Monday, November 28, 2011

Birth in America: What you haven’t been told

I was born at home. So were all my siblings. The older I get the more I realize that my parents were ahead of their time. In an effort to follow the Lord’s leading and apply His Word to their lives they made choices that were once considered outrageous, but are now almost mainstream.

The last 8 years I have spent much of my time and energy invested in pro-life projects - a crisis pregnancy center, and now The Morning Center - a pro-life maternity hospital and mobile care units which Samaritan Ministries plans to launch in the next 18 months. At each turn I seemed to bump in to questions about how modern Americans approach birth. I began reading articles, talking to friends, and casually informing myself about birth statistics in our country. The more I studied, the more I became fascinated..and horrified. And, the more I began to wonder if God was calling me to take the birth process in America on as more than a casual study.

What I have discovered has been shocking. American birth has gone from a process that was once reverenced and valued for bringing the next generation in to the world, to a process that is characterized only by pain and fear. Giving birth used to be surrounded by hope and plans for the future. Now it seems little more than a procedure that is rife with parental selfishness, medical greed, and a ever-increasing rate of risk - at least in mainstream birth practices.

One of the documentaries I just watched, entitled The Business of Being Born (please use discretion if watching), pointed out that the new “type of birth” being embraced in the lives of higher-end Americans is called “Designer Birth”. Yes, that’s right. A woman goes to her local doctor’s office and picks out what day she’d like her baby born, what time, and pretty much everything else - except the baby’s gender. What has our world come to?

The truth is this: God made women to bear children. That statement is pregnant with much more than meets the eye. Biologically speaking, however, it means that women’s bodies were designed to grow, nurture, and deliver a child. The bearing of children is not a result of the fall. Quite the contrary, a woman’s desire to have and bear children is part of God’s perfect plan for our universe and his ultimate redemption of and glory on earth. Rather, it is the pain and challenges of birth that are a result of the fall. Pregnancy and birth is natural. It’s the gestational diabetes, “morning” sickness, and pain of labor that is un-natural.

Unfortunately, modern American culture treats pregnancy as an illness, rather than a natural process. In a different documentary I watched, Pregnant in America (also use discretion), it was fascinating to me to see the difference in American and European (specifically, Dutch and German) approaches to child birth. Over 85% of babies born in Holland are born at home, under advisement of a midwife. When one of the new Dutch moms was asked if she’d rather be like an American woman that goes to the hospital, she was shocked and said, “But...I’m not sick.” Exactly.

In our culture we are told rush, rush, rush. But, the reality if something is worth anything, it is worth waiting and laboring for.

All of this, and we haven’t even broached the economic aspect of giving birth. I have a friend who runs Crisis Pregnancy Centers in New York City. A few of his clinics are actually located in hospitals that have Labor & Delivery. When I queried him on why his clinics were placed there, he said that doctors are actually paying him to operate there. Why? Because they make more money (whether being paid by Medicaid, a 3rd party payer, or self-pay) on live births than abortions. In other words, to these OB/GYN’s, it was economically advantageous for them to deliver a baby rather than abort one. It horrifies me that their business practices were based solely on economic grounds, and not moral. Who of all people should know the joy of bringing new life in to the world than a doctor who specializes in delivering babies?

Still, many times I am afraid we underestimate the economics of birth. It is always so important to figure out the economic motivations of any institution in society. Figure out where the money comes from and where it’s going, and you’ll know how to change it for the better - or the worse.

And, the greatest thing driving the economics of birth is the c-section rate. If a woman is convinced that she can’t have a natural birth and she needs surgery then the doctor can charge her more, the hospital can charge her more, and her risks go up, her recovery rate is going to take longer, and it provides more paperwork for the insurance companies - so it keeps them in business. In other words, it’s a winner for everyone...except Mom and baby.

The other thing that controls medical decisions by OBGYN’s and doctors at a hospital is that the are the puppets of Insurance companies. Why is this? Because they don’t want their malpractice or other insurance rates to go up. When do their rates go up? When someone calls foul. So, a doctor does what they must to protect themselves. They don’t want any decision they make in caring for a patient called in to question, so a doctor almost always takes the most extreme measures which means doing the radical c-section surgery (where they are fully protected and justified by their insurance).

Even if a c-section is not performed, other extreme measures, such as artificial induction often takes place. Pictocin is the most commonly used drug for inducing labor - it’s artificial oxytocin which causes distress to the women and the babies. And the scariest part of it all is that no one knows the permanent effects of this popular drug.

I could write on and on about this. Have you guessed that by now this is a topic I’m very passionate about...but, I don’t want to do all our research for you. I encourage you to read books, read blogs, and learn more about this very important topic.

As for me, I’ve launched in to studying to be a doula and midwife both on the side. In fact, I’m meeting with a local midwife this week to explore the possibility of apprenticing with her. Knowledge and experience are so vital in this field. And, the way I look at it even if I just accumulate knowledge for my own sake or for the sake of friends and family the studying and experience is worth it.

