Wednesday, November 30, 2011

It's Christmas Novena time again!

First of all, I realize that I never said thank you for the kind comments and tweets and emails in response to my recent post about trying for another baby.  I started blogging as a way to deal with the overwhelming emotions I'd had concerning our fertility issues, and it continues to mean so much to me to know that there are people out there--some we've met, some we haven't--who are rooting for us and praying for us.

And speaking of prayer, I wrote last year about the Christmas novena that Arwen prayed before Camilla was conceived, and that we prayed before Nate was conceived.  Between us we're three for three with this novena leading to pregnancy, and even though my more recent pregnancy ended badly, I remain more convinced than ever of the efficacy of this incredibly powerful prayer.

I'm re-posting below what I wrote last year as we prepare to begin praying again.  The novena starts today, the feast of Saint Andrew!  If you're so inclined and want to pray along with us, I'd be ever so grateful if you'd add our intention to your own.  I don't think it's any secret what we're praying for.  And a special thanks to all of you who have already promised your prayers.  Please know that you remain always in mine.

* * * * *

Two years ago, Arwen told me about a novena she'd prayed three years earlier. She had been trying to get pregnant for two years at that point (ironic, isn't it, that she'll have FOUR children next summer?), and she was turning to this special, powerful prayer.

I knew, of course, that she got pregnant with Camilla less than two months after the novena was done, but I'd be lying if I said I didn't have any doubts that it would "work" for us. I mean, I know that God answers every prayer, but I also know that the answer isn't always the one we'd hoped for. We'd been waiting over three years for a baby by then, and I had only one fallopian tube, and I was ten years older than she'd been when the novena worked for her, and . . . let's just say I was hopeful, but hesitant.

But pray we did. As did the rest of Arwen's family, and less than a month after Christmas we found out I was expecting Nate.

Needless to say, then, I'm a big believer in this novena. We'll be praying it again this year, starting on the feast of Saint Andrew. The prayer is recited fifteen times per day from November 30th through Christmas. It's a lovely prayer and very easy to memorize.

If you'd like to join in, make sure you choose a good intention. This is one powerful prayer!
Hail and blessed be the hour and moment
in which the Son of God was born of the Most pure Virgin Mary
at midnight in Bethlehem, in piercing cold.
In that hour, vouchsafe, o my God!
to hear my prayer and grant my desires,
through the merits of our Savior Jesus Christ
and of His Blessed Mother.

Monday, November 28, 2011


Nearly every time I fire up my laptop these days, Nate clamors into my lap, demanding "Picture! Picture!"  (Actually, it sounds more like "Peecha!  Peecha!")  He wants me to open the Photo Booth application and take pictures of the two of us--or let him take pictures of himself.

Adorable, right?  Except that in every single picture, he wants to open his mouth as wide as it will go. 


I'm sure it's just a phase, right? 

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The First Sunday of Advent

Inspired by Emily and Elizabeth, David and I came up with a long list of activities with which to fill our Advent calendar.  They range from very simple (set up Nate's Nativity sets, get out Christmas books, take canned goods to the food pantry) to potentially messy (decorate gingerbread houses, make pine cone and peanut butter ornaments for the birds) to big and event-y (Scottish walk parade in Old Town, ZooLights at the National Zoo, go see the National Christmas tree).

And then we neglected to complete an activity for the first day of Advent.

Now, to be fair, I haven't actually set up the Advent calendar yet.  As any liturgical Christian knows, the length of Advent varies from year to year, depending on when Christmas falls.  This year, Advent is as long as it ever is (28 days), because Christmas is on a Sunday.  When Christmas is on a Monday, Advent is a mere 22 days long, because the Fourth Sunday of Advent is actually Christmas Eve.  (I think it's a bummer when this happens, frankly.)  Regardless of the actual length of Advent, though, every Advent calendar I've ever seen, including mine, starts on December first. 

Clearly my out-of-the-gate Advent stumble is the fault of my calendar, and not any failing on my part.  Ahem.

But we did manage to get the Advent wreath set up and blessed, and we lit the first candle tonight during dinner.  I'd like to find a short, simple prayer to use when lighting the candles, because I'd like to do it every night while we eat and the prayers from the book I have (Prayers for the Domestic Church) are way too long for nightly use when your two year old is waiting for his food.

I also think I've settled into a Christmas-decorating plan that I'm really comfortable with.  In 2008, in a well-intentioned but incompletely thought-out plan to observe Advent during Advent and celebrate Christmas during the actual Christmas season, we waited until the Fourth Sunday of Advent to procure a Christmas tree.  And then we discovered that very few places are still selling trees that late and very nearly ended up tree-less.  Even the Catholic school in Old Town was out of trees by the time we got around to buying one.  It was a bad day, that one.

In 2009 we decorated on the earlier side.  I think we put up the tree on the second weekend of Advent.  Nate was two months old, and so we needed to take advantage of the one weekend my mom was in town to get everything done.  Score one for necessity dictating the schedule.

Last year, though, I hit upon what I think is the right balance for us.  I pulled out the non-tree decorations during the second weekend of Advent.  They got the house feeling festive, but we still had the tree to look forward to.  We got the tree, then, on the third weekend, which also happens to be the weekend of Gaudete Sunday--a nice time for a little rejoicing.  I liked this for a few reasons.  First, it was far enough into Advent that I didn't feel like we were completely getting ahead of ourselves.  Second, it broke up the decorating so that it wasn't a big, all-day job.  And third, it made the tree decorating into a fun, stand-alone event, one made all the more enjoyable because the rest of the house was already bedecked with trimmings. 

