“Striving for a better world by adopting secular values that promote a strong sense of moral ownership with a focus on human dignity and respect and having the courage to embrace reason, critical thinking, and science as the keys to knowledge and empowerment. These are the core principles that we wish to pass on to our children for a promising future, and to serve as a defense against religious dogma and intolerance.”

Allison & Rich- A Couple of Atheists

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Posts written by Allison are more personal in nature, as she loves to get out there and interact with the public. Rich’s thoughts are much more intense and sure to make you think… no matter which you prefer, there is something for everyone.

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What Haunts Me About the Religious Response to the Humboldt Bus Disaster

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April 6, 2018, a bus carrying the Humboldt Broncos junior hockey team is hit by a semi truck and countless lives are forever changed. Chaos was the word I saw used most to describe the accident scene. The mangled remains of the vehicles, the overturned load of peat moss and the bodies of the twenty-nine passengers scattered across the highway. From first responders to hospital staff and people across the world that were learning details as they became available… it was pure chaos. Fourteen passengers died instantly, two others in the following days. Injuries ranged from a few bruises to paralysis and only time will tell the level of mental anguish that is experienced by those involved.

The worldwide response to this tragedy has been overwhelming. A gofundme page that originally listed a goal of ten thousand dollars has, as of this post, reached nearly twelve million. Part of that likely comes from the fact that the hockey community is a tight knit group. Everyone from peewee leagues to the NHL were quick to spread the word that these families were going to need our help. I have asked myself what it is about the Humboldt Broncos tragedy that hit so close to home for me. Perhaps it is that I have always been a fan of the sport or maybe it is that I have two stepsons in the same age range of those boys who were on the bus… whatever the reason I have found myself compelled to spread the word on the Humboldt tragedy. I have my stick on the porch for solidarity and have kept up with each story as the details unfold. I have read dozens and dozens of articles in the past ten days and though most were optimistic and educational, there were a few people using the tragedy as a chance to push their own agenda and I find that to be very disheartening. One that was particularly difficult to stomach was written by Tim Challies. It was the epitome of everything I find wrong with this predatory behavior and so I had to respond.

Anytime there is a tragic event resulting in mass casualties you can rest assured that the mass proselytization will follow. People love to use loss of life as an opportunity to try to scare the vulnerable survivors into joining their cult. And I assure you, it is a completely different level as instead of telling people how amazing life is when you have Jesus they try to instill fear by insisting that death without God will be torturous. I cannot comprehend what type of person can look a grieving mother in the eye and imply that their child is now in hell because they just didn’t choose God in time. Many times I am able to simply brush off the absurdities of the radicals but when it comes to the death of a child the predatory behavior haunts me.

It haunts me that there are people out there just waiting to use a tragic event as a chance to scare people into religion. Young people doing the responsible thing and exploring all the different perspectives that the world has to offer are being pressured to chose blindly. Rather than being encouraged to educate themselves they are being threatened with a life, and after-life, of pain and punishment.

It is my hope that people both young and old will use a tragedy like that in Humboldt as a wake-up call that life is fragile. That they will take it as a reminder to spend time with your loved ones and appreciate the beauty of each day. It is my hope that people will see that every moment we have on this beautiful earth is an opportunity to gain knowledge and teach others. I hope that they will see that we are only allowed this one life and we need to make the most of our time. The things we do, the relationships we make and the impact we have on the planet is what creates the memory that will let us live on. I hope they are able to find pleasure in making the most of what time they do have, as we never know which day will be our last.

In the spirit of Holy Week, we will rise up

I remember being in junior high school when Kip Kinkle took a gun into Thurston High School, he shot 50 rounds, injuring 25 people and killing 2. I remember being a Freshman in high school when Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris set multiple bombs inside of Columbine High School and when they didn’t work, the pair decided to shoot up the place instead. The Columbine massacre received far more attention than that of Thurston High, I speculate that is due to a much higher fatality rate, 13 killed and 24 injured, as well as the massive media exposure it received. Despite that they both made an impact on me as a student. Some of the smaller shootings that have occurred in the United States have been brushed off with little media coverage other than the local news. When you think of school shootings you likely think of Columbine, Virginia Tech, Sandyhook and now Stoneman Douglas, but this issue runs deeper than that. In fact in the 20 years that have passed since Kip Kinkle walked into his school with a gun and Nikolas Cruz chose to do the same, over 150 people have died from gun violence in our schools.

