cannot be bound. 

Please join me in asking St. Monica to intercede for us that we might become more faithful mothers. Join me in asking St. Augustine to intercede for the protection and guidance of our children. Join me in asking Our Blessed Mother for her intercession of grace to our efforts. Our children and the world need us to stand like St. Monica. They need us to pray! Jesus longs for our efforts and for our children.

Dearest sisters, please pray with me!