Tag Archives: love

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.

Yesterdays and tomorrows.

Before I continue I need to voice that it’s very difficult to write this post. I know of a friend who reads my blog sometimes and some of what I’m about to share may be hard for her to hear. I want her to know that I’m sorry in advance if anything that I say makes her sad or hurt in any way. It’s not my intent. I  just need to get these feelings down in some form. I hope you know I love you. 

 

25 weeks along.
6 months of pregnancy with my second child.
13 months of missing my first. I’m still having a difficult time with the past and our future.

Most days I feel like a mental disaster. The past few weeks have been especially hard. Chris and I invited our friends over last weekend—the ones that we haven’t seen in over a year who have a daughter that was born right before Rylan. If you keep up with my blog you know about this already so I’ll spare the details again. Work was busy for me leading up to the weekend. I was anxious—for obvious reasons—and on top of it I started freaking out that something was wrong with B2K (Baby Kudela #2). My OB doctor told me previously that it would be perfectly normal if I didn’t feel the baby regularly until around week 24. The week before, the baby was moving about, having a party in my belly off and on (which was exciting)—enough to keep my mind at ease throughout the day and night. By Thursday I felt like the movement had decreased and I was mentally freaking out every second of the day by Friday. My inner dialogue was flooded with thoughts and questions about what was worth being worried about (how much was just me being crazy or overreacting), what warranted an early leave from work, a scare for my husband, and a trip to the doctor’s office for a heartbeat check. After all, here I am between week 24 and 25. What do I do? Pop in at the doctor’s office every day for a gut check? I tried silly tactics like drinking sugary soda and pressing on my belly a bit to initiate some kind of movement. I stepped out for some air and tried breathing relaxed breaths to calm my nerves. In the end, I decided not to go to the doctor. Friday night I felt more movement and serious relief. Reassured that B2K was alive.

Saturday was scary. And good. And really, really tough. Just like all of my days, everything is two-sided. We are hard pressed to find good in our lives without pain standing right beside it. We decided to meet at my parents house to have lunch and some pool time. It was the first time we would see A & G and their little girl. Not only would it be the first time that I would see their young daughter, but also the first time that I would intentionally place myself in the presence of a child around infant/toddler age. Obviously, I’ve had expected run-ins with kids in public, but it’s still not easy… and at my job I feel like there have been weekly visits from my co-worker’s children, many of which are young. Those moments have been especially hard for me. And when they  unexpectedly occur I struggle to control my emotions and often end up somewhere nearby in tears. Needless to say, spending a few hours around a toddler that would be almost the exact age of my son and that has such ties to our previous plans was especially difficult. It was so nice to finally see our friends again. It was so nice to give them a big hug and see them face-to-face. It felt like way too much time had passed. But, those happy feelings were uncontrollably pulled down by the weight of our great loss. The entire day I consciously stayed busy and shook off the feelings every time my mind wandered. And, it was almost funny—when they left I felt like it was better than I had anticipated—we made it through another obstacle. I was so happy to see them, and I didn’t cry in front of them—it went smoothly and I was still standing. I have to say I felt shocked and impressed.

What I realized later that night once we settled at home, and in the days that followed, was that it was harder than I thought. The entire day I had pushed the feelings down and now they were rising back to the surface, and quickly. I felt such heartache, like losing him all over again. That unanswered question, and all that goes along with it, plagued me. Why? Why were we chosen to lose so much? To be so different from those around us? Forever changed inside.

I watched them tend to their little girl all day and wished that we were doing the same for Rylan. I wondered who he would be. How we would be as his parents. How our past year would be different. Whose features would he have? What color eyes would stare back at us? Would his hair be cornsilk blonde like Chris’ was as a child? What would his smile look like? Would he be shy or outgoing? Would he love the water like I do? Be fearless? What would it be like to hold his hand again? To watch him interact with his daddy? How would we work together to care for him? What kind of habits or routines would we have? How would it feel to hug him and kiss his soft, little cheeks or the top of his head? To hold him as he drifted off for a nap? I wished I could hear him laugh, or even cry. Being around Erin and watching A & G care for her made me long for my son even more. It awoke that “mom” part of me that I continuously work so hard to turn off every day.

Our visit has made me realize that our relationship with them will forever be challenged. And, it’s so unfair. G and I have been friends since 5th grade. That’s about 25 years, I think. We didn’t do anything to cause this. Wasn’t losing Rylan enough? I don’t want to lose our good friends but I also don’t know how to pretend like everything is normal. It’s not. There will never be a time that I won’t look at their family and compare what they have to what we’re missing. There will never be a moment when I won’t compare their sweet girl to my absent angel. Not at age 1, 10, 16, 18, or 32… there will always be heartache. I’m not sure where to go from here.