It breaks my heart to think that in 20 years we haven’t been able to reach an agreement and pass legislation that would help to keep guns out of the hands of children. Now, through the tragedy at Stoneman Douglas our youth are finally saying enough is enough. I am not sure why it took this long, but I am thankful it is happening now. The “March For Our Lives” was so inspiring. To see students rallying together and demanding action was truly beautiful, but now we have to stay strong.

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It is no surprise that this is bringing about a flood of counter-protest and not just from regular citizens but from the media and politicians. You can tell that the people are afraid of what regulation might develop as they are grasping at anything they can in an attempt to avoid the real issues. From Leslie Gibson calling Emma González, a “skinhead lesbian,” to Laura Ingraham taking to Twitter to poke fun at David Hogg over which colleges did not accept him. The behavior we have seen from many of the adults in position of power is disgraceful. I can only shake my head as I sit and try to figure out how I will explain this to my daughter one day.

Listen, whether you want to accept it or not these children are the future of our country. So you may fight them, call them names, try to destroy their spirit now, but you cannot stop them from growing up and becoming voters. These amazing children that we see marching for their lives in Washington DC will one day be serving in office, maybe even as the president. These outdated laws and flawed ways of thinking will eventually die out as fresh new minds enter into the world of politics.

You may have noticed that when Laura Ingraham made an apology to David Hogg it was “in the spirit of Holy week”. Not in the name of humanity, not because what she did was wrong and she was acknowledging it, but as an attempt at virtue signaling. Some people may fall victim to the theory that a belief in God makes you a good person, but it isn’t true. It is easy for people to slip religion in as a screen to try to make themselves look better, but anyone with a rational mind can see through it. As Michelle Obama once said “When they go low, We go high” so in the spirit of Holy Week, I suggest we rise up.

 

I just want to stop the bleeding…

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Several seizures, a few trips to the ER, numerous conversations with my OB/GYN, ultrasounds, medications… but no matter what I do the bleeding just won’t stop. I haven’t even had the chance to deal with my feelings because of how severe my physical symptoms have been. When I lost Lily I had a D&C with almost no complications but with Riley it seems that everything that can go wrong is going wrong.

People keep telling me God has a plan for me, that all of this is part of that plan and eventually I will understand… hearing this makes me want to scream. What the hell did I do to deserve the loss of two beautiful babies? What did I do to have to feel like I lose Riley over and over every time I experience one of the horrific events I mentioned above? I cannot comprehend loving a God, and putting all your faith in it and being okay with this type of pain being something you need to experience. No one should have to experience this and any God that believes babies need to die in order teach adults a lesson can go straight to hell.

Losing two babies in less than a year has made me reflect on a lot of things in my life and of course religion/faith is one of them. I know it would all be easier if I could just blame God and resign to the idea that  it was for the best, but I don’t see it that way. I have been putting my faith in science and have been hopeful that the medical community could give me some answers but unfortunately it isnt as easy as it sounds. All of the tests and procedures are expensive. The only thing my genetic testing showed was that I have two copies of the MTHFR gene mutation which turns folic acid toxic when you are pregnant… so that might be the cause of the miscarriages… but as is often the case with science we can’t prove it so we can’t declare it the answer. And my doctors can’t explain why I am still bleeding and suffering the blood clots… all they can say is that they must not have removed everything during the first D&C and that unless they go in and look again they can’t say for sure what is going on… unfortunately I dont have the funds for another procedure so I wont find out any time soon.

On top of the cramping, bleeding and clots I am also experiencing some very unpleasant side effects. I know most people don’t want to hear about this but honestly, it is a horrific fact of life that this is what happens when a baby dies while still inside the womb. I will try not to get too graphic because the situation, especially when you see it with your own eyes day after day is incredibly traumatic… For instance, the other day while at work I passed a mass that was about the size of a golf ball. It was so traumatic that I actually took a photo of it and texted Rich with a message of “OMG what is this?”. I ran downstairs to the ER (one benefit of working in a hospital) the doctor said it appeared to be a combination of tissue and clotted blood… but they couldn’t say for sure without tests, which I had to decline because that would have been insanely expensive and really what difference does it make? It would just break my heart more to know I was holdinh products of conception in my hand… and it certainly wouldn’t help me to move forward.

On top of everything else I am dealing with the fact that we don’t live in a perfect world and that health care in the US kinda sucks. Each D&C is over 8,000 and my out of pocket expense is roughly 1,500 per procedure. This is on top of all of the ultrasounds, ER visits, and the 1,000 ambulance ride that occurred when I recently suffered a grand-mal seizure. It isn’t just the financial strain it puts on our family that ticks me off, it is that every time I receive an email that a new bill is in I have to cringe because it is just another reminder that my beautiful babies are gone. We currently have a go fund me set up because, as embarrassing as it is, we cannot handle all of these bills. I have actually told my doctor that I cannot make any more appointments because we are not able to afford it. In addition, Rich and I have canceled our wedding because all the money has to go straight to the insurance company.

