Tuesday, June 27, 2017

A Phantom Due Date

May was a slow and steady progression in denial.  In carrying a weight around my shoulders of every should have been. 

As the days slowly passed on the calendar, the smallest offense was met with fiercest scrutiny.  Why couldn't everyone around me see the torture we were living in?  How could they not feel the crushing oppression?  How could they feel joy in times such as these?

I should have been pregnant, full term.  I should have been in the doctor's office checking that the baby's small head was positioned for birth.  I should have been up at night with frequent bathroom trips and heartburn.  I should have been washing baby clothes, holding them to me as I smelled the forgotten fragrance of newborn clothing. 

Forgotten, but always longed for. 

Instead, I faced down mornings of unwanted ease.  No bag is packed, no special load of laundry necessary. 

The baby isn't coming.  The baby died long ago.  And while the transition of Fall to Winter to Spring feels like it should have made this long ago loss somehow less weighty, the full weight falls on my shoulders as I scrape my way ever closer to the day that should have been.

The busyness of school ending for the year dulls the edge of the pain for a while.  There are too many places to be, too many ways I need to be present and celebrating the girls I do have to dwell on what I do not.

But then, the school year ends and it is the final week of May.  The May 30th due date looms large above me.  Each morning, I feel an internal gong sounding an alarm.  Pushing me, propelling me to a sense of urgency, of something forgotten. 

When I remember again, the knot of dread in my chest comes out as angry exclamations at everyone in firing range.  No dish is properly placed, no chore promptly completed to the satisfaction of my raw, angry grief. 

Pictures of babies begin to appear in my Facebook feed.  Babies born when my baby should have been. 

I throw myself into workouts, into busyness.  I carefully take the supplements and medicines to support balanced hormones.  Every attempt to keep the full weight of the grief off me. 

It's a weighted ball I throw into the air.  Gravity returns it to me time and again.  Until, finally, it is May 30th.

Texts come in from friends, prayers rolling over the waves of sadness.  Then, it is all grace.  It is the first day of lightness.  I have labored through my loss and come out on the other side.

Not to forget or never feel the grief again, but feeling birthed onto the other side of it.  It isn't a present tense loss anymore.  I have crossed over into past tense.  Finally released from the pregnancy countdowns and babies born where mine should have been.

Hard days will follow, but the crisis has passed.  The final hurdle in completing this segment of the grief journey.  The pregnancy is complete in all timelines.  Now, the anniversaries and days ahead will be marked with varying degrees of difficulty, but I have passed this time of expectation and longing and the days no longer each carry so much weight.

The phantom due date has come and gone.  I feel to my soul the words of Jesus on the cross, "It is finished".

On that day, the words that carried me, the grace that sustained me was found in the friends who held vigil with me.  Who remembered what May 30th should have been and offered their day for mine.  And in that experience, of once again wrapping myself in the offerings of others, I am knit more closely to them, and united through it all in the Body of Christ.

If you have a sister in Christ who has gone through pregnancy loss, I encourage you to reach out on the day of her due date.  She needs to know she does not remember alone.  She needs to know you walk beside her.  

Monday, May 1, 2017

Pio Prints: A Review

Pio Prints provided a shirt for my review.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.

With PCOS and my other fertility struggles, diet, nutrition, and exercise are always pretty top of mind.  Self-care is generally important, but it's also particularly important in my health challenges.

So, when Pio Prints asked if I'd be interested in a review of their workout tank, I figuratively (because it had been a little bit since my last workout) jumped at the chance to try some new workout gear.....because we all know when you're struggling to get back in the groove of working out, there's nothing like something cute to help you over the hump.

When it arrived, I was eager to try it on and see how the fit was.  It's an A-line cut tank, so it's narrower at the top and widens to the bottom hem.  The back center has a gather to help form the shape.  I love the fit and cut of this narrower top to wider bottom because it's fitted where it needs to be and then flowing over the reasons I'm out there jogging in the first place.

