Tag Archives: childbirth

Too tired.

It’s almost 1 am and I have so much on my mind. I can’t sleep and it’s probably been about 2 weeks since I last took a pill to force myself into dreamland. I just don’t want to…it’s way too hard when I have to work the next day. So, last night I got about 3 hours of sleep and tonight doesn’t look too promising.

I walked in the door at 8 pm tonight. People who know me would say something to the effect of, “so things are back to normal for you?” The answer to that question is “yes.” Well, and also a big “no.” I have been pushed back into a higher level role at work without so much as a conversation about it. I didn’t want that responsibility before my leave and don’t feel like I can handle it now. And, to make matters worse, I feel that as long as I stay there I have no choice but to do that job. Life can be so exhausting sometimes. Especially these days. As uncertain as I feel about who I am or who I want to be moving forward, I’m extremely clear about what other people want me to be for them.

At work they want me to be proactive, energetic, strategic, decisive, diligent, fast, creative, sharp, inspiring, passionate, insightful, strong-willed, a leader, and to wear a smile in the face of stress, among many other things. It even sounds tiring. What they don’t know, or don’t want to know, is that I’m not who they think I am or who they’d like me to be. These days being energetic is getting a shower and blow-drying my hair before going to work in the morning. I feel stressed thinking about what to have for dinner or what to do over the weekend. I don’t want to make decisions or think too hard. I’m tired. I’m so deeply sad. My mind is already full of so many thoughts and feelings that there isn’t room for much else. Many days I can’t bear the weight of our loss, much less the weight of daily responsibilities and spend my drive to and/or from work with tear-soaked cheeks. Why does it feel like caring people really don’t care? I feel like they look at me on the surface and tell themselves I’m okay because they need me to be okay. They need me to be a star. I may sound like some child throwing a tantrum but I don’t care–I don’t want to be a star. Why can’t I just do a good job for awhile? I am one of those people who works hard anyway, always to their full capacity. I still want to do a good job…just not kill myself in the process. Even as I sit here tonight I can’t stop thinking about all I have to do tomorrow–and how I don’t feel like there are enough hours in the day to finish my work…meet my deadlines…meet everyone else’s expectations. Why can’t I just meet my own expectations for once? Why can’t I give myself a pass and let someone else do the hard work–just for a little while? Sometimes you can’t be everything for everyone. Sometimes you can only work hard enough to just be. I want to put the little energy I have into healing myself. I want to concentrate on my family. Otherwise, I’m afraid we won’t survive.

Family, friends, and even acquaintances are tough. Even though they love and support us, I continue to have mixed feelings when I’m with them. I can quickly go from being comfortable and sharing laughs to wanting to be alone or moved to tears. Again, it’s so hard. They care for us and want to see us heal from all of this. Sooner than later, I think. Some want to do something to help us get there. I’m at a loss for what to tell them. The only thing that could truly make me feel better is having my son here in my arms. To be the mom I wanted to be for him. But no one can do that for me. For us. Sometimes I feel like people are disappointed when they ask how we’re doing and I give them a slightly honest answer. I’m not great. If heartache was a disease I’d be signing up for experimental studies to find a cure. At some moments it feels unbearable. People also try to help by sharing stories of loss–to relate in some way. I would probably do the same if roles were reversed. But, from this side of the fence this loss is like no other. Not like losing a grandparent, parent, or sibling–and certainly not a pet. This is like nothing I can really explain to those who haven’t lost a child. I feel like I can’t breathe sometimes. My spirit feels broken. I spent so many months wrapping all of my dreams and aspirations into being Rylan’s mom. In my heart it was my purpose. My pregnancy wasn’t a cake-walk and I kept telling myself it was all worth it for the end result…my beautiful son and a lifetime of love and memories. Don’t get me wrong, he was the best thing I ever created and he was amazing. I just wish he was alive and that my memories could have made it beyond my belly and the hospital delivery room.

I attended my nieces birthday party this past weekend. The initial part was tough. I walked into a backyard of parents and children of various ages. A beautiful, pregnant woman splashing around with her infant son in the pool. It hurt so much. Don’t get me wrong, she was very nice and so was her family. But watching them together instantly made me think about how I should be interacting with my son in a similar way. He would be much younger but I still dreamed about summer activities with him, with my family. But instead, there I sat in a rocking chair, with empty arms. And on top of it I felt that I had to suck it up, so to speak. I made small talk with people I didn’t know…people that I found out later had been clued in on our secret. I took a moment to walk out front, sit on the front porch, and cry. I thought I slipped away undetected but my sister apologized later for my discomfort and told me that someone thought they upset me and felt bad about it. And, do you want to know what bothers me about that? That on top of feeling sad I had to also take on the weight of feeling bad that my leaving caused someone else discomfort. It sucks because being sad is hard enough without feeling like I’m obligated to keep everyone else comfortable too. And in some ways I was angry that she pressured me to be there for the kid part of the day and that she didn’t warn me about the people that would be there. But, again, people just want me to be there for them–and to be okay. It’s not really anyone’s job to protect me, I know–but I wish they would at least try.

