Apr 24, 2014
140 Days of Light

It all started with a letter. A cowardly, faceless email to be exact, written by me to our priest at our now former church. A letter which has has caused our priest to stonily stare me down when passing me by with my three young children in tow.

What letter could cause this kind of animosity between a priest and a lowly stay-at-home mother of three, you ask? Have you heard the expression, never discuss religion or politics? Inadvertently, I mixed the two. In my defense, I didn’t start it. The church did.

Do I deserve the icy stares? Do my children deserve to be blacklisted from Vacation Bible School this summer? I’ll let you be the judge. Deleting names for anonymity’s sake.

---

April 8, 2014

Dear Rev. [name withheld],

I would like to preface this letter by saying that although I have shared with you my name, I ask that you not share it with anyone else, for the sake of my family. I could have sent this anonymously, but I am putting on my "brave hat", and thought that you should know I am a real person who has met you, who has talked with you, and who trusts you.

This is a plea for understanding and compassion. I am a local parent to three children. My husband and I were excited to discover your church. We were looking forward to becoming members of your congregation, and our children part of your many youth activities.

This week, as I walked through the church, I saw a flier for something called 40 Days of Light. Curious, I read further. 40 Days of Light turned out to be a non-violent protest of abortion and family planning clinics in the surrounding area.

Please let me tell you about my 140 days of light. These were the number of days I had to be mother to my identical twin boys. I loved them unconditionally, as I love all my children, both born and unborn. There are nine, altogether. Three are alive today. My husband and I experienced four heartbreaking years of infertility and recurrent miscarriage before we decided to try in vitro fertilization. Though we did our best, we had only three embryos to transfer. My doctor was not very hopeful, given my history and age. He suggested we transfer them all. We did.

Miracle of miracles, all three implanted. We were over the moon. Surely God was blessing us with triplets, after all our years of suffering.

Then, we were told one of the embryos had split, presenting us with a grand total of four beautiful babies, two identical boys, and two fraternal girls. We were ecstatic. Worried, but ecstatic. My husband had come from a large family, and we knew we could do it. I prayed for the strength to raise four babies at once. I thanked God for giving us the opportunity to pray for the strength to raise four babies at once.

Then, heartbreak. One of our identical twins had developed a fatal condition in which he was not able to excrete fluids. He was swollen like a balloon about to burst. Day after day we monitored his progress towards death on an ultrasound monitor. It was a living hell, watching my baby suffer this way. Yes, doctors confirmed our son was suffering terribly, suffering excruciating, immeasurable pain, every second of every day that he lived on.

One day, our now team of doctors let us have the worst news yet - baby boy C had become so large, so quickly, that he was threatening the entire pregnancy. If we didn't do something soon, we would in all probability lose every single one of the children we already loved so much. They recommended we reduce the identical twins, which is not technically abortion, but it amounts to the same thing. It was the only way, we were told, to save our two fraternal twins. There was no way to save the healthy twin, as they shared a blood supply. He was doomed to die along with his brother.

We sought a second opinion. A third. A fourth. I scoured medical journals for information, and discovered a specialty clinic in San Francisco which performs an experimental procedure to cauterize the blood supply from one identical twin to another, so that we could at least try to save our healthy son. No good, they told us. Our babies were too young for the procedure.

I had exhausted all other options. It was either kill two children, or by inaction, kill four children. I was heartbroken. I could not believe that after losing so many children to miscarriage, I was about to lose four more, unless I could make the decision to kill two. What an impossible situation to be in, after dreaming of babies for so long.

We waited, against medical advice. I prayed that God would either save all my children, or if He must, take my identical sons peacefully and quickly so the suffering of the one would end, and his sisters would be saved without my having to intervene in such a horrific way. But my prayers went unanswered. Baby boy C continued to swell too quickly, and to suffer.

Words can't adequately describe my feelings. I was waiting for, hoping for, one of my sons to die in order to save the lives of his siblings. At the same time, I prayed for a miracle, that he would not die, that I could hold all my babies in my arms. I felt I was a horrible person for wishing his death. I was angry at God. Desperate. Inconsolable.

Then, a Jewish friend of mine told me about rodef. He said that in the Jewish religion, abortion is allowed if the fetus is a rodef, or a threat, to the life of the mother, or to the life of another child. The sacrifice of the one to save another is considered an act of preservation of life, not of murder.

