Monthly Archives: February 2011

Diapers Galore!

Modeling the FuzziBunz in Grape



I’ve been meaning to do a post on our experience with cloth diapering, but with all the insanity over here, I haven’t gotten around to it. Until now!

Maggie napped off and on this morning until 11, ate, and then…just hung out. This is a baby that for the last two weeks has cried if while awake she’s not being held. I couldn’t put her down for more than ten minutes if she was awake. Today, she hung out in her swing! I turned it up full speed and she just looked all around the kitchen while I got the stew ready for the crock-pot. She hung out while I washed a few dishes and made some bottles. She just hung out for like 35 minutes! It was amazing.

We took a walk around the block, and she fell asleep in her stroller. I brought her in the house, and I discovered a trick. She loves the stove’s exhaust fan. Seriously. I park her in the kitchen in her stroller and turn on the exhaust fan, and she stays asleep. We came in from our walk nearly an hour ago and she’s still sleeping! I think she also likes 80’s pop hits on Pandora. Who doesn’t?

I almost don’t know what to do with myself. So I decided to post on cloth diapering.

We decided to go with the pocket diapers from FuzziBunz. They are expensive, but easy to use and wash. They come with extra elastic for the legs, as well as two inserts, a newborn and a regular one.

We bought 12 to start with, but realized pretty soon after bringing her home that it wouldn’t be enough, so we bought six more. With having 18 diapers, we wash about every day and a half. When we get down to 3 or 4, one of us starts a load to wash.

The FuzziBunz say you can use them with babies as small as 7 pounds, but some of the reviews said to wait until the baby was a bit bigger. So we used disposable diapers for the first month. At her one month checkup, she weighed a little over eight pounds, so we decided to give them a shot. Also, she had been developing a diaper rash, and I was worried about it getting worse, so I wanted to switch over.

We also stopped using disposable wipes at that time too. I think they were too tough on her skin and contributed to the rash. I bought about 20 of the cheap baby washcloths from Target (they’re listed there as 3.99 for six, but they were on sale for 1.50 for six when I bought them!). They are nice and thin, and great to use for cleaning her up. I spray one end with water from a spray bottle, clean her up, then use the other end to dry her off.

Since she still had diaper rash when we switched to the cloth, I wanted to use something on her skin as a protectant, but I knew that some diaper ointments ruin cloth diapers. I found two, and I like both of them.

– The Baby Bee diaper ointment was recommended by a friend with two girls, and it is really good. It is a zinc oxide cream, but it has essential oils in it, and it smells really fresh. I started using this when her rash was worse, and I use it now if she seems to be more red than normal. A little goes a long way with it. We bought ours at Target.

– The other one that I found, and use every time I change her (unless I use the baby bee balm) is the Diaper Lotion Potion by Kissaluvs (maker of cloth diapers). The lotion potion is a spray. After I dry her off, I do two sprays on her butt, then wait a few seconds and close up the diaper. It’s got witch hazel in it, and its meant to soothe any irritation. It also smells really good, and lasts forever. Sometimes I spritz the diaper pail with it between washings.

Things were going pretty good with the cloth diapers until about a week ago. Before that, she had some leaks, but I figured that’s because she’s not ten pounds yet, and they won’t be as frequent when she weighs more. But, last week the poop explosions started.

The formula she had been on was making her constipated, so we switched to a newborn formula. After a few days on the new formula (which is all milk-based, as opposed to the other, which was milk and soy), she started having, rather than constipation, explosive poop. At first it was only every other day or so, so not too bad. But then, last Wednesday, she had three in one day! I was worried that she might be getting sick, so off to the doctor we went. She didn’t have any signs of illness or dehydration, so we figured it is the formula.

This poop, its so hard to clean off the diapers, even with a sprayer. It’s everywhere, and so messy. So, we decided to switch back to the disposables until we get this figured out (we had some on hand because I keep disposables for the diaper bag when we’re out). We’re still using the cloth wipes, but also some disposable wipes for the really messy ones. The poor thing is having all these poop issues. She’s taking it like a trooper. Her mom, not so much.

Anyway, the cloth diapers are great, and I can’t wait to get back to using them all the time, so I hope these poop problems get resolved soon.

