Rebecca Nixon

Thoughts, Musings, & Ramblings of a Catholic Housewife

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.


Oh!  I am so lacking in motivation right now.  I keep thinking about all these things I need to do and I WANT done.  I keep having ideas for blog content.  My head is full of plans and ideas and what am I doing?  I’m caught up in reruns of Hell’s Kitchen.  Yeah.  I’m also eating a bowl of frozen peaches.  Yum.  I desperately need to figure out how to motivate myself and my family.  Desperately.  It doesn’t help that I haven’t been feeling well lately.  My husband and baby are taking a nap right now.  I think I’ll just enjoy my peaches and watching Chef Ramsey yell at these poor people.

How do you stay motivated?


I was reminded today why it is so important that we remember who we are and what we have been made for.  I find that it’s really easy to love someone you don’t know.  I find it’s also really easy to have empathy or sympathy (depending on the situation) for someone you don’t know.  I find it extremely easy to give someone I don’t know the benefit of the doubt – sometimes to the extreme.  Why are all of these things so difficult with someone that I know?!?  It seems that, if I know your background, your story, it would be EASIER to understand, empathize, sympathize, give benefit to, and love.  It’s not.  It’s so much harder…at least I find it to be.  I find it easy to avoid passing judgement on the words or actions of someone I don’t know and even easier to cast blame and judgement upon those I do know.  So, what is a girl to do?

The answer is easy and hard all at the same time.  I am called to love everyone at all times, like Christ loves.  No conditions, no qualifications, no expectations.  I love them for who they are, where they are.  (Aside…loving someone does not mean tolerating or condoning choices/actions that we know to be wrong/bad/sinful.  Loving them means that; in an appropriate time, place, and manner; I should correct them with great charity.)  Loving someone like Christ loves us takes great humility.  I struggle with that.  Christian humility flys in the face of everything we are told to believe in our society.  We are told that we must look out for number one but humility says we should have no worries for ourselves.  We should not desire to be loved, wanted, praised, or looked upon with high esteem.  We should not be afraid of being forgotten, left behind, wrongfully accused, or despised.  When we are humble, we know our place.  When we are humble, we REMEMBER exactly who we are, who created us, and who is really in charge.  When we are humble, we don’t worry about today or tomorrow and we don’t stress over yesterday, because we remember what is important.

God, please create in me a spirit of authentic humility & help me love everyone, strangers and non-strangers, like Christ loves me.  Amen.

What Not to Say or Do…

If you are invited, or invite yourself, over to visit with mom & new baby please refrain from the following… (All of these things come from personal experience or from the experiences of my friends/family)

Side note – my husband is not nearly as bothered by any of these things as I am.  I think that men, in general, just aren’t as bothered by this stuff.  They also don’t have hormones pulsing crazily through them and haven’t gone through 9 months of pregnancy followed by labor and delivery.  They may have witnessed and supported us through it, but they didn’t physically experience it and all of it’s hormonal glory.  My husband actually takes some pride in #12 & people wanting to lay claim to our baby.  He says “Who doesn’t want to be on a winning team” and our baby is WINNING! 🙂

1. Making any jokes referring to how inadequately mommy is caring for baby & that you’ll just have to take baby home with you to care for him properly.  Really, who would think that’s funny or a good idea?  I mean REALLY?

2. Offering any unsolicited advice.  Really, don’t offer any. Do not tell her what her baby needs or how she ought to be doing something.  Just because she doesn’t do something the way that you did/do or the way your doctor told you to doesn’t mean that she’s doing something wrong.  Really, really, really – keep your mouth shut if you are a man.  There were times I wanted to smack my husband for offering breastfeeding advice.  He was just trying to love me & help.  I didn’t find it helpful at all.   If you are having a conversation about life with baby and mom asks about something, then answer her question.  I do have friend who offered unsolicited but very welcome advice about cloth diapering.  She offered it via email so I didn’t have to sit and listen to this advice if I didn’t want to.

