Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Open Letter to Church Leaders Regarding "The Rona Jab"

I wrote this letter to a local church in my area, after they sent out an email which contained a blanket encouragement to "consider being vaccinated." I post it here in case it is useful to anyone else.


Dear Sirs-

You do not know me, nor I you, however I have grown up in the area and have long respected your church and appreciated its ministry.  I am a fellow Believer who has spent many hours reading studies & medical topics over the last 20 years, as a mother, a birth worker, a student & a teacher.  As for my connection to this church, I've attended multiple conferences held in your buildings and have many friends who have attended for years.  My husband & I visited for a few weeks when trying to find a church home after our marriage.  A friend sent me a copy of a church-wide email which included the following plea from one of your leaders:  "Please consider joining my wife and me, [other church leaders] in making the choice to be vaccinated. If you have struggles related to issues connected to the vaccine, we are available to talk and pray with you about this decision."

That sentence was quite troubling to me.  A follow-up email clarified:

"The issue here is not whether one is for vax or against vax, the issue is one of leadership and trust. As an elder I never want anyone to feel pressured to make a decision like this because I or another elder is insisting on it. My intent was, as I said, for people to consider whether to get vaccinated -- not to imply there is only one acceptable choice."

That sentence is enlightening.  I am thankful that you do not wish to overstep your bounds as spiritual leaders to try and pressure families into making the same medical choices your family has made.  However, be advised that there is NO need to remind ANYONE in the West to "consider getting vaccinated."  We are already being pressured on billboards, TV, news, social media, the walls and PA systems of grocery stores, medical facilities, and random placards downtown.  Your voices being added to the din without so much as a whiff of scientific reasoning is -to put it mildly- unhelpful.  It was 100% peer pressure, from persons in spiritual authority.  It does not affirm the weight each person should feel for stewarding their God-given body well.  It does not in any way show how or why you came to that conclusion nor does it acknowledge that it is legitimate to "consider" and come to another conclusion.  

I send this in all humility, as to my brothers in Christ, yet also boldly, for the same reason.  I have taken over a week to think about, pray, and compose this email, because I do believe it is worth your time and mine.  I have included linked articles where relevant and have many more if you would like clarification on any point I have raised.  

If you will bear with me, please take a moment to consider why it might be UNwise and UNloving for a family or person to get these vaccines:

1.  Emergency Use Approval-- this designation removes all liability for the manufacturer, since the product is experimental by nature-- the now-FDA-approved Pfizer "Comirnaty" covid 19 vax is impossible to obtain in SC at this time-- the BioTech EUA version is all we have, and it remains legally distinct-- ie there is no recourse for you if you are injured.  Here you can read one concerned legislator's letter to Dr. Janet Woodruff, acting commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, on this exact topic:  2021-08-26-Letter-to-FDA-re-Comirnaty.pdf (  Many people have no desire to be a part of an experiment in which all long term effects are unknown. (We don't have animal trials or even trials of similar drugs to look at... this is completely new tech when it comes to widespread prophylactic use.)  Is it wise to pressure people to sign up to be a part of an ongoing experiment, undertaken by companies which ALL have recently been proven, in courts, to be corrupt and unsafe, especially when they have not even a semblance of liability here?

2. Vaccines carry serious risk.  As of now, VAERS, which is a passive, voluntary reporting system to register adverse events following vaccinations, and as such is known to only catch 1-10% of actual adverse events (VAERS should be mandatory & automatic but it **is not**)-- has to date 623,343 total adverse events reported (including 13,627 deaths).  A few from this past week include:  a 15-year-old boy (VAERS I.D. 1498080) who previously had COVID, was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy in May 2021 and died four days after receiving his second dose of Pfizer’s vaccine on June 18, when he collapsed on the soccer field and went into ventricular tachycardia; a 13-year-old girl (VAERS I.D. 1505250) who died after suffering a heart condition after receiving her first dose of Pfizer; two 13-year-old boys (VAERS I.D. 1406840  and 1431289) who died two days after receiving a Pfizer vaccine.  As of Aug 20, 3190 pregnant women reported adverse events related to COVID vaccines, including 982 reports of miscarriage or premature birth. There have been 2,640 cases of Bell’s Palsy reported, 530 reports of Guillain-Barré Syndrome, 132,694 reports of anaphylaxis, 8,528 reports of blood clotting disorders, 2,162 cases of heart inflammation.  If VAERS is reporting 13K deaths, that means it is very likely we have in actuality between 130K and 1.3 million deaths in the US due to these vaccines.  These vaccines DO carry serious risk.  We could argue that not all of those would be due exactly to the vaccine, that many of those might have had pre-existing conditions, etc-- but that only reinforces the point that the risks are NOT the same for everyone.  Each family needs to feel free to make their own risk assessments.

