Search This Blog

Loading...

Monday, July 27, 2015

Microblog Monday: 2 ways to write brilliantly

Photo Credit: Dwayne Bent (Flickr), edited with permission



1 -- Write what your audience is thinking, feeling, instinctively knows to be their truth, but do not have the words to voice. Write how they feel, give them context to their experience, put language to their truth and they will say, 

"THIS!! Finally, someone totally understands me!

It is the one time in human connection when you are the one to speak ... And they are the ones who feel heard.

2 -- Pen your from your own perspective. Take something that everyone feels they know, or has an opinion on, and bring a unique twist. Open their eyes to a new way of thinking, and it is like peeling back the layers of this universe to show them there is more than what they ever could have imagined. 

"I never would have thought this way, but oh my goodness, this totally makes sense," they will say to themselves.

It is one time in human connection when difference of thought builds bridges instead of building walls.


Achieve one -- And you will connect with a large audience. 

Achieve both -- and you will connect with that audience for a lifetime.



Not sure what Microblog Monday is? Click here.

Monday, July 20, 2015

9 (not-so-average tips) to a healthy 9 months







If you found this post looking for advice like:


The best water infusions for healthy hydration

How to push out a baby in 3 easy steps

Finding the best prenatal yoga class that is a good fit for YOU

I'm sorry. You'll just have to go search BabyCenter. 


Pregnancy has never been easy for me. (You could make the case that it has in fact been very hard.) And my pregnancies have taught me some lessons I'd like to share. Even if they aren't what you would call conventional.


I've been pregnant 5 times, and have given birth to a live baby once. I've had scary complications like HELLP Syndrome, Preeclampsia, threatened premature labor, threatened miscarriage and hemorrhage (and that was in my successful -- unplanned -- pregnancy.) The other pregnancies ended in a ruptured ectopic pregnancy and first-trimester miscarriages. I have been diagnosed with secondary infertility.


When American Recall Center asked me to write my 9 tips for 9 healthy months,  I joked with Ryan that I really could just boil my tips down into one big tip:



JUST DON'T DO WHAT RACHEL DID!

Now, if I haven't totally scared you off yet with my fertility resume -- let me share why I think you should keep reading . . . 


What I have lacked in success, I have more than made up for in experience.






If you are like most women, you want a perfectly planned pregnancy, followed by a perfectly executed 9 months, followed by the most meticulously planned birth (that follows their plan a "t"), which ends in a glowing season of postpartum bliss.


No one Ahem.  Few people get their perfect pregnancy.


You might be one of the few who do get a perfect 9 months. Awesome. Congrats. You rock that bump and postpartum bliss.


But the for the rest of us -- here are my 9 tips to have as healthy of a 9 months you can have.





1. It doesn't have to be planned to be good.

My first positive pregnancy test was a bit of an undoing for me. (And by undoing, I mean, I became a tearful mess, took myself to bed instead of to work, and wailed to my husband that "we are going to have a boy, and when he becomes 16, he'll get his girlfriend pregnant, and we'll have a teenage pregnancy on our hands! What are we going to do then??!!") 


Yes, those were my words. My husband simply replied . . . "Are you even serious right now?" 


(For the record, I was quite serious.)


(Also for the record, we had a girl.) 


Now in this world where we expect kindergartners to already know what they want to do with the rest of their lives, it makes sense that we all expect to plan our pregnancies. The right equation for a baby in today's culture seems to be:


Love + 

A few years to play + 
A few years to plan + 
A house (owned, not rented, with 20% down) + 
2 successful careers + 
College funds started for kids + 
Exotic vacations (because you'll never get those again) + 
Marriage (if you're traditional) =
The right time to start a family

Everyone around us says we have to be READY for a baby for it to be a good thing.


But can I tell you a little secret? Our unplanned pregnancy was the most beautiful blessing of my life.  And if I had waited to plan for a baby, chances are, it would have been too late. I think God maybe knew that if it was going to happen at all, it needed happen now.


And so if you are faced with an unplanned pregnancy -- know that even if the circumstances seem extra stressful, or you just don't feel ready -- relax a little bit. This baby is one of the biggest blessings you'll experience. 






2. Screw the silence on pregnancy. (If you want to, that is.)

I don't know when it became the "right" thing to pretend to friends and family that you've had a 3-month flu, hide the fact that you have the energy of a walking zombie, buy a whole new wardrobe that isn't maternity clothes but will cover your growing bump for the first trimester. And all so that if your precious miracle dies, you can mourn and grieve alone, still while pretending to the outside world that you are OK.

Seriously, why was this ever cool?

