Titus 2:3-5

The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; that they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

A Good Day

Yesterday was a good day.

In the morning I had an appointment with my midwife. My blood tests had shown that I'm currently no longer anemic. I've only gained 1lb in the last four weeks. My fundal height is measuring right to date. Then my midwife checked for the heart beat. I think she was almost as nervous as I was after no heart beat with the last baby. After a few minutes she finally found the baby, and the heart beat was averaging at 160 beats per minute. It was a comforting sound to know this baby is thriving. We won't check again until the midwife can use the fetoscope at the 20 week mark. I also found out that our midwife has sold her home and is moving TO OUR STREET. She will only be about 10 houses down from us. Next month I'll be able to walk to my appointment.

Then as soon as I got home my darling husband took me up to Titusville to watch the Space Shuttle launch. It was definitely worth the two hour drive each way. We've been trying to get up close for a launch since I got here last year, and we finally made it. With only a few more launches left i was beginning to think it might never happen. I feel so blessed to have been able to have the launch experience to share with my darling hubby.

Tomorrow will see us enter the second trimester of the pregnancy, and I'm looking forward to some of the nausea and exhaustion fading. It will also be great to see the baby bump beginning to grow. I know the next six months will go by much faster than I want it too once it is over.

We have so much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving, it will be a real celebration even if we are on our own.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Life

While I have been continuing to read other people's blogs recently I haven't been writing. We are coming to the end of the boys' first baseball season. Their last scheduled game is tomorrow night. We've also had our annual outreach drama at church a few weeks ago, where I picked up a head cold. I've been continuing to struggle with pregnancy nausea and exhaustion on top of everything else.

This time last year, we were busy painting the inside of our house, getting ready for my parents' first visit to our home, and learning how to host my first Thanksgiving (having never celebrated Thanksgiving before.)It was a busy time of year, and this year is turning out to be just as busy with two teenagers in our home.

The more my darling husband and I learn on this path of host parenting, the more we realise that our convictions about how we will raise our own children are both important and vital. We are living in a society that has such low expectations for children that the only option they have is to keep them constantly busy. There is no time in the schedule for family, and certainly no time in the schedule for the Lord.

Our boys are here at the church school because they can play sports. Both boys play baseball and basketball, and are very good at both sports. This means that on top of eight hours a day at school there is also practice and games after school or in the evenings. Then they are also expected to be at youth group activities, school/youth group fundraisers and still have enough time to complete homework and study for tests. There is no time to just be. When Rob or I comment on how busy the boys are we get told it is normal and that we need to get used to it because "that's just how it is for all the young people."

I am genuinely having a difficult time getting used to this lifestyle. It is not how we will choose to raise our own children. Nobody else questions it, so it must be right. Yet I am by nature someone who asks "why?" I want to know the purpose of what we are doing. I even question if we made the right decision hosting these boys. I have grown to love them, but neither Rob nor I are team players. We don't just follow along in blind acceptance, so we end up rocking the boat a bit too much. I do not like that the boys never get enough rest. I do not like that there is little time for personal or family devotions because of their schedule. I do not like busy for the sake of busy.

Life has a greater purpose than staying busy. Every day has a greater purpose than just filling time until bedtime. I want every day to count towards a greater goal. Each day that my baby grows in my womb there is purpose. Growing closer to the Lord in prayer, and my husband in trials is so much better than just being busy. I want each day to count, and I want that for the boys too. Life is about more than grade point averages and winning ball games. Each day is a precious gift to be cherished and used for the Lord's glory.

Now to just find the time to share that with the boys.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Pregnancy Ponderings

I've been meaning to blog for over a week. My only excuse is that between looking after the boys, constant nausea and feeling exhausted all the time, I've struggled to find the time.

Right now my home is being neglected terribly. Our stairs desperately need vacumed, but it is too heavy right now for me to risk, so I am waiting for my darling husband to do that for me. He has already had to take on the greater share of cooking too. The smell of anything cooking is making my nausea much worse. I have to go upstairs away from the smells while Rob cooks. The boys are now responsible for their own breakfasts, and since I stopped cooking breakfast every day they hardly ever eat before school. I still fix their packed (sack) lunches, as everything is cold and so doesn't have strong smells. I'm already almost nine weeks, so hopefully I'll be back in the kitchen in another three or four weeks.

I know that feeling this nauseous is a good thing. It is a sign that the baby is strong and healthy and producing lots of hormones for me to react to. I have however had to make the move into maternity clothes already. I think that is mostly because I only had a month or so between pregnancies, so my body picked up where it left off, rather than going back to the beginning again. I am barely eating, but I continue to gain a little under a pound a week, and my waist has disappeared, so that none of my skirts fit me anymore.

Rob and I have talked about the possibility of twins, due to the speed at which I've outgrown my clothes. It is a possibility, but one we will deal with if it happens. For now we have decided to wait. I have an appointment with my midwife today so I'll be asking her advice. Yesterday we talked about waiting even to listen to the heart beat. We decided we don't even want to use the Doppler unless the midwife thinks it is necessary. Instead we are going to try and wait until she can hear it manually, at about 20 weeks. Unless there are signs of a problem we have decided to not poke or prod this baby. The Lord is knitting this baby together in a secret place on purpose, and it isn't our place to sneak a peak before the baby is ready to be seen.

Our child is in God's hands, and that is the safest place to be.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Baby News


We are expecting a baby again.

We are seven weeks today. We had planned on keeping the news under wraps until Thanksgiving. But someone at Church guessed and announced it rather loudly in front of other people, so we had a mad dash to tell our parents and our boys before it got too widespread.

In hindsight it is probably a good thing that the news leaked out, as lots of people are praying this baby makes it through the whole nine months. I can feel the prayers, as the more people pray the sicker I get. I'm having really bad morning, noon and night sickness. I may feel terrible, but we are praising the Lord, as we know it is a good sign that the baby is strong and healthy. Please keep us in your prayers, that the baby will arrive safely in May and that I will be able to cope with the sickness and exhaustion of this stage of pregnancy.

I have my first appointment with our midwife on Wednesday. She was so excited for us when I called to make the appointment. She actually screamed with excitement when she got the phone call. It is so wonderful to feel like she is more of a close friend, who is as excited as us about the baby.

At the moment we have agreed not to have ultrasounds unless medically necessary, but I'm beginning to think that having one about week 12 to check the baby is developing as it might put my mind more at ease. Rob wants to wait until we can check the heart beat with the Doppler, but that may take until week 14 or after. I have a great peace about this pregnancy and more of a calmness than the last time. I know I can probably wait without the ultrasound, but I've still a few weeks before I need to decide for sure.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Gathering at the well: how women support each other.

Below is my devotional lesson from our Ladies Fellowship Meeting nearly two weeks ago. I meant to post it the same day, but with everything that's been happening here at home I never got around to it until now. I was speaking as much to myself as to anyone else, as I need to learn to balance out my life now that I have two teenagers to look after too.

In our busy fast paced lives it is often difficult to stop and catch our breaths, or to spend time just being. Today we are going to look at an alternative to “running around like headless chickens.” I have been told by a friend who grew up on a farm that chickens can continue to run around for several minutes after losing their heads. It is a frantic purposeless run that makes a mess (with blood) everywhere the chicken goes.