3.  Not everyone is at equal risk from SARS-Cov-2.  Healthy children are at essentially 0% risk of any complication from a covid19 infection.  They also are unlikely to spread this illness to others.  In the US no healthy children have died of COVID-19, and only around 360 total have died from ages 1-18.  Healthy adults are also at very low risk from all variants.  Those with poor outcomes in general have blood sugar issues, obesity and other predisposing factors.  This website gives up-to-date stats on rates of hospitalization & infection.  Right now of all Americans with known covid19, only .1% are needing critical care treatment.  Only 22% are needing any medical intervention at all.  That means 3 out of 4 people who get covid19 (and know they have it) are going to recover just fine with NO doctor's help.  Out of 1000 people, only 1 would need critical care to recover.  There are a lot of options in between "no medical assistance" and "ICU"-- and that might include getting prescription nebulized steroids, an outpatient dose of IV fluids or prescribed early-intervention medicines and nutraceuticals, or even a short hospital stay that does not involve ICU.  **It is also fairly predictable which persons will be in which category.** Younger people, those well-able to regulate their own blood sugar (not insulin resistant), those with good muscle tone & low adiposity (not obese, especially without excess abdominal/visceral fat), those without pre-existing conditions (heart disease, asthma, for ex), will likely be fine. There are also MANY ways people can prep for covid, including having specific vitamins, OTC prescriptions and other immune-supporting substances on hand, working out regularly, and getting good sleep.  Remember, as Christians we believe God made our bodies well, and that if we steward them well, they work well unto His service.  What is my point?  That it would be especially foolish for someone at low risk of suffering complications from covid to choose the most risk-y way to try and handle covid.  Why are you encouraging your whole church to unilaterally sign up for the absolute least-tested, most-risky option?  Why not beg everyone to review the protocols put out by the Frontline Critical Care Alliance: I-MASK+ Prophylaxis & Early Outpatient Treatment Protocol for COVID-19 [v16 – updated September 1, 2021] ( and have these things on hand?  Why not beg the church to address underlying conditions which endanger their health (and the health of those around them by making them more susceptible to all infectious disease, not just covid)?  This doctor has had excellent results in a part of the state with lower education, poorer diet, poorer everything... and yet she has maintained zero fatalities and zero intubations with early proactive treatment.  We could do even better with lifestyle changes AND proactive treatment!!  Another doctor from another part of the state with similarly excellent results here.

4. Why not instead address very common sins of gluttony, fear, sloth, addiction and other lack of self-control? Those put Chrsitians at greater risk of negative outcomes from covid 19 by their effect on the body.  These sins are true cancers that threaten not just the body but also the soul, and render the church members less fit for ministry in every single respect.  Why not encourage the obese to say "no" to white carbs and to begin a regimen of daily walks-- out of neighbor-love?  Why not speak up against those who fear what can harm the body (covid?) instead of fearing Him who will judge body AND soul?  

5. The covid-19 shots currently available DO NOT PREVENT TRANSMISSION of covid-19.  (Fully vaccinated people who get a Covid-19 breakthrough infection can transmit the virus, CDC chief says.)  They are intended to reduce serious symptoms for the recipient only.  This has been the case since they were rolled out.  It has NEVER made sense to "take one for grandma."  In fact, cocooning has never worked-- the flu shot is one example.  A Cochrane review of data on the flu shot given to health-care workers on behalf of their elderly patients shows that this idea does NOT work and never has.  (However being overall more healthy, with a more healthy immune system that handles ANY assault, be it viral, bacterial, or fungal-- that DOES protect those around you.)  Lately data has emerged showing that the vaccinated tend to carry the same or MORE level of communicable viral particles even when they are not symptomatic, unlike the unvaxed who will get noticeably sick if carrying high viral loads, and will thus know to STAY AWAY from the vulnerable. (If Delta is your main concern, why are you urging people to "consider" shots which do not protect against Delta? That's like pushing last year's flu shot.)

6. Those who have recovered from covid19 do not need a shot.  They already have long-lasting immunity- yes, even against Delta.  In fact, they are more protected against all strains than the vaxxed are, (also here: Previous Covid Prevents Delta Infection Better Than Pfizer Shot) and they are also more at risk of negative effects from a shot.  Don't forget that a great number of people are already immune and would receive no personal benefit from a shot-- they would actually incur MORE risk- and they already are not posing any "potential danger" to anyone else.  

7. Is it even Biblical to treat other humans as "potential risks" to others just by being the way God made them (ie unvaccinated)?  Yes, we all carry "germs" all the time and always have... the "one another" commands ALL still apply and always have.  Those who are unvaccinated are not inherently dirty, contagious nor extra germy.  They are not sick; abstaining from an experimental drug program is not akin to active leprosy. Why are we acting like accepting these drugs make us somehow less germy?  Why are we even thinking like the main factor in our health is the health of our neighbor?  Is it not more Biblical to take personal responsibility and trust the Lord for protection, not the vax status of others?

