Labor Pains

This past Sunday’s second reading really resonated with me, since I can recall with clarity the labor pains I went through 3 weeks ago.

St. Paul writes in Romans: “I consider that the sufferings of this present time are as nothing compared with the glory to be revealed for us. . . We know that all creation is groaning in labor pains even until now. . .
we also groan within ourselves as we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies.”

On June 26th I woke up with contractions. Since my other two kids needed pitocin to induce contractions, I was not sure how to handle these on my own. The weren’t close together, but they were strong and so I headed to the hospital. When I was 6cm dilated later that day, my water broke during a strong contraction and I was ready for an epidural. You guys, even with a good working epidural, pushing was really hard.

My husband swears I only pushed for maybe 20 minutes, but it felt like an eternity. There was lots of groaning and “I can’t do this anymore” talk. But my body isn’t made to be pregnant forever, and I’m told after Luke’s head came out, next popped out his hand and he did a little wave like he was saying, “hello world. I’m here.”

There was groaning as I waited for my son to be born because I knew that there was something better coming than just my labor pains. I had to get through the suffering to be able to hold my new baby boy.

Just like we aren’t pregnant forever, so we aren’t on this earth forever. The redemption of our bodies, our birth into new life, is what we were made more. What felt like an eternity of pushing was really only 20 minutes. Our suffering on this earth can not last forever. We were made for more, and the suffering will be transformed into glory before we know it.

What sticks out to me during that time of pushing was all the encouragement from my husband, the nurse, and the doctor. “You are doing great!” “You’re almost there!” “You can do it!” That helped me make it through. We can call on the intercession of family, friends, and especially the saints to help get us through our current sufferings. The saints have all been there before us and they are cheering us on to the finish line, the end of labor pains, the crown of glory in eternal life.

"Hello, world!"

“Hello, world!”

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Nesting…and Being Ready for New Life

This morning I had emptied and loaded the dishwasher, cleaned off the table, made the bed, took a little nap, did a load of laundry and picked up the kids toys all before 10am. At 37.5 weeks pregnant, I felt that was a feat. Especially because I hate cleaning off the dining room table and making our bed, and usually leave those chores to Nate.

“I must be nesting,” I thought as I was scrubbing oatmeal off the table. I know my babies don’t come much earlier than their due date, but here I was, wanting to keep the house in order. I also realized I could be doing this daily cleaning for several more weeks, but hey, you never know when this baby is going to come!

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My first pregnant selfie ever….and my last.

And I think it’s interesting that with all the advances in technology- with the exception of a c-section- you still never know when the baby is going to come! It’s a waiting game; It keeps you on your toes. Your nesting instinct kicks in, because you always want to be ready.

In some ways I’m panicking, because we just moved last month and we still have a whole room to gut and remodel before all our kids have an appropriate place to stay. And we are running out of time! The clock is ticking…

But here I am- I realized, in my first profound moment in months- worried about the temporal importance of making room in our house for new life of a baby while I have been neglecting the importance of making room in my heart for life in Christ.

Isn’t nesting the same thing as journeying the Christian life? We never know when Jesus is going to come, or when we are going to leave this earthly life behind. Shouldn’t we always be ready, constantly cleaning out our hearts and making room for new life? Tidying up the messiness and inviting prayer and sacraments into our home to get us ready?

But I have been too focused on the earthly aspects of nesting to spend much time in prayer and making sure I’m always ready for the spiritual life that is to come.

Hopefully with the help of the Holy Spirit and the graces of Pentecost I can be nesting inside and out – for the new life due the 27th and for the eternal life which Christ has won for me.

“So, too, you also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.” Matthew 24:44

Making Peace with Motherhood: Raising Saints

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There’s the kiddo at 10 weeks! Nathan thinks he/she looks like a dinosaur…

Here’s the big news: we are pregnant with #3! Our oldest, Timothy, will turn 3 in April, and baby #3 will be born at the end of June! Nathan and I will have been married 3 and 11/12 months by then. That’s a lot of threes!

The week before my brother’s wedding in October was a nerve-racking one as I waited to take a pregnancy test. Post-partum charting is much more difficult than people led me to believe, and while we wanted to space our children farther than 18 months apart, we knew there was a possibility we were pregnant again. That week we were just playing the waiting game before being able to find out for sure.

My good friend was in town for the wedding (since it was her sister marrying my brother) and I was crying to her that I was pretty sure I was pregnant again and I wasn’t ready.  I sobbed to her that so many other moms have this “mothering” thing down and it’s just not coming easy to me and now I’ve got to do it all over again.  I just wanted a time when, like it seems with so many other moms, I was wanting to get pregnant again versus having one thrust upon me. I was obviously not at peace with motherhood.

Then came the day of my brother’s wedding. The priest began Mass saying, “The greatest tragedy on this earth is to not become a saint.” That was a good starting point for my mini-journey toward peace as I was reminded that that is what marriage is about: getting each other to heaven.  Then, during the wedding vows, I heard my brother and new sister vow to “accept children lovingly from God.” Those words rung in my ears. I hadn’t accepted Lily so lovingly at the beginning, so I renewed my own marriage vow and promised to love this potential new child I might be carrying as a gift from God.

And then I started thinking about my Confirmation saint, St. Bridget of Sweden. One of the reasons I picked her as my patron saint was because she was a mother. She had 8 children, some of which also went on to become canonized saints. Even as a 13-year old going through Confirmation, I somehow knew that motherhood would also be my path to holiness and that I wanted to raise more saints.

And I realized that although I’m a supporter of NFP and all things Catholic, I was still holding on to a “contraceptive mentality” that we had to be able to have enough space and money and leisure, and having too many kids just wouldn’t be a part of that plan.  I was “open” but I still wanted to be selfish. I had never wanted to be one of those large, crazy homeschool families but I am realizing more and more that that’s what we will be turning into. And I’m becoming OK with that now.  Because my marriage is my path to holiness, and accepting children lovingly from God is my vocation. It’s what is going to make me into a saint, even though it won’t be easy.  So I’m making peace with that.

The night of the wedding I went home to take a pregnancy test that turned out positive. And this time around, although I am still scared of how it will all work out, I am thankful. Thankful that God has believed in me enough to grant me the opportunity to raise some saints. Thankful that so far I have two beautiful, healthy children and an amazing, supportive husband.  Thankful that I am making peace with this exhausting, diaper-filled way of life with 3 kids under the age of 4.

And thankful because I am starting to fully realize my purpose in this life: to raise saints and help my husband get to Heaven. In this, my vocation, there is peace.