An open letter to women who have left the Catholic Church

 

An open letter to women who have left the Catholic Church:

We want to invite you to come talk with us, and we are excited to meet you! Just like you, we are daughters, sisters, wives, and mothers; students, professionals, and stay-at-home moms. We are teenagers, 20-somethings, 30-somethings, and beyond. We are from many walks of life and from diverse backgrounds, but we share a common faith – one we want to invite you to revisit.

Some of us have been away from the Church, and by one way or another we’ve come back. Some of us never left – but that doesn’t mean we’ve never questioned nor been confused. Some of us were raised outside of the Church, and made the decision to join as adults. In one way or another, each one of us has come to know and love Christ in the Catholic Church – and in keeping with Pope Francis’ request we want to share that love and joy with you.

 

 

Being Catholic isn’t easy, and we’ll be the first to tell you that we aren’t perfect; we have many planks in our own eyes to worry about. Our faith embraces paradoxes, challenges our culture’s values, and makes us feel uncomfortable when we are called to examine our actions and our motivations. But – as you already know – just because something is challenging does not mean it is not worthwhile.

 

We know that you are intelligent and capable. We believe that you deserve answers to your questions, and explanations for the teachings with which you’re struggling. We’ve all struggled with various aspects of our faith, but we aren’t here to judge or condemn you. We simply want to listen to what you’re feeling. We want to understand what is making you uncertain about being part of our Catholic faith. We want to help you find the answers and explanations that helped bring us home. We want to meet you, we want to hear about your experience, and most importantly, we want to invite you back.

 

Feel free to email any of us with questions or concerns you may have about the Church, her teachings, or what reversion means. If you’re not ready to bare your soul to complete strangers, we’d love to direct you to sites that helped us (and still help us) as we discerned our calling in life.

Wherever you are, whatever you believe, know that we are praying for you. You are our sister – another woman navigating a challenging world. We look forward to talking with you!

In The Peace and Love of Christ,

The members of #cathsorority

 

Augustine and Maria’s Birth Story, Part II

See Part I here.

Note:  There are lady parts and bodily fluids in this post. If that bothers you, I recommend reading something else ;)

It was hard to sleep that Tuesday night, but I managed to get to bed early and have a decent night’s sleep. Brett got most of the things we would need to take to the hospital in the car before we went to bed. On Wednesday morning, I made sure to eat a good breakfast because I knew that they weren’t going to allow me to eat at the hospital.

We checked in at 5:33 a.m. They ushered us right into our room, a large labor and delivery room. I was given a gown and fabulous fuzzy socks to change into. Brett took a photo of the room and posted it to Facebook, saying that we would be spending the next few hours there. Brett and I prayed Morning Prayer from the Liturgy of the Hours while we waited for a nurse to come and begin the next step.

This is where we spent November 20th

This is where we spent November 20th

The nurse came in and had to give me an exam. I thought the exam was uncomfortable, but it was nothing compared to how the exams would feel as labor progressed. My cervix was still dilated to about 2 centimeters. Actually, the nurse said it was more like “one and a wiggle,” but still nice and soft and thin. By 7:00, I had had this exam, an IV port started, the Pitocin and fluids hooked up to the IV, and three external monitors strapped to my belly (one for contractions, one for Baby A, and one for Baby B). I was allowed to be unhooked from the monitors from time to time to use the bathroom, walk around the room, or try to find a comfortable position. The nurse showed Brett how to unhook me and how to drape the cords around me.

I had requested the ability to move around, but I was comfortable in bed most of the time. I spent the morning relaxing against the not-too-intense contractions the Pitocin was causing and watching the pitiful daytime television I had gotten used to when I was on modified rest before the babies came. When my doctor came in, I was still dilated about 2 cm. Well, that was disappointing, but no use getting upset about it. He broke Baby A’s bag of waters during The Price is Right (probably around 11:45). It didn’t hurt, thankfully, but I was grossed out by the feeling of that hot amniotic fluid gushing out. He was optimistic that I would begin to dilate more after the sac was broken. He placed an internal monitor on Baby A. I hadn’t wanted to have internal monitoring, but I relished not having so many belts around my waist.

The contractions began to intensify. I still didn’t feel like getting out of bed, but I was hungry, so I had some Popsicles throughout the afternoon, beginning during the noon news. At some point in the early afternoon, I realized I was going to have to get up to use the restroom. I was feeling kind of woozy from hunger and worry, so I asked Brett and the nurse to help me get up. This is when the gross-out really began. The huge rush of hot amniotic fluid fooled me. I said, “Ew, oh no, I don’t think I have to go to the bathroom after all,” thinking it was too late. But the nurse knew better, and she got me into the restroom and got the floor cleaned up. Through all of this, Brett never acted worried or disgusted. I was so glad of that because I think if he had been that way, I would have lost it.

