What is: The Best Form of Birth Control?

Inconceivable! Time and again in The Princess Bride, Vizzini spouts this word. With the man in black climbing the Cliffs of Insanity, Vizzini cuts the rope hoping the man in black would fall, but he doesn’t.  When Fezzik points out this fact, of course Vizzini shouts it again, “Inconceivable!” Then the great Inigo Montoya turns to the bald man and says, “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think is means.”

Montoya might say the same to us whenever he heard someone talk about birth control. Inducing delivery, the use of Pitocin to increase contractions, or bed rest to delay labor might all be considered birth control; but that’s not what’s being talked about when we say birth control. When we say birth control we’re really talking about pregnancy control.

Birth is the natural result of a pregnancy. Pregnancy is the natural result of a man and woman having sex. So if we’re attempting to control pregnancy the necessary ingredient is self-control when it comes to sex.

Have you ever been to a theme park, like Six Flags, Walt Disney World, or Universal Studios, where they have water rides? The ones where a bunch of people get on a boat that travels up a big hill and then races down the other side until is SPLASHES at the bottom soaking everyone on board and many of the spectators.

(If you’re still not sure what I mean you can watch this.)

Most people ride when it’s hot outside and are excited about the refreshing dousing they’ll receive. Others step on more reluctantly, sometimes wearing ponchos, hoping they’ll be able to ride but not get wet. It doesn’t work. If you were running the ride and a guest didn’t want to get wet, what would you tell them? Would you tell them to put on a poncho, to sit on a towel, to keep their feet off the floor. Or might you tell them to stay off the ride?

When people think about birth pregnancy control they’re trying to get on the ride and hoping they won’t get wet. It doesn’t work. Whether you use barrier methods, like condoms or diaphragms; chemical methods, like pills or patches; or surgical methods, like an IUD or a Vasectomy, there is still a chance you will get pregnant. There is only one way to actually control pregnancy and that’s to stay off the ride – abstinence.

You can abstain, or choose not to do, all sorts of things. People abstain from coffee, soft drinks, chocolate, etc. Most of the time you hear the word abstinence though, it’s talking about abstaining from sex. Remember, sex leads to pregnancy and pregnancy leads to birth, so if you want to take control of birth you must take control of sex.

Go back to our water ride example. When a guest is waiting in line, do they have control of whether or not they get wet? How about when they’re at the front of the line, looking at the boat? Yep, they still do. But once they step on the boat they’re releasing control and allowing things to happen as they will. Guess what, they’re going to get wet.

Sex has lots of different benefits. It can be pleasurable. It can unite couples in intimate ways. But ultimately, sex leads to pregnancy and pregnancy leads to birth. Babies are a benefit too. In fact, many believe babies are the best benefit. If you have questions about birth control it likely means you don’t currently desire a baby. If you don’t currently desire a baby, they you want to make sure you don’t get pregnant. If you don’t want to get pregnant there’s only one way to keep control – stay off the ride. Abstinence is the only 100% effective way to prevent pregnancy, so it’s without a doubt the best form of birth pregnancy control.

 

 

What is: a Trimester?

If you are a pregnant mother or involved father and sign up for classes at the PHI Center in anticipation of your baby’s birth, we’ll put you a class based on your trimester. We offer classes for first, second or third trimester parents so you’ll learn specifically about what’s happening in your pregnancy. If you’ve been seeing a doctor you’ve probably heard the word “trimester” spoken dozens of times, but do you know what it means? Do you know how we got that term and why we use it? Let’s learn together.

The American school system made popular the word semester. Most schools divide their academic year into two “semesters,” but how does that help us understand a trimester? The answer’s found in the etymology of the word.

