Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Birth Matters

I was raised to believe that the best way to give birth (in a perfectly normal pregnancy without complications) is outside of a hospital, with midwives, and without medication. Everybody's family has values - this was one of mine. I was blessed to witness my sisters' give birth, one in a birthing center and the other, due to complications, in a hospital. I grew up secure in the knowledge that when it was my turn to become a mother, I would do as they had done - I would give birth peacefully and confidently, surrounded by women and joy.

I didn't know that this was a controversial statement. 

As my friends got married and started having babies, I realized that this concept was not universal - and that the way women birth had become part of the 'mommy wars.' The way women give birth is now judged and picked apart, part of a national discussion about how we should mother. (Please note: there is no national conversation about how to father - because to father children just means to conceive them; we're generally happy if men create them and stick around, whatever their methods) 

Now there are many women trying to find a 'middle ground' - insisting that we not judge one another for the way that we brought our children into the world. Good! But in the process, some people have insisted that women not feel bad about however they gave birth - that they should just appreciate having a healthy baby. 

"Ring the bells that still can ring/ forget your perfect offering/there is a crack in everything/ that's how the light gets in (L. Cohen)" by Amanda Greavette - this piece has been often interpreted by viewers to portray an "over-medicalized" birth, or a mother who did not have her birth expectations met. 

I haven't given birth yet, but even I know this is wrong. To boil birth down to one outcome - healthy baby - is to minimize the life-changing experience we all know that it is it. It is not just about the outcome, but about the experience. Birth is a woman's journey into becoming a mother: there is a reason why it was considered so holy in ancient cultures. It is powerful. As soon as women are told how to birth or how to feel about their method of birthing, it is in some way taken from them as an experience they have claim to by right of being a woman. This is a right of passage that belongs to us. Even the Blessed Mother, archetype of holy womanhood, gave birth. This is important - how is a woman defined? Our Faith tells us it is not by her knowing a man, but by becoming a mother. Motherhood is the hallmark of being a woman, not sexual knowledge (which is why Mary is a model for both consecrated women and married women). 

True liberation of birth is realizing that we are allowed to have feelings about the birth itself. Even if a c-section was necessary, it doesn't mean that we're not allowed to mourn what we wanted - the ability to feel our body open for new life. To say otherwise is not only rude, it's foolish. For any woman who wants more than one child, a c-section can make her future child-bearing years full of difficult decisions and medical complications. And a woman who knows this may have feelings of sadness, disappointment or fear - and that's okay. 

If I end up in the hospital, I'll be bummed. If I end up with a c-section, I'll probably be devastated. But if I end up with someone telling me that I "got what mattered," I'll be disappointed - because I'm not just a baby machine, and I matter too. 

"All around me voices are ringing" by Amanda Greavette 

Prints of Amanda Greavette's art work from the "Birth Project" are available here and her website is here. Also see her facebook page here

Monday, September 24, 2012

How to Raise Children

Baby-day is drawing closer: I'm already 36 wks, so as of this coming Saturday, I'll be considered full-time and have the green-light to go into labor at any time. Squeeee!! Mr. O and I are getting SUPER excited to meet our daughter...

Since I have between 4-6 weeks left until she comes, I've been stepping up my reading of the parenting books and blogs. I gave a cursory reading to French Children Eat Everything, am doing a slower re-read of Dr. Greg Popcak's Parenting with Grace and also of Catholic Homeschooling by Mary Kay Clark. All three books have some great ideas and at the very least, raise many concepts to be discussed and considered by parents regarding the formation of your children. You can tell my greatest preoccupations for my off-spring: making sure they are well-formed in how to eat, how to pray, and how to learn. I have my priorities!

I wouldn't mind if they learned a few of these things from a local, run-by-nuns, affordable, orthodox Catholic school...but that's not in the cards in our area! 

I find myself fascinated with the preoccupation of myself and obviously, millions of others, with the "proper" way to raise children. I haven't lived in any time but this one (until I get that darned time-machine working!), so I find myself wondering if there was this sort of thought process years ago. Was there ever one standard formula for parenting, or were there many that were just unconsciously passed down within cultures or families?

