Rylie

I wasn’t going to give the baby a name because I didn’t know the gender (which is a part of the reason my heart grieves). But I kept thinking about it and I didn’t like not having a name. I don’t like referring to the baby as “it” or “the baby” or “the baby I lost” when that baby could have a name. So, after some gentle encouragement from a friend, I spoke with my husband and we decided on the name Rylie. It’s a name we had both said we liked when I was pregnant and it is gender neutral. After choosing the name I wondered what it meant so I looked up its meaning. Oddly enough, Rylie means “courageous.” How fitting.

I have had a lot of fears since discovering my pregnancy complications and then losing Rylie. A lot of fears. And I’ve had to be courageous and face those fears as they suddenly flew at me. I was fearful of losing Rylie when I didn’t know what was going on. Then I was fearful of the miscarriage process, how much it would hurt, and how traumatizing it would be. I was fearful of how my body would respond, whether I would lose too much blood, whether my body would take care of it all on its own or whether I would need medical intervention. I was fearful of the grieving process. I was fearful of my doctor’s appointment. I was afraid of what they might say. Now, I’m fearful of seeing people I know, fearful of what they might say, and afraid of falling apart in front of them. I’m fearful of what each new day holds for me as I grieve. What else will I have to face? I’m fearful of how long I will be bleeding. I’m fearful of what others may think about the ways I am choosing to grieve. I’m fearful of getting pregnant again and having another miscarriage. Like I said, I have had a lot of fears.

Rylie’s short existence was an event I needed courage to go through. Even when I didn’t know it was a failed pregnancy, I was fearful of my future as the mother to two babies! I was fearful of how hard the pregnancy would be when having to care for a baby growing into a toddler. Truly, Rylie’s life for me was about courage, facing the hard times and getting through, having hope. I’m thankful for Rylie. I’m thankful for the little life that lived inside of me for a very short time. Though Rylie’s life may have been short it was a life that has rocked my world, my faith, and has forever changed me.

Thank you, Lord, for Rylie.

“Your eyes beheld my unformed substance. 
In Your book was written
All the days that were formed for me,
When none of them as yet existed.”
~Psalm 139:16

The Silent Pain

Since announcing my miscarriage many women have shared with me that they too have lost a baby. Many women experience this tragedy and keep silent. I understand why. It’s a taboo topic. It’s not something you talk about in everyday conversation. It’s not something you include when introducing yourself. When asked how many children a mother has she’ll most likely reply with the number of children living and not include the number she has lost. It makes sense. It would be awkward for most people to hear the response, “I have two children. One is 8 months old and one I miscarried at 9 weeks.” How do you appropriately respond to such a statement? Yet, I would venture to say that most women hold that number in their hearts. I know I do and always will. However many children I go on to have, I’ll always have “x” amount plus the one I lost.

It has been hard to put into words the fact that even though this baby did not develop any further than what it did, it was still my baby. It was mine. Me and my husband’s. It may not have been recognizable as a baby but the egg was fertilized and implanted into the uterus. It was my baby. And had it been healthy it would have grown and developed and come summer I would have given birth. I would have held my baby. But the only way I will ever carry that baby now is in my heart.

Throughout the weekend I was holding myself together and feeling strong. I believe I had put up an emotional roadblock and was holding all the pain and loss at bay. I even kept having thoughts as if I was still pregnant. Maybe I was somewhat in denial. I don’t know. But today I’m starting to feel again.

I feel angry. My heart hurts. I miss my baby. I wish I could have known whether the baby was a boy or a girl. I wish I could have given him or her a name. I wish this hadn’t happened and I wish the baby was still inside of me, growing healthy and strong. My heart hurts thinking about it and I’m tempted to push the hurt away but I know in order to grieve in a healthy way I must deal with the pain. I’m reading a book called Empty Arms and it is helping me accept that I must grieve. And I bought a charm that will be printed with the word “hope” on it along with little footprints and the date of the miscarriage. I’m going to wear it on a chain around my neck as a representation of the baby I lost. It is something I can touch and remember this experience. I felt like it was something I really wanted to do and include in my grieving process.

