Tag Archives: babies

All for love.

36 weeks tomorrow. So close, yet so far.

I’m exhausted. My body hurts. Well, at least it’s only when I sit, stand, walk, and lay down for bed. But only then. LOL. I’m so physically and emotionally ready to have this baby that I can’t even put it into words. I’ve been kick counting, but no longer tracking them on the worksheet that I received from the doctor. I might go back to it. I feel bad that I stopped, but it was making me crazier than I already felt inside. When the baby’s patterns changed I thought that I was losing the baby slowly over a few days. I couldn’t stop worrying. It was terrifying. I decided to take a break from formal tracking. Don’t get me wrong though, I’m always on high alert and making sure that I feel movement for a good bit every 2-3 hours.

The last few weeks have significantly grown more difficult. I remember saying that I would be just as devastated whether I lost another baby at 10 weeks or 40, but sitting here now I can honestly say that a loss at this point would be much worse. I think there is even more at stake this late in the game. The doctors want to see me through to 39 weeks, as it’s best for the baby’s development. I wish they could induce me now, while I know B is living and breathing. At every visit I ask my doctor (or maybe plead with him) to consider 38 weeks, but he just shakes his head and encourages me to hang in there.

I’m scared that my body is going to go into labor before my induction date. That’s actually an understatement. I’m so freaked out that I could cry just thinking about it. Last time we went into natural labor at home, drove to the hospital, and received the shocking news that Ry was gone after we were admitted. I’m so afraid that it will happen all over again, and in the exact same way. A perfect checkup appointment followed by loss a few days later. I’m also scared about the labor and delivery. Last time was so painful and my body dilated faster than the nurses and doctor expected—so much so that they didn’t perform an internal exam right away. I believe it only took about an hour. I couldn’t get an epidural until they pumped enough fluids in me—which felt like a lifetime. I can honestly say that I endured the worst emotional and physical pain of my life that night. I relive that night in my head often and don’t want a repeat with baby #2. I just hope and pray that this experience is a positive one with a happier ending for my family.

If everything goes as the doctors expect I should be induced around October 6th or 7th. We visit the specialist’s office twice a week for non-stress tests (NSTs) and receive an ultrasound at one of them to check the fluid level around the baby. We’re also due for a growth check this week. Our regular OB appointments occur once a week for a heartbeat and urine check and to discuss any issues with the doctor. I can’t say that we aren’t heavily monitored. It makes me feel better every time we go. I need as much reassurance as I can get these days to keep my sanity—at least what’s left of it.

All of these appointments make balancing work difficult. It’s hard to leave on time on normal days but when I’m coming in late and leaving early in order to make all of these appointments it’s even harder. By the time I get home (usually around 7-7:30) I’m absolutely exhausted. The truth is, I’m beat before I even waddle out of the front door in the morning. My body hurts no matter what position I’m in and I’m constantly at battle with my head, trying to keep all of my fears in check. I just keep telling myself, “it’s only a little bit longer.”

Even though we kept several baby items from our previous preparations for Ry, I haven’t yet retrieved them from their tucked away place in the basement. Honestly, I’m afraid to go through that stack of tupperware bins. Chris and I often procrastinate and had put together the pack and play, stroller, and secured the carseat in place just days before I went into labor last time. Seeing all of those empty items strewn about our house, among the other shower items we received, was so painful after we lost him. I feel like I need to be prepared for a positive outcome this time but am leery to set everything in place again for fear of the worst. I hate that we’re in this position. Parents who haven’t lost a child can fully embrace pregnancy. They decide they want to have a baby, get pregnant, get showered, and take home a living, breathing baby following delivery—often multiple times. I miss being naive to what can happen. I miss a time when my biggest worries included whether I’d be able to figure out breastfeeding, how I’d handle contractions during labor, and if I picked the right diaper cream. Granted, some of those thoughts, among others, are naturally in the back of my mind—but I’m more confident that they will work themselves out this time. I feel like it’s crucial for me to be positive and hopeful that B2K will survive. I wish I could live in that expectation, but as humans I think we’re built to learn from our past experiences. The only experience I have to pull from as a mother is being devastated and losing my child at the finish line. I want this to work out so badly.

When people talk to me about “when the baby comes” I’m tired of avoiding conversation and correcting them with negative, “if everything goes okay,” responses. I’m tired of asking people to be positive for me. I want to be able say “when,” too, without being so scared that all will be taken away if I’m too confident. My back is killing me from walking on eggshells these past nine months. Last time I felt so blessed, had so much faith in our future with our son. I lost hope when we lost Rylan. It’s difficult to experience so many opposing emotions at the same time. Despite all of the fear and uncertainty I can honestly say that I am excited, too. I’m eager to see B face-to-face and the desire to hold this baby in my arms intensifies with every encouraging movement I feel in my belly.

