Thoughts, Musings, & Ramblings of a Catholic Housewife

Family Life

Blessed Are Those Who Mourn…

Today is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day.  A day to remember all babies whose parents and families have had to say goodbye, sometimes before they’ve been able to say hello.  Lets be honest, if this is a cross you are carrying, then you remember you baby (or babies) everyday.  You don’t need a day to highlight their memories.  What is great about today, though, is that it sheds light (for the rest of the world) on what can be something very difficult to talk about.  Something that is almost treated as taboo, perhaps because people just aren’t sure how to help.  They can’t make it better and death is messy stuff (just like life).  It’s uncomfortable to wade through that mess with somebody else, especially if you never had to deal with it yourself.  Today I think of the Beatitudes, especially “Blessed are those who weep and mourn, for they will be comforted.”

Dear families who are on this journey, who’ve been given this cross, please know that you are not alone.  You may be in the absolute deepest depths of weeping and mourning.  You may be surrounded by this mess but you are not alone.  There are millions of us on this journey with you.  Please, know that we are here for you, for each other, and let us comfort each other on this journey.  What’s more, know that our Blessed Mother understands our hearts and our pain.  She, too, buried her child.  No, she didn’t lose her pregnancy to a miscarriage and no, Jesus didn’t die as a young babe or child.  But, she said yes to God’s will and all that it entailed.  She gave herself wholly and completely to God, offering up EVERYTHING she was and had to Him.  We do that, too, when we say yes to life.  When we are willing to allow God to work in our wombs, to participate in creation with Him, we are offering up EVERYTHING we have and are to Him and the new life (lives) He is bringing forth in us.  We are given the great blessing of being life-bearers, of being co-creators with God.  Rain & rainbows, blessing and suffering – they come hand in hand.  We are guaranteed that there will always be some bitter sprinkled (or poured) upon us with the sweet.

There is a famous 80’s rock song…you know the one. “Every rose has it’s thorn.  Every night has it’s dawn.”  No matter where you are on your journey, no matter how normal or not your “new normal” feels, no matter if you feel like you are in the middle of the darkest night or thickest thorn bush, please know this.  Roses will bloom, the sun will rise, and you are allowed to find comfort & joy in your life and whatever new blessings you are given.  Weep, mourn, scream, pray, talk…do what you need to do and know that we are here, all around you, ready to embrace you, to weep, mourn, scream, pray, and talk with you.  You are not alone.  You are never alone.  You have all of us, along with all the angels & Saints, and our dear Blessed Mother walking with you, praying for you, and offering whatever comfort we can.

The end of this world, this temporal life, will eventually come for all of us.  May we live lives that lead us and our families closer to Christ, into His loving arms.  May we be hidden and comforted in His sacred heart.  When each of us are called, may we find that we are happy and our family is whole.

Victor's Marker

Victor’s Marker

Jesus, we trust in you.  All the holy innocents, pray for us.

Let Them Be Saints!

{I’ve been praying about this post and trying to write it in such a way to convey my feelings and what, I feel, is something very important, while remaining charitable.  I don’t want to offend anyone but I do want to make people think about their choices.  To really consider the implications of what, for many, are things that they don’t give much thought to.  If we are to be people of Christ, true & authentic Christians, then we are to live in the world but not be of the world.  We live our daily lives in the world, loving our neighbors & being the hands and feet of Christ to all we meet, without buying into the materialistic urges & idolatry that saturate this world.  We are to live our lives with an eternal mindset, keeping our focus on Heaven, because we know that this is not the end.  Not by any means.  With that in mind, I think it’s good to talk about Heaven and Hell.  It’s good to examine our lives and talk about how we can choose to be saints and how we can let our children be saints.}

It is dogma of the Catholic Church that original sin alone is enough to condemn a soul to hell & we all have the stain of original sin on our souls from conception.  Baptism is the only means of cleansing a soul from original sin.  Knowing this, as a parent who’s lost a pregnancy to miscarriage, this dogma could haunt me.  After-all, what does this mean for my son?  Could my son, my precious innocent son, who was guilty of no personal sin, really NOT be in Heaven?  Where would his soul be then?  For a long time, theologians speculated that all babies who die without being baptized and without committing any personal sin of their own (prior to the age of reason, which is around 7) did not go to Heaven (by virtue of being stained by original sin) or Hell (by virtue of being innocent of any personal sin).  They went to limbo (for lack of a better word).  Limbo is a state outside of the beatific vision and heavenly glory but also removed from torture and damnation.  It is a place of eternal natural happiness.  Some say limbo is on the absolute, outermost fringes of Hell because they are still absent from God, as God and sin can not co-exist.  However, nobody told us that our son was probably spending eternity in limbo.  Everyone seemed certain he was in Heaven.

Why was everyone so certain?  Why am I confident that our son is enjoying the beatific vision and being cradled by our Blessed Mother whenever I ask her to?  I am confident because I trust in the mercy of God and know that our desire for Victor to be baptized is enough.   The church teaches that the desire for baptismespecially in times when baptism isn’t possible (miscarriage, stillbirth, early loss, living someplace where baptism is unavailable, dying on the way to be baptized, etc.), is enough.  God knows that if we were given the chance, our boy would’ve been baptized.  He also knew that we weren’t going to have the chance to have our son baptized.  God is love.  He loves all of our children so much more than we ever could & will always take care of them.  We wanted to baptize our son.  We desired for that saving grace to be poured upon him and weren’t given the chance.  I trust that God absolutely knew our hearts, our desire, and our son was saved.

We trust the church’s teaching and in God’s love and mercy.  We trust that our desire was enough because desire is all we had, we had no other choice.  I don’t understand and my heart breaks for families who must trust that their desire was enough, not because they didn’t have another choice but because they delayed having their healthy babies baptized when they had the chance.  Parents put off baptizing their children for numerous reasons.  They can’t get everyone together, the grandparents, the godparents, etc until baby is older – perhaps even a year old or more.  The space they want to rent for the after-party isn’t available until 6 months down the line (or the caterer/dj/whatever).  They’re just busy with life, caring for a newborn, perhaps caring for other children, and just don’t get around to scheduling it.  Perhaps, one parent doesn’t want their child baptized.  I can’t imagine the pain of suddenly losing your child coupled with the knowledge that they hadn’t been baptized.  I am thankful that a desire for baptism is enough to save a child and I pray that every unbaptized child, who is innocent of personal sin, had someone who desired baptism for them.  I imagine most parents wouldn’t put off baptism if they knew their child only had a few months to live.  {These scenarios are different from the cases where parishes or priests make it difficult for parents to get their children baptized quickly.  Perhaps they don’t allow parents to attend prep classes before the baby is born, or don’t offer a varied schedule of prep classes to make it easier for parents to find a class that works with their schedule.  They have one Sunday every 3 or 4 months where all the babies (who’s parents have gone through prep) are baptized.  You could have a long wait in a parish like that, depending on the prep class schedule and when your baby is born.  While you could argue that parents in situations like these could just go seek out a different parish for their child’s baptism, that isn’t really appropriate.  A child should be baptized in their family’s parish, where they will regularly attend Mass.  To be honest, if we were in a situation like that I would seriously consider just baptizing our child at home, myself (or having my husband baptize them).  It might be illicit but it would be valid.}

I recently involved in a discussion of when to schedule a baptism.  The question was whether the family should wait to have their baby baptized until they would be able to travel home to their family, as they felt it was too much to ask their families to travel to them for the baptism, or not.  I voted for not waiting.  I said their family *should* understand.  Not long ago (i.e. less than 50 years) parents would never dream of waiting for their children to be baptized.  They understood the great importance of this Sacrament in their child’s life.  I’ve heard of babies being baptized mere HOURS after birth – and not because they were in danger of death but because their parents knew this was an absolutely vital Sacrament.  Fathers would take their babies to be baptized without their wives (aka baby mamas), if they weren’t recuperated enough to journey to church.  If parents understood the great importance of this Sacrament so much that a mother would not delay her baby’s baptism so that she could attend, then why are we delaying so that extended family, godparents, and other friends can be present?

