Wednesday, April 23, 2008

April is Cesarean Awareness Month

If a baby is not in your future plans -
PLEASE pass this on to any friends/family who may…

April is Cesarean Awareness Month

This is for anyone who is going to or possibly have a baby in their future, or anyone who’s already had a baby.

If you've had a cesarean delivery, even a few… and your doctor won't talk to you about VBACS (vaginal birth after cesarean), find someone who will. Get more reasons why they don't want you to - such as why you had it the first time? If you are having your first baby or a pregnancy with the possibility of a cesarean delivery - please keep reading.

Inspirational VBAmultipleC video:
Another beautiful VBAC video:

I had an emergency c-section with my first because of prolonged labor. For my second pregnancy (still overweight at 230lbs), my doctor convinced me that my babies will only get bigger so I better just go with another cesarean to "avoid labor with an inevitable c-section". Dummy me, I gave in without too much consideration. My 2nd baby was SMALLER and I could have done a VBAC after all.

When I got pregnant with my third (at 250 lbs), not only did he say VBAC is no longer an option because of the first two cesareans, but that he doesn't want to see me getting pregnant again because the risks get higher with each surgery. He even had me considering tying my tubes. I prayed, prayed some more, then did some research. My Catholic prolife stance basically says I can't, and besides - I won’t and I want another baby - or at least the possibility of another. And the research showed more risks with tube tying than a repeat cesarean. Now that my third baby is 7 months old, I have heard multiple stories of women having as many as 9 cesareans with no complications. Some stories from nurses at my clinic. It’s as if they held back the positives until after I made my decision. And my third was even smaller than the other two, so if I would have VBAC’d the 2nd baby, the 3rd would have been a breeze.

So there is hope, and I hope to have a 4th baby in the future. Possibly a VBAmultipleC! I have learned to confidently let my doctors and NPs that I know what I am doing, I know the risks involved, and don't have any hesitations with my decisions. Can you say the same?

Even though I am okay now, the pain and depression associated with Cesarean Deliveries was not worth it. I only wish I could go back. SO PLEASE research, pray, and consider a VBAC or no first cesarean at all. Especially if you want more children in your future, or at least the possibility of. The doctor's are just covering their own butts by telling you no! And in the meantime, eat healthy and exercise as much are able - perhaps get a personal trainer at the local gym to assist you so you’re in tip top shape for the pregnancy and birth of your babies.

Either way, practice Natural Family Planning to delay pregnancy afterwards to allow for proper healing. You want at least 2 years between pregnancies, for you and your family.

-Melissa Michalek 2008


What is Cesarean Awareness Month?
An internationally recognized month of awareness about the impact of cesarean sections on mothers, babies, and families worldwide. It's about educating yourself to the pros and cons of major abdominal surgery and the possibilities for healthy birth afterwards as well as educating yourself for prevention of cesarean section. Cesarean awareness is for mothers who are expecting or who might choose to be in the future. It's for daughters who don't realize what choices are being taken away from them. It's for scientists studying the effects of cesareans and how birth impacts our lives. It's for grandmothers who won't be having more children but are questioning the abdominal pains and adhesions causing damage 30 years after their cesareans.CESAREANS are serious. There is no need for a 'catchy phrase' to tell us that this is a mainstream problem. It affects everyone. One in three American women every year have surgery to bring their babies into the world. These women have lifelong health effects, impacting the families that are helping them in their healing, impacting other families through healthcare costs and policies, and bringing back those same lifelong health effects to the children they bring into this world.Be aware. Read. Learn. Ask questions. Get informed consent.
Be your own advocate for the information you need to know.

What OB/GYN doctors do you see? I have Dr. Eric Thompson at the CentraCare W&C. He’s really good and understanding of my choices. And I am sure each pregnancy and each person are different. He said the optimal spacing for children after a c-section is minimum 2 years. I was pregnant 13 months after 1st c/s then at 2 yrs 6 mth after the 2nd c/s. I deliver 1-2 weeks early to avoid going into labor. Not only was it better recovery for the 3rd c/s, but I like the spacing between the kids for my own sanity!

After watching the videos, I am going to consider a VBA3Cs. But I am going to try to wait 4 years for the next one, and get myself into tip top shape. Having my belly bulge so much near the incision makes it harder to heal. And being so overweight is hard enough, let alone adding a pregnancy. In some situations, I can see there isn’t really a choice medically. But it’s been SO nice to hearing success stories of more than 3 c/s. Doctors (especially NPs and nurses) really try to scare you into decisions, even immoral ones (birth control). So it’s nice to have a reference to share with them, that successful multiple c/s happen more often than they are willing to admit.

