Saturday, January 30, 2016

Stuck in Washington DC


In preparation for this trip, I have been praying for peace. Abortion is such a heated discussion. I want to stand for these little ones' lives, but I did not want this march to be anything other than peaceful. This topic is so touchy, but going on the march for me this year was especially important for me because I am carrying my own little one and I have recognized the difficulty, struggle, and suffering of pregnancy and motherhood. I wish that we would all find hope, joy, and peace. 

Becoming pregnant can be terrifying, especially when you are sick because of it, when it prevents you from living your life normally (no one likes change), and when money is an issue. While sick, the thought of abortion did pop into my head because I was in so much pain for a very long time. Though I knew that wasn't the way to go. Although this little one is in my body, it is another person, a very vulnerable person. It happens to be the case that his/her voice is silent, so many have made decisions for the baby, death. If I wasn't married, I don't know if I would have kept the baby or given up for adoption, but I do know that it is a beautiful, beautiful option. I think we as a society have now mostly recognized that these kids are not just clumps of cells. With that, this March for Life is now about something completely different than I think it used to be. It'd about whether the little one inside is a person or not, it's about whether they deserve to survive or not. I'm sorry, this post is not supposed to be an apologetic debate on abortion, but I had to intro this post and this topic is clearly a little important to me.

Thursday, January 21st, 2016

Around 4:00pm, we got to the airport. Because I was having ID issues, the staff were required to go through the baggage check and everything with me. The lady was super nice and I think we both thought it was funny that we had to do this. After taking off my shoes and getting scanned, I got a very thorough pat down. I wasn't allowed to touch any my stuff until they went through my bags, but after they were done, the two ladies smiled, and said goodbye to me and Baby. More than anything, it was just funny that the prego lady was the only one in our group to get a super thorough pat down and bag check.


Just boarded the plane!

Our trip was going to consist of going to the March on Friday, going to the Students for Life of America conference on Saturday, and exploring DC on Sunday before our flight home that night. The conference got cancelled, but the March was still on! The weather reports said that there would be a major snow storm, but we were up for adventure.

Thursday night we landed, walked to the metro, took the metro, and walked to the hotel. I'm still really really not used to walking that much. Over January I've mostly only been walking only to class and the gym (to walk around the track or on a treadmill). According to an app on my phone (it's called Moves), I usually walked about a mile or two a day. In DC, we walked 3-5 miles a day. I was always in the very back of the group, and would feel terrible that they would have to wait for me a lot. I would get super out of breath really quickly, but it was good for me to learn to push through it. Now that we're back in Minnesota I've been going to the gym more to walk on the track or a treadmill and I'm doing about 3 miles a day. It feels really good to say that. 

Anyway, we got to the hotel and in the lobby there were cookies and the best hot chocolate ever! I think it was just Swiss Miss, but it was so delicious after that dreadful walk. Then we got our keys, made a plan for tomorrow, and went straight to sleep. 

Friday, January 22nd, 2016

That morning we went to the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. It is such a beautiful place. This is my second time on this trip and it was such a treat to visit here again. Our group had Mass in the crypt with the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. I wasn't feeling very well, so Pete and I rested, and after about 20-30 minutes we were able to explore more. They also had a gift shop that was fun to browse through. Peter got a magnet and I got a holy water bottle. They had baby stuff but nothing was calling to me. I used to be a sucker for the jewelry, rosaries, and medals. Now I don't wear too much jewelry anymore, usually because I'm allergic to it or it gets uncomfortable or impractical after wearing it for a while. Also, Peter and I have a million rosaries, and I have a lot of medals already. 

On a different note, they had a cutout of Pope Francis.


Shameless selfie
Papa liked Peter's hat
Where's Mitchell?
Family photo with the pope
We headed out to get some food before the March and I took this gem.


"Rejoice in the Lord"
Then we hopped on the metro.

and dicovered that THERE IS NOW A SHAKE SHACK IN DC. The summer before my freshman year of college, my mom and I went to New York city (best vacation ever), and we ate at the very first Shake Shack. The burgers are sooo good, especially the one that I think is called the SmokeShack, which is a cheeseburger topped with bacon, chopped cherry pepper, and ShackSauce. Mmmmm. Shake Shack has tons of locations now all over the country and the world! When I went to Chicago last year over spring break I stopped there for a burger, and I was SO excited to get another here. Soon they will have a location here in Minnesota at the Mall of American and I. Am. Pumped.




After drooling over not one but two burgers (the baby had to have one too), the group got back together before the march and we talked about our options about getting home. At this point, though we were supposed to fly home Sunday, it was looking more like Wednesday. There was a bus from Sioux Falls, South Dakota that was heading back now and we had some people hop on that train, erm, bus. I almost went on that bus too because I had class on Tuesday, but I had a really bad feeling about it. I don't do very well in cars for a long time, and I didn't really want to puke endlessly on this very long drive. I decided to stay.