If you are the silent type, and honestly want to crawl in a proverbial hole from the world in case of a miscarriage, to each his own. By all means, hide your pregnancy. That is your right.

But if you are hiding because it is the RIGHT thing to do (according to everyone else), but you actually WANT to share in the joy (and maybe in the grief) of your pregnancy, do so.

You don't officially become pregnant at 13 weeks. Pregnancy doesn't instantly turn safe at 13 weeks. So if you want to shout it from the rooftop -- or just come up with a really adorable, Pintrest-worthy social media announcement -- anytime before the 13-week mark, DO IT! 

If you can't decide, then play it by ear. Or try your best to think of what you would want to do if you DID miscarry. Would you want to retreat to your life alone in case of a horrible tragedy? Or would you want meals, flowers, cards, and caring friends and family to surround you. (Albeit, there will always be people saying the wrong things. It does come at a small price.)

The question here is not what's normal. It's, What do YOU want?



3. Let it go. Let it go. (Can't hold it back anymore.)


(And if Frozen is now stuck in your head, sorry about that.)


If my pregnancy experiences have taught me anything, it's that there is so little I can control. 


Now the things I CAN control, like diet, and well, um . . .  diet . . . THAT I will control. But as for the rest, pregnancy and life can throw you some major curve balls.


The biggest reason I want to bring this up is because I want you to know that your pregnancy might not end in a baby you get to keep in your arms. Now, I know this information sucks. Trust me, I've lived it out and it sucks.


But if you are the 1 in 4 whose pregnancy ends in loss, I want you to know this one super huge mega big thing:



IT'S NOT YOUR FAULT

It's not that you read 9 tips somewhere, did 8 of them and forgot to do #9. It's not the waterslide you went down before you knew you were pregnant. Or the one glass of wine you had. Or the deli meat you forgot to microwave that one time. 


When my tube ruptured, and that baby we named Olivia died, I blamed myself. I thought that maybe I didn't drink enough water the day we had sex, and my tubes weren't slimy enough, and she got stuck and that's why she died.


Trust me, when you are looking for answers, you'll find one . . . even if you have to make it up. Even if it makes YOU the one to blame. Lots of us bereaved women will blame ourselves unless our doctor can give us a really good reason not to.


But most of the time, doctors have to idea why it happens. And unless you've made it so far in your gestation, or unless you have recurring losses . . . they won't test.


So if you end up without a baby in your arms, please promise me: In your quest for answers, you won't blame yourself. You will know that you did everything YOU COULD CONTROL for this baby, and your baby knows it. She knows you did your best, and that you would do anything for her. 


 Loss is hard. But let go of any guilt a loss can cause.


(By the way, this tip is for you even if your baby was born sick or with a disability, or you had pregnancy complications, or you had to have a cesarean or other interventions you didn't want. IT'S NOT YOUR FAULT!!!)

OK, now that we've addressed the big elephant in the room . . . let's move on.



4. You're not the patient. You're the boss.


With Maddy, I visited L&D several times in my pregnancy. Once for what I thought was leaking amniotic fluid. (It was just pee. Eww. I know. Pregnancy can be gross.) Perfectly valid concern. They took me seriously, and I was wrong. But my concerns were alleviated, and I knew everything was OK.


The other times were for "braxton hicks" that were regular, intense and wouldn't go away. Each time I went in, I received shots of terbutaline, followed by 2 weeks of bedrest, and pills I had to take every 4 hours.  This started at 28 weeks, and happened every so many weeks. In spite of all the contractions (that were EXACTLY the same as my labor contractions), I never dilated.


It was RIGHT to go in, as I could have dilated at any point. And after I was in labor, I realized I couldn't tell the difference between my braxton hicks and my labor contractions because there WAS NO DIFFERENCE. At least not in the way it felt to me anyway.


And then at 36 weeks, I went in again. Throwing up every few minutes. In so much pain, I can't sit still. And having those awful (not dilating) contractions.


This time, I never got to see my doctor. I was told I was dehydrated (even though I KNEW that I knew that I knew that I knew) that my hydration should have been fine. (If I was dehydrated, it was because it was 6 am, and I did not consume water while sleeping. But that should not have caused intense pain.) 


My doula came to the hospital, but did not take me seriously. When I told her it hurt so badly that I wanted to die, she told me "Oh, hunny. This is just the beginning. It will get so much worse!" (Fast forward to tip #9 -- Hire the right birthing team.)


Ryan thought I was being a drama queen. 


Everyone thought I was crazy. Except me. I knew something was wrong.


They sent me home after filling me with bags full of fluid. Had they checked my blood, they would have noticed that they were sending a woman home who had a life-threatening condition called HELLP Syndrome. 


