July 2014 archive

Pulling Feathers from Hope

Tuesday, June 24th was the worst day of my life. I try not to quantify days too often, especially because they then live in infamy within my mind, but I can say, without a doubt and considering all the events that have happened thus far, it was the worst. This isn’t to downplay other horrible events, like the passing of a loved one. However, the pain I felt both physically and emotionally had not been experienced by me thus far. I didn’t plan on telling everyone. However, secrets never stay secret the moment you tell someone. I didn’t want everyone to know, including even all our family, because it was my news to keep, my news to share, and my news to grieve. Since word has spread, though, I feel like I must explain. I had a medical miscarriage almost two weeks ago.

My husband and I went in to have the first ultrasound for our baby at nine weeks full of feathery hope, and the ultrasound specialist discovered he was too tiny for how many weeks I was and had no heartbeat. We could see him on the screen, but there was nothing to hear. Our hope had suddenly been plucked of all its feathers. We then had to wait over fifteen minutes for the midwife to explain the situation. No matter how much reassurance that it was nothing Hans or I did, it is impossible not to feel responsible for that little heart no longer beating. No matter how many times the midwife or others tell me that I can get pregnant again (and I, too, have told myself this plenty of times since this happened), I can’t stop thinking about the baby that won’t be.

As my husband and I were getting assaulted by information and papers, we were told that I would have to induce the miscarriage since my body had not done this on its own. I could wait longer to see if my body eventually got with the program, but if we waited much longer and nothing happened, I would have to have surgery (D&C) to clean everything out. We opted for the pills over waiting or surgery. While I still think this was the best option, those eight little white pills led to what made the day that much worse.

When the first four pills are put inside, they induce a type of labor to abort everything within the uterus. In twelve hours, I was to put the last four inside as well to make sure everything was cleaned out. The midwife warned that I would have “labor-type” pains and possible diarrhea and vomiting. And I did. For four hours, I suffered from pains that I can only believe are just like labor. I took codeine that didn’t even touch the pain and that wouldn’t have even mattered since they came back up thirty minutes later. The pains were so bad that I was writhing in pain either in the bed or in the bathroom and could only pray for it to be over quickly. These were much worse than even my worst migraine, and days afterward I still felt sore and achy from them. They finally ended after four short hours, though. I started to only have cramps like a difficult period instead of horrific, “labor-type” pains and just had to suffer everything coming out for the next few hours. The midwife explained that I would bleed for a few days and then spot for two weeks afterwards, which has thus far been true. I also experienced some difficult cramping four and five days after the initial experience. What made this even worse was that every time I went to the restroom I was reminded of what was no longer inside of me. I am still having trouble sleeping and even resting. I cannot concentrate on reading. I burst into spontaneous sobs. The physical pain is just a mere annoyance now, so the emotional pain is hitting me hard.

Since Tuesday, June 24th, I have yet to talk to God unless pleading with Him to take away my physical pain. I usually talk to Him daily, but I’m angry. I’m frustrated. I’m hurt. And like with most things, I need something or someone at which to point my finger. How could He let this happen? How could He grow my hopes in something so precious and then so callously take it away, leaving behind a gaping wound? I have temporarily lost my island in the raging seas, and I’m not even trying to find it right now. But He is still there. He has remained unchanged through all this, and despite my wavering feelings, He is still persistently loving and constantly reaching for me. He has even blessed my husband with a positive career change amidst all this turmoil. Perhaps the knowledge that He is still pursuing me will be enough to help me reach out when I am ready.

I talked a little about this is my previous “Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad” post, but now that it’s in context, perhaps this will make a bit more sense. On this worst day ever, my husband and I decided to stop by a favorite breakfast spot on the way home. He was doing his best to make me smile, and with what we knew was in our future with the medical miscarriage, we decided I really needed a good meal before starting the pills. It struck me as our waitress waited on us that people never know what’s going on under the surface of the people they encounter every day. Our waitress was just doing a friendly job to a couple who were eating breakfast, but we had just heard the most hurtful news just a mere hour before. I looked around the restaurant and wondered what others may have been dealing with, what secrets they were keeping. It was one of those moments where the world suddenly got bigger than just my own small life.

