Friday, February 17, 2012

7 Quick Takes Friday-Teens & Things.

I have been blown over by the response to my last post, and the number of poignant and grateful private messages I've received on foot of it.  I am humbled to have been the instrument of triggering some therapeutic tears, as I've said in my blog description, tears are good. God put them there for a purpose and I for one don't think He does anything for nothing, including things like making biting insects and stinging plants.  We might not see the intended purpose but you never know, maybe someday they may yield a medicinal breakthrough or something.

Anyway, that post was a bit heady so this one is going to be a little bit of light entertainment in which I share some endearing things about teens to counteract their bad press.

When you're done here, head on over to Betty Beguiles  for some more 7 Quick Takes Friday posts, there are some really lovely blogs linked there today.

--- 1 ---

Two days ago I hoked out our old VHS cassette of Winnie The Pooh to distract a tired and fractious almost two-year-old and by the hit or miss operation pattern of our faded and scuffed video player, it worked!  I came into the room shortly afterwards to hear one of my super-hip teens say

"Pause that a minute, I just want to get something..."

She didn't want to miss a minute of the movie. 

 It was only when I blinked a few moments ago that I was sitting, heavily pregnant, snuggling with a curly haired tot watching that exact same tape.


--- 2 ---

My teenagers and their friend asked the manager of the large supermarket whether there was a legal impediment to them purchasing the disposable razor blades I asked them to get for their grandfather who is staying with us. He told them they could legally buy them but don't do anything dangerous with them!

--- 3 ---

I am smiling inside that all our older children are (not so) secretly thrilled that I bought them tickets to see The Wiggles and that they are grateful to have a toddler sister they can use as their excuse to go without losing their street-cred. And I won't pretend that I noticed them texting their friends to tell of their good luck!

And they are so chuffed that Greg is back!

--- 4 ---

After a little break to allow for recovery from an old pelvic injury I am back training to walk the Dublin Ladies 10K in aid of The International Children's Heart Foundation. I was planning to run it but the injury is going to prevent that.  My eldest daughter is joining me in my training programme, which involves John abandoning us from the car at a designated point and R and I walk home.  It's a super opportunity for a chat, I'm loving it!

I have explained my reasons for doing this fundraiser here.

--- 5 ---

I really am very flattered when my teenage daughters think I should fancy the same stars as them!!! 

That's funny!

Though I have to add...some of their pin-ups are the same guys I had pinned on my wall..


--- 6 ---
I am so enjoying the fact that I have some slaves...sorry...teenagers...who can bath and care for a cutie-pie toddler girl when I am busy...

And that she teaches them patience, empathy, kindness and how to love life!!!!

--- 7 ---
And finally...a little conversation I had with my teenager:

Me: Emm..Teen? Have you noticed your bed has been made every day?

Teen:  Oh Yes! I noticed that but I thought I must have done it!!

How can you not just love teens????

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary 
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Saturday, February 11, 2012

The Most Special Kiss I Have Ever Had

I have been contemplating this post for a very long time and as I begin to write, I am not even sure whether I will ever publish it. 

The reason why this is a difficult thing to write about is because it is extremely personal and intimate and will surelycause me pain to put into words.  I am aware that it will probably cause pain to some of you reading this who have experienced something similar or who are close to someone who has. I have prayed about this and whether I should write it and my final decision was made when I asked my very wise husband, who this also affects, what I should do. He said he thinks enough time has passed and it is a story which should be told.

So I think the time has come to witness to something I saw with my own eyes and which is forever branded in my heart.  I will never forget what I saw.   

I am so very sorry if this brings you pain.

This last two days I have been drawn into a debate on Twitter with some people who are of the opinion that to revere life at it's earliest stages is something zany, unreasonable and worthy of attack and insult.  Also just this week a major world player has announced open season on these little people.  My little story is not going to have a profound impact on the world stage, but it is my story and the story of someone who passed this way, if only for a brief while.

  Here is the tale of a little person who was someone.

1999:  I was pregnant with my third child, having already given birth to two cute little girls and miscarried another pregnancy which had never progressed much beyond implantation.  That miscarriage had knocked a lot out of me because I, like everyone else, never thought it would happen to me. Well it did happen but after a healthy baby a year later, I figured my brush with miscarriage was just that-a one-off bit of bad luck.

I was so happy to discover this baby was on the way because it was going to be the first baby whose Daddy wasn't a student (we had married when J was less than half way through Medical School and had our second baby only eight weeks before his final exams!! We were very young and nothing daunted us then!). Well anyway, we were so very very happy.

And then, on a beautiful sunny day in April, when our south facing garden was filled with the fresh hope of Spring, with the onset of pain and the stark sight of bright red on white cotton we realised our little baby hadn't made it.

