Thursday, November 21, 2013


Today I was getting the kids clothes organized- getting rid of summer clothes, clothes that were too small- updating their wardrobes with larger, warmer items. I also started getting my "normal" clothes out and my (nearly) 5 year old daughter asked,

"Mommy, where are those clothes from?"

I said, "Oh, these are my normal clothes. I just didn't fit them while I was pregnant, but now I fit them again."

She looked at me, thoughtful, somewhat fearful and said in all seriousness: "I don't want to be pregnant."

I took her in my arms and said,

"Sweetie- first of all you CANNOT be pregnant right now because you are a little girl, but someday, when you are a GROWN up, if you WANT to be pregnant, you can be pregnant. You NEVER have to be pregnant if you don't want to be. NEVER. No one can MAKE you be pregnant."

I saw the look of relief on her face. "Good, because I don't ever want to be pregnant."

Now, obviously she's probably going to change her mind someday, and who even knows what exactly is going on in her 5 year old mind.

But it totally impacted me when I saw how relieved she was when I said "You NEVER have to be pregnant if you don't want to be."

Not too long ago, I considered myself extremely "pro-life". Abortion broke my heart. I didn't think anyone should ever have an abortion- even if they were raped, carrying a terminal pregnancy, 13 years old, I thought it was never OK in any circumstances- EVER. I proudly proclaimed that "if you don't want to be pregnant, DON'T HAVE SEX! It's THAT simple!"

Then 2 things happened. 

First, I met and talked to women who had abortions. I heard their stories. I saw how unique their circumstances were.

I saw how it wasn't just the same story- a slutty girls goes and gets knocked up and runs to the abortion clinic to erase her "mistake". If only she was a christian who saved sex for marriage this would never have happened. If only she had just kept her legs closed! If she didn't want to be pregnant, she had no business having sex!

All those preconceived ideas I had about abortions and the women who have them started to melt away.

I talked to women who were in abusive relationships, who were terrified of being pregnant, who weren't ready to have children, who had no way to support a child. . . so many different scenarios- it simply wasn't as black and white as I had thought.

Then, I had a miscarriage. 

After my miscarriage, I did a lot of research and learned some really crazy things:

Did you know that up to 50% of fertilized eggs never turn into pregnancies? Scientists don't know why, but the woman's body is very selective over which fertilized eggs will make it- and which ones won't. If you are a woman with a functioning reproductive system and you are sexually active- your body will selectively flush fertilized eggs away- and considering how many women have lived- that's a whole lot of fertilized eggs. Millions upon millions upon billions.

Did you know that miscarriage- especially in the first trimester- is extremely common? Scientists believe even after implantation there may only be a 50% survival rate for the embryo. Many of these early miscarriages occur before a woman may even suspect she is pregnant or before she could even KNOW that she is pregnant.

Anytime you get pregnant there is AT LEAST a 25% chance you will have a miscarriage. Prior number of healthy births does not matter. Other conditions may INCREASE these odds, but for the most perfectly healthy female that ugly 25% rate is staring you in the face.

Medically, a miscarriage is referred to as a "spontaneous abortion". Basically, the body has decided- for reasons still not fully understood- that this fertilized egg/embryo/fetus simply needs to go. 

Sometimes it's because there were developmental issues. Sometimes everything looked great, but it happened anyway. Mostly- NO ONE REALLY KNOWS WHY THE FEMALE BODY SO EASILY DISCARDS OF SO MANY PREGNANCIES EVERY SINGLE MINUTE OF EVERY SINGLE DAY. 

Some people find this a huge hypocrisy in the pro-life movement- if they are so concerned with saving lives, why haven't they attempted to research or support women suffering miscarriage?

I agree. It's a huge hypocrisy. By their actions and priorities, it definitely seems like they only care about women who don't WANT to be pregnant. About the baby they DIDN'T want to have. All they care about is forcing women to be pregnant whether they want to or not, spreading misinformation about health and birth control, and ultimately controlling the sex lives of women in general (if you don't want to get pregnant, keep those legs CLOSED!)

Of course this doesn't account for rape and pregnancies which can occur from that. In fact, one blogger wrote about how abstinence ISN'T actually 100% effective because of this gnarly little fact, it's a great piece if you'd like to read it here. 

Anyway, moving on from that there was something that I was struck by during my miscarriage experience. . .

So MY body can decide to end my pregnancy- for who knows what reason- but *I* shouldn't be allowed that same choice?