After getting through the initial, horrific physical pain, I went on Facebook just for something to do as I lay in bed. I was accosted by a post about the dangers of allowing abortion in our country, yet another post about how a man at Cumberland Mall may have intended to leave his toddler in the car for eight hours, and numerous posts about how certain people were just having such a rotten day because of the weather, someone didn’t call, etc. To say the least, I was disgusted. My goodwill towards humanity had run dry during my pains. It wasn’t the fault of the people posting on social media. If anything it was my fault for looking when I was already emotionally raw. It was just poorly timed on my part to visit the dark void that can sometimes be Facebook. It was like the poorly timed showing of Harold and Maude in my college “Movies in the Classroom” course when I had just returned from a funeral after my uncle’s suicide. I should have just said no to watching the movie. I should have just said no to looking on Facebook.

However, it did lead me to think about how flippant we are when we post certain things. The person who posted about the evils of abortion was just doing so out of a political motivation. He had no way of knowing that I was, in essence, aborting my own baby. The person who posted about how she was just having the worst day because it was raining and then later on another post about her terrible day because people were not responding to her texts or calls had no way of knowing that someone in the family was actually experiencing a terrible loss. The woman who posted about it being a bad workday and to make matters worse she now had to go to the dentist had no way of knowing that I would have gone to the dentist every day for a year to avoid what I just experienced. We have no way of knowing how what we say is taken by others. We have no way of knowing how what we post may color the way others now look at us. We (including myself) post out of a selfish reason to be heard, no matter the content, and are narrowly thinking of only our small world that revolves around us. We forget about the big picture. We forget that words have power.

Am I writing about this for sympathy? No, at least not consciously, but I do suppose there is the selfish reason of writing this just to get the pain out and on paper at least for the time being. I am within my own narrow world of suffering. I suppose it’s a good thing I felt compelled to write this because it’s a topic that isn’t written about hardly ever. It is an event in at least 30% of pregnant women’s lives, and yet it is hardly ever discussed. Few people understand both the physical and emotional ramifications of a miscarriage (including myself before this happened), and yet it is something that the 30% carry with them always. It is not something that a woman gets over easily and soon forgets. What do I want the reader to take away from this post? A better understanding of what women go through during a miscarriage; sympathy towards others is hardly ever negative. A minute break from their busy lives to look around at the other people and appreciate what these people may be going through today. An understanding that what we put online affects every reader to some degree. I don’t need your sympathy. Reading this is sufficient.

If you’re interested in another’s experience with miscarriage and attempting to get pregnant, check out this link to a blog by my dear friend.

burrito

Living life in my burrito with my own teddy bear. Thank God for summer vacation.

Government in my Uterus

By now I’m fairly certain that we have all seen the ruling of the Supreme Court that certain companies are not required to provide contraception coverage within their health plans. Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties Store (yep, it’s a “wood” store so let’s all get a laugh about that) challenged this mandate and won. While I lament the loss of one of my favorite craft stores (as I will no longer be a customer), let’s take a moment to really evaluate the hypocrisy and simple wrongness in this. As a Christian, I believe in the necessity to think through why we make “religious” decisions and even question the foundation for many “religious” mandates. We, as Christians, must be logical.

So why exactly did Hobby Lobby and Conestoga object to contraception coverage? And does science support them? Huffington Post explains, “The owners of those companies believe that those types of birth control are forms of abortion because they could prevent a fertilized egg from implanting in the uterus, despite the general scientific consensus that the contraceptives are not equivalent to abortion.” I don’t think I need to explain the fallacy in this but just for fits and giggles. An abortion is defined as “the termination of pregnancy by the removal or expulsion from the uterus of a fetus or embryo before viability.” How then does birth control prevent pregnancy? “Birth control pills contain hormones that prevent ovulation. These hormones also cause other changes in the body that help prevent pregnancy. The mucus in the cervix thickens, which makes it hard for sperm to enter the uterus. The lining of the uterus thins, making it less likely that a fertilized egg can attach,” as The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists explains. All of these pass the religious test to the best of my knowledge except the fact that birth control (think the morning-after pill) prevents a fertilized egg from attaching. Some religious persons believe that a fertilized egg is a fetus, a tiny little human, and this is abortion. However, it takes between five to six days before the fertilized egg is even within the uterus much less implanted within the uterus lining. In fact, “an examination by The New York Times has found that the federally approved labels and medical Web sites do not reflect what the science shows. Studies have not established that emergency contraceptive pills prevent fertilized eggs from implanting in the womb, leading scientists say. Rather, the pills delay ovulation, the release of eggs from ovaries that occurs before eggs are fertilized, and some pills also thicken cervical mucus so sperm have trouble swimming.” The science just doesn’t support that birth control equates abortion.