The other great thing I love about the cut is that it doesn't come down too low in the front.  Because, ladies, when you wear a compression sports bra and hate high collars touching your neck, you generally end up with workout shirts that you have to monitor to make sure they're not slipping down on you in the front.  *This* is not one of those shirts.  This shirt is high enough in front that you're covered, but also low enough that you don't feel confined or choked by a collar rubbing on you while you work out.

The weight and feel of the fabric is also great.  It's soft and smooth and was perfect for a sunny day jog with a very furry puppy (Ginger).

After our jog

The price point for this particular tank is $25, making it the perfect treat for your workout slump, hitting your newest milestone, or a thoughtful birthday present for a friend who loves the saints and fitness.  I'm putting another one (or two because I'm having a hard time only working out in my favorite shirt) on my Mother's Day/birthday wishlist.

If tanks or workout tees aren't your gig, they also have great shirts, cards, journals and mugs.  Support a family and shop small.

Stop by Pio Prints online or on Instagram

Sunday, February 12, 2017

The Pharisee In Me

About a month ago, I did the thing I shouldn't do and engaged in a Facebook debate.....because we all know that's productive.

I didn't know it was a debate when I commented, but it's just so darn hard to walk away when it turns into one and you're TRYING TO SAY SOMETHING :P

A mom asked for opinions on baptism timelines...which seems to be heating up as a conversation piece as we enter Lent and there's a mix of what dioceses do in terms of Baptism during Lent.

I commented that I appreciated the model of the Greek Orthodox Church giving a set time of six weeks when the mother is then welcomed into the church with a special blessing and baptism can then happen because I feel it honors that need to heal and recover from childbirth, but still moves with prudent haste towards baptism.

What I got back was pretty strongly worded, and Catechism citing content on why I was basically taking the souls of my children into my own hands if I didn't get it done before I was even up to sitting through mass.  Maybe that's an exaggeration, but not by much.

Commenters went on to tell me that I was presuming on God's mercy to think I could wait what I thought was reasonable because:

1257 The Lord himself affirms that Baptism is necessary for salvation.60 He also commands his disciples to proclaim the Gospel to all nations and to baptize them.61 Baptism is necessary for salvation for those to whom the Gospel has been proclaimed and who have had the possibility of asking for this sacrament.62 The Church does not know of any means other than Baptism that assures entry into eternal beatitude; this is why she takes care not to neglect the mission she has received from the Lord to see that all who can be baptized are "reborn of water and the Spirit." God has bound salvation to the sacrament of Baptism, but he himself is not bound by his sacraments.
 But they skipped the next bit:

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,"64 allow us to hope that there is a way of salvation for children who have died without Baptism. All the more urgent is the Church's call not to prevent little children coming to Christ through the gift of holy Baptism.
 I left that conversation feeling so disheartened.  Especially as the mom of two souls who passed in utero and the foster mom of one sweet girl who I took to mass every week for 2.5 years without the ability to baptize her.  I was being told my belief in obedience to the pastor on whether or not to baptize during Lent was misplaced obedience and that I was foolhardy to put so much reliance on God's mercy over making haste to baptize....to the point of leaving a parish over it.

In the moment I blocked the conversation from my feed, I felt something inside me break.  I thought this, this is how people leave the Church.  I felt so hopeless and sad for my dead babies.  I felt like rules were overpowering mercy, and I just cried over it all.  As I lay there and dried my tears, I wondered, what if this had been the last thread holding me to the Church?  What if this had been the thing that had broken in me that felt unfixable?  What if these surely good and holy women were the precipitation of my downfall?

They wouldn't have even known it.  But they could have been, even with every good intention.

There's a tension between mercy and truth.  We must always always reach for the truth, and the layered beauty of our tradition and Catholic heritage are so so good.  But, where are we placing our interpretation of the rules or preferences over compassion?  Where am I failing to see that God's mercy is not to be outdone, and I'm not the boss of it?

Where am I drawing a line in the sand over a timetable that God never put in place?

I'm struggling with finding those answers inside myself, but I'm trying to move towards a default of seeking to understand before being understood.  Because even when it's an inflexible rule, seeking to be heard before listening will never win a heart, and that should be the business we're in.