Story in a nutshell:
Mom of 18 week old twin boys was being treated horrifically by hospital staff because she refused to induce delivery due to a potential infection that would risk her health.
Since she's got a chance to carry the boys for a few more weeks until delivery, she wants to give them a fighting chance.
Since making that decision, doctors and nurses alike have treated her with contempt - freely telling her she was wasting time and resources.
Go to her Facebook Page and "like" to keep updated on her prognosis.
Offer up every spare prayer you can for her intentions. Memorares and prayers to Sts. Gianna / Jude are quite fitting!
As I stated on FB, this is where the land of contraceptives, abortion and euthanasia leads us...
No longer are children within the womb looked upon as children. No longer are mothers who want to protect their children as best they can looked upon as loving. Instead, these unborn children and the mothers who wish to save them are hysterical wastes of time and resources. They have no dignity - they are simply hormonal imbalances.
Yellow Wallpaper much?
And they say they care about the rights of women. I wave the BS flag on that.
May God have mercy on the stone-hearts tottering around that hospital.
That beautiful, wonderful, amazing-in-every-way woman I'm standing with is Sister Vincent. Those of you who have followed this blog may remember her from my Mac Nun Memories entry. More than a few of you ended up asking me if I named my son after her, and I honestly think I did! But shhh... we'll never tell John that, okay? :)
Anyway, Mary and I took a trip down memory lane today. With our elementary school, Incarnation, closing this June, the admin scheduled an open house that invited all alumni and past teachers to walk the halls one last time. Truth be told, we ended up having a blast and got some great pictures!
We were just wrapping up a conversation with Sister Pat, our old principal, when she asked for my son's name. I said "Vincent" and admitted that I'd named him for Sister Vincent. We all then wondered aloud if Sister Vincent might make an appearance. Not a minute after that, Sister Vincent walked through the doors. As Mary said, the only way it could've been better planned is if birds had flown in to announce her. Ha ha!
We rushed over to greet her with hugs, smiles and excited babbling. Oh my goodness, I can't even properly explain how overjoyed I was to see her! I know Mary was just as excited. I almost felt bad for all the other Inky alumni who couldn't make it on Saturday, because they ended up missing out on seeing her!!!
Oh, thank goodness you talked some sense into me, Mar!!! I'd've been SO jealous had you seen her without me!
She hasn't changed a bit. She remembered Mary and I fondly, and didn't even need us to introduce ourselves. I wasn't altogether surprised. Like I mentioned in that Memories entry, she poured her heart and soul into teaching and really got to know her students incredibly well. She cared about all of us, so it's no surprise that she took a piece of us with her for safe-keeping. :) What an absolute blessing she was today! And it's doubtful she even registers what a joy it was to see her. She's so unassuming. So incredibly sweet. God knows how to pick 'em, that's for sure!
Whoa with the hating on my husband, ladies! While you're at it, slow your roll with the ridiculous accusations against me, too!
I'd like to take a quick moment to express my sincerest gratitude for those of you sent prayers and messages upon reading My Darkest Secret (either through Facebook threads, this blog or e-mail). I've been humbled and deeply touched by your thoughtfulness, love and generosity. Considering how difficult posting that entry was, you each made it worthwhile with the support, gentleness and understanding you showed. Please know I'll be keeping you all in my prayers.I have to admit I was not expecting the sort of response that was received. Apparently this was picked up by a page called "Guggie Daily" on Facebook. From there, it was shared (a woman named Mattie apparently posted this to every group known to man), Twittered, and e-mailed all over the place. Wow!Considering this is an unknown little blog in the corner of nowhere, I was really surprised to see the flood of comments and e-mails. Most have been very kind and supportive. As I said above, I am so grateful for that. Some comments have been slightly confusing, and others have been outright mean. I felt I needed to respond to those latter comments in a general way in the hopes that folks see this as they're scrolling down to troll.The majority of the "mean" comments can be broken into a few categories. They are:1. Divorce John. He's a horrible, evil minion of Satan.2. You should be ashamed of yourself for setting the feminist movement back [insert number] years.3. You obviously don't understand what the Church's teaching on annulment is, because if you did, you'd totally do it.4. You are writing this entry to be a spiteful, manipulative jerk in an effort to guilt your husband into giving you children.5. You're both going to hell. Him for using birth control, and you for allowing him to do it.6. You don't really care about your son because if you did, you'd be fighting a lot harder to make sure he gets siblings.And my favorite:7. You just ruined Santa Claus for me. I wonder if it was MY neighbor all along, too.Ha ha - okay, obviously that last one was sent by a reader, George, who understands the power of a good joke. Thank you, George! Those others, however, were recurring themes in many of the responses I got. In fact, several messages had combinations of most included! So instead of answering each one individually (or deleting them en masse again), here is my response.
Divorce John. He's a horrible, evil minion of Satan.
Look, I get that he hates washing the dishes, is color blind and hates HGTV. Fine. And this whole issue of being afraid of the financial / time / emotional strain that future children could place on our family? Yeah, okay... it's a little tough to swallow at times. But labeling him a follower of Satan?
There's this thing called hyperbole. You're totally doing it right, but maybe it'd be best to leave such literary devices to poetry.
You're setting "the movement" back a bazillion years.
