Thursday, December 29, 2011
So I have taken the computer hostage for the week, which means I should be posting a lot, but instead, I have been on pinterest. In fact...I've been a little, well, obsessed with pinterest. What, you ask, is pinterest? It's a virtual cork board on which you can "pin" (via a button installed on your toolbar) things you find on the internet - craft ideas, recipes, sewing projects, cute fashion, books to read. You name your boards different things ("gift ideas," "recipes," "garden") and then while you're surfing the web, if you find something cool, you pin it; later, when you return to pinterest and click on a particular board, there is a picture of the thing you found and if you click on it, it takes you to the original website. Genius! (If you're curious, my page link is http://pinterest.com/mjrofl/) Currently, it's by invitation only, but if you want to join, let me know and I'll shoot you an invite.
Monday, December 26, 2011
As I reflect on these unintentional barbs that have been thrown my way, I recall that marvelous quote by Albus Dumbledore: "sadly, accidental rudeness occurs alarmingly often." If you or someone you know could benefit from this article, please share, so that accidental rudeness might spare a few more victims...
1) These things happen/ the body has ways of riding itself of not good pregnancies / it was probably because of a chromosomal abnormality: I appreciate that the medical reason for a lot of spontaneous abortions (i.e. miscarriages) is something medical, though possibly unknowable, especially at very early stages, like I was. Despite this, God is the author of life, so no, I don't think my body just sloughed off some dead cells and oh well, life goes on. No. Life begins at conception, that was my child, and he died; please don't talk about him like he is medical waste and we are in a Planned Parenthood clinic, where you're trying to make me feel better about my abortion. Would you ever say to the mother of a child who died of leukemia, "Sometimes this just happens, natural selection takes it's course and the weak must die..."? No, because that would be thoughtless and rude. The same applies here.
2) Well, look on the bright side - you CAN get pregnant! : I have heard this a lot, especially since Tom and I were so concerned we couldn't get pregnant or wouldn't be able to for years. Now, yes, this sentiment is another one that has a grain of truth - we are of course happy to know that our reproductive organs seem to be working properly enough that we can actually get pregnant. But this look-on-the-bright-side mantra tends to gloss over our grief, and the reason for it: we lost a child. Losing a child means that we should be able to mourn the loss. Religious people especially seem quick to hurry us on to joy, as if grief isn't a holy enough emotion, as if Jesus did not weep over the death of Lazarus (even though Jesus knew he was about to bloody resurrect him!). Yes, I can get pregnant, and in fact I did and my child died - if that makes you feel uncomfortable, just murmur a polite "I'm so sorry" and walk away; I promise I won't mind.
3) I'm sure you'll get pregnant again: Yes, and I'm sure that you DO know the future and that you would really like if it I told you after your grandfather died, "well, thank goodness, you've got another one!" You are not omniscient and children are not interchangeable. My fertility is not up to you, and if I should happen to never get pregnant again I'm sure you'd feel rather silly about your rose-colored promise. Likewise, and we're coming back to this point a lot!, when a miscarriage occurs a child has died. That child will never be replaced; they are gone, forever. Try to think of the unborn child as if they were born, or maybe even 8 years old or a grown person, and then try to say the same phrases to the parent: if it sounds stupid then, it still sounds stupid here.
4) Just try to put this out of your mind / forget about it: I know you're shocked when you read this one - nobody would actually argue for outright repression of grief would they? Well, yes actually, it happened to me before Christmas Mass. It came from a person I love dearly, but upon hearing our news she said, "just try to put this straight out of your mind - just forget about it!" And then went on to say some of the other horrible things listed above. I think some people are afraid of grief, of sorrow, of the horror of losing a child - and so they tell you to have reactions that would make them feel more comfortable. But again, if this person's grief makes you uncomfortable, then just say something polite and walk away - we really will understand.
5) Don't get too stressed - it'll prevent you from getting pregnant again! : This is part II of No. 4 above. The woman told me to forget about the miscarriage because the stress of it would prevent me from getting pregnant again. Marilyn Shannon in her excellent book "Fertility, Cycles, and Nutrition" addresses this misconception quite adequately, but I will summarize: my daily stress, unless it rises to the level of PTSD or medical shock, will not be adequate enough to make me stop ovulating, thankyouverymuch. Telling me to relax and not to think about the fact that I just lost a child will actually stress me out more, and maybe cause me to go into real shock from how many cotton headed ninny-muggins give out conceiving advice just because their wombs are hyperactive and they get pregnant when their spouse sneezes on them. I already got pregnant, I'm hopeful I can do it again, and even if I can't, pseudo-doctors with poor bedside manner are the last group of people I will seek out for reproductive help.
