Tag Archives: childbirth

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.

Come back soon!

This is just a quick heads up to anyone who stops by… my computer recently crashed for the second time and between work and a commute, finding a time and place to write has been challenging. As soon as I find a solution, I will be back to blogging so please continue to check in every once in awhile. Sharing my thoughts with others has been a great part of my healing process—and knowing that my words may be helping others in some way is also a huge plus for me. I have a lot stirring around inside so I definitely plan to return ASAP.

Thank you for stopping… and wishing you well from afar. 🙂

Surreality.

The word above may not grace the pages of a dictionary but it sure describes the life I’ve been living since I lost Rylan. This experience continues to feel like a dream, although I know full well that our loss is real. In fact, I’ve never felt anything more real. The loss is so deep in the core of my being that the weight can physically be felt in my chest sometimes. I can almost feel the surge of emotions that I carry rising to the surface the way that you can feel your eyes well up with tears just before they fall down your your cheeks. The only things I’m sure of on a daily basis are that my emotions and daily obstacles will be unpredictable. People continue to commend me on my strength. On how well I carry myself. They’ve said that from the beginning. That comment has brought many thoughts to mind. One, that I’m not strong. People aren’t with me every second of the day. If I had a choice I’d be weeping and telling my story to anyone with a heart. Two, it’s not a matter of strength–it’s that I’ve been given no choice, no other options besides my son dying and having to continue on without him. Although I do agree that getting up each day is a personal success. Three, I’ve never felt more weak. Tired, both physically and mentally. I want to be taken care of so badly. I’d love to just slink back into my childhood to be looked after by my mom. To climb up beside her, lay on her lap so that she could stroke my hair and help me to sleep without the need of over-the-counter meds. I don’t want to have to play the role of the mindful, responsible adult who goes to work, pays bills, and attends children’s parties and other uncomfortable public or social affairs. Some days I’d like to sell my house, quit my job, and move somewhere that doesn’t include any memories of pregnancy. A place where nobody knew me as a soon-to-be mom. If I can’t hit rewind and save the day for my family than I think I might I want to hit the restart button on my life instead. But, creating a new life takes energy that I just don’t feel I can muster up these days. And the truth is, most people in my current life treat me as if I never even had a child. If I moved away I’d probably talk more about my son with people than I do now.

What do you do when you can barely remember who you were before pregnancy? When you can’t get back who you were during pregnancy? That innocent, naive girl that wasn’t clued-in to the fact that not all pregnancies end in living babies and growing families. Who do you become when you’re not sure who you want to be? Or, when the only thing you want to be is a mom and it may not even be an option anymore? For now, I’m just taking one day at a time and trying to remind myself that in time the above answers will come. And, hoping that someday my dreams of being an active mom and sharing parenthood with my husband will happen. For now I’m just coping with the need to have Ry back so I can be his mom.

I’ve recently thought about the fact that many tough life experiences are characterized by stages. When you lose a child, I would assume that those stages are different for everyone. As unique as fingerprints. If I had to classify my journey so far I would describe them as the following:

Stage 1: Confusion

Trying to comprehend what happened in the hours that followed the announcement that my son had died. Insert that word again…surreality. I’m not sure that there is anything worse than preparing nine long months (or more for those people who had to work hard to get pregnant) for an amazing, beautiful, breathing baby only to have it all taken away in the blink of an eye. When  they told us I thought, “This can’t be happening… Am I awake? Can this really happen? What did they say? Can’t they be wrong? Wait, NO, this can’t happen. This is not how it’s suppose to be. But he was ok. I didn’t know. I… didn’t know. How could I not know?!” From one thought to another to another I went back and forth in my head and spent a lot of time praying until we delivered him. He didn’t cry. He didn’t move. To this day I still don’t understand how it could’ve happened and I don’t image I ever will.

Stage 2: Auto-pilot

From the delivery room through the funeral arrangements you are expected to set aside your devastation, sadness, and disbelief long enough to make one tough decision after another. The only way I think we make it through is by being on a sort of auto-pilot, so-to-speak. You know, like when you hear stories about how someone seriously injured in an accident can somehow manage to drag themselves for miles, if necessary, to find help… it’s that adrenaline thing that kicks in. Those chemicals your body releases which allow you to put your pain aside long enough to get through even the toughest experience or pain of your life. The people who surround us at that time often mistake strength for cruise control. Something in us just takes over. For me, wanting to do right for Rylan while he was still “here” added to my adrenaline.