So we're going with that plan again this year.  At some point in the future, I may consider breaking it down even more: maybe buying and lighting the tree on the Third Sunday, but saving the ornaments until the Fourth.  Or maybe I'll just ask Arwen what her family always did, and then shamelessly copy them, as per usual.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Not until Thanksgiving 2030, my friend

We made it through Thanksgiving unscathed, even though Nate decided that Wednesday afternoon--which was slated for potato-mashing and pumpkin spice bread-baking and corn muffin-making and table-setting--would be the perfect day to refuse to take a nap.  Ultimately, everything was delicious, and we managed to get it all served on time and get it almost all cleaned up well before bedtime, which is a huge win in my book.

I thought I'd been very clever in moving the little wooden play table and chairs into the dining room, so that Nate and our goddaughter, Fiona, could sit with us sans high chairs.  Fiona is only six months older than Nate, and they get along pretty well, so it seemed like it would work.  It did work, sort of, for Fiona, who is (1) slightly older, (2) a girl, and (3) used to being cooperative around other kids in her preschool.  I know she at least ate some turkey.  Nate had a fabulous time, apparently sustained by air and pure adrenaline, because he refused to eat a bite.  He even turned his nose up at the might-as-well-have-been-pie-filling sweet potato casserole with praline topping.  What kid turns down a side dish that is essentially comprised of sugar and butter?  Mine, I suppose.

The highlight of the day, though, occurred as we all sat down to dinner.  Fiona was settled at the little table with her plate, and David was bringing Nate's dinner from the kitchen into the dining room.  He was also carrying his own beer glass, and he set both the plate and the glass on the kids' table so he could settle Nate into his chair.  Fiona sized up the situation in an instant and, deeming it woefully inequitable, began wailing, "I want a beer like Nate!  I want a beer like Nate!" as her parents rushed over to explain that my two-year-old wouldn't be washing his turkey down with a microbrew.  She was so upset about it, and it felt kind of mean to be laughing at her distress.  But seriously, how could we not laugh at our pint-sized goddaughter demanding her fair share of the booze?

All in good time, Fiona.  All in good time.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

T-minus three hours until my next shot

Elizabeth called me out this week on not posting in over a month.  I knew it had been a pathetically long time, and I had decided this week to bite the bullet and start posting about what's been going on, but I haven't really known how to go about doing it.

After I miscarried in the spring, my doctor told me that, given my age and history of infertility, I should come back in for fertility treatment if I wasn't pregnant again within 2-3 months.  Considering how long it had taken to get pregnant with Nate, it seemed like a laughably short time frame in which to find myself pregnant, and it was.  So by the end of the summer we were looking into starting fertility treatments.

The really crappy thing about having real difficulty getting pregnant is that it ends up being so damn exhausting.  Everyone jokes about how much fun it is to try to have a baby.  Throw caution to the wind!  Have a few drinks!  Take a romantic trip!  And for people who get pregnant within a few months, I'm sure it's a great time.  Part of the reason I had been so thrilled to see those two pink lines in March was that we hadn't been affirmatively"trying."  I mean, we have never undertaken any measures to prevent pregnancy, so other than when I was pregnant and postpartum we were always, in a sense, trying to get pregnant.  But I wasn't expecting it to happen, which made it all the more thrilling when it did.

If that pregnancy had stuck, it's likely we never would have worried about "trying" ever again.  I could be wrong; maybe we'd always want just one more.  But we both know how stressful it is, and how difficult it has proven for us, and so I really think we would have counted our blessings, prayed for another baby, and just let nature take its course.

It didn't stick, though, and instead it just threw into sharp relief just how much we wanted another one.  It's weird, too, because in some ways I feel both more and less desperate about it.  On the one hand, we have an amazing, adorable, enchanting child.  We're parents, and that's something that's true whether we have one kid or a dozen. 

On the other hand, though, I feel like it's important to have another baby for Nate.  I don't want him to have to grow up as an only child.  Obviously we'll do the best we can to make his childhood and his entire life as full of love and joy as possible, even if he never has a brother or sister.  But I believe that siblings are the greatest gifts parents can give their children, and I just don't want him to be alone if we can help it. 

So here we are, stuck with the stress of truly trying once again, and in August we found ourselves sitting in a consultation with the fertility doctor we'd seen five years ago, as if we'd stepped back in time.  Instead of being in my fortieth week of pregnancy right now, where I wish like anything I were on this November evening, I'm instead blogging from the other side of updated hormone panels, a dozen or so blood draws and ultrasounds, pre-bedtime hormone injections in my stomach, and, as of a few days ago, two failed medicated cycles.  Last night I started the injections for cycle number three.

I don't want this space to turn back into an infertility blog.  I did the infertility blog thing when we were trying the first time, when I desperately needed that online community of women who were all dealing with the same thing.  At the time, trying to have a baby was very nearly my sole focus.  This time around, there's a rambunctious two year old who gets top billing in the attention department, which really does make all the difference in the world.  It means walking into the fertility clinic for monitoring already experiencing the joy of motherhood, instead of just wishing for it.  It doesn't mean, though, that I'm not sad or that I'm not stressed or that I don't need to be able to write about what's going on.

That's where I've been, and why I've been quiet.  I just don't feel like being quiet about it any more.