Thursday, October 28, 2010

To have a baby -- or not to have a baby?

I've been up since 4:30 am, for no particular reason.  (Not my favorite way to spend a morning!)

Luckily, I had my handy new Droid conveniently placed on my bedside, perfect for way-too-early internet-surfing pleasure.  After checking my FB, disappointed at how few people post between midnight and 4:30, I turned to a website I hadn't visited in awhile:  the preeclampsia foundation.

For those of you who don't know, when I was 37 weeks preggo with Maddy, I developed preeclampsia and HELLP syndrome.  Both are life-threatening diseases and the only cure is delivery of the baby.  To put it nicely, my health was rapidly declining, so they delivered early.  Even though we both recovered and were healthy, I was left very depressed about my birthing experience.

About a year after she was born, I found the preeclampsia foundation's website.  I never expected my healing to come from surfing the internet late one night.  But as I read other women's stories (some whose babies survived, some whose didn't, and some where even the mom died)  and submitted my own story -- I finally felt at peace.

Every once in a while I go back and read the recent stories, perhaps to remind myself what could have been and be grateful for God's hand on me and Maddy.  Today was such an occasion.  But instead of feeling gratitude, I became overwhelmed with fear.

After all, Maddy is almost 2.  And I get a hankering to smell newborn baby head every once in a while (you moms and dads know what I'm talking about.)  And sometimes I think Maddy would be happier with a sibling.

So maybe I do want another baby.  But then again, after today's stories, maybe not.

The first 3 stories I read were these:  Delivered at 24 weeks, baby died.  Delivered around 24 weeks, baby survived (after months in the NICU), mom had severe complications.  Delivered early, baby fine, mom in coma for 4 weeks and barely made it out alive.

Hmm .... newborn baby head doesn't sound quite so appealing anymore.  How could I put myself, and my baby at risk?  What if I die and leave Ryan and Maddy?  What if we lose our baby -- could I live with the loss?

So, for those who like numbers, here they are:

I have a 40-50% chance of developing preeclampsia or some other serious complications with another pregnancy.  I have a 25% chance of  developing HELLP syndrome.  These complications could come at any time during the pregnancy, although USUALLY in the last trimester.

Considering I had a 0.5% chance of developing HELLP with Maddy (and I did) .... 25% sounds astronomical.

For those who don't so much care for numbers -- suffice it to say that I'm terrified of getting pregnant again.  But saddened beyond belief at the prospect of not being able to have another Rachel-Ryan mix to call my own.

No big decision needs to be made today -- but I know we need to decide before we have another "OOPS -- we're pregnant!" on our hands.  Ryan and I already want to adopt .... I had just hoped I could have at least one more of our own babies to add to the family.

(To read my story, go to:
http://www.preeclampsia.org/SeeStory.aspx?id=8217629.  And note that there is a typo:  My liver was about to rupture, not erupt.  Every time I read that I cringe.  If only I could edit that post!!)

Sunday, August 15, 2010

A bit of perspective...

Sometimes a new perspective arrives in glimpses.  Other times it's like a big red curtain at a theatre, opening to a new way of looking at life.  And you wonder if you'll be able to ever see the world the same again.

The last few days have been somewhere in between...


Here's how I viewed life before God decided to give me a little perspective:

 If only ....(fill in the blank).  If only I were prettier, had more money, were more successful in Arbonne, were more organized, kept a cleaner home, were a better mom, a better wife.....  If only.


Then I was listening to my station of choice, NPR of course.  They were doing an interview at an orphanage in Afghanistan.  There was a little boy there.  His mom had gone for a walk.  But didn't return home.  She was captured by insurgents  threatening to blow her up.  And a few days later, they did.  They took her to hospital, strapped her to explosives, and used her as a suicide bomber.


Upon hearing the news, the father, who suffered from asthma, had a massive attack triggered by stress, grief, and of course, the Afghan dust.  He was rushed to a hospital -- but it was too late.  He too died ... leaving this traumatized boy to join the thousands and thousands of children whose lives have been forever altered by horrible and unimaginable violence.  He plays well at the orphanage during the day ... but he can't sleep at nights.  He misses his mom and dad -- and the life at home he used to have.


Well, that story was enough to bring tears to my eyes -- but God wasn't quite done.


I was reading Reader's Digest (yes, I still like reading this old peoples' magazine) -- and they had an article on a Holocaust death camp.  The numbers of people who were gassed makes your mind reel.  But one story broke my heart.  A woman was carrying her baby with her on the way to the gas chambers (of course, they didn't realize that's where they were headed.)  In the mass confusion, a woman dropped her baby.  She stopped to pick up her child, but the guards were on it.  The started beating her.  She cried, and asked if she could please pick up her baby.  They said, "We'll take care of your baby."  And they picked up the child, and threw the baby into a nearby fire.  


"OK, God, I think this is enough heartbreak. I get it...."  But he wasn't done yet.