I really just need all of this bleeding to stop and I mean that in the literal and metaphorical sense. I know eventually the physical symptoms will end and someday the bills will be paid off… but when will I start to feel like me again?  I just don’t think I will truly heal until I can tackle the emotions I am experiencing and I don’t think I can delve into that until the external issues have been addressed. I appreciate everyone who has taken the time to follow my journey, sad as it may be, knowing that there are people that care helps me more than you know.

 

*please feel free to share our link if you know anyone who might be able to relate to our struggle and would be interested in helping out

 https://www.gofundme.com/LilyandRiley/

hugs, blood and gene mutations…

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A month has passed since we lost our baby. I am still heartbroken and still bleeding. I received test results that show I have an MTHFR gene mutation which likely contributed to the miscarriage, I also received a hospital bill for 1020.93… that’s really about it as far as updates.

I sort of feel like I am drowning. Every day there is something else piling on top of me. Another piece of bad news… something else to try to handle so that I can keep things stable. I barely have any free time right now because I have been trying to work overtime to pay off all of the bills associated with the pregnancy and miscarriage. The only time I get with Arabella during the week is a few hours in the early afternoon when we are getting ready for the 30min ride to my dad’s house so he can watch her while I go to work… then I get home at 11:45pm and that is when I get to tuck her into bed. This is my favorite time of the day. Arabella gives me the biggest smile when I come in the door. She makes the most of those few minutes before bed time, showing me toys and chattering away. Then I hear “love you mama” as I squeeze her tight. Honestly, the hugs she gives me at night before she goes to sleep are truly the reason I wake up the next day.

When I read the test results on the MTHFR gene mutation I cried. It is so terrible to feel like you failed your baby. My rational mind knows that it was nothing I did and that there was no way for me to know about it and that even knowing it is still possible that I could have had a normal pregnancy and all of the other things people are saying. However in my heart, when I sit alone at night in the dark, it feels like it was my fault. I was able to keep Arabella safe for those amazing nine months that she spent in my tummy… why did I fail Lily and Riley? I have been feeling physical pain thinking about it. I get this sharp burning pain up my neck as all of my muscles tense up as I realize I will never again birth a child.

I know that writing all of this will cause me to be flooded with information on how MTHFR is very common and that I can absolutely have a successful pregnancy. I know that physically it is possible, but at this point I cannot take the risk. Emotionally I am strained. The loss of Lily broke my heart, losing Riley broke my spirit… I cannot even imagine what would be left of me with another loss. A lot of people have told me that now is not the time to make the decision to be finished… but the decision has been made. One of my dearest friends told me that “he” (pointing to the sky) will decide when/if I am done… I told her that if “he” can get past the vasectomy we are planning. plus regular birth control, she might make a believer out of me. Until then I am going to stick with science. Clearly the odds are not in my favor to have a healthy pregnancy. There are ways to treat all of the things that are wrong and I believe that moving forward and enjoying all that I do have is going to be the first step in conquering this anxiety and depression that are plaguing me day and night. The bleeding has to stop eventually… right?

this is my blood, it is shed for you…

“for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul” Leviticus 17:11

I could feel it in my gut… the ultrasound wasn’t going to go well. I kept a smile on my face in the waiting room as a woman 3 weeks from her due date compared notes on what it was like to spend the summer in your third trimester (Arabella was born 7/21/14) I didn’t want to bring down the mood in a room full of joy. Inside I was petrified. When the ultrasound tech called me back I went into the tiny room and let her know that things hadn’t been going well. She said that she read the previous notes and she was aware… she then asked if I wanted her to tell me straight what she was seeing… I said of course. As I watched the screen I saw her measure my uterus, the gestational sac and that is when the fetus came into view. It looked almost identical to the ultrasound 10 days prior… the only thing missing was the flicker of a heartbeat. She didn’t need to say the words, I  already knew the truth, our baby had died. I started to have a panic attack and rushed to get dressed. When the doctor came in I was crying uncontrollably and dry heaving while sitting on the floor of the examination room. I couldn’t control my emotions. Even as they escorted me to the surgery scheduling area and I passed by the young woman with whom I had been chatting just 30 minutes before… she smiled at me and I could not help my response… I just kept crying. The doctor said the baby was going to start to pass soon and so she wanted to do a D&C the following morning. I vaguely remember signing the papers and being handed a stack of pamphlets. I called Rich from the parking lot and he immediately left work so he could meet me at the house. The drive I made from the doctor’s office to my home is a complete blur… I know there was an intense rainstorm and it made focusing on the road that much more difficult. I felt destroyed by the news. I felt like ripping my skin off. I felt like a failure as a woman and as a mother. Somehow I made it home safely but I didn’t sleep much that night.