Baptism is our birth into the body of Christ and is the only means of removing original sin, making our souls absolutely pure.  Hence, the white baptismal garment is put on AFTER baptism.  Once you are baptized and up until you are guilty of any personal sin, you are a saint.  You are HOLY.  If you happen to die in a state of grace, free from all sin and the stain of sin, if you are a saint when you die then you go straight to Heaven.  No layover in Purgatory.  When we are baptized, we receive graces from Christ – these graces are what wash us clean & will help us throughout our lives as we strive to remain close to Christ.  Our souls are marked for Christ.  Considering all the graces that come with Baptism, I simply don’t understand putting it off.  You wouldn’t dream of putting off the baptism of a baby who is a preemie or very sick at birth, would you?  No.  {In cases where someone is in danger of death, ANYONE can baptize.  So, parents, if your baby is a preemie or very sick at birth – sprinkle water on them and baptize them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit!  It counts!}  So, why put off your healthy baby’s baptism?

I’m obviously questioning the logic of putting off baptism and encouraging you not to.  So, what if you have an excuse, a reason to put off your child’s baptism?

What do you do if your spouse does not wish to have your child baptized?  Well, you probably knew this might be an issue when you married them.  If it wasn’t likely to be an issue at that time, then you probably saw signs that it could be an issue as your marriage progressed (maybe one of you converted/reverted to the church, or fell away from the church, etc.)  Unequal yokes suck.  Sorry about that.  Pray for your spouse and go get your kid baptized.  The church says that only one parent needs to consent to the baptism of a child.  If your spouse didn’t bother to use a seat belt would you consent to not buckling your child into their car seat?  I’m gonna say no.  You wouldn’t let your spouse’s quirks put your child’s physical safety in danger, don’t let them put their soul in danger, either.  (You could have a small, very private baptism, even in secret from your spouse (although you would eventually need to tell them), if you really aren’t ready to fight the fight over having your child baptized.  Talk to you parish priest about your situation & pray for the Holy Spirit to turn your spouse’s heart & mind.)

What about planning the party?  Well, frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn about your party and you really shouldn’t either.  If you have extended family with wild and crazy expectations about the party then let them put it together, but don’t put off baptism in order to have the perfect party.  (Think about this – especially if people aren’t able to be there for the baptism, you could throw a party later on to celebrate with them when they can travel in.  Godparents could pray over the baby, you could look through photos, and enjoy each other’s company.)  Sacraments are these amazing and powerful vehicles of grace.  They are tremendous gifts that God has given us.  Baptisms, First Communions, Confirmations, Weddings, Holy Orders…they aren’t about the party (I didn’t mention Anointing of the Sick or Confession because we don’t tend to make a hoopla out of receiving them).  All of our Sacraments are about the life-changing & saving grace that is given to the persons receiving them.  By the way, it isn’t just Baptism that is lost to the idea of the party.  Truly, First Communions (which aren’t any more important than your second or third or thirty-thousandth communion – you’re are receiving the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Christ EVERY time), Confirmations, and Marriage are all sacraments that can easily be overshadowed by the party that usually comes with them.)

Finally, what do you do if your child’s godparents need to travel in for the baptism and can’t make it until baby is a few months old (or older)?  Did you know that you can use PROXY godparents?  You can!  You can have people stand in for your chosen godparents, if they aren’t able to attend.  Perhaps it isn’t ideal but it doesn’t negate who your child’s godparents are or release your child’s godparents from the spiritual responsibility of being a godparent (after-all, the proxies make this promise & accept the responsibility on the godparents’ behalf).  Isn’t the grace and the saving work of baptism more important than having everyone in attendance?  Surely your child’s godparents would understand.

I am begging you, PLEASE don’t put off your baby’s baptism.  The Church even says that baptism is so important that parents should not delay getting their children baptized.  No reason is good enough – not waiting on everyone to be there or planning the perfect party or anything.  After-all, the Church even says that you don’t have to wait for a priest to baptize your child in cases where death may be likely.  Please, get your babies baptized as soon as possible!  Claim them for Christ, cleanse them of original sin, and have those graces poured over them.  Let them be saints for as long as possible.


What about our non-Catholic Christian brothers and sisters, who don’t practice infant baptism?

In thinking about and preparing for this post, I put out a request to non-Catholic Christians for information about what they believe regarding baptism.  I knew that some denominations baptized infants while others do not.  I was wondering why, if they understand baptism the same way that we understand it, why wouldn’t they baptize all their babies immediately?  Why not save them as soon as they could?  After all, Christ’s death redeemed all of mankind making it possible for us to be saved.  Salvation is the work and acceptance of redemption.  Baptism is the gateway of salvation.  What I learned in asking my non-Catholic Christian friends about their beliefs on baptism astonished me.  Many denominations don’t practice infant baptism because they believe it is a public display of the believer’s personal choice to have a committed and personal relationship with Jesus or an outward sign of what God is doing inside the believer.  While many do believe baptism cleanses the baptized of sin, they don’t necessarily believe that baptism is needed for salvation.  I never understood why they didn’t practice infant baptism until I understood that they have a totally different understanding of baptism.  Obviously, if they don’t believe that baptism is needed for salvation, or that it is only a symbol of a believer’s choice to claim Christ, to lead a committed & dedicated Christian life then they would see no need to baptize their babies or small children.  It makes sense, now, why they would wait until a person was old enough to make that decision for themselves.  However, their babies are still stained by original sin and that alone is still enough to keep their children out of Heaven.  Would a loving and merciful God allow such a thing to happen?  If a family is being faithful to Him, striving to live out the truth as they know & understand it, would He allow their babies to be denied Heaven, should they die prior to baptism?  I don’t know.  I pray the answer is no.  We are bound by the Sacraments but God is not.  He’s God.  He can do what He wills.  I think that every non-Catholic Christian that I know, who doesn’t doesn’t practice infant baptism, are good Christians who are trying very hard to live holy and authentic, Christian lives.  God knows their hearts & their sincere desire for their children to be saved.  I would surmise that, if they believed what I believe and the Catholic church (along with some other non-Catholic  Christian denominations) teach about baptism, they would greatly desire it for their children and would not delay in having their children baptized.  I would also surmise that, even if they believe that baptism isn’t necessary for salvation, or that baptism is a choice that must be made by the person being baptized, they would still desire that all of their children are baptized because they would desire that all of their children claim a personal relationship with Jesus.  (I am also praying that the Holy Spirit will move in them and show them power and grace of baptism and they will become open to baptizing their babies.)

