Happy belated Birthday! Updated with pictures

Just wanted to write a quick post to update everyone that our son, Samuel, was born on April 26th at just before 10 am!  He weighed 7lbs 12 oz and is 21 inches long, and for those keeping stats, a 13.75 in head circumference, making him our little moonhead according to the midwives :)  Labor was long and intense but he was born at home and we are both doing really well 2 days out. I hope to give a more in depth labor story for those interested later!

Thank you all for your prayers and as Rebecca kept reminding me, Im just glad it took less time to get him out than it took getting him in there!

Picture coming soon!

Here’s a picture!

Book winner!

Just wanted to chime in with a little update with the book winner.  Its not too late (especially here on the west coast!).  Using a random number generator and including both the people who commented and emailed me separately, the winner was…

Laura!

I really wish I had a book to give all of you, but hopefully you all are entering on all the blogs on the book tour!  Laura, please email me with your address so I can get this sent out to you, asap!

 

Also, in case anyone’s curious, this baby is not yet overdue.  Handy NFP charting told me my actual due date is the 26th, as opposed to today which is based on my LMP.  Hopefully the baby got that memo as well, ha!

The Infertility Companion for Catholics: A blog book tour and giveaway!

Today I have the pleasure of introducing a new resource that maybe all of us at one time or another wish existed.  In fact, maybe its lack started us to writing about infertility on our blogs or made us start a blog all together.

An actual book about infertility for Catholics!  Novel idea, eh?

The book is The Infertility Companion for Catholics: Spiritual and Practical Support for Couples, written by Angelique Ruhi-López and Carmen Santamaría and published by Ava Maria Press.

The idea for this book was born out of the experience of two friends, Angelique and Carmen, who live in Florida and who both had unexpected obstacles in their journeys to growing their families, including infertility and secondary infertility.  While they didn’t journey simultaneously (first one friend, then the other), their shared experiences helped them to see the need for a very Catholic resource and eventually drove them to write this book. Over these next two weeks you’ll see from the schedule here that a bunch of different bloggers will be participating in the “Blog Book Tour” to give you reviews, excerpts, interviews, and giveaways surrounding the release of this book, which has been scheduled to conveniently coincide with Infertility Awareness Week, April 22-28th.  How smart is that?

Angelique and Carmen, just hanging out, writing books together :)

The book title does say a lot about whats in it: practical and spiritual support.  When I first heard about this book I really did think to myself (and maybe out loud), Oh please don’t be just another Catholic book telling us don’t do IVF.  Don’t get me wrong, for many people, this is an important topic that needs to be clarified from the get go.  We’ve all heard that “Oh, my friend so and so did IVF and she was Catholic” so clearly, this is an important moral question that needs to be addressed and discussed in a very loving manner because many, many people out their haven’t heard this message.  However, I was just praying that this book didn’t stop there!  To tell someone what treatments are off limits without offering the alternatives and support to make it through a now even more estranged journey (which is where most Catholic materials I’ve read seem to stop) is a bit like – forgive the bad analogy – throwing someone in an ocean, telling them they can’t use a raft, and then expecting them to just learn to swim and make it back to dry land on their own.  Sure, maybe some will figure it out, but a great deal of people will struggle and flail in the process.

So back to the book, the first chapter reads very instructive and well, practical.  Helping the reader to answer the question if they meet the scientific definition of infertility and a rundown of some common diagnoses.  Before going into what the Church teaches about artificial reproductive technologies (ART), there is a great little chapter about what our faith has to do with infertility at all, including references to familiar bible stories and a background to theology of the body.  For many, this is the confusing leap between why the church is even concerned with what couples do privately, and I loved that this was included before the actual details of the Church’s stance on ART! Afterwards there is a chapter on treatment options available for Catholics which addresses specific and again, practical concerns that Catholic may have with traditional approaches to infertility treatment and how best to navigate that path, including both author’s experiences.

Finding the correct spiritual support is a huge part of making it through experiencing infertility in one piece and even then it can be a close call.  This was where we get to my favorite part of the book!  The part that I was really hungry for, help finding the meaning and peace in the midst of all the cloudy emotions and remembering Jesus in all of it.  The next few chapters, Discerning God’s Will, The Cross of Infertility, and Bearing the Cross: A Spirituality of Infertility, all address these more intangible difficulties of infertility while calling us out of the darkness of despair to remember our purpose as Christians.

Probably the most valuable part of the book for me was the description and explanation of the St. Ignatius spiritual discernment exercise.  This can obviously be found elsewhere, but the application to one’s own infertility journey is very, very valuable and a good reminder to what its really all about.  And this is where I will give props to my husband for “being right” and I will hopefully not upset the blogging community too much, but this is an extremely big advantage to not blogging about every detail of the infertility journey and is probably why as some point along our paths, most of us have taken a step back from doing so.  This community provides an invaluable resource of support and love in what is otherwise a very isolating journey.  However, discerning the next steps in something so personal and spiritually important as the steps tied to the growth of your family is really between you, your husband, and God.  But saying that and knowing how to do it so you get that calm and peace in your soul are two different things.  The St. Ignatius steps laid out in this book were extremely helpful to proper discernment for dealing with any big decision, but especially infertility related ones since it can get so confusing emotionally.  Its always good to remember to have that quiet time between just you and God to pour your heart out and then really, truly listen.  Good stuff!

There’s a lot more to this book, including a very necessary chapter from Carmen’s husband talking about the male perspective of male factor infertility which I applaud him for writing and telling a much needed perspective that is non-existent in the blog-world, as well as a chapter on Infertility’s Effect on Marriage, dealing with The Loss of Miscarriage (including instructions on what to physically do after a miscarriage as well as support network resources), and Opting to Adopt.  There is also a great chapter on How Family and Friends Can Help, which would be great to give if you’re having difficulty explaining to those trying to understand infertility how they can support their loved ones and that in a mine field of things not to say, there really are things that can help.

The fact that the book was peppered with inspiring quotes, bible verses, and catechism references makes it very biblical and Catholic resource that really helps tie the suffering of infertility directly to our faith.  Each chapter has a list of further references at the end that will help the reader find more information on a topic of interest.  Although at times it can be confusing to remember who is writing each chapter (Angelique and Carmen switch on and off) and it would have been nice to have a reminder as each chapter started, a strength of this book really is the perspective of two women, one who faced infertility and one who is currently facing infertility.  The difference in tone of their writing is subtle, but perhaps its like reading the blogs of women who have become pregnant and had children vs. those that are still in the midst of the struggle.  There is a difference, maybe a wisdom or confidence that comes from experiencing faith and prayers completed vs. an inspiring  rawness of someone still following faithfully in the struggle that makes a difference in relate-ability and ultimately makes the book a stronger resource for all of those dealing with infertility.  It is really a great resource for those starting off on this journey or looking for more resources to support them along the way.

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 Finally, in being given a chance to read and review this book I was also given the opportunity to give one away to a reader!  I’ve never actually done a giveaway before but am super excited to be able to have this as a giveaway prize!

Anyone can enter and the rules are simple: just leave a comment with your name (or pseudonym), email (only I will see your email – so I can tell you you won!) and one thing that you would look forward most about reading this book.  Or the one thing you wish this book would address if you didn’t see it addressed up there.  If you don’t feel comfortable commenting I’ll accept an email entry as well :)

I’ll close the comments in a week, April 24th, aka Baby Moonhead’s “official” LMP due date, select a winner at random and send you this book!

You can either try to win this book for yourself or for a friend who you know would appreciate it, both are great ideas!

Thanks again for reading and a special thanks to Angelique and Carmen for letting me get a head-start on the blog tour to accommodate for our blessed extenuating circumstances over here!

Just when I thought the world was over…

Tomorrow is my last day at work.

The job that I was just starting back in August when I wrote this.  Which was only a few days after I was here in that place so many of you know so well.  Although I’ve sat in my cubicle and stared at our yearly calendar and had the end of April highlighted in yellow stars since August and those first few weeks and months really drraaaggggeed by, here we are.  Nearing the end of April.  What all this waiting has been for!  And I’m beside myself!

And I just wanted to take a little moment to thank you again.  Who knew my baby would be so loved by those who some of you whom I’ve never even met?

And maybe the best reminder of all…

My world was never over, but it sure felt like it some days.  You never know what good changes might be right around the corner…

Five years as Catholic, Easter #6, and Pregnant Lenten Thoughts

This past Sunday marked my 5th year as a Catholic and 6th Easter vigil and holy week.  Kind of a big milestone “anniversary” so to speak.  Not that every vigil is incredibly emotional for me because of that or anything, but it was nice to mark the time of a great thing.  What’s a little crazier is to remember the circumstances where I spent each one:

1st Easter I became Catholic – 2007:  Spent it in Texas at the parish I went to RCIA at.  The future in-laws all came out for my big day, which was really sweet of them.  My parents and little brother also came, which was probably even more meaningful for me that they chose to support me, even if they had a billion questions.  Family is the most important and I felt it that day from them, despite their bewildered looks and confusion during/after the vigil (any non-Catholic that makes it through the vigil deserves a million high fives!).  Within just the week before I had three people close to me die, which was unusual for this young girl who up until then even had all 4 grandparents living and healthy.  I realized then that becoming Catholic didn’t mean I would be immune from bad things happening, I’d just be better equipped to deal with them.

2nd Easter – 2008:  We were engaged by this point, set to marry in the Fall.  We went out to California for Easter and spent the day at the horse races with Mike’s family.  Tried to decide how I felt about that, discussed the morality of celebrating Easter that way, and decided I didn’t feel good about it.  Wondered if it was really different than how my family buys each other bingo lottery tickets at Christmas.  Either way, surely we wouldn’t be doing that when we had children in tow.

