Our Hearts Are Breaking

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Dan and I recently celebrated our fifth wedding anniversary. As we pass the five-year mark, several of our friends and acquaintances are starting families of their own. Some of them have cute little kiddos running around already, and I love to watch them grow up through the Facebook pictures and posts. But as time goes on, more of our friends are also losing their precious babies. It’s so hard to watch. I don’t know what to say or do, and my heart just breaks over their losses. It’s hard to understand, and hard not to ask, “why?”. No parent should have to say goodbye. No parent should have to bury a child. All we can do is pray and trust and let our hearts break for them.

Our hearts are breaking. What’s more is that we’re losing children too. According to the most conservative numbers I could find, more than two babies are being aborted every minute. Some of you are right here with me. You’re hearts are breaking too. The numbers make you sick to your stomach, and you don’t understand how this is being allowed to go on. Others of you are thinking about closing this page or skimming the rest of this post. “Oh, she’s just talking about abortion. That’s different.”

Is it different?

What’s the difference between the loss of my friends’ babies (anywhere from just a few weeks along in the pregnancy to several days old) and the loss of an aborted baby, really?

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I see abortion from a slightly different perspective than many. My first two children were born several weeks early and had to spend weeks on the neonatal intensive care unit. They couldn’t breathe on their own. They couldn’t eat or keep themselves warm. They couldn’t even cry. When I see images of a tiny little baby in the womb, I see my baby girls after they were born and learning to survive. When I hear about some of these late-term abortions I think, “That could have been my baby”.

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Did you know a baby has a heart beat just four weeks after conception? Think of it! Four weeks and the little guy already has a beating heart! My babies had heart beats before I even knew I was pregnant. Nine week old babies have been observed swallowing, sucking their tiny little fingers, and yawning. Ten weeks into the pregnancy a baby’s vital organs are already starting to function and the baby will respond to touch. Although doctors and scientists disagree about when, at some point between 8 and 20 weeks (gestations at which abortion is still legal), babies start to feel pain.

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The question that begs answering is this: are these little ones human beings? At what point do their lives deserve the right to be protected by the laws of our nation?

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I know there are horrible situations everyone wants to consider first. What about rape? What about incest? What if the mother’s life is in danger? But before you can figure out what to do in those terrible situations, you must answer the question: is that little one a human being? (And perhaps it would be helpful to mention that the vast majority of abortions are NOT being done in situations of rape or incest or to save the life of the mother).

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Why isn’t that little nine-weeker who can suck his thumb considered a human? Why aren’t we protecting the life of the ten-weeker whose organs are all functioning and who can react to touch and, yes, feel pain. You see, again I come at this from an interesting perspective. My daughters couldn’t survive outside of me after they were born without drastic and immediate medical help. Were they human? And what about Paul? He was 35 weeks and was even able to come home with us, but some 35 week babies still need time in the NICU. Are they human? The youngest preemie on record to survive was born at just 21 weeks and 6 days. Was she human?

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Did you know that whether a child can survive outside of mom, or the moment a mom first feels Baby move are very dependent on things like race, gender, and birth-order? Should your race, gender, or birth-order play in to the time when we start protecting a human’s life? Maybe simply being born is what makes someone a human with rights, but how does it make any sense at all that a person’s location determines their humanity? One moment the baby can be legally aborted and two centimeters later the baby becomes a human life worth saving?

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You see, it doesn’t work. We can’t take a baby at one point and declare him or her as non-human or without rights and one moment later declare that he or she suddenly is human and has rights. Ultrasounds have allowed us to see too much, to know that the little babies who are legally allowed to be aborted are not so different before they are born as we might have previously thought. Maybe by declaring one baby as human and another as “just a fetus” we are stepping into a role far too important, too sacred for us to fill. And by allowing that baby to be killed, to step aside and let this continue to happen, maybe we are covering our own hands with the blood of helpless and vulnerable victims who themselves have done nothing wrong.