Because preeclampsia usually comes first, my HELLP was not caught. Because I was so concerned about being a good patient, and that maybe I really was crazy because I'm just a first-time mom . . . I didn't speak up.


Ya'll. I could have died. Maddy could have died. Seriously. Sending me home was the WORST thing they could have done.


In the end, we went back a few days later, I was correctly diagnosed, and everything went scarily fast. Maddy and I both lived. But I forever regret playing the patient that day, and not the boss. 


You are the boss of your body. You know when something is not right. And you are the one paying the medical bills. So if you need that test, if you need to be seen, if you need some reassurance, if you need that second opinion, if you need to stay overnight to be sure -- you do that. 


Repeat after me. "This is my body. This is my baby. I pay the bills. I'm not just a patient. I am the boss."




5. Choose gratitude. Maybe not always, but often. 


So far, I think we've covered that pregnancy really sucks sometimes.

Let's recap:


You pee on yourself. And then go to the doctor where he tell has to tell you you peed on yourself.

You have massive contractions for months that accomplish NOTHING.
You feel (and occasionally look) like a beached whale.  (I love you. I'm just telling it like it is.)
Your cute clothes don't fit.
You throw up.
And occasionally, pregnancy tries to kill you.

So I get that it's not all roses and rainbows.


But here's the deal. You have a beautiful baby -- half you, half your partner -- growing inside of you. And there are women all around the world who would pay any price, cut off limbs, and mortgage homes JUST TO BE a beached whale, throwing up, peeing herself and growing her own baby.


There are times you will need to vent. Find your safe, compassionate friends, and vent. (And just FYI, unless they offer, infertile or bereaved women are rarely the best people to vent to.)


But every day, spend some time in gratitude.


I complained for most of my pregnancy with Maddy. I didn't know at the time it was going to the be ONLY time I would feel like a beached whale. Or that I would feel kicks. Or that I would get baby showers. I didn't know she would be one of my greatest friends. If I knew then what I know now, I would have said thanks so much more. 


Spend a few minutes every day recounting your blessings with this baby, and all that you are thankful for. 


I hear gratitude is the best medicine. (Or is that laughter?)



6. Make YOU a priority. Not for the baby. But for YOU.

The other day, I took a shower. Normally, this daily practice of hygiene would not be considered a big deal. Never would it be considered selfish. And yet -- I was consumed with guilt.


My 1-year-old foster son had to be put in the pack-n-play, in front of the TV, while I took my 15-minute shower and did makeup, dress, and hair for the remaining 15 minutes.


Mind you -- he was perfectly content. But I was wracked with guilt for taking some time for ME that wasn't completely centered around my kids.


You see, this whole "die to self to save baby" thing starts right away. The moment you become pregnant, all the other pregnancy tip blogs are going to tell you what to change. For BABY. Don't eat this. Don't lay on your belly. Don't eat shellfish. Don't change your cats liter. Don't drink alcohol.


From the moment you suspect you're pregnant, you are already changing things for baby. While that desire to put baby first is good, you have to set some boundaries.


Some things, you just need to do for you. 


You need a nap because YOU are tired. You need a haircut and style because it makes you feel prettier. And because you WANT one. You exercise because it releases your stress. You eat well because it also makes your body feel better.


Healthy you + baby = awesomeness.


Stressed out, unhappy, postpartum mom that sacrifices it all + baby = danger and despair. (And not-so-awesomness.)


So take time for you. Not because you're pregnant. Not because it's good for the baby. But because it's good for YOU! Trust me, this is a habit you need to start now.




7. Like all journeys, this one comes with baggage.


We all have baggage in life. Things that trigger us, spark anxiety or depression, cause us to feel insufficient or not enough. 

We carry this baggage along. And think that maybe if all the right stuff or the right people join us, we can get rid of it. Some people think having a baby will fix their baggage.


But trust me -- it doesn't. Sometimes it even CAUSES baggage.


Getting pregnant is not a cure for infertility. 


Becoming a mom does not fix the pain of having a bad mother yourself.


Having a new baby does not replace a baby that died.


Instead, being pregnant and parenting your own child will trigger all sorts of baggage you might have. In between nesting, doing your baby registry, freezer-meal planning, and childbirth classes -- you really need to address some of the issues you have.


What in your marriage needs to be fixed?

What do you need to resolve with your own parents?
What part of your past do you need to make peace with?
Who do you need to sufficiently grieve?
What expectations do you have that are not currently being met?

And keep in mind during pregnancy and after what kind of expectations you had for pregnancy, birth and baby. Was it all you dreamed of, or do you feel let down? Are you struggling with attachment or feeling bonded? Do you need more help from your partner, or friends or family?