Everywhere I go I feel so isolated from the world around me. I know I’ve said it before, but it’s really lonely to feel like nobody in your daily life “gets it” or “gets you” (with the exception of your mate). It’s like your constantly a fly on the wall, just observing the world around you. To some extent I use to feel a part of that world. The world where mothers give birth to live babies is a much simpler world. It’s a world where people complain about their kids cries keeping them up at night or the annoyance of them bickering with their siblings. I would do anything to have that. My world is silent, beyond my own cries in the night. My son lives almost entirely in my heart and mind–I rarely get the opportunity to tell anyone about him–not the way I’d like to, which is one of the most hurtful things for me. I don’t know if people are afraid to talk to me about him or if they just feel too uncomfortable. But, either way, it sucks. It makes me feel awful and leads me to feel like the past year has been fake. A dream. A nightmare. I want it to be real, I want him to be real–to other people as much as to me. I want to have his picture beside me on my desk at work, like other parents. I want to say his name out loud sometimes. I don’t want to have to watch everyone else have children around me. It makes me feel so many things. Like a failure. Sad. Angry. Jealous. Heartbroken.

My husband and I went to a counseling session last night. It had been 3 weeks since our last appointment. On the way over we talked about how we weren’t sure what we were going to say this time. That our feelings weren’t too different. We felt somewhat okay. Once we were there we ran over the allotted time for our chat. Kind of funny. You know those feelings are there all of the time, inside–but sometimes I think we repress them and don’t even realize how much until we get talking. I’ve never really been in therapy before now. I can’t recommend it enough to people who are in similar shoes. I think it’s important to find someone that you have a connection with–or at least someone who you feel comfortable with–and go even when you think you don’t need to or want to. I think it’s so helpful just being able to express our feelings to someone who is outside of the people we know. My husband and I go together which is nice. And, although we talk to each other regularly, our sessions continue to bring out feelings that we may not have shared with each other otherwise–even if it’s not on purpose. The office we go to is called “The Center for Loss and Bereavement” in Skippack, PA. It has been so helpful to go to a place that specializes in loss. It’s a non-profit and is not covered by our insurance but has been worth every penny. If you’re in the area and experiencing the loss of a loved one, I strongly recommend it.

The past few weeks have been busy. We celebrated my husbands birthday which turned out to be enjoyable and easier than expected. The road to get there was tough–it was a milestone birthday and I wanted to do something special without overwhelming him if it happened to be a rough day. The planning was a bit stressful and took some energy on my part but was all worth it when I saw him smile. We also have our anniversary to celebrate this weekend. We are scheduled to get memorial tattoos in the city for Ry. I’m excited and very nervous. Not my first tattoo but it’s an important one and I feel a lot of pressure that it must be perfect for him. We also got lucky with a deal on a vacation rental and will be going to Outerbanks in the fall. We’ve never been there so it should be fun. So, I’m glad that we have some things to look forward to…I think it’s good to have things to keep you going. I’m still worried about winter and the holidays but I guess we’ll have to cross that bridge when we get to it. I told Chris that I’m going on a sabbatical until spring (lol).

A few more noteworthy topics:

1. A warning: I recently read an article about a family who had created a web site for their stillborn baby and years later his photos had been taken and used by company web sites and by individuals claiming it was their son. This article made my stomach turn. I can’t believe that people have the ability to do something so horrible. I wanted to share it because I know that so many people memorialize their children by creating blogs and enjoy sharing photos of their precious babies. I am one of those people who is very leery of social media and making personal information and images public. Please take a look at this article if you can:

http://www.wmur.com/news/nh-news/special-reports/family-shocked-that-picture-of-stillborn-son-stolen-online/-/13386842/20242576/-/item/0/-/2uspz/-/index.html

2. Congratulations: to another blogger (and his family) who just welcomed their baby girl, Zoe, into the world. I’m so happy that you can all let out a deep breath now that she’s healthy and full of life. Thank you for sharing your daughters with us and for giving others hope for the future.

Well, on that super positive note I’m going to try to go to bed. It’s now 3 am and I still have two days of work ahead. As always, I thank you for taking the time to read my thoughts and follow our story. Good night and hang in there. Tomorrow is a new day.

