3 Reasons I Chose a Hospital Birth for my Eighth Baby

The necessaries: Please note that I’m not a doctor, midwife, nurse, or anybody else remotely qualified to give you medical advice. Always consult a health professional regarding any medical or health decisions. No information on this site should be used to diagnose, treat, prevent or cure any disease or condition. K? Good.

I’m a natural birth enthusiast. Have been ever since I got (literally) yelled at by my OB almost 18 years ago for wondering if I really needed an IV. I never went back.

The reader who valiantly wades through all my birth stories will notice a recurring theme – over the years, I never felt fully satisfied with my birth venue. Most of my births occurred in the hospital, under care of a midwife. In those years, I would consider home birth, or a birth center birth, and for various reasons (often financial) always ended up at the hospital.

Then, at long last, I decided to have my seventh baby at a birth center. I batted around having her at home, especially as it was financially viable at that time, and the midwives at the birth center we chose also provided services for home birth. But I ended up opting for the center out of logistical concerns – with a large brood and a small house, I knew that my privacy was at risk if I stayed home, and I am not the type to want my kids present at birth. I get very private when in labor, and I also want to be free to yell all I want with no one to frighten. Sure, I could have sent them all to their grandparents’ house – but did I really want to arrange that? At the time, it was a 50 minute drive, and there were six kids, two of whom were capable of babysitting without adult help.

Given my history of precipitous birth, and also the decent chance that all this might happen at 2 am, I took the simpler route – leave the kids at home, and go to the birth center.

But, while my birth center birth went just fine, there were some things about it that I didn’t love.

Getting There

The birth center is closed at night; when you need to come in, you call your midwife, she’ll evaluate over the phone, and meet you there if it seems warranted.

It’s a sensible plan, and probably the only one that they can practically do, not being busy enough to warrant staffing it at night.

But, if the midwife was delayed or didn’t think my always-quirky labor signs warranted getting checked, I would have a problem. I couldn’t just show up in advanced labor and get whisked away like I could at the ER. Anybody can have a crazy fast birth, but with a previous history, it’s not at all unlikely for me to have another.

This worked out all right, but the stress of fretting about it was real.

Medical Emergencies

This is a tough, tough topic, and one that I have held different opinions on over time. I think where you come down on this is overall going to be extremely individual and personal – and I think that is exactly how it should be.

There’s two basic factors, here:

1. Birth is natural and normal.

The female body is designed to carry and deliver babies, and the vast majority of the time, this goes smoothly. It’s been argued (and argued very well) that being in a hospital leads to unnecessary interventions which increase, rather than decrease, risk. For a really well-done and moving documentary from the home birth point of view, I highly recommend The Business of Being Born. I find this argument compelling, and it drove my birthing mindset for most of my childbearing years. It’s still a topic very close to my heart, with important implications in Western medicine.

2. Birth is a major medical event with specific risks and potential for life-threatening emergencies.

Stuff happens in labor. Most of the time, especially for low-risk moms, everything goes just fine. Most of the rest of the time, anything that does happen can be detected early enough to transfer to a hospital for care.

But very rarely, things happen too fast to wait for transfer or paramedics. Honestly, my opinion here has been deeply affected by the death of a mother a couple of years ago in an online community of mine; she was birthing at home and suffered an amniotic fluid embolism. They rushed her to the hospital at the first sign of trouble, but she didn’t survive. A good website on this complication (run by a survivor, I believe) can be found at AFE Foundation. Of course, being in the hospital might not have saved her – but her chances would have been better.

So really, we all have to strike a balance of the two sides:

Birth is natural and normal, but it is also a major physical event with specific risks and potential for life-threatening emergencies.

That’s not earth-shattering. It’s what the vast majority of people actually think, but that can get lost in the politics of birth. Us natural-minded moms don’t like to scare other moms. It’s not good for a laboring mom to be scared of all the stuff that probably won’t happen, so we (rightly) focus on the positive and the safe.

More medically minded folks, though, worry that too little fear will lead moms to unknowingly take foolish risks. It’s important to take those concerns seriously, not dismiss them out of hand.

When parents and caregivers acknowledge that balance between the normal and the hazardous, that’s when there is a solid foundation to build sane birth practices upon.


Tweet: When parents and caregivers acknowledge that balance between the normal and the hazardous, that’s when there is a solid foundation to build sane birth practices upon.


