Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Kindergarten Girl

I blinked my eyes. All I did was blink and this happened.  Isn't that what childhood is? Just a blink of an eye in retrospect. I have been finding myself sad lately when I think about having a child in kindergarten. Sad because it reminds me that my sweet babies that I hold so close are only mine for a short time. It is my vocation, my life's work, my "yes" to God that I would raise these little people in truth and holiness and teach them how to be ready to leave me. Sounds a little bit cruel, raising our children to leave us. But once again, they aren't mine. They are His. Destined for a purpose.

My sweet Sophia. She delights in knowing that her name means wisdom. As her mother, I hope and pray that as she grows, that name will suit her well. That she will receive the gifts of the holy spirit and truly use that wisdom that she inherently has.

For now, she is still little. Thank you Jesus that I can still call her little! My little kindergarten girl. My little flower.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Choosing Joy

Have you ever had a moment that you feel like you can't get through? An emotion that you can't deal with? When it feels like you need a strength bigger than your own to survive?

It happened to me yesterday.

My husband James travels for work as a Christian/Catholic musician. To put it mildly, I don't thrive when he's gone. We feel that at this time, this is what God desires of us, and so I deal with it. I have faith that this is where God has called us, but it's hard. Really hard. He's gone for an entire week right now and then he will be home for a day and leaving again....

So yesterday I overslept due to my extreme sleep deprivation from a fussy 5 month old. I woke Sophia up for preschool and rushed her out the door. I arrived, only to realize I hadn't brushed the tangles out of her hair, and she had breakfast all over her face.

I came home feeling so excited to go for a run! My jogging stroller has been broken for weeks, and James finally fixed it. Running has been my therapy lately, something to help me cope with my day. Something to make me proud of my postpartum body. Something that is just for me. To sort my thoughts, to get my stress out on the pavement. I went in the garage to grab the stroller, and as it turns out, still broken. That damn wheel. All I wanted in this day was a really hard, good run. That's all I wanted for myself, the rest of my hours would be entirely devoted to my girls.

I stepped into the bathroom to take a shower with baby Georgia on her bouncer and found myself fall to the floor sobbing. Feelings of worthlessness flood in. What kind of mother forgets to brush her kids hair? What kind of mother leaves lasts nights dishes piled in the sink, only to wake up to a house that smells like a dumpster? What kind of a mother can't hold it together without her husband? Why do I suck at this? Why??? Why is God calling us to this life? This separation? How is this good for us, for our family life? I can't do this!!! I literally felt like I couldn't get up off of that bathroom floor. I felt so weighed down by the negativity. I reminded myself that it is lent. Though this is a time to grow in our faith, it is also a time where Satan loves to sneak in. Satan was in that bathroom yesterday morning. I know he was. I can't even explain it here in writing. Feeling like I literally couldn't stand up. As though I didn't have legs.

Then out of nowhere I hear these words: choose joy.

I was feeling negativity about EVERYTHING. EVERYTHING. And in that moment of anxiousness and despair, God reminded me that I am strong. I then remembered that a nearby parish offers noon mass. In that moment I felt like the only way I would survive would be if I had a little Jesus in my life. I rushed out of the shower, threw on some clothes and ran out the door with baby in tow and hair sopping wet. We quickly grabbed big sis at school, and off we went to mass.

Wet hair and a quick sweep of mascara!

 As soon as we got to mass, I knew I had made the right choice. Of course, Georgia was the only baby, and of course she cooed the entire mass, but I knew we needed to be there. After mass, a sweet woman came over and asked me if she could help me back to the car. Another woman came over and told me how much joy it brought her to hear Georgia cooing. I also noticed Michael John Poirier at mass, and I just love him! What a man of faith! Needless to say, I felt so welcomed at mass and so thankful that God brought us there.

 As Sophia gets older, I'm noticing her watching me more. She's becoming more observant. I don't want her to see me as weak and disheveled all the time. I want her to see me as strong. Yes, I'm human and I have shortcomings, but I want my daughters to learn from me that when life has you down, you can make the choice to stand up and do something. I felt so alone yesterday. I'm the type of person who really thrives when I am with the people I care about. Yesterday was especially hard because James was gone, my mom was working, sister working, brothers working, friends working/ in a different state. I felt super isolated.

