Baby Update!

I'm now 21 weeks along and the pregnancy is going well! We had our 20-week ultrasound last week and got some great pictures of "Baby Snitch." Best news of all -- s/he looks 100% healthy! No clubfoot (!!!), and no other issues or abnormalities detected. 

sweet little profile

We caught a smile!

Look at that face!!
S/he likes having his/her arms up by his/her face, just like Peter.

Full-body shot in 3-D

It's Been A While!

I've been a pretty poor blogger lately, both here and at Catholic Working Mother. I'm hoping to change that, though. Not that I necessarily have any more time, but I do miss blogging. I've been doing some creative fiction writing as an outlet, which helps, it's not the same.

Brief update for those of you who don't follow me on social media:

- The kids started school on August 3rd. I now have a 6th grader, a 3rd grader, a 1st grader, and a PRESCHOOLER! (See next bullet.)

- I had Peter tested by AZ Early Intervention for a speech delay last year, and he's been receiving therapy for several months, with little progress. (He hasn't had as many sessions as I'd hoped, due to illness and other factors.) Well, once he's three he "graduates" from Early Intervention and needs to receive services from the public school system, so this summer we went through the process of getting him tested again.

He was diagnosed with a moderate speech and language delay, and as such he qualifies for preschool through the public school system. He receives speech therapy while there. So he rides the school bus every day (we had to set up the bus rides due to my work schedule) and attends school from 8:15-10:45. So far he seems to enjoy it very much!

Poor Gabriel is the odd man out this year, but he'll start kindergarten next year.

- Our vacation this summer was an epic road trip to and from North Dakota to attend a family reunion for my mother's side of the family. We took four days to drive from AZ to ND, and three days to drive back, with about a week between in ND. Amazingly, we had no major mishaps. It was exhausting, but we had a lot of fun and made some great memories, and it was great to spend some time with my family. I met a few relatives I hadn't yet had the chance to meet, and saw many that I hadn't seen since we left ND.

- I'm becoming the employee of a new company, but my job is still exactly the same, as is my office. Long story short, my parent company decided to "divest" the division I work for, and it was sold to a private equity firm. It's not altogether dissimilar to the acquisition we went through in 2012.

Thanks to that firm's investment, our division is incorporating as a new company effective September 1 (the new name isn't public knowledge yet - although the divestiture itself is - so I can't blog it quite yet). Good news is that my benefits don't seem to be changing much, I still get to keep all my service years and, so far, I get to keep my flexible schedule and telecommute most of the time. Here's hoping it stays that way.

- And the biggest news of all:

Our newest son or daughter, due to arrive sometime in January 2017 
Meet Baby #10, a.k.a. Baby Snitch (so nicknamed by a FB friend at 10 weeks, after the observation that our baby was as big as a Golden Snitch). 

For obvious reasons, this pregnancy has been fraught with anxiety. I had repeated pregnancy loss testing back in December, and it yielded no abnormal results, with one exception -- I am heterozygous for the MTHFR A1298C gene mutation. It's not certain if this particular mutation causes the inability to process folic acid that the other MTHFR mutations do (there was no evidence of that from other tests), but just to be safe I started taking a prenatal vitamin (this one) with methylated folate instead of folic acid. I also called my doctor's office and had bloodwork done right away. 

My first two HCG results were a little lower than they like to see (doubling time was 62 hours) and my progesterone was a tad low (20), so my midwife started me on progesterone supplements immediately. Both numbers markedly improved, and at the suggestion of my midwife I went in for weekly ultrasounds from weeks 8-11 (with the exception of week 11 -- the ultrasound machine was in use that day so my midwife tried the doppler instead, and found the baby's heartbeat immediately). Each time, baby looked great - strong heartbeat and appropriate growth.

I elected to do the NT test at 12 weeks. Normally we eschew most prenatal testing, but this time around I wanted it -- maybe the test would give us some clue about what went wrong in the event that we had another loss. We went into the test with some trepidation, as it was at our last two 12 week appointments with Francis and Jude wherein their deaths were diagnosed. 

However, as you can see from the above picture, Baby Snitch looked wonderful. S/he was moving around, waving his/her arms, and had a nice strong heartbeat. Even better, all measurements looked great and there's no evidence of any chromosomal abnormalities from either the ultrasound or the blood test.

I'm 16 weeks now (almost 17) and everything seems to be going well so far. We've heard his/her heartbeat via Doppler several times, which has been reassuring. I have his/her anatomy ultrasound on September 8. It'll be a Level II ultrasound because I'm technically AMA (advanced maternal age), and also because of the prior history of birth defects (Peter's clubfoot). As is our custom, we won't be finding out his/her sex, but I'm eager to see him/her again. 

I'm hoping for a healthy baby -- we have a 96% chance that this baby won't have clubfoot, which is pretty good, but there's always that 4% chance that he or she will. It won't be the end of the world if he or she does have clubfoot, and we'll be much more prepared to deal with it this time around, but I'm really hoping for a newborn period that doesn't involve weekly casting appointments and surgery at 8 weeks old. It made Peter's newborn period rather stressful. 

I'm praying that there won't be any other birth defects (although I'm thinking anything major would have been seen at the NT test). But if there are, s/he will still be welcomed joyfully, of course, but I think all mothers hope for a healthy baby. 

