Why I’m Pro-Life

Maddox just turned 4 months old.  Every night, I say the same prayer for him: to be protected, healthy, kept safe, and to one day accept Jesus as his Lord and Savior.  I am a Christian, and I try my best to put God at the center of my life-every decision.  Sometimes, I fail, but for this election, I held true to my values.

When I look at Maddox, I realize how truly pro-life I am.  The moment I heard his heart beat at just a few weeks in utero, I would have done anything for him. I cannot support a politician who doesn’t flinch if a woman wants an abortion for unrelated health purposes.  I have been told, “There needs to be separation of church and state.” I disagree. The more we push Jesus out, the worse, I believe, our country is getting. “What a woman chooses to do with her body is her right.” What about the baby’s rights? Women have options if they do not want to raise a child, but as a Christian, I view abortions as murder.

When I was about 20 weeks pregnant, I was given the option to test for disorders such as Down Sydrome.  I asked around to a few of my friends on whether they got the test or not, as well as their reasons for it.  I heard a few mixed answers.  One that struck me uncomfortably was, “Yes.  I recommend it. That way, you can decide if you want to keep the baby or not.”  I was totally left speechless, and then I asked one more person. My friend Brittney.  Brittney has been one of my closest friends since childhood, and she is the epitome of a Christian woman.  Her response spoke volumes to me: “No, I wasn’t tested. It didn’t matter.  If God wanted to give us a child with Down Syndrome, then He obviously thinks we can handle it.”  That was all I needed to hear. I spoke with Jesse, and he agreed. There would be no test for me, but abortion would not be an option.

After Maddox’s birth, my 0pinion on the subject was even stronger. I look at him and thank God for this wonderful blessing. I have friends who have adopted and love their children just as much as I love mine.  These parents are also thankful to their children’s biological mother for choosing life.  That choice not only saved the lives of the babies, but brought a new love to a family.

I’ve often wondered why God allows some women to get pregnant so easily knowing they do not want to have a child, while others pray relentlessly for one-only to never have the chance.  I don’t know the answer to that question. I’m not supposed to.  Jesse and I became pregnant with Maddox very quickly, and four days after his birth, we knew we wanted more children. The same may not happen again for me as quickly, or at all, but that is out of my hands.

My mom and I have talked about abortion often. She knows my stance, and she sometimes reminds me that I did not feel this way as a teenager or college student. I was fine with abortion, but I also feel people change.  I didn’t know then what I know now.  I had never heard a heartbeat or had seen a sonogram.  I hope one day abortions become illegal again.  I know that is  a controversial statement, but that is the beauty of being American. I have the right to    say what I want to say, just as those who oppose me can do the same.

I believe every life is a blessing from God, and I believe every baby is created in the image of Him. To destroy that breaks my heart, especially knowing there are so many families out there who would love to raise a child.

Ecclesiastes 11:5

Just as you cannot understand the path of the wind or the mystery of a tiny baby growing in its mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the activity of God, who does all things.

Hello, President Trump

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I’m waking up this morning to the news that Donald Trump will be our new president.  Although our country is completed divided on this announcement, I am actually relieved to hear this.  I voted for Donald Trump.

The truth is I was never sold on Trump as a person. I still have my own personal reservations with him; however, I decided to vote for the candidate who was most aligned with my values and ultimately against the Clinton Administration.

I’ve heard many times that we should separate church and state.  As a Christian, I disagree. I will always put Him first in all my decisions including who to vote for as my Commander in Chief. When I was 18, I went with my Government class to the local voting precinct to register.  Our teacher had spent months teaching us of the various stances of each party that would prepare us to make a decision on which party to affiliate ourselves.  The Republican Party resonated with me most.  I was and still am pro-life, a supporter of the 2nd Amendment, a believer in a strong military, a proponent of small business, etc. I could go in detail about why I feel the way I feel about each of these stances, but that is not why I’m writing this.  What is needed to know is these are my values and beliefs, and they line up perfectly with conservatism.  So, that day in my government class, I registered as a Republican and never looked back.

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Maddox’s 2016 Halloween Costume
“Third Party Candidate Nominee”
He was endorsed quite a bit that night.

I didn’t vote for Obama in 2008 nor 2012.  I didn’t think he was a bad guy (still don’t). I just didn’t vote at all in 2008, and in 2012, I liked Romney better, but these last eight years, I’ve seen our country go down-economically and morally. Being a military spouse, I started to fear ISIS more than just an average American.  We would hear about attacks on Americans or a possible threats on the military base where my husband worked.  We were told families of military were getting targeted and to change our social media names, don’t post any pictures military related, and even possibly take down our American flags that hung outside our homes so that we didn’t bring attention to ourselves.

