"When we had our children, our ideas changed somewhat. Thenceforward we lived only for them; they made all our happiness and we would never have found it save in them. In fact, nothing any longer cost us anything; the world was no longer a burden to us. As for me, my children were my great compensation, so that I wished to have many in order to bring them up for Heaven" -- Saint Zelie Martin, mother of St. Therese of Lisieux, canonized October 18, 2015 along with her husband St. Louis Martin.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Birth Story #8

 I have been promising big things.  Birth stories, for one.  I'll see how far I get.  Love multiplies with each new child. Time, for better or worse, does not.:)

  Eowyn's birth story begins almost exactly like Legolas'.  It was raining. It had been raining for a few days, on and off, and with the barometric drop, I had been having contractions.  Then there was a calm day, my due date! I went to the doctor and scheduled an induction.  (I always cave at the end).  That night found me timing contractions again. I was praying to my guardian angel that I would know when to go to the hospital because the contractions were regular and close, but not long or strong.  I just didn't know how to time it, given how quickly I can have a baby once labor begins "for real".  I felt one good sharp contraction and called it quits: "Let's go."  My Mom was called and we woke Arwen up to babysit until she arrived.  We left. In the dark, in the rain.  The ride on the highway was..fast, and a little wild.  But my husband delivered. Not me. He fulfilled his promise to "get me there" before the baby came.

I was treated with special attention.  In fact, I think the entire nursing staff was there helping to whisk that delivery room into shape (I'm pretty sure something about having your eighth child with a history of speedy labors makes you stand out among the crowd of laboring mothers).  I got into a jacuzzi tub (heaven).  And two hours after I arrived at the hospital, Eowyn was born. It was the Eve of the Presentation of Mary, and so her name contains a nod to the Blessed Mother.
I do not wish to dwell long on my critiques of hospital deliveries, but I will say that I believe a midwife would be the cause of fewer complications.  She would cause fewer because of her gentle and attentive care and respect for the natural birth process.  Specifically, she does not hurry things along.  She works to protect peace and quiet and the beauty of the moment of birth.  She would be horrified at the overhead lights that are flicked on at the moment of delivery.  She would resent the aesthetics of the plastic/paper bag that is attached to  the foot of the bed to "catch" birthing tissues and what have you.  She would not appreciate the sharp orders to "scoot down more…more!" as the mother prepared to birth her child. She would never tug at the umbilical cord to help the placenta detach more quickly.  And, one of my precious memories from my home births is quietly waiting for the umbilical cord to stop beating before cutting the cord, because that blood is beating to go into the baby.  It's the precious final moments when my baby receives my own blood.   Then the cord is cut.  But in a hospital, the metal clamp scissors were applied and the cord was cut as my baby hung from the doctor's hand, waiting for the arms of her mother.  The metal clamper scissors swung from the cord into my baby's face as she was handed to me.  Harsh, cold metal.  
To be fair, this never happened in my other hospital births, but it's a very good example of the type of thing that makes a huge difference, once you have experienced the precious, gentle, quiet of a home delivery. 

I guess I dwelt a little longer than I hoped.  But it is a reality for me, and it's hard to share without that honesty.

But as you see, Eowyn is here. She is healthy, thriving, chubby.  She is a very joyful, content baby who laughs easily and rarely cries.  Her siblings think she is the cutest baby ever. I'd agree with them, but then I happen to remember each of them as infants, too.  In the end, I am most grateful to God for our health and the life of this precious little one.  I don't care too much about whether or not I made the right decision as to where she was born.  I am glad she is here. I have precious memories from those first days of her life.  I'd like to share more of those with you, because even with eight children, it is good to know that a mother will always cherish her child as infinitely precious and unique.  If I had quit at having just a few children, I would never have known the mysterious glory that is each new child.  

Thursday, April 24, 2014

More on measurements

Rosie is clearly struggling with her sense of measurements.  A few posts back I recorded her asking how much she "cost" as she stepped onto the scale.

Over Easter she was telling her dad and Uncle Mike about a dead frog that we passed on the road. (It was right on the path and we actually walked right over it.)  Uncle Mike asked her how far away it was from her.  Rosie answered in silence, because Rosie is shy and answers no one outside of our family.  So, her father followed up on the question:

Dad: "Yes Rosie, how far was the dead frog from you?"

Rosie: "I don't know"

Dad: "Was it close or far?"

Rosie: "I don't know, like, how many miles??

The next day we were getting gas and my husband got into the car.  Rosie asked: "How many inches did you get?"  I sat in the front seat completely confused by her question.  My husband replied "I got 20 gallons".

