Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Biblical Trivia

"Hey, Mom, did you know there is an older testament and a newer one?"

What It's Taken Me Five Kids To Figure Out

1.  The epidural is a very, very, very good thing.  So good, in fact, I wish it hadn't taken four kids for me to get one.  I highly, highly recommend them.  (All you natural childbirth advocates out there, save your judgements/comments. )

2.  No matter how much they try, doctors are not in control of the labor and delivery process.   I was scheduled to be induced at 7:00 am on Friday, September 3.  I had Camille the day before at 5:30 am.  This meant I labored at the hospital all night long.  It was inconvenient for the doctor.  My apologies.

3.  Formula feeding my baby doesn't make me a bad mother.  It makes me sane, happy, and prudent.  So sane, happy, and prudent, I wished I hadn't spent so much time and energy working so hard to breastfeed my previous four. (All you nursing advocates out there, see number one.  Same rules apply.)  

4.  Though there may be an initial adjustment period, none of my children will be permanently warped and/or damaged from introducing additional offspring into the home.

5.  Pregnancy and lack of sleep make me cranky.  I am much more likely to overreact to silly situations and normal childhood antics if I'm sleep deprived.  This seems like an obvious one but when I realized how tired I was yesterday (after getting only a few hours of constantly interrupted shut eye), I cut myself a break for not functioning at full capacity.

6.  This leads me to another huge realization--it's OK to cut myself a break.  If I forget to attend a meeting (like I did last night) or don't have time to answer an email/phone call, I'm not an inconsiderate person.  I'm a postpartum wife and mother taking care of six people and myself!

7.  As soon as a woman pees on the stick and it turns pink, her life is changed forever (Sorry to be so graphic, but it's true).  The next nine months are spent puking, preparing, and longing for the little baby within her womb.  Men, however, don't realize the gravity of the situation until one minute after the baby is born.  Then, they panic.

8.  It's a good thing both the husband and the wife don't freak out at the same time.  Someone has to remain calm--or at least pretend.

9.  I don't have to explain any parenting decisions I make to anyone except God and my husband.  (And maybe some family, if they so inquire.)  What we decide is up to us.  'Nough said.

10.  I also don't have to explain to anyone how many children we 'plan' on having.  The real answer is, I DON'T KNOW and unless our lifestyle is affecting you (which it isn't), it's probably best you don't ask. 

11.  Even though pregnancy is absolute misery for me, if, in the future, the Lord gives us another child, we would welcome it.

I mean, really, how could I ever say no to this?

Or this?

I just couldn't.
You can judge me, if you wish;  I'm not asking you to understand.

(DISCLAIMER:  This post was written in a full-fledged hormonal mood swing. I take no responsibility for any 'tone' you may or may not perceive.  Have a nice day.)

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Sweet Factor

Mary Bernadette ran into our room last night sobbing and shaking uncontrollably.  She had a terrible nightmare.  Clutching my neck, she cried into my shoulder with fright.

"What was your dream about," I asked.

"I was falling and I couldn't stop," she hiccuped.

"I hate those kinds of dreams," I soothed as I picked her up to carry her back to her bed.  John followed me.

We tucked her in, smoothed the hair from her face, and I said,  "You know what I like to think about after I wake up from a bad dream?"

She smiled at me from watery eyes.

"Daddy and you kids."

She smiled again.

"You know what I like to think about," said John.  "Ice cream."

This time she laughed.

"You know what I like to think about," she responded. 

"What," I prompted.

"The new baby."

I smothered her cuteness with kisses.  

I think that's just about the best thing ever to think about. 

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Parenting 101

Dan and his wife, a family at the school where my children attend,  just welcomed their third baby this past Friday.  Their oldest child is barely three, they have a twenty month old daughter and a brand new infant.  To break it down for you, they are parents to three children ages three and under.

Since his wife is still recovering, Dan has been dropping his two little ones off at the Early Childhood Development Center (a job usually reserved for his wife).  For the last few days, I couldn't help but notice he looks very overwhelmed.  And tired.

My heart has been breaking for him.  

His children are very young and needy (like all of them) and now he and his wife have a newborn.  As we were picking the kids up the other day, I overheard the teacher tell him his middle child seemed very sleepy.  When he heard this report, his brow furrowed and he looked so distressed about his little girl.

In the school hallway, I attempted to make him feel better.

"Hey, Dan," I offered.  "I just want you to know, what you are doing right now--with three kids under the age of three--this is as hard as it gets.  The parenting doesn't get any tougher than this right here," I said, waving at the sea of little ones surrounding us.

"I don't know if that's good news or bad news," he answered.

