Wednesday, January 18, 2012

MY Pro-Life Story

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My own thought…
"Uterus: It should NOT be legal for surgeons to remove life from here, nor pharmacies to sell drugs that kill life in here, nor scientists to remove and try to make their own new life from here. If you want to do something with your body, it is your choice, whether it is a moral choice or not. But it should not be Legal for other professionals to destroy life or aid this kind of murder at any stage new or old, even at the mother's request."
More of my prolife links at end of story.

I've occasionally been asked to tell my prolife story. But I've never written it down before, so here it goes in Respect for Life around the world this January 22nd - the anniversary of Roe vs. Wade.
Prolife Kids Club

Some background on myself, I was born just before the 1980s to a devout and humble Catholic mother and Catholic father converted from Lutheran by my mother before their marriage. My first decade of life I spent sitting at their feet during Bible Studies they led. They took me on pilgrimages in the US, Mexico and Yugoslavia. I never had any reason to doubt my faith, since they seemed to be very knowledgeable in theirs. I was the good girl. I was the "Deacon's daughter."
Bruce Pat Melissa Maltzen
High school, a public school in particular,  brought new challenges that tested my faith and encouraged me to study my beliefs. My excitement was an evangelistic mood, one my friends came to dismiss. Instead of switching friends, I grew in temptation of their bad habits. I didn't feel like the "goodie-goodie" they once thought I was, and a part of me was ashamed. The other part of me whispered "You've already gone this far down the wrong path, will anything bad you do change the fact you'll be punished?" So I continued to stray and become promiscuous, hitting my peak "naughtiness" at ages 17-22. I began to wear some immodest clothes, began to drink and occasionally smoke, and my boyfriends and I we'll say got way to cuddly. It wasn't until just before college that I found out I had a hormone imbalance with my thyroid and these increased desires were a [side-effect]. In other words, I had to restrain myself and learn some self-control. Tell that to a young adult.

By the time I met Tom online in May 2001, I had had two other sexual partners - both whom I had sworn were "The One." Luckily I had gone to a serious series of confessions to cleanse my soul and ask for a new Spiritual Virginity. I wanted to begin this relationship on the right path. I wanted to be a faithful, God-fearing woman and share my new approach with teens in the groups I was leading. I wanted to follow the rules, even if I didn't yet understand them all.
Tom-Melissa Dating 2001
Tom and I fell in love immediately. After 2 weeks of online and phone chatting, and another 2 weeks of dating, we were certain we were meant for each other. He proposed to me late in the evening on a quiet bench in the gardens along the river. That summer we grew so fond of each other, but the wedding plans had not yet commenced. Urges turned into too many moments alone. That December, now renting my own place and Tom over often, it was not a surprise that we found ourselves staring at a positive pregnancy test.

Our First Christmas
First I called Birthline, a great support system of Doctors and Counselors that help women with unplanned pregnancies. They confirmed the pregnancy, and supported Tom and I in our efforts to reveal the shocking news to our parents. My parents, as far as I know had no clue I had ever been sexually active. Tom's parents response was "You're pregnant, aren't you?" before a single word came out. We sat my parents down and announced our official engagement and a wedding set just 3 months later. They immediately noticed my lack of excitement, my mother stopped talking to me for two weeks, and my Dad hugged us and gently said into my ear, "You're my daughter and I will always love you very much." With help from my counselor, I found the courage to get back to talking to my mom.

Unwed and Unplanned

Wedding plans began, passed quickly, and a baby shower shortly after. It was then the real joy began. We were going to be a family. Our faith was renewed through our vows, confessions and just deciding to grow up and be responsible. That August, our little Mikayla was born. After 24 hours of labor with obstacles, we rushed into the surgery room for a c-section. Our precious daughter was born, whom life wouldn't be the same without.
01 0Birth MikaylaMani-Pedi Girls Day

It was exciting to try for another pregnancy, since it was "allowed." We tried for months that seemed like years. Then come fall of 2003 we were pregnant! My basic Natural Family Planning (NFP) skills were not quite refined, and we miscalculated the date of conception - we were one month more pregnant than we had thought! The doctor advised a repeat cesarean delivery to avoid a similar complication. Not knowing any better about VBACs, I did just that. Strangely enough, the nurses asked me in the operating room if he was my last - if they were tying tubes today? FOr heaven's sake.. I'm having a baby! Don't dampen this joy with nonsense. So here he was, our first son, Stanley.
01 0Birth StanleyAnnaleah and Bobby Schuster Wedding

My hormones surged and post-partum depression set in. The baby blues can be rough, but they didn't get the best of me because of my great support system of husband and family. Life got great and looking back, all the mistakes were overcome by God's will for us. They joy grew between my husband, our children and me. In fact, we continued to be open to life, me being at home and enjoying raising little ones for the glory of God.

