Tuesday, January 26, 2016

A Little Piece of Grief

Yesterday took a sharp left turn. The kind that makes you spin out on black ice. 

I received word that a mother at our parish lost her infant daughter during delivery. 

I'm from a large parish with a variety of mass times, so I didn't know her, but, I was asked to contact her to offer comfort. 

When we lost Mara in an ectopic and then again when Sweet Baby left our home, love met our grief in the form of casseroles.  Love showed up as a meal I didn't have to find the energy to prepare. Love showed up in the face of every woman who crossed my threshold with an offering of time and caring. 

So, I did what that love has shown me and made a casserole. LB added an offering of rice crispy treats to the mix. 

Then, like generations before us have done, I brought the family a meal. I visited for a few minutes, hugged, and shared in their grief. 

As I went through the rest of my day, the weight of their loss stayed heavy on my heart, as if I'd taken a little bit home with me. 

Then, I thought, perhaps I had. Perhaps that's what we're supposed to do in times of loss. Chip off a small piece of the grief and replace it with kindness and caring. 

None of us can fully remove the weight of loss, but we can each pick up a pebble from the boulder and share the weight, in some small measure. 

I can carry this mother in my heart as she grieves, and perhaps my small offering will be a kindness that brings comfort, such as I've experienced before. 

In our modern and convenient world, it can be so easy to avoid pain and discomfort, but we were not made for comfort. 

This week, more moms will be reaching out with meals to bring a small light to a dark place. I pray this mother feels this surround her as she faces a long and painful way forward. 

I'll keep my pebble of her pain, and like a rosary bead, hold it when I pray. In this moment, I am reminded, we were not made for solitude. We were not made to grieve alone. 

Thursday, January 21, 2016

A Saint to Guide Me

Every year, Hubby and I talk about homeschooling versus private schooling.

This year, we decided to send SP to preschool two mornings a week so I could have a little more time with LB to focus on her schooling and do those things that take some undivided attention. 

We've also taken a pretty bare bones approach to the year. The main focus of fifth grade for LB has been reading, writing, math, and religion. Those are the things we're trying to do well. Everything else, we've put in the "extra" category. 

It's given us a better focus to the year and made the school day more manageable. Extra subjects have found their way in, as life doesn't happen in a vacuum. 

We've maintained a subscription to Green Kids Crafts, and every month, a science box that LB can complete independently has arrived. 

We bought the complete four volume set of The Story of the World on audio, and she's listened several times, absorbing history in the context of a worldview. 

This Christmas, we bought a new family computer and added Rosetta Stone Spanish and Dance Mat Typing to the school day. 

The school year is going well, so well, I really was surprised by the incessant push I'm feeling to go back to private school with the girls next year. 

We've always been open to moving between homeschooling and our local Catholic school, but just when I feel like we're in our groove, I think we might be switching it up again. 

As I've said in the past, we're blessed to be choosing between two goods. One isn't bad and the other better, but the flexibility of homeschooling has always been such a draw to me. 

Yet, God keeps speaking into my heart that it's time. Time to focus more on my own mental and physical health while the girls are in a place they love that nurtures their faith and minds. 

Time to put energy into working, as well. It's such a blessing to have work I enjoy, and a few hours a day where I'm not juggling schooling and a preschooler would go a long way towards our family's future. 

Last Friday, I was feeling guilty about going in this direction, questioning whether it was selfish and misguided to send the girls to school to give myself the space for personal and professional growth. 

Then, LB reminded me we hadn't picked our names for the Saint's Name Generator

As I waited to press the button, I prayed, "God, give me the Saint I need for this year." 

Then I clicked on the patroness of infertility and working mothers. 

Sometimes God has to bang you over the head with it.

Please pray for our family as we continue to make this decision and discern what our coming school year looks like.  We're doing our best to be open to being where God wants us to be.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Gethsemane Moments

I wrote earlier this month about my new medications and some of the hardness of it all.

Right after I wrote that post, I scaled up to my final dosage....and that next morning was a doozy.  All of Sunday was a blur of nausea, fatigue, and dizziness.  My husband and girls have been very helpful, and I've been able to get the things done that I need to, so it's a barely manageable kind of yuck.  It's slowly getting better, and hopefully soon my body will have adjusted, but all the suffering got me thinking.

Last night, as I lay in bed, I prayed, "Dear God, please, I just want to feel better.  Please, just make this stop." 

Then it struck me how similar it was to those words in Gethsemane, "Take this from me."  With a notable exception of Jesus' addition, "Your will, not mine."

And in those four words, Jesus teaches us how to suffer.  In the midst of the nausea, I felt tremendous gratitude for our Catholic faith.  We have redemptive suffering.  Jesus shows us through his life and death how to do suffering.   We have a guide to make our suffering into something.  To offer it up and lay it at the foot of the cross, crying, praying, falling in silence.

This moment isn't a waste.  As much as I want to be on the other side already, this awfulness isn't just something to gut through.  It's something to give. 

So, I'm doing my best to give it.  Even though last night I was so tired, I cried because the bath mat was damp.  So together over here!

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Hello, Again, My Friend

Sometimes the deep moments happen in the quiet.

It's been hard to talk about the deep moments lately.  December 20th marked two years without Sweet Baby

In mid-November, I listened to an interview with Kathryn Whitaker (Team Whitaker).  She discussed the importance of caring for her marriage in the midst of the stresses of illness with her youngest.

It struck me like a thunderbolt what December 20th means to my marriage.  It's two years of holding on through loss, grief, and depression.  It's two years of not losing each other while our world crumbled.  Two years where we didn't let go.

So, I planned a trip and we spent two days alone together, because we made it through a crucible together, and that deserves a room with a fireplace and all the fanciness.

It was two days much needed and well spent.

The last month has also been a step forward in hormonal health.  After my latest consult, the doctor offered me the option to begin taking low dose naltrexone.  Two weeks of research and discussion with others who have taken it, and I decided with some trepidation to begin the medication.

The side effects include fatigue and nausea, so it's been all the fun of the first trimester, without any of the baby-at-the-end benefits.  The LDN boosts my body's production of beta endorphins, meaning my stomach has been taking a hit, but at least I'm happy about it :P

To mitigate the side effects, my doctor has had me slowly increasing my dosage.  After two or three days, my stomach and energy regulate.....until the next increase.  This week is the final increase.  I'm seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.  Soon, I hope to have an elevated mood and a peaceful stomach.

With all of the holidays, the inevitable increase in pregnancy announcements, and the general fatigue and nausea, this has been a trying month.  Really more crying than is strictly necessary, but not quite enough to feel better. 

The advent of a new cycle brought all of it, the anniversary of losing SB, the nausea, the feeling that everyone else is pregnant to a head.  The thoughts that had been brewing for months broke free.  It's time to let go of the baby stuff.  I've culled back little by little over the years, but it's really time now.

Not because it's a superstition to become pregnant, not because I'm hopeless for the future, but because it's time.  Deeply, profoundly time to stop living in a moment that isn't here.  Time to face both feet in the direction that is my life. 

With all the clich├ęd introspection that comes with a new year, I'm making a choice.  Each day, I'm going to pry my hands back open and let go of the life I thought I would have because it is only in letting go that I will find the person God created me to be. 

Today, letting go looked like packing up my Sweet Baby's crib and taking it to my brother's house.  My new nephew will be here within the month.  A baby will sleep sweetly in that bed once again.

Letting go is hard and scary and hopeful and sweet.  Wherever this road goes, I will be more me, more the person I was meant to be.  While that means snotty tears over old furniture, whispers in my soul tell me it's going to be amazing.