The Big Day!

Okay, so that (the title of the post) could mean any number of things, right?  But TOMORROW is the day I get to see our baby and we will (hopefully) find out the gender of the little one! 

Plus, Sarah and Dani will accompany me and I can’t wait to share the experience with them.  They are VERY excited to see their baby sibling. 

I pray everything will go smoothly.

I have hinted before that I have my gut feeling about the gender of this little one, but I’ve been wary of posting it for all to see.  Now that it’s 24 hours until I will know for sure, it sounds like fun.

Of course, I’m so in love with baby already that it really doesn’t matter whether it’s a girl or a boy.  I honestly feel that way.  I will say that I have a plethora of girl names I’ve considered but have had a very hard time considering boys names.  Dominic was my choice for a boy name for so long, that I knew my son would be called “Dominic” as soon as I knew he was a boy!  But this time, I am having a hard time coming up with something for a boy, so I’m anxious to find out how much work I have to do.

Here are a few trends for my pregnancies:

1)  With Sarah, I had some morning sickness for a few weeks with about three REALLY BAD days.  Then, when pregnant with Dani and Helen, I had a feeling they were girls because I wasn’t sick at all!

2)  Each of my girls heart rates were always high…never below 160 and usually around 168-175.  Never failed with every visit…they were always beating away at a high rate.

3)  Dominic, my son, caused me to be sick for about 24 weeks.  I mean, I felt BLAH BLAH BLAH yuck for what seemed like FOREVER. 

4)  Dominic’s heart rate was never over 140.  It was 140 at 8 weeks.  Then it was in the 120s for most of the rest of the pregnancy.  I might have had one of his OB visits where his heart rate was in the 130s.

So……………………………..

1) I have hardly been sick with this little one at all.
–>This could mean it’s a girl, right?  I mean, Dani and Helen were fairly non-sick.  However, they followed Sarah, with whom I was sick with some REALLY BAD days.

–>Or…since I was sick with Dominic, if this one is a boy, I am not sick because my body is handling boy-baking better the second time around (like my body handled girl-baking better the second and third time around)

2)  This little one’s heart rate has never crossed 140.  It was 135 at the 6 week ultrasound.  It was 140 when doctor found it at 12 weeks (remember my scare I talked about??  We had a hard time finding it, but when we finally found it…it was 140 beats per minute).  At my first prenatal appointment, the heart rate was 128 and at my last appointment (around 16 weeks) it was 125.

Therefore…so far, my gut feeling has been that this little one is a boy.

Please leave a comment and let me know which gender you think it might be or if you’re “pulling for” either a girl or a boy!  This could be fun, right?

In the meantime…I can’t wait to see my little baby tomorrow!!!

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Always His Little Girl

A few years ago (when Helen was a baby) I began having serious reflections surrounding my relationship with my parents, my feelings about their divorce, the way I grew up and what that meant for my family. 

It’s a solid statistic that most kids who grew up with divorced parents, end up in a divorce themselves.  I had become aware of that.  It was something I didn’t want to face.  It was much like what I’d heard about victims of abuse.  Abuse perpetuates abuse.  Divorce perpetuates divorce.

I wasn’t contemplating a divorce by any means.  However, I began paying a lot of attention to my own interactions with my children and with my husband.  I was attempting to comprehend this idea that so many people come to the conclusion that ending marriage is a good idea.

One of the catapults into this contemplation on my life was my daughter Dani and her relationship with her dad.  Dani and her dad are very close.  Even now, while Dani will tell me that she loves me, she ALWAYS prefers her dad to take her to a practice or to her games.  When we “pair up” kids for outings in different places, Dani ALWAYS chooses…and usually gets to go with…her dad.  She looks at him with stars in her eyes.  Really.

I am a “Daddy’s Girl”.  I say that, but for some reason, that doesn’t even sound close to how I feel about my dad.  I think I probably look at him with stars in my eyes, too.  I literally have memories including my mother that I can count on ONE hand before the divorce.  Sure, I knew she was always around (she was a stay-at-home mom) but I remember the same recurring fights, and I remember a couple of traumatic instances from age 3-8 that include my mother…but everything else involves my dad.