Thankful for Spring flowers!

I'm so thankful that God got me out the door. That He got me outside of myself and to Him. Lord, continue to stretch me and strengthen me. Continue to break my heart for what breaks yours. Continue to help me choose joy.


Monday, February 24, 2014

A Father Daughter Dance

It has happened. I have witnessed my favorite moment of motherhood thus far and my heart has overflowed.

A few weeks ago when we picked up Sophia from preschool, we were sent home with a flyer for a father daughter dance in the parish hall. Though it sounded absolutely precious, we chose not to tell Sophia about it because the cost was $30. It's really not much, but for us right now, $30 is a lot. We knew she would have another opportunity for the dance next year in kindergarten, so we didn't feel too guilty about it.

Then she came home from school on Friday and told us that one of her friends was having a father daughter dance. She was so excited! I don't think she quite understood what it meant. She then asked her dad if they could have a father daughter dance too. We told her we would have a dance after dinner that night and her sweet little face lit up. The entire afternoon she talked of how excited she was for the dance. 

We did our usual circus act of cooking dinner, entertaining the baby, eating, and sort of cleaning the kitchen. Then Sophia came from around the corner and told James she was going upstairs to choose a fancy dress and she asked him to go in his room, close the door, and choose pants, a fancy shirt, and a fancy tie. 

Sophia and I headed upstairs. She carefully looked through her closet for the perfect dress. When she found it, she turned to me, once again with her face lit up, and she said, "this one!"I carefully helped her button it as she put on her shiny silver ballet slippers. We headed into the bathroom to comb her long locks into an elegant bun suited for a princess.  Then we heard a knock on the door.
Sophia opened the door and her dad presented her with a bouquet of [fake] flowers.

We headed downstairs where they danced sweetly through two songs. My heart ached in my chest as I watched the way she looked at James. The same way that I probably look at him. I was reminded that he is not only my prince charming, he's hers too. She will grow and watch him. She will watch the way that he loves me. She will watch the way that he treats the women in his life. He will teach her what love looks like. He will teach her her self worth in a way that I cannot. When he tells her she is beautiful, I pray that she believes him. I pray that through her father she can come to know the love of a heavenly father whose love is perfect and unstained.  I pray that she will observe and learn what she is worthy of. That she will come to understand self giving love. And when the time comes for her to meet the man she will marry, I pray that through the example of her father, she won't settle for less than she deserves.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Our Perfectly Imperfect Christmas

Yes that's right. its the middle of January and I am finally posting about Christmas. Better late than never right?
Most awkward family photo! I think that's why I like it :)
I still cannot believe how fast the Christmas season passed by! I am one who places a lot of value in family traditions, probably because they were such a huge part of my childhood. Thank you Mom! This year unfortunately, most of those traditions went by the wayside. Initially, I was beating myself up about this, but I have come to realize that focusing on every perfect detail is not what Christmas is about. I don't want my children to see me obsessing about the details, because sometimes the details are a little sloppy, and that's okay. 

Beautiful table setting on Christmas Eve
We spent Christmas Eve at my grandma's house enjoying a traditional Polish dinner as we have every year as far back as I can remember. I look forward to it so much! My grandma does an amazing job of decorating the house and making the tabletop just gorgeous! Christmas Day I had to work, despite my every effort to get out of it. James took the girls to his Aunt's house while I was working. It ended up being okay because they got quality time with James' parents and we had a wonderful, uninterrupted Christmas on December 27th, just the 4 of us. I was feeling a little ambitious and made gingerbread reindeer pancakes. They were a huge hit! We spent the entire day in our pajamas, soaking in Sophia's joy. As she gets older, Christmas becomes so much more magical! We certainly don't spoil her rotten on Christmas, but I feel like the gifts we gave her were ones that she can use for years to come. My dad and James had been working hard on a dollhouse for her since October. She was so excited about it! It turned out really well, and I know we will get good use out of it. She was also super happy that Santa knew she wanted the magenta sparkle ugly dog purse from Target! Yep, that Santa is pretty impressive.

