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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

A really long wrap up of the last few weeks.

Oh my goodness. I had no idea that it had been so long since I last posted.

The last few weeks have been a TOTAL whirlwind.

On the morning of Thursday, November 29th, my dad went to his local emergency room because he had been up all night vomiting with severe stomach pain. If most people heard this, they would think "virus", "flu", or some other simple illness that typically rears it's ugly head around this time of year. But as soon as my sister called to tell me, I knew that it was more. Little did I know how right I would turn out to be.

Not long after my dad was admitted, they began an IV of morphine, and yet...that wasn't touching his pain. They soon realized that he had two large kidney stones...7mm and 8mm. They said that they were too large to pass and that they would have to be surgically removed. So until the OR was available, they had him on pain meds. Well, shortly after they left...they came back. They said his bloodwork had returned with an indicating that there was a problem with his pancreas. My mom called to tell me that they were sending him for a contrast CT. We all held our breaths and waited by our phones for the results. This was so out of the norm for my dad. A few hours later, we had an answer. Critical pancreatitis. It seemed simple enough. He was in horrible pain, but they were admitting him. They were going to take care of the kidney stones and put him on strong antibiotics. Thursday night, more news. He also had a gallbladder full of stones, and one large one was blocking the duct leading from his gallbladder to his pancreas. The pancreatitis was worse than they originally thought. They immediately took him to surgery to remove the blockage. By midnight on Thursday, he said he was feeling better and he sent my mom back home to rest. Something was screaming at me, "Tell her not to leave him there!" as soon as she told me she was going home. She got mad at me for "giving her hell".

Friday morning, my mom returned to the hospital around 9am to find my dad having trouble breathing. He had gotten worse overnight. His original pain had returned. By lunch time Friday, mom called to tell me that his liver enzymes were off the charts, he was having trouble breathing and they were moving him to ICU. Now, let me explain that when I got this call, I was sitting at Pepboys (where my husband works), waiting on my oil to be changed. I was in the waiting area, my husband was in the shop working, and I remember mom telling me that he was being moved. I looked out the window to my husband and I had the worst feeling in my gut that our lives were about to change forever. I called my husband from my cell, told him what was happening and that I needed to go to my dad (he lives about 2 hours away). I told him to make arrangements to leave work early, that I was going to get our daughter from school early, stopping by home to pick up a few things, and that I'd be back to get him. I left Pepboys around 1:30, returned at 3pm and we were on our way. I got to the hospital around 5pm, and when I called my mom to ask her where I was supposed to go, my dad was in AFIB. I left my husband and the kids in the waiting room and rushed to my dad's room. I knew that this was going to be the worst thing that I had ever seen, so I tried to brace myself.

When I got to the waiting room, my mom was there, my older brother (one of them) was sitting beside her, crying. My parents' preacher was there, along with an elder from church. Again, my heart sank even more. My mom told me to prepare myself...that daddy was having trouble breathing, that he had an NG tube in his nose. I walked into his room with a smile on my face. "Hey daddy!"...and I immediately grabbed his hand. He had IV's in both hands. He was struggling to breathe, but trying to act like his usual self. He nodded and said in between breaths "Hey baby". I rubbed his hands...took everything that I was seeing in and said to him "You know dad, if you just wanted a little extra attention, you could have just told me". He smirked, nodded at me and said "I thought I was doing good. I've made it all this way and now everything is going wrong, all at once". My dad was scared. My strong, brave superhero was terrified. He had always been nervous around doctors...and this was his worst nightmare. They were waiting for another dr to come in and start a central line. My mom asked daddy if he cared if my husband came in, and daddy said no, he didn't care. So I went out and got my husband. As soon as I was out of my dad's eye line, I broke down. My mom had to stop me in the hallway of the ICU and calm me down. I held his hand as tight as I could, bracing myself again for what I was about to see. As soon as daddy saw Dayton, he perked up (as much as his tired body could) and said "Hey Dayton!" in between breaths. Dayton tried cracking a few jokes with him...both of them are notorious for joking in inappropriate situations to lighten a mood. I followed suite and told daddy that this was a pretty extreme attempt to get out from under Obama. He appreciated that one.  Soon, the dr came in and said they were going to start the central line and we had to leave. I asked the dr (audibly, in front of my dad), "You ARE going to numb all this (motioning to dad's chest and neck area where they were going to put the line in) FIRST, right?"...I wanted dad to hear me clarify that with the dr. Daddy was terrified and it showed. The dr assured me (but mostly daddy), "YES. ALL of it will be numb before I do ANYTHING". The dr must have known what I was trying to do and I was grateful for his cooperation. I squeezed dad's hand and told him that I loved him.

We left the hospital that night and came home. I knew this wasn't going to end well. My dad had been in the hospital before...but he had never looked like this. Something was just off, and I knew it in my gut.

Saturday morning around 10am, I got a call from my sister with a call immediately after that from my mother. They were putting my dad on a ventilator. He had been struggling so hard to breathe (and it had only gotten worse) that his heart was beginning to give out. They explained to dad that they were going to sedate him and then intubate him. They also assured him that as long as he was on the vent, he would be sedated. I think that eased his mind...but again, he was scared. Again, I called Dayton and told him to come home. I told him that I had to go. About an hour and a half later, the door swings open and there stands Dayton holding bags of snacks for the kids. "Get your things together. I'm taking you to your dad. I'm not letting you do this by yourself, and you need to be there". We did a load of laundry, got the kids fed and down for naps, and were out the door around 3pm. I dropped the kids and hubbs off at my sister's house and went to the hospital. I got there about 5:30pm and went in to see my dad. I followed my mom in and while she went straight to his bedside, I hung out by the door trying to stifle my tears. I was so close to falling apart, but I knew that daddy couldn't hear me be upset. I took a few deep breaths, wiped my face, and went to his other side and picked up his hand. I asked my mom to leave the room so I could talk to him alone. She was mad, and resistant, but she finally stepped outside. I told him how sorry I was that I hadn't talked to him in the last week, that I was sorry I had given him so much trouble as a teenager, that I needed him to be strong and fight, and that my youngest baby still hadn't shared a cup of sweet tea with his papa yet. I reminded him how much we loved him and told him how badly we needed him here. A little while later, I went in with my older sister. She stood on one side, and I stood on the other and we held his hands. I saw her tear up, and right when I thought she was about to lose it, she looked up at me with an angry face and started fussing about how badly he had been taking care of himself. I ended up riding with her to go feed my mom's dogs before we went back to her house that night. We got back in around midnight. Dayton was waiting for me...and with open arms, as he knew I was ready to fall apart. Sunday morning, we woke up and we went back by the hospital so I could see my dad one more time before we left. I went to the waiting room first...my mom was sleeping, so I made the decision to go ahead and see him alone, without her there. I walked in and his nurse was there. She told me that his vitals were great and had been all night (about 10 minutes of hope). She walked out and I had about 5 minutes alone with daddy. As hard as I tried, I couldn't stop the tears. I told him that I needed him to fight, that I was sorry, and how much I loved him. I told him that he couldn't leave me alone with this crazy family of mine, and that I couldn't go on without him. I told him that I wouldn't know how to live in a world without him. Then I told him that I was sorry, but I wasn't sure if I would be able to handle coming back. Just about the time I finished talking and kissing dad on the shoulder, his doctor came in. He was a very nice, reasonably young guy. He asked me if I was his daughter, and I said that I was. And he laid it on me. He explained that overnight, my dad's kidney function had drastically declined and that they were currently operating at about 17% ....he said they would need to start dialysis asap. I looked him square in the eye and said, "So...his kidneys are failing.". It wasn't really a question, but he held eye contact with me, while his eyes started watering and said, "Yes ma'am. They are". Again, I just knew.

I went and woke my mom up, gave her the doctors card and the information. She raced out of the waiting room and I made my way back down to my car, bawling my eyes out as soon as I stepped outside of the hospital.

We came home and tried to go on with life as usual. With 3 small kids, that was our only option...and the only option that dad would find acceptable. Over the next few days, we got the news that he went septic, that his lungs were filling with fluid, that the infection in his pancreas was getting worse and not responding to antibiotics, the dialysis wasn't working, and then they decided to open him up to try and get the gallbladder (which was the main source of all the problems). When they opened him, his insides were too inflamed. All they could do was scrape out some of the infection, and they left his incision open to try to relieve some of the pressure. He went through three of the surgeries with no luck. Saturday afternoon (the 8th), I had to slap a smile on my face and throw a party for my daughter's 6th birthday. Dad would have killed me if he woke up to find that I had canceled it. On Friday, they had given my dad less than a 1% chance of surviving through the weekend. He was still sedated and had gone from the original 60% oxygen on the vent to 100%...life support.