Let’s now take a look at the “religious” reasoning behind what companies like Hobby Lobby will not cover and what will be covered. Birth control is out. (Sorry, ladies. Hope you all believe the same as the companies’ owners.) However, Hobby Lobby will still cover vasectomies and Viagra. (Woohoo for the men. You’re free to get your freak on.) Does this not add up to you? Let’s remember that the whole reasoning behind not covering contraceptives is that these are methods of abortion. Abortion is against God’s will. He gave you that fertilized egg, so you must keep it. The Bible says we are to go forth and procreate. That is God’s will as well. However, if it is God’s will to have women procreate, then is it not God’s will for men to procreate? If a man has erectile dysfunction, is it not then God’s will for him to no longer procreate? God gave you ED; therefore, it is God’s will for you to keep it in your pants and no longer spread your seed. God is trying to prevent these flaccid men from experiencing the joy of sex, much like the abolition of birth control prevents women of experiencing the joy of sex. Why then are pills and pumps still covered for men while birth control is not? The same goes for vasectomies. If the entire reasoning behind not paying for employees’ birth control is that these are methods of abortion, (which is, of course, against the will of God), then doesn’t it then follow that vasectomies are against the will of God as well? Vasectomies prevent men from procreating, just as birth control methods for females do. Birth control methods for females do not allow an egg to release; vasectomies cut, clamp, or seal the vas deferens so that no sperm is released. Vasectomies are permanent; pills, IUDs, etc. for women are not permanent. If you want to get down in the nitty-gritty, both appear to be against God’s natural will.

Furthermore, birth control is taken for a number of medical reasons that may not even relate to having sex. Vasectomies are only done so that procreation does not happen and serve no further medical purpose than to simply help the frisky men not make more frisky beings. For any employee who uses contraception for reasons other than the prevention of pregnancy, I guess you’re screwed (pun intended). Over 58% of women say that in addition to pregnancy prevention they take birth control for other medical purposes, such as menstrual cramps, migraine prevention, treating acne, and other menstruation side effects. Women also take birth control to lessen the effects of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, which “entails irregular menstrual cycles that can last for months, can cause iron deficiency, anemia and infertility.” As a personal anecdote, I started taking birth control pills when I was fourteen. My periods were so intense that I was missing at least two days of school every month. The birth control pills provided the relief I needed, and I no longer missed school days due to menstruation. Was I having sex at the age of fourteen? No, I was not. The decision to have sex was not influenced by being on birth control. In fact, I made a pact with myself to not pop that cherry until I was out of high school. Birth control was only a means of relief from my monthly visitor named Scarlett. When I eventually got off birth control years later, I was shocked by how bad my periods became. The relief was no longer there from my menstruation.

I know many people are saying that this ruling is solely motivated by religious purposes. It has nothing to do with women’s rights. This would be the case if the companies’ owners who believe a certain way were the only ones not partaking in contraceptives. When they cross the line, however, of potentially preventing their employees from getting contraceptives, they are then forcing their religious views onto all of their employees. There is a reason why companies are not allowed to ask for gender, race, or religion when they hire. It is freedom of religion for their workers. And yes, it is possible to shy away from companies who do not provide the healthcare package one may desire. However, not everyone is fortunate enough to be able to pick and choose where he or she works. Science disproves that birth control is abortive. The reasoning for providing some medical things for employees but not others does not hold up. But more than that, these companies are slyly forcing their religious beliefs upon their employees. This is not a case that was won for religious freedom; it is a case that has now taken away religious freedom.

Here’s a link to an interesting article on why birth control should not require a prescription if you feel inclined to read more.

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