Thursday, April 29, 2010
Before I had children, I was very involved in pro-life work. One of the ministries that I worked closest with and which was closest to my heart was Rachel's Vineyard. It's a weekend retreat for women and men who have had an abortion or have taken part in an abortion and are now trying to find healing from the experience. I went into the ministry as a young 19 year-old thinking I could be of great help because the majority of women who have abortions are of college age. Surely they needed someone young who was around these women's age to help on the retreats. Boy was I in for a shock. At my first retreat, (one in which I had to participate, not facilitate even though I am not post abortive) I walked into a room of women (and some men), none of whom were less than 35. I was a bit intimidated to say the least, but I tried to trust that God had me there for a reason.
As I listened to these women's stories throughout the weekend my heart broke, and I was given a deep love for women who are post abortive. Most of the women did have their abortions in college, but it had taken them some fifteen to forty years to finally deal with the events that occurred that day. Some women fell into a life of drugs, anorexia and sexual promiscuity shortly following their abortion and could never understand why their life went so downhill after the event. Some covered their pain by having two or three more abortions. All this hurt, all these addictions and all this acting out because of a "choice". You want to hear traumatic experience? How about an experience that interferes with your everyday activities? Countless women who can't vacuum their own homes because the noise of the vacuum cleaner reminds them of the machine used the the day of their abortion. Or some women who are haunted by the sound of a crying baby when they are in the quiet of their own home. These are just a very few of some of the sufferings I have heard women speak of and that are common to post abortive women. These are real women, feeling real pain every single day for the rest of their lives.
On the last evening of a Rachel's Vineyard retreat, the women are given bereavement dolls. They are small, white cloth dolls no bigger than your hand that the women carry with them to bed at night. The dolls symbolize the child that the woman aborted. I know this may sound silly to some, but it brings great healing to these women to spend one night with their "babies;" to physically hold something that they were never able to hold. These dolls are given, clean and white, and sent to bed with each woman. They are given back the next morning to the facilitators usually covered in various shades of lip gloss and spotted black with mascara. For one night these women kiss and hug and cry over their babies. They talk and sing and hold and rock the child that is lost to them forever. For one night they are the mother they were never able to be, even if it is only to a small cloth doll.
I've seen first hand the results of a traumatic experience, and that experience is an abortion, not an ultrasound. My heart aches for all the women still out there who need healing from their past abortions, but I pray and hope that through this law and the gift of ultrasounds that soon there will be no more need for Rachel's Vineyard. That women will make informed decisions and have the joy of rocking a real baby to sleep at night.
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
So, what's life like with two kids? Crazy, but somehow manageable. It has taken me three sittings to get this post written because there is always a diaper to be changed or a feeding to tend to. Our son loves his new sister and Miss Belle is a really good baby (so far...). Our new life has really got my thoughts going and there should be some regular postings in the near future. But until then, bear with me my few and valued readers. Stay with me as I adjust to all of this and I promise you and myself to keep writing. Until then, please pray for my family as we adjust to this new life of ours.
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
It was April 15th and you were 39 weeks and 5 days pregnant. This birth would be a planned VBAC. You called me around 3:00am to let me know contractions had started an hour earlier. You decide to try and go back to sleep for a bit. Dad calls me at 6:17am to let me know that contractions are 5 minutes apart and he says that you are focusing through them; I assure you I will be at your home shortly. I arrive at your home at about 7:00am. I come in the house to see you rocking in the rocking chair; your face looks peacefully radiant as you close your eyes during contractions. I sit down at your side and massage your feet as we welcome a few contractions together and we discuss how wonderfully you are doing. They are about 2-4 minutes apart when I arrive. We prepare to go to the hospital and you make your son’s breakfast in the kitchen, pausing during a contraction to lean on Dad or the counter while you rock your hips back and forth, instinctually. You feed your son at about 8:30am after which he comes up to you and hugs your leg and smiles. The love in this moment was magical. Dad went to drop your son off at the sitter and you make final preparations to leave for the hospital.
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
Sunday, April 11, 2010
***Post disclaimer: I have never been through natural labor and have no idea what it feels like. I have never felt a contraction or any labor pains. Many people will think these views will change once I have been through labor, and perhaps you are correct. But until then, these are my thoughts and feelings towards birth. Also, I am very aware that these are my own personal beliefs; I have no judgements towards those who do not hold these beliefs, or towards women who choose to have pain medication during labor.
1. Desire for a natural birth: Ever since I found out I was pregnant with my son, I desired to have a natural labor, and the same holds true in this pregnancy. I have thought long and hard about why I want such a thing, mostly because people always ask why I would want to do it. To be honest, I really have no answer to their question except to say it's just something I really want to do. I want to know that I at least tried to work with my body and the way God created it, and this is why I must go into birth with the attitude that it will happen naturally. Other pluses that make me want to have a natural labor: the natural adrenaline release that I have heard only comes to a woman who has not been medicated, keeping control over my body during labor, trust in my body and the way it works, and, of course, the desire for as little intervention and chance of a c-section as possible.