Rules on Makin’ Love and Makin’ Babies

I have done extensive research about sterilization. Coming upon a third cesarian delivery, I was told my risks of rupture increase with each surgery and pregnancy. (not necessarily ture, but none the less...) I was faced with the decision to rely solely on Natural Family Planning or chose tubal ligation or another form of Birth Control. Well, as a practicing Catholic, I wanted to be certain that I was not going against the church's teachings. And I wanted to know what those teachings were, and how they applied to my situation. Happily I found all the answers I was looking for, and am pleased to know that NFP is not only the only choice, but the best choice for the heath of my marriage and my body. I hope you will all take a look at the articles I found to help reassure yourself in this decision. It's not just a Catholic choice, it's a profound lifestyle that ensures the quality of your relationship with your spouse. And it's a true testament to respecting all life.

Father Saunders Article: Sterlization as Contraception -
(this was the best article, describing that because my organs are functioning healthy and are not "diseased" that would risk my life - it is a mortal sin to have them removed or altered. The only acception was if I had a hysterectomy because of rupture or cancer/disease which resulted in sterilization. But not acceptable to remove or alter due to personal choice to sterilize.)

Natural Family Planning:

Catholic Viewpoint on Birth Control:

Married Couples Who Intentionally Chose Sterilization For Contraceptive Purposes And Lasting Repentance :

A final resource for all couples:

Catholic Education: Homeward Bound

Catholic Education: Homeward Bound
A useful guide to Catholic Homeschooling
Written by: Kimberly Hahn & Mary Hasson (c) 1996

These are my notes and thoughts on this fabulous resource of encouragement for all homeschoolers and for those considering homeschooling. It is written by a well known speaker, and wife to Scott Hahn, another fabulous Catholic writer and speaker.

Ch 1 There's no place like home
Home schooling is continuing the education we already started they day our first child was born. It is the parents' God given obligation to educate their children, an education that is irreplaceable. Children who are homeschooled excel. From reports, they score well above institutional school students. Mainly due to the one-on-one tutoring, and the parents' making each child's personal success a priority.

A parent's love and attention surpasses that of a school teacher's. It fosters encouragement, sense of self, and respect that cannot compare. When we homeschool, we educate for a greater purpose than obtaining skills. We focus on their personal relationship with God, character formation, developing positive traits (manners, talents, etc), and family unity.

The family culture homeschoolers have is enriched with positives that are undermined by the secular and unbiased culture taught to children in public schools. A Catholic student should be soaked in the riches of morality and virtue.

And if that wasn't enough to convince, the flexibility of our schedule is greatly appreciated. We have time to enrich our children in the world around them from the home and into the community and beyond. Life becomes their schoolroom. Then, when sickness, tragedy, or family matters require a break – we take it. Also, when a child is struggling on a lesson, there is always time to stop and work on it until success is achieved.

Ch 2 Making the Grade

Roughly 25% of private and public school students are proficient in reading, writing and math skills. This is in comparison to 70-80% of homeschoolers. And on standardized tests, they rank 15-32 percentage points higher than public school students. Simply put – it works! The attention to individual strengths and weaknesses help us overcome obstacles and boredom in the classroom. Each student's curriculum is personalized.

The levels or grades of education in homeschooling are based upon the student's abilities, not by age. This is particularly wonderful for families with children who have learning disabilities or children who are considered "gifted" or superiorly "smart." Each subject takes as long as it takes. There are no class time restrictions. Life itself is a lesson. The ability to stop and learn when a student is stumped, rather than skip and move on with the entire class is one of my favorite aspects. I recall not "catching on" in class, and missing entire lessons because the class had moved on. This created embarrassment and sometimes poor grades. Not every child is comfortable admitting their slowness infront of 30 children. They'd rather conform and blend in than stand out. This also applies to the "teachers pet" or smarter students. Some children feel forced to purposely fail at some tasks simply not to stand out amongst their peers. Yes, peer pressure to conform to the average student, instead of excelling and moving forward. Very few teachers let me advance in my books if I understood quicker, or take my time if I couldn't catch up.

There is always time for extras, such as field trips. The cost to purchase curriculums is minimal in comparison to private/parochial schools.

Ch 3 A Catholic Education

When homeschooling, there is more time to teach the faith. We can attend Mass, integrate Catholicism into all subjects, and there is no negative social distractions. We are forming consciences, which is a delicate task. Parents are required, no matter where their children are schooled, to provide spiritual and moral training to their children. In a homeschool setting, there is no risk of undermining the faith by teachers or students. Many teachers in our Catholic schools today may be "Catholic" by baptism, but not necessarily required to believe, teach, or understand Catholicism. A positive thing I've found, is that even the most faithful parents learn along with their children, enriching the faith of the teacher.