8. Many Christians object to these vaccines due to their link to abortions and the abortion industry.  Is there anything less neighbor-loving than an industry which profits off the premeditated murder of our most defenseless and innocent neighbors?  I know Christians draw different lines around the links between aborted fetal tissue and pharmaceuticals-- but it is worth considering, and noting that other Christians may be conscience-bound to abstain from a shot they believe to be derived from murder. Another chart.

For all these reasons, and many more which I have not mentioned, please consider revising your "suggestions" to  instead encourage people to make prayerful, fearless decisions that make sense **FOR THEIR OWN FAMILY** as well as considering their overall health and taking action to steward that well out of neighbor-love, showcasing the fruits of the Spirit (such as faithfulness and self-control).  Let us not be fearful.

In Christ, 


Friday, June 18, 2021

Jack's Birth, part 1

**note:  this story purposefully ends on the triumphant, joyful note of Jack being born.  There is more to the story which was not so joyful or triumphant, and I will eventually also share that... but for now, just rejoice with me at his safe arrival!**

Wednesday March 24, 2021- 40  weeks & 3 days

- 4 am- I try the "castor oil cocktail"
- 8:37 am- text to my midwife, Janelle: “plenty of ctx (contractions) - some pretty strong- but nothing regular.” J: “that’s how it starts! Or it completely fizzles out.” me: gee thanks *laughs* J:
well obviously I’m hoping for the former!  Janelle tells me to get rid of my kids for the day, I send them to my mom’s, and try to rest.  I am so uncomfortable, my hips hurting, acid reflux after almost any food, referred pain, piriformis pain.  My lower abs feel like they are tearing from the weight of my belly. Alas, no contraction pattern emerges and they fizzle out.
- Ryan takes me to midwife appointment and to chiropractor (Megan Martins) in the afternoon. 

Patrick (5) waiting for me during my acupuncture

Thursday, March 25th

  • 9:30 am, text to Snarky Advice Column group (my doula Karla and my friend & previous midwife Elizabeth, who now lives out of state); “I feel super gross. Nausea, liver pain, headache. So I’m gonna try to go to acupuncture.” Karla- “Jack doing good?” me: “as far as I know, he moved SO much after Dr. Megan adjusted my pelvis.  He seems happy.  He had a good HR at the appt yesterday.”  Janelle comes over to draw blood to test for bile acids since mine had been on the higher end several weeks before and I had been doing things (including coffee enemas) to lower them.

  • 11 am, text to SAC “I have just lost all will in the matter” Jack has turned to be face-out, or "OP" again.  

  • Acupuncture feels really good, providing relief from the liver pain and nausea and fluid retention; my hands look less puffy.  I am able to make dinner, clean the kitchen and even sit at the table with my family to eat it.Really difficult night with restless legs.  “But of course I couldn’t sleep last night because too much comfort would go to my head.”

    ready for the little man

Friday March 26, 4pm 

  • puffy hands
    2:30, text to SAC: “he is ROA” (this is the optimal fetal position for birth, yay!)

  • 4 pm- text to my good friend Katelyn Fusco, another homebirth mom, doula, placenta encapsulator, and host of "The Happy Homebirth Podcast":  “so, my coffee enemas have worked.  I was at a 9.8 (cutoff for danger is 10).  Janelle says they usually just rise until delivery.  Yesterday mine were 2.4!  K: “PRAISE GOD That is INCREDIBLE!” me: “I’m still not sure that she didn’t swap my blood for someone else’s - but I also still continue to have referred pain that’s pretty intense.” Me to SAC: my bile acids are a whopping 2.4”   E- “that definitely downgrades the medical necessity to get him out” me- “I’m still in pain, swollen & itchy but glad he is safe!! (at least from bile acids)”

    "Mom this is where we pee off of"

  • I remember taking a hot epsom bath at night, reading about mold toxicity & EMFs.

at Eowyn's soccer game
Saturday March 27

  • I went to my daughter Eowyn’s soccer game & son Patrick’s t-ball game, had a prenatal massage with Nadine Gammon, even did acupressure w clary sage.

  • I continue to feel conflicted about what the right thing to do is regarding induction, waiting, etc.  I'm very uncomfortable and wanting to have Jack out safely but also not wanting to risk anything by trying to force the issue.  I am getting weary of all the pain... and of enemas. My pelvis and hips feel like they are about to fly apart. I tell myself I must have felt this way every time, that all moms feel like this at 40 weeks and that I need to just stop being a wuss and suck it up.

Sunday March 28- full moon

  • I remark to several people “Nope, no hint of labor.  I may as well be 7 months pregnant if you ask Jack.”  To Janelle: “I just finished my raw iron and my dates, like I have no more.  Signs I should assist the full moon and cotton root bark this kid out tonight?” Jack rotates OP again. 

  • 7:21 pm- having a bunch of Braxon-Hicks ctx. Stupid moon. 

  • 9 pm- My hips get markedly tight.  Ryan does side-lying release with me.

Monday, March 29, exactly 41 weeks

  • 7:49 am -Text to Katelyn: “trying the herbs today (castor oil, cottonroot, black cohosh, senecio… throwing it all at this belly)  K: “do you need any blue vervain?” me: “I’ll try these three and if I don’t get any results I will try that.”

