Saturday, April 26, 2008
Not only showers, any social gathering presents challenges. Women tend to congregate and discuss their children. I understand the phenomenon, we all talk about what we know and are living on a daily basis, but sometimes it can be a bit much. There were points in time that I swore if I heard one more discussion about bowl movements I was going to explode and scream, “Ladies this is a cocktail party not a nursing home, enough with the discussion of the color of pooh,” but I managed to contain myself. Generally if the topic were neutral enough I could chime in with an anecdote about my niece and nephews, but often I would just fade over to hang out with Hubby and the men in the sports zone. Which is an odd situation for a woman who’s accustomed to being one of the gals. I was the president of my sorority for Pete’s sake, yes, infertility can be isolating.
Infertility has given me years and years to contemplate, to think about our culture’s view of children, marriage, and family. We began looking into adoption ten years ago. What an eye opener. On the one hand we have a segment of society that treats children as the latest must have accessory, (think tabloid headlines and IVF clinics) and on the other we have a segment of society that treats children as completely disposable, (think IVF clinics, Planned Parenthood and kids in foster care). We claim to love our children, but as a people we tend to treat them as objects, either killing them outright if they are an inconvenience or shuffling them through twelve years of ware housing, I mean, the public school system until they are sufficiently indoctrinated into our consumer culture to go out and become consumers themselves. I am a product of public education it’s not that I don’t believe in the concept, I’ve just come to believe that much of our popular culture is geared toward indoctrination to a mindset that is shallow and destructive to human beings, and our children are among the most obvious victims.
I didn’t set out to become contemplative. I set out to “have it all” professional success, a family with 2.2 kids, the house, the cars, a vacation or two, you know to be a soccer mom. The American dream all wrapped up nicely with a retirement package and a bow on top. I never spent any time questioning my pop culture indoctrination. Years of wrestling with the questions of why we want children, and how to build our family have lead to a place I could have never imagined.
Heidi at Mommy Monsters, Inc. has an excellent post outlining the plight of our nations kids. She concludes by asking the question, “How will you respond”? My response is to call on the name of Jesus, to follow where he leads me, to hang on his every word and live by God's Grace a life of Christian obedience. It’s the only hope we have.
Jesus heal your people, heal our hearts and our minds, our families. Raise up holy men and women to live a faithful witness to you. Teach us to worship you in spirit and in truth, so that our lives glorify your holy name. We ask this through Christ our Lord, Amen.
Sunday, April 20, 2008
When we got back to the Midwest we were busy with the move and looking for fertility specialists was the last thing on my mind. Heck finding a GYN wasn’t a priority, until Erica came along. We had only been in Michigan for a couple of weeks and I can hardly remember the details of discovering I was pregnant again. Mostly I remember that while this time I had insurance, our California PPO wasn’t accepted in Michigan. Oh crud. Quickie search for a local policy with no preexisting pregnancy exclusions and off to the doc I go. This time will be different, this time I have insurance, this time I’m going to the doctor right away, yes it’s been six years since my first pregnancy, but that’s not unheard of, my mom had those kinds of gaps between us. With four kids and four miscarriages over a twenty year span this sort of thing runs in the family, but there are four of us!! Yep, little Erica Marie, moving to Michigan was just the ticket, maybe it was simply the stress after all.
We lost Erica much earlier than Katie. I was no sooner to the doctor than I was spotting and she was gone. I didn’t even need the RhoGAM shot this time. Off we went to the fertility specialists once again. This was the first practice that discussed IVF with us. Of course they wanted to retest all that had been done in LA, but I just could not get comfortable with IVF, so we did not even proceed with any of the preliminary treatments. I’m not sure why it just never sat well with me, perhaps it was the factory environment, perhaps the retesting seamed a bit to money driven to me, I’m really not sure.
My solution to the loss of our second child was to numb the pain in work. Our business needed a lot of attention, startups are kind of like toddlers, they are all over the place and need constant supervision, so supervise I did. We settled into Midwestern life, Hubby simply chose not to leave the house for the entire first winter, and as always life marched on. The second summer rolled around and once again a glimmer of hope, the EPT says we are preggers again!! This time I not only have insurance in place, but the best fertility doctors too! Up to A squared to confirm and to take whatever progesterone shots or whatever, blah, blah, blah they say.
