Dear Son

Life together is a grand adventure, isn’t it? You and I.

Your enthusiasm and glee make me soar over the cold cups of coffee, the bed piled with laundry in desperate need of folding, the constant crumbs on the rug. You daily resurrect the child in me and pull every silly voice known to mankind out of my lips.

Mouth cracked open in your best smile, you reach out to touch my face with drool-dripping hands. I let you smear it and finger-paint your joy across my cheeks.

My face. It looks so different now, baby boy, since having you. Rounder, maybe, though the baby weight is mostly gone. Maybe it’s just more stretched, more open, more weathered. More than anything, I pray it’s more loving and generous and true. I look at those girlish pictures from barely a year ago and I see a reservation, a narrowness in my eyes and smile that you pruned and carved away as you entered the world and I broke in the delivery room and was made new.

You’re my best little bud. You halt your scooting across the floor; your head bobs up and your blue eyes mirror mine and my grandfather’s–no one else has blue eyes in our families. Looking at me, those eyes of yours shine with a greater purity and dependence than I can fathom possessing. You smack your lips, stick up your chubby arms and squeal. I bend for the millionth time, but you make it the first time.

Together, we’ve read your favorite board book countless times over. Charming rhymes and illustrations about Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassatti. “I’m joyful in the mountains, the sky is bright and blue . . .” I can rattle it off at the drop of a hat regardless of whether the book is physically present. Without fail, your busy body grows still, your dancing eyes focus, you stare at the pictures while your mind rests in the familiar cadence of the words. The words of joy capture your innocent heart. You are joyful.

In you I already see an exuberance, a passion, a fire that exceeds mine. Your range of emotions is vast, entertaining–at times I wonder if you’ll turn out to be the third Son of Thunder. The ups and downs are tiring at times yet a source of awe to your daddy and me. You are delightfully determined, adventurous. Stubborn. You don’t really enjoy cuddling and to fall asleep is to be defeated. You’ve achieved most physical milestones before the “average” age and love nothing more than showing off to your father every time he comes in from work.

Your father. Oh, how you adore him. You are a mama’s boy, but any time he enters a room, you only have eyes for him. You instantly try to engage him, waving your hands, making sounds very close to “Hey! Hey!” And when your daddy responds, you’re ecstatic. You intuitively know he comes up with the most fun games, the most daring feats of alacrity and scrapes with danger that would make me nervous if I didn’t know that boys must be boys in a way mothers will never fully understand. So I stand back in the shadows and watch the two of you transform into a living Norman Rockwell portrait–authentic, absorbed–in absolutely everything you do together.

Interiorly, I know we named you well. Your patron, Adrian of Nicomedia, an imperial guard turned fearless convert and martyr, surely possessed a similar fire that beats in your little heart at such a young age. I know it’s highly likely your personality will morph and shift over the months and years, and perhaps you’ll turn out on the more sedate and introverted side, but for now, you seem to be quite the choleric-sanguine baby and your largely phlegmatic parents wouldn’t have you any other way.

To name your child after a martyr would seem morbid from the outside. But such are the times that God sent you into the world, my precious son. My mother’s heart would do anything to keep you from suffering, and yet in Faith I know suffering is the fire through which saints emerge. And in spite of all my weakness and sinfulness, I want you to be a saint. More than anything. Your father and I and millions of others feel the times will only darken. Yet you are such a light. You were created by Sovereign Love and His plans for you are beyond anything I could comprehend.

I want to hold you in my arms forever, my lips smooshing your chubby cheeks as I exclaim “Octopus!” and all your other favorite words that I know will make you laugh. I want to snuggle and nurse you all the days of my life and watch your little hand curl and uncurl close to my breast as your lashes flutter and you surrender to milk and to sleep. I will never be able to avoid the reality that to love you so much is gashing, gaping vulnerability. Something you will never know quite in the same way I do, darling, even if you’re blessed to have children of your own one day. You’ll love them as a father but I love you as a mother and in my mind there hardly a greater joy or a greater possibility for future suffering in my heart. I don’t have the strength to do anything other than embrace the present moment with ardent gratitude and pray for God’s grace to accept with docility whatever His Will holds for you, your daddy and me and our family in the future, come peace or tribulation–and we pray and hope for peace even as we prepare for otherwise.