While all of these feelings about B2K are very present, I continue to miss Rylan and long for him to be physically in our lives, too. It’s very confusing emotionally. All I can say at this point is that I’ve had about the same amount of time to get to know both of my children. And, with regard to taking something away from personal experiences, what I have learned is that being a mother or father is the strongest tie you can have with another human being. I’ve barely had a chance to get to know my babies and yet my love for both of them is so profound it’s nearly indescribable.

 

MomDadBaby3 MomDadBaby2

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Hop to it!

I wanted to send my sincere congratulations to the Hopper family, who just welcomed their 2nd son into the world, Samuel Hudson. The Hoppers said goodbye to their baby, Luke, last year, a few days after we lost Rylan. I have followed their story from the beginning and feel so happy to witness this new joy in their lives. Thank you for sharing the highs and lows of your lives with others and for giving other grieving parents hope that active parenthood is not out of reach.

Congratulations Mom and Dad Hopper. I know that you’ll appreciate every second with Sam. 🙂

For those of you interested in getting to know this lovely couple and their family, please visit littlelightluke.wordpress.com.

Yesterdays and tomorrows.

Before I continue I need to voice that it’s very difficult to write this post. I know of a friend who reads my blog sometimes and some of what I’m about to share may be hard for her to hear. I want her to know that I’m sorry in advance if anything that I say makes her sad or hurt in any way. It’s not my intent. I  just need to get these feelings down in some form. I hope you know I love you. 

 

25 weeks along.
6 months of pregnancy with my second child.
13 months of missing my first. I’m still having a difficult time with the past and our future.

Most days I feel like a mental disaster. The past few weeks have been especially hard. Chris and I invited our friends over last weekend—the ones that we haven’t seen in over a year who have a daughter that was born right before Rylan. If you keep up with my blog you know about this already so I’ll spare the details again. Work was busy for me leading up to the weekend. I was anxious—for obvious reasons—and on top of it I started freaking out that something was wrong with B2K (Baby Kudela #2). My OB doctor told me previously that it would be perfectly normal if I didn’t feel the baby regularly until around week 24. The week before, the baby was moving about, having a party in my belly off and on (which was exciting)—enough to keep my mind at ease throughout the day and night. By Thursday I felt like the movement had decreased and I was mentally freaking out every second of the day by Friday. My inner dialogue was flooded with thoughts and questions about what was worth being worried about (how much was just me being crazy or overreacting), what warranted an early leave from work, a scare for my husband, and a trip to the doctor’s office for a heartbeat check. After all, here I am between week 24 and 25. What do I do? Pop in at the doctor’s office every day for a gut check? I tried silly tactics like drinking sugary soda and pressing on my belly a bit to initiate some kind of movement. I stepped out for some air and tried breathing relaxed breaths to calm my nerves. In the end, I decided not to go to the doctor. Friday night I felt more movement and serious relief. Reassured that B2K was alive.

Saturday was scary. And good. And really, really tough. Just like all of my days, everything is two-sided. We are hard pressed to find good in our lives without pain standing right beside it. We decided to meet at my parents house to have lunch and some pool time. It was the first time we would see A & G and their little girl. Not only would it be the first time that I would see their young daughter, but also the first time that I would intentionally place myself in the presence of a child around infant/toddler age. Obviously, I’ve had expected run-ins with kids in public, but it’s still not easy… and at my job I feel like there have been weekly visits from my co-worker’s children, many of which are young. Those moments have been especially hard for me. And when they  unexpectedly occur I struggle to control my emotions and often end up somewhere nearby in tears. Needless to say, spending a few hours around a toddler that would be almost the exact age of my son and that has such ties to our previous plans was especially difficult. It was so nice to finally see our friends again. It was so nice to give them a big hug and see them face-to-face. It felt like way too much time had passed. But, those happy feelings were uncontrollably pulled down by the weight of our great loss. The entire day I consciously stayed busy and shook off the feelings every time my mind wandered. And, it was almost funny—when they left I felt like it was better than I had anticipated—we made it through another obstacle. I was so happy to see them, and I didn’t cry in front of them—it went smoothly and I was still standing. I have to say I felt shocked and impressed.

What I realized later that night once we settled at home, and in the days that followed, was that it was harder than I thought. The entire day I had pushed the feelings down and now they were rising back to the surface, and quickly. I felt such heartache, like losing him all over again. That unanswered question, and all that goes along with it, plagued me. Why? Why were we chosen to lose so much? To be so different from those around us? Forever changed inside.