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Reflection

There are things you can guarantee when it comes to the grieving process. There will be some good days and some that are bad. There will be days that you feel like, despite the heartache, your life will be okay–that you’re doing fine considering the circumstances. Than there will be others where you can barely stand up and when not living may sound like a good alternative to life as you know it today–even if deep down you know that you don’t want to die. I would guess that the lowest moments are simply (or not-so-simply) fueled by the want to be with our children. The need to be parents. The want to hold our children close to our heart like all of the people around us who can cradle their babies in real life. We feel that staying here to endure the unspeakable pain of losing our children is much worse than leaving this Earth to be with our babies immediately. I know that my husband and I have both traveled across this spectrum of grief. If you’ve stumbled onto my blog (and are still reading) I’m sure that you know what I’m talking about. One of the things I’ve learned from this experience is that we all have life lines that accompany us on this uncertain journey. I believe that everyone has at least one thing or one person that motivates them to keep going. It may be your husband or wife–maybe that you know how much their survival depends on you being here. It may be the love you have for your parents–that they would be devastated if they lost their child–something we can understand all too well. Maybe it’s your little angel baby–that as much as you want to be with them, you also want people here to know how much you loved them–how much you still do even though they’re gone. Maybe you want to do something to honor them. I believe that’s a big one–considering how many blogs I’ve seen and the number of parents who are compelled to tell their own stories. I want to task you to take note of what you consider to be your life line(s). Don’t lose sight of them because they will be your guiding light through this terrible thing that has happened to you. And, that it is possible over time for that one thing, or one person to become two, maybe three, or more. A snowball effect, but in a good way.

My life line has, most importantly, been my husband. I don’t think I’d be here today if he hadn’t been by my side from the beginning. I live to make him happy, to see him smile. I want to make it through this experience with him–to witness our relationship become stronger and to become better people–happier people. To become more satisfied with the life we lead–as individuals and together. Our parents are definitely up there on the list. I know that the thought of losing them is scary and can only imagine how they would feel losing us. To some it might be silly, but our dogs are big for me. I love them and feel a motherly responsibility to take care of them. Rylan is, of course, a big motivator. He is the reason that I sit here typing–telling his story. Our story. My story. With hopes of helping other people enduring the same loss. The people who read this are also on my list, then. See what I mean about a snowball effect? My list grows well beyond the above as my days move on. I admit that when things are darkest it’s hard to see beyond the sadness. I guess I’m asking you to hold onto your life line(s) when things get hard. I can’t promise that you’ll be absolved of your pain. I’m certainly not there and don’t really feel like there will ever be a time that I feel 100% okay. But I’m still here. I’m making it through. And, so will you. If you’ve read previous posts you may already know that many times I write when I’m feeling pretty low. I guess that’s why I wanted to write today. Today is a good day for me. I wanted you to see that for every couple crappy days you experience you will also have good ones. You will have days to reflect on the obstacles you’ve overcome. Even small ones are important. Don’t lose sight of how far you’ve come (even if it’s only been 1 week).

Thank you for reading and for giving me another reason to go on.

What defines you?

in·som·ni·a [in-som-nee-uh]: (noun) inability to obtain sufficient sleep, especially when chronic; difficulty in falling or staying asleep; sleeplessness.

It’s Friday, August 15, 2013. 2:15 a.m.

Nearly 14 weeks since we lost our son. That’s 97 days to be exact. Funny how it hurts like it was yesterday.

I had trouble sleeping shortly into my pregnancy with Ry. Since his death I’ve experienced even less Z’s, with the exception of days that end with a pill. Needless to say, I ran out of Benadryl 2 days ago. A good explanation for why I’m sitting in front of this computer again, tears streaming down my face, soaking my lap. The stark, white canvas stares back at me like a mirror. I know it sounds dramatic, but it’s true. I feel empty. As if a huge part of myself died along with my son. Despite the sadness that being awake triggers, I’m not sure that I’d rather be sleeping. I mean, I’d love to avoid the weight that I’ll be dragging under my baby blues tomorrow, but sleep doesn’t always guarantee peace anymore. When I manage to fall into a deep enough sleep to generate dreams, they often manifest the feelings I have surrounding our loss. I’ve had some that place me in a hospital bed at a moment where someone is telling me that I’ve lost my baby. Other times I’m forced to uncomfortably tell someone that my son died. Either way I awake with such a feeling of sorrow in my heart that I’m almost reliving our loss. The times when I wake up at that exact moment, it nearly takes my breath away and leaves me feeling like someone is sitting on my chest. Not a very fun way to start your day. As much as I want to get rest there is a fear attached to sleeping as much as being awake.

fear [feer]: (noun) a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc., whether the threat is real or imagined; the feeling or condition of being afraid.

I’m afraid of everything now. I’m afraid to leave my house. To watch television. To take a walk in the neighborhood. To go to the park. To go to work. To eat at a restaurant. To get pregnant again. I’m afraid of being away from my husband for too long or too far. Of losing another loved one. To have a conversation with someone I know. To have a conversation with a stranger. Of being asked the question, “do you have kids?” Of losing my job. Of working in advertising forever. Of never being able to have my own, living child. Of sadness hurting my marriage. Of social events. Of money problems. That I’ll forget the few memories I have with my son. To see someone who doesn’t know what happened to us. To see someone who does know. Of Christmas–and every other holiday. To see my friend and hold her baby. Of becoming detached from friends and family. Of hurting the people I care about. Of being hurt by the people I care about. Of never losing this feeling of devastation that follows me everywhere. Of going into Rylan’s room. Of hearing a sad song. Of hearing the “Hungry Caterpillar” story or seeing the book (the theme for Ry’s room and my shower). Of saying something that will offend someone who reads my blog. Of watching the world have babies around me. I fear that in some way I caused my son’s death. I’m afraid it could happen again. I’m afraid that my husband will never be completely happy again.

