Friday, January 30, 2009

It's Going!

When you are doing a crossword puzzle and the clue is:

Memory Loss,

and you can't think of what the word is,

you know you are losing it.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Miscarriage Resources, Part 1

I have been looking for information/material/writings/consolation on the topic of miscarriage from the Catholic perspective. There are many, many websites about miscarriage out there, but nearly all of them are from a secular viewpoint or a nondenominational spiritual outlook. I have gradually been finding things here and there, and I plan on sharing them here as I find them.

First I just googled "Catholics and Miscarriage" and I found a website called Catholics and Miscarriage. It talks about the value of the unborn and how you may have heard comments after your miscarriage that are a bit negative, even though well-intentioned. Such as, oh, at least it was early, or you can always try again. It also talks about the grieving process and how you need to take time for that and that it may take a while. It talks about the comfort of prayer and that you may even feel angry at God. Then it talks about things you can do to remember the baby you lost. There are a couple of links to memorial sites and a few prayers and then at the bottom it lists the patron saints against miscarriage:

St. Catherine of Sweden
St. Catherine of Siena
St. Eulalia

I hadn't heard of those saints in that contex before. When I looked through our saintbooks, the only one I could find mentioned is St. Catherine of Sweden, who was the daughter of St. Bridget of Sweden. I'm not sure why she is a patron saint against miscarriage. I'll have to look on the internet some more.

Then somewhere online I saw mentioned Kimberly Hahn's book, Life-Giving Love, and I immediately went and found my copy, and oh, there is a whole chapter devoted to Miscarriage and Stillbirth (chapter 10). After the kids went to bed that night I read it and cried most of the way through, but it was just what I needed to read.

First she talks about miscarriage in the eternal context and that yes, this miscarriage fits into God's plan somehow and that somehow good will come out of it. Then she goes through a list of what you can say to a friend who has lost a child and explains each one. Next she has a list of what you can do for a friend who has lost a baby and a section on coping during the holidays. Then there is a section on what not to say, a few of which I heard, but the majority not. And finally a few pages on risking another loss by being open to life again. Through the chapter she talks about her own personal experiences with multiple miscarriages and she shares stories, thoughts, and prayers from other women who have also experienced pregnancy loss.

In this chapter on miscarriage there was a poem/prayer written by Karen Edmisten, whose blog I follow. She has several posts on her blog about miscarriage. Here is the prayer, which I can now fully understand:


You said that we
would have a child
So I, with love, welcomed new life
and smiled with each wave and sea
of morning sickness,
caught up in this miracle-to-be.
"For You, Lord," I said,
and offered each tiny suffering
as a gift to Thee,
incomparable to the gift of life
You were giving to me.
And so I reeled,
stunned and shaken,
at my baby's death.
I was forsaken.
Anger rose and built a case
against misinterpreted signs of Grace.

I was so wrong –
"Here is a child," You said,
or so I thought.
But my arms are empty, bereft.
There is nothing left
of my trust
when I listen for Your Voice.
How can I trust when I was so wrong?
How will I again be strong?
I quiet myself and turn to You,
O Ancient Beauty ever new...
I ask You, my truest and deepest Love,
for an answer, some comfort,
a sign from above.
There is silence,
and my tears...
tears of a mother's grieving love.

Then, in Your Kindness,
Your encompassing Love,
You embrace me and speak:
the words from above
flow through an earthen vessel.
A man of God
who listens to me,
and tells me I can --I must --
dare trust, for all is as it should be.
The mystery that is my child
is in Your Hands,
Your Sacred Heart.
The part I play
is to surrender and be free.

When next I quiet myself
to pray,
"My Grace is sufficient for you,"
You say,
"For My power
is made perfect in weakness."
The words play again and again
in my mind,
like a record left to skip...
they rip
into the core of my grief
and leave me no choice
but to drop to my knees
and offer You my child.

Oh, heal my heart, Lord,
bitter and spent,
Be perfect in my weakness,
my Pearl of great price.
Though I offer it, Lord,
imperfectly and poorly,
my life is Yours.
Let Your Grace suffice.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Joe Frosty

Heard over the last month or so at our house:

Anne, singing: "Frosty, the snowman, was a very happy Joe!"

