Glory

Please join us in welcoming Stephanie back to Mama Might!

In July 2013, I posted an entry in which I shared my struggles with infertility. I ended my post by making sure that all of you knew of my faith in the Lord and how in His own way, He asked me to be patient. I knew He would send us another child, how and when we didn’t know, but His voice was strong in my heart; He was asking us to have trust and faith in Him.

About a year ago, I decided to thank God for the child He was preparing for us. As a reminder of the miracle that would come eventually, I attached a onesie to my ensuite blinds so that every time I would look at it, I would try my best to remind myself of the miracle our Lord was preparing and giving me the chance to thank Him for His plan.

I started praying every night using scriptures where Jesus declares His power of healing. I started thanking Him for His healing hands and the work He was doing through me. Basically, I was declaring the truth of scripture to increase my faith. On the feast of the Annunciation, March 25, 2014, we attended mass to celebrate our mother Mary and the renewal of the vows of the religious sisters who lived in our community. After the mass, we met this lady with whom we started chatting. She shared that her boys were having a great time with our son and she then proceeded to ask if he was our only child. There it was—the grueling question! We answered that he was and that we had been trying extremely hard to give him a sibling, but we were struggling with infertility. She instantly took pity on us and asked if it would be ok for her to pray with us for the gift of another child. We happily said yes. While she was praying, a feeling of warmth invaded me. I could feel the Holy Spirit’s presence with us. My whole body was tingling and I knew something amazing was happening. The Lord was touching me, whispering to me. The thought “am I experiencing my own annunciation right now?” filled my mind. My husband also felt the same way and on the way back home shared with me that he thought God just told us that it was time. Our child was coming.

I was still protecting my heart and wasn’t getting my hopes high. Seven days later, we found out that a little miracle was growing inside of me. Instantly, excitement and gratitude filled my heart. Unfortunately, while experiencing some physical signs of a possible unviable pregnancy, fear and doubt also invaded my mind. Was this baby going to be another lost child? Through the fear and doubt, our Lord was once again asking me to hold on and to have faith. “This was it,” a little voice was whispering in my head. Randomly many times and in different situations, the following scripture would come up “[…] if you believe, you will see the glory of God.”- John 11:40. I decided to cling to those words that Jesus spoke so many years ago. I also discovered the song, Glorious Unfolding, by Steven Curtis Chapman that would lift my spirits when doubt would take over. God was showing the importance of having trust in Him in order to see His glory… my baby. It is now almost time for our little glorious gift to make his grand entrance into the world. After praying, we found the name Loïc, which means Glorious Fighter. Is it a coincidence that the term glorious is mentioned again? Absolutely not. He did promise us to have faith in order to see His glory. For the second time, I’ve been carrying God’s glory and promise. It is a beautiful, breathtaking and indescribable experience. I can feel His perfect creation moving; what He has been preparing for us for so long… His promise. Once again, I am experiencing a little bit of Heaven by carrying our second son and will be living double of the divine graces by watching my miracles grow together.

Like the parable of the talents, this is a talent; a gift that the Lord gave us and I can not bury it and hide it. This miracle needs to be shared in hopes of giving faith and hope to all of you and to make you understand the divinity of God, His power of healing, and the importance of putting all of our trust in Him when we feel Him calling us to completely surrender, even if it is not easy.

What I pray for is that our story will bring many closer to His glory.

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A Bit of Sunshine

Please join us in welcoming Michele to Mama Might!

When my husband started graduate school a year and half ago, I remember standing in the door frame of our new apartment with my six month old in my arms as he left for school the first day. A feeling of dread washed over me as I realized that I was stuck in 650 square feet with a baby. I had nothing on my agenda. It was blank for not just for the day but for weeks.

After a few long days, I realized a few things. If I didn’t get out of bed, no one would care. If my house was a mess, no one would see it. If my hair didn’t get brushed or if lunch consisted of eating Cheerios out of the box, no one would ever know. There weren’t cookies brought over by neighbors. There were no lunch dates or play dates. I went to a few church activities but would come home in tears begging my husband to move. There was a little extra sting because even my sweet husband was busy with his new school. As hard as he tried, he couldn’t see what my life was like at home when he was gone (which was most of the time). I had a chronically sick, crying baby and nowhere to go.

I felt completely invisible.

Now, I’m not one to sit and mope. I’m a generally happy person and I believe that life is what you make of it. After six weeks of sitting around, I went and got a nanny job with the only requirement being that my baby could come with me. Over the next year, my daughter and I created a happy life. We worked in other people’s homes. We went to flea markets and the beach. She and I explored farmer’s markets and libraries on weekends. I set goals for myself, such as walking outside for at least thirty minutes a day and to get rid of any possession that I didn’t want to clean. Through my adventures and goals, my life turned into something that was uniquely created by me, and I was enjoying it.