I thought about this. I was raised to never look for only one answer. Ours is not the only faith in this world. For me, this was the only thing to make sense in a situation that made no sense.

We made our decision. We wanted to preserve the lives of our two healthy children. We went to our priest at the time, the one who had married us, and who had been counseling us through this time. We prayed together. We cried together. She offered to give our children a blessing, and we accepted. We stood over the ocean, talking to our children in my tummy. We told them they would always be loved, always remembered. We begged for their forgiveness. We went to have another ultrasound, to see if, miracle of miracles, anything had changed.

Nothing had. And we were out of time. We went ahead with the reduction. I cried through it all. My heart broke in half when I saw my baby boys, one after the other, stop kicking. I was sure I'd made the biggest mistake of my life.

My baby boys were gone. Emotionally speaking, I was beyond devastated. Medically speaking, it was a rocky few months. But in the end, I held my healthy baby girls in my arms. At that moment, everything made sense.

My sons had sacrificed their already doomed lives to save the lives of their sisters. It was as clear as if they'd said the words to me themselves. I'd had my 140 days of light, blessed by the presence of my twin baby boys I would never hold.

I tell you this story not because I expect you to understand. I hope and pray that no one ever truly understands my story, because to understand it, one must experience it for oneself. And that is not something I would wish on anyone. Sadly, however, my story is in no way unique. Every day, many women, for a variety of difficult reasons, are forced to make impossible decisions like mine. Who is anyone to judge which reasons are in line with Christ's beliefs and which are not? You may have the best of intentions with a non-violent protest, but regardless of violence, I can tell you this protest has hurt me - and will hurt others like me - in more ways than violence ever could.

What I truly wish to convey is my feeling of judgment, reading the flier titled 40 Days of Light. That an entire congregation, and a pastor devoted to the ideas of love and acceptance, would protest the one thing that makes it possible for me to hold my beautiful girls today, saddens me beyond words. I can only speak for myself, but I know I am not alone when I say, protests like this don't bring peace. They teach judgment and intolerance.

Please don't allow that to happen here.

Yours in Christ,

Lisa [surname withheld]

#prochoice #prolife


Posted at 09:03 pm by lisachu
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Mar 29, 2010
taking stock

41 today... and nearly 28 weeks pregnant!

My maternal life has been a series of ironies. For most of my life, I never wanted children. All that changed after I met my now-husband. Whether it was my husband, my biological clock, or a combination of the two I don't know, but at age 35, I suddenly desired children more than anything in the world. I thought I had plenty of time left on the clock.

I was wrong. We tried. We failed. After my fourth miscarriage, we were told I had a 2% chance of having a baby on my own. (Apparently, all that birth control I'd taken over nearly the past two decades was just another irony.) Doctors frowned and looked discouraging. They suggested Serious Medical Intervention. We moved on to the technological wizardry that is IVF/ICSI/PGD, which gave us our gorgeous twin girls, whom we spoil daily. Their birth story entails the most painful irony of all - that they originally comprised half of quadruplets. Our twin sons were dying in utero of a birth defect and threatening the pregnancy. After losing so many babies, we were forced to make the decision to reduce our twin boys to save our daughters' lives.

The final irony, of course, is the arrival of our baby boy. About a year after our daughters were born, my husband and I had The Talk. Should we have more babies? Our answer was a simultaneous no, followed by a high-five. I don't think we've ever agreed on anything quite so quickly in our history together. Our hearts, and our hands, were more than full with our twin daughters. Later that very same day, I felt a funny feeling in my abdomen as I leaned over the tub to give our girls a bath. One POAS later, I discovered our happy surprise number three - a baby boy, already 13+ weeks along, who is currently doing perfectly. 

Our lives have come full circle. It's a very happy birthday for me!

Posted at 11:25 am by lisachu
 

Jan 1, 2010
Happy New Year!

It's not only a new year, but a new decade! What a decade it's been. Engagement, marriage, fertility struggles, two beautiful twin daughters, and now... surprise! A miracle pregnancy. I am 15 weeks pregnant with a little boy. He truly is a miracle baby who has beaten all odds of simply by way of being here.

