Category Archives: BirthChoice

Last is better than DNS

I’m not much one for inspirational posters but I saw this one on the MR340 discussion board today and really liked it.

dead last

It’s only 9 days until we’re on the water in Kansas City and there are still people who are debating whether to enter the race or not – and those of us who are already on the starting list are encouraging them all we can. It really is all about starting. Most of us have have absolutely no hope of winning this thing. In the average year 1/3 of the starters drop out and last year 50% didn’t make it to the finish. But.. they STARTED the race.

That’s something the people at BirthChoice are trying to make possible for the women, and the babies, who come through their doors. With your help, they won’t be DNS – Did Not Start. That’s what I’ll be thinking about while I’m on the water. As I write this we’re at just under $1,000.00. We have a long way to go and I hope to get updates telling me that contributions are coming in. At the very least, pass the word to anyone you know who might be interested in helping with this good work.

So, what about the race? It starts at 7:00 am for the solo racers (8:00 for everyone else) on the 23rd and you’ll be able to track our progress on FACEBOOK or at RACEOWL. When you first go to Raceowl you’ll see the top 10 racers. To get the rest of us, you’ll need to click on the “View All” link. Then it’s a matter of doing a search for my boat number, 0726 or Christian’s, 3141. You’ll see the boat number, our names, last checkpoint and whether we’ve checked in or out of that checkpoint, the time in or out, our average speed, and the calculated time of arrival at the next checkpoint. Pretty cool stuff.

Once you have that info, it’s a matter of understanding where the checkpoints are and when we have to be there – there are cutoff times and if we miss any of those times we’re out of the race. Here’s the list:

  1. KAW POINT: The solo boats start here. The local news helicopters will be flying around and a huge crowd will be on the river banks to watch. It’s pretty exciting for everyone.
  2. LEXINGTON: 50/50. My shorthand here indicates that Lexington is 50 miles from the last checkpoint and we’ve traveled a total of 50 miles on the race. We must get there by 5:00 pm on Tuesday.
  3. WAVERLY: 23/73. The deadline is 9:00 pm Tuesday.
  4. MIAMI: 32/105. If we aren’t in Miami by 11:00 am Wednesday we’re out.
  5. GLASGOW: 36/141 and the cutoff is 6:00 pm Wednesday
  6. KATFISH KATY’S: 46/187 – Noon on Thursday but, by KK we’re half way to the finish and almost all those people who will drop out will have already done so.
  7. WILSON’S SERENITY POINT at NOREN ACCESS (Jefferson City): 36/223. by 7:00 pm Thursday
  8. HERMANN: 46/269. If we’re later than 10 am am on Friday we’re a DNF.
  9. KLONDIKE: 42/311. 6:00 pm Friday is the latest we can pass this checkpoint.
  10. ST. CHARLES: 27/338 and the deadline is midnight, Friday.

Late addition to this post – here’s a map. Click on the link at the bottom that says “view larger map” to get the full picture.

Notice that there’s a big time gap between Waverly and Miami. That’s to allow the racers to get some sleep. The reality is that no one who has slept at Waverly in the past four years has managed to finish the race. So, we’ll be pushing on to (or past) Miami to “bank some time” in case we have weather, physical, or mechanical problems that delay us.

That’s it. The boats are ready, Christian and I are as ready as we can be, and all we need to do is pack up the car for the drive. I probably won’t do any more blogging until after the race so, for the latest news, check our Facebook page.

Thanks so much for everyone’s support and encouragement.

Ned

It’s a stretch

We’ve set some tough goals for ourselves in the 2013 MR340. But, with your help I know we can get there.

75 hours – that’s how fast we want to make it to the finish line. In 2010 I did it in 82 hours, with a much faster river and cooler temperatures. I averaged 4.14 miles per hour then and will need to up that to 4.53 mph. It doesn’t sound like much of an improvement but, if you figure we’ll need sleep at least a LITTLE it gets tougher. If we sleep 4 hours a night, for three nights, we’ll need to be paddling at a 5.39 mph pace when we’re on the water. It will be tough.