Local, individual caregivers and local hospital policies, naturally, have a huge impact on safe birthing decisions. I have been blessed with caregivers and hospitals which were overall very forward thinking and friendly to principles of natural childbirth and newborn care, which certainly influences my inclination to take advantage of the safety net there. That isn’t the case everywhere – depending on the medical climate where you live, there may be so much unnecessary intervention that it would drive a moderate mama like me back home for fear of cascading interference in my birth.

(Of course, if you can’t decide, I recommend the hospital elevator. All the safety of having a doctor nearby, none of the unnecessary interventions.) (Um, that’s not medical advice. Always consult your physician before giving birth in an elevator, please.)

Postpartum and Newborn Care

A lot of natural birth minded mamas consider early discharge to be a big advantage of a birthing center. It turns out I didn’t like that. I missed being cared for by nurses, and came to appreciate how reassuring that care can be. Without having nurses tracking our vitals, I worried constantly about Emily in the first few days – was her color alright? Does she feel a little warm? A little cool? Do I need to take her temperature? Infection in a newborn can be disastrous, and hours matter. I worried more about myself, too – about infection, hemorrhage, blood clots. I was used to being monitored for those things while I enjoyed my baby, not worrying about them myself.

Does this offset the additional risk of infection that might come with a hospital stay? Well, that’s the big question, isn’t it, and I’m sure not going to be able to put an end to the debate. Unfortunately, the answer probably largely depends on the bias, experiences, and background of who you ask. It also depends on your hospital. If you are satisfied with the practices and safety record of your hospital, that’s different than ending up in a crowded ward with poor ratings. 

Conclusion

Home birth, hospital birth, freestanding birthing center…all those options have great things to recommend them and some scary stuff to run you off, because birth. It’s one of those wild cards life hands us, and there’s no knowing exactly how it’s going to go.

I have had good experiences over the years with midwife-attended hospital births. I have usually felt free enough from overmedicalization and unnecessary interventions. A good midwife can really help with this. I’m sure I’ve been lucky.

That’s my experience. I don’t know if I’ll have any more babies, but if I do I will be faced with answering these questions all over again, as the medical culture here in North Carolina is quite different than in Utah.

If you like this post, you may also like my eight birth stories.

Linked up at Wonderful Wednesday.

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33 Rainy Day Ideas For Bored Kids

Oi, the natives get restless when they are trapped inside!

My kids play outside. A lot. They have way too much energy to keep them locked up. Our typical homeschool day sees us taking care of the books in the morning hours, and then they get a lot of free time in the afternoon. If the weather’s nice, they play outside – we have a good yard with a fence, and big kids who can look out for little kids, so it’s a pretty smooth operation.

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Ah, the bygone days of warm summer rain.

Except when it isn’t. While I’m not at all opposed to playing in the rain and mud (I like them to be able enjoy the outdoors in any weather), it’s just a sad, sad fact that children can’t be expected (or allowed) to play outside much if it’s raining, windy, and 35 degrees. Or in a blizzard, or thunderstorms, or, possibly, hailing meatballs.

Never mind that last.

Outings

  1. Library. The best…what’s better than the library on a rainy day?? If only they let you have coffee.
  2. Small local bookstores often have a little children’s area to hang out in.
  3. A museum. We like to have memberships to some local fun museums for some getting-out fun when the weather’s bad.
  4. A mall. Lots of space, and most malls have a play area that is free as long as your kids know that you are cheap frugal and won’t put quarters in. Or that you only put quarters in once in a blue moon and absolutely never if they ask! 
  5. When it’s let up enough, splash in puddles and rescue worms.
  6. Invite a friend over. Preferably a kid friend AND a mom friend.

Creative

  1. Paint a picture.
  2. Draw with window markers.
  3. Make homemade play dough.
  4. Make slime. (I haven’t tried these recipes. If you have, leave a comment and let me know if they are any good? Please?)
  5. Roll out some easel paper across the room and let them go at it with crayons or markers – this is a big favorite.
  6. Teach a kid five or up to sew a little stuffed animal: My First Sewing Book by Winky Cherry. I’ve used this with five of the kids so far and they all love it, boys included. It usually takes them a few days to a week to finish it, depending on attention span.
  7. Make cookies. Or popcorn.
  8. Make a vinegar and baking soda volcano. (Bonus homeschool points if you get them to watch a You Tube video about volcanos, too.)
  9. If they are old enough to be responsible, let them use a tablet or video camera to make their own movie. These can be hilarious to watch. Or deadly boring. But, it kept them busy.
  10. Make crayon rubbings.