I have recently been introduced to that frantic run a round when Rob and I started looking after Jerome and Keean, two of the Bahamian students at our school. They are both 15, and both keen athletes playing baseball and basketball. This will keep us busy with sports through the entire school year. Now that I finally have a driver’s license and a car I have been plunged into the world of school runs, and endless errands for supplies for the boys at no notice. It seems to be a common trait amongst teenagers that they find it impossible to give more than a few minutes notice for anything, no matter what the impact may be. Despite this though I don’t want to become purposeless, making a mess where ever I go, like those headless chickens.

Back in Scotland, where I originally come from, we haven’t quite gotten to frantic yet. Life still has a manageable pace, where there is time for neighbours to just drop in on each other and share a cup of tea and some fellowship. Scotland is a semi-rural country. With a population of just under five million, and the largest city containing about half a million, it is a country in which most people live in towns or villages. I grew up on the edge of town, and my family still live there. My parent’s house is never locked while anyone is in and awake. Neighbours and friends will still just chap the door and walk in. The kettle will always be “just going on” to make tea, and a warm welcome will always be found. There is time for the women in these communities to just be.

Back in the Bible times most people lived a rural existence on farms or in villages, and a few towns. We are going to look at a few passages that show us how these women managed to spend time together, to fellowship, and even to just be.
In Genesis chapter 24:11-16 we encounter Rebekah.

Verse 11 “And he [Abraham’s servant] made his camels to kneel down without the city by a well of water at the time of the evening, even at the time that the women go out to draw water.”

Verse 13 “Behold, I stand here by the well of water; and the daughters of the men of the city come out to draw water:”

Verse 15 “And it came to pass, before he had done speaking, that, behold, Rebekah came out, who was born to Bethuel, son of Milcah, the wife of Nahor, Abraham’s brother, with her pitcher upon her shoulder.”

Abraham’s servant had been sent to find a wife for Isaac, and he knew that the best way to meet women was to hang around the local well until it was time for the women to come there to gather water for their household. Even though the well had water 24 hours a day there were set times when all the women would come to gather together, as they gathered water.

We find the same thing happening in Genesis 29 when Jacob meets Rachel, and again in Exodus 2 when Moses meets the daughters of Jethro.

Gathering at the well was a daily activity for the women. It was a part of their daily lives. And knowing what social creatures us women are, I am sure it was also a part of the day these women looked forward to. It would take a while to fill everyone’s urn, so there was time to chat, catch up on news/gossip, ask advice and all those other things we women like to talk about. It was a time to be outside the family home and mix with women from other families. It is one of those activities that helped to give a sense of community that they belonged to a group larger than just their own family.

In the reverse to be excluded from the group and forced to gather water alone was probably one of the most painful of social punishments. To be shunned by the group stabs at the very heart of who a woman is. That is why as little girls in the playground we would gang together and deliberately exclude the one girl who would play by our rules. Boys will beat each other up and be friends again in a few hours. Girls will not only hold a grudge, but we recruit our friends to join us in this grudge and subsequent exclusion of the one child. Sometimes we didn’t even agree, but we dare not voice our disagreement, as we didn’t want to be the next one excluded from the group.

We can see this in the Bible in John 4 with the account of Jesus and the Samaritan woman. It is immediately apparent something is wrong with her life because she comes to gather water on her own. This is a woman who is being shunned, excluded, by her own community.

Verse 7 “There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water: Jesus saith to her, Give me to drink.”

The tired and weary Jesus had deliberately sent the disciples to town for food so he could meet with this lonely excluded woman. While the particulars of her situation could only be known by Jesus because he was God, the fact that she was a lonely and hopeless soul was clear from her solitary visit to this well. She was seen in her community as a social pariah. There was no pleasure in her daily trips to the well. Instead every day she was reminded that she was a social outcast with no friends. She got no fellowship, no chat, no help with the task in hand.

The sad thing for me in this lesson is that we often choose to live as that Samaritan woman. We live solitary lives, doing by ourselves and for ourselves. We make ourselves too busy and too isolated to have the time for living as part of a community. The Samaritan woman would have jumped straight back into the community if she were given the opportunity. We just build bigger and thicker walls of isolation. We stay within our own family unit and convince ourselves that we don’t need more than that. Yet how untrue that is. We were made to be in community. We are made to rely on each other for support, for help, for fellowship.

As women we are made to exist in more than just our family unit. This was true in biblical times, and is still true today. Throughout history it has been the women who have defined and held together communities. No greater example of this can be seen than during the Israelites forty years of wandering in the desert.
In Leviticus 15 we read of how a woman is unclean for seven days after she begins her issue of blood. Everything she touches is also unclean. Still today Orthodox Jews stick to this. I follow the online blog of an Orthodox Jewish lady who lives in Israel. I have found her to be very open and informative about her faith and its practices. Every month that she has an issue of blood she is unclean for seven days. She is separated from her husband at all times during that seven days. She has to slow down and live a less demanding life, as she can touch nothing her husband will come into contact with.

Back in the desert the unclean women would dwell together in separate tents to everyone else. Their food would be brought to them, as they could not cook or they would contaminate the cooking utensils. For seven days the women got to relax, rest, fellowship with other women in the tents of exclusion and have a break from their very demanding life. The tents were not allocated by family unit. Rather it was a time when the women were able to step outside of their family unit. By building up strong attachments to each other across families these women cemented Israel into a nation, rather than just a group of slaves.

One of my personal favourite provisions from God is found in Leviticus 12
Verses 2-5

“Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, If a woman have conceived seed, and born a man child: then she shall be unclean seven days; according to the days of separation for her infirmity shall she be unclean. And in the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised. And she shall continue in the blood of her purifying three and thirty days; she shall touch no hallowed thing, nor come into the sanctuary, until the days of her purifying be fulfilled. But if she bear a maid child, then she shall be unclean two weeks, as in her separation: and she shall continue in the blood of her purifying threescore and six days.”

This means that when a woman gives birth to a son she shall be seen as unclean for forty days. That is forty days free from housework, free from social responsibilities, free from all things. The new mother has only two tasks during her forty days, that is to recover physically and to bond with her baby. What a wonderful gift for the new mother. But if it is a girl everything is doubled. She gets seventy seven days with just her baby girl. That is eleven weeks to just bond and rest and recover. All her normal work and responsibilities will be taken care of by other women. Today, here in America, working women get a total of only six weeks, forty two days, maternity leave when they have a baby. Then it is back to work, leaving someone else to care for their child. That is not how God wanted us to behave. He gave us, in His Word, guidance for our care and wellness.

We are supposed to have a day of rest in every seven. Then we get seven days of rest during that time of issue of blood. Then we get forty days rest at the birth of a son, and eleven weeks rest at the birth of a daughter. I love how a mother gets twice as long to bond with each daughter she has compared to her sons. I remember hearing this old saying as I was growing up:

“A son is a son ‘til he takes a wife. A daughter’s a daughter all of her life.”

We get twice as long to bond with daughters because the LORD knew the relationship between a mother a daughter was a special one, just as all woman to woman relationships are special in a way that requires us to slow down, and take the time for us to just be.

In finishing I would like to leave you with a few Scriptures that speak about being a friend to others.

Be Friendly
Proverbs 18:24 “A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.”

Be a good example
Proverbs 27:17 “Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.”

Be helpful
Ecclesiastes 4:9 “Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour.”

Monday, October 5, 2009

Busy and Exhausted

I can't believe we're in October already. I also can hardly believe it's been over two weeks since I posted. Life has been pretty busy here, with school runs, homework, sports and all of us trying to adjust to this new lifestyle.

