Laughing, Weeping, Living

Life happens. You laugh about it or cry about it, sometimes both.

Small Changes in Agnes’ Condition

Agnes had a check-up today consisting of an NST, a BPP ultrasound, and a growth ultrasound.

The NST was non-reactive yet again. Her heart rate barely accelerated at all even when the nurse zapped her with the buzzer. Agnes also hardly moved during the test, which is a bit unusual. She usually moves so much they have a hard time catching her heart beat on the monitor. But the results were not alarming enough to merit an early delivery. The doctor said a non-reactive NST is not unusual for babies with ventriculomegaly.

The BPP ultrasound was an easy pass for Agnes as usual. She demonstrated movement, breathing, good heart rate, etc. The S/D ratio in the umbilical cord was not a high reading today, so that’s good. However, the test did show an increase in amniotic fluid since the last time, which is kind of strange. I remember being told in Albuquerque that the fluid amount hardly ever increases as the pregnancy continues. The doctor here said the increase in fluid is worrisome since it may indicate Agnes is having trouble swallowing. Just like they are watching her heart rate behaviors, they will watch the fluid because the brain controls all those functions and now it’s starting to look like there are problems with the connection between brain and other areas.

The growth ultrasound revealed an increase of fluid in Agnes’ kidneys. It’s called renal hydro-something-or-other and it had appeared on a previous ultrasound, but today it was more pronounced.

The growth ultrasound also showed that Agnes’ weight is up to approximately 3 lbs 14 oz. This is an increase since the last time, but not by very much. She only gained 11 ounces in two weeks. Her size is still under the 10th percentile, but the doc didn’t say what her percentile is. She still has growth restriction (no surprise). The doctor concurs with my OB that there is most likely a genetic issue going on since there are noticeable problems across multiple systems. She asked me kind of wistfully, “you probably still don’t want to do an amniocentesis?” No, I really don’t. Maybe if they had tried hard to sell me on the benefits of an amnio several weeks ago I would have gone for it, but at this point Agnes could arrive next week so what’s the point of doing the amnio now? They can test her genes when she’s born probably easier and with a less risky method. Even if she does miraculously make it to the magic 37 weeks and I do the amnio now, it will give us a two week edge at most. Is that worth it? I don’t know.

All these results are less than encouraging for me and I really have to stretch to see the bright side:

a) at least they didn’t send me to labor and delivery today.

b) at least Agnes did grow since the last growth ultrasound two weeks ago.

c) at least her NST was borderline ooching to worrisome, rather than a total and utter failure.

d) at least she’s still alive in there.

 

Saint Agnes, pray for us.

Saint Maria Goretti, pray for us.

Mary Mother of God, pray for us.

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“Chocolate Gelato Saved My Marriage!”

HAhahahaha, have you ever seen this before?

This is kind of an inside, running joke between me and Jeremy. This ad is so ridiculous. Ha ha. Ha. Okay.

Anyway.

Mmmm….

chocolate gelato close up

The gelato was so good. So so good. I cooked the custard yesterday and this afternoon Jeremy was kind enough to give it a spin in the ice cream maker for me. After a couple hours to ripen in the freezer, it was delish after dinner tonight.

chocolate gelato

When I did kick counting this afternoon, Agnes must have been asleep or something because I only counted 6 kicks for the 30 minute time frame. Agnes has never given me a count in the single digits, so I was a little worried. Especially since I took my hands and jiggled her around a couple times to wake her up. When I finally decided to throw in the towel and give up counting, she started moving right away. The little stinker. Here I was wondering if I should call the doctor even though the count was technically higher than 4, though much much lower than I usually get. And she was just being ornery.

On top of that little scare, I also felt icky today, like one giant contraction was gripping my uterus most of the day. I couldn’t even try to keep track of how often I was feeling contractions, because I never really noticed that I wasn’t having one, which seems to me to be a prerequisite for noticing when a new one begins. Whatevs. I know I’m not in labor, just feeling icky. The discomfort level is relatively minor, plus all day the intensity of contraction never increased. Plus I have none of the other usual signs of impending labor. Diagnosis: indigestion with a side of big fat pregnant body.

