Breastfeeding and the Theology of the Body

Even after having 4 kids, you’d think that breastfeeding would come easier with the fourth kid, but nooooooooooo….. Jacob is throwing me for a loop. First it was the bottle feeding… That was interrupting the proper latch and his preference for the bottle seemed to overtake his want for breastfeeding, so we cut out the bottles. Second it is his latch, since he was bottle fed, his latch was smaller then the typical one. Mind you he also has a really small mouth because he’s a preemie, so we’ve been using a nipple shield to help open his mouth wider, but with that comes other problems: he doesn’t get as much milk as he would drinking from the bare breast. Third, since we’re using the nipple shield, he latches better using that than on the bare breast, but I’ve been working on getting him off the nipple shield. So that’s another transition. Fourth, he hasn’t been gaining as much weight as we’d hoped, so instead of adding formula, as other people would, we’ve been adding a tube while feeding him…to get him to a higher weight….Sigh…so many things going on.

There are usually 2 breastfeeding problems: 1) a milk production problem, where for whatever reason, your body isn’t producing as much milk as your baby needs and 2) a latching problem. This happens when your baby can’t latch properly and it makes breastfeeding hurt. For me, my problem has always been a latching problem. I have never had a problem with milk production, thankfully, but on the other hand, a latching problem can make any mother quit breastfeeding because it really hurts if you don’t get the help you need. Sigh… This is such hard work. Breastfeeding isn’t for everyone, and it is the least talked about in parenting classes, but let me tell you…. It puts things into perspective.

How much are you willing to sacrifice for your baby… To try to give him/her the best possible nutrition… It’s really hard… And the sad thing is… A lot of mothers give up before their babies. One thing I have learned in my life regarding breastfeeding is NEVER give up! If you’re willing to sacrifice yourself for it, it will be totally worth it. There is help out there if you really want it. But first you have to get over the painful latches of the milk production issues to be able to be in the clear.

Over the last few days, Jacob and I have been struggling with breastfeeding. He’s been fussy a lot at night which means that I’ve been up nursing him. I feel like I’ve been nursing him non stop over the last few days. It’s definitely not for the faint of heart.

Breastfeeding takes a lot of patience, persistence and a heck of a lot of the miracle nipple cream I was prescribed! Let me tell you… Without that nipple cream, I don’t know where I’d be.

Thinking about how this relates to the Theology of the Body… In so many ways, a mother is that child’s representative of Jesus, metaphorically, of course.

She willingly feeds her child, losing sleep and other things that come along with it. But if you knew what the milk was, you’d also understand the parallels with that of the Holy Eucharist.

What is the Holy Eucharist? It’s literally transformed from bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ. See John chapter 6 in the Bible. Jesus’ body and blood becomes the sustenance for our lives. If we eat of his flesh and drink his blood, we will have eternal life. He is the life source of our lives.

In the same way it can be for breastfeeding…the mother’s body and blood is transformed into sustenance for that little baby. Without the milk, the baby would die. But I guess one of the most beautiful things to think about is that mothers get to feed their babies just like the Blessed Mother fed the baby Jesus. She gave up her body for him so he could live by drinking the milk that her body produced.

If breastfeeding doesn’t make you a saint, I don’t know what will. While I’m sitting here, feeding Jacob, sometimes I wonder why I don’t just quit breastfeeding this little boy… And as I contemplate this, I think no… I could never give up on this. This is my sacrifice for him but also for those who need prayers. My struggle will be offered up for those who need and want prayers. So if you’d like me to remember you during my struggle please comment on this post, and I’ll be sure to pray for you during my breastfeeding journey.

Before I end this post, if you could also lift me up in your prayers, I could really use them. Breastfeeding is hard, but one thing I’ve learned is… Get the help…it’s out there if you need it.

This is where I got my help…

The Doctor’s Breastfeeding Clinic

The doctors here are great! And so is the lactation consultant. I wouldn’t have made it this far without their help.

One last note… I was reading another blog about 5 saints who should be known by breastfeeding mothers, and one that really stood out was St. Zelie Martins. She was the mother of St. Therese of Lisieux. She was unable to breastfeed her children and had to send them to live with wet nurses because she couldn’t feed them. And many of them died while they were separated from her. 😮 Can you imagine?? Your babies died because you couldn’t breastfeed them?? I’d be devastated and I’m sure she was. So I’m that note, I’ll end this blog with a short prayer.

St. Giles (patron saint of breastfeeding and breastfeeding mothers, St. Zelie, and Our Lady of La Leche, please pray for all the breastfeeding mothers out there that are struggling and wanting to give up! Give them the will to keep going even when they want to stop. Allow them to enter into the suffering deeply and unite it with that of Christ and the Blessed mother. Allow them to persevere by your grace. All this we ask in Jesus’ name! Amen!

My little milk monster! He keeps me on my toes!

Your sister in Christ,

Jeanette

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Mass and children: the two CAN go together!

It’s been awhile since my last blog post, and I’ve definitely been inspired to write this particular blog post! I read a few things about bringing kids to mass: some of the things I agree with and some I respectfully disagree with.

With that being said, here are some tips that have helped me and my husband enjoy mass with our children.

