Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Mother's Day Blessing Letter to Priest and Two Blessings

Rewrite, edit, do whatever you want to it if you want to use it!  I posted this a few years ago.   I'm sending it today after last year's disappointment.  After the wonderful discussions on spiritual motherhood with Rebecca, I reworked the sentence on spiritual motherhood and fatherhood. Let me know if you have suggestions!

Dear Fathers-

Easter blessings to each of you!

I am writing this letter in regards to the annual blessing given to mothers on Mother's Day and fathers on Father's Day.  Over the past few years, I've become active in an online support group for Catholic women who are experiencing the cross of infertility.  While I myself have one child, I suffer from secondary infertility.  I'm in the unique position to receive the blessing and yet have a heavy heart for the children that are my heart's desire.   I also hear stories every year through this support group about how hard Mother's Day and Father's Day Mass is for those who are experiencing infertility, for those who have had miscarriages and for those who are single waiting to be married.  It's especially difficult when you strive to follow the teachings of the church regarding sex and birth control, are open to life and for one reason or another are not able to conceive.  It's even more painful when miscarriage is involved. Although I haven't personally read anyone's struggle post abortion, I would assume women who are at Mass on Mother's day and are healing from abortion would also be in pain.  While many of the women and men I know accept the cross of infertility and are open to God's will, the journey is hard and can be lonely. Would you prayerfully discern making the blessing more inclusive of all women and men in their unique vocation as mothers and fathers, including what we are all called to be:  spiritual mothers and fathers?  The blessing can be an opportunity to help heal those who are suffering, acknowledge those living out a vocation as a single person and also support mothers and fathers in the thick of parenting living children.  The spirit of this letter is not meant to be one of complaint nor entitlement.  I am only attempting to bring to light a painful issue that can potentially marginalize the faithful.  I trust that whatever decision you make about the blessing will be in our best interest.  If you would like more information or if you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.  Please know you are in my daily prayers!

Love,

Made for Another World

Here are two blessings I found last year- not sure if I will include with the letter or not:


To those who gave birth this year to their first child—we celebrate with you
To those who lost a child this year – we mourn with you
To those who are in the trenches with little ones every day and wear the badge of food
stains – we appreciate you
To those who experienced loss this year through miscarriage, failed adoptions, or
running away—we mourn with you
To those who walk the hard path of infertility, fraught with pokes, prods, tears, and
disappointment – we walk with you. Forgive us when we say foolish things. We don’t
mean to make this harder than it is.
To those who are foster moms, mentor moms, and spiritual moms – we need you
To those who have warm and close relationships with your children – we celebrate with
you
To those who have disappointment, heart ache, and distance with your children – we sit
with you
To those who lost their mothers this year – we grieve with you
To those who experienced abuse at the hands of your own mother – we acknowledge
your experience
To those who lived through driving tests, medical tests, and the overall testing of
motherhood – we are better for having you in our midst
To those who will have emptier nests in the upcoming year – we grieve and rejoice with
you
And to those who are pregnant with new life, both expected and surprising –we
anticipate with you
This Mother’s Day, we walk with you. Mothering is not for the faint of heart and we have
real warriors in our midst. We remember you.



or


God our Creator, we pray:

for new mothers, coming to terms with new responsibility;
for expectant mothers, wondering and waiting;
for those who are tired, stressed or depressed;
for those who struggle to balance the tasks of work and family;
for those who are unable to feed their children due to poverty;
for those whose children have physical, mental or emotional disabilities;
for those who raise children on their own;
for those who have lost a child;
for those who care for the children of others;
for those whose children have left home;
and for those whose desire to be a mother has not been fulfilled.
Bless all mothers, that their love may be deep and tender, and that they may lead their children to know and do what is good,
living not for themselves alone, but for God and for others.
Amen.
Happy Mother's Day!!



Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Catholic IF Blogs: My take

I've said before and I'll say it again, this little blog community has changed my life.  The stories from all of you and your willingness to email and share medical advice have healed my body.  The spiritual and emotional aspect of the blogs helped me know I wasn't alone as I battled secondary infertility.  A few weeks ago, someone asked Simcha Fischer if she knew anyone who had Simcha's style, but had secondary infertility. The blogs this reader had encountered were "holy" and "I'm going to offer it up" type women.  She wanted someone who was willing to say it sucked while trying to live God's will.  My first instinct was that she hadn't found our little community!  Then, I was wondering if she had found it and that's her impression.  Then, it got me to thinking why that might be someone's impression of this community.  I came up with some possible reasons.

1.   The bench isn't deep:  NFPers are in the minority.  Take the small fraction of that minority who can't get pregnant, and you have a super minority.  We are in that super minority.  And, out of all the Catholic IF bloggers, I can't think of one who is professional writer like Simcha.  Don't get me wrong, there are some fantastic writers in our community, but I can't think of one who does it as their main gig.  We all have day jobs.  And really, since I haven't blogged since November, can I really count myself as an IF blogger? Hmmm.  

2.  The subject matter just doesn't lend itself to humor or lightheartedness:  The medical visits, emotional pain and spiritual trauma are hard to joke about.  When you are dealing with someone who isn't able to fulfill what they believe their vocation to be, it's hard to make light of it.  There is no one in my real life that gets IF.  I don't know a single person (except for my Creighton practitioner and doctor) that understands what I'm going through in this area of my life.  I try to explain it, but it's all too foreign- the charting, the hormones, the traveling to weird doctors, the why in the heck wouldn't I do IVF?   I'm a very jokey person- I laugh all day long about a variety of stupid things.  But, it's really, really hard for me to be lighthearted about IF.  It will be one of the greatest regrets of my life.  And that's really not funny.  This is the only place I can read and talk openly with people who get it.  So, it is a serious place for the most part.  When I think of the mommy blogs who have shared serious topics such as infant loss or a sick child, those posts are jarring and sad and just awful.  But, then they are interspersed with cute kid posts.  Well, that can't really happen here.  There's no break from IF.

3.  The secondary infertility issue:  Then there's that.  What do you identify with?  Mommy blogs or IF blogs? For me, it is an identity issue.  It's super confusing when you are both.  Where do you belong?  Well, that's why my blog is named Made for Another World.   I do not belong in this world (this earth, not the IF world!) and having secondary infertility has taught me that.  Right now, I'm okay with truly not fitting in anywhere.  But, there was a time when I wasn't okay with it.  I'm sure in the ebb and flow of life, I'll be back to feeling alone at some point.  Well, that sucks and not fun.  But, after reading your stories and rooting around the internets and all the people I've encountered IRL, I'm starting to think that no one really feels like they really fit in anyway.  I'm thinking it's normal to feel this way.   I tend to identify with the IF bloggers more because I've found more authenticity and rawness in their stories.   They aren't writing as a brand or with a voice or to reach a certain amount of readers.   They are real women working through the fight of their lives. 

4.  The women here really ARE holy (minus moi).  For many of them, this journey has made them holier than they were when they started.  Not being able to conceive while being open to life in the midst of a culture of death tends to do that to you.  I hear your wisdom and I see your holiness.  You are light in the darkness. Thank you for shining bright.  

Just a few thoughts rattling in this ol brain of mine.

*disclaimer: this post wasn't meant to be defensive about what was said about this community- just some musings on my impressions of this community and why others may view us in a certain way (okay, that was a horrible sentence- I have to go to bed now and that's the best I can do.


Sunday, November 3, 2013

Kaput on the way to Stuttgart

We stopped the Autobahn on the way to Stuttgart.  The Autobahn was a parking lot as our car burned to the ground people.  Our IRL friends and family were not surprised by this occurance- weird stuff usually happens to us.  Most of the time, it's our fault. This time, it was most definitely NOT our fault.

