Monday, April 25, 2011

Personal Breastfeeding Story

I grew up thinking breastfeeding is just what mommy's do. I don't know why I believed that since my mom didn't breastfeed me. Maybe the word had gotten out that "breast is best". I probably had more practical reasons though. It was free and easy.
I really hate bringing up this story because it pains me when I have to relive it but here it goes anyway. I nursed my 1st born for only 2 weeks. It was the most painful 2 weeks of my life. In that 2 weeks, I did a lot of supplementing with formula to give me a chance to heal. It was no use. I gave up. I remember the pain I felt forking out $10 per can of formula at the check out counter. We were broke and my baby was drinking 2-3 of these cans a week! He was getting out of control fat too. Another painful memory I have is picking up a bottle and not knowing if it was still good or not. I always gave it to him anyway because of the cost. It twisted my stomach to have to toss it down the sink. With baby #2, I was more diligent about making sure I did everything right. I had all the lactation supplies and never fed my baby without a nurse or lactation consultant by my side to make sure everything was going according to plan. On the day I left the hospital, I felt the pain starting. I KNEW I was doing everything right. By day 4, I had already given up. If there are any lactation consultants reading this, let me tell you exactly what made me give up so easy. It was just one comment that my consultant told me in the hospital. She said, "It's not supposed to hurt." She was not the last person to say that to me either. It is not rude by any means. It was just the deal breaker when it did start to hurt. Since I knew I was doing everything right (the 2nd time anyway) and it still hurt?... That must mean that I was not capable of breastfeeding. Its like telling someone with a hurt arm that it is not supposed to hurt. Well, it hurts so it must be broken.  I was broken, so I quit. I would like to tell all breastfeeding guru's out there....for some women, it can hurt. And it can hurt really bad.
Four years go by before I had another baby. In that time, I started hanging out with the homeschool moms. Everyone was breastfeeding and I was so jealous. I prayed and begged God to let the breastfeeding work for me. I was going to do whatever I could to make it work. I did it too. I read every piece of literature on breastfeeding that I could find to keep myself motivated. I remember reading the top 3 problems babies have if they were not breastfed; Ear infections, speech impediments, and eczema. My poor first babies had all of that. I did that to them! I made them sick and itchy because they didn't get my milk. That motivated me. Yes, it still hurt like hell but I did my own thing this time. I didn't buy the normal supplies. I bought Vaseline and pain pills. Prescription kind of pain pills. I took 2 pain pills at a time, every 4 hours for a week and was coated with Vaseline at all times. It worked! The memory of feeding my Samantha for the first time with NO pain is still etched in my memory. It was only on one side but hey, I'll take it. The kids enjoy having a drugged up mommy anyway. win-win
So, has it gotten any easier with the more kids I had? NOPE! As a matter of fact, it took 2 full weeks and even more pain and more pain pills with this last baby. The doctors tell me that the pain pills will have little effect on a newborn but that information didn't sway me. I knew that I could nurse him out of any addiction I gave him:) I can't give up my Vaseline but I have been able to pass the Vaseline baton to coconut cream after a couple days. That is much tastier and healthier  for my baby.
I love how God throws me a curve ball every once in a while. Just when I get myself convinced of something, God gives me a child that disproves it. I had ONE baby where I didn't take any pain pills at all in those first few days. That would be Josie. I am quite sure I didn't have any pain because I had just stopped nursing the baby before her (Ben) just 2 months earlier. But, at least I got one break.
I plan on having a blog on all the benefits of breastfeeding and why I have a goal of nursing for at least 2 years. Yes, I said "at least". It still makes me want to laugh when anyone looks at me with those big eyes and appalled look and says, "can you believe that anyone would breastfeed for 2 years!!!!" When I ask anyone why they think 2 years is too long, all I can get is, "its looks wrong....the baby's legs are hanging out...they pull up mom's shirt in public.." I think my answers will win that rebuttal. Stay tuned. Maybe your one of those people that has better points for not nursing for 2 years or more. Let me know so I can address it. Before you do though, your subject will have to be about why this is NOT good for the baby. In this very "me" centered world, I get so many "I wanted it...I didn't like it...I'M offended...I this and I that". Well, I'M not interested. lol. Stay on topic....the best of baby topic.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Meet Mary Kate's boyfriend!