re·la·tion·ships [ri-ley-shuhn-ship]: (noun) an emotional attachment between individuals

Relationships are what gets you through tough times, no doubt. Spouses, parents, siblings, friends, pets… anything you can find comfort in, as far as I’m concerned. For me, it’s my husband. The person who is as close to my loss as I am. We may have had slightly different experiences and may grieve differently–at the end of a day we may not always be on the same page as far as how we’re feeling–but we are certainly in the same chapter of the same book. I look forward to the days when we’re together and his love keeps me going. I can’t say enough about what his hugs do for me at the end of a day. What his hand in mine can spark in my heart. I can’t say enough about how much I love him.

Then there’s our parents. My husband and I are very lucky to have such great role models, and at the same time the best of friends. We never have to question how much they care, how much they love us, or whether they’ll be there when we need them. They always lend an ear, shoulder, hug, and home when we need it. I know it must hurt them to lose a grandchild and also be so powerless to help their own children at the same time–I know they would do anything to make things right for us if they could. They mean the world to us. They’re a big reason why we want so badly to be parents, ourselves. To try to be as good as they are.

Siblings. I’ll admit that they can drive you crazy. Most siblings couldn’t be more different. I’m happy to say that my sister and I have recently spent more time together. She was a great help in getting my home ready for Rylan’s service and has since checked in on me and Chris. Her and I have had our differences growing up, like any sisters, but I know that she will always be there. She protected me from nasty girls in high school and now struggles that she can’t protect me from this. It’s funny how the most horrible situations bring people closer together-even if gradually.

Our friends. They’ve been understanding with our feelings. Our decisions. Some came to the hospital to see and hold Ry. For that we will always be grateful. Some of them helped with the service. Some talk me to work in the morning, or back home at night. Some give us space. Some are here when we call them. Good friends are hard to come by… when you find one do your best to hang onto them. You never know when you’ll need them (or when they’ll need you).

Animals. Need I say more? Anyone who has had a pet (and loved them) will know that a bond is formed immediately. I look forward to seeing my crazy dogs every day. They can be such a comfort in life–especially in hard times. Sometimes they’re more perceptive than people when it comes to your feelings. And, they’ll never say something insensitive. If you’re experiencing any loss and feel alone, the best advice I can give you is to get a pet. It’s the perfect relationship–truly unconditional love. They give you a reason to get out of bed everyday (to eat, to go out) and maybe even to exercise. All good for healing. They kiss your cheeks when you cry and will curl up with you in the middle of the day to watch a movie when you can’t bear to go outside. Chris and I both agree that our pups, Sam and Nacho, although a handful, have been wonderful and crucial to our everyday survival.

For now I must go try to sleep. It’s almost 4 a.m. I’ll try to continue this post tomorrow, if I can. Thank you for stopping by… having people read my words and relate to them in any way means the world to me. It helps fill in a tiny bit of that emptiness I spoke of above. So thank you.

Monday, Monday.

I’d like to say that it’s getting easier. It’s not really. At some moments I actually think the days are getting harder. Even writing this blog has gotten more difficult. Some days I’m just at a loss for words. No sentence I formulate can really capture the way I feel inside. The people around me interpret my pain to only be the initial loss of my son–what happened the exact day that we found out he was gone. The further we move on from that day, the more they expect me to be “better.” As if I’ve fallen off a bike and scraped my leg or come down with a cold and just need a few days to heal. What they don’t realize is that every day that goes on without my son feels like the worst day of my life. Every time someone musters up the courage to ask how I’m doing I want to scream or cry. I know it sounds crazy, but I almost become resentful of the person who is caring enough to ask–because they put me in a position where I feel I can’t be honest. I have to hold back who I really am right now and how I truly feel. I think that they are hoping for the “on the surface” answer. I say “okay” or “hanging in there” because I don’t know what else to say. Some people, most people, don’t want the truth. They want to hear that I’m good, that I’m healing. If I head down the dark road of how I really feel I could say something that might tarnish the beautiful world that they live in–the world that is made up of their complete home–where they have the privilege of beginning and ending every day with their families. Where they get to read books to their children and kiss them goodnight. Not like me. My days begin and end with a picture of my son in a frame situated on my bedroom shelf. Some days I gaze at that photo of Rylan’s beautiful face and wonder if he was ever real. If my pregnancy was a dream. I struggle to remember how it felt to run my fingertips across his soft cheeks. I dream about what it would have been like to rock him to sleep. I think about what his cries might have sounded like–what the life in his eyes might have looked like beaming at me in the morning. I think about these things and more every single day. Sometimes they are comforting. A lot of times they make me full of sorrow. Other times just angry–so hurt that this is our reality. It doesn’t feel right. It doesn’t feel fair. How can you be expected to move through your days like everything is so-called normal when your life couldn’t feel more upside down? I feel like this loss has ruined so many things for us. I feel like we’re so alone in our lives. So different from the rest of the world. So different from our friends and family. So different from our former selves.

