Tag Archives: family

Mourning sickness.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Fly on the wall.

I started 2 posts this week with no publishing success. I’m about to rework the second in hopes of sharing it with you by the end of the night. Here goes nothing.

Chris has been busy lately so I’ve recently found myself with more time to fill. It doesn’t happen that often, as he is by my side about 98% of the time. We really appreciate our relationship and try to honor that gift by spending as much quality time together as our schedules allow. It feels strange when I’m alone. I think about how Chris works from home and how he is by himself a lot, and wonder how he does it—especially since my work schedule and commute cause me to arrive home late most evenings. It’s a long day for both of us. Me, constantly busy and stimulated, longing for the safety, comfort, and quiet of home—Chris, looking forward to human interaction, conversation, and getting out of the house. I don’t know whose day is worse. Maybe neither. I know that most days I wish that I could work from home. Or maybe not work at all. In any case, I think a lot about how hard it must be for him sometimes. It’s tough not to sit here and get lost in your own head. I compare it to those dreaded evenings, which happened more in the beginning, when I just couldn’t shut my brain off and felt consumed by my loss. Laying awake, wide-eyed, heart pounding, while the rest of the world was in dreamland. It’s difficult not to feel sad, lonely, and deeply depressed. Even though there is a part of me who is totally satisfied and overjoyed to get some peace and time for myself, another part of me feels so overwhelmed with sorrow. All of those difficult moments I experience on a daily basis just add up over time. They fill me up, silently stewing, just waiting for the right moment to boil over. Every time I have to witness the family life that I don’t have—whether it’s from afar or whether I’m smack dab in the middle of it—it’s like getting stabbed in the heart every time. Then add in the moments I spend considering my own experiences—where I was, where I sit now, how I wish things were, and where I hope to be in the future—a few minutes alone and you can imagine how easy it is for me to surround myself in darkness.

I’m really tired of being the onlooker. It’s beyond difficult. I’m tired of having to listen to and watch everyone else get what I feel like my family should have, too—right now. There, I said it. I’m tired of feeling jealous, angry, disappointed, sad, and awful. And, I’m tired of keeping it inside all the time. Why must I be subjected to a world where all babies live while I’m trying to come to terms with the fact that my baby died?

I just want to get off the ride for awhile. I don’t want to listen to discussions over baby names. Pregnancy diets. OB appointments, weigh-ins, and especially not the heartbeat. I don’t want to hear about ultrasound photos. Sick kids going to the doctor. Christmas mornings. I don’t want to hear about the hair color of a newborn. Daycare. Your kids’ voices in your iPhone video. I no longer want to hear stories about the amazing, wonderful, silly, annoying, loving, or funny thing a child did yesterday, last night, or last year. And, I’m sorry if that makes me a bad person. I’m sincerely sorry if that makes me a bad friend, sister, or daughter. I know that I sound selfish, and I feel guilty admitting it. I just wish that the people in my daily life could truly understand how I feel and what I’m really going through. Rylan died eight months ago. It may seem like a long time ago to others but the loss is still fresh in my heart and soul. A week of goodbyes does not mean that I’ve magically moved on or away from the loss of my son. My grief is a part of my daily routine. I begin my days by putting on a necklace engraved with his name, think about him during the day, and end it by blowing a kiss to a picture frame that houses a photo of his beautiful, sleeping face.

It wasn’t so long ago that I was pregnant and filled with all of the hope and excitement that goes along with it. I was staring at black and white images dreaming about what my baby’s face would look like—wondering how his smile would glow, whose eye color he would have, and what it would be like to hear his tiny voice for the first time in that hospital room. Back then those thoughts were surrounded by the anticipation of what was to come. By the promise of tomorrow. Those thoughts kept me going when the physical part of being pregnant was tough to bear. I always told myself that it was worth it—because in the end I would have the most amazing gift for the rest of my life. Now, I sit here with the same thoughts, but without the security I once felt. Now I know that I’ll never have those answers. I won’t know what it feels like to hold my son again. I’ll never hear his cries or laughter in the next room. Never see his open eyes, or know what it feels like to have him grip my finger with his tiny hand. I’ll never read him a bedtime story or kiss his forehead goodnight. The list in my head is endless—a lifetime of memories that will never be. The feeling is so difficult to live with—and impossible to explain to anyone who hasn’t been through it themselves. I can honestly say that I now know why people commit suicide. I know what true despair is—to be so physically and emotionally weak that you don’t feel like you can possibly go on. I’m not suggesting that I would do anything so rash, so any calls for help are unnecessary. All I’m saying is that I completely get it. It’s hard to want to continue on after you lose your child. It’s really so unnatural. I don’t think parents are meant to bury their babies—no matter how old they are—I think that’s what makes it so traumatic. I truly feel sorry for those who have experienced it and just want them to know that, however you are feeling, you are not alone.

I’m leaving you tonight with a heavy heart and a crazy amount of love for my angel baby. And, wishing you a good night’s sleep.

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Tis the season to be…uncertain.