Watching Dani with her dad reminded me of this relationship I had with my dad before he left.  I have memories…

  • there is the day he told me he was color-blind and I asked him how he knew which light meant “stop” and which light meant “go” on the traffic lights.  I was probably four or five.  He explained that he really disliked it when the stoplights were hung horizontally because that made things a bit more difficult for him. 
  • I also remember when I accompanied him to the barber shop on base and afterward, he got me an ice cream cone and told me that I shouldn’t talk about it when we got home. 
  • Another thing I remember is holding his hand walking somewhere and trying to come loose because I thought I was big enough to get to walk on my own (probably age 5 or 6) and he let me for a short while. 
Most of my memories of my father are just being with him…not an event, or special time specifically.  Tickling.  Laughing.  Teasing.

My memories, though, are dominated by my feelings.  My dad was EVERYTHING to me.  I remember being sad when he wasn’t at home when I was little and he would go to work or to school.  I remember the elation at his arrival home every night.  We played the game “Concentration” when I was very small.  “Concentration” is what we called the game “Memory” and it was played with a deck of playing cards (you collected pairs as you turned over the cards).  I was really good at this game for a little kid…or at least I felt like I was and my dad thought I was and I beat my older brother once in a while.  I remember always feeling happy because I could impress my dad.  His approval was my addiction.

One summer night, when my dad had finished law school and was studying for the bar exam.  It was hot.  We didn’t have air conditioning.  I wasn’t sleeping very soundly, but it was late and I was in and out of sleep.  My dad came into our room (I shared with my sister) to say good night, even though we had been in bed quite a while.  I heard him go to my sister’s bed and tell her that he loved her and good night.  He made his way over to my bed and I was feigning sleep.  Did he know?  Probably.  Because he talked a little more to me.  But I’ll never forget the words he said, “Michelle, Daddy loves you.  You will always be my little girl.  Good night.”  And he kissed my cheek.

You will always be my little girl.

He has said this to me numerous times in my life. 

My father has four girls of his seven children.  And maybe he hasn’t had to remind his other daughters of this as much as he has felt the need to remind me.  But even today, when I am 37 years old and a mother of five, I wouldn’t be shocked to hear him tell me this.

Words are sometimes a double-edged sword.

You will always be my little girl

The words always made me feel good to hear him say them.  I always did and will want to be his little girl

You will always be my little girl.

The words made the abandonment when I was 8 years old more difficult to process.  How was I still his little girl when he wasn’t in my day-to-day life anymore? 

The Broken Leg

Last night, I came home from work and was greeted by all of my children with hugs and kisses (well, except Sarah who said, “Hey Mom” and proceeded to behave like a 9-almost-10-year-old…but anyway), and I hung up my coat, dropped my bag at the door and proceeded to have a blast with Dominic.  We were on the couch and we played “The Kissing Game.”  This is where he gives me kiss after kiss and then I tickle him over and over again.  It was so much fun.
A little bit after that, he was in the other room and he came walking into the living room where I was (still) sitting on the couch holding his arm.  He had the beginnings of tears in his eyes and he said, “Heh-ehn hi– me” (Helen hit me).  So, Helen got in timeout, which incidentally led to the tears in Dominic’s eyes drying right up before they spilled over and him toddling off to continue to play.
As I was getting dinner, I heard Dominic crying.  Typically, when he falls or hurts himself, he’ll come and get me if it’s bad.  So I waited.  But then I heard him still crying so I asked Craig to go and get him (I was putting dinner on the table).  From what we could surmise, Dominic had fallen, but no one had seen it so no one knew what he’d done and he wouldn’t stand up on his own.  Craig held him for a bit and he fell asleep, so we put him in bed.
This morning, we found out that school was closed for a snow day, but I intended to take Dominic to daycare so Craig could rest and the girls could probably handle getting breakfast, cleaning up their rooms and hanging out together until he got up.  When I went to get Dominic dressed, he wouldn’t put any weight on his right foot.  Ultimately, Craig and I decided I should take him to Children’s Mercy Hospital ER since whatever happened had happened the previous night and it’s kind of serious that your 2-year-old won’t put any weight on his leg.
Off to the hospital we went.  They checked us in, and I was really glad I’d brought his immunization record as they kept asking if all his vaccinations were up to date.  They initially thought they’d localized the injury to the hip area because they could move his lower leg without causing him much pain until they would affect the hip area.  When they X-rayed, at first they didn’t notice much and they started telling me that there is some sort of infection kids can get in a joint about a week after a cold (Dominic had a little congestion/conjunctivitis that we’d treated with over-the-counter meds last week). 
The doctor came in another time and started putting pressure on Dominic’s legs in different places and a closer look at the X-ray revealed a slight (they termed it hairline) fracture at the bottom of his Tibia.  They called it a Toddler Fracture or Toddler Break and they said it was common.  Well…not common to me!  This is our first broken bone in four kids!  Apparently, when toddlers run around, sometimes they make a movement and with the right pressure, it can cause this type of fracture.