I started back at work last week. For the month of August I’m working a shorter schedule–3, than 4 days a week. The first day back was okay. The morning was spent catching up with people I hadn’t seen, giving the “on the surface” answers I spoke of above. The rest of the day I worked on a rush concept, presented that afternoon. At the end of the day my boss said something to the effect of, “you did good, you made it through your first day,” with a big smile on her face. I wanted to cry. I think she thought that because she didn’t see me in tears at my desk that it went well. The truth is, it was extremely difficult–from having to congratulate someone on their pregnancy to gazing at the “baby” folder of my son’s ultrasound images on my computer desktop. I just kept it to myself. I have to give her credit as she tried to make my first day nice–she left a balloon and flower arrangement on my desk and drew a “welcome back” sign on the blackboard. It’s hard because even the nicest gestures are difficult.  The sign was on the very same board that a few months ago listed names of our baby pool–a gamble on which day Rylan was to arrive. I wished my return warranted “baby boy” balloons, exchanges with people about my new mom experiences, and photos of my sweet baby. Instead, I never even spoke his name out loud. The next day I came in I was tasked to work on another rush project to be presented to the client the following day in my absence. By Friday I made changes to the same job again, quickly, for client approval. Despite the stress of rush jobs I managed to leave close to on-time every day and was able to make our counseling session mid-week. Yesterday was my fourth day back. Some additional rush projects, a meeting, a last minute job at the end of the day, needed for a meeting first thing today. I left at 7:15 pm, even though I did not complete the job. I felt bad that I couldn’t finish it but knew that I did more than I could handle. I should’ve left at 5:30 pm as my husband needed me at home. I feel awful about that. I needed him, too. I blasted music and cried the entire way home until I was back with Chris. Something must have been in the air yesterday because it was a tough day for both of us (“tough” being an understatement). I felt obligated to stay. If it was up to me I would of left before the day was half over. Work and it’s expectations are a lot to handle, as I knew they would be. Surviving the environment proves to be a daily challenge for me. I continue to forget my headphones which I think will become my most cherished accessory in the months to come. Without them I’ve been tortured by the conversations between co-workers only a few steps from my desk. On all sides I must listen to people discuss their children… babies on the way and pregnancy woes… how amazing someone looks after the birth of her son a few weeks ago… family vacations… weekend activities… sporting events and first days of school… a daughter’s cute, curly hair… “Picture People” photos of cute little boys… how someone’s kids just won’t sleep through the night… the list goes on and on and on and on. It’s so hard to have to cope with our loss on it’s own–then add all of the family reminders that surround us on a daily basis. Then throw in work. Work is almost unbearable. Because with work you don’t have the luxury of fleeing the scene like you can do in other instances. I mean, if I got up every time I needed a breather or a good, hard cry I’d never be at my desk. I often want to call my husband during the day but worry that it will make me even more homesick. Plus, I don’t feel like a short conversation will be enough to sustain us until we’re back together. I also don’t want to cause him additional sadness or give him any more reasons to worry about me, as I know he already does. It was so difficult to be at work when I knew he needed me this week. And the drive home to get to him made 45 minutes feel like 45 hours. I worry about transitioning to full time (plus overtime) again. I’m afraid that we can’t do it. Part of what got me through yesterday was knowing that we’d be home together today. I also worry about the growing expectations with regard to my role at work. I just don’t feel that I can handle the stress of my job anymore. I tried to explain this to my husband last night–that I start my days with anxiety and sadness that could just about fill a glass to the top–any type of stress added to it may just cause it to spill over. I need my job. I’m just afraid that I can’t do it to the capacity that I use to, or that others will expect me to live up to moving forward. Again, I wish I could run away. From work. From people. From our home sometimes. From adult responsibilities. I just want to protect us from the world, find a place that feels safe, and stay there. Trouble is, I don’t think that place exists.

Life’s little (and big) adjustments.