What about our non-Christian brothers and sisters?

I recently read a blog post by a deacon about desire and baptism and how our Rite of Baptism supports our teaching that the desire for baptism is enough to save a soul.  He mentioned that the one being, aside from a child’s parents, who has a vested interest in that child’s spiritual well being is their guardian angel.  Every child is assigned a guardian angel, who is tasked with watching over that child, helping them, praying for them, and guiding them to Christ.  It doesn’t matter what the child’s parents choose to believe or not.  EVERY child is given a guardian angel who stays with them throughout their life.  (It doesn’t matter what their parents believe or what they grow up to believe – their guardian angel will stay with them throughout their earthly life.)  The deacon mentioned that perhaps the desire of a guardian angel for their charge to be baptized would also be enough to save that soul, should they die prior to committing any personal sin.  I’d never thought of that before but it gives me such hope for the innocent children of my friends who are not believers.  It also gives me great hope for all of the babies who are victims of abortion.  I’ve also started to pray for these innocent souls, hoping that God may see my desire for them to be saved, and it may be enough.


Let us remember to pray for all the unbaptized, no matter their age, that their hearts are turned to Christ and that the desire for baptism grows in them or their parents.  May they all answer God’s call to come home to Him.  May we all be together with our Father, in Heaven, basking in His glory.


The day our daughter was baptized and became a saint.

A Blonde Baker’s Baby Dozen 2.0

After I finished my last list and shared it with a newly pregnant friend, I starting thinking of a few more baby items that we love.  Since I already had 14 (15 if you count how many product links I have) items on my list, I decided I’d just make another list. 🙂  Most of these aren’t really NEEDED items, but they sure are nice to have if you are gifted them or can find a good deal.  Also, the pictures are also links, for your convenience.  Here we go!

1) Chicco Caddy Hook On Chair It can be used with just about any table.  I love it.  It allows baby to sit at the table with us & folds up flat, so we can take it anywhere with us.  I happened to find ours at a secondhand baby store.





2) Bumbo Seat  I have always loved using these – both when I babysat and now with our daughter.  Lightweight, portable (I love portable things), easy to clean, and with the little tray table it’s the perfect little picnic chair for baby.  I would put baby in this, on our bed, against the wall (so she can’t fall off the bed – although, Bumbo specifically states this is a ground seat and shouldn’t be used on raised surfaces) while I got ready or was cleaning the room, etc.  She could watch what I was doing and we could interact but it also kept her from lying on her back or tummy all the time.  Plus, I didn’t have to worry about her rolling off the bed.




3) Swing There are lots of options – some more space saving or portable than others.  We were given a swing by a friend.  It is similar to the one pictured (same brand and similar design).  One thing I must tell you about our swing & this brand – they are durable!  Swings may only be useful from birth to around 6 months (depending on the size of your baby) but they can be used over and over for subsequent babies.  That’s bang for your buck.  Movement helps soothe babies and some great early naps happened in our swing.  We love that thing.  We just recently stopped using it because our baby started arching her back trying the baby in the mirror – this lead to minor safety issue of her hanging off the side of the swing (thank God she was buckled in, so she would just hang & not totally fall out) – didn’t seem to bother her.





4)First Years Bathtub This comes with a sling to use with newborns and then the tub has a reclined side for newborns/babies who can’t hold their head up or sit up and an upright side for babies/toddlers.  We don’t use this at home.  Generally, one of us just gets in the bath with our daughter and the other helps.  However, my mother bought this tub for her house.  Our daughter loves being able to sit up, on her own, in the water and play.  I will put her in this with toys & a little water in the shower with me.  That way she can play while I shower & then I can bathe her.  Win – win!!




5) Steam Sterilizer Bags  I love using these when we travel and for quick things at home (like the paci that rolled under the fridge).  Each bag can be used 20 times before tossing.


Our son, Victor, was born into eternal life on Sept. 11, 2010.  He never breathed a breath in this world.  This is his story.

Victor's Marker

Victor’s Marker

My entire life can now be labeled pre-Victor and post-Victor.  Miscarrying our son is a dagger in my timeline.  It is a break in the chain.  It was the kind of thing that changes you forever.  The crazy thing is that, unless we’ve shared our story with you (and we are pretty open about it), you wouldn’t know.  When someone is physically injured or maimed in some way, people can SEE that something is different about them.  They bear physical scars.  Nobody can see the scars on my or my husband’s hearts that tell a big part of our family’s story.

Life and death is messy stuff.  Physically, emotionally, and spiritually messy.  Originally I thought I’d share the specifics and mechanics of our brief time with Victor but that isn’t really the important stuff.  That isn’t his legacy.  Believe it, my son, who had been in existence for just over 9 weeks, who could not survive outside of my womb, has a legacy.  This isn’t about our experience with thoughtless ninnies at the hospital, who ran the gamut from simple thoughtlessness to idiocy to near cruelty.  This isn’t about them.  It is about Victor.  Our son.  Our first baby and our daughter’s big brother.  Our family’s little saint.

We are Catholic and we believe that God has a hand in everything.  Things happen via his specific will (i.e. It was His specific will that Christ die on the cross in atonement for our sins, in order to save us and open the gates of Heaven.) or his permissive will (i.e. He doesn’t specifically will for me to catch your cold but He doesn’t prevent it from happening, either.)  It is so easy to say those words.  We believe things happen for a reason.  We trust in God’s will.  We WANT God’s will for our lives.  (Although, when you think about what He willed His only son to suffer in order to save us – sheesh – sometimes I think we’re crazy for wanting His will in our lives, but then again, this is all temporary and we have an eternity in Heaven to look forward to.)  It is SO. MUCH. HARDER. to live those words.  Victor taught us how.

With Victor, we were given the gift of participating in creation.  Our love begat.  Our love created.  With REAL love (not what our society often defines as love…that’s another post), there is always a possibility that it will overflow into creating new life.  We were given the gift of parenthood and the responsibility to help our child get to Heaven.  With Victor, we were given LIFE.  We enjoyed life with him for something like 2 – 3 weeks.  We loved him.  We loved him more than anyone who isn’t a parent might be able to understand, considering we hadn’t even met him, yet.  We hadn’t met him, seen his face, heard his voice, or held his body but we KNEW him and we loved him.

Our son gave us the opportunity to grow closer together, closer to God, and stronger in our faith.  We learned so much because of him.  We learned that what you would imagine as being the worst possible thing ever, losing a child, isn’t really.  We learned how closely intertwined blessing and suffering is.  They always come hand in hand.  It is through and because of the bitter that we should more fully appreciate the sweet.  We learned that, as parents, we will always be called to suffer in some ways for our children.  Daily we joyfully accept that suffering, for love of them.  It is not pointless for me to suffer lost sleep if it means I am comforting my sick baby and helping her feel better, or if it means I am feeding her & providing nourishment for her to grow.  Our suffering a miscarriage was not pointless, as our son was blessed to go straight to Heaven.  We learned to TRUST God with EVERYTHING.  He always provides what we need and takes care of us.

