Tag Archives: loss of a child

Turning the page.

You can’t have light without darkness. Black without white. Nor good without bad. Life is a balancing act.

Saying that our first holiday without Rylan was difficult is an understatement. Last Christmas we were lucky enough to have our 20 week ultrasound a few days before the 25th…on Christmas morning we hurriedly sat ourselves in front of the tree to tear open the envelope that revealed we were having a son. We were so excited that we tried to prop the camera on the couch in order to record ourselves opening it. What an amazing gift. Not only were we blessed with a child, but also with the first boy in a sea of girls in our family. We thought that nobody could top our gift, our announcement, last year. We held onto the news until we could tell our families and even recorded that too. I came across that video over the past few months and watched it. It killed me for so many reasons. I look back at the couple in the video—the couple that looks and sounds a lot like me and my husband—and ache inside because I feel like they were so innocent and naive. It’s like I’m observing complete strangers. I watch and feel so sad for them. They have no idea.

All of the joy and excitement that was, is now just a faded memory—something that barely feels real. If someone told me about those experiences today, without proof, I’d likely tell them it’s fiction. But Chris and I have been left with plenty. We have ultrasound images to prove that I was pregnant. We have video to prove that other people knew we were pregnant. We have receipts from our baby registry stuffed in my nightstand. Photos and decor from two beautiful baby showers on a shelf in his room. I have a few recordings of Rylan’s heartbeat stored in the memo app on my phone. We have cards wishing us well for our future as a family. We have a basement full of toys and furniture. A nursery full of baby boy clothes carefully placed in drawers and suspended from tiny hangers in the closet. There are children’s books sitting quietly in baskets. Terrycloth towels neatly folded in the closet and baby shampoos stowed away in a bathroom drawer that I just can’t bring myself to clean out. It’s like we’re still waiting for him to come home. Wishing he’d come back to us. Hoping. Or maybe we’re just afraid that changing our surroundings will erase the only part of him we have left. What do you do when all you have are the memories that were suppose to be?

Parents that lose children find so much is left behind, while so little remains to hang onto each day. We do our best to cope. We try to honor our children, by showcasing the love that we have for them in some way. We try to find ways to keep them a part of us and as close to our hearts as we can. We have a picture of Rylan on the dresser in our bedroom and another in our living room. My husband and I wear necklaces every day that are engraved with Rylan’s name and the date of his birth. They were a gift from my parents, given the week of his funeral services. We have a few other gifts—necklaces, bracelets—that were also given to us that we wear in honor of his memory, but not every day. We have tattoos to keep him close and to give us the ability to open up and talk about our son to others. We’ve made donations to children’s charities, in his name, which has been so important to us. To know that our love for Rylan is helping other babies and children is amazing. It’s a way to honor his life and his memory.

All of the above are helpful and good, but they don’t replace or remove the heartache and emptiness that I feel without my baby. The longing to take care of him. It goes beyond “wanting” to be a parent. Once you are a parent you can’t shake the need to be a parent, whether your child is physically here or not. That is one of the hardest parts of this experience. It takes me to a place that is beyond sorrow. It makes me feel like a failure. It makes me jealous of other families, other parents—especially the ones who seem to take for granted what they have or what a miracle they’ve witnessed. When a baby cries in public I want to get out of my seat to calm them—but really it’s just the part of me who needs to hold and comfort my own baby. When I hear a child cry out for his mommy I feel stabbed in the heart because I know that I will never hear the same words from my own son. Every baby that is born healthy makes me wonder “why does it work out for them and not for us?” or “what did I do wrong?” The other night, after receiving the joyful email that my co-worker successfully delivered her baby boy, I stopped at the grocery store on my way home to pick up dinner. I pulled into the first space to find out that it was a “reserved for expectant mothers” space. After some choice words, I backed out and took a spot a few lines down in another row. I haven’t stopped thinking about that sign, though. Maybe I should have stayed in that spot, after all. The words seem so accurate in hindsight. Deep inside my soul I continue to be an expectant mother. I’m expecting to share parenthood with my husband—to be a mom and for my son to exist here in my arms. I know that I sound crazy, and, believe me, I do know what is. But understanding what is doesn’t change what your heart, mind, and body feels should be. If you can’t and don’t want to let go of being a parent to your child, than how do you find a way to loosen the grip? If you can’t loosen the grip, does it mean that it’s a good time to try again?