If you use cloth diapers, what kind do you use? Have you been happy with them? There are so many varieties out there, I’d love to know what kinds others have used and liked!


Joyful Cross

This is a post that I do not want to write. This is the post that I’ve rehearsed a thousand times in my head, wondering how do I speak the truth so that I do not make you all turn away? This is brutal honesty, and is there anything more terrifying than that?

I had a feeling that, despite my waiting, and despite how very much I wanted Maggie, that motherhood would not come easily to me. This sense of anxiety turned to dread during the days before Maggie’s birth. I was, of course, so excited to meet her, but I was also realizing how incredibly inadequate I was to accept the herculean task set before me: giving birth to a baby, and then taking her home.

It’s what I dreamed of, what I hoped for, and now that it was only days away, it was what I feared most of all.

Some women seem to gently coast into the choppy sea of motherhood. They don’t seem to mind having a human being physically attached to them for what seems to be 24 hours a day (in all likelihood, it’s probably only 20 or so at the beginning). Even if breastfeeding is painful or uncomfortable, they press on, serenely offering all their pain to the Virgin Mary as their little one latches on for the 12th time that day. They laugh it off as the third spit up of day is followed by a leaky diaper, and all this at 3 am. Some women seem to gently coast into motherhood.

I crash landed.

I loved being pregnant. But I suppose that’s because I am an introvert, and my idea of a good time is spending hours by myself in a quiet house. Which is exactly what I got to do basically every day for the last three months of my pregnancy. Maggie was here, but not really. She was here, but she was not yet interrupting my schedule. I did what I want, when I wanted. It was that way right up until the day before she was born.

In 24 hours I went from being able to do as I pleased, to having to pee on someone else’s timetable.

So it has gone, for the past eight weeks. I have shakily made my way through motherhood, and the truth is, I have not lived up to the expectations I set for myself.

I said I’d exclusively breastfeed “for at least six months”. She had formula by day three, and here we are at 8 weeks, and breastfeeding is over. By the time we got her frenulum clipped, and it healed, we had been using the nipple shield for weeks, as well as supplementing with formula. I couldn’t pump after feedings, because I am home alone all day and she’d scream if I put her down to pump. So I never established enough of a supply, and frankly, it wasn’t worth it to me to go to the ends of the earth to try and do so.

I’m slightly disappointed, and I will try again to breastfeed with another baby (should we be blessed with one) but I can’t say I’m heartbroken. All the pain aside, I never liked breastfeeding. Even during the times when there was only little pain, I still could not wait for it to be over. I never liked the idea that she relied on me (and only me) for nourishment.

It’s been two weeks now that I am alone all week during the day. By the time Atticus gets home on Friday evening, I am spent. Truth be told, I’m usually drained by Thursday morning.

The longest she has slept at one time is four hours (that happened once), and this from an eight week old formula-fed baby. Co-sleeping has turned out to not be as great as we hoped for.

Maggie makes a lot of noise about 50% of the time that she is sleeping. Which means if she’s laying in the bassinet next to our bed, neither of us sleeps very well. So we split the night in half, and we take turns sleeping on the couch or guest bed while she sleeps in her swing or sometimes her crib.

My poor husband gets by on little sleep, because he knows that if I don’t get what can reasonably pass for enough, I will not be able to make it through the day.

I know that I am lucky. I have a healthy baby. None of my stories are all that much different from any new parent’s.  All of this is by way of explaining what’s been going on and how it’s helped me to to understand a simple (yet very complex) truth, which is this:

Motherhood is the most joyful cross you will ever be crucified on.

Motherhood is so joyful, to be sure. But a cross it is, and crucified you will be. Motherhood is a tool that God is using to break me down, to make me confront my own selfishness and sin. Maggie’s relentless and exhausting need makes me see just how hard my heart really is. It’s like a stone in the bedrock being smoothed out by the rushing water of the river above.

Motherhood entails suffering, but it is not the same kind of suffering as illness, death, or disaster. It’s the suffering of purification. I am being purified by fire, and it burns like hell. You see, I knew it would be hard, being a mother. But I did not expect it hurt. But the pain, the exhaustion, the anger I feel are the parts of me that need to be pruned, being stripped away.

