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Catholic Courier. (Rochester, N.Y.) 1989-current, December 01, 2004, Image 17

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Mary serves as model for mom-to-be As my husband, Joe, and I pre- pare this Advent season for the cel- ebration of Christ's birth, we also are preparing for a special cele- bration of our own — the birth of our first child. Becoming parents is something Joe and I have discussed many times over our nine years of mar- riage. We'd dream about all the fun things we would do with our chil- dren someday, such as taking them on camping trips and making homemade sauce and meatballs every Sunday after Mass, just like Joe's late grandmother did while he was growing up. We kept a close eye on the parenting techniques of family members and friends, filing away our observations for future use. And for the last two years, we've managed to love, nurture, train and keep alive a yellow Labrador retriever named Ben, which we figured was, in a very small way, a good test of our bud- ding parenting\ skills! With all of this \practice\ under our belts, we began our joyrney to- ward parenthood at the beginning of 2004. I became pregnant in ear- ly March, and even though my doc- tor gave me a d,ue date of Nov. 30, the reality that I was going to be- come a mother didn't truly hit me. It didn't even hit me when we be- gan telling people that I was preg- nant, when I had my first ultra- sound in June or when Joe and I each felt the baby move for the first time. Nor did it sink in when I opened gifts of adorable outfits and other baby gear that generous fam- ily members, friends and cowork- ers bestowed on me. The idea of becoming some- body's \Mom\ didn't actually hit home until after I had a second ul- trasound — this time a three-di- mensional one — in late September. I could clearly see my baby's face and distinctly make out his or her features. I can't describe the feel- ing of joy and wonder at being able to see my unborn child, who looked like a \real\ baby rather than the nearly unrecognizable form he or she had been in June. It was the most amazing feeling, finally catching a glimpse of the little one who's been wiggling around and kicking me for months! As I write this, I'm two weeks from my due date. We've finished, our childbirth-preparation classes, the crib is set up and my bag for the hospital is packed. Now, we're just waiting for nature to take its course, and we're both becoming more and more anxious for the big day to arrive. Mike Crupi/Catholic Courier Jennifer Ficcaglia. During November, I found my thoughts turning to another couple who must have experienced a lot of anxiety over the birth of their first- born child. This birth may have happened on the other side of the world more than 2,000 years ago, but I'm sure modern parents-to-be — including my husband and me — can draw some correlations be- tween their own experiences and those of Mary and Josephas they awaited Jesus' birth. My mind began to whirl with questions about Mary and her unique pregnancy: What did she do to prepare for Jesus' birth? How did she feel about her pregnancy, • which was unexpected and proba- bly a bit unnerving, especially since it nearly cost her marriage to Joseph and, on top of it all, was an- nounced to her by an angel of God? Was she worried about being a,good mother to the Messiah? Since Mary was favored among women, was she spared such things as morning sickness, swollen feet and labor / pain? Did she despair ove'r the fact that she had to travel to Bethlehem by donkey when she was, so far along, and then was forced to give birth to Jesus in a stable? Did the fact that she was bearing God's son make her feel all alone in the world, like she w'as the only one going through such a thing? I re-read the very familiar pas- sages in Matthew and Luke that pertain to Mary, Joseph and the birth of Jesus. They don't offer a whole lot of detail about Mary's day-to-day experiences of preg- nancy, but one thing is abundantly clear — she took the phrase \thy will be done\ to heart. Whatever The Forum God had planned for her, she wel- comed it with open arms. Mary's faith-filled, attitude toward her pregnancy is an excellent lesson for expectant parents. I've tried to emulate Mary's atti- tude during my pregnancy. And be- lieve me, it's hard. Many of my supplications' to God have be- seeched him for a child who is emotionally, physically and men- tally healthy. In the same breath, however, I would also ask for the strength to handle the situation if God has other plans. We had a small test of faith this summer, when I received a test re- sult indicating that our child could have a spinal-cord defect. After an- other blood test and a follow-up ul- trasound, doctors determined that the initial result was a false posi- tive. But before we received that joyous news, jJoe and I wept and lamented and wondered what we had done for God to give us a child who could be wheelchair-bound and have health problems for his or her entire life. I wish I had at that very moment remembered Mary's example of faithfulness and her acceptance of anything God had planned for her. After feeling sorry for myself for a bit, I came back around to Mary's way of thinking. With that change in perspective came a sense of peace at the knowledge that every- thing happens according to God's plan. And the certainty that'— with God's .help — Joe and I could han- dle anything that life threw our way. I reacted to my unexpected news in a very human and imperfect way. Mary, on the other hand, em- braced the unexpected news that she would become the mother of God with a simple, all-consuming faith that never wavered, even dur-i ing extraordinarily difficult times.) Mary's faithfulness and willing-' ness to accept God's plan is a mod-j el for all expectant parents. Ate a matter of fact, it should be a model for everyone. Ficcaglia is the Courier^ assistant editor. - A17 ? % ^ i. 3 B 3\ I O I n s o I - O O TO O o Come Celebrate the Holidays) with us! Sl'NDAY CHAMPAGNE BRUNCH With Santa Claus in December Crab Legs, omelettes and . waffles made to order, and much, much more... 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