The next day the procedure was fine. It was quick and relatively painless. The next two days of physical recovery were pretty easy so I was dealing mostly with my emotions. Then while sitting at my computer I felt a warm sensation in my abdomen and the feeling that something was falling out of my body. I ran into the bathroom and passed a blood clot that was just about the size of a plum… and unfortunately this was not a one time incident. Since my procedure on the 7th I have had 3 weeks of bleeding, clotting, tests, pain and general frustration. This time around the physical pain has been overwhelming. With my loss last fall it was mainly emotional pain but the physical side is really coming into play now. It might sound strange but the fact that I cannot get past the physical symptoms is making it nearly impossible to face this depression. People don’t really talk about the things that happen to your body when you lose a child but they are truly traumatic. When I was in the 10 day waiting period in-between ultrasounds I remember fearing the site of blood every time I entered a bathroom…. now with my baby gone the blood is all that is left.  Every single time I pass a clot it is as if the baby is dying all over again. No doctor can seem to tell me how long I will experience this constant reminder that my body failed to protect my baby…but I would give anything to have the bleeding stop.

The bleeding is something that no one else sees… but they do see my tears. I have been an emotional wreck over the loss of my baby. I have cried at work, the grocery store, in the car… with friends, with Rich and especially alone at night, when I think about it the most. Hell I am even crying right now while I sit in the dark typing this out. The crying isnt always for the same reason. Sometimes it is sadness, thinking about the fact that my daughter isn’t going to be a big sister… thinking that I am never going to hold an infant to my breast cherishing a life created with the man I love. Other times it is out of shame. Something about admitting aloud that once again I failed my child, that just 9 months . after the death of our 2nd child my body proved incapable of caring for our 3rd. Then there are the times that I cry out of anger. I get this feeling of rage because I just want to understand why it keeps happening. When you lose a child everyone wants to tell you how common it is. Well I am sorry, but that does not comfort me one bit. It floods my body with a combination of anger and sadness that is indescribable. These are the moments that I start to wish I had some type of deity to blame it all one. Some higher power who could take credit for the entire ordeal so that I could move forward… no need to cry… i’d be able to feel confident that there was a purpose to it all and that I was blessed to have God looking over me. Unfortunately my brain is not capable of accepting nonsensical bullshit so I will have to work it out on my own and damn-it there may never be a reason. That is the worst part for me, the not knowing. My doctor took tissue samples to check for chromosome abnormality and has also ordered a slew of tests to look for genetic disorders that may be causing my losses. I know though that all the tests in the world may never tell me why my baby is gone.

I have had several people “remind” me that I did have 1 successful pregnancy and that I should be thankful that I have my daughter. If you ever think of saying this to a mother that has just suffered the loss of a baby, please stop yourself. Not only does it imply that the mother doesn’t appreciate her living child but it also implies that the grief the mother is feeling is not justified. I won’t try to speak for any other grieving mothers but in my case the love I feel for my daughter has never been in question. Arabella means everything to me… she is a reason to wake up every morning, to go to work and to push through even when it hurts just to move. That being said, the love I feel for Lily and Riley (baby 2 and baby 3 respectively ) is also real and my grief is valid. The love I feel for one doesn’t take away from the other and if anything losing these two babies has made me appreciate Arabella even more.

Rich and I have decided that we can not risk this happening again. We will be taking action to make sure that I do not get pregnant again.  It isnt that I don’t want another baby but that I cannot handle another loss. The first one broke my heart and the second broke my spirit. In order to be the best mother I can be I need to focus all of my energy on raising Arabella. I feel fortunate that she is young enough that she didn’t even know I was pregnant let alone that the babies died. Of course one day I will tell her. I remember knowing from a young age that my own mother lost two babies and actually that knowledge was helpful during this difficult time. I was able to go to my mother for help in dealing with my feelings, because I knew she’s been there too. At one point I said ” I know it has been a few weeks but I can’t stop thinking about it” to which she replied “Allison, I am 62 years old and I still think about the babies I lost, it’s okay to be sad.” . Those words meant more than anything my mother has ever said to me, I will hold them in my heart always.