Technically, semester is a German word derived from its older Latin cousin “semestris.” That word comes from two smaller Latin words, “sex” which means six, and “mensis” which means month. In the German school system Semester is used literally; they have two six-month semesters. In America the semester doesn’t represent six months, instead it represents dividing one period of time into two equal parts (The academic semester is closer to four months). For a pregnancy it’s a little simpler, trimester comes from two words as well: “tri” meaning three, and “mensis” meaning month. Trimester literally means three months. As an aside, the term menstrual also comes from this Latin word “mensis,” and simply refers to a monthly cycle. Your pregnancy is divided into three, roughly three-month periods called trimesters.

The key to understanding trimesters and your due date is accepting it’s not an exact science. The 280 day (forty week) gestation period is derived from an average. The due date of a baby has a give or take of up to two weeks based on when conception happened. And we can’t forget some months have five weeks while others have four. At the Phi Center, we’ll utilize your last menstrual period (LMP) to estimate your due date and calculate which trimester you’re in.

We offer first trimester classes up to the twelfth or thirteenth week of your pregnancy, second trimester classes until your about twenty-six weeks, and third trimester classes up till your baby is born. If the first day of your LMP was January 1st you would enter your second trimester around March 25th, enter your third trimester about the first of July, and possibly deliver on October seventh. But remember the key, these dates are estimates not exacts. You might deliver at the end of September or the middle of October, but that’s okay. And you’ll be okay, just listen to your doctor and enjoy the process.

So a trimester is roughly one third of your pregnancy. The exact day you grow from one trimester to another varies depending on when the little life you’re expecting began.

What is (are): Baby Bucks?

It was 1862 when the U.S. Department of Treasury printed the first paper currency. And did you know Martha Washington was the first woman to have her portrait on an American Bill? Yep, in 1886 her image was on the face of the $1 silver certificate. A picture of Independence Hall in Philadelphia, PA is printed on the back of our $100 bill, and in case you were wondering, the time on the clock tower is approximately 4:10. Crazy but true, the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing produces approximately $453 million in new bills, EVERY DAY! We don’t produce anywhere close to $453 million a day, but we do print a few Baby Bucks at the PHI Center; there’s sixty-two sitting in the PHI Vault as I write this post.

As of August 2012, this is our new Baby Buck.

 

Our educational program is called “Earn While you Learn,” and what you earn are Baby Bucks. Here’s how you can earn yours. The most an individual can earn on a day is four: one for showing up for class, one for being on time, one for having completed homework, and one for breastfeeding. Not everyone is in the breastfeeding season of life, especially our dads, so most of the time your maximum earnings would be three Baby Bucks. If both parents are participating in class both parents are eligible for Baby Bucks, so couples could take home six or seven Bucks per week!

These Bucks are the only currency accepted in our Storkroom. We don’t take checks, won’t swipe cards, and don’t want your hard earned U.S. currency; we only want our Baby Bucks. And those Bucks go a long way in the Storkroom. Three will buy you twelve articles of kid’s clothes because they are only twenty-five Baby Cents a piece. Our items are priced to move, so if you do your homework and show up on time you will be able to buy all sorts of great things for your family and home.

What is: The Storkroom?

Legends tell of storks delivering babies to parents under the cover of night. Dressed in their best white feathers, these tall birds wrapped babies in cloths, picked them up with their long red beaks, and brought them to the new parents. The White Stork of legend calls Europe home but every fall heads south, to Africa, to avoid the dreary winter months. Toward the end of March they make their way back to Europe, coinciding with the coming of spring. About nine months before the birds came home was the Midsummer’s Day festival, held annually on the summer solstice in June. The festival was a popular time for weddings, and nine months after those marriages were consummated the storks returned home. The birds like high places and often nested on rooftops and in chimneys, giving rise to the myth they dropped the babies down the chimney and a legend was born.

Associating the stork as a giver of gifts and symbolic of babies, our resource area was named the Storkroom. The bottom floor of the PHI Center is stork-like because it’s the place our clients receive their practical support, although nothing is dropped down a chimney. The shelves are stocked with baby formula, diapers, toys, bottles, blankets, burp cloths, and clothing for both babies and mothers. Raising a child is an adventure, full of joy and laughter, stress and anxiety. Raising a child is also an investment and The Storkroom allows us to ease the financial burden off the parents we serve.