And to put a religious spin on it- if God is in control of life and conception and of my body- then why does he axe all these "lives" so quickly?

Sounds like a major design flaw to me. Why wouldn't he have just made the female body to be a bit more receptive to life? Why would he create a body designed to "kill" life over and over again? Wouldn't it have been easier to just make the actual fertilization a bit more difficult? Or to make our bodies more receptive to the 50% of fertilized eggs that get flushed away or 25% of embryos/fetuses that are spontaneously aborted- for no known reason?

It just doesn't seem right that my body (or God, however you choose to look at it) can abort, abort, abort, and abort again- but I can't make that same decision with my brain?

And if a fertilized egg really is alive- why don't we care about all these lives that are being helplessly murdered by our own bodies so very frequently?!

So here's a few conclusions I have drawn:

Either our bodies are pretty murderous or life doesn't start at conception.

Either way, a woman using her mind and choosing to end her pregnancy is no different than a woman who's body decided to end it for her- reasons unknown.

I realized this when describing my miscarriage experience to a friend who had an early abortion- in the form of taking a pill.


She made a remark that stuck with me, "Our bodies went through the same thing, the only difference was you really wanted to be pregnant and I really didn't."

And so I came to a very difficult conclusion. I am prochoice. I am 100% ok with a woman choosing to medically, safely, end a pregnancy. That may not be a choice that I would make- or that others would make- but I think that choice needs to be there.

If you believe life begins at conception and you want to honor that "life" and make choices based on those beliefs? I support you.

If you find yourself in a position where you are pregnant and you really do not want to be pregnant so you decide to seek a safe, medical procedure to end that pregnancy? I support you.

Because I want to always be able to assure my daughter that, 

"You NEVER have to be pregnant if YOU do not WANT to be."

Monday, November 4, 2013

Remember, remember the 5th of November...

I've touched on the subject of how my husband and I ended up getting married a few times and I've also talked about my previous beliefs and how they affected my thinking. Today, I am going to devote this entire post to what led to the events of November 5th, 2007.


Many of the things I learned were not necessarily directly from my parents. Growing up I overheard many adult conversations, read many books, listened to many sermons, attended several seminars which all had a part in what I was "taught" growing up. I'm learning more about the various influences which lead to my state of mind at the time and my decision to elope with my husband.  This is my perception of the events and my true feelings at the time:

This is my story:

Many of you know, I was homeschooled. I grew up in a christian family and regularly attended church. Here are some of the beliefs I was taught either through books, other adults, sermons, seminars etc:
  • A woman always needs to be under a mans authority. First, her father's authority. After her father has approved a spouse, she would be under her husbands authority. 
  • A woman should submit to the male authority in her life, if not, "bad things" would happen to her (rape, lack of fulfillment in life, etc.)
  • Dating is bad. Courtship is good. 
  • Why is courtship good? It saves heartache. And it spares your (apparently limited capacity to love) from being "spent" on other people. It sets you up for an ideal marriage. 
  • Marriage issues are directly related to couples performing "bad" sex acts in the marriage bed (masturbation, pornography, oral/anal sex, pretty much anything except vaginal intercourse), OR if they had premarital sex or not. Therefore, not having premarital sex will protect your marriage from issues (excuse me while I laugh out loud!)
  • If you have sex before marriage with someone you don't end up married to- no wait, not just sex- but if you HUG or even LIKE or have ANY romantic feelings for anyone you don't end up marrying?
  • YOU have STOLEN future love/liking/hugs/sex from your imaginary FUTURE spouse. And the people who engaged in these acts with you? You ALSO stole from THEIR future spouse!!!!
  • Sex is mainly about creating life, it's intimacy purposes were never really addressed. 
  • Birth control is bad. Birth control pills are just abortion pills. An IUD is like a blender and grinds up little babies so you don't stay pregnant- but it doesn't PREVENT pregnancy, which is any time an egg is fertilized. Therefore, anything but natural family planning is basically murder. 
  • God will give you the right amount of babies, just trust him to plan your family. 
  • If you act out from under authority (for me, this meant making any decisions for myself) BAD THINGS will happen to you. 
  • If bad things happen to you, it's usually because you brought it on yourself- basically it's a punishment. 
  • If you live the right way, God will "bless" your life and bad things won't happen to you. 
  • Basically, I thought sex was pretty bad unless it was vaginal intercourse in a marriage. I thought I would be "ruined" if I wasted time even LIKING someone I didn't end up marrying. I thought that saving sex for marriage would practically guarantee me an AWESOME marriage with little to no issues. I shouldn't make any decisions without my dad (parents) approval because that would be acting out from under authority and there would be BAD consequences!!!! Even as an 18 year old, decisions should be left to my parents. 