Here comes picture overload....

It was so much fun to celebrate the holidays with this precious new life! This time last year, I was praying my heart out every night that God would bless us with a new baby. He has been so good to us in more ways than I can count. I am so joyful with my life right now. Two healthy girls, and the best husband I could ask for! God is good.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The First Month After Baby

I certainly expected life with two children to be an adjustment, but I don't think anything could have prepared me for what our day to day life would really look like. This first month has been wonderful and joyful, but also really challenging. The few days leading up to Georgia's birth, I cleaned our entire house top to bottom. And I'm glad I did. The house hasn't been cleaned since then. You think I'm kidding, but I'm not. It's been 4 weeks 5 weeks and I haven't done any deep cleaning; i.e dusting, bathrooms, vacuuming, etc. This is something that I have really had to die to. Don't get me wrong, I want to clean. I don't appreciate our bathrooms being grimy, and I don't like the feeling of crumbs on my toes in the kitchen; but the reality is, cleaning is my last priority right now. I must continue to remind myself, MY SELF WORTH IS NOT MEASURED IN MY PRODUCTIVITY. How often do we determine if our day was good or bad based on our productivity? As women, I think most of us are very guilty of this. Thankfully, we have a God who reminds us that he loves us just because. Whether or not our house smells like trash or clean linens, God loves us just the same. What a relief!
It is so tempting to make a to-do list each day, but in reality, the most important thing on my to-do list is to be fully present to my daughters.

Georgia is a serious night owl. I put her to bed at 11:30 each night, and I'm lucky if she will sleep a two hour stretch. As a result, I have been sleeping in until 9:30 most mornings and James has been graciously waking up early with Sophia. It has been so nice having him home a lot! We have both been amazed by how fast the days sneak by. We have certainly not been lazy, but it is hard to do anything when two girls are both so in need of their mom and dad. Georgia wants to nurse every hour, so I am mostly just plopped on the couch feeding her. We try to run all of our errands as a family because it's good for me to get out of the house. Sometimes I forget there's a whole world outside of my smelly, dirty, 1100 sq ft home! My biggest struggle right now has been reminding myself to spend time with Sophia. I realize that sounds horrible, but it is so tempting to try and get housework done when Georgia is napping. I must remind myself that if I don't use that time to give Sophia attention, she won't get any attention from her mama all day, and that just doesn't seem fair.

I recently came across this blog post. It was so encouraging. What a great reminder to slow down and not take on more than we can handle. I have already found myself trying to do too much this holiday season. I need to practice saying, "no",  both to myself and others.

This is only one short season in my life. I realize that in the blink of an eye my little tiny newborn will grow and the sweet chaos will end. Until then Lord,  teach me to enjoy every precious moment and be fully present. I know that when my children are grown, I will never say to myself, "I should have cleaned more." What I will say is this: "I'm sure glad I took the time to get down on all fours and play with them".

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Birth of Georgia Grace

Less than 24 hours old
In order to accurately tell the birth story of Georgia Grace, I need to start WEEKS before her due date; 5 weeks to be exact. The last week of September, I headed to the doctor for my 36 week checkup. James was out of town on a 20-day trip, so it was just me and Sophia. My doctor decided to do an internal exam when I told him I was feeling a lot of pelvic pressure. He checked me and then proceeded to tell me that I was 3 cm dilated and almost fully effaced! I panicked and asked him what that meant. He suspected that I would probably be having a baby in less than a week! Seeing as how my husband was unreachable a million miles away, I called my mother and sobbed and sobbed and sobbed. I was not ready for this baby! I had hardly started nesting! My husband was out of town! Our house was filthy! We didn't have a pediatrician! I hadn't stored enough meals in the freezer! I just wasn't ready. I drove to my parent's house completely hysterical, saying, "Jesus I trust in you, Jesus I trust in you, Jesus I trust in you."