Mary Kate is my 16 year old daughter with special needs. She has “claimed” to have a boyfriend for 10 years. The SAME boyfriend. With all my other children, it has been made clear that there are no boyfriends or girlfriends until they are a year or two away from being marriage-ready. Special needs kids break all the rules. Its kind of funny. We joke about all the things she is allowed to do that the other kids aren’t like going to school, having a boyfriends, going to prom, going on an overnight with her sports team, etc.

Here and there, you will hear about Mary Kate’s boyfriend. He is 19 years old in May. When people hear that, they hear “boy” and “19” above anything else. They look at Mary Kate and see her child like mentality and then look at me with the “What the heck?” look. I know, I know. An explanation may be in order.  Mary Kate having a 19 year old boyfriend sounds bad so let me introduce you to him.  

Mary Kate met Chris in elementary school when she was 6 and he was 9. He has spina bifida and has had some slow growth. Even with growth hormones, he stands at 52 inches tall and 58 pounds. Being 3 years apart kept them from seeing each other in school. He went off to Middle School leaving Mary Kate behind. Neither one of them used the phone so the only time they really saw each other was on Monday nights in May and June for T-Ball with the Exceptionals and at Special Olympic events about 3 times a year. They held firm that they were boyfriend and girlfriend though. They were committed.  When Mary Kate was being introduced to one of her new classmates, she told the teacher, “I already have a boyfriend.” In which the teacher replied, “Mary Kate, I’m not trying to set you up.” When another boy was showing interest in her, she made it clear that they are just friends and that she was spoken for. If these were “normal” kids, I would be appalled and trying to get them in my Theology of the Body class STAT. But, this is a different life.

Recently, the original Sound of Music was coming back to theaters for one day. By the way, this is the funniest Nick story we have so read on. Mary Kate is in deep, deep love with the Sound of Music. Since I can count on one hand everything Mary Kate loves, we have to jump on these opportunities when they come. I thought, “why not make this special for her and invite Chris too.” I couldn’t go because I had a young, nursing baby. So, I told Nick that he was going to have to take the love birds. He was not happy. He had to miss an important soccer game for this. I decided that it would be best for Nick to have the kids at the movies before I told him it was a sing-a-long. Give me a high five for that decision! I texted him the news and he came back with some capital letters that weren’t too pleasant sounding. This makes me laugh. His capital letters and exclamation points are not too intimidating to me. He walks into the theater and sees a sea of white and blue hair. He finds a seat and slouches in his seat with the typical attitude of a teenager. THEN, lo and behold, in walks one of his other homeschool buddies with his parents. He is hiding his head as well. LOL. I’ve been instructed not to reveal his name. Sorry. Lol. After about an hour of Nick singing along and hearing and watching Mary Kate wiggle and giggle and singing in delight, I sent him another text. See. I like to give him unpleasant news in increments. It just helps. It helps him and it helps me continue enjoying this evening. I had “forgot” (wink, wink) to tell him that Chris falls asleep around 8:00 and he will have to be carried back to the van. Again, more capital letters of some sort. I am laughing very hard at this point. At about 8:15, Chris is sound asleep in a theater full of loud Sound of Music lyrics. Nick crawls over to his friend and whispers in his ear, “When this is over, you take his feet and I’ll carry his head.” Thankfully for Nick, Chris woke up when he started getting manhandled by Nick and walked himself to the van. I know that Nick really enjoyed himself. Sometimes when things get so out of whack, it just starts to get funny. With Mary Kate and Chris, everything is always out of whack so even though Nick himms and haws, he really enjoys spending time with them.

Nick is giving Chris a noogy

I am not worried about Mary Kate’s relationship with Chris. It is so pure and good and innocent. They are kind and generous to one another. They walked arm and arm all night at prom. Even when the tables and chairs were getting in the way, they would not let go. They would rather push and squeeze and knock over chairs then to let go of each other.