3rd Pregnancy
In the summer of 2006, we found ourselves pregnant with baby #3 - Baby Joseph. It was short lived, and I miscarried at just 6 weeks. It was over before I could even realize it had begun. We had already told family and friends, so telling them the sad news was very difficult.  The nurses called it spontaneous abortion, and that word "Abortion" just rang loudly in my ears as if I had chose for this to happen. I cried a lot, and began to grow weary and weak. I laid in bed a lot and found it hard to be near the other children. I blamed myself for adding the stress of selling our home, painting and working hard outside landscaping for the miscarriage. I got mono, and fell apart at the seams. I felt alone, discouraged and hopeless.
What I didn't realize was that I was falling into a deeper depression than ever before. Medically, I was unstable and entering a serious, severe depression. Even my faith in God to pull me through was gone. I wanted to be gone. Luckily my support system, Tom and my Mother, came to my aid in a rush of panic. They escorted me to the Emergency Room where I spoke with a counselor/therapist. They suggested further therapy, and I rejected the idea that I was "going crazy." A few months later I realized I wasn't getting any better, and it be best that I get help. I thought that if my thyroid medicine had straightened me out, than maybe an anti-depressant could get me though this rough patch. After just a week on the medicine, I was feeling up and okay with waiting to get pregnant again. I didn't realize, I already was.

November 2006, I was pregnant again with baby #4 (Baby Mary) and miscarried at 5 weeks. Again, feeling it was my fault for taking the medicine. Luckily I kept taking it and entered regular therapy sessions with a Psychologist. Life became more stable, and she gave me tips to overcome the sadness and move on with the blessings in my life. She did a pretty good job, because on New Years I got pregnant again with baby #5.

Melissa Pregnant Apr8

This pregnancy, the doctor got a little weary of the fact that I was on medication and entering a 3rd cesarean delivery which are both risky. It didn't matter what I said about my belief in NFP and religious affirmations - every other appointment we discussed tubal ligation and birth control. It wasn't until the last months that the doctor stopped asking. I now wished I had done a VBAC, as my babies were getting smaller, the hormones were balanced, and insulin controlled gestational diabetes, I was feeling rather healthy for a natural delivery. We went ahead with the c-section and a carefully studied decision against any methods of birth control. Our little Sabrina was born in fall of 2007, healthy as can be!

01 0Birth SabrinaCrocheted Hats by Mommy
She was perfect and everything about her made me smile. Life changed for the best upswing in years. Our oldest was now in Kindergarten homeschool with me, and everyone worked together to have fun and enjoy our days. The medicine and therapy continued to build my courage to live a life graced by God. My newest friendships and advanced NFP classes taught me about being truly PRO-LIFE, being OPEN to life. We were so blessed, Tom and I wanted nothing more than to share that with our family and any more children he might bring into it.

Easter (9)Wicks Fathers Day (4)
"We may not have it all together, but together we have it all!"

In 2009, despite the doctors nervousness and my own, we had a successful fourth cesarean delivery of our 6th baby, Jonathan. He was sent to the NICU because being born slightly early (due to my high blood pressure), his lungs had fluid. But only two days later he was at my side. He's been the strongest, healthiest little guy ever since. All of his story is amazing, from the beginning when I thought I was miscarrying at 6 weeks and praying for a miracle, then watching him continue to prove everyone wrong.


Of course, with only breast feeding and NFP, even we became concerned about the possibility of another pregnancy. It was time to tighten the reigns and accept that being truly open to life would be a struggle for the next 10-20 years. With four children, the chaos grew, and my medicine had to be upped. Having the kids home 24-7 was challenging often beyond what I thought I could handle. Again, my support system was strong, and moving closer to my parents and siblings in 2010 certainly has helped.

God has a funny way of showing you what you can handle. I've heard many times, that God doesn't just give you patience, humility, or understanding - he gives you ways to learn it.
7th Pregnancy
So then along His often bumpy road, He reached out and said "You're ready for this." Baby #7, the fifth to stay here on earth with us.

New doctor and clinic, it only took a few visits to realize they were not a pro-life option. My first visits were bombarded with the "truths" they thought I didn't know about how serious another c-section would be. My goodness, I was irate! Here I am accepting the challenge of a new life dependent on me, and knowing all the risks, and he's lecturing me and trying to scare me. What was he thinking, I'd have an abortion on purpose, to ease HIS mind? I swear these doctors today are more afraid of a possible lawsuit that the surgery itself.

Baby7 is 7wk4d
Baby#7 at 7wks

I talked with my husband, parents, friends, and priests. It was inevitable that I either had to stay in an attempt to evangelize, or leave and find another clinic further away that would actually care for me in this joyous pregnancy. I prayed over and over to God to make this one of the easier decisions in my life. A visit to an urgent care at another clinic was reassuring to us to make the switch. I went to the new doctor, explained that I hit a rough patch in care at my previous provider, and that I needed a medical staff who was on my side. I explained that I understood all the risks clearly, and my decision was still firm to remain fertile for God's unknown purposes. That each child was a miracle and blessing, that each surgery was successful, and that I knew many other mothers in my circle of friends who were in the same boat. My doctor lovingly smiled, took my hand, and said "I know we'll get along just fine, Sugar!"