In the past week we’ve spent a lot of time with our families. Some of the time was really nice, some more difficult. My sister has 2 daughters, Chris’ brother has 3, and his sister has 1. Seeing the girls is nice. It always is. They are all very smart, kind, beautiful girls. Spending time with them, even before Rylan passed away, has always given me that “motherly” feeling. You may know it. It’s that little beacon of light inside you that flickers when they run over and hug you. When they look up at you with that sweet innocence in their eyes and say “I love you” or “I missed you.” When they get restless and hop up on your lap–you can’t escape that kids shampoo scent in their hair as you kiss the top of their head. All of the little things that makes you think to yourself, “I want this with my own child someday.” I’ve always dreamed about my own children but thought that I’d have to change my lifestyle first in order to have them. Working 10-12 hour days with a 45 minute commute can make you think that having kids is out of the question. Then one day I realized–if you take a look at your past you will see that you adjust to whatever life throws at you. If you make 30K per year than that is what will dictate how you live, where you live, and how you make it work. If you miraculously start making 100K a year, you will adjust your lifestyle to fit that. Maybe you drive a faster car. Maybe you buy a home if you’ve always rented. And, as scary as it is, if you later lose that high-paying job you may feel insecure at first, but you will also adjust to that change. So, one day I decided that I wanted children–and although I was unsure how it would work in my current occupation I would just go for it. I’d stop dreaming about what others around me had–I would finally let go of my fears and let life adjust for my family along the way. I did give it a little push, though. I traded in my speedy little Mini Cooper for a Ford Escape with 4-doors and enough room to fit a car seat, stroller, a husband, and 2 crazy dogs. We cleaned out our spare room to make space for our addition. I emptied out the coffee mug cabinet in the kitchen to make room for bottles and formula. I tried to pay off some credit cards to open up my cash flow for diapers and other child necessities. Sometimes I think that my “push” is where I made the mistake. I started to make adjustments before allowing life to naturally take it’s course. I tried to steer it where I wanted it to go. I think that I wanted to be prepared for once, rather than behind the eight ball, scrambling at the last minute to pull things together. Plus, I just wanted things to be perfect for our son. Now, I sit here not behind the eight ball but rather in the corner pocket, under it. Trapped. I feel like planning makes no sense these days. What’s the point of planning what we want when life is just going to follow it’s own plan for us? It’s almost as if planning is just something we’ve made up over time to make us feel like we actually have control. We don’t. At least that’s one thing I’ve taken away from this experience. If I wasn’t so powerless in my life I’d be pushing my son’s stroller down the block rather than words on a computer screen. But life has brought me here nonetheless. I wish it hadn’t every second. I wish I didn’t have to be afraid of so many things these days.

Family gatherings, for one. Like last Friday when I looked over at my husband holding Katie on his lap, gazing at the fireworks in the distance. There I sat, alone and watching them in such a sweet embrace. At first it made me feel warm inside. It only took a moment before I had to hold back the tears. I couldn’t help but wish that he could’ve been holding our son and having that moment as a daddy rather than an uncle. Then I saw his eyes welling up. It crushed me because at that moment I think he felt the very same way I did. When the finale was over, I had to leave the table and asked him to follow me outside. As we sat on a bench in front of the restaurant I cried and held onto Chris for support as strangers passed by. When the tears subsided I felt better. And I felt bad. Better because my husband was able to squeeze the sad feeling away with his love. Bad that I had asked him to comfort me when he wasn’t feeling his best either. I will tell you that it’s not easy to be someones strength when you feel weak yourself.

I hate that I have to walk away from social situations to have a “moment.” I hate that sometimes those “moments” are witnessed by people I don’t know. Sometimes its harder when its people I do know. The hardest part is collecting myself afterwards. Because you have to pull your shit together enough to seamlessly jump back into the social situation you just scooted away from (if you were lucky enough to scoot before the waterworks start in the first place).

Sorry to digress… back to a few things that scare me. I wish I didn’t have to be afraid of seeing a couple that I consider to be our very good friends. The ones that had been following our journey to parenthood, as they anticipated their baby girl. I feel that life pulled us closer just to push us apart. I’m pretty hurt and angry about that. I don’t want to lose my friends but I don’t know how to see them when their precious gift will be a constant reminder of what we’ve lost. Every time their baby celebrates her birthday I will be thinking of my son and how he should also be turning 1… 2… 16… 21… forever. What originally sounded so great–that our lives were following such a parallel course now just feels so cruel. Their baby is an important part of their life–like so many people these days, getting pregnant wasn’t easy for them. I’m so glad that there were no major complications during their pregnancy and that their baby is home with them now, safe and sound. It’s very difficult to be so happy for them and so envious of what they have at the same time. Just 2 weeks before her delivery I remember telling my friend that I was so happy for them. And I remembered how afraid I was to tell my friend the news when I initially found out that I was pregnant. Up until that point I knew that they were still trying (after many years) and I had gotten pregnant without so much as checking the calendar. I was relieved and excited when she revealed that they were also pregnant. But now I look at our situation with such irony. I felt so lucky to have been blessed with a baby easily when I knew they had such a struggle in the beginning. I had no idea that we were in for a struggle ourselves. My friends and their baby girl are a reminder of our pregnancy, our son, his short life, and our giant loss. Their pure joy mirrors our deep devastation. I don’t want to feel that way. Part of me wants to go and visit them. To support their family, to be a good friend. Part of me wants to hold their baby girl. The part that aches to feel like a mom. The part that wants to be a friend. But I know I can’t handle it. I’m afraid that I might close my eyes for just a moment and imagine holding my Rylan. I just don’t think I can bear it. Because I know what will happen when I open my eyes. He will still be gone. And I’ll never know again how it feels to hold him close to my heart. If I saw my friends, even without their baby, I imagine I will just be thinking of Rylan the entire time. I hope that somewhere down the road it will be easier. Mostly because I miss my friends.

