Book Review: Death at Thorburn Hall

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Death at Thorburn Hall is the latest book in the Drew Farthering series by Julianna Deering.

A few years ago I read another one of her mysteries, Murder at the Mikado, and thoroughly enjoyed it.  I must say I did not love this one quite as much.  It was a bit hard for me to get into.  Once the plot started developing, I did enjoy it more, but was not at all surprised as to “who dun it” when I got to the end.  There was not much of a sense of a mystery for the reader, and some random plot inclusions that to me did not flow well.

There was also quite a bit of male and female caricaturing, which was hard to read.  A few dozen too many references to the frail female constitution and the emotional inability to cope with personal tragedy or even the crimes taking place around them.  I understand that a good deal of that was accurate perception during the era the story takes place in.  But it was still difficult and annoying to read.

If you want a light read, it’s not bad.  But definitely will not make my Top 10 list.

Note: I received this book for free from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for this review.

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Book List: October – December

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Here is my October-December book list.  Grand total for the year: 32 books.  Not as many as I originally planned, but at the same time I am pleased.  2017 was the first year in a while where I was able to intentionally read and work through a decent sized list.  Hoping to keep it up in 2018!  My goal for this year is 48 books.

October –

Forgotten God by  Francis Chan

Spirit of Loveliness, The by Emilie Barnes

November –

You and Me Forever: Marriage in Light of Eternity by Francis Chan and Lisa Chan

You Are Not Alone: Love Letters from Loss Mom to Loss Mom by Emily R. Long

Selection, The by Kiera Cass

December –

Celebrating Pregnancy Again: Restoring the Lost Joys of Pregnancy after the Loss of a Child by Franchesca Cox

Do Miscarried Babies Go to Heaven?

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After my first miscarriage, I came face to face with an awful question.  Did my child go to heaven or go to hell?  I have spent much time thinking and reading on this topic, trying to grasp the Biblical scene on this as best as I can.

Do miscarried babies go to heaven_

Of course, my immediate and emotional answer is….of course they went to heaven!!  It seriously breaks my heart like nothing else to think of my children in hell for all of eternity.

But I knew that I needed a better answer than just an emotional one.  So I went on a search.

I did end up arriving at the same conclusion…yes, they are in heaven.  Here are a few things that make me believe that this is so.

  1.  Unborn babies do not know good or bad.  Deuteronomy 1:39 talks about children who “have no knowledge of good or evil.”  Babies are unaware of right and wrong, and thus do not have the ability yet to accept or reject God.
  2. In a similar vein, we see throughout the Bible that people are under condemnation and receive punishment for choosing to reject God and for making deliberate choices to sin.  (2 Cor. 5:10; 1 Cor. 6:9-10; Rev. 20:11-12).  Unborn babies are not capable of that.
  3. I am not saying that I believe that babies are not conceived under sin and under the curse.  The Bible is clear that all people are sinners from the womb (Psalm 51:5; Ephesians 2:3).  But, in the same way that adults are saved by grace through faith, I believe that it is by God’s grace that He saves unborn babies who are unable to consciously understand salvation.
  4. R.A. Webb, in a book on infants and salvation, wrote this, “If a dead infant were sent to hell on no other account than that of original sin, there would be a good reason to the divine mind for the judgment because sin is a reality. But the child’s mind would be a perfect blank as to the reason of its suffering. Under such circumstances it would know suffering but it would have no understanding of the reason for its suffering. It could not tell itself why it was so awfully smitten and consequently the whole meaning and significance of its sufferings being to it a conscious enigma, the very essence of the penalty would be absent and justice would be disappointed, cheated of its validation.”

It is a difficult and painful question to address.  But at this point, this is where I have ended up.

A year or so ago I found this song.  It is one of my favorite songs about losing a child in the womb.  You might need a tissue…I always cry buckets when I hear this one!

 

8 Things I was Unprepared for with my Early Miscarriages

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Early miscarriages are unfortunately very common, yet they are very stigmatized.

  • “They are so common, so it’s not that big of deal.”
  • “At least you weren’t too far along.”
  • “At least the baby hadn’t developed much.”
  • “It will just be like a period.”
  • “It’s too early to see any tissue.”
  • “You didn’t even know the gender yet.”
  • “There will be more chances.”
  • “It happened for a reason.”
  • “At least it wasn’t a real baby yet.”
  • “At least you can get pregnant.”
  • “You should be over this by now.”
  • “Time heals all wounds.”

For various reasons (I believe in large part due to the abortion culture that minimizes unborn life….yes, that even hugely permeates Christian circles), early losses are not seen as that big of a deal.

People somehow think that with a miscarriage…you were pregnant….and now you’re just not.  This begs the question….where then does the baby go?  It doesn’t just vanish.  It’s not simply “Oh I’m not pregnant anymore.”  It’s not a simple period that comes and goes right on schedule.  It is an actual physical process.

I recognize that there is a spectrum of experiences, and mine may not have been the same as yours.  But here are 8 things I personally was unprepared for with my early miscarriages.

