Serious

Today is my twenty-first wedding anniversary. I am 42 years old which means I have been married as long as I’ve been single. That is a weird thought. In honor of such a special occasion I thought it would be nice to tell you  how Mister and I met. He doesn’t really like when I talk about him, but it’s a cute story.

We met when I was nineteen. Good heavens, I was young. But like all nineteen-year-olds, I thought I was as mature and experienced as the hills. I was going to BYU, majoring in Art History and having a grand old time.  I spent my spare time waiting tables at a Chinese restaurant owned by an incredibly superstitious man from Shanghai named Randy. I have always been a fan of things Chinese so the restaurant seemed a good fit for me even though I only made $2/hr (plus tips! Which in a college town are pitiful.)  Randy made the best Sesame Beef I have had to this day.

One Friday night, the girl who normally hostessed called in sick. I covered her shift and did my usual friendly banter and smiling at the customers as they paid their checks. One table of four guys came in, had dinner and then left without taking their leftovers. Here’s another thing about waiting tables in a cheap-o college town: people always come back for their leftovers, being hungry students and all that. So I was waiting by the door, Chinese take-out boxes in hand when one of the boys from the table came running back in. I smiled and handed him his food. That was Mister. Sadly, I have no recollection of this at all.  I must have had other things on my mind but he can still describe the outfit I was wearing (Mister likes to say, “you had a big smile and big boobs. I was hooked.”)

Mister, normally very shy with the ladies, was tranfixed by my beauty (or something) and after much egging on by his roommates, decided to call the restaurant and ask me out. Only I had gone home by that time. Randy informed Mister that while he couldn’t give him my phone number, he could tell him my name and that I was a BYU student. Now at that point I was going by Jennie. And my maiden name was Davis. You can imagine what a common name that was. Mister decided to call every Jennie/Jennifer Davis at BYU (there were around 10) to find me. The funny thing is that it’s so unlike Mister’s personality to do anything like that. But apparently I looked really good when he saw me at the restaurant.

Wouldn’t you know that I was the one Jennie Davis with an unlisted phone number. So Mister decided to expand his calling area to Provo in general and got another half dozen phone numbers to try. None of them were me, either. There were a lot of Jennies who thought what he was doing was so sweet and volunteered to go out with Mister should I never be found.

Mister called Randy at the restaurant late that evening and told him that he couldn’t find me. Randy informed him that I’d be working the next night and that he should come in because [say this is very broken English] “she no have boyfriend. You have good chance!”

When I showed up for my shift the next day Randy was so excited he could barely talk. “You boyfriend come in tonight!” he said over and over. It took a lot of explaining before I got the story that some guy had been trying to find me and was planning to return that evening to ask me out. I was slightly weirded out but flattered. The other waitresses were on high alert for this mystery man and finally he showed up just before the end of my shift. Shelly, a fellow waitress, came running up to me announcing that he was here! And he wanted to know if I’d like to go to a play next week! I relayed a reply (Yes! any guy who didn’t suggest dinner and a movie at the dollar cinema was definitely on the right track!)

I didn’t actually meet Mister until he he was on his way out. We both felt bashful and awkward. It was even more awkward when he picked me up. It was almost like a blind date. I had been in no mood to go on a date with a complete stranger so I had tried to pay my roommate Tiffany $10 to go instead. Tiffany looks a little like a blonde version of me so I figured it wouldn’t be that big of a deal. She refused, of course. Mister and I double dated with another waitress from work and one of Mister’s friends so it didn’t feel as much like a set-up for a date rape scenario.

The play was good, although neither of us can remember what play it was anymore. We spent to hours talking afterwards at Frontier Pies (oh man, do you remember the scones and cornbread and honey butter??? That’s pretty much my happiest college memory right there.) I was writing a paper about Pre-Raphaelite painters at the time and not only did Mister know what I was talking about, he told me which Pre-Rapahelite paintings he’d seen in London when he was there the year before. Any man who can speak intelligently about art gets an A+ in my book. He was also a returned missionary (Mormon girls are groomed to assume that any guy who didn’t go on a mission when he had the opportunity is a loser. There is more truth to that than you might think.)

When Mister dropped me off afterwards (a polite goodnight. No kissing on the first date!) I was incredibly surprised that I had had such a nice time. A really nice time.