  • Patrick goes next door to my mom, whom the kids call "Nina," for his “Nina Day” and I do school activities w the older 2 kids all morning.

  • 10:30- I've finished herbs & castor oil then lay down, feeling very tired. Note: Junen, my dog, stays close to me all day.

  • 2:11 pm- I get up, feeling like I want to go outside and be with the kids in the sunshine, it's such a beautiful day.  I put on the rebozo Janelle had lent me to support my belly and tell the kids I want a walk, envisioning a walk on our road… nope, they decide to show me “all their new hideouts in the woods”... of course this involved hills and no paths at all!  Liam quips that we “are going at the speed of pregnant mom.”  Nina was out in her yard and came with us.  Ryan texts to tell me his equity in a former company is likely to be worth a good chunk of money. I answer, “Good, we can pay for an elective c-section so I can get this kid out of me!”

    Ryan setting up the tub

    sitting down for a little rest on our hike

  • 2:59- Katelyn texts- “you doing okay?” me: “yeah… just kind of discouraged and amazed that my body is uninterested in labor.”  

  • 3:20 pm- We get home & I tell the kids I am going to put some things on my phone and then lie down the rest of the day, and I’ll do spelling with them from my bed.  Not feeling any contractions at all.  I sit down at the computer to put some Hypnobabies tracks on my phone, thinking I can listen to those while I rest.  

  • "Mom this is a great hideout"
    3:30- I feel a light “pop” and think “was that my water breaking?  No, surely not…” I feel a trickle and then suddenly realize there will be a gush.  I jump up out of the chair over to where the “dog towel” is by the door to our back porch and shout out to the kids, who are nearby, “My water just broke, quick, get me more towels!!”  I feel totally frozen and unsure of what to do next…  I keep thinking “this is not how I labor!”  There is so much water, I don’t want to just stand there by the back door but neither do I want to make a huge mess trying to go anywhere.  My pants are soaked and it’s not slowing down.  The kids are asking me questions and I am outwardly calm, trying to explain what is happening.  I decide to just go stand in the bathtub and get there as quickly as I can, instructing Eowyn and Liam to wipe up any amniotic fluid on the floor.  “Will you still do spelling with us?” “Ummm… no.”  When I get to the bathtub I see that the water has meconium in it.  I call Ryan and Janelle, Ryan telling me he is ½ hr away, Janelle not answering.  The meconium and the sheer strangeness of broken water makes me want someone with me.  I text Snarky Advice Column, Jennifer Conway (birth photographer), other people who have been waiting to hear.  I know that this was "it".  Patrick asks me how I am pooping Jack’s poop. 

  • 4:06- I have the kids bring me the fetal doppler and find Jack’s heartrate, it’s 160s (normal for him) and reactive so I am less concerned about the meconium and a little more at ease being alone.  I send the kids outside/to my mom’s house, put on a Depends from the birth kit and wait for Ryan.  

  • 4:15- Contractions start picking up.  My doula, Karla, tells me she is leaving her house and on her way (she lives 45 minutes away).  Ryan gets home and I ask him to go ahead and set up the birth tub.  This takes him a while to figure out.

  • 4:18- Janelle sees my missed calls & calls me back.

  • 4:30- I sit on the side of the bed, over a chux pad and towel and just feel totally frozen.  Water still gushes out every time I move and I am astounded at the sheer volume.  “How is there this much fluid in my uterus??” Elizabeth quips “Apparently most of your weight gain was amniotic fluid- watch Jack be 7 lbs.”  This makes me laugh and I answer “as long as his head is nice and easy to deliver.”  The depends is already flooded and I have to change it. With all the water I have seen leak out I feel totally justified for being uncomfortable the last few weeks, the thought goes through my mind: my poor pelvis was holding together a 50-gallon aquarium! No wonder it felt like it was going to come apart any minute! I wasn't being overdramatic!!

    my daughter (11) was also with me in Patrick's birth
  • 4:42 to Janelle- “Can u come soon? I’d feel better.  Bloody show!”  J: “OTW! 15 min ETA”  Karla texts and asks me to leave out a cardigan for her bc she forgot hers.  She jokes “my comfort factor at your birth is of utmost importance.”  I have one out on the dresser already thankfully because I really don’t feel like I can move.  Ryan is still fiddling with the tub and trying to get everything ready to fill. My birth photographer and friend, Jen, arrives.

  • 5:00-  I tell my friend Megan to head this way. Megan was with me at Patrick’s birth 5 years ago, a dear friend who knows where everything is in the house so she will be able to help with the kids and also be another set of hands when it comes to fetching & finding things.