The good doctors and nurses got us a “Wee Walker” which is a boot for toddlers to wear and he didn’t need a cast or anything.   We had to use an Ace bandage over it because Dominic was trying to take the boot off the minute they put it on!

They gave us a prescription for pain medicine.  And he sat on the couch the rest of the afternoon watching Super Why and Dora the Explorer.  We went to our parish’s Spaghetti Dinner tonight and he sat there without complaint for the three hours we were there.  Seriously…for my son to sit there and not complain and try to get down and move around is a miracle and it means his leg REALLY HURTS.  😦
 

He’s in bed now…in his Superman pajamas…and his boot.  Poor baby.
I guess I’m glad it’s just a small thing in the grand scheme of things.  A girl in the stall next to us (she sounded like she was 6 or 7 years old) had a break somewhere that they had to re-break and I cried for her not even knowing her as I heard her screaming and pleading, “Is it over yet?”  Oh my…I prayed for her and then I prayed that nothing like that needed to be done to Dominic.

I think from now on, I’ll probably go running when I hear him fall or cry.  Well, at least for awhile.  I wish I’d noticed right when it happened that he needed to go to the hospital.  But I guess it helped out that we waited until today so Craig didn’t call in to work.  Interesting how that sort of stuff works out.


Five Years Ago

Five years ago this week, I was miserable.  I mean, I was carrying around a big baby.  We didn’t know how big, but we could tell she was big.  She was so big, I had told the doctor, “This baby feels big.”
My due date was February 26, but the doctor stripped my membranes at my February 21st appointment and scheduled me to arrive at the hospital the night of February 22nd to begin preparing for induction.
We arrived late on the 22nd.  We had taken the time to go out to eat with Sarah and Dani, and tuck them in at their Grandma’s house.  So we arrived around 9:30.  Well, the nurses had expected me to arrive at 7:00.  Oops.
They checked me and I was already dilated to 4 cm, so they couldn’t do what they were scheduled to do that night.  And seeing how hospitals are not hotels, they sent me home.  We went back to Craig’s mom’s house and he slept on the couch next to me in a chair.  I was miserable, but we weren’t going to drive all the way home (the hospital was about 45 minutes away from our house) when I just had to be back at the hospital at 7:00 a.m. next morning.
We showed up at 7:00 a.m. after a big breakfast and they got things rolling.  Doctor broke my water around 8:45 a.m. and by 10:30, I asked for an epidural.  Something I have always done is labored as long as I possibly could without an epidural, hoping to avoid the stalling in labor I have always heard about with epidurals.  Well, the anesthesiologist took his sweet time…I think at 12:00, he still had not shown up to put it in.  Even the nurse was angry with him!  I had stalled at about 6 cm and was in a lot of pain.  Finally, I got the epidural (amid lots of shouts of, “this is my 3rd kid, don’t explain it to me, just put the **** thing in!”)  Within 30 minutes of getting the epidural, I was to a 9, and by 1:45 p.m., I was ready to push.  Epidurals speed my labor like nothing else. 
And at 2:06 p.m. on February 23, 2006, my Helen Olivia was born.  All Nine pounds Eight ounces of her!  She screamed from the get-go and had one-month-old’s thighs (as the nurses kept saying).  A side note:  I absolutely intend, should she ever complain about her thighs to be sure and tell her she came into the world with those thighs…God gave ’em to her so she better be nice!  🙂
Helen is a family name.  My paternal grandmother’s name is Helen.  My father’s only sister claims Helen as her middle name.  My first given name is Helen (my parents always called me by my middle name).  Helen is the perfect name for my third-born daughter. 
Helen is my “mini-me.”  I have often said that there are times when I just don’t know what to do with Helen because I don’t always know what to do with myself.  I want to scream at Helen sometimes and try to make her see that she is so stubborn she’s really going to blow it and nothing is going to save her.  And that’s because I know from experience. 
And then there are the times that I am amazed at how smart and kind and self-aware Helen is and I think…maybe she’s not that much like me.  Of course, she’s my cuddle-bug.  She is a “mama’s girl” through and through.  She has been from the day she was born.  She was the child I held all the time wondering if she would be my last baby.  She’s the only one I had the wherewithal and the courage and the perseverance to nurse for any length of time (5 months).  One of these days, I’ll have to scan in some pics I have of myself at age 5 and you all can see that she is the one of my children that looks the most like me (the others favor their father much more).  
