Monday, September 15, 2014

When They Say.....We Think.....

*Let me preface this post by saying I think all mothers need a break at times and they need to vent about how hard it is to raise their children. I do not think mothers need to shut up and not talk about their children or suffer in silence about their struggles. I think it's good and healthy for them to do so and I love hearing about my friend's and family's kids. Most of the time I am fine with hearing the milestones and a little venting from my friends about their children. As a friend I want to share the joys and sorrows with them in their state in life. 

So the other day I went to women's group and the topic was gentleness. At this group children are allowed so a lot of stay at home or part time working outside the home moms bring their kids. It's great because the children are playing outside in a courtyard as the rest of us are drinking tea and discussing/reading about the day's topic. There is of course a bit of chaos as to be expected with lots of children around :) At each meeting I have attended I am usually a little more on edge afterward and JJ has noticed this. Most of the women who go are mothers raising children, there have been older women and a single woman who have come before but then haven't returned. I love when other women come to the meetings because it balances out the perspective I think. When it's all mothers raising children and me, that's when it's a bad combination and that is when I come home frazzled. 

At this particular meeting there was a lot of venting about one's children, more than normal. It felt like the entire first half of the meeting was different women venting about their children and how hard it is to raise their children. It may have been only 10mins. but it felt like so long and the silence in my heart was deafening. As these women were complaining about lack of silence I thought "All I have is silence. A deafening one that resounds from my womb." As they complained about the chaos I thought "All I have is order and no one but JJ and I to make our house messy." As they complained about not having alone time I thought "All I have when I am not at work, volunteering, out with friends or with JJ is alone time." When they complained about children jumping on them whenever they got on the phone or on the computer I thought "there is no one to interrupt me or climb all over me as I make a phone call."  There was even a point where someone mentioned "the moms should all get together for an Advent reflection with out the kids." Ouch it stung and what I thought was "I am always with out my kid." 

As they questioned and discussed their decisions about being a stay at home mom I just sat there in silence having nothing to say, well nothing to say that would've been appropriate for the children to hear ;) I don't get what they are going through and I may never get it. I tried to be compassionate and listen to their struggles all the while I just wanted to scream. I wanted to say "hey can you just stop talking about this" but I couldn't. There was no where for me to go to excuse myself either. I just sat there, the silence from my childlessness was so loud I thought they would hear it but they didn't. 

I have to say I was probably extra sensitive at this meeting because AF is just around the corner, we just got some medical news that reaffirms the brokenness of my body and Cecilia's due date anniversary was on Fri. Sept. 12th (she would've been two). I didn't share any of this at the meeting because I am not comfortable enough with all of the women there to do so and I just couldn't after all the venting/complaining. It would have sent me over the edge so I just kept my mouth shut. I also don't want it to seem like these women are monsters who were torturing me w/ a lot of talk of raising a family, it wasn't like that at all! 

After the meeting when JJ got home from work he asked how it went and I just let the flood gates open. I told him through my sobs what had happened and he affirmed what I had been thinking for a month or so, that I should not go back to the women's group for now. Maybe someday but maybe it's just not the place for me. If there was more variety like single women, married and widowed then maybe I would go back. The time of the group is more conducive to SAHMs and I was able to go because my CrMS work schedule is so flexible. I think a big reason that it is so difficult to be there is the fact that we are at a standstill with adoption, have no idea if we should reconsider foster care and we have not conceived since Cecilia almost 3 years ago! I think the unknowing state is particularly hard, if we were in the process of adoption or foster care I could feel better about going to these meetings. 

The next day I prayed for all the women who go to the group at Mass that God would help them in their vocation and state in life.  I wanted to make sure I harbored no ill will toward them and I don't, we are just at different places and it is more of a moms group. I don't want them to feel like they have to walk on egg shells around me because I know it is a very needed group for them but I don't think it would be healthy for me at this point to go. They should be able to freely talk about their struggles in a supportive environment. I think the greatest support I can give them right now are my prayers. I am sad about it because I met some great women there who I would only see in the context of the group. I know if a friendship is suppose to happen with them God will make it happen.  I sent an email to the leader who is also a friend of mine letting her know I wouldn't be returning and why, that was so hard to do. I got to talk to her about it over the phone and explain a little more which I think helped. She didn't criticize me or make me feel guilty she just listened compassionately and tried to understand. I do hope I can go back to the group some day perhaps when my vision is a little more clear about my motherhood. 