I watched them tend to their little girl all day and wished that we were doing the same for Rylan. I wondered who he would be. How we would be as his parents. How our past year would be different. Whose features would he have? What color eyes would stare back at us? Would his hair be cornsilk blonde like Chris’ was as a child? What would his smile look like? Would he be shy or outgoing? Would he love the water like I do? Be fearless? What would it be like to hold his hand again? To watch him interact with his daddy? How would we work together to care for him? What kind of habits or routines would we have? How would it feel to hug him and kiss his soft, little cheeks or the top of his head? To hold him as he drifted off for a nap? I wished I could hear him laugh, or even cry. Being around Erin and watching A & G care for her made me long for my son even more. It awoke that “mom” part of me that I continuously work so hard to turn off every day.

Our visit has made me realize that our relationship with them will forever be challenged. And, it’s so unfair. G and I have been friends since 5th grade. That’s about 25 years, I think. We didn’t do anything to cause this. Wasn’t losing Rylan enough? I don’t want to lose our good friends but I also don’t know how to pretend like everything is normal. It’s not. There will never be a time that I won’t look at their family and compare what they have to what we’re missing. There will never be a moment when I won’t compare their sweet girl to my absent angel. Not at age 1, 10, 16, 18, or 32… there will always be heartache. I’m not sure where to go from here.

So, with a heavy heart I started the work week. Still nervous about B2K, worries escalated by lingering thoughts of Rylan’s death. Needless to say, I made it to our Tuesday afternoon ultrasound. Happy to hear that the baby was doing okay. Growth and heart rates normal. Our last blood test came back normal, too, which was so good to hear. They said that last time Rylan’s levels were off a bit. Nothing that would have caused concern at the time since all other things seemed normal, but looking back it may indicate that placenta problems were a possibility. Chris and I both need reassurance as much as we can get it with this pregnancy. We took the opportunity to discuss our concerns with the specialist. He said that babies have wake/sleep cycles of a half hour at a time and that I’m not always going to feel the baby’s movements, especially right now. He clarified that I will need to begin kick counting at 28 weeks and gave me some additional information about it. I’m so nervous about that. I don’t want to miss anything this time. It’s hard enough living with the fact that Rylan died and I had no idea. I don’t think you can be any closer to another human being than carrying them, growing them, in your belly. I still feel like, as his mother, I should’ve known. I’m terrified of that happening again. I don’t think that I could live with myself if it happened twice.

I have 100 days left, probably a little less. It sounds like a lot, but there are more days behind us than ahead, which is a small relief. We try to live for today and not get too ahead of ourselves. It’s difficult to attach to the baby without setting some kind of expectations that things will work out. It’s like walking a tightrope. Someone is holding the end of the wire, but I can’t see their face, and they are in control of our fate. I’m just doing my best to keep my balance for our family. I hope that they will show us mercy. That we will be blessed with a living, breathing baby that we can raise for a lifetime. I want to be an active mom so badly. I want sleepless nights. Dirty diapers. Tantrums. I want the whole package. And, I’ll appreciate every second, as much as I humanly can. Just as there are no words to truly express the sadness I carry over the loss of our first baby, I cannot fully articulate how deeply I yearn to be a mother. I just hope that I get the chance to show everyone someday.

On that note, I need to get weekending. Hugs to all!

Hope for tomorrow.

I’ve contemplated not sharing too much of our new pregnancy on this blog for a few reasons. One, I noticed that when I visited other people’s blog pages in the past, hearing about their new pregnancies wasn’t always easy for me. I felt happy and hopeful for the families who were ready to move on, but I wasn’t there yet. Reading about other people’s pregnancies and living babies made me feel more sad and alienated than I already felt. I obviously don’t want to hurt the people who stop in on my blog for comfort. Two, I don’t want to take away from Rylan. This blog was meant for him. For our journey with him. But, what I’ve recently lost sight of is that this blog is also about our healing. Telling our “now” story and our “future” story is still telling Rylan’s story. Everything that we have done and continue to do in our lives since we lost him is impacted by him, his existence, and his physical departure from our lives. So, moving forward I will probably be sharing more about our life, including the journey we our taking now with our “rainbow” baby, as people often refer to them.

So, that’s a good place for me to start. I don’t particularly like the term “rainbow baby” for a child that follows the one you’ve lost. I understand why someone coined the term. Rainbows signify hope and beauty. I wonder, though, what that makes the previous child. What comes before a rainbow? Rain? A thunderstorm? Either way it feels like something dark. Granted, losing Ry brought about a very dark time in our lives—but it’s the loss that was dark and sad—not our son. Rylan was beautiful. A joy while he was with us. I know I’m being ultra sensitive here, but personally, something feels off about the rainbow thing. So, moving forward I am going to refer to the new baby as our “hope baby.” That this baby will stand for a hopeful future. The hope of being active parents. The hope that we will give Rylan a younger sibling—one that he can help us protect from afar. The hope that we can one day share the amazing love we have for each other with our very own child every day. I obviously don’t want to offend anyone who likes or uses the “rainbow baby” term. It’s just not for me.