I don’t want to be afraid of my emotions. They almost have a life of their own these days. My feelings whether sad, angry, or otherwise can be exaggerated and wash over me like a tsunami. Calm and serene one second, an unexpected, uncontrollable force the next. Sometimes it’s just a feeling of anxiety that sweeps over me. Keeping it down is tough. I know it’s unhealthy to restrain your feelings but most times it’s just not the time or place. And other times you can’t hold them back no matter where you are. I hate that I have to hold them back as much as I hate that there is almost no place I can go that feels “safe” anymore. Safe from heartache. Safe from worries. My husband and I went to dinner with my parents last night. We went to a restaurant located in a fairly large shopping area. To our surprise they had live music in the courtyard situated among the shops. A bunch of people from the community had brought their camping chairs and blankets and were out enjoying the beautiful weather. Sounds like a great event to stumble on, right? I wish I could answer that question with a “yes.” I felt unprepared for such an event and it wasn’t because I didn’t have a spare blanket in the back of my car (I always do). It was because I had not mentally prepared myself for all of the happy families we’d watch as we waited to be buzzed for our table. There were so many families there. So many babies and little kids. Grandmothers dancing hand-in-hand with their grandkids. A son sitting on his dad’s shoulders. Dads and moms pushing strollers and holding their baby girls and boys. An infant boy in torn jeans, laying in the grass looking up at the sky. I couldn’t help but wish that was my family. That my parents could be the grandparents they wanted to be for our child. I could see it in my mom’s eyes–trying to push back her tears so she wouldn’t upset or hurt us. But I hurt anyway. I wished that I was holding our baby boy, rocking him along to the music. Or that Chris was holding him, singing him the lyrics to that horrible Springsteen cover. Again, it just felt so wrong. It took everything I had not to cry right there–in front of a crowd of people. I feel so robbed of what everyone else appears to have. I felt lonely and lost in a sea of families whose babies don’t die. I thought, “I wonder what that feels like.”

That just barely scratches the surface of things I’m afraid of these days. So, I’ll go back to what I started talking about before I veered off track. Life–and how you find ways to adjust. Right now I’m trying to follow the path that my life has taken. I want to resist it, but life just keeps pushing me forward. Making little adjustments every day without me even knowing it. I hope that one day I will wake up and feel like this dark cloud over my heart has lifted, even if just a little. Until then, I will continue to get up every day. I will do my best to pick my head up when I can. I will love my family and live for Rylan. Maybe his life and death were meant to steer us in a new direction. You won’t catch me planning our next move… I’ll just be waiting to see where he takes us.

Where was God?

When life knocks you on your ass, do you ever feel like it just keeps kicking you while you’re down? Sometimes I just want to throw up my hands and say “I give up.” It feels like every week we’ve had something to “handle,” on top of the obvious. When you are grieving even the smallest things can creep up and feel bigger than mountains. I hate when people say, “God only gives you as much as you can handle” or “just remember, tough times will only make you stronger.” What if I don’t want to be stronger? I thought that I was strong already. What if God was wrong this time? What if I can’t handle this? What if I just don’t want to? I know that I may lose some people on this one, but I need to say it. I’ve been on some blogs where people say that they’ve gotten through their loss with God’s help and that God had a good reason for taking their child. Well, I just can’t get behind that, at least not right now. I don’t know that someone could ever provide me with a reason for Rylan’s death that I could understand or agree with–and I will never understand why any parent must be given such a wonderful gift just to have it taken away, and so quickly.

I’ve honestly been in circles about how I feel about God over the years. When I was younger I attended church with my mom, dad, and sister. I was really too young to retain much about religion by the time my parents divorced and we stopped going regularly. It didn’t stop me from believing in God–I just don’t have in-depth knowledge about the Bible the way other people do. I do feel like I’ve struggled with faith over the years–at least in the sense that God will always look out for and protect us. I think it’s mostly because I’ve always had a lot of “why” questions for God. I feel like my parents have struggled a lot. I witnessed conflict between my mother and father, and eventually their divorce. It made my whole family sad and it took a long time for everyone to heal. My mom eventually remarried. My step-father is a great guy who has also had his share of loss. His wife, 10-year-old son, and young daughter were in a car accident before we met; his wife and son died, his daughter was left with a brain injury that effected her ability to talk and walk. I lived with my mom and stepdad for most of my life and helped to take care of my step-sister, Jocelyn. My parents have always been such hard workers, balancing their jobs with taking care of us–and in Jocelyn’s case it was a lot more care than the average child. I prayed a lot as a kid. For my parents to have it easier sometime. For Jocelyn to get better–for her to call her father “daddy” again–even just once. It seemed like he endured so much that I just wanted a miracle to happen for him. Maybe it was silly for me to think that God would or could even change those things. But, I wanted to believe it. In any case, we grew older and Jocelyn passed away at 21 years of age. I had a hard time dealing with the loss and can only imagine how my parents felt–so hard to care for someone for so long and then one day, they’re gone. It’s like you lose your purpose. That’s how I feel about Rylan and I only cared for him for 9 months. Maybe God doesn’t have to “give” us what we pray for–although, aren’t most prayers about something we want? I never prayed for material things or other silly requests. But I guess you can say that I’ve often prayed for very big things. I guess you can’t expect God to grant everyone a miracle. The reason I’m telling you all of this is because being pregnant strengthened my faith. I felt so blessed–God gave us such a precious gift. One that I would cherish and protect for years to come. A gift that I felt would finally fulfill my true purpose in life–to be a mother–and to share parenthood with my husband. It sparked an interest in me to find a church that my husband and I related to. One to attend more regularly. One that we could eventually raise our son in–where he would be christened with God’s love. I was excited about that. And, I thought that my parents faith was going to strengthen through Rylan’s birth, as well. I use to pray to God every night before dinner with my husband (during our pregnancy). I’d thank him for the blessing that was our beautiful son, kicking around in my belly. I’d thank him for looking after my friends and family and for keeping us safe and healthy. I’d ask him to keep looking out for us and to guide us where he saw fit. And, it made me feel so good.