Helen is sweet…
happy and funny…
beautiful and eccentric…
sometimes loud, assertive, but mostly cool and collected…
Happy birthday to my beautiful brown-eyed blondie.  

Open Letter to Baby #5

Dear Baby,
I’m halfway through this pregnancy and I’m getting impatient to meet you.  In just a couple of weeks, I’ll find out whether you are a boy or a girl.  I have my instincts shouting at me your gender, but I’m reserved as I wait to find out “for sure.”
Even now, when you’ve been growing for 20 weeks and you have 20 weeks (at least) more to grow…I long to know you, yet I feel like I know you already.  You’re completely dependent on me right now but yet, I feel completely dependent upon knowing you’re safe and growing and healthy.  I’ve been so blessed to carry each of my pregnancies to term, but it horrifies me still, to imagine what could go wrong.  Pregnancy and childbirth often remind me of my complete and utter reliance on God for everything.
We have already survived a couple of scares in the short time we’ve known each other.  Your daddy was giving me shots in my bum twice a week for about 8 weeks because my body doesn’t make enough progesterone to keep things going in the first trimester.  But you sure came through in the 2nd trimester!  What an elation…a relief!…when I heard the nurse say the levels had jumped up to appropriate levels at my blood test at 15 weeks.  And you were hiding that day I went in to the doctor for some minor cramping at 12 weeks.  The doctor placed the doppler on my tummy and waited…and searched…and waited…I could tell that all we were hearing was my slow, adult heartbeat.  Finally, he removed the doppler and the tears started flowing.  Had the Lord taken you from me?  When the doctor asked if he could do a pelvic, I quickly agreed…and as he jostled the organs and had his observing physician in training place the doppler back on my tummy…SHEOU-SCHEOU-SCHEOU…my heart and my breath skipped!  We had found you!  And your heart was beating away.  And my tears still flowed, only they were now tears of joy!
You have such a great family waiting to meet you.  Your sisters already know what’s going to happen in a few months.  They get another sibling and they can’t wait!  They are in love with you already.  They pray for you every night in their nightly prayers.  They love you so much.  Even your big brother now comes and points at my belly and says, “Baby!”  Daddy hasn’t been able to feel you kick yet, but it’s only a matter of time.  I can feel you  getting bigger and stronger as I feel more kicks and jabs more frequently.
Even though you’re my fifth child, the awesome wonder is still there.  I remember how I stared and stared at the positive pregnancy test for so long just thinking “wow….wow…wow…WOW.”  I am amazed at the miracle that takes place.  The biological miracle that the timing was perfect and you were conceived.  But also the miracle that God CHOSE US again (!!) to receive this supreme gift. 
I look at your sisters and brother and I wonder what is in store for us with you?  All of you are so unique and lovely…brilliant creations for which I hardly feel worthy to accept.  Such responsibility for Daddy and me–responsibility to care for you and to love you…that is the easy part.  But the responsibility to raise you to know, love and serve Him who created you…that part is daunting.  I’m reminded every day that it rarely matters what I have said to you…in the end, you will watch what I do and you will learn to know, love and serve Christ only if you are able to see those qualities and actions from Daddy and me.  And even then…I must pray and trust in God…again.
We have 20 more weeks (at least) to get to know each other this way.  Soon, you’ll be big enough that I’ll be able to pick out a foot, or an elbow…I’ll be able to play with you by poking one side of my belly to get you to kick or poke me back.  I’ll be able to caress your head in my hand as I go to sleep with my hand on my belly.  
When you’re born and we get to meet face to face, I’ll finally see the cheeks that will most likely be there shouting to the world you are your father’s child.  I’ll see if your eyes are blue or if they begin already a deep brown like two of your siblings.  Will you cry as you come into this world from your snuggly cocoon (just like your big sisters Dani and Helen and big brother, Dominic)?  Or will you simply stare into my eyes quietly (like your oldest sister, Sarah).