But now I feel amazing, because chocolate gelato came into my life. This stuff was so chocolatey: for one half gallon the recipe has 1 cup of cocoa powder plus 8 ounces of bittersweet chocolate. I can’t believe that much chocolate even fit. It was a miracle of cooking chemistry. And speaking of cooking chemistry miracles, have you ever whisked egg yolks with granulated sugar? They get so thick! You could spread that stuff on toast! How does that even happen?

Anyway, I plan to be enjoying the rest of my chocolate gelato in the next few days as preparation for Agnes’ arrival. My unofficial prediction is that the NST on Thursday will precipitate her debut, but of course I hope I am wrong. If she can at least make it to Monday, she’ll be 35 weeks and everyone would be much less anxious should she make an appearance outside her womb. Plus if she stays cozy for a few more days, she gets to enjoy chocolate gelato-flavored amniotic fluid! Yummy!

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One More Day of Freedom

I was totally prepared to meet my baby today, but fortunately it was not to be.

I went to Akron General Hospital this morning for an NST (non-stress test) to check on Agnes. Her last couple NST’s have been borderline at best, so I wasn’t too hopeful about this one. We packed my hospital suitcase in the car just in case, left Stephen with my parents, and didn’t make any Memorial Day plans if you take my meaning.

As predicted, the NST was not stellar. Not terrible, but not really great either. At the Maternal Fetal Medicine clinic where I usually go to do the NST’s, they have this little buzzer wand they use to zap lazy babies to get them to move around. They can use it “up to three times” at the MFM clinic, and make a note on Agnes’ print out when they use the zapper. At the hospital, they have a zapper, too. And they’re not afraid to use it. I don’t know if the rules are just different down in OB E.R. Triage, or if the nurses just really really didn’t want to attend my labor and delivery on Memorial Day, or what, but those ladies just went nuts with the zapper. They were buzzing Agnes all over. And of course she moved; she was super pissed off. But still her heart rate readings weren’t perfect, mostly because she moved so much the monitor lost track of her heart and nothing was recorded.

So they did a Bio-physical profile (BPP) ultrasound. This is the one where they watch for fetal breathing, movement, amniotic fluid, and the like. Agnes has always done great at this test so I wasn’t too worried about it.

They ended up letting me go home because her NST results weren’t actually alarming, just not perfect, plus Agnes totally passed the BPP. Whew. So Agnes gets to stay put in her hot tub for a few more days at least. Let me just say at this juncture that a Flying Novena really works. This is a prayer trick Blessed Mother Theresa used when she had an emergency need. She would pray nine “Memorare” prayers in a row. I did this while I was lying there for the BPP, and now we’re at home with Agnes still cozy in her womb. Behold the power of prayer.

To celebrate my day of freedom, I came home and finished the laundry that’s been waiting. I’m glad I got to it because now all the cute newborn girl baby clothes I just bought with my mom are clean and ready. I also spent a good portion of the afternoon organizing the “guest room” to make way for baby care. I’ll be doing diaper changes in there during the nights, and Agnes will probably take naps in that room. She’ll be in a bassinet in my room at night for a few months at least, but I’ll probably nap her in the guest room. I feel a lot more prepared for her arrival now that I’ve had these past couple days to get organized. I even unearthed my breast pump. Grr. But I’ll probably need it, especially if she’s born really early and has to incubate in the NICU for a while.

Also to celebrate my day of freedom, I finally made gelato. At least, the first step. I cooked the custard and now it’s cooling in the fridge. All it needs is a spin in the ice cream machine tomorrow and it will be ready! I’m so stoked! And also as a side note, now that I’ve cooked my own gelato I will never begrudge the $5.00 price tag on a dish at a gelato store. It was hard to do just because you have to stand there stirring it almost constantly while it cooks up to 185 degrees. That process took nearly an hour. Sheesh, and now my back is killing me. I hope none of my doctors read my blog.