What I came to find out over the next eighteen months that we were dating/engaged was that he is the kindest and most thoughtful person I’ve ever met. He has a silly and outlandish sense of humor that still makes me laugh every single day. He loves God and tries so hard to do what’s right. He is more patient with me than I deserve, even when I called off the wedding half a dozen times. He’s very passionate and opinionated (sometimes to the point of being infuriating) and has taught me how to have an open, unselfish heart (well, he’s trying, at least). I’m grateful every most every day that Mister had the tenacity to keep looking until he found me. He has made me a better person in a hundred different ways.

 

I started out kind of shy. I always felt incredibly nervous in a situation with people I didn’t know. The thought of introducing myself was enough to make me run away in petrified fright. I am super outgoing once I meet someone but the idea of breaking the ice has always scared me silly.

At some point I realized that this was stupid. I guess I talked to enough people to realize that we all feel intimidated by meeting others for the first time. I also was “the new person” enough times to know that there are very few things as wonderful as being in a new place or sitting by a stranger and having someone reach out a hand of friendship*. At some point I decided I just need to put the scaredness behind me and say hello to strangers.

Everyone feels shy sometimes. Nearly all of us feel slightly bashful about initiating a conversation or meeting somebody new. I was surprised to find out that even my mother–the most outgoing person ever born on Planet Earth–feels shy sometimes.  Here’s what I have to say about shyness: get over it. All shyness will ever do is hold you back in life.

I’m sure some of you will swear that this isn’t the case, but I really feel like being shy is just another facet of being scared. Whether it’s being scared of rejection, or being scared of making a fool of yourself or being scared of simply trying something new, it all boils down to getting over yourself.  You aren’t the prettiest or the funniest or the smartest. So what? You’re still an interesting person and your views on things are just as good as the views as the person sitting next to you. So stop being a quiet little mouse.

I know, I know. It’s easier to just tell yourself that people won’t like you or you don’t know what to say. Here’s the secret: people don’t really rememeber what you say, especially if you’re in a crowd or busy place. Think about the last time you met someone. Do you remember the exact conversation you had with them? No? I can’t remember either. I pretty much just remember that the last person I met was interesting to talk to and that she had just moved here from out of state. That’s it. So don’t overanalyze what you say when you meet someone, just say something. Don’t try to hard to be funny or interesting. Trying too hard is a recipe for disaster. Being a good listener is the ticket.

So what do you say? How do you start? It’s just like jumping into a swimming pool. It’s best just to do it; the more you think about it, the more freaked out you’ll get.  Here’s a scenario that works pretty much anywhere that you might be sitting next to a stranger. This could be at a concert, at church, at a meeting, at a college lecture. This is what you do: turn to the person and say, “Hi, I’m [insert your name]”  Hold your hand out to shake if it’s appropriate (not so much in High School English). Then pay them a compliment of some sort (this is for women, I don’t know that this works the same way for men. Probably men might be a little weirded out if you tell them they have nice hair). Here are some examples:

I love your sweater.

That purse is so adorable.

Your eyes are the prettiest shade of gold.

That necklace is really cool.

Don’t go overboard and don’t start talking about yourself and how you hate your purse but your sister bought it for you so you have to use it anyway. Or how you have blue eyes just like your grandmother. It’s our natural nervous reaction to talk about ourselves. Fight it. Please, please fight it.

Next, ask them something about themselves and how it relates to the place where you are.

Have you been to a concert here before?

How do you think this class is going so far?

Do you come to blog conferences a lot?

WARNING: if you are meeting someone new at a place you’ve been going to forever, it can be a little tricky asking them if they’re new. It can seem really terrible if they’ve been going to the same church/yoga class/book club for three months and you just barely noticed them . It can really sting when someone asks you if you’re new and you aren’t. So try not to ask, “are you new here?” They may be, but if they aren’t it’s going to seem really awkward. If you honestly haven’t noticed, try a phrase like, “I don’t think we’ve officially met” This is especially good when you’ve seen the person around but you’ve both been too shy to make introductions.

After the person has answered this question, I find that admitting how nervous you were about the situation creates instant camaraderie and let’s them know that you are honest and they can relax around you. When people feel like they can be themselves around you then you will both feel a lot less shy.

“I was so nervous walking in here. Everyone seems like they know what they’re doing”

“I’ve never been to this club and I was so nervous about where to park”

“I always feel so awkward sitting next to a total stranger”

“I was so nervous that I might not be smart enough to come to this book club.”

The awesome thing is that when you admit something that you were nervous or scared about, the other person will agree or show some sort of empathy. Always. This is just the American way to communicate. If you don’t live in America, you can try this but I have no idea if it works. If you are shy in the U.S., though, give this a try. Admitting you were scared is a fantastic ice-breaker.