The march was great! It was definitely cold and windy, but much more mild compared to what we were used to in Minnesota. It wasn't snowing yet either, so that was good news. The walk from Union Station (where the Shake Shack was) to the start of the March (by the Washington Monument) was a lot for me. I fell way behind. Luckily, it was a while before the march started. So when we got there, I could sit and rest. I'm not sure quite why, but my feet and my hip joints were very sore. 

But that didn't even matter anymore because the march started! There were hundreds of thousands there despite the weather. I wonder how many more would have been there if it wasn't for this storm. It was amazing to witness how many still showed up. It's actually really funny that the New York Times said that only hundreds went, when it was hundreds OF THOUSANDS.

By the end of the march it was snowing, but very lightly at first. You wouldn't even know what was coming. When we got to the end our hats had a coating of snow. We stuck around for a while to see who else we knew were there. We saw a lot actually. We saw friends we went to high school with, have worked with, or have had other random connections with. In the Catholic world I feel like I know everyone, and I'm assuming much of the march consists of Catholics, (though I saw signs that said Lutherans for Life, Secular Pro-Life, Bikers for Life, and Pro-Life Alliance of Gays and Lesbians).

When we left, we headed to the metro, but that was apparently everyone's idea too. After a long time, we finally got on the metro, and then finally home.


The snow is just getting started.

Brr
Saturday, January 23rd, 2016

Saturday was a pretty vegetable day. It was really good to rest after a whole lot of walking for me. Because the conference was cancelled, there was a very small conference in St. Stephen's Church basement not too far away. There would be some speakers from the original conference that would Skype or even show up despite the now two feet of snow. There would also be Mass, which wouldn't have been at the original conference, so that was cool. All in all, it would be good to get out of the hotel, but here was the problem.





It was still snowing. But we all bundled up and made the trek. The roads were nowhere near plowed. Hardly any sidewalks were shoveled, and even if they were shoveled, they needed to be shoveled again. People were walking in the streets. There were almost zero cars. It looked oddly post-apocalyptic. 

Update on the group that took a bus back: Their bus, along with hundreds of other semis, buses, and cars, got stuck in Pennsylvania. The plows just couldn't keep up and they were stuck in the snow for I think over 24 hours. Again, I am so glad that I did not hop on that bus. I would have puked everywhere and lost my mind. Though, one thing that was really cool is that they and other groups made an altar out of snow and had Mass outside on the side of the highway! The media also actually covered it! The march hardly ever gets coverage every single year but this was a really cool way that the march was actually on the news this year. Eventually the National Guard, one car at a time, brought food, water, and gas, and shoveled them out. Wow.

Sunday, January 24th, 2016

The next day it warmed up quite a bit and we went to Mass at St. Matthew's Cathedral. Everything was melting and slushy. I didn't need a hat! But our feet were very wet and walking around we had to worry about ice and snow from the tops of buildings landing on us. We got back to the hotel, and later found out that our flight that night was indeed cancelled. Because the metro was also closed, we couldn't do much, so we all hung out as a group in the Hampton Inn Lobby, ate cookies, had great conversation, and kind of (but not really) watched football. Some of us also went out for some burgers at a bar nearby called the Bottom Line. It was delicious! I feel like the theme of my pregnancy lately has been cheeseburgers.

Monday, January 25th, 2016

We got a new flight for that night, but with the rest of the day ahead of us, we decided to go on an adventure! The metro opened up again after two days and we went down to the Smithsonian... to find out that they were closed because of the snow (though they had the best shoveled sidewalks I had seen that entire trip). Though, it was nice to get out. Then we decided to go to China Town, which really wasn't all that, and had a lot of homeless people. Some of us actually got harassed pretty badly by a couple. We were glad to leave there.

We got back to the hotel, napped, ate food, chilled a lot like we did yesterday, and packed up to finally go home!


Clearly excited to get home asap
We took the metro to the airport, had to wait about one extra hour because, well, snow, but finally boarded. I slept the whole flight back. We got off, we got home at 1am, and I had class the next morning at 9am.

After that class I was either found sleeping/recovering or studying. I had a final on Thursday for my J-Term class, and I can now check that class off my list of Things-Ryian-Has-To-Do-Because-She-Was-Sick-For-Two-Months.

How else are things going you ask? Well, I think I'm mostly recovered from the trip. I'm really feel accomplished with my class being over. I feel like I'm getting to know Baby's personality (as much as you can from just feeling movements). I'm nervous about this semester semester that starts Monday, but I'm only taking three classes, and I just have to catch up on one class from last semester, and write a paper for another class from last semester. I think it'll go well, but I don't think I'll be able to have much of a social life. Which is fine, but after being sick, I'm learning the extroverted side of me. I'm kind of nervous that I'm only getting bigger between now and May 5th, and I'm already starting to waddle. I think it'll go well overall. It'll be cool being a student and clearly prego. I've already been getting stared at a little bit on campus, which I didn't take very well at first, but I'm getting used to it. Honestly, our school has hardly any pregnancies, so no one sees it much. We'll just take it one day at a time.

Our school has an article about the trip, if you'd like to read more!
http://www.tommiemedia.com/news/st-thomas-students-stranded-after-march-for-life/

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