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Requiem Mass Los Angeles

Hi All! I am trying to promote a Requiem Mass I am organizing along with our Respect Life coordinator at our parish. It is a memorial Mass for all children lost to miscarriage and stillbirth. When we lost our Cecilia over two years ago in a miscarriage we did not get to have a funeral or memorial Mass. We miscarried so early that most people thought it was no big deal but if we are truly pro-life then that means every life is precious no matter how small. So this Mass is to honor all those babies who have passed through a miscarriage or stillbirth. We wanted to do this Mass during Respect Life Month to bring more of an awareness to the pro-life community about this topic. 

We are hoping to get a big turn out to bring some healing and love to those families who have lost a baby. It helps to know that we are not alone and even though we wish no one would have to go through this we are glad when we can support one another. I have too many friends who have also lost children whether they are dealing with infertility or have many children, sadly miscarriage or stillbirth does not discriminate. We will have a small reception in the parish hall afterwards so come on out and let's honor these babies who are very much a part of the Body of Christ! 

Would you be willing to share this post on your blog to help me spread the word? Even if you are not in L.A. some of your readers may be. If you want a pdf version of the flyer please email me. Thank you! 


Monday, August 25, 2014

Alabama Re-Cap, Finally!

Wow it seems like we were just in good ol' Alabama but it was two months ago that we went there! Time has been flying by this year! I am glad we got to go back to The Shrine of the Blessed Sacrament on pilgrimage/vacation. God did so many wonderful things for us there! I miss that place every time we leave there it is such an oasis, a humid one, but an oasis none the less. We so needed to go at the exact time we did. It was in the middle of a very busy time and the trip was sandwiched perfectly in between it all. We forgot our camera and didn't take any pictures at all so you will have to be satisfied w/ the ones from our last trip.

When we got there the 1st couple of days were a rough start. It was a travel day and we got in later than expected plus there was a crazy situation with the rental cars. We still had to try to go to the who.le foods to do our grocery shopping but decided to do the 1hr drive back to Birmingham the next day, we were just to exhausted and starving. Then when we got there the group we went with had already done the room assignments and we were sharing a house with about 12 other people. Sounds like fun, right? Well we needed our own kitchen or refrigerator to put about a week's worth of food for us because of our gluten and nut allergies. Well when we got back with our groceries there was not an ounce of room for any of our food! Long story short we ended up switching rooms/houses with my mom and her roommate because they had their own little studio apt. with a fully equipped kitchen and didn't need a whole fridge for their food. After that things got a lot better and we were able to settle in and not have to worry about our food situation.

It was perfect that we were more secluded and on our own for the trip, just like we like it. We should have been hermits I tell ya! We knew that this trip needed to be restful, reflective and communicative between JJ and I. We would not have been able to do that if we had been sharing a house with 12 people where the walls were kind of thin. There was a lot we needed to reflect and discuss so it was great we had our own little place. To be honest we are not community life type of people so we would want to go back if we got to stay in the same place or same type of set up as we did this time. Anyway back to the trip...

It was hot and humid no doubt but, thank the good Lord for air conditioning! I was still broken hearted from the failed adoption a couple weeks prior so I definitely brought that intention on this trip. I really enjoyed just going to daily Mass, praying, hanging out with friends, getting to know new people and spending lots of time with JJ. We got to know a woman P who is older than us, probably in her 60s. She came on the trip w/out her husband. She was the sweetest woman and kept telling everyone that she adopted us :) She said she would be praying for us, that God would bless us with children. She was so encouraging, joyful and a little bit of a mischief maker. She was a big highlight of our trip! Another woman C who is a widow was so sweet and said that when she looks at me and JJ she is reminded of her hubby that she lost and she thinks we are a beautiful couple. We felt very bonded and affirmed in our marriage on this trip!

 There were actually 3 of us couples that have been dealing with both infertility and miscarriage with JJ and I being the veteran couple. I thought it was interesting but I think it is too high of a number! So I am going to break this up into physical highlights and spiritual highlights so that I don't just keep writing nonsense, ok.

Physical Highlights:  

1. Cracker Barrel! People Cracker Barrel is the best and I wish we had one here in L.A. Yes, we can't eat a lot of their yummy biscuits and such but there is a lot we can have there and I bring my own biscuits, they are better anyway! I also love how reasonable the prices for meals are in AL, it made me really dislike L.A and our expensive hipster style here.