It's Monday morning and I'm already exhausted. One of the boys decided he wasn't tired enough to go to bed last night (after sleep ALL afternoon) and I ended up having to chase him to bed after 11pm last night. Then I get to be up at 5:30am this morning, while he didn't drag himself out of bed until 7:15am, when we leave the house at 7:40am. I have all day to think of a suitable means of enforcing discipline for this. It's the third Sunday on a row this has happened. My dearest husband and I had already agreed that this week we wouldn't let them sleep at all Sunday afternoon, then my beloved decided it wasn't a big deal and let them sleep. It's not a big deal to him, as he's not the one who gets to stay up to make sure they go to bed, and he's not the one that has to get them up, make their packed lunch, make breakfast and then drive them to school. I won't take another Sunday night/Monday morning like this again. I need at least eight full hours of sleep at night, and I haven't got that since the boys moved in.

We've also been working ourselves to death to help them with their homework. Well last week I spoke to the English teacher of the same boy mentioned above. She said she would be happy to tutor him on Monday's after school, so he was told to ask her to start today. He "forgot." So this morning I reminded him again to ask his teacher to start the extra tuition. If he doesn't do it today I'm not going to be reminding him again. I am also not going to be helping him with the homework either until he starts putting in more effort.

We've certainly stepped into parenting by the most difficult route possible. One thing we have learned though is that we are most definitely going to be homeschooling our own children.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Driving, Sickness and the joy of parenthood

Another week and another adventure or two.

On Monday I took my driving test, and passed. So I am now allowed out on my own in the car. Of course this also means I get to do the school run every day, twice a day. The boys were thrilled as they thought that means they get to leave later to go to school. They were wrong. I did have to threaten them with walking to school to get them out Tuesday morning. More threats yesterday morning, so I decided to change tactics. Last night they were informed that for every minute they keep me waiting to leave past 7:40am I will wake them up 10 minutes earlier the following morning. It worked. This morning we were actually pulling out of the garage at 7:38am, two whole minutes early.

I was just getting ready for my 2nd graders library visit this morning when one of my boys arrived at the library. He has a migraine. It's his third one in 2 weeks, so I decided he needed to come home and go to bed. I cancelled today's library sessions with the elementary classes and brought him home. He has a family history of migraines, and given how much stress he has been under since he got here, along with all the sports practice and faster pace of life here, I'm not surprised it has finally caught up with him. A day in bed sleeping and resting should have him back on his feet by tomorrow.

Best part is I get an unexpected day off. I'm caught up with chores as I didn't think I'd be home today, and dinner is already in the crock pot. I might even get some time to work on some craft projects today.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Life with teenagers

As we near the end of our second week with our boys I have to say, parenting teenagers is very different to anything I have ever done before. They are funny, energetic, hardworking, and driving me crazy on a regular basis. Just getting them out for school in the morning has been challenging. Firstly they have never had to get up as early as we make them get up in the morning. Neither of them are morning people, and I can relate to that, so it makes mornings a challenge for all three of us. Then there is the difference between Carribean time and American time, a challenge all to itself. Thursday mornings at present are the biggest trial of this nature, as I volunteer at the school library, so my darling husband has to bring us all to the school. This also requires him to go to work later than he usually does, as he is normally at work before the boys are even awake. We aim to leave at 7am, so my beloved can be in the office by 8am, but it just isn't happening. This morning it was 7:20am before we left, and it started to rain really hard about 7:15am, so we all got soaked just getting into the car, and then we were late on top of that.

I know that moving here to go to High School is a big adjustment for our boys, and I am so proud of them for all the effort they are making. They are 15 years old and that explains a lot of their behaviour in and of itself. They are having to adjust to living with a couple they don't know, and who do things differently than their own parents do. They are having to adjust to a completely different school system, and learning ethic. They have sports practise almost every day, including Saturdays, and most nights several hours of homework. They have a lot of catching up to do to get their grades up to a level where they can stay on the sports teams. Yet they never complain about any of it. Regardless of the pressure from back home to succeed they keep smiling and laughing, and keeping my husband and I entertained.

I may have jumped in at the deep end taking on two boys in their mid-teen years, but I am loving being mum to them. Despite having to get up earlier to get them up, and staying up later to make sure they go to bed when they have been told to, I am enjoying this. It is hard work. It is exhausting. It is also rewarding, and entertaining. Instead of the quiet peaceful atmosphere we are used to, we now have noise, video games, chaos and lots of laughter. It is stretching me, forcing me to not hold onto the control so tightly. It is teaching me daily how to lay down my life in ways I never realised I needed to.

Life with teenagers is certainly a challege, but one I am very glad to rise up to. Now that we have them I wouldn't want to change it for anything.

Friday, September 4, 2009

New Direction for our family

We’re just a few days back from Hawaii for our anniversary/vacation. At times it is difficult to believe that it has been two years already since I became Rob’s wife. The first year was marked by separation, the second by constant flux. The third year looks like it is also going to be an interesting one. Two weeks ago we agreed to become the host parents to two boys who will be attending our church school this coming academic year.

We knew the school was beginning to take overseas students, and an appeal for host families had been made at the beginning of the summer. At that point we were not in a position to get involved. I was pregnant and due half way through the school year. When a second appeal went out a little under two weeks ago we were again in a position where we could not volunteer. We spoke about possibly volunteering in future years, but I was waiting to find out if we had managed to get pregnant after our miscarriage, and my sister-in-law was due for brain surgery to remove a tumour and I may have been needed back home in Scotland.

Then on Thursday two weeks ago I tested negative for pregnancy. My sister-in-law had responded so well to surgery that she was being released from hospital the next day. That afternoon I got a call from the school. We were being asked directly if we would consider taking one of the students. Rob was at work, and I didn’t want to disturb him, so I asked for time for us to discuss it and we would get back to them. All afternoon I thought and prayed about it. The timing and direct approach cut through my previous reasons for declining. After Rob got home we discussed it and decided that with some more information it would be a definite possibility. We called back and said that our answer was provisionally a yes. During the conversation we were then asked if we would consider taking two students. Someone had pulled out earlier that week leaving two boys without a place to stay. We have two empty bedrooms, and two would be company for each other, so why not.
The first of our new “sons” arrived on the Sunday. He was accompanied by his mum, aunt and uncle. We invited them all back to ours for lunch, as we already had a friend coming over for lunch. We had a great time of fellowship and mum was comforted to know that her “baby” would be living in a good Christian home. We met our other “son” when we got back from vacation.

A bonus of this move is that it forced us to purchase a car. With four of us at home just having the two person pick-up truck was no longer adequate for our needs. On our way to church on the Sunday morning before our vacation we saw a car for sale at the side of the road. It was parked off the road, but not as part of any home. We went back later and looked it over. It was perfect for what we needed and a price we were willing to pay. Rob took it for a test drive Sunday, and after a trip to the bank on Monday the car was ours Monday evening. I’ll be taking my driving test to get my full license in a couple of weeks and finally I’ll be fully mobile. I’ll be on the school run at that point, but it does feel good to know I’ll finally be able to get out on visitation during the day while Rob is at work.

So we had one last week of just the two of us before embarking on the adventure of parenting teenagers. It will be another interesting year for our unconventional journey, but one I am looking forward to with eager anticipation.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Surgery results

Just a quick note to thank everyone who prayed for my sister-in-law. Her surgery went well this morning. She is back on the ward and sitting up talking. She even telephoned the children to find out how first day of school went.

It will be 5 days before they get the biopsy results for the tumour, but so far it looks good. It looks like I may not have to head home after all.