I didn't realize that making a sacrifice (albeit a painful one) for the good of my family was setting the bra-burners back a few decades.
One of the Facebook users who commented on my situation had a profile photo of herself in a bathroom wearing her underwear. I'm serious. I wish I was kidding.
Anyway, she said something along the lines of me being the type of woman who endures years of being barefoot and pregnant, scrubbing mountains of dishes and piles of laundry, never able to find satisfaction in anything not related to serving my man.
Sheesh. Really? Is that how my entry REALLY came across?
Let me assure you that, though I do like being barefoot (and would certainly like to be pregnant again), I don't make it a point to spend all my free time washing dishes for
"my man." Granted, I also don't spend my time in bathrooms taking half-naked photos of myself in order to generate "OMG, you're so hot!" comments from him, either.
John and I have discussed this repeated times. This isn't an area one can compromise on, and thus, I willingly make this sacrifice for the good of my family because I love and respect them, myself, and any potential children enough to do it.
If this is considered weakness, I'd be curious to know what you consider strength to be.
Also, judging me for my desire to be a good wife and mother goes directly against that whole feminist idea of women being enabled to do that which they believe is right for them. Or do you not note the hypocrisy of your own words?
You don't know what annulment is, 'cause if you did...
I sincerely wonder if the folks who accused me of this actually understand annulment even half as well as I do. If they did, they'd understand why an annulment (even by Church standards) is out of the question from a moral standpoint.
When John and I married one another, we did it with the full knowledge of what it was we were signing on for. We had discussed children and we were pretty much on the same page for everything. We loved (and continue to love) one another, and we strive to think of the other person in all we do. With the exception of the openness to children, nothing has changed. To request that the Church deem our marriage invalid because he changed his mind AFTER the fact is fallacious. Also, it's pointless as this particular issue is something we have reached an agreement on for the good of our family as a whole. To go through a pointless process when we still wish to remain as a family is so beyond the realm of common sense that I really do kinda shake my head in wonder at these folks who are so quick to "give up" the second something difficult comes up.
No wonder divorce rates are so high (and cheap) in this country. Folks are so busy thinking about themselves that the second a sacrifice is necessary, they head for the hills.
You are a spiteful, manipulative jerk!
I definitely can be, but this most certainly isn't one of those times. Considering this blog was relatively unknown until it got picked up by folks on Facebook, I didn't think it'd get further than the tiny circle of followers I've amassed.
Also, John will likely never read this. He doesn't have to, because he already knows my feelings. I set this off into cyberspace because writing is therapeutic for me. It also helps me better understand my own thought-process and feelings. This had nothing to do with guilting John. How could it when there's really very little chance of it ever effecting him? That's just silly.
You're both going to hell.
Eh, you're probably right. ;)
In all seriousness though, since John doesn't believe in Catholicism, the idea of birth control being sinful is foreign to him. So though it'd still be a sin, it can't be a mortal one because he doesn't have the proper knowledge necessary for it to be a mortal, hell-inducing sin. Also, I cannot be held responsible for John's decision to use birth control (he's the one who uses it, not me). In as plain a way as possible, take this illustration:
Mike hits Jane.
Jane feels pain.
Mike sinned, but Jane did not.
When they die in a fiery explosion later that afternoon, Mike will be punished for his sin. Jane, being blameless (unless she's the one who caused the fiery explosion of doom), will not be judged.
Kinda straightforward, right?
You don't care about Vince 'cause if you did, you'd fight...
Oh yeah - 'cause that makes any sense.
So I apologize that this is a little more negative than my entries tend to be. But in light of recent developments, I thought it prudent to dispel these things from the gate. Blessings to all of you, and thank you for your continued prayers!
So this question came up both in my CCD class and in an open forum for adults last week.
I wasn't surprised to see it in my CCD class. They're sixth grades. However, I was surprised that it cropped up in the forum from a well-versed Catholic adult!
So I figured I'd share my answer here since it's a more prevalent question than I'd realized.
We technically have the Romans to thank for the title of "Good Friday."
See, back when the St. Paul started preaching the "good news" of Jesus Christ, there was another word you might be familiar with in constant use... "gospel."
Before us Christians usurped it as our own, the word "gospel" had a very specific connotation. Since Rome enjoyed conquering every community known to man, they were frequently in far-off places fighting a variety of different people. As a result, they needed fast couriers to let the various generals (and Caesar) know if they were winning or needed backup.
When these couriers skitted back to the capital with news of a victory, they called it the "euangelion" (which is actually the Greek word for evangelization or "bringing good news"). The good news was victory for the people. Oddly enough, it also referenced the official laws and privileges that these new Roman citizens could be assured of if they played nice and followed Roman authority. That, in turn, was the actual "gospel."
So apply this knowledge to what our Christian gospel actually is. St. Paul describes it best as the death and resurrection of Jesus. From the Throne of the Cross, Christ defeated the enemy and assured salvation for those who would accept His Authority. It makes perfect sense, then, why we would consider that first Good Friday to be "Good." It was the true trumpet of humanity's "gospel." That act secured for us victory in addition to the privileges that come with being a child of God.
As the years went on, this word was picked up and converted into "Godspel." It was a Germanic combination of "God / good" and "story / message." That's why most of us today understand the word to mean "Good News." Originally, however, it meant an entire group of people were welcomed into the fold with privileges and rewards so long as they agreed to abide by the authority of the one who conquered their territory.
