Tag Archives: child loss

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.

 

MomDadBaby3 MomDadBaby2

Counting the days.

33 weeks along tomorrow.

My second pregnancy has been full of highs and lows. I had quite a scare last weekend and landed myself in the hospital Saturday afternoon for peace-of-mind. I just didn’t feel B2K moving around as much or as pronounced for 2 days and I couldn’t shake the anxiety from my heart and mind that something may be wrong. I had to do something to get reassurance that the baby was okay. The worst part was scaring my husband. When I told him I wanted to get checked out I could see the fear in his eyes immediately. I understood. He didn’t know what I was or wasn’t feeling and for me to bring up a hospital visit out of nowhere was a shock to his system. I felt horrible playing with his emotions that way but I knew that I couldn’t rest until I knew B was undoubtedly healthy. He understood why I needed to do it, too. I knew that I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if something happened and I hadn’t done anything. It was a long day—mentally exhausting for everyone involved. Following an ultrasound and several hours connected to heart monitors, not to mention some pretty mediocre hospital food, I left that night knowing that our baby was doing well. I can’t begin to explain to you how relieved I was and I will tell you, it was SO worth it.

I’ll be honest, most days it takes all of my energy to manage the craziness in my brain. Between Rylan and B2K (and just life) I’m walking a tightrope of emotions.

I think about Rylan every day and continue to struggle with his death. I still feel empty—like there’s a hole in my heart without him. That something gigantic is missing in our lives and has been for over a year. Sometimes the guilt finds its way to the surface—that I didn’t know what was happening to him while he was in my belly and that I couldn’t prevent his passing. I continue to wear a handful of jewelry that symbolizes him regularly. We have his picture on our bedroom dresser to which I look at every morning and say goodnight to with a kiss on my fingertips every night. Some days it all feels so surreal that I wonder whether it was all just a terrible nightmare. Other days the sadness is so dark, the pain so sharp, that there is no question. It’s funny how much you can miss someone you barely had the chance to know. How deep your love can be. How tragic the loss. I hope people are right. I hope you are reunited with your loved ones in heaven. I would do anything to see him, to hold him, again. It certainly makes the thought of my own departure someday a lot less scary. I will never forget Ry’s face. How great it felt to cradle him. How wonderful it was to kiss his soft cheeks and run my hand over his tiny forehead. How amazing it was to see Chris hold his son’s little, bundled body in his muscular arms. To see our friends and family with him. He is the most beautiful part of my past and the inspiration that drives my future.

I think about B2K every day and continue to do all that I can to protect the little life inside of me. I try to eat often and balance my diet with healthy snacks like fruit, veggies, and yucky yogurt. I take my giant prenatal vitamin every night. I limit sleep positions to my side, mostly on the left because doctors say that’s better for babies. I count movements at least 3 times a day. I admit that I worry a lot. Keeping my anxiety managed is a daily accomplishment. I can’t help but think about our future with B this late in the process. I consider the possibility of having one of our children here with us. I dream about being a mom. About witnessing Chris as an active daddy. About seeing our parents be grandparents. About sharing our 2nd baby with friends and family. I long to get that first glimpse of B’s face and to hear those initial cries and tiny coos. I can’t wait to see those wonderful eyes and feel tiny breaths against my chest that aren’t my own. Something that I think many parents take for granted.  I visualize the days and years that follow B’s birthday. I pray that we get the chance to see this through. To fulfill, what I believe, is my purpose in life.

Being pregnant again is so bittersweet. My excitement is offset with continuous uncertainty. I just want to fast forward to the day we meet B. Besides all of the expected emotional feelings, I’m also growing weary of my physical state. I know that there are women out there who love being pregnant but that is definitely not me. I mean, there are amazing things to note-like being blessed enough to get pregnant in the first place—and certainly feeling the baby move around and having your child with you 24/7. It creates a closeness that only mothers know. Something you can’t explain. I have 2 months left and yet I feel that I am full term. I am one of those rare women with something called symphysis pubic dysfunction, which can be (and is for me) pretty painful and uncomfortable. My best explanation is that the ligaments that keep your pelvic bone aligned become too relaxed and stretchy leading to an unstable pelvic joint. It’s normal for your body to release a hormone called relaxin and to prepare for your baby’s delivery… but unfortunately this reaction can occur early in pregnancy, making it difficult to sit, stand, and lay down. I equate it to what it might feel like to have someone kick you straight in the vagina bone. Pretty much hurts to do most things and the heavier the baby becomes the more discomfort is felt—at least in my case. In my last pregnancy it started about a month before delivery and this time I began to feel the effects somewhere in the 20-somethings as far as weeks go. I go to the bathroom 4-8 times per night and can’t remember the last time I got a full night’s sleep-even before this pregnancy. I’m pooped. I work a lot and have a long commute. I live for the weekends and can’t wait to get to the finish line.