According to my reproductive endocrinologist, my chances of ever conceiving a baby to term naturally were slim to none. Given my history, preventing was not something that had occurred to me for some time. Even though I had what in hindsight was some pretty awful morning sickness throughout the first trimester, I never dreamed that I could be pregnant, other than in terms of sarcasm. Oh right, I'm pregnant. Mmm hmm. I remember laughing at my husband when he asked, also with a smirk on his face.

I didn't seriously consider it until I leaned over the tub one day, giving the girls a bath. The pressure on my belly felt strange. I thought to myself, "I haven't felt this way since I was preg - [proverbial lightbulb]!" I searched the cabinet and found one pregnancy test left over from the days BT (Before Twins), which immediately popped up "pregnant".

I refused to let myself get too excited. After all, I've been there many times before. I told my husband, but we put off having an ultrasound. They always led to heartbreak, in our experience. Our time was more than filled with caring for our 1-year-old twin girls, and thanks to breastfeeding, I was already/still taking prenatals, eating healthily, and was alcohol/med free.

I held out for about two weeks before my curiosity got the better of me. And, guess what? I was through the first trimester already. 13 weeks, 2 days was the estimate. I wept happy tears seeing baby's enormous head on the ultrasound, which freaked out the ultrasound tech a little. She didn't know our history. I was so used to seeing a tiny grain of rice with a barely flickering heartbeat, or, no heartbeat at all.

The reproductive endocrinologist who performed our IVF (ICSI) said that given my history and age, I had a 2% chance of ever conceiving a baby on my own, without medical assistance. I think that this was an educated, but generic, guess on the part of my RE who only had overall stats from women with my age & miscarriage history. I was being lumped in with patients with more serious diagnoses, or even addictions, who could have had miscarriages for a number of reasons: PCOS, diabetes, even drug use or drinking.

I figured that increased *my* odds somewhat. But, 2% "plus" is still depressing. It's the reason we gave up on trying naturally and went straight to IVF, and why I stopped preventing. No point in suffering fat ankles with the Pill anymore.

For this pregnancy, I was given a 1/50 chance of there being a genetic issue if the pregnancy lasted through the first trimester, which it has. This number is probably a lot more accurate than the other one. My amnio was on 12/29. We're still waiting on the results, which take about two weeks. Please wish our Baby Boy luck! He's beaten the odds so far, let's hope he goes with the odds this time!

Posted at 04:10 pm by lisachu
 

Aug 5, 2009
Happy birthday, girls

Our girls are officially one year old today. Happy birthday, Leigh and Lucy! We love you!

So many changes to report. Every day they are saying more and more words. Lucy is close to walking; she hops up and down on her knees and is itching to stand. She jumps to her feet sometimes and stands briefly before sinking back to her knees again. She barely touches our fingers when we help her to walk. Any time now!

Some vocabulary highlights:

Lucy -
"What does cow say?" - "Boo!" (or when she sees a cow)
"What does owl say?" - "Hoo hoo" (or when she sees an owl)
"What does kitty say?" - "Mao mao" (or when she sees a kitty)
"What does fish say?" - (smacks lips together making kissing sound)

She says ball ("baaa!"), water ("waaer"), whale ("way-oh"), baby ("bay" and signs with wildly swinging arms), and my favorite, Mama ("Mamamamama"). She mimics us so often I can't keep up with her new vocabulary, but these are the ones she does the most often & really understands. Her voice is so cute and little, it brings me to tears every time I hear that sweet tiny voice of hers.

Leigh -
"What does cow say?" - "mmmmmmmm" (or in response to seeing a cow)
"What does fish say?" - (smacks lips together making kissing sound - she purses her lips & sucks in her cheeks making the perfect fish face, and no one even taught her this!)
"What does penguin do?" - "Waddle waddle waddle" (more like, "waaoh waaoh waaoh", and she also performs one of the following visual aids: rocks her head back and forth and/or swings her bottom in a perfect penguin waddle, all with a sweet smile like this is her very favorite animal)

Leigh says ball ("ba!"), signs baby by swinging her arms wildly back and forth with her little fists not touching, just like someone speed walking :), kitty ("kee" in a whisper), and my favorite, Mama (which comes out "Em em em!"). Leigh says "bee" too, also in a whisper, and smacks her lips making the "tasty" sound when she sees an apple. She usually whispers words for awhile before attempting them out loud, it's extremely cute, so much so that I could never properly put it into words.


