Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Helpful Guide to Pregnancy and Childbirth


Women tend to love to share pregnancy and birth stories. It is something that bonds us as well as a way to share our wisdom with those who are going through this life-changing experience for the first time. In addition, there are countless books, websites, videos, doctors, and midwives offering advice. As a first-time pregnant woman, it can all be a bit overwhelming, not to mention scary!

Two Catholic women from Canada, Bonnie Way and Anna Eastland, have combined forces to write a guide to pregnancy and birth that is both informative and friendly. Reading the Beginner's Guide to Growing Baby: Tips to Help You through All Four Trimesters is like speaking with two good friends who have your best interests at heart. They are not medical professionals, but between them they have experienced birth fourteen times and have a great deal of wisdom to share. Even if you are not a first-time mom, you might still glean some useful information in these pages as they offer advice on taking care of older siblings and managing a family while pregnant and with a newborn.

Way and Eastland discuss such important matters as choosing a health care provider, coping with morning sickness and exhaustion, preparing your body for childbirth, getting ready for either a hospital or home birth, and coping with labor and delivery. There are also some fun topics such as choosing a name for your little one (please forgive the shameless plug, but if you are stumped for ideas, check out The Catholic Baby Name Book which I authored several years ago) and finding attractive maternity clothes.

The section on the fourth trimester (the first few months after a baby is born) discusses sibling jealousy, breastfeeding basics, the need for mom friends, loving your new body, and coping with postpartum depression. This time period in a woman’s life is often overlooked. Society seems to expect new mothers to bounce right back to whatever their lives looked like before birth almost immediately which is unrealistic and not helpful for mom or baby. Way and Eastland provide some solid advice for helping women adjust to their new roles.

At the conclusion, Way and Eastland share each of their birth stories. Sadly, Eastland did experience a stillbirth. She openly shares the grieving process and the psychological challenges of having a rainbow baby after that painful experience.

A lovely feature of this book is the poetry by Anna Eastland which opens the chapters. One notable omission is that through no fault of their own (and I certainly wouldn’t wish it on them), neither Way nor Eastland have had a c-section. Therefore, there is no discussion of recovering from that type of birth.

While pregnant women will want to have other resources in addition to this one to help them prepare for birth, the Beginner's Guide to Growing Baby: Tips to Help You through All Four Trimesters is well worth reading for some added perspective and wisdom. 

This post contains Amazon affiliate links. Purchases made after clicking a link help support this site. Thank you!

Friday, May 21, 2021

For E-Mail Subscribers (or if you want to be one)

Since the early days of this blog, Feedburner has sent out e-mails automatically whenever I created a new post to those who have subscribed. Unfortunately, Google is doing away with that feature soon. Thank you to all those who have subscribed and read my blog this way over the years. 

I have set up an account with Mailchimp so that I can send out blog updates myself. If you'd like to continue being a subscriber, please fill out the following form to join my e-mail list:

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I can't promise I will send out an e-mail every time I create a post, but I can promise I will never harass you (I hate SPAM also!).

Thank you again for reading!

Tuesday, May 04, 2021

A Handy Little Guide to Prayer


In The Handy Little Guide to Prayer, Barb Szyskiewicz, OFS offers a short (but remarkably comprehensive) handbook for communicating with God. It explores the “who, what, where, when, how, and what ifs of praying.”

It is set up in a question and answer format. Some of the questions include: Who should pray? (spoiler alert – “anyone who wishes to deepen their relationship with God”; What is prayer?; How do I pray?; What do the Scriptures and saints tell us about prayer?; and When should I pray? Szyskiewicz also tackles some of the tough questions about prayer, such as: What if I don’t feel anything? and What if I don’t get an answer?

Szyskiewicz offers a practical guide to making prayer an important part of your life. While this is designed to be a short book, I do wish that it had included some of the traditional prayers that she mentions in this guide such as the Rosary, Angelus, Memorare, etc. in an appendix. As it is, those unfamiliar with those prayers will need to look them up (on the plus side, a quick internet search is all one needs to find them).

I heartily recommend The Handy Little Guide to Prayer for anyone who wishes to learn more about the basics of prayer. It would also be a great book to share in church parishes.

A New Auntie's Fear

 I recently had the pleasure of editing and formatting this lovely children's e-book. 


A new aunt writes a loving letter to her niece explaining that she is worried about how the child will treat her due to her cerebral palsy. In the letter, she explains how cerebral palsy makes her different, but that she can still do many things that she hopes to share with her niece. She also wants her niece to know that we are all children of God.

Purchase the Kindle version of A New Auntie's Fear on Amazon (affiliate link). 



Monday, May 03, 2021

Mary Can Help Us Forgive Our Mothers


May is a month dedicated to Our Blessed Mother as well as to remembering and appreciating our earthly mothers. Yet, mother-child relationships can often be fraught with difficulty. While I firmly believe the vast majority of mothers get up every day and try to do their best for their children, mothers are human and have their own wounds and sins. Despite our best efforts, we wound our children.

One of the tasks of adulthood is to forgive our mothers for their flaws and failings. Forgiving Mother: A Marian Novena of Healing and Peace by Marge Steinhage Fenelon can help us do that. Fenelon had a great deal to forgive with her own mother. Her mother had been raised by an alcoholic father and gambling-addicted mother. While Fenelon’s mother was very involved in the Church and charitable activities, she abused her own children and had a volatile temper. It was a classic instance of hurt people hurting others. Fenelon moved out of her home as soon as she was able and had many years when she did not speak with her mother in order to protect her own family. They reconnected late in her mother’s life. Through it all, Fenelon sought refuge in Mary as her true mother, one who would never abuse or abandon her.  

In Forgiving Mother, Fenelon shares her own painful story with remarkable honesty. She acknowledges the great pain that mothers can cause their children and emphasizes the importance (and difficulty) of forgiveness. She encourages us to surrender our wounds and painful memories to Jesus and to look to Mary as our heavenly mother. “No matter what you lack from your childhood, it can be recovered with the Blessed Virgin’s help.” Fenelon also reminds readers that both they and their mothers are children of God. We should always pray for our mothers that they might also have healing and peace. When we can’t find it in our hearts to forgive them, we can ask God for the grace to want to forgive.

The second part of Forgiving Mother includes a novena. Each of the nine days features a Scripture passage, a reflection by Fenelon, questions for personal reflection, and prayer. While healing will most likely not be instantaneous, the process of going through these prayers and reflections can do a great deal to help with beginning that journey to wholeness.

Forgiving Mother is a great blessing to anyone who feels that they need to work through painful childhood memories and forgive their mothers. It also serves as a great reminder that Mary is always with us. She is the perfect mother who always loves us and wants to bring us closer to Jesus. 


This post includes Amazon affiliate links. Purchases made after clicking a link help support this site. Thank you!

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