Mr. O and I's marriage is, blessedly, harmonious. We are very similar in our tastes and habits, and where we are different, we have found it fairly easy to accommodate one another. One of the aspects of my marriage that we both work very hard at is courtesy - we strive to always be overly civil to one another, saying not only please and thank you, but seeking to meet one another's needs before we are asked. Small touches, like noticing when one or the other needs water or offering to do a chore when we know the other is tired, make our marriage sweet indeed. These are attributes that we choose to consciously embrace; we talked about these behaviors during our courtship and have lived them out in our marriage, by God's grace!

But now we are wondering if it will be the same when our children come. We cannot predict how we will actually behave under real-life conditions and as a friend of mine is fond of saying, "I was the perfect parent before I had children!" Of course, our ability to set a course of behavior for marriage was easier because we know one another - we could ask of one another a standard of behavior. But children have no such ability to consent and conform, especially when they are just wee babes. Children come into the world with their own personalities. I am looking forward to the testing of my theories, but hopeful that the changes children bring to my marriage will not be negative.

For those of you with wee ones, how did your parenting theories hold up and did your marriage change for good? To what degree do you re-evaluate your methods with each new child? I know so many wonderful mothers here in the blogosphere, so do share your wisdom - so I have something to ponder on my upcoming sleepless nights!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Baby Carriers and an Ergo Giveaway!

Alright, this post is for straight up advice - you can comment or find some other way to give me your opinions, but I've gotta get some!

What do you do for the portable baby? Do you stroll them around all the time? Are you a baby wearer - and if you are, how do you like to wear your baby? Moby wrap? Baby K'tan? Ergo baby? Sling? Baby bjorn?

There's so many choices and all have their devotees. I'm sure I'll just have to try a few and see what works when she gets here, but I'd still like advice from all you experienced mamas (or aunties or sitters)! I own a moby wrap (thank you, Mindy!), but I have no baby to practice with...and I feel weird asking my friends to use their babies to practice.

I heard great things about Ergo baby, so I entered this awesome GIVEAWAY over at Welcome to Motherhood! If you're shopping for one of those, then I'd recommend entering - it doesn't end till the end of the month (Sept. 30).

Julia Roberts likes Baby Ergo! 

Friday, September 21, 2012

7 Quick Takes

Sooo took the car to get an alignment, rotation yadda yadda today...and Mr. Mechanic Man tells me I need new tires. "Oh that's impossible," I sweetly explain while concentrating on not crying, "because we just got new tires last year - here, as a matter of fact." He proceeds to tell me that our type of car just 'goes through tires fast' and there is 'no wear left on the front or back.' I am staring at him thinking something like this, "LOOK, buddy, I'm not going to be the one to tell my husband we need new tires and I'm NOT going to be the one whose tires blow out on the way to the birthing center, so I don't care what you're trying to sell me, you better change your tune and tell me those tires are FINE." 

We are going to get a second opinion about the tires.

Blackacre is grateful for that. He doesn't like being stranded in cars, with or without laboring women.

I ruined someone's funeral yesterday with  my singing. It was so bad Mr. O hasn't even brought it up since it happened; we just let it go untalked about, so the horror would not be relived. I would like to take this opportunity to apologize to the deceased's family; I promise I did my best, but that was not very good on that particular day. If it's any consolation, I offered up my total and complete humiliation for your loved one's soul. 

Do you cloth diaper? Do you love giveaways? OF COURSE YOU DO! (or maybe you don't, that's okay too - really, I just want to do it for the savings - I actually don't care about the earth) But if you do AND if you're interested, check out this cloth diaper giveaway at the Boho Mama! May the best (wo)man win! 

Also, while searching around for cute and affordable cloth diapers, I found this giveaway by the Cuckoo's Nest. Let me just say the pictures brought back GREAT memories - I too used to go topless at the beach wearing only tie die and ruffles on my bottom half. Thankfully, I was also the same age as the adorable gal in that post! 

Liturgy of the Hours Blackacre asks you be mindful of modesty, especially at the beach. 

It's very true that the same 10 people volunteer for everything at church. Trying to get volunteers to replace me in all of my volunteer positions is really exhausting and stressful. It makes me think about what our Bishop Dewane said recently at a Theology on Tap: "Americans aren't joiners." He was commenting on the lack of flourishing of lay movements like Opus Dei or the Neocatechumenal Way - movements that are growing by leaps and bounds in other parts of the world. By and large, Americans are too independent - they don't want more obligations. I think being an American Catholic is actually a handicap at times; we're just bred to be more individualistic, so it's harder for us to be self-donative. 