In other words, Jesus came to earth, conquered it through His Passion, Death and Resurrection, and gained for us the inheritance of eternal life so long as we submit to His Will (which is nothing more than loving one another as He, Himself, has loved).
So yes, I've obviously been in quite the doom and gloom mood as of late. The issues surrounding the Philadelphia Archdiocese hit home in a big way last week. I was asked to attend a meeting that was to finalize plans for a school farewell. The pastor had asked me to explain a memento book I'd been pushing for since 6 days after the closings were announced. To say the least, I was beyond floored by how unprepared and disorganized everything was. While trying to get a handle on the situation (I was trying to figure out how to work the tiny number of volunteers we had for the number of stations we needed coverage for), the principal (a sweet, wonderful woman who is doing the best she can in a situation in which everything is stacked solidly against her) misunderstood my attempt to figure out man-power as an attack on her dedication. Poor Sister. I honestly feel awful for her and all the other people both in our and other schools who are struggling with the same reality. Alumni are knocking down the doors for some sort of open house / farewell, but no one wants to actually take the time to properly plan things out. On top of that, current families and students tend to get shuffled aside. *Sigh*It's just a sad, disheartening situation all around.And then in Jersey, in my own parish, there's been an atmosphere of bubbling anger and indignation still seething from the mergers over the last few years. With the last several meetings we've had, I feel like I'm watching our wonderful pastor struggle harder and harder against the overwhelming tide of criticism and ineptitude overflowing from his own superiors (who, in turn, are probably struggling with much of the same). In our last meeting, I couldn't get the image of Atlas struggling to hold up the weight of the world on his shoulders out of my head. Instead of Atlas, though, it's our poor pastor. Eeps!So yeah... I've been a miserable little bum. Everything was really getting to me because I felt like I couldn't do anything to make any of it better. Until I remembered the following quote from St. Francis de Sales: Every Christian needs a half-hour of prayer each day, except when he is busy, then he needs an hour.Ha! This quote is wonderful because it reminds us that no matter how busy we are, no matter how stressed or over-burdened we think we are, God never gives us more than we can handle. All we need to do is rely on Him through prayer, and all the craziness takes care of itself.
So I spent some time in Adoration. I normally don't go during lunch because I feel like I can't give Jesus the proper time He deserves. That, I've realized, is an excuse. Any time with Jesus is time well-spent, so I took my spare ten minutes and found myself in the adoration chapel.
I was absolutely miserable, so I wasn't really expecting much to come of it. I then said to myself, "So what if nothing comes of it? Adoration isn't supposed to be for us. It's supposed to be a gift to Jesus. So stop your whining and be grateful for the fact that He allows you to spend time with Him at all."
(I really do have these sorts of conversations with myself... don't judge me! Ha ha!)
So I went. I didn't even bother with the veil. I just went in to the lonely little chapel room and said "Hi" to Jesus. I didn't recite any fancy prayers, and I didn't even turn on the lights. I just knelt before the monstrance and said, "Hi Jesus. I love You. Help me to love You better."
I didn't know what else to say. I really didn't. I was sheepishly grinning at Jesus, because I knew He was enclosed in the monstrance and was probably hoping for something a little more profound than "Hi Jesus" over and over again.
But I quickly realized that wasn't true. Jesus was just glad I was there with Him... that I came to Him when I realized the flood of emotion was too much. Like any good friend, He was waiting patiently (no... EXPECTANTLY) for me to ask for help. As I acknowledged the truth of that, an immediately wave of relief came over me. I felt happiness and love. I actually put my arms out a bit because I knew in that moment, Jesus was hugging me. I don't care how much of a crazy person that makes me. Jesus was hugging me, and darn it - I was gonna hug Him back!
After that, I spent the last couple minutes just "hanging out" with Jesus. I repeated my prayer of "I love You, help me to love You better" a few more times, and then thanked Him for the opportunity to come see Him.
I left with the dopiest grin on my face. I had gone over my Best Friend's house in the middle of the day and snuck in a few minutes of chit-chat. It really made all the difference in the world.
I then took the advice of a dear priest friend who suggested that lunch / dinner might be a good option to cheer up our pastor. Armed with his suggestion, I began making plans to surprise him (Fr. Atlas - I'm totally going to call him that from now on) with a luncheon. After all, Mark Twain said it best: The best way to cheer yourself up is to try to cheer somebody else up.
Hopefully this will provide a morale-boost to Fr. Atlas in addition to those of us who are able to attend. I sincerely hope we draw a good sized crowd for him. He deserves to know he's appreciated and supported by his community. He's done so much for us, and it's be nice to acknowledge him for his love to remind me that even though he's facing a deluge of criticism, he has a deluge of appreciation to balance it out.
So yeah... Adoration, even for a few minutes, really can make a difference!
I don't believe that the end of the world is going to be this crazy Armageddon of fire balls, alien invasions or even zombies (jury's still out on sentient robot armies - ha).