After this you should be able to come up with some things to say. Remember, though, to ask questions of the other person. Don’t just talk about yourself. It’s tacky and boring to the other person. If you suddenly find a lull in conversation, ask them about themselves: where they grew up, if they have kids/siblings, what they studied in college. I’m sure you can come up with something.

I still get butterflies when I have to introduce myself to a complete stranger. Due to my job at church, though, I pretty much have to. It doesn’t matter if I’m in a funk or if they don’t look like someone who might not be my type. I’ve come to realize that we all want to feel like we belong. It’s your job as a decent human to put that shyness away and try to be friendly. Seriously, being shy is lame. I’m speaking as a sometimes-shy person. Really, the title of this post shouldn’t be “how to not feel shy”. Because I don’t really know how to to just not feel shy. I still feel shy all the time. Really I want you to learn how to get over it and be friendly even when it’s scary and you’re not in the mood. So what if you don’t want to? You’re a grown-up, do it anyway!

If it helps you can repeat this saying that I made up for my chronically bashful children:

Be the first one to say “hi”,

Even if you’re feeling shy.

 

*To this day I will always remember and be grateful to Suzie Cavolloro who stood next to me in the lunch line at my new school in 11th grade. She introduced herself, asked if I wanted to sit next to her in the lunchroom (YES!!! There is no event as horribly intimidating as the first time you walk into the lunchroom at a new school), and even invited me to a party she was planning that weekend. Your kindness has stayed with me all these years, Suzie!



 

Today we were on our way to church when a car pulled up beside us at s stop sign. It was a nice new convertible. The woman in the passenger seat was wearing a bathing suit and there was a young boy in the back. I heaved a big sigh because some Sundays I would much rather be hanging out and having another Saturday. Mormons are big-time Sabbath keepers. Sunday is the day for church and family, thinking about God, napping (being the Day of Rest and all) and maybe taking a leisurely stroll. There is no eating out, no swimming or sports and absolutely no shopping. The idea being that we don’t want to cause anyone to break the commandment of keeping the Sabbath Day holy.*

When we were travelling home from Arizona a couple of months ago, our trip spilled over onto a Sunday. Obviously if you’re travelling you have to buy gas and food and all even though it’s the Sabbath, so we decided to stop at the Costco in El Paso to grab some hot dogs. Holy Cow! Costco on Sunday is even crazier that Costco on Saturday! Maybe the El Paso Costco is always that way. But we could barely find a parking spot! Is this what Sunday is? The day of shopping? I had no idea!

Part of me really likes having a day that we don’t have to worry about most of the cares of the world. We don’t have to think about errands or kids’ birthday parties (a Sunday invitation is an automatic no). It’s a day to recharge ourselves spiritually and physically. I also love having my kids around me for an entire day without everyone scattering in a million different directions.

I needed to talk to one of the women in the ward when I was at church today. I hadn’t seen her during Sacrament meeting so I asked one of her friends if she would be there for either of the other meetings (church is three hours long and consists of three separate meetings). “No, she was really tired and wanted to sleep in and just have an at-home day”, her friend told me. I really felt like screaming. I would like nothing more than sleeping in and having an at-home day too! What makes her think that we all love being at church? It’s like being on a diet and having someone tell you that they can’t diet because they like sweets too much. I like sweets too!

A lot of time doing the right thing is the harder, less fun choice. And yes, I think going to church is the right choice. No matter what religion you are, spending time thinking about something other than yourself and what you feel like doing is a good thing. Especially if you’re encouraged to be loving and kind to other people. But it’s not a fun choice. It’s not entertaining. It’s like eating vegetables. It’s the best choice as far as eating goes, but it’s not exactly the tastiest choice. Some people really love veggies–to the point of being a vegetarian–but there are a lot of people who go days–or even weeks–without eating their veg. I think we could all agree that vegetables will never taste as good as a cookie.  But you need to eat food that is nourishing. And church is kind of like vegetables. Maybe not the funnest or most exciting but it’s the thing that will keep your spirit healthiest.

And so the family in the convertible turned right today; going to the lake or maybe to the water park. We turned left as we always do and went to church. Just like every week.

 

*There are plenty of crappy Mormons who shop/go boating/eat out on Sundays. If we see them we usually shout, “booooo” and thrown rotten food at them. Just kidding. I’ve struggled with Sabbath-keeping at different points in my life. We all make choices and will have to deal with the consequences, whatever they may be. But it’s one of the Ten Commandments, so you can’t really argue with that.

