January 22, 2015

Why I'm Pro-Life

In the last post I talked about my stance on some issues, so today I wanted to talk about why I'm pro-life.  I guess there are actually numerous reasons, such as being catholic, believing life starts at conception (and ends at natural death) and should be respected, caring for the well-being of women and children, and believing that no one should be killed just because they have a trait considered undesirable to their biological parents, whether that be an illness, their sex, or having the wrong eye color.  I could go on and on.  But there is one reason that is deeply personal to me and my pro-life stance.

Around 27 years ago or so, a teenager got pregnant.  She was a pretty smart girl who had gone to college early, and had a boyfriend who was a bit older.  I don't know much about the situation, but I can be sure she wasn't planning to get pregnant.  Well, although that girl was probably scared and had no idea what to do at first, she didn't choose abortion.  No, instead she decided to find a couple to raise her child, to give that child a better chance.

As is probably pretty obvious, that couple was my parents, and that child was me.  I was conceived in a situation that leads to so many abortions, being conceived unexpectedly by a young mother.  But I wasn't aborted, I was given a chance to live.  My birth mother made an extremely difficult and selfless choice, and by doing so gave me the greatest gift she could have.

I consider  my being adopted the single greatest blessing in my life. I say that because every other blessing in my life flows from that.  If it weren't for my adoption, I might not have my faith, my family, and my Hubs, or any of the other countless blessings in my life.

I was adopted by my wonderful parents and joined the family God clearly intended me to be in.  My parents are the most generous, loving, and faithful people, that worked tirelessly to give me and my siblings the best upbringing they could, and the best opportunities in life. I have been blessed to have a sister only a year older than me a brother six months younger than me, both also adopted, all thanks to selfless choices of biological parents and my parents.

They too are reasons that I'm pro-life.  They also came from situations where they could have been aborted, but their birth parents chose life.  My life, and family, would be incomplete without them (as much as they can drive me crazy sometimes).  It hurts my heart to think of how many other families have been destroyed, or kept from even starting, by abortion.

Because of that, I cannot be anything other than pro-life.  How could I say that I deserve to live but others from the same situation deserve to die? How could I stand for an institution that could've killed my siblings? No, I cannot.  I know that the true choices lie in being pro-life.  It seems like pro-choice institutions ironically revolve around only one.  Have you seen the numbers?  Planned parenthood, for example, performs almost 150 abortions for every 1 adoption referral, you can see it on their own report, and that's not counting the abortions that are performed by the millions of contraceptives and "emergency contraception kits" provided by planned parenthood a year. So I cannot stand for an institution that appears would much rather have me not exist.

And that is why, at my core, I am pro-life.  I wish I could be marching along side the around half a million in DC today.  The two years I was there before were truly amazing experiences.  Unfortunately I cannot be there in person, but I stand with them in spirit, and here. 

January 20, 2015

The Culture of Death & Infertility

This week is the 42nd anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that originally made abortion legal in the US.  There are many pro-life events going on around the country, which has gotten me thinking that I'd like to add my two cents.  You might ask, what does abortion have to do with infertility?  A little more than you might think at first, both directly, and in the broader cultural sense.

I first got thinking about all of this after a couple conversations with some coworkers last week.  It started with some coworkers asking me more about my medical treatment.  I usually give people at work a heads up about my being on meds that make me crazy (its a small office of 5 people, I feel like they deserve a warning, lol).  Other than that though, I usually don't talk in much detail about my treatment.  So, today a couple of them started asking me about my treatments, and PCOS, and all of  that fun stuff.

One of them asked me (again) why I won't just use IVF.  Before, I've just given her a short answer, that its against my morals.  In that conversation (possibly because the meds are kicking in and I'm losing my filter) I answered a little differently. I told her I didn't want to be involved in that killing.  She asked me what killing?  And I explained to her how first a whole bunch of embryos are created, who are then tested, and then the genetically "undesirable" embryos are "discarded".  Then some are selected to attempt to implant, and the rest are either frozen, or "discarded" as well.  Some may implant, some may not. If too many implant, the "excess" embryos are "selectively terminated."  All that nice and clean language to cover up the reality of all the killing.  That is a business I don't want to be involved in.  Its so sad, so heartbreaking to me.

One of the hardest parts of it for me to understand is that, I would guess in the majority of IVF situations, its people dealing with infertility that are undergoing these procedures.  People who have likely struggled for years hoping for a child, for a new life.  Then, once they are given those lives, they just discard so many of them?  Those of us with infertility should be the most sensitive to, and the most protective of life.  We shouldn't be leading to the senseless destruction of it.  I guess you could argue that there are different beliefs as to when life begins, or that people aren't educated, or instructed.  Maybe in some cases there is true ignorance?  Or  maybe its just the shiny promises of IVF, the promise of a perfect healthy child, after all the struggling, they just close their eyes and don't think of the actions required to reach that end? I don't know. But I think those mindsets are what led to the situation in the next conversation.

