Sweet Surrender | Birth of Nolan Carlos

5 months ago (cue every surprise and shock emoji here) I gave birth to a sweet sweet boy, Nolan Carlos. After months of transitioning and fighting through writers block, I have finally written his birth story down. 

The months leading up to my due date with my second baby were a bit chaotic. We had Christmas, a wedding in the family, and New Years all before baby time. I was getting both physically and emotionally exhausted. Physically, for obvious reasons. Emotionally exhausted because I knew that our little world was going to change so much and change is always scary– and if I’m honest? I was slowly get more and more scared to give birth a second time. For those that don’t know, I had what would best be described as a semi-traumatic birth with my oldest son, Theo. I pushed for about 3 and 1/2 hours and suffered a postpartum hemorrhage immediately after giving birth.  All of this to say- giving birth again scared me because I was well aware of what COULD go wrong. 

As the weeks got closer I began visualizing what I wanted for the birth of this baby. I wanted to labor at home for a while, comfortably, while listening to my birth playlist and diffusing my essential oils. We would go to the hospital when I was pretty well dilated and I would be laboring there for a shorter amount of time. This plan changed once I had my 33 week growth scan. See, my husband and I have relatively good sized babies. Our first was 8 lbs. 11 oz. and our second was showing signs of being another good size. Due to that, my Doctor decided I might have the best chance to avoid a C-section if we induce a week early and I was completely on-board! I didn’t have to have a C-section the first time (luckily) but if I were to go over my due date this time — the risk would be much higher.

I was at peace.

Sure, my initial birth “plan” would change but my hope was still to push this baby out myself.

By 36 weeks we had scheduled the induction and our new plan was set in motion! During this time my sciatica nerve pain was getting really intense and I had been going through prodromal labor. I felt ready … physically.

It was the mental that I wasn’t quite ready for.

My family & friends showered me with prayers at a Catholic Blessingway while I was a little over 37 weeks (check out Geena Harrington’s blog post on blessing ways here). It was on this night that I could finally speak the words I was too proud to say… “I am scared.”

I cried as my loved ones encouraged me, hugged me and wrote uplifting words to help support and guide me through labor. Through prayer I could acknowledge my fear – and yet not be trapped by it.

Jesus was simply telling me to surrender all to Him.

January 9th approx. 2:30 AM (37 wks 4 days)

I woke up to the groans of my toddler and noticed some slight cramping. After rocking Theo back to sleep I quickly went to the bathroom because, well, I figured that I should just go now that way I won’t have to get up later. It was then I noticed a piece of my mucus plug. My heart began to race. When I was pregnant with Theo and I lost my mucus plug – almost immediately I went into labor. I pushed away any thoughts that labor was coming and went back to bed.

At 6:30 I woke up to contractions. They were about 15 to 20 minutes apart but noticeably more painful than average Braxton Hicks. Again, I pushed away any temptation of thinking I was in labor and assured Tim that it would be fine if he went to work. It was only an hour later that I called my Mom to ask if she would come to my 37 week appointment with me and that some interesting things were occurring. We spent our time before the appointment walking around Target and gathering last minute baby items. Contractions were about 10 minutes apart but I was still convinced that it was nothing and they would stop soon.

As my appointment got closer I finally decided to call Tim and tell him to come home. There were enough contractions for me to assume that active labor would be coming soon.

12:00PM 3cm 80% effaced

Shortly after my appointment, I came home to my sisters Dana (+ her boys) and Jenna.  We laughed, ate lunch and watched one of my favorite shows, ‘The Office’, to get my mind off of the intensity of my contractions. The best distraction though? My sweet nephews. Their joy and playfulness filled our home and Theo was on cloud nine getting to run around with his favorite buddies.

IMG_2183IMG_2181IMG_2178

My contractions were increasing in intensity but still seemed pretty sporadic. They ranged from being 30 seconds long every 2 minutes to a minute and a half long every 8 or so minutes. Movement helped remedy the pain of the contractions and so I kept walking, bouncing and swaying. Tim rubbed my low back each time I got a contraction and let me tell you– that.was.amazing. By 5 PM I was thoroughly convinced that we should be going to the hospital but there’s was one thing I wasn’t quite ready for…. to say goodbye to my oldest guy.

Change is both scary and beautiful.  Saying goodbye to Theo before leaving reminded me of that. We were excited for this new little person to enter our family but we were saying goodbye to our normal. I gave my little boy a big hug with tears streaming down my face… looking to my Mom I found comfort that all will be even BETTER than I can imagine.

IMG_2191

We were immediately admitted.

After a failed dose of nitrous oxide and hours of intense contractions I was ready to have the one thing I really wanted to avoid- the epidural. See, I am not one of those ladies who wants to avoid an epidural because I am afraid of needles or even because I want everything “all natural” … I wanted to avoid it because I didn’t have a great experience with the epidural when I was in labor with Theo. It slowed my labor down and I felt pretty sick when I got it.

Nevertheless, I was ready to feel some relief and I opted for getting an epidural at 8 centimeters dilated. Once the epidural went in I felt intense relief but it didn’t take long for the numbness to spread everywhere even to my throat. My sister could see my panic and she ran to go get my nurse who was immediately worried that I got a spinal (which would numb me all over) instead of an epidural. The anesthesiologist came in and said that more than likely I had a half spinal / half epidural and he would try to lower my dosage of the medicine. Only about 30 minutes after getting the epidural i started to get the shakes REAL BAD. I thought it was a side effect from the epidural but my nurse knew better! She checked me and sure enough I was complete! 100% effaced and 10 centimeters dilated. What should’ve been push time had to be delayed because I couldn’t feel a n y t h i n g south of the border (darn you half spinal / half epidural!!). My nurse turned off the epidural and we patiently waited until some feeling came back not only to my legs but my arms and throat as well (DARN YOU EPIDURAL). 

By 10:30 I was feeling much more like myself, baby was very low, and we were ready to push!

My sister, Dana, on one side of me. Timmy on the other. I was ready to meet my baby! (Gender still unknown at the time)

Timmy counted, Dana encouraged and Dr. Finnegan coached. I had literally the BEST birth team around! It made a world of difference.

10:42 PM on January 9th, 2019: Nolan Carlos Medearis was born.

What followed his birth were the sweetest moments.

There is nothing like seeing your child’s face for the first time. I know I am extremely biased but my Nolan was… perfect. Absolutely perfect.


“This is my body given up for you…”

Christ’s words that are given to us at each and every Mass echoed through my heart during my pregnancy and most especially during labor and delivery.  This body… has seen better days. It’s stretched, loose and wholly imperfect but I am so incredibly proud of it. Enduring through immense pain for the sake of my children has been the greatest honor of my whole life. I had to remind myself through the intensity of a contraction that I was MADE FOR THIS. 

Some days its not easy looking at the imperfections sketched on my body. But most days I try to look at those imperfections with affection because they tell a story. Each mark was made as my boys were growing inside me. Maybe I got one of my stretch marks when Theo was rolling and punching around. Maybe one of the marks was from Nolan stretching his tiny body inside me for the first time. 

All of those imperfect marks tell me a story and its the most beautiful one of all. It is the story of L I F E. 


Sweet surrender. 

What a sweet sweet cross we Mothers have to bear. 

In giving birth to our children and all of the parenting that follows. 

Is it a cross? 

Yes. 

But… It is one filled with tight hugs, bellowing laughter, snotty kisses and joyous moments. 

The word that I prayed for during my labor with Nolan was … surrender. 

“Here I am
Down on my knees again
Surrendering all
Surrendering all.
 
Find me here
Lord as You draw me near
Desperate for You …
I’m desperate for You.
 
I surrender.
……
 
Like a rushing wind
Jesus breathe within.
Lord have Your way
Lord have Your way in me.
 
Like a mighty storm
Stir within my soul.
Lord have Your way
Lord have Your way in me.
 
Like a rushing wind
Jesus breathe within.
Lord have Your way
Lord have Your way in me.
 
….
I surrender.
I surrender.
I wanna know You more.
I wanna know You more.”
 
-I Surrender by Hillsong United

This song was the perfect anthem for Nolan’s birth and its words continue to strike my heart. 

I hope maybe this can encourage you, wherever you are at, to surrender to whatever cross Jesus is asking you to bear. Maybe – just maybe- it might be the sweetest cross of all. 

All photos were taken by: Dana Sebastian

Advertisements

Guess who’s back?

Hello! Let me reintroduce myself because it seems that I have been gone so long from the blogging world that I am sure some people forgot who I am (insert hand to the face emoji).

My name is Kileen Medearis.

Catholic.

Wife.

Stay-at-home Mama to now TWO boys! (Can’t wait to write about this!)

Book Enthusiast.

and now… PODCASTER! (Cant wait to write about this either!)

You are probably asking yourself…. why the long leave of absence?

I can’t tell you how many times I had started writing a post but didn’t finish. Whether that be because my toddler woke up early from his nap, or the first trimester sickness kept me tied to the couch, or simply because I felt at a loss for words.

If I am honest with myself? It all stems from this immense dry season I had in my prayer life. If you are like me, it’s hard to find inspiration to write when you have cut off communication with the relationship that literally I N S P I R E S you. After a wake up call in the adoration chapel where through half closed eyelids (my husband chose the 9 pm adoration hour, needless to say, I am normally in bed) I confessed to Our Lord that now it felt like I was … bad at praying. Even in my busiest times in college I don’t think I have ever been this complacent when it comes to my prayer life.

What I have realized since that simple confession is that I have been staying in the same place with prayer and the enemy has been completely content, dare I say happy, about this. I gave into all sorts of ways to skip my prayer time and chose to sink into my own comfort.

Friends in Christ, the enemy wants us to stay put where we are. The enemy wants us to choose ourselves, day in and day out. The enemy wants us to put prayer on the back burner.

Last weeks revelation in the adoration chapel didn’t cure everything but definitely put everything into perspective for me. It was the jolt I needed to choose Christ more, especially in my prayer, each day.

It feels good to be back.

Praise be Jesus Christ, now and forever!

IMG_2499.JPG

[Photo credit: Vilona Photography]

Breastfeeding: How I Came to Love One of My Greatest Struggles in Motherhood

Breastfeeding.

Just the word can strike emotion into the hearts of new and veteran Mamas. For some? It was easy from the get go. For others? The struggle was R E A L.

I would like to start by making a disclaimer:

 A fed baby is BEST.

I don’t want to write this post as an argument that a Mother can only nurse her child. The reality is that many mothers, for a variety of reasons, are unable to nurse their children. THIS IS TOTALLY FINE! A fed baby is best!

What I would like to do in this post is give helpful tips and tricks which allowed me to nurse my baby one year and beyond and reflect on my experience as a whole!


You might be asking yourself, “Ok- so which Mama are you? The one that it came easy? Or the one who struggled?”

Oh, I struggled.

Then it got easy.

Then I struggled some more.

The reality for nursing Mamas (at least in my case) is that the breastfeeding journey can be like a rollercoaster. I struggled from the very beginning primarily due to the “trauma” I went through while giving birth to Theo. For those who are new to my blog or are interested in reading Theo’s birth story, click here.

Shortly after Theo was born I overheard the nurses say to me about three or four times, “you’ll need to feed him in 5 minutes or his blood sugar will go down..” While I am sitting there thinking … OK … well does anyone want to show me how to do that?

I actually didn’t learn to breastfeed until my older sister came into visit me and was able to show me some of the ropes. Crazy, right?

I had a VERY sleepy baby, trouble latching, and was overall fatigued from delivery. These components were the perfect recipe for  having a baby struggle to get back to birth weight. At the end of my hospital visit, I was informed that my baby had lost 6% of his birth weight and they would be putting him (and me) on a three step program which included pumping and using donated breastmilk.

My milk came in the day I left the hospital… so let’s just add engorgement onto the list of struggles.

I was so discouraged.

It wasn’t until I was feeding Theo every 2 hours during the day (waking him up if he was asleep) and every 4 at night (again, waking an angelic SLEEPING baby) that he was finally able to get back to birth weight and the stress of his weight loss could be off my shoulders.

By 4 months I was enjoying breastfeeding and the bond I was able to form with my baby. It became second nature…. 1. cover on 2. unstrap bra  3. Latch baby boy! Unfortunately intermittently I was plagued with horrible clogged ducts that made the breastfeeding journey feel like a very real rollercoaster.


Here are my top four tips & tricks for being able to nurse my baby successfully for 14 months:

Probiotic: Near the beginning, I was desperate to find something to help with the gas bubbles and frequent spit ups that Theo was having after feedings. A friend of mine suggested a probiotic and although it was pretty pricey (eeek), it was completely worth it! Gas can be a struggle for the nursing Mama because the little baby may have problems latching due to how bad the gas is or it can even throw their appetite off in general. I put a few drops on my breast before nursing Theo and he was able to consume all the wonderful benefits of a probiotic. (Also, my first pediatrician told me that although breastmilk contains HUNDREDS of amazing nutrients- it doesn’t contain probiotic unless the Mom is taking a probiotic supplement.) A probiotic helps with putting GOOD bacteria in the body and helping with digestion. It CAN’T hurt!

Gerber Soothe Probiotic Colic Drops

Water: This one was a tough one for me! After pregnancy I was looking forward to the stress free living of not having to down liters of water a day but I was sadly mistaken. In order to keep up a healthy milk supply make sure that you are drinking plenty of water!

Supply & Demand: This one is BIG and incredibly hard to control! There were months were my supply would go down because Theo wasn’t nursing as much but whenever new teeth were popping through my supply shot through the roof because Theo was nursing all.the.time. If you are trying to build supply- try getting your little one to nurse more. If you are trying to decrease supply- try to supply with other food (when they are old enough) or distract them from the constant desire to nurse. This can be a bittersweet thing!

Perseverance: The final tip I have is to not grow too discouraged and PERSIST PERIST PERSIST. I can’t even tell you how many times I thought of giving up- but I knew that I had a goal I wanted to meet and I was going to show myself AND my son that I could do it! There will be ups and downs in the process but if you truly desire it- keep trying and reach out to others who have found success or lactation consultants that can help.


IMG_8219(Popped a squat in Target to nurse my one year old. Gotta do what you gotta do Mamas!)

Weaning my son after 14 months was bittersweet. I operated for the duration of the time I nursed him on a “you never know when the last time will be” mentality where I tried my best to embrace every time I got to nurse Theo but – I was ready. If I really think hard about the “last time” I nursed my son… it will spiral me into a heaping amount of really ugly sobs. I am sure other Mom’s can attest to the tearful goodbyes of nursing in general or of a specific child. It comes with its roses and thorns.

My time with nursing Theo taught me: how to “roll with the punches”, sacrifice, persevere through difficulties, embrace all the moments and breathe in the littleness that babies offer.

The days are long but the years are short, my friends.

 

 

Cure for the Lazy Blogger + Major Book Goals

Hello readers!

I have realized that my blog has become an “occasional” “once a year” or “major life change happening” place of writing. I have become an exceptionally good L A Z Y blogger.

I admit it.

Well… in the spirit of living out my “word of the year”, discipline (you betcha’ I will be writing a post of how this word jumped out in prayer), I have decided to become a more faithful blog writer. My hope is to write blogs at least every couple weeks (if not weekly).

Also, I have developed a REAL big itch to read! Hence a monthly book goal has now commenced! Keep on the lookout for reviews of these wonderful books as I check them off my list…

IMG_9533.JPG

MayOne Beautiful Dream by Jennifer Fulwiler

JuneMy Sisters the Saints by Colleen Cambell (Ministry of Moms read!)

(maybe read Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis if possible.)

JulyPraying the Rosary Like Never Before: Encounter the Wonder of Heaven and Earth by Ted Sri

AugustBrideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh

September: Momnipotent: The Not-So-Perfect Woman’s Guide to Catholic Motherhood by Danielle Bean

OctoberThe Domestic Church: Room by Room by Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle

NovemberNorth and South by Elizabeth Gaskell

DecemberImitating Mary: Ten Marian Virtues for the Modern Mom by Marge Fenelon

January: The Other Side of Beauty by Leah Darrow

FebruaryAn Immovable Feast: How I Gave Up Spirituality for a Life of Religious Abundance by Tyler Blanski

MarchLittle Women by Louisa May Alcott (who doesn’t love reading some classics!)

AprilThe Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis (re-read)

Along with this book “feast” I will be partaking in I will still be leaving at least 10 minutes of prayer time in sacred scripture and will attempt to have a reflection from scripture at least every couple of weeks. (My bible is the ‘Blessed is She Catholic Journaling Bible’ and its AH-MAZING- get it here.)

Updates to come!

Prayers for you all! Please keep my little family in your prayers as-well.

-KM

 

 

 

The Mommy Bod and Struggle to “Bounce Back”

“By His wounds, we are healed.”

Wounds.

I have talked about them in blogs before when I talked about my struggle with disordered eating habits. For those that may not know, for several years I struggled with sitting down and having a full meal. I forced myself to starve, thinking I was being “healthy”. Moderation is key my dear friends.

By the grace of God, through the Holy Sacraments, and due to prayers from many – I recovered. I started to think less and less of myself and the vanity that I had been plagued with and changed my habitual thinking. My primary motivation for recovery was my deep desire to have children. At the time I didn’t know that anorexia could lead to infertility.


I remember looking in the mirror the day after I gave birth to my son.

Pale. My face swollen. My belly deflated but still looking 6 months pregnant.

I couldn’t look away fast enough.

I remember the embarrassment.

Turning away from my husband each time I got dressed. My body had completely changed. Granted, it changed when I got pregnant so I should have been used to it, right? Wrong.

For 9 months I was growing a beautiful baby boy inside. The weight gain, although scary for someone who struggled with an eating disorder, was for a purpose.

What I was unable to see in those early weeks after Theo’s birth was that my body was still beautiful.

Yes, the beauty had changed.

But it was still there.


Now, let’s reflect on Christ’s passion and resurrection…

He suffered during His passion more than we will ever be able to comprehend. He was beaten, broken, and removed of all modesty. Yet, on that glorious Sunday He emerged stronger. He was victorious. “Oh, death, where is your sting?” [1 Corinthians 15: 55] Even though Our Lord’s resurrected body was glorified, do you want to guess at what he still possessed?

His wounds.

His perfect and beautiful body still shown the marks of his suffering and of his sacrifice. The God of the universe could have very well had his glorified body erase the markings which brought him such sorrow, but instead they stand as a visible sign of his sacrificial love.

Child birth is a beautiful and immensely difficult experience. I remember crying after each and every push for hours. I remember the feeling of thinking that I couldn’t push anymore, that I didn’t have any strength left to give. Here was my first lesson in motherhood—

There’s A L W A Y S more room to give.

God gave me the strength to push beyond what I thought was possible. Giving birth was the vessel in which God was showing me, yet again, that I am enough. He was showing me that my body, strength, and will power could be victorious in the face of suffering.

The reality? My body will never go back to the way it was before and I never W A N T it to.

The loose skin, stretch marks, wider hips are all signs that I held LIFE inside of me. Christ embraced his wounds… why shouldn’t I embrace mine?

To those Mama’s who are standing in front of the mirror and critiquing your new body- instead- I encourage you to close your eyes, open your hands, and offer a quick prayer of thanksgiving.

“For you Jesus, I thank you for this body and for my baby. Be with me when I look at my reflection and allow me to see what You see. I offer it all to You sweet Jesus.”

Today, I don’t turn away or fear looking at the reflection in the mirror. Rather, I feel empowered.

“Since love grows within you, so beauty grows. For love is the beauty of the soul.” St. Augustine

On the Night You Were Born

 

IMG_0229

If you were to have told me a year ago that exactly one year from now I would be a Mom, writing a blog post during one of my sons many midnight feedings, I wouldn’t have believed you.

But…. here I am. Writing this blog as I nurse my son at 12:30AM.

As some of you may recall- the news that my husband and I were expecting came as quite the shock. This was due largely because we knew that this little one was a wedding night baby. If you would like to read that story- click here.

Pregnancy is nothing short of a miracle. At the very earliest stage my little Theo was the size of a poppy seed— a POPPY SEED. That amazes me when I look at his little face and all the features that make it up. He is a m i r a c l e.


I loved being pregnant! Watching the belly grow and feeling my baby move inside of me was something that I will forever cherish and something that is indescribable. Although I loved being pregnant it didn’t mean that it was always easy. There was the lack of energy, nauseousness, and lack of mobility. Near the end of my pregnancy I was waddling so bad- I looked like a duck.

6 weeks before our due date my older sister gave birth to my little nephew, Leo. I had been through the experience before of waiting in the waiting room for my sisters to have their babies but this time felt very different. This time I was imagining myself going through the same experience so every time I saw my sister in pain I knew what was awaiting me in 6 weeks. Although watching my sister go through so much pain wasn’t fun, getting to see the end result and getting to hold my nephew and see his beautiful little face was something so incredibly amazing. I also knew THAT feeling awaited me in 6 weeks which was far more exciting than the pain.

The weeks came and went and same with our due date.

No baby yet.

This is totally normal for first time Mom’s and I was actually preparing myself throughout the entire pregnancy that I would at least be 41 weeks pregnant before I would have this baby.


Much to my surprise only one day after our due date, I went into labor.

The pain was real but I was ready. I truly felt that the Holy Spirit was helping me fight the contractions as much as I could throughout the night and to do it with a smile. With every contraction, I offered up a prayer for a family member or friend with specific intentions. Some contractions I just stared at my flash cards with the names and intentions of those individuals and tried to think of nothing else but gratitude that I was given the opportunity to suffer for them.

Giving birth to Theo was by far the hardest thing I have ever done.

I pushed for 3 1/2 hours before I heard the cry of my sweet boy and he was placed on my chest.


During the Mass there’s a particular part of the consecration that I have grown to appreciate more and more. The moment when the priest repeats the words of Jesus in saying, “this is my body given up for you.”

I love it even more now as I cradle my newborn son.

See, I never understood the kind of love that drew Christ to the cross – until now.

Labor and delivery was beautiful, difficult, and ultimately a little scary. After I had finally given birth to Theo, I needed only to look at my midwifes face to know that something was wrong. I was bleeding…. bad.

I had suffered not only a pretty bad tear but also what is called, “postpartum hemorrhage”. This is when a women suffers an immense amount of blood loss in labor and actually is the primary reason for maternal death (mother dying during labor) now-a-days. I didn’t know the severity of my condition until I saw the look on my family members faces when they saw me.


As I cradle this beautiful- BEAUTIFUL- gift of God (meaning behind the name Theodore), I can’t help but think of the words the Christ says, “this is my body given up for you….”

I always knew that I would give my life for my child but never knew how much my of my body I would have to give up. From the weight gain, stretch marks, and overall occasional discomfort- my child needed every bit of me and I wouldn’t change a single thing. I would do it over and over again.

A mother’s love is unlike anything in the world and in Christ’s words I see a tiny reflection of myself. I would give my body, my everything, up for my child.

To end this post (which has taken me f o r e v e r to write due to the nature of Motherhood) I want to steal a few lines from my favorite book that I read to Theo…

“For never before in story or rhyme (not even once upon a time) has the world ever known a you, my friend, and it never will, not ever again…

Heaven blew every trumpet and played every horn on the wonderful, marvelous night you were born.” (On the Night You Were Born. Nancy Tillman)

IMG_0386

That One Perfect Day

praying

(photo courtesy of Joshua Paul Photography)

On June 18th, I married my favorite person. We had waited, prayed, and hoped that the day would come and when it finally did- it was completely surreal.

I remember the stress and worries about all the fine details on the night of the rehearsal but waking up on that beautiful (and HOT) Saturday morning I felt nothing but complete and total peace. I knew that God was with me, strengthening me, and about ready to change my entire life. It was so exciting!

This day- this ONE day- literally changed my entire life.


Before I get into that, I want to talk about something that we had been preparing for throughout our entire engagement, taking classes on, and having SO many conversations about- natural family planning. 

The Catholic Church has such a beautiful reflection on sexuality, marriage, and family planning but many, who don’t know the logic behind the church’s teachings, view the church’s teaching as a strict “no you can’t do this, no you can’t do that, NO NO NO.”

It’s true that the Church is all about abstaining from sex until marriage and is it true that the Church is strictly against the use of any contraceptives. What many don’t know is that the church has those beliefs not to say “no” but to give a more profoundly beautiful “yes” to life and authentic love.

Abstinence is not designed to torment the couple but rather empty themselves in service to one another and in some way die to themselves in their sacrifice. Much like what Christ did on the cross — all for the sake of love. We want to enter into marriage knowing that our beloved will be given all  of   us, all of our brokenness and vulnerability. Also, the physical act of “consummating” ones marriage is a physical reality of what happened during the couples marriage ceremony. In the exchanging of the rings, saying of the vows, and nuptial blessing the couple becomes one. In the same way, the couple physically becomes one as a physical sign of their commitment to each other and their vows. This is A LOT to take on before you have actually committed to one another in marriage! Saving that intimacy isn’t a way of torment but rather a way to ensure the couples center on Christ, His mission, and loving the way Christ loved… which was (and still is) through sacrifice.

During our vows, Tim and I promised to uphold all of the teachings of the church, raise our family according to the church, and accept children lovingly and freely. On the day of our wedding the reality of that last phrase didn’t really hit me until later- “accept children lovingly and freely”. 

I tell all of my students whenever we talk about theology of the body and marriage that marriage has two purposes: babies and bonding. As a couple we are living out the vocation of marriage in being intimate with one another but we also are living out our vocation by being open to the will of the Father in regards to children.

Tim and I were the last of 3 other couples to get married in 5 weeks- oh man- it was a busy few weeks! We were able to witness the marriages of many close friends and obviously had the opportunity to be engaged at the same time.

While being engaged with 3 other holy and beautiful couples- it came with its challenges. Many times all of us would sit and talk about our classes, how we are preparing through prayer, and yes– natural family planning. The other couples were practicing the ‘creighton’ family planning method while Tim and I were practicing the ‘sympto-thermal’ method. This brought up some really fruitful and interesting discussions.

All four couples, including us, had planned on waiting at least a year or two before starting our families. You know that thing about what God does when you make plans? Yep, He laughs.

The church, in her wisdom, gives us natural (and contraceptive free) methods to plan our family along with prayer and discernment from Our Lord. Natural family planning is very effective when used correctly and also allows for God’s will. God’s will can be for the couple to have a child unexpectedly or for the couple to wait, in joyful anticipation, for their family to grow. Natural family planning is all about teaching love and responsibility. 

Unfortunately, I felt that many discussions I had with other Catholic couples about the upcoming wedding day and plans for a family seemed to center on fear of pregnancy. All the women were charting and plotting when the potential ovulation date would be in relation to wedding dates. Many panicking at the thought of ovulating over the their wedding weekend. What I didn’t like about those conversations was the impression that the potential of a positive pregnancy test a few weeks later would be the ‘worst case scenario’. Are we even aware of how many women who would LOVE to be pregnant right now but maybe are not? Or those who continue to try and PRAY for that positive test?

As the weddings got closer, some women found out that they would in fact be ovulating either ON or close to their wedding date. Obviously this may present a challenge if you would like to both wait on starting your family AND consummate your marriage.

I was one of those women.

Many of us discussed and even prayerfully concerned what we would do- would we abstain on our wedding night to avoid pregnancy? Or would we consummate our marriage and “risk it”?


On June 18th, I have never felt the grace of God more in my entire life.

Our photographer and friend, Josh, had told us before the wedding that we should pray for all the graces of the sacrament on that day and that if we did that we would truly be able to FEEL them. Boy oh boy was he right…

nuptial-blessing

(photo courtesy of Joshua Paul Photography)

We could feel our Lord’s presence as we said “yes” to the many challenges, joys, and sufferings in our life together. We understood that it wasn’t just the two of us – but as Fulton Sheen has so eloquently put, “it takes THREE to get married”. We needed Our Lord on that day and (God willing) the many after.

Marriage is about WAY more than just us. We know this now more than ever.

We were stepping into an unknown territory but one that would fulfill our greatest desires in life and push us to become the best version of ourselves.

walking-out

(photo courtesy of Joshua Paul Photography)

True freedom relies in complete and utter trust in God’s will for your life. It is allowing God to be the writer of your story, and you the pen. True freedom lies in saying “yes” to Our Lord… together… and continuing to trust in His goodness.

On June 30th Tim and I, while on our honeymoon in Costa Rica, found out that we were expecting our first little one. I have never been filled with more fear or excitement.


On our wedding day we said “yes” to God’s plan for our lives and he provided us with the greatest gift we could ever receive — our first little baby.

My mother-in-law had a beautiful reflection on this gift by explaining that, “The greatest grace that a married couple can receive is the gift of a child. Therefore, the graces must truly have been flowing through your wedding to give you this tremendous gift.”

I have reflected on that statement so much in the past four months. Despite the fear, anxiety, and worry about our little one coming a little earlier than expected and having had only 12 solid hours of just Tim and I in our marriage- what an irreplaceable gift we have been given. Our baby is not ‘worst case scenario’ but rather ‘best case scenario’. After returning to the United States and telling our family, I was struck by an image I received while praying the rosary.

The image was of the visitation between Mary and Elizabeth but instead of Elizabeth being there- I was standing in front of Mary. She looked at me with such joy and just laid her hand on top of my stomach right where my womb is, smiling and giving me the reassurance that she was with me. I stood in front of her smiling and placing my hand over her womb, in total adoration of Jesus within her.

She rejoiced as I was rejoicing in the gift of life. 


As I sit here today, tremendously grateful for this tiny life, I reflect on the words that were sung as I walked down the aisle to Tim on our wedding day….

“Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders, let me walk upon the waters wherever you would call me. Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander. Let my faith be made stronger in the presence of my Savior.”

little-one

(photo courtesy of Dana Sebastian)

Little one, you are loved more than you will ever know. We are grateful for you and the gift of realizing that our marriage is about way more than just us. 

I thought nothing would compare to seeing your Dad as I was walking down the aisle…. I was wrong. 

Seeing you for the first time on a big screen forever changed me.