That was my interpretation of life in the mid 2000s.

November 3rd 2005. I have a blog on xanga. I find Adam. I knew him from our homeschool group. My mom was their homeschool consultant.

I wrote a comment on one of his posts. I debated whether or not to post it, it was such a forward move for me to make as a woman!!!! I felt guilty, but I posted it anyway. (It was a public comment).

He responded.

We exchanged emails. We began chatting online.

Our friendship blossomed.

He began attending my family's church.

We talked, in person, on the phone, online. Not really about anything in particular, nothing remotely close to inappropriate. We still have records of the chats and find it pretty entertaining to re-read them now and laugh at our awkward teenage selves!

On my 18th birthday, he gave me a pair of earrings and told me that he "liked me more than a friend."

I was thrilled. I enjoyed talking to him. I enjoyed his personality. I enjoyed being around him. We made each other laugh. We had similar views on life.

After that we carried on, chatting, e-mailing, and speaking on the phone.

We did not date. We did not spend time alone together. We also spent time in groups or with our families. We did tend to focus on each other (no wonder, since we had 0 time alone with each other) and this bothered a lot of the people we would hang out with. It wasn't intentional, we just REALLY liked talking to each other and spending time together and unfortunately it was always with other people so we naturally turned our main focus to each other.

A few months after my birthday we were told to cease contact, given copies of a workbook on courtship, and told we would be meeting with our parents in 10 days.

It was awful. I missed him SO BADLY. We got to see each other at church and that was IT- no emails, no phone calls, NOTHING.

I remember his sister passed along a message from him to me and that was probably my highlight of the entire time! One of my friends also passed along a message from him, something like "Adam says hi!"

I felt like I should feel guilty for this, but I didn't. It just seemed natural.

At the meeting with our parents, I remember feeling scared and awful. I don't remember much else, but I do clearly remember my mother looking directly at Adam and saying. . .

"Do you intend to ask for Sarah's hand in marriage?"

I was thinking MARRIAGE?! Does he want to marry me? Oh my goodness, I don't even know WHAT to do or THINK!!!!

He looked at her and said, "Yes."

I thought, well dang. He obviously knows what he wants. I had better think about whether or not I want to marry him!!!

From that point on we had to follow careful rules on the understanding we wouldn't be getting married for a long- long time. Not until after Adam earned a college degree and bought a house- was "stable" all that smart stuff.

Not that those are bad things, but I felt like we were already as committed to each other as married people are- because NOW if we broke up he'd always have a piece of my heart! I would have stolen from my future spouse! I would be stealing from HIS future spouse!!!

So in my mind, we were practically already married. 

Just with 0 privacy and lots of rules to follow. No intimacy, no sex. But the same level of commitment.

Not to say I WANTED to break up with him, but it wasn't something I was even able- or capable of considering at the time- we were destined to be married and THAT was THAT. I was ecstatic to be getting "ready" to marry him- I really like everything about him, I loved him! It was going to be fabulous.

I was thrilled to be courting him. We followed all the rules laid out for us and did so happily! I was laying the foundation for a wonderful marriage and life! Yay! How wonderful!

Then he left for boot camp.

I cried and sobbed uncontrollably for hours. It was so hard being away from each other. We wrote horribly sappy love letters. Mine always began "To my knight in shining armor" and his "To my fair maiden."

My dad asked to see the letters.

I said no. (This would be me acting out from under authority).

But I just could not BEAR to let anyone read our precious letters! They were the ONLY contact we had with each other. There was no sexual content, just mushy, sappy, dribble. Wonderful dribble, but honestly, it's pretty hilarious to read them now.

I got to see him for his boot camp graduation. I stayed with his parents who were also there. It was amazing and incredible! We got to hug and walk around with me holding his arm (holding hands shouldn't be happening until "engagement" because it was "too sexually exciting" I was told). And that was it.

No kissing. No touching. I think we had a short private conversation and that was it. 

He got to come home for Christmas, but sadly, our first holiday together we were not allowed to BE together. We were not allowed to spend any time with each other that day at all, period. It made me really, really sad.