My coworker went on to tell me an awful story about some people she knows.  An infertile couple went to great lengths to secure a surrogate, an then have the surrogate become pregnant with their child. Around 36 weeks they discovered that something might be wrong with the baby, not even full confirmation that something was, but just that something might.  The couple had the child surrendered at the hospital when he or she was born.  They didn't want him or her solely because of the possibility of something was wrong, and so they abandoned the poor child.  Not that I believe there is any difference between the life of an embryo and a baby that has been born, but I mean, regardless of any one's religious, moral, political, or any other views, there is no question to the life of a child at 36 weeks, or that has been born.  There is no possible shade of gray there.  And yet, the same people who went to such great lengths to bring this life into being, had the child abandoned, without even so much arranging for his or her medical care.  It breaks my heart.  And it broke my heart that my coworker didn't think to tell me about this situation while it was occurring, I so would've wanted to help that baby if I could have. And I know this is not a singular occurrence, we've all heard similar stories in the news, like the Australian couple who left a twin with down syndrome in Taiwan with the surrogate, while taking the "healthy" twin home.  How devastating.

When I started writing this post, I really couldn't understand how our culture has created an environment where these things are considered okay.  I couldn't understand how we, as a culture, could really be that self-serving and heartless?

But it dawned on me, exactly where it comes from. It comes from the same root of abortion, the belief that we, humans, have the ability to decide what is life and what isn't.  That we have the right to decide and choose to create or end lives that we think we do or do not deserve, when they are or aren't convenient for us.  The very view that someone "deserves" to have a child, a perfect child, that leads to IVF, is the same view that leads to the abandoning a child that you brought into existence because you think he or she is not perfect enough.  When children are viewed as commodities rather than the gifts that they are, it is a dangerous, slippery slope. (Which has of course been said by the church many times, much more eloquently than I am saying here, such as in the Catechism 2372-2393, and in Donum Vitae).

I think those of us with infertility have the ability to make a difference.  We are faced with so much darkness, so much pain.  We can choose to let it drag us down below our own dignity, and to deny the dignity, and right to exist, of other human beings.  Or we have the chance to witness to the true dignity and preciousness of life, to treat it with the care and reverence it deserves.

What that means to each couple facing infertility might be different.  Whether it means to seek out treatment that does not violate other humans, to adopt or foster, to accept the journey of infertility wherever it might lead, that is up to them to discern. What it does not mean is to be complicit in the devaluation and destruction of life.

For my part, I'm so glad there is NaPro.  I'm so glad I have options that don't cross these moral boundaries, and for doctors that don't push me to make such decisions.  I only wish more people knew about it.  Maybe if they did, less people would feel backed into choices that require such disregard for the very thing they are trying to create.  All I know is that I'm trying to do my part, one person (and post) at a time.

January 13, 2015

My Thoughts Are Not His

Although Sunday was the feast of the Baptism of Jesus, which was the focus of the Gospel, it was a different part of the mass that stuck with me. It was this part of the first reading: Isaiah 55: 8-9: "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the LORD. As high as the heavens are above the earth so high are my ways above your ways and my thoughts above your thoughts."

There are so many times when I question why things are happening, and why certain prayers don't get answered. Sometimes it just doesn't make sense to me. This passage helps remind me that God's will is above mine, and beyond mine.

The problem is that I wish that I understood what God's will was at all right now. There have been times in my life where God's will has been so clear to me. All the right doors opened and I was hit over the head with exactly what I was supposed to do. This happened when I decided where to go to college, decided to go to law school, met the Hubs, and even when I got my first job out of law school. At some of the biggest junctions of my life, God clearly guided me, things fell together in ways that I knew exactly what I was supposed to do, even if I didn't completely understand why at the time.

As I've mentioned before, I even felt like God helped guide me to my current NaPro Dr. But since then, things haven't been so clear. I've been asking, through prayers and novenas, for some clarity as to what God's will regarding children is for us, but I haven't felt like those prayers have really been answered. I don't feel like I know what I'm supposed to be doing. Although I feel like I've been led to Dr. S, and she truly is a wonderful doctor, at the same time I'm really struggling with continuing with medical treatment. I'm sticking with it for now, but I'm whining and complaining the whole way down.

I just feel like although we've tried so many things, nothing has worked in over 6 months, and everything just keeps making me feel worse, emotionally and physically. I was whining to the Hubs just last night that I don't know why I messed with how things were before. Painless periods and emotional stability weren't such bad things. Now I'm dealing with constant emotional instability and breakdowns. On top of that, this cycle has started out with cramps that no amount of pain meds could take away (I'm aware that its probably bad because its the first period post surgery). And still, no ovulation... so things aren't really any better. At least not yet.