It is God trying to teach me a new way to be. I pray each day that I will learn the lesson.

If any of you seasoned veterans of motherhood have any wisdom to share, I would be so appreciative.

7 Quick Takes Friday

7 quick takes sm1 7 Quick Takes Friday (vol. 117)



*** 1 ***

In case you aren’t friends with me on Facebook, I’m just going to come right out and tell you that today is my birthday. I’m 27. So I guess that means I’m in my “late twenties” now? Or would 28 be more “late twenties”? Who knows.

*** 2 ***

Tonight Atticus and I are having a baby-free date. Last Friday night we were baby-free, but that was because we were attending our friends’ wedding. I was in the bridal party, so I didn’t actually get to see Atticus for any of the ceremony (which was a *beautiful* solemn high EF Mass), so it didn’t really feel like a date as much.

But tonight, Atticus’ mom and sister are going to be in town! They are going to babysit while we go out for delicious tapas cuisine and sangria (yes! please!). Also, the restaurant we are going to, it has this cake that makes me want to kiss the creator of it (don’t tell Atticus!). It’s a tres leches cake, and eating it is a little bit like being in love. Yeah, I plan on rolling home.

*** 3 ***

Speaking of rolling, we just got some girl scout cookies last night! I was a girl scout from ages 5-15. I loved it; especially going to camp every single summer for like 8 years. I even went back and worked for three summers at the same camp during college.

Some people don’t let their daughters join the girl scouts (or buy cookies from any scouts) because the national organization accepts money from Planned Parenthood. I get that, and if it’s what their conscience is telling them to do, then more power to them.

The troop I belonged to growing up was run by moms from my church. It seems like there is some disconnect between what’s happening in troops, and what’s happening nationally in leadership.

Also, I know for me, my cookie sales paid for camp every year. So I’m always happy to buy a few boxes from local girls. And let’s be real, it’s not like they taste like cardboard.

Eating samoas all day long is no martyrdom.

*** 4 ***

Speaking of my pants not fitting (see above), I’m going to look for some this weekend. Atticus’ sister and I are going shopping tomorrow! I’m excited to have some girly hang-out time.  I need pants, pronto. One pair of my pre-pregnancy jeans fit, but none of my pre-pregnancy church pants fit. I’m hopefully going to find some dressy black pants, and maybe a dress for Maggie’s baptism (in two weekends!).

Wish me luck: eight weeks postpartum and willingly going into the dressing room. That might be some kind of martyrdom.

*** 5 ***

Look for a post next week about how motherhood is kicking my @#$.

*** 6 ***

There are some changes-a-comin’. I decided I wanted a blog makeover for my birthday, so I’m getting ready to start that process. I’ve been looking around, and hope to go with a designer from Freckled Nest, a Canada-based design site. Keep your eyes peeled for a new look!

*** 7 ***

And here she is, ready for spring:


I make pretty people, if I do say so myself.😉

Happy weekend friends!

In which I get up on my soapbox…


I try really, really hard to avoid Church politics, which is actually not that hard most of the time, since, in some kind of miracle, I had been very blessed to have many friends who love the Church as much as I do.

But every once in a while I see something that truly makes me want to bash my head against a wall crying, “Why God? Why?”

Some theologians in Germany (not to be confused with *the* German theologian of the day, Pope Benedict XVI), wrote a letter to the Church. That was nice of them.

I’m really glad I found this and can adjust my life accordingly.

The first two paragraphs address the sexual abuse crisis that has plagued the Church in recent years. Apparently it only really matters now since it has been an issue in Germany in the past year. Where were the good German theologians in 2002 when the crisis was at its peak in the US? Just curious.

I mean, I get it. The sexual abuse within the Church was a terrible, horrible thing. Any and all priests who were found to have done that should have been de-frocked and turned over to the police, as I’d expect anyone who abuses children to be. However, what really frosts my cookies is when people take the opportunity to take advantage of those who have been abused in order to push their agenda. Which, would you believe it, is exactly what these theologians then proceed to do.

The level of self-importance which comes from statements like this is truly astounding:

We consider ourselves responsible for contributing to a true new beginning: 2011 must be a Year of Departure for the Church.