1) Have a set time for mass. We used to go to the 12:30 pm mass but found that our kids would misbehave more during later masses than earlier times, so we decided to start attending the 9:30 am mass. Usually children are happier earlier in the day, so it’s great to capitalize on that happiness. Either way, you should have a scheduled mass so that your kids get used to going and have something to look forward to each week.

2) Make sure the kids have eaten something. For me, I’m definitely one of those people who can’t eat food early in the morning, but my kids tend to want to eat something right before we step out the door. Soooo…. it’s better to give them something small to keep them satiated during Mass.

3) Find a church that offers a children’s liturgy. Our parish is blessed to have a children’s liturgy at the 9:30 am mass, but not every church has the resources to have a separate liturgy for them. If you don’t have that luxury because of the lack of manpower, perhaps consider running the liturgy for the kids yourself. In my opinion, it’s great to have the children learn from someone who wants them to love Jesus like we do. It allows your kids to interact with other kids as well as learn about the readings from another source.

4) Take your kids to more than one mass a week. The beautiful thing about the Catholic Church is that at most churches, at least in my area,they offer daily mass. I strongly recommend taking your children to more than one mass a week. As you know I have 3 boys and now my 7 and 5 year old are able to behave during Mass because they are older, but my 1 and a half year old used to misbehave during Mass, but now he’s great!! My secret: I take him to mass daily! Someone mentioned to me that kids will often misbehave during Mass because they want to know what’s going on, so I decided to take Aaron daily, and after the mass, I would allow him to walk up to the altar and check things out. He absolutely loved it! I get all sorts of compliments on how well behaved he is! THANK YOU God for your grace!! Aaron is a gem at mass, and it also brings the elders joy when they see young children during the week! They look forward to seeing him daily.

5) Sit close to the front. During Good Friday I allowed Philip to sit with me during the mass. We got a seat right in the front row because of the RCIA. Because he got to see everything up close and at times have the deacons and priests looking at him, he behaved so well! I was so pleased with his behaviour! Since then, he has wanted a seat close to the front of the church. I also noticed that the loudness is typically at the back of the church and the closer you get to the front, the quieter it gets. It also allows you and your young family to focus. Again the thing is… kids want to see what’s going on.

6) Explain the mass. Ok… so you may have to whisper, but if you do it consistently, your children will know the true significance of the mass. Especially when the kids hear the bells during the consecration of the bread and wine, it’s great to whisper to your kids… “listen for the bells, it’s a very important part of the mass because it’s when the bread and wine become Jesus.” I found this helpful with both Philip and Isaac.

7) Participate during the whole mass. Children learn by example, so when you do something or don’t do something, they will follow your example. Remember that you are your children’s first teacher. They need to see you participate in your faith so they can learn from you.

8) Talk about what you learned. If you have a children’s liturgy, it’s a great discussion to have after Mass to learn about what they learned. If you don’t have one, it’s still ok because you can tell them on the way to mass that they should listen to what God wants to teach them during the mass. You can find out what they absorbed during the readings, but if they say… “I don’t know” then you can go back over the readings and help them to seek God’s message for the week.

9) Be consistent. This echoes number 4, but it is slightly different. Consistency is the key to learning anything new. The key is to start slowly and consistently instead of fast and inconsistent. Going to mass is about being consistent. Once a week is ok, but it is the bare minimum, and if you only frequent church once a month or less than, it will be hard for kids to pay attention especially during times like Good Friday, where the service is extra long.

10) Always pray for your children’s holiness. This particular tip is less about mass an more about praying for your children. Holiness is something that is learned. With the exception of Mother Mary, we are all sinners, but with the grace of God, we can be great Saints. We all have bad days, especially children, but always intercede for your children and ask the Saints and Mother Mary for their prayers! Jesus never turned children away because He loved their innocence! Children can teach us how to love God more fully.

There you go… here are the tips my husband and I use to ensure we all have a great and wonderful time during Mass. Remember that children will always try and test your limits, but with the grace of God, all things a possible!

Comment below for other tips that have helped you! May God bless you abundantly!!

Your sister in Christ,

Jeanette

The Conversion of Saul to St Paul

The benefit of being home with my kids is that I get to participate in morning mass.  I  love listening to the word of God.  It’s even better when Aaron comes with me and behaves.  hehehe…Today’s readings were about conversion: the conversion of St Paul.

What causes our confusion??  What causes us to lose hope, to doubt in the existence of God?? I think for the most part, we are lacking faith.  In a previous post, I mentioned that faith is the ultimate reception of God’s love and gift.  We don’t believe that God will give us our gift, so we grab for it instead.

St Paul was one of the most hated among Christians because he persecuted them.  He tormented them and killed them, so why would people believe he had a conversion??

People are so skeptical of others that they can’t believe anyone could actually have a change of heart.  How can an invisible “God” really talk to us? Or, look at Jeanette’s life…she is always gossiping about others, how can she be a follower of Christ?  Christians are put under a microscope because we are expected to have all the answers and have a seemingly holier life, but people often forget that we are humans, not divine beings.  We are working everyday to get rid of the stigma that follows Christians, or at least we should.  Our lives should reflect the life of Christ.  We need a Paul-like conversion.  We need a total 180 degree change in our attitudes and lives so that we are now reflecting the life of Christ.