I have a whole Pinterest board dedicated to quotes that I love. If I could I would print them up and post them everywhere around my house. The sad thing is that when you post something around your house it quickly becomes commonplace and ignored. So instead I will read these every once in a while and be totally inspired for about five minutes.

I absolutely worship Anne LaMott. She is what I wish I were as an author: intelligent, observant, witty, and spiritual without being heavy-handed. I love this quote because sometimes I feel like sharing something that happened in my past isn’t exactly flattering to the other people involved. But I do own the events that happened to me! And she’s right, if people didn’t want to be written about negatively, they should have acted better.

 

I see soooo many parents who do everything for their children, thinking that they are making their kids’ lives better. It’s appalling to see how many parents are still waking their teenagers up, doing their grown children’s laundry, carrying their children’s backpacks home from school, and catering to their kids whims. Moms and dads aren’t meant to be maids or cruise directors. It starts out that way when we’ve got babies, but by the time the kids are late teens they should be pretty self-sufficient. If they’re not, college and grown-up life are going to be mighty rough.

 

I love, love, love the idea that the Lord does indeed answer prayers and it’s usually through another person. Wouldn’t you like to be the answer to someone’s prayer?  This is an eternal truth: helping other people is the most instantaneous way to feel happier and better about your life.  Being of service is the key to being fulfilled and happy.

I have blogging for five years now and much like a marriage, the conversation starts to lag after a while. Life gets busy and things happen and blogging seems like more of chore than a joy. Also, I love posting short funny little things on Instagram that I might have posted on my blog a few years ago. You can’t really blame me, though, because Instagram is so quick and easy. (Not following me on Instagram? Shame on you! I’m @heyhildie. Follow me and I’ll follow you too. Unless all you do is post pictures of your kids or dogs. Not that I hate your kids/dogs but if I don’t know the kids/dogs, it’s not so interesting. Even if I do know your dog, I still don’t care because dogs looks the same in pretty much every picture. Kids at least can have a funny expression.)

Jenni over at Story of My Life came up with a challenge to post every day in May. Even on the weekends (I’m going to need to find an app for that). She was clever enough to include writing prompts, since everyone knows the hardest part of blogging is coming up with an idea of what to write about.

Today’s prompt is to tell you my life story in 250 words or less. I don’t even know how long that is. About a paragraph? Oh, look! There’s a word counter right here in Word Press. Fancy! So here we go: Day 1 of the Every Day in May.

I was born and raised around Detroit, Michigan. It’s a grimy place and I never liked it. I have one younger sister and one younger brother. My sister was my worst enemy growing up but now she’s my best friend. We talk most days. My mother is pretty weird and eccentric and I think a lot of who I am is both because of and despite her. That’s true of most mothers, though. But my mom is particularly bold and strange.

I am pretty smart and have always been proud of that. Sadly I am also lazy. I always had terrible grades because really, who cares? Now that I’m grown up I realize I was spot on. Grades have nothing to do with anything when you’re a grown up. Confidence is about a million times more important but you can’t teach that in school. Good thing I’m confident too. I went to college and majored in Art History and Geography. I met my husband when I was 19 and we got married when I was 21. I was a tiny child and had no business getting married so young, but it’s worked out pretty well. We celebrate our 21st anniversary next month. That’s as long as my parents had been married when they split up.

I graduated from college when I was enormously pregnant with my first child, India. I adore being a mother which surprised everyone because I was a pretty mean person growing up. But you know how it is when you have kids: your heart cracks open and love floods your soul. I ended up being pretty decent at motherhood and decided to make the world a super awesome place by having lots of offspring. There were many complications along the way but I finally ended up with three boys and three girls.

Now everyone is in school all day and let me tell you, it’s the best. If you’ve got toddlers just keep going. You’ll get there and it will be wonderful. I spend my days now doing I don’t know what. Lots of church stuff and service. Guess I wasn’t really a mean person after all. I still try to learn things all the time. Grades may not be important but nobody likes a dummy.

 

Hey, that was way more that 250 words! Easy peasy! If you feel like perking up your blog, join in the Blog Every Day in May challenge. Even if you get a late start, just do it!

 




I went to see that new Jackie Robinson movie yesterday. I snuck out in the middle of the day and went to the fancy theatre that has super cushy recliners. It was all fine and dandy until I spilled an entire Coke Zero on my pants. But I’m a tough broad so I just ignored the soaking wet denim. I was actually wearing a raincoat but do you think I spilled the Coke on that? Of course not.

The movie was good, if formulaic. It’s always so crazy to see how racist people used to be. (I’m sure there are still incredibly racist normal people–normal, as in “not skinheads”–but it’s got to be pretty underground.)  When I see movies like 42 or The Help it’s very hard to understand that’s how things were for black people not that long ago. Part of me wonders if was really that bad because how could people have been so hateful because of someone’s skin color?