He knows best, little son. His Will is perfect. He loves you more than my poor weak heart ever could. I daily entrust you to His care, to the protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary. You were likely conceived on the traditional feast of her Immaculate Heart; you were born on the feast of Our Lady of Fatima; you were baptized on her feast as Mediatrix of all graces. She wants you, my baby. She is your mama. Your name means “Sea” and she is your star. Maris stella. If I can but teach you to love her and to submit to God’s Will in all things, to be pure and brave and faithful in little things, then I will be at peace no matter what comes. I sense in my soul that my opportunity for sainthood lies in you, in your daddy and in our family. I beg for graces to be faithful to the end. I love you with all my heart, sweet Adrian, and always will, and I bend and kiss your head as you lay sleeping quietly on my chest.

Adrian’s birth story (written much earlier and now reposted here)

Moments after he was born . . . THE CUTENESS!

Note: this absurdly long story contains plenty of “birthy” details, so be forewarned if you’d rather not read them!

It’s a beautiful June afternoon, and I have my adorable baby boy strapped to me in his handy carrier while I sit here at my desk. 

Time to finish his story.

I’ve loved reading birth stories for a long, long time (literally, since I was twelve years old), and the potential of getting to write my own was always hugely appealing. When JA and I were expecting Adrian and getting ready for his birth, I had plenty of words and images stored away for how I was optimistically preparing for things to go, and how I would describe it later in writing. Challenging, bonding, focused, quiet, loving, amazing, prayerful, beautiful. 

Sitting down now to write Adrian’s birth story is completely different than I imagined it would be before he was born. It never crossed my mind that his birth would be something difficult for me to process emotionally. I never thought I would spend my first night in the hospital, holding my baby in my arms, but feeling shell-shocked and deeply shaken by the labor I’d prepared for for so long. I never saw myself being a week postpartum, sobbing in my husband’s arms at the thought of ever having to go through that kind of labor again. (Of course, I would love more babies!) 

I was going to have to give up my list of words and find new ones. Excruciating, long, exhausting, tearful, totally emptying, stripping, tearing . . . with him at the end.

As an introduction of sorts, let it be said that I’d hoped since the start to labor without an epidural or meds: I really thought I had a fairly high pain threshold; I wanted to “see if I could do it;” I wanted to have the ability to move around freely and not feel drugged during labor; ideally, we didn’t want any drugs affecting the baby unless my doctor felt it was necessary; I wanted the marital experience of JA supporting me and coaching me through the natural process; I wanted to offer up the pain for various intentions; and I’d read and heard from a lot of sources that recovery following a natural birth was usually much easier than recovery from a medicated birth.

I kicked into high-prep gear around 36 weeks of pregnancy. Every day, I was able to log 7,000-10,000 steps, do around 50 pelvic rocks and kegels, drink 2 cups of red raspberry leaf tea, eat a handful of dates for cervical ripening, mostly avoid sugar, drink plenty of water, and was almost always mindful to sit leaning forward to avoid the baby being “sunny side up.” Adrian was sitting low in the pelvis, already engaged, and I was 75% effaced and 1cm dilated. Although it seemed like my body was making fairly good progress, mentally, I kept on preparing myself to be overdue since that’s the statistic for the majority of firstborn babies.

The five days of infamy . . .

Friday, May 8: I woke up feeling tired and kind of uncomfortable. As the day went on, the discomfort turned into period-like cramps and back pain that slowly increased. I also started to lose my mucus plug in pieces (a process that would last for days, and keep up during labor, which I didn’t expect!). I was excited: here, at last, were a some signs of things starting to happen! I knew it didn’t necessarily mean I was going into labor, but it was still encouraging. 

By that night, the cramps were turning into patterned contractions. I could breathe through them without too much trouble. However, they were hard to lie down during and strong enough to keep me awake all night. I literally didn’t sleep at all – something that hadn’t happened my entire pregnancy.

Saturday, May 9: The contractions petered out during the daytime. I can’t remember if I napped a little that day, but if so, it wasn’t very much. By late afternoon into evening, they picked up again. I’m pretty sure we were timing each contraction at this point, and they were anywhere from 5-10 minutes apart and stronger than the night before – some were nearly 90 seconds long. Once again, I couldn’t sleep at all. I’ll always remember being up in the dark, watching every hour slip by, working through the contractions in the quiet. I couldn’t distract myself from them and had to focus and breathe deeply for each one.