So now I am left to deal with all of these emotions…. still mourning the loss of Lily last fall and now trying to accept that Riley is gone as well. I am thankful for all of the people in my life that have offered love and support. Unfortunately I know that it is something that is going to take a long time to heal… I just hope I can make it through…God knows I am trying my best.

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Not in God’s hands… but also not in mine…

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The past month has been tough on me. It started on June 4th when I left work, went to the store and had a grand-mal seizure. An ambulance took me to the hospital where nothing happened because, well, I have Epilepsy and seizures are just part of it… or are they? I knew something was different about this one. On the 5th after much sleep and no longer in a post-ictal state I decided to take a pregnancy test and despite the fact that my period wasnt due for several more days I was treated to the sight of a blue line… once again, I am pregnant.

My last pregnancy started with a seizure and as you may know from reading previous posts, it ended in a miscarriage. Right from the start I was petrified of this pregnancy. I contacted my OB immediately. She ordered blood work which seemed to go well, my HCG was definitely rising but not at the rate they’d like. So on the 16th I had my first ultrasound. Keep in mind that before this my last ultrasound ended with the words “I’m sorry but I don’t see a heartbeat” so going in I was experiencing anxiety like none i’d felt before. When the tech started looking she saw a gestational sac, a yolk sac but no fetal pole. I wept right there. My doctor said that my ovulation dates might just be off and that we needed to start a course of progesterone and wait 10 days to have another ultrasound before we could know what was really happening, but all hope was not lost.

Those 10 days felt like eternity. I used my progesterone each night and read up on any and all tips to help a pregnancy “stick”. One mistake I made was asking the great minds of the internet if anyone else has experienced this. I did receive some positive words, some anecdotal evidence that it could turn out alright… but one woman really stood out. She was insistent that at my stage of pregnancy there should have been a fetal pole and if there wasn’t at that ultrasound there wasn’t going to be one on the 26th. It was sickening how badly she wanted to be right about something so grim, but i suppose you find that type  n every circle.

Luckily for me she was wrong. As I held Rich’s hand and looked at him rather than the screen I heard the ultrasound tech say “and there is the fetus”. I turned my head to see this tiny jelly bean with a little flickering heart and once again, I wept. I was so happy to see that the baby was there but that was when I was hit with the downside. Even though we could see the fetus and a heartbeat, the fetus was measuring roughly a week behind and the heartbeat wasn’t strong enough to measure. That is when I was told that we needed to wait another 10 days before we would really know if this was a viable pregnancy.

I started to panic at the thought of losing another baby. My doctor made me promise not to over analyze every ache or pain. She said that unless I saw blood I should assume that my baby was safe in my womb, alive with a beating heart, as that was what we saw and what we knew to be fact at that moment. I asked for advice. Is there anything that I might be doing wrong that will cause a miscarriage. Is there anything thing that I need to do to prevent a miscarriage. She stopped me and said that by watching my diet, taking prenatal vitamins, extra folic acid and using progesterone each night I was doing everything I could. She told me that what was going to happen was already in motion and that it was “in God’s hands now”.

I left the office feeling severe anxiety and every day since has been more of the same. I have been randomly crying. I have been constantly asking Rich for reassurance that everything will be okay. I have had difficult sleeping and when I finally do drift off I have been having nightmares so vivid that I woke in a cold sweat. Everyone in my life is so sure that it is going to be fine. I want to believe them so badly. I would give anything to just relax and feel confident that my body is protecting the baby but I am not sure that after losing my baby in October 2016 I will ever feel confidence like I did with my first pregnancy.

So now it is 2:14 am on July 6 and by the end of the day I will know if my baby is growing properly, measuring to match my dates and most importantly, alive. I certainly don’t believe that the life of my baby is in God’s hands… but I think that concept might be easier to accept than the reality that it also is not in mine. This helpless feeling that there isn’t anything left for me to do except wait is pure torture. All I want is a healthy pregnancy like I had with Arabella. The chance to enjoy all of those special moments that lead up to bringing a beautiful life into the world. Will I get that chance or will I suffer another loss. For the past 10 days all I have felt is my heart pounding in my chest and now all I want to hear is the beating heart of my baby.