Through this, I’ve also grown closer to our Blessed Mother, Mary, and understand her sacrifice just a little more.  I know she understands my mother’s heart and sorrow.  I also knew, when Victor passed, that he would be cradled in her arms.  The Queen of Heaven, our spiritual mother, would wrap her arms around my son.  He was okay.  No, he was more than okay, he was perfect.

Our son’s legacy is us.  His life has a profound continuing effect on our marriage and family.  He is up in Heaven praying for us and interceding on our behalf.  We’ve learned to appreciate what we are given, when we are given it.  To cherish times as they come and not to fear anything.  We no longer fear death, not for ourselves or our children.  “Oh, Death, where is your sting?  Oh, Death, where is your victory?”  We are trying to live a life of humility & love, joyfully accepting whatever crosses we are blessed with, offering up suffering to participate in redemption, and gratefully relishing every little bit.  We don’t always succeed.  We are the family of saints.  We’ve been blessed with holy children.  We will gladly accept the blessings of more little saints.  No matter if they ever live one day on this earth outside of my womb – we will joyfully accept all the blessing and suffering that comes with being parents, with being open to love overflowing.  We hope and pray that we will all be reunited in the communion of saints, whenever God calls us.

In 2010 our lives changed forever as we were married, blessed with our first child, and suffered through our first loss.  We held close to each other, close to our son, and close to God.  It was the most difficult year of my life but I am so grateful for everything that happened that year.  We learned that life is life – life on earth or life in Heaven – no matter where our children are, they are alive and we were blessed to participate in that.  <3  This is what Victor taught us.  <3

Visiting Victor's grave.

Visiting Victor’s grave.

After I wrote this, I shared it with my husband.  He said I make us sound like a couple of saints, which we aren’t.  We’ve been walking in this for three years.  It is still very difficult at times.  We both struggled with anger after losing Victor.  If you’ve read my Pregnancy Guilt post, then you know I really struggled with jealousy, too.  This isn’t an easy road.  It isn’t a road I’d ever wish on anyone.  It isn’t a road that I want to journey down again BUT it also isn’t a road that I am afraid of.  I do not fear losing another pregnancy to miscarriage & birthing another baby to Heaven.  Satan can not use that fear to rob my joy or hold me captive.  There are plenty of other things he can use but fear of losing my babies isn’t one of them.  It may not immediately sound like I’m talking about our son but without him, without being blessed with him and without the miscarriage – I do not think I would have learned any of these things.  Fear is not of God.  Love, peace in your soul, and joy…these are of God.  I am so thankful that I am blessed to be able to walk through future pregnancies with a spirit of peace, love, and joy – even if it may also be surrounded by sorrow.  God loves my children more than I do and I know He will always take care of them.


A Blonde Baker’s Baby Dozen

Here are 14 things that I’ve come to love in the past 7 months with baby.  They’ve either been extremely useful for us or are just too adorable to pass up.  All of the pictures in the list are links, for your informational and purchasing convenience.  At the bottom of the list, I’ve included pictures of us using some of our favorite things.  This is my Blonde Baker’s Baby Dozen. 😉

1) Bean Bag I don’t have a picture (link) for this because you can probably find one cheaper at your local big box store than online.  Seriously, a plain bean bag (kid’s size, I guess) has been FANTASTIC.  She loved napping in it when she was smaller.  It gave the feeling of snugness and security without actually needing to swaddle her.  Now that she’s older and more mobile, she still naps in it on occasion but she also loves to sit in it and play with her toys.  We’ve used it as a prop in pictures, too.  Multipurpose indeed!!


2) The BRICA Fold N’ Go Travel Bassinet  More portable than a pack n’ play & less expensive than a portable crib.  We used this on our long road trips this summer and at home, in our bed.  It gave our baby her own space & allowed us to co-sleep with her without fear of rolling over on her.





3) The Moby Wrap  I LOVE MY MOBY!!  We used this wrap in the hospital and throughout the beginning.  Our baby loved to be worn in the wrap, too.  One of the best things about it – nobody tries to grab your baby when you are wearing her.  There are multiple colors and patterns to choose from, too.








Sweet Bow Swaddle4) The Beaufort Bonnet Company  I seriously love so many of the items TBBC offers.  I took my sweet bow swaddle to the hospital and had our little girl swaddled before she was 10 hours old.  Pure sweetness.  Check out everything they have to offer.  Great baby gifts!!  Bonus – TBBC is located in the heart of Central Kentucky and all of their (very high quality) items are made in the USA!!  They are carried in boutiques in several states – you can check their website to see if a store near you carries TBBC or you can order directly on their website.  Seriously, some of the sweetest ladies and best customer service!!





5) The Woombie  BEST. NIGHT. SWADDLE. EVER.  Our daughter LOVED to be swaddled at night but it was hard (especially for my husband) to get the blankets wrapped so that they’d stay wrapped.  It was especially difficult at 3am when we were bleary eyed and exhausted.  This makes it so simple!  You just zip them in!!  Oh the peaceful slumber and easy diaper changes we enjoyed when using this.  They have winter and summer fabric options, as well as multiple sizes and convertible swaddles.








6) Evenflo Classic Glass Bottles  Economical, easy to clean, & sturdy.  Since they are glass, you don’t have to worry about them being cloudy or somehow getting stained.  You can be sure they are clean.  They are also amazingly sturdy.  I’ve dropped them on numerous occasions (not purposefully) and haven’t broken or cracked one yet.


7) Britax Head & Body Support Pillow Our baby was on the smaller side (at two months she was still under 7lbs).  I really liked how this gave her a little extra support & it’s double sided.  One side to help keep her warm in the winter and the other to help keep her cool in summer.  The headpiece is also adjustable, so it’s pretty easy to get a good fit for your baby.  It can be used in your car seat or stroller.




8) Britax B-Safe Infant Car Seat  I liked the look, the price range, and the safety ratings of this seat.  Bonus – my niece outgrew her non-Britax Infant seat by 8 or 9 months but still fit in our Britax with a room to grow.  Since our daughter is on the small side (10th% for height & weight), I’m fairly confident that we’ll be able to use the Britax for another year or so.  There are several colors available.






9) Britax B-Agile Stroller  Easy to open & easy to fold.  It’s also lightweight (as strollers go) and fairly compact once folded.  It has an over-sized canopy, so it’s easy to keep the sun out of baby’s face.  The recline option is a fluid design, so you have multiple options for how far you want baby to recline.  The undercarriage is also bigger & more roomy than first appearance suggests.  It also came with the adapters needed for our car seat to snap right onto it.  You have to purchase it separately but with the Britax Stroller Organizer, it’s pretty  much perfect.







10) KidCo Go-Pod An activity station for junior that folds up and is as portable as a camping chair.  Genius!  Bonus – It has toy latches, so you can attach your baby’s favorite friends to help entertain him.  This means you can entirely forego purchasing one of those activity center things & just get this.  You can rotate toys, to keep things fresh (for baby and to clean the toys), and it’s portable!!  Great space saver, if you don’t have a lot of room, too, since you can fold it up and toss it in a closet.