My mind keeps wandering back to the Israelite midwives in Egypt. Their knowledge to quickly assist the women and their wisdom in responding to the authorities of their time saved the lives of babies and preserved God’s people. Perhaps its time for medical professionals who are focused on high-quality health care, focusing on women and babies, to once again stand in the gap and change the face of birth in America.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

26.5 hours

As we pulled into our driveway at 6:30pm this Sunday, the thought occurred to me that I had been gone from Home for 26.5 hours.... that is a long time if you were not even gone on a trip :) This random thought reminded me of what I did in those 26.5 hours....

Last night, my good friend Becca picked me up and we stopped for Hot Chocolate and then went down for the City of Boise Christmas Tree lighting ceremony. It was a great 2 hours of Constant Christmas songs to sing along to. We sang everything from Silver Bells(My favorite :) ) and Jingle Bell Rock to Silent Night and Away in a Manger. We met up with my sister and her friends for a night of Thai food and Apples to Apples. It was a late night and we had church this morning. I got to drive Elysse's car for the first time to church... it was a lot of fun!! (only problem is that her car makes it way to easy to speed :/)
Church was a thankfulness service and it was amazing to listen to the testimonies of young and old alike (all the middle aged people too :) ) and see the hand of God throughout 2011.
After church was a shared meal and Ultimate Frisbee!

I was also able to go with my mom and visit my Grandmother... she has had some severe health chalanges this year and it was amazing to see her so improved, in very good spirits and praising her Savior with her every breath for His gift of life to her.

After our visit we went to Liberty's house for dinner and we finally made it home after a few other stops along the way....

26.5 hours is a long time but it is also a short time... makes me think of other timelines...

such as....

17 days until Jacob comes home
16 school days left in the semester
28 days until Christmas

Speaking of Christmas.... I am super excited... I have been playing Christmas Music as I have been moving rooms as well as any other chance I get. I have been planning all the goodies I am going to bake as well as getting ready to send out invitations to friends and family to join in the festivities. I am going Christmas Caroling this Friday as well as the 17th and attending a Christmas Concert on the 18th.... etc.....

Oh, did you notice I mentioned Iwas moving rooms.... yep... I am moving from my itty-bitty 8x10 "room" (that had no closet so I squeezed a wardrobe in it as well as a bed a dresser, a desk, and a nightstand) into an 11ishx12ish room that makes my twin bed look like a doll bed (it is quite amusing actually)... I am about a third of the way moved and am looking forward to getting to decorate "all myself"...#1 thing I am loving about my room right now: my space heater which I set to keep the temperature at 80 degrees..,. it is heaven :) (well... not quite, but I think you get the idea...)

Speaking of hours... I have to be moving in less than 5... so I better sign out...

In Christ,

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

... ... ... ...

As all of you who wait with bated breath each Sunday to read my weekly update have already noticed, I failed you this past Sunday :(
But why would someone such as myself, who knows how eagerly you all wish to read these little nuggets of Gold, why would I wreck your entire weekend....

Well, If you haven't noticed by now, I am a very sarcastic person.... but there is truth in the fact that I did not mean to not blog, I just found myself in a situation last Sunday where blogging was in effect impossible, namely, I found myself in the midst of the last practice/dress rehearsal for the 2011 Christian History Program (coming to Meridian THIS evening!!! -- aren't y'all so excited you can't wait ;) ) Anyways, as I was saying, as the indispensable actor/actress that I am, ahem I mean the fact that I play the vital role of Martin Luther (and others: court physician/soldier/bishop), made it impossible for me to skip this practice for the sole reason of blogging.... :sigh:

On a serious note, if all of you find yourself with nothing to do this evening around 6:45, please make your way to 925 N. Cloverdale Rd to see "The History of the Making of the King James Bible (an original production)" This highly dramatic series of skits involves a betrayal and a kidnapping, a death and a coronation, the plans of man and the hand of God.
P.S. Did I forget to mention the pie social afterwards ;) :)

This last 10 days have been just as busy as usual. Yesterday was the start of the Basketball season for the girls :) yay! I think that this season is going to be wonderful... the girls are all super cool!

However, I did find a snippet of time to read this week. As I did not have the time to go to the Library I took out one of my all-time favorite books "Carry on, Mr. Bowditch" to read for the 4th (or is it 5th) time. And I thought that for all of those unfortunate enough to have not read this book, I would try to give you a little taste of the wonderful story that unfolds on these pages.

