Sunday, August 31, 2008

Sunday prayer: insight into love

I need some of that. So the "alternative opening prayer" listed for Mass today really struck me as I read my Word Among Us this morning:

Lord God of power and might,
nothing is good which is against your will,
and all is of value which comes from your hand.
Place in our hearts a desire to please you
and fill our minds with insight into love,
so that every thought may grow in wisdom
and all our efforts may be filled with your peace.
We ask this through Christ our Lord. AMEN!
Please pray that I would be a better lover - of God, of my husband, and of all the good people in my life.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Super Savings Saturday: Baby Clothes

Okay, so maybe I shouldn't have dropped my "no buying baby things" rule so soon...

A day or two ago I had a vague thought that I might visit the Assistance League Thrift Store this morning to see if they had any maternity clothes and, perhaps, to glance at their baby things. Well, David and I ended up driving to the 9 AM Mass in separate cars (he went to swim first), so I took the opportunity to stop at the store afterwards. I was somewhat surprised to see women lining up at the door (it opened at 10 AM, so I had just a few minutes to wait). But a sign on the inside door explained the crowd: "End of Season Sale: 90% off all clothes." Jackpot!

Do you think it was the Holy Spirit prompting me to go to the thrift store today?

Alas, their maternity clothes rack was bare, and the women's clothes were slim pickings. So I made a bee-line for the still moderately stocked baby clothes racks and started piling clothes into my basket. My criteria: cute, clean, no tears, no stains. The girls' outfits were especially nice looking and abundant, but I tried to get a fair number of boy things, too. With the prices so low, I reasoned I could "shop ahead" and chose items up through size 2T.

The wait in line was long, but oh-so-worth-it. A nice fellow shopper even helped me pull all my items off their hangers. In the end, I had claimed 60 items, most of which rang up for 10, 15, or 20 cents. The most expensive item, a Laura Ashley dress set (3-6 mo), was 40 cents. Grand total: $9.97.

With such an abundance, I'm eager to share with my sister or anyone else in need. I can't wait for baby to come and wear these clothes!!

My only regret: I got so overwhelmed by the clothes that I forgot to look for socks and shoes, which were also on sale. Bummer!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Cord Blood Donation

Baby magazines are peppered with advertisements for cord blood banks urging parents to have their babies' cord blood stored. For an average starting cost of $1,800 and yearly fees around $125 a bank will store your little one's umbilical and placental blood-making stem cells. These cells would be retrievable if your child (or perhaps its sibling) develops a life-threatening but treatable-by-stem-cells illness such as leukemia or lymphoma.

I don't know about your family, but I don't think that cord blood banking will be a wise insurance choice for our family, given its expense and the small chance our child(ren) will have of developing one of the applicable diseases.

Today, however, I read about an option that does sound right up our pro-life alley: cord blood donation. An article in an old issue of Focus on the Family magazine (which I love, by the way) shared one mom's decision to donate her sons' cord blood to a public bank for use by any matching patient. Intrigued, I did a little research online.

To donate cord blood the donor parents must complete medical documentation, receive a collection kit and instruct birth attendants in its use, and contact the bank to pick up the donation after the delivery. All free! Read more here:

By the time I skimmed through the basic info and FAQ's, I was convinced. What better way to support a morally acceptable and medically superior alternative to embryonic stem cell research?

Alas, the list of participating hospitals revealed that we will not be able to donate at our hospital - in fact, no Charlotte-area hospitals are participating at this time. Perhaps it's time to do some advocacy with the hospital?

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Co-sleeper

When it comes to preparing materially for the baby's arrival, David and I are taking a fairly minimalist approach. Our small apartment, budget constraints, and a preference for simplicity make us more inclined to seek only a few essential items for baby care. And we really don't mind if they all come secondhand, as long as they are safe to use.

Cloth diapers in varying sizes and styles are tops on my list, along with a bed, a sling/carrier, a car seat, a stroller, and some clothes. Other things would be nice, but they aren't essential. All the baby will really need for the first few months is me.

With all this in mind, one thing I am willing to pay a little more for is a suitable bed. With hopes of exclusive breastfeeding and a tendency toward attachment parenting, I am seriously considering a co-sleeper. David would prefer not to have the baby sleep in our bed, so a little bed attached to ours seems to be the next best thing. I've read lots of great things about co-sleepers: they attach securely to an adult bed, the baby's mattress is nearly level with the adult mattress to reduce mom's arm strain when lifting baby into bed to nurse, and some of them even convert into regular cribs for when the baby is older and mobile and needs better containment.

But I really don't know anything about the various models and sizes that are available. Arm's Reach seems to be the dominant brand - they sell on Amazon, too. Please share any thoughts or experiences you've had with co-sleepers!

Pregnancy faith

I am happy to report that I have begun to believe, to hope, and, yes, even to love. And I'm not talking about my relationship with God, although that certainly plays a part in it all. No, I have begun to believe that we really are going to have a baby to hold and to raise come February. I have begun to hope that this pregnancy will continue to full term and end in a birth. And I have begun to allow myself to love the new life within me.

Why have anticipation and attachment been missing? Why didn't I trust in God and rejoice from the first signs of pregnancy?

Sadly, my previous experience of miscarriage predisposed me to uncertainty, doubt, and even a little fear. Even though I "recovered" quickly from the loss of our first little one (David's grief lasted longer than mine), when the home test confirmed this pregnancy I felt cautious. And I stayed cautious. I didn't call my grandparents to share the news. I didn't buy anything baby related, and I wouldn't let myself plan for the baby's arrival. I read my pregnancy books with a surprising lack of interest. When David patted, kissed, or talked to "Boo Boo" (like Yogi Bear's companion - definitely not a mistake), I resisted attachment. I didn't want to suffer much if the Lord chose to take this one home to Heaven, too.