My heart truly hurts tonight. I am feeling the loss deeply right now. That is good. I am on the road to healing and not stuck behind a wall of pretend strength. I want to be free of this pain. I want my heart to stop hurting. In time, it will come, but for now I ask God to give me peace so I can sleep.

Sweetly Broken

This past week has added a chapter to my life story that I never expected. Never.

After bleeding all week, receiving a worrisome sonogram, and bad blood work results, I received the news that my pregnancy is a failed pregnancy due to a blighted ovum. Last night, during an hour of cramping and heavy bleeding, I miscarried my second pregnancy.

You may think it strange that I want to write about this so soon, or even at all, but this is how I process difficult situations. And besides, I want my story to be told. I don’t want to pretend like it didn’t happen or simply forget over time. I want to write about it while it’s still raw.

When I first found out I was pregnant with Grayson, I was so afraid of something happening that I didn’t let myself get attached until after my first sonogram. This time though, I felt more confident so I quickly became attached and was very excited about having another baby. I thought the baby was a girl this time so I was enjoying coming up with girl names and thinking about having a son and a daughter. My prayer had been that this pregnancy would make it to full term since I had Grayson at 34 weeks, but I never imagined that I wouldn’t even make it past the first trimester. The thought of miscarrying never even entered my mind.

This week of bleeding but not having any answers was emotionally terrorizing. The bleeding was getting a little bit heavier everyday and I was constantly going between believing everything would be okay and the baby was fine to believing I was going to miscarry. That emotional roller coaster is an exhausting ride. All the while, I had to still go about my usual routines. I still had to function. I still had to care for Grayson and meet his needs. It was awful. One moment I would be playing with him and making him laugh and the next I would be breaking down crying. I felt like I had no control over my emotions, my thoughts, and I felt so guilty for losing myself in front of my baby. I felt like a terrible mother not being able to hold myself together.

I was continually praying, asking God to stop the bleeding, to give me strength, to have mercy on me, to please let everything be okay. But He felt far from me, absent, and uncaring. I knew my theology and I believed in it but the reality I was living did not fully mesh with the God that I know and love. I wrestled with Him almost constantly and became angry with His perceived absence. I wanted so much to feel His peace through this situation but I didn’t. . .and I don’t know why.

When I finally got some answers from the blood work, I slowly began to feel God in the situation. I had been told by a nurse at my doctor’s office that it would be unlikely for me to receive any news on Friday since they had just taken my blood on Thursday. So when I called late Friday afternoon I was expecting them to tell me that the results had not come in yet and to try again Monday. But the results had come in and I finally had some answers. It was devastating but I also felt some relief in at least knowing what was going on and what would happen.

Friday night as I was getting ready for bed a song came to me and I found it on my iPod to give it a listen. It was comforting and I posted the lyrics on my Facebook. Five minutes after I did that I started cramping. It was dull at first but grew in intensity. It hurt and I was afraid of how long it would last. My hope was that it would pass quickly but I wasn’t expecting it to. The cramping, heavy bleeding, and passing of tissue and other “stuff” only lasted an hour. It was a devastating experience and in between trips to the bathroom I cried, mourning my loss, and continually thinking, “I can’t believe this is apart of my story.”

Like I have said, I know my theology and I believe in it. Through out all of this I know and believe that I am undeserving of life itself, let alone all that God has blessed me with. I know that God does not owe me anything. I know that He is completely just in taking away my pregnancy. I know that He loves me and that His will is far better than my own. I know all of this. I believe in it and that hasn’t changed. But it’s hard to feel it right now. It’s hard to feel the love I know God has for me. It’s hard to feel anything.

I know that time will heal this wound. I know that I will go through a process of grieving and that it will most likely be a roller coaster of emotions. It’s hard. It’s heart breaking. And I don’t know why God chose me to go through this experience. I don’t know why He made it apart of my story. But He did and even though I do not understand it, nor do I feel Him in this, I believe that if I claim what I know is true, one day I will feel it again. In the meantime, I am sweetly broken.