I will also be referring to the baby as B2K. A nickname I gave this new baby early on when I didn’t know the gender. The nickname stands for “Baby 2 Kudela” and it makes me smile when I say it. Chris and I have decided not to share the gender with anyone throughout the pregnancy so it’s an easy way not to slip around our friends and family. Get use to the term—you’re going to hear it a lot from here on out.

I usually refer to this pregnancy as being bitter sweet. I feel very good knowing that we’ve been given a second chance at being active parents. However, sitting here after such a tremendous loss is difficult in so many ways, too. Below are some of my thoughts on how this pregnancy is/has been different for me than my first experience and how I feel it differs from parents that haven’t endured the tragedy of losing their baby.

  • When I’m excited about the new baby I feel like I’m disregarding Rylan. Like I’m tossing him aside. Like I’m a bad mother.
  • When I miss Rylan and feel reluctant to attach too much to the new pregnancy I feel I’m neglecting B2K. Like this baby is not as important as my first. Like I’m a bad mother.
  • Having a baby in my belly right now isn’t a guarantee that I will have a lifetime with my child in the future. I am aware that it can be taken away from me in the blink of an eye.
  • It took me a long time to feel comfortable enough to download a baby app for my phone—and I couldn’t bring myself to use the same one as I used for Ry. I’m so afraid of being bombarded with baby alerts, emails, and snail mail again. I know how painful it was to receive those things once Rylan had died—the world didn’t know what happened to us. Heck, I still receive mail congratulating me on “1 year with your baby” and “milestones that you and you’re baby have shared this year” and “what year 2 will bring for you and your family.” God forbid anything happen to B2K, I don’t think I could deal with all of those reminders again… and x2!
  • I haven’t held a baby in over a year.
  • I avoid encounters with babies and new moms at all costs. Being in their presence is especially difficult for me. If things go as planned with B2K I wonder how I will react and feel during that first moment together.
  • I’m more terrified of labor and delivery than before. Last time it was the unknown of never having a baby that was scary. This time I know how scary it was and how painful it was for me. I’m fearful of doing it again.
  • I haven’t seen some of our close friends (a couple and their little girl) in over a year. I’ve mentioned them in my blog before. Their daughter was born right before Rylan. Our lives, the lives of our children, and our futures appeared to be aligning perfectly before our son died. Things flipped completely after that. It made it feel especially cruel. Now their experience is a direct reminder of what we don’t have—what we missed out on in the past year, and what continues to be absent in our lives. I’m afraid that seeing their little girl will be painful for us. The last time I held Erin, Rylan was kicking at her from inside my belly. I feel like we lost so much more than just Rylan in this experience. This friendship is just one of the many. Not being a part of their lives and their joy makes me feel awful. I feel like a horrible friend. They have been so understanding about what’s happened, but it doesn’t change how awful I feel about the whole thing. The good thing is that I feel ready to see them for the first time as a family. It may be hard but I’m not ready to lose them forever.
  • I’m not sure what to do about the nursery. Its gender neutral. If I redecorate than I feel like I’m erasing Rylan from our lives, like I’m replacing him. If I leave it as is I feel like I’m not treating B2K with the individual love he/she deserves.
  • I don’t want a baby shower. I have plenty of usable items (that I held on to) from the first shower. I’m afraid that something might happen and I don’t want us to get to ahead of ourselves.
  • Chris and I interact with B2K more in some ways. I think it’s because we want to make the most of the time we have “just in case.” With Ry, we assumed we’d have all the time in the world to share our love and experiences. This time we don’t want to regret things we have or haven’t done during the pregnancy stage.
  • I can’t tell the difference between crazy and rational thoughts about the new baby. What physical feelings are normal and which deserve a call to or visit to the doctor.
  • All doctors appointments are scary. I hold my breath before every ultrasound and dopplar check.
  • I wish I could go to the doctor every morning to be reassured that B2K is breathing and their is a good heartbeat.
  • I don’t feel comfortable talking to most pregnant women about their pregnancies. Even though we’re in a similar place physically, I feel like they may as well be aliens because I couldn’t feel more different mentally.
  • I’m afraid to step into Babies r Us.
  • Sometimes I have dreams/nightmares about the moment I found out that Rylan died or that I’m having to tell people what happened.
  • Sometimes I have dreams/nightmares that something bad has happened to B2K.
  • I have panic attacks about whether B2K is alive and okay. Sometimes it’s a result of the nightmares.
  • I feel especially happy when I feel B2K moving and try to share it with my husband whenever possible.
  • I’m afraid of unusual (and some ridiculous) things that I feel might lead to losing B2K. Like getting my hair colored, getting a pedicure, eating/drinking items with caffeine, lifting too much or overexerting myself, working late hours, getting injured, eating hot dogs, sleeping on my back accidentally…and the list goes on and on.
  • I was afraid to purchase clothing for the new baby. Again, nervous about jinxing everything or allowing myself to have expectations that things will work out when I know there is a chance they may not. Needless to say, Chris made the first move and picked up an item that he gave me for Mother’s Day. I got over my fear and purchased a few things last week. It felt good and scary at the same time.
  • I’m afraid that I cannot afford to be out on maternity leave for 3 months (just like last time). But, this time I don’t care. If I’m lucky and blessed enough to have a healthy, breathing baby when this pregnancy comes to term I will spend all of the time I possibly can with B2K.
  • I’m going to make someone else bring the baby carseat to the hospital. I don’t want to have it ready in my car until I know that I’m bringing home our baby.
  • My doctor is male this time and I’ve chosen a hospital closer to home. If I feel anything out of the ordinary with B2K I want to be able to act quickly.
  • Being pregnant gives people more of a reason to ask if this is my first child. It forces me to tell people about Rylan’s death. Sometimes it’s nice to have a reason to talk about him and share the fact that I am technically a mom with others, even if they’re strangers. Sometimes it’s really hard. Sometimes it feels good and difficult. Telling the story more than one time in a day is especially hard. Sometimes I encounter people who have had something happen to them, someone close to them, or someone they know. It’s nice to hear stories about couples like us who have gone on to have more children. It gives a bit of hope.