2. The new Saint JP2 Eucharistic center/museum that opened up this year at the Shrine. It was breathtakingly beautiful inside and they did a great job with explaining the Eucharist. I know, I know where are the pictures right? We are so lame! Go on the website and look at all their gorgeous pictures, much better than we could have taken.

3. Summer rain! It was amazing to hear the rain and feel it while trying to get into the car. The thunder and lightning was a little more unnerving but it was still beautiful. The humidity afterward was awful but the rain was fun.

4. The Corpus Christi feast day procession! It was gorgeous and majestic to see all of the rose pedals on the ground of the courtyard, the children were frolicking in them and playing after the procession. The inside of the Shrine is also a big highlight because it is just takes your breath away.

5. A couple of stolen kisses with JJ as the fire flies were lighting up the fields at dusk. I am blushing as I write this but it was really a picturesque setting.

If you want to know what it looks like on the inside of the main church of the shrine click here. We personally like the lower church which is found here.

Spiritual Highlights/Challenges:

Okay so there were a lot of little things here and there that God did for me but I am really going to talk about the crazy wonderful things that happened. I think I have partly put off writing this post so that I can keep the amazing things that happened to myself as long as possible. Also partly due to fear that they would not come true but God is calling me on that fear and saying to A big theme of the pilgrimage was children more specifically babies. Not just with us but a lot of other people. So I mentioned there were 3 of us infertile couples who have also experienced miscarriage(s). Well other people, mostly older parents were praying for their grandbabies in utero or sick babies just born. I especially took the intention and prayed for this lovely blogger and her baby in utero as well as our friends who have been married 8 years, dealt with infertility and miscarried last year and now are in their almost 7th month of pregnancy. It was weird that babies were just coming up left and right when we prayed together as a group.

I tried to ignore the scriptures and words I was getting about adoption and biological children because well I was hurt and tired. The more I tried to ignore the stronger the messages became. One day as we were praying as a group together they started to sing some praise and worship songs. I get easily distracted when songs are sung and then people lead worship by talking in between songs, quite frankly its annoying to me but, hey to each their own. So that I could focus better I left to go get my missal back at our casita and JJ came with me because he had to use the restroom. I grabbed my missal and went outside to sit on the bench to wait for him. Well it was dusk and the fireflies started to come out like crazy so I just sat and marveled at the beauty. Well I knew God was just whispering His love for me in that moment and I whispered, more like exhaled back "I love you too." Then it was as if He just wanted me to be loved by Him not for what I can do or produce from my body but, just because I am me I am loved. Yes a basic principle but, one that an infertile gal needs to hear over and over because so much of the worth we put on ourselves is in doing or producing something or someone. It was a magical moment.

It got even more real as we got so many scriptures and verbal confirmations about children that I just can't share because it was too big and I want to keep all these things that happened close to my heart for as long as possible. I have shared with friends in person some but I just want to hold this so close to my heart until God wants me to share these beautiful revelations and God-incidences. In short our hope for children both biological and adoptive was enlivened in a HUGE way!

There was some healing that took place between JJ and I as we broke down some communication barriers we had. Tears flowed and healing happened, for that I am truly grateful to the Lord. There were definitely some challenges that the Lord prompted in me. One was that I need to start going back to daily Mass. Apparently God was very clear in letting me know that I needed it, I needed Him! I have been going almost every day since the trip. I am not too strict about it but I do go at least 3 or 4 times out of the week besides Sunday which is a huge improvement from just going on Sunday. Another challenge was for JJ and I to pray a daily rosary together. You guys, I don't like praying the rosary very much. There I said it, I am terrible I know! God has been calling me to pray a daily rosary for years and JJ has been wanting to do it since we got married. So I caved and I said fine I'll do it! There are days we don't get to pray it together but for the most part we have been. I know I need the rosary too because just in this short time I have seen a transformation in me.

 So the rosary and daily Mass have been so good for me to just pray and gather strength for this journey. I don't know how much longer we will be childless but I do know that God will provide the fortitude we need. Right now we are still in the trenches of infertility and the only person keeping me from becoming an angry bitter woman is Jesus. He is holding me together with every pregnancy/adoption announcement, baby shower and cycle day 1. He continues to give me peace despite our challenges and I am so grateful for that. A grateful heart is also something I struggle with and God is working on that in me. 

When we left Alabama I wanted to cry because that place feels so much like home. It was nice to come home and sleep in my own bed and cook in my own kitchen though. We await the day we get to go back there and see what God has for us because we know it will be nothing short of amazing. Deo Gratias!