  • Janelle checking on Jack
    5:05- Janelle arrives, takes my vitals (118/92, Jack HR 140s), She records that I’m having ctx every 3 min, lasting 45-60 sec.  I remember her listening to Jack and me asking “is he OK?” and her answering “he’s perfect.”  This became our ritual every time she checked on him-- “is he OK?” “he’s perfect.”  (It's funny how my doula brain noticed parts of my labor during labor and made mental notes, such as "oh look, I'm establishing a coping ritual.") Karla gives me counter pressure on my back.  I also labor on the ground in a lunge and on my hands & knees.

  • Saying goodbye to Liam
    5:30- my son Liam leaves for his baseball game, my dad giving him a ride.  The other two kids head to my mom’s next door for supper-- they come back when I’m in the tub and mostly sit on my bed, reading or playing a game on a device.

  • Megan arrives and I ask her to make me some Ginger Switchel Labor-Ade , having put all the ingredients out on the counter that morning.  Janelle has me eat some apple sauce pouches, fruit leather strip and I drink sips of labor-ade and water throughout.

    Megan giving me sips of LaborAde

  • 6:35- I get in the tub. Janelle asked me to sit in a "w-sit" to try and help make room for Jack to descend. Eowyn was horrified, as I have always encouraged my kids to NOT sit this way (as it doesn't allow the core to work), but Janelle assured her I'd be OK for just a little while in labor. (So funny what kids are shocked or not shocked by. My loud vocalizations didn't phase any of my kids.) Karla encourages me to put my Labor Mix music on, so I get it playing on my phone.  I remember singing harmony with Eowyn to Sara Groves’ rendition of “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing.”  Other songs include “Great is Thy Faithfulness” (Fernando Ortega) and “By Thy Mercy” (Indelible Grace).  Janelle later tells me she was impressed I could sing every word of every verse to most of the songs, and Karla later tells me that she didn’t remember I could sing so nicely.  I remember crying in several of the songs as I fought to believe them-- there's been so much pain and darkness in my heart for the past 2 years… I prayed that the songs would be true.  I remember praying them back to God, asking Him to let them be my experience, that I would feel His presence.  “When the morning falls on the farthest hill, I will sing His praise, I will praise Him still.  When dark trials come and my heart is filled with the weight of doubt, I will praise Him, still.”  

  • 7:30- I feel like I need to pee. Ctx lasting 60-90 sec, every 3-4 min.  I tell Janelle that I need to pee and she tells me it may just be from the pressure of Jack descending, but I don’t think that’s it.  “

    Junen checking on me
    He doesn’t feel low like that… I think I really do just need to pee.
    Belly so tight while contracting
    ”  I don’t really want to get out of the tub, though, and I'm not far gone enough to just pee in there.  Contractions are intense but I don’t feel the baby moving low.  I try to labor leaning back in the water and holding my belly up to try and keep Jack over my cervix, which I know to be fairly posterior.  I turn over onto my knees with my arms over the side of the tub and Karla applies counter pressure to my back.  It feels good to bear down slightly with the contractions but I don’t feel like the baby is low enough to really push, I begin to suspect that this labor will be like Patrick’s.  I say something like that out loud and am reassured “oh every labor is different, don’t worry.” “But this FEELS the same” is what I’m unable to say.  Junen has been supportive of me throughout labor, staying at the glass back door and whining, even howling, along with me.  At some point someone lets her in the house, though not my bedroom, so she can feel nearer to me.

    I actually love how strong I look here

  • 8- singing “Lord from Sorrows Deep I Call”- I finally decide to get out of tub and sit on toilet to pee.  I stay in there to labor through a few contractions.  I like how isolated it feels and dark, even though I know I probably sound 10 times louder in there.  I check myself and find my cervix posterior and fairly closed, 2 finger widths only.  I tell Karla this.  “Do you want Janelle to check you?”  “I don’t know…” “I think you should let Janelle check you, then you’ll know for sure.”  I say, resignedly, “ok… fine”  I remember saying “fine” several times, not in an angry way, just resigned. This song has sustained me over the last 2 years, taken straight from Psalm 42: Lord, from sorrows deep I call/ When my hope is shaken/ Torn and ruined from the fall /Hear my desperation/ For so long I've pled and prayed/ "God, come to my rescue!"/ Even so the thorn remains/ Still my heart will praise You.//  And, oh, my soul, put your hope in God/ My help, my Rock, I will praise Him/ Sing, oh, sing through the raging storm/ You're still my God, my salvation.”

    Dear Karla, doing for me what I have
    done for so many other mamas
  • 8:30- I lay on the bed and the kids go out so Janelle can check me.  She affirms what I suspected-- I am still in early labor, only 3 cm, 75% effaced.  She assures me that my cervix is coming forward and that Jack is moving down ( -1 station).  I am discouraged though, telling Karla “I didn’t want to do this again!”  Karla understands that I mean I didn’t want to have another labor like Patrick’s, in which I had to consciously resist pushing for 45 minutes and dilated very fast-- but with a lot of pain.  “You are just going to have to sing again, Christina.  You did this before, you can do it again.” Again the resigned sigh-“...fine.