Yes, I am anxious to see you face to face, but I’m happy to have you all to myself for another few months.  My sweet baby.  God has blessed me beyond measure.  Again.

In the Hunt…for a New Look

When I started this blog up, it was my 2nd go at it.  While I think I understand a little bit better what I want to do with the content of my blog, I still have no clue how to design a “pretty blog”.
And let’s face it…I don’t have time to figure it out, either.  So, I’m blogging about Rebecca’s giveaway in an attempt to win a blog makeover.  🙂
Rebecca, my lovely West Virginia blog-buddy, is hosting a giveaway at her blog.  She just got an AMAZING new look for her blog from Kelsey.  
I spent some time at Kelsey’s blog and was impressed.  How does someone figure out how to do all that stuff!?!?  A gift…that is what Kelsey has.
Rebecca’s giveaway doesn’t stop with a blog makeover.  She is also giving away a photo from Kimi.  Some of these photos are amazing!  I love the simplicity and elegance in the same photo that I see in so many of them.  Kimi supplied the background photo for Rebecca’s new look on her blog.
How are you feeling about your blog look these days?  Actually, I see all of yours and I work hard to keep my jealousy in check.  You all have some beautiful blogs.  But if you’re interested in a new look for your blog, head over to The Road Home.
You’re in for a treat if you do.  Not only is Rebecca’s blog beautiful to look at, but she’s a rabid WVU Mountaineers fan…especially during football season.  She is a Catholic who has grown much in her faith in the past few years and embraced NFP in her marriage to The Man and has begun to see the blessings that flow.  She has beautiful dogs and lives in a beautiful part of the country (I was just there and saw it for myself 🙂  )

Have a terrific day!

A Time To Pray

I have had a rough 24 hours. 

Have you ever heard of this prayer?  Litany of Humility

A little over a year ago, I was introduced to this prayer.  I prayed it fairly frequently for about six weeks.  What happened was a sequence of events in which I was humbled.  When the events happened, I didn’t really think of the fact that I’d prayed to become more humble.  But as time wore on, I realized that I had been humbled by the events and I had even grown in my faith through this humility.

I haven’t prayed the prayer really frequently since then.  I have thought about it and there is this nagging feeling that perhaps I should…but there is a human fear of doing it.  Because, quite frankly, being humble is difficult.  Praying for humility seems masochistic.  I know that the Lord heard my prayer because He gave me a six month span of time in which I was humbled by my circumstances…and when I remembered that I had actually asked for it, it really put a block somewhere in my head and my heart about praying for humility again. 

