Some random thoughts

My best friend, Rose, is coming to visit this weekend! We were roommates in college for two years. I saw her back in October, but only for a few hours (the kids and I stopped in CO to visit during the move to Arizona). She's in Flagstaff, AZ during the summer, working on her master's degree, and so she's coming down to our neck of the woods for the Fourth of July. I'm so excited to see her!

108 degrees today. Whew. It's not as bad as I feared, but then again I've never experienced monsoon season. I can't wait 'til October or so when it starts getting cooler. I will say that the 2-3 months of hot unpleasantness is far superior to the 9 months of subzero temps and blizzards of North Dakota.

We're starting to hammer out our itinerary for our North Dakota trip in July. I'm really looking forward to the trip. With the exception of my grandmother, who stayed with us for a month or two this winter, I haven't seen any of my family since we moved.

With that, it's time for bed. 10pm and I can barely keep my eyes open. *yawn*

A Beautiful Prayer

My church had a stack of flyers with this prayer on them in the narthex this morning - I thought it was beautiful.

Prayer After Holy Communion - St. Thomas Aquinas

I thank You, O holy Lord, almighty Father, eternal God, who have deigned, not through any merits of mine, but out of the condenscension of Your goodness, to satisfy me a sinner, Your unworthy servant, with the precious Body and Blood of Your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. I pray that this Holy Communion be not a condemnation to punishment for me, but a saving plea to forgiveness. May it be to me the armor of faith and the shield of a good will. May it be the emptying out of my vices and the extinction of all lustfull desires; and increase of charity and patience, of humility and obediance, and all virtues; a strong defense against the snares of all my enemies, visible and invisible; the perfect quieting of all my evil impulses of flesh and spirit, binding me firmly to You, the one true God; and a happy ending of my life. I pray too that You will deign to bring me, a sinner, to that ineffable banquet where You with Your Son and the Holy Spirit, are to your Saints true light, fulfillment of desires, eternal joy, unalloyer gladness, and perfect bliss. Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.

7 Quick Takes Friday

Hosted by Jen at Conversion Diary.

--- 1 ---

We've bit the bullet and are putting the kids in a new daycare, starting Monday. We love their current daycare, but it's just too expensive. Their new daycare is in the home of a lovely lady named Margie. She has 20+ years of childcare experience, is charging us $200/week less than our current daycare, and will take the kids when they're sick. Both Collin and I have had to miss a lot of work when the kids were ill, so that last bit is huge. I'll probably cry today, saying goodbye to all of our friends at our current daycare, but the extra $200 per week will help us a lot.
photo credit

--- 2 ---

We really need to get a better handle on housework. We did really well for a while, but then both Collin and I got sick at the same time (him with samonella, me with a UTI) and we let things slip. We've also been pretty busy on our days off the last few weeks, and that hasn't helped. We're having company over the Fourth of July weekend (my best friend, Rose, who's currently working on her Master's degree in Flagstaff, AZ), and I'm hoping the motivation of company will get my butt in gear for a cleaning binge this weekend.

--- 3 ---

I heard something humorous while listening to EWTN's Mother Angelica Live Classics podcast today. She told a story about a cardinal who was at some sort of state diplomatic function, and the lady seated next to him at dinner was wearing a gown that was quite low-cut. When the dessert course came around, the cardinal picked an apple out of a fruit platter and handed it to her. The lady inquired, "Your Eminence, why did you give me an apple?" He replied, "When Eve at the apple, she realized she was naked and felt ashamed. I was hoping it'd do the same for you."

Boy, what I wouldn't give to be able to do that to some celebrities who wear next-to-nothing!
photo credit

--- 4 ---

I really, really want to see the movie Up. Everyone I've talked to who has seen it gives it rave reviews. We were hoping to go this weekend, but we may wait until next weekend instead, since I get paid on Wednesday.

Speaking of Pixar, we recently purchased Wall-E and Ratatouille. Elanor has been watching Wall-E via Netflix instant view for the past few weeks, and she loves it, so we decided to add it to our DVD collection. Ratatouille was on sale so we picked that up as well. I've only seen parts of it, and Collin hasn't seen it at all, so we're looking forward to doing a family movie night this weekend. Another movie on our list to see, thanks to Wall-E, is Hello, Dolly! That one is available to see via Netflix instant view as well, so maybe we'll end up watching that one too.

--- 5 ---

We're flying to North Dakota for a visit on July 11. I'm looking forward to the trip, but at the same time I'm halfway dreading the flight. Neither Elanor nor William have ever been on a plane before. Thankfully it's a non-stop flight. It'll be nice to see family members whom we haven't seen since we left in October, and catch up on all the news. We fly back to AZ on July 15.

--- 6 ---

William just turned 16 months yesterday. He is so close to walking unassisted. He can get himself into a standing position without help, he walks along furniture and pushes toys, but he hasn't taken that first unassisted step yet.

His newest words are "cow" and "hello" (heyyo!). He's quite the little talker, much more so than I remember Elanor being at this age. He also has learned what the DVD player does, and will bring me a movie while pointing at the DVD player. Such a smart boy! He's growing up so fast.

