My Wakeup Call: Planned Parenthood’s Undercover Footage

Caleb2“Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.” (Dietrich Bonhoeffer)

By now, I hope you’ve become aware of the extensive footage released so far, depicting Planned Parenthood’s barbaric practices, specifically the sale of baby body parts and intact aborted baby cadavers for profit. I trust you haven’t bought Planned Parenthood’s pathetic attempts to discredit the footage. The gruesome details released, both in the form of graphic conversation and graphic footage, has nauseated me plenty of times over the past weeks since the movies surfaced.

In the coming months, I’d like to continue posting about this issue, so for now I’d just like to make two simple points to “begin the conversation” and offer some practical ways to get involved.

Turning a Blind Eye

I confess that I have been turning a blind eye to the horrific abortion industry for my whole life. I’ve financially supported a pregnancy clinic once in awhile, Walked for Life, and prayed at the Life Chain, and that’s exactly where my defense of the defenseless ends. I am ashamed of my apathy. I’d like to be clear that it is not the fact that Planned Parenthood is selling their aborted babies that has suddenly filled me with what I believe is righteous indignation; rather, God has used these videos to shake me. Babies are being murdered in cold blood, every day, right in my city, and on top of that, they are being sold. I am compelled to be a part of abolishing abortion and protecting life.

I believe that burying our heads in the sand and ignoring what’s going on with Planned Parenthood (and other abortion clinics) is selfish and cowardly. It’s what I’ve been doing for years, but suddenly I can see in living (dead) color the horror that is abortion and I will no longer turn a blind eye. I understand that the videos are brutally graphic and might bring on nightmares; but in my case, having my stomach churn at the site of dead baby organs is what was needed for my wakeup call. So if you’ve been avoiding the movies and articles, and you’re simultaneously doing nothing to oppose abortion and stand up for life, maybe it’s time to sit down and take an honest look at what’s happening.

Planned Parenthood is Evil, Not Good

Planned Parenthood should not be receiving even one bit of support or defense from anyone with any sense of morality. The fact that they provide free HIV testing and contraceptives (which some PP clinics significantly profit from anyway) is a pathetic reason to defend them. If you knew of a group of people that were slaughtering 2-year-olds by dismemberment, but served free lunch to the homeless every day, would you call that group “good”? Planned Parenthood is slaughtering unborn babies that feel pain and are every bit as human as 2-year-olds. So we really shouldn’t even take into consideration anything “good” that they’re doing. It’s 100% irrelevant.

What Can You Do?

  • Pray, pray, pray. When you think of this situation, pray. When you see another article on Facebook, pray. When you spot a pro-choice bumper sticker, pray.
  • Raise awareness. Stay informed and share credible articles about this crucial issue on social media. Talk about it with your friends. The mainstream media is downplaying or ignoring it, so it’s up to us to keep spreading the truth about abortion. A social media war has erupted in response to these videos, and we need to participate.
  • Support your local pregnancy clinic, financially and/or with your time. There are many needs and ways to get involved.
  • Find a way to mentor a single mom or parents who really weren’t ready for the responsibility. Help these needy people who have bravely chosen to protect life!
  • Teach your children about the sanctity of human life and God’s incredible design that begins at conception. Ensure that these important values are being passed down to the next generation.
  • Join public rallies, walks, or respectful protests. Look into 40 Days for Life, the Life Chain, or find out what events your local crisis pregnancy clinic recommends.
  • Share the gospel with the unbelievers in your life. Not only should we desire that they be saved, but a regenerated heart can go from being staunchly pro-choice, to seeing human life through a biblical lens.
  • Consider adoption or support others who are adopting. Mothers who choose life often are unable to care for their babies, which means that adoptive parents are needed!
  • Get behind politicians who are defending the unborn. Vote for them and pray for them. Sign petitions and/or call your state representatives/senators/governor when a bill pertaining to abortion is being introduced.

Hopefully there’s more to come, but these are just a few initial thoughts. God is using very sad news to stir me to action, and I hope He’s doing the same in you!