Humility is a virtue that is so difficult to grow in.  Our society tells us that being humble is bad.  We must “toot our horn” and make sure everyone acknowledges our gifts and talents.  We expect affirmation at every turn.  And those who don’t notice how wonderful and how giving and how talented we are somehow fall into this category of adversary. 

I have seen this in a couple of different scenarios.  While I think families are there for support, acknowledgement, affirmation and such…sometimes (and to the detriment at times) there is so much support and acknowledgement and affirmation that one might grow up in their family never hearing they have done something wrong.  Parents don’t want to discipline or for whatever reason they don’t discipline and the children grow to expect that discipline is never necessary for their behavior.  Parents step in and berate teachers for a child’s poor marks in school instead of searching deeper and perhaps discovering an underlying problem for their child with material.  Parents may complete their childrens’ homework or check it long after such action is necessary in order to avoid their child ever experiencing a poor grade.  To avoid a humbling experience, accountability and responsibility are thrown by the wayside.

Another place I have seen this is within my workplace.  It’s difficult to work for people sometimes.  I have found that perhaps I need to spend some time praying the Litany of Humility because lately, I have struggled with my management.  Perhaps I need to pray and really meditate on,

That others may be loved more than I
      Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.  
That others may be esteemed more than I, 

     Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it 
That in the opinion of the world,
 others may increase, and I may decrease,  
     Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it. 
That others may be chosen and I set aside,  
     Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.   
That others may be praised and I unnoticed,  
     Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.  
That others may be preferred to me in everything,  
    Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

 
This is a powerful prayer.  I remember when I spent time praying it for about six weeks.  I literally CRINGED every time I prayed this part.  My heart was crying, “NO!!!  I want to be LOVED!  I want to be ESTEEMED!  I do NOT like to be SET ASIDE!!”  And those cries were the little bits and pieces of my soul that cling to the world being chipped away so that I could be ready for the events that followed in the next six months.

So, yes, my friends.  I have had a rough go of it the past 24 hours. 

I have found out that I acted unkindly and hurt a friend. 

I have been on the end of the phone shaking and my heart pounding, feeling helpless, while I listened to my sister suffer through anxiety attacks. 

I have had a difficult conversation with a couple of people at work that have opened my eyes to my current reality and given me a certain focus for my future actions. 

I have forgotten valentines for my sweet baby girl Helen’s class St. Valentine’s party. 

I have lain awake in bed for two hours when I desperately needed to sleep contemplating many of these things. 

And then…it hit me this afternoon square between the eyes.  Prayer.  That Litany of Humility Prayer.  While it was painful to pray it prepared me for the events coming my way.  and I’ve been feeling a building lately that more events are on their way and I must be prepared.

I must pray.

O Jesus, meek and humble of heart, hear me.

From the desire of being esteemed, 
deliver me, Jesus.  (use this response after each line below)
From the desire of being loved, 
From the desire of being extolled, 
From the desire of being honored, 
From the desire of being praised, 
From the desire of being preferred to others, 
From the desire of being consulted, 
From the desire of being approved,

From the fear of being humiliated, 
deliver me, Jesus.   (use this response after each line below)
From the fear of being despised, 
From the fear of suffering rebukes, 
From the fear of being calumniated, 
From the fear of being forgotten, 
From the fear of being ridiculed, 
From the fear of being wronged, 
From the fear of being suspected,

That others may be loved more than I, 
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.   (use this response after each line below)
That others may be esteemed more than I, 
That in the opinion of the world, 
others may increase, and I may decrease, 
That others may be chosen and I set aside, 
That others may be praised and I unnoticed, 
That others may be preferred to me in everything, 
That others may become holier than I, 
provided that I may become as holy as I should.
Amen  

All of the virtues are the key to living like Christ.  However, the virtue of Humility speaks to me at times so much more than the rest.  How humble Christ was to live and walk on Earth as a human.  How humble Christ was to suffer and die…to be spat upon, ridiculed, beaten and crucified…for you and for me.  For all of us. 

Please Lord, grant me the perseverance to pray the Litany of Humility with all of my heart and to prepare to humble myself before You and before my fellow man.