Tactile

  1. Break out the colored rice, pasta, or beans. I did the rice for my kiddos a few years ago, and they absolutely loved it. I would give them each some in a pie tin and some toys to go with, and it kept them busy for ages. It was kind of a pain, though, because it would get all over the floor and be pesky to clean up (and no fun to step on). When it eventually ran out, from being spilled and swept over and over, I decided not to make more and to try pasta or beans instead. That’s still in the works.
  2. Let older toddlers or preschoolers play in the sink. There’s invariably some spillage, but the fun is worth it. Unless you happen to have an ancient wooden floor badly in need of refinishing. Then it isn’t.
  3. Put baby or toddler in high chair with a little water and some cups and funnels.

Building

  1. There’s always the Legos.
  2. Lincoln Logs
  3. Fort out of couch cushions and sheets.
  4. House of cards. Jonathan used to spend a lot of time on this.
  5. Some kids really get a kick out of dismantling junk electronics and appliances. I will occasionally buy something in that vein at the thrift store. Jonathan is quite good at taking them apart and will be at it all day if I let him.
  6. Build houses out of craft sticks and glue.
  7. Build boats out of styrofoam egg cartons or meat trays.

Quiet Time

  1. Read a book.
  2. Work on schoolwork.
  3. Do chores (No? Oh, I’m sorry. I thought you said you were bored. Just tryin’ to help.)
  4. Draw a picture.
  5. Do a puzzle.
  6. Play a board game.
  7. Watch a movie. I’m not opposed to some good screen time, to be honest. I’m picky about content, and I wouldn’t let them watch all day (unless I’m sick, or they are, then, well…), but some PBS Kids, Wiggles, Veggie Tales, nature shows..that sort of thing.

That’s what I’ve got. Have something to add? Leave a comment!

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The New Catholic Bookshelf, vol. 3 – movie edition

Movies! There are some really fabulous movies out there that are wonderful to watch and share with your kiddos. We sometimes enjoy watching faith-related movies together, especially on a Sunday evening. I think they are a great way to spend time together and also grow in understanding some of the great stories in our family history. I have linked these to Amazon, but as always, if you want them, please consider saving resources – and a buck – by borrowing or buying used. 

1. Clare and Francis – I loved this film!  St. Francis is my oldest daughter’s confirmation saint, and is a constant inspiration for me as I struggle to balance the needs and wants of large family life, the tight budget that comes with that large family, and a desire to live a life of giving, detached from the thirst to acquire, improve, consume.

2. Restless Heart: The Confessions of Augustine – When I commented that I liked this one, but found it to be a little intense, Mark said that that was because Augustine had an intense life! This was really well-done, but does not make for light watching.

3. Jesus of Nazareth – A classic and really well done film on the life of Christ. This one is our favorite “Jesus movie” as a family. It’s extremely long – 6 and 1/2 hours! We watched it over the course of three evenings around Easter time, and it was a great way to consider the season.

4. The Chronicles of Narnia – BBC Version –  Mark read these out loud to the kids before we watched the movies, and then we watched both this version and the new ones. The kids liked the newer versions fine, but Mark and I like the old BBC ones a lot better. Especially in the Dawn Treader, we felt that they really departed way too far from the original story, without any benefit.  If you aren’t famliar with the Chronicles of Narnia – read them first!! 🙂

 

Previously – Bookshelf Vol. 1 and Bookshelf Vol. 2

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We made it!

Well hi from North Carolina! I had this idea that I would be super organized and have scheduled posts going up while I was moving…but that’s not really how I roll.

So here’s a quick catch-up. Ready? Good.

Our drive mostly went well, aside from the bit where the top blew completely off our top carrier out in the middle of Wyoming. That was more excitement than I hoped for, really, but it could have been much worse than it was.

We did buy a house. It all worked out somehow, and here we are:20160807_101127.jpg

We like it, a lot, and we’re happy to be here, though we miss Utah friends, family, and miscellaneous other familiar comforts. It’s an old house, which I both love and am a little intimidated by. This lifelong renter has more than a thing or two to learn (hence the new arrival on my bookshelf).

