Thursday, May 12, 2011

Being OTL - sometimes it makes me LOL & other times say OMG

Well in less than 24 hours (God willing so) I will be a mom to 7 under 7. All of our children have been delivered via c section (glad I live in an age of modern anesthesia!) and tomorrow is my 5th section. I usually become a bite more contemplative in the last week prior to delivery especially since the prospect of surgery makes my mortality more present.  It prompt the existential question - What is it that I live for? 

As I woke this morning I found myself ruminating on being open to life (OTL).  Many times when my husband and I share with others that we are OTL they don't know what to make of it.  Most presume it means having lots of kids - we get the old school "oh you must be Catholic" jokes pretty often.  (For a fun look at some of the usual statements made to us check out this video made by a large family who is OTL)

This morning I wasn't thinking about large families - rather I was listening to the relative silence (only 4 of our 6 are home now and in a few hours it will just be me and Mark since we have to be at the hospital at 5:45am tomorrow!) and began thinking about my many friends and acquaintances who are OTL and it has nothing to do with having many children.  It's about trusting in God's plan and cooperating with it.

Some examples .....  our neighbors.  We met them 7 years ago when they had two sons (and unbeknownst to us had lost a baby girl at 7 months gestation).  Their sons are now a sophomore in highschool and an 8th grader.  Shortly after we moved into the neighborhood, this family began serving as foster parents for two young children who had been born by mothers who suffered from drug addiction.  Those two children - a boy and girl  who are now Joseph and Sarah's good friends- have been adopted by our neighbors who thank God since "we would never have thought of foster care or adoption if we hadn't lost our baby".  

Another neighbor - have also adopted a child - a son born in Korea.  You see, the husband in that couple was in a very bad car accident when he was in his early twenties and is paralegic.  You would cry to see how dad points out hitting tips as his son plays baseball under his watchful eye in the backyard.

Our friends ..... my husband was asked by a high school friend to write a letter of support for their adoption process.  They had tried for years to conceive but weren't able.  When their son arrived from Korea at the airport - they asked Mark and me to be there "To see our family be born".  What an honor. 

Another set of friends who married quite late in life but desired to witness to love.  They too looked to adopt.  Their son, born in China with a cleft lip and palate was literally saved from the gutter  and certain death by the fact that God gave them the grace to be OTL.

In all of these adoption stories, the children are of a different race and or ethnicity from their parents.  Showing the world that we are all in the image and likeness of God - regardless of the external appearance or label. 

Another set of friends also struggled with infertility for nearly 8 years before they were able to welcome their son.   Two years later their son was diagnosed with Aspergers syndrome.  Many folks thought "how tragic" but this couple instead were filled with love at being given a twice special gift - a son who would need even more love.  (By the way - they remainded OTL and have another son and are waiting for the birth of their third child).

How about our primary babysitter - a now 18 year old girl who lives up the block.  She was adopted by her parents as an infant after they had been unable to conceive for many years.  After adopting her,  being OTL to give love to a child, her parents had two additional daughters.  I'm always amazed at how the 3 girls, only two of whom are genetically related, really resemble each other!

Another set of friends have one son who is now in 5th grade.  They've not been able to conceive since his birth and science can't tell them why (without their assenting to going against what the church teaches about the procreative and unitive nature of conjugal love).  We are part of the marriage preparation team in our parish with this couple and I'm moved to tears each time the mom makes the statement  that her job as a mom is harder than mine.  She tells the engaged couples that she has to make sure her son understands that the world doesn't revolve around him - he is called to love others as if they were his physical brothers or sisters.  Teaching a 5th grader to be OTL. 

So this morning's thoughts were about cooperating with God.  Life with 6 under 6 has been crazy at times (hence the need to LOL or utter a prayer of OMG) and for sure life with 7 under 7 will be interesting as well.  But as I sign off to pack my back for the hospital, I'm inspired by these OTL friends which God has given me and I trust in the words of St. Paul in 2 Corinthians....  "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me."

Thursday, May 5, 2011

My waiting game.... and the sad waiting game of others

So I'm t minus 8 days to scheduled c section and am at home waiting.  And waiting.  And waiting.  (You can see that patience is a virtue I have mastered!). 

I've got more 'spare time' so to speak and was reading through the msnbc site today and happened upon a story which saddened me.  Somehow the concept of children as something which requires a cost benefit analysis is depressing.  What I see is the richness in being open to having children.  Like the richness we experienced cheering on Mark in his 2nd race - a 5 K ('piece of cake') this past weekend. 

Please note that I share the photo - not because I'm looking my best (in fact I think I was growling at someone to sit down and watch the photographer) - but rather that our family, size that it is had a great morning rooting daddy on to an under 32 minute finish of his 5K.

So Mark's race was this past race has been this week and next. Ensuring that everyone's dentist appointments and follow ups for cavity fills (ugh) are complete. Swapping out all the winter for summer clothes (just as temperatures drop to an average of 55 for several days).  Packing bags - for me and baby girl to go to hospital and for 3 different 'sleep over' spots with 2 children per location launching at various points next week to (hopefully!) leave Mark and me ready to go to the hospital early on the morning of Friday the 13th of May  to deliver our lucky #7.  Lest you think we are superstitious, we chose May 13th for the feast of Our Lady of Fatima - who called us especially to prayer and sacrifice.  A great message as we prepare to welcome our next child, whom the world may see as "costly" but whom we see as priceless beyond measure!