Excuse me for (pre) existing…

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On November 2, 1983 I was born…with my first pre-existing condition. You see just like many babies I was born with a heart murmur. My particular condition is an atrial septal defect (ASD) aka a hole in my heart. I have been fortunate that my ASD has never caused major complications, I have also been fortunate to have continuous health care throughout my life to make sure that it wasn’t an issue. Unfortunately this is not my only medical problem. It was April 9, 1993 that I had my first grand-mal seizure and received the diagnosis of Epilepsy. This diagnosis had a much greater impact on my life than the ASD. I have always said that I am only alive today because my father, a (retired) steel worker and union man, was able to provide amazing health insurance that gave me access to the best doctors and any treatment they saw fit. Over the course of the past 23 years I have been on 7 different medications, had extensive testing including a week long stay in the hospital where I was monitored by video and EEG to see what my surgical options would be. I also ended up having surgery in 2007 where the doctors gave me a VNS (vagus nerve stimulator) implant. Without health insurance that VNS  implant would cost roughly 20,000. This means that it would not have been an option for me and realistically would not be an option for most people. My prescription costs alone would be unafforable if not for my health insurance. The medications typically used for seizure control are not the type that show up on a free or low cost list. The two medications I take daily for my seizures would come to roughly 500 per month, which in our family is a significant amount. I have one daughter and 2 stepsons, all 3 have healthcare which we are happy to provide. A parents worst fear is that we could, like many people, fall on hard times and lose those benefits. God forbid life would hit you hard and you’d need a hand. The current president thinks you don’t deserve one, but I believe that health care is a right not a privilege… we all deserve to live.

I know what Trumpcare supporters will say. Since I already have insurance none of this applies to me. Well yeah maybe not right now, but what about in the future? More importantly what about all of the people who have situations similar to mine or much much worse that are struggling to stay alive. You see unlike my conservative counterparts I care about other people. I do not see my fellow Americans as disposable. I believe that whether they were born with their condition or developed it later they deserve full coverage. No one should have to worry about dying because they cannot afford to live. Some people in this country are so wealthy that they couldn’t even imagine what it feels like to choose between medication and the electric bill. They will never know the feeling of having to reject the recommended treatment because the cost is just to high. President Obama developed the ACA because he wanted America to thrive, President Trump is pushing for a plan that he probably hasnt even read, just because he wants his name out there…damn the consequence.

I don’t know when our country reached this point but we are not the strong nation we once were. America is only as strong as the citizens who inhabit the country and if our elected officials don’t care if the citizens live or die, why should others see us as anything but weak.  I hope that once again Trumpcare is rejected and that we don’t let this sneak past. This issue is far too important to be rushed, the Republican party knows this because they said it when the ACA was being developed. I will not sit by quietly while our government uses our lives as their tool for negotiating tax cuts. There is a compromise somewhere, a way to provide healthcare at a reasonable cost while still protecting the people who need it the most… but it is going to take hard work, dedication and compassion… let us “pray” that they won’t actually just let us die.

“that Atheist nut-job” aka my friend Marie

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So this past week FFRF, the constitution and my friend Marie all had a great victory. A huge monument of the ten commandments will be removed from the grounds of a public school right here in Pittsburgh. It seems like this should be an open and shut case. The monument violates the separation of church and state and therefore it has to go. It can literally be anywhere that isn’t owned by the government, the possibilities are endless! Still though, the locals are treating it more like the death of a dear friend and with that much anger has been released. Though I found it disturbing I cannot say that I was surprised to read all of the nasty comments people were making on social media. When given the chance to hide behind a screen people tend to let their inner demons out. On the other hand I was surprised when I was sitting at my desk at work and a co-worker said “Hey did you hear about that Atheist nut-job that got the monument destroyed? What is wrong with people!”. Without even thinking I responded “Yes I did, that’s my friend Marie”. When I said I was friends with the her you could hear a pin drop… so I quickly went into damage control. I immediately corrected her to say that she did not have it destroyed, but rather moved to an acceptable location. After that was cleared up I started talking who Marie is as a person and that she is more than just the Atheist who moved the monument. I went into the fact that she was not the one in the wrong here. The people who erected the monument in the first place were the ones that caused the problem. Someone should have been aware back then that this was a clear violation, they were wrong and now they have been corrected, end of story.

Then came a question that I have heard many times in cases like this “but why did she care, how was it hurting her?”. I explained that though it may seem like an innocent monument allowing violations such as this to slip through the cracks opens the door for bigger issues down the line. If suddenly Marie’s daughter was asked to say a prayer alongside the pledge of allegiance we’d be livid and rightly so… then the school district would try to say “but look the ten commandments are right there, clearly you knew God was part of our agenda”. One small oversight can make way for calamity and that is why it is our duty as citizens to make sure our rights are protected. People seem to have a disconnect between what the monument stands for and the monument itself. Clearly the issue isn’t that it is a large gaudy piece of marble, the issue is that it is promoting Christianity and we cannot allow children to be marginalized in this way.