Right now, your head space is where it's at. Keep it healthy. Employ a counselor if you need to. Pray and meditate (on God's word).


Pregnancy can be amazing. And a miracle. But it's not a cure for baggage.


8. Take it a day at a time. And celebrate the baby steps.

Every day that I remained pregnant felt like a victory. I don't know why Maddy seemed to be in such a hurry to get out. But I remember feeling like I was literally fighting every day, every week, just to keep her in. 


Every time I moved up a size in vegetables or fruit on the Babycenter app, the better I felt. 


With our 3 miscarriages, I didn't know the outcome of those pregnancies. Every day I was pregnant was fraught with worry and fear. I had to force myself to say "I don't know what tomorrow will bring. But I know that today, I'm pregnant. Today, my baby is alive and growing. Today, I'm going to be as healthy as I can, and do everything possible to keep this baby here. Today, I'm grateful for today."


Your 9-month-long journey is made up of a lot of todays. A lot of little baby steps. 


Today, your baby is growing and alive. Today, your body is doing everything it can for your baby. Today, you are one step closer to meeting your little person. Today, you are grateful it's today.




9. Be informed.


Be smart. Be informed. Just try not to be crazy. :)

I highly recommend reading up on pregnancy complications. Make sure your doctor is explicit on when she wants you to come in. Any time you are in doubt, call your nurse. If you still don't feel satisfied, make an appointment. If you need to, get a doppler so you can listen to your baby's heartbeat at home. 


Make informed choices on your birthing team, home birth vs. hospital birth, vbac vs. repeat cesarean, If you choose a doula, make sure you are really comfortable with her. Same with your doctor or midwife. Change if you need to, even if it's late in the game.


Be prepared -- a little extra early. Births rarely come right on time, so have your bags packed and ready early. (Like, really early. When we gave birth to Maddy, I had no camera, change of clothes or contact solution. I gave birth over 3 weeks early -- and I was NOT ready. Remember really big tip: Do everything Rachel did not do!) 


If you have concerns, bring them up to your doctor. If you have tests you want run, then request them. As much as you can, take charge of your health.


And in that light, I'm going to pass on a tidbit of info to help you be a little more prepared, from the American Recall Center: 


One issue American Recall Center is currently raising awareness about is Zofran side effects - this anti-nausea drug has been used ‘off-label’ to treat morning sickness, even though the FDA does not approve the drug for that application. As you’ll see on our site, the Zofran drug severely increases the risk for birth defects like cleft palate and heart defects.





OK guys! That's it! I hope that these tips have helped you. Best of luck on your journey to baby!

What are some of your favorite tips for a healthy pregnancy?

Saturday, July 11, 2015

The baby I wanted to miscarry

Dear woman who Googled "how to make myself miscarry,"

I'm not sure if you know this, but my blog has this feature that lets me see how people find my blog.

Many of the search terms make sense:

Miscarriage at 20 weeks

Ectopic pregnancy

What to do if I miscarry

Baby loss blogs

etc.


Every once in a while, I get a search topic that makes me just stop in my tracks. Your search topic, for example.  "How to make myself miscarry." It broke my heart.

I don't know how much of my blog you read or saw, but I want you to know that I too had an unplanned pregnancy. I too was horribly upset by it, and couldn't imagine my future with this child a part of it. I hated being pregnant, and wanted to miscarry.

I bet you probably didn't expect me to tell you this -- as I'm a baby-loss blogger -- but I want you to know, it's true.

I was at my wit's end, and wanted to end my pregnancy. My moral compass and beliefs since I was a child wouldn't actually allow me to do anything about it. So I just wished I would miscarry. I just wanted to be UN-pregnant.

It wasn't until I actually almost DID miscarry that I realized I actually wanted this baby. But even after the miscarriage threat had passed, my bond with my baby was tenuous at best. I still struggled with our bond even after the first year of her life.

All this, and I was a married woman. With support. (A lot of support actually.) With a job and enough finances (although it didn't feel like it at the time.)

If I felt the way I did when all the circumstances around the pregnancy were actually GOOD -- I can only imagine how you must be feeling now.

Maybe this baby wasn't planned. Maybe you were raped. Maybe you are a teen, just past a kid yourself. Maybe there's an affair involved. Maybe you have more kids than you feel you can care for. Maybe you are in a huge financial struggle. Maybe your partner is abusive.

Or maybe, you're just not ready. Not yet. Just like I was.

I don't know your circumstances, I don't know your despair, and I don't know your ending.

But I know mine.