We did paint when we got here, and I am so very glad we did.  The walls were very, um, colorful. As you entered the from door, you were greeted by bright yellow walls and an orange ceiling. Up the stairs could be seen a Crayola sky blue hall (and CEILING). On the lower level, one could just make out the master bed in the back with its very, very intense turquoise walls and crazy patchwork white trim going every which way.

We got it calmed down a bit thanks to a 3 or 4 day paint fest with crazy helpful family members.

We’re in town, and an 8 minute walk to our parish in one direction and a very cute little downtown in the other. After 16 years in a major metro area, small town life is appealing – there is pretty much no traffic. At all. Of course, there are also the quirks – the only DMV around is drastically understaffed, so in spite of arriving precisely when they opened, I still had to wait 2 1/2 hours to get my driver’s license changed.

So here we are, in a blur of unpacking and finding things and paperwork and thinking we really, really need to be getting ready for school.

Linked up at This Ain’t The Lyceum.

{SQT} Moving: the last two weeks in seven quick takes

Seven Quick Takes

~1~

So obviously I can’t move and blog…or move and sleep, or move and eat…or move and anything, really…at the same time. After subsisting on potato chips and Drumsticks for a couple of weeks (I don’t think this post gets a “fitness” tag), we loaded our truck on Saturday (with most of our friends out of town. It was awesome timing), and cleaned on Monday.

It takes so little time, sweat, and tears, to write that.

~2~

But, it’s over now, and we get a little hiatus at Mark’s folks’ house for a month or so while we work on buying a house. We’re first time homebuyers, hopefully, and it’s all a little scary, so prayers would be lovely. We originally intended to rent, but it appears that, as a family of 10 with 7 pets, we have maybe outgrown renting. No rentals to be found that we can fit into without sending the landlord into hysterics. It’s been a longtime dream of mine to buy a house, and life has just not cooperated – till, possibly, now. We’ve got one under contract, and wow. It is just as exciting and nerve wracking as everyone always says it is.

~3~

13442315_10209861757084438_4948868528322850170_nIn other moving related news, my daughter Becca, who is an Irish dancer, did great in her two recent competitions. She is really bummed to have to leave her school, teacher, and friends behind. It’s hard to watch her be sad about that. The closest school to our new town is a good 40 minutes away, and we are still trying to figure out what to do.13522026_10210019086057564_7519230255893922185_n

~4~

Miss Emily, 3, got a new haircut yesterday. The fact that I had time for this reflects that moving out is over, and I officially have a few minutes to breathe, here and there. She now has the shortest hair any of my girls have ever had. It’s adorable. And brushable. We had so many battles over brushing her hair, that when she said, “Mama! Please cut it off,” I said, “okay, baby.” And we did.

~5~

Summer prep for a new home school year is always a big deal – but toss an interstate move and a major church shift into the mix, and it’s big. Really big. Curriculum changes, state law changes, moving during the time when I need to be prepping, not to mention no place to have my curriculum mailed to. Hopefully, two months from now, I will have an amazing story of how I brilliantly pulled it all together (or how it all fell into my lap in spite of me. Or how it all went wrong and we managed anyway, more likely). For now, I’m reading Catholic Home Schooling. I started 3 months ago. Don’t rush me.

~6~

Paint colors! Is having a house under contract too soon to pick out paint colors?

Don’t answer that.

Answer this instead:

Mystic Sea or Grand Hotel Mackinac Blue for a kitchen with orangey-brown tile on the counters and a brick fireplace?

And, any recommendations for an interesting-but-relaxing master bedroom color?

~7~

This was the little girls when we got to church Sunday morning after moving out the day before:

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Pretty much sums it up.

For more Quick Takes, visit Kelly at This Ain’t The Lyceum.

7 Things I was Wrong About Before I was Catholic

I used to have a lot of misconceptions about the Catholic church, back in my Protestant days. I am constantly blown away by how crazily inaccurate my ideas about Catholicism really were. These are NOT meant to be thorough arguments or really proofs of anything.  Those things are out there, but my goal is just to flesh out some common misconceptions and how I realized I was wrong.

I could do way more than 7, but that’s a nice manageable number to start with.

~1~

Catholics don’t really believe in anything. They are just going through the motions.
Mother Teresa
This gal? Going through the motions??

I really did believe this, and um, wow, I was really wrong. It was a reality-altering experience to get to know actual Catholics who actually believe Catholic stuff. Like the Bible. All of it. With great zeal and passion. Blew me away and took months to get used to.