11) Cloth Diaper Liners  I use these because my baby is not exclusively breastfed, which means her solids are more similar to big kid/adult solids.  I have no desire to rinse that, so I love these.  You line your baby’s cloth diaper & then you can just drop the liner and solids in the toilet.  It’s flushable! 🙂  I love how economical they are.  I don’t feel like I’m wasting anything if my baby only wets her diaper.





12) Boppy Pillow This should be standard issue to all  new mamas.  Breast or bottle feeding – doesn’t matter.  It is so useful.  I used it for support while breastfeeding.  We used it to prop baby up in a reclined position when she was learning to hold her own bottle but couldn’t quite manage it sitting up (because she was wobbly sitting up more than anything).  Now, we use it as a little extra support for her as she is sitting up & a soft thing to help catch her if she falls over.  She’s loved rolling all over it, climbing over it, gumming on it, the list goes on.  Oh, we do love our Boppy and find so many uses for it!!




13) WASHABLE Playard/Pack n Play Center  We have this exact brand.  LOVE IT.  It was easy to set up, comes with so many features, and the fabrics are removable so they can be washed.  I am not a big fan of pack n plays because they don’t seem very portable to me BUT we love keeping this in our home.  She naps in it, plays in it, and the changing table is at the perfect height.  This is her place in our living room.





14) Rugged Butts Fedora  I purchased this as a gift for a friend.  Super cute & so dapper.  I was so excited when I opened the package to check this hat out before wrapping it up for my friend.  It felt sturdy, like it would hold up to anything a baby or toddler might do to it, and looked FANTASTIC in person.  If we are ever blessed with a boy – I’m buying him one of these in every available color.  🙂
Travel Bassinet works wonderfully as a little "boat" for photos.  We placed the Boppy inside to help her sit up and tossed a few toys in there with her.

Travel Bassinet works wonderfully as a little “boat” for photos. We placed the Boppy inside to help her sit up and tossed a few toys in there with her.

That's a Boppy under that blanket.  :)

Bean Bag under a blanket

Road trippin' in her Britax Car Seat

Road trippin’ in her Britax Car Seat

Sweet Bow Swaddle.  Oh, my heart melts when I look at this picture.

Sweet Bow Swaddle. Oh, my heart melts when I look at this picture.

Our Woombie worm.

Our Woombie worm.

Car seat snapped into stroller.


Walking downtown, hanging in a Moby.

Bean bag…great place for a nap!




Mongolian Blue Spots, Stork Bites, & Other Birthmarks

Hemangiomas (aka strawberries) aren’t the only strange looking birthmarks your child could have.  There are many others.  Some are vascular birthmarks (red in color) and others are pigmented birthmarks (markings on skin that can range in colors but are not red).

During discussions about my post regarding my daughter’s hemangioma, one mother shared that her daughter had something called Mongolian Blue Spots.  They are blueish in color and look like bruises.  The spots are on her back, near her shoulder and just above her butt.  (Most Mongolian Blue Spots appear on the lower back and buttocks.  It’s rare for them to appear on scalps or faces.)  They’ve had to have them documented by their pediatrician, in case someone suspects that they are bruises.  In fact, they thought that they were bruises that resulted from how the doctor pulled their daughter out at birth, when they first appeared.  How can you tell the difference?  Bruises change colors.  Blue Spots don’t.  Bruises hurt.  Blue Spots don’t.  Bruises also fade fairly quickly, whereas blue spots don’t fade or change quickly at all.  (Do a Google image search – some are huge and don’t really look like bruises, others are much more subtle & could easily be mistaken.)  Mongolian Blue Spots are a pigmented birthmark.

My daughter has a stork bite on the back of her head.  (Poor kid can’t get a break! lol )  It gave the story about storks dropping babies off a whole new meaning for us.  It is an area of her skin, near the nape of her neck, that is colored red.  It looks like it spreads when she’s upset & crying really hard, as her whole head will get red, starting from the stork bite.  It’s a vascular birthmark.

Like many/most birthmarks, Mongolian Blue Spots and Stork Bites may be present at birth or may appear sometime shortly after birth and tend to fade as the child gets older.  In many/most cases they disappear completely by adolescence.  Sometimes birthmarks do require medical attention, but generally, they don’t.  Make sure that your pediatrician is aware of any birthmarks on your child and let them know if there are any changes or any abnormalities.

I wonder how many other kinds of birthmarks there are?  (Did you know moles are considered birthmarks?  I didn’t.)  I’m sharing links below about Blue Spots, Stork Bites, and other birthmarks.  Check them out and educate yourself.  That way you’ll know what that thing is on her eye, back, neck, etc.  🙂



Thank you!  Come again!

Thank you! Come again!

What’s That On Your Eye?

“What is that on her eye?”  “What’s that red thing on her face?”  “What’s that?”  “Oh, no!  What happened to her eye?”

Colette Foot

These are all questions that I have faced from public strangers (usually kids) regarding that funny, little red bump directly over my daughter’s left eye.  I am questioned about it enough that I figured I’d write a post explaining just what it is.  🙂  My answer will normally depend on several factors – who’s asking, where we are, what else is going on, and how much time I have to explain.  For example, if I’m rushing to the bathroom to change her, or a very small child (who likely won’t understand the full explanation) asks, then I usually don’t take the time to explain everything and just say that most people call it a strawberry or angel kiss & that it’s a birthmark.  However, if I have the time and the child is older (or an adult asks), I’ll tell them that it’s called a strawberry & explain exactly what it is.  Sometimes parents answer their child’s question before I have a chance to, telling their child it’s a birthmark, and I just agree with them.  Keeps things simple.  🙂  After all, that’s what I always called my strawberry.  It’s my birthmark.

Me tub

You can see my strawberry on my upper tummy/lower chest.

Essentially, that is exactly what it is, when it’s on the skin.  A “vascular birthmark”.  It is called a hemangioma and is a group of extra blood vessels.  It grows throughout the first year of life and is usually gone by the time the child is ten.  There are several versions of hemangiomas, including internal that can grow on your organs, bones, or muscles.  Generally, hemangiomas of the skin do not require any medical treatment, unless they grow in such a way that they inhibit vision, breathing, or eating; OR if there are multiples or they are very large/fast growing.  They are usually NOT visible at birth but grow over time.  If your child has multiple skin hemangiomas, then your doctor will probably want to check for internal hemangiomas (which may (probably) require medical intervention).  I *think* hemangiomas are genetic, as I had one, numerous cousins have had them, my daughter has one, and both of my nieces had one.  (Update: According to my research, they are NOT genetic, but tell that to my family.)

No hemangioma on her birth day.

No hemangioma on her birth day.


It's visible at one month.

It’s visible at one month.


A little bigger at two months

A little bigger at two months


Growing with her at three months

Growing with her at three months

You get the idea. :) Here she is at six months and the hemangioma is bigger still.

You get the idea. 🙂 Here she is at six months and the hemangioma is bigger still.


So, now you know just what that thing is on my daughter’s eye & you’ll know what it is if you happen to notice one on anyone else.  🙂  It seems to have stopped growing and we won’t need to worry about it unless it grows large enough to hit the optical nerve directly beneath it, which would mean that she wouldn’t be able to open her eye.  If you’d like more in depth information about hemangiomas, I’ve included some links below.  Feel free to check them out!!