Every fear I had about our baby was eventually laid to rest. The child I kept in my womb and gave birth to just graduated Kindergarten at the top of her class. She's a smart fireball, and I love teaching her all sorts of science, math and reading. We snuggle every night and read books together. We go to playgrounds, cook in the kitchen, and she is the sweetest little helper to my other children.

I want you to meet the baby I wanted to miscarry.



























I don't tell you that I wanted to miscarry with pride. I tell it to you because you're where I was. And I know how hopeless, scared and out-of-control you might be feeling.

But I want you to know that if I had miscarried my daughter, I would likely not have had a chance to have another biological child. (I did end up losing my next 4 children in pregnancy to miscarriage and ectopic.) What I was so scared of turned out to be seriously one of the biggest blessings in my entire life.

And the next biggest blessing? Adopting a baby from a family who could not provide the safety or security she needed. 

You may not have the circumstances I did. But I urge you to reconsider granting your unique child his or her life. If you just can't parent, I understand. There is no shame in that. But know that there are lots of moms and dads who would love love love to have a baby to support, nurture and love. 

All is not lost my friend. There is hope. There is healing. And there is life to be had. Even if it doesn't feel like it.

Please reach out to me if you need some support, or someone to talk to. My email is renyeart@gmail.com.

Thanks for meeting the baby I wanted to miscarry. And I hope with all my heart, that one day, I might meet yours.

With deep love,

Rachel

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

What you deserve --- just because you're you

I've been wrestling a monster for a very long time.

Over the years, I've given it various nicknames. Mostly because I never saw my monster face to face. The best I could do is guess what it was based on how it made me feel when we battled it out.

I have given it the name Anxiety. Depression. Anger. Frustration. Infertility. Grief.

I thought I had the right name for my monster. 

I didn't. 

You might wonder if names even matter. I get it ... And they do.

If I were fighting for my life against a real-life monster, it would be enormously helpful to know if I were trying to survive an attack by a 20-foot great white shark ... Or a grizzly bear. 

Rolling over and pretending to be dead would do nothing to dissuade the shark. (And if it DID dissuade the shark, I'd  likely still drown.) And bopping a grizzly on the nose would be as useless as just serving myself up on a platter for dinner.

And so, as it turns out, spiritual monsters also need names.

Thinking you are fighting discontentment when you are actually struggling with greed will not give you the tools and accountability you need to emerge the winner from the fight.

Unless I find out what I'm actually up against, I'm never going to overcome.



In my Self-Care post, I mentioned that I'm reading the book "Anything" by Jennie Allen. 

Toward the beginning of the book, she names a brutal monster many of us privileged American Christians face. What makes it so brutal is it's uncanny ability to blind us from what (Who) we really need. 

It simultaneously tells us to take joy in what we have ... While robbing us of the sense of peace or contentment based on what we own.

While we are to be grateful for what we have, JOY should never be wrapped up in titles, vacations, stuff, achievements, or even other people.

Joy has to exist with or without all the "stuff" of life. And the monster of deceit who tries to convince us otherwise goes by the name Entitlement.

Now when Jennie named this monster, I was ready to tune out.

You see, I feel I've worked for everything I have. I went to school, and have been earning money in some capacity since I was 12.

When I got my driver's license (1 month before I turned 18), I only did so because I had enough money to pay for the license, gas and monthly insurance on the car.

In high school, I was responsible for buying my own clothes and makeup (which is pretty obvious from my pictures.)

I was always taught to give as much as you can, pay for your own way, and be responsible for YOU.

I truly didn't think entitlement was a monster I had even met, let alone wrestled with for years. After all, I worked for everything. Right?

But as Jennie progressed through her discourse, I discovered that my monster who had been wrestling me and stealing my joy was none other than a sense of entitlement that I deserve more ... Just because I'm me.

Here's what my entitlement has looked like:

I deserve to have a baby whenever I want.  (Because why exactly? Because I'm Rachel? Because I'm a good parent? Because I'm a decent-ish person? When did raising another human being become a reward for good behavior?)

Why do I always have to give my babies back? (Newsflash: I don't. God has let me keep two of them, which is two more than some people get.)

I shouldn't have to give Z back because I love him like a son. (My role as a foster parent comes with no legal claims. I might love him and care for him as my son, but God -- nor the State -- have any obligation to keep Z in our home.)

I've spent 7 years in my business. I should be making X amount each month, be driving X car, or earning X trip. (The truth is, in my business you are paid on results. If I have not done the work to see the results, that is on me and no one else. No matter the time I have put in. If God is using this time to mold me into the leader and person He desires me to be FIRST, before the title and huge leadership come, that is His choice to make. It's rather my job to be faithful in the day-to-day in my business that He has called me to -- no matter the time frame or results.)