$10,000 – that’s how much we want to raise for Birth Choice of Dallas. In 2010 we raised $5,000 to help in Haiti. This time the stretch is twice that amount. It’s a great cause. Birth Choice provides free services to women in crisis, many of whom couldn’t get help any other way. The training we’ll be doing will be easy compared to this part of our goal. How do we plan to get there? There’s only one answer to that one – YOU!

If you’re pro-life this should be an easy decision. If you’re pro-choice I hope you’ll remember that that’s exactly what BirthChoice is trying to provide to women who are in a tough spot. They may be under a lot of pressure from boyfriends or husbands, their family, society, or their own economic situations.

They might see only one way out – a way that they may well regret later. The choice they may want to make might only be possible with outside help. BirthChoice gives them that help by educating them about all their alternatives, their choices. If they do decide to go through with an abortion the compassionate people at BirthChoice are still there to talk with them and support them afterward. There’s never any preaching or attempt to make them feel guilty. If you read Sharon’s last post you saw the full list of services.

To do this the folks at BirthChoice need your help. They are blessed to have two locations directly across from abortion clinics in Dallas but only one part time sonogram nurse. They need to train another nurse and we’d like to provide a scholarship for her tuition. Beyond that, money will be set aside for educational tools and materials for the men (yes, they work with the dads, too) and women who come in. And finally, with their goal to double their volunteer staff, they will use remaining dollars for training and continuing education.

This is a non profit, with limited resources, so money is tight. The goal is a stretch but one that’s worthwhile. We can reach it with your help, but you’ll need to click HERE to make a secure, tax deductible donation!

Thanks to you all for the prayers, encouragement, and support.

Ned

LET’S NOT LIMIT ACCESS TO THE CHOICES

Sound like the words of the largest abortion provider in our country? Does this echo the sentiments of the pro-choice movement?   I urge you to read this entire post with an open mind and heart; then you decide.

I have worked with women receiving counseling and services at crisis pregnancy centers now, for over two years. The last eight months have been for BirthChoice Pregnancy Centers for Women, in Dallas. As a peer counselor and a nurse sonographer, during an intake and assessment a question asked all clients is whether they have had previous abortions and if yes, would they make that choice again. A small percentage have had previous abortions and say it wasn’t a problem but they would never consider it again. They feel desperate because they have been convinced they are not strong enough or have enough resources to manage a child or be a good parent. Some women had abortions under duress, believing it would solve their problem and life would go back to normal and found that far from true. Some women report a previous abortion and still see it as their only choice with this pregnancy because of external pressures ie: from parents or friends, embarrassment, financial stressors, boyfriend threatening to leave. Many women when relating their abortion experiences tell of treatment ranging from insensitive to gruesome to possibly illegal. But the main themes I keep hearing are “I didn’t think I had any other options,” “I felt trapped in my situation,” “I didn’t have insurance and didn’t know there was help for me,” and many similar stories with the same theme – “I didn’t know all the choices I had.”

Why  these other choices were not presented would be a good topic for another post.

Instead of abortion, what positive choices do we provide at BirthChoice? After we complete an intake and assessment to evaluate the woman’s situation and needs, the following are possible.