I'm having Braxton-Hicks every day and it's pretty exciting. It's a new kind of pain/uncomfortable, but I kind of like it - Baby is on her waaaaay. 

Obviously, she will be even cuter than the Gerber Baby 

Thursday, September 20, 2012


Mr. O and I have these 2-3 hour breaks on Thursdays, in between our standing baby appointment and our birthing class. We found this great cafe that serves bagel and lox and chai tea lattes and has free wifi. It's raining out and I have something that smells like pumpkin and am thoroughly enjoying it.

So I'm thinking about politics (really enjoyed this Ann Coulter archived column), babies (and what do they really need in terms of stuff and what's the best stuff for them to have?), manners (and why did that lady have to tell me I look miserable when I'm pretty happy?), and why families are so hard to form, love, and maintain. It's all rocking around in there, along with lil' Missy Miss.

I don't feel discontent with being pregnant, despite everything asking sympathetically, "how are you doing?" Everyone feels miserable at different times in pregnancy, but I don't feel poorly right now. I'm a bit overwhelmed with the practical items I still need to buy, y'know, things like wipes, baby nail clippers, a diaper pail, nursing pads (explaining those to Mr. O was fun), nursing tank tops...I'm worried I need more cloth diapers, that I need a moby and a baby bjorn right away, that I won't have what she needs. I don't even have a diaper bag (why are they all so ugly and small - I need big and pretty, just like me - haha).

We've been hit with a few expenses all at once (baby coming! new roof! new washer/dryer! holy cow this is a lot of money!), so it's on my mind a lot, how all these little things add up...and there's this little person coming up whose every need I want to be met.

And these cares of the world are on my mind, but not any of the cares of the Lord, which should be there in a much bigger way. I don't think I would feel so badly about myself sometimes if I knew I was doing one or the other: on top of my stuff in a worldly way (bills paid, house clean, looking societally acceptable) or on top of my stuff spiritually (great prayer life, daily Mass, daily Adoration, peaceful, serene, volunteering, offering everything up, serving my fellow man). I hate being mediocre at both - it means I'm an messy-looking jacka**, and what's the fun in THAT?

But I have a feeling they're related. Not in a prosperity-gospel way, but in a "if I had greater mental peace due to my constant communion with God, I would make better life decisions" way. Will I ever be a saint? (not until I'm dead, obviously) But I remember so clearly, in college, when I realized that was the goal of Catholic life and how much I wanted - yearned! - for that greatness, vowing to myself that I would make it - I would win the race, I would see the face of God, I would do his will, I would be holy. But that I realize holiness does not consist in being martyred on a bloody field (yet), but in praying day in and day out even when it feels like work and isn't a lot of fun, I become despondent. The years stretch ahead of me and I wonder, "will I ever make peace within myself? will this ever not feel like work?"

I think nonbelievers both underestimate and overestimate the price of the Christian life. On one hand, there is no joy greater than living in communion with God, which naturally puts one in right relation with all other living things. And yet it also exacts an incredibly high price at times: it is a rigorous training in self-denial and self-control, demanding of you precisely what you do not wish to give, leading you beyond what you felt you could handle. It is the greatest adventure and because this is so, it costs the highest price. It is a lifelong fight for your soul.

I just wish it wasn't so easy to feel like I was losing.

From Miffed to Peeved!

Well I'm suffering from a major lack of creativity. Due to my own desire to be less negative but also somehow more private, I seem to have robbed myself of anything at all to write about. Until something public and positive happens, I guess I'll be quiet (which means you'll hear from me around the time of the Second Coming). Don't worry, I'm sure soon I'll get over this soon and write something incredibly offensive or entirely too personal - with me, you never have to wait too long!

Until then, I leave you this lovely bit of comedy, wrongly attributed to John Cleese and incredibly insulting to many world peoples, but still very funny:

From the BBC - by John Cleese.

The English are feeling the pinch in relation to recent terrorist threats
and have therefore raised their security level from "Miffed" to "Peeved."

Soon, though, security levels may be raised yet again to "Irritated" or
even "A Bit Cross." The English have not been "A Bit Cross" since the
blitz in 1940 when tea supplies nearly ran out. Terrorists have been
re-categorized from "Tiresome" to "A Bloody Nuisance." The last time the
British issued a "Bloody Nuisance" warning level was in 1588, when
threatened by the Spanish Armada.