Nope. I believe it's going to be something much more innocuous, and I also believe we're seeing the creepings of it in the push for politics like this.Being a Catholic, I believe that there will be a time in which Christ comes back to judge the living and the dead. It's right there in our Creed. It's right there in our Bible. Jesus promised to return in glory at the end of the ages in order to usher in an era of peace in which He reigns as King.However, He won't be back until the Church is thoroughly decimated by a necessary cleansing (and I do mean decimated - read the definition here). Oddly enough, we seem to be entering into the beginnings of some sudsy action right now!Times are not only changing... they're coming to a head. For as much of a crazy woman as this will make me sound, I am convinced we are living on the cusp of these "end times."We've seen a complete betrayal of faith (both in the Catholic community and elsewhere). Religion has become something to be ashamed of. The name of Christ is only uttered by those too "unenlightened" to know any better. Morality has been skewed so beyond recognition that we accept the murder of innocence as "choice." We've already begun our trip down the proverbial "slippery slope" and evil is already working at desensitizing us to its perversion.There are those within our own ranks that are calling for the abolition of firmly held dogma. These wolves in sheep's clothing are, in my opinion, the work of evil attempting to tear us down from within . It will be from them that the trumpets of Armageddon will sound, and yes... I have no doubt that even the chair of St. Peter will be corrupted. One day in the not-too-distant future (yes, maybe even in my lifetime), a pope will be "elected" who will make it his nefarious goal to destroy the Church.I pray for Pope Benedict, because I wonder where we'll be after his pontificate ends. Will we luck out with another strong and brave leader that is willing to stand in staunch defense of our faith? I fear not, and I fear the day that the teachings of our previous popes go ignored. I honestly dread the day in which homosexual marriages are taught as a natural right of equality... when abortion is accepted as a social justice... when women are "ordained" as Catholic priests. All done, of course, under the guise of "charitable acceptance."
Oh mercy!I have no doubt that these things are to come, and as they do, those true Catholics who can still discern the work of satan will be persecuted beyond endurance. We'll understand that the sacraments are being slowly siphoned away from us (after all, women priests are not priests at all, thus consecration providing us with the Eucharist is impossible... confession... confirmation... all our greatest avenues of grace will be denied!). I've been saying for the last two years that our beloved Church is headed for a schism. With all the dissent, misinformation, and bad catechesis running rampant within our ranks, the only true way we'll purify ourselves is through an ugly split. Folks who don't truly understand / believe what the Catholic Church has taught for the past 2,000 plus years can move on and create yet another protestant denomination that thinks they've got it all figured out. The remnant Church (fragmented though she may be) will have successfully been purged of all those who are seeking her destruction. Then, and only then, can we expect Christ. No one knows the day or hour, but we can be assured that our Church must endure the aforementioned chastisement for allowing the follies of her members to spread with such alarming apathy. It is only through this chastisement that we can really prepare ourselves for the Second Coming. I realize all of this makes me sound like a crazy person... maybe even as crazy as Harold Camping's rapture predictions.However, I'm not suggesting anything outside the Bible. I'm simply following our current path to its logical end. More and more we can see religions being persecuted (specifically Christians), and more and more of our own religious are turning away from dogma (Fr. Z just compiled a great list of the sisters that served as catalyst for the Vatican "crackdown"). This is not a matter of the Church "finally changing with the times." Dogma CANNOT "change." It's what makes our faith so steadfast, reliable and holy. When folks start tinkering with the divine, there will be consequences... and we're feeling those consequences with a lack of vocations, a lack of reverence, and a lack of dignity in the public sphere. May God have mercy on us.
I just got the most touching message ever. It was from a reader (who will remain anonymous per his request). I'm reposting with his permission, though. I'm hoping he'll be kind enough to guest post a more in-depth entry, but at the very least, maybe he'll be kind enough to stick around and answer commentary that gets left behind.
I have to admit being incredibly surprised when I got this entry. It's from a family member that I didn't think even knew my blog existed. Also, I'd never - EVER - heard him tell this story before. It honestly made me wonder how many other people close to me have been / are grappling with this pain.
His message is below. I edited it a bit so others who don't know him can follow the story better. I also removed names and identifying information so he could keep his identity private.
I'd also like to take this time to thank him again for sharing this, and for allowing me to share it with all of you. THANK YOU! You've moved me beyond words.
I read your most recent article last night. You have a great way of explaining the unexplainable and that's a nifty gift.
I feel compelled to write now because of your last article. It might seem strange to you because I am a man, father and grandfather.
Long ago in the days of walking to school uphill both ways in bare feet, I got my lady friend pregnant. We were young. Against my wishes, she chose to abort our child with a homemade concoction she learned from her mother. I pleaded with her not to do it and I did everything to keep her from drinking that sludge, but I failed and my baby never made it into this world breathing.
I'm married with two grown children now, three grandchildren and one on the way. Not a day goes by that I don't think of my angel baby. I failed her. I know she's with God, but she should have had a chance to be with me first. Her younger brothers (my two boys) never got to meet her. I believe she's been their guardian angel all these years. I wish they got a chance to play and grow together.
I can't help wondering if I missed my chance to walk her down the aisle. She would've been married by now and probably would have given me a few grandbabies. I'll never know them, my other kids will never know them, the other grandkids won't know them. An entire world has been closed off to us because of her mother's choice - and I had no say.