--- 7 ---

Collin's dad, Keith, was in town for a visit last week; he and Collin spent the day after Father's Day together. They went out shopping, and Keith bought us a brand-new TV/DVD player for our bedroom! We've been wanting one for a while (as that's where I keep the kids on Saturdays when we're in the house, since Collin's working). We've been making do with Collin's computer, but it's a pain to lug it back and forth from the office to the bedroom (even though it's a Mac and easy to transport, since it only has one cord and no tower to deal with). When Keith heard that we'd been moving the computer back and forth, he insisted on buying us a TV/DVD player for the bedroom. I have an incredibly generous father-in-law!!
I've been feeling under the weather the last few days, and thus not up to much blogging, so in lieu of an actual post from me - I recommend reading this one.

Our Father's Day

We have had a wonderful Father's Day today. Using the fabulous iPhoto software on Collin's Mac, I made two slideshows out of the kids' pictures (one for Elanor, and one for William) for him, and he loved them! I will have to see if there's any way to post them online.

We went to Mass this morning at 11am, and afterward Collin felt like exploring. We ended up going to Wickenburg, AZ and out to the Vulture Mine. It was a long, hot trek around the mine, but very interesting too. When we got back to Wickenburg we ate at a very good Mexican restaurant, Los Rancheros.

And now we're home, tired but happy. It was a really a nice day.

7 Quick Takes Friday

Participating in this for the first time, thanks to Jen's inspiration.

--- 1 ---

Elanor woke us at 4:30am this morning by vomiting all over our bed. Lovely. And by lovely, I mean totally disgusting. Neither Collin nor I could afford to miss work today, so she's in the care of a very nice lady named Margie, who lives just down the street from our regular daycare. Margie works nights at a local hospital and does babysitting during the day. We "met" via phone a month or so ago when we were frantically calling local hospitals to see if there was a sick kid's daycare. She was the receptionist at a hospital we called, and though their daycare had shut down, she offered her place as an alternative. We ended up not needing her then, but boy did we need her today! I checked out her home and references and felt satisfied with both, and so far Elanor seems to be doing well.

I'm glad we have some back-up for when the kids are sick. I have a feeling we'll be utilizing her services more often.

--- 2 ---

The reason Elanor was sleeping with us was due to the trauma of watching Dad swat flies. At first she thought it was great fun, but once she realized that swatting = death to flies, she became very upset, to the point where she couldn't sleep. I told her shecould sleep with us -- in retrospect, a bad idea. At least it forced me to change our sheets, but I'll probably need to take our bedspread to a laundromat to get it clean.

--- 3 ---

We don't have any big plans for Father's Day. Collin just wants a quiet day at home, so that's what we'll do. I'll make a special dinner and we'll play World of Warcraft, or maybe watch a movie. He already got his gift, the Star Wars Legos computer game (he bought it a month ago and told me it was an early Father's Day gift -- works for me!). I am working on something else for him; hopefully I can finish it tomorrow.

--- 4 ---

I feel the urge to do some cooking/baking this weekend. So far my plans include making waffles, banana bread, and homemade pizza. We'll see if my motivation stays the course.

--- 5 ---

Our iPhones were upgraded to OS 3.0 yesterday. One of the new features?

The ability to copy/paste.

LOVE it.

There are some nice new iPod features too, such as the ability to e-mail a link to the podcast you're currently listening to -- very neat.

--- 6 ---

Speaking of, I've become quite the podcast addict. My favorites are Catholic Answers Live, The Catholics Next Door, Daily Breakfast, NPR Performance Today, Among Women, and both The Journey Home and Mother Angelica Live from EWTN. Occasionally I'll get the LibriVox podcast, too.

--- 7 ---

Speaking of LibriVox, I've decided to start doing some recordings for them. I'm still playing with the software, but I'm hoping to record a story this weekend. I've gotten so much enjoyment from their audiobooks that I wanted to return the favor. I'm not sure how well I'll do, but I at least want to make the effort.

Nothing yet

I didn't get William's ultrasound results today. Hopefully tomorrow.

Man, what a day. I just feel like I've been run over by a truck. Commuting 45 miles (one way) every day is getting old, but there's really no end in sight. I guess I should be thankful I have a job at all.

The Woes of William

William had another episode of vomiting today. It seems to happen every few weeks -- I get a call from daycare saying, "Uh oh, William threw up, better come and get him." I get there, he's happily playing, I take him home and he's absolutely fine the rest of the day.

We took him to the doctor the last time it happened, and the doctor's opinion was that it was teething-related (he was getting a molar). I took him again today, and this time the doctor didn't think it was teething, given that he didn't seem to be in any discomfort. He checked his ears -- all clear.

Then he felt his tummy and opined that there may be some sort of partial blockage between where the stomach and the intestine connect (I can't remember the medical terminology, but it's something definitely fixable with minimally invasive surgery), and so he referred him for a stomach ultrasound to check. We were able to get in for the ultrasound today and will hopefully get the results tomorrow.

