Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Question

Yes. The Question. Capital Q.

Shall I explain? Ok.

We have been getting The Question a lot lately. The Question entails some form of "Are you guys going to have another kid? If so, when?"

Since we've been getting The Question so frequently lately, I figured I might as well blog about it and answer everyone at the same time. Hopefully all this will make sense.

The answer is, yes, we'd like more children, if that is God's will for us. As far as when, that will depend on God's plan, as well as our own emotional health. That has always been true, and nothing has changed. We always wanted more than one child, and even if Caroline would have survived, we would want another one. The difference now is that Caroline did not survive, so we might have another one sooner than we would have had she lived.

I want to be 100% clear, however. We do not want another child because Caroline is with Jesus. We want another child because, if it's God's will for us, we want to glorify Him with each child. There are a lot of emotions and thoughts involved now because we lost Caroline, but I want to share a few things with you that Cameron and I have come to understand.

First of all, Caroline was, is, and will always be our first child. Nothing will change that. No subsequent children will replace her. Having another child will not make everything better in our loss of Caroline. I think a lot of people think that if we just "hurry up and get pregnant again," that having that next child will somehow alleviate the pain of losing Caroline, or make things less difficult. People can accept and relate to expecting a child. Not everyone can relate to losing one. They know what to say to people expecting a child. They don't know what to say when someone loses a child. In some ways, it will be easier on everyone if/when I get pregnant again, because the elephant in the room will be smaller. I don't say all this to be mean or callused. I just want to lay it all out there. Having another child will change nothing in regards to Caroline. We'll just have something else to look forward to here on earth.

But that child is still a gift from God, and is still only on loan to us while we're on earth. Someday, that next child will meet their maker as well, it just might not be at birth. It may be long after Cameron and I are gone. So we have to remember the lesson that God taught us through Caroline; our children are not ours, but God's. We still have a responsibility, certainly, to be parents. We won't neglect that responsibility, but we also have to realize that our children are still in God's hands. He is sovereign. His will is going to be accomplished, and He will be glorified. I have to trust Him to take care of my children. I have a responsibility to take care of my children in the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs that arise in their lives. But the ability to do that comes from God. He provides me the means to take care of them. He's still in control. I simply pass along His grace to my children. He loves them more than I can, and I love Caroline and will love any future children a whole heck of a lot. But I have to parent them with the understanding that God's the one in charge ultimately.

That brings me to another point. In order to be ready to have another child, I have to be ready to lose another child. No pregnancy guarantees a healthy child. Anyone can lose a child during or right after pregnancy. If I can't rely on God enough to trust Him to give me His best no matter what happens, I'm not ready. In other words, I have to be at peace with God's will, regardless. I have to be willing to accept that God may decide He wants us to lose our next child. I hope not, and I pray not, but the fact of the matter is, God may ask us to do that again. It may not be anencephaly, but it may be something. That doesn't mean I'm morbid, or that I'm expecting that, but I have to remember that God is my refuge, that He's sovereign and in charge, and that His will is what's best. His will is to bring Himself glory, and I play my part in whatever way He deems. I've come to the point where I've accepted that. If He requires me to lose another child, then to Him be the glory. I know He will be faithful to me and carry me through, just as He did with Caroline. Like I said, I hope that's not what happens, and I'm not expecting it, but I'm not in charge.

Cameron and I are in agreement on these things. Our ultimate goal is to glorify God with our lives, including how we parent our children. That includes how we handle pregnancy. It also includes how we think about things before God blesses us that way again, if He chooses to. I want to remember the lessons He taught us with Caroline. I have to love Christ first. If I love anything or anyone more than Him, I'm wrong. If I look forward to another pregnancy more than I look forward to knowing Him more and making Him known, I'm off. Does that means I can't look forward to another pregnancy? No. I am looking forward to it, when the time is right and God sees fit to make it happen. I don't know when that will be, if ever. But for now, I also know that my walk with the Lord is foremost. It's the most important thing to me, even though I am far from perfect in living my life.

I want to see Him glorified. I want to see Him known. And if He can use another pregnancy and another child to show His glory through me, then I'm all for it. If He has other plans, then I'm ok with that too. To Him be the glory, no matter what happens.

Friday, May 4, 2012

A couple pics

So...after a very serious post yesterday, it's time for something a little nicer. Pictures!

Caroline's headstone came in not too long ago. My amazing dad went down and gave her some flowers. Makes my heart happy. :)

And then I finally got some of her stuff put into a shadow box frame.
I think it turned out pretty well. Now if I can just figure out where I want to hang it, we'll be in business. Haha.

Just thought I'd share. :)

Thursday, May 3, 2012

A Tough Subject

I just want to warn you that if you are easily riled up, you might not want to read this post. I'm giving you fair warning. This is an emotionally, politically, and socially volatile topic, so if you can't handle it, don't go any further. I'm going to do my best not to use inflammatory vocabulary because I want to speak clearly and strongly, but compassionately. I don't want anything to get lost in emotional translation. The viewpoint I will espouse in this post is socially unpopular, but it is something I feel very strongly about. This is also going to be a rather long post. I know, not terribly unusual for me, but hey.