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Trying To Adjust

I have been trying to adjust to the fact that I am not pregnant anymore. While pregnancy has its unpleasant parts (morning sickness, back pain, etc.), it is still a joyful time, full of anticipation and dreams. There are dreams of what the baby looks like, how he or she will fit into the family, the joys of the baptism, then thinking of how the other kids will dote on him or her, making plans for room arrangements, and a thousand other things. Then there are the things you do for your little baby in the womb: cut back on caffeine, avoid alcohol, avoid most over-the-counter drugs, watch what you eat, avoid hot baths, and others. Every time now that I have a little extra caffeine or take ibuprofen for a headache, I am reminded that I am no longer pregnant. Last night I relaxed in the bathtub, and it was hot, and I turned on the jets, and I mourned the fact that I could do those things because I was no longer pregnant.

At times I have this feeling of emptiness and sometimes I am surprised when I realize that I feel lonely, even in the midst of my children. I miss my little baby and I miss that bonding I always feel in pregnancy. This time I had started praying for her even before I knew that I was pregnant, because I knew it was a good possibility (due to NFP). Since she was conceived I prayed for her and bonded with her, and gradually began to notice the changes in my body because of her. And I rejoiced in her. And I especially rejoiced that I was pregnant during Advent. That always makes Advent even more special, as I can meditate even better on Mary's pregnancy and anticipation, and really feel a special kinship to her, and then rejoice with her on Christmas Day at the birth of Jesus, all the while anticipating the birth of my own child. Little did I expect that my own pregnancy would end soon after Christmas.

Thank you to everyone who has been praying for us during this time of loss. We appreciate it more than you know.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Another Prayer in Time of Miscarriage

Miscarriage Prayer

My Lord, the baby is dead!

Why, my Lord—dare I ask why? It will not hear the whisper of the wind or see the beauty of its parents’ face—it will not see the beauty of Your creation or the flame of a sunrise. Why, my Lord?

“Why, My child—do you ask ‘why’? Well, I will tell you why.

You see, the child lives. Instead of the wind he hears the sound of angels singing before My throne. Instead of the beauty that passes he sees everlasting Beauty—he sees My face. He was created and lived a short time so the image of his parents imprinted on his face may stand before Me as their personal intercessor. He knows secrets of heaven unknown to men on earth. He laughs with a special joy that only the innocent possess. My ways are not the ways of man. I create for My Kingdom and each creature fills a place in that Kingdom that could not be filled by another. He was created for My joy and his parents’ merits. He has never seen pain or sin. He has never felt hunger or pain. I breathed a soul into a seed, made it grow and called it forth.”

I am humbled before you, my Lord, for questioning Your wisdom, goodness, and love. I speak as a fool—forgive me. I acknowledge Your sovereign rights over life and death. I thank You for the life that began for so short a time to enjoy so long an Eternity.
-- Mother M. Angelica

from the prayers section at:

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Calling All Mothers Who Have Had a Miscarriage

On this day, as thousands of people have been marching in Washington, D.C. in the March for Life, here is a prayer that all women who have miscarried (and men, too, just tweak the prayer) can say to their babies in heaven for an end to abortion:

To An Infant In Heaven (a prayer of petition)

My darling [mention the child's name] you are now in joy in the presence of our God; and in your spotless innocence, which He loves, you can speak to Him with a voice that He will heed. You are still my little baby and will surely regard the prayers of your mother, who bore you. So with confidence, then, I speak to you. Intercede for me to obtain the favor that I here ask as a mother through her child who stands before the throne of God [here mention petition]. But, if what I ask is not according to the wisdom and loving designs of almighty God for me and others, then ask Him to grant what is best according to His good pleasure and to give me the wisdom and faith to conform my will to His.

This prayer has already brought me comfort as I have come to realize that we now have an advocate in heaven. Through the grace of God, she is already interceding for us. Who better to plead before God for an end of abortion than a little miscarried unborn baby, who is as innocent as the poor little ones who are aborted.

And don't forget to pray for the conversion of all those involved in abortion, from the abortionists, to the staff who assist, to those in the organizations which promote it, to the politicians who advocate it as a "woman's choice," especially those who call themselves Catholic. May God save their souls.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Please Pray For Our Family

Sadly to say, our family has just suffered a miscarriage. Last Friday, after a long, agonising week of suspense, I had a sonogram which showed that our little baby quit growing at 6 weeks (I was 10 weeks along). That sonogram was very hard to see.