Yes, that’s right. A bunch of theologians hardly anyone has ever heard of would like us all to drop the Church fathers and 2000 years of Tradition faster than a sack of hot potatoes, jump ship, and ride with them into the sunset. Where do I sign up?

In the past year, more Christians than ever before have withdrawn from the Catholic Church. They have officially terminated their legal membership, or they have privatized their spiritual life in order to protect it from the institution.

Now, this is interesting. “Officially terminated their legal membership”?  I know a fair few lapsed Catholics, and I’m pretty certain there’s no exit survey for someone to fill out when they decide to stop practicing their faith. I’m not even sure I know what the second part of that sentence means.

And even if it were true in Germany, even if it were true in all of Europe, even if it were true in the US too (which I don’t think it is), it wouldn’t matter. The Church *does not* subsist in Germany, or Europe, or even, *gasp!* the US. All of these places are small parts of the Church, and we’d do well to remember how (in)significant we really are.

We are the mission field. I went to a college that had a major seminary attached to it, and I used to tutor the seminarians in English who came from places like Columbia, India, Nigeria, in order to become priests for us. Because we need them. The doors of the seminaries and religious orders in these parts of the world are bursting at the seams with men and women begging to become part of this Church. Apparently because they’re not part of the academic establishment and don’t live north of the equator, they do not matter. They are not the Church the same way these German theologians are. Not to mention the fact that each year in the US alone, 200,000 people become Catholic either through baptism or by entering full communion as adults.

Moving on, the GT (German theologians) claim that, When it comes to acknowledgment of each person’s freedom, maturity, and responsibility, modern society surpasses the Church in many respects.

Really? So the secular culture’s definition of freedom, meaning “I can do whatever the hell I want, even if it destroys you, me, or anyone else in the process” is superior to freedom understood as the ability to choose and do the good?

So the secular society’s definition of maturity and responsibility which says “If you’re physically capable of slapping a piece of rubber on your genitals, never mind if you’re committed, never mind if you love each other, never mind if you know her(or his) name – you’re a responsible citizen!” is superior to the Church’s definition of responsibility which calls for the absolute highest standards in interpersonal relationships, and which says that true responsibility is a function of love, which lays down its life for the beloved?

Oh absolutely, the world has a few things to teach the Church. I’m so glad the German theologians are here now to show us the error of our ways.

So now that they’ve told us how terrible the Church really is, or, as they say, raised our consciousness, they’ve provided us with a plan of action. Dears.

1. Structures of Participation: In all areas of church life, participation of the faithful is a touchstone for the credibility of the Good News of the Gospel. According to the old legal principle “What applies to all should be decided by all,” more synodal structures are needed at all levels of the Church. The faithful should be involved in the naming of important officials (bishop, pastor). Whatever can be decided locally should be decided there. Decisions must be transparent.
Hmm, where have we seen something like this before? Oh, that’s right. Mainline Protestant churches. You know, the ones that are on rapid decline and fracturing every other year. Like the Anglicans. Hey, didn’t a bunch of them just join the stodgy, Catholic Church?

One of the strengths of the Church, which makes it universal, which is what Catholic means, is that you can walk into a Catholic Church anywhere in the world and hear the Mass. Mass is Mass. It’s in every language, in every place. We went to Mass in Rome when we were there; we speak no Italian, but we were able to follow along, because it’s the same Mass we say here.

GT might say, “well, we’re not talking about changes to liturgy”, but as far as I can tell, even without using this model, there have been enough changes to liturgy, and not all of them good.

What’s to stop a parish from “deciding by consensus” that Jesus isn’t really present in the Eucharist, so what the hey, let’s just do away with the tabernacle? Or, as is more apt to happen, let’s stick Jesus in a coat closet so the drums and guitars can be front and center.

2. Community: Christian communities should be places where people share spiritual and material goods with one another. But community life is eroding presently. Under the pressure of the priesthood shortage, larger and larger administrative entities (Size “Extra Large” Parishes) are constructed in which neighborliness and sense of belonging can hardly be experienced anymore. Historical identity and built-up social networks are given up. Priests are “overheated” and burn out. The faithful stay away when they are not trusted to share responsibility and to participate in democratic structures in the leadership of their communities. Church office must serve the life of communities – not the other way around. The Church also needs married priests and women in church ministry.