Well, I’ve rambled enough and need to tear myself away from the computer to enjoy some of the sunshine this weekend. I have no doubt that I will continue the list above in future posts…that I will have more to share as B2K grows. Thank you, as always, for stopping by. I am sending hugs to all of the other parents who are learning to live again after losing their children.

The second hardest day of my life.

I could not wait for winter to come to a close. Yet, as I sit here, I can say that I’m not quite ready for spring, either. Now, let’s not get confused here. I’m most definitely ready for sundresses, tanks, and flip flops. Sun on my face and flowering trees. Birds singing in the morning and a light breeze through the windows at night. But like everything in my life since we lost Rylan, there is no light without shadows. Spring does not just bring about the expectation of sunnier days for me, but the promise of sorrow.

My beautiful son, Rylan died, and was born, on May 12th. That was Mother’s Day last year. I think that made losing him feel extra cruel. It still hurts me to the core. Both his 1st birthday and Mother’s Day have come. This year they actually fall on different days. I’m not sure if that softens the blow at all. In fact, I will now have two, consecutive days of extreme heartbreak to overcome—every year. And that’s not saying that the other days of the year are easy. The past few weeks grew more and more difficult as today approached. It’s been harder to make it through regular days. I haven’t been able to sleep, and it’s not because I have to get up 8 times a night for bio breaks. I’ve sat and stared at this computer screen several times trying to complete this post and have found it difficult to gather words on a page that can truly capture how I feel.

I can’t believe that it has been a year. Sometimes I run through those last few days, the weeks that closely followed our baby’s death, in my head and in my heart. It’s like experiencing a nightmare while you’re fully awake. I can feel everything inside as if it’s occurring in the present moment. I can feel the nervousness and fear of not knowing what delivery will be or feel like. I can see my husband laying next to me in bed as we wait for labor to progress. Waiting to go to the hospital when the time is “right.” I can hear our conversation about how our lives are about to change in such a different, and amazing, way. Our excitement. I concentrate on the music playing and the designs that dance on the computer screen in our guest room. I feel how painful the contractions are and how hard it is to make the drive to the hospital, which is not super close to our home. I can picture my car, abandoned by the front doors, hazard lights flashing against the columns of the entryway in the middle of the night. The concern on my husbands face when the first entrance we approach is locked. I can feel the contractions becoming stronger. I’m scared. Barely able to walk. Once inside, my husband wheels me up to the elevator so we can get to the maternity floor. I hand my insurance cards to the nurse once we reach our destination. I try to keep calm. We enter the room where our lives will be forever changed. The pain becomes scarier. Nearly unbearable. My water breaks immediately. The nurses use a dopplar on my stomach. Than an ultrasound machine. I can sense that something is wrong. I hear the silence in the room as they look and listen. It feels like an eternity and mere seconds when they look up at us and say, “I’m sorry. There is no heartbeat. I’m sorry.” I can barely process what is happening at that moment. Between the shock and severe physical pain I can only concentrate on breathing. Devastated. The only word in the English language that remotely comes close to how I felt that night—how I felt after—and how I continue to feel over our great loss every day.