I was even prone to daydreams about the baby dying inside of me. I tried to shake them off and pray for trust in God, but they didn't stop. I worried.

And then we went to our second prenatal appointment. Different practice, different intended hospital of delivery, different practitioner (a certified nurse midwife). An excellent experience overall. But the best part, the impetus of this post, is that we got to hear the baby's heartbeat again. With a portable little Doppler device the CNM found that steady thump-thump (150 beats per minute now) in my pelvis. And I breathed a huge sigh of relief. The baby is alive.

As week 12 comes to a close, I am sneaking up on the end of my first trimester. Chances of a miscarriage beyond this point are slim. Of course, anything could happen - I give it all to God. But, in doing so, I am free to believe, free to hope, and free to love. To love this little life within me and plan for its future. I am sorry that I waited this long. Shame on me for withholding love out of fear of losing someone!

I am reminded of how much God loves every one of His children, even when He knows they will turn away and be "lost" to Him. I pray, through the intercession of Our Blessed Mother, that I might love this child with God's love, as much as any human heart can.

"There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear..." (1 John 4:18)

Anniversary celebrations

These are quite overdue, but I want to post a few more pictures from our visit to Spokane. David and I celebrated our first anniversary (August 4) while we were there and our parents graciously treated us to dinner and a movie. The Dark Knight was not as scary as I thought it would be (I was just going along because everyone else wanted to see it, but I didn't end up burying my head in David's shirt too many times). And dinner at P.F. Chang's (a first for me) was fun and delicious (I especially enjoyed trying all the dishes we ordered, family style).

The lovebirds with their free anniversary dessert

My mom and I


All of the family except my sister and her husband, who live in VA but are actually in Spokane right now!
(Dad, brother, sister-in-law, Mom, me, David, and sister)

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Up at the River

Although the dip in temperatures, our colds, and my pregnancy limited our ability to enjoy all that that my parent's river place has to offer, we did manage to enjoy the sunshine and a few fun events.

My dad instructing David in the proper use of a chainsaw before they cut the logs for firewood.

David braving the chilly water for a brief swim. (I LOVE watching my husband swim - it was his competitive sport through high school and into college, when an injury derailed his training. He subsequently coached youth and adults in swimming for 8 years.)


Dad preparing the boat to take the guys out for some skiing. (I got to see David ski by!)


David helping our neighbor friend Randy mop the ribs with sauce. They were sooo delicious!


Me lounging in the rocking chair in the bunk house garage, where we gathered for eating, chatting, and games. You can see a little bit of the northeastern Washington mountains in the background - no huckleberry picking this trip, but we did enjoy some sweet huckleberry bread with berries from the freezer.


A group shot of some of my siblings and spouses with our childhood neighbors and friends (all grown up now). My brother Will & his wife Christi, David & I, my sister Ellen, Dave & Stasia, and Tony.


To share this Saturday together, in addition to David & I flying in from Charlotte, Dave & Stasia flew from St. Louis and Tony caught a ride from western WA. If only vacations had aligned so that my sister Beth and her husband Michael could have been there, too...but their trip to Spokane isn't until the end of this week.

I also regret that I have no pictures of the Kalispel Indian Tribe powwow to share, but they are all on David's phone. Rest assured: the costumes were full of colors and feathers, the dancing was rigorous, and the drumming/singing was extreme.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Frances Kayaks

While up at the river I decided to try out my dad's new pedal-driven kayak. Here's a little video David took of my experience - I especially enjoy what the baby "says" near the end.

video

Thursday, August 7, 2008

The Woes and Blessings of Vacation

Sorry for the absence - we just got back from our long-anticipated vacation to eastern Washington state.  We flew to Spokane to enjoy the company of my family there and join them for a weekend up at my parent's river property.

Blessings:

  • wonderful hospitality and generosity on the part of my parents
  • a lovely morning spent with my dear friend Julie and her family
  • lots of delicious, comforting food that we didn't have to prepare ourselves
  • relaxing "do nothing in particular" days at home
  • a successful run to the thrift store for maternity and baby clothes (can't do much better than 50 cents per item!)
  • a beautiful weekend at the river, complete with family & friends time, water sports, ribs, Mass at a "country" church, and an Indian powwow
  • playing games (verbal and board) and doing crossword puzzles (Sudoku for David and Dad)
  • watching movies (including "The Mission," which is heart-wrenching and inspiring)
  • sharing the joyful news that my middle sister, Beth, is expecting a girl (her 18-week ultrasound revealed little Arianna to us) 
Woes:
  • getting really sick the second day of a week-long visit and staying that way the entire time
Explanation:  no, not morning sickness (thanks be to God, mine has all but vanished since week 9).  David and I both got sniffles which turned into full-blown congestion, sneezing, coughing, aches, and exhaustion.  We ended up taking David to Urgent Care for an antibiotic prescription for his sinus infection.  We believe that several factors converged to make us miserable: we were on three planes for a total of 8 or more hours on the way there (small spaces + sick people = sharing viruses), we were exposed to unfamiliar allergens in Spokane, the daily temperatures were abnormally low (lows in the 50s to highs in the 80s), and the air is virtually humidity free there, so it continuously sucked the moisture from our bodies (we are used to high humidity - we even run a humidifier during nights to counteract the drying effect of the air conditioning).  By day 3 I was feeling so lousy that we called our health insurance's nurse hotline to ask what medications I could safely take during pregnancy.  Benadryl got the okay and it helped me sleep a few nights, but I couldn't take anything to relieve my daytime suffering.  Thanks be to God, my family was incredibly understanding.  They rearranged their plans and refrained from complaining about our condition the entire time.

I look forward to posting some more pictures and stories soon.  For now, here is one of David and I: