Wednesday, April 25, 2012

It takes a Village

I promised I would update after the visit at Children' hope was that it would have been earlier today, but then life happens. 

Children's was a good visit--had another echo of Viv's heart and there is a mini-miracle here....she has a left side!  Okay, hardly, but the doctors have re-diagnosed her.  Her heart is still defected and falls under HLHS, but it is a more typical case instead of when they first believed it was a blob.  My response to this--KEEP PRAYING!  Not that I doubt God hears us, I know there are special things happening inside here!

The doctors did find that Viv has fluid in her stomach.  Apparently, this is alarming, but my "mom gut" is saying not to worry.  However, my OB jumped on scheduling an appointment with me tomorrow.  I promise to give an update.

We also met with one of the surgeons and it was wonderful to get a better idea of what to be expecting after she is born.  I was under the impression she would be operated on hours after her birth, but it fact it could be up to a week after she is born!  I can't say I think it will be a week because all of the cardiology floor will have me on their case to get to my girl!  It still seems very surreal, and I am sure as our due date gets closer we will have more meetings and devise a more concrete POA.

Besides the belly thing, Viv is good.  She seems to be forming up to par, weighing in at 1 pound 12 ounces which puts her in the 30th percentile.  We're doing good!

Spiritually and emotionally today has been a doozy....not because of Viv (surprisingly enough).  I think I am learning more everyday that the rough patches are the holiest moments of our life.  God allows obstacles, and knocks us down not only to raise us up in humility, but to give us real moments to show Himself to us.  Allow me to give a little disclaimer:  this does not mean it feels good, before, during or after.  They are called "growing pains" for a reason.  I used to think if only life has less choices--less bad would happen.  I believe today, I would also add less good would happen as a result too.  I choose to take the good, even if that means throwing in some bad.

An image to leave you with tonight:
The surgeon we met with told us the cardiac unit at Children's is like the Verizon commercials, where there are all those people behind that one main guy.  I got to thinking, that is how I feel about all of you.  All of you are behind Rod and me and Viv and each of your roles in our life is crucial.  We would not be at this point without your prayers, love and support.  So thank you.  Thank you for making us your family and loving Vivian.  I am convicted through this experience it absolutely takes a village. 

Sweet Dreams :)

Off to Children's We Go!

Today is the day I have been anticipating for weeks.  There is a side of me that feels like it has taken forever to get to Wednesday April 25, and there is a side of me that feels like a blink of an eye and here we are! Today, we revisit Children's Hospital for an echo of Viv's heart.  It's like she knows we are going to the doctor--I can feel her stretching and moving as if to say,  "I'm getting ready for the show" :) Oh Viv.  I can't wait to see you in action. 

There is a side of me that is curious to what we will see today.  Will Viv's heart still be a blob?  Will a small left side be formed?  In just a few short hours we will see what miracles have been taking place inside of my womb in the past 6 weeks.  Sit back, continue praying, while we await the results! :)

Thursday, April 19, 2012



I want you all to know that my sister is planning a walk for Vivian this summer. More details will come as we have them!  The project is a part of the curriculum at Mt. Notre Dame.  If you are interested in sharing your time, talent and/or treasure, or know someone who would be interested in the planning process, please pass them my way!

Sweet dreams :)

Amazed You Shall Be

Wednesday has been my Grace day.  Honestly, the best day of the week.  I love being with my little sister--I can't imagine what love I will have for Viv knowing how much I love Gracie.  Grace is 9, yep, a whopping 17 years younger than me and although I am not her mom, my maternal love and instincts are heightened during our time together.  I was so worried about how she would take the news about Rod and I having a baby.  Trust me, it has been a roller-coaster, but I am happy to say that it is her idea to look at baby clothes, (and although she wears only Cars t-shirts and sweatpants with a Curious George hat, she picks out the CUTEST little girl clothes) and she is now ok with being called 'Aunt Grace'.  Seems silly, but believe me, it is a feat :)  However, Wednesdays have become Doctor days which definitely tampers with my Grace time!  Luckily, yesterday we both had Doctor appointments, so our shortened schedule was understood.

I made a mistake at the doctor's yesterday; I read in the waiting room excerpts from a blog of a mom whose child was diagnosed with Trisomy 18.  You can read her blog to understand more what that is,, but basically it is a fatal chromosomal abnormality.  I have read articles about this before and usually the baby, if he or she survives birth, will normally go back to Heaven in his or her first few days of life.  Ok why this is a bad idea to do this at the doctor's office:  I am already an emotional basket-case, and I know I am at the doctor to talk about Viv and how I am feeling which only adds to emotion, and then reading about another family whose child isn't by the world's standards "perfect"....this equals emotional disaster.  What is even worse is that while I was waiting for the doctor to come into my room, I began thinking about this family even more.  At 25 weeks, their world was ROCKED.  Their faith was the stronghold that allowed them to keep going.  I completely admire this family and the "Yes" they have said for little Nora's life.  And it got me to thinking, I don't have it so bad.  Life is a gift that can never be taken for granted, but I know Viv will be born and she will be ok after surgery.  Sure the road will be bumpy for awhile, but HLHS is not a death sentence.  This story brought back to the surface the pit in my stomach I initially had when we found out about Viv.  People tell me how strong I am, and how great my faith is--no, this mother is strong.  This mother's faith is where I aspire to be.  We could have had so many other diagnoses for Vivian, but we haven't.  It is just not as bad as we can sometimes think life is.  So many people suffer in ways we can never imagine.  I think reading about this family put my life more in perspective, put Vivian's situation more in perspective.

So like I said, all these thoughts are happening before the doctor comes in. I am cool, calm and collected until we start discussing the hospital and the procedure briefly, and I feel myself getting choked up, and the mantra, "don't cry, don't cry, don't cry" is starting in my head.  It's like clockwork, I open my mouth and the floodgates are down, so through sobs I am telling the doctor, "I am not saying this to be naive, but I believe Vivian's heart is going to be a miracle.  We have so many people praying, and we are praying to Blesseds who want to become Saints, so like we aren't messing around here".  And I realized as I am sobbing to get those few sentences out, I am so detached when it comes to talking about what is going to happen when she is born, what is going to happen in the hospital, because I believe that things are changing inside of me.

My doctor is so calm, and he just looked at me and said, "It's ok to cry--you are allowed to cry.  I pray for my patients, especially ones in cases like yours.  It is always amazing to me how God answers those prayers".  Hmmm...and more amazed you shall be.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Blessed Be God in all His Designs

Once again I have been the absentee author of this blog.  I don't know how journalists find the inspiration to write something new everyday.  It's like one day I have 50 bizillion ideas and thoughts I want to share and feel like I must choose one to captivate an audience, and the next day not only do I forget everything I was thinking, but I have no other thoughts.  My resolution to this problem--I am going to write down little notes of thoughts when they hit me.  Hopefully then on the day when my well is dry, I can go back to my thoughts when they were flowing oh so freely. 

This week has been a slow busy.  I look back and think, "what did I do?" but at the same time don't remember because it was a blurr.  The house hunt continues--I know God is waiting to "WOW" us as He only can, I danced myself into braxton hicks at one of my best friend's bachelorette party, and my little brother bought a house.  I am so proud of him and excited for the new chapter beginning in his life. 

My friend sent me a story about Venerable Solanus Casey (  His story is so beautiful, and she sent it to me because he is a healer whose feast is on July 31.  Sounds promising, eh? :)  There is a quote of his that has stuck with me for a few days, "Blessed be God in all His Designs".  Immediately, of course, I thought of Viv.  But after learning of my brother's excitement, I thought of him. 

My brother has been having a rough bout with being single and trying to figure his niche while the desire of his heart is to get married and be a daddy for babies.  He always wanted to live on a farm, and a few months ago started looking for a house with some land.  Nothing was feeling right and then out of the blue, his buddy's grandma passed away, her house went for sale and my brother bought it.  It is in the middle of nowhere, a little house on 7 acres.  A little 100 year old house with loads of potential, but in desperate need of TLC.  After talking to him today, I can't remember the last time I heard him so happy.  His life again has purpose.  Being a visionary, he already has in his mind how he is going to buy the entire street, where he is going to build a new house after he has a few kids, how he is going to rig up a ring for my sister to ride her horse, and the list goes on and on and on.  "Blessed be God in all His Designs".  God knows the innermost desire of our heart and knows the perfect time to fulfill them--and it is better than we could ever imagine.  I don't think my brother could imagine a more perfect time, or a more perfect place to begin his dream.  What a beautiful Design signed exclusively for Timmy by God.

Vivian's heart is just the same.  I find myself more and more in these past weeks praising God for her heart and the beauty that it is.  The external is not important, the internal is what shines through, and Viv's heart is already touching people's hearts and lives because of the beautiful design God has created.  I think about my life and the inner desires of my heart--um, the one, which was always to be a mommy, and here I am living that desire with the most precious and most beautiful design God could have ever created for me.  "Blessed be God in all His Designs"!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Edify by Example

Rod always says that God speaks to us "through the community" meaning our friends and family.  Don't get me wrong, it's no that I don't believe in this, I totally do, but he really believes it.  I called my friend last night to catch up and nothing would have prepared me for the lesson I was given through her example.  She is on Spring break and had a friend over yesterday who is expecting a baby next week.  All day they cooked together so meals would be in the freezer ready to go when the baby arrives.  In my head as she was telling me this, I was thinking, what a great idea--what an AWESOME friend she is. (not that I didn't already think that)  But she continued to amaze me.  She told me it has been really hard for her because she isn't pregnant and she wants to be so bad and it hurts especially since she was married before us.  However instead of wallowing in that sorrow, she explained how she felt she needed to be close to her pregnant friends so she could offer to God her pain and work through it to be the best friend she can be for us where we are.
As she was telling me this, I was dumbfounded. I know I would not react like that and I have not reacted like that in the past even to this friend. I have always allowed my emotions to steer the wheel and that would lead me to withdrawing from the situation and moving to another so I wouldn't face the "yuck" I felt for not having what I wanted.  I am edified by her example. 

She got me thinking of the meaning of the Easter Season.  Christ died so we can live and live His love through example.  My friend has hung her heart on the cross with Christ and is working everyday to be Glorified with Him--and what better time than the Easter Season?  His love, mercy and grace are real and available if and when we are open to receiving it.  The cross is not a symbol of doom, but a symbol of immense Hope. It doesn't feel good to suffer, as we saw Christ suffer through His Passion, but I definitely think the Resurrection was worth it.!  And if Christ promises us that He will always be with us, we know the story.  We know the outcome.  We know His love wins.  It's not any different in our lives, but like my friend, we must surrender all things to Him, relying on His strength to lead us through.

Speaking of growth, Viv is roughly the size of an ear of corn and moving like a maniac.  She loves to hear Daddy's voice and Mass.  She hates when I cross my legs or bend over--there is no doubt how she feels about anything.  I;m not surprised, and I wouldn't want it any other way :)

Monday, April 9, 2012

Easter Blessings

I hope all of you enjoyed the beauty of yesterday!  What a blessing to be able to celebrate the miracle of Life and Love through the Resurrection of Christ!  It was an amazing day full of fun and family. 

For me, it is wonderful to finally have the Church calendar in sync with my heart.  The joy and the hope we have received from Christ's Passion and Resurrection is what has been reigning in my heart in regards to our journey with Viv. 

At Mass yesterday, my family (yes, all 10 of us) were asked to present the gifts during offertory. This part of the Mass is one of my favorites.  It is a great moment to think about offering myself to Christ as a gift, as the bread and wine that are going to be transformed into His Body and Blood are walked to the altar. Although I was kind of chuckling at what a procession we had to be, it was a beautiful example of the love that Christ has given us as being a part of his family.  My brothers wouldn't let me carry anything to the altar because I'm pregnant (they are so silly), but when we sat down, Rod leaned over and whispered to me, "thank you for carrying Viv to Christ at the altar".  Even though this is one of my favorite parts of Mass, I didn't even think about that.  What a grace for him to think like that!  And what a grace for me to be able to give her to Christ now.  Our friend stopped us after Mass and asked us if we were paying attention to the song being sung during the offertory, and I wasn't, I was distracted by us all walking down the aisle.  She told us the refrain said in it, "I make all things new" Um, WOW!  I definitely don't think that was any accident.

Yesterday I was also overwhelmed by the amount of people who came up to us to let Rod and I know they were praying for us and for Viv.  I want all of you to know, that those prayers are going a long way and are forming our hearts to be the best for Viv and for each other.  Thank you for being a blessing to our family.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

In the Tomb

Sometimes it's easy in our life to associate with Christ being in the tomb.  Sometimes we feel alone, we feel like life is a huge maze and we can't find the way out.  The beauty of our Christian faith, is that we don't have to ever let the "tomb time" bring us down.  We know the ending of the story--we have the hope in the Glory of the Resurrection.  If we allow our lives to live according to the message of Hope that Christ teaches us, (although not always easiest, I know) it will outweigh the fear and anxiety life can throw at us. 

Lord Jesus, I thank You so much for the suffering You went through for me.  I have the gift of knowing even though You are in the tomb right now, that isn't the end and it doesn't mean that You are defeated.  Increase my Hope in You and Your love, especially as we follow Your will for Vivian and our family.  Lord, we have Hope in the miracle of Your Resurrection and believe that You have a special plan for Viv and her heart, and we believe in Your power to make it whole, and restore it to a glorified heart, as You rose into Your Glorified Body.  Continue to prepare our hearts for the miracle we will celebrate tomorrow.

I love You Jesus! Amen

Friday, April 6, 2012

Good Friday

Today is the most solemn day in the Church.  Our Lord is choosing to say "yes" to His Passion and Death for each of us specifically.  I will never forget my Pilgrimage to Jerusalem.  It was truly the trip of a lifetime and one I hope I am blessed to go on again.  Seeing where Christ lived, walking were Christ walked, was an experience that tied our hearts together so closely.  My mom and I took a trip one time to Wisconsin to visit her friend.  When we were ready to leave, my mom told Sue, "It won't feel like you are so far away anymore because I will know what to picture when you tell me you are talking in your kitchen."  For some odd reason, I have thought about that for years, and it rang in my soul while I was trodding along through Christ's home. Scripture came alive when I read about Him sailing on the Sea of Galilee; I can see Him in the garden of Gethsemane; I can place myself at the foot of the cross and know that truly He was on the stone the builders rejected, yet still became the corner stone.

During the Triduum, I reflect on two memories that have molded my faith and that have changed my heart.  The first, is meeting Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane. The olive trees that line the church that now holds the Rock where Christ wrestled with the devil to accept God's Will, are so interesting and create a perfect ambiance for the writhing of Christ's soul.  Olive trees are short and stout, and unlike most trees that look straight from the trunk, the trees' stumps are created from what looks like ligaments twisting and contorting together then separate at the top to create almost an umbrella feel overhead.  Entering the Church, there is a long aisle-way and at the end is a ginormous rock surrounded by a wrought iron fence resembling the crown of thorns.  I was able to sit around the rock and place my hands on it--I could FEEL Christ's love through the hard, cold surface of the rock.  It was here that He saw my face, my sins, my ugly and choose to say "yes" for me.  If I was the only sinner in this world, He would still have said "yes".  I didn't want to leave this moment, or leave Christ alone on this rock, and I think about that in a special way today as Christ invites us to share with Him the love He has for us, that He shows us most intensely through the Cross.

The second memory I reflect upon is at Ecce Homo, which is where Pilate condemned Christ to death in front of the crowd.  There is so much to share about this journey once you have walked it--obviously we know He was Divine, but also Human.  After being spiritually and physically tortured through the night and then being expected to walk from place to place as people tormented Him along the way....I can't believe He was standing up when He got to this place.  The landing Pilate stood on is still in tact and is used as an altar today for Pilgrims.  This is the hardest memory for me to relive, because it tears at my heart.  The priest who was saying Mass, Fr. Juan, an AMAZING priest, before he began Mass he explained to us where we were and lead us through a meditation that silenced everything around me and created a scene that felt so real.  When he talked about the screaming crowds to release Barabbas and to crucify Christ, he silenced for a moment and then commanded us to yell "Crucify Him!" because we, all sinners, were there.  Oh boy--I couldn't speak.  Not a word was spoken.  And Fr. Juan said again to not just say it, yell it.  A few did, and the sound was very weak.  He kept commanding that we do it and do it and do it, until each of us were yelling and the sounds reverberated against the walls.  All I could hear was the echo of my voice screaming, "crucify Him!" And then a silence where all that was heard was the pounding of my heart, in complete sorrow.  That Mass was one I will never forget--the JOY that resonated in my soul after receiving Christ was mystical.  Christ loves me more than the pain I have caused Him--enough to die.

This Good Friday, not only do I find myself wanting to comfort Christ, but I see myself walking with Mary.  Throughout this Lent with finding out about Viv, I have felt her so close to me. Mary knew all these things and pondered them in her heart.  As she watched Christ grow, it was bittersweet, because she knew one day it would come to this, and nothing she could do would change it.  All she could do was love, love Christ to the Cross--the most powerful thing she could do was love in her sorrow.  To love through her sorrow.  Her love was so powerful--why wouldn't God ask her to be the mother of the Savior of the World?  I have felt since March 8 when it was confirmed that Viv has HLHS, Mary has grabbed my hand and asked me to love to the point that it hurts to love.  The love that isn't the "happily ever after love" we see on TV or we read in books, its real love, that loves especially when it's hard, or when it doesn't feel good.  It's the love that aches in your gut because all you can do is love while there are so many other things you want to do but can't. It's the love in saying "Yes!" to what Christ is asking of me as a wife and a mom.  It's not easy.

Earlier I received a phone call from a close family friend.  She called to share with me as she was praying this morning, her prayer book opened right to Viv's prayer card.  As she was looking at the picture of the ultrasound, she saw Mary looking upon Viv, with her hand on Viv's feet. She said it was almost like Mary was talking to Viv, or was going to kiss her.  I couldn't believe it--it proved as confirmation for me, for an experience I had while watching the ultrasound we had at Children's.  I saw a woman's face in with Viv.  I kept asking Rod if her saw her, and he looked at me like I was crazy.  But I saw her, with Viv and it seemed as though Viv knew she was there.  She would move when she came on the screen.  That same day, I was sitting in a friend's drive-way and looked into the clouds and saw the same face, and I knew I wasn't feeling these feelings, or walking this road alone.  Mary has been there, done that, in a definite more drastic degree than I am, but she is comforting me. She is walking hand in hand with me as I walk my Calvary anticipating my child's suffering.

Knowing this, I have great joy as we anticipate the Resurrection.  We all know the end of the story.  We know it is a happy ending, a joyful ending, a life-saving ending.  How exciting to see what God all has in store for each us on this journey!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

It's the Grinch Effect

Good morning!  And for those of you who are Reds Enthusiasts, Congrats and Good Luck today with the game :)

I can't believe it is Holy Week; more specifically that today begins the Triduum, the Holiest Days within the Church.  My brother called me from UD Sunday night after going to Mass and says, "Well today is Palm Sunday.  And you know, I was thinking in Mass....Jesus was a Miracle at Easter--Viv could be a Miracle too!"  How sweet!  The Hope Vivi is demanding people to have is remarkable. 

We went to the doctor yesterday.  The Nurse Practitioner at the Practice I go to is AMAZING.  I never saw my OB until I got pregnant, I always went to her.  She sat down, almost crying (which is funny within itself, because she is a tough cookie) and just said, "I have been thinking so much about you--how are you really?"  I think she was taken aback when I smiled and replied with a "Great! Viv is already a great blessing and miracle".  I am sincerely beginning to think that people outside of this bubble of love and faith that I swimming in, truly believe I am A.) in denial or B.) off my rocker.  Option A:  I can understand why they think I am in denial.  By the world's standards, this is pretty rough to say the least.  And I am not denying that I have my moments, but she is going to make it through regardless of my moments or non-moments--I would rather be the cheerleader holding up the foam finger believing fully in the blessing she is, believing in the power of faith and believing in the technology of modern medicine.  Now, option B, I can't really stand up to.  Everyone is a little crazy :)
Viv's heart though, is beating STRONG, and the Nurse did say you wouldn't know anything by just hearing it.  For me, hearing her heartbeat is almost like hearing her little voice--it is always a moment that I never want to leave, because in those moments she is speaking to me.  I feel like I can already feel her disposition in that "boom,boom,boom" moving at what seems the speed of light: joyful....a little ornery....happy-go-lucky....but stubborn--which in her first moments will be the greatest gift.

My cousin wrote me a Facebook message wanting to run for Viv in the Chicago Marathon.  Immediately upon reading it, tears began sliding down my face, completely touched by her heart, and I realized--every prayer is making Viv's heart stronger.  Every sacrifice is making Viv's heart stronger.  Every action done with Viv's intention is making her heart stronger.  It's totally the Grinch Effect.  I can almost see it happening--and know a miracle is brewing.