In summation, if you know someone who has suffered a miscarriage, the best thing to say is "I'm sorry for your loss." The parents know there are no words - they likely have none themselves - in the face of such a mountain of sorrow. To recognize that they are truly grieving a real loss, their child, and that you are sorry for them, is the greatest comfort. If you happen to be Christian, offering prayers is very kind, and if you are Catholic, offering up Masses and rosaries means very much. Otherwise, just offer your humanity, for when grief robs us of all our well meaning words, that is the only thing we have left.
I received a great deal of peace on Christmas Eve, before Midnight Mass. I came early for lessons and carols, but I decided to slip out to the Adoration chapel during the songs. As I knelt in prayer, I told Jesus honestly that I just didn't know what to pray for - I didn't know what I needed and I couldn't even begin to think of how to ask. But all I wanted was to do God's will, and I knew that even in my grief, I had to remain focused on doing the will of God.
With this peace in my heart, Christmas Day was pleasant and peaceful - and I didn't cry (at this point, a milestone). We had our big meal when Tom got home from the last Mass (he walked in the door around 12:40) and then opened our presents in a leisurely. We were blessed with many wonderful things, but I was most grateful to lay in my husband's arms, talk about our dreams for the future, and be grateful for the life we got to witness, right before Christmas, our darling Francis child.
Saturday, December 24, 2011
Just a quick mobile update to say yes, my lab work came back and yes, I really was pregnant. It's been a relief to know for sure.
This is the saddest Christmas I can recall. I have a hard time not crying, and I feel so lonely - a deep, aching loneliness that no amount of company can soothe. I miss my child, my Frances. Oddly, I now adore that name, though before I wasn't crazy about it. I am feeling a heartbreak I never knew possible: I love more than I ever thought I could. God give me the strength to bear the weight of so great a love!
I pray you all have the merriest of Christmases and ask you not to be too hard on the grouchy people - maybe they're just sad, maybe it is hard for them to feel Christ's love right now. Christmas is always a blessing but this year, does not feel a joy.
Thursday, December 22, 2011
Wednesday, December 21, 2011
Yet as some dreams blossom, others fade quietly into memories. This week, we lost the baby. Yes, there was a baby - I don't know how long he or she (lets just go with he) lived, we only knew for a few days that we were pregnant, but he has gone home now. We have a saint in Heaven! I feel that's an honor our family doesn't deserve - our own little saint, who surely remembers our intentions at the throne of God. I wish I could have met him, but he must be so happy where he is, that I can't be too sad: my first child will never feel want, fear, sadness or cold. He will never see the ugliness of sin, or feel great pain. He will always be in joyful communion with God, and surely Our Lady will look after him - surely she will make sure my baby is well cared for, she who cared so well for the Christ Child and cares still for all of us.
I wish I knew how to feel: I wasn't even used to his presence yet, I didn't even know how I felt about being pregnant, and then he had gone. I miss him as a person misses an opportunity they didn't know they had until it was taken away: all the joy I could have had, just knowing it was possible for a little bit longer.
I don't know why this happened now, right after I mused about my desire for a child at Christmastime. But since my greatest fear was that somehow, that miracle would never touch my womb, I cannot be too distraught. This little one has left, but he was a sign of hope: not this Christmas, but maybe one in the future, I will have joyful news and joyful waiting. In a way I cannot grasp at this point in time, I am a mother and that has always been my dearest wish. Blighted though my motherhood at this point is, I have gotten to marvel at a miracle smaller than a grain of rice.
I'm sure I will have more thoughts, happier thoughts, more Christmaslike thoughts, at a later time. But for now, I want to think about my child: he who is good and true and beautiful.
Saturday, December 10, 2011
Gosh, that sounds gross. But it wasn't! My awesome friend Kristin told me that she makes these and her kids like them, and since I'm always trying to pack more veggies into my life, I thought - hey! Great idea! So this morning for breakfast, we tried kale shakes (God bless my poor husband).
First, we started out with what all my shakes start out with: Almond milk! I prefer almond milk to regular milk because it's a bit less on the calories, way less on the fat, but it's not as much sugar as skim milk. As a person with PCOS, I try to limit my dairy intake and restrict it only to full-fat dairy (the fat makes my body process the sugar more slowly, thereby keeping my glucose levels more steady).
My darling Tom loves having guy friends to hang out with. He was in fraternity in college, joined seminary, keeps in touch with every guy friend he's ever made - he's a guy that likes having a group of guys he can rely on. Tom is a very enthusiastic friend: he likes being exposed to new things, so if his friends are into something, he'll get into it too. This has worked out in our relationship, but causes no end of eye-narrowing from me in his other friendships. The recent juice fast fad that has streaked through the group is a good example.