~2~

Catholics worship Mary. Sure, they SAY they don’t, but the whole dulia/latria thing is just saying one thing and doing another. For that matter the whole saint thing is pretty much a pagan pantheon.

Yes, I believed this too. Firmly and passionately. It was a big deal to me in the early days of looking into the Catholic Church. Better writers and apologists than I have covered this well; two of my favorite resources to study this further are this article by Jimmy Akin, and Hail Holy Queen by Scott Hahn.

In my mind now, I see Mary and the saints as an invaluable part of the “great cloud of witnesses,” cheering us on and praying for us, as we pray and cheer for each other. We are part of a huge and glorious family with every imaginable kind of person in it!

~3~

Catholics think they can buy their way into heaven by empty ritual.

Mmm. That is what I saw in Catholic practice, and that is what many Protestants see: empty ritual. The problem with that is that I didn’t know what I was talking about. For one thing, nobody’s buying anything. All the merit comes from Christ. Full stop.

Eucharistic Adoration - Monstrance

Secondly, these things that Catholics do are about as far from empty as you can get; they are full to the brim and overflowing with meaning and truth. It only looks empty if you don’t understand what you are looking at – and for me, that was an understanding that had to happen in my heart, over time.

~4~

Catholics think they will spend millions of years in Purgatory to pay for their sins. They don’t understand that Jesus paid for their sins.

Ah, Purgatory. That’s a big one and honestly not really a quick take at all. I’m going to cheat a little and give you some links:

My husband Mark wrote something about this that I liked. He draws up a comparison between Purgatory and indulgences and everyday family life.  You can find it here.

Also, Jimmy Akin wrote an excellent piece on the subject. It got me through my initial (and considerable) problems with Purgatory, back in those crazy early investigating days. In that article, he starts off with a typical Protestant reaction to the doctrine of Purgatory:

“The Catholic Church has this massive doctrine of purgatory, invented in the middle ages. The Church used to even sell indulgences to shorten your time in purgatory by a fixed number of days. This doctrine is based on books that don’t belong in the Bible. There is no place or region in the afterlife for the saved except heaven. There is no pain in the afterlife, and the minute we die we go to heaven, as Paul says, ‘To be absent from the body is to be present with Christ,’ praying for people in purgatory makes no sense. Worst of all, it infringes on the sufficiency of Christ’s work. It is completely unbiblical. No Protestant could believe it.”

Then, he breaks that all down and goes through it, piece by piece.  It’s long, but if you are serious about understanding the Catholic point of view, it’s a great place to start.

~5~

Catholics think that the water of baptism saves you, and that even if you believe and then get hit by a bus on the way to be baptized, well, tough luck, buddy. You go to Hell. Shoulda looked both ways.

Water drop impact on a water-surface - (5)

Here is a longish quote from the Catechism: The Lord himself affirms that Baptism is necessary for salvation. He also commands his disciples to proclaim the Gospel to all nations and to baptize them. Baptism is necessary for salvation for those to whom the Gospel has been proclaimed and who have had the possibility of asking for this sacrament. The Church does not know of any means other than Baptism that assures entry into eternal beatitude; this is why she takes care not to neglect the mission she has received from the Lord to see that all who can be baptized are ‘reborn of water and the Spirit.’ God has bound salvation to the sacrament of Baptism, but he himself is not bound by his sacraments.

The Church has always held the firm conviction that those who suffer death for the sake of the faith without having received Baptism are baptized by their death for and with Christ. This Baptism of blood, like the desire for Baptism, brings about the fruits of Baptism without being a sacrament. For catechumens who die before their Baptism, their explicit desire to receive it, together with repentance for their sins, and charity, assures them the salvation that they were not able to receive through the sacrament.

‘Since Christ died for all, and since all men are in fact called to one and the same destiny, which is divine, we must hold that the Holy Spirit offers to all the possibility of being made partakers, in a way known to God, of the Paschal mystery.’ Every man who is ignorant of the Gospel of Christ and of his Church, but seeks the truth and does the will of God in accordance with his understanding of it, can be saved. It may be supposed that such persons would have desired Baptism explicitly if they had known its necessity.”

So, yes, baptism is absolutely necessary (John 3:5). But it can happen in irregular ways, in irregular situations. That doesn’t give us liberty to disregard it, but it does show God’s love and mercy.

~6~

Catholics aren’t allowed to think for themselves, and they don’t bother reading the Bible. They just have to believe and do what the Pope says.