I am not going to describe those terrible few days of physical and heartfelt pain and grief, I want to tell you something much more beautiful.

My sister was in my house with me when we had the honour of witnessing something which not everybody ever gets to see.  A little baby of six weeks gestation was delivered into this world having lived and clearly just recently died in the loving and hidden  embrace of it's mother's womb.  My older sister and I were both filled with sorrow and grief and pity for this life which was so short but it is very very can feel two completely different things at the same time.  I was overwhelmed at the honour of seeing with my eyes the most beautiful thing I have ever seen.  There was a little fluid filled 'ball' about the size of a marble, still rigid as if protecting what lay inside.  The ball was translucent and inside as though paused in time was this:

Now the utterly amazing thing was how so very small this baby was, I will always remember it was the exact size of my little fingernail.  The baby was six weeks gestation and perfectly formed and clearly could not be recognised as anything other than a human baby.  The shape was that of a baby, the embryonic tail gone by now.  Two tiny stick like arms stuck out with ball-like tips patterned with faint indentations which had been destined to form fingers. The little legs were something similar but looked more like miniature oars.  Through the filigree chest a tiny heart was nestled, perfectly placed.  The baby's Disney-like top heavy head was bowed forward as though in reverence and a little eye bud on each side like tiny commas.

It was utterly, utterly beautiful.

All this hidden away and formed in just six weeks!!

(The age which my friends on Twitter and elsewhere were calling a clump of cells).

I thanked God for allowing me to see something so very beautiful, and all of this while at the same time another me was filled with a mother's grief for her little child.

Not long afterwards my husband came home and it was then my husband and I experienced the most beautiful kiss either of us have ever had.  We released our little baby from it's amniotic cradle and each of us gave it the only kiss it would ever receive from it's Mommy and Daddy.

We didn't know what was the right thing to do.  Here was a human remains, made in God's image and likeness, deserving of the respect of any person destined for Heaven. so we telephoned a very saintly priest we knew for some advice. He told us nobody had ever asked him this before but he thought we should give the baby Baptism of desire and prayerfully place the precious remains in a family grave if there was one we could use.

That evening we cut a little piece of lace from my wedding veil and wrapped the baby tenderly in it, kept warm and cosy with a little cotton wool.  We placed the 'package' into the velvet box which had held my engagement ring along with a very tiny crucifix.

We 'waked' the baby overnight beside our bed with a candle and a sprig of the flowering currant shrub which was in full bloom in our garden at that time.

I was filled with tender peace that night and I really think my little son or daughter, now enjoying the Beatific Vision was sending me consolation from Heaven.

How can anybody deny little babies life?

I do not know.

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Friday, February 3, 2012

7 Quick Takes Friday

OK This is the first time I've tried this '7 Quick Takes Friday' This week hosted by Hallie over at one of my favourite blogs .  It's just a nice way to share your quick thoughts on the week and pool them with the other blogs on the hostess site.  Here goes:
--- 1 ---
I am so very happy that my dear father is making steady progress in his recovery after his big operation. I am busy sorting out a bedroom to accommodate his stay with us for his recuperation.  I just can't wait! He stayed with us for two weeks a few years ago after a fall on his face onto a granite rock while in the West of Ireland.  Even though he lives about three minutes away from me I was broken hearted when he went home!

--- 2 ---

I am looking forward to all the people who will be calling to say hello to him...the kettle is on...


--- 3 ---

At times like this I realise the blessings of growing up in a large family which is still close.  Each person's unique (and plenty of 'unique' types in my family) personality and qualities are thrown into the mix and altogether we manage to get through whatever crisis life presents to us.

 Thank you God for my Super Duper family.

--- 4 ---

By some miracle our teenagers headed off to bed at a decent hour last night so John and I had the unexpected treat of a really lovely chat sitting by the cosy fire...just lovely...

--- 5 ---

I have a very very dear friend in Florida who last night spent the night under the same roof as her husband and all three of her gorgeous children after nine month old baby C spending 70 nights in hospital.  He gave us all some very worrying moments as he danced on the borders of life before kicking a serious infection.  Please add him to your prayers, he has lots of challenges, but it was delightful to see the heart warming photographs on Facebook this morning.

--- 6 ---

Last night as I was giving my 7 year old a bedtime cuddle I said "Peter, tomorrow morning won't you not leave your pyjamas on the floor?"

This morning his pyjamas were on the floor...

...but his bed was something resembling 'made'...

A job which requires a major seek and rescue operation as his little companions manage to make an overnight expedition to the very bottom underneath his covers every night.  I hope this is the beginning of great things?

--- 7 ---

O Wind, if Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?

P.B Shelley.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

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Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Spring and Babies.