Monday afternoon, we knew we had to go back. We all knew what was about to happen, but no one wanted to come out and say it. I went to the hospital Monday night and saw my dad. I told him that I had heard on TV over the weekend that Kramer (from Seinfeld) was coming back to TV...and that he absolutely had to stick around for that. Some stupid show that dad would hate was on his TV, so I found The Soup on E! for him and left that on. He always loved that show. I wasn't allowed to stay long. I sat in the waiting room with my mom for a little while. I asked her if he passed away, if she would let me have some of his ashes (dad's wishes were to be cremated) for a memory necklace. I was surprised that she agreed. I also said that I wanted to speak at his service. She replied with, "Cara, you're not going to be able to do that". I told her that I had to at least try and she said, "No. If you break down, I won't be able to handle it and you're just too soft hearted not to have a meltdown in front of all of those people". I insisted, and she humored me by giving in. Tuesday, I went out to my mom's house for her and when we were leaving I got a call from my sister: "Cara, I want you to get in your car and go to the hospital RIGHT. NOW." *Okay* "Cara, do you understand what I'm saying to you?". I knew exactly what she was saying. She was telling me that my dad had minutes to live and I needed to be there.

Dayton drove about 80 mph through town to get me there. I raced in and ran past all of my brothers and sisters in the hallway, ran into the waiting room, and waited for my mom. She came and took me to see him, reluctantly. She had my brother walk with us, in case dad coded, my brother could help me out. She told me that they were stopping his blood pressure medicines, as even with two...he was struggling to keep his bottom number in the low 40's. One had already been stopped. They were waiting on her to tell them to stop the second. It would be a matter of hours. I stayed with him as long as she'd let me. I cried. I held his hands. She walked out (without a fuss this time) to let me talk to him. It was a blur and it still is. I told him how much I loved him, and again, how sorry I was. I told him to please not leave me alone, that he was the only one that ever loved me unconditionally. I didn't try to stop the tears this time. Dayton wanted to see him again, but he didn't have the heart. He walked back to the ICU waiting room, but couldn't bring himself to see daddy.

We left with the kids and headed home, silently. We all knew what was about to happen. I fell asleep on the way home. We left about 1:30-2pm. Around 3:30 I woke up and texted my sister, "Any updates??". About 2 minutes later, my phone rang. It was my mom. I knew. I held my breath and answered the phone. "Cara? Where are you?....Is Dayton driving? Your daddy passed away at 3:23 very peacefully". She went into details but I looked at Dayton with tears streaming down my face and couldn't bring myself to say anything because I knew I would lose it and I didn't want the kids to see me that way. I tuned back in in time to hear her say "Cara, you have to hold it together. You look at what you've got in the back seat and you hold it together for them. That's what daddy would want". I don't remember getting off the phone. I cried the rest of the way home with Dayton holding my hand the whole way. As soon as we got home, I went to sleep. I couldn't deal.
_______________________________________________

In the week since he's been gone, I've written my eulogy and said goodbye to my dad. I didn't think I'd manage, and almost gave into the pressure to let someone else read it...but I knew I'd regret it if I didn't try to say what I needed to say to honor my dad. I was amazingly calm during the service. I got up and spoke to the crowd about my dad and what a special man he was to everyone who knew him. People teared up, people laughed, and ultimately, I think I did a good job and daddy would have been happy with it. I started to choke up 3 times, but was able to take a breath and keep my composure. We sat down and they started a slideshow. Pictures all throughout my dad's life with the song Against the Wind by Bob Segar and the Silver Bullet band. I heard and felt Dayton start crying, and then there was nothing I could do. I fell apart. I watched these pictures, remembered all these times, stared at my daddy's sweet face.

It seems like he's already been gone for months. Everything else is going in real time, but when it comes to him...the minutes seem to be dragging. I haven't been as upset since he died as I was when he was sick. I don't understand that. There are a lot of things that I don't understand. I'm feeling pretty bitter about the whole situation. I'm including a copy of the eulogy that I wrote. I started out reading it and ended up adding a few more things once I was up there, but you'll get the idea.

We'll be back to our regularly scheduled programming soon.

For Daddy:

My dad was the best man that I have ever known. He was the best man that a lot of people have ever known. He was the best father a child could ever have, and the best example of a generous man that anyone could ever look to.

The memories that I have of my dad are simple: hitting a baseball in the back yard after school, taking long bike rides on Sunday afternoons (but only during the boring part of the Nascar races), and going to Sunday school every weekend...but they are the best memories. As I got older, the memories changed, but my dad's dedication as a father did not, even when it meant supporting me in something that he didn't necessarily agree with. Because that's the kind of man my dad was: strongly opinionated, but ultimately committed to being the best father that he could be.

The fact that he was such a good dad has meant that every day since he has been gone, my world has been a little darker, a lot scarier, and much less funny. And daddy would hate that.

He hated the idea of someone being sad, and if it meant cracking inappropriate jokes or teasing someone, he would do it. Even in the worst of times, daddy could find a way to make someone smile...and that is exactly how he would want to be remembered.

There are no words to adequately express the sense of loss felt by my family, my dad's church family, and his friends today. And I have no idea how we're supposed to move forward without him, how I'm supposed to explain to my son why he can't call his papa 6 times a day just because he wants to, or how I'm ever supposed to manage sitting in church without looking over and seeing him sitting at the end of the pew. But starting tomorrow, I'm going to wake up every day and try, because that's what daddy would want me to do, that's what dad would insist that I do, and that's what would make my dad proud. And if I can make him just a fraction of how proud he's made me, I'll be doing okay.


William "Bill" Clegg, Jr.
July 14, 1943-December 11, 2012
                      

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Your Voice Your Vote 2012

This year, people are vicious in defending their picks for POTUS. People seem to be die hard either way, and you'll be hard pressed to find anyone who is standing in a gray area. And they should be. Our two candidates are like night and day. But specific to this blog, we have candidates that are on both sides of the abortion debate (no surprise there). Many pro-choice women have this on their minds. If Romney is elected, will he actively work to restrict abortion? Or worse, completely outlaw it (though I don't see this happening)?     Will he be working to restrict birth control? Mormons aren't exactly known for limiting the number of children they have. Or will he be focusing primarily on the economy? There's really no way to know. And there's no way to know if President Obama will be doing any work in the way of the pro-choice movement. I don't recall him making any significant changes in the last four years in this area.

So, the challenge now is to sit back, wait for the results, and trust that WE THE PEOPLE made the best decision for our country. It's no longer time to bicker about who is the best and who should win. Now is the time to pull together, accept what we've done, and work to fix our issues.

Happy election day!

Monday, November 5, 2012

A Devastating Slap in the Face

The end of last week was devastating for our family. With one phone call, everything went to hell.

I've spoken on this blog before about rape and similar crimes against women. But I never expected for it to hit so close to home, or so soon.

As most of you know, I have a 5 year old daughter. I worry constantly about her well being, about her self esteem, and about shaping her into a strong young woman as I'm raising her.

We got a phone call from her principal on Thursday afternoon. A little boy in her class put his hands in her pants. Right in front of her teacher. Another little girl told. At first, it seemed like a simple case of inappropriate curiosity and after a good long talk about how her private parts were her's and no one else was allowed to touch her, especially if she said no (which she did...how did her teacher miss this?!), we moved on. She didn't seem upset by it and I didn't want to magnify the situation to embarrass her or make it any harder than it already was.

Thursday night, I was getting her ready for her shower and she completely broke down. I asked her what was wrong and she said she had had a bad day. I already knew that, so I asked if she wanted to talk about it. She said yes, I asked nothing, and then she just blurted it out, "Today, when he touched me, it wasn't the first time". My heart sank and I literally felt sick, but I held it together for her. "You mean he touched you more than once today?" and she answers "No, mommy. He touches me everyday". I have never felt such an awful combination of physically ill, raging anger, and complete heartbreak in my entire life. I wanted to cry for her. I wanted to find this little kid and kill him. I wanted to kill his parents! How could this happen? How did her teacher miss it?! Why didn't anyone notice my little girl telling this little boy, "No!", "Stop!", and "Leave me alone!"? How does that go un-noticed?

Luckily, the next day, I went to school with her and we made big changes to get her away from the little boy. Her principal and school counselor have been amazing and are adamant about doing whatever needs to be done to make her comfortable and feel safe. She seems happy and is settling back in well and I'm making sure to watch her for anything that needs attention. But this brings bigger questions to the surface.

For a 5-6 year old little boy to do this, everyday...to ignore her protests and laugh at her when she made them...what is going on with him? Is something being done to him at home? The thought is heart breaking. Or, is it that we as a society are completely on the wrong track with how we're raising our boys and what they're seeing? We're seeing more and more sexual innuendo on tv. Even on channels made for younger audiences. Why aren't we teaching our boys that no means "no"? And why aren't we teaching our kids more about personal space?