I grew up in a different environment than most white people, I guess.  Detroit, where I was born and raised, is mostly black. I lived in the first suburb north of the city. It was lower- to middle-class and was probably the first stop when people wanted to move on up from Detroit proper. I would say that the schools I went to were pretty evenly split between black and white, especially as I entered my teen years. Unlike the South, though, there really was no sort of “us vs. them” mentality. The most popular boys in my fifth grade class were Jahmod (A black kid) and Jason (a Jewish kid). (Oh yeah, there was a huge Jewish population in our town too. Which meant white Christians were totally the minority. We loved Jewish kids because that meant we got a whole bunch of Jewish holidays off of school too; not just the regular Christian ones.) Being Mormon and white? Super minority. I was pretty much the only one in middle and high school.

The mall closest to our house was called Northland and was the first modern shopping mall in America.  I remember going there and being the only white person I’d see. It didn’t make me feel uncomfortable or weird; it just was the way it was. I took Mister to that same mall when we went back to visit Detroit for my dad’s funeral back in the early 90′s. Man, did he almost have a heart attack! Being from Portland, OR, he was never exposed to many black people. He thought for sure someone was going to attack us. I just laughed and told him how I’d been shopping there dozens of times by myself at night. I can only blame the media for giving him the idea that young black men are all thugs; how else would he have developed that opinion?

We had lots of black people at church. Our bishop was eventually a black man, as were some of my primary teachers and Young Women Leaders. Our ward spread deep into Detroit and we had a real variety of members.Not just blacks but some members of Arabic descent too. It all seemed completely normal. I don’t recall the race card ever being mentioned.

When I look back on the relations between blacks and whites growing up, I wonder if maybe I was just clueless. But I remember blacks and whites sitting at the same tables at lunch; blacks and whites going to dances together and hanging out. Maybe our town was unique or maybe I just remember things differently, being a white girl.

 

*Yep, that’s me, Jennie Hildegard Davis, in the third row of the school picture; rocking the braces and feathered bangs. Viva Eighth Grade!

 

Adelaide Amelia Clementine turned eight last week.

Turning eight is not just any birthday if you’re Mormon. That’s when we get baptized. Mormons believe that babies and children automatically go to Heaven if they die, so baptism isn’t a requirement until kids are old enough to really understand the difference between right and wrong. Which we have interpreted to be eight years old. So although Ada’s birthday was a big deal, it was the baptism that took center stage. All the grandparents flew into town, which was nice. I don’t think we’ve ever had that happen before here in Texas.

Ada was the only person in the ward turning eight this month so we asked if the baptism could be held when it worked out schedule-wise for all the relatives. Which turned out to be on Ada’s actual birthday. It seemed a charming idea for the baptism to be held on her birthday but let me tell you, NOT the best idea.

Baptism traditions differ from place to place but here we have the baptism which is followed by cookies and punch. Since the baptism isn’t part of church, not as many people come. We had about 60 people which is a pretty good turnout. Being a snobby baker I made all the cookies myself. All 250 of them. Interspersed with cookie making I had to make a birthday cake and a birthday breakfast. Mister made the birthday lunch, so that was one less thing for me to worry about. Then we had to do presents.

Basically by Sunday evening I was bone-tired.

I had been planning all along on making Ada’s baptism dress. After doing hours and hours of research, however, I just couldn’t find a dress/pattern/fabric that I liked better than the dupioni silk dresses I’d made for India and Arabella. While most Mormon girls wear a white dress for their baptisms, that’s nothing more than a tradition. Our family likes to be just a smidge different. Heaven knows it would have been a jillion times easier to find a white dress with Communion season upon us. Pretty white dresses are a dime a dozen. But that’s not how we roll, so I talked Ada into wearing India’s old dress. (It wasn’t hard. I just said, “Doesn’t this blue dress match your eyes perfectly?” And Ada was all over it. She’s very proud of her blue eyes.) The hem had to be let out a bit since India had been so shrimpy, but it worked out perfectly in the end.

Here’s the silly thing about the dress: the girl doesn’t actually get baptized in it. Since we do what Jesus did, that means actual immersion under water. Dresses usually float to the top of the water so years ago the church switched to providing white jumpsuits for the baptizees. The dress (or suit if it’s a boy) is worn to the baptism and changed into immediately after the baptism itself for the rest of the event. It’s not like they’re expected to walk around in some soaking wet thing all day.