In awe of the cross I must confess
How wondrous Your redeeming love and
How great is Your faithfulness

 

I’m a Lucky One

Today is the 40th anniversary of Roe vs. Wade and I had hoped to share a picture from my sonogram I had today and talk about how precious life is. But I do not have pictures from my sonogram because this morning I woke up bleeding and when I got to my appointment the sonogram showed a yolk sac measuring at 6 weeks but no baby or heart beat. I’m suppose to be around 8 weeks so we weren’t expecting that. They took my blood to check my hormone levels and I have to go back on Thursday for more blood work and then do another sonogram next Tuesday. It comes down to one of these two things: Either I am not as far along as we thought or I’m losing the baby. I want to believe in the former…I want to believe that, even though the dates don’t add up, that I really am only 6 weeks pregnant. But I can’t ignore the latter and that it is a very real possibility.

I am very upset and very afraid. The thought of losing a child, even within utero, is heartbreaking. I don’t know how I’m going to make it through this week, waiting and wondering what is really true. It’s overwhelming…almost unbearable.

I had a post ready to go for later in the week about my hard day yesterday and how, even though God didn’t make the day easy as I had asked, He gave me a song that touched and encouraged me. Today has been an even harder day and that song keeps coming to mind. In fact, I have it playing right now. It’s not a song you would expect. It’s “Lucky Ones” by Lecrae.

When it’s all said and done
You and I are the lucky ones
We fought many
And we’ll fight the night until we see the sun
We are the lucky ones
We are the lucky ones
We are here

Under the su
n, I found we were left to drown
Evil abounds, weight is pullin’ us down
No sight or sound, impaired to His care
Chasing after the wind, running after the air
Deserving of desertion, servants of destruction
And everyday we taste of a grace that we’re unconcerned with
My sin I should be burned with, I’m guilty, filthy, and stained
But He became a curse, drank my cup and took my pain
And for that he reigns, through faith I’m changed
And I don’t have a reason why he loosened up my chains

I don’t believe in luck; I believe in Grace
But they say we’re lucky cause we seen His face
And we heard Him call us, and He heard our answer
And He gives us second chances when we throw our hands up
So weary and broken, hopin’ His arms will be open
Unconditional love has got us locked into His focus
(I guess we the lucky ones, huh?)

You’re greater than my shame, guilt, my doubt, and my past
Fortunate to trust in you cause I’ve doubted your plans
I’ve questioned your ways, every question I raised
Is foolishness compared to mountains, the wind, and the waves
You’re so mindful of us, we rise from the dust
You love these cheating, beating hearts and these eyes full of lust
Gave us power to fight it, though we cower in quiet
We have the faith to start a riot; how can we deny it?
Fire inside us that you kindle when it starts to dwindle
And simply put I’m sinful so your love is essential

I don’t believe in luck, no, I believe in Grace
But they say we lucky cause we seen your face
Lord, we heard you call us, You heard our answer
And you give us second chances when we throw our hands up
I’m weary and broken, but your arms will be open
Unconditional love has got us locked into your focus

See, I’m not sayin’ I’m always right
And I ain’t sayin’ that I’m perfect
And I know I don’t deserve it
But I’m glad I got this life
I’m glad that I got it
And it makes me a lucky one

I don’t feel like a “lucky one” right now, not at all. But God reminds me that even now, in the fear and the unknown, that He is sovereign and the simple fact that I know Him and He loves me, makes me a “lucky one.” I can have hard days and I can lose my baby but that won’t change who God is and the fact that He has shown me grace.

I cry as I write this because my heart doesn’t feel it. But I know it and I believe it, deep within my soul. I pray that this won’t turn out for the worse. I pray that next Tuesday we’ll see a baby on that screen, safe and healthy. I pray that this is all some horrible, un-amusing mistake. But I can’t allow myself to get my hopes up and pretend that there isn’t another possibility. However, either way, God is gracious, loving, and sovereign…and that makes me a lucky one.

There is a Monday for Every Week

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I feel like this kid sometimes. The weekends are way too short and already it’s Monday again! This weekend was a hard one for me because I was laid up with back pain and my pregnancy hormones had me all out of whack. I’m hoping I can make it through today without much pain since I won’t have my husband home to help. Praying!