My husband and I give a lot of attention to how our boys are being raised, for this very reason. Because I want them to know how to treat a girl. Because I want them to know how to treat a wife. Because I want them to know what is and what isn't appropriate when it comes to their interactions with girls. Why aren't more people worried about this? Rape is terrifyingly common these days. Are we teaching our boys that that's okay? That it's just part of life? That it's not really a big deal? And if so, is that trickling down to younger children? Making little boys think that it's okay to touch girls in inappropriate places, even if the little girls says no? Are our schools no longer a safe place for our children?

When a couple has a daughter, there's a certain idea that comes along with that...that you're going to have to protect her from things like that. But when we had our boys, I felt the same amount of responsibility. Not necessarily to protect them from the same things that I would my daughter (not that I would ignore that area with them), but to raise them a certain way. To raise them to be respectful men. Because the last thing this world needs is more men who think they can do and take what they want, when they want, regardless of how someone else feels.

I realize that my daughter wasn't raped at school by some old sex-predator. But this is equally scary to me. The last person you would expect to do something like this is some 5 year old little boy who's sitting next to her in class. Will he do it again, to another little girl? If this isn't addressed appropriately, will he end up taking the next step when he's older? Will he end up raping a girl? Or worse? This isn't an issue that I expected to have to address with my 5 year old little girl. Of course, I expected to have some sort of conversation regarding some of these issues with her once she was older. No one expects to have this type of conversation so soon. And it is devastating. It breaks my heart that I couldn't protect her from this...that I didn't even think to.

What are you doing to prevent the next generation from facing these types of problems? Are you raising your kids a certain way? Working in the education field?

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Breastfeeding and the Like

Anyone who has experienced pregnancy and childbirth knows that it (nursing) is the best option. The healthiest option. The cheapest option. And some say, the most convenient option. However, for many women, it just isn't possible.

Whether it be due to demanding schedules, a lack of supply, trouble latching or some other issue...some mothers simply are not able to nurse their babies. With my first, I was hellbent on nursing throughout the first year. In the hospital, she had no formula, but was incredibly fussy. They told me that she was getting plenty from my colostrum (pre-milk) alone, so I went with it. However, the second day that we were home, my husband sent me for a much needed nap, and while I was asleep, he gave her a bottle of formula. I was furious. But for the first time since she was born, she was content. She was sleeping. She wasn't constantly screaming every waking minute. She was content. So, for the next two months, I continued to nurse and supplement with formula. However, at two months old she was hospitalized due to RSV and the stress caused my milk to dry up. 

With our second, again, I was hellbent on nursing. I knew what to expect this time around (that it was not as easy as people had made it out to be) and was prepared. Yes, I was working full time. Yes, I was in school. And yes, this time, I also had a two year old to tend to. I gave it my best shot. But between everything I was juggling, it was almost impossible. I took my breaks at work to pump. I nursed every time that I was with him. But it just wasn't enough. And under all the stress, I made the choice to take trying to nurse off of my list.

Finally, with our last, I went into it hellbent on nothing. I knew that it could go either way. But, I wasn't working this time. I was on a break from school. My oldest was in pre-k. So I gave it another shot. In the hospital, I supplemented with formula (though I let him nurse as much as he wanted, even though he wasn't getting much, as my milk didn't come in until after we got home). When we got home, he was a little underweight, so they had me on schedule to feed him every four hours. An alarm was set on my phone to wake me up, religiously, every four hours. I was exhausted, and the fact that he was a lazy baby who wanted to sleep through the night made it even harder. I had to wake him up every four hours, as well. I wasn't producing as much as he needed, but I kept at it. He still wasn't gaining enough weight, so the lactation consultant that we saw suggested we supplement with formula. We did, but RARELY. Maybe 4 ounces of formula per day. I felt like I had a permanent growth. He was constantly attached to me. I barely left the bedroom, and it didn't take long for me to start getting some serious post partum depression issues. After 6 solid weeks of giving it my best, I gave up. I couldn't do it. It was an added stress that was affecting everyone in our home, including my other two children. So, we switched to exclusive formula and he started gaining weight like he needed to. 

Like I said, for some women, it's just not doable. I'm not proud to admit that I couldn't...but I am proud to say that all three of my babies developed beautifully.

Yes, we all know that nursing is the best option, physically. It has great benefits and in a perfect world, it would be possible and sustainable for every women in the world. But the fact is, it's just not. And until all of us (mothers) accept that, there will be a ripple in the pool of motherhood (Yes, I'm very aware of how cheesy that sounded). Instead of pointing the finger at who is and isn't nursing, why not be supportive of the women who try and end up having to go a different route? Why not support the woman who makes the choice NOT to nurse? 

Get with it, ladies. Choose your battles. This is one that can't be changed...so the best option is to choose to coexist. 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Phone-Bank for Choice (Colorado)


As all of you know, we have a little over a month before our country decides who will spend the next 4 years leading our country. Most of you also know that this year's decision is crucial for women's rights.

Right now, Colorado is one seat away from having the pro-choice majority in both the Colorado state house and senate. In order to secure this seat, the Colorado chapter of NARAL is gathering volunteers to help with a phone-bank. They need volunteers from now until the election in their office (address and specific dates listed below). They need volunteers from 5:30pm until 8:30pm, and if volunteers show up before 7:00pm, they will be able to work the phones. Volunteers will be discussing the importance of voting and the importance of voting for pro-choice candidates during the outreach.

Snacks will be provided during phone-bank hours, and often, a late night happy hour is held after the phone-bank at the Capital Hill bar. This is a great way for volunteers and workers to get to know each other better, as well as build friendships within the cause, so to speak.

If you're in the Denver area, and are interested in volunteering your time (or obtaining more information), please contact Jean Behr at jbehr@prochoicecolorado.org or by phone at816.694.4004. If you're not in the area (or just can't volunteer your time), you can always make financial contributions at their website here. Every little bit of time and effort makes a difference. And it is more important than ever for us to come together on this issue!

NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado
1905 Sherman St.
Suite 800
Denver, CO 80203

Phone-banking dates: September 26th, October 2nd, October 11th, and October 17th.
Remember, all times are from 5:30pm until 8:30pm, MDT.


Please remember just how important it is for us, as women, to vote in this election. The women before us fought far too hard for us to give up these rights without a fight. And as the mother of a daughter, a world without the option of choice, is not one that I want her to have to face. While we often take these rights for granted (especially young women, who have always had the comfort of these rights), it is now more important than ever to understand the gravity of women's rights.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Plan B in NYC Schools

Unless you're living under a rock, you've heard the news today. New York City schools are now offering Plan B One-Step (in other words, the morning after pill) to students in an effort to prevent unintended, unplanned, or unwanted pregnancies. People are going ape-shit crazy over this! I think it's fantastic!

It's all part of a program called the CATCH program (Connecting Adolescents To Comprehensive Health). This is all on top of students having access to birth control injections (think, depo) and condoms. The program does allow for parents to opt their daughters out of the program, but so far, the school system is only reporting that 1-2% of parents are doing so.

Think about it. A 16 year old girl has sex with her boyfriend. The condom breaks. What are the chances she's going to go to her parents and tell them that she needs Plan B? What are the chances that she (or her young boyfriend) are going to have the money on their own to buy it? Slim to none. Now she can go to her school nurse and receive a pill up to 72 hours after having either unprotected sex (I hope we're teaching our daughters better than that) or after her birth control fails.

Of course, pro-lifers are jumping all over this one. It promotes teen sex (teens are going to have sex regardless, if they choose to do so). Plan B is technically an abortion (False. It takes the body about 72 hours for the body to go through the process of conceiving). It's not the school's place to do such a thing (Uh, with as absent as parents are these days, the kids need help from SOMEONE. They spend most of their time at school...why not there?).

If I was a parent in NYC and I got one of these notes sent home, I'd discuss it with my daughter. And if I had the slightest inkling from that conversation that she may not feel comfortable coming to me with something like a failed birth control issue, I absolutely would NOT opt her out of a program.

I really feel that this is a smart move for the school system, and I hope we start to see it in more schools across the country.

Friday, September 21, 2012

The art of baby making...

So, now that Phoenix is merely weeks away from being a year old, I find myself having twinges of baby fever...probably just for the reason that I know it's a done deal. The hubbs got the big clip when Phoenix was a few months old. I find it impossibly sad that I'll never get to do the newborn stuff again, have that specific bonding experience with Dayton, or go through all the fun baby stages.

But then I read about women who have a hard time with the process of making a baby. A woman who can get pregnant, but can't carry. A women who can get pregnant and carry, but only to have a baby with a severe birth defect. The possibilities are TERRIFYING, and then I can't help but feel so lucky for the three beautiful, HEALTHY children that I was blessed with. We had our scares with each pregnancy, but all three turned out beautifully. The only thing I would change about my pregnancies is how much I allowed myself to enjoy them (I knew Phoenix would be our last, so I let all the to-do's go and enjoyed my last pregnancy).