The thing that I kept pushing in the back of my mind was we were not at home. It was still true that if our beds were not made and dishes had not been done, that no one would notice. If we did not go out of the house, no one would care or miss us. And while I was aware of it, decided that I was perfectly okay with that because I was happy.

Then one day this all changed. A lady advertized on Freecycle that she needed a blender. I had a blender that was only used for making milkshakes, and I thought, “Eh, why not, she can have it. I don’t like cleaning it anyway.” I emailed her back telling her that she could come pick it up the next day at 2:00 PM. I thought that would be a great time. My daughter and the baby I am currently watching in my home were both usually napping by then. It shouldn’t be a problem.

Famous last words, right? I think it’s needless to say, but the next day did not go according to plan. The little guy I was watching got his first teeth in that day and would not stop crying. My daughter took advantage of this and decided to do all the things that her toddler mind wanted to do that I never would let her. When I put her down for her nap, she put her feet up against the wall and kicked it repeatedly. At one point, I realized one of the thumps was a bit off rhythm, and I realized, “Oh! There is someone at the door.” It was the lady from Freecycle, and I had completely forgotten. I opened the door frazzled and ran to the kitchen, grabbed the blender, and shoved it in her arms. She was trying to thank me and explain that she needed it to can peaches. I forced a smile and told her that it was nap time and sent her on her way.

A few hours later when I regained a bit more control, I felt so embarrassed that I treated her that way! I was so rude. I set her a quick email apologizing and then forgot about the incident (probably as my toddler shoved a roll of toilet paper down the toilet).

Exactly two weeks later, there was a knock on the door. I was surprised to see the lady from Freecycle standing at the door again. She was standing at the door looking nervous. She said to me, “Michele, I brought this for you. Thanks so much for giving me your blender. I really needed it to can all the salsa from my garden.” She then gave me a bag telling me it was for my baby and then left.

I opened the bag and inside was a beautiful yellow blanket with a card. The card said, “Here’s a blanket I made for your daughter. I hope it brings a little sunshine to your day. I know how hard it is to be a mom, but what you are doing is important. Best regards.”

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I put down the card and sobbed. The feeling of validation and love I felt in that moment was overwhelming. Even now as I type this tears are falling from eyes when I think of the tenderness of that moment. This random stranger came to my home and for the few minutes she was there she got a glimpse of my lonelier part of motherhood. She saw the mess. She saw my wrinkled and stained shirt. She saw me trying to comfort an upset baby on my hip with my toddler in another room needing my attention. She saw me trying, and she decided to acknowledge me as a person. She even remembered my name.

I don’t know much about her, other than her name and email, but I often wonder if she’s a mother. I would love to know how she learned to be so perceptive and to reach out. I learned from her how much one gesture can feed another person’s soul. I made a new resolution that day to be more like her- to keep both eyes open and to not let fear get in the way of reaching out to people. After all, you never know who is feeling invisible and needs a little reassurance that they exist and are important.

MicheleMichele is a stay-at-home mom of an almost two year old in Princeton, NJ. She spends her time figuring out how to live a fulfilling life while her husband goes to graduate school. Some of her current interests are trying to live a zero-waste lifestyle, Futurama, RIE parenting, and Waldorf schooling. She is on a first name basis with her local librarians and cupcake bakers and can be found reading some random non-fiction on the children’s floor on Thursdays afternoons. You can read more of her life at her own blog, Aisle 11.

 

Better to Give

Every once in a while, I come up with an idea that I think is pretty great, and then almost immediately I begin doubting that it’s a good idea at all, and I bashfully share it with a few people whose opinions will determine whether or not I follow through on it. This is how I end up having so many false starts. I am a professional fizzler. When I am gone, my headstone will read: “Here lies Monique. She finally finished something.” This pattern makes the times that my ideas do pan out all the more satisfying.

The Boy turned five in August, and his birthday has traditionally been a grand event. Lots of kids, lots of food, lots of presents. I am generally pro-birthday party, but my kid already owns way too many toys, and the prospect of adding more to the stash was not appealing. Plus, I don’t like the idea of guests feeling like they have to match the gift to the tastes of the kid and the preferences of the parents. It’s hard! The Boy had no interest in pruning his guest list, so I suggested an alternative. He could invite anyone he wanted, but instead of birthday gifts, he would ask his guests to bring a small donation to a charity.

Being an animal lover, The Boy chose to collect donations for a local shelter that takes in stray and surrendered cats and dogs. We printed a wish list of items from their website, and included it with invitations to the party.

Admittedly, I was a bit worried about how the request would be received by the parents of the invitees. I didn’t want it to come off like we thought we were too good for regular birthday presents, and I also was hyper-aware of The Boy’s feelings about it all. He seemed to understand the concept, so I stuck with it.