Sunday, May 10: Mother’s Day. JA left while it was still dark to go to an early Mass with his mother. By the time it hit daylight, my contractions were slowing down again. He came back home, we ate breakfast, tried to rest before our 10:45 am Mass together. It was out in the field behind our parish, so consoling and beautiful. I contracted on and off during the Mass. Afterwards, we visited my grandmother and then my family and celebrated Mother’s Day together. I kept contracting all during our visit, and afterwards, JA and I came home and slept through the extremely weird hours of around 6-9pm. After that, I had a similar night of either extremely little or no sleep (I can’t remember that night too well, honestly . . .)

Monday, May 11: I called my doctor – I had an appointment scheduled for Tuesday, but was curious if I had dilated any more with all these contractions, so they moved my appointment up to that afternoon. We brought our hospital bags just in case we were going to be admitted. She checked me – and . . . no progress. At all. She cheerily encouraged me that it would happen soon. I can’t remember if I cried afterwards or not, but I had tried to prepare myself for that news in advance, so I don’t think I had a total breakdown. Still, I wondered just how much longer I had to go. I crammed my waking hours with internet accounts of prodromal labor and how a lot of moms said they thought they had shorter labors because of their (albeit miserable) experiences with it. Maybe it wasn’t too much to hope that that would be the case for me.

By the time we hit evening, I was getting more and more exhausted, and starting to develop a headache and nausea from the fatigue. We got those eventually under control, JA went to bed, and I tried to sleep. But by this point, the contractions were coming without fail every 4-5 minutes apart, and they kept up the pattern and intensity for 2 hours. 

​I woke up JA and we called the hospital since that was what we were technically supposed to do. I talked to the doctor on call, and she said I could certainly come in now, but if I wanted to wait until the contractions were 2 minutes apart, I could, since it was my first baby – or, I could come in if I needed something for the pain. JA and I decided to wait at home since we didn’t want to be admitted any earlier than we really had to. We watched some of Ratatouille and kept timing the contractions. They didn’t get any closer together. By morning, they had stalled out again. No sleep. At this point, I was hitting 96 hours with hardly any sleep and felt like I was living in the Twilight Zone.

Tuesday, May 12: JA’s sister and brother-in-law came by with breakfast from Over Easy and essential oil mixes for my labor. It was a fun distraction and uplifted me a lot, although I was having some really strong contractions through our visit. They left, JA worked from home some, and I went to lay down for a little bit.

That’s when it hit me. I couldn’t remember feeling Adrian move at all that day.

I lay still for a while, then tried moving around, then tried moving him around, all the while racking my brain for the last time I’d felt him move. I couldn’t remember anything after when I was lying on the couch the previous evening. And he still wasn’t moving now. I couldn’t feel him respond even slightly.

I was so, so tired that this put me into a seriously anxious state. Tearing up, I pulled JA away from a meeting so I could tell him. He reassured me as best he could that everything was probably fine. I called the nurse, but because it was after 2pm, the answering machine said the call would be returned the next day. I called reception and explained my dilemma, but they reassured me that the nurse would get my message that day and called me back. So I called a third time (yep, the Anxious Pregnant Lady) and left a message. Within half an hour, my nurse called me back and said I should come in, just to be safe. My doctor wasn’t in the office, but the doctor there wanted me to get a non-stress test, so we went straight to the hospital where we were both screened for Covid, and then I was hooked up to the monitors and given Coke to drink. His heartbeat was chugging along perfectly and, after half an hour, everything looked completely normal, and I was feeling him move just fine again. I was still having contractions during this, but we were so relieved. Afterward, I saw the doctor and he checked me. Again, no progress (well, maybe half a centimeter, but I think he was just being kind). He cheerily told me we would probably have a baby by the weekend.

We went home, and most of my family came over and brought us dinner later on (they knew it had been a rough day). We all ate together (I was having contractions every 5- 7 minutes or so, and they were still strong), and then my mom and sisters stayed and played Scrabble with us while we listened to music. It was so much fun and cheered me up incredibly. They left and JA and I prayed our rosary and then went to bed.

Once again, I didn’t fall asleep, and got up with the contractions being just as regular and strong as they’d ever been – increasingly. Then, really suddenly, they got a lot harder to bear. A lot.