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It’s easy to talk about abortion as a medical procedure involving the removal of some tissue, but when you actually stop and consider what’s happening the picture isn’t so pretty. Take a moment and think about the little baby with fingers and eyes and a beating heart, developing safely in his Mommy’s womb and then let the reality of what abortion is really sink in. There are two general types of abortion: at-home (medical) abortions and in-clinic (surgical) abortions.

For an at-home abortion, medicine is given which causes the lining of the uterus wall to break down, essentially causing the baby to suffocate or starve to death. Then a second pill is given which causes contractions and forces the baby out of the uterus in a process that can take anywhere from a few hours to several days. This method can only be used in pregnancies less than nine weeks along.

For pregnancies that are further along, there are several different methods. The two most common are aspiration and D&E (dilation and evacuation). Aspiration is when a small tube is inserted into the uterus and sucks the baby out of the uterus. Dilation and evacuation is usually performed in pregnancies past the first trimester. The cervix is dilated and then a combination of tools are used to cut apart and remove the baby with suction and/or forceps.

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You see, abortions aren’t pretty. Our society tries to make them look that way by using big medical terms or vague language. The truth is, abortions involve a lot of cramping, blood, bones, and body parts. It’s because the “embryonic tissue” that is being “removed” is not just a clump of cells but a living human being. That “pregnancy” is really a baby.

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Over the past several weeks The Center for Medical Progress has been releasing videos revealing that women’s health care and abortion provider, Planned Parenthood has been illegally selling body parts of aborted babies.

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I encourage you to watch these videos. They are available in both edited and unedited versions.

If you choose not to watch the videos, here is a brief overview of the ones that have been released so far:

#1: National leader of Planned Parenthood discusses the sale of aborted baby organs and tissue

#2: Planned Parenthood official haggles over the prices for aborted baby body parts and at one point appears to be suggesting that the abortion procedure could be altered to preserve organs and tissue

#3: Graphic footage of a Planned Parenthood technician sorting through baby body parts collected after an abortion

#4: Doctor negotiates sale of body parts and suggests ways to avoid legal consequences

#5: Another graphic scene sorting through aborted baby parts, director of research for a Planned Parenthood in Houston affirms that abortion procedures can be modified to get more intact tissue and organs

#6: A former technician reveals that patients were encouraged to sign fetal consent forms but sometimes the aborted baby organs were sold without the consent of the mother

#7: Includes story of harvesting an intact brain from a late-term male baby whose heart was still beating after the abortion procedure

#8: StemExpress (which buys and resells aborted baby parts from Planned Parenthood) admits that Planned Parenthood sells fully intact aborted babies

#9: Again admits that sometimes Planned Parenthood sells fully intact aborted babies

#10: Planned Parenthood leaders discuss the lengths they would go to hide their selling of baby body parts and the public relations nightmare that would occur if the information was leaked

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Whether you watch the videos or not, I urge you to again consider the question: when does a baby become “human”?

When should a human’s “right to life” be protected by law?

Should our tax dollars be going to a company that has been selling aborted baby body parts and bodies?

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Unplanned pregnancy can be scary. Having a baby is hard. Most of the pregnancies in our country are unplanned. But, if you are facing an unplanned pregnancy, or know someone who is, you have options. Even if you can’t care for the little baby growing inside of you, families all over America are eagerly waiting for a baby they can adopt. I literally know a church full of families that would welcome your baby into their home. Your baby may not have been planned, but your baby is loved and wanted and needed in this world. Find and visit or call your nearest pregnancy care center. Please feel free to contact me as well.

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Maybe you are one who would never personally choose abortion, but you don’t feel you can impose that belief on others. I recently heard one of the presidential nominees share how he used to hold that view, but he went on to say this: “I began to think if abolitionists a long time ago began to think that ‘I don’t believe in slavery, but anybody else can do it if they want to,’ where would we be today? So that changed my opinion of a lot of things.”

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Maybe, as you read this and other information about abortion in our country today, you are thinking, “What can I do about this?” Know that no matter what situation you are in, there are several things you can do to help.