I hope one day that everyone gets to meet Chris and experience their relationship. It is quite a unique site and even a more unique relationship.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Grandparents Raising Grandkids

It is so hard to leave a one or two sentence status on Facebook and have everyone understand the whole picture. I did that recently when I posted my displeasure with grandparents raising their grandchildren. Sometimes I take for granted that everyone will know what I'm talking about. The grandparents understood. Go figure. I want to make myself more clear so that if anyone is offended, it will be with all the information and not with a couple sentences. Being offended is not the be all and end all of what everyone needs to avoid. Sometimes the truth is difficult to hear.
I have the benefit of being an outside viewer of the daytime world. I get to be at the zoo during the day, the park during the day, the store during the day, etc. Working mom's and dad's do not get to see this as often as I do. So, here I am to tell you what I see and what bothers me.
I have so many examples , I don't know where to start. Let me begin with a few experiences I have had
#1 As I am walking around Science City with a couple of my kids, an older man looks at me, points and says to his wife, "Look, its a real mom with her kids." My eyes metaphorically opened for the first time. He was right. Nearly all the kids there were accompanied by their grandparents.
#2  I was in the park one day watching my kids play. The old man beside me called for his granddaughter to come home. Not only did she not come but she was hateful and rude about it. I can't tell you the rage I have when anyone, in spite of their age, is rude to our elderly. I wanted to do unthinkable things to this girl. I wanted to help the old man but I knew that would entail pulling and dragging and possibly some humiliation on grandpa's part so I left. I couldn't watch it.
#3  I'm at Pizza Street and see Grandma and Grandpa with a newborn baby and a toddler. I get sick to my stomach when I see newborns without their Mommy. Dogs don't leave their puppies that soon and they grow 7 times faster than humans. When the baby started to cry, he/she must have cried for about 5 minutes before Grandma was able to get the bottle, unbuckle her, pick her up and get situated back in her seat.
#4  I go to my neighbors house to tell her what her son had just done with 20 tubes of my toothpaste. She comes out the door and after walking about 10 feet, she says that she can't walk any further because of a broken hip a year ago. Really? This poor woman! How can she keep up with a 7 and 5 year old every day?
#5  The few times I have visited Theresa at school for lunch, I see a Grandpa from my Cub Scout Pack who is also eating lunch with his grandson. He religiously brings him to all the den meetings, and all the Pack meetings and events. It hurts him to have to camp with him but he does it anyway. He has taught this boy well and is very polite and well-mannered. He told me last summer that he doesn't think he should register as a leader because the doctors told him that he may only have a year left to live.
#6  I'm at the grocery store and see a grandma with a baby in the cart and a toddler walking the isles. I watch her shop with a limp and load her car and the kids when I notice that she only has use of one arm.  
#7  Another neighbor raised 3 kids and because of her sisters bad choices, she is now raising 3 more. I could write pages upon pages of the problems she has had to endure. I praise her for taking on this responsibility.
#8  I am at the Pack Meeting with the Cub Scouts. In walks Grandma and Grandpa with their grandson, Caleb. Grandpa has had back pain that comes and goes for several years. Grandma has multiple medical issues that are too numerous to count and many times, she has great difficulty speaking. And she almost always has a problem walking. These grandparents have put aside their retiring years to raise their grandson. I bow in their presence! They will stop at nothing to give their now adopted son the best life possible and will sacrifice everything for him. Why do I want to bow whenever I see them? Because they have taken on a role that SHOULD have belonged to someone else.
If these stories do not pain you then let me explain why they pain me. After all, everyone's entitled to my opinion right?
I do not believe that grandparents are a terrible or last resort choice. They have raised their children and deserve the right to spoil and send home their grandchildren. One of my friends had told me, "I can never explain to you how it feels to be a Grandma." Oh, I long for that feeling! I long for other grandparents to have that feeling. They are robbed of that feeling, in spite of the circumstances, when they have to turn into a mom and dad all over again. Think of the difference between finding out your going to be a grandparent and finding out your pregnant again when your 55. Yeah. Big difference isn't it! One is a feeling of excitement, shopping, anticipation, smiles and giddiness. The other is, "What the HELL??!!"