So, with a heavy heart I started the work week. Still nervous about B2K, worries escalated by lingering thoughts of Rylan’s death. Needless to say, I made it to our Tuesday afternoon ultrasound. Happy to hear that the baby was doing okay. Growth and heart rates normal. Our last blood test came back normal, too, which was so good to hear. They said that last time Rylan’s levels were off a bit. Nothing that would have caused concern at the time since all other things seemed normal, but looking back it may indicate that placenta problems were a possibility. Chris and I both need reassurance as much as we can get it with this pregnancy. We took the opportunity to discuss our concerns with the specialist. He said that babies have wake/sleep cycles of a half hour at a time and that I’m not always going to feel the baby’s movements, especially right now. He clarified that I will need to begin kick counting at 28 weeks and gave me some additional information about it. I’m so nervous about that. I don’t want to miss anything this time. It’s hard enough living with the fact that Rylan died and I had no idea. I don’t think you can be any closer to another human being than carrying them, growing them, in your belly. I still feel like, as his mother, I should’ve known. I’m terrified of that happening again. I don’t think that I could live with myself if it happened twice.

I have 100 days left, probably a little less. It sounds like a lot, but there are more days behind us than ahead, which is a small relief. We try to live for today and not get too ahead of ourselves. It’s difficult to attach to the baby without setting some kind of expectations that things will work out. It’s like walking a tightrope. Someone is holding the end of the wire, but I can’t see their face, and they are in control of our fate. I’m just doing my best to keep my balance for our family. I hope that they will show us mercy. That we will be blessed with a living, breathing baby that we can raise for a lifetime. I want to be an active mom so badly. I want sleepless nights. Dirty diapers. Tantrums. I want the whole package. And, I’ll appreciate every second, as much as I humanly can. Just as there are no words to truly express the sadness I carry over the loss of our first baby, I cannot fully articulate how deeply I yearn to be a mother. I just hope that I get the chance to show everyone someday.

On that note, I need to get weekending. Hugs to all!

Hope for tomorrow.

I’ve contemplated not sharing too much of our new pregnancy on this blog for a few reasons. One, I noticed that when I visited other people’s blog pages in the past, hearing about their new pregnancies wasn’t always easy for me. I felt happy and hopeful for the families who were ready to move on, but I wasn’t there yet. Reading about other people’s pregnancies and living babies made me feel more sad and alienated than I already felt. I obviously don’t want to hurt the people who stop in on my blog for comfort. Two, I don’t want to take away from Rylan. This blog was meant for him. For our journey with him. But, what I’ve recently lost sight of is that this blog is also about our healing. Telling our “now” story and our “future” story is still telling Rylan’s story. Everything that we have done and continue to do in our lives since we lost him is impacted by him, his existence, and his physical departure from our lives. So, moving forward I will probably be sharing more about our life, including the journey we our taking now with our “rainbow” baby, as people often refer to them.

So, that’s a good place for me to start. I don’t particularly like the term “rainbow baby” for a child that follows the one you’ve lost. I understand why someone coined the term. Rainbows signify hope and beauty. I wonder, though, what that makes the previous child. What comes before a rainbow? Rain? A thunderstorm? Either way it feels like something dark. Granted, losing Ry brought about a very dark time in our lives—but it’s the loss that was dark and sad—not our son. Rylan was beautiful. A joy while he was with us. I know I’m being ultra sensitive here, but personally, something feels off about the rainbow thing. So, moving forward I am going to refer to the new baby as our “hope baby.” That this baby will stand for a hopeful future. The hope of being active parents. The hope that we will give Rylan a younger sibling—one that he can help us protect from afar. The hope that we can one day share the amazing love we have for each other with our very own child every day. I obviously don’t want to offend anyone who likes or uses the “rainbow baby” term. It’s just not for me.

I will also be referring to the baby as B2K. A nickname I gave this new baby early on when I didn’t know the gender. The nickname stands for “Baby 2 Kudela” and it makes me smile when I say it. Chris and I have decided not to share the gender with anyone throughout the pregnancy so it’s an easy way not to slip around our friends and family. Get use to the term—you’re going to hear it a lot from here on out.

I usually refer to this pregnancy as being bitter sweet. I feel very good knowing that we’ve been given a second chance at being active parents. However, sitting here after such a tremendous loss is difficult in so many ways, too. Below are some of my thoughts on how this pregnancy is/has been different for me than my first experience and how I feel it differs from parents that haven’t endured the tragedy of losing their baby.