Interesting tidbit – in some cultures hemangiomas are considered a sign of royalty! 🙂  I always knew we were a couple of princesses. 😉

Sexy Wife!


An Open Letter to Strangers at Church

Dear Strangers at Church,

Thank you for taking notice of my baby and I the other day.

Baby and me.  Yeah, we know we're cute.

Baby and me. Yeah, we know we’re cute.

I’m not talking about when you interrupted my conversation with a friend so you could touch my baby uninvited.  I’m not talking about when you blocked my path as I was walking to the restroom to change my baby (or relieve myself) so you could coo over how adorable my baby is and comment on how novel it is that I’m wearing my baby.

Baby wearing at the pool...even more novel than in church

Baby wearing at the pool…even more novel than in church

 I’m not even talking about when you pushed passed me to grab a hold of my baby’s hand while I was trying to change her diaper (and wouldn’t leave until a friend came in to take over the hand-holding job).  Nope, I’m not talking about any of that – as uncomfortable and annoying as it can be.  I’m talking about when you and everyone around you were kind enough to turn around in your seats and STARE at my baby and I as she cried unceasingly.  You know what I’m talking about.


You’d make this face, too, if your diaper was all filled up with no place to change.

There was a huge line of people standing in the aisle, going down for Holy Communion and in the absolute opposite direction of where I needed to go to be able to care for my baby.  There was no room or way for me to squeeze past them.  All I could do was cuddle, shhh, and rock my baby – trying to comfort her – and wait.  Wait for the chance to get out of Dodge and go care for my baby.  Your staring didn’t help things.  My family was already a little too overly concerned with what was going on and kept asking what I needed.  What I needed?  I needed to be able to take care of my baby and wasn’t immediately able to.  I needed them to quit asking what I needed because there was nothing any of them could do to help get me what I needed.  I needed all the strangers around us to quit staring at me…some with abject pity and some with some kind of look that screamed “I can’t believe she’s just letting her baby cry like that.” (at least that’s what the look communicated to me).  My personal favorite were the people who were looking around like they were just curious and looking for someone.  You weren’t looking for someone, you wanted to see the crying baby.  At least the other busybodies owned their nosiness.  You should know that I would not have sat there for what seemed like eternity while my baby cried and her diaper leaked pee all over both of us.  If I had the room to push through that line of people, I would have.  I didn’t.  If I had the room to change my daughter right there, I would have.  I didn’t.  I had no choice but to sit there and wait.  Your staring – no matter what your motives or feelings were – didn’t help.  My baby was crying and she needed a diaper change but she was safe.  She was okay.  She didn’t need you to stare at her mama.  If I looked upset or frustrated when you were staring at me, you should know that I was.  I was not upset and frustrated with my baby.  She was simply communicating, in the only way she has, that she needed something.  I was upset and frustrated that you didn’t have the simple decency to ignore us and just keep praying, or day dreaming, or whatever it is that you usually do in church.

You may not have been judging me.  You may have been feeling very sympathetic for me but how would I know that?  All you did was stare.  Open, blank, questioning, even seeming a little put out…staring.  So, what is the point of this letter?  Other than to allow me to vent?  I’m hoping that it may serve as a reminder that it isn’t polite to stare or to insert yourself where you are not invited.  God gave my husband and I our baby and He gave us the ability to care for her.  We got this and He’s got our back.  If we need your help, we’ll ask.  Until then, PLEASE nose out.  By the way, if you feel so compelled – if you happen to hear a baby/toddler/kid crying – I’m sure the parents and family would appreciate your prayers.  Prayers in & nose out.  That’s a good rule to live by until the family invites otherwise.


A Baby Mama

Caught ya lookin'.

I saw that.

There Are Worse Things

{Lately, I’ve seen a lot of discussion about miscarriages on a couple internet groups/boards I’m a member of.  Ladies asking about healing after miscarriage or discussing their fears of miscarriage or asking about symptoms of miscarriage.  I keep thinking that I should share more about what happened to our family and how that’s changed my point of view.  Bear in mind, my point of view is very firmly grounded in my faith.  If we had suffered this without our faith, I’m fairly certain that I would not have made it through.}

My husband and I were married in April of 2010 and lost our first pregnancy to miscarriage in September 2010.  We hadn’t even been married six months and our relationship was being tested like nothing else.  Losing a child, whether they are pre-born, still born, juvenile, or an adult can tear a marriage and a family apart.  You tend to go into yourself and mourn.  The world around you goes on but yours stops and you can’t always understand why and how the rest of the world keeps spinning.

Our miscarriage was probably different than others in that we were expecting it.  My endocrinologist sent us to the high risk OB (not my regular OB) for an ultrasound maybe 5 days or so after we’d confirmed (via doctor’s office blood test) we were pregnant.  This was about 2 weeks after we’d had a positive home pregnancy test.  She wanted to get a good idea on just how far along we were.  According to the dating of my last cycle, we could be nearly 12 weeks but the HCG levels in my blood showed that I may be closer to 7 weeks.  I am diabetic and she’d had me admitted to the hospital to figure out my insulin doses (I’d never used insulin before and this was the safest way to figure out my doses and teach me.)  It was a Tuesday morning & we were excited to see our baby for the first time.  We had no idea what we were about to be hit with.

Hospital staff wheeled me down to the OB’s office & we joked about how silly it was because my legs weren’t broken, I was just pregnant.  I got prepped for the ultrasound & the doctor came into the room.  He introduced himself to us, reviewed my chart, lectured me for allowing myself to get pregnant without having my diabetes under perfect control, and then started the ultrasound.  He was very businesslike.  He said, “Here’s the sac, and there’s the baby, and we have a problem.  You’re baby is measuring 9wks 3 days and we should see movement of a heart beating.  There is no heart beat.  This is a missed miscarriage.”  Excuse me?  A what?  How can I be having a missed miscarriage?  I have no symptoms of losing the pregnancy.  I’ve had no cramping or bleeding or spotting.  He must be wrong.  He told us that we could schedule a DNC for that afternoon, if we wanted.  They would dilate my cervix and remove all tissue from my uterus.  Tissue?  TISSUE?  This isn’t tissue.  THIS IS OUR BABY.  I’m sure the look of shock and horror was easy to read on my face & he went on to say that it would be fine for us to just let things progress naturally.  He said that my body would likely take care of everything on its own.  Just over a week and a half later, that is exactly what happened.  I started bleeding, similar to a light – medium flow period, just before noon on a Friday.  I still had no cramping but seeing as we’d had another ultrasound that still showed no heart beat and no growth in baby’s size, I knew what this was.  I went home from work, not knowing exactly how long this process would take.  I bled for 24 hours.  I passed clots larger than anything I’d ever passed before but no baby (I was a little paranoid about my baby’s body being concealed by a large clot and was careful to make sure that I didn’t flush my baby’s body down the toilet).  About 24 hours after the bleeding started I got my first real cramp and with it a rush.  I ran to the bathroom and screamed for my husband.  You’ve seen a woman’s water breaking in the movies?  That sudden gush of liquid just pouring out of them?  That is exactly what this felt like.  I was in the bathtub with (what looked like) a river of blood rushing out of me.  The body of our son, Victor, passed within the first ten minutes.  His body was tiny and perfect.  I remember counting his fingers and toes.  He had ten each.  And his eyes, oh his eyes were the bluest blue I’ve ever seen.  We held our son and we mourned and I bled.  I don’t recall the pain being that bad in the first few minutes.  However, as the miscarriage continued, the contractions increased, plain tissue that was meant to provide nourishment for our son was expelled, and the pain intensified.  I was still bleeding and by this time screaming in massive amounts of pain nearly two and a half hours after Victor’s passing.  I was scared.  I was tired.  I was heart broken.  My husband helped me clean up & dress and then drove me to the emergency room.  By the time a doctor was able to examine me, the pain and the bleeding had stopped.  My body was exhausted, my womb was empty, and my yoga pants were ruined.  I was given a clean bill of health, a Rh shot (I have a neg blood type) and sent home to rest.  We buried our son the following Wednesday.