The Scots have raised their threat level from "Pissed Off" to "Let's get
the Bastards." They don't have any other levels. This is the reason they
have been used on the front line of the British army for the last 300

The French government announced yesterday that it has raised its terror
alert level from "Run" to "Hide." The only two higher levels in France are
"Collaborate" and "Surrender." The rise was precipitated by a recent fire
that destroyed France's white flag factory, effectively paralyzing the
country's military capability.

Italy has increased the alert level from "Shout Loudly and Excitedly" to
"Elaborate Military Posturing." Two more levels remain: "Ineffective
Combat Operations" and "Change Sides."

The Germans have increased their alert state from "Disdainful Arrogance"
to "Dress in Uniform and Sing Marching Songs." They also have two higher
levels: "Invade a Neighbor" and "Lose."

Belgians, on the other hand, are all on holiday as usual; the only threat
they are worried about is NATO pulling out of Brussels .

The Spanish are all excited to see their new submarines ready to deploy.
These beautifully designed subs have glass bottoms so the new Spanish navy
can get a really good look at the old Spanish navy.

Americans meanwhile are carrying out pre-emptive strikes, on all of their allies, just in case.

New Zealand has also raised its security levels from "baaa" to "BAAAA!". Due to continuing defence cutbacks [the air force being a squadron of spotty teenagers flying paper aeroplanes and the navy some toy boats in the Prime Minister's bath], New Zealand only has one more level of escalation, which is 'Croikey, I hope Austrulia will come end riscue us.' In the event of invasion, New Zealanders will be asked to gather together in a strategic defensive position called "Bondi."

Australia , meanwhile, has raised its security level from "No worries" to
"She'll be alright, Mate." Two more escalation levels remain: "Crikey!",
"I think we'll need to cancel the barbie this weekend", and "The barbie is
cancelled." There has never been a situation which has warranted the final threat level. 

Monday, September 17, 2012

No-Sauce Pasta

I know this will probably make many of you laugh, but for a long time, if I had a box of pasta and no pasta sauce (or ingredients to make said sauce), I was at a loss of what to do! In case you're like me, thought I'd help you out.

No matter what kind of pasta, add:

-olive oil
-garlic (I use minced)
-oregano, parsley, basil or any other spice you care for that's Italian-ish
-parmesan cheese or chunks of mozzarella if you have it

The amount depends on your taste! Just keep adding and tasting until you're satisfied. If you have veggies, I would add them - fresh tomatoes and a steamed green would be especially nice to toss with this.

Also, in case you want your mind blown, please check out this post at Like Mother, Like Daughter to learn how to CURE YOUR OWN SALMON. I love lox with a fierce passion and this post lit me on fire. I'm going to try it this week...I'll let you know if we get sick and die!

Hope you had a lovely Monday!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Sunday Morning Musings, Vol. 2

I hope fall is coming to my L'Orangerie...a walk this morning at 9:30 gave me good breezes and sunshine that wasn't quite as harsh. No hint of a crisp breeze, but that's not what we'd get here anyway to signal a "season change." Please forgive my weather obsession here; I think it's my way of missing all the places I cannot be (Alabama, DC, Orlando).

My nose is perma-clogged, apparently another lovely side effect of pregnancy, so sleeping is a bit more daunting - I'm up frequently and have a hard time getting back to sleep. As Mr. O left early for work this morning, he sweetly said "please go back to sleep; you're sleeping for three!" (including himself in the number) Isn't it wonderful to love and be loved? When I reflect on all my smallness of soul and my battles with my own selfishness, I am amazed by the love of my husband - and by the God who planned it all, who knew what was coming even while I was asking for other, poorer substitutes.

Yesterday, I had two particularly grace-filled experiences. Although we thought we'd missed it, we rushed to a nearby parish - and the Father was there, waiting in the confessional. Thank goodness he was! I needed that soul-cleansing and he was such a lovely Dominican confessor; the perfect combination of a detailed exhortation to rid myself of a particular sin and a humble penance.