After we grow up and leave the nest, I feel like it is time for the tides to turn. Now, we are grown, able adults that need to serve our parents. We need to fix the leak, repair the floor, help build the new deck, take them to the doctor, provide them comfort and to never ever ask anything in return. They have served their time, defended their country, spent thousands of dollars on you, raised their children. Now it is time to say "Thank you", not, "give me more...oh, and for no pay..please and thank you.."
If the people that replied to my status truly understood what I meant when I said that parents need to step up and raise their own kids then this is how I interpreted their replies...
"Well, I am happy that my grandparents raised me..." What I read is..."I'm so glad my mom was too young and making bad choices to raise me."
"My Mom  really wanted to be my baby's care giver"...What I read is..."My Mom thought she would be a better caregiver then me." I jokingly asked my mom when she was about 50 years old what she would do if she got pregnant. She laughed and said, "I would give the baby to you." There was much wisdom in that response. She knew the best upbringing for her baby would be with a young energetic Mom and not one that was done and retired from it. And not just any young, energetic mom either. Me. What a nice compliment.
"If we didn't have grandparents raising their grandchildren, we would have more kids in the system"...What I read is..."If my parents died today, my kids will belong to the state. Really? Its THAT bad for you?
Where do my opinions come from ? It comes from my upbringing. My mom's siblings always cared and served my grandparents. I never knew that it was any other way.  I don't think they knew there was any other way either. The world was starting to change around us and my mother felt compelled to tell me that she was not going to raise my kids. "You will be a mom one day and I will be a grandma and we are to take on our roles with gusto." So, what happened when I got pregnant out of wed lock? Many....MANY girls and women find themselves asking this question. My answers were different then others. I didn't have the option to pass on my baby to my parents. So I was left with 2 choices...give away my baby to a 2 parent married mommy and daddy or provide the 2 parent mommy and daddy myself. Does anyone see a problem with my only 2 options? They both sound like they were in the best interest of the child and not myself. My mother has wisdom far above and beyond any woman I know. Was I upset that she said she wouldn't raise my kids for me? No way! I learned from an early age that if I bought it, I took care of it...if I damaged it, I replaced it...if I wanted it, I saved my money for it...and if I birthed it, it was mine and I cared for it! Bottom line...if parents insist that they will not be robbed of being a spoiling grandparent and the child understands that parents are to be served and not used then the chances of being in this "grandparents raising grandchildren" role will greatly diminish.
Is there ever a circumstance that would make me ever raise my grandchildren. Absolutely! 
#1  If one of the parents passed away...and all my other children passed away too. I am raising my kids to be fine young people. They have the free will to throw it all away and make bad choices but if they hold fast, I promise you that they will each make a finer parent then me when they are young adults and I'm 60 something.
#2  Daddy is off to war. I will be there every step of the, laundry, shopping, babysitting, etc.
#3 My child becomes an idiot and is a terrible parent...oh, and all my other children are idiots or pass away. lol. See? There's a benefit to having a lot of children. What are the chances that my grandchild has to bypass 7 other aunts and uncles to get to me?
#4  If my child is insistent that he/she is going to work and will put my grandbaby in daycare. I will wait until the last day and finally break down and agree...for equal pay. I'm not a servant! Oh, this is contingent on all my other children refusing this job first. I sincerely believe that a grandparent is a better choice for the child then daycare because they have an invested interest and truly LOVE that child.
#5 If our family decided to live and raise all the growing children in the extended family like they do in other cultures then I would be all over that. These are not the cases I am referring to however.
I think you get the idea.
So, I never addressed the majority of reasons I hear..."We do what we have to do...I have to work...We could never make it on my husband's salary..." To which I respond...Maybe not....BUT, maybe SO and even probably so. People DO do what they have to do and if Mom and Dad are NOT there, people find a way. They always do. My friend lost her job for a year and her kids came back home with her. For a year she couldn't find a job and for a year, every bill was paid and they cut back. When people are backed into a corner, they don't crumble and die or resort to prostitution, they find a way. If your parents died today, you would find a way.  "Let not your heart be troubled."