Another person asked me “What kind of example are we teaching our children? It’s okay to take someone’s stuff away just because you don’t like it!”. No, absolutely not. As stated above this piece of radical rock has the right to be displayed anywhere that isn’t government property and no one can say a damn thing. The example we are setting for the kids is that when someone is doing something that is wrong, even if it makes them happy, it is best to enforce the law.  In a Fox news report Todd Starnes said “the school district had an opportunity to teach kids how to defend their constitutional rights to stand up and do the right thing… instead they threw in the towel”. This my friends is exactly why this case had to happen. If this is what he believes than I  am not sure why Starnes isn’t praising Marie because she sent the exact message he felt was so important. I agree that it  is an amazing lesson to teach the children, thankfully Marie was there to do it as the school district certainly wasn’t up for the challenge. Our children need to know that they are safe going to school. That they will be taught facts that will aid them in their lives and that they are not at risk of indoctrination just by stepping onto the property. Whether they realize it or not all of the Christians that are angry about moving the monument should be praising Marie… separation of church and state may not mean much when you are part of the (perceived) majority… but if you would just take a moment and  put yourself in her shoes you would see how important it really is.

 

Christmas after death…

Typically at Christmas I write a post about the “war on Christmas” or why I choose to celebrate despite being an Atheist… I will write about traditions and how important they are to me. This year I can’t seem to do it. This year was different. This year I lost my baby.

I have had no motivation to celebrate since the loss of my pregnancy. Four holidays that I enjoyed each year for 32 years didn’t make it to 33… not Halloween, not my birthday, not Thanksgiving and now not even Christmas.

I watch friends that have suffered loss finding comfort in their religion and just for a moment I wish I could also believe that everything was okay. They are confident their child is in a better place. They know the plan God had was for their child to sit beside him, to watch over them, to help others get through life. Their child was actually divine and therefore they are blessed to have received this gift.

 

As a nonbeliever I don’t have that. I know that what happened was inevitable, not because God needed my child but because genetics failed me. A chromosome abnormality made it so my child was never going to survive, even if I had carried to term. I know my child is gone and I will never see them again.  So what now?

I have actually had someone question if this is really that upsetting. It is. I have had people say it gets easier. I am sure it does… but not this Christmas. Something about the holiday season seems to make people more sentimental. Personally I find myself reminiscing of a simpler time. A time of innocence. When the older generations shouldered the stress and the burden and everything looked just fine to me. Maybe ignorance really is bliss… that would certainly explain the comfort my friends are able to feel. Due to their religion they are trapped in the mindset of a child. Instead of growing to shoulder the burden that was once held by older generations they can circumvent it by passing the buck to God. Sometimes I have to wonder which of us is the lucky one. A line from the dreadful remake of “Miracle on 34th street” springs to mind… “What’s better? A lie that draws a smile or the truth that draws a tear?”. In my heart I know that for better or worse it is always best face reality and find a rational way to deal with the situation… but that doesn’t mean it is easy to do.

The first Christmas without my pappy broke my heart, the first without my grandma felt that much worse but somehow this one tops them all. I don’t care if anyone understands my pain, I felt my baby inside me, I saw the life we created and that life was lost. I wish there was an easy explanation of how to handle Christmas after a death but there isn’t. For now I will continue to lean on those that love me and look towards the future. I will focus on the positive aspects of my life, for in the grand scheme of things I am incredibly fortunate. This particular year was quite trying, but  it has to get better at some point… right?

 

Abortion may not be what you think it is…

 

It is election day in the United States. For the record, I am voting for Hillary Clinton. I could go on and on about the plethora of reasons why… but I am not going to. One issue and one issue alone is enough to keep my vote strong and that issue is abortion.

Donald Trump has spent much of his campaign using scare tactics such as graphic descriptions of 3rd trimester abortions, making up scenarios that do not exist in the ob/gyn field, threatening to overturn Roe v. Wade and of course spewing inflated statistics to make it seem that getting an abortion is just a walk in the park.

While I have always been pro-choice, I never realized what it would feel like to have to say goodbye to the baby inside you and sign the papers authorizing an abortion. Now to be clear, as was described in a previous post, I did not voluntarily get an abortion, I miscarried at 12 weeks. However, due to a technicality in our ever so flawed health care system, in order for my insurance to pay for the procedure I had to sign papers authorizing an abortion. I was already weeping from learning there was no heartbeat so to go from that to scheduling my surgery and signing the papers in just a matter of moments was overwhelming to say the least. When they asked me to sign and I saw the word “abortion” on the consent I stared up at the nurse and exclaimed “I don’t want an abortion, I want my baby!!” and she went into damage control saying “no no it’s just what the papers say, you aren’t having an “abortion”, your baby is already gone but this is how we word it.” talk about adding insult to injury.