I cry less these days, but when I do it’s long and hard. Sorrow runs deep. Losing a child is not something you can ever accept or get beyond. I know that I’ve said it before, but I think it’s unnatural. I really don’t think that parents are meant to bury their babies. It goes against the cycle of life. The process is so backwards that parents can’t be expected to easily and comfortably move forward. The loss is something we carry forever. I wish that the people we encounter everyday could understand how we feel. But I’ve learned that even the people who come close to understanding (like some of you readers) can’t relate to everything I say, nor do I relate to everything you say. All of our experiences are different. Our actions after losing our children were different. The way we cope is different. Even my husband and I, who have endured losing the same child, handle the loss individually. Some of the hurt is the same, some varies. Losing a child can leave you in a very lonely place. Sometimes the hurt is tucked down deep inside you. When you attend family functions or go out with friends. When you go to work or take a trip to the store. But keeping it down or feeling like you have to keep it under the surface-especially for days or weeks on end—can intensify the isolation and hurt you feel. That is where I am a lot of the time. I wish that no one had to experience the loss of a child. All I can say is that it will alter your view of the world and change who you are forever.

So let’s talk about Mother’s Day. Leading up to yesterday was tough. Listening to other people’s upcoming plans at work last week. Commercials on television. Advertising in just about every store you stepped into for the past month. For as sad as I feel I must say that my day at home was easier than the days leading up to it, in some ways. The sun was out and the weather was warm. No rain, thank goodness. Sat outside for a little. Picked up some hanging baskets for the porch with my hubby. It’s nice to be surrounded by green leaves and flowers again. I saw my mom and wished her a happy mothers day. I gave her a book about us. Filling it out was nice because it adjusted my focus from the time I’m missing with Rylan to the time I’ve shared with my mother over the years. My parents gave me a lovely hibiscus tree for our back deck and it was my favorite color, yellow. My sister dropped off some pretty flowers and a flag with a butterfly on it for the walkway up to our house. My mother-in-law gave me a bracelet with a butterfly on it. An unexpected bouquet of roses was left by one of my mom’s friends (whom I’ve never met) which was really nice, and surprising, as well. I also received a bunch of thoughtful text messages. It was nice to be remembered. I did my share of crying, but all in all, the day was fine.

May 12, 2014. Rylan’s first birthday. It hurts to think about what today should’ve been… what the past year may have been like for our family, had he survived. All of the milestones we missed out on together. And, I’m not just talking about crawling and graduating to jars of baby food. I’m talking about the little things that matter even more. Reading him books and rocking him to sleep at night. Watching him interact with his daddy, including watching Chris fumble around with stinky diapers. Seeing Ry smile and laugh. Hiding beside his crib to watch him sleep. Calling him by name and telling him we love him, in person. Taking him on outings and admiring as family and friends hold him in their arms. Gazing into his eyes. Memorizing the scent of his hair and skin. Playing with him at bath time, in the swimming pool, or at the beach. There are so many things that I could write a novel covering just 1 year of life. I imagine we would have planned a small gathering of friends and family to celebrate. That there would have been a cute theme and photos of his little hands grabbing onto a handful of cake and icing—the dog brothers, no doubt, sweeping up the remains. I wish things were different so badly. But with saying all of that, Chris and I decided to make the most of his day, even if he can only be present in our hearts. We decided to continue the butterfly release that we were able to perform at his funeral (thanks to some friends last year). We ordered a dozen for Chris and I to release today and decided to free most of them at the cemetery, with just a few left for home. We wanted them to be a gift to Rylan. Something that we can do in his memory every year. A family tradition for our son. We started our morning with a trip to his grave. We brought flowers and butterflies in tow, along with a blanket to sit on. We stayed awhile and watched the butterflies flutter about in the grass and dance among the flowers nearby. It was sad, but peaceful. Shortly after we went to lunch at a nice restaurant nearby and enjoyed each other’s company. Just as yesterday, and many days of the year, today has been a mix of happy and deep sadness.

I want people to know that Chris and I are so thankful to have each other. That we recognize that having people in our lives who care, even if they may never truly understand the loss we’ve endured, is a blessing. I want people to know how much Chris and I love our Rylan. How missed he is, how beautiful he was, and how touched we’ve been by his life and by his premature departure from our lives.

Happy 1st birthday, my sweet Rylan. I miss you terribly.

 

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Mourning sickness.

Once again, it’s been awhile since I’ve had the time to write. With my son’s 1st birthday, the anniversary of our tremendous loss, fast approaching I sit here with a mix of emotions. Some things remain the same, some things are very different.

This time last year I was very much pregnant. Excited. Innocent. Nervous. Happy. Busy. Hungry. Uncomfortable. Tired. Very swollen. Eager to not be pregnant anymore, and looking forward to finally meeting our baby boy for the first time. Dreaming about what he would look like, sound like, and what we would do together in the upcoming summer months (and beyond). Funny how your life can change in the blink of an eye.