Anything about our house.
(Since we got pregnant with Maddy, we have lived in a rental home. It's a great little home, that meets all our needs. AND YET... It doesn't meet all my wants. I don't want a bathroom with steel trim, no bathtub and a floor that refuses to look clean no matter how much I mop it. I don't want white tile counter tops with white grout that is stained, and worn and has eroded so it is impossible to get it really clean. I don't want gold trim, white walls and a rock floor.

Somehow, I have believed the lie that I deserve to own a beautiful home, with a gorgeous interior and decor, in a safe neighborhood with good schools --and let's just add in a water view, just because.)

All of this I have felt I deserved ... No believed with my whole heart that I deserved ... Just because I'm me.


 When I follow entitlement to its logical conclusions, that means other people must deserve war, sickness, poverty, lack of opportunity, children dying, cancers, divorce and death ... Just because they are who they are.

And if they are getting what they "deserve" ... Why should I reach out and help them in their distress?

When I turn entitlement on its head, only then do I see it's ugliness, it's raw banality. Only then do I see myself for the fool that I have been.

I have heard that gratitude is the best cure for entitlement. And I have tried wielding thankfulness like a sword, slashing carelessly at my monster with appreciation for more stuff.

"Thank you for this pen I'm using because it serves me when I need to write something down."

"Thank you for this shower because it serves me when I want to be clean."

"Thank you for this home because it serves me by protecting me and the people/things I care about."

See how it's still all about me?

Gratitude is necessary. In fact, God calls us to it.

"So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness." -- Colossians 2:6-7

Gratitude is not wrong. It's right. But until I get rid of the "thanks for serving ME" mentality ... It's lacking.

No gratitude is not enough. Too often we still root it in stuff. Rather than rooting it in who God is.

Submission, on the other hand, prepares our hearts for true gratitude and rids us of entitlement.

I live in this home because the God of the universe has provided me shelter and protection out of the goodness and generosity of his heart.

I have the children I do because God looked upon me with compassion, and graciously allowed me to keep (for now), these children.

I have infertility because God has sorted through the enemy's arrows, and has allowed this one to pierce my life. While I can't understand or see it at times, God will use this as an instrument of his glory. And in that, I give him thanks.

Gratitude, only when rooted in submission, can take our eyes from the stuff we want -- can take our joy in the things we deserve to have -- and place them on the true satisfaction of our souls: God Himself.

Entitlement: an ugly monster what tells us what we deserve because of who we are.

Submissive gratitude: a beautiful surrender to the will of God with thankfulness and joy -- regardless of the the circumstances, the titles you bear or the stuff you own --- all because of WHO He is.


Sunday, June 21, 2015

To the unsung heroes of Father's Day






To the unsung heroes of Father's Day


I wonder if this is how pastors feel delivering a sermon for Mother's Day.

After all, they aren't moms themselves. But they have to somehow encourage moms, and speak as though they get it.

Likewise, I've never been a bereaved father.

But I feel it's really important to tell you today, that you matter. And your sacrifice and grief aren't altogether unnoticed.

I know that time and time again, after the loss of your child, well-meaning friends and family came up to you wanting to know how your wife was. Never mind that you lost a child too. And in spite of the fact that your grief was just as real, just as overwhelming, you answered those friends and family.

In fact, you yourself were just as concerned about your wife.

Something in your family broke -- and you couldn't fix it. You try to fix everything in the house -- the budget, the lawn, the cars, the dishwasher. You take your job of providing stability and safety for your family very seriously.

But this -- this was something you could never fix. This was a tragedy you couldn't prevent. These were hearts you couldn't save from being broken -- and hearts you can't seem to mend.

And that perception of failure  ... the helplessness as you watched your whole family grieve . . . undergirded everything.

You probably went to work too soon. There were now not only a house, food and cars to pay for, but funeral expenses and medical bills. Maybe your wife had to quit work. Or take unpaid maternity leave. Financially, things got way more complicated. In spite of your hidden tears, numb heart, anger or sadness . . . you went back to work anyway.

I know you pulled more weight around the house too. My husband did. Grief always left me exhausted, and I struggled to care. What did food matter? What did a clean house matter? My husband took on a large role of providing food (even if PB & J), and tidying the house more. He was "on" constantly.

That left little room for his tears. Or his feelings. His grief, as it turned out, wouldn't totally rear it's head until my grief had started to settle in a bit.

That's what you guys do. You put us bereaved moms first. And even take our comments and badgering that "you don't care" or "you don't seem to miss them or love them like we did!" You take accusations, and know it's not true. And then you keep pushing forward.