If the results are negative, I'm not sure what the heck is going on. The daycare thinks dairy allergy (because he threw up after drinking a cup of milk) but I and the doctor aren't sure. He drank milk all weekend with no problems.

But this really has to stop. I only have 3 hours of PTO left. My husband has only 3 hours of PTO left. We're going on vacation in July (have non-refundable plane tickets) and I'll probably have to take most of the days unpaid because I keep having to leave work when William vomits at daycare. My husband, luckily, gets to differentiate sick time from vacation time so he won't have that problem, but he does get docked points if he takes more than a certain number of sick days in a given quarter, and he's getting close to the "danger zone."

I absolutely love our current daycare, and I'd probably cry if we had to leave it, but I'm seriously thinking of switching to a home daycare that won't freak out whenever he's throwing up. (Our eventual goal is for me to be a SAHM, but we're nowhere near financially able to do that yet.)

What I accomplished yesterday

- Taking out the garbage
- Laundry, both washing and putting away clothes and bedding (I got some done)
- Shovel out my bedroom (nope, not even close to done)
- Shovel out Elanor's bedroom (shouldn't take too long) (just needs to be vacuumed!)
- Tidy up the kitchen/living room (doable)
- Finish Collin's Father's Day gift (I made cookies instead)

Tonight, after I get the kidlets bathed and in bed: more laundry. Ah, what an exciting life I lead. ;)

Today's agenda

Collin is taking his mom to the airport today (she's flying to ND and staying in that area for a month or two), and then he's going to play some D&D with a new gaming group he's discovered at a gaming store in Glendale. He went last week and had a fantastic time.

When he came home, he said, "It was so nice getting out of the house and interacting with new people for a change!" I didn't understand what he meant at first, and then I realized -- he works from home. All his human contact during the day takes place via phone, and he rarely leaves the house until I get home or on his days off.

Since I work outside the home, my perspective is different and I didn't realize how much he was craving actual face-to-face interaction with people while doing something he enjoys. I hope he has fun today, although I'm going to miss having him here to run interference with the kids.

William's really starting to get into his terrible twos (yes, already!) and he gets into EVERYTHING. Elanor actually does a really good job of keeping him distracted for me, but sometimes they start fighting and I have to referee.

I was out shopping with the kids pretty much all day yesterday, so I couldn't get much done. I never can on Saturdays given that I either have to keep the kids quiet or out of the house (since Collin is working). I usually opt for the latter, because it's easier. Still, that only gives me one day to get housework done (and not really any time for relaxation, which is one of the disadvantages about Collin working Saturdays).

Today's agenda includes:

- Taking out the garbage (should've done it Thursday night, but I was too tired)
- Laundry, both washing and putting away clothes and bedding (it never ends)
- Shovel out my bedroom (this is ambitious, but I want to make an attempt)
- Shovel out Elanor's bedroom (shouldn't take too long)
- Tidy up the kitchen/living room (doable)
- Finish Collin's Father's Day gift

I hope I can at least make a dent in this list, anyway.

The kids are suspiciously quiet, so I'd better go see what they're up to. Happy Sunday!

Elanor's birth story - January 2005

The birth story of Elanor Mary
01/13/2005 (39w0d), 12:20pm CST
Weight: 7lbs 10.8oz, Length: 20 inches

Elanor, just a few minutes after her birth

In preparation for childbirth, Collin and I took a Lamaze class from our hospital and we also did a Bradley homestudy course since the Bradley course in our area wasn’t being offered until January. We were both determined to have a natural, drug-free childbirth with as little medical intervention as possible. As my due date approached, we practiced relaxation and massage techniques, and I began drinking red raspberry leaf tea.

At my 39w OB appointment on January 11, my OB told me I was dilated to a 2 and 50% effaced – she was actually surprised that I hadn’t yet gone into labor, given that I’d been steadily dilating for two weeks. I told her I was convinced I was going to go past my due date – little did I know!

Collin woke me up at 6am the next morning, January 12, wanting nookie. I obliged and jokingly told him that it might start labor, so he should be prepared just in case. Who knows, maybe it was the trigger!

I started having contractions at 9am – I first noticed them as I was driving to work. They felt like mild menstrual cramps so I didn’t think much of them, and then I thought they were Braxton-Hicks contractions since I hadn’t had any up to that point. I started timing them around noon. They were coming about 10 minutes apart. I made an effort to drink a lot of water – sixty ounces – but they kept coming. At one point during the day I sent Collin an instant message telling him that things might be happening, and I also called and e-mailed my mom to let her know. My mother was one of my labor coaches and she lived 20 miles away. There was a severe winter weather/blizzard warning in effect for our area, and I wanted to let her know that things might be happening in case the weather got bad.

The contractions became a bit more intense as I was driving home. I picked Collin up from work (we carpool) but let him drive home. Once we got home, I drank more water, moved around, and took a shower. The contractions kept coming, still about 7-10 minutes apart (Collin was timing them now). I called my mom to let her know she should probably come over since the contractions hadn’t gone away. We also called the hospital birth center, and they said this was “probably” early labor but they didn’t want to say for sure.

Collin went to the grocery store to get some last-minute supplies. While he was gone, my mom arrived. She did some housework for me while I packed our hospital bags. Collin got home and we continued timing contractions.