Praise the Lord for His mercies.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Urgent prayer request to all my blog friends

Please pray for my sister-in-law Karen. Yesterday she was diagnosed with a brain tumour. She has to have another scan today, and then probably surgery. Karen and my brother Steven have two little ones. Christopher is five and starts school on Monday, without mum. Caitlin is 2 and doesn't really understand what is going on. My mum is looking after the children while my brother goes between the hospital and his work.

Karen has been having severe headaches for months. She saw a neurologist a couple of months ago who diagnosed her with cluster migraines. My brother had to call out a doctor several times over this last week because of the pain she was in, so yesterday he finally sent her for a scan. Next thing they knew she was transferred to a hospital in Glasgow, to the surgical ward. We don't know just how serious it is yet.

It is times like this that can really show how far away I am from my family. Modern technology usually makes 5000 miles not seem like very much, but this morning it seems a very long way away.

Please pray for Karen, Steven and the children. None of them know the Lord and I can't imagine how difficult it is to deal with this without faith. Pray for my mum, for strength as she looks after the children and supports my brother. Pray for wisdom for the surgeons and medical team looking after Karen.

Thank you

Lyn

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Post Op Appointment!!!!!

I had my post-op appointment today for the D&C two weeks ago. I don't know if I am more disappointed or angry. My darling husband had to take most of the afternoon off work to take me to the doctor's office. (I'm still on a learner's permit for driving and we only have one vehicle anyway, and he works a 40 min drive from where we live.)

The whole thing was a total waste of time. I got to the office and as I check in I am informed that the doctor has gone home to stay off her feet as she is pregnant and I will be seen by the nurse practitioner instead. The receptionist also processes a co-pay as she doesn't realise it is a post-op appointment. DH leaves me in the waiting room so he can go and vote in the State Senate Election that is going on today. After about 10 minutes I'm taken to a consultation room. When the NP comes in she obviously hasn't even read my file yet. She asks me how I'm doing and then proceeds to give me a lecture about not getting pregnant again straight away. She also notices that there is no pap smear results on my file (the file is 2 weeks old!) and asks me when my last one was. I inform her I've never had one and that the miscarriage was my first contact with a doctor since arriving in America. She tells me I need a Well Woman Check where they will order a mammogram, pap smear and check my cervix to make sure it is recovering correctly and it should be done in four weeks time. She then takes me back to reception to make another appointment for four weeks time. The receptionist then asks her what they are billing this visit as. Another nurse overhears and informs them both that this is a post-op appointment. The receptionist then realises that there should not have been a co-pay for this and has to refund the money.

I was under the impression that the post-op appointment was important because that was when they would check to make sure everything was returning to normal. I never even got my blood pressure taken, never mind a physical exam or hormone levels checked, nor did she do anything to check that there was no undetected infection. I asked if I should be concerned about anything and all I was told was don't get pregnant again until after we have checked everything at the next appointment. I was in total shock as I left that nothing was actually done at this appointment, other than to make another appointment. I won't be going, and I certainly won't be asking my husband to take anymore time off work to take me anywhere near that doctor's office again.

Now I am over the shock and beginning to feel angry. Everything I know about what has happened to me over these last few weeks I have found out by doing my own research. I have never had anything explained or told what to expect next. As I have been thinking about this tonight I realise I shouldn't be surprised. The doctor didn't even speak to me in recovery. She spoke to my husband immediately after the procedure, but she never came and spoke to me in the few hours I was still in the hospital recovering.

Well my rant is over. Hopefully I can get some sleep now. I do know I will be staying as far away from doctors as I possibly can for as long as I can. The health service doesn't seem to be about medical care, just about making money.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Miscarriage Details



Having just gone through a complicated miscarriage during weeks 12 & 13 of pregnancy I wanted to record the experience. The most difficult part of the process was not knowing what to expect, and not knowing if what was happening to my body was normal. While I know that every miscarriage is different, I felt that describing what happened to me might help someone else faced with this terrible situation.

Be warned this account is purposefully explicit. It was the lack of concrete details in my internet searches that made it difficult to know what to expect. Do NOT continue reading if you are not emotionally prepared for the detailed description.
Thank you for taking the time to read and share in our journey.

I started with a missed miscarriage. I was 11 weeks and 3 days when I noticed some mucus slightly tinged with pink blood after using the bathroom. I thought enough of it to be concerned enough to tell my husband and to stay off my feet for the rest of the day. The following day there was a tiny amount of brown spotting after being intimate with my husband, but no discomfort and no continued spotting. I mostly stayed off my feet the next day as a precaution. A day after that (11weeks & 6days) there was another little show of brown spotting during the day, but then as I got ready for bed I noticed a tiny amount of fresh red blood when I used the bathroom. I was concerned enough now to contact our midwife. After speaking to her for a few minutes she suggested we listen for the heartbeat with the Doppler. We drove to her as she only lives a few minutes drive from us and it was 10:30pm. She couldn’t find a heartbeat, but was not too concerned, as from her vast experience this was not completely unusual. Sometimes the heartbeat won’t be heard until 13 weeks with the Doppler. However as I was having slight bleeding she suggested an ultrasound for our own peace of mind.

We went for the ultrasound the next morning, at which point I was 12 weeks exactly. The midwife had asked for a “wet reading” which meant they would send the results to her immediately. We were taken back to the waiting room, then a few minutes later told we could leave and to call our midwife for the results. We decided to drive home before calling our midwife. We were about halfway when she called us. The results were not good. There was no sign of a heartbeat and the baby’s growth indicated that it had stopped growing at 9 weeks and 3 days. We were advised to prepare for the miscarriage to start. This was on the Friday afternoon. Our midwife did say that if nothing had started happening by Monday we needed to go into her office to discuss our options.

I started cramping that evening. It was just mild cramping, accompanied by the passing of small blood clots. This continued throughout the night, leaving me with very little sleep. This continued on and off all through the day. It was uncomfortable but not truly painful. It eased off late Saturday evening, allowing me to get a little more sleep than the night before. The next day the cramps eased off for a while, and then returned stronger, with increased bleeding. That evening the cramping had definitely become painful. The blood clots also increased in size. As the evening progressed so did the miscarriage. The cramps had become contractions, and steadily increased until they were only a few minutes apart. Just before midnight I finally passed the placenta, and just after that the contractions stopped. Thankfully I was able to get a full night of sleep. With no pain or cramps returning, and with an end of bleeding I thought the miscarriage was over. I spoke briefly with our midwife that morning, and she seemed satisfied from my description that we were indeed finished miscarrying.

Just after lunch, about twelve hours after the pain ceased, the cramps returned. They were immediately back to the intensity of the night before. I went to bed to try and get some sleep, but I was in too much pain. I finally called my husband, who had gone to work that day, to ask him to bring more pain killers home as the pain had returned. I dosed a while during the contractions, and within a few hours my husband was home. He didn’t feel right about me being home alone in my condition, and so had come home early. My contractions continued to increase in intensity and frequency. After five hours I could barely cope with the pain. My husband phoned the midwife and in less than 15 minutes she was at our house. She confirmed that I was in full blown labour, something that can happen when a miscarriage happens this far into a pregnancy. Knowing that was somehow comforting, despite the pain I was in. I was however becoming very tired from the almost constant pain, lack of sleep and lack of food. I was helped back to bed by my husband, where I continued to labour, mostly curled up on my side. Both my husband and the midwife kept up the conversation while I tried to breathe through the pain. By now each contraction was bringing with it a gush of blood, not all of it clotted either. I tried joining the conversation when I was not contracting, and after eight hours of full labour the contractions, pain and frequency began to reduce, giving me some much needed rest, but as the midwife was sure the miscarriage was not yet over, it was not good news. Another two hours and the contractions had once again stopped. This time however the bleeding continued.

