18 December 2014

I never, ever learn.

I got sucked into a debate on Facebook, against my better judgment, about the issue of "holiday" cards.

Why, why, WHY do I never learn?

It started because someone with whom I am barely more than acquainted -- we knew each other somewhat in high school -- commented that she doesn't understand why people send out holiday cards without personalized messages, and likening doing so to sending out a Hallmark card and writing nothing inside.

And here's the grand hint that I should just have stayed out of it: She prefaced this judgment of people's cards by stating that she doesn't send cards and so "who am I to judge?"


I resisted the urge to comment all day, while literally dozens of comments piled up underneath the original status. Most of them were in agreement with the original sentiment, full of sarcasm and cynicism, or else self-congratulatory that they were not guilty of such a holiday card faux pas.

The original poster also added at some point that she should -- "hahahaha" -- send a "Happy Hanukkah" card to everyone who sent her a "Merry Christmas" card this year.

I reached the point in my evening where my biorhythms are apparently at a low ebb because I commented. My comment was thus:

I've been back and forth on jumping in here all day... My two cents is this: I think long and hard about which card I choose, so that it already contains the message I want to send. Then I personalize what can be personalized (which, on our card this year, was one measly line, not counting the part where I put our names). I could have added backside printing, but it's actually ridiculously expensive to do so. Also, even with my saving some time by printing address labels and printing return address labels, addressing, stamping and closing the envelopes took me the best part of a whole afternoon to do. Adding hand-written notes would have put it out of the realm of possibility as time commitments go. The project cost me probably $200 (maybe more, as I had leftover holiday stamps from last year which kept the cost down artificially) and, as I said, a whole afternoon. Trust me, anyone who got a Christmas card from us got a whole lot of my time and attention, even if they didn't get any sort of individually personalized note. Our card is unapologetically Christmas -- even religious-Christmas -- themed because that's what's important to me, and I would not mind one bit getting a Happy Hanukkah card from any of my Jewish friends.

So basically: I do think of everyone to whom I'm mailing a card, it's cost-and-time prohibitive but I think it's worth it even without a hand-written personal note, and go ahead and send me a Hanukkah card if you're Jewish and celebrating Hanukkah. I had no intention of flaming anyone, and I sincerely think I hit the right note. At least I don't think I hit any wrong, jarring note. 

Oh, ho ho. That's adorable. Colleen, you're an idiot.

Her response came back thus:
That's fine and you and everyone else is entitled to do what they want. But I disagree with just about everything you've said. Should you care about my opinion? Absolutely not. I would find it perhaps a little sad to get a Christmas card, especially a religious one, from a close friend. It's important to you, but the message would be that you don't care about what's important to me. We can agree to disagree because this opens up a much bigger discussion. The point is we all make choices about the holidays. Some people put a lot of thought into their cards, and it sounds like you do. Others do it for the sake of jumping on the bandwagon, and it's disingenuous. I don't send cards, but you can be sure that I show my friends and family my affection in other ways. And why anything I've said here was taken personally, especially by people who never even sent me any cards is beyond me.
I have to admit: it makes me sad that someone would be made sad by receiving my religious Christmas card. I know that everyone is not religious; my sending you a card that includes Isaiah's prophecy is not an attempt to shame you and it is certainly not because I'm trying to show you that I think what I care about is more important than what you care about. But the point is that I'm not going to take the Christ out of Christmas for anyone -- especially since I'm ordering custom photo cards in bulk, and thus can obviously only choose one design.

Besides, if someone is your good friend and they send you a religious card, shouldn't you know them well enough to know that they're not trying to subtly jab you?

But really what left me feeling like I was trying to reason with a crazy person was the last line. "I've made a blanket, judgmental statement in a semi-public forum that applies to a lot of people who might be reading this. But you didn't even have the good manners to send me a card, person I barely know, so why should you think this has anything to do with you?"

You know what, it doesn't. I was trying to stand up for some of the people who had commented on the thread who weren't doing an eloquent job of doing it for themselves. And the tone of her response is so out of line that I think I probably did hit a chord with her. And maybe she'll think twice next time before she blurts potential ugliness all over Facebook.

But I'm never going to know because I followed my own Facebook rule (which is: if your posts make me anxious and/or cause me to question your intelligence and/or cause me to question your sanity, there's a three-strike rule before I stop reading what you write) and unfollowed her immediately! Isn't it wonderful that you can do such a thing and no one ever has to know?

09 December 2014

Infertility, and some further information

I just wanted to share this article on chastity.com, which is a great overview on the infertility struggles that many couples face, and which Catholic couples in particular face in view of the Church's total prohibition on assisted-reproductive technologies (ART).