"Well, that's the good news," I said.  "You're dressed, your kids are dressed, they've been fed and you are out in public.  That shows me you guys are surviving.  It's hard, but you are making it.  In a few years, you'll be just fine."

Smiling weakly, he waved good-bye and walked away.

I was trying to be encouraging.  I don't know if it worked.

I remember how I felt after I had Mary Bernadette.  Patrick was still very sick.  He was only two years old, Meaghan was one, and I had a brand new babe wrapped in swaddling clothes.  Like she always does, my mom had come to help me for a few weeks until I was back on my feet.  The day before she left, I sat on my couch crying and begging her to stay.  I was hatching a plan to convince her to move in with us.  I was desperate and I didn't know how I would survive without help.

But I did.  We did.  It was stressful, but we made it.  I've lived to tell the tale.

Though we've added a few more kids to the mix, I think life was much harder back then than it is today.  I'm not saying I haven't had moments of feeling overwhelmed with my new little Camille.  I'm still very hormonal and very much recovering from nine months of pregnancy and childbirth.  But, unlike Dan, I have a few kids who can at least dress themselves, go to the bathroom on their own, and even fill a cup of water if they are thirsty.  A few years ago, I didn't and daily life was completely exhausting.

Still, when I think back on those years, it's not the exhaustion I remember.  It's not wiping all the bottoms, noses, and sloppy mouths--although that's the type of work that made up my days.

No, what I remember is the sheer joy of watching those little faces, of hugging those little bodies, and caring for those little babies who have become awesome people.

I remember the gift of them, of my children.

And my guess is, that's what Dan will remember too.

A May Day Alert to the MayTag Man!

What's the one thing a mom of five children and a wife to one man must have to fulfill her job description?

It's called a washing machine.  And we've been without one since Monday.

As depressing as it was to spend $261.10 to have it fixed (which took a total of six minutes, by the way), I've never been so grateful to be back in business.  Evan, the repair man, assured me it was money well spent.  I believed him because, well, I had to; I needed a machine.

Babies are messy what with all the poop, spit up, and other leaking bodily fluid.

And Patrick had to wear long sleeves to school today because we had no more clean shirts.  (This was a hard sell as the daily high is still in the upper 90's.)

Don't even get me started about the sulphur smell coming from the laundry room because standing water was left in the machine for two days straight. 

Thank you, Evan, the repair man; I know you will be doing a happy dance all the way to the bank.

While you're cashing that check, please know I'll be doing laundry.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Patrick's Mite

Patrick loves to receive gifts, like, a lot.  They don't have to be lavish displays of affection, even just a small token that says 'Hey, I was thinking about you,' makes his day.

Example:  When John goes on his business trips, he saves his room keys to give to his oldest child.  Patrick has taken to putting them in a special box.  He's garnering quite a collection.

 See what I mean?

He's not fussy and is always appreciative of just about anything.


Patrick's sheer delight from small tokens of love makes my mother's day, as she just happens to speak in the language of gift giving.  While she was here last week, she noticed his new piggy bank he utilizes for storing his coins.  Ever the diligent Grandma, she took the liberty of stuffing it full of all the dollar bills she had in her wallet.  When she realized we might discover the donations and be confused from whence they came, she publicly confessed her deed both to us and him.

Patrick quickly and gratefully shoved them into his dad's hand-me-down-wallet.  (Yet another inherited item with which he was tickled pink.)

You see, he's been saving his pennies, dimes, and quarters for a new watch.  He wants one like his dad and he knows they cost about $7 at our local superstore.  His grandma's pig-stuffing efforts put him well over his money-saving goal.

He was proud.  And happy.  (And is carrying around more cash than me but whatever...)

So I was especially touched when last weekend,  I noticed he silently and without prompting took out money from his wallet when the collection plate went around at Church.  Into it,  he placed a single dollar bill,  without fanfare and without hesitation.

Then he did it again during the second collection.

I think he's more detached from his things than I previously thought.

And  I know he's more detached from his stuff than I am from mine.

Matthew 6:3-4
But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you. 

Mark 12:41-44
And He sat down opposite the treasury, and began observing how the people were putting money into the treasury; and many rich people were putting in large sums. A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which amount to a cent.Calling His disciples to Him, He said to them, “Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the contributors to the treasury; for they all put in out of their surplus, but she, out of her poverty, put in all she owned, all she had to live on.”

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Meaghan's Declaration

"I'm an expert as babies."

Yes, you are, my darling.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Window Crayons

That's A Nice Way Of Putting It

Mary Bernadette's daily report from school today:

"We like the way that Mary Bernadette lets us know what she needs."