Then, last night, we had a lovely dinner with friends and a great priest, Fr. John Gallagher. He inquired of me what, as a convert, made me comfortable with Mary. I thought and thought; I clumsily referenced my pilgrimage to France and my relationship with Mr. O, who has such a great devotion to her. But I talked myself round to a central point: marriage and pregnancy. That has made all the difference in the world. In the Protestant traditions that I was a part of, being anti-Mary made sense, because I had no link to her - she was a perfect model of virginity, motherhood, spousal love, and homemaker. As Protestant traditions divorce the family from the center of their churches, embracing divorce and contraception, Mary must necessarily be bumped aside - she can have no place in a church where the family is not honored, as she is the center piece of the Holy Family. As the family breaks down, and motherhood is no longer revered, she must be a footnote to the story of Christ; her greatness is necessarily devalued because the hearth is devalued in our own world.

Leighton "Mother and Child" 

But being Catholic and then creating my own family suddenly gave me fresh insight and a hunger for Mary: I saw the sacredness of this vocation, and the need in all people for a home with a mother. Afterall, "she [Mary] is more mother than queen!" (St. Terese of Lisieux) - and Christ was formed at her knee. I have realized the gift it is to keep a home, to encourage others to come and rest in it, and I have seen the destructive power of a home that is not a place of love, prayer, and service. The more society puts the home and family in its proper place of reverence and respect, the greater Mary will be honored!

"Never be afraid of loving the Blessed Virgin too much. You can never love her more than Jesus did!" - St. Maximilian Kolbe

Saturday, September 15, 2012

7 Quick Takes!

Hosted this week over at Camp Patton!

My bff Colleen and I were laughing about how teachers tend to use the word "bully" to describe rude people - it's the buzz word in education right now! As a rule, I'm not a fan of the word and think it's not often applicable. However, bullies do exist. Like the people at the parish who try to get you involved in their ministries and do not take no for an answer. A person of this persuasion was trying to convince a friend of mine to attend a retreat; my friend declined, citing that since I was expecting a baby at that time and she had committed to help me, she couldn't attend. The bully then said "what's more important - your friend's baby or your eternal soul?" 
THAT is a bully. And a theologically incorrect one too. 

Sorry friends, but I had to do it. Jen, Colleen, and Shaelena all being awesome at the fotobooth during our wedding reception! (this was after Jen's bridesmaid dress fell apart in the bathroom...hilarious)

In the news of the crunchy, I MADE MY OWN LAUNDRY DETERGENT. Are you impressed? Don't be, it was totally easy and super cheap (and as I happily found out, very effective). Mix together equal parts Borax, washing soda, and a grated bar of soap (I found all of this in the laundry detergent aisle at Walmart, right next to each other and boldly labeled) and voila, laundry detergent. Seriously. That's it. The most time consuming part is grating the bar of soap. Then, it just takes 1 tablespoon per load, or more if it's a real big one (I used 1.5 tbspn on my towels). I also add 4-5 drops of grapefruit essential oil for a fresh scent (got it at Whole Foods but I'm sure you can get it other places), plain white vinegar for fabric softener on the rinse cycle (does not make your clothes smell), and a rag with some essential oil for a dryer sheet (adds more scent; I really like scents). Search pinterest for "homemade laundry detergent" if you want more details. 
Apparently you can make this as a liquid if you throw all this stuff together with 8 cups of water and boil on your stove? But I can't vouch for that and since I add my detergent as the water is running, it's all dissolved before I put the laundry in anyway. Now if only I can convince my dad to build me a clothesline...hint hint...if you're reading, Dad...

I also made delicious soup last night. In a thrifty challenge, I decided to try to cook using only what we had in the house, even though we just got back from vacation and I consider what we have to be "nothing." (similar to looking in your closet and having "nothing" to wear, despite the racks of clean clothes) So, I made what Mr. O and I dubbed Vacation Soup. Ingredients? Whatever is in your kitchen that isn't nailed down. I used: ground turkey, onion, celery, juice of limes and clementines, roasted peppers, wild red rice, jasmine rice, some chicken broth, ranch dressing mix, enchilada sauce mix, olive oil, cajun seasoning, water. I know that probably sounds totally gross, but it was SO SO good - I just kept sniffing it to see if it smelled like things went together, and they did.  Then I made some french bread and called it a night. 