After that, I was looking through my prayer books and I found this prayer, which helped me a lot:

To A Child In Heaven (a prayer of resignation)
My darling, you have gone to heaven to be eternally happy, and are now in joy in the company of the holy innocents there. It was a thing hard for me to understand when you were taken from my arms, for parting with you has caused me grief that few can know. Yet in all my grief I am happy, very happy for you, because I know the joy that is yours. Your joy is now my joy, too, because I can always feel that I had a part in bringing it to you. Now that you are in heaven, I realize that you are mine in a truer sense than you could ever be on earth. I cannot lose you now through sin. While parting with you was hard, I would not wish you back because I know that you are happier than I could ever make you here with me. Help me, as you now can with your intercession, that I may be completely faithful to all my duties here on earth and merit to receive you again in eternal joys where there will be no more sorrow or parting from those we love.
Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, lover of little children, hear my prayer!

The other prayer that helped me was out of the same prayer book:

A Prayer For Resignation (for the mother of an infant lost at birth)
Mary, my mother, obtain for me, I beg you, the grace of a holy resignation. Obtain for me the grace to understand this trial which is so hard for me to bear. I know that God in his all-wise providence has seen that it is for the best. Yet it is hard for me to bear the grief I feel. I come to you, dear mother, comforter of the afflicted and constant aid of those who trust in you. I know that you can obtain for me the peace and resignation that I seek. I confide in you entirely in this my tribulation and sorrow. You know the meaning of a mother's love, and can understand the depth of my affliction. Be to me a tender and protecting mother. For now, dear Mother Mary, I feel more than ever the need of your motherly love and sweet consolation.
Mary sorrowing, Mother of all Christians, Pray for us!

Even though my child died before birth and I never got to hold our baby in my arms, I know these prayers helped me. God granted me that gift of resignation.

Over the course of Sunday and Monday, the actual delivery took place and thanks be to God, was not overly difficult and did not require any trips to the hospital. It appears that it is all finished.

I am so grateful for my four little children here on earth. They are a great comfort in their innocence and joyful play. And in their kisses, hugs, and snuggles. (Of course, Dan is a big comfort as well!) One thing is for sure, I will never take a pregnancy for granted anymore. Fertility is a gift. Pregnancy is a gift. A new baby is a gift. Even though our baby only lived for about 4 weeks or so in her mother's womb, she was still a gift. And we have the hope of seeing her again one day.

We call her a girl, even though we don't know for sure that she is, and since she probably died sometime around Christmas or the Feast of the Holy Family, and her due date was the Feast of the Assumption, we have named her Mary Joseph.

Thank you for your prayers.

And please add my sister in your prayers, as she suffered a miscarriage last week. We were due within days of each other.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Christmas 2008 - Part III

It finally seemed like we were all getting well right before New Year's, so on New Year's Eve we travelled to Dan's mom's house. Of course, within a few hours, Dominic began spiking a fever, and was sick the whole time we were there.

Here are Catherine and Anne before Mass on New Year's Day: After Mass, we stopped at the outdoor Nativity scene, and a family offered to take our picture. It turned out really nice and would be a great family picture, except that Dominic is missing. He stayed home with Grandma.
Dan's brother told us an interesting story about the Nativity set, which is 100 plus years old. He helped set it up this year and the outlines of the statues are marked on the floor of the stable so that they are put into the same place every year. Well, everyone always called the man kneeling St. Joseph, but when Joe looked at him closely he realized he is actually one of the kings and that the man standing behind holding a candle is probably supposed to be St. Joseph. If you look closely, you can see that this is true. Isn't that interesting?
Thanks to the wonders of ibuprofen, Dominic recovered temporarily and was able to get outside for a while. Click on this picture because the look on his face is funny. He almost never takes a "normal smile" kind of picture, but always has a different funny expression. At least he is looking at the camera. Catherine refused to turn around.
The kids become part of the Brungardt family outside Nativity scene. I believe that Dan's father, or maybe his brother, made the set. Dan will have to correct me on that one.
All four can still fit on one bench. Look closely on this one, Dominic actually has a regular smile.
When we got back home, Dominic remained sick for several more days. Meanwhile, Anne got sick with the same fever/cold/yuck stuff. We finally seem to be over it. Catherine is the only one to escape the respiratory round. Hopefully we are done with sickness for a while.
May you all have a blessed New Year!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Christmas 2008 - Part II