Birth day . . .

Wednesday, May 13: The breathing techniques that had gotten me through the past 100 nearly sleepless hours weren’t enough anymore and I knew I needed JA up with me. I woke him and he helped me time the contractions and and cope with them. Now they were consistently 2 minutes apart, and fairly awful. We waited around 45 minutes to see if the pattern kept up (it did), but they were so strong and painful that I was having to moan (loudly) (sorry, upstairs neighbors) and brace myself against JA through the peaks, and it was all so different from anything that had come before that I asked/told JA to call the hospital again. The doctor on call (the same one I’d seen less than 10 hours before) told us to come in. This was around 1am.

At this point, the contractions were so painful that I was dreading the car ride. Fortunately, it was only a fifteen-minute drive and I managed to cope . . . loudly. JA dropped me off in the lobby, parked, grabbed our gear, and we went up to Labor and Delivery. Getting admitted took a little bit, and I was already having to shed my egotistical fears of what anyone might think of me, because every time a contraction came on, I had to pace back and forth and groan loudly through the peak. I suppose the receptionists had seen it all before.

Eventually, the admitting nurse collected us, helped me change into a hospital gown, hooked me up to a monitor and took my vitals, and then checked me. Finally! Progress! I was between 3-4 centimeters. I guess it took me lowing like a cow in order to dilate. I had to sign paperwork and we paid our copay, and then we had to wait for the doctor on call to drop by and essentially say, “You can stay,” and then wait for nurses to come and bring us into our actual hospital room. My contractions had slowed down some, which I’d expected since we had to leave home and be in a brand-new environment, but were every bit as painful as before, and I had to be on my feet through each one, or else it was extremely hard to cope.

At last, two sweet nurses came and helped us into our room. Then came one of the hardest parts of the whole labor. They had to hook me up to the “Monica” (their nickname for the main monitoring machine in the room) in order for me to have wireless fetal monitoring throughout labor (which would allow me to be up and around). This entailed me lying flat on my back and keep totally still for twenty minutes’ worth of contractions. I literally could only grip JA’s hand with my right one and force myself to be still during the contractions’ crushing pressure. It was torture. They had to put in hep-lock in the vein of my left hand in case I needed emergency meds, so I had to make sure I stayed still for that also. Fortunately, she didn’t have to redo it.

After they’d finished their work, they explained that for moms delivering naturally, they typically would leave them alone and only come in every hour or so, unless we called them sooner. So they left JA and I to ourselves. JA had dimmed the lights, had started diffusing some lavender, and put on some music that I liked. Night slowly turned into day, and during that time, we spent hours either sitting in silence between contractions, with me trying to relax and stay hydrated, or coping through a contraction. I couldn’t lie down at all and literally spent the next 5-6  hours perched forward on a chair or completely on my feet. I wanted to wait to get checked for as long as possible so I wouldn’t be crushed too early if my progress was still slow. By the time they checked me (mid-morning, I think? My nurse had changed, thanks to the shift rotation – she was also sweet), I had progressed maybe another centimeter. It was better than nothing, but felt like such a snails’ pace after laboring hard for nearly 6 hours. I asked my nurse, a little desperately, if there was anything I could do to speed things up. She outlined a few different positions I could try, including straddling the peanut ball. “Most moms who deliver naturally hate it because it makes the contractions more intense,” she warned. I decided to have a stiff upper lip and do it anyway, in case it would speed things up at all. I kept on and off the peanut ball for several hours, trying to straddle it for as many contractions as I could. At this point, JA was doing hard counterpressure on my back – he could literally put all his body weight into me during a contraction and it wasn’t too much.

Another four hours or so of intense labor passed. I finally broke down and got JA to page the nurse to check me again. No progress. I was still between a 5 and a 6.

Then I was crushed. After she left, I cried – a weak, heartbroken sobbing spell. JA spoke so many words of encouragement to me, but I was utterly exhausted and felt trapped, mentally and emotionally, by the pain. I didn’t have any strength or motivation to think with cheer about meeting our baby. Thanks to JA practically crushing my back or hips during every contraction, I was “coping” with them in that I wasn’t writhing and screaming and sobbing that I couldn’t do it – but I was really suffering. All the natural childbirth books and videos talked about the difference between pain and suffering. Childbirth is almost always going to be painful, but it’s a positive or productive pain. However, if a mother is mentally/emotionally suffering from the pain, that’s something different entirely and far more negative. I was there. I was completely out of gas, so to speak, and I had no idea how much longer I was going to have to do this. Technically, I wasn’t even in “active labor” yet. How demoralizing was that?