My husband and I have discussed “trying again” for awhile now. Pretty soon after we lost Rylan, about a month or so, I remember talking about how badly we wanted to be parents—sooner than later. But this kind of grief can be so confusing. At that point I wasn’t sure if my feelings were more about wanting to be a mom, in general, or about the natural need and desire to fulfill my job as Rylan’s mom. I also didn’t want to feel like we were trying to replace Rylan in any way or remedy the depression and despair that has come with his loss. I know full well that nobody could ever replace Rylan or the love that we have for him. I also know that the only bandaid in this situation would be having him back here. Being aware of those things doesnt change the fact that thoughts like those can creep in and make you question your intentions. After months of consideration I can tell you that no matter how much time elapses, I will always fall on both sides of the motherhood coin. I will always want to be Rylan’s mom and feel an urgency to be that now. That is a huge part of what drives my sadness. But I also know that I have and always will want to be a mom, moving forward. And, that is okay. I’m so glad that I finally got there. I do want to try again. I do want Ry to have a younger brother or sister. I do want Chris and I to get a chance at actively being parents—together.

So, here I sit, smack dab in the middle of January 1stand here’s what I know. I know I want to be a mom again. I know I want Chris to be a dad again. I know the road to get there will be bumpy, but for the good of my family I’m willing to get back into the driver’s seat. I won’t lie, I’m fearful of the journeyterrified, actually. But, I have to at least try. I didn’t think that I could survive the past 7 months, but here I sit still writing to you. This year I also want to make some changes. I want to adjust our lifestyle to make family the priority we’ve always wanted it to be—even if it can’t happen overnight. I want to take better care of myself and be a happier person for my family. Do more for others. Do my part in making our life as fulfilled as possible. Lucky for us, we have the best driving force in the world—the love for our beautiful son, Rylan.

Thank you for stopping by…and for being a part of our story so far. My best to you and yours for a happier new year.

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Good tidings.

Once again, the hustle of work and bustle of life (and the holidays) have kept me from writing as often as I’d like to—or even need to these days. So, for those of you who read my blog, I apologize. After all, what helps me get through my days is reading the blog posts of others and I know that it can be so disappointing to check in only to see that nothing new has been posted. I really do want to get better about posting more often in the new year.

I’d like to begin by congratulating all of you parents out there—we made it through the biggest holiday of the year. We made it through a multitude of possible obstacles leading up to Christmas. Holiday cards featuring family photos developed on Shutterfly. Those lovely holiday letters. Writing and sending our own cards (if you found the energy to do it). Work parties. Family gatherings. All of those TV commercials that focus on children. Shopping, if you dared—which may have resulted in a few uncomfortable conversations with acquaintances. Stepping into church when you’re questioning faith the most. A possible change in your traditions from years past. Well, I think we deserve more than just a pat on the back! An all-expenses paid vacation, perhaps? Wouldn’t that be nice? Hawaii here I come!!! In all seriousness, though, I hope that you were all able to find a way to make your son or daughter a part of your holiday. The holidays were certainly different for us this year, but not nearly as terrible as we expected—just different.

For one, a very special family gave us the most amazing gift anyone could give. They remembered our son and kept his memory alive in their home for the entire Christmas season. A family in Alabama hand made an ornament for our Rylan and placed it on their tree. My husband and I were speechless. Tearful, but speechless. Our day-to-day doesn’t always allow us the chance to talk about our son. And, because he’s not physically here to share with others the way other families can, we often feel that the love we have for him must often stay inside—only between us and in our hearts, rather than out in the open. This family—whom we’ve never met—did so many things for our family. They thought about Rylan without us prompting it. They believed that his existence and his memory were important. They took the time to make something that symbolized his life. To them it was probably a pretty simple gesture, but to us it meant the world. We will never forget their family—and will also keep their baby, Lucy, in our hearts forever.