The service was just lovely. Mister performed the baptism and the confirmation afterwards where the gift is given of having the Holy Ghost as a constant comapanion. There was an awkward moment during the talk about baptism that my mother was giving where I halfway expected her to start talking about the birds and the bees, but other than that it was perfect. Mister and I tried to get a few pictures with the birthday girl but after only one my iphone decided it had had enough. So here is our one memento that Mister and I were both at our sweet Adelaide’s baptism.

 

 

I posted this over at Segullah today, but thought it was pertinent to everyone. At least everyone who is celebrating a New Year. If you celebrate Chinese New Year instead then maybe you shoud skip this (and ni hou to you, by the way).

As a person who constantly fails at New Year’s Resolutions, I rarely make them anymore. Last year something clicked and not only did I make a couple of resolutions, but I actually kept them. One was to go all year without drinking Mt. Dew. This is a really big deal because I’m pretty much an addict. I can turn down other pop but not The Dew. So I drank an entire 2 liter bottle last New Years Eve and did not have another drop for 365 days.

The other goal I kept was to hang my clothes up every night. I always stay up too late (the house is so beautifully quiet!) and end up stumbling to bed ready to pass out. I drop my clothes on the floor and slide into bed. You would think that the 90 seconds it takes to hang up my clothes wouldn’t be such a big deal. But it has been. It wasn’t until I finally could say, “it’s not like I’m going to want to hang these up tomorrow either. I should just do it now,” that the light bulb turned on. And we all know how piles of clothes beget piles of clothes. Better to nip it in the bud.

This New Year’s Eve found me dreamily imagining the great things I would accomplish this year: meaningful scripture study? Never going to bed with a messy kitchen? Restricting the time I spend online? Not eating sugar all year? It wasn’t until yesterday that I thought of something I’d really like to accomplish: I want to be more creative.

I constantly see cute projects everywhere and think, “I’ll bet I could do that!” But I rarely do. I almost never try. Doing creative projects—whether artsy, craftsy or even writing—makes me feel selfish and indulgent. Creative acts make me feel vital and alive and really work out the stress in my life. However, that naggy, rotten voice in my head pipes up and tells me what a waste of time it all is. I should be sorting laundry and throwing out rotten leftovers. I haven’t earned the right to do something fun—which is how creativity feels to me.

But I’m telling that voice to shut up. I’m making Craft Hour from 9:30-10:30 every morning. There will not be appointments scheduled or sinks scrubbed. This is the time when I can let loose the creativity I keep shut away. For once I’m actually thrilled about a resolution. I already have today’s project laid out on my entry hall floor (new living room curtains!).

Are you telling that negative voice in your head to just shut up this year? Are you setting goals? Do you find the whole thing ridiculous? Is failure your middle name?

Some of you may be disappointed that I’m not going to keep going with my story I started yesterday (you might want to scroll down and read it first). Partly because there’s not much more to tell (in a nutshell I was really sad. And then I got pregnant a few months later and had a healthy and wonderful baby girl.  And then a couple of years after that I got pregnant again and had an even worse experience which you can read about here. Pregnancy is the craziest roller coaster there is). Partly because I merely wanted give some background on why I believe what I do when it comes to abortion. It’s weird to me that abortion has turned into such a polarizing political issue. I wish we could just clear away all the politics and discuss the topic without it turning into The Hatfields and The McCoys.

Let me say that I am neither a Republic nor a Democrat. There are things I like about both parties and things that make me roll my eyes. I guess I would say that I’m more a Libertarian than anything; live and let live, as I’ve said before. Mostly I just hate politics and Washington D.C. in general and really believe that 98% of national politicians are weasels.

I am mostly against government-sanctioned death in all forms. I hate war and will always be against sending our sons off to fight unless ChinaRussiaCrazyArabs are crossing the Canadian border to invade us. Not that I hate soldiers. I love soldiers! Which is why I want to keep them alive. Especially now that I have teenage boys. I think there should be a law that any politician who suggests a war should have to stay in the to-be-invaded country the entire time the war is on. Maybe then those power-hungry war mongers would think twice. I also oppose killing old people whom we are tired of caring for. And babies whom we don’t want to start caring for.

I don’t really mind killing killers, though. They had their chance. Either kill them or try to rehabilitate them. Don’t waste my money keeping them locked up, bored and angry. Or at least have them pay their grave debt to society by allowing drug and makeup companies to do their testing on them.