Men can feel this loss too. I feel it every day and I battle jealousy like you. My friends have all had their daddy's little girl. When my boys were in high school, I never got to participate in the father-daughter dances that others did. That was real hard on me because I believe my angel baby was my baby girl. And that Butterfly Kisses song they play at weddings is like a bayonet to my guts. I'm an old man and I cry every time I hear it.
I'll keep John in my prayers. You and Vincent, too. It is a very heavy load to carry around. Like you said it doesn't heal. But thank you for expressing what I never have. For men, this isn't a conversation you can have. Your outlet has become my outlet. I hope you continue to be blessed and I hope you continue to write out your thoughts like this. They are insightful and moving. I'm streaming tears with you.
My wife says to tell you she appreciates your comments. I had her read your article and she understands better how much I hurt sometimes. Almost want to send it to my kids, too.
Shhh - I've got a secret to share...
This is a post I've attempted to start dozens of times. I'm half wondering what's going to happen to this one.
Will this be the one that gets published? Or will this one, too, be drowned out by tears, frustration, anger or sadness?
Guess the only way to find out is to keep typing.
My earliest memories revolve around my two younger siblings (both sisters) whom I always tried to "mother hen." I'd initiate games, I'd always be the "teacher" during pretend play, and I'd be the one that would organize and direct whatever mischief we'd get ourselves into.
However, I never liked dolls. That was my sister's thing. Maria was the quintessential "mother." She'd run around carrying her dolls everywhere, being sure to feed, diaper and burp them. I was much more interested in real babies. Plastic recreations simply made me feel cheated. I wanted real children to play with!
Like this in hot pink molded plastic!
I remember one Christmas, "Santa" brought me a swing for dolls. Santa, mind you, was our neighbor, Stan, who would dress up and bring us gifts on a random night leading up to Christmas - we all looked forward to that special visit every year. Anyway, the year he gave me the doll swing, I knew a mistake had been made. "Santa," I said, "I think this is Maria's gift."
Truth be told, Maria's eyes were glistening with jealousy. She hadn't opened her present yet, but boy did she want mine! It was pink and white and perfect for any doll lucky enough to find itself seated there.
Santa replied that he was certain the swing was mine because he picked it out especially for me. He knew I'd need it for the gift Maria was getting. Turns out she was given a Baby Alive type doll - moving parts, eyes that opened and closed, and she even giggled after sipping her bottle. Maria was absolutely in her glories, and she immediately went to town cooing over the new "baby doll" she was given charge over. I took its spoon and tried to figure out how the disappearing peas worked.
That night, feeling completely gypped, I went to bed angry with Santa for not knowing that I thought baby dolls were stupid. What he said about me needing it for Maria irritated me even more, because my Christmas present should've been for ME, not for Maria.
Obviously I was a selfish little brat at 5 years old. *Sheepish grin*
Anyway, I'd love to say that I immediately learned my lesson but I didn't. It took me a few days of sulking before I understood that "Santa" had wanted to foster sharing between my sister and I. Shannon, at this point, was still too young to really play with Maria and I (though I remember trying to get her into the doll swing at one point). I also tried to get our cat, Sparky, in there, but he refused to have any parts of it.
Finally, Maria said to me that her dolly wanted to take a ride in my swing. I knew her dolly didn't want to do anything of the sort. Dolls don't have emotions or desires. Maria just wanted to use my swing. Stupid doll. No, no she can't use my swing. It's my swing, and even though I think it's a stupid present, she can't use it because it's mine.
Maria (being extremely sensitive at this point in time), crinkled her face at me and said I was being really mean. I should be nicer to the baby doll because her feelings were hurt now that I was being so mean.
Just like I knew Maria was expressing her own desire to use the swing through the doll, I understood then that she was also letting me know she was hurt because I was being mean to her.
Fully reproached, I handed over my swing to let her play to her heart's content. I was the big sister... it was my job to be nice to Maria, even if I thought what she wanted to do was stupid. I realized, too, that letting her play with the swing made me feel like a mom. I spent a while with her, just helping her play, wondering if that's what our mother felt like when she sat down to play a game with me.
I was proud of myself because I knew what I was doing was right. I was acting like a real mom - something I'd always, always wanted to be - even from an early age.
Anyway, fast forward through the years. I began keeping a diary. The diary wasn't just a collection of angst-y whining that is typical of a tween (but boy is there a lot of that in there!). It was a history lesson meant to show my future children that I was once exactly like them.
My entries always called out my future progeny. I'd write letters to them, or when I'd describe the mischief I'd get into, I'd say "So don't think Mommy doesn't know what kind of games you're playing when you just say you're going out with friends! I know better!"
Really. I did this from my very first diary entry (I still have them all) and continue right up until present day. All throughout my pregnancy with Vincent I'd write him little love notes telling him about all the excitement his very existence brought. I'd mention his future brothers and sisters, telling them that I couldn't wait to feel the same excitement for them, just so they didn't feel left out at all the talk about Vincent.
I always imagined my kids finding my set of diaries in a forgotten box in the attic. They'd laugh at the same entries that now make me cringe, they'd be surprised by some of my antics, and they'd learn something from my more vulnerable moments. It was always my hope that these diaries would give them a window into who Mommy is outside of just "Mommy." I always wanted my kids to understand that I'm a person with emotions that rival their own... that Mommy DOES understand the hurt of lost friendships, the joy of new romance, and the thrill of independence.