Two, I did about 98% of my shopping online this year. It worked out pretty well. I shopped primarily on Etsy.com and managed to get more personalized gifts than if I went out traipsing about the overcrowded malls. It saved me from the additional stress and rush of the holiday. One of the most important gifts that we purchased was from a shop called “Butterstore.” We wanted to give each of our family members an ornament for their tree that symbolized our son. The artist, Shay, creates beautiful, ceramic butterfly ornaments and even worked with me to hand paint footprints and Rylan’s initials on the bottom charm. I can’t thank her enough for creating something so special for us and our family.

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Go to ButterStore by clicking here

We really weren’t sure about decorating our home this year. I pretty much handle the decorating in our house (mostly because I’m so artsy and OCD about it), but I didn’t really feel like I had the energy this time. I was kind of glad when I came home one day after work and Chris had pulled out a few decorations from the basement and left them on the shelf, replacing the few fall items I had put out for Halloween and Thanksgiving. It gave me the little push I needed. I certainly didn’t go as overboard as I normally do, but stringing some lights about the house made it feel warm and cozy. I normally love having strings of lights around and put them everywhere I can—around house plants, under fake snow, and I even caused a shortage once for stringing too many on our tree. I definitely get that from my mom—she keeps lights in her house all year round. Not in a cheesy way—more in that warm, country home kind of way. We also decided to purchase a small tree this year. We wanted it to be Rylan’s tree. We decorated it with ornaments that were special to us and placed a monarch butterfly at the very top. It sits in the front room of our home so I see it every time I pull in the driveway at night after a long day at work. We really weren’t sure if we wanted to get a tree this year at all. To be honest, nothing feels the same anymore and what we normally do in our lives couldn’t feel more abnormal. It was nice that picking a tree ended up being so simple. We stopped at a local place and loved the second tree we looked at—before we knew it we were home placing it in the tree stand. I’m so glad that we decided to get it and it was nice to feel like we were doing something to honor Rylan’s memory in some way.

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We even got the pups to pose in front of the tree for a very brief moment so that we could send out a Christmas text to family and friends on Christmas morning…don’t they look just handsome?! It is my pleasure to introduce you to Sam and Nacho… our spoiled boys definitely give us something to smile about on a daily basis!

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I did make it through my Christmas thank you cards. It took me until the very last minute but I got through them. It was hard, I won’t lie. It took some tissues and some definite courage. I probably sent more cards this year than I ever had—but I felt like we had a lot of people to thank this year.

We decided to stay in this Christmas eve and Christmas day, which was very different as we normally travel all over to see our family. I’ll be honest, it felt odd, but it was kind of nice to be home. Without the rushing around and hours in the car. It was nice to be with Chris and the dogs. We agreed to give each other just a few things, nothing crazy. That was nice because it allowed us to spend more time together in the long run. Rather than being out among crazed shoppers in the weeks leading up to Christmas, we spent our evenings on the couch under a blanket or hanging out in front of our tree listening to carols. On Christmas eve I worked, but that evening was nice. We visited the cemetery to place a tree and candle for Ry. It was VERY difficult, to say the least. I don’t think that I can put into words how that felt. Talk about being in such a different placed than I pictured this year. But I will save all of that for my next post. I really want this one to focus on the positive part of our holiday experience. So that evening we ate dinner, then watched classic holiday shows and sipped cocoa. I also wrapped some gifts pretty late (since I’m always a step behind in life-lol). On Christmas Day we slept in, exchanged gifts, and even gave wrapped-up bones for the pooches to open. Wrapped some last minute gifts, napped a bit, ate dinner, watched a Christmas music special, and even danced in front of the tree to Sinatra (we’re suckers for romance). All in all, it wasn’t too bad. We missed our family, of course. But the day was nicer than we ever imagined it could be in light of what was missing.

We plan to see our family over the next week or so to exchange gifts and spend some time. We saw one set of parents yesterday, as well as my sister’s family. My parents gave us some very thoughtful gifts. A beautiful ornament that they made with a photo of a butterfly on one side, and us with Ry on the other. I cried, but it was really so nice. They gave us necklaces with his name on them and some lighthearted gifts to make us smile. My sister gave us some gifts to make us laugh which was also appreciated.

So here I am, trying to finish my post before running off to work to meet some crazy deadlines. Time to get a shower, take care of the pups, and get my butt to work! At least it’s only one day and than we have a weekend! Thank goodness for that! Well, I hope you all had a lovely holiday and made the most of what you had to work with this year. Happy (belated) holidays!