May 12, 2013. Rylan Michael Kudela was born. Our first son. We said hello. We hugged and kissed him. And, with heavy hearts, we said goodbye.
October 2, 2014. Brody Elias Kudela was born. Our second son. We said hello. We hugged and kissed him. And, with joyful hearts, we took him home.
Having a child completely changes your world. It doesn’t matter whether they live or die—whether you have them physically with you for 3 weeks or 40 years. Your children will impact you every day, in ways you can’t even imagine—while they’re here and long after they’re gone. This is what I’ve learned so far as a parent to both of our children.
So much has happened to my family in the past 2 years, and now in the past 4 weeks. We did it! To our continued shock and complete surprise we not only survived a pregnancy following a tragic loss, but made it over the finish line with a healthy, living, breathing baby in our arms.
Brody arrived weighing 7 lbs, 1 oz and was 21.5″ long. And, let me tell you—he’s beautiful! He has a full head of dark, brown hair that stops in feathery wisps at the peak of his neck. My heart skipped a beat the first time his eyes locked with mine, much like when I first met his daddy. They are a slate blue, surrounded by long, light-brown eyelashes. Brody’s skin is smooth and soft, especially along his arms and legs. He has long, skinny fingers and toes that Chris affectionately refers to as his “carrot sticks”—which constantly brings a smile to my face. Our little man is so damn adorable that I can’t stop staring at him.
Having a positive delivery was an unfamiliar and amazing experience. People say that you forget but I’m confident that the details of his birth will stay with me long after today. Like hearing the doctor announce that he was healthy and beautiful upon his arrival. The sound of his cries as the nurses cleaned him off and stamped his tiny footprints. The feeling of his little body on my chest. The look in my husband’s eyes the first time he cradled Brody in his arms. The warmth created between our bodies as I nursed him. It was everything I dreamt about. All that I’d wished, hoped, and prayed about for so long.
We knew our lives were going to be different when tried for a baby the first time but couldn’t have predicted how much. The day we walked out of the hospital we not only said goodbye to Rylan, we said goodbye to ourselves. We left who we were at those sliding glass doors and took the first step into an unapologetic, uncomfortable, and uncertain world. Since then, we’ve felt the weight of our weakest moments and witnessed inner strength we didn’t know we had. Courage to overcome the small, daily obstacles and the endurance to power through the greatest one. The road to parenthood has been a bumpy one for us, and that’s putting it nicely. It was the road that we were meant to travel, whether we were ready for it or not. A road that my husband and I were meant to travel side-by-side. A road that I would travel again for the sake of my family. The one that led us to Rylan, our beautiful guardian angel. A son that has given us many gifts, even in his physical absence. It was him that transformed us from husband and wife to mom and dad. For that, I will be forever grateful. He was the first to show us how powerful love for a child can be. Because of him, we appreciate and cherish the moments we have with B at a level beyond what most parents will ever know. We will always understand the importance of sharing quality time with him, even when life becomes its busiest. He revealed to us a network of people who truly cared for our family—people who stood up for us when our world was falling apart. Because of Ry, we can be bolder about taking risks, because no loss will ever be as great or as devastating as it was to say goodbye to him so soon. We won’t be afraid to live. This road has also led us to our little man, Brody. He is proof that miracles do happen (and, for those of you who don’t know, every healthy baby born is a miracle). In a short time, B has taught us that love is stronger than fear. The need to give love to another, to my husband and my unborn child, outweighed my fear of loss so I could try again. Brody has restored our hope in tomorrow. He’s shown us that we don’t always have to be afraid of what’s around the corner. That even long stretches of rain can harvest a rainbow. Every day he reminds us that joy can be found in the smallest places. Like in the squeal of his voice, the expression on his face, or the softness of his hair against our cheek. Because of Brody we are finally the active parents we longed to be—and enjoying every minute of it.
What I am starting to see now is that we are a part of an amazing adventure that has been laid out just for us. The road, although rough at times, has helped redefine us—as individuals and as a family. Although we may not all be together physically, we will be forever tied through our experiences, and more importantly, our love. This is our path and I can safely say that I no longer want to turn back.