We’ll see what tomorrow brings. Hopefully it will be another day of smooth sailing!

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What I Wore Sunday: May 26

Linking up with Fine Linen and Purple. I haven’t done this link up in a while and it’s good to be back at it!

Jeremy and I have decided to attend Holy Ghost Ukrainian Catholic Church, which is an Eastern Rite Catholic tradition. This rite is in communion with Rome, but they follow a different liturgical calendar compared to Roman Catholic churches. So today we celebrated All Saints! In the Roman calendar All Saints is Novemeber 1st, but the Eastern Catholics observe it on the Sunday after Pentecost to make the link between the gift of the Holy Spirit and what the Holy Spirit can do in our lives if we allow God to work through us–like the saints have done!

100_1644Today for Liturgy I wore one of my favorite shirts, a new skirt I bought at Target (Liz Lange Maternity), a head scarf, and my trusty black Minnetonka Moccasins. I look a lot pregnant-er since the last time I appeared in a WIWS link up! Actually, the shirt may not work for me if I continue much longer in the pregnancy. It’s starting to not pull over the tummy as well.

The skirt is pretty roomy. I maybe should have gotten the smaller size, but I’m just so tired of my clothes being ill-fitting and falling off my body. I definitely won’t be able to transition this skirt to post-maternity wear, unless I engineer something to hold up the waist. I might be able to do it but the question is, do I want to bother with it? Hmm… we’ll see.

I opted for the head scarf today since we’re going to a new church and it’s not Roman Catholic. I’m sure the folks there don’t care if I cover my head, but my lacy chapel veil really screams “Roman Catholic! Roman Catholic!” Or maybe I’m just being sensitive.

Stephen was kind of ornery at church today like he rarely ever is. It was strange. He was still much better behaved than I have any right to demand of a two-year-old, but it was a change for him. At least he still looks adorable.

Tomorrow I go to the hospital for an NST (non-stress test) for Agnes. Remember, this is where they strap on a fetal heart rate monitor and listen to her heart beats for a period of time; usually not less than 30 minutes, and often longer. They’re listening for her heart rate to accelerate when she kicks; 15 beats per minute above where her baseline happens to be. If her heart rate doesn’t accelerate by at least 15 beats per minute when she moves, that indicated that she may not be receiving enough oxygen. If her heart rate actually gets slower in response to movement, that is really bad and indicated fetal distress. I had an NST last Tuesday that didn’t produce the desired results so I was stuck in the hospital overnight while the docs listened to Agnes and decided whether or not to deliver her. I had an NST last Friday that really looked poor until Agnes perked at the last possible moment and I was released to be on my way. That was a close call.

We’re praying that Agnes “passes” her test tomorrow because it would be much better for everyone–me, Jeremy, Agnes, my doctors–if Agnes is not born this week. I will be only 34 weeks pregnant when I go in tomorrow. If she can hang on for at least one more week, everyone would feel a lot better about her health and chances of thriving.

But the reality is that Agnes could arrive tomorrow or Tuesday, depending on what signs come across on the test. My hospital bag is ready to go and I’m mentally and emotionally prepared (almost) for the fact that I could have a newborn this week. Almost prepared. Almost.

Here’s a round up of Agnes’ story in case you’re just tuning in:

Part One: Ven-TRIC-u-lo-MEG-a-ly

Part Two: Oh Baby

Part Two b: Chimayo, NM: Holy Dirt

Part Three: Ventriculomegaly Update

Part Four: Update on the Baby Girl

Part Five: 24 Hours of Fetal Monitoring

Part Five-and-a-half: Fetal Monitoring Update

Part Six: More News About Baby Girl

Part Seven-ish: 7 Quick Takes (a few of the takes are about Agnes)

 

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7 Quick Takes: May 24

Lookee, I remembered to do the Friday Quick Takes link-up actually on Friday this week! Go me. Head over to conversion diary for the rest of the link-up fun.