  • 9- Janelle has me stand against the bathroom wall doing belly lifts with Ryan’s support through several contractions.  They are more and more intense and it is all I can do to try and get through them.  Like with Patrick’s labor I am forced to be very present in each contraction rather than be able to zone out. This is very hard for me emotionally.  Months ago, Janelle had asked me what the hardest type of labor would be in my mind, and I had said “another labor like Patrick’s… but even then I guess I know I can get through it since I already did before.”  I remember that conversation now and struggle in my heart with dismay that I am being asked to do the same labor again.  Around this time Ryan and my mom put the boys to bed.

  • 9:15- Janelle has me move to the bed to labor on my right side using a peanut ball-- this device helps open the hips, allowing the baby plenty of room to rotate and descend.  It often allows for quick progress in labor but very few women find it comfortable.  She tells me we will do this for 30 minutes then switch sides.  I sing “To Christ the Lord” and struggle very much.  After a while I ask if it has been ½ an hour yet and I switch sides.

  • 9:40- Still on the peanut, now on my left side, I am mentally very weary-- “I really can’t do this again!”  I say, more than once.  Every time I am reassured “yes, you can, yes, you are.”  I sing to give myself something to focus on, at times desperately, at times more peacefully.

    "Yes, you can!"
  • 9:45- I go back on toilet, close the door, wanting to be alone and in the dark. I remember telling Janelle “go away!” when she asks if I want any company.  After a few minutes Karla or Janelle asks, through the door-- “Do you feel like you need to push?” “No, no pressure yet.”  Everything just is so intense, so painful.  I work through the contractions as best I can, loud.  After about 2 of them I realize that, “yes I feel some pressure now.”

  • 9:59- Janelle asks me through the door if I want to get in the tub again. “I’m afraid I’ll jinx it” “Well don’t you want a water birth?” “Yes” “Then I think you’d better get in the tub” pause, then a resigned “...fine”  I climb back into the tub which feels so wonderful and warm. Ryan is on my left side, Janelle at my right. My mom & Eowyn are off to the right of the tub with Megan & Karla floating around and Jen behind Ryan almost in the bathroom.

I love the trust seen here between mama & midwife 

Begging Janelle to "pull him out!"

  • 10:09- I start bearing down and pushing “for real”- but it feels like nothing is happening. “Something’s wrong, I don’t think I’m moving him at all” I say to the room at large.  They tell me that I am, that they can see his head.  In my mind I don’t really believe them, I think they are probably just trying to encourage me.  I reach down and I can feel his head just barely at the perineum.  Then the “ring of fire starts” and I tell them “it hurts!”  Janelle reminds me to ease him out slowly.  On the one hand I don’t want to endure this another minute, but on the other hand I remember the long-lasting pain of a second-degree tear with Eowyn and decide avoiding that is worth a few extra seconds of pain, so I try to only push with the contractions and pant between.  Karla counts 5 pushes to bring him to crown.

  • 10:15- “Joy in our Hearts” (Sara Groves) is playing: //Hallelujah, allelujah- Christ our joy and strength// Now with patience in our suffering/ Perseverance in our prayers/ With good reason this hope is in our hearts//" Karla says “you’re bringing him down, he is right there” Me- “Ow ow ow ow!!” Mom- “He is right there, Christina”  Karla “You’ve got this, you’ve got this” Me, to Janelle- “Get him out!” and I mean it! She chuckles and soothes “He doesn’t have a handle” I think of course he does, grab his ears! but out loud I only grunt “Yes he does!... And then I whisper "please, help me!” I mean for Janelle to help catch him as I don’t feel I can let go of the sides of the tub.  She understands and puts her hands down to help guide him out. “He’s here- you’ve brought him out to his ears” In my mind I think-- if you can see his ears you can use those to pull him out!! Two pushes have brought his head out.  “There he is!I give one final push and feel pressure release-- Janelle tells me to reach down and pull him out!  In shock I comply, and as I have dreamed of doing for the past 5 years, I put my hands around a slippery chest under two slippery arms and pull him slowly to my chest Oh, Jack! Jack!” I whisper.  Around me the room fills with cheers and tears and smiles that pass from my mother to my daughter, my dear friends and my husband… but I have eyes only for this long-prayed-for-son who has opened blue eyes and looked into mine.  It is a long, perfect moment-- I take in so many things;

    his head isn’t molded, there’s no blood so I didn’t tear-- how is he so vernixy?-- his arms are SO rolly, how big is this boy? -- he isn’t crying, he is just watching me-- he is so peaceful, is he OK?- Yes he’s turning pink, he’s breathing, the cord is still pulsing…  Out loud I marvel “how is he so vernixy?” and “I can’t believe he’s real!”  Everyone is telling me he is beautiful, that I was amazing, and Jack has looked around and looked at me but not made a sound.  I ask him- “Can I hear your voice?  I’m your mama!”  He lets out the sweetest little cry and we all swoon. I sob for joy, for relief, for all the pain of the past 2 years, in disbelief that this has actually happened, that I have labored and delivered my son into my own hands in a pool of water in my own room.  Every minute of every pain, suddenly worth it.  Jack closes his eyes again, safe against my heart.
    Look at all that vernix!