I know that bereaved dads don't have the same social support moms have.

We moms -- well, we can cry in public as much or as little as we need to without breaking any social norms. We get to attend support groups, be a part of bereaved mom's groups galore on Facebook, read tons of mommy blogs and books, and we even have our own International Bereaved Mother's Day.

You guys? Well, I hate to say it, but socially, you're a little screwed when it comes to pregnancy and child loss.

Most people don't think to ask how you are. Many of you don't want to talk about it, but even if you did -- who would you talk to? Support groups sound like they would just be full of weepy women, and not exactly your cup of tea. Or pint of beer. Or whatever. Just not for you.

It's not like guys enjoy sitting around talking about feelings. You have to DO something, like put an engine together, or climb a mountain, or kayak the river to get your emotions out.

And yet again, we bereaved mommas totally misinterpret your intentions. "Why are you running away?" "Could you just slow down?" "Can we please just talk things through?" And maybe most of all . . . "How are you FEELING?"

You are busy fighting for your family the only way you know how -- with less support than you deserve to have from all the rest of us. And I want to tell you, we see. We care. And we recognize the sacrifices you make for your family.

I didn't always see these things in my husband. I accused him at times of not caring about our babies. I begged him to come to a support group to no avail. I got all irked when he had "mental checkout time" in front of the computer or outside.

I wanted him to grieve like me.

But he didn't. And now I understand more why.

He needed to keep it together to make our family run while I was fallen apart.

He did that out of love and self-sacrifice.

He did that because he's a bereaved dad, but also because he's a husband.

So to all you bereaved fathers out there . . . I want you to know it's ok to NOT have a happy Father's Day. It's OK if today reminds you of the son or daughter you wish was making you breakfast today, or tossing a football outside, or going fly fishing with you later.

It's OK to grieve. And to do it in the way that makes sense to you.

So go ahead, climb a mountain today. Or play computer games. Or work on the car. Or whatever you have to do to be OK.

We'll hold down the fort here for you for awhile.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Self-Care (And Pursuit of Purpose)

With the full expectation of Baby Z leaving our home after the summer, I've decided to make MYSELF a pretty big priority.

Not in the "I'm going to drink lots of coffee, eat lots of ice cream, and go shopping whenever I feel sad" kind of priority. But I'm choosing to make self-care a big priority, especially in a few key areas.

Physical Fitness

You guys know that I recently started the 30-day Shred again from Jillian Michaels. The last few weeks I haven't been as consistent, but I'm exercising at least 3 times a week. I know that exercising is going to be key in feeling confident in my body, and releasing the endorphins I'm going to need. (My goal is to do 5-6 days of exercise each week -- but I keep reminding myself, progress not perfection.)





Diet

I'm choosing to do Arbonne's 30-day Clean Eating Challenge this month as a part of my health challenge to myself. Gluten, dairy and sugar do nothing to help my mood or energy. If you want more info one what I'm doing, here's more about it.








Emotional Health

Personal development is one of the biggest priorities I have to have right now. I don't want to lose the goals, momentum or personal health I've worked hard to attain. So that means 30 minutes of personal development each day is not optional. That my self-talk has to be spot on. And that tea dates with friends (and many of them) are going to be a must.



I'm also going to focus on fun. Getting time outdoors every day. Going on hikes with the family. Going to the park, playing in the sprinkler, spending quality time with Ryan. Making memories with Z for the time we can. And there is definitely going to be a girls' night in Seattle with my two girlfriends going salsa dancing at Century 21 Ballroom.














Me and God

Lately (full confession here), I haven't been the Christian I want to be. I'm spending time on Facebook and not time with God. How can I expect to be fulfilled without Him? Last weekend, as my birthday approached, I spent some time in reflection and realized that this world DOES NOT SATISFY. It just doesn't. A nicer car, a home, a pretty wardrobe -- it's all so temporal and will not fulfill us. And as I've been chasing these things, it's pretty obvious to me that the journey is not taking me toward fulfillment, but toward desperation.



And so I'm starting an online Biblestudy through Jennie Allen, called "Anything." It's about surrendering to God, and discovering and fulfilling HIS purpose -- and letting go of our purposes for ourselves.

If you want to join me, here's a link to more info and to register:





If we have enough interest, I'll start a Facebook group where we can go through some of it together and chat about what we are discovering about God's purposes.


Financial

I know this sounds weird to include this, but I've discovered that if our finances feel out of control, then I feel out of control.

Ryan and I recently graduated from Financial Peace University. We're on track to get rid of all debt (mostly school loans), and save up for a home.