My other bff is coming to visit in about a month!! Jen of Honduran fame is coming before the baby arrives to help us get ready and she'll stay after the baby comes to help us, since Mr. O does need to work still. We are so grateful and excited to have her, especially since she's a pediatric nurse and I have a fear of somehow killing my newborn with my ineptitude. Oh, and because she's loads of fun! 

The lovely Jen, on my wedding day, re-writing her speech 

We had our first childbirth class on Thursday night. Ah, it was so great and so hippie. We are doing the Mongan method of Hypnobirthing, so it's a lot of meditation and deep breathing. I like this method a lot because it focuses on confronting mental blocks before you get to labor, and like my mom says, "birth is just like a marathon - it's mind over body." Since I'm a person that likes to live in my head, I think this will be a good technique for us to learn. And if I do am not able to self-hypnotise or meditate during my birth, at least my mom will be there so I can scream at her! (kidding! hopefully!) 

Getting dressed now officially makes me tired. 35 weeks today! It's the home stretch for Sweet Baby O and I. I can't believe we get to meet her soon. What will she look like, what is her temperament, whose hair will she get, how big will she be? I just keep laughing - here comes this big change in this little package, and the only thing I can do is wait for it! I have no control over who she is, or when she'll come, or what life will be like afterwards. To think I've traveled the world in search of excitement and waiting for me back home was the biggest damn adventure I could have ever dreamed of. 

I also observed to Mr. O that these past nine months have been very demanding spiritually. I have a deep respect for all women who have children, who willingly endure pregnancy because of the call to motherhood. Pregnancy has been facing an entire selfish side of myself that I have never looked at this bluntly before. For me, it has been a 35-week long pitched battle between me and my own weakness, and most of the time, I've been losing. This is definitely my vocation, because nothing has so brought me to my knees and made me realize my need for God's grace. Praise Him that I am given it so freely and abundantly! 

Gratuitous photo of my vocation - at the very beginning of our courtship, during a visit to the Indiana Dunes. Isn't he adorable?

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Discrimination v. Common Sense?

That seems to be the way the debate is framed over the American University professor who brought her baby to class and breastfed her. You can read the WaPo article or I can give you the highlights: single mom wakes up the morning of the first day of class to discover her baby has a slight fever, which means daycare is out, so what should she do? Cancel class and take a sick day, or bring her baby with her to the 75 minute lecture that kicks off her feminist anthropology class? She chose the latter.

So now we have one group brandishing feminist pitchforks and yelling, "it's her right, this is why women hit obstacles in their professional lives!" (discrimination) and the other side sticking their noses in the air and huffing, "it's unprofessional" (which they frame as common sense).

Maybe AU could've solved the issue by posting signs like these in the classrooms?

I'm not a, uh, lactivist (that's the term, right...) I don't think. I probably don't want to breastfeed in front of the whole world. But I still think I side with the pitchforking feminists. Here's why: despite my post the other day on how the pro-life movement isn't defined by our feelings on government-mandated charity, I do think there are policies and attitudes that move us towards a more pro-life culture that do not touch directly on abortion. That's not to say that you have to embrace these ideas in order to call yourself pro-life, but more that it might help to consider creative ways to transform culture towards being more pro-woman and pro-child.

I think this is one of those cases.

Rosie wore a button-down just for breastfeeding purposes, obviously.

The medical establishment finally has gotten something right and recognizes that breast is best (something God knew from the beginning, but since doctors think they're God they sometimes get confused about natural law) - and the Church encourages this. The Church also recognizes the incredible value of women in the workplace (see especially section 4 of that letter): that women ought to be encouraged to use their God-given talents to enrich the world. But sometimes, being a mother and having a job conflict. In these cases, it might be a good idea to have some flexibility so that women feel supported in their decisions. This doesn't mean that all women can breastfeed at work, necessarily; for some jobs in particular it would be disastrous (parish organist comes to THAT would be multitasking!). But it does mean that if a situation like this arose, the University could shrug it's shoulders and say "it happens." She took her child to work, once, for extenuating circumstances, and while the child was there, it needed to eat. Shouldn't that just be the end of the story?

There's some speculation that this lady did it for show. Sure, that's possible. But the principle can be discussed nonetheless. If we really believe that women should be part of the workplace, and we really believe that children should be breastfed, then maybe we need to craft policies that recognize this reality (there was a good post on this a few years ago at the ever-wonderful Blacktating). Women can't be separated from who they are biologically; we can't say we want women's brains, but not the rest of their bodies. This is the feminism that is stupid: respect women because we can act like men! No, respect women holistically by restructuring some aspects of society to value what does not have a price tag. If we say we want women to be able to have families and work, simultaneously, then we need to recognize that the workplace will have to change. Because we can't make our boobs detachable.