I've had a white water rafting  sort of week this week.  Firstly my dear father is in hospital and slowly recovering from a big operation and all the emotions and busyness that goes along with that.  Secondly, my dear little daughter had her regular cardiac check-up and her big operation is back on the agenda for next year when she's three and she's also now going to have a full body scan instead of just her brain to look for aneurysms and of course all the emotions that go along with all this. I think my thoughts need a little break.

Today is 1st of February, traditionally the first day of Spring in Ireland, so it's not a day for negativity.  Spring is my favourite season, so filled with possibilities and hope.  And new life.

So this post is not going to be about anything profound or thought provoking, it's going to be a light hearted look at some of the best baby tips I wish I'd known about when I started my 'Mammy' career. But first I want to show you a little clip of a beautiful cinematic documentary my own 'babies' gave me as a Christmas present this year and which I just got around to watching a few days ago.

It is delightful.

Top Tips For New Mommies..

When baby number one comes along I think every parent is in awe and a bit afraid of their new and tiny little ward.  I know I was.  You know, you're afraid you'll break the baby.  You're afraid she'll never go to sleep and then when she's asleep you're holding a mirror close to her nose to make sure she's breathing.  Or you wake her up just to check she's alive!  It goes with the deal I think.

Well at that time I used to faithfully buy baby magazines and follow the 'instructions' of the gurus.  Funnily enough, when my fifth baby was born I bought one magazine and flicked through it briefly before coming to the conclusion that the producers of these magazines know about as much about babies as I know about how to sell a glossy magazine...practically nothing.  I passed the magazine on to my neighbour who had just had her first baby and was a little bit afraid she would break him!

Anyway, from those magazines, I did glean one piece of, sorry,  two pieces of advice which probably justified all the money I spent.

1:  Babies are designed for amateur parents-i.e. they're a lot tougher and more flexible than you think. You're not going to break baby just because you're inexperienced so relax and do your best.

2:  Babies over one month old do not need more clothes than their parents. Therefore, if you are wearing a vest, t shirt and a sweater, baby does not need four extra layers, plus a blanket and a coat, two pairs of socks and a pair of  fur booties.

Those two bits of advice gave me such relief.  I probably wasn't going to break my baby and I didn't have to ask a million times was she too hot? too cold? does she need an extra cardigan? should I take off those tights..or add another pair? Phew...

So my other personally picked up tips are:

3:  Try and adjust your perception of time.  Babies don't know that you're usually asleep at 4 am and it's not their fault that they are awake at that time and keeping you awake.  When I had my first baby, I used to dread the 4am feed, I was so tired and as I was sitting bolt upright breastfeeding my baby with my bedside light on I'd look at my snoozing husband with a feeling deep inside which no wife should ever feel toward her husband!! I wish I could say I am exaggerating, but sorry, no.

At least by the morning I'd usually be back in love with him again.

Then I read somewhere about changing my own expectation to that feed in the wee hours and instead of dreading it, try to look forward to that secret and intimate time with my tiny sweet milky babe when all the world was asleep and it was just me and her, a single ecosystem, snuggling in the dark and delighting in each other. It made a world of difference and to this day I will always look back at those secret moments with each of my six babies as some of the most special I will ever experience.

4:  Learn how to breastfeed lying down.  Science and research come up with new benefits of breastfeeding every year and I am not going to enter into a lecture here.  Suffice to say that it is one thing I will get out of my bed in the middle of the night and drive somewhere for...if I think that a mother is not going to persevere in breastfeeding for the want of someone to encourage her. Honestly, I would do that.  But d'you see that sitting bolt upright in the middle of the night to feed a baby...exhausting.  So if a new mother can practice, practice, practice breastfeeding lying on her side ( a rolled up towel under the hip and back is great) it means that while baby is feasting away, she can have a snooze too.
It's really very easy when you master it and can be the thing that makes all the difference to feeling human and feeling like the walking dead.

5:  Have a night (or afternoon) out with your spouse from time to time.  Believe it or not, baby will not be psychologically damaged if her Mummy and Daddy spend some time refreshing their love for each other.  Especially if the mother has recently become a stay-at-home Mom.  Desire is the longing for something you don't have at that moment.  If you spend every minute of every day with that little person, you will never feel desire for him because the desire is always being fulfilled.  I think a short break will stir up that desire for the baby, you'll look forward  to seeing him again ready and refreshed and in the process a little marital desire may be just the thing too.

6: I know every parent advises this when it's too late for them personally to do this, but believe me, you will regret this if you don't do it: Get yourself a pretty notebook, maybe something like this lovely one I saw on -  

Now, keep this little book to hand and write down the funny and endearing things your little ones do and say. 

You think you'll won't.

Well that's a little taste of my deep seated and profound wisdom...

I'd love you to add any tips you've picked up along the way, maybe somebody will glean from them.

And can I ask you to send a few prayers my father's way for his speedy recovery so that he can come back home to us?

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