Sometime around 11pm the contractions started coming closer together. They only lasted about 30-40 seconds and weren’t very intense, but they were three minutes apart. We decided to go to the hospital birth center since they were so close together. In retrospect, this was a mistake – even though they were close together, they weren’t lasting very long so they weren’t doing much. Had I remembered this from our Bradley course, we would have stayed home, but my mother had told me that neither she nor her sisters had had labors that were longer than four hours, and I was concerned that I’d go fast too.

When we got to the birth center, I was put in the triage room. A nurse came in and hooked me up to an external fetal monitor, and she also did a pelvic exam. I was only dilated to a 3. My contractions were still three minutes apart but weren’t very intense. My mom went to the family lounge to take a nap; Collin and I stayed in the triage room until about 2:30am. The nurse checked me again and I was still only dilated to a 3.

By this time I was very irritated and unhappy – I’d been confined to a very uncomfortable bed and hooked up to monitors; how did she expect me to dilate??? Collin and I walked the halls for half and hour and I got another internal exam. I was still a 3, so they sent us home. I was NOT pleased. Luckily, we lived only four blocks from the hospital so it wasn’t like we had to make a long trip.

When we got home, about 3:30am, Collin and I went to bed (my mom sacked out on our couch). He slept and I tried to, but I mainly just dozed between contractions. About 6am I decided to try the bathtub. The water felt good, but our bathtub was so small that I was cramped and uncomfortable, so I got out about 45 minutes later. The contractions were starting to get more intense and it was hard to talk through them. I sat on our birth ball for about an hour – it felt wonderful and I didn’t want to get off of it. However, the contractions were really starting to hurt, so we knew it was time to go back to the hospital.

When we got there, at about 8:15am, we were sent to triage again. I got an internal exam and was dilated to a 6! This time they were going to let me stay. ;) We got into our LDR room and I got on the birth ball again.

The contractions were getting more intense. Collin coached me through them, reminding me to breathe deeply and normally. He and my mom constantly massaged my back, which was the only thing that helped me get through them. Any time either of them would pause for even a millisecond, I’d yell, “Don’t stop! Don’t stop!” I was also chewing lots of ice chips.

The nurse told me that my doctor wanted me to have a heparin/saline lock, but I refused. We were committed to having a natural childbirth and I didn’t want the temptation of easily accessible medication, nor did I want fluids that might stall labor as long as I wasn’t dehydrated. Also, the last time I’d gotten an IV, it had HURT – and the prospect of more pain was just unbearable! We told the nurse we didn’t want the IV and she didn’t push the issue.

Arin (our nurse) wanted to do another internal exam, so I got into bed. I was almost dilated to a 7 and 100% effaced – my cervix was “very thin.” This was good news to everyone but me – I was so disappointed! I’d hoped to be further along.

Arin put fetal monitors on me again to make sure that the baby was tolerating contractions well. (She was.) I stayed in bed, laying on my left side with pillows between my legs, as Collin and my mom massaged my back and fed me ice chips. Collin suggested the tub but at the time I didn’t want to go through the ordeal of waiting for the tub to fill, getting out of bed, and getting in/out of the tub. In retrospect, I wish I had gone into the tub (they had a nice Jacuzzi tub in the bathroom attached to the LDR room). It might have helped me tolerate the contractions better, but at the time I just wanted to stay put. I told Collin, “I don’t want an epidural but I can certainly see the appeal of one!”

Suddenly I had an overwhelming feeling of pressure on my rectum and an urge to push. We called the nurse, who came in and did an internal exam. I was still only at 7 centimeters! The reason I was feeling so much pressure was because the baby’s head was “right there.” I wanted to push SO badly but I couldn’t, as it could cause the cervix to swell and stall labor

For the next two hours, I had to pant, blow, and huff during each contraction so I wouldn’t push. At this point the contractions were incredibly intense, lasting well over a minute, and coming 1-2 minutes apart. I was in agony – the urge to push was overwhelming and it was so difficult to have to suppress it! Plus, I was going through transition and had the shakes, so on top of the pain I was shaking so hard I could barely breathe. Collin and my mom were so wonderful – they kept encouraging me, telling me what a great job I was doing, and reassuring me when I told them I couldn’t stand it anymore (another sign of transition). Arin came in about 11am and did another internal exam. To my great relief, I was almost fully dilated, with just a small lip of cervix on the right side. I turned on my right side and huffed my way through a few more contractions. Finally, FINALLY, I was given the green light to push!

Arin reclined the bed to a 45 degree angle so I could be in a sitting squat position. By this time I was sweaty, exhausted, and in a lot of pain, so pushing was difficult. At one point I started hyperventilating – my head was spinning and I couldn’t catch my breath. Collin, my mom, and Arin helped me calm down and reminded me to breathe, because the baby needed oxygen too. This helped me focus and I was able to breathe better.

I pushed for over an hour. I found that what I’d read about pushing was true – it felt like I was having the biggest bowel movement of my life! At some point I pooped on the bed, which had been a concern of mine while pregnant – but when it happened I could not have cared less! All I cared about was getting this baby OUT so the pain would stop.