We spent the afternoon learning how to watch the monitor for contractions and by what should have been dinner time, Brett was able to warn me before one would begin. Our friend Jeanne-Marie had seen Brett’s Facebook post about where we were and came to visit us on her break. She is a nurse in the mother-baby floor of the hospital where we had the babies. She was surprised to see the photo because she thought we were going to the other hospital where my doctor delivers (so did I until about 2 weeks before the birth). Jeanne-Marie sent Brett to get something to eat so he’d have his strength up, and she hung around with me until he got back. We were very thankful because he didn’t want to leave me alone and would have been fasting with me if she hadn’t come.

In the late afternoon, my nurse examined me again. I had dilated to 4 centimeters. I was happy to hear that. I figured things were going to start happening, and fast. Brett and I played cribbage to pass the time, as the contractions started to get stronger and stronger. I would have to lay down my hand in order to relax through each contraction. This is when it was nice that Brett was watching the monitor and warning me of impending contractions. We had some trouble with the baby monitors, namely, Baby B kept moving so that the monitor couldn’t detect her. We knew she was a she… even though we hadn’t told many people.

In the early evening, I had another exam. Each exam was more painful than the one before. The nurse had tiny hands, which seems like it would be more comfortable, but actually meant she had to use more pressure to get her short fingers to my cervix. I was still dilated to about 4 centimeters. That was disappointing but okay. The contractions were getting more intense, so I figured I would dilate more soon. She examined me again before shift change, and I hadn’t dilated any more! I was so disappointed, I was crying, and I was starving! The nurse was so compassionate and snuck me the best crackers I have ever eaten in my life. I wasn’t supposed to be allowed to eat, and I normally wouldn’t touch unsalted Saltines, but the crackers were a lifesaver for me.

I hadn’t expected to have to meet the night nurse, but shift change was at 7:00 p.m., and I was still in labor. She examined me early on in her shift (ouch!) and I was still at about 4 centimeters. I tried not to cry, but I was starting to think that the induction would fail. My doctor visited before he left the hospital for the evening, confident that he would be returning soon. I cried again after my next painful exam, not having dilated anymore. The nurse called Dr. P. and he suggested I get an epidural.

I resisted. I didn’t want an epidural. We learned in Bradley Method childbirth classes that an epidural can stall labor, and can make babies dopey and less able to breastfeed early on. I also felt like I had something to prove, and that since women had been giving birth without pain medication for centuries, I should be able to do it too. The nurse tried to help me cope with the intensifying pain by having me bounce on an exercise ball. I didn’t like that, I felt too wobbly, like I might fall. She had me rock in a rocking chair, and that was a little better, but I was getting to the point that I just didn’t feel like I could do anything. I was tired, hungry, and a little angry.

I moved back to bed and started talking to Brett about the epidural. He reminded me why we didn’t want one. He was adamant, but every contraction felt like someone was pulling my innards out. I felt pressure, burning, and nausea. I couldn’t talk. I didn’t want anyone to touch me. All I could do was shake my hands. Even now as I write about it, I can feel a reminder of the pain.

When the nurse examined me around 10:00 p.m. and I still hadn’t dilated any more, I was done. I changed my mind about wanting a baby. I wanted to turn back time to the days before we decided to begin fertility medication and trying to conceive. I no longer believed that I was able to give birth. I felt that Brett was trying to control me. In reality, he was calm and supportive. He kept on reminding me that the pain had a purpose, and that it would not last much longer. He thought I was at transition for a very long time because of my attitude. I couldn’t stop crying and each contraction seemed to remove my mental faculties until it was over. I finally convinced Brett that I should have the epidural that Dr. P. was strongly suggesting over the phone.

We had to wait a little while for the anesthesiologist, and when she came, she sort of rubbed me the wrong way. She had a bit of a brusque personality. She didn’t seem to think that I should have any reason to avoid an epidural. I convinced her to give me the minimum dosage and even decrease that when it came time to push, although she didn’t seem to think it was a good idea. I wanted to feel the birth, even if it wasn’t going to be painful. Sometime between 11:00 and midnight, she placed the epidural. The medication began to work quickly, and soon I decided to take a nap.

What happened after my nap? Stay tuned and find out!

Augustine and Maria’s Birth Story, Part I

It started on Monday, November 18, 2013. I got the oil changed in my car in the morning, and in the afternoon I went to my obstetrician’s office for an exam and what would be my last fetal non-stress test. I was 38 weeks pregnant. The non-stress test went fairly well, the babies were doing just fine and very active as usual. Despite extreme swelling in my legs, hands, and feet, my blood pressure was low as ever and I wasn’t throwing off any protein in my urine. I was 2 centimeters dilated, and almost completely effaced.