At this point, you're probably asking why I don't just get on with it. I will, I promise. I just wanted to make a few things clear first. :)

So what is this topic, you ask? You might have already guessed it.


I've already lost some of you at this point. That's ok. I hope that those of you who are still reading can hear my heart and will take the time to hear me out. I decided I needed to say something about this because I've recently been convicted that I've been a coward when it comes to this subject. I've mentioned it briefly on this blog, mostly just saying that we chose not to terminate Caroline when that option was offered. For us, it was never really an option, but it was offered to us. We did have to make the decision. So I'm not coming at this from a completely ignorant perspective. I've been faced with the choice, I had to decide, so I'm not ignorant of some of the emotions going through people's minds when they also are faced with this choice. That's why I feel like I need to say something.

I say I've been a coward because I haven't wanted to talk about this in any substantial way. I'm ashamed of myself because of that. I have never wavered in my beliefs on this issue, but I have wavered on how committed I am to talking about it. My beliefs are unpopular, and people have a tendency to get rather angry when I voice them, so I kinda just...stopped. I cannot, in good conscience, continue with that. I can no longer remain silent. I'm sure you can gather from what I've said that I don't agree with abortion. I do think it is morally wrong. I believe life begins at conception, and that "terminating" a pregnancy is actually ending a life. I believe that God is sovereign, and that every child conceived was intentional and "planned," even if it's a surprise to the parents. They are special, unique creations of God that He personally knits together in a mother's womb. I'll share more specifically my beliefs as I go.

I want to start with a little bit of science for those who do not share my spiritual beliefs. I'm not claiming in any way to be an expert on reproductive, genetic, or biological science. I know enough to pass all the science classes I had to take in school, and a little bit from my own study, but not a whole lot. My knowledge is not exhaustive. But I do feel like I have a general grasp of the basics and can therefore speak intelligently on the subject. My point here is not to debate, but simply to share my own beliefs.

It confuses me that one of the arguments used to justify abortion is that the baby in a mother's womb is simply a part of her body to do with as she chooses. First, the "mass of cells" referred to as an embryo or fetus does not contain only the mother's genetics, but the father's as well. In fact, from the moment of conception, the DNA of a child in utero is unique from both mother and father. It is a completely separate genetic code. Yes, it has genetic markers from both parents, but it is unique. How, then, can the "embryo" or "fetus" simply be a part of the mother's body? It's a completely separate organism with a distinct genetic code all its own. It is indeed reliant on the mother for survival, but, well...isn't an infant? Without someone's care, wouldn't an infant die? If the measure of life is going to be reliant upon self-sustainability, should we cease to use CPR, ventilators, pace makers, or life support at all?

Something else I don't completely understand is trying to put a gestational age on when it becomes a life. There are premature babies in NICUs all over the country that are being kept alive by heroic efforts, when they could legally be aborted at the same gestational age. A premie can be in a mother's arms, even if it's through an incubator, at 24 weeks gestational age, surviving through medical intervention, while that same child, if it was still in utero, could be legally killed in the same hospital.

As a quick foray into the legal realm, of which I have an admittedly more limited knowledge, I just want to mention one thing. If a pregnant woman is attacked, and she loses the baby, the attacker can be charged with killing the baby. I realize this isn't always the case, and it isn't cut and dry, but the fact of the matter is, it's possible. Why is it that if a child is wanted, but killed, it's a crime, while if a child is NOT wanted and killed, it's a choice? I just don't understand this.

Please hear me when I say this; I'm not trying to judge or condemn anyone for whatever choice they've made. I obviously know there are a lot of people who disagree with me on this subject. I'm going to continue shortly with some of my theological reasoning, but I wanted to pause here to say this. I know that MOST people who choose abortion don't do so flippantly. I know many people wrestle with the decision. I know it's often difficult. I'm not trying to denigrate anyone, or claim I'm better or stronger. I'm not. I'm an imperfect creature with as much propensity to choose wrongly as anyone else. I am not immune to immoral decision making. I make mistakes all the time. That doesn't mean I have to accept the behavior, however.

I have several scriptures I want to share, hoping it can shed some light on the theological reasons for my beliefs about abortion. The first is Psalm 139:5-16.
"You hem me in—behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.

Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.

If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be."

To me, this Scripture proclaims God's individual care and creation of every human being. God is intricately involved in putting a tiny person together. God knows us while we're still being formed. He's involved with us before we're born. He knows everything about us before we're born. If God, the Creator and Sustainer of the entire universe, cares so deeply about a child in utero, how can I ignore His example? If I trust in this God, I must also treat the new, growing, forming life of a baby in utero with as much respect as He does.

Another is Exodus 21:22-24.
"If men who are fighting hit a pregnant woman and she gives birth prematurely but there is no serious injury, the offender must be fined whatever the woman’s husband demands and the court allows. But if there is serious injury, you are to take life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise."

I find it interesting that this verse so specifically points out that unborn children are valuable. If someone causes harm to the child because it's born prematurely, God directed His people to be serious in punishing that crime. While this isn't specifically about voluntary abortion, I think the point still holds true. Unborn children are valuable to God.