My inspiration is Italian Parliament member Licia Ronzulli, proudly wearing her baby while attending a session of Parliament to vote. 

Monday, September 10, 2012

It Gets REAL

Here we are, I am 34 weeks and two days, which means I'm already thinking "uh, I'm basically 35 weeks" (do not ask how this logic works, it doesn't). Which means that I am now slowly realizing that as soon as I get home from this vacation, it's gonna get real. No more baby denial. No more "oh yeah we've picked out a carseat, we just haven't bought it yet" or "yeah I know the nursery needs carpet and a glider, but I haven't found what I absolutely love" or any of that. No, no. As soon as we get back, it's on.

To avoid the cursing, doncha know

So what have I done to prepare myself on vacation? More prayer maybe? Journaling? Reading the helpful handouts my birth class instructor sent out? No, I've been re-reading Twelfth Night and making Tom walk two miles to find me cotton candy (spun sugar is faaabulous). NOT HELPFUL. 

At this point, I am just not sure my brain wants to be any more prepared. There comes a certain point where you're on advice and information overload and the only thing left to do is actually do whatever the hell it is you're preparing for. I am tired of hearing "just wait, your life is about to change!" and all the rest. I'm just ready to experience the change for myself. I'm ready to accept the weight of being a mother, or at least, as ready as I can be for this sort of unknowable-reality. 

So, since I am about to go into full-blown nesting psycho-ness, I'll just ask: is there anything you recommend doing before baby comes? Leave a comment if you'd like, or you can get at me on twitter or facebook. Last night at dinner with one of Tom's best friends he suggested LIVE TWEETING the birth. (live tweeting is where you send out tweets, or messages under 140 characters, periodically during a specific event as it happens) That seems a little intense to me, not to mention a lot of the people I follow on twitter are law school peeps and that could get super awkward super fast, but I'm still considering it. 

Friday, September 7, 2012

7 Quick Takes: Vacation Style

Courtesy of Jen at Conversion Diary! 

Today it rained and so it is now 66 degrees. Although not the snow storm I had prayed for, it's close enough! I walking around wearing a scarf and a long cardigan. Joy!! 

Today on one of my favorite Facebook pages, Mama Birth, they asked "Tell the truth - do you like other people's kids, or just your own?" I found this question to be intriguing, especially because so many women said that their feelings had changed (for good or ill) after having their own children. Since I now have 19 years of childcare experience, exclusively with other people's children, I am waiting to see if having my own children will change my regard for wee ones - because I like children far more than adults. What I usually mind is parents, but children? Well so far I like them just fine! 

I had a minor meltdown in Marshalls yesterday, staring at summer dresses on clearance and thinking "oh  my gosh, when will I ever be my normal size again?" I realize this may come across as shallow and silly, but a thought keeps persisting at the back of my mind that I may be facing a very different life now - a life where I sacrifice my desire to be in great shape, my ability to put my fitness first, for a family. I'm certainly not advancing the idea of throwing in the towel on being attractive, but if I'm on a cycle of pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding...then it won't be very easy to have a body that's just "mine" for quite some time - for years, in fact, if God does bless us with a big family. Despite my complicated "relationship" with my incarnational self, I love my body. It has carried me through great rugby games and a difficult half marathon, it has rocked a bikini and an old fashioned one piece, it's reminded me of where I come from and that I'm strong enough to get where I want to go. And now that I'm putting my body to its greatest use, to be sacrificed, stretched, and scared, all for love, I'm finding I am starting to miss it already. 

Despite loving my body, when someone made a comment the other day about how heavy I am, I sat in my shower and cried for a good 30 minutes. I love my baby and the belly I have that shows she is so close to being here; I still fight to love my limited physical abilities now that I'm carrying her. I miss being able to do yoga (thanks, carpel tunnel), run (thanks huge belly), or even walk for long periods of time (thanks swelly feet and exhaustion). But I don't think I'd miss it as much if I hadn't gotten that comment. 