After a lot of prayer, James and I decided he should come home early from tour. Each time he traveled thereafter, I anxiously prayed that the baby wouldn't come until he got home.I had always expected her to come early. Sophia came 3 weeks early, and I assumed this baby would come early too. My original due date was October 2nd, which then got changed to October 24th. I assumed she would come somewhere between those two dates. Over the next few weeks, I became a nesting mad woman. In all honesty, it was torture. I had zero energy to do anything, and yet my nesting instinct told me to do EVERYTHING.  I was so anxious about life with two children. I wanted to be prepared. I cleaned our house top to bottom and nearly died in the process. I cooked and stashed more meals in our freezer than I knew what to do with.  I dusted every baseboard, every nook and cranny. I guess my doctor was wrong. 4 weeks went by, and still no baby. I walked, I jogged, I ate food drenched in tabasco sauce, I ate 2 pineapples one afternoon, I made ginger snaps with cayenne pepper, we did other things as husband and wife  that are supposed to induce labor.... still no baby! At this point, I was just plain mad! I was so ready for her, and yet she was just content to stay in utero for what seemed like forever. I always think that God has such a sense of humor. It took us over a year to conceive this baby, and now He was once again trying to teach us patience, teaching us that she will come when He wills her to come and no sooner. Okay. Time to trust Him. After I had gone a week past my due date, James and I made the very difficult decision to do an induction as recommended by my doctor. I was VERY opposed to induction, but through prayer, I continued to hear God telling me to trust. Despite being very dilated and effaced, this baby wasn't coming! I knew an induction was necessary.

On October 30th, after saying a sad goodbye to Sophia, we headed to the hospital. I made it very clear to my doctor that I did not want any sort of drugs for the induction. I wanted to keep things as natural as possible considering I already felt that the situation was completely out of my control. He obliged by breaking my water at 10:30am, with the intent that this would start my labor. It was pretty uneventful, as there was no "gush" of fluid. The nurse encouraged me to walk in hopes that it would cause the bag of waters to leak.  For the next 6 hours James and I power walked through the hospital and around the outside of the building.   I must have looked like an idiot! A big, fat pregnant lady in a hospital gown and my husband's tube socks parading through the hospital. I jogged up and down the stairs, I did a few squats, and when I began to feel pressure, I would walk faster. I was determined to get the contractions started. When Sophia was born, our entire family was there in the hospital room visiting with us before I delivered and it was wonderful, however, this time I wanted none of that. I simply wanted time with my husband, intimate and personal time to prepare for this next chapter. We spent those 6 hours talking, reminiscing, laughing, praying, and giving thanks. It almost felt like a last minute babymoon. James was such a great coach and the exact support that I needed. That day was truly one of the best of my life.

Obviously taken before contractions started!
 Finally, after a long afternoon it began to dawn on me that I was about to deliver a human from my body. Fear set in big time. I had been fearful the entire pregnancy. Once you experience miscarriage, I don't know if it's possible to not be fearful. There are just so many things that can go wrong! I was also fearful for childbirth. My first delivery with Sophia was very "doable", maybe even easy. What if I wasn't so lucky this time? I knew I wanted another natural birth, and yet I heard myself asking the nurse what sort of pain meds were available if I needed them. James looked me square in the eyes and said, "stop asking about medication, you've got this". Those words left me feeling empowered. I have done this before. Yes, it's been four years, but I have done this before. I've got this! And so at 6:30pm my doctor broke my water again, and this time I felt the "gush". Contractions started almost immediately. Each time I felt a contraction, I squeezed James' hand and just breathed long, deep breaths. We tried to watch a few episodes of "Friends" as a distraction, but soon it became too hard to focus. It got to the point where the contractions were one on top of the other with maybe a five second break. I felt major pressure and assumed my bag of waters would gush again. It wasn't until James insisted I let the nurse check me that I realized that pressure was the baby's head! She checked me and immediately paged my doctor out of a C-section. I was 9 1/2 cm and ready to push. When they tell you it's  time to push, there is a combination of excitement filled with adrenaline and complete panic. My doctor rushed in and as he was putting his gloves on, I frantically screamed, "hurry up, I need to push!"  At that point the pressure had escalated a lot and I could hardly focus on my breathing because I could feel her little body ready to come. Immediately after that first push I felt a sense of relief. My body remembered that it had done this before and I felt full control over my ability to deliver another baby naturally. I don't think I ever opened my eyes. I simply listened to the voice of my nurse and especially James. Those contractions hurt like hell. Each time I pushed, I remembered the last two years in my head. The longing in my heart for this baby, The prayer and pleading that God would bless us with another child. The long, agonizing year trying to conceive. And now here I was just minutes from meeting her. These thoughts are what got me through the contractions. I held my breath for a count of ten and pushed. And then I did it again and again. At one point I screamed,"I just can't do this!" Until James told me he could see her head, and then I knew I could do it. Anything to make those contractions stop!  And anything to see her sweet face! A few more strong pushes, and out she came. I am so grateful that I was able to deliver naturally. I have loved my natural births with both my daughters! Though the contractions hurt like hell, and sometimes you really feel like you are in hell, there is no greater feeling than giving that final push and feeling the sensation of your baby coming out. What a rush! And nothing makes me feel like more of a woman!  I pushed for a total of less than 10 minutes. Yeah I know, all of womankind hates me for having a 10 minute delivery.... But let me tell you,  I labored through those contractions full force for 2 hours and they were excruciating!!  I was in shock that she came so fast, and yet I don't think I could have gone much longer because of how intense it was.
I can't believe you're here! I felt like I was dreaming.
Daddy in awe of you
First family photo!