I know, I'm being super negative. But my point it,this is not an easy path that everything seems to be telling me to go down. At the same time, there's no clear alternative. We could stop everything,but as much as I complain, I'm not ready for that yet. And as much as I wish we could move on to adoption, our financial position is not stable enough for that yet, and I know that's a road with its own inherent struggles.

I don't even know what good I can bring out of this journey.  There's been a few times where I've thought that there was something I could do, but then obstacles pop up and I'm left once again confused.  I feel like I need some more positives than I'm seeing to come out of this, and I'm just not seeing it yet. 

Maybe its my trust being tested.  I know as much as I want to trust, I still have difficulty with it.  I still struggle with surrendering my will to His, as much as I know that I need to do it.  And so the reminder that God' thoughts are above mine caught my attention.  It reminds me that maybe I'm too close to this situation.  God is so high above, he knows what's going on, and can see where the good is that I'm just not catching yet.  Maybe its that, to use a phrase that was completely overused in law school, I just can't see the forest for the trees.  Maybe I just need to trust in God's will without knowing what it is, and just continue on until... well I don't really know... until whatever it is I'm supposed to be doing becomes more clear. 

January 11, 2015

Pardon My Dust...

Mostly following the inspiration of Donna at What If... I've decided to play with things over here a little bit.  New year, new look, right?  So you might notice things looking a little different, and you might even catch me in the middle of changes, I haven't completely settled on what I want yet.  So I appreciate your patience and welcome any feedback or advice!  Anyone know where to get good free templates? :)

January 9, 2015

So This Is The New Year

I know I've been a little quiet over here, especially after such a talkative December. There are several reasons, though in large part, there's just been a lot going on!  We rang in the New Year at a friend's cabin in the nearby mountains.  Once we figured out how to get the chains on our tires (read: paid someone else to do it) and were able to get up the mountain, it was great.  We had some good champagne, played some fun board games, and played in the snow.  I have learned however that me and the cold aren't friends... I came back a little bruised after some slips and falls in the ice and snow. But all in all it was a fun trip!

New year's kiss :)

After we got back, I got together with some close friends.  One enlisted me a while back to help plan a baby shower for one of the others, which is tomorrow.  The mom to be of honor is one of the nicest people I know and has been my friend since high school.  She's also been the model of how a pregnant woman should treat an infertile woman, like trying to give me a heads up before the public announcement and not forcing pregnancy talk all the time, which has made it easier for me to be excited for her.  So I am looking forward to the shower, and I'm glad I've been able to keep myself busy with preparations leading up to it.

like baking many cupcakes of various flavors and sizes

At the same time, I was trying to find her a card, and couldn't even get through looking at one without wanting to cry.  And as much as my friend is wonderful, I can't vouch for how other people will be, including one of the other organizers that just found out she's unexpectedly pregnant this week.  Oh, and it looks like good old Aunt Flow should be showing up tomorrow, always good timing on her part.  So I am definitely nervous.  How this shower goes will gauge whether or not I got to the second one, which will be much bigger, being held for her in two weeks... I'm glad I get a practice run at least.

In non baby related news, I've also had a bit of a setback/push forward at work.  After I was long promised a raise if a certain condition was fulfilled, I finally did my part, and was then informed by my boss that, although I deserve a raise, the money just isn't there for it right now.  Considering the fact that I'm paid quite a bit lower than what the going rate for what I do is (nearly half), that wasn't fun to hear.  It also wasn't welcome because I was kind of relying on the raise to help out our current financial situation which, although it isn't dire, it isn't great either.  The positive side is that its the push I needed to get serious about finding another job.  As much as I like my job, there isn't really any room for growth (or raises apparently), so its time I found somewhere with the potential to help my career... with decent pay and maybe even benefits would be nice too.  I've started applying around.  The last few times I've tried, I haven't gotten so much as a decent interview... hoping things go differently this time.

I'm also hitting a point of being fed up with my weight (ignore the above pictured cupcakes).  I gained the 10 pounds I had lost in the fall back after the surgery.  I'm pretty close to my highest weight ever and nothing really fits comfortably, so I know I have to do something.  I just haven't really decided what yet. I like paleo, but its so time consuming to cook all the time, its hard for me to keep up with.  The Hubs is adamantly against it for that reason, lol.  I'm also considering giving weight watchers another (I think its 5th or 6th now) try.  Its really the only diet I've been able to stick with for any substantial amount of time.  And they have some new personal coaching thing.  But, the cost is kind of prohibitive at this point (see bad financial situation mentioned above).  So... I guess we'll see.  Any votes or advice on this front are appreciated :).

So see, a lot of stuff going on, considering we're only 10 days into the new year.  Hoping 2015 is a good one for all of you!