Enough of the complaints. I just had a lot to get some of that off my chest. I am so thankful to have another chance at being an active mom and truly hope it happens. I look forward to the day that I can write and tell all of you that my sleepless nights are the result of a hungry baby in my arms. My fingers are crossed, hands are clasped tight in prayer…holding my breath (in a matter of speaking). Thank you for all of your positive thoughts. It means so much to me. I hope you’re all getting by as best as you can and that the sun shines on you and your families today, tomorrow, and in the days that follow.

Great expectations.

We are 31 weeks along with B2K. The further we get into the pregnancy, the more nervous and scared I become. I didn’t realize it would be this way—I just imagined the whole experience would be scary. As time moves on, the stakes feel higher. All of the expectations that I try to keep at bay seem to find their way into my heart and mind. Every time we have an ultrasound of the baby I feel excited—nervous and frightened—but excited for what the future may bring. It’s difficult to stop from daydreaming about parenthood. All of those feelings that I had for my Rylan are resurfacing, and stronger. One thing I’ve learned is that remaining detached and having no expectations for my family’s future is impossible. Even if I could consciously block out those thoughts, I know that any loss with this pregnancy would be horrible. It wouldn’t be any less devastating than losing my Rylan.

I started kick counting within the past few weeks which I’ve found elevates my fear. I try to manage it, but it’s not easy. Kick counting helps to ensure that you are feeling enough movements throughout a day, but it also helps you to see a pattern of when those movements occur. I tend to freak out a little when those movements don’t happen at the same time of day or as frequent around those times. In the first week I found myself having one of those days. I was at work and started to panic. I decided to take a moment to step into one of the empty offices to lay down on my left side and concentrate. I talked to the baby. I prayed for movement. Luckily, I felt enough to ease my mind and get me back to the job. I received two different handouts explaining kick counting-one from my OB and one from the specialist we’re seeing. They both discussed the importance of feeling your baby’s movements but also explained how to do it a bit differently. One sheet instructs me to ensure that I feel 10 movements in 1 day, and to track how many hours it takes to hit that golden number. It includes a tracking chart on the back. The other sheet recommends that you should feel 10 movements in about 2 hours. So, what I’ve decided to do is a compromise between both. I xeroxed the sheet to have three. One for morning, one for afternoon, and one for evening. I ensure that I feel 10 movements within 2-3 hours. It can be intense but it helps me to focus on movements all day, especially staying on track on my busiest days. So far, so good. I believe kick counting is so important-not just for people who have lost a child but all pregnant women. Anything that seems irregular should initiate an immediate conversation with your doctor’s office.

After losing Ry I noticed how many people recommended (and swore by) counting your baby’s movements during pregnancy—I could not believe that my last OB office never even mentioned it to us the first time around. Looking back I can remember how they made me feel like our situation was so rare. That in their practice they maybe had 2-3 patients over the years who had lost babies to stillbirth. It made me feel so singled out and abnormal. They weren’t intentionally mean, but I definitely walked out of there feeling even more alone, like I did something wrong. Now, after all that we’ve been through—after all that I’ve read online about other parents who’ve lost their babies to stillbirth—I just see them as uneducated and overconfident. I can’t even tell you how happy I am to have found my new OB/GYN office. They have been so nice and accommodating throughout our second pregnancy. They are so sensitive to what we’ve gone through (and continue to go through) and are so reassuring and hopeful for our future. Some days I think I might return to the old office just to tell them how they can improve on their communication and patient relations following a tragedy—although they’d probably just dismiss me and consider me mad.

I’m proud to say that I’ve taken some steps forward—despite fears over another potential loss and the confusion over how to prepare for B2K and make this baby special without losing Rylan (or feel like I’m dismissing him) in the process. We revisited the nursery by changing just a few things. We exchanged the darker curtains that had been left hanging for a brighter, white and green pair. I traded out the “baby’s things” baskets that were overflowing with books and a half-empty toy box for a bookshelf that I assembled last weekend. It felt good to arrange the books and toys, consolidating some of the clutter and brightening up the room. I’m also adding a mobile to the room, which I am creating myself. It’s going to include 3 clouds made of felt, with hanging raindrops made out of small crystals. I will definitely post a photo of it later, assuming that my attempt at this art project is a success. So far I made the first cloud yesterday. 🙂

Well, I have to run. Well, maybe waddle is a better way to describe how I’m moving around these days. I promise to keep you posted as we get closer to B2K and thank you for being a part of our journey.