The couple we were staying with has a son who was playing in a baseball championship in Stuttgart. The dad of the kid, the kid and our kid (AJ) went ahead to Stuttgart for practice and warm ups.  Guitar Man, my friend A and I followed a day behind in our rented van- the van we were planning on traveling in for a week. Guitar Man drove and he, with all due respect, isn't the smoothest driver on the road.  He is safe- never been in an accident, but just a little jerky on the brake and the steering wheel.  I'm used to it and have his rhythm down pat and can totally roll with it.  It's like a dance- he leads and I follow.  

We were jerking along just fine for a few hours until the car went a bit haywire.  The dash started blinking and Guitar man couldn't put the car in gear.  We found a shoulder to turn off on and called the insurance company. While we were calling, white smoke started coming out of the engine- we thought it was steam and just stayed put.  About 5 minutes later, the smoke turned gray.  We got out and Guitar Man emptied the luggage onto the shoulder.  I thought he was over-reacting.  Soon a few cars stopped to help.  They called the fire brigade and the police.  After about 10 minutes, flames started coming out of the engine compartment and in less than 5 minutes the entire car was engulfed in flames.  Pops and explosions and rolling debris were frequent.  For every explosion, my friend A and I jumped out of our skin. The jumpiness wouldn't leave until the next day.  I'm sure it did wonders for our adrenals.  We moved farther away and finally the police and fire brigade showed up.  They put out the fire (it seemed tricky to put out).  From the time the fire started to the the time the car was engulfed in flames was about 15 minutes.  The car burned for another 20-30 minutes before the firefighters put it out.

The fire chief took us the nearest town where we got on a train to Stuttgart. On the way he told us the fire was electrical and we were lucky.  We were worried about liability and how we would get home and what would happen to the rest of our trip and we were trying not to think of what could have happened...how much worse it could have been.  We were very, very thankful that the kids were not with us.  We just sat with stunned, dumbfounded looks on our faces and made jokes to lighten the mood.

We had to board the train without tickets- evidently the Germans don't usually check tickets.  The ticket machine was broken and we didn't have time to walk to the station to buy a ticket.  Of course, they decided to check our tickets- the tickets we didn't have because they USUALLY don't check tickets! When my friend tried to explain what happened, he just looked at us dumbfounded and let us ride for free. We smelled like fire so I guess he believed us.  He kept saying, "Kaput?" and we kept saying, "Kaput!"

The silver lining in all of it was that the driveway down to the villa we were visiting in Tuscany was completely treacherous and had one hairpin turn that our replacement car barely made.  We had to burn the parking brake and make a 5 point turn to get the minivan down (and then back up) the villa drive.  The van we originally had wouldn't have made it to the villa since it was much bigger and longer.   Another example of how something bad really turns out for the best.

Here's some video of us going down the villa drive.  I'm the one giggling and ignoring AJ as he keeps trying to talk to me.  Mother of the year.  The video doesn't seem to capture the fact that we are bumping along two strips of concrete through the Tuscan mountains with a steep drop off on one side.  The video stops at the hairpin turn.  Wish I would have kept it rolling:
video




Here's my rendition of a hit song whilst viewing our van burn to the ground:


video

Thank you for humoring me and reading our car fire story (if you made it this far!).

God Bless You!



Saturday, October 19, 2013

Fruit

The longer I didn't update, the easier it became to not update.  Lots of negatives in that sentence, huh?  Jen's revelation that she needs to write struck a chord with me.  I need to write for the same reasons.  I often go back over old posts to re-read them and they help me process my feelings and memories.

Unfortunately, I'm a perfectionist and I don't have a lot of time to blog.  By the time I read everyone's blog and comment (sometimes) and check facebook, my internet time is over.  Now that I'm friends with bloggers on facebook and in the IF group, I have even less time to blog.  Plus, I'm a teacher and am very hesitant to share certain things on a semi-private blog.  I'm also in a new phase of infertility.  When I started this blog, I thought our chances of having a baby were over 50%.  Now, I think they are under.  Way under.  I'm not totally okay with it, but I am consoled.  So, what to do with the blog.  Not sure.  But, I need to write.  So, it will continue with short posts that will not be heavily edited.  In other words, posts written very quickly!  We'll see...