1. I am struggling a little with coming to terms with the fact that I could have a baby literally at any moment. Seriously, she could arrive next week. I have an NST scheduled for Monday morning, with another one on Thursday afternoon. If at any time, baby’s heart rate fails to elevate the appropriate amount in response to her movements, the doctors will almost certainly induce delivery. It’s a little scary to think about. This weekend Jeremy and I are going to try to get some things in place just in case. Set up the baby swing and a changing station, and acquire a few preemie size outfits for a tiny newborn. Stephen was born into 3-month size clothes, so we have nothing small enough for a midget preemie baby girl.

2. On a related note, Agnes is baby girls’ official name. We have been telling people in person, but it was never revealed officially on the blog here until my husband’s guest post earlier this week. She will be named Agnes Maria, in honor of Saint Agnes and Saint Maria Goretti, both of whom were young martyrs. Agnes is often pictured holding a lamb, and the name means “lamb.” It’s been kind of cool so far, when I tell the medical folks she’s named for Saint Agnes, I actually meet a lot of other Catholics. I’ve chatted with at least three nurses who are Catholic. It makes me feel a little better about my sticky situation.

3. Also on a related note, I have been feeling physically less well the past couple days, and the only difference in my condition that I can tell is my new knowledge about what’s going on with Agnes. It’s all in my mind, and it’s annoying. There is too much to do; I can’t just be moping around feeling heavy and out of sorts. I know I do need to take it easy, but my body’s limitations are really starting to bug me.

4. These are the cookies I intended to bake today:

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5. These are the cookies I bought at Costco today:

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Maybe I’ll bake cookies this weekend. Ha. Ha ha.

6. This morning I went to Divine Liturgy at Holy Ghost Ukrainian Catholic Church. I was feeling the deep desire to attend something liturgical and sacramental, especially since this weekend might be my last chance to beef up on graces before Agnes arrives suddenly. I was a little nervous to go since I’ve only been to Divine Liturgy one other time (last Sunday) and I know a daily service is not the place to hang out if your requirement for participation is to follow the people in the pew ahead of you. At a daily liturgy, there aren’t any people in the pew ahead of you. Luckily, there was one guy who looked like he knew what to do, so I followed him. Fr. Sal was pleased to see me there, since the last time he saw me was in a hospital bed. He said he’s been praying for me and Agnes which is really nice. I think Jeremy and I are definitely going to attend that church as our parish. I really like the Divine Liturgy and the icons and the singing. And the people I’ve talked to at the church are very welcoming and friendly.

7. We found some supposedly “ready-to-eat” beets at Costco today. Since Stephen loved beets the other night when I served them, we bought the Costco beets for baby food. We served some to Stephen for dinner. He ate a bite, gagged and choked on it a little because it was hard or something, then refused the rest of his place. Including the chocolate pancakes that were on the plate. Now I’m afraid he won’t eat another beet for the rest of his life. Thanks, Costco, for your hard “ready-to-eat” beets that probably killed my toddler’s appetite for beets.

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More News About Baby Girl

We’ve had a busy day today. We started with a early morning fetal MRI for good pictures of baby’s brain. The findings are encouraging: all the baby’s brain structures are present and accounted for! The only finding was the swelling in her ventricles. So that’s good.

We also had another ultrasound. Baby passed her bio-physical profile (breathing, heart rate, amniotic fluid, etc). They did confirm there is an elevated “S/D ratio” which pretty much means that the placenta has to work harder to get oxygenated blood and nutrients across the umbilical cord and into the baby. At today’s test, the ratio measured in the 95th percentile, so still technically normal but definitely something to keep an eye on. This is the lowest level of severity for S/D ratio. The umbilical cord should normally be very low resistance to allow ample oxygen and nutrition to the baby. When the resistance is elevated, it’s something to watch. When the resistance nets about zero, that means the blood flow is more or less stationary in the cord which is bad. If the resistance is reverse, that means the oxygenated blood is actually flowing away from the baby, which is really terribly horribly awful. Luckily, our baby girl is not in that category.