You see, in my mind, these children already exist. They always have. I've been longing for them from my earliest memories. I've thought of them, planned for them, and made many decisions based on what their future perception of me would be (hence my lack of tattoos even though I've always really, really wanted one). I've just been waiting for them to finally arrive so I could meet them.
That's what makes this entry so incredibly difficult for me.
I am the mother of children I'll never meet.
I am not infertile. John is not infertile. Neither of us are sterilized, and there isn't even an age issue considering we're both young enough to not have the fear that accompanies the pregnancies of older mothers.
Why, then, am I lamenting the fact that I will never have the family I'd always envisioned?
Here is my secret...
My husband does not want any more children and defends his desire to use birth control to ensure I remain barren.
This is typically the moment I delete the entry and lock myself in a bathroom. The thought of other people knowing that this is my reality is incredibly scary. To even admit that this is my reality is tantamount to me "giving up" on my kids - the ones who always have (and always will) exist in my heart, just waiting to be given a body to hug me with.
Ugh - each passing sentence has me feeling like I'm walking through thicker and thicker mud. I keep stopping mid-sentence, unsure if I can continue, half-wanting to retreat and find that aforementioned bathroom.
However, I won't stop this time. The pain of secrecy is almost as much to bear as the pain of vulnerability now. The last couple weeks have been particularly thorny for me, which I think is why I'm now feeling the overwhelming "urge to purge" through writing.
Several friends recently had children (with about a dozen more expecting). I'm both ridiculously happy for these friends and admittedly jealous. I am truly thrilled for the new life they're bringing forth because they all deserve the happiness that these children will undoubtedly bring, but I also have a twinge of jealousy that I don't get to experience growing my family as well.
Every time I hold their newborns or see the pictures on Facebook, my heart both grows with joy and falls apart with grief. I don't say anything to anyone about this, because God forbid anyone feel guilty about sharing their joy with the world. I would never want that. I really do enjoy sharing in their joy, and I am content to keep my grief my own. I really am.
However, the questions are getting to be too much, the insinuations too hurtful, and the comments too overwhelming.
Over Christmas, we spent time with a family that just had a newborn. Of course, I was more than happy to hold her to give her mom a break. Several comments were made by my family that I looked good with a baby girl (or maybe I'd be next, etc). I both appreciated the comments and just about died from how overwhelmed with grief I felt. More than anything I'd like to add a few more names to the family tree, but I knew what they didn't. Their longing for grandchildren / cousins / nieces / nephews pales in comparison to mine. Couple it with the fact that I needed to keep that tid-bit to myself only made it worse. I was walking around choking back tears knowing that I couldn't provide what we all wanted.
Over Easter, we spent time with this same family. The new mom asked when John and I would be having another. Thank God for sunglasses, because tears immediately sprang to my eyes. Having been bombarded for weeks with babies and pregnancy reveals, I was barely able to conceal the pain as I murmured, "Hopefully one day. Still haven't quite convinced John the timing's right."
I then looked up at the ride my niece was on and made some sort of comment about her making an adorable face. I couldn't actually see Alliya's face, but it immediately brought the conversation to a halt as the mom tried to search her out among the crowd.
My beautiful Alliya!
Later that afternoon, my niece saw me with the baby again. As she and Vincent were dancing around the living room, she said,"Aunt Gina, do you want another baby?"
I smiled at her and said, "Alliya, I'd like 100 more babies."
She laughed (as did my mother-in-law) and replied, "Why did you have Vincent?"
I said, "Because I loved him so very much."
My mother-in-law was trying to answer her as well, but Alliya was pretty intent on my response. She's a smart one! She didn't accept my answer as good enough, so she pressed me further with
: "Then why don't you have more?"
Her innocent question was more loaded than she realized, and I fault her none for the immediate torrent of grief that coursed through me. I pulled the newborn against me and kissed her head, once again taken hostage by my pained knowledge that the baby I held wasn't mine and likely never would be.
I soon handed the baby back to her mother so I could recollect myself in private. I could see John sitting on the porch talking to the men and it made me slightly irritated that he never got these kinds of questions. These were conversations for women, not men. Besides, even if someone did ask him about children, he'd nonchalantly express his contentment with Vincent (which is fine). Then this weekend, we spent some time with my best friend's family. She and her brothers have exactly the kind of relationship I always knew my kids would have with one another. Watching Mary and her siblings play ball in the yard together was both wonderful and painful. When I think of the children I'll never have, I can't help but feel like I'm cheating Vincent out of his siblings. I mean, I even asked John about that - he and his siblings have a good relationship. Didn't he think that Vincent deserved the same?And then I worry about when we get older - will Vince be forced to care for us by himself? Will he have no support system with which to rely when John and I die? It's one thing to share this sorta pain with your friends - it's entirely different to share it with those who know EXACTLY the loss you feel. Who but a sibling can share that sort of grief with you?And then what if Vincent does grow up and decide to become a priest (I can only pray - ha!). In addition to me not having children, I would then also be denied grandchildren. These things are painful to me alone. John doesn't really desire these things, so there isn't any loss for him in that regard. And that's fair. I can't (and wouldn't) force him into caring for something that is a non-issue. He can't be faulted for his feelings on this subject. Considering how bombarded we are anymore regarding children being nothing more than a hinderance to personal gratification and success, I really am unsurprised. He was afraid I'd resent him for his feelings, but I can't. I understand his feelings and they are valid. So please don't attack him for that which he has no real control over. His feelings are just as strong (and valid) as mine.Hiding this flood of emotion has become extremely taxing. I don't like to bombard John with it, and I certainly never want to "out" him to his family (because no doubt there would be some head-wagging from certain corners). I also never want to make others feel bad for sharing their joy - or even making comments that imply the children I'd bear are wanted.