It is 10:15, March 29th, and my son is born.

this chunk turned out to be 11 lbs 10 oz, 22" long

Proud Daddy

Mother & Child, Mother & Child

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Coming Alongside a Friend who has Miscarried

We hear the statistics that one in every four to five pregnancies ends in miscarriage, but it isn’t until you find yourself in that 1 in 5, and start hearing from others about their own experiences, that you start to grasp what that number really means… it means probably half of all women will experience one at some point.  Yet for all that, there seems to be a somewhat surprising lack of resources for how to come alongside women & families during and after a miscarriage.  So many people have no idea what to say, whether to say anything, how to help, what’s normal… Just a lot of questions all around. After my miscarriage in January of last year, I knew what helped me and what was less helpful, and I asked for feedback from other parents on social media, and promised to compile and condense it all into an article… I’ve had several people ask about it in the meantime… and… I’ve since experienced a second miscarriage (this week)–one that was markedly different from my first-- so can speak even more to the issue.  A lot of these tips will apply to any loss but some will be specific to miscarriage and infant loss.
  • reach out.  if someone has shared with you that they are miscarrying or recently miscarried… do something with that knowledge.  It probably took a lot of courage for them to tell you.  Check in on them—call, text, best of all, an actual card.  Set a reminder in your phone, leave a post it note up, whatever, to remind yourself to remember them & reach out.  We never mean to forget, and everyone knows that… but it is such a blessing to have someone remember and tell you you aren’t alone. 
  • keep reaching out—if you know when they miscarried, put a reminder in your phone or calendar or whatever system you use—send them a card this time next year. If you know their due date, same.  In the meantime, they probably are grieving every week — “one week since I lost __,” etc.  One friend who experienced a stillbirth on a Thursday woke every Thursday for weeks remembering the experience with dread and new grief.  Another friend who lost a daughter at 13 told me it was much like a new baby; at first you count in days, then weeks, then months and finally years from the loss. All that to say, texting weekly or sending cards more than once would be a huge blessing.  The body is amazing and it remembers loss and trauma, and even when we don’t consciously remember dates and anniversaries, our bodies do.  One of the loneliest days for me last year was my daughter’s 10th birthday—because it was also my due date for the daughter I will never hold… and no one else seemed to remember.  Have your kids draw some pictures and mail them one at a time over several days or weeks. (Maybe address them & stamp them all at once and put post-its on them as to when you will mail them.  Seriously, half the battle of ministry is just overcoming our own forgetfulness.)
  • what to say—this is a really hard one so I’ll keep it as broad as I can:  think about what you would want someone to say to you.  Send an encouraging scripture, a quote from a favorite hymn or song, send a note about how much you love them… even just “hey, I know this is a pretty hard time for you, and I want you to know I’m praying for you and I love you.”  I’ve had people say some pretty insensitive and way-off things, but I would rather have that than the complete silence from people who I know know my situation.  We’re already sad—you telling us you’re sympathizing with our sadness won’t make us more sad, I promise!
  • answer their calls and texts (and yes, calling them back is fine if you can’t get to the phone!!)—this should go without saying for friendships in general, but just know that when someone is grieving it takes extra energy to reach out, and when that energy seems wasted it can be quite devastating.
  • help in practical ways.  Please note that they may need help for a lot longer than you’d think. Miscarriage itself can take a while (my last one took 4 weeks from the time I first realized something was wrong) and then there’s the physical recovery, and then there’s the emotional recovery.  It could be a good six months or more before your friend is back on her feet. Here is a list of practical things that can be helpful:

  1. bring snacks over; this can be done even from a state away.  It’s often hard to keep everyone fed when Mom is down for the count.  No-prep individually packaged foods can be extra helpful.
  2. clean their bathrooms, vacuum their stairs, sweep their kitchen, etc. Coming once a week for 1-2 hours for a month could make a huge difference in their family’s quality of life—and if you’re doing a specific task it can make sure your friend doesn’t feel guilty for resting while you work
  3. make and/or bring a meal (not just dinner—often breakfast foods are very helpful)
  4. walk their dog
  5.  run an errand – when you offer, try to offer specific ideas, like “can I pick up some vitamins for you?  Do you need any office supplies? Do you need anything mailed?” etc.
  6. take their kids for an hour or a day
  7. buy them groceries—if you don’t know them well, ask if they have any allergies or preferences

