Wednesday, February 26, 2014

He's Miles Samuel Butler

with noah, we kept his name a secret until he was born when we made the 'big reveal' and introduction. for one, it was kind of fun to have a special secret that only john and i knew. for two, it was exciting to be able to actually introduce him with his name for the first time. and for three, we had the option of changing our mind, at any time before he was born. (and actually we had another name picked out that wasn't noah, but then changed it at the last minute. we are so thankful we did.)


i sort of assumed that's how we'd do it for each of our children - wait to share the name until he or she was born. but we've approached our pregnancy with miles quite differently.

from the beginning, and even before, we wanted to connect with this new life as soon as possible and we felt strongly that giving him a name, and announcing it, would allow us, and others, to bond with him in a special way even before he was born. mostly we didn't want to waste a single second.

at around 14 weeks we got to see our baby for the first time. well, that's a lie. we actually saw him at like 8 weeks and although he was a brilliant, beautiful, tiny life, to our naked eye he was only a marshmallow-man dot. however, at the ultrasound we got at 14 weeks we saw him move. kick. wave. we saw his personality. i know that sounds kind of silly, but it's true. we felt like we were getting the sneakiest peek of who this life was, what kind of boy he was growing to be.

curious. active. life-lover. joy-spreader.

and within a couple weeks, inspired by our glimpse of his budding life, we gave him a name. miles samuel.

the name miles just seems to sum up those four words, and i don't really know how. it just does.

also we found two meanings of miles that we absolutely love and really resonated with. soldier and peace. initially it seems those two words are complete opposites. but to us they don't clash at all. we know all too well - sometimes peace must be fought for.

and samuel means 'God has heard.' enough said there.

introducing our son to the world by name was very intentional.

i can't tell you how wonderful it's been to hear people say "miles" instead of "the baby."

i can't tell you how remarkable it's been to feel the love and support so many people already have for this child who is yet to even be born.

i can't tell you how often miles reminds me, with his 50 summersaults a day and intense flutters of activity, that he's unique and mighty. and getting ready to take this world by storm. spreading love wherever he goes.

he's real. he's miraculous. he's miles samuel butler.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Grace in Grief

i find myself very curious as to how others who experience a loss go about various, seemingly mundane tasks of "life after death." not in a comparison way. because God knows, each journey and person is unique and we all respond and heal differently. this, in fact, is one of the greatest lessons i've learned in grief. there is no right way. there is no wrong way. there is no time table. there are no end dates or goal markers. feelings, whenever they happen, or how they express themselves, whether radical or tame, are normal.

there is freedom in grief.

for example, i know someone who lost an eight month old little boy who cannot look at the hand and footprints that were made on his last day of life at the hospital. they are stored in a box in the garage. it's just too difficult for her to see. however, john and i display noah and baby isaac's handprints in our home. we look at them every day. is one way more loving than the other? is one the "healthier" response? no. and of course not.

it was very early on in the grief journey that i realized i can't just do what i think i should do or what others think i should do. i'm the only one who knows what i need, because i'm the only one who has gone through what i have gone through. my journey is my own. but as an innate people-pleaser, this is difficult. because i want others to like me. to view me as strong. to see me as doing okay.

the last few posts i've written have had an "edge" to them. not as sweet. a little more harsh. a little jaded. because that's how i'm feeling right now - this is the valley grief is taking me through.

and it has been met with mostly love and grace, but also with some criticism. after my post yesterday, i received some negative comments. (not my first post to receive negative feedback, but for some reason these hit me harder.) they were all responses from complete strangers, who don't know me, don't know my heart, but assumed i was someone who needed fixing and it was them who needed to do it. (at least that's how i felt.) and it made me cry. because i already feel like a bad person. i already feel like my emotions are playing tricks on me. i already feel like i should be more faithful, more "christian," look to my pain less and to God more, believe that God has a perfect plan for me, and just not be so rude to people who love cats. so when i hear others correct me and judge my actions, it's rubbing salt on an already open and gapping wound. putting your already broken heart out there and it only being misunderstood and stomped on is not ideal.

now i very much realize i'm writing in a public space, and with that comes an open door for others to see into my life. i made the conscience choice not to be private about my experience because i hoped to somehow, in some way, maybe validate someone else who may feel similarly. i hoped to give a glimpse into life after the loss of child, to those who have no clue, to maybe better understand what it is we go through, and how difficult it really is. but with that i've put too much pressure on myself, i think. to fully educate people on baby loss is way too big a task, because no one, who hasn't gone through it, will ever, ever know what it's like.

so i let go. i let go of the expectations of others. i let go of my pride. i let go of needing others to understand me. i let go of defending my every feeling. i let go of perfection. i let go and hold on to the promise that i'm loved just as i am.