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Mary Bernadette's First Day Of School

When Patrick and Meaghan first began school a few years ago, I was so overwhelmed with child-rearing, school was a welcome milestone.  As I've settled into motherhood and managing multiple children, I don't feel quite as desperate for back up as I once did.  I'm more confident in my abilities and life isn't as stressful.  (Patrick's illness put a big strain on my time, nerves, and attention.)  So the decision to send Mary Bernadette to school was really difficult.  

We originally enrolled her into a full time program but when I realized she wasn't ready for that (and neither was I), we rethought it.  But then the older kids started school and I realized she was bored silly at home with me.  After a few months of looking, we found a good solution; we put her in the Early Childhood Development Center at the same school Patrick and Meaghan attend.  She goes four days a week for half a day.

It's a win-win for everyone.

She started on Monday.  When I picked her up, she cried because she didn't want to leave.
Her Spanish and Religion teacher told me she had a great day and was very well behaved. 
I'll admit, I do miss her during the hours she's gone.  Christopher does too.
She certainly looks the part, doesn't she?
I don't know why I worry...she did just fine.

Perkin' Me Up

My love affair with coffee began when the Goldbeck twins introduced me to $.25 cups of vanilla flavored java from the vending machines in the basement of the St. Mary's College Library.  (Believe it or not, those little cups of coffee did much to keep me alert, warm, and occupied as I studied late into the night.)  If the truth be told, I don't know if I could force myself to drink the stuff now as my tastes have definitely evolved, but those tacky blue and white Dixie cups where a welcome comfort back then.

Fortunately, I married someone with an affinity for coffee (it was one of the first things that bonded us forever) and my closest friends (you know who you are) adore the stuff just as much as I do.  One of them even gave me coffee as a birthday present.  Now, that's true friendship.

Sadly, with this last pregnancy, I just couldn't tolerate even a drop of it.  In the beginning, I wanted to throw up when I smelled it.  In the middle, it gave me terrible heartburn and upset my stomach.  By the end of my third trimester, I was back to throwing up if I drank it.  

"I can't wait until I can drink coffee again," I whined to John one night recently.  "I miss it.  It helps me get out of bed and do a few things before the kids wake up."   Both of us also love to have a cup together before he goes to work in the morning.  Without the coffee, I'm afraid I'm not much of a morning companion.  As some wise person once said, 'First the human, then the saint.'  The coffee helps my humanity.

I'll admit, I've been way enjoying my morning cup of joe since the day Camille was born, especially since I now have a cool new travel mug.  (As a welcome gift to me and the new baby, the kids and John bought me one to keep my liquid java warm.)  But what I've really been dying to do is hit a Starbucks and order a specialty cup to sip and savor.  I just haven't had the time.

Psalm 37:4 says, "Find your delight in the Lord who will give you your heart's desire."  I was reminded how true this passage is, how God knows my heart and even my simplest wishes, like a cup of Starbucks.

This morning I attended a 'Called To Be A Mom' Bible Study today and I won a small prize.

Guess what it was?

Yep.  A Starbucks gift card.

What was my feat?

I had the largest number of kids.

God knows I need the caffeine. 

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Meaghan's Aching Arms

On Wednesday afternoon, September 1, I took Patrick to the Pediatrician to deal with a bad case of Strep Throat.  While I was there, I was having contractions so I asked our doctor to give us the best drugs available because I was fairly certain I was going to have the baby that night.  As it turned out, my labor lasted longer than I anticipated and Camille wasn't born until the next morning.

I was nervous about coming back to the house with a new baby and Patrick's illness but what was I supposed to do?  So, home I went to a much improved Patrick.    I breathed a sigh of relief.

Thinking we had contained the spread of infectious disease, I was disturbed when the next morning, Meaghan woke up with a case of pink eye!  The morning after that, she came down with a high fever which lasted a whopping six days!  It turns out, she had a terrible case of strep throat too, a gift from her older brother.  Not one to ever be stingy, Meaghan kindly shared her illness with MB--who is now on her fourth day of the battle.   We are currently on day 12 of the vicious Strep Throat infestation (though we are on the upswing of it).

For Meaghan in particular, her sickness has been sheer torture for her.  She has waited nine long agonizing months to hold, cuddle, and love the new baby.  We've kept all the older kids away from Camille because we don't want her to get sick;  Patrick and Mary Bernadette accepted this news pretty gracefully but Meaghan's arms have ached everyday to rock Camille.  

So this morning, after being fever-free for twenty-four hours, Meaghan was allowed to feed the baby a bottle.  She burped her and she craddled her.  Meaghan didn't move from the couch for almost two hours as she sat and helped me with the baby.    