But how can we do that??  How can we have a deeper conversion??  I’ve been reading and contemplating this book called Deep Conversion, Deep Prayer by Fr. Thomas Dubay (I will post a link below) and it has really helped me deepen my prayer life as well as help with my conversion story.  He quotes St Bernard of Clairvaux, “There are more people who convert from mortal sin to grace, than there are religious converted from good to better!” WOW!!!  This is thought provoking….  why is it that this happens??  In one word: CONVERSION.  What is true conversion??

True conversion is looking at your life and seeing the faults and working towards God and mirroring your life after the saints, apostles, Jesus and Mary.  If it wasn’t for the conversion of St Paul, a lot of us would not be here believing in the gospel.

My conversion happened when I started studying the Theology of the Body.  Those writings of St. John Paul II really changed my life.  I am looking for ways to bring this to the wider group of people.  A lot of people can have their own conversion by listening to these very healing words.  There are many ways God can call us for conversion, but TOB was mine.  After going to the Theology of the Body Institute and learning more, I have total faith that I’m following the right path.  I am so happy I came across these writings, so please pray for me.

Below, I will share a link to download a talk by Christopher West entitled: Your Body Tells God’s Love Story!  It is an introductory talk on the Theology of the Body! I hope you enjoy it!

May God bless you and help you with your conversion story.

Your sister in Christ,

Jeanette

 

Link to Deep Conversion Deep Prayer:

http://www.amazon.ca/Deep-Conversion-Prayer-Thomas-DuBay/dp/1586171178/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1453736061&sr=8-1&keywords=deep+conversion+deep+prayer

FREE talk by Christopher West

https://members.thecorproject.com/file/nYezD8ZRkd0

Mary and Jesus: My Reflection

In yesterday’s Gospel reading we hear about Jesus’ first miracle: the miracle at Cana. It is beautiful to note the relationship between Jesus and Mary.  Even though Jesus said “it is no my time yet,” he perfomed the miracle on the request of his mother Mary.

So what does this mean for us??

Christ wants to fill our lives with His love.  Throughout the bible there is marriage.  The bible begins with a marriage between Adam and Eve; the bible ends with a marriage between Christ and His church; in the middle of the bible is the Song of Songs.  Jesus perfoms his first miracle at a wedding: the wedding at Cana.  Jesus and Mary are the new Adam and new Eve: the masculine and the feminine.

People often say that Mary isn’t as important as us Catholics make her out to be.  In reflecting on this topic, I would say that Mary is the most important woman in the bible. Mary is the perfect example of faith: being open to receiving the gift.  She did not understand God’s plan, but she said yes to it.  Because of Mary, we have Jesus and because of Jesus we have Mary.  The two cannot be separated.  In a similar way, Christ and his church cannot be separated. The funny thing is, Mary is the church: the church is feminine.  Why people say that the church is a patriarch is beyond me, in fact the church is feminine but has masculine components.  They are both needed and cannot live without the other.  Jesus is the ultimate example of masculinity: He was our gift in that He gave His life for us. In today’s society, we have a need for a truly masculine example, and we can find that in Jesus.  Mary, on the other hand, is the ultimate example of femininty; she perfectly received the gift.  To understand the feminine, we must look at Mary for our example.

The filling up of the wine is a representation of Christ being the one to fill our lives.  We fill our lives with things in the finite world: sex, drugs, and alcohol, and as much as it numbs the pain, it will never truly satisfy.  The only one that can fill the desire of our hearts is Christ, in the same way that He filled the jugs of water with the most delicious wine.  He wants to fill our lives with His love.  Mary is the one who helps us know her son.  She is the one that is always pointing our lives to her son. She is always with us on this journey to find Jesus.  As the saying goes: “no one can honour Mary more than Jesus her son.”

Insight!

This past week has definitely been an interesting and insightful week for the truth of my character. I left my job after giving birth to my third son Aaron because I felt a calling to do something more in life. Because of how the Theology of the Body impacted my life, I felt/feel a strong calling to take this beautiful teaching and bring it to a wider audience. At my parish, St Anthony of Padua, we are going to offer the introductory Theology of the Body Course in the DVD format starting in April, but until then, I am biding my time praying and reflecting on deepening my own prayer life.

One of my favourite Saints, St Teresa of Avila comes to my mind and even though she was in a lot of pain in her life, she used it as a way to show others her love for Christ. She knew how to live in the ache. She had an understanding that everyone is broken but it is how we use our brokenness that will either make or break a person. If not her, who? The same can be said for us, if we are not doing the Lord’s work… who is?? The Lord has no body on this earth but ours, but are we going to allow him to work through us? If we are all called to be a part of the Body of Christ, what part are you? It made me think… I am being called by the Lord to proclaim the good news about why we were created, and I’m looking for opportunities to speak this truth… this week has made me realize that this mission is bigger than I am and that I need prayers please!  can anyone help me get in touch with speaking opportunities??

 

Your sister in Christ,

Jeanette