Tag Archives: baby loss

In memory of Taylor.

We will be attending a 5k on Saturday to recognize babies like Rylan and families like us. It is a walk that has been organized by a friend of our family, someone that I’ve never met but have been in contact with through email since our loss. My parents attended last year and said that it was amazing. I felt bad that I couldn’t find the strength to attend before and appreciated that even in our absence our son was honored by others that were there. It meant the world to me.  This year Chris, Brody, and I will be there to honor Ry and the other babies in heaven. I’m nervous about how emotional it will be but look forward to doing something so positive and gratifying.

The 5k is for the Taylor Morgan Hamilton Foundation which has been created to honor a beautiful baby girl, and support the Star Legacy Foundation, the nation’s leader in spreading stillbirth awareness, supporting research & education and supporting bereaved families. I urge you to take a moment to visit the site to learn about Taylor’s family and to donate for a great cause if you have the means to do so.

https://taylormhamiltonfoundation.wordpress.com

To donate go to:
http://starlegacyfoundation.org/event/taylor/.

I will definitely post about the walk as soon as I can. I’m sure I will have much to share. 🙂

 

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All I need is you.

I recently got into an argument with my sister and something she said really stuck with me. Without going into every detail of our quarrel, I will tell you that I told her that she often “played the victim.” After my declaration she retorted by saying something to the effect of “isn’t that you?” Funny, that even though my comment to her was by no means a compliment, and I understood why it offended and upset her, I was still especially hurt by what she said. She intended to hurt me and it worked. But, it also made me stop to think about why it hurt so much.

Do you feel like a victim? After little time and consideration, my own answer to that question was, and continues to be, “yes.” Is it bad to feel that way? The dictionary defines a victim as “a person who suffers from a destructive or injurious action or agency.” In a previous post I remember stating that losing your child feels like a natural disaster, a visual that goes hand-in-hand with destruction, so it seems quite fitting to me. My sister intended to lash out at me and hurt me by calling me a victim—she threw it back at me as an insult—but losing my baby son does make me a victim. I did suffer something disastrous that left me with permanent injury, both physically and mentally. I feel it every day. I realize now that maybe it wasn’t the word “victim” that hurt me at all. Maybe it was that my sister, someone I love,  knowingly used the most devastating, heartbreaking, horrifying, sorrowful thing in my life to intentionally attack me. She used the pain I have over the loss of my dead son, the nephew she claims to miss and mourn to her friends, to hurt me. I don’t even know what to do with that, as I am completely offended and disgusted. After all, our argument began when I shared that I was upset that she didn’t contact me in a any way, shape, or form on his birthday, the day that we lost him. Was it wrong for me to be disappointed over not getting a call? A “thinking of you/Rylan” text? A reply to the email we sent to only our closest family and friends about what we did that day? Something? Anything?

When you lose a child, is it too much to expect anyone to remember, care, or mourn with you—even just one day a year? Sometimes its hard feeling like the world has moved on—away from our pain, our sadness—away from our baby. I sometimes think it’s easier for others to let go when a baby dies—especially when they are stillborn. To others, that baby was only an idea. There is nothing tangible to make them remember or care or feel the way we do. It is different for parents, especially for mothers, I think. We all believed in our babies, in the possibility of our growing families. Dreamt of the lives we were going to share together. We felt their kicks. Listened to their heartbeats, long before they went quiet. We prepared for their arrival. As mothers, we carried them with us everywhere we went. We shared meals, conversations, music. Our sleeping and waking hours for months. We grew together. We shared our love and our lives—our every days

On those especially difficult days when people say or do things that hurt me I try to put myself in their shoes. And, some days I get it. It’s hard to know what to say or do for someone when you haven’t “been there.” Sometimes I can slip on those shoes and let it go. Most days I can. But then there are other days where I get tired of putting my own feelings aside and want someone to consider me instead. I want someone to put on my shoes, even if they are beyond uncomfortable. I want a “pass.” I want someone to feel where I’ve been and understand where I am today. I want to be able to put daily responsibilities aside to mourn my baby when I need to, not when it’s convenient.

When you lose a child the hurt and emptiness never goes away. We will long to be parents to our kids forever. The only way to keep a connection to our lost children is to find ways to talk about, remember, and honor them. Most of us will spend a lifetime trying different things to keep their memory alive-in our worlds and in the hearts and minds of those around us. I will never be able to put into words how nice it is to have someone else acknowledge both our son and our experience in even the smallest of ways. I think it helps to balance the emptiness and loneliness that goes hand in hand with loss and tragedy. No one can ever say or do anything to make me feel completely at peace with Rylan’s death—to fill the hole in my heart—I just want to feel like I’m not completely alone in all of this. It’s really all I need.

 

In the blink of an eye.