I suppose the people writing this are using their experience in Germany to say that “community life is eroding presently”. Because while it’s safe to say that in some parts of the world that may be true, it sure can’t be said for the Church as a whole. Not even close.

Community life in the Church in religious orders that have young women beating down the door to get in, that doesn’t seem much like erosion.

The Church in Africa doesn’t really seem to be eroding either. Hmm. Must be that south of the equator invisibility again.

Personally, I belong to a parish where I’d estimate that 90% of parishoners not only believe what the Church teaches, but they live the faith. There are many, many large families. Even though we have only altar boys, there is never a shortage of servers at Mass. There are always at least six young men serving at each weekend Mass. And what’s more, people go to the Church basement and hang out together after Mass. They go out for brunch or coffee. They go to each other’s homes. There are men’s groups, women’s groups, bible studies. If that’s eroded community, well, it sure doesn’t feel like it.

Finally, we can’t miss that sentence stuck on the end there. Give us married and women priests! But they fail to even offer one sentence telling us why we should abandon Tradition to do things their way. I guess it’s just us thick-skulled hug-the-Vatican Catholics. GT, if you want to win on this one, you’ll have to paint me a picture.

I’m just going to skip the passage where they call for acceptance of contraception and same-sex marriage in the Church, because it makes my eyes bleed.

Let’s keep moving along to the part where they use the word sinners in quotation marks as if a sinner is a mythical creature like a “unicorn”.

5. Reconciliation: Solidarity with “sinners” presupposes that we take seriously the sin within our own ranks. Self-justified moral rigorism ill befits the Church. The Church cannot preach reconciliation with God if it does not create by its own actions the conditions for reconciliation with those before whom the Church is guilty: by violence, by withholding rights, by turning the biblical Good News into a rigorous morality without mercy.

I can only guess what GT is referring to here.

Withholding rights = not letting women and married men be priests, not allowing contraception, fornication, and not accepting same-sex marriage in the Church?

rigorous morality without mercy = thinking that individuals are capable of sinning, and encouraging them to actually seek reconciliation with God through going to confession? That’s my guess anyway.

Violence = the sexual abuse victims.

Well, GT you got one out of three.

And last but certainly not least, they address the liturgy.

6. Worship: The liturgy lives from the active participation of all the faithful. Experiences and forms of expression of the present day must have their place. Worship services must not become frozen in traditionalism. Cultural diversity enriches liturgical life, but the tendency toward centralized uniformity is in tension with this. Only when the celebration of faith takes account of concrete life situations will the Church’s message reach people.

Here come the liturgical dancers! No, seriously. And if you don’t like the fact that you can’t see the consecration taking place because there’s a pretty flag twirling in front of the altar, well then you must just be frozen in traditionalism.

What this really means is: do whatever the hell you (and your newly elected pastor) want. It’s all just a bunch of hocus pocus, right?

Yes, I do know that hocus pocus is an anti-Catholic phrase, making fun of the Latin used during the Mass. That’s right, the Mass used to be in Latin, and in some places (like the parish I go to), parts of it still are! But anyone who likes even one little Latin prayer must be frozen in traditionalism. Brrr.

This is why I avoid Church politics. It just makes me angry. And unlike GT, because I believe that sin is real and I am a sinner, I have to work on things like being angry. Excuse me while I wipe the foam from my mouth and go teach my baby some Latin.

The Dress

Betty had a wonderful post today asking everyone to talk about their wedding gowns. I just love hearing about the dresses that other women wore on their special day. I was so inspired I decided to post a few photos of from my wedding!

I wore a satin A-line gown with ruching at the waist. The little bolero jacket was perfect for Mass. My favorite part of the outfit was the mantilla-veil I wore. It felt so elegant.

This is an artsy-fartsy picture of my veil with my wedding shoes — silver ballet flats I got for ten dollars at Target.

This picture shows the whole gown more clearly.


So what did you wear for your big day? Is there anything you’d change? Head on over to Betty’s and leave your two cents!

6 weeks

Miss Margaret Gianna was born six weeks ago today! Please enjoy a stirring photo montage.


I call this her Thriller pose.



Baby’s first Notre Dame shirt


Look at that face!