I hope you all have a great Monday, even though it does mean the weekend is over. 🙂

Husbands & Video Games Part 2

My previous post, Husbands and Video Games, generated so many views and responses that I felt the need to write a second post to further the discussion of this very relevant issue. What I want to look at is why men play video games so that us wives may have a better chance at understanding the fascination, and sometimes the obsession, with something that we tend to see as a waste of time. I also want to give the husbands some tips on how to better understand their wives and what they need to do if they want to peacefully play video games in their home.

Honestly, I think the main issue here is that men and women are different.

Well duh, obviously! Right?

Yes, but video games tend to be on the opposite spectrum of things that women understand and like. See, women can understand the enjoyment of watching TV or spending time on the computer. We like to do those things too. But video games…they are just so far out there. Asking a women if she wants to play a video game is like a women asking a man if he wants to shave his legs. The answer is a big fat NO. That’s just not something we do.

The reason is because most video games appeal to men. Why? Because men are warriors. They are strong, powerful, mighty warriors. At least, they want to be. It’s in their nature. Men want to be a hero. They want to slay the dragon, bring judgement to a criminal, save the world! They want to rescue the pretty maiden, save a town from being rampaged, and fight the bad guy. It’s in their nature, it’s how God made them. The problem is that we no longer live in a world where typical men can flex their muscles. Men no longer go out to hunt for their food or have to fight to protect their family from the animal or stranger lurking around their property. They no longer go out into the fields to work, doing back breaking labor just to put food on the table. And with the independence of women, men no longer have to be the picture of strength, courage, and power. But they still want that. They still desire to be the hero.

Video games give them the opportunity to go on an adventure and be a hero, even if it is only virtual. They get to carry weapons and kill things. They get to blow things up. They get to be men, at their core.

Sometimes while my husband is playing and he does something really well, he’ll tell me all excitedly, looking for praise. I don’t give him the praise because it doesn’t seem praise worthy. It’s just pretend. He didn’t really do anything that makes any difference in our real life. Maybe I should praise him since he enjoys it so much but I think it’s even more important to make sure that I praise him in real life, so that need to feel like he’s doing something well is truly fulfilled.

So wives, since we now know that men want to feel like heroes, mighty warriors capable of protecting and destroying, we can understand why they are so drawn to video games. But we also need to take this knowledge and make sure that we are making our husbands feel like heroes in real life. Admire him, praise him, tell him how great he is at being your husband. This won’t keep him from playing video games (and that shouldn’t be your intention) but it will fulfill his need to know that he’s strong, powerful, and a man.

Now husbands, if you have read my last post then you got a view of a women’s perspective. I want to give you some further perspective and suggestions on how to peacefully play video games within your home.

It’s hard for women to understand your love for video games because we don’t have the same core desire that you do. Just like y’all want to be heroes, we women want to be the beautiful woman you rescue. We want to know that we are worthy of rescuing. So when you choose to spend time with your video games and not with her, she feels unworthy. And when you feel like a hero through your video game but not when you are with her, she feels unworthy. Women fear feeling unworthy. We fear not being enough or being too much and both lead to being unworthy. So remember that the next time you go to play a video game. Think, “when was the last time I spent quality time with my wife?” Or when was the last time you expressed love to her in her specific love language? Because if you are able to wrap your wife up in your arms but you chose to play a video game instead, it will make her feel unworthy of your time and attention. And that hurts.

I’m not trying to guilt you into doing anything and I’m not saying you should never treat yourself to some time of play. You probably don’t even realize that she feels that way and thus you aren’t trying to hurt her. But what I am saying is that your wife comes first and her feelings matter. Your marriage matters.

So how can you be sensitive towards your wife’s feelings about your video games? Here are my suggestions:

1. Understand and validate her feelings. As I expressed in my last post, I had negative feelings towards Kyle and his video games and though the origin of those feelings had nothing to do with Kyle, they affected our marriage. They were valid feelings but they had to be expressed and dealt with and I needed Kyle to hear them. So allow your wife to express her feelings and validate them as real feelings.