Missed you guys although, I've been reading your blogs for the past 3 months!

This summer was one of bearing fruit.  It was much needed after a difficult season.  Our trip to Europe was fabulous.  My sister visited for 2 and 1/2 weeks and then the friend we were visiting in Germany visited for 2 weeks.  Our summer was non-stop visiting and hanging out.  Then, Guitar Man released his self-published novel at the end of August. That will be another post in an of itself.  He worked on it for 3 years- carving little bits of time from our overburdened schedule.  Saying I'm proud of him is only the beginning.  To top it all off, our god daughter was born and baptized.  She was prayed for and wanted for so long.  

Here is a video of our trip.  It's long- I'm putting it here for my reference so no pressure to watch!  Although, if you start it, you'll see video of our car fire on the Autobahn at the 20 second mark.  Yes, we shut down the Autobahn as our van burned to the ground.  St. Christopher kept us safe and we had plenty of time to evacuate the car!


Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The Hormonal Pilgrim

Beware: Poorly written, let-it-all-hang-out blog post ahead.  Way to many 'I's. Read at your own risk.

Ladies- the past 3 months have been a hormonal roller-coaster hell.  I did HCG for 3 months and it gave me anxiety.  At least I'm almost positive it did.  Evidently, I'm the only person my doctor knows of who has this side effect.  Since I stopped,  not one horrible heart palpitation, not one day of a knotted up stomach, not one day of deep breathing to no avail.  Then a month without any meds ended in a total fatigue nightmare.  I crashed about three weeks ago in the middle of the last few weeks of school- horrible timing.  I crawled across the finish line that was the school year.   Last week, I was post-peak and called the doc and they gave me plain old progesterone which is what I was on before the HCG.  After a week of incrementally feeling better, I'd say I'm functioning at 90%.  I am not sure what my future holds with these meds.  Peak +7 bloodwork?  Taking a different route with a nurse practitioner in town that said she'd work with me?  A serious email to Sew?  Who the heck knows.  The last few months were a good reminder of 2 things:

1- So much of life is circumstance (see number 6).  If I had to function at any length of time with how I felt, I couldn't do my job.  The brain fog was constant and severe.  I walked around like a zombie not able to concentrate, prioritize or enjoy.  My anxiety and subsequent fatigue effected my marriage, my friendships, my prayer life, my housekeeping, etc.  Note to self: don't judge others- you just don't know their particular circumstances and don't be so hard on yourself- your circumstances are sometimes such that you can't DO IT ALL.

2- Thank you, God for Napro and the fact that I can make one phone call and a healing prescription is immediately ready at the local pharmacy and it's covered by good health insurance.  I am indebted to Dr. Hilgers and all the ladies who have already gone down this path.  Ripple effect?  I think so!!  Praise Jesus!!!!!

I'll have to make those decisions in a few weeks because......


We are going to Europe!!!!!!

And we are going to Pope Francis' audience next Wednesday!!!!!!!!

After two years of saving and making the tough decision to forego some much needed cosmetic home repairs because of increased airfares, we are going.  My very close friend moved to Germany last year.  She also has an only child the same age as AJ.  God's perfect timing has worked out a dream trip wherein we drive all together in a VW van through Italy to Slovenia, Guitar Man's family homeland.  I say God's perfect timing for many reasons.  One, our friends aren't believers and the fact that they wanted to go with us to Rome and are attending the audience with us is very moving.  Two, my hubs is very much an introvert and I never thought this type of trip was ever in the cards for us.  He's beyond excited and he's worked very hard to save money for this experience.  Three, my cousin is in Tuscany the exact time we are driving through the region.  I only have 3 cousins on this planet and one of the beloved three is staying in a freaking villa on our route through Italy.  You guys, this kind of stuff doesn't happen to me.  We are staying with her for a night and touring Florence together.  I haven't seen her in 3 years and she's gone through some rough times and I can't wait to chat with her face to face and give her lots of hugs.