The group down here is very health-conscious, which I think is great, and very into homeopathic remedies, which I clearly support - it goes great with my suspicion of authority figures, like doctors. On the "what-kind-of-Catholic" are you quiz (if there were such a thing...hmm...), I'm pretty sure I'd be rated "ultra granola with tinges of self-righteous zealotry." Sidebar: I googled that phrase and came up with a link to the book Crunchy Cons, which is apparently about me and my family. Anyway, so I want to be as health conscious, down to earth as the next Catholic aspiring-homeschooling-mom, but I am a big moderation fan too. Actually, I had never dieted in my life until first year of law school - and even then, I didn't eliminate anything, I just controlled ratios of what I ate. Yet everybody down here does something different: all organic, gluten free, vegetarian (not too many of those), paleolithic (I couldn't make this stuff up). Which is fine; although I have always suspected specialty diets of masking eating disorders, most of our friends are normally sized and relatively sane people. But now everybody is doing this juice fast.
Friday, December 9, 2011
Wednesday, December 7, 2011
Monday, December 5, 2011
- 1 (1-pound) boneless leg of lamb roast, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
- 1 1/2 cups chopped onion
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper
- 6 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1/2 cup dried apricots, quartered
- 1 (14-ounce) can fat-free, lower-sodium beef broth
Sunday, December 4, 2011
My family (and Tom's too, come to think of it) is big on themes. Kim's theme is Christmas - all Christmas, all the time. If Kim could live in Christmasland, she'd be happy all year. The lights, food, movies, music - she loves it all. Ali's theme is probably the beach: sand, surfboards, old woodies, mermaids, etc. Tom's mom's theme is grapes, as a nod to her heritage as a Welch. Tom's sister loves penguins. And yet amongst all these themes, I am themeless. Once we got engaged and people wanted to get us house-things, they kept asking "what is your theme?" I didn't know what to say! "Well, I like the color blue..." was about the best I could come up with - not very helpful!
Yet last night, talking with Kim, she asked me not about what my house was but what I wanted it to be. I said I really want to plant orange trees in the back, because if we can grow things here, we ought to. So I suggested calling it The Grove, but she suggested we try it in French. So we found, L'Orangerie: the orange grove. Yet L'Orangerie is also the name of the museum in Paris that houses Monet's Waterlillies as well conservatory buildings that were commonly used from the 17th to 19th centuries in northern Europe to winter citrus trees. Citrus trees are a curious emblem of Florida that, combined with a French name, evoke for me all the joy of my summertime spent touring around some of the greatest holy sites in the world.
So as we chatted about it more, Kim and I thought that the marriage of French wording and a Florida staple expressed the atmosphere of our new little home perfectly. A mixture of old world Europe with the French and the old Florida feel with the citrus. Many people might not know what I'm talking about when I say "old Florida," but as a native cracker, let me promise you - we are more than Universal Studios and retirement homes.
Although Florida has always been popular for her tourism, Florida has a rich and beautiful history that is intimately agrarian. Our wonderful weather gives us a prolonged growing season while the rest of the country hibernates, yet our soil is nothing but sand - meaning that farmers have always had to work very, very hard to make a living. Central and north Florida were actually ideal places to raise cattle and horses for years, which is why we are called Florida crackers - because of the crack of the whips we used to drive the cattle. My father was born in the Panhandle of Florida on Eglin Airforce Base, my Papa lives on the Suwanee River and I was born in Orlando. This state is in my blood from coast to coast, and the idea of decorating our house so that it reflects this rich heritage is exciting.
Even more exciting is the idea of growing things. I have a great desire to turn my home and land into an Eden-esque garden: growing children mingled with growing fruit trees, vegetables, and herbs. A rhythm of life that is not indifferent nor ignorant to the rhythm of nature and her seasons (scant though they are in Florida) - a life where I know a good deal about the earth that I walk on, and find my own ways to cultivate it. I have often thought, as I worked in the ground, that the agrarian analogies used to frequently in the Bible were incredibly apropos: the work done in man's soul is so very similar to the cultivation of a garden. The work is often slow and painstaking, with sudden bursts of growth followed by possible long periods of dormancy; sometimes, the blights we guard against come despite our precautions. The fruit that plants bear can surprise - some raggedy shrubs burst forth into glorious bloom of unparalleled sweetness, while beautiful bushy plants give out measly, sour fruit or none at all.
Most of all, dearest Reader, my greatest hope is for the blossom of our love to flower out in great abundancy. Like the Blessed Virgin, I ponder all of God's promises in my heart, and hope for the fulfillment of my not-so-secret longing.