So my question is, for those of you who are still building your families, does it scare you? Does the reward make up for the scary possibilities? If you were faced with one of those possibilities, would you continue to try?

Let's hear it!

Monday, September 10, 2012

A Women's Issue

As far as I can tell, this is pretty divided down the middle. But it is certainly a women's issue. How do you handle cheating?

Do you leave? Do you consider staying? Does it depend on the circumstances?

I'll be honest. I stayed through an emotional affair (which I should have left because of), and I came back after cheating. There was definitely a difference after physical cheating, and definite changes have been made. But some women are conditioned to leave after cheating, NO MATTER WHAT. And likewise, some women are conditioned to keep it to themselves and keep on living their happy lives.

Where do you stand?

Sunday, September 9, 2012

For Those of Us with Daughters...

As most of you know, I have a daughter. I feel an enormous responsibility to instill certain things in her, in a way I suspect my husband feels towards our boys. I worry often that she is seeing certain things reflected in me that she may start to do herself, thinking that it's the "norm". For example, I've had body image issues for as long as I can remember (and that goes back to about age 4). I've always had to fight to maintain a certain weight, and to make peace with certain things about my appearance (though my biggest issue is obsessing over my weight). A few months ago, I was in the bathroom getting ready when I saw her step on the scale, wait for a number to come up, and then get excited, "30! Yesssss!". The scale did say 30.something lbs. But I don't think she knew what the number meant. But she has seen me step on the scale so many times, and either breathe a sigh of relief or step off, completely disappointed with myself. This is not a trend that I want her to start.

One of the things I worry about most, is that she won't take the opportunity to further her education with college and establish a career and life for herself before settling down to get married and have children. Don't get me wrong. Marrying my husband and having our children has been the highlight of my life. But it's also been hard. Hard in ways that I never want her to experience. Hard in ways that could have been prevented by me finding myself before I settled down. I want an easier path for her. And to be honest, I lose sleep sometimes worrying about how I'll explain to her why she should wait to settle down when I jumped right in.

Another thing, and this is a big one. We live in a world of "mean girls" and I don't want that for her. I want her to be a nice girl. Not in a 1950's prudish kind of way (though I won't complain if she's that kind of nice girl, too!). But in a simple "I'm a nice person" kind of way. I do not want her to be the girl that is so jealous of other girls that she can't maintain a friendship with any females. I do not want her to be a bully. I do not want other girls to be wary of her, whether or not they can trust her around their boyfriends, whether or not they can trust her to keep a secret, or whether or not they can safely approach her. I want her to be smart and steer clear of drama, because it will certainly find her on it's own. As women, we have to start raising nicer girls. If not, they're going to end up killing each other (*facepalm*).

As mentioned before, it is so important for her to know that she is more than just a body or a pretty face. She has to understand what it means to be beautiful on the inside, and how much more important that kind of beauty is. Her self worth has to depend on more than her looks. Mine never has and I don't want that for her.

When she decides that she's ready to become "active", she should know how to protect herself, and it's my job that she does. It's equally important that she feel comfortable to talk to me about it if she needs to (though I can't promise that I won't have a nervous breakdown once she leaves the room). It's really important to me that she understands the gravity of this decision (because not many young people grasp this), and the impact of the possible consequences.

It's important that ZoeJane knows that she deserves the best when she decides to settle down. She needs to understand that she doesn't have to settle for anything. It's important for her to know that she's worth the wait for the right person. She needs to know that she doesn't need to be with someone to be happy, but that with the right person, her happiness can be increased. Showing her that she deserves respect is key. And teaching her that she also has to give respect where it's due is also important. Mutual respect is the secret to success in any relationship, especially when it comes time to settle down and share your life with someone.

And finally, something that I'm working on now: She has to believe that she can do anything that she wants. Once she has children (if she chooses to do so), she is not tied down to children and a home. She can choose to stay with them or to be a working mother. She needs to understand that changing her last name doesn't have to mean losing herself. And if she chooses to follow the same path I have, she needs to know that it's never too late to better herself.

So...for those of you with daughters, what is important for your daughter to know?

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Have you ever given much thought to why the topic of abortion seems to be completely off limits? Doesn't it seem a little odd that, as a category of women's healthcare, even women are uncomfortable talking to other women about it? Why is it that women who are raped, are too ashamed to discuss having an abortion? Why are women who find that their loved babies have a horrible abnormality and choose to spare their child from suffering too scared to share their stories?

There isn't an intelligent woman on the face of the earth, prochoice or not, who doesn't realize that abortion is  the ending of a life, or at least the potential for life. People don't like that. No one likes it. It's a sad reality. But sometimes, it is a necessary one.

We all know that no birth control is 100% effective. We all know that men will not always take no for an answer. Most of us know (unfortunately) that baby making is not a perfect science. And finally, we all know that circumstances can change. Jobs can be lost, relationships can fall apart. Nothing is guaranteed. Abortion is an option. It is not a pleasant option. It is not an option to be taken lightly. But it is there for us if that's a decision that we need to make.

Personally, I'm not sure that I could ever go through with having an abortion. If I did, it would probably be because I learned that my baby was suffering in the womb only to be born for a short life of pain. And even then, it would devastate me. I certainly would not make that decision lightly (and if any woman tells you that she would, she's full of shit). I may not ever need to make the decision to terminate a pregnancy, but I will fight for the right to. I will fight so that my daughter has the right to (even though I pray she will never be in the position to have to exercise the right to choose).

As women, we have to start talking about this! It doesn't matter if you've had one, if you've been in the position to consider it...whatever. We just have to start the discussion. It is so important for women who have had one to know that they're not alone, and that they're not monsters for it. Women who have been raped and have made the best decision that they could out of it, they need to be supported. Women who choose to spare their children from suffering...they need to be reminded that they are good mothers.

We need to start leaning on and supporting each other. If we can't understand each other, who else will?


Wednesday, August 29, 2012

I Had an Abortion

Okay. I didn't have an abortion. But I did read the book. Have you heard of it? It's pretty damn amazing, if you ask me. It's compiled of all of these personal stories of women and their abortions (check out the website). Each story begins with a picture of a woman standing in a solid black shirt with the words "I had an abortion" in bold white letters across the front. There's also a documentary that goes along with the book (also amazing). But reading this book made me think...if I had had an abortion, would I be brave enough to be so honest with it? There were lots of things to consider. I come from a long line of southern conservatives. Religious ones, at that. And let's face it: having an abortion isn't exactly a girl's ticket into "the nice girls club". No. Having an abortion almost always comes with a stigma. Very few women are able to have them without being judged by those closest to them. With that said, I think it would be very, very hard to "come out" about having an abortion, and it certainly wouldn't be something that I shouted from rooftops...but if someone asked, I think that yes, I would be able to say "I had an abortion".

What do you think? Have you had an abortion? If so, are you willing to speak out, or is something stopping you? If not, do you think you would be comfortable telling people?



Thursday, August 16, 2012

Summer of Choice 2nd Annual Walk

As most of you know, Dr. Carhart is a strong advocate for a woman's right to choose. He is a former worker and friend of Dr. George Tiller, who was killed back in 2009. Now, Dr. Carhart has locations in Nebraska, as well as Germantown, Maryland.

Twelve years ago, Dr. Leroy Carhart and his wife, Mary established Abortion Access Fund, Inc. This fund helps provides abortion services, pap smears, and STD testing to women in the Nebraska and metro DC area who are struggling financially and need these services. The work they've put into building this organization is amazing, but they still need as much support as they can get! This is where all of you come into play...

On August 26th, the Abortion Access Fund, Inc. will be holding it's 2nd annual walk in Washington, D.C. A majority of the proceeds will go to help provide services for women, while a small portion will go into opening more clinics to provide more services for women.

If you're interested in participating, the walk will begin at the Mie N Yu restaurant in Washington, D.C. Registration will be held from 12:30-2:00pm with the walk to begin immediately afterwards. If you would like to register in advance, you can do so online for only $20. Online registration ends on August 22nd. If you choose to register the day of the walk, the fee is $25. The fee includes a water bottle and a t-shirt. After the walk, a reception will be held from 5pm-8pm at Mie N Yu, with a special guest appearance.

If you're like me and unable to attend, you can still donate to the fund through their website here. If you make a donation of $25+, you can still receive a water bottle and t-shirt. All donations are tax deductible. You can also get all the latest news regarding the fund, as well as apply for funding.

The address to the Mie N Yu restaurant is 3125 Main St. NW, Washington, D.C.
For any questions or concerns, please e-mail  soc@trust-women.org

Please, if you're in the area, go on out and show your support. Dr. and Mrs. Carhart are fighting a hard battle and they need all the support they can get. If you can't make it, please donate. And finally, if that isn't possible, please go to facebook and like their page (Abortion Access Fund, Inc.) and share it with your friends.