The day of the party came, and the guests were unbelievably generous with their donations. A couple of the parents shared with me how much fun it was for their kids to choose gifts for the animals. We left all the donations on a table, skipped the traditional “gift” opening in favour of more play time, and dug in once everyone had gone home.

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Every time I look at that picture, I am reminded of the wonderful people we have come to know over the years.

A few days after the party, we piled my mom’s minivan high with all the donations and took them to the shelter. The staff met us and offered us a tour, so The Boy got to meet some of the animals he was helping.

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I had been thinking for a long time how I would begin to foster the spirit of generosity in my child in a way that was age appropriate. This was the purrfect way to drive home the message that helping others feels good.

 

 

Miscarriage – Part 1

Please join us in welcoming Jenna to Mama Might!

It was Friday, November 20th, 2009. I was sitting in an unfamiliar school gymnasium with my almost 2 year-old daughter and about 200 strangers. We were in line for her to receive the second part of the H1N1 vaccine. I had only brought one snack, raisins, and within 20 seconds of opening the container, they were spilled on the floor. I think the number we were given was something in the 90’s. We had hours of waiting ahead of us. The lovely lady beside me, a few decades my senior, graciously traded with me so that our turn would come sooner. She also gave my little girl a granola bar. God bless her. I remember getting up at one point to go to the water fountain and that’s when I knew something wasn’t right. There was no gush of blood. There was no pain. But I knew something was wrong. The rest of the wait was a blur, my little girl got her vaccine and we came home. I went to the bathroom and my worries were confirmed. I was bleeding at 12 weeks pregnant.

I talked myself out of worrying too much because I had friends who had experienced similar symptoms at the same point in their pregnancies and everything turned out fine. Unlike with my first pregnancy, I had chosen to be followed by a doctor instead of a midwife. As far as I knew, there was no one to call about my condition on a Friday night. I decided to wait until Monday and call my doctor.

That weekend at mass, I remember thinking “this could be my last time receiving communion with this baby in me.” I felt sad and worried, but tried to remind myself not to worry until I knew there was a real reason to be concerned.

The Monday morning, I went in to see my doctor. I don’t remember most of the details of this day. There was a lot of waiting in between moments pregnant with worry and grief. They gave me an appointment for an ultrasound. ”Are you sure of your dates?” she asked. “Hmm” she said. She didn’t smile. Neither did I. We were brought to a room in Emergency to wait. I cried the whole time. After what felt like hours, a doctor came in. Upon seeing me, she said “I guess you already know…[very. long. pause]…there’s no baby.” I felt pain. I felt angry that she would tell me in this way. There was no compassion, no empathy….just an assumption that I already knew. And then she said we could stay as long as we needed to and she left. And I cried. I cried out. Loud. I had never felt, nor have I since, such deep physical, emotional and spiritual pain. I already knew that I had lost the baby. I really didn’t need her to tell me, but hearing the words “there’s no baby”….it not only seemed like the worst way to tell me, but it ripped away any shred of hope I had left to hold onto that maybe everything was fine. I don’t know how long we stayed. Thinking back, it could have been minutes or hours that I sat there and cried. I have no memory of leaving or driving home. My only memory from when we arrived home was calling my best friend, and sobbing “she said there’s no baby” into the phone. My friend said the right thing, whatever it may have been. I kept crying.

Later that evening, I remember thinking “this was God’s plan for this baby…for our family. I truly believe this.” I don’t remember telling anyone else what had happened (but searching my email account today, I can see that I sent out a message letting my friends know what had happened). I don’t remember anything from the rest of that night or the following day. I do remember not saying a single prayer for

the rest of the week. And I also remember the immeasurable amount of grace and faith that was poured into me throughout the following days – thanks to the countless prayers of others, I presume.

I have always had an easy time with faith. From the moment (while listening to a Chris Rice song) I realized there were people in the world who knew God personally, I just knew I could trust in His plan. Suffering a miscarriage was the first time I guess you could say my faith was tested. It didn’t really feel like a test, though. It just felt like an opportunity to confirm what I already believed.

In the days that followed, I received many emails and phone calls from people expressing their condolences. One friend emailed a link to this prayer which played a huge role in our healing process. After reading it, I began to see our miscarriage less as a cross to bear and more as blessing for which to give thanks. We had – we have – a child in Heaven. She (we believe our baby is a girl) stands before our Heavenly Father. She prays for us, her family still on earth. We will be united one day and every day until then we can look forward with hope to meeting this little soul who has gone ahead to our forever home.

It was somewhat startling to move from the depths of grief and pain to the heights of healing and hope and gratitude in such a short span of time. I am forever grateful for the power of our praying family and friends – I have no doubt that they carried us through those hardest days. I am forever grateful for those who reached out in the weeks that followed and expressed their condolences. We had experienced a great loss, and I appreciated those who acknowledged it. But we soon learned that we were blessed with an even greater gain. I weep with gratitude at the memory of developing a clearer understanding of what it means to have an eternal perspective. To know that I am called to live my life on earth as a gift knowing that the greatest treasure will be found when I leave this world and move onto the next – and I have an extra special gift waiting for me, there.