Aside from possible terrorism attacks, I would speak to my father about the rising cost of Obamacare that he didn’t even want, but was forced to have.  I watched our country start getting more racially divided.  There was an increase in mass shootings, while trustworthy Americans were being threatened that their 2nd Amendment right was going to be taken away. The influx of illegal immigrants was beginning to get out of hand. I believe that with a Clinton Administration, these things would only not get better, they would actually get worse.

I need to be able to trust my President, and I do not trust Hillary Clinton.  I do not need nor desire to get into the various reasons I find her untrustworthy. I honestly feel it is a bit of a rhetorical statement, since much of America feels the same way I do. I do not like her plans for our country.  Those who work hard should reap the benefits and not be forced to pay for those who chose a different path. Looking at how I feel about her character, and then following my own personal values, I knew I was going to stick with the Republican nominee.

I’m nervous about Trump. He runs at the mouth, is arrogant, and a bit of a loose canon, but I’m still willing to take my chances with him knowing what I would get with Clinton. I like that he’s not a politician.  I am very impressed with Governor Pence, along with some the advisors Trump has. If this is any inkling of the type of decisions he will make while in the White House, I will feel great about my decision to cast my vote for him. I  truly hope Trump does his best to keep his promises.

And…I really like Ivanka!

 

Just Stop!

32 weeks pregnant with Maddox
             32 weeks pregnant with Maddox

“Make sure to do squats.”

“Definitely don’t do squats.”

“Don’t go hungry. Eat plenty.”

“Don’t eat too much. Stay under 35 pounds.”

“Don’t jump too much.”

“Jumping will help that baby come out.”

“Riding a bike is a great cardio workout while pregnant.”

“Riding a bike is the absolute worst thing you can possibly do while pregnant.”

“Everything you can have in moderation, except alcohol. Do not touch it.”

“You can have a glass of wine here and there. It’s fine.”

“Stay out of the sun. You’ll burn easier.”

“Make sure to get some sun. You need that Vitamin D.”

 

Everyone of these statements were said to me throughout my pregnancy by loved ones.  They all meant well in their advice, but to be honest, it got old!  I have no doubt that others have experienced similar statements, probably even more bizarre.

When I first became pregnant, I didn’t want to take any chances with my unborn baby, so I tried to listen to everyone! About halfway through my 2nd trimester, I snapped.  At first, I thought it was one of my crazy hormonal breakdowns.  I had just come home from spending an evening with some girlfriends and began to unwind for the night.  I slipped on my pjs and realized they were now too tight.  I’m not sure if it was the realization that I could no longer fit into even my baggy clothes, or that the pregnancy was quickly nearing the end, and I still had no clue what I was doing, but I just fell to the floor. I cried and cried and cried.  I truly believe that everyone has their breaking point, and this was mine.

My husband was home, and he happened to come into our closet to find me in a fetal position just staring at my too small clothes. At the time, I couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me. Why was I acting this way?  Like any caring husband (who has no clue why his 7 month pregnant wife is on the floor crying), he sat with me and just listened.  I told him my fears, my concerns, and everything that was on my mind; however, even after talking it out, I couldn’t figure out why I was still so down, and then I simply said, “I’m so sick of listening to everybody.”

My husband said the simplest, yet profound words that changed my entire outlook on the remainder of the pregnancy: Then stop.

And at that moment, I did just that-I stopped. I stopped listening to everyone who wasn’t my doctor, and I began listening to my body.  As long as my Obstetrician gave me the go-ahead, I kept doing what I wanted.

Riding my bike at 34 weeks pregnant.
Riding my bike at 34 weeks pregnant.

I did my best to watch my weight while still eating, for the most part, what I wanted. I went to Zumba several days a week, rode my bike miles (even on a busy highway-gasp), took long walks, and didn’t touch alcohol.

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Enjoying the day at the beach.

And guess what-I never felt better.  I was happy and still smiled when I got the occasional advice, but I just didn’t care anymore.  Every pregnancy is different, and each should be treated as such.  For every article or statistic stating what a woman should do, there is another one rebutting the same “facts.”

So now, the only advice I ever offer is simply this-Listen to your doctor and your body, and enjoy this time in your life.

Mimosas and a Baby Shower

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My milspouse girlfriends celebrating Maddox.