For hours, I had of course been thinking about an epidural. And that was the hardest part. I didn’t ask for it, or even mention it once to JA, but it wasn’t because of our ideals for my birth experience. It had nothing to do with willpower. It was all because of the simple and miserable reason that I knew I couldn’t sit still for itI simply didn’t have the capacity to sit still during one contraction, let alone 15-20 minutes’ worth of them while they stuck the needle into my spine, and then to have to remain still for however long it took to take effect (if it did at all). Consequently, I knew I was going to have to get through the rest of the labor without an epidural, and I was too spent to even initiate a conversation about other options for pain relief. If an epidural could have been administered in a different way, I would have told JA I needed one, and asked for it, in a heartbeat by that point.

The afternoon dragged on, getting worse and worse. That awful pelvic pressure kept increasing. Along with bracing my body in some way during every contraction, keeping me hydrated, and encouraging me every way he could, every fifteen minutes, for hours, JA would put an essential oil combo on certain pressure points, both in the hope that it would keep labor progressing and also just to give me something to count down to, for my sanity’s sake. God bless him!

Anyway, it may have been around 3pm when I got him to page the nurse again and get her to check me, because of the horrible pressure. She announced I was at a 9, with the lip on one side of my cervix still remaining. My doctor, who had been by once or twice at this point, came in again to break my water (yes, it hadn’t broken this whole time). We’d delayed it as long as possible because it was going to make things more intense. She broke my water, a painless procedure, and then immediately the next contraction was horrible – the cushion of amniotic fluid was gone and the pain and pressure went from awful to incredible. We coped through a handful of them, and then JA and the nurse pulled out the bar attachment to the bed so I could stand in front of the bed and grip the bar during the peaks. Or rather, I wrung it with my hands each time and nearly tore the covering off. At this point, I couldn’t cope with being touched or spoken to. It’s hard to describe the pain of having so much crushing pressure during contractions but not being able to push yet.

After an hour, the nurse checked me one more time, and I was still at a 9 or a 9.5 – the last stubborn lip of cervix wasn’t moving. My doctor came in, mercifully said she didn’t mind me starting to push anyway, and manually moved that lip of cervix. Then she had to go out again (she was simultaneously delivering another baby), leaving me for the time being with my nurse and JA.

Thus began the pushing stage. I’d read many stories of how, after the pain of the contractions, pushing was a tremendous relief to a lot of mothers. I’d kind of been holding on to the hope that that would be true for me, too. Well . . . alas, pushing was absolutely the worst part of the whole labor. I started out propped up on my back, then tried to switch to my side but that made the pain unbearable. This was the time where I really started coming undone – I remember gripping JA’s shirt and writhing on the bed, half-wailing his name and that I just couldn’t do it. He and my nurse both, naturally, told me I could. I felt like I was going to throw up with every push. I was incredibly hot, bathed in sweat like it was oil, my hair was matted, I could smell the other matter I was pushing out (sorry, but it’s a reality), and I was trembling uncontrollably from the pain and exhaustion. The nurse suggested I get on my knees and lean over the back of the bed, and try pushing that way. I crushed JA’s hand in mine and would start pushing at what I thought was the beginning of a contraction, but was probably just whenever I had a scrap of energy. I would push with all my might for ten counts without breathing (if I could go back, I probably wouldn’t have done that . . .) and then do it twice more. Unfortunately, then my contraction would actually peak and my body would keep uncontrollably pushing for at least two more pushes. That made it five insanely hard pushes per contraction, leaving me ready to pass out. 

There were two phases of my 30-40 minute pushing stage; phase one was “I absolutely can’t do this; this is extremely painful and lasting so much longer than I thought it would and I’m going to throw up;” phase two was, well, animal pushing. And in between these two phases came The Turning Point.

Through the fog of utter exhaustion and pain, I finally realized, with pretty astonishing clarity considering my state, that there was no procedure, no intervention that anyone could do to get this baby out. It was entirely up to me. had to push past the wall of my weakness and fear. I just had to. No one else could get Adrian out but me. And I had to, right now. That’s when the unearthly but helpful animal instinct took over and I pushed relentlessly, even though the pressure and the “ring of fire” were increasingly awful.