But the pain is there. It is palpable, and I honestly think this must be what couples struggling with infertility face. It has made me much more sensitive to my own comments regarding children and time-frames that revolve around them. After all, I'm kind of dealing with a forced sterility.
No, that's not fair. It's not forced. It took me a while, but I've recently come to understand that this is something I have willingly accepted for the benefit of my husband.
Lady and the Atheist
For a while, he was worried I'd grow to resent him for his unwillingness to grow our family. He'd avoid the topic like the Plague, afraid that if he was honest about his desire to remain a one-child family, I'd divorce him for someone who would give me what I wanted.
In fact, he suggested I do that, himself, during one of the many heated debates we had about this.
He was also concerned I'd attempt to force a pregnancy. God only knows how he thought I'd do that. I explained I'd never force a child into a situation in which he or she might end up resented. For as much as I want these children, I'd never want to raise them in an environment in which they weren't given the unconditional love due to them.
Besides, I didn't marry John because he'd be my baby-factory. I married John because I love him and saw a future with him. We did have discussions on children before marriage, and I've always envisioned a large family. His vision changed along the way (hence the situation I now find myself in). Regardless, I vowed to stick it out with him. I didn't vow to stick it out with him so long as he conformed to my desires for a large family.
Now two of my friends who are aware of the situation have pointed out that John, himself, vowed to be open to life. That opens the door to an easy annulment so I could drop him and move on.
While I understood they were attempting to help me "out" of my situation, they didn't understand that I didn't accept divorce (or even annulment) as an answer. Even though I technically have every right to dissolve the marriage because of his refusal to accept this particular vow, I would never do such a thing. It's non-sensical.
Well, for starters, I know without a doubt in my mind that John was meant to be my husband. When I prayed to Our Lady for a good man who would be an incredible father, the response was John. He is a good man and an incredible father. His ideas on the size of our family may have fluctuated, but his integrity as a person never has. Also his ability to provide a life for Vincent and I can never be called into question. I have more in John than most women could find in 100. For that, I am eternally grateful.
Besides, if you think about it, marriage is a covenant. It's a promise between two people to uphold certain things, right? Well, how many covenants did God make with the Israelites? Plenty - each one of them broken by humanity. However, God never reneged on His end of the deal, right?
Maybe this is the cross Christ is asking me to bear. Thus, I offer this to Him for whatever it is that He needs it for. I admit that I really, REALLY struggle under the weight of it at times. These last few weeks have been the toughest by far. But I believe that He never gives us something so heavy that His Grace can't prop us up enough to handle it.
In accepting this, I think I really came to understand what I've always said about Christ's love. When I explained to John the sacrifice I was willingly making for him (and thus, for our marriage), he responded with, "I don't deserve so much sacrifice. It's too much."I heard myself in his voice. I really did. We were having this heart-to-heart in bed when he said that, and I can honestly say I immediately pictured myself at the foot of the Cross saying the same thing to Jesus. The point of sacrifice is NOT that the person you're sacrificing for deserves it. A real sacrifice is a gift of love, given freely because you WANT to give it without any expectation for repayment. That quote I found a few months ago was right:
Love transforms suffering into sacrifice.It is LOVE that enables me to make this sacrifice without contempt, without resentment, and without anger. That doesn't mean I won't feel intense emotional pain. Love just gives me the strength to survive it... to endure it willingly for the benefit of both John and Christ. That knowledge is the only thing that gives me solace. I understand this is a wound that won't heal... and maybe it's not meant to. Maybe it needs to stay fresh with each innocent comment, each new pregnancy, and each new experience I have seeing siblings tottering around the park together while Vince unsuccessfully tries to butt in and play, too. My ways are not His ways, and maybe He's got something in store for me up ahead. Just keep me and my family in your prayers. As I said, this has been an incredibly difficult few weeks (on an emotional level), and I'm hoping this entry lets off some of the steam that's been suffocating me.Also, for those of you still with me ('cause wow... this really got long), I appreciate the time you spent. Blessings to you and yours.***PS - I've written a rebuttal to several of the more Negative Nancys who have written in to lament the many shameful things I've said. That can be found here.******PPS - I've now had to swap commentary to "Approve First" due to the overwhelming number of respondents who have declared themselves Christ by judging my husband and I guilty of mortal sin. So feel free to comment, but know that if you overstep your bounds, I'm very friendly with the delete button.***
Geez, I'm on a roll today.