3. Wearing copious amounts of anything that has any scent to it.  Perfume, hair products, body powder, etc.  When you douse yourself in these products it can really bother both mom and baby.  All those hormones raging and (sometimes) enhanced sense of smell means that these scents can be H.E.L.L. for mommy.  Babies have sensitive senses, too.  They use their sense of smell to help recognize their mama, find their mama’s breasts for nursing, etc – especially when they are very young and their eyesight hasn’t fully developed.  When you’re covered in a strong scent, it can interfere with baby’s ability to sniff out mama or mama’s milk.  One other thing to think about – while your scent may smell just lovely on you, if you hold baby it will transfer to baby and NO mama wants to have their baby handed back to them smelling like anyone OTHER than their baby.  I have one friend who would demand that her husband give their newborn a bath immediately after certain visitors because they always wore very strong smelling perfume & she couldn’t stand the way her baby smelled after they held her.

4. Don’t take things personally.  This really isn’t about you.  This isn’t about how often you get to see the baby or hold the baby or feed the baby, etc.  This isn’t about you.  Get over yourself.  Also, remember that new parents have to deal with a lot of well meaning but sometimes very annoying people.  You may not do anything to annoy them but just happen to catch them after a particularly long or annoying engagement.  They may be tired and feeling raw.  Take some comfort or pride in the fact that the new parents might feel so comfortable with you that they don’t have to hide how tired/raw/annoyed they are.  Don’t hold it against them or baby.

5. If you want to see the family, don’t always expect them to come to you.  Sometimes the idea of getting a newborn & all their paraphernalia ready for an outing is daunting enough to keep parents hiding out at home.  Call ahead (because surprise visits can be very stressful – especially if mommy hasn’t bothered to get out her pjs and baby is screaming when you arrive) & schedule a time to either visit the family in their home (offer to bring coffee or a meal, or to take care of baby so mom can get a shower, or help fold laundry, etc – mom may decline all of your offers but she’ll be grateful for the thought) or someplace very close to their home (which means they won’t have to pack as much stuff for baby because they won’t be out all day).

6. Don’t show up at the family’s door uninvited or unexpected.  This was mentioned above but it bears repeating and deserves it’s own number on the list.  Really, don’t do this to the family.  Just because they let you in – that doesn’t mean they want you there.  They’re probably just being nice because they couldn’t think of a polite way to avoid you.  The ONLY exception to this is if you are a very close friend or family member who lives very far away, therefore making opportunities to see each other very few and far between.  I can think of one family that I would be okay with them showing up with very short notice (I’d say unexpectedly but they are too considerate to do that).  We love them dearly, they love us, and we only get the chance to see each other once every couple of years.  I also trust that we won’t have to deal with any passive-aggressive comments about the status of our home or judgement over how messy it is.  We have a few close friends who I don’t worry about the state of our home with either, but they live much closer & we have more opportunities to see them. 😉

7. Don’t try to guilt new parents into doing something they don’t want to do.  If parents ask you to refrain from doing something, don’t call them out in front of other people or try to make them feel guilty about it.  They are the parents and what they say goes.  You need to respect that.

8. Don’t go baby crazy.  This means a few different things… First, it’s really difficult to remain polite and friendly with people who had no interest in getting to know you or spending time with you prior to you having a baby.  Suddenly, here’s baby and people come out the woodwork because they want to cuddle baby. What’s worse is that these people seem to feel they have an absolute right to demand to see baby whenever and wherever they please.  You have no rights to this baby or family at all.  If you didn’t feel a need to demand that the parents come out and visit with you every time you were in town prior to them having a baby then you need to think twice about demanding that they bring their baby out to see you.  Second, it really sucks to bring baby out to see people, only to have them grab at baby and completely ignore your existence, until the baby starts crying.  Then they hand the baby back to you for you to “fix” whatever is wrong, while simultaneously offering unsolicited advice about what baby needs.  It’s also very uncomfortable to try to breastfeed baby (especially for first time moms) while people are just staring at you.  Don’t do that.  Finally, babies have the ability to heal schisms in families.  That is such a blessing but please remember that this may take some time.  Try to cultivate a relationship with the parents beyond the baby.  Be patient with them as feelings & schisms heal.  Recognize that there may be issues that pop up and need to be resolved.