Say it with me people (because it should be hardwired into your vocabulary by now), we have to keep the conversation going!


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

We can ALL help...

I've said it before and I'll say it again. It doesn't take a whole lot of effort to help the women's right movement, especially when it comes to abortion. We just have to keep the conversation going and do our best to let other women know about their best options when faced with such a decision.

I would really like to start a list of clinics, doctors, doctor's offices, hospitals, etc. that provide compassionate support for women in need of termination services for whatever reason. So many women find themselves in the position to terminate a pregnancy, for whatever reason, only to have to deal with cold, stuffy, and sometimes downright cruel medical staff during the process. SO, I figure, if you have had an abortion or considered it or you know someone who has, you could send me the info (how the situation was handled, payment availability, location, name of doctor, website if available, etc.), I can list it on the appropriate list (Places Worth Your Time or Places to Avoid).

So, please know that I will most definitely keep you anonymous. This will ONLY be doctor information listed. Your name will be listed NOWHERE. PERIOD. If you've got info, personal or from a friend (etc), please consider sharing it so that other women can benefit, as well.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

How old is old enough?

Today, I was reading Jill Stanek's blog and I saw this picture:



Of course, Jill Stanek was appalled that these women were standing here with each other, supporting something that meant that had any of their pregnancies been inconvenient (specifically, the daughter and granddaughter) they could have killed their child off. And they're all smiling about it. She finished off by saying that they were all "whacked" (side note: right after that last sentence, there is a list of Do's and Don'ts for Stanek's comment area...the first being DO criticize ideas, NOT people).

Clearly, I don't agree with Jill on this one. One reason being that I fully believe that PP provides a whole array of services to men AND women. Anyway, I saw this picture and I immediately noticed how young this little girl looks. She looks no older than 11 or 12 years old. Which brings the following question to mind: How old is old enough when it comes to explaining women's rights in regards to abortion?

This may be because I have a 5 year old daughter, and I know that eventually she will learn about these things. And I've always been a firm believer that when your child asks questions, you answer them. But in this case, if she happened to overhear something on the news regarding abortion and asked me about it, I don't think I'd feel comfortable explaining it to her yet. Part of me feels like this issue (abortion) should be handled when a girl (or boy) becomes sexually active. Wouldn't it fall somewhere in that conversation? Of course, that makes me think about all the little girls who have been raped and needed abortions at age 12. How awful! To be honest, I can't imagine when it would be the right time to discuss abortion with my daughter. But I know I wouldn't be comfortable with it ANY time soon.

So, the question here is...How old is old enough when it comes to the topic of abortion?

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Too Close For Comfort

Everyone who knows me knows that I keep up with all kinds of abortion issues, including terminations for medical reasons. In other words, women who have abortions because it's either threatening their health or their much-wanted baby has a devastating abnormality. A little while ago, I was reading some stuff on TFMR and I realized that a lot of the things I was reading about, they tested Phoenix for when I was pregnant. For example, Limb-Body-Wall Complex. While the ultrasoud tech at the specialist's office was doing an ultrasound, I noticed that she was checking the blood flow from me to him and back...I knew that that's how they checked for Limb-Body-Wall, and when I asked, she confirmed that that was indeed what she was checking for. I was terrified at the time, but once we were given the all-clear, all of those things left my mind. But today, for some reason, while I was reading about these things, it hit me: They thought that my baby had this! As a mother, that is almost...chilling. It's terrifying. But at the same time, it leaves no room for wondering if I am anything but blessed.


Tuesday, July 31, 2012

New Abortion Laws Sweeping the Country

On Thursday, August 2nd, Arizona's new law regarding abortion goes into effect. According to this law, no abortion shall be performed past 20 weeks (20 weeks from the last missed period...an extreme that most states passing 20 week bills don't seek to pass). This includes abortions due to fetal abnormality. Therefore, if a woman goes in for her anatomy scan at 20 weeks, 1 day and finds that her precious baby has a defect that is causing him or her to suffer, or one that will not allow them to thrive outside of the womb, or worse...will kill them, she will be forced to carry the pregnancy to term, crossing her fingers that her child passes on their own or that he or she does not suffer for long after they are born. Even Georgia's new 20 week bill that goes into effect in January isn't this extreme (Don't get all giddy...it's 10 different kinds of effed up, as well. There is no exception for rape and incest past 20 weeks). Georgia's law will outlaw abortions past 20 weeks gestation, with an exception for pregnancies that our wonderful Governor (cough), Nathan Deal, calls "medically futile" (Side note: The definition of futile: incapable of producing any useful results. Pointless......just in case you were wondering).

It is so sad to me that women and their families are suffering because pro-life politicians have such an agenda to push. I wish that people could understand that this issue really does need to be considered on a case by case basis. For example, while I support abortion...I personally do not believe in using abortion as a form of birth control, over and over again. I think that it should be used as an absolute last resort. But because these politicians believe that they have an agenda to push, they see this issue in absolutes. There is no gray area. Because their supporters don't support abortion, they are putting restricting laws on the issue for EVERYONE. They're treating every issue exactly the same. It's unacceptable. And as women, we need to be standing up and raising hell.

Monday, July 30, 2012

The London Olympics

I don't typically follow the Olympics, but a few days ago, something was mentioned on the news that really struck me. This is the first Olympics in history where every competing country has women competing! Really?! It's 2012. We've fought for voting rights, abortion rights, equality in the workplace, and here we are...just now getting women from every country competing in the Olympics? Yes, I realize that different countries do things different, but still...I was in SHOCK when I heard this!

I hope that when my daughter is my age, these shocking equalities are a thing of the past. I hope that she is able to hold a career and make as much as her male counterparts. I hope that if she has a problem with a pregnancy, she has the right to do as she sees fit. I hope that she exercises her right to vote and make her voice heard. We *have* to keep working, and protecting the progress we've made, if for no other reason...for our daughters.

Friday, July 20, 2012

It's always interesting to me that people with opposing viewpoints assume that I will fight them to the death because of my own. I think it surprises a lot of people to come across a pro-(insert abortion stance here)-er who is open minded enough to understand the other side, and sympathize with it. Instead of two open minded individuals coming to a conversation, it's one willing to discuss both sides and one who is walking into it with their guards up and locked in place. It's a waste of time for both parties, which is annoying (to say the least).

The next time you're faced with someone whose opinion differs from your's, don't go into the conversation ready to defend. Go into it with your mind and ears open, and you just mind learn something about the other side.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

How pro-choice (or pro-life) are you?

Many people hear the terms "pro-choice" or "pro-life" and their minds automatically drift to the subject of abortion. But when you think about it, the terms go so far beyond abortion. Of course, abortion is part of what it means to be pro-life or pro-choice, but what about assisted suicide? Or the death penalty? Can you be for one and not the other?

I've given all three of these issues a lot of thought and for a long time, I feel I've been pro-choice across the board. Yes, I (obviously) believe that women should have the right to safe and legal abortions. Yes, I believe that the death penalty can be an appropriate form of punishment. And finally, yes, I believe that terminally ill adults should have the right to die with dignity in the form of assisted suicide. So, I would say that I feel very confident in saying that I am honestly "pro-choice".

And when you consider these two terms, there's one other thing to consider (this was brought to my attention earlier this week). What if you stand somewhere in the middle? What if, yes, you can understand and think abortion should be legal, but you also wish it didn't have to be a reality. Would you be considered pro-solution? Interesting, right? I think most pro-choicers have a little bit of pro-solution in them. I'd even venture to say that many pro-choicers ARE pro-solution types. I, for example, fully support a woman's right to choose, but of course, I would love for abortion to never have to be an option. I'd love for their to be support systems in place for girls and women, for them to make other decisions that may be easier. I'd love for science to advance far enough to where any ailment could be cured in the womb. But until those solutions come into place, I support abortion.

So where do you stand? Not just on abortion, but on all of these choice and life decisions.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Prenatal Diagnosis

Lately I've been getting lots of feedback regarding prenatal testing and the abortions that follow some of the results.

First of all, I should say that I think prenatal testing is very important. Not just so a mother can terminate if she wants to, but also so if something is detected, a family has time to educate themselves and prepare for the new child that is coming into their lives. In my mind, it makes perfect sense. And of course, if for some reason or another a family or mother is unable to have a child with a disability, or the child is suffering or has a fatal defect, I believe the mother has the right to terminate. But, of course, that's just me.

An argument among many pro-lifers is that prenatal testing should not be done because it increases the percentage of abortions. But should it really be outlawed? Doesn't a family have the right to know, whether it's because they plan to terminate, or just need the opportunity to educate themselves on what they're dealing with. Another issue that pro-lifers have with prenatal testing is that they think it not only leads to more abortions, but late term abortions. This is not necessarily the case. Many problems can be detected as early as 10 weeks or so via ultrasound (though it is true, many issues don't present themselves until later in pregnancy).