8 Things I was Unprepared for With Early Miscarriage

  1. Pregnancy symptoms might continue after your baby has died, and even after the baby has passed from your body.  I remember experiencing nausea after our baby was gone and it was utterly heartbreaking.  It will take a while for your body’s hormones to go back down and for a while your body will continue to act as if it is pregnant, due to the presence of HCG in your system.
  2. It was like a labor.  The labor process was most easily seen in my late miscarriage (post pending on that), but even with my two 6 week losses, my body followed a labor pattern.  The cramping began, it intensified, and shortly after the most intense cramps/contractions, I could feel the baby and sac coming out.  A miscarriage is not just a period….it is your body giving birth to a baby.  Yes, a very tiny baby.  But it is still a process.
  3. You might be able to see your baby.  I was, of course, hoping that I would be able to see the baby, but being so early, I was assuming it would not be possible.  With my first loss, I might have been able to identify it, but I am not sure.  With my second, I was fairly certain, and after looking at images online, it did seem to confirm that what I was seeing was the sac with my tiny child inside.  Here is a web site that shows pictures of babies born at every gestational week.
  4. You might feel like you let your babies down.  I analyzed everything.  Was it the time I was wearing heels and stepped down too hard on a step?  Was it when I ran for a brief second in the parking lot?  Was it because of my sin?  Was it because I was doing such a terrible job with my living son?  The questions plagued me and it was difficult working through a lot of that.
  5. You might receive insensitive comments.  I began this post with a number of examples.  I was unprepared for the insensitive and even callous comments that I heard.  After becoming part of miscarriage circles, I have realized that the comments I heard were just the tip of the iceberg.  Friends of mine were told outrageously offensive things.  I can’t count the number of times I thought, “Would you say this if my 2 year old died?  Would you say this if a parent died?  How in the world do you think this is an ok thing to say??” It is important to give grace to people who might not understand what it is like to lose a baby, but it is ok for it to hurt.
  6. You might hear a lot of Christianese.  This is similar to the above, but there were a lot of comments of “Just trust God,” “Everything happens for a reason,” “Rejoice always,” etc.  I know that people mean well and truly wanted to point us to the Lord, but it has taken a lot to extend grace.  Christianese, Biblical platitudes, and quoted Bible verses might have a place, but they do not enter into the struggle, come alongside, or get us walking actively toward the Lord.
  7. You might become a different person.  I was not prepared for how I changed.  Not only did my physical life change, as I suddenly became the mother of a child on earth as well as children in heaven, but I became a different person on the inside.  In some ways, it was for the better.  I became more grateful, more empathetic, more willing to enter other’s struggles.  I wrestled with theological questions I had previously always accepted but never had to grapple with personally.  In other ways, it was for the worse.  I became at times cynical and angry.  And in yet other ways, it wasn’t good or bad, it was just…different.  I was a different person after experiencing the trauma of early loss.
  8. People will move on.  Your world will stop spinning, but other people’s worlds will continue.  Most people, even in Christian circles, do not count children lost in early pregnancy as children.  They were just pregnancies.  You just might be the only person who remembers your loss dates, your due dates, even your children’s very existence.  It will hurt like crazy.  But remember that you were the only one who knew your child.  You and God are the only ones who have carried your child, who have felt and known the affects of their existence.  It sucks that no one remembers, but you do not ever have to feel guilty for remembering and loving your children.  Because they were indeed children.  Human people created in the very image of God.

Health and Fertility Update

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It has been a long while since I have updated regarding doctors, health issues, and fertility.  Perhaps an update is in store?

First of all, I switched to a NaPro doctor back in November.  I am kicking myself for not making the switch sooner.  I posted before about the need to be your own advocate, and while I have attempted to do so for years, it is hard work and still can take time.  Through a long series of events, I was finally able to switch.

NaPro

I highly, highly recommend NaPro Technology to anybody dealing with fertility issues or any issues relating to women’s health and their cycles.  NaPro stands for Natural Procreative Technology.  It was founded by a Catholic man and because of their beliefs, they do not do any IVF or artificial fertility treatments.  And that is why I recommend them….they work only with your body to fix your body’s symptoms, to get to the root of the issue with your body.  They won’t band-aid anything with birth control or IVF.

I finally was at a place where all my symptoms were taken into consideration, where I wasn’t told “these things just happen,” etc.  I was finally at a place where I didn’t have to fight tooth and nail just to be heard.

Through a series of events, I discovered that I have/had quite a few issues going on…

…endometriosis
…PCOS
…Luteinized Unruptured Follicle Syndrome (or LUF)
…low progesterone
…Thyroid System Disorder (also called Wilson’s Disease or adrenal fatigue)
…MTHFR

Endometriosis, low progesterone, and MTHFR can all cause miscarriage.  My Dr told me that 50% of pregnancies end in miscarriage with even small amounts of endometriosis present.  And the reason it usually takes us a while to get pregnant is because of the LUF.  All the pieces started falling into place!