The doc does the ultrasound and confirms the pregnancy asks about day count and says the embryo is a little small but that I might just have my days wrong. This one we though was a girl also, but I was getting nervous about names so we just called her Cricket. I called her my little Cricket, I guess because the doc said she was little. I still call her my little Cricket, maybe because she was the last. My sister in law and I were pregnant at the same time that summer. She spotted a bit with Tommy, but he’s with us the little wild man, my little Cricket is not.
Sometimes I am so angry with my body I can’t even begin to peek at that emotion. How could you betray me like this? How could you let my babies die? Why aren’t they here with us? I’m living with the enemy, the killer of my children, tied in symbiosis with their murder for life. Hubby says I’m being to harsh on myself, I didn’t elect to lose our children and I didn’t do anything to cause the miscarriages. He never says get over it, but he does point out the obvious, that if I trust in God for everything else I don’t get to opt out of this and take on this burden personally. Nevertheless, I sometimes do.
As often happens when I am wrestling with an issue I don’t quite understand God will guide me to the answer. This article covers a lot of ground, but the last section really hit the nail on the head.
Lord, I don’t quite understand, teach me to forgive and embrace this cross. Amen.
Spouses who still suffer from infertility after exhausting legitimate
medical procedures should unite themselves with the Lord’s cross, the source of all spiritual fecundity. They can give expression to their generosity by
adopting abandoned children or performing demanding services for others (CCC
2379). Forgiveness is the fruit of prayer, which is also a gift of
infertility. Without prayer, the heart will never be able to discover, as one
anonymous infertile woman puts it, that God is enough to love.
Friday, April 18, 2008
Our worker isn’t in but they seam to be expecting my call put me right through when I give them my name. The worker I talk to tells me about a nine year old boy who is available for adoption. Only child whose mom ditched when he was 2 and whose father’s pass time was drunken beatings of the child. The boy was pulled from the home in 05’ but they returned him. This time they terminated parental rights because the dad broke the boys’ jaw on Christmas Eve explaining to the youngster that “this is what Christmas is all about”. She tells me he’s a cutie and is adjusting well with out the need for medications and is trying to learn the soldier dance ( little ditty my nephew demonstrated for me today) etc. Are you interested she asks?
Well we are open to what ever God has in store for us I tell her, and ask if I can talk to the current foster parents. She tells me that with this type of situation xyz meetings are set up so I ask to see a picture. She tells me they can’t put the picture out in the public domain. I tell her to go ahead and set up xyz meetings and ask if I can stop by to see the picture. She tells me that would be ok. I tell Hubby about the situation and he wants to stop into the agency to see said picture as we are out running errands. So we do.
At the agency I ask to see the boys picture at which point they send out a third worker to tell us that we need a home study. We have had a home study for almost two years we tell them. Well you have a foster home study, you need an adoption home study she says, and until you have that we can’t talk to you about any one child, once you have the home study we will see if any children are available and talk to you about them at that time. OK, patience worn very thin, we beat a hasty retreat to the door to await the next confusing move in our adventure in adoption or not adoption, or foster adoption, or whatever this odd little experience is about.
The only thing I am certain of is the plight of these kids. There are thousands of them and only the ones who are physically abused are actually pulled from their abusive homes, and only then after something as serious a broken jaw. It’s horrifying. I am firmly convinced that the deterioration of the family, a direct result of our contraceptive mentality, is destroying an entire generation on one level or another, and the kids we are looking to adopt are among the most seriously injured. Please pray for them.
Mother Mary pray for these children, pray for those trying to help them, send your angles to protect them. Pray for healing of our families and our nation. Amen.
Thursday, April 17, 2008
After seventeen years of fielding the same question, I have yet to offer a graceful answer. To simply say no does not do the question justice. I do have children, and I feel like a simple no implies that I’m childless by choice, and that doesn’t feel right. To say yes I have three girls is no good, that begs a conversation about them and their activities. To say yes, I have three girls in heaven opens an awkward conversation with a stranger about my struggles with infertility, not appropriate and not someplace I want to go with a stranger anyway. To say “no I’ve had miscarriages” is considerably less than graceful, but in my frustration I have said that from time to time. It will shut down that line of conversation PDQ. To say “we haven’t been blessed” as someone suggested to me opens a dialogue about the whole issue of IVF & adoption and what that person’s friends, brothers, cousin did to bring children into their family. To say “no, but that hasn’t been our choice” is awkward but at least it ends all further questions. The best I suppose would be to simply say no and ask about the questioner’s children. Either way the question is painful, to simply say no and act like our little girls don’t exist is painful, to expound on the question opens a whole can of worms most definitely not intended by the questioner.
