Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Five Favorites - Getting Spiritually Ready for the Birth of a Child

Linking up with Hallie and friends!

Soooo...I've seen plenty of good advice out there for getting prepped for labor and delivery from a physical and mental standpoint (and have been devouring said sources!). I've seen good ideas for what to pack when you go to the hospital (although I am somewhat of a minimalist...I love smooching off the hospital goodies!). BUT what about preparing yourself (and your child) spiritually for the big event? Since Baby Sister's arrival is hopefully imminent (did I mention 2 cm dilated and 70% effaced, friends? TMI much?) I thought now would be a good time to share with you my five favorite things to do to spiritually prepare myself and my baby for labor and delivery.

-1-


When Sister Stinky was in-utero, I was forever lamenting the fact that there was no special rite of blessing for her. My wish has been granted! The USCCB has recently released A Rite of Blessing for the Child in the Womb, approved for use in the United States. Baby Sister just received this special blessing this morning, given by our beloved former pastor, after daily Mass at his new church. (And for the record, after the fact, our new pastor also offered us this blessing...when it comes to pastoral care, I'm one of the spoiled ones, friends!) I highly, HIGHLY recommend it. It's pretty awesome and it even includes a special prayer and blessing for the parents! 

-2-

The Sacrament of Reconciliation. Holy cow. Tons of much needed graces availed to you freely? Sign me up!

I generally try to receive this Sacrament once a month, after hearing at some point that JPII recommended going to Confession at least once a month. (I'm not opposed to going more frequently, but I've suffered from scrupulousity in the past and this seems to be a good balance for me.) So, I definitely try to time Confession so that I've gone before my due date, and preferably before I'm full term (just in case). I want to be as spiritually prepared as possible!!

(On another note about spiritual preparation in labor...one of my best friends recently gave birth under the care of my awesome OB/GYN...on Sunday. He happens to be an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion so he went to an early Mass and brought her and her husband the Eucharist. While she was in labor. Isn't that awesome???)

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Get a labor cross! This is a tradition I started with the labor and delivery of Sister Stinky, because I gave birth to her at a non-Catholic hospital. I knew I'd want a cross or crucifix to look at during labor, so I picked out a small Cross of San Damiano and had it blessed by our priest, especially for use during labor. After I gave birth to Sister Stinky, I put it in her nursery. Now it's her special cross that I hope she'll keep with her throughout her life.

So, even though I'll be delivering at a Catholic hospital this time, I wanted to carry on this tradition with Baby Sister, and so I picked out this lovely little cross and had it blessed for her. I felt drawn to this one because, not only is Our Lady of Guadalupe a special patron for expectant mothers, she's also one of Baby Sister's patrons. You can't do better than having the Blessed Mother as one of your birthing assistants, friends! Which leads me to my next favorite...

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...spend some time getting to know your baby's patron saint(s)!

As I've mentioned, Baby Sister will have a Marian name, and so the Blessed Mother is her primary patron. (We have her secondary/middle name patron picked out, but we won't share that until after she's born!) I'm super excited about Baby Sister's patron saints!! I didn't have a duola with Sister Stinky's birth and I'm not planning on one this time around either (mainly because I didn't get my act together in enough time to figure out if I could find an affordable one) but I desperately need female companions during my labor and delivery! Sister Stinky's patron saint is St. Therese of Lisieux and you can bet that St. Therese was called upon for much intercession during my long first labor!! Even my labor nurse was reminding me that St. Therese was with me (stay tuned for Sister Stinky's birth story...because you can bet that St. Therese's prayers got me an awesome labor and delivery nurse who totally encouraged me in my Catholic faith during the final hours of labor!! Updated: click here to read Sister Stinky's birth story!!!). I am very excited to be able to ask for Mary's prayers and companionship during my upcoming labor, as well as the prayers and companionship of Baby Sister's other awesome patron saint. 

I actually recently visited the hospital where I'm going to be delivering this little girl - and found it an emotional experience, actually...but that's another story! - and I was instantly comforted by the big, 'ole statue of Mary holding baby Jesus situated at the end of the hall of the delivery wing. Definitely extra motivation to try and pace the halls in labor!!!

-5-

Pick an intention to offer up your labor suffering for.

This idea isn't an original one of mine, but I love it! I personally try to labor naturally, without medication, as much as possible (my prayer is always that I'll be able to labor medicine free as long as God wills it...but I'm totally open to medical assistance if I'm needing it!). I need some IV narcotics for a bit toward the end of my long labor last time (didn't take away the pain but definitely helped me relax during a very painful transition!) but other than that I was able to labor without pain medication last time. I'm hoping to do the same this time if I'm able to, so I like being able to offer up my labor pain for something. 

I've heard of all kinds of awesome intentions that people offer up their sufferings for during labor! Personally, I view the pain of labor as something that I am specifically being willing to undergo for the sake of my individual child. I know that it's a unique opportunity I have to offer up something just for her! So, with Baby Sister, I'll be continuing the tradition I started with Sister Stinky, and I'll probably offer it up for her vocation. (Of course I'd love for my daughters to have a vocation to the religious life, but my intention in this case is just for their vocation in general, and that God may give them the grace to live it out. They are His, ultimately, and I want Him to use them however He best sees fit, whether that be in the context of married life, or consecrated virginity, or religious life.)

Just have to throw out there...I intend to offer up my labor pains even if I end up needing an epidural! As any mom who did opt for pain medications during labor will tell you - there is no such thing as a pain-free labor!!! Every mother who experiences labor and delivery, no matter what the circumstances, experiences some sort of pain (I think especially of those who need c-sections, as my poor mother did, and who have to endure long, painful recoveries!!), and all of that pain can be turned into a precious gift of love, offered for your child, when given to Jesus. :-)

Oh...this is #5b I guess...but I also try to leave on my scapular during labor and delivery. It makes me feel additional peace and helps me know that Mama Mary has got my back! ;-)

So, those are the ways I spiritually prepare for labor! Do you have any ways you get yourself spiritually ready for labor and delivery?

3 comments:

  1. This is awesome. I am not pregnant (infertility is part of our story) but I am going to keep this bookmarked so if God blesses us with a child, I can be sure to remember these things. This is the stuff you don't hear about but being spiritually ready is just as important (I could argue that it's more important) as packing the right things in your hospital bag. Just beautiful!

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  2. I love this post for so many reasons! (I had tried to comment earlier on my phone and it wouldn't let me... better late than never?!) Anyway, this has given me a ton of ideas for our October baby. I will definitely be doing the crucifix for her. I wish I had thought of this before my first because it would be such a lovely tradition for them. I guess I can still get him his own special one. With him I had a list of intentions that I offered the labor up for along with praying the rosary at the beginning. Maybe this time I will ask people if they have anything they would like me to offer up for them rather than just choosing my own intentions. I do like what you said about offering it up for her vocation though!

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    1. Always better late than never ;-)

      I'm glad you found the post helpful! I have other close friends who have done the list of intentions and I think that is a beautiful practice! Congrats on your October baby! I've got one of those, and it's a beautiful time of year for a birthday ;-)

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