  • send an encouraging package—their favorite show, a new book, a gift card, a cozy blanket—if their kids know about the miscarriage, they may appreciate a small gift too.  A subscription box for a month or two could be a wonderful gift; a few ideas:  Mama Needs, snack boxes, sips by (tea), mighty fix (green gadgets)…
  • send nourishing foods or teas—red raspberry leaf tea, soups, fresh fruits, etc.
  •  send anything that you’ve found that helps you when you are emotionally distraught.  It could be an essential oil blend, it could be a book, it could be a tea…
  • enable them to get to self care appointments like massage, acupuncture and chiropractic—and ordinary doctor appointments.  This could mean driving them there, watching their kids while they go, pooling money with another friend to buy them a gift card to a spa, or donating your services if you are a practitioner.
  • encourage them to go to above appointments.
  • encourage them to rest
  •  encourage them to talk about their loss if they want to
  • when she feels up to it, keep the kids and let the parents go on a date. Miscarriage takes a toll on both parents.
  • guys, reach out to your friend.  They lost a child, too.
  • honor their child & their suffering—flowers are a traditional gift, and they really do brighten a room.  Other gift ideas are a potted plant, a donation to a children’s charity, flower seeds, sun-catchers, a necklace with their child’s name on it (or a birth stone for their child’s birth month), nice pens & a blank journal… Laurel Box provides a great source of ideas—they will send a box to your friend, or you can get ideas from their site and assemble your own.  Many parents choose a symbol for their child,-- a butterfly, a flower, an anchor are a few examples-- ask your friend if they have and incorporate that into the gift.
  • pray for them.  Again, set alarms, post-its, whatever, to remind yourself to pray.  Pray with them if you can!  I had a friend pray with me over the phone at my first doctor appointment, and another pray with me in my room after my last miscarriage.
  • share good news (especially your own pregnancy news) with them privately.  They will definitely want to rejoice with you... but it might take a minute.  Tell them the news in a no-pressure environment, so they can have time to process before having to respond publicly.
  • other women; hug them, touch them… I know this is a fine line, I’m not even all that huggy, so always leave them the option to pull away, but most of the time, miscarriage is such a very physical trial, where we often feel that our own bodies have betrayed us, that physical contact can be a tangible reminder that we aren’t as alone as we feel.

Just a few thoughts on things to avoid-- I tend to dislike long lists of “don’t ever say” because the truth is that so much depends on context… so I will keep these general:
  • Don’t minimize the loss or imply that they should “be over it” in any specific time frame.  Ex “well at least you weren’t far along” or “well at least you have other kids” or “it was such an early loss, shouldn’t you be past this?” etc.
  • Don’t try and top their grief story with one of your own (or your sister’s neighbor’s cousin)—identifying with them is great—just make it clear that you are doing so to validate their feelings
  • Be very very slow to imply or assume that they are handling something incorrectly—there may be a time to gently call someone out on an unbiblical attitude or response, but that time is usually NOT when the grief is fresh.
  • Don’t assume that you know why they are sad. Especially if they have postpartum depression or anxiety, which is a whole ‘nother topic, don’t assume that they are “sad about the baby.”  Anxiety and depression is not always rational. It’s not often that someone can reason their way out of it.  They may be able to function very well, they may not “seem sad’ but could be dealing with a low-level constant nagging anxiety or distress under the surface.
  • Don’t assume their kids know about the miscarriage. Don’t bring it up around their kids unless they do it first.  Be discreet and ask!!  We did not share our first miscarriage with our children for a variety of reasons. We did share our second, and at that time also told them about our first miscarriage.  Every family is different.
  • Don’t assume they can’t handle hearing about your own life struggles.  Now this is a balance, do be sensitive—when a woman has just lost her child it might not be the best time to ask them to pray for your friend’s cousin who just had her 3rd kid and can’t seem to keep her act together… But don’t assume that just because they have their own pain that they aren’t glad to carry yours, too. So often shared pain binds us all together, and we can share each other’s burdens even if they aren’t the same.
  • Be sensitive about bringing your own kids when you come by to help—again this will vary by the  situation and even by the day, but sometimes extra kids will just be overwhelming to a mom who is miscarrying, and sometimes will keep you from being able to meaningfully engage with your friend if they want to talk.  If you can leave your own kids at home that can be worth exploring.  Or make a conscious plan for how you’ll help your kids be calm and quiet—some ideas:  tell them ahead of time that they’ll need to play quietly or outside, bring a movie, bring a car DVD player, bring a board game or new toy set for them to play (with your friend’s kids possibly), or offer to bring all the kids back to your house after you visit.  But your friend may be fine with extra kids— it may be actually helpful for her kids to have playmates, she may want a little one to squeeze, she may just not mind... so ask!
  • Try to avoid offering vague help like “let me know if you need anything!”  They definitely need stuff.  So how are they supposed to let you know?  When you’re in the throes of the physical & mental toll of a miscarriage, logistics are hard.  It’s also hard to gauge what a person really means when they offer (unless you know them really well)—how inconvenienced would they really be willing to be?  Try to think of a way that you could help and ask them if it would be helpful, and then schedule a time to do it right then.  For example “hey can I come walk your dog on Thursday evening?” or “I get groceries on Monday, can I grab some for you? Is there anything you all really love or need?”

I hope this is helpful... when in doubt, ask your friend... they would much rather you ask.