Dead Man Walking

I used to write to a man on death row. I started writing to him when I was a junior in college, and I wrote to him every few months for about four years. His name is Vernon. While I was in college, I had the opportunity to visit the jail where he is incarcerated. I wrote this in 2005 after a visit to the prison.

401 East Madison St.

From the smooth, cool, brown leather of the sofa
I hear the buzz of the coke machine, Circa 1975
I’m sitting in a waiting room that could be in
Any hospital, anywhere
But this waiting room, this anywhere,
Is a somewhere so unique
This is where the children and
The mothers and the lovers
Of the condemned sit and wait
To hear a name called.
Then they rise,
Children excited because they don’t understand,
Women dressed to the nines:
“Man these shoes hurt” and “Is my lipstick on straight?”
Primped and prepped for their tête-à-tête;
Half an hour with their very own
Dead man walking.
I see them come in and go out, through
The door that stands between the living
And the living dead;
There above the door, a sign that seems
To be mocking them, saying
“You made a difference.”

What do you think? Any tips/feedback on the writing are greatly appreciated!

7 Quick Takes Friday

7 quick takes sm1 7 Quick Takes Friday (vol. 115)

*** 1 ***

Ladies, what are you doing for Valentine’s Day? I know it falls on a Monday, so any festivities that take place during that weekend count.

We’ve never been really big on V-day, but I think of it as a nice occasion to do something special for/with Atticus. We’re going to have a date at home (because, what else do you do with a six week old around?) and that will be nice. A bottle of wine, some pasta.

Even though we’re boring, I love to hear about other people’s plans. Are you doing anything special with your sweetie or friends?

** 2 **

Atticus is looking for a new suit. So I did a google search looking for tips for buying suits based around body type. I found this really neat website in the midst of my search; The Art of Manliness.

It’s a blog that has posts on various man topics. Atticus has liked reading it, and I’m enjoying it too! Your man might enjoy taking a gander.

** 3 **

In light of the terribly sad situation involving Fr. Euteneuer (former director of Human Life International), I realized that I do not pray nearly enough for our priests. I am going to work on this.

There really is a spiritual battle taking place for all of our souls, and the devil is attacking our priests so much. They need a lot of prayers! St. Michael, pray for us.

** 4 **

Tonight when I saw the weather report for the next week, I cried. I actually broke down and cried. Why? Because in the next seven days, it is going to snow, at least a little, every day but one. The one day that its not going to snow, it’s going to be a high of 20. Thus, the tears.

** 5 **

God bless Pandora internet radio. I can stream it into the living room, and there’s something called “lullaby radio”. Maggie loves it, and I do too! There’s also several classical stations. And everything else. And it’s free.


** 6 **

Maggie attended her first party last weekend! We went to my friend Julie’s bridal shower/bachelorette party. It was a lot of fun! We had a great meal, and told stories about Julie and her fiance. Then the group got dressed in costumes to go ice skating! Maggie and I headed home as the group went ice skating, but we had such a great time!

Here’s a picture of he with Atticus before we left:

** 7 **

Have a great weekend folks! Head over to conversion diary for more quick takes!

Motherless Mothering

When I Am Asked
by Lisel Mueller

When I am asked
how I began writing poems,
I talk about the indifference of nature.

It was soon after my mother died,
a brilliant June day,
everything blooming.

I sat on a gray stone bench
in a lovingly planted garden,
but the day lilies were as deaf
as the ears of drunken sleepers
and the roses curved inward.
Nothing was black or broken
and not a leaf fell
and the sun blared endless commercials
for summer holidays.

I sat on a gray stone bench
ringed with the ingenue faces
of pink and white impatiens
and placed my grief
in the mouth of language,
the only thing that would grieve with me.

My mother died when I was seven and she was 33. She died on her 8th wedding anniversary, though my father was not with her, was not holding her hand as she passed from this life. She died in the hospital where I was born. I can’t begin to imagine how she must have felt; perhaps irony at the moment she realized she was dying, to remember my birth just a few floors away in location, but another lifetime ago in memory. I would have liked to ask her.

She was their only daughter. I am hers. Now I have a daughter.  I have a daughter and she scares the hell out of me.