  • Sonograms for women considering abortion. Many women truly believe “the products of conception” they are told an abortion removes is a blob of tissue and are shocked to see the heartbeat of a 6 week baby and how active a 10 week or older baby is, kicking, punching, sucking it’s thumb. They will comment that because they don’t feel it yet they didn’t expect it to be moving. A baby’s movement is not usually felt until after 20 weeks. Abortion in Texas is legal until 24 weeks.
  • Sonograms for women not wanting abortion but are being pressured by boyfriends/parents/friends/spouses. We strongly encourage those significant others to view the sonogram.
  • Review of the booklet by the state “A Woman’s Right To Choose” which shows fetal development and factual information about the various types of abortion procedures and their possible risks and side effects – both short and long and short term,  and they are given a copy.
  • For the woman who still plans to seek an abortion, given a copy of questions for her to ask her abortionist. *Will the procedure hurt?  *In your practice, have you ever punctured a uterus?  *If there is a problem do you have emergency blood on hand? *If there is a problem which hospital will the ambulance take me to? *If I am admitted, who will pay my hospital bill? *Will I have problems getting pregnant when I want to? * Can you assure me this procedure is completely safe and that I will not have any problems now or later? * Can I change my mind at any time and have my money returned?
  • If undecided shown a video Honest Answers or Choices which present real women talking about the choices they made and how it worked out for them.
  • Given options for prenatal care if they don’t have health insurance. Lately we have seen more women who are pregnant and have recently lost their jobs or their husband or boyfriend has become unemployed and they have lost their health insurance and or income.  We don’t want a woman to be pressured to have an abortion with long term and possible detrimental consequences because of a temporary situation.
  • Given a referral list for various programs for financial support.
  • Given adoption information – we have an adoption specialist who can meet with the client and educate them about adoption and adoption agencies.
  • Information and referrals for emotional support or spiritual counseling including but not limited to: Rachel’s Vineyard for post abortive women suffering emotionally and spiritually from effects of their abortions, Project Gabriel and their GEMS program, Nurse Family Partnership Program, spiritual counseling at our center.
  • Connect to many other appropriate resources.

We do many other things at BirthChoice but the purpose of this article is to show how by providing education about all the choices a woman has in an unplanned pregnancy, she can make an informed choice, hopefully the one that will impact her life in a positive way.

More often than not when I introduce myself to a client, the expression she has is sad, flat, angry or scared.  She believes her choices are very limited or she has been lead to believe she doesn’t really have one. I want her to leave with hope for different possibilities. My greatest reward is a huge sigh of relief and a smile.

It’s a slow start…..

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.

Thanks,

Ned and the WRN team

I Dreamed a Dream….. Choice

Ned and I went to see Les Miserables at the movies 2 weeks ago. He had read the book decades ago but I did not even know the story, just the music. I have wanted to see it forever, it seems.

I think I felt every emotion I have in those 3 hours. We both left profoundly effected and moved. I have listened to Anne Hathaway sing the title song a dozen times on u-tube trying to realize what I connect to so strongly. It finally occurred to me the verse “he took my childhood in his stride” is what I am thinking when I am seeing a client at BirthChoice who is very young and in an unintended pregnancy.

I have asked many of these 15 or 16 year olds “Was it worth it?” and EVERYONE I have asked has said “NO!” emphatically. They did it seeking love or to keep from losing their boyfriend, hoping for that dream. Suddenly, they are expecting and poof – their childhood is over and the dream is shattered unless he will be there for them. Now, some people believe that by getting rid of the “problem” pregnancy that these girls can go back to the dream and all is well. I learned of a manual used in a sex and health ed program for young girls that states “abortion can be a positive experience.” In my 3 years working with women who are post abortive I have never heard this claim. What I have heard is quite different. In the movie, Fantine has her child and although her life ends tragically, she saw her child as the good part worth huge sacrifices. The impact of that child Cossette’s life, no one could have imagined. Three days before I saw the movie I read a column in the newspaper by a female journalist who stated she felt guilty admitting it but she still loved the movie, even though she was hoping that in the movie version it would be modernized because of how the original story portrays women. She also stated we are lucky we are living in different times where woman don’t have to sacrifice for their children and aren’t expected to. Not knowing the story, my curiosity was piqued. After seeing the movie I was annoyed that I could not remember her name to quote her unbelievably ridiculous, selfish statements. That absurd thinking, that history needs to be told with a politically correct slant doesn’t make it historical anymore. How does someone develop such a mindset? She may dream a dream that things were different but wishing does not make it true. Nothing takes a childhood or part of a woman’s soul away more than abortion except a pregnancy from rape followed by an abortion – where there are two victims and two crimes. I have heard this direct from my clients: “I didn’t know… They didn’t tell me… I can’t sleep without nightmares anymore… I can’t have children now… they treated me like garbage… I would never do it again… The staff wouldn’t look me in the eyes…” We wouldn’t need post abortion retreats like Rachel’s Vineyard if abortion returned them to the dream and made things right.

