Saturday, November 23, 2013

naming our son

Choosing a name is difficult.  For Andrew and me, we strive to choose a name that is unique, yet classic.  We want the name to have meaning, to have a story.  We want our children to be able to understand and be proud of where their names come from, and we choose to honor our family heritage by taking names from our familial line.  We hope that Shepherd Louis will one day understand the meaning of his name and feel connected to the men who inspired it.

Emil Shepherd Davis
Emil Shepherd Davis was Andrew's maternal great-grandfather.  Emil was quiet and stern, but kind. He was born in Chattanooga, Tennessee on November 27, 1894.  He was very involved in his Catholic parish, starting the Knights of Columbus there and collecting "pew rent."  He was a manager at Standard Coosa Thatcher textile mill, and that job took him to Cuba quite often.  Accordingly, he loved a good cigar.

During his lifetime, he had 18 grandkids living in Chattanooga (including Andrew's mother Anne). Each Easter he would hide eggs all over his yard, and the grandchild who was lucky enough to find the golden egg received a dollar from Emil.  His grandkids called him "grandpa."  He and his wife, Katherine, often took Anne and one of her brothers on drives to give her parents a bit of a break.

Though Emil Shepherd Davis was the source of the name, Shepherd also has beautiful spiritual significance.  Shepherds are ever-present in the history of both the Christian and Jewish faith. Abraham, Jacob, Moses and David were all described as shepherds.  Moreover, on that magnificent night when Jesus entered this world as an infant, his birth was first announced to the shepherds in fields nearby.  And what was their response?  They went immediately to find Jesus, then told others all they had seen, and finally returned to their home glorifying and praising God (Luke 2:8-20).  I cannot think of a better example for our son.

Louis Shafer
 Louis Shafer was Jeff's dad, Andrew's grandfather.  Like his son, Louis was a talker with lots of personality.  People loved being around him.  He had a wonderful sense of humor and could find the fun in people and situations.

Louis worked in publishing, and he worked on all kinds of books, but spent a large portion of time working on Bibles.  Although he himself was Jewish, he was a student of the Bible and knew it very well.  Louis was quite artistic.  He designed many book covers, and he loved to paint.  He painted with oils and signed all of his works "Luigi" in one corner, and he painted a red rose in the other corner.

Louis loved food.  Every night he asked his wife what was for dessert, as he needed "something cool to push down dinner."  He enjoyed playing and watching golf, loving it most when he was able to play with Jeff.

More than anything else, though, Louis loved his family.  He was a devoted father.  At Jeff and Anne's wedding he served as best man, because he was truly Jeff's best friend.  We pray that Louis's devotion to his family will serve as a guidepost for Shepherd throughout his life.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

incredibly average

Great news, my friends!  Shepherd is average!  I know that's not something we often strive to be, but getting an "average grade" at Shep's two month appointment made this mommy feel oh so proud.  At two months, Shepherd is 22.75 inches long (50th percentile) and weighs 11 pounds 2.5 ounces (50th percentile).  I just love hearing that my baby boy is healthy and strong and growing!

Sunday, November 10, 2013


Shepherd will be 8 weeks old tomorrow, but we are definitely still in that newborn haze.  So it wasn't surprising when I woke up this morning and, instead of accompanying Andrew and the twins to church, decided to stay home for some special mommy/baby time.

But while cuddling and feeding my sweet boy, something felt different.  It felt like more than exhaustion tugging at my heart.  When Shepherd fell asleep on my shoulder, instead of putting him down like usual to get a few things accomplished I just kept holding him.  When the hauntingly beautiful song "Hallelujah" came on Sunday Morning, the involuntary tears felt like more than nursing hormones.  And then it hit me....three years ago today was the beginning of the end of our third pregnancy.  It was the day I got my third abysmal initial blood test result.

I recently received a text from a dear friend.  While she has a beautiful daughter, the text was about her other little one--the one she never met.  It was the anniversary of the due date of her first pregnancy, and no matter how much joy her little girl brings every day, that specific day brought its own brand of sadness.  A mommy's heart never forgets.  While I'm sure that dads feel and remember each lost child in their own ways, it's different for moms.  The babies we didn't get to meet live with us always.  Even when we aren't seeking to remember, we cannot forget their short but important lives.  They were part of us, part of our bodies, for days or weeks or months, and their memories and milestones are imprinted on our souls.

Any parent can attest that our living children aren't always easy.  While they bring us so much joy, they also bring their fair share of hard days and impossible moments.  The children we lose are in many ways the same, just reversed a bit.  Most of my memories of them are difficult, bringing pain and unanswerable questions.  But somehow they also manage to sometimes bring a sense of joy and peace. This morning, as I remembered the implications of this day, I felt the same longings I always do.  But as I stared into Shepherd's sleeping face, I also found light.  Remembering the third child I lost reminded me of just how amazing it is that I can cuddle my third living child.  Out of the darkness of loss I was brought to the fullness of family.  Hallelujah, my friends.  Hallelujah.

"It's a cold and it's a broken hallelujah."  -Leonard Cohen

Thursday, November 7, 2013

we love fall

watching tennessee football.  we have to entertain ourselves since the team isn't too great.

playing in the leaves.

staying cozy in my bear hat.

spending lots of time outside.

helping dad with chores.

taking tummy time to the outdoors.

learning to hold baby brother.

figuring out "smiling" for the camera.