I'm also committing to take my business to the next level. Can I just be honest here? I'm not perfect, and at times, I've struggled with how my business has done over the last 4 years. As soon as I get some momentum going, we either lose a baby, or take one in. The last 6 months, I've been consistent in growing my business, but I've realized that I have put some self-limiting beliefs on what I can accomplish.







I don't want to survive this summer or Baby Z leaving -- I want to thrive. I want to show everyone that I have accomplished what I have told you I will accomplish for several years now. I'm recommitting to my goals.


I know that I will not do all of everything perfectly -- but I know that I'm going to be intentional, set goals, and create some accountability and mentorship in my life to help keep me on track.



What do you do for self-care? And what kind of goals do you guys have this summer? 


Thursday, June 11, 2015

Court Update on Baby Z

For those who have checked in on me following court, thanks for caring.

In a strange twist, I have actually NOT felt like writing in any shape or form following court last week. It's very different to want to hide inside a shell and not let anyone in -- but that is exactly how I've been feeling.

In spite of that, I've decided write a quick update. Maybe because I'm emotionally drained reliving my court experience over and over again for those who have asked. (I don't mind that you asked, by the way. I appreciate the concern. I'm just feeling drained.)

So for those who don't know . . .The plan is for Z to go home.

At court, the biggest cause of concern for me was that, for whatever reason (and I hope it was a good one), our social worker did not come to court. The difficulty I had with this is that Baby Z is entirely dependent legally on people speaking up for him. The right people need to say the right things. I was quite concerned that the fill-in social worker would not do an adequate job, but she is someone I knew from Youth for Christ and she did well enough.

That however, did not help the state of my twisted-in-knots stomach for the hour in which we had to sit through others' cases, not knowing why our social worker was not there, or who would fill in for him. My prayer that God would be Z's voice and judge was even that much more urgent.

My parents and Ryan came to court. It was nice not to be alone.

At the judge's bench, bio mom asked if I was ok. Truthfully, I had just gotten over a flu, my stomach was empty and twisted, and the only thing running through my brain is "try not to cry. try not to cry. try not to cry."

(You should know that promptly after court my mantra failed me inextricably.)

I answered bio mom with a shrug of my shoulders. I didn't feel up for talking, though I did appreciate her show of concern.

In a nutshell, that was court.

I don't feel comfortable with the permanency plan, and I am making my reservations known in the appropriate ways. But foster parents really don't have much of a voice. I'm a tool the state uses to rehabilitate families.

As Deanna, Leyla's first foster mom says, the system is broken, and we as Christians get involved to bring as much light and as much Jesus as we can to it. Even still, the system is not perfect, and feeling voiceless is not easy.

At this point, we don't know the timeline for going home. But we are hoping to at least have him through the summer.

Here is where our little family could use support as we move forward.

For those of you who have been following along with our story, you know that Ryan and I just spent a year preventing pregnancy and trying to heal emotionally from our recurrent losses/infertility. Truth be told, the idea of handing Baby Z back is really bringing back some struggles and grief for me to that end. Pregnancy announcements are hard again. Triggers (while not yet as painful as they might be) are multiplying. I am trying to picture a life without Z in it, and it is very hard to imagine.

Please pray for Z as he has no words to voice his opinion on the matter. As he works through the hard feelings of leaving our home and going to a new home, pray that God would comfort him. A lot. Because I won't be there to help him through it.

Pray for safety for Z -- from hurtful people, from any abuse or neglect, from dangerous situations. Just pray a hedge of protection around him.

Please pray that if it's in Z's best interest, our family will still be allowed to visit Z or have some sort of relationship with him after he moves home. This will be entirely dependent on if bio mom WANTS us around. Pray for me as I work to have some sort of relationship with mom. As we balance the back and forth of parenting the same kid.

Pray for Madelyn and Leyla's hearts as they say good-bye to their brother. Pray for our extended family as they say goodbye to their grandson, nephew and cousin.

Pray that God just never lets go of that baby's heart. Just keep praying for God to chase him all through the years, through childhood and the teen years and as a young adult and on -- that God would never let go. And that Z would find God and have a relationship with him.

And pray for me please. Some days I'm doing really well. And when when you ask how I am, and I say good, then I usually mean it. Besides this going home deal, life is actually pretty good. I'm thankful for my family I have, and my business that is going really well. And then there are days like today that are just harder, for no real reason. It just kinda hits. I long to do grief differently this time. To make it through the other side without losing my business momentum, or happiness, or the balance in my heart I have worked so hard to create. So pray for protection for me too.

And I suppose it needs to be said that bio mom could use your prayers too. Having her children come home will be quite an adjustment, and she could use all the help she can get.

Love you all,

Rachel
There was an error in this gadget