For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth; Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Your book were all written The days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was not one of them. (Psalm 139:13-16)

{My Photography} Jon, Jessica, & Baby Matthew

It’s been far too long since I’ve blogged, I know. I’ve got about five different posts bouncing around in my brain, but life has been really crazy! For now I just wanted to quickly share a few photos I was privileged to capture of this sweet couple last weekend. Jon and Jessica are expecting Matthew, a sweet baby boy who has Trisomy 18. I would like to encourage you to read their story on Jessica’s blog and lift them up in prayer as they approach their due date!

http://giftofyahweh.blogspot.com/

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{My Photography} Ordinary Joy Photography Recents

I’ve really enjoyed getting more photography practice lately. I’m finding it’s incredibly rewarding when I actually capture on camera what I envisioned in my head. (I never knew that could actually be so challenging!) I have SO much to learn and I’m still very limited in what I can get, but I’ve made progress and that’s encouraging. Here are a few favorites from my recent work. If you have an Instagram, follow me @ordinaryjoyphotography to see more! =)

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{My Photography} Ordinary Joy Photography Launch

I’m excited to officially launch my little business, Ordinary Joy Photography, specializing in maternity and newborn photography. I love the delight that can be found in everyday moments, and my middle name is “Joy”, so those pieces combined to create the name. I have had a lot of fun practicing on various patient subjects, and although I still have an amateur skill set and very limited equipment, I think I am ready to do some “official” photography on the side. Here’s the link to my Facebook page…please give it a like to see my work and to stay tuned for deals and other info. =)

Note: Pricing packages have changed, please check my Facebook page.

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{Mommy Journal} The Day a Miracle Happened

Birth stories are not for everyone, and that is totally okay. However, many of you have asked for details about how labor and delivery happened for me, Andrew, and our little Caleb, and I thought I would share our story here. It is truly a miracle, as every single birth story is. All glory to God for His incredible design. Please be warned that some of this may be medically graphic; read with caution. =)

One more note: I want to make it clear that I do not think epidurals are sinful, foolish, selfish, or any other such thing. It is quite possible that I will opt for one in future deliveries. Please do not read into any of my decisions as being convictions I think other people should maintain. 

On Friday morning, November 14, I went to a routine doctor’s appointment. I was excited to be 3cm dilated and 70% effaced already! But I also learned that my blood pressure was high for the second appointment in a row, and this time it was worse and it wasn’t coming down with repeated tests. My doctor sent me to labor and delivery so they could monitor it over a few hours. Andrew left work immediately and stopped by the house to get our bags in case I went into labor before heading my way.

After a few hours of having my blood pressure taken every 10 minutes, the doctor came in and gave us news we did not expect: she was concerned about my levels and wanted to induce me. I was really nervous at this point. I knew that induced labors usually meant stronger contractions, and I was so wanting to have a natural birth. But I was also excited–we were going to meet our baby! Naively I thought it would probably be that night, especially given the progress I had already made without any real labor!

We were moved to our delivery room around 4:30. Andrew brought us take out and we enjoyed the incredible view of the Hollywood sign and LA hills before they started pitocin at about 5:15. My wonderful doula, Rachel, had also joined us by this time. For a few hours, we all chatted between my mild contractions. At about 9:00 PM, in the middle of visiting, I heard and felt an intense “pop” inside me.

“Wow,” I said to Rachel and Andrew, “Something just popped inside me!”

“It was probably your water!” Rachel said optimistically.

Next thing I knew, water was literally gushing onto the bed. We’re talking what felt and looked like gallons. I’m not kidding. I started laughing uncontrollably as the nurses came and began cleaning up while the water continued to spill out in heavy bursts. I was crying, I was laughing so hard!

And then it hit me. The first real contraction. And that was the last time I laughed or smiled until 4:06 PM the next day. My doula later told me that she had never in almost 200 births seen such dramatic water breakage and such a sudden onset of hard contractions.

What ensued was hours and hours and hours of intense back labor. Yes, the dreaded back labor I had read about and wanted so much to avoid was unfortunately my lot. Caleb was in a posterior position, meaning his back was against my back, and thus, the greatest intensity of the contractions was in my back and not my abdomen.

This meant that the comfort measures we had learned did not work because they were based on counter pressure. Andrew had planned to rub my back and put pressure on my hips and back to counter my abdominal pain, but since my contractions were in my back, trying these techniques just increased the already excruciating pain.

One of the worst things about back labor for me was the insanely intense pressure on my tailbone and rectum, which gave me the strong urge to push from 5cm on and also made it entirely impossible to sit down. I can’t describe how hard it was to labor with the constant urge to push but know that my body was nowhere near being ready to do so.

I spent hours upon hours in the shower, on all fours over my exercise ball, while Andrew ran alternating hot and cold water over my back. With every contraction, I took a sip of water when it was over from a straw he always had ready right in front of me. I dozed off in 60ish second intervals between the contractions. (Getting awoken by a new wave of a contraction is the worst thing in the world.)