I'm going to say it.  I haven't said it to anyone.  But, I think it all the time as I pack and shop and talk about the trip to friends.  You are safe and you will understand.

I would give up this trip in a heartbeat if it meant I could have a baby.

There I said it.  It's the elephant in the room and we can look at it and acknowledge it.

Then I think, we could have used the money to save for an adoption or treatment.  What do I do with that?  All I can say is that we are making the best of the gifts God has given us.  I'm not feeling called right now to adoption.  I can barely manage the treatment we do now much less more tests and procedures.

So, this is the plan.

I am going to soak up this trip.  The friends.  The family. The pilgrimage. The beauty.  I am going to live in a state of thankfulness.  After the toil of the school year, the anxiety, the fatigue, the longing for another baby, He has given me a beautiful gift all wrapped up with friends and family and fun.  I certainly don't deserve it based on all my whining and complaining.  This is the gift God gave me and it's not second rate.  It's perfect.  He knows just what I need and I trust Him.

It is my hope that I return rested and restored so that there is less of me and more of Christ.

All of you will be in my prayers during our trip, especially at the Holy Father's audience.

Love to all of you.


Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Saying Goodbye to a Dream

For the past few years I've been giving up another dream besides having another child.

It's my dream of being a classroom teacher.

It's so hard to type these words because they've only been in my mind- racing incessantly round and round.  I've spoken them only to a few very trusted people.  Thought them and spoken them so much that now I'm ready to make them a bit more real by putting them in writing.

Right now,  I am following my dream of being a classroom teacher.  That is what I do and what I am.  And, I love it.  I work in a beautiful school with beautiful children and beautiful families and beautiful colleagues.

But.

It's just not working anymore and it will only get harder.

The system I worked in used to be good and positive and full of common sense.

It still has many of these aspects because of the people who work so hard each and every day.  But, the federal law and high stakes testing have infiltrated our little district out here in the heartland.

I used to believe in major initiatives and was enthusiastic.

Now my class size is 28.  It used to be 20.  I work in a high poverty area so having 8 more kids is a huge difference.

We are adopting the Common Core Standards which for many reasons, I can't seem to fully embrace.

In 2016, my evaluation will be tied to how my students perform on a test that is linked to these standards.

I want to ramp up and rise to the challenge.  I want to fight.

But, I think God is calling me in a different direction.

He's whispering to me that the fight is not mine to fight.  It's meant for someone else.

He is not being loud and clear like he usually is during tough decisions.

But, I think he wants me to make this decision for myself.  Because I'm strong enough now.  I've died to myself enough that I can see the strength in it.  I still have more dying to do- obviously since this post is all about me, me, me, me.

I'll probably be in my position for another year or two.  I will probably move into a special education resource position.  Still a challenging position, but one with a bit more flexibility and more suited to my God given talents.

I will very, very, very sadly say goodbye.

It was a good run.

The plan was to change jobs if I had a baby.  Now, I'm looking to change anyway which just seems to pour salt in the wound of not being able to get pregnant.

God, help me accept your will and hear your voice among the sadness and grief.  Give me strength to BE NOT AFRAID.  Help me remember that my value is not measured by my position or my marriage or how many children I have.  You love me and want what is best for me.  I love you.






Sunday, May 12, 2013

Learned my lesson...

I just assumed.  I assumed that I didn't have to send the letter this year since we have the same pastoral staff as last year. Unfortunately, the blessing was off the cuff by the priest and all the mothers had to stand and it was the standard 'all mothers are a gift blah, blah, blah.'  I was pissed and my face showed it.  How can a church so open to life, so easily marginalize those in pain?  Thank God the homily was about how we are Jesus' arms and legs.  And, if we are wondering why someone doesn't do something about a wrong, that's probably God prompting US to do something about it.  Of course the priest didn't mean any harm.  Of course mothers are a gift- a beautiful gift.  It's just a reminder that I have to keep an open dialogue with my priests.  My anger melted into prayer...a prayer for all of you in pain today.

Next year, I will send the dang letter...