The holidays are fast approaching and I find myself feeling more and more uncomfortable. Now, to be perfectly honest, I’m somebody who dreads parts of the holiday season during an average year. My parents have been divorced since I was 8 years old so I’ve been doing to “split the holidays” dance for as long as I can remember… and keep in mind, that was a waltz between two families. Now add my husband’s side and my sisters in-laws to the mix (who always extend an invite) and you can imagine the tug-of-war and guilt that goes along with devising the holiday plans for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and just about every other holiday that people find important. I’ve tried everything from eating multiple dinners in one day to splitting visits across 3 days to scheduling everyone at our house without overlap (which did not really work or eliminate the stress as I’d hoped it would). Either way you feel like someone or some group is being slighted–including yourself. I find myself trying so hard to please everyone else that my own wants are pushed aside. I literally begin stressing about the holidays in September. And, as the families know that we have many to choose from, they also start trying to solidify plans with us earlier to catch us first. I’m not sure if that is intentional or if that’s just how it feels to me after all of this time.

Besides the big questions around “where do we go?” I find that venturing out into public becomes a nightmare around the holidays. People drive erratically and fight over parking spaces in high volume shopping areas. They push each other over to get the last fad-of-the-year toy on the shelf. Checkout lines are a mile long. I always hold off to the last minute then try to knock out all of my shopping in 3 days.

Thanksgiving has never been my holiday. Don’t get me wrong, I have no problem giving thanks—I just wish that the turkey and cranberry sauce could be replaced with lasagna and spaghetti and the football—well, that could just disappear all together as far as I’m concerned! Having said all of that, there are many things that I love about Christmas. The lights draped across my neighbor’s rooftops. The piney smell of a real Christmas tree in my living room. Listening to holiday music while I curl up with my husband and dogs on the couch, staring at the lights and decor placed in every corner of our home. Hot cocoa with peppermint and marshmallows. Giving gifts to the people that I care about. Attending church on Christmas Eve–especially when I can hear the chiming of the bell choir playing classic carols. Having our annual backyard bonfire, which has become a tradition among our family and friends.

The holidays are going to be so different than I imagined. I know it may sound selfish, but I felt like this year was our year. I’ve spent so much time sharing in our family’s Christmas celebrations–going to their homes and being a part of their lives. So much time watching the world around us enjoy the holidays with their kids. So much time wishing it could be us and feeling like it would never happen. Then we got pregnant. I thought that this year was going to be our time. To spend Christmas at our home as our own family unit. To begin our own traditions. To share memories that were completely new and different from anything we’d ever experienced. I was so excited. I couldn’t wait to add that hokey “baby’s first christmas” ornament to our tree. To make and hang Rylan’s stocking. To have people as interested in sharing in our family as we do in theirs. I couldn’t wait to hold my baby in my arms while sitting by the tree at night. I couldn’t wait to read him Christmas books from my childhood. I couldn’t wait to bundle him up in cute, holiday outfits and show people how proud I am to be his mommy. I wanted to join that group that sends family photo cards attached to update letters about their family members and what they’ve been involved in this year.

Now, I don’t know what to do. I don’t really feel like doing anything. If I could I’d probably run to Hawaii or lock myself in my room and hibernate until after May 12th.  I considered sending Christmas cards that double as the thank you’s that I haven’t yet sent. Well, you have to write them out to send them, I suppose. I think about wanting to do them, I just haven’t had the emotional energy to actually follow through. So maybe that’s a good option. I want to avoid everything-especially the families that I will encounter in every store, every hallway, every restaurant, every public bathroom, on every t.v. commercial, catalogue, and hallmark movie…among others. As far as traveling to the homes of friends and family this year, I just don’t want to. I feel torn. I want to see everyone–I love them–but at the same time want to be at home–alone. I feel like I put on a brave face for people every single day–at work, for family-birthday celebrations, for visits with friends. Over the holidays I want to be able to feel when I feel, as silly as it sounds. I want to be able to cry the second the sadness makes its way to my eyes–with no discomfort or worry about what others will think or with concern over how uncomfortable it makes them feel. I want to sleep all day if I’m tired. I want the quality time with my immediate family that I expected–even if it has to be without Ry. I want to have some good memories with Chris this year–I think that’s very important. We actually talked about going away. Traveling to some small, Christmas town. Escaping the norm this season–after all, the norm isn’t our life right now. We’ve contemplated the idea…as Christmas towns will surely harbor large amounts of family festivities. So who knows if that will happen. Plus, I work Monday, Tuesday, and Friday that week. Doesn’t exactly make it easy to take a long weekend. Chris and I have talked and decided that we want people to donate money in Rylan’s name in place of buying us gifts. It was Chris’ idea and I think it’s a great one. We just have to nail down some charities that we feel would be best–all we know is that we want it to benefit children. I would also like to find some way to volunteer this season–to help someone/people in need. I’m not sure how yet, but I definitely feel the urge to do something positive for others.

Well, it’s late and I’ve found this post to be a bit of a ramble. I guess my point is that I need the holidays to be considerate of us this year, and I don’t think that’s too much to ask. I want to acknowledge our son’s life even if he’s not in our arms. I want to be comfortable. Spend time at home. To be able to keep our plans unplanned–flexible to change as little or as often as needed to accommodate our aching hearts. I want to have some smiles. I want to feel warm. I want to feel loved.

Before I go I have just one thing left to say.

I miss Rylan so much.