So, where do you stand with this issue?

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Tolerance

Tolerance is clearly something that we don't see enough of in this world. It is even more scarce when you're fighting for a cause, or worse, when two opposing sides are fighting for opposite sides of the same cause. Tolerance is not easily found in the abortion debate. Trust me, I know.

What's funny is that when I was on the pro-life side of things, I had no tolerance for the other side. I was downright angry that someone could see abortion as an acceptable fact of life. And now, here I am, years later on the other side of the fence, trying desperately to spread this message in an open, accepting way. It's challenging, to say the least.

In the last week, I've been called a troll, a devil worshiper, ignorant, naive, and a whole slew of other things that I can't remember off the top of my head. What did I say to bring that on? Nothing. I posted the link to A Thought of Her Own on a public facebook page. Almost immediately, the condescending comments started. It's almost like these people are...well, angry. Just like I used to be. They're angry about my beliefs. And because they're angry, their minds are closed and locked up tight. Personally, when I was on the pro-life side, there were a few reasons I felt that way. For one, I was raised to believe that it was wrong. Secondly, I had never heard of a girl or woman getting an abortion for any other reason than because she just didn't want to be responsible. I was judgmental. And frankly, I think that people are afraid of what they do not understand--I'm pretty sure that was the case with me.

So, as easy as it is to become infuriated with people who don't share our beliefs, and even more angry when they are hateful because we do not share their's, let's remember that tolerance is key. There is no need to partake in the name calling, the insults, and the degrading. We should just state our stance and move along. People will come around in their own time, if they're meant to. In the meantime, I'll just keep writing ;)

Saturday, June 30, 2012

A ban that I could really get behind.

Finally, a ban is suggested for a practice that makes my stomach turn. Sex-selection abortion. As in, a woman already has a boy or a girl at home, then finds out she's expecting another of the same, so she terminates. As in, the crap China has in place. Yes, not only is this going on here in the US, but now, the House has REJECTED a ban to stop these types of abortions.

As you all know, I find abortions acceptable in a number of situations. If a girl was being responsible and "life" just happened to her and she honestly CANNOT afford a child, I think it's acceptable (if it's done early....not reason to knowingly wait until 20 weeks for an abortion). If a condition is uncovered where the baby is suffering, or will suffer, I think it's appropriate for a family to be able to make that decision. Of course, if the life of the mother is at risk...by all means. But to terminate a pregnancy because you didn't want one more boy or you didn't want a girl? Seriously? How shallow have we become, as a society that we would throw away a child for such a reason? The least these women could do is carry the baby and adopt him/her out. I can't wrap my brain around this.

How do you feel about this?

Monday, June 25, 2012

Kermit Gosnell's Little House of Horrors (IMPORTED and Updated)

I would first like to say that this post was imported from my first blog, The Souvenir. For anyone to consider what Gosnell has done being "abortion", is ridiculous. This was blatant murder...plain and simple. As a mother, as a pro-choicer, I am appalled. The horrible things that happened at this "clinic" are inexcusable. For this to be disguised as an abortion clinic....a place of help for women, is despicable. So, for the record, I DO NOT support Kermit Gosnell, nor any of his workers. 

In February of last year, Women's Medical Society in Philadelphia was raided. As authorities entered, they found dozens of women slumped over, moaning, and nearly comatose sitting in bloody recliners covered in blood stained blankets. There were no licensed medical personnel present, though all the patients there were drugged. They proceeded to find the lifeless and tortured bodies of 45 babies, some of which were past the point of viability. The babies had slits in the back of their necks and their spinal cords had been severed. Welcome to the Philadelphia house of horrors, also known as Dr. Kermit Gosnell's family practice/abortion clinic. In a grand jury report released last week, there was a picture of a post viability baby boy, who medical examiners estimated to be at least 32 weeks gestation. The picture was taken by a staff member on her cell phone, who after she watched the doctor kill the baby and toss him into a rubbermaid shoe box, felt she should document it because the baby was so big..something must be off. She failed to ever report the incident or turn the picture over to authorities. Another picture showed the incision made by Gosnell on another infant where the spinal cord had been severed. Other pictures revealed specimen cups (yes, the kind you typically pee in) containing severed baby feet. Gosnell claimed he kept the feet in case an issue of paternity ever presented itself. The staff never saw him do anything with the baby feet. In the pictures, you can see corroded tubes that doubled as the suction tubes used in early trimester suction abortions and breathing resuscitation tubes. Yes, this abortion equipment is designed for one time use. The exam tables were ripped. The instruments were splattered with dried blood. There was even a thick layer of dust covering the equipment...the dust was visible in the pictures. Employees claimed that Gosnell would never arrive to the clinic before 8pm or so, after his patients were either ready to deliver, or had already delivered their babies. They also said it wasn't uncommon for him to leave the office without properly disposing of the fetuses, and that the smell of the office made it evident the morning after he would fail to do so. A flea infested cat was allowed to roam the office, and defecate wherever it felt the need. Gosnell also left a pre-signed prescription pad for anyone who came in with the money to pay for their drugs of choice (he was the third leading doctor in the state to prescribe demarol). This is what led to the raid--not the countless complaints of malpractice that had been made...not the countless women who had contracted STD's from unsanitized tools, not even because of the women who left his clinic with perforated uteruses, bowels, and cervixes. They didn't even raid the place due to the woman who had lost her life at the clinic. No, they raided due to drug trafficking. The clinic staff consisted of two unlicensed doctors (in addition to Gosnell), and 7 unlicensed "medical assistants"...one of which was the 15 year old daughter to the office manager. The staff reported hearing Gosnell joke frequently about the babies as he was killing them "This baby is big enough to walk me to the bus stop", or as another child was writhing as he tried to severe the spinal cord, "Now there's a chicken with its head cut off!". So, this raid happened in February of 2010. Gosnell, along with staff members, was arrested last week. He is currently being held without bond. In his home, they found a gun and $240,000 in cash. Keep in mind, no pregnancies were terminated before the procedures began. Each of these babies was killed AFTER being born. The women were still out of it as he killed them. The staff says that for a while, he would slit the base of the skull and suction out the brains (as is procedure in the now banned "partial birth abortion", those during the PBA, this is done while the head of the child is still inside of the mother) so that it would look like the babies were killed that way, instead of being killed after they were born. The staff says this practice didn't last long.

Now, will someone please explain to me why something so outrageous is getting no media attention? It's being reported on news websites, but not spoken of on actual news broadcasts.

I usually don't go along with Operation Rescue (as they tend to be a little extreme for my taste), but they've got the whole story (as it's being reported on CNN websites) all in one place. WARNING: If you choose to view the pictures, PREPARE yourself.

http://www.operationrescue.org

If you go to the OR website (one that I do not typically support), type Kermit Gosnell into their search bar and you will get VERY graphic search results. Please brace yourself if you plan to view them.
If you visit the site, 

Sunday, June 24, 2012

A while back, I asked my very conservative, pro-life mother if she would have let me have an abortion if I had been raped and impregnated around the age of 15 or 16 (a point where my body could handle it, but I couldn't, mentally). She said she wasn't sure. That if I was 9 or 10, there wouldn't be a question....but if my body could handle it, she would struggle with that decision.

As a mother of a daughter, who considers herself "involved" with the abortion debate, this is a question I've asked myself many times. For me, it would be a devastating situation all around. I would hate to know that my daughter was violated. It would kill me. It would kill me to see my young daughter pregnant, especially by rape. But the only question from me would be "What do YOU want?" and then to ask her if she was sure of her decision, either way. There would be so many things for her to consider. It wouldn't be my place.

So, if you are the mother of a daughter, where do you stand with this question? What would you do?

Monday, June 18, 2012

So, most readers know that while I am fiercely pro-choice, I also like to keep up with the pro-life side of things just to see what's going on within the debate. Because of that, I follow Secular Pro-Life on Facebook. They're a pro-life group of people from every type of spiritual (or lack of) background and today, they posted this link to their blog. It was a post about how apparently, in 2009, some professor from Oxford University brought up the idea to start using aborted fetus' organs for transplant patients. If that isn't creepy enough, the idea was that if they could convince at least a small percentage of women seeking abortions to carry their pregnancies to a point where the fetus' organs would be viable, they would pretty much be able to clean out the transplant waiting lists. So...let's encourage late term abortions for the sake of harvesting organs?

Now, I have heard of families who have late term abortions for medical reasons, donating their child's body for research or donating what organs they can. But this idea sounds like the guy wants to set up a big preggo-farm where women can get pregnant and get abortions repeatedly, back to back. Creepy, creepy, creepy.