So, I dream a dream where women are given all the facts and complete choices and understand the consequences from whoever they go to seeking support and information about what they can do about their situation. We try to do that at BirthChoice so the decision the woman makes will be positive and enhance her life, not make it worse or destroy it, or even possibly endanger it.

BirthChoice is there for support after the choice too – whatever it may be. And I have seen women who chose life bring their babies for us to see after they are born, proud and happy, and yes maybe tired. But they have another chance to dream the dream.

Sharon

Why?

It’s a little after 4 in the morning and I’m awake on a Sunday. It’s hard to get used to sleeping in when you get up early for work every day. I’m sitting in the quiet thinking about why I’d want to enter a 340 mile race across the state of Missouri.

This is a project that really is pretty selfish. Once the weather warms up I’ll be out on White Rock Lake several evenings a week and most Saturdays getting in shape. That will continue until the end of July. My wife gives me the time for all this solitary activity and then, along with some friends, gives up a week to sit around isolated boat ramps waiting to take care of me in the race. Yeah, it’s selfish. Yet I’m a pretty social guy. I enjoy being around people and certainly don’t see myself as selfish. So, what’s the attraction for me of spending hours alone training and then days alone on the race?

I’ve found that this blog is a big part of it. Being able to share the adventure with so many of my friends – and people I don’t even know – and reading their comments to my posts is a tremendous motivator. The other big reason is the feeling that I’m doing something unselfish by promoting a good cause.

Sharon has had a dream of doing sonograms for a crisis pregnancy center for the last few years. A few months ago she found an opening at Birth Choice Dallas. They’re a non-profit, so money is always tight, and the cost of good training for her was a stretch for them. God answered her prayers from an unexpected source and a friend donated enough to pay for her classes. Unfortunately she’s only working 20 hours a week – and they have two locations. Do the math and you’ll understand that they need 3 more of her to fill the hours they’re open.

So, I’m in this thing for the personal challenge and getting the word out about the need. Don’t worry about me asking you for money. I figure that if a lot of people subscribe to this blog and “like” the Facebook page the donations will come in. My job isn’t to pick your pocket. I’ll just try to entertain you a bit and let you decide if this is a cause you want to back.

That’s it. I’m being selfish about a personal goal, I’m asking a lot of people to follow along from now until the end of July, and I’m praying that some of them decide this is a cause worth supporting.

Ned

To see the most recent post, click HERE

Marathon John

We’ve talked about Christian and Elisabeth, the other paddler and the runner in the family. This post is about John, the youngest of the Flottman family.

John’s sport is disc golf. I’ve never heard of marathon disc golf. But, he deserves to take it easy and stretch his muscles when he’s not at his job because that’s where his real marathon goes on. John’s a master ice carver, working at Ideas in Ice in Oklahoma City. Over the holidays like Christmas and Easter he’s working some long hours sculpting frozen water into things of beauty. He has an eye for art and muscles built up from lots of hauling big blocks of ice around.

It’s always amazing to me to watch someone do something they’re really good at. And watching John work with a medium that cracks easily and is constantly melting is a sight to see. If you ever have a chance to see him at a carving competition don’t miss the opportunity.

The last time I mentioned to John that he’d be great with a paddle in his hands he said he might be interested one of these days. If I could get Elisabeth in the back of a canoe, and John up front (where the power needs to be), Christian and I would both be looking at their backs.

Christian and I are taking it easy while the weather is cold but John’s in the middle of the Christmas ice carving marathon – GO JOHN!