The first time they met.

Meaghan in all her glory.  I know it's too early to tell, but I'm inclined to think Meaghan will have a vocation to the married life.  She's just too in love with all things having to do with babies.  And she's a natural with them.  I know some adults who aren't as comfortable.
 This morning's rendezvous.
Two totally content sisters.
My heart is full.

Friday, September 10, 2010

She's Four!

Happy Birthday to my Mary Bernadette! 
September 8 was her big day.  I think it was pretty good because when she went to bed that night she told me and her dad, "That wasn't very long at all."  I think she liked feeling special for the day; I can't say I blame her.

Look at this little chunk of love.

I'm noticing a trend in a lot of the Duggan family photos--many of them are taken while eating.  I'm not sure what exactly that says about us...

You've come a long way, Baby!  You're not so little anymore.  Did I tell you she starts preschool on Monday?  Well, she does.  Look out, World, here she comes.

More About The Name

This is my little Camille.  She's cute, isn't she?

We love her name--which is a good thing because it took us nine months to agree on one.  (I think the more kids we have, the harder it is to name them.  I'm not quite sure why.)  We looked at name books, websites, saints books, and talked about lots of possibilities but we just couldn't decide on one we both liked.  (The kids weren't quite as picky. The week before she was born Meaghan suggested London and Mary Bernadette offered Rose Heart--a throw back, no doubt, to various princess movies she's seen.  We politely declined their suggestions.)

We are not as faithful to the nightly decade of the rosary as we would like to be--we go on again, off again depending on the level of crazy, busy activity at our house.  Lately, we've been on again so John included naming the baby in our family's list of nightly intentions, hoping for some much needed inspiration.  The morning I went into labor, I lazily surfed the web looking for possibilities and sent John an emailed list of names.  Camille was at the bottom of the list.  I knew he would like it and he did. 

Phew.  We we're getting closer.  We both agreed even though it wasn't so much of a saints name, at least we thought.

Less than twenty-four hours later,  she was born kicking and screaming--literally!  When a technician came into the room to assist with the delivery, she introduced herself as Joy.  I knew immediately that was to be Camille's middle name because that was exactly what we were feeling--joy, pure and simple.  (We also had been thinking about using the virtue of Hope as a middle name.  Mainly because this was such a difficult pregnancy for me and we didn't know if the baby would make it.  But, really, once she was born, Joy fit her so much better.)

Once we officially named her, my sister, Sarah, did some research and discovered that Camille is the female form of Camillus, who happens to be a Catholic Saint.  It seems she had a Catholic namesake, after all.  Then, we spoke to my other sister, Sister Martin de Porres who told me the name Camille is a derivative of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.  

But the best heavenly confirmation we received about her name came through two coincidences Sister Martin de Porres experienced.  Every night, the sisters pray for the repose of a soul of other Dominican Sisters who have died.  On the day our little Camille was born, the person Sister Martin de Porres was supposed to pray for just happened to be Sister Camille.  No other Sister had that name in their prayer book--just my sister.  For two days, she was reminded to pray for Sister Camille.

As if that weren't enough, that same night, the Sisters received a call to the convent looking for a person named, you guessed it, Camille.

Maybe it was OK it took us nine months to come up with a name.  I think we may have gotten it right after all.  

Monday, September 6, 2010

Name Confusion

 Upon the arrival of her new sister, Meaghan told her classmates the baby's name was Hope. (She left for school before John and I had officially decided what we would call our new bundle of 'Joy'.  She assumed we were going with something different than we did.).  When she came home, my good friend, Jessie, informed Meaghan her name was Camille Joy.

"But I thought they baby's name was going to be Hope?  Oh well," she recovered quickly, "Joy is still a virtue."

Fast forward to today.  The novelty of new life within the walls of our home has worn off a bit.  So much so, Patrick asked,  "So, what's her name again?" 

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Big Kids Meet The Little Kid

Here I am in all my postpartum glory making proper introductions all around.  The kids were thrilled to meet Camille. 

Thursday, September 2, 2010

She's Here!

Camille Joy Duggan

7 lb 8 ounces
20 inches
September 2, 2010
Born at 5:27 am
She was 10 days early!  :)

"You formed my inmost being; you knit me in my mother's womb.  
I praise you, so wonderfully you made me; 
wonderful are your works!
My very self you knew; 
my bones were not hidden from you, 
When I was being made in secret,
fashioned as in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes foresaw my actions; 
in your book all are written down; 
my days were shaped before one came to be."  
Psalm 139:13-16

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