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The first thing you can do is PRAY. Pray that abortion will end in our nation. Pray for women in crisis situations, that they will choose life for their unborn babies. Pray that our country will start to value life at all stages. Often as I pray for our country, I read the repentant prayer of Daniel for his own nation. It’s remarkable how well this prayer fits the state of our own country if you just change the Israel’s to America’s. The big difference is that Daniel’s nation had already fallen under God’s judgement.

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You can also sign the petition to defund Planned Parenthood. Did you know that your tax dollars are going to support Planned Parenthood? That doesn’t have to be the case. Sign the petition, or, better yet, write your representative an email (good), give them a phone call (better), or send them a letter (best, bonus points if it’s hand written) explaining why you don’t want your money going to support an organization that is responsible for providing one-third of the abortions in our country and has been exposed to be selling the aborted babies’ body parts.

You can also volunteer your time at a local Pregnancy Resource Center, show love to a single mom, or donate to programs like Option Ultrasound (providing ultrasound machines to Pregnancy Resource Centers to encourage women to choose life).

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I recently learned about a biannual event called 40 Days for Life, a community-based campaign to end abortions. The next 40 Days for Life campaign starts on September 23 (that’s next week). There are a few ways you can get involved. First you can commit to pray and fast. Second, you can sign up to go and pray outside your local Planned Parenthood. For 40 days, this organization tries to have a round-the-clock presence outside of Planned Parenthood constantly praying. Third, you can participate in their neighborhood outreach.

Since I’m still nursing Paul, I’m not really up for fasting for 40 days, but I’m planning to fast from a couple of my favorite staples as I pray with my family during the campaign. I encourage you to look up your nearest 40 Days for Life campaign location and get involved in the coming weeks (some are having a kick-off prior to the actual start of the campaign, so don’t wait until the last minute if you want to get involved).

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May I make one request? I would be so encouraged to hear what others are doing, whether it’s praying, volunteering, donating, fasting, or contacting a representative. Or maybe there’s something I haven’t even listed. Leave a comment below and let me know. That would really make my day.

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William Wilberforce was a key leader in the movement to end Slavery in England. He presented his Abolitionist Bill to the House of Commons for the first time by speaking on the horrors of slave trade for three hours. He ended the speech by telling the crowd, “having heard all of this you may choose to look the other way but you can never again say that you did not know”. As many others have, I want to echo that statement today.

If you’ve made it this far in a very lengthy post (or if you’re just skipping to see how it ends), I urge you one last time to consider the questions,

Are these little ones human beings?

At what point do their lives deserve the right to be protected by the laws of our nation?

And what are you going to do about it now?

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All of the photos used in this post are of my own daughters, except for the last one. The final picture is a screen shot taken from the fifth Planned Parenthood video. It is the hand of an aborted baby held up by a pair of tweezers.

Acknowledging Him

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The past few weeks have been a little dreary around here. The temperatures have been very low. We’ve been down with colds and have had to stay home from church and Bible study. I’ve gone whole weeks without stepping foot outside, and sometimes life on the couch gets pretty dull.

Lately, however, things have been changing. The sun is shining in a way that feels like spring. Temperatures are above zero again and are expected to rise above freezing (at least occasionally) within a week. We are past the achy, stuffy, gloomy colds. I just saw a little bird land on a tree branch outside the window where I am typing this. And every morning is a small celebration that we have made it yet another day with Baby. As we enjoy the coming spring and delayed coming of Baby, I thought now would be a good time to do something I have been planning for a long while: Acknowledge Him.

In the fall, when we found out we were expecting Baby #3, I spent some good earnest time in prayer. I knew we would have medical decisions to make, medical bills to pay, and likely, weeks in the NICU to endure. As I poured this all out to the Lord, He brought a verse to my mind, and He has brought it to my mind over and over again throughout this pregnancy:

Proverbs 3:5-6
Trust in the Lord with all your heart
And do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He will make your paths straight.

Today I’d like to “acknowledge Him”, that is, to publicly “pay attention” to some of the ways God has answered our prayers throughout this pregnancy (so far!).