To treat the endo, I had a surgery in March where all the endo was removed.  To restore hormonal balance for the endo, PCOS, low progesterone, and the LUFs, I was instructed to give myself HCG injections post-peak (after ovulation).  If I did not ovulate due to an LUF, I instead went in for progesterone injections.  All hormone injections are bio-identical hormones.

To diagnose the thyroid disorder, I took my basal body temperature 4 times a day for a while.  People with this disorder tend to have low body temperatures.  Mine certainly were!  I also had a large number of symptoms on a symptom checklist they gave me.  After diagnosis, they gave me a prescription for T3, which is one of the thyroid hormones, and the part that affects the adrenals.  They started me on the lowest dose and slowly worked me up two doses to the highest dose, or therapeutic dose.

Within one week of being on the low dose, I was sleeping almost completely through the night.  This might not sound like a huge deal, but after over ten years of awful awful sleep issues, this was truly incredible.  Not only did I sleep better, but I noticed a marked improvement in my irritability.  Now, this could be because lack of sleep is tied to irritability…or it could be because irritability is another symptom of TSD.  Regardless of the reason, I was over the moon happy.

I went from feeling almost constantly on edge, irritable over the slightest things, and feeling completely out of control of my frustration levels…to suddenly being able to notice triggers….to being able to feel irritation rising up in me…and in turn being able to work through it before it came out (or be able to more quickly calm down and then work through it and apologize).  After years and years of feeling like an awful sinful person and doubting my salvation over my continued struggle with frustration and anger, it was so shocking and wonderful to realize that it was not just a spiritual problem.  It was a physical one.  My body was so over-worked and could not function the way it was supposed to.  Yes, my sinful flesh still struggles with getting frustrated easily.  But now that the physical part is more under control, I am now a lot happier, and more easily able to A) notice frustration levels rising (instead of feeling already almost constantly at the edge) so that B) I can work through it.

When I finally got up to the highest dose of the T3, within one week, I again just felt better.  I can’t pinpoint any specific symptom that improved, I just felt better.  Not sure how to explain it.

Now, for the MTHFR, I had to go to another doctor to be diagnosed.  My NaPro doctor would not test me for it (not all NaPro doctors refuse, but mine did).  Thankfully, I had another great recommendation for a doctor, so I went to her.  She explained to me what MTHFR is, why it is underdiagnosed, and the science behind it.  After being tested, I did indeed have a form of MTHFR, which is basically a genetic mutation where your body cannot process folic acid.

To treat that, I went on MethylCpG.  Because it is a genetic mutation, it cannot be cured, only managed to help my body better deal with the mutation.  MethylCpG is, in essence, a methylfolate supplement.  After hearing several glowing reports of people feeling night and day better after only a few days on a folate supplement, I tried to not get my hopes up too high in case I didn’t have as dramatic a story.  Well…I did.  Within 3 days, I noticed major change and improvement.

I felt like a weight was lifted off me.  I felt happy.  As in…happy.  It has been a very very long time since I felt with my emotions that I was happy.  I noticed a big change in my depression with that.  Also big changes in my anxiety.  A lot of things just didn’t bother me anymore.  I was less stressed and less worried.  For years I had felt as if I lived in a thick fog, kind of “floating” through life.  As soon as events would happen, it often felt like it was already in the distant past.  I felt disconnected from my surroundings and from events.  While I do still experience that, I did notice improvement in the brain fog and in the disconnected feeling.

I also noticed improvement in my energy levels and motivation to accomplish things.

Who knew that something as simple as folic acid could affect so much??

The hormone progress was much slower.  For several months it seemed like nothing was happening.  I kept having LUFs, and regardless of treatment, I could not get my body to ovulate.  But I did notice smaller changes, such as cycle length and improvement on issues relating to my period.  Even though there were several discouraging things, such as not actually ovulating, I knew that my body was responding to the hormones.  It just takes time to fix things that have been out of whack for so long!

I again highly highly recommend NaPro.  Especially if you are feeling like your voice is not being heard or your symptoms are being dismissed.  To find a NaPro doctor near you, check this map.

One thing I appreciate about my NaPro doctor is that she was very thorough in diagnosis.  She did a full blood panel and a full ultrasound series.  One problem with mainstream doctors is that they will do a blood test for hormone levels on one day…but the problem is that your hormone levels change throughout your cycle.  Levels on one day do not give an adequate representation of your overall hormone levels or if they are in balance.  In addition, if a doctor orders an ultrasound, it is usually on one or two days of the cycle.  If my Dr hadn’t followed me through with a full series (at one point I was getting daily ultrasounds), we would not have known that I have LUFS.  If I had simply had one ultrasound that showed a growing dominant follicle, most Drs would have told me I was good to go and would never have realized that a week later, my follicle was still growing…and growing…and never released.

So there is a brief update.  I feel so strongly that people be with doctors that will truly help their case and help heal their bodies….with no band-aids, no fights, and no immediate jumping to more extreme methods.

I am so incredibly thankful that God led us to this Dr and that I finally got answers.  For the longest time when I thought about how much better I felt, I would seriously start crying.  I was beginning to think that I just had to learn to live with feeling awful.  I can’t even describe how much better I feel now.