Dr. P. had been talking about scheduling an induction for a few weeks. It wasn’t what I really wanted. I had gone through Bradley Natural Childbirth classes  and I knew that induction isn’t usually the best for babies, for mom, and for breastfeeding. Still, I conceded because I was uncomfortable and grouchy, and because Dr. P. said that outcomes for fraternal twins are best around 37-39 weeks. Having not experienced labor, not even many Braxton-Hicks contractions, I was afraid that the babies were just going to stick around if we didn’t do something.

Brett told me I should schedule for Thursday, the 21st, because it is the Feast of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, an auspicious day to be born. Dr. P. preferred Wednesday, the 20th, and I talked him into starting in the morning so we could sleep before the induction. So, it was set: we would arrive at the hospital at 5:30 in the morning on Wednesday, November 20th, to begin a Pitocin-induced birth for my twins.

The rest of Monday and all of Tuesday, I tried to do whatever I could to induce labor on my own. I scrubbed floors, did laundry, cleaned bathrooms, and even baked and ate “labor inducing” cookies. I even tried nipple stimulation, despite the fact that it made me feel kind of dirty. Nothing happened. I was really going to be induced.

So, Tuesday night, we had a nice dinner and went to bed early so we could begin our childbirth adventure in the morning.

Here I am, 38 weeks pregnant, and getting too big for my britches (and every other article of clothing I own).

Here I am, 38 weeks pregnant, and getting too big for my britches (and every other article of clothing I own).

To be continued…

See Part II here.

Seven Quick Takes

— 1 —

I’m wearing pre-pregnancy pants today. I’m not very comfortable, but my pants are zipped and buttoned, and I don’t think they look obscene. It won’t be long until I can wear them comfortably.

— 2 —

This week I witnessed the first “conversation” between Baby A and Baby B (or is it Baby M?). I was nursing them (or trying to) and suddenly they stopped, smiled at each other, and started taking turns cooing. Every time they engage each other it is the cutest thing ever, but this event takes the cake.

— 3 —

Mmmm… cake! What’s your favorite kind? I like German chocolate, and anything with “too much” buttercream frosting.

— 4 —

Last weekend we went to Michigan, and my little twins got to meet these little twins, the sons of Thomas from Fuller Life and his wife Alison, a Cathsorority sister of mine. Thomas and I have been bloggy friends for quite some time, thanks to Quick Takes. It was so exciting to find that they were expecting twins too. Then Alison had an eventful pregnancy, with way-premature rupture of membranes. I was afraid she would lose one or both twins. But they made it, and they are adorable.

Augustine, Maria, Jacob and William. This is the only shot Brett took where no one is crying.

Augustine, Maria, Jacob and William. This is the only shot Brett took where no one is crying.


— 5 —

Happy Valentine’s Day! Our tradition is to avoid restaurants like the plague, eat steak, and watch Slap Shot. Not very romantic, but that’s what we do. This year, we’re postponing the festivities because Valentine’s day is on no-meat Friday. Our first Valentine’s Day together, when Brett and I were dating, I went to his house for dinner, and he served STEAK. Not steak and potatoes, or steak and salad or steak and any side dish at all, but just STEAK. I think I had an IBC cream soda with my steak. And, as some people have said, I married him anyway. In his defense, he wasn’t feeling very well. I had even offered to make him some chicken soup, but he refused. These days for Valentine’s, I do serve side dishes.

— 6 —

I’m thinking about a family member who has passed today. Please pray for my Aunt Eileen, who passed unexpectedly yesterday, and our family.

— 7 —

When will this white stuff stop falling from the sky? I can’t remember this much snow since I was a little girl. I have gotten the car stuck in it twice now, I slipped in it downtown and hurt my ankle, I have gotten it into my shoes more times than I would like to count, and I’m over it. It was pretty up in Michigan, but here in Central Ohio, it is slushy, dirty, and there’s just too much of it. I feel like this little boy.

Have a great weekend. Maybe sometime soon, I’ll blog something that’s not Quick Takes. But don’t hold your breath.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Seven Quick Takes

— 1 —

I’m so tired of snow. I got my car caught in the street in front of the babysitter’s house yesterday morning. I was able to get it out, eventually, but I felt pretty stupid. Come on spring!

— 2 —

One of my managers got me this for Christmas. I know Christmas was a while ago, but I use it every day and it’s so fun. I’m not a big fan of the color orange, but I like the look of the little fishies swimming in my water.