I read a story of a toddler who was in foster care.  His mom was a drug addict, and her boyfriend, extremely abusive.  He was found wandering around in a parking lot with his 5 siblings, teeth cracked and broken by a recent beating.  Just another unwanted child.


Last night, I couldn't sleep.  Not cause I wasn't tired -- but because I was thinking about all the kidnapped girls that had been trafficked for sex.  These are girls are so precious to God -- yet are used, abused, raped, tortured and sometimes killed.  While I lay peacefully in my bed ... they were in stranger's beds, servicing up to 20 men a night.  Not because they want to or because they like it.  Because someone decided they had no rights, no future, nothing to offer but a PROFIT.  So many lives absolutely ruined.  


Not only are they victims ... they are misunderstood.  When I talk to people about sex trafficking, most don't want to hear about it.  "That doesn't happen here, so why should I know about it?"  Um... yes it does happen ... to at least 100,000 children every year in America.  "Sex trafficking -- honey I'm too old to hear about stuff like that."  "I'm too busy ..."  "That only happens to kids who are raised wrong."  I've heard it all.


By this time last night (or should I say early this morning) -- I was tired of hearing all the bad news.  I wanted to just close my eyes to the pain, grief and despair plaguing the least of these.  But there was still more....


Today at church, we had a missionary from Asia preach.  He told a story. .. "One of the missionaries on our team felt called to the river Ganges to preach to the Muslims gathered there.  To cleanse themselves of sin, they wash themselves in the sordid, smelly waters of waste.  As the missionary approached the waters, he saw a woman on her face, pounding the ground and wailing. From her weeping, he knew her pain had to be great.  


"'Mother,' he asked, 'Your pain must be great.  Please tell me what is wrong, and perhaps I can help.'  She told him that her husband had TB and could not work.  She did not know how to feed her family.  She thought that maybe if she offered her most precious sacrifice, the gods might have mercy and provide for her family. '30 minutes ago, I threw my 6 month son into the river,' she confessed through her sobs.  He wept with her ... and told her that God had already sacrificed his son so that her sins would be forgiven. 'Where were you 30 minutes ago?' she cried. 'If I had only known, then my son would be alive and with me.'  She went home weeping."


Even as I write this, tears stream down my face.  I cannot fathom the despair and hopelessness that would cause a mother to sacrifice her own child.


So where does this new perspective leave me?  


I'm still trying to figure that out.  For starters, I know that I can't do anymore of the "if only...."  God has spared my life from so much grief, trauma, loss, violence and hopelessness.  He has provided AMPLY for my needs.  I have ALWAYS had enough food, known I was loved, loved Christ since I was a child, grew up knowing I would go to heaven, have a wonderful, safe and healthy family.


My gratitude is so great right now.  But that is not enough.  The grief, the pain, the loss HAS to be addressed.  Somehow sending a check to missionaries and ministries isn't enough.  Sure, it's something.  But I feel God calling me to do something more.


But WHAT? is the question I'm faced with.  Pray more? Support more missionaries?  Become a foster parent?  Adopt from orphanages?  Become an advocate for sex-trafficking victims?  



I also feel incredible anger.  Anger that people will do such horrible things to each other.  Anger that Satan causes such evil and despair -- and yet we Christians often just think of him as just a mere pest.  Anger at myself, for being so spoiled and self-absorbed.  Anger at Americans in general -- we're so wrapped up in the newest, greatest, best.  In getting stuff for ME. Tell me this isn't wrong -- American's spend more on dog food than we do on foreign missions.

Lord -- may I forever be grateful for you blessings.  May I realize that I am not exempt from pain -- one day I will lose those close to me.  I will experience suffering.  In those times, may I still bring glory to you.  And until that day comes, may I praise you every day for the lives and health of those I love.  

Please show me what you want me to do with all this new perspective.  Lead me and Ryan in your way.  Show us how to invest in your kingdom.  If you want us to be foster parents, or to adopt, please prepare us, lead us, and provide the children whose lives we can lead to you.

And I pray for everyone who reads this post -- that you would touch their hearts.  Perhaps you will change their perspective too.  Perhaps you will bring their hearts closer to yours, just as you've done mine.  

In all things, I ask for your will to be done.  And for the glory to go to Christ alone.

Amen.

Friday, August 13, 2010

a few minutes of peace

Madelyn is happy looking at books by herself -- giving me a few minutes of peace with my pc and coffee.

I'm looking forward to ruminating about my life as mom of a toddler, entrepreneur and wife.  Writing has been missing from my life for too long.  Perhaps this will be the outlet I need.

However, I will cut this initial blog short.  After all, Madelyn is happy looking at books by herself.  And as any mom knows, those opportunities to be productive are few and far between!

(I will note, though, that she is reading "If you're happy and you know it", singing and clapping her hands.  Too stinking cute!)
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