Anyhoo, this was supposed to be about abortion. I would like to take special offense at all the women who assert than men have no say in abortion matters. Last time I checked, a man was kind of a necessity for pregnancy. And as a partner shouldn’t he get say? How totally rude to say that men shouldn’t have an opinion. Of course they should! Half of that fetus is theirs, after all.

As I mentioned yesterday, there was a woman I spoke to at the abortion clinic who was on her tenth abortion. I don’t know who paid for them or what her background was. I’m assuming she wasn’t raped ten times. But this was the thing that I kept thinking after I left the clinic (besides how unjust the world is. I wanted a baby, and here were all these women who couldn’t wait to get rid of theirs! Not fair not fair not fair!!!) I am absolutely not a judgemental person. You can ask Mister; he says that’s my most positive quality. I just go with the flow and take it all in stride (unless you’re a killer. I am very judgmental of killers.) So I am in no way suggesting that that woman at the clinic was a bad or evil person. (Irresponsible, though? Obviously.)

It does not seem right to treat abortion like it’s a form of birth control.  There are emotional consequences to having an abortion and it’s wrong to not inform all women that there are. Abortion should not be treated like it’s no big deal, emotionally. It is a big deal!

I do believe that a fetus is a baby once there is a heartbeat. People have all sorts of opinions on when life starts but to me it’s when the heart gets going. Ask any woman who’s had a miscarriage and she’ll tell you it’s a baby.

HOWEVER

Women have the very unusual job of being the custodians of life. We can decide what to eat or drink while we are pregnant and that is our right. And as custodians we can decide that we don’t want to take on the job of parent. It’s sad to me that a woman wouldn’t want to have a baby, but not everyone is in the right place physically, emotionally or mentally to raise a human.  God gave us stewardship when he designed the whole pregnancy plan. I don’t think the government has the right to tell you that you have to stay pregnant when you don’t want to.

I also don’t want women to have to endanger themselves by having to go to seedy backwater abortion clinics. You know women will have abortions. It has been thus since probably the beginning of time. If abortions become illegal women who don’t want to have babies won’t suddenly become dewy-eyed mothers in blissful supportive relationships. In other words, abortions are going to happen. Whether you think they are murder or not. And women have the right to decide. I know from my experience that pregnancy termination my be the right decision when there are severe health risks. We cannot say that all abortion is wrong any more than we can say that all abortion is right.

HOWEVER

I don’t think it’s right to expect the government to pay for abortions. Birth control, yes. Abortions, no. Not when there are so many people who are morally against it. As I said yesterday, I am incredibly fertile. I’ve gotten pregnant nine times. Not once have I gotten pregnant accidentally. I managed to make it happen when I wanted to. I know, I know– your cousin was using two forms of birth control and still got pregnant. Let’s encourage people to be responsible. Birth control really works a lot of the time!

I am a mother and it breaks my heart to hear of children born into abusive or neglectful homes. I don’t want babies to be born into horrible circumstances.

HOWEVER

I do believe that babies are a blessing. And babies can be powerful changers for good. And that the chance to obtain a body is something that every spirit child of God deserves. I believe that more girls/women need to give their babies up for adoption. Now that the stigma of teen pregnancy is pretty much gone, let’s see more girls being courageous and giving themselves and their babies a better shot at life by allowing a mature and loving set of parents raise their child. And hopefully we’ll see fewer grandparents who feel like it’s a just punishiment to make their pregnant daughters keep their babies.

So am I pro-life or pro-choice? Both, I guess. I wish there were some way to address this problem holistically and try to find what’s best for a woman who is stuck with an unwanted pregnancy instead of feeling like only one opinion is right.

I am not trying to convince anyone of my beliefs not do I want any of you readers to rant at me. I just get really angry when I hear abortion discussed so one-dimenionally and just wanted to air my opinion.

 

 

 

Abortion is quite the subject du jour with half the people in the U.S. screaming that it’s an unborn child, you selfish murderer! And the other half saying that terminating a pregnancy is the greatest gift ever to women-kind. Before we get all wrapped up in the whole discussion (that will be tomorrow) let me tell you a story of what happened to me about twelve years ago.

I was pregnant with my fourth baby. At 17 weeks I went in to have my quad screen test where the doctor checks for chromosomal defects, abnormalities and such. I had had three perfectly healthy babies and no miscarriages (Ah, the hubris of a woman with no fertility issues!).  A few days later the doctor called to tell me that my levels were alarmingly low. Low enough that it looked like my baby had Trisomy 18. Trisomy 18, as it was explained to me, meant the baby would be severely vegetative if it were even born. Pregnancy loss with a Trisomy baby is not uncommon.

Gulp.