Stage 3: Shock

The decisions and formalities are over. People leave and we are left with only ourselves and our sadness. Our auto function switches off. All of those repressed feelings rise quickly to the surface. I think this forces us into a state of shock. Some would call it denial. I think it’s the time when we must come to the realization that losing our child really happened. That there’s nothing we can do to change it. We can’t prevent it now. This was a time when I reflected on the months leading up to Rylan’s death. The days and hours and minutes before  it happened. The time when I tried to figure out when it happened and why I didn’t know. At this time, when I truly began grieving, I blamed myself for what happened–constantly. For working too many hours. For what what I ate. The fact that I colored my hair. For not getting enough rest. That I forgot to take those horse-pill vitamins some mornings. Anything that could explain what the doctors couldn’t. I think that I will always carry guilt that something I did or did not do could have been the cause of my son’s death. And, that I’m his mom and I was suppose to protect him and didn’t. I know that’s being a bit hard on myself–because I would have tried to save him from pain and dying if I’d known something was wrong–but I still blame myself, nonetheless. In any case, I think this “shock” stage lasts for weeks. During this time I felt like I was in a kind of zombie state. Perfectly content just sitting and staring off into nowhere. Moving about in a slow shuffle. Outer appearances giving false perceptions that I was like everyone else, while the rest of me felt numb. Food didn’t taste as good and hunger took a hiatus. I only ate because I felt I had to. During this stage it was important to me to be in Rylan’s nursery. The only place that I could get close to him–by being around his things. His clothes, his bed, his toys, and especially his books. Chris and I tried to connect somehow. We even sat in there and read books out loud to him. I’d place newly cut flowers on his dresser every day or so. I even talked Chris into coloring with me one late evening while we listened to music. Sometimes those actions gave me comfort. They made me feel like we were doing something for him. And it even helped to talk out loud to him. Eventually, those things lost their connection for me. Going into his room and being around the items he’d never use or wear or sleep in became sad reminders of our loss. I spent a lot of sleepless nights in tears curled up into a ball on his bedroom floor. I’d lay in the dark staring at the lighted stars projected onto the ceiling from his little stuffed turtle nightlight. I’d apologize to him for not knowing something was wrong, for not protecting him like a mother should. I’d beg God to tell me why he let this happen, why he didn’t or even couldn’t intervene somehow. To give me me a sign that my son was okay. And, when I didn’t receive an answer I would cry until I slowly drifted off to sleep. At some point I couldn’t manage without at least a little sleep and realized that I needed rest more than anything or this stage of my grief would surely kill me. I began taking sleep aids and decided to stop cutting flowers. I decided that going into his room was no longer a comfort but a trigger which ignited my feelings of heartbreak, separation anxiety, guilt, and sadness. I began keeping the door closed. It made me a little sad to do it, but knew it was necessary in order to move forward–even if just in small steps.

Stage 4: Anticipation

Re-entering the “real” world. This was hard one for me. Actually, it still is–every day. This is the time when I had to leave the comfort of home and go back to work. To adjust from having complete grieving freedom to grieving on the clock. Before, I could be sad when I wanted and where I wanted, as much as my mind and body needed it. I could at least try to protect myself from challenging experiences. If I made the mistake of shopping during prime mommy-baby-outing-time I could walk out of a store and head somewhere safe. The workplace doesn’t allow for that. You are a prisoner of “normal” people. Of acceptable mom and dad conversations (all day long). Of pregnant women eagerly awaiting the arrival of their beautiful addition. My employers are very understanding when it comes to families… meaning people often bring their children in if their sick or in-between sitters. Some people do this more than others. I’ve held my tears in most times during the work day but recently lost it completely. Last week I walked through the door in the morning only to be unexpectedly greeted by a co-worker carrying her newborn son, close enough to bump shoulders. It felt like someone staked me in the heart. I felt my entire body collapse under me. I heard his sweet baby sounds and the exchange of another co-worker as to how cute he looked. I held in the tears. Well, at first. That is, until my good friend looked into my eyes with that awful stare and asked how I was doing. Then it rained. I took myself outside, cried hard, collected myself and returned to the work on my desk. What else could I do? I wanted to click my heels together and be home in the comfort and safety of my husband’s arms. That’s what stinks about this stage. I can no longer run away when something triggers the pain. I have to tuck it down so that I can move along like the “normal” people. But forcing such strong feelings aside is like overfilling a water balloon. At some point the pressure will be too much and it will burst. The 45 minute commute home from work is usually the time when that happens for me. When I’m alone with my thoughts. When my iphone shuffles to that one song that draws it all to the surface. Or when the pressure of work stress and the anxiety over losing my son collide and I just can’t handle it all. I will say one thing, though–I usually feel relieved after a good, hard cry.