The next morning our midwife made an appointment for us to return for a follow up ultrasound. There it was confirmed that the miscarriage was incomplete. From the report that was sent to the midwife it appeared that there was only a small amount of fetal tissue left inside my womb, and that it was sitting just inside my cervix. The midwife did not think it was very likely that I would finish the miscarriage naturally, and recommended that I have a D&C to reduce the risks of further complications. She gave us the choice between going to the local ER, or arranging to see a doctor she had worked with previously. We opted for the doctor she knew, but after trying to contact him for a few hours, she called us back to say it would be the next day at the earliest before she would be able to even speak to him. So we decided to visit the ER instead of waiting yet another day.

The staff at the hospital were all very polite, and we were seen within 20 minutes of arriving. The duty doctor asked if we had an OB-GYN, and when we told him we only had a midwife he seemed to think this would make the whole process easier, as he could just contact the on-call OB. We were left in a room by ourselves while he spoke to the OB, and returned to inform us that she would see us in her own offices the next morning. I then had some blood taken before I was discharged, so they could do a blood count. Once the results of the blood test came back I was discharged with instructions to call the OB office to make an appointment for the next morning. As soon as we left the parking lot I called the OB’s office to make the appointment, which was scheduled for 11:30 the following morning. We went home thinking the whole thing would be over the next day.

At the OB’s office we had to fill in all the registration paperwork and were then left sitting in the waiting room for what seemed like forever, but in reality was about 45minutes. We were then taken to a consultation room where I was given instructions to prepare for the doctor, and we were again left alone. Another ten minutes and the doctor finally arrived. She did an internal pelvic exam (my first ever one) and then confirmed that I did indeed have an incomplete miscarriage. She then gave us the option of waiting longer to see if it would complete on its own, and as such we could set any given date to follow up. Anxious to now get this over with and disappointed that I was once again going to have to wait longer we informed her we wanted it over with as soon as possible. She then contacted the hospital to schedule an operating room for the next morning. We went home a little deflated, as we were both under the impression that the D&C was going to be performed on that first doctor visit.

I went through pre-admitting by telephone that afternoon and given all my instructions for preparing for the surgery. My check in time was 6am, as I was scheduled for surgery early on in the day. Again all the staff at the hospital were very professional and compassionate. Several of them tried to be encouraging saying that once this was over we would soon be able to try again for another child. The biggest complication for the surgery was that I had to be treated as a “full stomach” by the anaesthetist as I was over 12 weeks pregnant. This meant I had to have a breathing tube while I was under the anaesthetic. Fortunately I have no recollection of this, but I was left with a sore throat afterwards. Also because I was given a general anaesthetic I have no recollection of the procedure. The OB did speak to my husband after the surgery, but I did not see her again. She did mention that there was a lot more fetal/placental material removed that she was expecting. It would seem that the ultrasound had not shown the extent of how little I had miscarried on my own.

After I was taken back to recovery I was not allowed to leave until I had successfully used the bathroom. I was told I needed to rest for a few days, and was given two prescriptions. One was to prevent excessive bleeding from my womb, and the other was an antibiotic. I was also given instructions to make a follow up appointment with the doctor for two weeks after the surgery to make sure I was healing correctly.

In hindsight I am glad was made the decisions we did. I am also glad we pushed for a quick surgery considering how much tissue was still inside me. We learned a lot about how the US healthcare system works, and that in future I need to be much more forceful in asking questions if I ever end up in the system again. For both my husband and I the greatest frustration was the lack of information we were given, and that nothing was ever explained to us in advance. At the same time our midwife was truly amazing, showing great care and following up with us at every stage of the process. Even our midwife was surprised at how long it took once we hit the system. I do know that if we get pregnant again we will definitely be using the midwife for all our prenatal care, and delivery.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Bye bye Mordecai

Sorry I haven't updated earlier. But it hasn't been an easy weekend.

We went for the ultrasound on Friday, and the results were sent straight to our midwife. All we were told was that we needed to give her a call. So we decided we would drive home first and then call our midwife. A few minutes later as Rob was driving she called us. It was not good news. They couldn't find any sign of a heartbeat, and from size our wonderful baby had stopped growing just over two weeks earlier. We had what is termed as a missed miscarriage. Our midwife said to go home and wait a few days to see if the miscarriage would complete on it's own. If nothing had happened by Monday we would discuss the alternatives.

We had lunch and then I suggested to Rob that he went back to work. It seemed pointless for us both to be waiting around in a somber mood. I called my mum in Scotland after Rob left and had a really good chat with her about it. We called Rob's mum on Friday evening to let her know as well.

Late Friday the cramping started, showing that my body was trying to complete the miscarriage on its own. Just before midnight last night (Sunday) it was finally over. It has not been the most fun weekend in my life, but I am glad my body was able to do this by itself, so that I don't have to go near a hospital. We are also rejoicing in the fact that Mordecai is with the LORD in heaven, and we will one day get to meet him. Although we only had Mordecai with us for ten short weeks we do very much love him and will never forget him.

Thank you to every one who has kept us in their prayers since Friday. We both have really felt sustained by God, and although we are sad we can also rejoice at the same time.

Dedicated to
Mordecai Conrad, born Sunday July 19th at 10 weeks gestation.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Quick Update

After a late night visit to the midwife last night I am going for an ultrasound later on this morning. Please pray for us and the baby. I am very nervous about this. The midwife doesn't seem overly concerned and ordered the ultrasound more for my peace of mind. I am trying to prepare myself for the worst while praying for the best.

Last night the spotting turned to light bleeding, but has stopped altogether this morning. This may be a good sign, but I won't know for sure until we have the ultrasound at 11:30.

Thanks for your prayers

Lyn

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Latest news

Time seems to fly by most days. That's probably because my days are still starting later and ending sooner than they used to. I did think I was coming out of the first trimester fog last week, but I was wrong. Last Thursday I had a spurt of energy, so went crazy catching up with all those neglected chores. I finally felt like my house was completely clean for the first time in weeks. I even had the energy to bake some cupcakes for my darling husband.

Then by Sunday my body decided it had enough of the activity. I started spotting, and got a little worried. So Sunday afternoon was spent off my feet, and the kitchen looked like a bomb site as a result. My beloved tried really hard to look after me, but he doesn't have the eye for cleaning that I do. So on Monday after he left for work I started cleaning again. The result was a clean kitchen, but a return of some more light spotting. Realising that sometimes I just have to give in to my body's demands I've been trying to stay off my feet ever since. I did get another maternity dress made, which is good, but I also have a large pile of clothes needing ironed before being put away. Since I've had some minor cramping today the clothes will have to wait until tomorrow.

Being the avid reader and researcher that I am I decided to go online and find out if this latest development in my pregnancy is anything to be concerned about, or if I needed to contact my midwife. Since I am in my twelfth week and almost at the end of the first trimester I wanted to find out possible causes for the spotting. I have to say it is very light, and even the cramping today is very minor and feels more like the muscles being stretched. What I did find out is that it can be normal for about 20% of women to experience this in the twelfth week. At this point my womb is beginning to grow beyond the pelvic cavity and so is beginning to press upon other organs. The sudden growth spurt of the womb accounts for the slight spotting in some women, and for others it is the result of a burst cyst that leaks out during this growth spurt. Essentially as long as I don't over do it and it stops in the next few days I should be fine. Our precious baby is growing and the placenta is nearing completion, so my womb is getting very full and needing to grow and stretch to accommodate the life within.