Everything in The Storkroom is available with no expense to our clients, but our resources aren’t necessarily free. Our education program is called “Earn While You Learn” because participating in the educational classes is how clients earn Baby Bucks. These Baby Bucks are what you use to buy what you need for your baby or your home. You earn while you learn.

If you get involved at the PHI Center the resources in the Storkroom become available to you. We would love the opportunity to help you prepare for the baby on the way or care for the one already in your home. All you need to do is come introduce yourself, get signed up, and start coming to class. The Storkroom awaits.

A bundle of… diapers.

 

What is: A birthmom?

My favorite commercial during the 2012 Olympics is the one about how, to their mothers, they will always be children.

Once you become a parent, a parent you will forever be. I’m about to turn thirty-five and my little brother, the baby in our family, will be thirty-two in January, but our mom is still Mom. When our first son was born a beloved friend gave us the book “Love You Forever,” which sweetly describes how a mother is a mother regardless how big the child grows or how far the child goes…

I’ll love you forever,
I’ll like you for always,
As long as I’m living
my baby you’ll be.

The same is true of a “Birthmom.” Birthmoms are courageous women who give their children life and selflessly choose to place them in the home of another loving family. These forever mothers create and follow through with an adoption plan.

Being a mother is natural and beautiful. Sometimes girls become mothers in less than perfect circumstances and they’re facing an incredibly difficult decision. When a woman becomes pregnant outside the safety and security of a loving, stable marriage they have three options, and none of them are easy: single parenting, abortion, and placing the child with an adoptive family.

We work with single moms every day we’re open and they are incredible women. Somehow they manage to work outside the home then take off their uniform and work inside the home until they fall exhausted into bed every night. They are doing the work intended for two by themselves. It’s awesome, but far from easy.

People will say having an abortion is easy, but it’s not. Most of the women we work with do not want to have an abortion. Often they’re feeling intense pressure from someone else to end their pregnancy, but deep down they know they’re a mother and want to meet their child. When they make the choice to abort they’ll often point to the difficulties of being a single parent, the financial pressure, the judgment they or their families might receive. The less then perfect circumstances pressure them into making a choice they really don’t want to make. The procedure may be quick, but a mother’s a mother forever and they never forget their little one. We work with these parents quite frequently too.

Somewhere between these two options is the third alternative, adoption. It’s not easy. I’ll let a birthmom share her heart on the issue,

“I once heard a girl who had decided to parent her child say, “My baby’s the best thing that ever happened to me.” I believed her. But I wanted to ask, “Are you the best thing that could’ve happened to your baby?”

I placed my baby for adoption, and I can also say he’s the best thing that ever happened to me. He transformed my life. I loved my child more than words can explain, and I still do. I believe my love for him was the first real love I’d ever felt, because it was completely selfless. It was the BIGGEST feeling I’ve known. My heart grew in my chest the moment I laid eyes on him. Had I loved him any less—one ounce less—he would be with me now! My love for him was the only thing that could enable me to break my own heart. I didn’t just feel love; I did what love dictated.” – Tamra, birth mother (1)

When one of our moms chooses to create an adoption plan, the process of an open adoption begins. We connect them with an adoption agency, use our facility to introduce the birthmom to the agency, and walk with her throughout the entire process. We want all moms to know they are mothers forever and be treated as such. Placing a child for adoption doesn’t end motherhood. Another birthmom, Desha Wood, said it this way,

“He is mine in a way that he will never be hers, yet he is hers in a way that he will never be mine, and so together, we are motherhood.” (2)

Sometimes the best decision is the hardest decision, and when one of our moms chooses to place their child for adoption we recognize their heartache. They are doing what’s best for their baby now by giving it life, and doing what they think is best for their baby in the future by giving them a better set of circumstances. Birthmoms are heroes.