Baby 7 - Boy
Baby #7, a boy - Edward "Eddie" at 20 wks

Our Family Christmas 2011

So here we are, just under 4 weeks away from my 5th cesarean delivery. Ready to bring home a fifth child, to love and nurture. To cherish as much as the other six lives before him. Here we are to tell the story of how God's mysterious love for us is constantly expressed through others and ourselves.

Update: And after a successful delivery and a fun first year with our little Eddie, we couldn't love him any more. He's been such a blessing in the midst of the chaos that is our family. We're all on our way to better health, and looking forward to many crazy adventures. The craziness had lead us to decide that while we remain open to life, we are content with the size of our family. There are joyful days and frustrating days, but we'll gladly take the bad with the good.

If you find yourself pregnant with your first, fifth, or twelfth - consider yourself in the presence of a Gift from God. If you miscarry, consider yourself blessed to have conceived when many other women are saddened by infertility. If you find yourself with an unplanned pregnancy, that perhaps may end in adoption, consider yourself blessed to give life to another family who is thrilled to nurture that child.

Annaleah-Michael-Melissa Maltzen
Me, my adopted sister, and my miracle brother. All were unexpected. All have been loved and blessed by God and family. All for the greater glory of God - His will be done, not ours.

Because He knows better.

My other pro-life blog posts…
Rules on Makin' Love and Makin' Babies
Natural Family Planning
The Mis-Conception with InVitro Fertilization
Abortions and Parental Consent

This Miracle of Life Inside of Me
What about Testing for Imperfections
Third Trimester Nightmares

Preparing Children for a New Baby
Hosting a Sibling Shower

The American Holocaust
Supporting the Pro-Life Cause
Good Friday Reflection: The Weeping Women of Jerusalem
Great Pro-Life Quotes
Voting as a Catholic

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  1. Melissa,

    Good job on defending all life and being open to God (something sorely lacking today)!
    I’m proud of you and Tom for moving through difficult time and coming through them positive and smiling.
    God is so good…….it is so wonderful to see all the pictures and the progression of new lives coming into ours. How I remember my infertility and wondering if we’d ever have a family.
    Thanks be to God we are at 12 and counting !!!:)

    Love You

  2. Deanna Picka1/22/2012 1:33 PM

    Thank you for sharing this personal voyage of yours! God is Great!

  3. thank you for sharing this amazing story of love.
    Blessings for a safe delivery of your newest addition!


  4. Hi, thanks for this post. I have had 2 c-sections( my 5th and 6th babies) and i feel so bad. I am so afraid that they will tell me no more babies, or that after those c-section how risky it would be to carry another one!! I wanted to try VBAC with the last one but my husband was not at all at ease with this so I went for my second c-section!! I want to find peace but i can't so please pray for me...

  5. I loved your life story! I have been diabetic for 30 years now. 7 years ago I found out that I was pregnant. I was single, living in center city, and told that if I "chose" to carry this baby there was an 80% chance he would not make it, and if he did he would most likely have many problems. This was due to my extremely high blood sugar levels at the time. I knew God had sent me my Kyle for a reason. I now believe that he saved my life. I moved home with my parents and quit my job. When I was 6 months pregnant I temporarily lost my eyesight. I had Developed diabetic retinopathy (pregnancy induced). I had 10 laser surgeries in each eye. Kyle was born in December of 2004, completely healthy...praise God! I have since married and had another baby, my daughter Ella :) She is healthy as well. My eyes are stable. I still have issues with Kyle's father in and out of his life, but I realize now that even though God forgives us, sin still has some not so fun consequences! I love stories of LIFE...what a gift!

  6. What about families that cannot afford more children? Is it sinful for them to practice birth control when they know they can barely take care of the children they already have? Should they live in poverty and let their children go hungry in order to continue reproducing? Married couples shouldn't be denied an intimate relationship because they want no more children, it is an act that strengthens and distinguishes them as a pair.

    1. If you are a Catholic, I suggest you join in on the "NFP: Catholic Style!" facebook page. People talk about this all the time. It is not a sin to avoid pregnancy if there is a serious reason, such as finances or medical. However, to use contraception to avoid is a sin. You are allowed the use of Natural Family Planning, which has many ways depending on how your body works and how modern you want to do it. Billings, SymptoThermal, Creighton, Marquette methods are most popular. God doesn't want you to be irresponsible or lacking intimacy with your spouse. He wants you to be open to his will, which includes life. We are expecting a 7th child, and we are so blessed. Its crazy, its hard, and from time to time we struggle financially. But we trust that the Lord's plan is much better than our own. So far he's shown us that time and time again. Again, I highly suggest you join the group to ask any other questions (as i'm not claiming to know all the rules of the church on this), or you can read some popular books including "The Sinners Guide to NFP" and "Holy Sex" or "Theology of the Body."


Thanks so much if you have some thoughts to share here! Please keep them kind - think, would you say this to your friend?