In the first five or so years of marriage when the question is asked and the response is no the questioner generally will go on to tell you that what you need is a little vacation some time away with Hubby and that is usually followed by a little vignette about that person’s friends, brothers, cousin who got pregnant that way. IVF was not so common in the early 90s, perhaps that has become the first suggestion made by strangers wishing to discuss the most intimate details of your life. Sometimes they wish to discuss adoption. I’m not always the most patient person, sometimes I want to snap back, “gee I didn’t think of that”, but I can usually contain myself. What becomes difficult at this point in the conversation I never wanted to have with this particular stranger is the recollection of just how dire the circumstances of children in need of adoption are in our nation. But that is another post altogether.
Every so often when someone asks the “so do you have children” question and I respond with a simple no they snap back “I’ve got three…some….a teenager, you can have”. Odd as it may seam, that is the most merciful response from my perspective. It tells me that the question is really a preface to complain about their kids and not an inquiry about me at all. Those are the easiest to deflect, simply shut up and let the crabbing begin.
So what’s the solution to the most miserable question of all time? Lately I’ve managed to toss in a little prayer before opening my mouth in difficult circumstances. A quick “help me Jesus” or “come Holy Spirit” before answering may be just the ticket. I’ll let him use this aspect of my life in whatever way he wishes and offer up the pain for the salvation of souls.
Not my will but yours be done. Amen.
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
I pulled it out recently, because the loss of our little girl Katie has been on my mind. I’m not much of a poet, really not much of a writer, but all those years ago I woke up one morning in the mist of the turmoil surrounding an unexpected pregnancy, a quickie wedding and ultimately the loss of our baby and a poem fully formed was rolling around my head. I got up and typed it out on our state of the art monochrome monitor 286 and recorded it for posterity.
It’s interesting to have a window back in time. It’s interesting to have a reflection on an event that has so shaped my life, and to read it from the viewpoint of where the events have taken me. A place far, far away from were I was.
Katie came to be with me
But only for one day
Then my little Katie Ann
Had to go away
When she was here
She took a moment
To whisper in my ear
“It won’t be long Mommy
Before I’m home to stay
Mommy I think what you really need
Is a good plan for today
Mommy you need to think about
Getting some things in order
Here Mommy I’ve made a list
Of things you’ll want to consider”
First of all Mom it would make me mad
If you didn’t marry my Dad
After all a little girl needs her
Mommy and Daddy too.
To take care of her and hold her tight
When scary dreams come around
And monsters lurk in closets
A little girl needs her Daddy
To show her all is right
To check for monsters
In closets and corners
To help her know
She’s safe and sound in her cozy
Bed at night
And furthermore Mom I’d like to mention
It’s time to make your move
Out into the world
It’s time to go
You’ve been holding back
Yourself for to long
I must tell you I don’t plan to inherit
A whole set of frustrated ambitions
I’ll have my own ambitions you know
Each lifetime has room for only one
So it’s really time to get out there Mom
It’s time to get some things done!
Mommy I know you want most of all
What’s really best for me
I know Mom because I know a lot of thing
That you want me so very much
Don’t worry Mom I’ll be back
And sooner than you know
Katie came to be with me
But only for one day
Then my little Katie Ann
Had to go away
How busy our little intercessors must be, how sweet the fragrance of their prayers to our Lord, how gentle the breeze in the garden of their home, how merciful our God to forgive us our sins when we repent and to accept the prayers of our children on our behalf.
Mother Mary gather our children, all those who’ve died so young and pray for us to the Lord our God that we come to respect and protect the lives of those who need our protection the most.
Sunday, April 13, 2008
Hubby and I were antiquing/ junking last weekend. It’s like strolling through a thousand dusty old attics in one day. One of the things that really struck me was the number of sacred images. Images of the last supper, the Sacred Heart, the Immaculate Heart, there was even an indulgence certificate signed by the Pope. I thought about buying that one, but I didn’t. What I did buy was a plate by Norman Rockwell.
Wednesday, April 9, 2008
He argues that the fellas went for the hot wings and that Hooters is no different than any other sports bar, and that they are dressed as any other cheerleaders are dressed. I made the argument that the name alone is intended to focus the attention, and that their attire is a porn gateway, and that women can cheer and be attractively but modestly attired at the same time. Moreover, the choice of attire reduces the women to a collection of disjointed body parts to ogle, rather than a person deserving of respect as made in the image and likeness of God, and that he should mark this day in his memory because one day he would see my point. I also pointed out that his view point is heavily influenced by the media and the culture of the day which does not take into consideration God’s viewpoint on matters of human dignity.