Two things the article fails to mention, from my perspective as a Catholic who struggled with infertility and finally achieved pregnancy (and then a second!):

  1. The Creighton Method (NaPRO Technology) was a godsend. My husband and I took private lessons with a pro-life doctor who specializes in reproductive issues, and it took weeks to learn how to properly chart using this method, but it was worth it. The article specifies the Creighton Method as useful for Catholic couples, but what the article never mentions is that this type of charting can reveal issues such as the wife being anovulatory, meaning she doesn't ovulate (or, in my case, didn't ovulate regularly). In this case, it is entirely permissible for a faithful Catholic to use drugs which induce ovulation, such as Clomid. 
  2. The other thing is that the article discusses the necessity of masturbation as the only means of obtaining sperm for technologies such as intrauterine insemination or in vitro fertilization. This isn't strictly true (which still does not make these procedures permissible). Catholic ethicists have okayed the use of non-lubricated, non-spermicided, punctured condoms for use in diagnosing male fertility issues. Such a condom can assist in the collection of a sample for testing purposes by collecting a high-quality sample during an act of marital love without acting as a barrier to conception due to the puncture and lack of spermicide. 
If you're struggling with infertility, know that millions of women feel your pain. Our daughter's nightly prayers include a line just for you (and everyone knows that baby prayers count triple!), and I hope you find peace. 

God bless.

Baby update

So after one doctor last week acting as if I could have this baby any second, today's doctor seemed unsure whether the baby would come early at all. Now, to me that seems like an under-reaction because I'm 37 weeks 1 day, and already 4 cm dilated and 80% effaced. There ain't no darn way I have almost three weeks left in me. But I'm going to take it a little less easy. Maybe have a glass of wine later this week.

Meanwhile, I told the doctor I was worried I wouldn't be sure I was in labor because I was induced with my first, but when I got to the hospital and they hooked me up to monitors they told me I was contracting regularly on my own. I hadn't noticed and they really didn't get truly painful until hours after they started pitocin and they broke my water. Having suffered endometriosis since I was 12, early labor wasn't painful enough to even register on my pain meter.

And this is why I love my doctor: He told me to ask the Blessed Virgin for help, and pointed to the Miraculous Medal around my neck and said, "That's not jewelry you're wearing."

What an amazing reminder!

What a blessing.

Now, kid: I would like you to come out with your hands up, sooner rather than later. Preferably on Saturday so you can have an awesome trick birthday like your sister.

06 December 2014


So it turns out that what I needed most to get some stuff done for the imminent arrival of my new little bundle was talking about how underprepared I was. Since I vented two days ago about my list, I have:

  • Washed some newborn clothes
  • Found the almost-nonexistent unisex newborn clothes left over from Keira's infancy. She must have trashed everything because I found one tan onesie, one tan sleep'n'play, one pair of black pants, one pair of brown pants and one pair of navy pants. (Plus one pair of Santa jammies and a white bunting for going outside.) Turns out that it's a good thing I ignored my logical instincts and bought stuff for the new baby even though I "already had stuff." Because as it turns out, I ain't got stuff.
  • Cleaned up the guest room, which mostly meant unearthing the bed. It has become my dumping ground for everything that didn't have a logical home, which in a home as small as this was a lot of stuff. A bunch of stuff is in plastic bins which will be stored, largely unsorted, in our garage until we move again, at which time I will likely just throw it all out. Sigh. 
  • Got our wills notarized, so they're actually official in case anything should happen to us. Shamefully, our daughter's first two+ years were lived without any official provisions having been made for her care. Thank God nothing happened to us.
I swear I am usually an organized person. I'm just not up to the challenge of organizing this tiny little abode, which is about to have two kids in it even though there's really only room for one, when I have just spent the last nine months too sick to do anything useful.

So we just need a packed hospital bag -- although honestly I'm an expert at packing in like two minutes so I might push that to the bottom of my list -- and to figure out where this kid is going to sleep. We got one of these so that the baby can sleep in bed with us while still having his own space, because there is no room in our bedroom for a Pack'n'Play, but it remains to be seen if we can sleep with it between us, even in a king-sized bed. 

I need to move. To Texas. Where there is lots of space. Because Virginia is cramped, y'all.

04 December 2014


Last published in August... Oof.

Sorry, lone reader who might wander by!

Four months later, it's December and I'm in the home stretch of this pregnancy. By which I mean that I'm on modified bedrest to buy some time because I'm 36 weeks and three days and as of two days ago I'm already 3cm dilated.

Normally my doctor's office has an appointment at 34 weeks, one at 35 weeks where they do the Group B strep test, and then not another until 37 weeks, at which point they start cervical checks and go to weekly appointments, but I asked to go weekly AND start cervical checks a week early because a) my daughter was born at 38 weeks and b) this kid is beating the heck out of the doorway out. So when the doctor checked me on Tuesday she said, "Yup. Baby's head is really low and you're 3 cm so... Take it, like, really easy and maybe we can get another week or two out of this thing. I hope we see you here in the office next week." And then a minute later, "You're still working?!"


I am not ready to have a baby before next week. I wasn't counting on being given a full 40 weeks to prepare but I thought I'd get at least 37-and-a-half or so. I got permission to continue working since I work from home, so I'm banging out everything that will be on deadline while I'm out and hoping for the best -- although my daughter's birth snuck up on me too and I left a lot undone and nothing burned to the ground so I'm not all that concerned, honestly. It's just a job.

I'm more concerned about the fact that I have not packed a hospital bag... Or figured out where this child is going to sleep... Or washed any newborn clothes... Or even found his sister's newborn clothes that are unisex in color... Or cleaned the house for the inevitable guests...

Yup. So that's how THAT'S going.