There is definitely a Protestant attitude that Catholics, while not actually believing anything at all (see point 1), are also mindless automatons, a legion of robotic yes-men (and women).

Bible-706658It’s not really funny. But it sort of is, because in getting to know the church and the people in it, I discovered that Catholics are quite the spunky, opinionated lot. They also have Bible studies, where they study the Bible. (Yes they do. I go to one.) Not only that, but a huge portion of the Mass is…the Bible. Lots of Catholics read the daily Mass readings, whether they go to daily Mass or not.

~7~

Catholics think that Christ is sacrificed over and over again at every Mass.

This is a popular one. Mark the other day pulled together a compilation of quotes about that, and I am going to steal it. Way easier than looking it up myself.

ChurchTabernacle

Baltimore Catechism:

Q. 931. Is there any difference between the sacrifice of the Cross and the sacrifice of the Mass?

A. Yes; the manner in which the sacrifice is offered is different. On the Cross Christ really shed His blood and was really slain; in the Mass there is no real shedding of blood nor real death, because Christ can die no more; but the sacrifice of the Mass, through the separate consecration of the bread and the wine, represents His death on the Cross.

Catechism of Pope St. Pius X:

5 Q. Is the Sacrifice of the Mass the same as that of the Cross?

A. The Sacrifice of the Mass is substantially the same as that of the Cross, for the same Jesus Christ, Who offered Himself on the Cross, it is Who offers Himself by the hands of the priests, His ministers, on our altars; but as regards the way in which He is offered, the Sacrifice of the Mass differs from the Sacrifice of the Cross, though retaining the most intimate and essential relation to it.

6 Q. What difference and relation then is there between the Sacrifice of the Mass and that of the Cross?

A. Between the Sacrifice of the Mass and that of the Cross there is this difference and relation, that on the Cross Jesus Christ offered Himself by shedding His Blood and meriting for us; whereas on our altars He sacrifices Himself without the shedding of His Blood, and applies to us the fruits of His passion And death.

8 Q. Is not the Sacrifice of the Cross the one only Sacrifice of the New Law?

A. The Sacrifice of the Cross is the one only Sacrifice of the New Law, inasmuch as through it Our Lord satisfied Divine Justice, acquired all the merits necessary to save us, and thus, on His part, fully accomplished our redemption. These merits, however, He applies to us through the means instituted by Him in His Church, among which is the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

If you liked these, you might also like Seven MORE Things I Was Wrong About Before I Was Catholic, and Seven Things I Didn’t Lose When I Became Catholic

Linked up at This Ain’t the Lyceum {SQT}

The New Catholic Bookshelf – vol. 2


BookshelfHere are some more books that have been helpful to me along the way as we have journeyed from Geneva to Rome. I have linked these to Amazon, but if you want them, please consider saving a tree – and a buck – by borrowing or buying used.


1. The Catholic Controversy – St. Francis de Sales’ Defense of the Faith. 
This is a collection of pamphlets written by St. Francis de Sales on a mission to reach a community of French Calvinists in the late 1500’s. The pamphlets were written to be posted on walls and slid under the doors of folks who wouldn’t give him an ear. After four years, nearly the entire region had been brought back to the Catholic church, about 72,000 people!

This is a really good volume for anyone from a Presbyterian/Calvinist/Reformed background, whether looking at conversion oneself or just trying to understand the issues involved. His writing is incisive and to the point, and he explores issues of deep concern to this branch of the Protestant churches.

2. Catholicism for Dummies, by Rev. John Trigilio, Jr. 
In the early-early days of visiting our parish, I saw this on the shelf in the library. I was silly enough to be too embarrassed to check it out on the spot, but I went and got it from the public library. Now I can giggle at myself and recommend it to you. I like the Dummies books if I can get past being rankled at being called a dummy! This book really lays it all out and is super helpful for navigating both the doctrinal distinctions of the Church, including some very deep and significant issues, and also a lot of the practical details that are so dizzying to newcomers. Even otherwise very knowledgeable and savvy newcomers. 😉


3. The Catechism of the Catholic Church. If you want to the know the church’s teaching on something, it really doesn’t get any more definitive than this. This volume is way more accessible than it looks, and it’s really lovely to read from cover to cover, if you’re the type, which I’m not exactly. For me, it’s a super reference if I have a quick question about something.

Previously: Bookshelf, vol. 1