Today, I’m pregnant. Happy. Unbalanced with feelings of fear, guilt, and, well, did I mention fear? It’s funny, I have heard a lot of stories from people who thought they were ready to get pregnant again immediately after the loss of their babies. I know that Chris and I discussed getting pregnant again pretty soon after we lost Rylan. It was a confusing time for us—and why wouldn’t it be for anyone in our shoes? We prepared for almost a year to have our son and when it was time to be the parents we expected to be, it all disappeared. Our minds and bodies wanted to be parents so badly. It felt wrong not to be. But getting pregnant immediately wasn’t the answer for us. We knew deep down that we didn’t just want to instantly be parents to another baby—we wanted to actively be Rylan’s mom and dad.

Can I honestly say that waiting another 10+ months to get pregnant has given me a clear head or that I’m 100% ready to go through the experience of pregnancy again? No. But I can honestly say that I would never answer that question with a “yes,” whether it was 10 days or 10 years from now. I’m glad that I gave it a little more time, but I think that I’m as ready as I ever will be.

I had no idea how being pregnant again would make me feel. I took the first at-home test when I knew that I wasn’t feeling quite right for a week or so. The reading was negative so I shrugged it off as one of the virus’ sweeping through the office at work. A week after, and a few days late (which is extremely abnormal for me), I broke out the 2nd test that came with the kit. When I saw the positive indication on the 2nd stick, my emotions mirrored those that I felt when I found out I was pregnant with Rylan. Excitement and nervousness filled my body quickly, to the point of trembling hands. I told Chris immediately. I think that he shared the same emotions. Since that time I have been riddled with all-day nausea and fatigue. But that didn’t stop me from taking 3 more pregnancy tests before my OB appointment, just to be absolutely sure that the first test was correct. That is the first “issue” I’ve encountered as a mourning mom, trying again. Without a bump it’s easy to feel like being pregnant can’t be real—even when you find yourself kneeling in front of cold porcelain every day. Today we are 10 weeks along, have had 1 ultrasound, 2 blood draws, and 1 visit with a perinatologist. I have 3 more appointments in the next 3 weeks. It’s overwhelming but I’m glad to be monitored so closely this time around. I think that I will need plenty of “check-ins” to keep my head on straight.

Issue #2: I feel guilt over being pregnant again, with regard to Rylan. I don’t want to give anyone the impression that I am completely “over” the loss of our first baby. That I’m moving on or away from him. That he is being replaced in any way. That he will ever be forgotten or not missed with every ounce of my heart, every single day of my life. It’s hard not to feel that way when you are grieving the loss of 1 baby and trying to get mentally prepared to try for another child.

Issue #3: I feel guilt over not being 100% excited about my current pregnancy. Because of issue #2, and our only other experience with pregnancy, it makes it hard to jump into this one with both feet. It seems unfair to this baby, but I just can’t do it, at least not yet. The doctor put it well when he said (in similar words), “It’s okay to be scared. I’ve worked with many parents like you and it can be difficult to fully connect with your next pregnancy—for fear of being devastated again.” So true.

I am trying to stay positive, but it’s a daily struggle. To say that I’m scared is a serious understatement. My mind is scrambled over the loss of Rylan daily, along with thoughts of a new baby and trying to do things “right.” I continue to take one day at a time. My age paired with a previous stillbirth makes this pregnancy very risky. I know that early miscarriage is common and every cramp or twinge in my uterus shakes me to the core. We’ve only told a select group of people so far, especially since it is still early. I’m trying to do everything different—with hope that this little peanut will have a better chance at life—even though I know it’s not really up to me. I learned that lesson last time. I’ve switched practices and the OB that I’m seeing, along with a new hospital. My doctor is male instead of female which is a little hard to get used to—however, the doctor that delivered Rylan was female and was rude that night until she found out that he died. I learned that being female doesn’t always mean that they relate to you or can sympathize any better. So, I’m giving it a try. He delivered my niece and she is beautifully healthy so I guess that is something. There is something nice, too, about seeing 1 doctor in a small practice versus 10 doctors in a large one. In just a few appointments I already felt more cared for than I did before and after our loss at the last clinic. In many places when you have a baby the office calls you or makes a visit to your home in the weeks that follow. When we lost Rylan we had neither. When I had to attend 2 standard delivery follow-ups in the office I sat in the waiting area, among pregnant women and moms with babies by their side, in tears before going back to the exam room. At the new clinic, I mentioned having some difficulty being around families and babies and the nurse told me they could bring me in through a back door to avoid the wait if need be. I thought that was really surprising and thoughtful. So, I will let you all know how it goes in the weeks to come. So far, we’ve met with a specialist to review our previous records and to develop a plan for the new pregnancy moving forward. A lot of tests and appointments are in our future.

For all of you parents who are reading along with our story, I hope you remember to make decisions that support your healing. I hope that you are surrounded with people who love you and support the person you need to be today. If you have a significant other who shares your loss, make time for each other and find a way to connect. Talk. Laugh. Go out and break up the daily routine. Try not to lose each other in the loss—it’s when you need each other the most, I promise. If there is one thing in life that you can count on, it’s change. Something awaits you around the corner. Hang in there.