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Servants of Mary

My daughter, Samantha, has been going to a class at a convent just North of Downtown Kansas City. It is called Servants of Mary. About 8 times a year, a group of girls ages 7-12 spend 3 hours with the Sisters doing activities, praying, playing games, learning about their vocation, and learning more about their faith. The first day I was there, I was waiting for the entire 3 hours inside the convent with my new baby. It was quiet and peaceful. I walked quietly around and observed every room that looked open. I felt like a bored patient waiting for the doctor and playing with all of his "toys" to occupy my time. Each picture was of a religious nature. There were pictures of saints, the Holy Family, Mary and Jesus. Unlike that feeling of being sneaky and afraid of being caught by the doctor, it was a feeling of love and peace. It was like a spa for my soul. Like my soul was being pampered and massaged by a communion of saints. It got me to thinking...Is my home like this? Haha...snap out of it Katy! <eyes reopen and head shakes> Sorry about that. Back on subject....

Samantha and Theresa with one of the Sisters. This is Theresa's first day.

The girls played outdoor games with the Sisters, had snacks and ended the day with the Stations of the Cross
I think that what you have in your home represents what is important to you. If a stranger walked into our vacant home, what would he learn? Would he know we have kids? You betcha. The first thing you see is our family photo surrounded by 8 pictures of each child...and the neighbor girl.... That might throw off the stranger when he passes the Asian girl. LOL. Would he know we are Catholic? I sure hope so.  
When I was a child, my friend  asked me why we worshiped pictures and statues. I always thought that was an odd question. Why would anyone think that we worshiped pictures and statues? I knew they had pictures of family and landscapes and statues of trophy's and even the baby Jesus at Christmas time.  It never dawned on me that they could be worshipping them.  So what is the deal with this misunderstanding?   Just in case that ugly rumor is still in the back of your mind, I would like to correct this. One of the Ten Commandments is used to argue against images..."You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them" (Ex 20:4-5).  But we must take into account Ex 25:18-22 and 36:8-33, where Moses is specifically commanded by God to make images for use in worshipping Him. In Numbers 21:8-9, God commands Moses to make a bronze serpent in order to save those bitten by the poisonous serpents. The Israelites were commanded to look up at the image in order to be healed.  God commands the making of images again in 1 Kings 6-7 when Solomon builds the temple. The Catholic use of images fits in precisely with a biblical understanding of the Ten Commandments. Catholics use physical reminders to focus their souls on the worship of God.
I have also heard the complaint, "Why are Catholics wasting so much money on lavish decorating when all that money could be given to the poor." I understand their point. We have stained glass windows, paintings, statue's, the finest buildings made of jewels, marble. So, where is the Catholic Church getting all of this money to be the #1 charitable denomination in the world? Let me correct myself. It is not only the #1 denomination. It is the #1 denomination over ALL denominations PUT TOGETHER. Wow! Well then? Put simply, when you glorify God first, He blesses you in abundance. Try it. Give to God what is God's in your time, talent and tithe and watch what you get back.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Seder Meal

One thing I like about being Catholic is having a salvation history that dates back thousands of years. The history is not pretty. It is full of sin, death, torture and promiscuity. But without so much suffering we would not see the power of God and the power of His mercy as clear as we do.  We owe a debt of gratitude to our Jewish brothers and sisters who have kept these traditions and rituals so we can all know and understand them today.
In one story in the Old Testament, the Israelites were enslaved in Egypt under the tyranny of one Pharoah after the other.  Here we get to see Gods power and His love for His people...His chosen people. After 9 devastating plagues, Pharoah still refused to let the Israelites leave to the Promised Land that their God had prepared for them. On the last night, God gave Moses the directions that He was to pass on to His people to prepare for the final plague and their departure. On this particular night, the angel of death passed over every home that had the blood of the lamb on their doorposts and went into the homes that did not to smite the oldest son.  The Israelites were already packed and ready to head to their land "flowing with milk and honey". Every year, this passing over is celebrated. Hence the name "Passover".
I had the pleasure of celebrating the Passover with two other families tonight. It was a wonderful experience and one I hope to repeat year after year.