Heartburn is my newest symptom. It's highly uncomfortable. I am learning to be content in physical infirmities for the first time in my life. Please do me a favor! If you have any special intention or know anyone who does, please tell me, so that I might offer up these last six weeks and any discomfort of labor for you or your loved ones. Mr. O and I are starting our list for all those for whom we wish to offer up our suffering and we'd love to pray for you too. 

I wanted to write more about politics, but I didn't. Aren't you proud?

If you need someone to pray for or a new blog to read, may I suggest 11 On My Own? I am amazed at what she has had to deal with while raising her children and am awed by her strength and tenacity in the face of suffering. This definitely helps me to count my gratefuls and to pray for her as a member of the Body of Christ. 

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Ramblings: Vacation Style

Here I am in Indiana, Mr. Oram's homestate, and I am majorly digging 80 degree weather that feels more like 72 to me due to lack of humidity. Why do we live in southwest Florida again...oh right! Silly thing called a job... 

So, here I am and having a ball. I love Mr. O's family and am happy to be here. What I'm not happy about are the pregnancy symptoms that are popping up, the ones I foolishly thought I had avoided. Humongous flipper feet, heartburn, and nasty breakouts, oh  my! To be honest, I am starting to be over being pregnant, which makes me sad - I always wanted to one of those starry-eyed women that just loves being pregnant, the earthmother type that quietly smiles to herself while rubbing her taut belly. Turns out I'm just the normal selfish, I-want-a-waist-again kind that is also fairly freaked out about caring for another human. Who nominated me for this job!? 

I usually don't have to pay attention to politics, but unfortunately, Catholics keep getting dumber and that makes me angry. The latest to really get my goat was written by Joan Chittister (I know, why should I even care?) but published on a blog that is a favorite of the ever-hilarious Callah Alexander. Did you follow that? It's a quote by a woman posted on a blog that is a favorite of one of my favorite other words, "seriously, Martha, we need to find more important things to be angry about." Buuut don't take away my righteous indignation! Here's the quote: 

"I do not believe that just because you’re opposed to abortion that that makes you pro-life. In fact, I think in many cases, your morality is deeply lacking. If all you want is a child born but not a child fed, not a child educated, not a child housed and why would I think that you don’t? Because you don’t want any tax money to go there. That’s not pro-life. That’s pro-birth. We need a much broader conversation on what the morality of pro-life is."

There are so many things that are wrong with this quote. First of all, guess what, Sister? When I say "I don't want you to kill your unborn baby," that means I'm pro-life. I am against murder. Bang! Pro-life. I don't have to volunteer to babysit your kid, feed your kid, house or educate your kid, in order to say I don't want your child to die. That's idiotic in the extreme. Just because I think murder is wrong, doesn't mean I have to do anything but pass a law and pay my prosecutor to make it so. Nice try at guilt tripping me, but I don't have to do ANYTHING ELSE to be pro-life except believe that killing people (unborn children included!) is wrong and work towards making that illegal. Period. 

Secondly, I'm not pro-life because I think tax payer money shouldn't take care of children? Go back to school and get an economics degree, or read a book that isn't by someone who lives in fairy-tale land. I don't want there to be starving children. It's why I tithe to organizations that feed children; it's why I volunteer at places that feed starving children; it's why I am against the Blaine Amendment in Florida that prevents state money from supporting faith-based groups that help the poor. The federal government is horrible at managing money (please someone, try to argue otherwise - I want to know if you're as good at lying as our President is!) and they can't really afford to do this right now. Do you mean state money? Okay, lets talk about that. But I hope you're talking about states that manage their money well - like Massachusetts, where Mitt Romney turned their budget around and made good decisions for the poor, or Florida, where we have a requirement to balance the budget every year (unlike the Fed, that apparently doesn't even NEED a budget!). Because states can't just throw money away either and be expected to just be endless piggy banks. 

You, Sister. You are the people who used to take care of the poor and vulnerable and childless. My job was to take care of my home and my children, and any families in my community that I could - and your job was to do it in a more radical way. That was religious life used to be. Remember that? Poverty, chastity, obedience. Those are your vows. 

You don't get to define the pro-life movement, Sister. Go get your own movement. Wait! You have one. It's called being a liberal shill. Enjoy that! 

I'm done now. But seriously, I hope Catholics aren't listening to this crap. We are smarter than this. If we aren't, then we need to be.