You can’t have light without darkness. Black without white. Nor good without bad. Life is a balancing act.
Saying that our first holiday without Rylan was difficult is an understatement. Last Christmas we were lucky enough to have our 20 week ultrasound a few days before the 25th…on Christmas morning we hurriedly sat ourselves in front of the tree to tear open the envelope that revealed we were having a son. We were so excited that we tried to prop the camera on the couch in order to record ourselves opening it. What an amazing gift. Not only were we blessed with a child, but also with the first boy in a sea of girls in our family. We thought that nobody could top our gift, our announcement, last year. We held onto the news until we could tell our families and even recorded that too. I came across that video over the past few months and watched it. It killed me for so many reasons. I look back at the couple in the video—the couple that looks and sounds a lot like me and my husband—and ache inside because I feel like they were so innocent and naive. It’s like I’m observing complete strangers. I watch and feel so sad for them. They have no idea.
All of the joy and excitement that was, is now just a faded memory—something that barely feels real. If someone told me about those experiences today, without proof, I’d likely tell them it’s fiction. But Chris and I have been left with plenty. We have ultrasound images to prove that I was pregnant. We have video to prove that other people knew we were pregnant. We have receipts from our baby registry stuffed in my nightstand. Photos and decor from two beautiful baby showers on a shelf in his room. I have a few recordings of Rylan’s heartbeat stored in the memo app on my phone. We have cards wishing us well for our future as a family. We have a basement full of toys and furniture. A nursery full of baby boy clothes carefully placed in drawers and suspended from tiny hangers in the closet. There are children’s books sitting quietly in baskets. Terrycloth towels neatly folded in the closet and baby shampoos stowed away in a bathroom drawer that I just can’t bring myself to clean out. It’s like we’re still waiting for him to come home. Wishing he’d come back to us. Hoping. Or maybe we’re just afraid that changing our surroundings will erase the only part of him we have left. What do you do when all you have are the memories that were suppose to be?
Parents that lose children find so much is left behind, while so little remains to hang onto each day. We do our best to cope. We try to honor our children, by showcasing the love that we have for them in some way. We try to find ways to keep them a part of us and as close to our hearts as we can. We have a picture of Rylan on the dresser in our bedroom and another in our living room. My husband and I wear necklaces every day that are engraved with Rylan’s name and the date of his birth. They were a gift from my parents, given the week of his funeral services. We have a few other gifts—necklaces, bracelets—that were also given to us that we wear in honor of his memory, but not every day. We have tattoos to keep him close and to give us the ability to open up and talk about our son to others. We’ve made donations to children’s charities, in his name, which has been so important to us. To know that our love for Rylan is helping other babies and children is amazing. It’s a way to honor his life and his memory.
All of the above are helpful and good, but they don’t replace or remove the heartache and emptiness that I feel without my baby. The longing to take care of him. It goes beyond “wanting” to be a parent. Once you are a parent you can’t shake the need to be a parent, whether your child is physically here or not. That is one of the hardest parts of this experience. It takes me to a place that is beyond sorrow. It makes me feel like a failure. It makes me jealous of other families, other parents—especially the ones who seem to take for granted what they have or what a miracle they’ve witnessed. When a baby cries in public I want to get out of my seat to calm them—but really it’s just the part of me who needs to hold and comfort my own baby. When I hear a child cry out for his mommy I feel stabbed in the heart because I know that I will never hear the same words from my own son. Every baby that is born healthy makes me wonder “why does it work out for them and not for us?” or “what did I do wrong?” The other night, after receiving the joyful email that my co-worker successfully delivered her baby boy, I stopped at the grocery store on my way home to pick up dinner. I pulled into the first space to find out that it was a “reserved for expectant mothers” space. After some choice words, I backed out and took a spot a few lines down in another row. I haven’t stopped thinking about that sign, though. Maybe I should have stayed in that spot, after all. The words seem so accurate in hindsight. Deep inside my soul I continue to be an expectant mother. I’m expecting to share parenthood with my husband—to be a mom and for my son to exist here in my arms. I know that I sound crazy, and, believe me, I do know what is. But understanding what is doesn’t change what your heart, mind, and body feels should be. If you can’t and don’t want to let go of being a parent to your child, than how do you find a way to loosen the grip? If you can’t loosen the grip, does it mean that it’s a good time to try again?