Looking back on the day, I see God's hand in all of it. Those 5 weeks of thinking she would come any day were torture! God really forced me to be patient and fully place my trust in Him during those weeks.  I DID NOT want that induction, and yet God allowed my heart to change and to trust that the induction was the right thing. Despite needing an induction, I am so grateful to the nurses and especially my doctor for being understanding about my wish to not be given Pitocin to start labor. Most doctors are not patient enough to let you wait it out all day for contractions to start.  Though I was fearful of my doctor delivering the baby since he didn't deliver my first, I found myself grateful he was there. Our doctor is Catholic just as we are, and that entire day I felt at ease knowing that he was there not only as our doctor, but also as part of the body of Christ and having a full appreciation for the dignity of human life. If I had been ready to push even five minutes later, he would have been unavailable in a high risk C-section. And thank goodness my delivery was so fast so that he could get back to the C-section! That day James did and said all the right things. He was my rock to lean on. I know that God guided him in exactly how to coach and encourage me. The day was truly beautiful.

Georgia Grace, you sure took your sweet time in deciding to greet the world. Now that you are here, we can't imagine life without you! You truly are our miracle baby. We will give God thanks everyday for the gift of you.

Friday, October 18, 2013


I have to write this down for fear that if I don't, I might forget...

Driving home tonight with just myself and Sophia, we were talking about how beautiful the full moon was. Sophia then started rattling off about heaven and all the saints. "Saint Joseph and Holy Mary, and Saint Anthony, and Saint Luke, and Maryrose"..... I asked her, "do you remember who Maryrose is?" She responded, "Yes. Baby sister in heaven." What happened next is what really broke my heart. She said, "Mommy my eyes are getting wet because I have tears". Then out of nowhere, she started sobbing hysterically and asking me why the baby in my tummy died and why she didn't get to meet her and when is she coming back from heaven.

As a mother, how do you begin to deal with this sort of heartache from your child? She is four years old! How can she possibly be grieving over a baby that I miscarried two years ago?  I don't understand how her young, innocent mind can understand the pain and suffering from this precious life we lost. The odd thing about this conversation is that tomorrow is the two year anniversary of when we found out we were having a miscarriage. This conversation came completely unprompted since we had made no mention of the miscarriage recently.

We talked the entire car ride home about baby sister in heaven. The whole time I prayed that God would give me words that she could understand. I don't know if He did, because she was pretty hysterical the whole time. I talked a lot about faith and how we trust that Jesus took baby sister for a special purpose and that she is very happy in heaven. This was a hard conversation for me. I never would have guessed that I would be having such a conversation quite yet; maybe in a few years, but not now. 

Even though tonight was completely unexpected and heart wrenching. I am grateful for it. I thank God for the opportunity to teach my daughter about faith and the sanctity of life. What a privilege that conversation was. 

Pray for us Maryrose.