So now I am part of the overly inflated statistics for first trimester abortions. My tragedy can now be used against me. People won’t know why I had an “abortion” and guess what? They won’t care. Just like me, they are focused on the fact that a baby has died, the difference is that I now know first hand that it isn’t something anyone would want to do… it would only be done if it was in the best interest of mother and baby… and whether it happens naturally (miscarriage) or with help from a compassionate doctor, it is still painful and not something that needs to be thrown in the faces of all of the women who go through it. My doctor told me that 20% of pregnancies end in miscarriage, so if you take the number of those that need a D&C (the procedure which I had to sign off as an “abortion” and is used for abortions) with the number of women who have to make the impossible choice to abort and you are going to have what looks like an epidemic… but you are wrong… you are so wrong and you don’t even know it.

People have this image of a promiscuous girl who uses abortion as her primary form of birth control… and if they are as stupid as Donald Trump they envision a girl who waits until her third trimester and then decides “eh, I don’t think I want this baby afterall, I am going to go get an abortion”… it just does not work that way. I am not saying that every woman who has a miscarriage or an abortion feels the same way, there is certainly a broad spectrum of reactions… and that is okay. I am also not saying that the person who is lax about it doesn’t exist, but they aren’t the majority like pro-lifers would make you think. The “magic pill” that pro-lifers always describe still makes a woman deal with the choice of passing naturally or possibly ending up with a D&C… and either way it goes… natural or surgery, miscarriage or abortion… there will be pain emotional and physical and I would not wish it on anyone.

Sure, you could say that if I was pro-life or if signing the papers for my “abortion” really bothered me that much I could have let my baby pass through my body naturally… I could have sat there at home wondering when the baby would come out of my body… but I wasn’t able to handle that. The change in hormones had already caused one grand-mal seizure and my doctor feared more. Also, the choice to even see the baby after it is passed is incredibly personal and passing the baby at home takes away the option. I know people delivered in the hospital, who spent time with the fetus, took photos and had a funeral… I know people who wanted to see the fetus after their D&C but only after waking from anesthesia did they learn that they could not see the baby because it did not make it out in one piece… I know women who passed at home and then had to take the fetus to the hospital for genetic testing, an event that turned out much more traumatic than they ever imagined. From the moment I found out on Friday, October 28th to the moment I went in for my D&C on November 1  I was an emotional mess. It felt like my heart stopped every time I stepped in the bathroom, changed my clothes, took a shower… I was already bleeding so much, passing clots and much more… I was so frightened that my fetus would pass and I would be alone… so I am thankful that there were options like the one I chose… it could have been weeks and weeks of waiting and I have no idea what that would have done to me… and I would never judge any other woman who had to go through what I did for choosing the way that worked best for them… you have to do whatever you can to get through it.

You cannot imagine the pain of losing a child if you have never lost one. Some of the most courageous women I know have been through this in one form or another. I know women who aborted because it was the right choice for them, the brave choice to say they were not ready for a baby. I know women who lost their child through miscarriage in all different stages of pregnancy that had to be strong enough to make the best choice for their health now that baby was gone. I know women who had to abort based upon fetal/genetic abnormalities… these women knew their child would not survive outside of the womb and new that for themselves as well as their family it was better to end it before things got any worse. I even know a woman who was told by every doctor that the child was suffering genetic abnormalities that made life outside the womb impossible and yet she continued on with her pregnancy. She  wanted a miracle and she believed that it was possible and that everyone was wrong. When her baby was born it was extremely disfigured, internal parts on the outside and as predicted was born sleeping… the laboring and the reality had a detrimental effect upon her livelihood from that point forward. Of course with every tragedy there are times when it turns out alright, or that the choice to continue on even with the sad reality that baby wouldn’t survive was therapeutic and best for their particular situation. But no matter if you choose to terminate or decide to see it through it should be your decision because you are the one who must live with it… and it is not something that just goes away… just like a healthy pregnancy, one that ends tragically makes a lasting impact on your life. That baby was and is a part of you, no matter how short of a time you were together.

So when you cast your vote for a politician, if anti-abortion laws are high on your priority list I hope that you will take a moment to stop and think about what banning abortion could do. Any women who can get pregnant could end up with an “abortion” and not only is that a choice no one wants to make, it is sometimes the result of a choice we didn’t make.

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