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Jenna Gernon is a wife and stay-at-home mom living in a [very] small town outside of Ottawa, Ontario.  Her faith journey was jump-started the day she listened to Chris Rice’s Clumsy; she joined the Catholic Church in 2004.  Jenna has a passion for photography and loves having her children as live-in subjects.  She jumps at the chance to take photos for others and is always looking at the world around her as potential photo shoot locations.  Aside from photography, she loves all things crafty, cooking good food, being with her family and friends and soaking in Canada’s four beautiful seasons.

Reflection on the First Year

Please join us in welcoming Chelsea to Mama Might!

Just over a year ago I left my job to begin my maternity leave.  Waiting for the arrival of my daughter was both exciting and torturous… I have always struggled with patience!  What made the whole experience even more amazing was that I would have a year off to spend time enjoying my new family of 3 (4 with the family pooch).  I had all kinds of plans and ideas about what I would accomplish while I was at home.  The gardens would be beautiful, the house spotless. I would have a chance to do all kinds of crafty projects and cook more nutritious, homemade meals.  I was going to get in shape.  I would indulge in terrible books and bad romantic comedies!

My daughter was born on her due date (punctual like her mama!).  It was the most incredible day of my life.  We felt blessed, happy, relieved and terrified all at once.  We were lucky enough to be working with a fantastic team of midwives so we were able to head home from the hospital a few hours after her birth.  We were all exhausted and despite the first-night-at-home anxiety, we got a much needed night of sleep.  As it turns out, it was really the only “peaceful” night in our house for the next six months.

Our perfect and beautiful daughter fit the textbook definition of colic.  She cried, and she cried, and she cried.  Before she was born we decided that we were not going to give our daughter a pacifier until after breastfeeding was well established.  By day two we were desperately trying to get her to take it, anything to soothe her and stop the crying and screaming.  We went into new parent problem-solving mode.  We had read so many pregnancy and baby books, surely we could figure this out.  We tried swaddling, rocking, shushing, breastfeeding, swinging, cuddling, massage, white noise and chiropractic.  We blamed it on milk supply and gas and acid reflux and  teething. I eliminated caffeine, dairy and chocolate from my diet in case that was the cause.  No matter what we tried we most certainly did not have the happiest baby on the block.  In fact, we spent most of last summer with the windows sealed shut so that neighbours wouldn’t be bothered.  Within a couple of weeks the daytime crying had decreased but evenings remained very difficult.  Without fail the crying would begin at 5pm and carry on until 11pm each day.  While the other new moms that I met had babies who were already sleeping through the night at 6 weeks, my daughter was waking up (at least) once every hour.  I gave up sleeping in bed and decided that camping on the couch was much less frustrating.  I came to accept that exhaustion was the new normal.  I had a more difficult time accepting that I could no longer drink coffee to try to balance myself out!  I remember thinking that my husband and I would never be able to eat dinner together again—who would hold the crying baby?

Thankfully, around 3-4 months things began to improve.  Slowly but surely the tears were replaced by happy baby giggles and gibberish.  We were even able to spend time together as a couple when she would go to bed.  It was still a long time before my daughter slept through the night but she began to wake less frequently.  With each and every milestone we were overwhelmed by a sense of pride.  It was incredible to watch as our daughter developed more and more personality each day.  We were in love from the moment we met her, now we were having fun too.

We recently celebrated our daughter’s first birthday.  My garden is overgrown with weeds, my house is rarely as clean as I would like and my craft room has been turned into a storage area.  I have tried out 5 new recipes (only because I committed to do so for my blog), and read exactly zero new books.  I am proud to say that I did accomplish my health and fitness goals!  I look back and I wonder how my husband and I managed to get through the first six months.  I have no doubt that it was the most difficult (and rewarding) thing that either of us have ever accomplished.  I am so grateful that our friends and family were there for us.  They provided us with words of encouragement, visits, the occasional dinner and oatmeal cookies!  My daughter is now a happy, confident, and determined toddler.  She is also a great sleeper, something that I never could have imagined a year ago!  If you have are the new parents of a “cry baby”, hold on.  I promise you that you are in for more fun than you can imagine!  Be patient, ask for help and give yourself a break from time to time.  Soon you too will be celebrating your child’s first birthday and as difficult as things may seem you will look back on these times and miss them.

ChelseaChelsea Bastien is the mom of a sweet, funny and adventurous toddler.  She is happily married and living in Ottawa, ON.  She is passionate about health and fitness and is currently pursuing a career as a personal trainer.  Follow her blog at www.labfitness.tumblr.com