Another: Psalm 22:9-10:
"Yet you brought me out of the womb; you made me trust in you even at my mother’s breast. From birth I was cast upon you; from my mother’s womb you have been my God."

The last phrase of this gets me. "From my mother's womb you have been my God." It seems like even in the womb God knew David, the author of this Psalm, that there was a relationship even then.

Isaiah 44:24:
"This is what the LORD says— your Redeemer, who formed you in the womb:

I am the LORD, who has made all things, who alone stretched out the heavens, who spread out the earth by myself,"

From the individual child, formed in a mother's womb, to all of heaven and earth...God does it all. How can we not see that each child in utero is God's workmanship, and that He takes great pleasure and pride in that creation?

Jeremiah 1:5:
"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations."

God knows us before we're even conceived, so of course He knows us and loves us after conception. He has a plan for us from before we're even in the womb, so wouldn't He have one once we're there? A child developing, at God's hand, in a mother's womb, is a loved child with a specific plan for their life. We should not alter that plan by ending that life.

Luke 1:44:
"As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy."

This is Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist, speaking to Mary, the mother of Jesus. The child in her womb leaped for joy. That is a specifically human reaction. How could a non-life have a human reaction?

All through Scripture, there is evidence that God values and wants to protect the unborn. If that is true, then we should do the same.

From here I'm going to rely on some of my own personal feelings and anecdotes. I know that these will probably have the least influence on anyone's opinions, especially if they differ from mine, but I'd like to share them anyway.

When I first found out I was pregnant with Caroline, I was in shock but ecstatic. It happened sooner than I expected, but from the moment I knew she existed, I loved Caroline. I knew there was a child, a new life, growing inside me, and I treasured it and valued it. I read books about the development of the baby for each week. I had an app on my iphone that told me what was going on weekly, complete with pictures. I saw the first sonogram when we went in to the OB for the first time, and I was in awe. She was moving around even then. It blew my mind just finding out about what was going on as she developed.

At 18 weeks, when we found out about her anencepahly, one of the first questions they asked us after they confirmed the diagnosis was if we wanted to terminate the pregnancy. I really dislike that terminology. Do you realize we use the same word for abortion- terminate- that Hitler used to describe his systematic killing of Jews and other "undesirables" in Nazi Germany? It dehumanizes the victims. It makes us feel better because it's not "killing," but "terminating." It hurts my heart to think about it. And even after having gone through this whole experience of pain and loss, having that extra ten weeks with Caroline was incredible. I would have missed out on so much had I ended her life. She wasn't done yet. God's plan for her wasn't done yet. And because I chose to keep her and carry her, I got to experience some of the best days of my life. I can't even imagine any other alternatives.

Sonograms blow my mind. To be able to see your child moving around on a screen is just incredible. Once, Caroline had the hiccups. It was hilarious. You could watch her heart beating. You could see her kicking her legs like a little soccer player. You could see her holding her hands by her face as if she were trying to hide from us. Even at 18 weeks we could see some amazing things. And at that point, it was entirely legal to end her life, even had she not had any health issues. I just can't imagine.

Feeling her move was another thing. She had a mind of her own. She moved when she wanted, she wedged herself where she wanted. She was her own little person, even if she was inside my belly. She was part me and part Cameron. She wasn't just another piece of my body. She was Caroline.

As I rap up this extremely long and emotional post, I want to say this. I serve a great and mighty God. He created me. He created you. He creates every human being that ever makes an appearance on this earth, wanted or not wanted by the earthly parents who have a part in conceiving it. He sent His Son to live in a womb for 9 1/2 months, so that He could grow up and die on a cross and rise victorious over death, for all the other babies He has created. You and me included. Christ was not a part of Mary's body to do with as she pleased. He was a living human being, God incarnate, sent here to save us.

You know what the awesome part is? He died and was risen so he could offer us forgiveness and salvation. Even for abortion. If you've chosen abortion, He's willing to forgive you and heal you. He loves you, and has since YOU were in YOUR mother's womb. He knit YOU together. And the power that He has to create new life in a mother's womb is the same great power He has to love us, forgive us, and hold us close forever. You just have to ask Him and accept His gift. He creates a new life for you when you accept Him.

I know what I've said here can be divisive. I know it's not a pleasant subject. I know my beliefs are unpopular. I didn't even touch on all the "what-ifs"- What if a baby is conceived by rape? What if the child is disabled? What if the mother's health is at risk? I didn't get into politics or social agendas. I don't want to go there. I've already said so much here. I'd be happy to discuss it with you if you want to contact me at the email address in the contact tab at the top of this blog. Just please do it respectfully. Don't send me hatemail. I've heard it all before anyway. But like I said at the beginning of this post...I just couldn't refuse to say something anymore. This is too important not to talk about. If you made it all this way...I congratulate you. This was a book. I appreciate your perseverance. Haha. May God bless you all.

I hope this has at least given you some things to think about. I hope I've said all of this compassionately but boldly. I pray, like always, that God is glorified here. Thanks for reading.