My view on abortion up to this point was more of the “I would never do it but it’s not my business if somebody else wants to”. But here I was faced with the decision of possibly carrying a baby to full term that would never live much of a life, if it lived at all. To my 27-year-old brain this seemed unfathomable. I asked my doctor about terminating the pregnancy. Not that I wanted to, necessarily, but I wanted to know what our options were. Even though we have always been very devout Mormons, would an abortion be considered OK in this situation? Nobody is prepared for the tidal wave of emotion that hits you when you’ve been given a diagnosis like that. You imagine what you might think, what you might do, but you really have no idea.

My husband and I prayed and read words of the church leaders about the subject. It was all a terrifying mess. I certainly didn’t want to end my baby’s life, but what kind of life were we even talking about? The words “severely vegetative” replayed over and over. Who wants to be pregnant just to end up with . . . you know. A stillborn? A baby who never even has a chance? Up til then my biggest worry about my babies is that they would end up with my ugly chin. And now here we were facing this unbelievable diagnosis.

I just wanted the pain and indecision to end. While I couldn’t commit to an abortion–I really felt like it was baby not a fetus. And I wasn’t about to kill my baby–but I just wanted the torment to be over. I was young and foolish enough to think that maybe having an abortion meant an instant end to the emotional anguish. I hadn’t realized yet that no sort of pregnancy loss is a quick-fix. Whether you are having an early miscarriage, an abortion or are giving a baby up for adoption, there is pain. We are women. We are nurterers. Any time a part of us has that taken away, there is suffering and torment. Guilt and sadness.

Within a couple of days I had an ultrasound to see how severe the deformities might be. As I lay on the table my decision was made for me: the baby had just died.

I felt numb. But doctors are usually all business and mine had barely wiped off the gel before he started talking to me about my options. I would need a D&E (as opposed to the usual D&C) which is necessary for a larger fetus. And not just any place can do a D&E. I would need to go to the abortion hospital if I wanted it done over the weekend (It was the Thursday before Memorial Day) or I could wait a week and have it done at the big hospital downtown. (I don’t understand doctors and the big rush they’re always in. Why not just let me take my time and let my body do what it felt like doing?)  Better to put this whole episode behind you, my doctor advised; the sooner the better. As if getting rid of the baby would get rid of the grief too.

So I opted for the abortion hospital. As I said earlier, “live and let live” has been–and still is–my motto. And I wanted this whole pregnancy over and done with. So Mister and I reported to the abortion clinic in Portland, Oregon where we were living at the time.

Have you ever been to a really seedy bar? One that just has a terrible, awful vibe to it? That’s how it felt walking into that place. “Stop being such an idiot.” I told myself. “A hospital is a hospital.”  After getting into a squabble with the receptionist (“I’m not signing a paper saying I’m terminating this pregnancy. It terminated itself! What if I run for office some day?”) I was shown back into The Big Room.

I’m not sure how most clinics are set up but this one had a large room with about a dozen beds. The nurse informed me that most of the women in the beds were recovering from their procedures. She handed me my hospital gown and showed me my bed. As I changed into my gown the lady in the bed next to mine asked me through the curtain how old I was. I told her I was 27. “Same as me,” she replied.

And then she said the words that almost made me pass out, “This is my tenth time here. How about you?”

Ten abortions?  What???? Had she never heard of birth control? I mean, I’m super fertile and I’ve never once had an ‘oops’ baby! What’s her excuse? They practically shower you with with condoms here! My head was still spinning as the nurse went over my health history and asked me what my future birth control plans were (“none. I want to get pregnant again as soon as possible.” Bet she didn’t hear that one very often.) After I met with the nurse I laid down on the bed and said a prayer, as I assume most people do who are about to have surgery. I asked God to bless the doctor to be guided to operate safely; and then I stopped. How would Heavenly Father be able to guide someone in this place? There is no way the Holy Ghost would be dwelling here. And if there’s no Holy Ghost, there’s no special help guiding any surgeons.

Not cool. Not cool at all.

So I got up, put my clothes on and apologized to the nurse. I’m sure they have women change their minds all the time so I didn’t really care. The nurse told me I’d probably miscarry before the other hospital could see me. I was willing to take that chance (I didn’t miscarry. I waited almost a week and there was never even a drop of blood.) As I walked into the waiting room I saw relief wash across Mister’s face. “I was praying and praying that you’d change your mind about being here. This place gives me the creeps!” He hugged me and I cried and we got Wendy’s hamburgers and I sobbed in my room for the rest of the week.

(To be continued tomorrow)