L – R: Steven, Jeannie holding Adriana (placed in 2008), and Dottie pregnant with Allyson (born and placed in June of 2009)

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(1) http://brandonandcorrine.blogspot.com/2011/03/birth-mother-quotes-and-thoughts.html
(2) http://brandonandcorrine.blogspot.com/2011/03/birth-mother-quotes-and-thoughts.html

What is: Open Adoption?

I once thought adoption was simple, even easy. I once was ignorant and I was wrong. I never looked beyond the term to see the person, and failed to appreciate the incredible selflessness, courage, and strength a birthmom must have to place their baby in the arms of another family and let them go.

A young girl just passed my office window on her way to receive an ultrasound. Her tennis shoed feet shuffled across the floor, arms crossed over her T-shirt, almost hiding the logo of her high school; she couldn’t be more than fifteen-years-old. She tried to use her expression to hide her fear, but her eyes gave her away. This child was with child. As a pregnant teen she has three options, and none of them are easy. Last year I would have said, “Just give the baby up for adoption; there are plenty of families that would love to have your child.” I just didn’t understand what I was saying.

Mark Schultz’s mom made the selfless choice to place him in the arms of another. He’s a father now, also a songwriter who wrote the song “Everything to Me” as a proclamation of gratitude to his mother.

I must have felt your tears
When they took me from your arms
I’m sure I must have heard you say goodbye
Lonely and afraid had you made a big mistake
Could an ocean even hold the tears you cried

I just didn’t understand.

The young girl is going to hear someone from our team share the concept of an Open Adoption. I imagine she’s like me and doesn’t know much about adoption at all, much less Open Adoption. Let’s learn about it together.

Adoption is the legal process by which permanent custody of a child is transferred from the birthparents to adoptive parents. For a pregnant woman, choosing adoption means voluntarily making a plan for her baby to be raised by other parents.

There are some key ideas in that definition, so let’s make sure we understand it completely.

That’s what adoption is. Open adoption speaks to the relationship between the birthparents and the adoptive parents, and it’s the type of adoption we encourage at the PHI Center.

Open adoption means the birthparents and the adoptive family exchange contact information, and can have ongoing contact. There was a time when all adoptions were closed, meaning the child never met his biological parents and the birthparents and adoptive parents never met. We’ve learned from history and heartache, and now open adoption is the most common method used in America.

If the mother getting her ultrasound today decided to make an adoption plan for her son or daughter we would walk with her as she went through the process. We would encourage her, affirm her, and support her all throughout her pregnancy and help her with her plan along the way. Eventually, we would connect her to an adoption agency.

The adoption agency serves birthparents and adoptive parents by taking care of all the legal stuff that goes into an adoption plan as well as making sure the adoptive parents are good, strong families that are prepared to care for new babies. We would invite the agency to come to our building to meet our birthmom and talk through all the details of making the plan happen. All throughout the process we would be right beside the birthmom, giving her all the support she desires.

The representative from the agency would eventually show the girl a “Life Book.” These are scrapbooks where potential adoptive parents place their picture and their story on a page so the birthmom can begin to get to know them. Maybe she’ll see a family she connects to, maybe not. If not, we’ll keep looking. These Life Books are the beginning of a new set of relationships. “Most birthparents and adoptive families tell us that they not only trust each other, but see each other as extended family. Like any other relationship, it may take effort to make sure the relationship works, but everyone benefits when you have a respectful and trusting relationship.”

At some point during the pregnancy, the birthmom and the adoptive parents would get to meet face to face. The young mom who walked in today would sit and talk with the couple she selected about their relationship and the new baby. Open adoption provides that opportunity. Our birthparents can become friends, assuming they want to, with the adoptive parents. They can talk about getting updates and pictures, scheduling visits, and how a birthmom, if she so desires, can be a part of her child’s life.