We also had another NST. Remember this is what led to my overnight hospitalization earlier this week. I was pretty nervous, especially when baby girl just seemed content to hang out with a very steady hear rate for the duration of the test. Apparently, a steady heart rate is not desirable because it fails to demonstrate a normal connection between the central nervous system and the cardiovascular system. When people move around, the brain should send signals to the heart to pump faster in order to supply more oxygen to the body. When a fetus kicks in the womb, the same reaction should occur. When the baby kicks, the docs want to see her heart rate increase by about 15 beats per minute compared to where her baseline is. If the rate stays too close to the baseline, it doesn’t necessarily mean she isn’t getting enough oxygen, but without the evidence no one can say for sure. Since baby has growth restriction and increased resistance across the placenta and umbilical cord, a nonreactive NST is very worrisome, which is why they sent me to the hospital on Tuesday. Today’s test was nearly alarming, but baby finally pumped up the jam after a few pokes with a buzzer. Luckily, otherwise I could have ended up back in OB Triage at the hospital.

I also had a visit with my OB. We chatted about what all the findings could mean, and he seems to think there is an underlying genetic abnormality since all the pieces of the puzzle don’t quite add up. He also warned me to be realistic about the chances I’ll need an emergency delivery, especially since baby’s NST’s are starting to come up a bit wonky. He said the NST is the first test that starts to hint at increasing fetal distress. There is still a chance I’ll be able to have a natural delivery, but if baby can’t even handle a non-stress situation (NST = non-stress test), there is no way she’ll be able to handle the stress of labor. So the docs are going to be keeping a super-close eye on us for the next few weeks–if it even takes that long.

I’m going to pack my labor and delivery suitcase this weekend and keep it ready.

I have another NST scheduled for Monday morning, with NST’s twice weekly in addition to bio-physical profile ultrasounds twice weekly. I also have once-weekly OB visits so I can meet with all the docs at the practice so they each get a chance to meet me before they potentially have to deliver my baby. I hope I get through the whole bunch before the time comes. Although I guess it won’t matter to me when it’s time for delivery; just so long as there is a doctor down there to catch baby girl when she arrives.

I really hope and pray she stays unborn for at least two more weeks. 35 weeks gestation would be way better. 37 weeks gestation would be ideal. In any case, we had better start preparing our lives for a newborn to arrive within the next few weeks.

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Fetal Monitoring Update

Hi, this is Judy again. So, yesterday was a bit of a crazy scary whirlwind.

It really looked possible the doctors were going to induce labor and take baby out, the way they were talking and explaining potential outcomes. But, luckily, as Jeremy said is his post yesterday, baby perked up after I was finally able to eat something.

So, docs, maybe the next time a preggo lady comes into triage asking when can she eat because it’s lunchtime and she hasn’t eaten since breakfast, you should just let her eat. Better for mom, better for baby, better for everyone.

Just to flesh out the details, what happened was I went to the Maternal Fetal Medicine Clinic at Akron Children’s Hospital for my regularly scheduled NST (non-stress test). What they like to see is an acceleration in the baby’s heart rate whenever she makes a movement. They weren’t seeing that after about an hour or watching, so they sent me to Akron General Hospital where I ultimately plan to deliver when the time truly comes. They hooked me up to fetal monitors for baby’s heart rate, my own contractions, and they also started me on an I.V. fluid drip. They gave me two shots of steroid medication to quicken baby’s lung maturation in case an early delivery does occur. I’m really glad baby started to produce heart beat patterns the docs wanted to see. All the monitoring overnight looked great enough that they decided to send me home earlier today than the original plan indicated. They discharged me around 10am with instructions merely to take it easy, drink lots of water, and call if anything about my condition changes. This is awesome because I was totally expecting them to put me on some sort of bed rest for the duration of the pregnancy! They also set me up for continued twice-weekly NST visits, and additionally twice-weekly doppler ultrasounds to look at the blood flow from the placenta to the umbilical cord and into the baby. They think this where the problem with her growth restriction lies. They took several readings of the resistance over the placenta, and one of them came back elevated, which means the baby isn’t getting quite the right rate of blood and nutrients from the placenta.