Three year olds!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Spring vacation (in retrospect)

I love Lent.  I absolutely love a chance to start over.  I love to weed out, reorganize, and clean.  I love apologies and forgiveness and new beginnings.  Lent is sort of my New Year's.  But this year, my Lent is a little less about Spring Cleaning and the 40 bags in 40 days challenge (which, again, I love). This year my husband said it was time for him to visit his parents.  My in-laws live in the southwest and we are blessed to be able to visit them frequently and for extended amounts of time.  It is a blessing that sometimes I'm not grateful for.  I am a homebody with a huge operation to run: 8 kids, homeschooling, ...do I have to add to that list??  In a family of ten, you don't just "pop down" to the opposite end of the country for a month lightly.  But I sort of do.
I pack clothes. I pack basic school books. I shut my home down (I posted my list on that). And we go.

I leave my world, my (extended) family, my friends, my sense of order, my routine, my privacy, my sense of control.  I abandon my life into the hands of God as I climb onto a plane that I am afraid will be my death.  This Lent, I was called to give up "my world"…the one that Simon Tugwell speaks of, that imaginary universe of which we are the false god wielding our false sense of omnipotence.  I'm definitely tempted by that false sense of control (and frustrated to no end at that).

It is hard to give up. I like control. I like my own home. I like running my family in my own way and feeding it the food I want to feed it with.  I have to let that go.  I let it go for the sake of my husband, yes, so that he can get his sunshine and golf…but I do it for something more, too. I do it for family.

My children have a relationship with their family on the other side of this country that I never had with my extended family.  They have an aunt and uncle who are much more fun than their own parents, if only because they own a pool with a slide and a tennis court, and cousins who dazzle even my own athletic children with their physical skills.  They have a grandmother who happens to breed thoroughbreds as a hobby on a gorgeous piece of land that has a river running through it and bluffs overlooking it.  They read to this dear woman each and every time they climbed into her car to drive anywhere (home from a restaurant, the grocery store,…) and they got through the entire Hobbit last summer and at least one book into the Lord of the Rings this visit.  They long to share their loves with her, and she tries mightily to reciprocate enthusiasm, bless her.   They get to eat all of the ice cream their Papa can buy…whether or not their mother noticed that dinner was a bite of mac n' cheese and a few fries--with a Sprite. <sigh>

My in-laws are not young, but my children have made memories and built a relationship which I pray may last for many more years.  I believe that my children are actually friends with their grandparents.  And that is very much worth it.  I shouldn't be surprised that my own relationship with my in-laws is strengthened as well, sharing their life for weeks at a time. But this time I was, happily, surprised to discover just how much fun we could have together, if only I'd let go of my desire to be in control of my own world…it was worth it.  Even if we do have to return to our world and our home (sweet home!!), it is all worth giving up my world and trying to die to myself.  Besides, I get to eat awesome Mexican for a month, so, a little perk;).

So, I Spring clean now.

Thank you

Auntie Leila, again:


Why can't I write like her?!

Monday, April 14, 2014

You know you have a pre-teen when

I've been laughing with Arwen this year.  We joke around about her being a "pre-teen".  She puts on this really funny act where she pretends to be the stereotype of a "cool" teenager.  She tells me I'm "so yesterday", says she'll "upload her playlist" or send me a new "app" for my iPhone, all with a great deal of "attitude" and probably holding her hand up in a peace sign. You get the idea.  It's funny.

Today I asked her to change a lightbulb.  I guess I've never asked before. She responded with an "what? I don't even know how to!"  My husband overheard and said "do it" (not unkindly).  She said she didn't even know how to get it out.  He said to turn it to the left.

After a struggle to find the correct bulb with the correct wattage, Arwen stomped back towards the lamp to screw in the new bulb ("to the right")…and then, I heard it. It was classic. With all of that awesome pre-teen frustrated attitude (except this time she wasn't acting), Arwen made one of her best pre-teen debuts. She said to her dad:

"What do you think I am, an engineer or something?!!"

I burst out laughing.  We regaled Arwen about being a pre-teen, and she couldn't help but smile at herself as she said something about me being so weird.  I told my husband that I'm kind of loving this middle-aged parenting thing.  It's really fun!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

I hate to justify...

my dirty house, but this gives me a little bit of an excuse to ignore the mess, at least for a little while…don't you agree?:)

When I hear the confession of a young married man or woman, and they refer to their son or daughter, I ask, ‘How many children do you have?’ and they tell me. Maybe they’re expecting another question after that, but I always ask “And tell me, do you play with your children? Do you waste time with your children? The free gift of a parent’s time is so important.”
-Pope Francis. 

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Funny, Overheard

Rosie (three years old) stepped onto the bathroom scale:

Rosie: "Daddy, how much do I cost?"

Father: "You weigh 40 pounds"

Rosie: "How much does "Legolas" cost?"