When the day comes for the birthmom to deliver her child and then place him with the adoptive parents there will be many tears; tears of gratitude and respect from the adoptive parents, and tears flowing from the broken heart of our birthmom. She’s doing something that takes more courage and selflessness than most people could ever understand. This is what I didn’t understand, but now I’m beginning to. Developing a plan and placing a child in the loving arms of another family is a difficult choice to make, but many times it’s the best one.

Please take a few minutes to listen to Mark’s song about his adoption and his deep love and respect for his birthmom. Then watch the second video to hear the story about how the song came to be. You’ll be glad you did.

 

What is: Limited Obstetrical Ultrasound?

When someone walks into the PHI Center who is or might be pregnant they may eventually receive an ultrasound. But this ultrasound is different than the ultrasound a pregnant mother receives at her doctor’s office. Ours is a “Limited Obstetrical Ultrasound.” Before becoming pregnant most people would be unable to define words like obstetrics, ultrasound, Caesarian, or Braxton-Hicks contractions; if those terms are unfamiliar to you, welcome to the club. Even your baby’s doctor didn’t always know what these terms meant so it’s okay if you don’t have them mastered. Since we provide Limited Obstetrical Ultrasound we want to make sure you know what it is.

In another post we’ll answer the question, “How does and ultrasound work?” This post will simply explain the difference between the ultrasound a mom receives from her doctor and the one she could receive at the Pregnancy Help and Information Center.

Cute, but we don’t use these.

Ultrasound is sound waves traveling at a frequency higher than a human can detect. “Sound” is the regular stuff we hear: dogs barking, people talking, and that kid tapping his pencil while we’re trying to concentrate. Sound that travels too slowly for us to hear is called infrasound and sound that travels too fast for us to hear is ultrasound. A dog whistle, for example, is a form of ultrasound. To the dog it’s just sound, because he can hear it. The human ear cannot pick it up because the sound waves are moving too fast. But we won’t be blowing a dog whistle at you in your ultrasound. Instead of a K-9 ultrasound, ours is “Obstetrical” ultrasound.

Obstetrics is the medical field that specializes in caring for women’s reproductive system and developing baby during a pregnancy (prenatal), childbirth, and once the child is born (postnatal). You might have noticed the letters OB-GYN after your doctor’s name, the “OB” comes from OBstetrics. “Natal,” by the way, comes from the old Latin word for birth, so prenatal and postnatal simply mean pre-birth and post-birth. I’m glad we changed it, because “Happy Natal-day” just doesn’t have the same ring to it. So, Obstetrical Ultrasound is ultrasound used in the medical care of pregnant women and their growing baby.

When the OB-GYN’s office performs the ultrasound they’re looking to discover all kinds of information: status of the amniotic sac, placenta, and ovaries, the presence of more than one baby, the age of the baby, the baby’s health, the location of the placenta, the amount of amniotic fluid, the baby’s position, and his or her size.1 Their team are trained in all aspects of Obstetrical Ultrasound and are qualified to observe and diagnose anything happening within the mother’s reproductive system and with the baby.

At the PHI Center, our nurse is trained in “Limited Obstetrical Ultrasound.” Limited simply refers to the questions our nurse seeks to answer when she performs the ultrasound and what she’s qualified to share with you. The questions you’ll have answered in our Limited Obstetrical Ultrasound are:

1. Is there a baby in the uterus?

2. Roughly how old is the baby?

3. Does the baby have a heartbeat?

Basically, we can confirm you’re pregnant and that the baby’s heart is beating. The cool part for you is getting to see your baby on the flat screen TV mounted on the wall. It’s one thing to experience morning sickness and feel the baby wiggling inside you; it’s a whole new level of joy to see the little one star in his own reality TV show. We want you to meet your child as soon as possible and a Limited Obstetrical Ultrasound allows us to make that introduction.

Hi, baby!

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1) http://www.webmd.com/baby/ultrasound

 

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