I watched her be caught by the doctor as she came out of me. I heard her come screaming into the world. When they put her perfect, small body into my arms, and she looked at me with her bright and brand-new eyes, I realized I was in trouble. I loved her right away. The fear came later.

“She’s just a baby, how can you be scared of her?”, you might be wondering. Easy. She’s so small, with a vulnerability that is both beautiful and terrifying. She’s needy and impossible to refuse. Most frightening of all, she is mine.

When she emerged from my womb into the world, she knew nothing of it. Except me. I was her one connection to the vast, cold world. Her very first thoughts, perceptions and sensations of this world occurred in my womb. Such is the height of her need that she is utterly dependent on me without knowing a thing about who I am. Can you imagine such a proposition, such an enormous leap of faith?

Even though I loved Maggie from the moment I saw her (and even before that), I have struggled with feeling resentful of just how much she needs me.  To be frank, its overwhelming. Her cries pierce through me; her squeaks and sighs while she sleeps make me catch my breath in a prayer that goes something like this:

“Dear God, thank you for this amazing, precious person. But really, what were you thinking?”

I love her so much, but I also know how completely unworthy I am to be her mother. I couldn’t begin to love her as much as she deserves. Since we’ve been home with her, I’ve sensed this hesitation in me, this desire to fight getting “too close” to her. I’m not talking physically, because I spend a lot of time holding her or carrying her with me. Really, it’s something less tangible, but which I would have to describe as a hardness of heart.

I don’t want her to need me too much. I don’t want to feel this needed, this necessary to someone else’s existence. This fear of her needing me too much has been showing itself as resentment. Why should she need me more than anyone else? Why shouldn’t she be just as happy with someone else? Why should I have to feed her from my body?

The thing is, before she was born – breast feeding, snuggling – these were the things I was most looking forward to about being her mother. So imagine my surprise when they made me so uncomfortable. For the life of me I couldn’t figure out why. I thought perhaps I was experiencing postpartum depression. Or maybe I was just going crazy. I thought to myself, “Wouldn’t it be great if I could ask my mom about all this? I wonder if she ever felt like this when I was a baby?” Then it hit me:

My mom.

My mom, who will be dead 20 years this June.

My mom, Maggie’s other grandmother. The one she’ll never get to meet. The one she’ll only know from pictures and second-hand stories.

Some wounds rip open again that easily. Ones you think have been closed for years and years. All it takes is one off-handed thought, and the pain rises up in your throat like a poison.

I’ve been fighting letting myself get as close to my daughter as my heart really desires because I don’t want her to need me too much. Just in case.

Just in case…

history repeats itself.
I’m not here as long as I want to be.
she HAS to learn to be just as happy with someone else as she is with me.

It’s not that I’m morbid. It’s that I know what can happen. I’ve lived it, so its not as easy for me to pretend I’ll live forever as it is for others who haven’t lived it yet. I’ve been trying to protect Maggie by pushing her away. Just in case.

I don’t want to live that way, keeping my own flesh and blood at arm’s length. People aren’t meant to live in “just in case”. Just in case is what keeps us trapped and living out of only a small corner of our hearts. The fear of “what might happen” is one of the things Jesus came to free us from. To free us from ourselves. To free us for the hope which knows that in the event that what we fear will happen, happens, then we will not suffer alone.

My mother knew this. She must have known this, otherwise how could she have carried a risky pregnancy to term, and why would she have fought so hard for so many years to be with me? She knew she was a sick woman, and that she might not have a very long life. But she took the risk of knowing and loving a child of her own. She chose to live and love out of her entire heart, when it would have been safer and less painful for her to choose otherwise.

Some wounds we think have closed can come open again so easily. But each time this happens, it’s an opportunity to heal a part of the wound. We think it’s all been irrigated, but there’s so much beneath the surface. God tears those wounds open again and again to show us that healing is a process and an invitation.

God opened this wound in me again to invite me to live even more fully, and to give myself even more to the ones I love. Maggie needs me in a way that forces me to confront my fear. Her cries are an invitation to love her until it hurts, in the hope that if I persevere, it won’t hurt anymore. Love will overcome fear. Even though she’s been gone 20 years, my mother continues to teach me these lessons.


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