9. If you invite new parents someplace, you should expect that they’ll have baby with them.  If you don’t want them to bring baby or know that you’re inviting them someplace that isn’t baby friendly, don’t get upset if they decline your invitation.

10. Don’t make comments about either mom or dad’s work situation or ask questions about the family’s financial status.  It isn’t your business at all.  They’ll work out what is best for their family.  Keep your nose out.

11. DO NOT SHARE HORROR STORIES.  Pregnant moms don’t need to hear about how painful/awful/scary, etc you or your friend’s or your friend’s brother’s girlfriend’s sister’s birth was.  New moms don’t need to hear about babies who died in random/obscure/freak accidents. They don’t need to hear about any of that.  They need love and support and those stories aren’t loving or supportive.  They are scary and they cause parents to question their judgement & abilities.  God forbid something actually happens to their baby – what has sharing these stories accomplished?  Nothing.

12. Don’t call the baby “my baby”.  Did you carry the baby for 9 (ish) months?  Did you help create the baby?  Did you go through labor?  Are you the baby’s mom or dad?  No?  Then this isn’t “your baby” and you should not refer to baby as “my baby”.  I don’t know if there is any better way to piss off a new mom, especially.  That baby is her baby, not yours.  Recognize that.  Are you a grandparent?  Then that is your grand baby.  Feel free to claim that. 🙂  I remember hearing stories about how my grandpa used to refer to me as “my girl”.  He’d say things like “There’s my girl”.  If you are a family member, godparent, or very close friend (i.e. honorary aunt/uncle status) then referring to the baby as “my girl” or “my boy” would generally be acceptable, too.  However, if mom or dad asks you to refrain from calling the baby anything other than their name/nickname (i.e. no “my baby”, “my girl”, “my boy”, “my little man”, “sugar plum”, “sweetheart”, “pretty lady”, “handsome man”, etc) then don’t argue, pout, or take it personally.  Refer back to #7 and respect the parents’ wishes.

Do you have anything to add to the list?  Share below! 🙂

Becoming One

My hubby & I have been teaching 2nd grade CCD, which any Catholics out there know means. FIRST COMMUNION.  My hubby would agree, it’s been mostly me with him stepping in when I was absolutely exhausted or sick, etc.  We celebrated their first communion at the vigil Mass tonight.  Two girls and four boys dressed in their best to receive Jesus’s body and blood for the first time.  Six little souls finally getting to experience becoming one with Jesus.  It was beautiful.  What was more beautiful was that this is not their last communion.  They will go to Mass again…maybe tomorrow, maybe sometime during the week, but for sure next weekend – either Saturday evening or sometime on Sunday they will go to Mass and they will become one with Jesus.  They will have the opportunity to become one with Jesus in the Holy Eucharist AT LEAST once a week for the rest of their lives (more if they choose to attend any weekday Masses).  That is incredibly amazing and beautiful.  As I was sitting in Mass tonight, and Father was reminding them that this is just the beginning and the one thing better than their first communion is their second, and the one thing better than their second is their third, etc…I started thinking about sex.

Bear with me and don’t start thinking dirty.  Aside from receiving the Eucharist; the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Christ; where else do we see two becoming one?  In the marital act.  A husband and wife having sex (with each other) physically expresses the union of their souls.  They become one and, God-willing, participate in the creation of a brand new, unique, soul.  Sex is also similar to communion in that the second time is better than the first, and so on.  I did have sex on the brain (vaguely) before going to Mass.  I am contemplating and praying about applying for a job as a monthly columnist for a blog I follow.  They are looking for a columnist for (among other things) a sex & intimacy column.  It just jumped off the page at me.  I can talk about sex.  I can tell you what’s worked in my marriage and what hasn’t.  I have a pretty good imagination, too. 😉  I could be a sex columnist…as long as I’m not just writing about sex because sex is so much more than just sex.  Thinking about this column and what I would write up to send in as my audition piece has me thinking about so much more.  Why don’t we talk about sex more?  I’m being serious.  Why don’t we talk about good sex, by which I mean sex within a marriage that is GOOD.  We talk about the Theology of the Body.  We tell our youth that sex is beautiful and fun and God wants us to have good sex, when we are married (all good things to teach) but then, once we get married, we stop talking about sex.  We shouldn’t just be telling our youth and single folks how awesome sex can be (should be) once you are married, we should also be helping married couples have amazing and beautiful sex!!  We do the same thing with first communion…we put so much emphasis on the first part and forget about the communion.  We need on-going catechsis to help enrich, strengthen, and glorify the spiritual unity with Jesus that happens during communion (so the 1,387th communion truly is better than the first) and we need to quit being shy about helping married couples enjoy a physical unity that allows their 1,387th physical communion to be better than not only their first but also their 1,386th.