The emotional pain of waiting for a miscarriage to happen, knowing it will but unsure of when, is debilitating.  The physical pain of the miscarriage itself is excruciating.  The psychological pain is torture.  I felt like I was floating in nothingness.  I was broken, speechless, and couldn’t understand how the sun kept rising day after day while everything seemed so dark.  Some days were okay and others I felt like I was being held under water, the pain stealing every last little breath, every last little bit of life I had left in me.  I knew that our son was in Heaven and took solace in that.  I made jokes about how having a saint for a son made me a relic.  Knowing our son was alive in Heaven, cradled in the arms of our Blessed Mother, gave me comfort but it also made me angry and sad.  She got to hold my son.  She got to know this precious soul and I did not…at least not yet.  This may sound crazy but there are ups and downs to this whole thing.  I felt honored to know that my son was a little saint.  We didn’t have to do anything, other than bearing a miscarriage, for our son to go to Heaven.  What was so wrong with me that my body couldn’t support him, couldn’t keep him alive on earth?  What was so wrong with me that I couldn’t be a “full” mother?  (I really struggled with viewing myself as a mother and nothing in our society supports the idea that a mother who loses a pregnancy is still a mother.  In fact, there are some who would say “it doesn’t count” because our baby didn’t experience life outside of the womb.)  These were all questions and thoughts that plagued me as time went by.  I tried to remind myself to behave in a manner befitting the mother of a saint.  I wanted to be worthy of such an honor.  My husband and I were drawn closer together.  Nobody quite understood what we’d been through, except us and God.  Even when you meet people who’ve walked this path, it’s different for each of us and while we can empathize with each other – none of us exactly KNOW what the others are suffering with.  We leaned on each other and Him.  We prayed more.  We learned how to communicate about things that most people would shudder to think about, let alone say out loud.  We faced burying a child & we survived.

What I have to say next will likely sound even crazier.  I am not afraid of suffering another miscarriage or burying another child.  Our daughter is less than a week shy of turning six months old.  Our pregnancy with her was pretty awesome and while birth didn’t go as we planned (I’d love to meet someone who’s birth did go exactly as planned and find out their secret) we were blessed with a beautiful, sweet spirited, tiny, healthy girl.  She was baptized at twelve days old.  One of the things I realized after our miscarriage, that really hit home with this pregnancy is this – every parent will suffer for their child(ren).  We suffer through pregnancies that may be very difficult, we suffer through labor & delivery that may be very painful, scary, and even life threatening.  We suffer sleepless nights.  We may suffer through breastfeeding or trying to breastfeed.  We worry about development and proper discipline and what we feed them and how they socialize with others and raising them up in the faith, etc.  As they grow and start to make their own choices, exercising their free will, we will suffer as we watch them fall to temptation and sin.  This may sound callous and may be difficult to understand but there are worse things in this world than miscarriages or early loss.  I used to fear losing a child.  I still get sad sometimes when I think about not being able to know my son in this life.  I greatly cherish the time I’ve been given with my daughter and pray daily for the strength, wisdom, and grace to raise her properly.  I pray that she will make good and holy choices in her life.  I pray that she will be a saint and I know that her big brother is praying for her, too.  I do not fear death – not for myself or my family.  Our children are alive.  Any life that we are blessed to participate in the creation of will live.  Giving birth is not an easy thing and whether these sweet souls are born onto this earth or straight into Heaven, they live!!

Losing the chance to know your child in this life hurts.  It is gut-wrenching and can be torture at times.  Don’t let that fear stop you from enjoying the gifts and blessings you have now.  Don’t let the fear of what might happen tomorrow steal the joy of what you’ve been given now.  Don’t let the pain of that loss prevent you from being open to love & joy.  What’s worse than not getting to spend your earthly life with your babies?  Not getting to spend your eternal life with them.

I’m in the process of learning to look at this world with eternal eyes.  I am pray for and look forward with excited anticipation to the days when my family members are called home from this world and reunited in the next.


Who’s Your Mama…in law???

We just got home from a fairly massive road trip.  Kentucky to Utah and back, via Frankfort, IL, in 9 days…with a baby in tow.  The trip went really well and was an amazing blessing for our family and marriage.  One of the things that came out of this trip was a promise, to ourselves and God, to work on improving our prayer life.  We decided to make the commitment to praying together, as a family, once a day.  We’ve been praying The Chaplet of Divine Mercy, daily at 3p.m., but we weren’t able to do that yesterday (Sunday).  Husband’s band was playing a gig Sunday afternoon and he wasn’t available for prayer until after 5.  We discussed our options and decided that we would pray a Rosary together, instead of the Chaplet.  The Glorious mysteries (Resurrection, Ascension, Decent of the Holy Spirit, Assumption of Mary, and Coronation of Mary) are traditionally prayed on Sundays (and Wednesdays).  I have never prayed the Rosary in any way similar to the way we prayed it yesterday.  I am used to the mystery being named and then you either listen to a short reflection about the mystery & meditate on the mystery silently, OR you just meditate silently on the mystery.  Then you pray the prayers.  Well, last night, my husband kept wanting to have discussions about each mystery.  We’d meditate silently for and little while and then he’d share some of his thoughts and ask me to share mine.  I did not like this.  It felt strange and weird.  It felt disrespectful but husband is the head of our home and I was trying to submit to his guidance (it’s really difficult for me to submit, so I’m trying to make myself submit – especially when I really just want to roll my eyes at him).  I share all of this with you because it all helped guide me to my epiphany…an epiphany that I’m still trying to work out and I’m not exactly thrilled about.  At least not yet.

We’d gotten to the fourth mystery and it had been a bit of a rough night.  I was feeling frustrated and a little annoyed with my husband.  I’d tried to help him and love him through a minor issue.  He didn’t appreciate it.  It annoyed him.  His annoyance, annoyed me.  Vicious cycle.  So, here I am, annoyed and meditating on the Assumption of Mary into Heaven.  I was thinking how much Jesus loved His Mother to bring her to Heaven.  Body and soul.  Amazing.  Then my husband started talking and I found my mind wandering.  I started thinking about how much of a “mama’s boy” Jesus was.  I once called my husband a “mama’s boy”, when we were dating.  It was a negative thing and I made sure he knew that I saw it as a negative thing.  After all, I bought into the idea that there was something fundamentally wrong with a man who had a deep love and respect for his mother.  I feel like a stupid ass just typing that sentence and I’m sorry for the pain I know that judgement caused my husband.  If Jesus had such amazing love and respect for His mother that he assumed her body & soul in Heaven, thus making him a “mama’s boy” then who am I (or any of of us) to judge a man for emulating that love and respect for his earthly mother?