Sometime near noon, Arin said she could see the bag of waters bulging out of the birth canal. Collin and my mom saw it too. I pushed more and it still didn’t break, so Arin broke it (with my and Collin’s permission – I was hoping it would speed things up). Collin kept making comments like, “Oh, my God, this is so disgusting, but so amazing” and “I can’t believe the baby will fit through there!” At one point I think I told him to shut up.

Once the baby’s head crowned (“I can see hair!” Arin said), they called my doctor. She was across the hall delivering another baby, so it took her a few minutes to get there (it seemed like HOURS to me!). By this point I was sobbing and telling Collin that I didn’t think I could push anymore, I was just too tired. My OB put her face just inches from mine (she has VERY intense eyes), stared me straight in the face, and said, “JoAnna, just a few more pushes and the baby will be out. YOU CAN DO IT.”

Her words gave me a second wind and I pushed with all my might (making sounds that I didn’t think were capable for human beings to make!). I definitely felt the “ring of fire,” and it gave me the impetus to push even harder. The supreme thought in my mind was, “GET IT OUT GET IT OUT GET IT OUT!” I pushed so hard that the baby was born very quickly, and I got a second-degree tear in the process. (I was glad to tear naturally as opposed to an episiotomy.)

Collin said, “Oh my God, it’s a girl!” and started to cry. I said, “What? What? A girl?” and started to cry too. They put the baby on my chest and I sobbed to her, “Oh, honey, I’m so sorry I’ve been calling you a boy for the past nine months!” (We hadn’t found out the gender beforehand, and I’d been convinced it was a boy.) Collin cut the cord and we looked at our little girl. She was absolutely beautiful, with a full head of hair, and screaming to beat the band.

The nurses took her and dried her off while my doctor delivered the placenta. She was pulling on the umbilical cord to deliver it and I bled a lot when it came out. (I’m not at all pleased that she did this, as I thought that it was better to deliver the placenta naturally than to have it pulled out. It’s a moot issue now, but one that I plan to raise with my doctor during any subsequent pregnancies.)

My birth plan had specified that I did not want routine pitocin to deliver the placenta, but I ended up getting a shot anyway since I was bleeding so much. My doctor was not pleased that she had to give me the pitocin directly instead of through an IV, but I’m still glad I didn’t get one. I also got a shot of anesthetic into the perineum while she stitched up my tear.

So, it was a long exhausting process, but ultimately I’m so glad that I did it all naturally! Elanor was SO alert after birth – her eyes were wide open and she didn’t even nap until about four hours after she was born. I breastfed her about ten minutes after birth – it took her a while to figure out how to latch on, but once she did she breastfed like a champ. The nurses delayed the newborn procedures so we could have the chance to bond with our baby, and when it came time for the newborn procedures they did everything in our room – weighing, eye ointment, vitamin K, etc.

We had the baby room in with us the entire time we were in the hospital. I had no pain whatsoever from the tear, but it took me a while to go to the bathroom afterwards. The night nurse kept threatening to catheterize me (something I did NOT want) if I didn’t pee, so I drank five cups of water in the span of several hours and got into the Jacuzzi (that was SO nice). Finally, I was able to pee. And then I was up several times during the night going to the bathroom due to all the water I’d had!

The most unpleasant part of our stay was when they had to move us to a much smaller and not-as-nice postpartum room because the birth center was really full. (Eight babies were born the same day as Elanor, and five of them were born around the same time she was!) I was glad to get out of the hospital; I was so tired of having nurses come in constantly to poke and prod. We went home on January 16.

We almost didn’t get to take Elanor home with us because her bilirubin levels (jaundice) were so high. We took her in for daily blood tests and her level still hadn’t gone down, so the hospital sent a bili blanket to our home and we started 24/7 home phototherapy. After a few days her level went down and we were able to take off the bili blanket.

The story behind Elanor’s name:

It was important to us to choose a name that would fit our daughter as a child and as a woman. Also, we wanted something unique but not outlandish.

“Elanor” is a name from the Lord of the Rings series by J.R.R. Tolkien. (The books, not the movies!) The first reference is in The Fellowship of the Ring – an elanor is a golden, star-shaped flower that blooms in winter in the forest of Lothlorien. In Return of the King, Samwise Gamgee and Rosie Cotton name their firstborn daughter Elanor (the name is suggested to them by Frodo Baggins). Both Collin and I are huge Tolkien fans, and we both loved the name. Also, I liked the nickname “Elly” for a little girl and thought that “Elanor” was an elegant name for a woman.

“Mary” is a reflection of our Catholic faith – it’s in honor of the Virgin Mary, mother of Jesus, and also after the Basilica of St. Mary in Minneapolis, MN, where Collin and I were both confirmed into Catholicism.

Elanor, about 3 days old

William's birth story - February 25, 2008

William Joseph
born 2/25/2008 (36w3d), 10:42pm CST
6lbs, 4.5oz, 19"

William, about an hour or two after his birth

Saturday, February 23:

After feeling trickles of what I thought was urine most of the night, I woke up around 8am and headed for the bathroom. When I sat down on the toilet seat, I looked down at my underwear and realized, to my horror, that they were soaked in bright red blood, as were my pajama pants (I later found blood on one of the king-size pillows I had between my legs, too.)

We went into Urgent Care right away, and I was sent up to the Birthing Center for observation. I was monitored the whole morning, and my midwife came in to do a speculum exam and to check for dilation. I was 1cm dilated, not effaced at all, and baby was very high up. My midwife's diagnosis was burst blood vessels around the cervix (Collin and I had had intercourse the day before, so she thought that might have been a cause.) Baby's movements and heart rate looked great on the monitor. I was having sporadic contractions, but they were painless. We were sent home about 1pm; I was put on pelvic rest for the next few weeks and told to take it easy.

Sunday, February 24:

Sometime that afternoon, I think around 3pmish, I noticed that my BH contractions (which I'd been having for a week or so) seemed to be coming in fairly regular intervals. On the way home from Mass, around 6pm, I told Collin about them and we starting timing them. They were coming about 10 min. apart. We called the birthing center, and they suggested drinking a lot of water and taking a bath to see if they'd stopped. They didn't, and we called again; this time they said to come in only if they became 5 minutes apart or less. Around 3am the contractions (which stayed about 10 min apart) petered out and I was able to get some sleep.

Monday, February 25:

Monday morning, when I woke up, I noticed some bloody/mucousy discharge, and my contractions started up again too. I called the Birthing Center to see if my midwife would want me to come in and get checked, but she said that I should just plan on coming to my next appointment (which was scheduled for the next day, at 10:30am) and she'd check me then (unless the contractions got five minutes apart or less, in which case I was supposed to go in). I timed the contractions throughout my workday; at times they would be 10 minutes apart; sometimes they'd be five minutes apart and then go back to ten minutes. By 5pm, when I got off of work, they were coming pretty consistently at 7-8 minutes apart.

As soon as I got home, the contractions became markedly more uncomfortable, to the point where I was having to stop what I was doing and breathe through them. I was still hesitant to go into the birthing center, though, because I was terrified I'd be sent home. I tried taking a hot bath and drinking as much water as possible just in case it was false labor. I was caring for Elanor, though, which made it tough. Around 8pm, I finally called the Birthing Center and let them know that my contractions were coming about five minutes apart and had been for an hour or so. They told me to come in, so I called Collin at work and let him know it was time. He came home and got Elanor ready to go while I threw a bag of stuff together (I didn't have anything prepared). We dropped Elanor off at my FIL's on our way to the hospital, and we arrived at the Birthing Center at about 9:30pm.

By this time my contractions were VERY uncomfortable. I was put in a triage room to get checked. I was nearly sobbing because I was so scared I'd be sent home, but the nurse announced that I was 6-7cm and 100% effaced! At that point I started crying because I didn't know if I could get through labor without pain relief. Yup, you guessed it: transition.

Once we got to our birthing room, I asked the nurse to fill the tub and asked Collin to call my mom, who lived about 20 miles away. I hadn't called her before because I didn't want her to have to make the drive if it was a false alarm.

While waiting for the tub to fill, I got the shakes – another sign of transition. I got in the tub (which felt HEAVENLY) and breathed through three or four contractions. Suddenly, I felt the urge to push, and Collin helped me out of the tub (to my dismay; I didn't want to get out!) and over to the bed.

The midwife, Christa, arrived at this juncture, and I met her for the first time. (There are three CNMs at the birthing center, and she was the only midwife I hadn't yet met. I was disappointed that my midwife wasn't on call that night, but Christa was fantastic.) She checked me and announced that I was fully dilated; in fact, she could feel my amniotic fluid bag bulging out of the birth canal. She asked Collin and I if we wanted her to break it, and we consented.

Once she did so, the contractions were MUCH more painful; however, I could feel the baby descending into the birth canal. My mother arrived just as I started pushing. She held one leg and Collin held the other, with the midwife (as well as Collin) reminding me to breathe deeply and not to panic (because I was seriously freaking out at how fast things were going).

Ten minutes later, at 10:42pm, William Joseph was born! We hadn't found out the baby's gender beforehand, so I started asking, “What is it? What is it?” Collin didn't say anything at first because he couldn't see – the umbilical cord was in the way. Finally the nurse moved it and he said, “It's a boy!” My mom said my eyes nearly bugged out of my head (I'd thought I was having a girl.)

I couldn't believe it'd barely been an hour since we arrived at the Birthing Center. My mom was thankful she'd gotten there in time and hadn't missed his birth! I had a tiny tear that didn't require stitches, thanks in part to my midwife using lydocaine (sp?) gel and gently coaxing the baby out as I pushed.

There was also a true knot in his umbilical cord, so we're thankful that it never posed a problem – in fact, it may be a good thing that he came early; the knot could have caused problems as he grew bigger.

William weighed in at 6 lbs, 4.9 oz., 20.5 inches long. He was nursing like a champ ten minutes after birth! We have no clue why he decided to come early, or if the bleeding I had on Saturday was in any way related.

The story behind William's name: he is named after Collin's maternal grandfather, who is also William (but goes by Bill or Billy). Collin's middle name is William as well. Joseph was a last-minute decision on our part -- we'd originally picked out William James, but then my brother gave his second son, born about nine months before William, the middle name of James. It wouldn't have been a big deal to have two cousins with the same middle name, but I had started thinking seriously about Joseph as a way to honor both St. Joseph as well as Pope Benedict XVI (who was born Joseph Ratzinger). A few minutes after William was born, I asked my mother if we should use James or Joseph as his middle name, and she promptly replied, "Joseph, after you." So he became William Joseph.

Mommy, Daddy, and William

My Journey to the Catholic Church

I was born to lifelong Lutherans (ELCA) who, of course, baptized all their kids Lutheran. I was baptized on December 28, 1980 -- a date which I realized, soon after my conversion, as the Feast of the Holy Innocents. I sometimes wonder why I wasn't baptized sooner given that I was born six weeks prematurely, but I suppose that in Lutheran circles baptism isn't considered crucial for newborns, even premature ones.

At any rate, I was raised in a Lutheran home. My parents took us to church and Sunday School regularly, a fact for which I am grateful. Religion was sometimes discussed in our home but mostly in response to questions I posed after reading the Bible (which I did at an early age) or watching movies about Jesus. It was never a topic I remember my parents initiating or even discussing in detail (either with us or with each other). My feeling all through childhood was that church and religion were Sunday activities. That's not to say that my parents were nominally religious -- it's just that God, Jesus, religion, etc. didn't seem to play that large a part in our day-to-day lives. That's just my perception, looking back after many years.

I was confirmed in the ELCA in 1994, I believe. I remember that as part of one of the Confirmation classes, we were required to memorize and recite a part of the Small Catechism. I was assigned the Last Supper discourse ("this is my body, given for you...") and I remember being very pleased to have that particular part. Even then I considered Communion to be pretty special. During this time period, my parents were going through a bitter divorce, and my faith was my solace.

In 1999, I went off to college at the University of Wyoming. I began attending a Lutheran church close to campus in Laramie, and also began attending a Christian group on campus called Chi Alpha, run by the Assembly of God church (i.e., fundamentalist). There was no conflict between the two; theology was never really discussed or brought up. I met many fantastic friends through Chi Alpha, including my best friend and former roommate Rose. It was a wonderful college experience. I didn't get too terribly involved with my Laramie ELCA church; I mainly attended because it reminded me of home.

In 2000, at the end of my sophomore year, I met my future husband, Collin, online (via a Harry Potter for Grown-Ups web club!); in 2001 we were married and I moved to Minneapolis, transferring to the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. I remember being pleased to learn that Collin was, like me, a lifelong member of the ELCA. Although he'd fallen away from Christianity for a time as a teenager, a class he took in college called "The Writings of C.S. Lewis" brought him back and caused him to take his faith more seriously. We were married in Our Savior's Lutheran Church, the same church where I'd been confirmed, on September 1, 2001.

Fast forward a few years... one day, I think it was in early January 2003, Collin surprised me with the announcement that he'd been doing a lot of thinking, research, and praying, and he felt God was leading him to convert to the Catholic Church. I was aghast at the very idea.

As it turned out, Collin had been having a lot of theological discussions with his best friend, who's Catholic, and he had come to the conclusion that the Catholic Church was the only one with the fullness of Truth. I disagreed, but after a few weeks of talking about the issue, I agreed to go to RCIA with him. I thought that if I was going to be raising our potential kids Catholic, then I should know more about the faith. At the time I started RCIA, I had no intention of converting.

I have to admit that things had been bothering me about the ELCA for a while prior to Collin's announcement. For example, I found out that the ELCA's health care plan for its employees (e.g., its ministers) paid for abortion. I found that disturbing, as I've always been staunchly pro-life... and then when I read ELCA's actual statement on abortion, it seemed rather wishy-washy to me. I've since written an article for the Catholic Stand blog going into what exactly I found so disturbing about the ELCA's stance on abortion.

While in RCIA I was confronted with questions I hadn't really thought about before.

First and foremost was the sola scriptura issue. The Catholic Church's authority is like a three-legged stool, with Scripture, Sacred Tradition, and the Magesterium all having equal weight. Protestant traditions all go by the Bible alone. However, when it comes down to it, this doesn't really make sense. After all, Jesus spoke pretty clearly about being a unified Church, but there are 5,000+ Protestant churches who all claim to go by the Bible alone. Who is right? They can't all be right. Would Jesus really leave his church in such confusion?

Also, the doctrine of sola scriptura is not actually found in the Bible. Nowhere does Jesus or any of the Apostles, or St. Paul, say that we should only follow the Scriptures. We are told that the Scriptures are good, profitable, etc., but we are never told they are the sole rule of faith. St. Peter warns against private interpretation of the Scriptures, a cornerstone of the Protestant faith, and St. Paul tells Timothy to follow the traditions he'd been taught! I had never been faced with these apparent contractions before.

Once I concluded that sola scriptura was false, that begged the question: do Christians have an authority on Earth, one that inteprets God's Word in light of our modern times and shepherds Christ's flock?

If you read the early Church fathers, they were remarkably Catholic. They believed in the perpetual virginity of Mary, the transubstantiation of the Eucharist, and so on. The Protestant argument seems to be that the Catholic Church eventually corrupted Christianity and the Protestant reformation put it back on track. But if the Church from its earliest days was Catholic, could it really have been corrupted so soon? It didn't seem logical that God would put his church in human hands, only to see it go corrupt before two generations after Christ.

Also, the Bible wasn't even complied until around AD 400. If we were supposed to go by the Bible alone, what did the earliest Christians do? Moreover, it was the Catholic Church that compiled and established the canon of books of the Bible, so it didn't make sense to me that Protestants trusted the Church to compile an inspired and inerrant Bible, but not to be authoritative in any other way.

Then I started to read more about the Church's claim to authority; that is, that the Pope is the successor of Peter, and it just made sense to me that Jesus would establish an earthly Church with an earthly successor to guide his flock. In addition to giving Peter the keys of the kingdom (Matthew 16:18-20), He even told Peter three times to feed His sheep (John 21:15-17) -- not any of the other apostles, but Peter alone.

Once I began to believe that the Pope was the successor of Peter, the whole papal infallibility concept made more sense, and once that fell into place, so did everything else (the Eucharist, Mary, etc.). I figured that if Jesus had given the Church authority to teach, then I should follow those teachings -- otherwise, I wasn't really following Jesus to the best of my ability.

I also read a lot of converstion stories about Protestants who became Catholic, such as Scott Hahn's Rome Sweet Home and Jimmy Akin's conversion story. Also helpful was Patrick Madrid's Surprised by Truth series. After my conversion I also discovered Mark Shea's books, which are a must-read for anyone considering Catholicism -- especially By What Authority? An Evangelical Discovers Catholic Tradition. I also spent a lot of time on the Catholic Answers forums, talking with other Catholics about the Catholic Church.

Another turning point in my conversion was realizing the beauty of the Mass. When I first started attending Mass (very reluctantly), I thought it was staid and boring. Then came Holy Week. I was struck by how intense the services were, how much they focused on Christ and His passion. We went to the Easter Vigil Mass at the Basilica of St. Mary, and it literally changed my mind about the Mass overnight. The sheer beauty that overwhelmed the senses as I heard the readings and heard the music and smelled the incense -- the pure joy that seemed to emanate from the very stones as the lights of the Basilica were thrown on full force after the darkness of Good Friday -- the happiness of the newly baptized -- well, it was an experience, and I began to see the Mass in a whole new light.

Collin and I were confirmed into the Catholic Church on May 29, 2003. We were originally scheduled to be confirmed at Pentecost, which was that Sunday, but I had just graduated from college two weeks before and we'd made plans to move out of state that weekend, so the priest graciously agreed to confirm us on a Thursday daily Mass instead. I hope the people who attended that particular daily Mass were pleasantly surprised to be present at a confirmation! I took a confirmation name, Anne, because St. Anne is the patron saint of motherhood and I knew it was my vocation to someday be a mother. (As it turned out, our daughter Elanor was baptized into the Catholic Church almost exactly two years later, on May 28, 2005).

Through our Catholic faith we also discovered the joys of Natural Family Planning and have been using it to both achieve and postpone pregnancy since 2003. In addition to our oldest daughter born in January 2005, we’ve conceived an additional eight children, three of whom we lost to miscarriage and one of whom is due to be born in May 2016.

Our home church is the Basilica of St. Mary in downtown Minneapolis, MN. It is an incredible church, full of peace and beauty. The reason we chose it was quite simple -- it was within walking distance of our apartment; actually, the walk was the perfect amount of time needed to say a rosary. As Collin chose that apartment before he'd even considered looking into the Catholic Church, God provided him (and me) the perfect church home even before we knew we'd need one!

photo credit

Because I didn't have enough sites to update already...

I've been getting a little bored with LiveJournal lately, so I decided to try Blogspot. We'll see how it goes.

The title of this journal comes from Pope Benedict's wonderful encyclical "Spe Salvi." An excerpt:

Human life is a journey. Towards what destination? How do we find the way? Life is like a voyage on the sea of history, often dark and stormy, a voyage in which we watch for the stars that indicate the route. The true stars of our life are the people who have lived good lives. They are lights of hope. Certainly, Jesus Christ is the true light, the sun that has risen above all the shadows of history. But to reach him we also need lights close by—people who shine with his light and so guide us along our way. Who more than Mary could be a star of hope for us? With her “yes” she opened the door of our world to God himself; she became the living Ark of the Covenant, in whom God took flesh, became one of us, and pitched his tent among us (cf. Jn 1:14).

Mary, mother of the Word Incarnate, pray for us as we work out our salvation with fear and trembling.

photo credit

Welcome to The Catholic Working Mother

Click here to order The Catholic Working Mom’s Guide to Life , released May 28, 2019 by Our Sunday Visitor Press. My blog,  The Catholic ...