And I think even the most pro-choice people would agree that this is 52 different kinds of wrong on about 10 different levels. Thank GOD, it will never be made legal (not to say it isn't happening SOMEWHERE in the world), but just the sheer thought of someone thinking that it's a great idea gives me the heeby jeebies.

Monday, June 11, 2012

A Mother's Choice


I became a mother at the age of 19. I had been married for only 5 months to my Marine when we found out. I was terrified. But quickly, I fell in love with this little life that was growing inside of me. How could I not? At about 4 months along, we made a move 3 hours north. So, with no friends or family nearby, I spent my days preparing for this new baby that seemed to pop into our lives out of nowhere. At 7 months, I went in for a regular check up with my OB, she measured me and said she was referring me to a maternal fetal specialist because she thought that my measurements may be off. She told me that they would do an ultrasound and check things out. All I heard was “ultrasound”. We had not yet learned the gender, so I was ecstatic to have the chance to find out. I knew nothing about measurements or what ones that were off could mean. After about an hour long scan, we were told that our baby was a girl and that we needed to come back in two weeks. I don’t even remember the explanation they gave us for the return visit. I was so na├»ve. At the second appointment, we were told that our baby had a big head (if you saw my husband, you would understand why I never thought this was a big deal) and that would probably need a c-section to deliver. I was a little confused when the specialist requested us in his office after our scan and gave us the “all clear”. I had no idea that we were ever not “all clear”.

Between our first daughter and our last child, a son, I learned a lot. As you’ve read before (if you’re a regular reader), I did a research paper in 2010 on abortion. The things that I uncovered shook me to my core. A few months into my research, I came across an online support board, Terminations for Medical Reasons. The stories that I was reading were not the kind of things most people would expect to see when reading stories of abortion.

You see, when most people think of someone having an abortion, they envision a young girl sneaking into her local Planned Parenthood, hidden behind dark glasses and baggy clothes. It seems despicable that a young girl would be making such a life changing decision without her parents knowing, and even that she would be partaking in such dangerous adult actions. They hear the word “abortion” and they think: irresponsible, careless, heartless, murderer. But beyond that, people aren’t giving this conversation much thought. The pro-life side is imagining these young girls leaving their local clinics relieved, and in good spirits. But no one is thinking about the devastated women who are sitting inside of those walls. For some women, this option is no “choice”. As a mother myself, I can sympathize. My daughter starts to wobble on her bike, and I immediately have the instinct to dash towards her to catch her before she falls. My son skins his knee, and seeing him cry is enough to put me in tears. My youngest son stirs in the middle of the night, and I am on my feet and beside his bed. It’s a mother’s instinct to protect her child. So when a mother goes in for a routine ultrasound and her doctor starts throwing words at her like Spina Bifida (a spinal defect),  Arnold’s Chiari  (a brain malformation), myelomeningocele (where the spinal cord and back bone do not close before birth), and enlarged ventricles, a mother goes into protective mode. This was the case for Carol and her daughter, Nora.
Carol went in for her anatomy scan at 19 weeks, 1 day. As she lay on the exam table, watching her sweet baby girl, she had no idea that in a matter of minutes her doctor would come in and inform her of his devastating suspicions. Just a few days later, at 20 weeks, her doctor confirmed the suspicion that Nora had Spina Bifida. How does anyone digest such news? Carol and her husband decided to terminate the pregnancy out of love for their baby girl. What kind of life can a child have under such circumstances? The termination took place at 21 weeks, 2 days. As ironic as it may sound, Carol’s experience was one of the best that a woman in this situation could hope for. She was able to terminate at a hospital in Detroit, with no protestors and compassionate healthcare professionals.

Other mothers, like Nicole, aren’t so lucky. They have to face angry protestors, which only make the act of letting their child go even harder. And one has to wonder, how is it possible for someone to judge another so harshly when the situation is one such as this? Nicole’s baby, Hannah, was diagnosed at around 20 weeks with Trisomy 13. In cases of Trisomy 13, a patient (in this case, Hannah) has an additional chromosome 13, which can cause problems in development such as heart and kidney defects and more than 80% of children diagnosed will die within the first year of life.
Nicole describes her situation as “cold”. Unlike Carol’s hospital experience, Nicole was sent to a clinic and forced to share a waiting room with girls who were there to terminate unwanted, unplanned pregnancies. She even described some as “happy to be there”.  And on top of the uncomfortable waiting room and protestors, the care she received from the staff was lackluster, at best. It is interesting to note that Nicole’s cold experience took place just 4 short months ago. Women are still receiving this heartless, disconnected kind of care.

For some reason, the pro-life side sees these cases (terminations for medical reasons) as no different as a woman just deciding that she doesn’t want to be a mother. And while I am about as pro-choice as they come, the situations are drastically different. You have one woman (or girl) who has an unwanted pregnancy and needs to end it. And you have another who has tried for this baby, wanted this baby, and loved this baby since day one. These mothers are choosing to live in pain every day for the rest of their lives so that their sick babies won’t have to. As a mother myself, I look at these women with complete admiration. How brave would a woman have to be to make that choice? How would you go into that decision knowing that people would judge you so harshly, that your family and friends may not approve, and most importantly, that you would be losing this little part of yourself? I read these women’s stories and the only thing that comes to mind is “selfless”.

In closing, I cannot imagine being in this situation. I’ve had my own scares with each of my pregnancies, and each time, it felt like my world was crumbling…but everything always turned out to be alright. These women don’t get the “all clear”. They get a terrible decision thrown in their faces: carry your sick baby to term and watch them suffer and/or die. OR, terminate your pregnancy and spend the rest of your days trying to heal. Neither choice is easy. Neither choice is black and white. In fact, there seems to be a gray haze over the entire issue. It is a terrible decision to have to make, but one that needs to be made. And it is an option that women and their families need to have. No one ever wants to have to use the option, but everyone needs it in place. To expect women to carry pregnancies to term that may have devastating effects on their own health, their marriages, their finances, and even their other children is wrong. That is the one simple thing about this debate. It is wrong for a woman to not have the option. 

Thursday, May 31, 2012

In Memory of Dr. Geoge Tiller, Warrior for Women

If you mention George Tiller in conversation, many won't have any idea who you're talking about. Many people don't know that a little more than three years ago, George Tiller was one of only 3 doctors in the United States that would perform late term abortions. If you google him, you will find far more horror stories than raves. But peppered among those horror stories are stories from women who went to him. Women who were desperate. Women who were (and are still) devastated. Women who are grateful. 


For Dr. Tiller's family and these patients and their families, today marks a very sad day. Today is the third anniversary of Dr. Tiller's death. And what makes it worse is how he died. He didn't die peacefully in his sleep. He didn't have a heart attack. He wasn't killed in a car accident. No, Dr. Tiller was standing in the lobby of his church, with his wife just on the other side of the auditorium doors, when Scott Roeder walked up to him, and shot him in the head at point blank range.


I first learned of Dr. Tiller in 2010, while doing research for a pro-life paper that I was writing for a psychology class. At first, all I found were the horror stories. As a mother, I was appalled. I just kept thinking, why would a mother abort her child, much less if the pregnancy is in a later stage?!. I was naive. And after everything I read started to sink in, I thought that there must be positive stories about Dr. Tiller somewhere on the internet. I decided that I needed to find and read those before deciding how I really felt about this. This was too big of a deal to be so black and white. So my research shifted. Soon, I found websites with pages like "Kansas stories", stories of women who had traveled to Wichita for Dr. Tiller to end their pregnancy. I came across a Terminations for Medical Reasons board on a parenting website. The stories were truly devastating. One woman talked about the ultrasound where she and her husband found our that their very planned, loved, and wanted baby had no brain. She talked about the pain of letting her child go. Another woman talked about finding out that her baby had a devastating case of spina bifida. These were things that I could never imagine dealing with. As a mother, my heart broke for them. I started contacting women from that board. Most of them were happy to share their experiences with me. I went to the Operation Rescue website and did a little research on George Tiller and came up with information on his former employees. I looked those ladies up and tried contacting them, as well. These people had no reason to talk to me. For all they knew, I could have been a pro-life extremist phishing for information. And let's be honest, I was just a student doing a paper. But one lady took a chance on me. Bonnie Moss-Rhodes accepted my friends request on Facebook. I was extremely nervous to reach out, but that didn't last long. Bonnie was very willing to answer my questions and shed new light for me. With the things she told me, along with the women I had spoken to and the stories I had read from patients, my mind was made up. My views had changed. Suddenly, I couldn't feel anything but sympathy for these mothers and their families, and respect for Dr. Tiller. I was officially pro-choice. But I was also left with about 1,000,002 questions.