The kids are very excited about their new sibling, although Ellie is apprehensive about the possibility of having to share her birthday (January 13). My EDD is January 23, so Baby could very well decide to come on her birthday, but I think we're both hoping s/he will choose a different day. Still, Collin and his youngest brother have the same birthday (December 24) so we know from experience that it's not the end of the world if they do end up sharing. 

Even though my pregnancy has gone very well so far, we're not out of the woods yet, and my pregnancy loss support groups have taught me that late losses can still occur. I'm striving to stay hopeful and to enjoy every moment of this baby's life, no matter how short it may be. Your prayers are appreciated! 

Yes, there are lots of missing people if a zygote is really a person

It took some research, but I think I tracked down the correct e-mail address for the author of the editorial referenced in the first paragraph of my letter, below. I sent this letter to him today, but I am publishing it here as well. 

Dear Dr. Nash,

I'm hoping you're the same Dr. David A. Nash who wrote the following editorial in the Lexington Herald-Leader ("Lots of missing people if a zygote is really a person"), found here:

If not, feel free to ignore this e-mail. If so, however, I wanted to share my experiences with you.

First of all, I absolutely agree that there are a lot of missing people if a zygote is really a person. Death has always been a part of life. In years past the death rate, especially for infants, was much higher than it is now. For example, in 1850, the mortality rate for infants was 216.8 per 1,000 babies born. (Source: Do you think that infants weren't people back in 1850 since so many of them died of natural causes in their first year of life? 

Secondly, in your editorial you said the following, "We do not designate the results of such spontaneous abortions as 'persons' nor grant them the respect routinely given 'persons,' by naming them, providing a respectful burial or including them in our population and mortality statistics."

It's interesting that you say they are not including in mortality statistics after quoting pregnancy loss statistics! Those seem to be mortality statistics. However, the fact that they are not included in infant loss statistics does not mean that unborn children are not actually persons -- it only means that they are not (yet) considered persons by our government. That was also the case with slaves in 1835 (they were only considered 3/5ths of a person for tax purposes), but I think you would agree that they were, objectively, persons even if the government did not legally regard them as such at that time.

I have had one spontaneous abortion and three missed abortions (or, as I prefer to call them, miscarriages). All of my deceased children have names, Dr. Nash. They are Noel, Chris, Francis and Jude. Noel, Francis, and Jude died at 12 weeks gestation. Chris died at 5w6d. Three of them (Noel, Francis, and Jude) we saw via ultrasound. Two of them (Francis and Jude) had strong heartbeats at 8 weeks gestation, but had inexplicably died at 12 weeks.

Three of my children are buried in cemeteries, with grave markers. Noel is buried at Holy Cross Cemetery in Fargo, North Dakota. Francis and Jude are both buried at Holy Cross Cemetery in Avondale, AZ. We had funeral services for all three. We weren't able to bury Chris, as my miscarriage happened late at night in the emergency room and my husband and I were too shocked and overwhelmed to attempt to save his or her remains (that miscarriage remains my only "natural" one  -- I've had D&Cs for the other 3, as their deaths were diagnosed via ultrasound). But we had a memorial service for him or her, anyway. I've uploaded several pictures of the graves and funerals we've had for our miscarried children so you can see that they were, indeed, mourned and buried: 

Noel's grave, Holy Cross Cemetery, Fargo, ND
Francis' burial, June 2015
Jude's burial, October 2015
Francis' gravestone
(added 5/9/16) Jude's gravestone, next to Francis'
Also, miscarried children are provided a respectful burial. At the time of my most recent loss, my husband and I were given a paper stating that we had three options when it came to the disposition of Jude's remains. We could let the hospital handle the disposition and choose to have the remains cremated and interred either at the local Catholic cemetery – in fact, in the exact same section in which we had buried Francis – or scattered in the Superstition Mountains. The paper stated that this would be done in 30 days’ time. We could also choose to have the remains released to a local funeral home, or we could choose to have the remains released to us (we chose the latter option so that we could have private services).  

It's not true at all that miscarried children aren't given proper burials or funerals. Many are, and many parents wish they could bury their children but don't know how. However, a proper burial isn't what determines whether or not humans are persons. Even genocide victims thrown into unmarked mass graves were persons, even if their oppressors did not believe so (and even if the oppressive government did not legally consider them persons). 

There's objective criteria for personhood (see here, for example), and unborn children meet that criteria even if our legal system hasn't quite caught up to that fact yet. 

My lost children were people, Dr. Nash, just as much as my five living children are people. I mourned their deaths when they happened, and I still mourn them every day of my life. They were human beings by all scientific criteria, and they were persons by all subjective philosophical criteria. The fact that they were unborn and not born doesn't change that fact. 

If you'd like to engage on this topic further, I'm more than willing to do so. I think it's an important discussion to have. But if not, that's all right too. I just wanted to set the record straight regarding some of your comments.


JoAnna Wahlund

A Positive Facebook Discussion with a Pro-Choice Person

Dusting off the blog because I had an amazing conversation on Facebook the other day, and I just had to share it. I think this is the first time I've had a conversation with a pro-choice person on Facebook where the person actually considered my points and my evidence, and freely admitted when her assertions were wrong. It's a Year of Mercy miracle!

 This happened on a friend's wall, not my own, so I've blacked out the pro-choice person's comments in black and the comments of all other participants in red. The very last comment comes from the friend on whose wall this conversation took place.

This conversation is long (twenty-four screenshots!), but I think it's worth reading.

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