 

 

 

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs

food

Tragedy: a shocking or sad event; disaster

I was in shock the night they told us Rylan had no heartbeat. 428 days later and my mind and heart continue to be twisted over the loss.

Grief: keen mental suffering or distress over affliction or loss; sharp sorrow; painful regret

Sometimes I feel tired, weak, and numb. Full of guilt, regret, sorrow, and despair. I want to cry just to get it out of my system but the well is dry. Other days a single moment will knock the wind out of me, so to speak, and I’m sure I could cry for hours (if I succumb to the sadness). A 24-hour battle of emotions stirs inside of me regularly. Some are warm. Love for my son. Memories of having him moving around in my belly. The urge to do something positive for others in his memory. But, unfortunately, many emotions are darker. When life is simpler, you often don’t need to look hard for that silver lining—mostly you just feel the sunshine. A tragedy in your life is like a natural disaster that shakes up the forecast of life. Surprising, devastating, and forever changing the landscape around you.

Jealousy: feeling resentment against someone because of that person’s rivalry, success, or advantages

Since Rylan died, I feel plagued by jealously. I hate it. I’m not proud of it. But I know that it is also beyond my control. Everywhere I go I’m forced to interact with people who don’t know a loss like ours. At least it usually feels that way. I know that people like us are out there— I read about them—but in my daily routine it’s easy to forget that they exist. I feel like I’ve been appointed a spectator in my own life. An observer to normal families. The ones where children survive. It hurts so deeply and although I don’t want to be someone else—I like me and I love my family—I just wish that I was able to be the mom that I thought I was going to become last year. I wish that Ry was still alive, so badly. I miss him so much. I wish that Chris and I were sharing parenthood right now. Instead, I sit back and watch (what feels like) everyone around us as they continue living with and growing their families.

I watch our siblings interact with their kids. I listen as they update us on their activities and achievements. I listen to friends and acquaintances talk about the funny things their little ones do, how they make them laugh. I hear stories about other moms and dads, both good and bad. People at work talk about kids camps and vacations. Kids are oohed and ahed steps from my cube almost weekly. Pictures of newborns are shared through work email. At the mall I scrutinize the endless parade of strollers that roll by me at I stand there empty handed. I study the mom leaning over her baby boy at the gas station—my eyes connect with his as she tends to the pump. Everywhere I go I’m in awe of babies and yearn to have my son back. I feel jealous of the moms and dads that have another day with their child/children. Another moment to share at the water cooler tomorrow. One more bedtime story to read tonight. Another chance to hold their hand, hug them, and kiss their face. One more morning routine. Another chance to keep them safe. One more spoken I love you.

I feel like our future with Rylan just slipped through our fingers. It is so difficult knowing that we were so close. That I made it through the pregnancy triathlon just to trip and fall on my face an inch before the finish line. All of those natural, yet naive, expectations waiting on the other side just disappeared like a mirage within seconds. How do you stand up and keep going after that? How do you move forward when you know that time and distance will take you farther away from what was suppose to be? More separated from the baby you love? And how do you try for parenthood in the future in the face of such a tremendous loss? All I can say is that I take one day at a time. I try not to make plans or set too many expectations. I’m scared a lot.

Courage: the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc., without fear; bravery

Parents who’ve lost a child (at any age) who continue to move forward may not feel it, but they have courage—even if they are insecure and stumble along the way. It takes courage to put distance between you and your loss—especially when it feels like you’re adding space between you and your loved one. In some ways we feel like we have no choice but to move forward. I feel like getting up in the morning, getting dressed, doing the things you don’t feel like doing (like going to work, paying bills, being social with others) proves that life isn’t just moving you forward—you are. It takes endurance to work through your grief, especially when you can’t pause time and focus only on your loss (and most of us wish we could). I want you to remember that it takes guts to keep going. Remember to give yourself (and others experiencing a similar loss) a pat on the back sometimes. You deserve it.

Thank you for stopping by and for taking the time to hear me out. Please try to keep your head up—the weather has to be more promising tomorrow. 🙂

large_cloudy_meatballs_blu-ray11

Participation requested.

I love and miss my first baby, Rylan, so much. I think of him every day.

I love our second baby so much and think of B2K every day.

I also think of all of the other angel babies and parents out there who love them. I think it might be nice to post a list sometime soon of all of the babies of parents, grandparents, etc, who visit my site, to honor their memories. Please feel free to send me the name of your angel baby, their birthday, along with your name (if you’d like to include it), and a message you want to send to them or the world about your baby. I’d love to use my blog to post your sentiments.

Please send your names and/or messages to my email: meggok512@gmail.com.

Thank you for your participation!

Sincerely,
Megan

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.

 

photo