So, that’s that. Hopefully things go well for the next few weeks. The closer baby can get to her due date, the better!

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24 Hours of Fetal Monitoring

By guest blogger Jeremy Schwager (Judy’s Husband)

Judy asked me to post on her blog today because she is spending 24 hours or so hooked up to a fetal monitor. This makes it hard to type.

We went in to Akron Children’s hospital today to get an ultrasound, which is a twice weekly occurrence at this point in the pregnancy. We got some really nice photos of baby Agnes.

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3D Image

Unfortunately the fetal monitoring that they did on Judy didn’t go so well. The baby is really active and swims away every time any impertinent nurse ries to monitor her. We were especially unsuccessful today so the doctors feared the baby was in distress. The y can only keep a patient so long at the particular department of Children’s we were at  so they transferred us to Akron General where they could monitor at their leisure. Unfortunately this means the decided to take lots and lots of time. And they also decided that Judy should not eat because of a possible eminent birth by induction or c-section. The baby continued to be lackadaisical and resist monitoring. Mom and baby wer both understandably grumpy as this dragged on. This continued until about 3:30 when the doctors finally allowed Judy to eat. I went down stairs to Au Bon Pain and purchased a delicious turkey sandwich. After eating the turkey sandwich, Agnes became active (she was no longer starving) and doctors began to see the results they were looking for.

Judy is now resting comfortably in a brand new fetal monitoring unit in Akron General which just opened today. They don’t even have signs on the walls yet. She is in good spirits. Judy’s dad said her happiness is probably the best thing for the health of the baby. I agree!

2013-05-21 20.59.37

Little sign says “Fetal Monitoring Unit”

We got a visit from Fr. Sal at Holy Ghost Ukranian Catholic Church which was really nice. Especially since we only met him last Sunday.  He heard Judy’s confession and gave her communion. He said he would be happy to come for an emergency baptism if necessary as well.

Judy will probably be released tomorrow in the early afternoon. Please pray for Agnes and Judy.

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Baby Vocabulary

Stephen is learning new words left and right. It’s really cute, especially when he busts out a new word, totally in context and reasonably well-pronounced. This evening his new show-stopper was “beets.” Yes, we had roast beets with our dinner and I served Stephen just two or three bites because there weren’t that many to start with and I was pretty sure he would turn up his nose and his portion would end up in the garbage can. But he tried one and made a funny face, then he proceeded to eat the rest  of his beets. So I announced to the table at large, “Stephen ate all his beets!” To which statement he replied, “beets,” while holding out his plate to me for a refill. So I happily sacrificed the remainder of my portion of beets since I mostly eat them out of obligation (they’re healthy for me). The best part about “beets” is that Stephen pronounced it perfectly clearly, with all the appropriate consonants and everything. It was amazing.

100_1516Here is a round up of many of Stephen’s other words:

Cat/kitty: “caeh” “ki”

Dog: “woohf”

Daddy: “da-DA” (he puts the emphasis on the second syllable)

Mommy: “ma” (which he actually says very rarely)

Hi: “hi”

Shirt: “shirt”

Shoes: “jooz”

Juice: “jooz”

Jesus: “jooz”

Platypus: “poos” (his sleepy time toy)

Motorcycle: “brrrr” (includes waving finger gesture)

Brush: “brush”

Chips (as in potato or corn chips): “burts”

Ball: “baw”

Butt: “butt”

Apple Juice: “ah-pl-jooz”

Apple: “ah-pl”

Banana: “nya”

Yogurt: “gurt”

No: “no”

Yes: “yeah”

Go: “go-go-go-go”

Good: “gd-gd-gd”

Brobee: “boy-ee”

“yay,” “oh yeah,” “whoa!” “wow”

He is also starting to repeat words when we talk to him, but the above list are the ones that have stuck so far and that he says independently without prompting. Sentences are right around the corner! I’m pretty excited that I have such a cute little toddler guy.