He countered with “there is a time and a place for everything” and that to object to this attire in context and insist on modesty at all times is no different that a Baptist’s insistence that all consumption of alcohol is immoral. I told him I would take that argument under advisement and give the matter additional consideration. So I’ve been giving the matter some consideration and here’s what I’ve got.
First I’ve given consideration to the Cheech and Chong like environment Hubby was raised in as well as the daily e-mails sent by his Dad most of which contain women with out clothing of any kind. From that I am reminded of the base line of Hubby’s formation of continence in the context of his immediate family. From there I moved on to a consideration of Hooters itself.
I checked out Hooters web site this morning and I discovered that the NCAA has pulled a Hooters advertisement. Not to much was made on Hooters site about the issue, and there was a click thru to the add. I was very pleased to see that the NCAA used what in my mind is good judgment in pulling the ad. I then surfed the Hooters site a bit more and it’s obvious from a cursory glance that selling the girls is a much hotter topic than the wings, bringing the cheerleader argument to a close as far as I’m concerned. Hooters is selling a collection of body parts to ogle, and oh yea, by the way, since guys like sports we’ll have TV with sports on and we will sell wings and beer to munch wile ogling, I mean, um, watching the game.
My mission now is to beg the Holy Spirit to form me into a Christian woman actively engaged in the world who bares no resemblance to the church lady on SNL.
Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in us the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit, and we shall be created. And You shall renew the face of the earth.
O, God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit, did instruct the hearts of the faithful, grant that by the same Holy Spirit we may be truly wise and ever enjoy His consolations. Through Christ Our Lord. Amen.
Saturday, April 5, 2008
Truly when I came to understand the reality of who Christ is and what he has done for us I’ve never been the same. I’ve been concerned over things, but never anxious, sorrowful, but never depressed. Such is the healing power of Jesus Christ. Jesus is the master healer of not only our physical bodies, our minds and our emotions, but of our very souls. He redeems what was lost, he seeks out and reclaims his own, he pulls us out of Satan’s steely grip, he leads us beside still waters, and one of the ways he does this on a personal level is through Eucharistic Adoration.
How does time spent with our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament bring healing to our mind, body and soul? We may as well ask how does Jesus raise the dead? We don’t see how he works, we don’t know how he weds the miraculous with the mundane. Frankly, that’s none of our concern, we can’t understand it anyway, so there’s no need to spend time with the question. Better to spend time analyzing the results.
When I first began going to weekly Adoration I had a very hard time sitting still. It would take me fifteen to twenty minutes simply to settle down. I don’t pick up anything to read for at least the first half hour. I just sit still. Most of us don’t get much time to sit still in our lives. I try to quiet my mind, but that can take the full half hour. I can usually tell when I am getting settled down because my shoulders will begin to relax and drop down from being pinched up around my ears. Once I’ve settled down I can spend the next half hour just being with the Lord.
Adoration is not about doing, it is about being, being with God, being exactly who he created us to be. It’s about being quiet enough to simply listen and like Elijah hear God's gentle whisper. It’s about letting his peace, the peace that surpasses understanding wash over our souls. It’s about letting Jesus guide us on that level, the level of the soul, a level that the mind does not always comprehend. It’s about being submissive to God’s desire to heal us, and guide us, and teach us. It’s about allowing God to take the reins of our lives and having the trust of a child that he will care for us, and that even those things which seam to terrible to contemplate will work together for good.
The insights I get in life, the little helps and guidance don’t necessarily come to me during Adoration, but I am completely convinced that time spent in Adoration makes me more sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s guidance and inspiration when it does come. Which for me is often in that half asleep time first thing in the morning as I’m waking up. Of course sometimes the Holy Spirit’s inspiration comes in most unexpected ways like in the middle of a disagreement with Hubby when I pray “Come Holy Spirit” and he does with an eloquent, heartfelt and most unexpected apology rolling out of my mouth when nothing of the kind was there seconds before.
As Catholics we have so many awesome devotions, so many ways to draw close to our Lord and hide ourselves in his heart, and so many, many guides and companions in the Saints. The richness of the tapestry of Catholic faith is beautiful to behold, but the source, the very summit of the faith is Jesus, and spending time with him in Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament is life changing.