2. Respect her time. Don’t start playing a game without talking to her first. And don’t ask, “Do you want me to play my game?” or something of that nature. Instead go to her and say, “I would like to play my game today. Can we figure out a time for me to do that?” This isn’t asking permission, this is showing respect for her time and feelings and giving her a chance to work it into the plans for the day. You could even add that you would like to do something with her as well. This shows her that you care and that you want to spend time with her. If you approach her this way then she is far more likely to have a peaceful and willing attitude. But don’t do it because you want something out of it, do it because you love and respect your wife.

3. Keep track of how long you are playing. I know it’s easy to get caught up in a game and apparently it can take a long time to accomplish even one mission but don’t sit there for hours and leave her wondering when you will finally be finished. This is where it might be a good idea to set a time limit. Agree that you’ll play for two hours and when that two hours is up, you get off, no matter what is happening in the game. This goes along with respecting her time but it’s also good discipline for you. I know you enjoy playing, and that’s well and good, but interaction with your wife and children is far more important than your game.

I hope this further helps some couples navigate this issue in their marriage. Don’t get angry or bitter but recognize the differences in your gender, your different needs, and make accommodations and compromises. This is apart of marriage and both the husband and the wife need to give and take. In the end, what is of utmost importance is your marriage. Don’t let misunderstandings, unsettled feelings, or hobbies get in the way of knowing each other better, loving each other deeper, and growing your marriage stronger.

Husbands & Video Games

Yesterday one of my favorite bloggers, Sheila Wray Gregoire over at To Love Honor and Vacuum, wrote a post about husbands who play video games all the time. It’s a very relevant post since many young and middle aged men enjoy playing video games. And since most women do not enjoy video games nearly as much or not at all, this can cause problems within a marriage.

Video-Games

My husband enjoys playing video games quite a bit and has been playing them since childhood. I, however, grew up with the love of reading, writing, and education. Video games were never apart of my regular activities and when I did play, I liked the old school games of Mario, Donkey Kong, and the kind where you race around gathering coins and stuff like that. Though I’m sure my husband, at one time, played such games, he tends to like…what are they called??…story games? The kind where you have certain missions and go around killing things? I don’t really know what it is he plays…I just hear things like “Skyrim,” “Xcom,” Far Cry 3,” and something about “boarders and lands?” And I see him wondering around with a gun, killing animals, people, and doing other stuff that makes no sense to me. I see the screen go all whack and I have absolutely NO idea how HE knows what he’s doing. But he enjoys it and plays with his friends and they get all excited and serious about whatever they are doing.

I don’t think I will ever be able to say that I understand his enjoyment of video games. I used to loath video games and think less of the people who played them. But then I married a guy who loves them and so therein lies the problem. I wouldn’t say that he’s addicted and he does spend far less time with them now that his job and family takes up most of his available time. But it used to really bother me when he played and as I read Sheila’s post the reasons for my feelings began to take further shape.

Over the years Kyle and I have been married, I have learned to deal with my feelings about video games and Kyle using some of his time to play them. My attitude towards it was that it was a waste of time, time he could be spending with me. And I felt like I was competing for his attention. It wasn’t that Kyle never spent time with me and was always playing his video games, it was that the time he spent with his games could be spent with me. But I didn’t have a plan or a suggestion for what we could do together, I just didn’t want him playing his games; I wanted his attention. I didn’t like so much of his attention and focus to be on his games and with his friends because I knew when he started up a game it was going to be, not for half an hour or even an hour, but for many hours. And that left me with nothing to do or finding something else to do when all I really wanted was to be spending time with Kyle. Kyle’s solution for this was for me to sit and watch him play but that just insulted me and put even more bitterness in my heart. Because that’s what it was – bitterness. It was bitterness, anger, and probably a little bit of fear that caused me to hate video games, and the fact that Kyle loved to play them, so much. So every time Kyle went to play a game, my heart filled with bitterness and anger, and I felt like he was telling me, “I don’t care about you or spending time with you, I just want to play my game.” I believed it too.