For the third anniversary of his death, Bonnie Moss-Rhodes agreed to answer some questions for me, that will hopefully shed light on this issue for everyone, regardless of what side of the fence you stand on. I, in no way, wanted to be intrusive to her memories or over-step my bounds. I would have been happy with answers to one of my questions, but I asked 10. She gave me detailed answers to every question I asked and was happy to do so. I'll post the Q & A below, with a description of what is being talked about in bold, if I feel it needs further explaining to others. I would also like to say that Bonnie answered these questions while only speaking for herself.


Q. What is one memory of Dr. Tiller that sticks out in your mind?
A: My most intense memory is of the Doctor sitting next to the bed of a patient all night talking to her and her husband. I had called to tell him that he was needed back in around midnight. This was after a long day at work. He was so caring and sweet with this couple. He could not have been more concerned if it was his own family.


Q: Was there any particular case that strengthened your feelings about a woman's right to choose while you were working with Dr. Tiller?
A:  There were so many cases where patients just tore at your heart. Especially where rape was involved or the cases where the patient had already watched a child die from a genetic condition over months or years and simply could not see another face the same fate. There were also those families that had tried so hard to become pregnant and then had to deal with having to terminate. So many of them had made their decision out of love for that baby they so longed for, choosing to terminate the pregnancy instead rather than to cause it more suffering. Every week there were reasons to recommit and they strengthened the fact that women and their families must have an option of what is best for their families.


Q: Do you and the other former workers keep in touch? Is there a type of comradery between all of you?
A: Not just from working at Dr. Tillers. I have friends I made thirty or so years ago when I first started in clinic defense. There is a comrade in arms feeling. We were under siege and under attack daily. When the anti went to my co workers houses with bull horns it would just make you so angry for them. There is also the very real fear that every time you say good bye at the end of the shift something terrible might happen to these good folks. Yes, I keep in touch with most of those I worked with. I think we went through something that only we can really understand.

Q: Do you have good memories from working with Dr. Tiller, or is it possible to have good memories when you're working in such a traumatic environment (protesters, threats, harassment, sad women and families, etc.)?
A: I have very good memories of working at Women's Health Care. Good memories of the staff and the patients and their families. The protesters are an irritant but not really very noticeable beyond the gate. You are aware that they are there and as I worked all night and watched the monitors, often you are not focused on them. I felt good that I was there to help these women and their families in a time of need. I enjoyed working with different doctors and their different ways of doing things. It is a good feeling to be where you are needed for a reason you believe in.



Q: Is it true, as Operation Rescue (an extremely prolife organization) has reported, that Dr. Tiller was getting ready to retire?
A: I do not know for sure, but that is very likely. He had been a target of so much hatred and harassment for so long. I know how deeply he loved his family and I hope he was planning to spend more time with them away from the crazies (the "crazies" being the pro-life extremists). He certainly had earned it.  




Q: Was there any sense among you, and the other workers, or Dr. Tiller that the work was coming to an end?
A: No, I did not get that impression. We had several other very good doctors. Dr. Tiller's retirement did not mean closing the clinic. It took a cold-blooded murderer to do that. Even with that being done, our other doctors and some of the nurses are still providing services for the patients in other states.




Q: Do you remember how work was handled on the Sunday (or few days after, for the women who had already started the process) that Dr. Tiller was murdered?
A: I did not work in the office, but I believe that all patients were called and told the circumstance and then directed to where they could receive service.




Q: Do you think the decision to close the clinic permanently (Dr. Tiller's family decided to permanently close the clinic in the days following his death) was the best idea? Do you think that in some way, the other side "won" when the clinic closed?
A: I do not think the other side won anything when the clinic closed. I think the clinic closing was the best thing for the family. They had lived under threat for so long and had had their husband and father murdered in cold blood. Dr. Tiller remains a force in the pro-choice movement. His murder, once again, showed how little the other side has accomplished in the debate. They could not bully the Doctor into closing, so they, for the sixth time (Dr. Tiller was the 6th abortionist murdered by pro-life extremists), chose to murder.




Q: Do you think, that at this point, fighting for women's rights is a losing battle?
A: Absolutely not. Birth control, abortion, women's health...I grew up with this fight. We cannot go back to the way it was when I was a young woman. Women are more important than any political candidate. I have daughters and granddaughters that I will fight to the death for. We may have setbacks and we may relax and let the other side get control of the conversation, but we have way too much to lose to ever give up.




Q: If you could tell pro-lifers who were willing to listening, ANYTHING (about Dr. Tiller, women's rights, your own experiences at the clinic, etc.), what would it be?
A: In regards to Dr. Tiller, I would tell them that the fact that so many lies were readily believed by the anti-choice (pro-life) side about this good man, that the attempt to portray him as some demon only shows how little truth the anti's had on their side of the debate. I would tell them that if they were really concerned about babies, they would be promoting policies to make sure that not a single child in this country went hungry or lacked all educational opportunities and an equal chance at achievement. I would say that if they really wanted to prevent a great many abortions, that they would support access to birth control and make sure that women were supported while pregnant so that they (pregnant women) did not have to choose between feeding the children that they already have and keeping a roof over their head over carrying a pregnancy to term. They would fight for subsidized, safe childcare for poor, working women and for the education of women that enables them to become truly self-supported. To just insist on a woman carrying to term without these things shows that the real agenda of the anti-choice movement is not saving babies, but controlling women. I would tell them that when a woman's life and health is on the line, it is not up to them to decide that the woman must sacrifice herself. I would tell them that there are cases where a fetus is so damaged that if born, it will only live a few minutes or hours or days, in pain and suffering, and that for the parents to be forced to endure the suffering of a baby with no hope is just immoral.




After I asked her these 10 questions, I asked Bonnie one more thing. I asked her if she, like so many pro-lifers like to believe about her and the other workers, was pro-abortion. This is an idea that has always irked me because, really, who thinks, "Hey! Let's see how many women we can talk into having abortions today!"....yeah, no one. Abortion is no one's ideal. Bonnie's response was simple:
"I honestly believe that it is the decision of the woman, and her's alone to make". And then she went on to explain that she would love to see a world where abortion was a rare thing, where birth control improved to the point where unintended pregnancy was rare. She said she would love to see genetic anomalies treatable, if not a thing of the past. A world where women were not impregnated through rape, where women were supported to the point where they could choose to carry this child, while supporting that child. She said that even in a perfect world, abortion would still be necessary, but rare while readily available to those who need it. 


Through our conversation, she also added that in all her years, she has never met anyone who was happy about having an abortion. Relieved and grateful, maybe, but never happy. (I have to agree, I have often said that no girl or woman ever aspires to have an abortion.) She said that all of her patients had put considerable time into making the decision to terminate, often with the support of family and friends. Something very interesting to note is that she said all of the doctors and counselors that she worked with were able to weed out patients who were there because someone was forcing them to be, or when they were there, but clearly didn't want an abortion. The staff was able to give these women resources and send them on their way, as Bonnie puts it. She even says that the staff at Women's Health Care (The Wichita clinic that Dr. Tiller ran) was probably able to weed out more of these kinds of woman in a month than the amount of people standing at the gate to protest. And if you've ever looked up pictures from any of these ((daily)) protests, you will see that that is quite a bit. 


I hope that you walk away from this post with valuable insight. And that even if you don't agree with the work that was done, you can still respect the man, those who worked beside him, and the families that sought his services. One thing that I have learned through this research, along with my own experiences in motherhood, is that baby-making is not a perfect science. In fact, it can be pretty catastrophic, and when it is it's devastating. No one can ever say whether or not they'd go through with an abortion (whether it be an early or late term abortion) until they are in the position to. I hope none of my readers are ever in that position, but if they are, I want them to have access to safe, legal, and compassionate care. I do not want them to face judgement from people, let alone people who have never been in their shoes. I want them to receive the counseling before and after the procedure that is so essential to the healing process. 


I hope that today, on this somber anniversary, Dr. Tiller's family is able to look back and remember their father...their husband...the hero, without giving a second thought to Scott Roeder. He doesn't deserve their brain space. I hope they are able to look past the awful way he died, to remember the amazing work that he did. I hope they can push the hateful memories out of their minds, and remember the women who are so grateful to have been able to go to Dr. Tiller. 


As Bonnie told me, we have to keep the conversation going. We have to keep this issue present in people's minds. Women who have had abortions, for whatever reason, need to speak out so that we can start to erase the stigma. Women who haven't had abortions should be thankful, and support the ones that have. If you are pro-choice, work for the cause. Even if that means all you can do is blog about it, or vote for pro-choice politicians...DO IT! Don't think that because you aren't working 5 days a week at a clinic that what you are doing is any less important. 


Please, pass this post along to your friends and family. See what everyone has to say. As always, any view is welcome, as long as it is presented respectfully. I would also like to give a HUGE thank you to Mrs. Bonnie Moss-Rhodes. This post wouldn't have been nearly as important or moving without her input. 


In Loving Memory of Dr. George Tiller
August 8, 1941-May 31, 2009
"Attitude is Everything"