Lord teach us to pray that we may sing of your glory forever. Amen
Wednesday, April 2, 2008
Hubby and I were living in LA at the time and weren’t yet married. I was hesitant about getting married, after all very few folks bothered with it and my parents had finally gotten a divorce that year after a couple of decades of a really poor marriage, so from my perspective marriage was dicey at best. I wanted the baby of course, but we would consider marriage at some point in the future, and in the back of my mind I was thinking if at all.
Hubby had a different take on the situation. His proposal of marriage was not the most romantic I suppose. It went something like this. “If I’m good enough to have a child with I’m good enough to marry and if I’m not then I’m out of here.” I could see some merit in the boy’s argument. That was seventeen years ago last August and he claims that’s the last argument he’s ever won. I’m pretty sure that’s an exaggeration.
We were broke and I didn’t have insurance so I went to Planned Parenthood to confirm the pregnancy. To their credit I only recall them asking if the pregnancy was a good thing. When I said yes, they simply directed me to get prenatal vitamins and left it at that. I had no idea that Planned Parenthood was an abortion mill. I bought into the image they cultivate as an organization supporting families.
I remember taking the big blue Santa Monica bus back to our apartment in stunned amazement. The world had shifted. I was going to be a Mommy. There was a new person growing inside me!!! We were quite sure it was a girl and we named her Katherine Ann.
I had a wedding to plan in a few short weeks and of course I had a new person growing in me so I was quite busy. We set a date in December and I found all the stuff needed like a dress that would expand as necessary, although I was determined to get down the aisle before I was really showing, so I was under the gun.
In November I started spotting and then cramping pretty badly. Without insurance my only option for health care was through LA County, so downtown we went. The place was packed and we spent all day there. They confirmed I had lost the pregnancy and told me to bring in the fetus once it was expelled. That happened in a Wienerschnitzel bathroom in Pasadena. The whole experience of losing the pregnancy was surreal. Fishing my little girl, my baby out of a Wienerschinitzel toilet, well I just don’t have words for the experience. There was no way I was simply going to flush her down, and they did tell me to bring her in, maybe they could tell me why I had lost her. So I fished her out and wrapped her in a paper towel. The mind plays odd tricks with things that are simply to horrible to comprehend and losing a child is one of those things. I remember thinking that I needed to keep her warm and that she needed to be covered and paper towel was the only thing on hand. Yes, the mind plays tricks when it’s on overload.
I took her into the hospital and handed her over as they requested. How I wish we had been in a place in our lives where we could have given her a funeral like Abigail’s family gave their son, but we were not. No, I handed her over to the hospital hoping for information.
What I got was people who at every appointment looked at my chart and said. “Oh, you’ve had an abortion”, no, I would correct them, I had a miscarriage. “Oh”, they said, “It’s notated on the chart the same way.” Well it’s not the same I was thinking each time, I wanted my baby, I wanted her very much. When I asked about the results of examining the fetus they seamed perplexed as to why I asked. I never did get any information and I got the impression that no testing was done at all and that she got flushed after all. That was very, very hard. I remember walking down a sidewalk toward the parking lot feeling like the earth had stopped rotating. It was like time had stood still, and again the whole world had shifted.
Driving home down Santa Monica Blvd. I remember passing by crowds at the bus stops and wondering why all of those folks got to live, but my baby did not. Hubby told me I needed to get off that line of thinking quick or I would drive myself nuts. So I did, and life has continued on as it always does, but it’s not the same. It will never be the same. Seventeen years later as I write about Katie tears stream down my face like it was yesterday. The pain never ends, it’s just something you live with, a sorrow that pierces the heart, and may continue to do so until the day I get to meet her face to face.
I wonder about her and her two siblings. What will they look like, will they have blond hair like their aunts and cousins, our dark like ours, will it be thick and curly like Hubby’s side or just wavy like mine. Will they be athletic like their Dad, and my Dad, will they have a goofy side like their Dad or be more bookish like Mom.
I realize that most women who lose pregnancies either through miscarriage or abortion go on to successfully carry to term. I have not. It has made me acutely aware of the pain of the loss of a child. Knowing this pain, knowing how it lingers, year after year as milestones are passed and yet not celebrated, I can’t imagine compounding the pain by having made the choice to end your child’s life. And that’s how I became pro life.
Lord have mercy.