My husband and I have discussed “trying again” for awhile now. Pretty soon after we lost Rylan, about a month or so, I remember talking about how badly we wanted to be parents—sooner than later. But this kind of grief can be so confusing. At that point I wasn’t sure if my feelings were more about wanting to be a mom, in general, or about the natural need and desire to fulfill my job as Rylan’s mom. I also didn’t want to feel like we were trying to replace Rylan in any way or remedy the depression and despair that has come with his loss. I know full well that nobody could ever replace Rylan or the love that we have for him. I also know that the only bandaid in this situation would be having him back here. Being aware of those things doesnt change the fact that thoughts like those can creep in and make you question your intentions. After months of consideration I can tell you that no matter how much time elapses, I will always fall on both sides of the motherhood coin. I will always want to be Rylan’s mom and feel an urgency to be that now. That is a huge part of what drives my sadness. But I also know that I have and always will want to be a mom, moving forward. And, that is okay. I’m so glad that I finally got there. I do want to try again. I do want Ry to have a younger brother or sister. I do want Chris and I to get a chance at actively being parents—together.
So, here I sit, smack dab in the middle of January 1st…and here’s what I know. I know I want to be a mom again. I know I want Chris to be a dad again. I know the road to get there will be bumpy, but for the good of my family I’m willing to get back into the driver’s seat. I won’t lie, I’m fearful of the journey…terrified, actually. But, I have to at least try. I didn’t think that I could survive the past 7 months, but here I sit still writing to you. This year I also want to make some changes. I want to adjust our lifestyle to make family the priority we’ve always wanted it to be—even if it can’t happen overnight. I want to take better care of myself and be a happier person for my family. Do more for others. Do my part in making our life as fulfilled as possible. Lucky for us, we have the best driving force in the world—the love for our beautiful son, Rylan.
Thank you for stopping by…and for being a part of our story so far. My best to you and yours for a happier new year.
8 thoughts on “Turning the page.”
Beautifully said. I’m coming up on 7 months out, too, and it is so hard to separate the feelings — sometimes I feel like I’ll just DIE if I can’t be a mother, and other times I feel like “what do I need a kid for anyway? I had my shot and look how it turned out.” It’s so confusing, and you are so totally right — seeing all those who it works out for makes you feel like you’ve failed, somehow. *sigh*
It’s such a rollercoaster.
You are right-this experience has totally been a roller coaster of feelings and emotions. Let’s just try to remember that what goes down must come up, right?!
Thank you for taking the time to reply!
Very beautifully written. Open and honest. I see a lot of similarities in your description of how you feel with how I feel. I truly wish your family the best and hope that you will be able to have that little brother or sister for Rylan.
Thank you for taking the time to reply to my post. It makes me so happy that I could give you something to relate to, although I wish that we could have something much happier in common. I hope that someday we will find common ground in other ways-most importantly, in being able to be active parents. Best wishes to you for a happier year. Hugs from PA!
No one will ever replace Rylan. You will always be his mother and he will always be a part of your family.
I wish that I had the right words to write to you – all I have at the moment is that you are not alone. Our first son, Jake, died and 2 years later we were lucky enough to become parents again. Jake has never been and never will be forgotten. It is bittersweet.
Wishing you more light than darkness this year. Sending hope and hugs.
I appreciate you taking the time to leave me a message. I’ve read a bit of your story and wonder how it must feel to have 2 living children, and 2 who have passed away, not even within the same time frame and to separate circumstances. It blows my mind that you are still able to keep on, although I’m sure that being an active mom to 2 helps a bit. I’m so sorry for your losses and wish that things were different for you and the so many parents I meet through my blog. I liked what you posted on your “about” page, speaking of how there seems to be no terminology developed for parents who’ve lost children-unlike those who’ve lost parents or spouses. I had never really thought of it but it seems so odd—especially since the number of families who experience some kind of child loss appears greater than what the public majority ever knows. I’ll have to work on that. Until then, I thank you for reaching out to me and for your kind thoughts and understanding. I wish you and your family a very happy, healthy new year, and hope to connect with you again sometime soon. 🙂
Happy New Year, friend. Good job on making it through the first Christmas without Rylan. We never have to do that first again. I’m excited to hear you may be trying again soon and will be praying for you on that.
Thank you so much! And it’s so nice to hear from you! I hope that you and your husband are doing well and beginning the new year with a positive spirit. Hugs to you!