That is what I would hope my sex & intimacy column would help accomplish.  We need to take sex back from our overly sexed, unmarried, super secular, using, worldly culture.  Just because they have all the needed parts required to have sex doesn’t mean they are having sex.  I believe married couples should be having such mind-boggling sex that they scoff at all those “sex ends when you get married jokes”.  Mind-boggling sex?  You think it’s impossible?  Ha.  You don’t know what’s happening then.  You don’t have a proper understanding of sex.  To boggle one’s mind means that there is something much greater than physical intimacy…there is emotional, spiritual, and psychological intimacy as well.  I venture to say that if we were able to help married couples grow closer in every other way within their marriage then they would have to try very hard to not have mind-boggling sex.

Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen Quotes

I LOVE Archbishop Fulton Sheen.  I think he was given many gifts and was a wise & holy man.  Below are some quotes of his that have been speaking to my heart, especially in regards to various situations arising in my family.

“Do not pray only in an emergency, the pleas of strangers is never as effective as the plea of friends. Do not think of God only in times of distress or danger. Heaven is not a firehouse, and God does not put out all the fires. Do not make all your prayers, prayers of petition. What would a young man think of a young lady who suffered from give-me-itis, who did nothing but ask favors?”
(Wartime Prayer Book)

“It makes no difference what you believe; it’s how you act. It makes no difference whether you have any rules in football; it depends upon how you play. It makes no difference whether you believe triangles have three sides; it depends on how you draw: Can we not see if we believe wrongly, we will act wrongly?”
(Wartime Prayer Book)

“If a man takes a poison and is given an antidote, it makes no difference whether he throws the antidote out of the window or whether he just neglects it. Because the poison is operating in his system, death is certain. Scripture asks us, “How shall we escape if we neglect?” The mole once had eyes to see, but it grovelled down in the bowels of the earth, and Nature, as if seated in judgment, said, “take the talent away!” And the talent that is not used was taken away. This is the first reason we have to begin to act differently, to resist the forces of evil.”

“There are only two philosophies of life. The Christian, which says: First the fast, then the feast; and the pagan, which says: first the feast, then the headache. In either case there is pain. The Christian never ends with it even if he waits until the end of time.”
(Wartime Prayer Book)

“The human heart is not shaped like a valentine heart, perfect and regular in contour it is slightly irregular in shape as if a small piece of it were missing out of its side. The missing part may very well symbolize a piece that a spear tore out of the universal heart of humanity on the Cross, but it probably symbolizes something more. It may very well mean that when God created each human heart, he kept a small sample of it in heaven, and sent the rest of it into the world, where it would each day learn the lesson that it could never be really happy, that it could never be really wholly in love, that it could never be really whole-hearted until it rested with the Risen Christ in an eternal Easter.”
(Manifestations of Christ)

“If a man is ever to enjoy communion with Christ, so as to have the blood of God running in his veins and the spirit of God throbbing in his soul, he must die to the lower life of the flesh. He must be born again. And hence the law of Calvary is the law of every Christian: unless there is a Cross there will never be the resurrection, unless there is the defeat of Calvary there will never be the victory of Easter, unless there are the nails there will never be the glorious wounds, unless there is the garment of scorn, there will never be the robes blazing like the sun, unless there is the crown of thorns there will never be the halo of light for the law laid down at the beginning of time which shall be effective until time shall be no more, is that no one shall be crowned unless he has struggled and overcome.”
(The Moral Universe)