Over time he spent less time playing video games because our lives got busier and he could see how upset it made me. When our lives started to kinda settle down and a new game came out Kyle really wanted to play, he started to play again and that bitterness returned. And now we had a baby so the fact that he was choosing to spend time with his game told me that he didn’t care about me or the baby, that he didn’t want to spend time with us. In truth and reality, it wasn’t that Kyle was being a jerk but about how I was perceiving his actions. There are reasons why I perceived his actions a certain way. It wasn’t that Kyle didn’t care about us or didn’t want to spend time with us. It wasn’t that he wasn’t a loving husband or a good father. It was about my perception, how it made me feel, and that I chose to believe that my perception was true. When I came to this realization I communicated with Kyle and I agreed to let him have his down time and not feel bitter about it. When I thought about it rationally I saw that there were times that he could play his game when it wouldn’t make me feel left out because I would be busy putting Grayson to bed, taking a shower, reading, ect. And once I was done, Kyle agreed to get off his game and then we would spend time together. He also confessed to me that he didn’t know what quality time meant or what it looked like. It never occurred to me that when I said, “I want to spend quality time with you,” that he wouldn’t know what I was talking about. It seemed simple to me because quality time is one of my love languages but it isn’t one of his. It has taken two years for us to figure this out and even now that bitterness can still creep into my heart and Kyle can still get lost on the meaning of quality time. But now that my perception has changed, some boundaries have been set, and I communicated with Kyle, things are better.

Sheila’s post was about video game addiction so if that applies to you then please go read it. My husband isn’t addicted but his game playing still caused issues for me and our marriage. If that applies to you more then here is my advice to you:

1. Examine your perception. Are the feelings you have legitimate because your husband does have a real problem or are you believing a lie? I believed that my husband didn’t want to spend time with me but that wasn’t true. He just enjoys playing video games, it’s a way he relaxes and unwinds, just like reading does for me. And just because I didn’t think it a valid form of relaxation doesn’t mean that it’s not. I still have to fight to have this perception but there just simply isn’t anything wrong with my husband spending a few hours on the weekend playing video games when we don’t have anything else more important to do.

2. Discover the reasons for your perception. The reason for my perception actually had nothing to do with Kyle but I was projecting it onto him, believing he meant to be the jerk I believed he was. My reason was fear. I was afraid that Kyle would start to not care about me or want to spend time with me. I was afraid he would become uninvolved. Kyle never gave me a reason to have this fear, it was one I was already holding, one I brought into the marriage. I didn’t realize it at first but once I discovered it, I realized the problem was more with me and not with Kyle or how he chose to spend his free time.

3. Communicate with your husband. Whatever you are feeling for whatever reason, you need to talk to your husband and explain to him how his playing video games makes you feel and why you respond the way you do. Don’t speak with anger or bitterness and don’t nag, that won’t help, but go to him genuinely wanting to understand, expressing your feelings, and working towards a compromise.

4. Create boundaries. Figure out what best works for you and your family and set aside a specific amount of time each week for your husband to spend playing video games. Or if that sounds too strict, come up with prerequisites, stuff that has to be done or not happening in order for him to have time to dedicate to playing. For instance, there are no chores to be done, the children aren’t being a hassle, you don’t have anywhere to go, ect. Hobbies should never overtake what is necessary because then the hobby becomes an addiction. So if it’s not an addiction then your husband shouldn’t have a problem being willing to better organize and prioritize his time so that he can meet responsibilities, spend some time playing, and have time to spend with you.

I think the main thing for me and my husband was for me to adjust my perception of video games, my husbands relation with them, and for us to be more intentional with our time. Like I’ve said, it’s not an addiction, it’s just something that was never apart of my life that I had to figure out how to accept and work into my expectation of what my married life would be like. Maybe this applies to you about something other than video games. Whatever it is, love is caring about the person you are married to more than yourself and working to create peace where there is tension. As long as your husband isn’t sinning or addicted and your struggling with your feelings towards him and how he spends his free time then you need to examine yourself, deal with your feelings, communicate with your husband, and work to create peace.