Posted at 08:26 am by lisachu
 

Jan 29, 2009
nature vs nurture - the CIO challenge!

I've always said having twins is an excellent study of nature vs nurture, and here is yet another example.

To all the "experts" who think one can train a baby to sleep through the night, or to sleep in a nursery vs in the parents' room, you are sorely mistaken. And yes, maybe having twins doesn't exactly make me an expert in the field, yet I still say that this is simply not so.

Take Leigh and Lucy as an example. Not once did I "train" them to sleep through the night by not responding to their needs. I have never allowed them CIO (cry it out); I have not moved their bassinet closer and closer to the door, plotting my eventual escape; I have not used the "pick up and love but don't feed" technique, nor any one of the many techniques I have read about.

I haven't done these things, because all these methods have one thing in common that I wonder if anyone has noticed - the babies all eventually "learn" to behave as the parent wants, around 4-6 months. Amazed parents say, "It took several weeks, but around 5 months my baby "learned" to stop waking up at night and now sleeps 8-10 hours through!"

Did these parents ever stop to consider that five months is the natural time frame that a baby might sleep through the night on her own? But because some self-proclaimed baby "expert" came up with a half-baked idea to sell a book and profit on new parents' desperation for sleep, they have let their baby be miserable for nothing?

Lucy and Leigh both started sleeping through the night between 3-5 months with no help from me, at different times (they aren't identical twins, after all), and completely on their own. Nature one, nurture zero.

I realize some babies simply refuse to sleep through the night or even nap longer than an hour or two, and to those parents, I extend a moment of sympathy silence. All the CIO in the world won't help these babies, and in turn might make them even more insecure and fussy.

My twins sleep in separate rooms. Lucy is in the nursery, and Leigh is in the bedroom with us. Did I train Lucy to sleep in her crib? If you call laying her in there a few times for naps to get her used to the crib, then yes, I "trained" her. However, I did the same for Leigh, who absolutely refuses to sleep in her crib.  She wakes up after 20 minutes, senses that parents are not nearby, and cries. What do you know, babies are distinct individuals, with individual needs, and sleep habits.

I'll continue to introduce the crib to Leigh until it becomes familiar to her, but never will I abandon her to let her CIO night after night until her will is beaten down. (Yes, I realize it's for increasing minutes at a time, but that can seem like a lifetime to a desperate baby!). I simply don't understand parents who can do this.

Nature two, nurture zero.


Posted at 04:54 am by lisachu
 

Jan 9, 2009
I'm off the bandwagon.

I recently came across the so-called study linking autism with TV/video subscriptions (a study done by Cornell University). I've been known to get riled up when misinformation on a medical subject is spread by people with no medical training whatsoever. This time is no different.

There are many red flags at first glance. First, the people involved in the study are not medical doctors; they are business management majors. Second, the study wasn't based on any medical data. Third, it breaks down to three business majors' opinions about a disease in which they have no expertise or training, based on the correlation of incidences of autism with people who have cable TV subscriptions. Yes, cable TV subscriptions.

Fourth, having taken a couple of statistics classes, I object to the authors' read of specific numbers while ignoring critical data. It's not false, but it's misleading. Remember the old Trident ad, which said "4 out of 5 dentists recommend chewing Trident after meals"? They polled dozens of dentists, and only four said they would recommend chewing Trident. The Trident lawyers took the data of five dentists, which included the four who recommended Trident, and used that to prove their numbers. They also could have said, four out of four dentists recommend Trident, and technically, they wouldn't be wrong. They simply neglect to mention the dozens of dentists who did not recommend it. Legally, they don't have to.

To put it another way, there could be a million other factors these families have in common which also have nothing to do with autism. For example, I could say, and I wouldn't be any more wrong than Mr. Waldman et al, that autism diagnoses rose more rapidly in counties where a high percentage of households had minivans than in counties with a low percentage of minivans. Therefore, I will introduce a theory that minivans cause autism.

That's right, anyone can publish headline-splashing trash like this just for the attention. And get rich by doing so.