This stage isn’t always bad though. There have been moments when the pain subsides and I enjoy myself for a little. When a small spot of light sneaks in through the darkness. Those moments have somehow presented themselves during most of the stages. In the beginning it’s easy to feel bad about those moments. Like being happy somehow equals not honoring or missing your child. If you are feeling that way please know that is not the case. Those happy moments don’t replace the fact that we miss our children or wish they were here and that circumstances were different. Those moments will keep us living for our babies since they can’t. I, personally, want to live to the fullest for Rylan. To honor him by living the happiest life I can live. Ry gave me so many little moments of joy. Similarly, I think it’s small amounts of joy in our lives now that will keep us going. For me it’s like listening to my husband play his guitar on a Saturday morning. Hearing the sound of his voice coupled with a warm breeze brings me such peace. When my mom made me home-made pancakes for breakfast this morning-after craving them for weeks. Enjoying the company of friends at lunch during the week–a much needed and appreciated break in my day. Getting a big bear hug from my dad. Watching the sky change color as the sun sets. Being greeted by my dogs and curling up with them on the couch at night. I think this stage is all about learning how to survive and treasure the good times we have, no matter how small. How to live for our children’s memory, not in the shadows of them. To strike a balance between living the day-to-day and making time to mourn our losses. It’s not easy, but we’re doing it. Gradually finding ways to cope. Finding it in others and in ourselves. I have a feeling that this stage is going to last for awhile so keep a firm grip on whatever life preservers you can. In the meantime, I promise to continue treading water if you do.

To be continued…

Something(s) to celebrate.

My husband and I celebrated our 5th wedding anniversary last weekend. It was great for several reasons.

1. My parents invited us over on Friday night, on our actual anniversary night, to celebrate–complete with dinner on the grill, a candlelit table outside by a roaring fire, the mellow sound of jazz, and strings of twinkling string lights overhead. It was like our own private bistro. It was a beautiful night in every sense of the word. Beautiful weather and even more beautiful company. We even talked Chris into playing some of his songs on the guitar after dinner (I was happy to see that he didn’t require too much persuasion). It was such a special way to celebrate.

2. Saturday we drove into the city, checked into a nice hotel near Rittenhouse Square, and headed to an appointment at a nearby tattoo shop. The Hawaiian theme made me feel right at home (as it’s my dream to live there someday). Chris and I wanted to celebrate our 5th year of marriage with a memorial tattoo for our son. We both decided to get lion cubs. The story of the lion starts at the hospital and if you’ve read my previous posts you may have already heard a little about him. The day we were discharged my husband made a run into the lobby gift shop for a large, stuffed lion that caught his eye during our stay. He said that it helped him feel connected to Ry. Chris drove home with his new friend positioned beside him in the back seat of my car. Once we got home, we placed the lion in front of Rylan’s crib in the nursery. He has been there ever since. You could say he’s a guardian of sorts. Chris’ purchase that day has become a very comforting symbol in our home. Chris ended up getting a tattoo with a really beautiful lion cub face on his upper arm, supported by Ry’s name underneath. The eyes in the tattoo are amazing. Originally I was planning on getting a monarch, as they were very quickly another symbol tied to Rylan, specifically connected to the butterfly release at his service. I accidentally came across a lion symbol two days before (that I love) and instantly knew that I needed to adjust my plan. I ended up getting the lion cub from the movie “the Lion King.” In the movie it is a drawing that one of the animals sketches on a tree after Simba is born and baptized. I found this young lion drawing to be a perfect connection to my little baby. Not only from one of my favorite childhood movies, but a connection to the nursery lion and my husband’s tattoo. It’s nice to have something that Chris and I share as a connection to our son. I also had Rylan’s name placed in script on my inner wrist. It’s a nice way to carry him with us in more that just our hearts. You could say that I truly “wear my heart on my sleeve” these days. I will upload a photo of them once they’re healed. It’s so nice to have it in a place that is pretty visible, too. It’s only been a week and I’ve already been asked about a few times from strangers. It feels so good to have a conversation starter about my son, even if sometimes it makes me want to cry. I’m proud of him and I love him so much–this is definitely a way to keep him close and share him with the world at the same time.

Last weekend was the first time since Rylan died that I felt truly happy and relaxed for a longer period of time. The sadness is always there but it made itself a little lighter for a time. Long enough for us to have a great time in the company of our parents and also on our own. I forgot to mention that we managed to score a table at a great restaurant Saturday evening and enjoyed some time walking around the city. We even caught some impromptu musicians in the park. I was thankful that our 5th year ended on a very positive note. We were able to celebrate our journey so far–to honor our relationship and our son all in one weekend. It was most definitely a success.

I’m looking forward to finding out what will happen in year 6… it can only go up from here!