If I had to guess, I would say that I had my eyes closed for about 90% of labor. I also had zero sense of time. All I knew for sure is that I was in misery, that I was going to meet our baby eventually, and that Andrew never left me.

After what felt like forever in excruciating pain, the nurse midwife on call (who was horrible) checked me and reported that I was 4cm. I was devastated. After my first round of throwing up, I had been sure that I was in transition and must be at least 8cm. I can’t even describe how discouraging it was to know I had gone through all that for one stinking centimeter and no change in the baby’s station (position). Andrew and Rachel were incredibly positive, insisting that I was amazing and that my progress was wonderful! So I kept going.

Slowly, one centimeter at a time, I progressed. The snail-pace progress brought me down every time I was checked. But each time Andrew kept telling me how amazing I was and that he knew I could do it. And he stayed by me, holding me, comforting me, coaching me, and soothing me every second. I threw up only four times during labor, and each time I literally enjoyed it because it was such an incredible break from the back pain. I looked forward to the heaves. But each time I also thought surely I must be in transition.

Andrew and I prayed out loud throughout labor and I tried to hold onto knowing that God was in control of my baby’s well being and my body’s ability to bring the baby into the world. During some contractions, I transported my thoughts to holding my baby or being at the beach with Andrew. For a few seconds I could sometimes feel a little removed from the pain.

Sometime in the morning on Saturday, my doctor came in. She explained that I had been 8cm for several hours, that I wasn’t progressing, and that my contractions were starting to get more spaced apart. She told me that she was concerned that the baby was big and I wouldn’t be able to deliver him vaginally without an epidural, and she also said that I needed to restart the pitocin to get my contractions to pick up again. She said that if I didn’t do the epidrual, I would likely end up with a C-section. (Also, with back labor, babies’ heads are not positioned ideally for the birth canal, making the fit bad and vaginal delivery less successful.)

I began bawling and pieced something like the following together between sobs. “I am already in so much pain, I literally cannot imagine how these contractions could be any more intense. I just don’t think I can take any more pain and I don’t see how pitocin is going to work.”

Andrew held my hand. “I think we need to do the pitocin,” he said gently. “It’s going to help the baby get here. You can get the epidural if you want to, and then you could rest. There is no wrong decision here. It is totally up to you and I will support you no matter what you decide. But I know you can do it without if that’s what you want to do!”

An epidural sounded beyond amazing at this point. The thought of being able to rest while my body worked to fully dilate and then having energy to push was so appealing. Instant relief was within my reach. All I had to do was say the word.

But somehow the words that came out were, “I don’t want the epidural. I know I can do this. Let’s start the pitocin.”

During the next several hours, my delivery team helped me get into positions on the bed to try to make the baby turn and get me out of back labor. Somehow these positions made the contractions I already thought were unbearable even worse. I tried to squelch my writhing to keep from getting out of position, but it didn’t’ always work.

At some point during this time, I called my mom and whispered between contractions that I was doing okay and that I was going to be able to have the baby. I felt so bad that she was waiting out in the waiting room all these hours. She encouraged me and said she knew I could do it and that she was praying.

Around noon, the doctor returned and checked me. “You’re 10cm!” she announced.

No words had ever sounded so amazing. I began sobbing tears of joy and relief. I had made it to 10cm! It was time to start pushing! We were almost there!

For the next three hours and 45ish minutes (I can’t remember the exact total my doula recorded), I pushed with every contraction. I’m sure the entire hospital could hear me yelling/groaning/grunting with every push, and I couldn’t have cared less. It was utterly exhausting and really painful, but I felt more in control than I had when I just had to wait out the contractions.

Eventually, I got the exciting news that the doctor could see our baby’s head. And guess what…he had hair!

With each contraction, I always gave one more push than I thought I could. I would push until I thought I surely couldn’t give one more, and then I would muster everything in me and push one more time. In my head, I thought, “This will get me there a little bit faster.”

After each contraction, I would groan, “I can’t do this anymore,” and Andrew would respond, “Yes you can! He’s almost here!” Andrew held my hand and was my biggest cheerleader the entire time I pushed. He was so thrilled to see the baby’s head and all the hair. He kept telling me Caleb was almost here.

Added later: I forgot to mention that at the last minute, while in the birth canal, the baby turned so that he was not born sunny side up! This is a miracle in my mind!

photo (1) And then it happened. I felt the ring of fire. An intense, crazy, burning sensation and tightness and pain. And I knew, “My baby is coming out!” It felt like it lasted maybe about 30 seconds. Then I felt a sudden relief as his head slipped through and my doctor said, “He’s here, take him!” and I reached down and pulled my squirming, gray, slippery baby the rest of the way out and drew him onto my chest.