Just stumbled across this article summarizing one man's journey through a whirlwind taste-test of 12 different faiths. He and his wife suffered the trauma of miscarriage. Wife, Heather, finds solace in the Baptist Christianity and husband, Andrew, spends a few years hating the idea of a god who could so cruelly take away the miracle of life they'd participated in creating.When Andrew finally hits a wall where his hatred threatens to destroy him, he develops the idea for what he calls Project Conversion (complete with its own Facebook page). He took it upon himself to follow 12 different faiths for 12 months, spending half the month learning and half the month practicing these new faiths.In theory, this is a fairly decent idea. He was reaching out to God in the only way he knew how - to sample the various faiths and see which one fit him the best. I know a lot of hard-line Catholics will razz me for that (considering that faith should not conform to you, but you to the Truth), but I think it's very important for someone with no real religious background to do a bit of digging. It's important for cradle Catholics (or cradle Buddhists, Muslims, etc) to broaden their perspectives, too. I'm not advocating trying to practice other religions, mind you. I'm suggesting learning about these different theologies and cultures because, as Andrew Bowen found out, there truly is something to be gained from each. I've always believed the idea of God to be similar to a mountain. God is at the top of the mountain, and our journey to Him can take us through many paths. Some may find their way to Him through Islam. Others may find their way to Him through non-denominational Christianity. Others, still, might find their way to Him by virtue of their defense of all that is good in the world. I believe Catholicism offers the straightest path to God, but I don't discount the virtues in other faiths.I think that's what this guy was trying to get at as he made his way through the cycle of religions.However, I wish the author of the article pointed out that it is impossible to even skim the surface of these religions - many (though not all) of which date back thousands of years.I also take the statement "But this was no reality TV stunt" with a grain of salt. Considering the pictures that accompanied the article, it was obvious that from the start he was looking to do something with this "Project Conversion." Also, you don't start calling something a "Project" unless you've got an idea in mind of what you plan to accomplish. Ha ha ha.But that's fine. He's now looking to write a book about his experiences, and more power to him if he cashes in. It's a great idea that could very well have a very positive impact!However, I still wish that you can't "immerse" yourself in any religion within the confines of one month. There simply isn't enough time, and no mentor (no matter how brilliant) could possibly cover the nuances of the various faith sets.Regardless, it's an interesting experiment, and I'm curious to see where it will lead. Thought you folks might be interested, too! :)
K, so this post springs out of a comment that gave me a belly laugh from a reader, Sandra. She gave me permission to repost, so I'm taking full advantage.
While commenting on this recent entry, she said:
The mantilla is too old-fashioned and the snoods make me feel like an amish woman.Ha ha ha ha! I am so glad that I wasn't drinking coffee or something when I read that, because I no doubt would've scalded myself snarfing.Anyway, I own two beautiful mantillas (both from Veils by Lily). I don't have any snoods because the first time I attempted to wear one, I came out a jumbled mess. Plus, the style just isn't for me. My neck is way too giraffe-like to not have some sort of hair to balance me out.I use what I call "chapel veils." Now I realize that mantillas and snoods are chapel veils, too, but I dunno if the particular style I utilize has a name all its own. Thus, when I refer to "chapel veil" go ahead and picture something like this:
Me about to ramble about renewal.
This type of veil is very plain (I think made of chiffon?) and what I guess would be considered mid-length. I dunno - it's like 15 inches and ties in the back (which is extremely helpful considering Vincent is dedicated to toying with my veils at every Mass). It keeps my hair covered and out of my face, but it doesn't completely hide the fact that I have hair, usually making me look like this from the front:
You can't really tell, but the above black veil is actually lace and not chiffon and it follows the same pattern (15 inches with a tie) that the white one does. It's not too long and it's not too short. It stays in place without pins or combs, and being very basic colors, they go with pretty much everything. They don't stand out as anything special.Being a very basic sorta person, these veils are right up my alley. For as much as I love the mantilla style (and I do!), I feel like they don't fit me... almost like they're too pretty or something. I feel like others view me as "holier-than-thou" when I'm wearing them, and I'd much rather focus on the Mass than my self-consciousness on Sundays, so I typically leave the mantillas at home (except for special occasions because I can't help but want to wear those gorgeous veils at least once in a while!). Sandra's comment on the snoods, however, really made me giggle because I understand what she means. For any of you lovely women who prefer snoods, please don't take offense. I mean none, and I doubt very much that Sandra meant any. As I said, the style just isn't for me, much in the same way as the mantilla (which really bugs me because I REALLY like some of the designs for both snoods and mantillas). When I modeled the snood for John, he grimaced and said something similar to Sandra. The mantilla he kinda just rolled his eyes at, saying he preferred the "regular chapel veil" if I "had to wear something" because it was much more subtle. He felt the mantilla was way too in-your-face, I guess. Ha ha.His reactions to the mantilla and snood are probably why I stick to the simple "regular" chapel veils. I guess if he had that reaction, others would as well, so I tend to play it more on the safe side.Garlands of Grace was my go-to shop. Unfortunately, it looks like that can no longer be the case. Luckily, these veils will probably last me through another summer, but I should really start looking into new ones. Michelle over at Liturgical Time has some really pretty ones (I think I actually salivated over this one). Cam from A Snood for all Seasons also thinks she can wrangle up a custom order (which is awesome!). So luckily, all is not lost for Sandra and I. Ha ha.So if any of you other ladies are feeling a bit bummed that GoG is no longer an option, we've got plenty of talented Catholics who are able to help us along with our desire to veil. Yay for that!