It has been so long long since I’ve been able to write, and even longer since I could complete a full post. I tried around the holidays but as you may have witnessed, I had nothing to show for it. Between work and home responsibilities it is hard to find enough time to do anything “extra” beyond a normal day. Soon after Rylan passed I found comfort in personal blogs created by parents who lost their babies. I remember really connecting to specific families and feeling disappointed when an author would drop off on posting regularly, and disheartened when they seemed to end indefinitely. When I began capturing my own experiences I remember worrying that someday my own site would succumb to the same sad ending. I worried that it would look and feel like I suddenly forgot my son–and that I would let others down, as well. What I want readers to know, if they even stop here at all, is that even though I can’t write more often I think about my son, Rylan, all of the time.

While I have some joyful distractions and much to be happy about today, the pain deep inside me still aches for the baby I lost. Much to what others may think, having another child does not replace the child lost.  Anyone who allows that thought to cross their mind, or even more, their lips, is an idiot. After two years, the pain on a daily basis isn’t as sharp although I still experience days, even weeks, when the sorrow, loneliness, heartache, emptiness, anxiety, and frightening memories rise to the surface. They can be triggered by happy things, sad things, or nothing particular at all. Grief is heavy and after losing a child you carry it with you for a lifetime. Some days you can take it with you, like a suitcase on wheels, following behind you with little effort. Other days it’s like pushing a giant boulder (or 50) uphill. I have a hole inside that no one and no amount of time will ever fill.

I still feel responsible for Rylan’s death, irrational as it may sound. Maybe it’s because they never gave me an answer about what happened to him. Maybe it’s because I’m his mom and I feel like I should have been able to protect him. It horrifies me to this day that he could have been in distress, hurting or scared inside my belly and I didn’t know. I couldn’t stop it. I couldn’t help. I hate that I could have been going about my daily routine, doing mundane things at work or around the house, all while my son was dying. It’s a very huge weight to carry and I often stuff it deep inside me. I know that’s not a healthy thing to do but it’s the only way that I can keep moving. I don’t tell people because they will either think I’m crazy, be uncomfortable, or feel the need to reassure me that I’m wrong—or all of the above. I don’t want to be comforted about it because ultimately I know it won’t make a difference about how I feel.

I still have flashbacks. They haunt me whether it is day or night. Memories of the night that Rylan died. How the evening began. The fear and uncertainty balanced with the hope and excitement of having our first child. The physical pain and accelleration of my labor. The emotional pain that set in when they told us he died. I think about the short time we were able to hold him and how excruciatingly hard it was to give him away, knowing we’d never see or feel him again. The haze of planning our goodbye, all of the decisions that were set into motion within a few short hours of his birth. How it felt to be escorted down the back hall of the hospital, avoiding other families on the wing who didn’t have to leave the hospital empty-handed. Walking back into a quiet home filled with expectations and taking the first few steps in the opposite direction of our baby.

I spend a lot of time these days thinking about Rylan, wondering what memories we would have shared with him up until this point. It’s hard to believe that 2 years have already come and gone. Who would our little baby be today?  I don’t even have a clue what a 2-year-old is like… it makes me sad to think that I should know. I still think about what color his eyes would’ve been, since I never saw them open. I wonder what his smile would have looked like, what his laughter would sound like… among the hundreds of other “what ifs” that will never be fulfilled.  Being around kids that age and watching them interact with their parents is still difficult. The questions and curiosity over who Rylan would be today never go away.

Rylan’s 2nd birthday was on the 12th. In 2013, that date was also Mother’s Day. That little fact still makes me feel so angry and hurt. As if losing my child wasn’t enough…it had to happen on that day. It’s hard not to feel like that was intentional. If no one can tell me why I was chosen to lose my baby, why he had to die, than maybe someone can clue me in on why I also had to endure that kind of tragedy on that particular day. For years to come, for the rest of my life, I will never celebrate the joy of Brody without mourning the loss of Rylan. Talk about a kick in the teeth. And, I have no choice but to go with it.

On the bright side, we did some nice things in Rylan’s memory this year. Chris suggested that we plant a weeping cherry tree by the end of the driveway in our front yard. I love it. Every day when I come home from work it’s the first thing I see. We added a solar light near the base so that it even stays highlighted at night. We took Brody to the cemetery with us and like last year we laid out a large blanket and sat under his tree–the one that sits beside his resting place.  We released butterflies again, which I always look forward to on that day. Butterflies are a reminder to me about how beautiful he was and releasing them is a tradition we wanted to continue for him. In some way it feels like a gift we’re giving him. My parents ordered them for us this year which was nice and took some pressure off my shoulders. When the day came the sun was shining and there was a nice breeze moving through the cemetery. And, in a surprising, wonderful moment that Chris and I will never forget, Brody made two wobbly, crawling steps toward Rylan’s marker. He placed his tiny hands right on the flower and butterfly design that we have placed our own hands on so many times before. I’m not sure if it was a gift from Rylan or Brody, but either way it made the visit a little easier.