“How can we stop brother rising up against brother and class against class, blurring the very sky with their cross-covered Golgothas? Thy First Word on the Cross gives the answer: We must see in the body of every man who hates, a soul that was made to love. If we are too easily offended by their hate, it is because we have forgotten either the destiny of their souls or our own sins. Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. Forgive us for ever having been offended. Then we, like Thee, may find among our executioners another Longinus, who had forgotten there was love in a heart until he opened it with a lance.”
(Unjust Suffering, Justice and Charity II, 1938)

“It is not wisdom that saves; it is ignorance! There is no redemption for the fallen angels. Those great spirits headed by Lucifer, endowed with an intelligence compared with which ours is but that of a child, saw the consequences of each of their decisions just as clearly as we see that two and two make four. It is because they knew what they were doing that they were excluded from the hearing of that cry that went forth from the Cross. It is not wisdom that saves; it is ignorance! “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
(The Seven Last words)

“Knowledge and wisdom sometimes may accompany one another, though not necessarily so. The gates of wisdom open only to the knock of reverence, to the bended knee, the humble and prostrate heart. Knowledge can walk with sophistication, egotism, boastfulness, pride, self-inflation. As Cowper put it: “Knowledge is proud that has learned so much; Wisdom is humble that he knows no more.” The two, however, can become one by grace, but in order that knowledge may become wisdom, the soul must be rooted in God.”
(Knowledge and Wisdom)

“Hate comes from evil men who cannot stand the reproach of goodness because it makes demands upon them that they are unwilling to accept. The more intense the evil, the greater the fear of goodness. That is why Supreme Goodness is nailed to a cross.”

“A little boy who had been to Sunday School told his father that he learned that God the Father and Son were equal. The father said: “That is ridiculous. I am your father; you are my son. I existed a long time before you.” “No,” said the boy, “you did not begin to be a father until I began to be a son.”
He Who was eternally generated by the Father is generated in time, in the womb of a virgin Mary. The Son of God then becomes the Son of Man. As the word which I speak to you is not different because I give it breath and sound, so neither is the Word of the Son of God changed because He takes on a human nature like ours in all things except sin, “The Word became flesh and dwelt amongst us.”

“The great tragedy of the world is not what people suffer, but how much they miss when they suffer. Nothing is quite as depressing as wasted pain, agony without an ultimate meaning or purpose.”
(On Being Human)

“What makes a thing bad? A pencil is a good pencil because it does what it was made to do. It writes. Is it a good can opener? It certainly is not! Suppose I use the pencil as a can opener. what happens? First of all, I do not open the can. Second, I destroy the pencil. Now if I decide to do certain things with my body which I ought not do, I do not attain the purpose for which I was created. For example, becoming an alcoholic does not make me happy. I destroy myself just as I destroyed the pencil in using it to open a can. When I disobey God, I do not make myself very happy on the inside, and I certainly destroy any peace of soul that I ought to have.”

“Tolerance is an attitude of reasoned patience toward evil … a forbearance that restrains us from showing anger or inflicting punishment. Tolerance applies only to persons … never to truth. Tolerance applies to the erring, intolerance to the error … Architects are as intolerant about sand as foundations for skyscrapers as doctors are intolerant about germs in the laboratory. Tolerance does not apply to truth or principles. About these things we must be intolerant, and for this kind of intolerance, so much needed to rouse us from sentimental gush, I make a plea. Intolerance of this kind is the foundation of all stability.”

“The tragedy of the world is that so many are unloved. Roses always look beautiful and smell sweet, and hence they are a prize to be possessed. Sweetbriar, however, has fragrant leaves, and they are never so fragrant as when it rains. The common people of the world are like these leaves; they have something fragrant about them, particularly when the days are dark and clouded and rain falls in their lives. Anyone can love a rose; but it takes a great heart to love a leaf.”

“Where our treasure is, there is our heart also. If we lived for God, then death is a liberation. Earth and its possessions are the cage which confines us, and death is the opening of its door, enabling our soul to wing its way to its Beloved for which alone it has lived, and for which it only waited to die.”
(Seven Capital Sins)