3rd Easter – 2009:  We drove to Easter in Austin, I believe.  This was low key and I’m pretty sure we went to Mass by ourselves and came home to an awesome homemade brunch.  Nothing like home cooked breakfast from your mom.   

4th Easter – 2010:  Spent it in Houston.  I remember having the worst ovulation pain of my life right smack dab during the middle of Good Friday service.  Up down, up down, it was excruciating.  I preferred to stay kneeling because it hurt so bad to stand and stretch out my stomach.  I remember wondering if all that pain meant I was ovulating the best egg ever and that we’d have ourselves a little Easter miracle.  It was nice to celebrate at the same parish that I was confirmed at.

5th Easter – 2011:  We spent it in Mexico.  Mike’s sister was visiting on Good Friday and we went to the Cathedral in the zocalo for the service.  Well, what we thought was a service.  It turned out to be this massive reading/singing/reflection service that none of us had ever heard of before.  We must have stayed there at least 2.5 hours before we finally got the courage to admit we had no idea what was going on and left.  At least we got some good meditation in and listened to a really nice boys choir :)  I’m still curious if communion ever even happened that day!  Apparently our Spanish wasn’t as good as we claim…ahem… We spent the actual Easter service in Puebla as the start of our crazy Mexican bus-vacation-tour.  Just the two of us, and it was really nice after a hectic semester finishing out school.

6th Easter – 2012:  We spent it at our community church here in California, watching members of our RCIA class get baptized and confirmed (although our confirmandi will actually have a separate service in two more weeks) and with Mike’s family.  The services are all bilingual with absolutely no rushing, so it makes for even longer services!  The baby danced to all the music on Holy Thursday, I think it especially loved all those bells and Spanish guitar.  On Good Friday during the special prayers I go up down, up down, belly grazing the pew in front of me, remembering how just two years ago I felt the worst ovulation pain I’d ever felt and now it was my bouncing belly getting in the way.  Pretty miraculous. 

I wonder what next year’s service will be like.  I can only imagine!

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I’d been meaning to write all Lent about what it was like to go through Lent now pregnant, with a due date just shortly after Easter.  It seemed like all last fall I kept staring at a calendar in my cubicle saying, first Lent, then Easter, then a baby!  And in a way, just as not getting pregnant every month feels very similarly to marking and grieving a death, getting pregnant after all that is a little like celebrating a miraculous resurrection of someone you thought you’d never meet. 

It was easier to get into the contemplative spirit when I was facing that same burden and barrenness of the desert in my own life.  But now in the time of plenty, how would I react?  I’m not naive enough (anymore) to think that I’ll never face a hard phase again, although I don’t believe it will ever be quite the same.  In fact, I’m pretty sure that the newborn phase is extremely physically demanding in a way I’ve never experienced.  I wondered if I would do this Lent “poorly”, and I probably did. I didn’t participate in prayer buddies this Lent, I guess the idea of splitting up the “infertiles” and “mothers and others” was understandable, especially since I was one that voiced dissent when I had a mom blog to visit and to pray for as an “infertile”, but it felt equally odd to have my prayers for them excluded.  For simplicity’s sake I understand it but, oh well.  I guess I consider the prayers of the holy the most powerful, not necessarily those who are going through the same life circumstances as me.  (Not that I am holy, just as a matter of perspective).  So I just continued to keep praying for my list of infertile friends and blog acquaintances.  I had wanted to go to daily mass every day but pretty much only made it once a week :(  Getting up for 6:30am mass became really hard this last trimester when I wasn’t going to bed at 8:30pm anymore.  I don’t really have any excuses other than maybe taking care of my growing baby by eating healthy was a sacrifice?  Either way, it wasn’t really an intentional thing I set out to do as a sacrifice at the beginning of Lent, so I don’t think it “counts”.  I think its hard to see myself not have the same discipline in things that I used to be good at (like fasting and Lenten promises in general) so I guess if anything this was a good reminder that those things don’t “just happen” but only through concentrated prayer it is possible to do those things.  And sometimes, maybe you just have to know your limits.  I’m sure this will be a good lesson for a new mom to learn.  I am weak when I am lazy or when I think I can do it all by myself!      

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All I could think about this past Holy Week was love.  Immense love did all of this, changed the world, and gave us a reason to LIVE joyously, and how amazing is that!?  How amazing is a religion that calls the day its founder, its GOD, died, good?  And it was, Good Friday.  How amazing that without any of the sacrifice and love that brought Jesus to the cross that I would have any idea what it was like to long for the good of having a child, to love my husband, to laugh with my family, and on and on.  Literally none of it would be, would mean anything, with out that love.  It is always enough to bask in. 

Sorry this was so mumble-ly.  But its either write posts like this or neglect the blog forever, which has basically been happening anyway.  I hope everyone had a great Easter and welcome back to all those that spent Lent away!