My appreciation for the wonder way our bodies are made continues to grow. It truly is a miracle that another person is growing inside my own body. I am a mother to this precious child and need to do everything I can to protect this new life. Another week or two and all the parts of the baby will be formed, then it is just growing and maturing until this child is ready for life outside the womb.

I am also growing in my understanding of how different the culture is that I am living in to the one I was raised in. Already I am constantly being asked when we will find out about our baby's gender, and get disapproval when we say once it is born. The reason for the disapproval seems to be that it makes it more difficult to organise a baby shower. I also have been asked to let people know once we are registered for baby gifts, again seems to be linked to the baby shower concept. In Scotland we don't have baby showers. We also don't buy baby gifts until the baby has safely arrived. We do give gifts just as much as Americans do. We just wait and give them individually to the parents when we first visit to meet the new child. Back in Scotland we don't even make the final payment or purchase the pram (baby carriage) or stroller until after the baby is born. My husband is one my side on this one. It feels wrong to register for baby things as it feels like asking others to provide for our baby, when that is our responsibility. I am also uncomfortable with the idea of a baby shower before the baby is born. Why not wait until after the baby is here, as there are still so many different things that could go wrong between now and the birth.

I know we've still got six months to figure out how to handle this clash of cultures. At the end though the important thing for us is that this baby arrives healthy, strong and full term. Everything else can be worked out or compromised on. Most of all I am praying that we get through this next week or two without any more issues and we can get on with enjoying the second trimester of this pregnancy.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Happy July 4th

So my wonderful husband gets a three day weekend to celebrate July 4th, and what do we both do? That's right we spend most of the day asleep. Rob has been really busy at work recently, leaving home before 6am and often not returning until after 6pm, so his day off has been used catching up with yard work and sleep.

I was beginning to think I was coming out of the exhausted phase of my pregnancy, and went on Wednesday to help a friend finish packing before she moved on Wednesday evening. I could not have been more wrong. By the time Rob came for me after work I was beyond exhausted, getting dehydrated, and beginning to realise I had pushed myself too hard. We had a very quick dinner before he left to help our friends with the house move. I got an evening home alone to rest. It was the longest evening of my life, as I started to get some pain across my belly, and was home alone. I went to bed to wait for Rob to come home, but couldn't sleep. We decided to see how I felt the next day before doing anything. Thursday I spend most of the day resting on the sofa and reading. It worked in that the pain went away, but even now that it's Friday evening I'm still really tired. Finally my independent "I'm pregnant, not ill" attitude has been tempered with the realisation that I do have more physical limits than before I was pregnant. I'm already a mum, and it's my job to protect and nurture this baby. So I won't be helping with any more house moves for at least the next year.

So back to Independence Day. This will be my first one, and we plan to keep it very low key. The rest of Rob's family are all out of state celebrating with other people. So for this year at least we are not planning anything special. If it stays dry we might go down to the water to watch the fireworks in the evening, but that's about it for us. With our ever busy schedules it will be nice to relax and just spend time together.

So whatever you are doing tomorrow have a wonderful day celebrating this country's birth.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Two months in, some thoughts on our pregnancy

Finally the nausea of the last several weeks is beginning to fade. I am still careful not to overeat, as this is sure to bring back that horrible feeling in my stomach, but I am back to trying to eat a more balanced diet than the last few weeks. I was beginning to dread having to eat, but also knowing I couldn't let my stomach get completely empty either. I've managed a proper breakfast today for the first time in weeks, and so far so good.

I did a closet clearout yesterday, removing all the clothes that no longer fit due to my ever increasing waist. It was discouraging to go into the closet everyday and struggle with what to wear, so it is now all put away in an empty closet, out of sight for the duration of this pregnancy. I am trying to make the rest of my clothes last as long as possible before I make the move into maternity wear. I have been blessed over the last several months with donations of free fabric from a few friends who knew I like to sew. I am planning on making some maternity wear from this fabric, thus having free maternity clothes. I'll be making a few dresses and some tops. One is already completed. Hopefully all I'll have to pay for are a few skirts and maybe a few tops for wearing to church. Living in South Florida where it is summer all year long I am keen to have all cotton clothing, something which would be difficult if I didn't know how to sew.

We've also had a new family start attending our church, and Sunday School class. The wife is four months pregnant with her fourth baby. They have been looking for a church since moving to our area over six months ago. She even used the same midwife as us for her first baby, but all the others have been high risk due to health issues so she's not been able to homebirth since. This current pregnancy is also high risk, and already at four months she is supposed to be on bed rest, not easy when you have three boys of 8, 6 and 2 to look after all day. If anyone has any ideas how she can get more rest during the day please let me know. She has already been a real blessing to me and I look forward to getting to know her better over the coming months.

Already I realise how special this first pregnancy is. I have the opportunity to rest when I need to, even sleep in the daytime if I require it. I don't have to drag myself out of bed after a sleepless night to go to work, or to care for other children. I can enjoy this pregnancy in a way I won't with any others. I can read, sew, relax, write and take an easy pace to life while I am tired. Once this precious baby arrives it won't just be me anymore. Future pregnancies will not be so indulged as this one when there are other children to care for.

I am thankful that I am blessed as I am. I get to stay at home every day. I get to set my own pace to my life right now. I am host to the most amazing miracle on earth, as this new person grows inside my body. I have too many friends who cannot have have any children, yet they all rejoice with us in our joyful news. I am so blessed, and so thankful to be in this position. God truly has been good to me.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Where has my waist gone?

Today I am officially fully eight weeks pregnant. It still mostly feels unreal. I have to remind my self that we really are having a baby. While my mind may be taking a while to catch on to this pregnancy, my body is not. I've already gained eight inches on my waist, so none of my skirts fit anymore. I think that's a difficult one for me to accept so soon. I've always have an hour glass shape with a very small waist, and now it has gone. I knew it would happen, I just never expected it to happen so fast. I am trying to make do with my normal clothes for as long as possible, just leaving the last couple of buttons undone. However at the rate I am currently going I think it may only be a few more weeks before my normal clothes are put away for a year.

I have been very fortunate to not suffer from "morning sickness" and I am very grateful for that. My mum didn't have it with any of us, so that's a good sign. I have however had ever increasing nausea. Just this week it has become a constant companion, making it very difficult for me to eat everything I should be eating. The only foods that are even a little appetising are oranges and cheese. It's not easy keeping an iron rich diet when I have to force myself to eat.

Rob is being a wonderful support. He keeps telling me how beautiful I am to him whenever I feel down about losing my waist. He has also become quite protective, always asking if I've had enough rest, and how I am feeling. He is also keeping me supplied with fresh fruit, bringing some home with him after work if he thinks we're getting too low on supplies.