Maybe it was how I was raised. Maybe it is just my personality (maybe both?), but I have never been a huge fan of wedding or baby showers.  I’ve been told countless times, “Micah, it’s not about you. It’s about ______.” Yes, I understand that, and I am completely ecstatic to celebrate in a friend’s happiness, but those couple of hours of celebration are so long…

I’m not sure if it is any one thing specifically, but the mere detail that most showers are very traditional.  Wherever the location (a house, restaurant, etc.), there is usually limited “fancy” food.  Often the items are little bit sized, something or others I can’t pronounce, and if a giant veggie tray takes center stage on the food table, I’m already starting off depressed.  The guests then tend to sit around and socialize with one another.  I don’t mind this part, depending on how close I am with the other guests.  The beautiful bride or mommy-to-be then opens her presents.  Ok, this one is up for debate.  If we can chit chat while she opens her gifts, I’m completely fine watching her and oohing and ahhing when appropriate.  If we end up being silent, while she painstakingly opens each gift and reads each card, then I will slowly start to die inside, but my least favorite part of all…

The games! I despise them. Fill in the missing nursery rhyme. Match the celebrities to their babies. How well do you know the bride? Who can guess closest to the size of her belly?  For a long time, I thought I was the only one who dreaded this part.  Everyone else seemed so into it, but the more I talk about it, the more I find that others don’t care for them as well. I’m sure some still love them, and great for those fortunate ones! Honestly, I wish I was more like you. I’m just not.  So for me, I knew my baby shower couldn’t be completely traditional.

When I got married, I didn’t even want a shower, fearful of it falling into the traditional category, but my husband insisted.  We ended up having a couples’ shower during the Florida vs. Florida State football game. The shower was football/tailgate themed. Guests wore their team colors, and the food was phenomenal.  We opened gifts in a very casual way.  Our 40 guests moved about and chatted with one another, and the only game we had was the one on TV! Also, there were drinks-lots of drinks! It was perfect for me!

However, a baby shower is a bit different.  It would be just the girls, but I am very fortunate to have close friends who offered to throw it and are not exactly traditional either.  It ended up being wonderful!

It took place at one of my hostess’ beach house in Fripp Island-a tightly gated community.  It was brunch styled and the food suited that well-no veggie tray!  The brunch started off with lots of mimosas (8 Champagne bottles worth), and just as I suspected, they were completely gone within 2 hours.  A friend of mine who lives in another state said to me, “I don’t think I would want drinking at my baby shower. I wouldn’t be able to drink, so I don’t want others drinking.” My response, “Why!?!” I want people to have a good time, and seeing others happy and socializing is wonderful! I didn’t have a desire to drink.

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Socializing and enjoying one another.

The music was blasting through the house, and people were moving about meeting others and catching up with friends.  When I opened presents, the music remained loud, the guests continued talking, and drinks continued pouring. There was nothing awkward about it.

The best part? No games!  In addition, two guests mentioned they would usually skip showers, but they had heard that I didn’t want games, so they decided to come!

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The shower lasted about 3 hours and a few of the girls    stayed to hang out by the pool afterward.   I had several guests tell me it, as well as the hostesses, that it was the best baby shower they had ever attended. I could not have asked for a better baby shower.

Again, I am not trying to criticize those that love tradition. Quite honestly, I feel I am in the minority, but to simply acknowledge that not everyone is the same.  I love things that are different and fun. My style may not be the same as yours, but take my advice, Mimosas help!

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Results of Mimosas. Lots of Mimosas.

Handle It

A few snapshots from our ultrasound at MUSC.
A few snapshots from our ultrasound at MUSC.

Yesterday, my alarm was set for 5:45.  I don’t know why I even bothered setting it because I wasn’t going to be able to rest fully through the night. I began waking at 4:00 am and finally got up at 5:30 as my husband continued sleeping peacefully for another 15 minutes.  Once we were both up and moving, we quickly got ready, and we hit the road headed to Charleston for our 8:30 appointment.

I thought I may be a basket of nerves, but honestly, I was at a peace.  I was trusting God to heal this baby, and there was nothing more I could do. We signed in and were called back within a few minutes.  The ultrasound technician came in-a cute, little blonde with a massive smile. She looked like she had just come out of technical school, but there was something about her that was very comforting.  She began the ultrasound, and we were able to see this little guy up close and personal.

The first priority was to check out this heart.  The arrhythmia was still there, but his heart valves, fluid, development, etc all looked perfectly healthy. We learned this baby of ours was in the 75th percentile for weight, growing 2.5 weeks ahead of scheduled and weighing in at 3.10 oz. I’m growing a linebacker!

We then shifted to a 4D ultrasound. Something that I had not experienced before since the average pregnancy usually doesn’t get this added step.  It was pretty awe-inspiring, and we even saw him yawn. I guess he takes after his daddy, getting bored when he’s by himself.  An hour later, the ultrasound ended, and she gave us a printout of a handful of the better pictures. She left the room to deliver the test results to the doctor, and we waited.