The news from my ground crew captain, otherwise known as Sharon, the limited ultrasound nurse, is great. As you know, she finished her training and has started putting what she learned into practice. She learned on one kind of machine and had to start working using another but seems to have made that transition without too many hitches. She says it was like learning about computers on a Mac and then being handed a PC to use! She still has a few buttons and dials to decipher but she’s making good progress.

While we’re talking about her training it’s a good time to give a huge thanks to one of our White Rock Navy members. The place where Sharon works is a non-profit and relies on donations for their budget. They could hire her but were scrambling a bit to pay for her training. When she heard about the situation she stepped up and offered a donation that covered the five day class. BirthChoice now has a sonographer working 20 hours a week and Sharon has the training she’s wanted for a long time.

56 days since we “conceived” this idea, and 213 days until the MR340.

Ned

TIS THE SEASON MARATHON

As I type this, Ned is fast and furiously addressing and signing Christmas Cards, the first mailout in several years. We have been Blessed the past few holiday seasons  to be able to focus on the reason for the season because of our serious deficit of funds. That situation has eased slightly so we have added Christmas cards back into our life. We look forward to increasing prosperity in 2013 both spiritually and financially. We are both gainfully employed at the same time. Hallelujah! A little bit of catching up for those out of the loop.  After a year of unemployment in 2009 Ned took a job in Shreveport, LA  for Centerpoint Energy in 2010. He had been expressing interest in learning to kayak and doing the MR340. I had stipulations. 1 employment, 2health insurance, 3 a physical with clean bill of health, and this had to happen by the end of April. Well this got God’s Blessing because he landed his job on April 20th and started May 3.  I was in shock and drug my feet following him,  until our townhouse sold I was staying in Dallas. He spent every minute he was not working, training for the race. After being cancelled and rescheduled he did that in August and raised $4000 for the Haiti Pilgrims’ work in the city of Boileau, Haiti. One weekend a month we commuted back and forth – about a 3 1/2 hr drive – for the next 7 months.   Then something unheard of happened. I, an RN, lost my job. It ended abruptly and I got the message loud and clear that I was to get my ____to Shreveport, so I moved over Christmas. It took me 5 months to get my nursing license in the great state of LA so I began volunteering at Catholic Charities, St Catherine’s community garden for St Vincent DePaul, and The ARK-LA-TEX crisis pregnancy center. I met wonderful people and my life changed dramatically. A month after I got my licence, Ned’s job abruptly ended without any unemployment.  He shot back to Dallas to work as a contractor while I continued to volunteer and try to figure out “NOW WHAT”.  I was loved and cared for by my Christian sisters at ALTCPC. Ned was renting a room from an “interesting” gentleman because we had just finally leased our town home because  we were never able to sell it. I forgot to mention that the week after Ned moved to Shreveport a pitiful Silky Terrier

Janie the Little Dog

Janie the Little Dog

was rescued  by our neighbor and we somehow ended up with her. She has been a huge blessing for me as a companion, always making me laugh, even as I went through 4-5 gallons of Natures Miracle. She adores and is completely devoted to me. She likes her Ned too. Fast forward, this is getting boring, I talked to our tenant when the lease in Shreveport ran out and she agreed to end her lease early and the week after Labor Day

Headed HOME!

Headed HOME!

we moved ourselves back to Dallas to our wonderful Lakewood neighborhood and town home. After many interviews I accepted a job at BirthChoice a pregnancy center for woman with the stipulation I needed to be trained to do limited ultrasounds  on our clients who were trying to decide what choice to make with their unplanned pregnancies. We offer support for numerous needs and try to love these woman so they can love their babies. It is a fairly new center with 2 locations, diamonds in the rough. We are striving to become centers of excellence. We have our hands full,  lots of needs most urgent besides funds are volunteers, especially nurses to do ultrasounds. We have both been working extremely hard and here it is the Christmas countdown and Ned just mailed our cards as I type this last sentence of our Christmas letter.

We wish you a blessed Christmas celebrating the birthday of our Lord and Savior, Jesus.  Next year we will try to get our letter in the card.

Love,      Sharon, Ned, Janie the little dog, and Bravo the cat