I have been surprised by the amount of questions we have had since going public last weekend. We were even asked this week if we've picked names yet. The most common question though is when are we going to find out if the baby is a boy or girl. Everyone seems surprised that we plan on waiting until the baby is born. I even want to avoid the ultrasound/sonogram unless our midwife feels it is medically necessary. The less tests and screens we have the better. The Lord knows what he is doing in knitting this person together in the secret of my womb, and I'd rather not interfere with that process. My mum never had an ultrasound with any of us and we were all born completely healthy. Both my brother and sister were complicated births, but I was very straight-forward and the shortest of all my mum's labours too. Part of our decision to homebirth is to limit the amount of interference that doctors here in the USA feel is necessary to justify the huge cost they charge. I am glad that Rob and I discussed all our options before we ever got pregnant, as I am sure it would be much easier for us to be swept along in the system if we had waited until I was already pregnant and being to get emotional.

The other thing I have noticed already, and didn't expect so soon, is "pregnancy brain." I have to really concentrate at times just to get simple tasks completed. I've always been very efficient and easily able to multitask, I am an administrator by nature. Now I have moments were even simple thought processes are beyond me, or I start something then forget what I'm doing. It is frustrating, but sometimes also quite funny, especially when Rob finds me in a lather over something trivial.

Mostly though I am simply in awe of the fact that I have another person growing inside of me right now. It makes me so thankful to be a woman. Even with all the changes happening to my body (and mind)I get to be a part of the most amazing miracle on earth. God is so good in designing us this way, and letting us share in the creation of new life.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Family News

Today my wonderful husband and I decided it was time to go public with our family news. We are expecting a new arrival to our family in January 2010. This is our first baby, and we are planning to have a home birth. We originally planned to keep this news to ourselves until we were past the 12 week mark, but I have already gained over 6 inches on my waist, all at the front, so my clothes are beginning to feel too tight. We decided it was probably better to tell people before they began guessing when I start having to wear maternity style clothing.

We have been blessed with finding a really good experienced home birthing midwife, who only lives a 5 minute drive from us. Our parents and families are excited. This will be the third grand-baby for my parents, and the first grand-baby for Rob's parents.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Anaemia

I found out yesterday a reason for my extreme tiredness over the last few weeks. I am anaemic. I've had an issue with this for several years. However for the first time in my life I have been put on iron. I had some routine blood tests done on Monday, and the results came back that everything was fine except that I am anaemic. My blood count was 11.5, but I was told it should be over 13. I've had a blood count averaging 11.3 several times over the years, but in the UK it was counted as borderline and not treated. So today begins the liquid iron every morning and evening until the next set of blood tests in about four months time. Hopefully I'll start finding my energy levels rising again as well.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

How far is too far?

It's been a few weeks since I last blogged. It's been a busy few weeks and I've been experiencing the worst tiredness I've ever had in m life. Just keeping up with the housework has been a challenge the last few weeks. But enough about me.

For the last several months I've been providing sole supporter of a friend who like me has moved over to America through marriage. This is not my friends first marriage, nor the first for her husband. The both have teenage boys to add to the mix. She has certainly had a more difficult time adjusting to life here stateside. Our circumstances are very different. It is a first and only marriage for both Rob and I. It is a third marriage for both my friend and her husband. Rob and I do not have any children yet. Both my friend and her husband have a grown-up daughter and a teenage son. But this is not the reason for problems. Many families find themselves in my friends position and still make it work, eventually very happily.

My friend seemed to be doomed from the start. Her step-son is 15 and seems to be just one step away from jail. He stays out all night with older boys, comes home with money he has no way to account for, is failing at school, shows only contempt for my friend and her son. I truly feel for the child. He is a product of his upbringing. All his life he has been used as a pawn between his parents, and has a stable home with neither of them. My friend tried to provide that stability for him, treating him the same way she does her own 13 year old son. This just produced more contempt and greater rebellion. Eventually to protect her own son she had to draw a line and refuse to take on the responsibility that belonged to the child's own parents. I should say at this point my friends husband works out of town and so only gets home at the weekends.

It seemed after months of turmoil life would finally begin to settle down. That was a mistake. Even with the step-son out of the house and back living with his mother life seems to keep getting worse. It would now appear that my friend's husband got her to marry him under false pretenses. He wanted a babysitter for his son. After trying for months and failing that hasn't worked. So now she is getting to see a side of her husband that would make anyone want to flee. He has been caught hiding a drug habit from her, and admitted to not telling her the whole truth about his life before they got married. In the last two months he has become verbally abusive to her son, becoming increasingly aggressive each time he gets home for the weekend. He is having violent mood swings and even being hostile to her.

I feel torn. I want to say divorce is not an option. Keep working on it until it gets better. Yet I also know that life is not always that simple. I truly fear that my friend and her son are just one mood swing away from being severely beaten. I have other friends who have survived the horrors of abusive relationships, and still can't believe how long it can go on before they even try to escape. I want to be a good friend. I praise the Lord that both my friend and her son have come to know the Lord since moving over here to America. Yet I fear for her safety and that of her 13 year old son. They gave up everything to move here and start over. Only seven months into it and it is becoming a nightmare.

How do I be the friend she needs me to be? How do I provide wise counsel? I know I'm the only friend she has over here. How far is too far when it comes to abuse in a marriage? When do we run away from the danger when all our emotions tell us to stay? I pray every day seeking the wisdom to help her through this, but I feel so out of my depth. When is it alright to encourage another to walk away from their wedding vows? Is it ever alright to encourage the separation of a married couple? I really want to know the answers to these question, but don't know if I ever will.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Winter in May

For the last few days we've had a slow moving cold front over us in our part of Florida. The normally sunny and hot weather has instead become like winter back in Scotland. It feels as though the rain has forgotten how to stop, although truthfully here in Florida even rainy days are not constant. The sky has been shades of gray since Monday, and I even find myself suffering from cold hands. I can hardly believe I am actually wishing I had brought a sweater with me to the school library today. The thought of being snuggled up under a soft warm blanket is really appealing right now. This is especially true as the lack of sunshine is also making me feel tired and sleepy. For the first time since I arrived in Florida eight months ago I think it is definitely a day for hot chocolate rather than a chocolate milkshake.

The positive side of all this rain is seen in our garden. We have been able to turn the sprinklers off. My tomato and pepper plants are loving all the rain and seem to be thriving through this cold spell. (Not that it's that cold here, 75f, just colder than I've become used to.)Our grass has never looked greener, and is still the greenest garden in our neighbourhood.

God's blessings are not always to our taste, but they are always for our benefit. I might be missing the blue skies and sunshine, but I know that the rain and cloudy days are a necessary part of life too. In all of life the Lord gives us what we need and what is good for us generously and in abundance. May I always appreciate every blessing He sends my way, be it cloudy rain or warm sunshine.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Is the Birth Control Pill Suitable for Christians?

Below is an article I originally wrote while still in Bible College in the UK. It was an exercise in writing a research paper. However I still very much advocate the conclusion I came to at the end of the research, and publish it here on my blog to inform and educate. I know many of my friends, who do not always share my conclusions, read my blog. To those who currently disagree with my conclusion I can only recommend that you do your own further research into this subject. For all my readers may I state from the beginning it is not my aim to condemn nor judge any one, merely to inform. Whatever conclusion or decision you make in this area, may it be informed rather than just emotional. May the Holy Spirit guide each and every soul who reads this article.


Is the birth control pill suitable for Christians?


Introduction

This article will present my findings on the birth control pill. I will explain what the birth control pill is, and how it works. I will then present what the Bible says in this area. Finally I will look at the implications for Christians as a result of this research.


The Birth Control Pill

The birth control pill, or oral contraceptive, is a pill containing artificial progesterone and estrogen. It is taken daily by women to make them temporarily infertile. The progesterone and estrogen act in a way that the natural hormones would when a woman is pregnant.