I'm not an expert on autism, nor statistics, nor do I claim to be. Yet common sense allows me to postulate several far more reasonable theories. Areas with higher numbers of cable subscriptions are more likely to have more traffic (increased pollution), higher stress jobs (stress can cause all kinds of health issues which can affect egg/sperm quality), and higher numbers of educated people in their late 30s and early 40s who, because they are older, are more likely to earn a higher wage, and can therefore afford cable. Women in this age group are also more likely to have DNA replication mishaps with their oocytes, "bad eggs" if you will, as indicated by the higher miscarriage rate/lower pregnancy rate as you age.

The author of the "study" also wondered why autism is increasing in recent years, and postulated that TV subscriptions are the culprit. My theory is that it's getting increasingly popular to have children later in life these days, since women want to advance in their careers before starting a family.  Because these women are older, and are working full-time in addition to working as a mother, they are more stressed. (It's not easy having kids when your joints creak, believe me!) Because they are older and more stressed, their eggs are older and more stressed, and more prone to replication errors. Lastly, as these women have advanced in their careers before having children, they are earning a decent wage, and can therefore afford cable. It must be the cable, right?  I'll bet they can also afford to eat out more often than people who can't afford cable. I think I'll publish a study, "Eating Out Causes Autism".

Do you think the authors studied the rates of autism among families with Dish? I wonder if watching Netflix is safer than Hulu for not "catching" autism?

While I don't condone a lot of TV time, I don't believe a few minutes each day will harm a baby. Certainly it will not "cause" autism. I am convinced autism is genetic (see this article linking facial features of infants and autism) and it is clearly not caused by any external visual stimulus.

Which is why I let my babies sit in my lap while we watch "Peep and the Big Wide World": http://www.peepandthebigwideworld.com/videos/index.html
 

Posted at 03:13 pm by lisachu
 

Jan 7, 2009
Christmas in the Park at last

We finally made it out of the house!  It took several days and two tries on the day of, but we did it.  The day after Christmas, we'd dressed the girls and loaded them into their car seats, when all hell broke loose - both babies were crying hysterically.  After a minute of rocking, Mommy started crying too and decided no Christmas in any Park was worth this misery.  We nursed, napped and tried again.  This time, success! 

Of course by this time, Santa had already gone back to the North Pole, but we took a picture in front of his south bay workshop. :-)


 



Posted at 02:43 pm by lisachu
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Dec 26, 2008
What it's REALLY like having twins...

I had big plans for the girls' first Christmas, but nothing went as it was supposed to laugh.gif

I bought cute little jean/fleece jacket sets for Christmas pictures at San Jose's Christmas in the Park... size 12 months... but, when I went to put on Leigh's jeans, they were too small! Not just a little snug either - WAY too small. 12 months!  She's only 4.5 months old! cry.gif (17 lbs now)

We tried for three days to make it to Christmas in the Park, but never did go. We'd get the girls all dressed up, then something would happen - a poop blowout, bad weather etc. It took us four hours to get out of the house the last time, and by the time we did it was too dark. So we decided to brave the mall instead and take a picture with Santa.

Upon our arrival, Santa was just packing up for what I'm sure was a much-needed 1-hour break. We decided to go shopping, milled around Target for awhile, and came back exactly one hour later to a line that was probably close to a 1/4 mile long. It looped around and around and went down the center aisle as far as the eye could see.

Needless to say we were not going to subject our twins or ourselves to that kind of wait, so we went home, vowing to take pictures in front of our Christmas tree instead. But, the girls were fussy by now, I had to go straight to nursing, and their outfits were stripped off & they went to sleep. So did we.

So... hopefully your Christmas went better than ours! LOL I'm sure it did as most people are smarter than we are and have one baby at a time instead of two!

We did get a few snapshots of Christmas day, though not as many as we'd hoped, and the girls were just in their jammies. Christmas was fun however! The girls are still sleeping it off.

Posted at 07:46 am by lisachu
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Dec 22, 2008
then and now

The girls are nearly 5 months old now.  The time has absolutely flown by!

I thought I'd post some "then" and "now" pics... they really have grown so much!


Two days old


4.5 months old

Posted at 09:58 am by lisachu
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Dec 20, 2008
silly girl

Just a quick video of Leigh's new habit.  She does this all the time!





Posted at 02:32 pm by lisachu
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