Fast forward to May 12, 2013. The day that everything changed. I’ve never prayed more than I did that night. Even before we arrived at the hospital I prayed to God from home. I was scared about delivery from the beginning. I asked him to look after us, to keep us safe. I told him that I was excited to meet our little man and that we’d always do our best as parents. Soon after our arrival at the hospital, the doctors told us he was gone. After my epidural set in and the severe pain subsided I focused. Focused on God. I prayed over and over to him to change our fate. I prayed over and over for a miracle. The kind you see in those books about people surviving horrific accidents. The stories you read about people who have died, gone to heaven, met God, and came back to tell the story. I prayed for God to give Ry his heartbeat back. To restore life in his tiny lungs. I actually believed, up until the second Rylan entered the world, that God would come through and answer my prayers this time. Well, he didn’t. I can’t explain how hard it was to swallow that reality. My hope of hearing Rylan’s cries that day were crushed, along with my hope for life. If I put my faith in God’s plan for my family, than why did he lead us here? I wish I hadn’t asked God to guide us where he saw fit. If he had a hand in bringing us to such devastation than I’m not sure I want to follow his plan for my life. Because I don’t want a life for Chris and I that doesn’t include Rylan.

When I believed in God more than I ever had in my whole life, he abandoned us. At least that’s how I feel in my heart. I know that it’s easy to trust God and have faith when things in your life are positive. If you can still have faith when the chips are down than you are a true believer, right? What if you believe in God but lose your faith in him? Can you be sure that it will ever be restored? It took a long time for me to get to a place where I felt I had given my world over to God–with open arms. I feel like he gave it back to me. And, it’s not even the world I knew before. It’s tarnished now. Everything feels different. I carry sadness with me all of the time. I feel like a piece of my soul has vanished and I don’t know where to begin to look for it. I feel like when you’re born you possess this beautiful innocence, with no concerns, no expectations for life. Untouched by the world around you. Over the years it’s difficult to sustain that purity. I feel like I’ve completely lost the innocence I had left–through one tragedy. For the first time I can’t grab that silver lining that helps us through hard times. People say, “you may never get over the loss of your son, but down the road you’ll feel better, things will get easier.” I’ve lost loved ones before. They’re right, time does ease pain in most cases. I’ve witnessed it first hand. But this feels different for me than my previous losses. This has so many other feelings attached to it. So many physical and emotional hardships to bear. I want to see the light at the end of the tunnel so badly. I want to believe what people say. But for now I just don’t want to hear it. I hope that someday I will be able to reassure readers who feel the same way, that time does heal your broken heart. That putting the pieces of your life back together after a trauma like losing your child is achievable. That hope and your baby aren’t gone forever. Because that’s what I wish someone (who’s been through the same thing) would say to me right now.

Rylan’s poem.

Service cards were given out at the funeral home on the day of Rylan’s wake. It took me some time to figure out what to have printed on them until I found the below poem. I want to share it with you–if you have experienced the loss of your own son(s) or daughter(s) you may be able to relate. I think it’s a beautiful piece of writing. I hope you like it as much as I do.

Sweet Dreams Our Angel
Fly away my angel,
Spread your wings and fly.
Take the beauty of your soul,
and share it with the sky.
 
Take the warmth within your heart,
and put the sun to shame.
The glow of summer’s sunlight,
will never be the same.
 
Take the strength within your soul,
from your heart, the tenderness there.
Behold the majesty of the sky,
its beauty does not compare.
 
Take the splendor of the stars,
that twinkle in the sky.
It fades in the matchless sparkle,
of the beauty there in your eyes.
 
Fly away my angel,
for I have set you free.
I will wait here patiently,
until you fly back to me.