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Church Hopping/Shopping

I grew up in Cuyahoga Falls and my family attended the same church for my entire life that I can remember, St. Eugene’s Catholic Church. Now that Jeremy and I have moved back to the area as our own little family, and we plan to stay here for good, in saecula saeculorum amen, we thought it might be fun to check out some of the other churches in the area to see where our family’s parish home may truly be. Not that there’s anything wrong with St. Eugene’s; it’s a very nice parish! But we have this opportunity to make a fresh start and it’s worth taking the time to find a place that really feels like a spiritual home for our family and is not simply the convenient, familiar option.

So last weekend we went to St. Sebastian Parish, which is a good deal larger than St. Eugene’s, and also located closer to the neighborhood where we would eventually like to settle. It was a great liturgy. Well-trained lectors and musicians, an impressive music program, large mass attendance, and tastefully renovated and decorated sanctuary, a vibrant and orthodox young priest. I really liked it and I can see us going there. No other ladies in veils that I could see, but I also didn’t do a lot of looking around once we were settled in our pew. Plus there are four total masses each weekend, including a Latin mass every Sunday afternoon, so there are probably other veil-wearing gals who I just didn’t see. The only downside we experienced at St. Sebastian was that because the congregation was so large, we blended in and no one welcomed us as new faces–hi nice to see you welcome to our parish hope to see you around–and even though we walked right past the pastor at the door on the way out, he didn’t greet us or welcome us or anything. He probably just didn’t recognize a new family (even though I was wearing my lace chapel veil and we’re a young family–Catholic parish gold). Oh well.

When we got home from St. Sebastian we talked about other options we might try, and Jeremy suggested we take a peek at any Eastern Rite Catholic churches in the area. Some of our friends in Billings were Eastern Catholics who went to Roman Catholic churches in Billings, so why couldn’t we do that too, only going the other way? Jeremy has some minor familiarity with Eastern Catholicism, and we also were friendly with the Greek Orthodox community when we lived in Billings, so this step is really not that far out there for us.

So we looked up what our choices might be in the greater Akron area, and we found Holy Ghost Ukrainian Catholic Church. Their website is very encouraging, even giving instructions for Roman Catholics to come try an Eastern Rite church and how to receive Holy Communion (it’s different from Roman Rite). The site also said they don’t cater strictly to folks of Ukrainian heritage, so we decided to give it a try. It was really nice. I was instantly reminded of the times I went to the Orthodox church in Billings. The liturgy is probably more similar to an Orthodox liturgy than to a Roman Catholic liturgy, but it was pretty easy to follow along. We were welcomed in the door, and out the door, and we were invited down to the basement for their parish brunch. Today, being Pentecost, is actually their patronal feast day (Holy Ghost) so they had a party. We met the pastor and his family; they are a young couple recently come here from Ukraine, and they have a little boy who is almost exactly Stephen’s age! The congregation is small but friendly and they were definitely excited to see a new young family walk through the door. Plus they gave us like two bags full of parish brunch leftovers to take home with us. Perhaps a bribe to help convince to return next week…?

I was more excited about Holy Ghost than St. Sebastian, just because of our experience at each liturgy, but I won’t totally rule out the possibility we would end up at St. Sebastian. Jeremy and I are excited that St. Sebastian offers a Latin Mass every weekend, and they have a Gregorian Chant Schola that sings for that liturgy which we are both interested in maybe joining. But Holy Ghost has a nice little choir too that might be fun to sing with, and the liturgy was definitely in keeping with our taste and aesthetic preferences.

We may try a completely different church next weekend; we haven’t decided yet. I would like to settle into a parish community sooner rather than later, so if we do shop a new church next weekend, I would want to pick the final choice after that. We need to have time to develop a bit of a relationship with the pastor and fill him in our baby situation so he can offer us spiritual guidance and comfort should we need it.

In the spirit of Pentecost Sunday, Holy Spirit, inspire us in our choice of parish community! Amen.

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