God, grant me the grace to be me, Your girl. not as the world would have me, but ever Yours.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Compassion Bone

i had a friend say to me recently, "i was hesitant to tell you about this struggle that i was having in my life, because compared to what you've been through, it's not really that big of a deal."

i very much appreciated her sensitivity, but saying this also made me sad. she deserves to be real and authentic. because, to her, whatever it was, was a big deal. and because i care about her, i care about what she cares about.  i hate that somehow my loss has the potential to shut me out and create a barrier between myself and those i care about.

i realize, however, that i can be very hypocritical. on one hand i desire for my friends to be honest with me and continue to allow me in their lives, with all their worries, fears and problems, no matter what they are going through. because isn't that what being a friend means? standing with each other and doing life together all the way?

yet on the other hand my compassion bone is quite brittle and thin....when it comes to BS.

i'll give you an example. a couple in my support group who lost a baby to SIDS told a story about how one of their friends lost her cat and was an emotional, needy wreck. now sure, losing a pet is tough. (i said to john, just last night, "i don't know what i'll do when samson dies." samson is our cocker spaniel. we've had him two years. so losing him would surely not be the biggest catastrophe to ever happen in the world, but still sad. we love him.) it's just, unfortunately, after losing a child, we've gained a perspective that stretches our understanding of what depths of hell this life has to offer.

so i'm sorry. if your cat dies, you will not be receiving a sympathy card from me.

i'm sorry, you saying your "life is broken" because paul walker died, someone you only knew from a movie screen, will not illicit one single tear of sadness from me, for you. for his family and friends, yes. but not you. you're fine.

i'm not going to lie. when i hear someone say that the worst thing that ever happened in their life was when their 93 year old mother passed away, i'm envious. i wish that was the worst thing that ever happened to me - saying goodbye to someone who lived a long, lovely, rich, wonderful life. because isn't that the way death should be? it's natural. we expect it.

you would think that what i've been through would enlarge my capacity for compassion, make me more sympathetic, more loving, more grace-filled, but most of the time i just feel like an ugly, harsh, bitter bitch.

i have quite a bit of conflicting emotions, but here's what i know for sure: because i love, i celebrate when those i care about experience joy. because i love, i weep when those i care about are in pain. that has not changed. if anything, it's only gotten stronger, more robust, and carries a depth beyond understanding.

i simply know what truly matters: you. life. love. faith.

and grace. with myself when i let others down and with others who let me down.

and that's it, folks. it's not always pretty. but then again, life isn't always pretty.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Sister Wives, Vomiting, Bus Rides: This Blog Post Has It All

i'm feeling just a little bit distracted today. i had one of those mornings where the entire bus ride to work was a blur. i have no idea how i got from one stop to the next because i was too busy day dreaming.

my sister-in-law's brother and his wife had their firstborn baby girl this morning. all this week i've been constantly thinking about them (aka. stalking facebook for updates) and the past 24 hours i can't seem to focus on much more than how she's doing, if labor went well... and then of course my mind goes to noah and our experience bringing him into the world.

15 hours of labor. vomiting on the nurse. being coached through every second by the most patient and loving man in the world. introducing our gorgeous son to family and friends. eating a jimmy john's sandwich as a reward for not eating deli meat for 9 months.

that whole first day was just soaked in pride.

a week or so ago i was watching the latest episode of sister wives and their baby girl was admitted into the hospital because her kidneys shut down.  throughout the entire episode i could identify completely with what they were feeling. the unknowns. the ups and downs. the fear.

i could identify until the end, when they took her home, healthy. i cried as i longed to know what that would feel like. the relief. the gratefulness. the joy.

in one of my first blog posts i wrote about how often john and i hear, "i can't imagine what you're going through." the loss. the suffering. the pain. it's hard to understand if you haven't been through it. the majority of parents in this world cannot imagine not taking their baby home from the hospital.

we, however, can't imagine what it will be like to actually take our baby home from the hospital, for real. no nicu stay, no fear, just a healthy baby ready to go home and live his long life. it seems so simple.

what will that even be like? feel like? it's as foreign to me as heaven. even when i just begin to dream about those first few hours and days with miles i get incredibly emotional and overwhelmed.

but in 118 days (give or take a few) we'll find out. and i can't imagine.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

My Only Pregnancy Complaint

i was watching the ellen degeneres show a couple months ago (as i do) and kelly clarkston was on. she was 11 weeks pregnant and here's pretty much what she talked about the entire time:

"oh my god, it [being pregnant] is so upsetting...i vomit a good dozen times a day. it's bad. it's so bad. i know, it's so gross. and that's the thing, too -- you're not attractive when you're pregnant. my nails are short, my hair still falls out .. it's not all lush and beautiful. and i have no glow. unless it's like something left over from a bad throw up. it's horrible. i'm so happy i'm pregnant. i just wish he or she would stop trying to kill me."

now, i like kelly clarkston. i think she's lovely and ridiculously talented. i watched her season of american idol and hoped she'd win. i even went to her concert in 2004. (granted it was to see the opener, clay aiken, but whatever.)

but i was really disappointed with her attitude in this interview. her consistent complaining about being pregnant really rubbed me the wrong way. (and don't get me started on the obnoxious pregnant chick from parks and rec. i don't usually watch the show, but i caught a few moments of her complete madness and i had to leave the room, it annoyed me so much. (side rant: why are almost all pregnant women portrayed on tv or in the movies as psychotic, demon-possesed, overly-emotional crazy people?)

i'm no pollyanna, but i love being pregnant. yeah, the vomiting and extreme fatigue are not my favorite things in the world, but i'm growing a human being inside me. it's such a miracle and a wonder that i honestly don't really care how difficult the process is. and i am grateful for it, because i would choose all that 'grossness' over the alternative of not being pregnant at all. it took about a year to become pregnant with noah (and, really, i had been waiting my entire life previous to that to become a mom), so when i finally did become pregnant it was nothing short of amazing. so i refuse to complain about any of it... or at least i try.

give or take a couple months, i have been pregnant for like a year and a half. once miles is born, i'll have been pregnant for just shy of two years. that's a hell of long time.

it's a long time to have a nursery ready and a closet stocked, with no baby.

it's a long time to be going to the doctor's office month after month,
week after week.

it's a long time to wait for a greatest hope to be fulfilled.

i truly believe there is beauty and purpose to waiting.
the anticipation. the preparation. the patience-building.
but i've waited long enough.

so here's my only pregnancy complaint:

(pregnant pause)

june 11th, please come quickly.

addendum: i believe every woman, every human, deserves the right to be authentic and honest. each pregnancy is unique and some are incredibly difficult and painful. i, in no way, want to communicate that anyone should "keep their mouth shut and not complain" if they are genuinely having a hard time with their pregnancy. that's unfair and judgmental for me to say. i just desire for more sensitivity, in general. one person's "worst day ever" might be another's dream. we never know.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014


our hometown team won the super bowl for the very first time on sunday. and you know how i feel about it?


celebrations in the streets! meh.

history making! meh.

parades! t-shirts! confetti! triple meh.

skittles! okay, i'll have a few.

now granted, i'm not a huge football fan in the first place but i'm pretty sure if this happened last year i would have gotten on the bandwagon with not too much coaxing. i usually love reasons to party.

but to get excited about a first world football team with players and coaches making hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars ... it all feels a little empty. like, what's the point, in the grand scheme of things? i mean, good for them. that's nice and all. but is it really that fantastic?

what if the city of seattle, the state of washington, the northwest, heck, the entire united states of america actually united together in support of something that actually mattered? something that made a positive difference in the world?

instead of seeing, "go hawks" in store windows i'd love to see, "go maddie" for the little girl fighting cancer at seattle children's.

instead of seeing a church staff all sign a banner for the seahawks, i'd love to see a church staff all sign a card for a widow who is spending valentine's day alone for the first time.

instead of spending billions and billions of dollars on sports arenas and players' salaries, what if we spent that kind of money on health care or our schools?

instead of a blue "12" flag, i'd love to see a flag claiming we're on the same team as those who are victims of bullying.

or maybe not "instead of" just "in addition to" would be nice.

i know i'm totally that debbie downer lady who seems to always take something harmless and fun and make it into an issue no one really wants to hear about. did you know feline aids is the number one killer of domestic cats? wah - wahhh. (thanks, snl.)

don't get me wrong. i'm not mad that the seahawks won. sports are not evil. i like sports. i actually think it's great for the city of seattle and all the positive energy is quite lovely. (and maybe shows there's hope for our beloved mariners to one day win the world series. hey, anything is possible.)

i just know the unbelievable power of rallying around someone who is hurting or a cause that makes the world better. i can testify to this type of rallying because it has literally saved my life. so i guess coming around a football franchise with crazy amounts of support just falls short, in my opinion. but that's just me.

okay, i'll come down off my little soapbox now.