Sphoto (2)obs. Joy. Relief. Love. The strongest emotions I have ever felt in my entire life. Andrew standing over me crying and looking at our baby’s face. Nineteen hours of active back labor over. The pain I was feeling faded into the background as I clung to my baby boy. I couldn’t see him, but I could feel him snuggled against my skin and I knew he was mine.

photo (4)That day, a miracle happened. A new little life came into the world and I got to be a part of making it happen. I know I never could have survived labor without God’s amazing grace, Andrew’s constant, undying support and encouragement, and the prayers of so many friends and family. The prize I got after all the pain was worth every second of it, 100 times over.

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{My Pregnancy Journal} 37 Weeks

photo (2)This is a late update but the picture is from Sunday, when I hit full term! It felt amazing to finally be into the “safe zone” for labor. I’m so thankful to report that Caleb’s head has stayed down. I thought he might have gone breech again on Sunday, but Monday’s ultrasound confirmed that he was still head down. It is a huge blessing and mental relief not to be anticipating a probably C-section, although of course that could still happen for other reasons.

I won’t write much about symptoms, except to say that I am very much feeling done being pregnant! =) Most of what I’ve written about is still there and most of it is worse…but one thing that I realized is gone is the bruising! Maybe as Caleb’s positions have changed he’s less prone to digging into my rib cage? Also my sciatica is gone and has been replaced with more general joint pain/looseness.

In all my labor and baby dreams, I hadn’t pictured Caleb’s face until a few days ago. For the first time I actually saw a little face in my dream. He had green eyes and a little bit of light brown hair. I am dying of curiosity…what does this little person inside me look like?

I would write more but it would technically be updates from this week, which should go into this Sunday’s post. I hope that I only have one more pregnancy update for you! We are really hoping Caleb is born not this weekend but the next, when Andrew’s extended Thanksgiving break begins! =) Babies rarely come when we want them, especially if it’s early, but one can dream.

We are continuing to pack in the little dates and adventures as we can. Yesterday I got my first red cup from Starbucks of the season! Little things like this together are so precious. Andrew has been amazing about dropping homework to spend time with me.

Praise the Lord for bringing our little boy to full term and continuing to grow and fashion him inside me. We can’t wait for that process to continue outside the womb!

{My Pregnancy Journal} 33 & 34 Weeks

unnamed (1)Well, as you may have noticed, I missed my 33 week update! All week long I kept thinking, “I should have Andrew take a picture of me” but it always sounded like too much work to get up from wherever I was and walk to the wall for a photo. I guess that tells you a little bit about my energy level these days! =) So here’s a picture that was still technically 33 weeks, and a 34 week photo the day after. ;)

Weeks 32 and 33 were uneventful, wonderful, and uncomfortable. Our baby continues to kick and squirm with seemingly endless energy. One night he played for almost two solid hours. Andrew spent much of that time with his hand on my tummy following Caleb’s feet around as they wiggled away. The next morning Caleb didn’t make a peep until about 11:00 AM. =)

Getting out of bed or off the couch is more difficult by the day it seems! If Andrew is nearby or awake I always recruit his help and he never complains. I am pretty sure I’m just days away from crawling to the bathroom at night instead of walking. I can barely make it there, between the extremely strong Braxton Hicks I always get, mild sciatica, and very unstable/painful joints. I don’t know what it is about the middle of the night, but it’s like my body falls apart. By morning I’m back to normal. Weird. I also have to get up 3-4 times now which is a little annoying. I love it when baby stirs while I am falling back asleep. It reminds me that these tiny annoyances are soooo worth the gift I am carrying around with me!

unnamed (2)My Braxton Hicks seemed to be getting stronger and more consistent week before last, and my doctor was a little concerned. Turns out the heat wave (in the 100’s) probably led me to mild dehydration which can cause stronger contractions, so I’ve been making sure I drink lots of water and they’ve stayed at safe levels/frequency since then. I am so thankful that everything is looking on track and there is no cause for alarm. God is gracious!

This Friday is our 34 week and final ultrasound! We are only 3 weeks away from full term today, and 6 weeks away from our due date! Caleb’s arrival feels just around the corner!

I would appreciate prayer that apartment work would slow down (it looks like it should, our last of eight vacancies is just about rented) so that I have time and energy left over to get some things together before labor! Lately the job has been sucking most of my time and when I’m done with it, I just don’t have the energy or motivation to work on the projects I’m so much wanting to. Thank you, friends! =)