Five to six nurses were in the room, coaching me, but I was pretty much past the point of being coached. Once the baby got close to crowning, I went onto my back again and continued to push while they paged my doctor to come pretty quickly. She arrived within minutes, surrounded by light (at least in my memory 😉 ) and started throwing on her scrubs while I pushed and pushed and Adrian crowned. I remember screaming something to the effect of, “This hurts SO BAD!”

“He has a head of dark hair!” one of the nurses told me – and that was practically the most consoling moment of the entire labor. I’d imagined him with dark hair . . . and he was there, almost out. We were at the crest. I could do this. 

The room around me grew dimmer, I pushed without air, the burning grew and grew, I shrank into a pinpoint – 

– and he was out. First his head, and then within seconds, his body. “Look, he’s here! He’s here!” they exclaimed jubilantly, lifting Adrian Raphael up and situating him on my chest right away. It was 5pm on the nose. I will never forget my first sight of his little crying face and how beautiful and tiny and alert and real he was. It’s just impossible to describe. I remember JA kissing my forehead, pushing my horribly stringy hair away, and me shakily saying sweet nothings to our little son, as well as telling JA, “He’s so perfect!” and “I couldn’t have done it without you,” and “I’m sorry if there was anything I said that hurt your feelings.” (He assured me there wasn’t.) After a few minutes, they let him cut the cord.

Recovery at the hospital

All the nurses were congratulating me. I had never experienced such profound, exhausted, bone-deep relief and such infatuation with a baby. I could still feel the umbilical cord down there and remembered I needed to deliver the placenta – this made me slightly nervous because I knew there was the small off-chance it wouldn’t come out intact and then my doctor would have to remove the rest manually . . . however, it came out painlessly and perfect. My doctor showed it to us and I remember a gray blob, but that was about it.

We stayed in recovery for two hours. I remember asking my doctor in the first few minutes, “Did I tear at all?” and her rueful reply was, “Oh, yes, sweetie, you did. I’m sorry,” and proceeded to give me a shot of lidocaine and stitch me up in the few places where I’d suffered second-degree tears. Every fifteen minutes, a nurse would give me that hard (initially super painful, but gradually less so) abdominal massage. They put me on Pitocin to contract my uterus and I remember that it burned in my hand (quite a lot!) at first. When I wasn’t able to urinate on my own, they catheterized me, which was not so great because of the stitches down there. (Ouch.) I was also shivering uncontrollably, and that would last for the rest of the night. But! All though this, I got to love on our Adrian, get him to start latching, and certainly none of the pain compared to the mind-boggling labor.

Eventually we got to our postpartum room and they left us alone for a little bit – JA went downstairs and rendezvoused with his family in the lobby for our dinner, God bless them, and for the bit of time I was alone in the room with Adrian, I just felt like sobbing. The whole labor was one immense, rather frightening fog of memory in my brain, and I didn’t want to think about it at all and just felt in shock and utterly exhausted. Where were the feelings of elation and empowerment that a lot of other natural-birth moms talked about experiencing? Anyway, it helped to call home and hear my family’s voices, especially my mom, and eating a giant Chipotle steak bowl also wasn’t bad (who knows how many calories I burned?!). JA eventually fell into an exhausted sleep, and I watched some HGTV while intermittently trying to breastfeed or talk to any of the nurses who would come in almost hourly to check my blood pressure and other vitals, as well as Adrian’s.

We stayed in the hospital two nights; we didn’t get much sleep; we adored our baby; Skyped with family; and I didn’t even feel up to showering until the morning we were discharged (ick, I know). Overall, it was a good experience and the staff was very kind (even though we were kind of sledgehammered by paperwork, baby tests, and other things to do the morning after he was born) but we were both dying to get home. My family brought Cracker Barrel the next night, which was delightful. I simply couldn’t wait to see them and have them meet their first grandbaby/nephew! 

At last, we were discharged . . . I remember us driving away from the hospital and I wasn’t too keen to remember the drive we’d made there. A song came on JA’s Spotify shuffle that I still can’t remember for the life of me, but the lyrics instantly made me start crying because they made me think about how hard things had been, and grapple with the fact that I actually needed to heal mentally and emotionally (let alone physically) from the birth.

