Friday, October 31, 2014

Choosing A Name

We chose Daniel's name carefully when we were still living the life of a graduate student family, traveling from city to city, our dressers were suitcases and our beds were graciously offered by the kindness of others.

I wanted his name to reflect this journey or at least reflect the endpoint. I searched online and in books. I desperately wanted something that meant "light" or "life" but for boy names this was hard to do. We went over our family names and none seemed quite right. Daily, I would create a new list of possibilities and then offer them up in our nightly discussions. Many grimaces were made. 

We are both traditionalists when it comes to names, but Kyle tends to have much stronger opinions relating to less used names. He grew up in a swarm of other boys names Kyle and found that as a child, each new Kyle was a new friend. I, on the other hand, grew up with two very unique names--my full name being Virginia and the name I went by being Gina. The first Virginia I met was my 8th grade English teacher and the first Gina I encountered was at 17, working up at camp. I reveled in the uniqueness, it made me feel special and I always imagined how awful it must be to have to go by your first name AND your last initial. 
So the debate went on for awhile until we came down to two names Henry and Daniel. I was on team Henry and Kyle was voting for Daniel. Henry means, "ruler of the home" and Daniel means, "God is my judge,"so clearly we had jumped off the name with deep meaning train because it was impossible to find one that really felt right. Kyle and I liked both names overall and so one evening we sat Maxwell down and asked him what the baby's name should be, "Do you think his name should be Daniel or Henry?" 

I posed the question, hoping my favorite would win and that Max even understood the question we were asking him. Then Max said in the most matter-of-fact tone, "His name is Daniel," and promptly turned around to play with a toy. We looked at each other incredulously. He had decided so quickly and assertively that we didn't quite know what to do with ourselves. Well then, a name had been chosen. 
Baby Daniel, I would repeat over and over when I was alone. I wasn't entirely happy with the meaning of the name, "God is my judge." What was that supposed to mean? I had come to terms with Henry's meaning in that it is a great responsibility to be a ruler, a ruler is one who is to serve, to help and aid and surely this baby would do that for our home. But how was I supposed to come to terms with the meaning of Daniel? It felt so.... I don't know, unfeeling?

Then one day I was reading the words of the president and prophet of our church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He used the story of Daniel to demonstrate the principle of  having courage. He said,
"Our scriptures are filled with examples of the type of courage needed by each of us today. The prophet Daniel exhibited supreme courage by standing up for that which he knew to be right and by demonstrating the courage to pray, though threatened with death were he to do so."

As I read these words, it became clear what "God is my judge" also meant. It means courage to stand for your principles, courage to do what is hard, courage to not let outside forces stop you from doing what you know it right.

Suddenly, Daniel felt perfect. I needed courage for his pregnancy and daily I found it. To put faith and hope in a happy, safe delivery. To trust that my body could take care of another. The courage to be a mother and to be happy within my circumstances.

Choosing his middle name also held deep meaning to us. There is a man who taught scripture classes when both Kyle and I attended the University of Washington and over the years he has become a mentor and most importantly family to us. When I was laboring with James, it was an insert in my scriptures with an explanation he had written of a particular scripture (Isaiah 61:1-3) that allowed me to accept the trial that I was given. The scrap of paper had been placed there years in advance, but in that moment, it was everything. It gave me clarity and allowed for my heart to be open to the spirit that was there in that room. To recognize that in our darkest moments, God is there. Giving us aid and transforming us.

We called him and talked to him about losing James and then we asked him if he would come to the burial to speak. Kyle and I were both planning on speaking, forming small talks to offer to our families. Our hope was that his words would be an offering to us. I didn't expect him to come, not because he wouldn't but because there were many circumstances in his life that made it difficult. But he came, and with him, I was reminded that Heavenly Father does answer prayers and most often he does it through people, earthly angels. His presence was like a salve, calming and healing to the wounds I felt.

Over this past year I have come to recognize more and more that the lessons he taught me when I was new to religion, new to having a relationship with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ have carried me time and time again. Daily my mind will remember words he said, a principle he helped me to discover, or a story told that had deeper meaning. He taught me how to look for God's hand in my life and those lessons have proved invaluable in my day to day interactions. He has been a great teacher and example to not only me, but our entire family and so the middle name Todd was chosen for our precious Daniel.

Names are so important and the stories behind each name is equally important. I want my children to know who they were named after and why. I want them to draw from those names when they need it, to look to their namesakes for inspiration and guidance and to live up to those names when the time comes.

Thursday, October 16, 2014


Yesterday was Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness day. It's ok if you didn't know, I wouldn't know either except for the reminder from online support groups. I can't ever seem to comment in those groups, so I silently participate, reading every now and then and occasionally offering kind words or aid. I still can't get over that we lost James, I still think about him every single day. I don't know if Daniel would be here, had James not died but I can't help but imagine what it would be like to have all three. It would be crazy, most definitely. But all I can think of is the love. I love them all tremendously.

Life lately has been a mishmash of pure bliss in having Daniel here safe and sound, but for the first week I kept calling him James. It kept slipping out and I would feel sad and horrible for it and then I would feel sad and aching for James. Eventually my psyche learned that Daniel is his own person and it hasn't slipped out since that first week. Daniel seems to be understanding of it all. Babies are like that.

Trying to learn how to parent two children at once is its own struggle. Two precious souls vying for my attention. One depends on me wholly and the other can't decide whether he wants to do it all himself or if he wants me to do it for him. Working out the kinks is sticky business and I am reminding myself to be realistic. Mistakes made are opportunities to learn.

When I nurse, I invite Max to snuggle as well. He takes that opportunity to give both Daniel and I hugs and kisses and usually brings over a book to read. We have checked out an enormous amount of books from the library each week to supplement our collection and Max is always excited to read something new. It has become our "thing," to explore the world of books (I knew my English major would come in handy somehow).We go on walks if the weather permits and in the morning, during preschool and semi-consistent toddler naps, Daniel and I snuggle and I kiss his cheeks over and over.
The hardest thing lately has been adjusting to where we live. It is always hard adjusting to a new city, but this move has been the hardest by far. Living in the area that produces the nationals largest amount of potatoes (if you thought it was somewhere in were wrong) leaves much to be desired. The people are incredibly nice here, but I miss old friendships, the ease of getting together and the exhaustion from trying to make friends after so many moves this year has become apparent.

I keep waiting for things to ease up a little, for little problems to lessen or lighten or even disappear. I keep waiting for someone to knock on my door offering a paid dream vacation for my family to go anywhere. But at the end of the day, I lay in bed and when I think about it, I have so much to be grateful for, as cheesy as it sounds. Life lately is one of growing pains that come with so much being new; new job, new town, new baby, new friends. An explosion of change, just trying to embrace it.