Goldfish Tumbler

— 3 —

My kids are just so cute! I don’t have a lot of stories to tell yet since they’re so little, but I enjoy them so much. Their little smiles light up my day.

— 4 —

I am so spoiled with people bringing us meals. Next week is the first week that we’ll only have one meal brought to us. Now we have to cook again. I enjoy cooking, but since Brett can’t nurse the babies, he’s the one who usually gets to fix dinner. I’m thinking about starting to do once-a-week or once-a-month cooking, but at the same time it’s so daunting. Has anyone had success with cooking this way?

— 5 —

I filed our taxes, and thanks to having two babies, we are getting the biggest tax refund I’ve ever seen. With that money, we plan to purchase a new (to us) car. Okay, an old car, because it’s not that much money. But having two cars will be sure to feel luxurious after sharing one for so long.

— 6 —

The best thing I’ve read today, from Leanne at Life Happens When.

This particular holiday changed and defined me as a memory maker. From here on out, I’m not going to worry if the moments aren’t perfect.
Things will go wrong. More often than not, nobody else will even notice. There is no need to beat myself up over it. Sometimes things will go horribly wrong, but often the things that went wrong are the most fun to remember down the road.

— 7 —

Mental Floss offered an e-booklet of the “25 Most Powerful Songs of the Past 25 Years.” My favorite was number three on the countdown, “The Song that Eases the Anxious Bovine Mind.” Researchers in the UK have discovered that REM’s “Everybody Hurts” is the best song to play in the barn to help cows give more milk. They also included five other “Great Milking Songs.” I just thought that the category was so funny. I decided to make myself a Pandora radio station based on their recommendations. Not because I have a cow, but because I pump milk for my babies. I play my Milk Radio station during my pumping breaks. It doesn’t make me produce half a pint more milk like it does to those cows in the UK, but it is relaxing music. Relaxation is key for making milk.

And on that note, good night folks! Have a great weekend!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Seven Quick Takes

… In which I resurrect my blog.

— 1 —

When last I blogged, it was October, and I was busy gestating two little humans. October and November, in fact, I spent pretty busily growing them. I didn’t work, I pretty much stayed home, slept, and grew a big belly full of babies.

Here I am, 38 weeks pregnant, and getting too big for my britches (and every other article of clothing I own).

Here I am, 38 weeks pregnant, and getting too big for my britches (and every other article of clothing I own).

— 2 —

Well, the babies grew and grew until my doctor said, “It’s time for them to come out,” and I was scheduled for induced labor on November 20, when I was 38 weeks, 2 days pregnant. I’ll write about labor and delivery another time. Suffice to say, it was unlike anything I ever experienced before.

— 3 —

On Thursday, November 21, 2013, Augustine Joseph G. joined the ex-utero world at 3:07 a.m., followed by his sister Maria Teresa at 3:17 a.m. He weighed 5 pounds, 9 ounces, and was 18 1/2 inches long; She weighed 5 pounds, 13 ounces, and was also 18 1/2 inches long.

Soon after delivery. Augustine is on the left and Maria on the right.

Soon after delivery. Augustine is on the left and Maria on the right.

— 4 —

Since they were born, I have been a whole new kind of busy. There’s so much to learn and so much that has to be done with tiny babies. I had to learn to nurse them and get used to their demanding “schedule,” I have had to learn how to carry two babies at once, and how to calm them. I have learned to use a supplemental nursing system so I could give them extra milk or formula at the breast, and how to give two babies a bottle at the same time.

I "wear" both babies in a stretchy Moby wrap.

I “wear” both babies in a stretchy Moby wrap.

— 5 —

Augustine and Maria lost more weight than expected in the hospital when they were first born, about 11% of their birth weight. Because of this, they had to stay at the hospital a few extra nights, and the hospital staff graciously allowed Brett and me to stay at the hospital in our same room even though I had officially been discharged. Since then, they haven’t gained weight as quickly as expected until last week. Now they seem to be growing by leaps and bounds, and we couldn’t be happier. Augustine is even finally getting too big for some of his newborn size clothes.

They were so skinny!

They were so skinny!

— 6 —

Both babies were baptized into the Church on January 18.

Augustine wearing his Uncle Matthew's baptismal outfit.

Augustine wearing his Uncle Matthew’s baptismal outfit.

Maria wore my baptismal gown.

Maria wore my baptismal gown.

— 7 —

A special thank you to everyone who has prayed for me, kept me entertained and occupied, done my housework, and brought me food during this time. I couldn’t have done it without you!  I am back to work this week, and the babies are with a sitter during the day. I am still overwhelmed, but I am learning that I must take things one day at a time. It’s the only way God gives days to any of us.

God bless you!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!