Jesse and I chatted and snapped pictures to pass the time, and about 20 minutes later, the doctor and a young, medical student came in to give us our results.  They both put on hand sanitize, and the doctor sat down, while the young student stood right behind him. He clearly took the part of shadowing literally.  The doctor looked at me and stated,  “It is a fetal arrhythmia.” We knew that. Give me more.  He went on to say, for the most part, doctors consider it a “benign” symptom and most likely to go away on its own, possibly 1-2 days after birth.  The biggest concern is to monitor his heart rate with my own doctor and make sure that the heart rate doesn’t drop too low or go too high.  If that happens, I would have to head back over to MUSC for further care and medication.

I did, however, have to do my due diligence. I had to cut caffeine completely out.  Since my last doctor’s appointment, Jesse had already done some research and noticed that caffeine could be linked to arrhythmias, so I hadn’t consumed coffee or tea for almost a week. I told the doctor this information with confidence, and then he countered me, “What about chocolate?”

Yep! Got me. I eat chocolate. Everyday. Every.Single.Day.  Not only did I need to cut it out, but I especially needed to stay away from dark chocolate-my favorite!  Ok, I can do this.  No coffee, tea, or chocolate. Check!

“Do you use cocoa butter lotion for prevention of stretch marks?”

I paused for a minute, hoping I was dreaming. “Yes, everyday since the moment I found out I was pregnant.”

“Toss it out. Find an alternative.”

It would have never crossed my mind that my cocoa butter lotion, with an image of a pregnant woman on the label, would have caffeine.  Here I am rubbing it all over myself. “Ok,” was my only response.

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Maddox Vann experiencing his first 4D ultrasound.

In addition to cutting out these vices of mine that I loved so, I would need to continue seeing my doctor every week until the arrhythmia was either gone, or until it was time to deliver.  Although, not a perfectly ideal situation, I can handle it. We’ve been very blessed so far with a smooth pregnancy, and if I’m being honest with myself, cutting out coffee, tea, and chocolate is probably a good thing. Hey, my teeth should even get whiter!

As I sit here typing this, Maddox is moving all over the place, and I can see my stomach bulging out in various locations. I know that I’m not doing this for me. It’s not a diet, a cleanse, or vanity related. I am doing this to benefit the health of my unborn son, and for him, I can handle it!

Letting Go

Maddox Vann
                                 Maddox Vann

There is quite a bit going on in my life at the moment, and instead of trying to tell my husband every little detail, or going crazy keeping it cooped up in my head, I decided to put my thoughts in words.

To begin, I am 29 weeks pregnant with my first child-a boy. Everything has gone really well: weight in check, baby’s growth on track, measurements perfect, etc.  A perfectly smooth pregnancy up until last week.  I was scheduled for just a random check up. My husband, Jesse, goes to most of the appointments with me, but on this particular day, I told him to just go to work. There was nothing eventful scheduled. It ended up the appointment that changed the meaning of “don’t take things for granted.”

The doctor listened to the baby’s heart rate. I expected the same cute, little rapid beats that I’ve become accustomed to hearing, but this time, it was different. At first, the beats sounded normal, then a louder beat, quick silence, and back to the beats.  My doctor, bless her heart, does not have a poker face, and her scrunched nose, wrinkled forehead, side mouth, and head tilt gave away that this was not normal. “What was that?” I quickly asked.  Tears already beginning to fill my eyes.  She didn’t answer me at first. Just listened. I heard that loud beat again. Silence.

“It sounds like your baby has an arrhythmia.”

I didn’t even know what that meant, but I knew it wasn’t good.  “We are going to get you over to ultrasound right now for a better look.” I couldn’t hold back the tears now. They were streaming down my face as she handed me the tissues.  We quickly exited the room, and she escorted me down the back hallway into the ultrasound room. In that room, which originally I cried tears of joy from confirmation I was going to be a mommy, I now cried tears of sadness to hear that something was wrong.

The technician told me that Maddox’s heart would beat 15-20 times and then “drop.” After a few more tears and quick pep talk from the technician, I was sent back to the exam room to see my doctor.  After several text message exchanges with my mom, and a dozen or so tissues soaked, the doctor came back in and confirmed that the baby did have a fetal arrhythmia.  “I’m sending you to MUSC (Medical University of South Carolina) in Charleston. They will do a fetal echo and take some better looks at his heart.”

She tried to reassure me that many times, arrhythmias heal on their own. She then said those words that doctors have to say, “Try your best not to worry.”

It was with those words that I left the doctor’s office and headed to meet my husband to tell him the news.  Of all the doctor’s appointments I told him to not come to…

So now, we wait until we go to MUSC.  I am a woman of God, and I have faith that everything will be fine. I prayed, Jesse prayed, my mom and dad prayed, and now I just wait.  I am not worrying anymore.  I truly believe in “Let go, and let God.” So as far as my worrying, I’m letting go.