The effectiveness of this pill, when administered properly is commonly known to be between 95% and 97%. However the cause of this effectiveness is a complicated matter. There are several methods known by medical science that contribute to the overall effectiveness of this medication.


How does it work?


The most commonly known and understood method of this pill is that it stops ovulation. By tricking the woman's body into thinking it is pregnant, it will stop the ripening and release of the ovum. If there is no ovum there can be no conception. In this method it is truly a contraceptive.


This first method of contraception is the one which is explained to most women when they start taking this pill. It is the main selling point by the pharmaceutical companies who manufacture the drugs. What is not explained, however, is that this is not the only method by which these pills work.


The second method employed by this medication is cited in the Physician's Desk Reference to "include changes in the cervical mucus," (2461) which increase the difficulty of sperm entry into the uterus. This would also inhibit conception from happening. If there is no sperm there can be no conception. Once again this is a true contraceptive.


These first two methods are not the only ones which contribute to the known effectiveness of this medication. It is these other, less well known, methods that may cause the greatest concern for us as Christians. What is not widely known by the women taking these pills is that there is a third commonly acknowledged method contributing to the effectiveness of this pill. Again according to the Physician's Desk Reference this pill causes "changes in the endometrium which reduce the likelihood of implantation." (2461) In this case there has already been conception. The new child is now approximately six days old when it enters the womb and begins to implant in the endometrium. This method is not a true contraceptive, it is abortive.


In his book Does the Birth Control Pill Cause Abortions? Randy Alcorn quotes part of an interview with Richard Hill, a pharmacist who works for Ortho-McNeil, one of the largest pill manufacturers. Referring to the third method of these pills and how true it is Richard Hill states:

"It's observable. We know what an endometrium looks like when it's rich and most receptive to the fertilized egg. When a woman is taking the Pill you can clearly see the difference, based both on gross appearance and under a microscope. You can actually see what it does to the endometrium and it's obvious it makes implantation less likely. The only thing that's theoretical is the numbers, becuase we just don't know that. (27)


However even if the determined little child does manage to implant in the hostile and atrophied endometriun there is a forth way in which the pregnancy may not go ahead. There is not enough nourishment for the child until the placenta is formed. The baby literally starves to death, resulting in a premature end of the pregnancy. Once again this is not a true contraceptive, as there has already been not only conception, but also implantation. This method is also an abortive.


If this was not enough of a challenge to a new life, there is yet another method by which a pregnancy may not go ahead. The artificial hormones are also known to sometimes speed up the fertilized egg's travel time along the fallopian tube so that it still too immature to implant when it does reach the uterus. In a normal drug free body the new child will enter the uterus, or womb, during the sixth day after conception. It will then spend the next week or so implanting itself into the endometrium, from which it is nourished during this early stage. If the child is forced through into the womb before the sixth day it will not be developed enough to begin the implantation process. Instead of implanting this new child will instead pass out of the womb and be lost before the mother is even aware that it exists. Once again conception has already happened. This is now a third abortive mechanism of the Pill.


It is known that all of these mechanisms fail for a minimum of 3% of women who take this medication as prescribed. The total failure rate is even higher for those who fail to take it every day it is required. Since it is known that all five mechanisms fail at some point it is not unreasonable to assume that there will be an unspecified percentage in which only the first method of stopping ovulation fails. Subsequently there will then be another unspecified percentage in which the second method also fails and therefore conception takes place. Whatever the percentage of failure is attributed to each of the remaining mechanisms, one thing is clear; they all involve the ending of a new life. Together they form a third unspecified percentage in which new lives are arborted, and usually before the mother could even be aware that they exist. Even if the percentage of failure concerning the prevention of ovulation is very small, and the failure of the cervical mucus narrows that percentage of potential conception even further, is it still possible for someone who obeys the teaching of Scripture to use this form of birth control with a clear conscience?


What does the Bible say?


In order to answer the question above we must turn to what the Bible has to say. As the inspired and inerrant Word of God it must be our final guide when making moral decisions. I will be quoting from the Authorised Version (KJV).


Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations. Jeremiah 1:5


Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth, it shall die. Ezekiel 18:4


These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: a proud lok, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood... Proverbs 6:16-19


Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward. As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate. Psalm 127:3-5


Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleaness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of which I tell you before, as I have also told you in times past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. Galatians 5:19-21


According to James Strong the word translated witchcraft in the Galatians passage is the Greek word "Pharmakeia" which means medication. This is a reference to the practice in ancient times of inducing miscarriages through the taking of herbs or poisons which were known to have this effect. Chemical abortions have always taken place. The only difference with our modern methods is the rate of effectiveness.


We can also see from the Scriptures above and many, many more that God alone is to be the giver and taker of life. He knows us intimately like no other from the very second we start growing at conception. He has a plan for each and every life that is conceived and that plan is a good thing. Children are a blessing He gives to us.


What are the implications for us?


When we consider all of the above evidence we are faced with deciding what our actions will be. Regardless of our opinions of birth control in general, we must decide on the appropriateness of this particular form of birth control.


If a married couple chooses to remain childless, or to limit the number of children they have, the decision should be shaped by principles which honour God and not by selfish motives. No family planning that invloves the sacrifice of one of the members of that family can please God.


This is not just an issue for women. It takes both a man and a woman to fertilize the ovum and begin a new life. Within the context of a Christian marriage the woman is not alone in making reproductive decisions. It is the man who is head of the family unit. It is the man who has been ordained of God to be leader in the family home. It is the man who will be held accountable for the decisions that are made as a couple. Both the husband and the wife need to make these decisions together.


For those couples who want to control the size of their family there needs to be some soul searching. Is this what the LORD really wants for you? Search the Scriptures honestly and openly at the same time as you search out alternative methods of contraception. Why would God's blessing and gift of life be the wrong choice for you? In our time and culture we have forgotten that children are a blessing and gift from God. Children are not the inconvenience we all too often treat them as.


Conclusion


We can see from the medical evidence that the Birth Control Pill (and all other hormonal contraceptives) works in five different ways. While we can never know the actual percentages we can be certain that there is a possibility each time it is used that it will cause a very early abortion.


We can also see that the Bible is very clear in how it views Children. They are a blessing and a gift from God. He knows them right from the second of conception. They are precious to Him. He views the taking of life of one of these unborn children as an abomination.


As those who seek to live in a way that honours and pleases God we need to seriously consider the choices we make in reproduction. Why are we seeking to limit God's blessings in this area of our lives? Is it a matter of convenience and selfishness? Are we honouring our God and Creator in this part of our lives?


Bibliography


Alcorn, Randy. Does the Birth Control Pill Cause Abortions? Eternal Perspective Ministries: Gresham, Oregon. 1999

Barron, Shirley L. "Searching for Life's Beginning." Christianity Today Nov. 1991: 41

Billings, Dr Evelyn L. and Billings, Dr John J. The Billings Ovulation Method. Ovulation Method and Research Centre of Australia

Burtchaell, James Tunstead. "Make Room for Baby." Christianity Today Nov. 1991: 42+

Evans, Debra. "The Price of the Pill." Christianity Today Nov. 1991: 39+

Grenz, Stanley J. "Family Planning and the Plan of God." Christianity Today Nov. 1991: 35+

Smith, F LaGard. When Choice Becomes God. Harvest House: Eugene, Oregon. 1990

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Baby Mordecai

Our blessed first baby, Mordecai, gone to heaven on July 23, 2009 at 13 weeks gestation.

You will never be forgotten by us.