Finding a Doctor

My last Doctor was good, but she retired. So, when we found out we were pregnant, we tried to set up an appointment with another doctor, recommended to us by a friend. No matter how many times, or what time of day, we tried to call, we just couldn’t get connected with this doctor. I was eager to get an appointment and hear a plan of action, and things just weren’t working out. Finally, as we prayed about it, we decided to set a deadline. If we couldn’t get an appointment scheduled by that Friday, we would go with another doctor (also recommended by friends). Friday came and went and there was no appointment.

Dan called Friday afternoon to try to schedule an appointment with our second-choice doctor and the receptionist answered and set up an appointment for the following Monday morning. As it turns out, this doctor has much experience with high-risk pregnancies and even women in my exact condition. His knowledge and experience have been so helpful, and we are grateful to be working with him.

19 Week Contractions

When I was 19 weeks along, we had Bible study at our house one night. During the singing I felt the somewhat familiar pain of a contraction. I immediately panicked and told Dan, who told me to go upstairs, lay down, and drink a lot of water. For a scary couple of hours I was afraid Baby was going to come that night. It was too early for Baby to survive, to early to do anything, really. The contractions kept coming, irregular but painful. I called a midwife friend of ours and she sweetly prayed with me and advised me to “drink some tea, take a warm shower, and go to bed early”. By the time I was ready for bed, the contractions had stopped and everything went back to normal. Probably, I was dehydrated. Whatever the cause, we are thankful that God was able to ease our fears and stop the contractions.

Flipping Breach Baby

For the first several months of pregnancy, Baby was breech at every single doctor appointment. As much as they say it’s not a concern, I was concerned. We reached a point when I started to worry that Baby wouldn’t flip. I had already been well informed women in my specific circumstances have a higher likelihood that Baby will be breech and need a c-section. And, for several reasons, I did not want another c-section. It was one of my greatest concerns for many weeks.

I started doing some “pregnancy exercises” intended to help Baby flip. Diligently I did my exercises every day. I prayed about it. I asked Dan to pray about it. I prayed with my Bible study ladies about it. Finally, after our big 20-week-ultrasound, I became convinced that Baby was just going to stay breech. I continued my exercises, half-heartedly, and informed Dan that we were probably going to have another c-section Baby. One evening I gave it all over to the Lord, surrendering myself to the truth: God could flip my Baby. If Baby was breech, God had a reason for it. I was still convinced that Baby was breech, but I thought it must be what God wanted.

A couple of nights later I was getting ready for bed when I suddenly felt led to do one particular exercise. I did, and a couple of minutes later I was reading in bed. But now I had a new peace about Baby. It was like I knew that Baby wasn’t going to be breech anymore. On top of that peace, I felt like I should stop doing my “baby flipping exercises”. It was over a week later when I had another ultrasound that we discovered Baby had turned head-down, and has stayed head-down every since.

All the Wrong Times for Baby to Come

There have been several days, even weeks, when we did NOT want Baby to come. My doctor was on vacation one week. Another week the weather was so bad we didn’t want to have to make any emergency drives to the hospital. Last week we were all sick. At another time Dan was working 12+ hour days trying to please his supervisors at work. On top of that, he was doing all the house work and sleeping very little. During each of these times, we have prayed, “Oh please, don’t let Baby come right now!”. And, as you all know, Baby didn’t.

Our 32 Week (and Other) Goal(s)

If you’ve been following this journey at all, you know I have set several goals. Every day is a goal. Every week is a bigger goal. There have been the age-of-viability, age-when-the-girls-were-born, and birth-of-my-nephews goals. My big goal all along was to make it past 32 weeks, and now we are! Each goal has been special for different reasons, and we are so excited for where we are now. We’re looking at a NICU stay of just a couple weeks or less (or none!). For the first time, I probably won’t be on any antibiotics or magnesium during labor. It’s likely that we’ll be able to (at least attempt to) have a natural delivery.

God has been walking this road with us, leading us really. He has answered our prayers day after day. I can’t say for certain that the rest of the our pregnancy, labor, and delivery will go the way I want or am expecting. But I can say that God has “made our paths straight”, and we are more than happy to give Him the glory for the things He has done.