Same time, different place.

9 months. That’s how long I had with my son. When I was fighting for Z’s, jamming my swollen, sausage feet into extra wide shoes, carefully following food instructions at every meal, and fidgeting with one-size-fits-all clothing, those 40 weeks felt like forever. I couldn’t wait for pregnancy to be over. Surely, to return to a state that more resembled “me.” But, mostly because  I would meet my son face-to-face and become the mother I dreamt about being for him for so long. When I look back now, without him physically in my life today, those 9 months feel so short lived. So fast. If I knew then that the only time we’d be together would be with him in my belly, than I would go back today without question to relive that time, and make more of it. I took for granted our time together because I thought that we’d have a lifetime to get to know each other. To make memories. To be a family. I would have talked to him even more. I would’ve read him books every night. I would have had Chris sing him his songs more often. I would have taken a day off of work to focus on us, with no distractions. I would’ve named him sooner so that I could call his name out when I spoke to him. My perception of those 9 months changed so drastically when I found out that my son had died. Now they feel as brief as the blink of an eye.

9 months. That’s how long I’ve been without my son. The exact amount of time that we had him in our life, he has now been gone. What a crazy feeling. Some days it feels like years have passed, although the sad feeling inside often feels as fresh as the day we said goodbye.

So, where am I today? I miss Rylan and the chance I had to be his mom. I still want it back and want to refuse the hand we’ve been dealt. Reality is a dish I just want to send back. And, if I have to accept it than I want something in return—as selfish and ridiculous as it sounds, I want some compensation for our heartache and daily suffering. I want to open my front door one day to the prize patrol on my doorstep with balloons and a fat, oversized check. I want to stumble on the winning power ball ticket in a parking lot. I don’t expect such monetary things to replace the devastation I feel over the loss of my son—I just wish I had the means to pay off all of my bills so I could take the proper time away from work and the world to make grieving for my son the priority it needs to be.

I still have trouble out in the world being with, around, or near families, parents, and children. I’m terrified of babies, especially holding a baby that is not Rylan. I don’t think I have the strength to do it without a box of tissues. And I’m afraid that the despair it could awaken could last for days, maybe even weeks. The last baby I held was my friend’s daughter, and at the time Rylan was warm in my belly and a week from delivery. He even kicked her a little and I joked about him being jealous or trying to get the attention of his future playmate. I remember thinking at that moment how good it felt and how I longed to hold my own baby in the months to come. I was excited. Holding a baby now will be so much different. I imagine I will feel nothing but heartache over what I can’t have with my own son. Just the thought of it brings tears to my eyes. I wonder if the only way to overcome that hurdle will be the day that I’m able to have another child with Chris, if we are so lucky. If we get to hold our own son or daughter in the future. That time feels like such a long way off from now and I’m not sure how to cope until then. I just hope it happens someday.

When I’m not at work, I try to think about where I want our life to go—what we can do to make the best of our now and enrich our future. As individuals. As a couple. And, for the family that we hope to grow in the future. It’s a positive place to focus my energy.

I’ve also felt less than in shape since the delivery. I’m still not able to get a leg into my favorite pair of jeans and fret over wearing a bathing suit in June. Bummer, right?! Because my schedule doesn’t allow for much free time to hit a gym we decided to invest in a piece of exercise equipment that can provide a great workout in a very, very short time. And, wow, did I feel out of shape hopping up on that thing for the first time. But, I do feel good doing something for my health. We’re also trying to eat a little better. It is good for me physically and mentally—and will be very good if I’m ever blessed with a baby again. I feel like every positive step is good for us—we try to set small, achievable goals knowing that they add up in the end.

I’ve recently been feeling less satisfied with counseling. Don’t get me wrong, our counselor is amazing, and I’d recommend her and their group to anyone experiencing grief over the loss of a loved one. Lately, I just feel like there isn’t much to say. I repeat myself a lot and I feel like nobody can really give me what I need or want, which is Rylan back here with us. Sometimes it’s good to have an outside perspective and to be able to tell someone how we feel without judgement—even if it is repetitive. I use to walk out of her office feeling like something new was brought to light or that a small weight was lifted, even if just temporarily. And I know not every session will be groundbreaking. But lately I feel like I’ve left just as I came. Chris and I have talked and have made no decisions yet about whether to stop going…but it is on my mind. I’ll keep you posted on where we end up. I guess I feel like if we stop going and begin to have issues we can always go back, right?

Well, I have to run. Thank you, as always, for stopping in on my blog. I hope that you and your family are finding ways to move forward and support each other during such a difficult time. Remember, even small steps can make a difference and add something positive to your lives. It may not remove the heartache, but it will help you survive. Hugs to everyone.