Recovery at home

The last expectation for my birth/post-birth experience that got flipped on its head was how long it took to feel like I hadn’t been hit by a truck (literally!), even though I gave birth naturally. It took 10 full days before the pain from the tearing dipped down to milder levels. Combined with sheer exhaustion, discomfort from learning how to breastfeed, overall soreness and bleeding, and the steep hormonal shifts of the postpartum period, and it really was so much harder than I’d thought it would be. 

It had its high points of our families finally getting to meet Adrian, of so many sweet friends bringing us meals, of countless sweet moments of just JA and I reveling in our baby and rejoicing in this renewal of our love for one another in the Sacrament of Marriage, of Adrian’s first Mass and eventually his Baptism when he was two-and-a-half weeks old.

I’m not trying to complain or set up my birth experience as something worse than it actually was . . . overall, it was safe, healthy and successful, with no complications or emergencies, which was exactly what we prayed for. It was so much better than the experience of many other mothers’ who have legitimate reasons to be traumatized. But I’m still a little embarrassed/regretful/not-sure-of-the-right-word that, when people ask me how the birth was, I have to sum it up as “a hundred times more painful and hard than I thought it would be,” instead of, “so blessed and beautiful!” (Except for my memories of JA and how amazing, loving, supportive and strong he was, that is.) It honestly did give me something like a mild version of PTSD.

It was an incredibly humbling experience to go through so much pain, and to be so emptied and laid bare in front of both the man I loved most as well as total strangers. And I do know that, if I had to do a natural birth all over again, I could do it. However, the jury is still out on whether I could/should/would push past my anxiety and even dread and choose to do it again that way, or at least before I’d compared it to a birth with an epidural, etc. . . . but we’ll leave all that discernment and decision-making for the next pregnancy, God-willing 😉 Although it was much different than I expected, I thank Our Lord with all my heart for how Adrian’s birth went, because He knew it was best that way, and it was the day I got to meet my beloved child and begin realizing anew how profound the gift of motherhood truly is.

And for now, we have our precious baby in our arms, and can’t believe he’s already over a month old! He has brought us more joy and overwhelming love than we ever dreamed possible. Blessed be God and all glory to Him for the gift of our precious little son!

I’m back!

Photo by Isabella and Louisa Fischer on Unsplash

Why? Well . . . this blog tells my story. And I feel kind of bad for having left it so long!

So I’m back! Back to write more of this lovely bountiful God-given tale of my life, in the space where it all started. *Nostalgic sniff* Just think – I started blogging here before I’d even met my husband . . . and now we have a chunky baby to call our own! God is good. My two guys are my life’s joy!

There’s tons to update on here but I’ll do that a little bit at a time. If you’re still following by accident or with far more loyalty than I could hope to possess for any blog, God bless you. 🙂

See you soon!

The state of things: 3 months in!

Mary Jimenez :: That Sweet "Ave"

ForKingandCountry120 days left until our wedding! Here’s an update on what we‘ve gotten done since I last posted here . . . can’t promise that it will be anywhere near in order, but here goes!

  • We have our wedding bands! We were able to get a really good price (less than what we budgeted for) and they came in not too long ago. They fit perfectly and are beautiful, simple white gold – exactly what I wanted 🙂 I have The Dash’s and he has mine until the wedding day.
  • The Dash ordered his wedding suit last week – a three-piece gray (on sale!) . . . sigh . . . he is going to look so good!
  • We have all our music assembled for our reception on Spotify. We wound up making a single folder containing multiple playlists for various “phases” of the reception, just so that everything…

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The Holy Family Planner: Now available!



A beautiful, functional and reverent Catholic planner designed to inspire and uplift your planning style! Includes:

  • all Ordinary Form and Extraordinary Form Calendar feast days
  • U.S. Holidays
  • daily menu planning
  • two-page month-at-a-glance for each month of the year
  • two-page week-at-a-glance for each week of the year
  • customizable monthly goals pages
  • personal information and contacts pages
  • inspiring quotes from the Saints
  • lovely sacred line art
  • Black-and-white interior, full-color cover, sturdily spiral-bound.

A perfect help for you, or a thoughtful gift for any Catholic lady in your life!

View Preview for 6-Month Planner