I miss Rylan. I want to hold him again so badly. I want him back. I want the option to change our fate. Having Brody here and sharing the joy in our experiences together makes me want to have Rylan here to share in the same things. I see so much of Rylan’s features in Brody’s face. As expected, I see it a lot when he’s sleeping. It’s comforting and sad at the same time. I love both of my babies so much.

I feel like I have so much to say but for now I’m going to go so that I can at least complete one post. I would love to know how other moms and dads out there are doing, so please feel free to send a message.

 

 

 

 

For the love of family.

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.

Baby steps.

I started this entry a few weeks ago but didn’t find the time to finish it…even so, I thought that it might be good to post it in its incomplete form to capture how I was feeling just days before baby #2 entered the world. I thought that other people may be able to relate to it if they ever find themselves trying again.

38 weeks and 3 days. 4 days until induction. Still scared. Still haven’t packed the required hospital bag. Still haven’t affixed the carseat properly into my car. Still haven’t gone through the baby items tucked away in the basement. I planned on doing it every day for the past few weeks. So why haven’t I moved any faster? It’s partially because I’m tired. Somewhat because I’m hurting in several places. Mostly because I’m afraid to do this all again. To go all in. To prepare for the future when all I can think of is how I had no control over events of the past. What will make this time any different?

That being said, I actually managed to take a few encouraging steps today. I stripped the crib mattress and washed some of the new clothes I recently purchased. I had Chris bring the pack and play upstairs so that I could put it together again. This was the biggest hurdle for me. I constructed it days before Rylan passed, just 17 months ago. Going through the motions of preparing to bring another baby home introduces a wave of uncomfortable feelings. A sort of déja vu. It immediately brings me back to how I felt when I walked through our front door, empty-handed, to a home full of baby items that would never be used. The sheeted crib and bassinet. An assortment of newly-washed bottles placed in the cupboard. The assembled stroller in the corner of the room. The changing table, fully stocked with creams, wipes, and neatly stacked diapers. The star-projection night light and crib aquarium prepared to soothe sleepless nights. All of us ready to go and without our purpose to fulfill. Our home felt as empty as my heart.

Getting pregnant again was really the biggest commitment in this whole process and it felt like a simple decision. The need in my soul to be active parents outweighed my fears. I’ve made it this far and now I find myself fretting over the final to-dos…

 

What to expect when you’re expecting…the worst.

I don’t believe that there are any mother-to-be books out there that enlighten readers on the darker, unforeseen happenings that can occur during pregnancy. I’m almost sure of it. My husband and I took a trip to Barnes and Noble recently and as I stood uncomfortably in front of the “Parenting” section I read the covers of several books that touted key insights to child planning, successful deliveries, and “beautiful beginnings.” I remember paging through a few of them during my first pregnancy and don’t remember any chapters that discussed the possibility of losing a child. Nobody warned me that you could reach 40 weeks, progress into natural labor, and leave the hospital empty-handed. I thought the most difficult part of pregnancy would be getting pregnantwhich, in our case, ended up being the easiest part. Not once did I see the word “stillbirth” in writing, nor did I hear anyone speak it out loud, before May 12, 2013. Since that time I’ve learned that 1 in 160 pregnancies in the United States result in stillbirth. Unlike what I’ve heard from most medical professionals, the occurrence of stillbirth sounds far from “rare” to me.

While 37 weeks pregnant with our second baby and full of uncertainty, I scanned the shelves for “what to expect in the first year of parenthood” books. I contemplated my upcoming purchase for 20 minutes as I stood there in a frozen gaze, covers of happy moms and dads holding their newborns staring back at me. I may as well have been standing in the “fiction” section for how surreal those images were at that moment. Here I am with only a short time before active parenthood finds its way into my arms and I still can’t believe that it’s 100% achievable. I’m actually afraid to buy a book that has anything to do with planning because I’m superstitious that my small purchase (and tiny shred of confidence) will bring about a flop in the universe, causing us to lose another child. I wrestled with my craziness for awhile, grabbed up one of the well-known titles, and tucked it under my arm. Another obstacle overcome.

It doesn’t seem fair. Not that we lost a child. Not that we lose more than our children. We lose our way. We lose hope, and for some, the will to live. Connections to people we love—to the world around us. We lose ourselves—who we thought we were. In the face of loss we must rally ourselves to keep moving—and do it with a forced smile. We sober up to the fact that life can hand you rotten limes and still expect you to make lemonade. That’s how I feel at this moment. While personal experience urges me to approach this pregnancy with the utmost fear and uncertainty, life is asking me to proceed with confidence and faith.

Wow, Life, you’re asking a hell of a lot. Count me in.

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.

 

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