Amazingly, he was allowed to give me a cell phone for Christmas. I think I gave him a bible with his name engraved on it. *sigh*

With that cell phone we could talk more frequently and- TEXT MESSAGE!!!! We spent hours and hours and hours talking on the phone whenever we could, texting whenever we could while he finished training.

During Christmas break, we hugged a bit more frequently. It felt good, really good. Not in a dirty sexual way. In a happy intimate way. It felt pure, normal, and just. . . right. We were absolutely infatuated with each other and loved each other as much as an 18 and 19 year old could. And like I said, in my mind we were practically already married. Now we were just waiting!

He went out to breakfast with my dad and asked what he needed to do to be ready to marry me. He was given a list of sorts.

A few months later, he came home from his training and somewhere around that time during one of our phone calls he said "will you marry me?" and I already knew my answer! I'd known for months!

I'm not sure why, but we decided to tell people we were engaged. Looking back that was pretty silly because nothing had really changed in our relationship. We were already planning on getting married and had been since my mother had asked him if he was planning to ask for my hand in marriage! We didn't set a date, we didn't. . . really do anything, except start telling people that we were engaged.

A small handful of them were happy.

My parents were not. My dad replied to the news by saying, "No you aren't."

Needless to say, just about every relationship in our life ended up getting pretty strained during this time. Our close friends and a few adult friends were happy and supportive, but that was it.

I was confused. This wasn't going the way it should be! But I was already committed to marriage, and I loved him so much!

Over the course of the next several months we endured the pain of all the strained relationships with our families and friends. All we knew was that we wanted to be TOGETHER. So we spent as much time together as possible. We finally managed to start getting alone time.

During that alone time we very, very slowly. . . very VERY gradually became closer physically. It felt very natural and wonderful. It didn't even really feel sexual- at first.

But as each month dragged on as we hung in limbo not knowing when or if we would be allowed to be married- we got slightly closer and closer to having sex.

So finally, we kissed. It was on Adam's 20th birthday.

A month later, we knew we had better get married. We were on the verge of committing a terrible sin! Premarital sex!!!

So we decided to get a marriage license at the courthouse. No one really needed to know, we could just move in together, have sex. . . and then when people got mad at us just flash our marriage license in their face and say "HA! WE AREN'T SINNING!!!"

We had the support of several adults, parents of some of our friends mostly. That was about it though. We definitely made a lot of people pretty angry with our decision. But we didn't know what else to do! We just wanted to be together and we didn't want to sin!!!

So we did it. We ended up sharing our secret with friends and family shortly before our plan was to take place. It was scary, we felt very- VERY alone. But we were CONVINCED it was the right thing to do.

Needless to say, the following years taught me that:

Saving sex for marriage doesn't save your marriage from issues. If you put two human beings in a close, intimate relationship, THERE ARE GOING TO BE ISSUES. And guess what? IT'S NORMAL! You learn to communicate with each other, to forgive, and how to cope when "bad things" happen.

I never really learned how to cope with "bad things" happening in life. Because if you live your life the RIGHT way, bad things aren't supposed to happen!

But guess what? Bad things. . . happen. Fights, friendships dissolving, disagreements, job loss, cars breaking down, financial set backs, job stress, miscarriages, death of loved ones. . .

And I had NO CLUE how to handle ANY of it. NO CLUE! NO clue how to cope.

I experienced so many feelings- I didn't know what to do with them! I didn't know what I was doing! I did all the wrong things, I had no clue how to communicate.

After 2 years, I thought: well obviously THIS is why people didn't want us to get married! Because marriage is hard and we WEREN'T READY!  Now we're getting punished for not doing things the right way! Job loss, financial set backs, vehicles breaking down, fights, communication issues- it was all punishment. Because I was bad. Because I acted out from under authority. Because Adam and I eloped.

Life still gets really hard, but I've gained some new important skills. Communication skills. Coping skills. I've learned about myself. I've learned about my husband. We've been on a journey together of how to have a happy and healthy relationship and still have a ways to go, but this I can say with confidence:

At the time, I made the best decision I could for myself with the knowledge and beliefs I had at the time. I do not regret it and I do not think I made a "mistake". I am forever glad I had someone to journey with me through the things we needed to learn. I'm glad we're still together to continue learning and becoming strong, healthy people. It's been a really tough journey, but I'm so glad I haven't had to do it alone. Through everything, the good and the bad, I have had a partner to navigate life with me.