2. Women have done it for thousands of years: My husband always used to tell me this and it made me angry. I wanted to tell him, "oh yeah, well then you try it!" But after a lot of thought I came to think of this as another reason to at least attempt natural childbirth. When did birth become a medical procedure and not a natural event? We trust women's bodies for nine months to grow a human being from two cells. We trust her body to give this baby everything he/she needs, but when it is time to deliver, the doctors step in and say, "good job growing a baby, we will take over from here." (Again please keep in mind I am talking about normal, healthy pregnancies). Oh! And God forbid you don't dilate 1 cm/hour! That must mean something is terribly wrong with you and need Pitocin. Please excuse the sarcasm, but needless interventions that can lead to more women having c-sections really do bother me. I also find it kind of ironic that most women's labor will slow down or stop progressing after being given an epidural. When this happens, in comes the Pitocin. Basically what I am saying is that it seems that one intervention to the natural process leads to another and I would like to try to avoid all of that if possible.
3. Parallel between Christ's sufferings and labor: Ok, so some of you are going to think I am off my rocker with this one, but this is the way my mind works and the way I try and think about a lot of the things in life. As stated in this post, I think motherhood and pregnancy is pretty special because of our unique vocation to physically sacrifice our bodies. I don't think this analogy stops in childbirth. Christ walked the most torturous, painful path known to man on His way to Calvary. His body was beaten, swollen, fatigued and at some point He asked for the suffering to be taken away. But He endured it, because it was the will of the Father. At Calvary He was hung naked from a cross, shamed and humiliated. What relief must have come when He stated, "It is finished." And what lies at the end of Christ's suffering? New, beautiful, glorious life for all of us sinners. It is my thought that I am once again called to walk with Christ to calvary during childbirth. I am sure it will be the most painful and altogether hard experience in my life. But at the end, when I can state, "It is finished" new life lies in my arms. And I don't even have to wait three days to experience this new life, I get to hold her in my arms and kiss her sweet face as soon as the worst of the suffering is over.
Friday, April 9, 2010
Thursday, April 8, 2010
I have been thinking about this post since I started this blog, but have not really had the courage to write it. I feel I need to before I have a second birth experience with my daughter, and Lord knows that could happen any day now. Plus, this three part series will probably explain a lot of my feelings and thoughts towards my daughters birth story, whatever it shall be, and whenever I post it. So here it goes.
As mentioned in some of my previous posts, I had an emergency c-section with my son. I won't go into the long story of the events leading up to the c-section, I'll just give a brief history. My husband and I prepared tirelessly for a natural childbirth. We took a 12 week childbirth course, read books, and even hired a doula to assist us during labor. We researched and prepared for any routine interventions that we didn't want happening at our birth and felt very well prepared to try our best to bring a baby into this world as comfortably (for the baby) and naturally as possible. I spent countless hours imagining what it would be like to go into labor, to feel my newborn baby placed on my chest and the immediate joy and relief that must come once the baby is out. At 36 weeks I found out that our son was breech, but I did not give up my goal of having a vaginal labor. I did everything in the books to get that kid to turn head down, including standing on my own head. I spent hours and weeks laying upside down on our couch (apparently this works for some people), putting ice on my belly and playing music on my lower abdomen trying to get my son to turn head down.
Fast forward to 38 weeks into pregnancy. I had been having routine ultrasounds done because our son was measuring very small and was still breech. At our 38 week ultrasound we were told by a doctor, whom I had only met that day, that we needed to go to the hospital that night for a c-section. And in the blink of an eye it was all taken away. And I was crushed. After that moment, things happened so quickly I never really had time to grasp or accept what was going on. The peculiar thing was that I was not scared for the health of my baby. In my heart, I knew my son was just fine. I just didn't know if the decision the doctor made so quickly that afternoon was fine. It has taken me a long time to come to terms with the events that took place on the day of my son's birth, and I have finally accepted that a c-section was probably the best route to take. But there are a few things that I feel will always disturb me about having a c-section.
More to come...
Monday, April 5, 2010
As service went on, the songs became more familiar to this women. With the familiarity came an increase in the volume of her singing. I'm not a great singer myself, I'm no choir director. But I do have ears, and all you would need is ears to know that this was some BAD singing. I kept thinking to myself, "can this woman not hear what she sounds like? She must be deaf or something, because no one in their right mind would sing this loud and this badly in front of so many people." I tried to distract myself by thinking of how pleasing this woman must be to Christ, singing her heart out. No matter how bad it sounded to my ears, it was probably very pleasing to his. During the communion hymn, a familiar one to all, this woman belted out her voice as loud as she could. Squealing and screeching above everyone else's.
I couldn't help it; I had to turn around and look. And what did I find behind me? Not a little old lady with permed hair and glasses, but a young 13 year old pubescent boy who's voice was obviously changing. The boy didn't even glance up from his hymnal as I smiled looking at him. He was stuck in his own little world, just him, his music and God. How pleasing this must have been to our Lord, and how funny it was to me. Any woman with sons, or anyone who grew up with brothers could probably recognize that voice from a million miles away. But I grew up with two sisters, a mother and a father who's voice changed long before I knew him. I just hope that one day my son is as comfortable with himself and with the Lord that he has the courage to sing out with all his heart...even if it's not so pleasing to the ear.
Thursday, April 1, 2010
"The mortifications which come to us either from God of from man through God's permission always are more precious than those born of our own will; for, as a rule, the less satisfaction or personal choice involved, the more pleasing the mortification to God and the more profitable for our soul."
-St. Francis de Sales.