I do not have a horrible relationship with my mother-in-law.  At least, it’s nothing like the nightmare relationships you see depicted on t.v. (*cough* Everybody Loves Raymond) or on Lifetime (*cough* any lifetime movie that involves a mother-in-law).  If I was really going to describe my relationship with my mother-in-law, honestly, I’d say “what relationship?”.  We don’t really have much of one.  We don’t talk, we don’t hang out, we don’t do anything together.  We do live together.  Do you know how trying it is to have NO relationship with someone you live with?  Before you answer – think about the question.  NO relationship.  Not a good one or a bad one.  Nothing.  Null.  Void.  You don’t even really acknowledge each other’s presence in the small space you share.  If I’m being really honest, then I’d tell you that the nothing relationship is probably more damaging than any bad relationship could ever be.  At least with a bad relationship, you know where you stand and that the other one is always out to get you.  With nothing…you’re never quite sure where you stand and everything seems like some kind of passive aggressive jab.  Agh.  My troubles with this (basically) non-existent relationship cause distress for my husband.  He’s never sure what is going to hurt my feelings or set me off.  His mother and I are very different and it’s a delicate balancing act on his part.  He wants to do for his mother.  He wants to love her.  He wants to take care of her. He also wants to make me happy.  He wants me to understand that he does put me & our family first.  He wants to love us both & I don’t always make that easy for him to do.  I think I project more insidious intentions onto my mother in law’s actions that are actually there.  She, too, just wants to be able to express her love for her son.  I think she wants to express it for me, too, although I’m not entirely convinced of that.  The only way she knows of expressing love is taking care of someone.  I’ve stepped in as my husband’s wife and our daughter’s mother & there is nobody left for her to care for, except herself.  She’s lived her life caring for everyone around her & them caring for her.  It boggles my mind that she will wait for my husband to get home from a road trip to change a light bulb in her room.  She’ll go without light for DAYS, instead of changing a light bulb herself.  She won’t take the garbage out to the can when it’s full or take the can down to the street on garbage day.  It will just sit there, full & stinky, until either my husband or I get home and take it out.  This same woman has her concealed carry permit, carries a loaded gun everywhere, and knows how to shoot.  She was in the military.  She worked on massive machinery at a light bulb plant.  She survived TWO brain surgeries, defied doctors’ predictions that she’d always be a veggie, and learned to walk, talk, cook, eat, bathe, etc all over again!  She lost her sense of taste and smell but she is alive.  She cooked a full meal for her son (my hubs) on her first night home, propped up on a stool & suffering from double vision.  Why?  Because she loves him & knew he’d survived on ramen noodles and hot dogs for MONTHS, while she was in surgery, in a coma, and then in a nursing home for rehab.  He missed his mother & she wanted to give him what she could.  (He did help her cook, since she missed the pan 2 out 3 times on her own.)  She holds down a full time job at a truck stop, working on the fuel desk.  This means she’s dealing with the public, money, electronic machines, making sure regs are followed, etc.  She even gets her hands dirty in the truck stop’s restaurant, helping serve & clean as needed.  Then, she’ll bring free food home from that same truck stop, even after I tell her that we won’t eat it, and will leave it in the fridge (not eating it, either) until it goes bad & then I have to clean it out.  She claims that her background and growing up in the country left her uneducated and uncomfortable around people…and then she goes right back to that truck stop where she is confident, popular, and a complete alpha.  She followed her son and converted to Catholicism and remains faithful to the Church, even when she doesn’t understand something.  I don’t share all of this with you to garner sympathy for her or myself.  I really just wanted to provide an illustration of the woman who raised my husband.  The woman who is grandmother to our children, mother to my husband, and in law to me.

Jesus is a mama’s boy.  He loves and respects His mother so much that He brought Her home, to His Kingdom, and made Her Queen.  He loves us so much that He shared Her with us.  We, the church, are His bride.  He is our bridegroom.  Mary is His mother.  This was my epiphany.  Mary is my mother in law!  (Wha!?!?!?!?!?!  Mind BLOWN.)

Now, obviously (at least I hope it’s obvious), Our Blessed Mother is not my mother in law like my husband’s mother is.  However, this got me thinking about my relationship with my earthly mother in law (the mother of my earthly bridegroom) and my relationship with my Blessed Mother (the mother of my spiritual & supernatural bridegroom).  I do not have a strong Marian devotion but I desire to.  I desire to have a strong devotion to and relationship with Mary for many reasons.  She is the mother of God.  She is the picture of ultimate humanity, femininity, womanhood, and motherhood.  Jesus chose her as His Mother and chose to save her before she was even conceived (thus she was immaculately conceived and did not suffer the stains of original sin).  I mean, if this isn’t a woman to have a close relationship with, then who is?  Mary is the jewel in the crown of God’s creation.  She is a role model to me – as a person, a woman, mother, & spouse.  Amazing, Blessed Mother, whom I do not know as well or as deeply as I desire.  Who’s at fault for this lacking relationship?  Me.  It’s all on me.  I can choose to work on my relationship with Mary.  I can choose to talk to her, to spend time with her, to pray the Rosary, to thank her for giving her son to me, or not to.

In this way, my relationship with Mary and my relationship with my earthly mother in law are inhibited by the exact same thing.  My lack of effort.  My mother in law gave her son to me.  (Maybe not as graciously or willingly as Mary gave Jesus…she did cry “who’s gonna take care of my baby??” at our wedding reception but still…)  If I want to have a better relationship with her, then it is up to me.  Why wouldn’t I want a better & closer relationship with her?  After all, my husband is a good man.  As much as I don’t think parents are to blame for their adult children’s mistakes or that they should be credited with their adult children’s successes (after all many people turn out well in spite of their parents), we are all effected by the choices our parents make as we are growing up.  My mother in law (and father in law) chose to show their son absolute, unwavering, and unconditional love and support.  He may not have had much but he never doubted how much he was loved, knew his parents would offer anything & do everything they could for him, they shared everything, and he was happy.  He grew up secure in the love of his mother and father.  For that, I am forever grateful.  It helped make him the man he is.

As I lament on my lack of relationship with my mother in law, I am reminded of what my husband has been telling me for well over a year.  If I want this to change, then I’m going to have to be the one to do something.  I will have to grow in patience.  I will have to choose to overlook some of her quirks that I don’t understand.  I will have to let go of my need to control and allow her the freedom to love us as she knows how to.  I will need to seek her out and help her become comfortable having a relationship with me.  She is here and she is willing.  I just have to reach out.

Mary is my mother in law.  They both deserve nothing but love and respect from me.  If I want better and closer relationships with either of them, then I need to choose that.  I need to step out, reach out, and act on that desire.  I love Mary.  She is my Blessed Mother.  It would be nice if one day I no longer felt the need to call out the “in law” in my relationship with my mother in law.