This is our Seder Meal. The Matzoh (cracker), Maror (bitter herbs...aka, horseradish sauce), Karpas (parsley...I already dipped it in my salt water and ate it before I took the picture), Haroset (apples/raisins), and wine.

The little kids get their own table. They sat on cushions which was also symbolic

Urkhatz, the washing of hands

Even the baby participates

This is too cute!

Kerrianne and Samantha at their own table

Let's hold up our first cup together and Bless the Lord! Now lets liquor up the children.

Blessed are you, O Lord Our God, who has set us apart by His word and commanded us to eat bitter herbs

Yep, it was bitter but I am so proud of my picky eater. So proud.

Dip a finger into your cup and let a drop fall onto your napkin, making the cup of joy a little less full as we remember the cost of our freedom

For extra fun, each child got a mask that represented one of each plague.

And this ends our ritual

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Sex, Sex and More Sex

I picked a good title didn't I?! I can hear the ticking of my blog counter going up. LOL.
When I was 12 years old, I babysat for the nice family across the street for 50 cents an hour. One day, I came across a stack of Playboy and Penthouse hiding in the back corner of the parents bedroom closet. I have no idea what would put me in their closet. Most likely, I was just nosey. I like other people's stuff because everyone always had better stuff then us! These were nothing like my dad's Chemistry magazines we had strung all over my house. I thumbed through every page, gasping at every picture. Needless to say, this marriage didn't last. Porn is a multi-billion dollar industry that is totally recession proof. Why? Because we are all so intrigued by sex. Yes, all of us. Including me. But what is the difference between the way I am intrigued by sex and the way a porn addict is? The difference is where we look for our ultimate satisfaction. My ultimate satisfaction is to be in full communion with God and to participate in one-flesh union as a foreshadowing of Christ's union with the least, that is where I want my eyes, ears and heart to be.  Is that where the man addicted to porn looks for his satisfaction? I think not. He looks at pictures and uses women (or his own wife!) as an object to fullfill his desire that we all have.  A desire for love.  But as the song goes, he's "lookin' for love in all the wrong places...looking for love in too many places."  In the words of Dr. Phil, "How's that workin' for ya?"
I feel like one of those brand new born again Christians that has found the answer to life, love and happiness and is desperate to share with the world. Our hearts all yearn for the same thing!  The Pope and Hugh Hefner both have this in common...the desire to love and  to be loved. Which one has found this ultimate satisfaction? Which one found this love and stayed committed until death? For those of us married folk, our spouse can not be our ultimate satisfaction. It sure feels that way in the early years (maybe weeks for some) but soon we find out that marriage is not all that we thought it would be. Why is that? The answer is easy. Our relationship with our spouse can not be our ultimate fulfillment. If we believe that, we will be miserable, trapped and divorced. Marriage and its sexual embrace is just a little glimmer/a tiny foreshadowing of our ultimate satisfaction that awaits us in heaven.
I frequently talk to my kids about "Hollywood" and why so many rich and glamorous stars are on drugs, divorced and depressed. Maybe they just aren't finding enough sex. LOL. I don't think so. They are in a desperate search to find what we all want but they are accepting the counterfeits. Behind every counterfeit is a genuine human desire that is meant to be fulfilled through Christ and his Church. For example...getting drunk and having rampant sex you discover two sacraments: the Eucharist and marriage. Do you remember the apostles after Pentecost? They were all excited, jumping for joy and preaching in the language their listeners understood. They were accused of being drunk...and it wasn't even 9 o'clock in the morning! That kind of intoxication is what we are truly desiring!! Do you see why I am excited? When you find this, you look back on your life and have to ask, "What was I thinking?!!"
"We are made for communion with Christ, and our hearts are restless until we rest in this eternal embrace." - Christopher West

Theology of the Body for Beginners, Christopher West, Ascension Press, 2004