On Christmas Eve day, while we were deciding if we should travel or not, we let the kids each open a present. They were thrilled and here they are enjoying their gifts: A couple of days after Christmas, we had our own little family Christmas at home:
Dan cooked a big ham dinner, which was great, as I was miserable with a nasty head cold.
Then the kids got to open the rest of their presents. Joseph was funny, because previously he had left the presents alone after I told him not to touch them, but now that we were actually opening them, he wanted to open them all!
The girls were so excited when they got bunkbeds for their dolls. Now Yellow Baby sleeps on the top, just like Catherine, and Pink Baby sleeps on the bottom, like Anne, but only in the daytime. At night she sleeps in Anne's bed.
Dominic is really into tractors right now, so he got a John Deere tractor with a front-loader. He wouldn't put it down for a long time!
Of course, the kids all want to play with the others' toys, as evidenced here by Catherine and Anne hovering close to Joseph and his new puzzle. That puzzle is so cute by the way, it has little pictures under each letter. He'll bring me a letter and I'll tell him, "That's an A, go find the apple." And he does.
So we had an enjoyable Christmas at our house, even though Joseph was still sick, and I was sick, and Dan soon got sick, too. But there is more to the story, so stay tuned for Christmas 2008, Part III!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Christmas 2008 - Part I

This is a picture of what happens when you leave your camera out in the car all night when it is really cold. This is us on Christmas morning after we had gone to Mass, well all of us but Joseph. He was sick with a nasty fever/cold/virus/something that made our Christmas seem like this picture - blurry! We went up to my parents' house, after almost deciding not to go, on Christmas Eve. My parents stayed home with Joseph on Christmas morning so we could go to Mass together. Catherine and Anne loved spending time with their girl cousins, Isabella and Emily. Anne especially wanted to hold little Emily all the time.
During the super-gift-opening-extravaganza, Catherine was extra excited to get this:
I thought this picture of Joseph was funny. He looks like a little tin soldier, marching around the room.
Stay tuned for Part II!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Is It Bad...

...if you haven't yet put away your Advent wreath? Not that I'm talking about me or anything. :)

Playing With Fire

"Chestnuts, I mean, marshmallows, roasting on an open fire..."
The kids were very interested in this process.
Although, I have to say, they preferred eating the marshmallows right out of the bag! Poor Mommy and Daddy ended up eating most of the roasted ones.
Is that song running through your head yet? And does anyone else have trouble keeping their stockings hanging straight?

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Christmas Cookies!

Although I had to cut out much of my usual Christmas baking/goodie making this year due to all the illness, we did manage to make cutout sugar cookies. Catherine and I had made the cookies the day before (I'm not quite brave enough to involve all the kids in that part!), so on this day I cleared off the island and we got busy decorating. After Mommy put on the frosting, she passed off the cookies in turn to each kid and they sprinkled on lots of decoration.
They were pretty good about sharing the different kinds of sprinkles, but luckily the container Joseph got was almost empty, because soon it was not very usable (a few too many licks). I think he had that same little star most of the time and he thought he was such a big boy putting sprinkles on his cookie.
Oh, yeah, that tastes good!
We had lots of fun decorating our cookies, though some of them were so covered with sprinkles, you couldn't see the frosting! If you look close in this picture, you can see a stream of sprinkles coming out of Dominic's jar.

Where Have We Been?

Boy, the last 3 and a half weeks have been a blur of trying to get ready for Christmas, and then celebrating Christmas and New Year's, in between dealing with a round of stomach flu and then a nasty cold/flu virus that has slowly been making its way through the ranks. And it's not over yet! Currently Dominic is recovering, but poor little Anne is sick. Catherine so far has not gotten the respiratory bug, so we may be a while yet. We did manage to travel twice in there also. Soon, I'll get the pictures organized to post on here.