I hit the publish button on this one before it was ready. If you got that, my apology, and here’s the finished version.
We’re about 12 weeks from the start of the 2013 MR340 – so, we’re the “last trimester.” I haven’t posted anything here for a while so I thought an update might be good. It’s been a slow start with my training because life keeps happening. Lots of work, family emergencies, and uncooperative weather, you know how it is. I’m continuing with the pushups and situps but can’t wait to actually paddle more. Unfortunately, the predictions for next week are more cool weather. Say some prayers for heat, guys.
We’re also slow on the fundraising front. So, since there’s not a lot of news about kayaking, this post will be about the cause.
When a woman walks in to BirthChoice it’s usually because she’s worried she might be pregnant and wants to get a test. She may be single, married, or in a committed relationship. She may be hoping for a baby or fearful of what the test results will show. She may be all alone, with her husband or boyfriend, or a with family member or friend. The person with her may be pressuring her to go to an abortion clinic or, the opposite, they might have brought her there. In any case, all the services she receives are at no charge.
If the pregnancy test is negative, they educate her about why she may have missed several periods and what the next steps are. Some sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) can be the cause. Also, various forms of birth control that use hormones can affect a woman’s cycle. For instance, after long term use of the “depo” shot a woman may not have a period for six months. If she does not start her period in another 1-2 weeks they encourage her to come for a retest. They discuss STD testing, relationships, sexual purity and Natural Family Planning (NFP) when appropriate. Unlike some pregnancy resource centers, BirthChoise is not a medical clinic. They only provide two medical services – pregnancy tests and sonograms. Some centers, though, like one in Joplin, MO, do offer free STD testing and other women’s medical services.
If the pregnancy test is positive, a sonogram may be performed. BirthChoice volunteers then begin exploring all the choices the woman may have in making a decision to keep the baby, have an abortion, or place for adoption. This is an emotional time and it’s important that the woman (or couple) have all the information and resources they need to make an informed choice. Quite a few misconceptions are cleared up at this point. The woman is given a Decision Guide sheet to look at the Pros and Cons of the choices, both short and long term. If abortion is being considered, the types of procedures, their risks and their consequences are discussed.
If the woman has made a definite decision at this point to have an abortion, she is given an abortion packet with the booklet A Woman’s Right To Choose, a sheet on questions to ask her abortionist – are they a medical doctor, currently licensed, have complaints against them, will the procedure hurt etc., a pamphlet for Rachel’s Vineyard for post abortive counseling, and a factual explanation of abortion procedures at different stages of pregnancy. The woman is offered a chance to see our Medical Director if her concerns are high risk factors. The client is encouraged to call if she needs referrals after the abortion procedure. And most important of all, her initials and the baby’s father’s initials get forwarded to our prayer chain. She is encouraged to pray about her decision and not react out of panic, but from a place of clarity. A follow up call is made the next day to answer any other questions that may come up.
If the woman indicates she is strongly considering continuing her pregnancy, education on having a safe, healthy pregnancy begins. Miscarriage and ectopic pregnancy precautions are reviewed. If the pregnancy is 20 weeks or further along pre labor precautions are given. The most important thing is for the woman to have access to affordable or free (depending on financial circumstances) prenatal care. Birthchoice has resources for both. They try to set up the first appointment before the client leaves. Clients are given an education packet containing information on fetal development, nutrition, and prenatal care and this is reviewed. Also, issues specific to the client are addressed such as domestic violence, relationships and marriage, adoption information, financial counseling, and how to tell their parents or boyfriend they are pregnant. Spiritual counseling is offered.
Other resources and referrals are available. If adoption is being considered, they’ll set up an appointment with an adoption specialist. Sometimes a referral is made to Nurse Family Partnership which is funded through the YWCA. In this program for low income women with a first pregnancy, a nurse visits the mother-to-be about every two weeks and follows her through her pregnancy. For women without resources, referrals are made to agencies that can help with food, maternity homes, and housing or shelter.
Two programs that deserve special mention are the Gabriel Project and Rachel’s Vineyard. The Gabriel Project pairs women with specially trained volunteers who support them with spiritual, emotional, and material needs throughout the pregnancy and beyond. They also have their GEMS Program for prenatal and parenting classes. Rachel Ministries of Dallas provides access to spiritual direction, mental and physical health care, and moral and emotional support for post-abortive women.
Of course, these women didn’t get pregnant by themselves. The fathers, if they are involved, are encouraged to be part of this process and are offered separate counseling and support through many of these same programs.
Baby items like diapers and diaper bags, car seats, strollers, cribs, clothes, and formula are also available to low income women clients at the end of their pregnancy. And, during the pregnancy, gently used maternity clothes are available. They try to follow the woman and her baby for a year after the baby is born. During and after their pregnancy the client can come in any time to meet with a peer counselor or nurse and watch education videos on topics like breast-feeding, postpartum depression, spiritual counselling, parenting skills, and child development.
BirthChoice operates at two full time locations – with one part time sonogram nurse. That leaves a need for an approved 20 hour paid part time position for an RN or sonographer and 2 volunteer nurses to be trained as back ups. These positions will most likely require sonogram training for an RN. We ask for your prayers that the right individuals find BirthChoice and walk through the door ready to go. It’s important to have the funds available to cover the training. This is the White Rock Navy goal for 2013. Any funds raised over training costs will go in an education fund for materials that will be used for teaching their clients We can do it with your help but, like my physical conditioning, we’re off to a slow start. In 2010 I asked first for your prayers for me and the people of Haiti – and you came through. Now I’m back again. Please pray for Christian and me as we vigorously train for this event and for these women in crisis. Think about what you can do financially to support this educational funding. No matter your stand on the pro-life/pro-choice debate I hope you’ll agree that the work being done to serve these women is worth your attention. Ready? Click HERE to make that donation.
Ned and the WRN team