We are molding souls and characters that can thrive, while public schools diminish them. We can teach the true discipline through the commandments a school teacher wouldn't have time for. In the end, when our children reach their judgement day, WE will be held accountable for their initial formation. So when it comes to educating our children, I would agree that the Church comes first, and basic skills second.

Not only is it our privilege and responsibility to educate our children, but it is our right! Many resources point in this direction including the Bible, Canon Law, Papal writings, and the Catechism. Did you know that private schools were developed when the government took over our children's education from parents and made public schools. The Christian communities saw a need to fulfill the spiritual lives of their children that they new they would not receive in public school systems. Even today, presidential issues include a law that will issue vouchers to allow parents to choose public, parochial or charter schools. That would resolve the cost issues, but I still believe in the unbeatable choice to homeschool.

We know our faith to be as true as any "fact" or "proven theory." Yet, teachers preach our faith as opinion and teach children to be unbiased towards their teachings of neutrality. Often on subjects of morality, and when our children's defenses are down. And teacher's are not monitored on their own opinions or beliefs. Do you know what your children are learning in school?

St. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 8:1, "Knowledge puffs up; but love builds up."

If you've been through CCD and have had additional home teaching of the faith, you will have noticed that it is lacking both in book and teacher. Catholic churches and schools are failing to teach the truths to our children. We are being fed our faith by whomever is willing to come and teach, without supervision by church authorities such as priests and nuns. Luckily, we can ask God to provide for what we lack. We can make an effort to enrich our own faith and pass it on to our children as He asks.

Ch 4 Goals & Priorities
There are many teachable moments in a day of homeschooling. We constantly find opportunities to educate our children in life lessons, basic skills, and our faith. We don't just teach "Religion" here. We teach sacred scripture, church laws, and sacred traditions – the tripod of our faith. Take one leg out and it will fall over. (Thanks dad for that one.) We instill wholeheartedly, virtues for character formation. We have time in our days for faith-filled activities such as Mass, prayer volunteering, community activities, and other church Sacraments. We teach real life skills in a real life environment. Every day we are creating a sense of belonging and selfworth, discipline, and even teaching chores and responsibilities.

Ch 5 Socialization, monitored
In homeschool, there is no age segregation, no cliques, no "in-crowd." Children play together with children of all ages, and at gatherings sit by their friends who's last names may start with a different letter. As a newer member to the community, I can't tell you how interesting it was that in my public high school, most friend groups were made up of either people who had been in the same "by last name" homerooms over the years, or were in the same realm of intellect. There were preppies, slackers, loners, nerds, glamour girls, and a few more. Lucky for me, I befriended a few from each group when I moved to the area and was able to mingle around a stereotype (I think).

The friendships I developed in my K-12 years were not always positive and enriching for me. I can only hope to provide fruitful friendships for my children in ways that are pleasing to God. Not developed by chance of seating arrangements. And on a daily basis, my children will hopefully grow stronger relationships with their siblings as we work side by side. Also, as we obtain discipline in our home, there will be a stronger respect for us as parents. When we are faced with teenagers in the future, as many other homeschoolers prove, that there will be a more humble approach to hormonal emotions!

Peer-dominated education can be very harmful. I've seen it in school shootings, including my very own high school (Rocori High, Cold Spring MN). I've seen it in the sad faces of others, and in my own tears. It contrives rebellion and competition that can never be fruitful.

Especially in the elementary levels, I can vouch for positive personalities encouraged through homeschooling. The following traits are often downplayed and ruled out of public schools.
- talkative – helpful – bubbly – active – uniqueness – outwardly charismatic – and more.
I've seen these traits in my children, and myself at one time. I remember in Kindergarten at a Catholic school, being told not to help the other children. To be quiet. To wait to go to the bathroom. To not talk in the bathrooms. Then, if that wasn't bad enough, you were teased without teacher reprimand. Children can be cruel if allowed and unmonitored. Teased for weight, height, talents, weaknesses and even for being a top student. At home, we can deal with sin as it occurs. We will be THERE when our children misbehave and be able to teach a faithful lesson, correcting their behavior. There are peaceful resolutions made and they are lead by example.

Yes, here is the "Real World" at home. Home, neighborhood, church, workplace, and church. Mixed ages, sexes, races, and personalities gather in this real world. What is so unsocial about that?

The early life of Jesus was spent with his family. This family atmosphere is the perfect place to kindle the fire of our children's futures. There is consistency in family. The family is Catholic, monitored, and boasts with fruitful friendships. Just remember, we are on the ladder to heaven, not the social ladder.


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