What defines you?

in·som·ni·a [in-som-nee-uh]: (noun) inability to obtain sufficient sleep, especially when chronic; difficulty in falling or staying asleep; sleeplessness.

It’s Friday, August 15, 2013. 2:15 a.m.

Nearly 14 weeks since we lost our son. That’s 97 days to be exact. Funny how it hurts like it was yesterday.

I had trouble sleeping shortly into my pregnancy with Ry. Since his death I’ve experienced even less Z’s, with the exception of days that end with a pill. Needless to say, I ran out of Benadryl 2 days ago. A good explanation for why I’m sitting in front of this computer again, tears streaming down my face, soaking my lap. The stark, white canvas stares back at me like a mirror. I know it sounds dramatic, but it’s true. I feel empty. As if a huge part of myself died along with my son. Despite the sadness that being awake triggers, I’m not sure that I’d rather be sleeping. I mean, I’d love to avoid the weight that I’ll be dragging under my baby blues tomorrow, but sleep doesn’t always guarantee peace anymore. When I manage to fall into a deep enough sleep to generate dreams, they often manifest the feelings I have surrounding our loss. I’ve had some that place me in a hospital bed at a moment where someone is telling me that I’ve lost my baby. Other times I’m forced to uncomfortably tell someone that my son died. Either way I awake with such a feeling of sorrow in my heart that I’m almost reliving our loss. The times when I wake up at that exact moment, it nearly takes my breath away and leaves me feeling like someone is sitting on my chest. Not a very fun way to start your day. As much as I want to get rest there is a fear attached to sleeping as much as being awake.

fear [feer]: (noun) a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc., whether the threat is real or imagined; the feeling or condition of being afraid.

I’m afraid of everything now. I’m afraid to leave my house. To watch television. To take a walk in the neighborhood. To go to the park. To go to work. To eat at a restaurant. To get pregnant again. I’m afraid of being away from my husband for too long or too far. Of losing another loved one. To have a conversation with someone I know. To have a conversation with a stranger. Of being asked the question, “do you have kids?” Of losing my job. Of working in advertising forever. Of never being able to have my own, living child. Of sadness hurting my marriage. Of social events. Of money problems. That I’ll forget the few memories I have with my son. To see someone who doesn’t know what happened to us. To see someone who does know. Of Christmas–and every other holiday. To see my friend and hold her baby. Of becoming detached from friends and family. Of hurting the people I care about. Of being hurt by the people I care about. Of never losing this feeling of devastation that follows me everywhere. Of going into Rylan’s room. Of hearing a sad song. Of hearing the “Hungry Caterpillar” story or seeing the book (the theme for Ry’s room and my shower). Of saying something that will offend someone who reads my blog. Of watching the world have babies around me. I fear that in some way I caused my son’s death. I’m afraid it could happen again. I’m afraid that my husband will never be completely happy again.

re·la·tion·ships [ri-ley-shuhn-ship]: (noun) an emotional attachment between individuals

Relationships are what gets you through tough times, no doubt. Spouses, parents, siblings, friends, pets… anything you can find comfort in, as far as I’m concerned. For me, it’s my husband. The person who is as close to my loss as I am. We may have had slightly different experiences and may grieve differently–at the end of a day we may not always be on the same page as far as how we’re feeling–but we are certainly in the same chapter of the same book. I look forward to the days when we’re together and his love keeps me going. I can’t say enough about what his hugs do for me at the end of a day. What his hand in mine can spark in my heart. I can’t say enough about how much I love him.

Then there’s our parents. My husband and I are very lucky to have such great role models, and at the same time the best of friends. We never have to question how much they care, how much they love us, or whether they’ll be there when we need them. They always lend an ear, shoulder, hug, and home when we need it. I know it must hurt them to lose a grandchild and also be so powerless to help their own children at the same time–I know they would do anything to make things right for us if they could. They mean the world to us. They’re a big reason why we want so badly to be parents, ourselves. To try to be as good as they are.

Siblings. I’ll admit that they can drive you crazy. Most siblings couldn’t be more different. I’m happy to say that my sister and I have recently spent more time together. She was a great help in getting my home ready for Rylan’s service and has since checked in on me and Chris. Her and I have had our differences growing up, like any sisters, but I know that she will always be there. She protected me from nasty girls in high school and now struggles that she can’t protect me from this. It’s funny how the most horrible situations bring people closer together-even if gradually.

Our friends. They’ve been understanding with our feelings. Our decisions. Some came to the hospital to see and hold Ry. For that we will always be grateful. Some of them helped with the service. Some talk me to work in the morning, or back home at night. Some give us space. Some are here when we call them. Good friends are hard to come by… when you find one do your best to hang onto them. You never know when you’ll need them (or when they’ll need you).

Animals. Need I say more? Anyone who has had a pet (and loved them) will know that a bond is formed immediately. I look forward to seeing my crazy dogs every day. They can be such a comfort in life–especially in hard times. Sometimes they’re more perceptive than people when it comes to your feelings. And, they’ll never say something insensitive. If you’re experiencing any loss and feel alone, the best advice I can give you is to get a pet. It’s the perfect relationship–truly unconditional love. They give you a reason to get out of bed everyday (to eat, to go out) and maybe even to exercise. All good for healing. They kiss your cheeks when you cry and will curl up with you in the middle of the day to watch a movie when you can’t bear to go outside. Chris and I both agree that our pups, Sam and Nacho, although a handful, have been wonderful and crucial to our everyday survival.

For now I must go try to sleep. It’s almost 4 a.m. I’ll try to continue this post tomorrow, if I can. Thank you for stopping by… having people read my words and relate to them in any way means the world to me. It helps fill in a tiny bit of that emptiness I spoke of above. So thank you.

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2 thoughts on “What defines you?”

  1. I’m with you in these feelings. I also am afraid of so many things, many of them on opposite sides of the same coin. Here are some verses about fear to help us both:
    Isaiah 41:13 “For I am the LORD, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.”
    Deuteronomy 31:6 “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

    I totally agree about the power of pets and am so thankful for my sweet dog Ida and the comfort and unconditional love she gives me. I am also so thankful for my husband and my sister and my parents, just as you have written. I’m glad you have good friends who even came to see Rylan. I didn’t have any friends do that because didn’t tell anyone until after we left the hospital, but some of my friends haven’t looked at his pictures when I sent them a link to them, which hurt. I’m glad you had friends who could do that for you. I’m thinking about you and praying for you often. When you’re up in the middle of the night feeling alone and afraid, know that you are not on this path alone.

    1. Thank you so much. I do feel very blessed that my close friends were able to come and be a part of our memories of Rylan. I do understand, though, about people being reluctant for various reasons. I actually don’t want to share most pictures with people because I just don’t feel comfortable with many of them. They feel more personal. But I do also get the feeling that some people don’t want to talk directly about my baby and that they would be uncomfortable viewing photos if I offered them-as I think they’re afraid to see a baby that’s not alive. I think that early photos that were taken look like nothing more than a sleeping baby. I think people are always afraid of what they don’t know or understand. I hope that someday those people get over their fear so that they can see photos of your Little Luke. I’ve seen a picture of his feet and toes and they look absolutely adorable! 🙂

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