As you open the cover, you enter the life of a 6 year old boy. In the middle of a family of 7 children that is struggling to survive during the depression caused by the American Independence, Nat's favorite escape is into the world of Mathematics. Through his amazing accomplishments,, Nat is noticed by Salem's preacher who encourages Nat's Parents to send him on to Harvard. But alas, with the death of Nat's Mother and Grandmother and the increasing depression after the War is over, Nat's father find's it necessary to indenture Nat to apprentice in the local Chandlery. ( a company that outfits ships). With his hopes of Harvard dashed, Nat learns how to "sail by ash breeze" through the trials of life. He finds solace in learning about all there is to know about sailing, recording it into notebooks, as well as learning French and Latin in order to study books such as Newton's Principia, even as he watches all of his brothers leave for the sea that he longs to explore himself. Even shut up in the safe environment of the chandlery, the cold winds of the storms of life have not yet left Nat's side as he watches his most beloved sister, Elizabeth, die from a fall, as he hold her hand, willing her to live if only for him.

Nat's life seems to be looking up as his 21st birthday comes and he is at last free from his indenture. He signs on a surveying crew and does that for about a year until he asked to go on a voyage as supercargo (navigator) and 2nd Mate. It is on this voyage that Nat starts teaching the men "before the mast" the art of sailing and navigation, a tradition he would keep up on each of his voyages. On each of his voyages in which he sails as navigator there is the imminent threat of danger from French and English ships. On each of these voyages Nat has his triumphs, such as finding a new way to work lunars (to find the ships longitude), and his defeats, like when he heard the news from home that his wife of less than 2 years had died from consumption. After his 4 voyages Nat settles down to working on his own book on Navigation. One that would explain that art to any common sailor. With his new bride, Polly, at his side and an honorary degree from Harvard, Nat is indeed set up to show the world that you can "sail by the book". And on his 5th voyage, Nat does just that. As Captain, Nat sails to the Sumatran Islands and back coming into Salem Harbor, one of the most dangerous in America, in so thick a fog the men could not see there hand in front of there face.

The most amazing things about this book is the fact that if you read it as a 12 year old or a 17 year old, it still holds your attention... you can still cry as well as rejoice with Nat on each step of his life.

Hope you have enjoyed this little synopsis and do find the time to let Nat into your own life someday,

In Christ,
Mercy Faith

Friday, November 11, 2011

Thoughts on life....

In life there comes moments where you get to watch as a loved one is honored for a certain accomplishment or talent. A lot of these moments come at a graduation but also for our family a lot come in connection with sports. I think that a memory I will always cherish is the league awards the year my brother Jacob was a Junior. That night I watched as he was awarded not only his Team MVP but also was voted unanimously by all the team coaches as the best player in the entire league. This weekend brought another CSAA all -league awards to the Barrett household. I had the pleasure of being able to sit back, smile, and cheer with all my heart as my two little brothers (who aren't very little any more :) ) were each honored by being chosen on the CSAA all-league teams. The Awards are a testimony to their talent and hard -work, but what is an award without anything of proof behind it? My brother, Joel, certainly proved his worthiness of the award on the first drive of the all-star game later that evening. Joel dove to catch a ball that was going out of bounds, kept his toes in bounds and still came up with the ball.... that play, I believe, embodies the reasons he was put on 1st team all-league: effort and aggressiveness (leaving it all on the field even when the play looks like an impossibility), brains and field awareness (knowing where you are on the field and what you have to do to make the play happen), and finally Joel has a heart for the game that enables him to play well purely for the sake of enjoying of the game.

All of this would count for nothing unless I also knew that all of my brothers, besides being great athletes they are on their way to being great men of God. They are learning to live life to the fullness as a way to glorify God.

Sports can be great fun as well as great tools to learn more about God as well as life lessons in general. When you ask God to give you a heart for Him he will in turn give you the brains and the ability to give the effort that he needs to so that you can glorify him with everything we are.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Sunday Afternoon Ramblings....

Well, here we are, Sunday afternoon and guess who's blogging ;)

This week was one that was jammed full with activities!!!

1st round of the volleyball tournament that ended in a loss to Emmett in 4 sets. :(
Hanging out with friends for the rest of the night. :) :)

2nd round of the tournament, CA wins over River of Life in 5 games :)
Staying up late till all the games are over :(

Got out of school to go to volleyball Practice :)
Made my German teacher mad :(
Got a nap :)
Went Pie-selling :(

3rd round of tournament, lost to CHAMP in 3 sets

Azure :(
Play Practice :)
Watched the final volleyball games :) :( :)
Hung out with friends :)

Slept in :)
Worked :(
Gym :)

All - in -all this year we had a great volleyball season. I grew alot spiritually and mentally as well as learning alot about volleyball. Caleb is an awesome coach and I am so thankful that he gave of his time to coach us!!! Besides being a spiritual leader for the team, he made two of my volleyball dreams come true: 1) We got to run a 6-2 for most of the year (in this rotation I was able to pass, set and hit) and 2) I got to hit right-side :)

Today I was supposed to get my senior pics taken as I wanted to have the changing of the colors as my "theme". however with the weather, the photographer rescheduled for Thursday. I was kinda disappointed (especially when the sun came out an hour later) but it was probably for the best since I have been sick all week and am still running a fever :(

I have a ton of homework to do so I better hop to!!