  • When I’m excited about the new baby I feel like I’m disregarding Rylan. Like I’m tossing him aside. Like I’m a bad mother.
  • When I miss Rylan and feel reluctant to attach too much to the new pregnancy I feel I’m neglecting B2K. Like this baby is not as important as my first. Like I’m a bad mother.
  • Having a baby in my belly right now isn’t a guarantee that I will have a lifetime with my child in the future. I am aware that it can be taken away from me in the blink of an eye.
  • It took me a long time to feel comfortable enough to download a baby app for my phone—and I couldn’t bring myself to use the same one as I used for Ry. I’m so afraid of being bombarded with baby alerts, emails, and snail mail again. I know how painful it was to receive those things once Rylan had died—the world didn’t know what happened to us. Heck, I still receive mail congratulating me on “1 year with your baby” and “milestones that you and you’re baby have shared this year” and “what year 2 will bring for you and your family.” God forbid anything happen to B2K, I don’t think I could deal with all of those reminders again… and x2!
  • I haven’t held a baby in over a year.
  • I avoid encounters with babies and new moms at all costs. Being in their presence is especially difficult for me. If things go as planned with B2K I wonder how I will react and feel during that first moment together.
  • I’m more terrified of labor and delivery than before. Last time it was the unknown of never having a baby that was scary. This time I know how scary it was and how painful it was for me. I’m fearful of doing it again.
  • I haven’t seen some of our close friends (a couple and their little girl) in over a year. I’ve mentioned them in my blog before. Their daughter was born right before Rylan. Our lives, the lives of our children, and our futures appeared to be aligning perfectly before our son died. Things flipped completely after that. It made it feel especially cruel. Now their experience is a direct reminder of what we don’t have—what we missed out on in the past year, and what continues to be absent in our lives. I’m afraid that seeing their little girl will be painful for us. The last time I held Erin, Rylan was kicking at her from inside my belly. I feel like we lost so much more than just Rylan in this experience. This friendship is just one of the many. Not being a part of their lives and their joy makes me feel awful. I feel like a horrible friend. They have been so understanding about what’s happened, but it doesn’t change how awful I feel about the whole thing. The good thing is that I feel ready to see them for the first time as a family. It may be hard but I’m not ready to lose them forever.
  • I’m not sure what to do about the nursery. Its gender neutral. If I redecorate than I feel like I’m erasing Rylan from our lives, like I’m replacing him. If I leave it as is I feel like I’m not treating B2K with the individual love he/she deserves.
  • I don’t want a baby shower. I have plenty of usable items (that I held on to) from the first shower. I’m afraid that something might happen and I don’t want us to get to ahead of ourselves.
  • Chris and I interact with B2K more in some ways. I think it’s because we want to make the most of the time we have “just in case.” With Ry, we assumed we’d have all the time in the world to share our love and experiences. This time we don’t want to regret things we have or haven’t done during the pregnancy stage.
  • I can’t tell the difference between crazy and rational thoughts about the new baby. What physical feelings are normal and which deserve a call to or visit to the doctor.
  • All doctors appointments are scary. I hold my breath before every ultrasound and dopplar check.
  • I wish I could go to the doctor every morning to be reassured that B2K is breathing and their is a good heartbeat.
  • I don’t feel comfortable talking to most pregnant women about their pregnancies. Even though we’re in a similar place physically, I feel like they may as well be aliens because I couldn’t feel more different mentally.
  • I’m afraid to step into Babies r Us.
  • Sometimes I have dreams/nightmares about the moment I found out that Rylan died or that I’m having to tell people what happened.
  • Sometimes I have dreams/nightmares that something bad has happened to B2K.
  • I have panic attacks about whether B2K is alive and okay. Sometimes it’s a result of the nightmares.
  • I feel especially happy when I feel B2K moving and try to share it with my husband whenever possible.
  • I’m afraid of unusual (and some ridiculous) things that I feel might lead to losing B2K. Like getting my hair colored, getting a pedicure, eating/drinking items with caffeine, lifting too much or overexerting myself, working late hours, getting injured, eating hot dogs, sleeping on my back accidentally…and the list goes on and on.
  • I was afraid to purchase clothing for the new baby. Again, nervous about jinxing everything or allowing myself to have expectations that things will work out when I know there is a chance they may not. Needless to say, Chris made the first move and picked up an item that he gave me for Mother’s Day. I got over my fear and purchased a few things last week. It felt good and scary at the same time.
  • I’m afraid that I cannot afford to be out on maternity leave for 3 months (just like last time). But, this time I don’t care. If I’m lucky and blessed enough to have a healthy, breathing baby when this pregnancy comes to term I will spend all of the time I possibly can with B2K.
  • I’m going to make someone else bring the baby carseat to the hospital. I don’t want to have it ready in my car until I know that I’m bringing home our baby.
  • My doctor is male this time and I’ve chosen a hospital closer to home. If I feel anything out of the ordinary with B2K I want to be able to act quickly.
  • Being pregnant gives people more of a reason to ask if this is my first child. It forces me to tell people about Rylan’s death. Sometimes it’s nice to have a reason to talk about him and share the fact that I am technically a mom with others, even if they’re strangers. Sometimes it’s really hard. Sometimes it feels good and difficult. Telling the story more than one time in a day is especially hard. Sometimes I encounter people who have had something happen to them, someone close to them, or someone they know. It’s nice to hear stories about couples like us who have gone on to have more children. It gives a bit of hope.

Well, I’ve rambled enough and need to tear myself away from the computer to enjoy some of the sunshine this weekend. I have no doubt that I will continue the list above in future posts…that I will have more to share as B2K grows. Thank you, as always, for stopping by. I am sending hugs to all of the other parents who are learning to live again after losing their children.

The second hardest day of my life.

I could not wait for winter to come to a close. Yet, as I sit here, I can say that I’m not quite ready for spring, either. Now, let’s not get confused here. I’m most definitely ready for sundresses, tanks, and flip flops. Sun on my face and flowering trees. Birds singing in the morning and a light breeze through the windows at night. But like everything in my life since we lost Rylan, there is no light without shadows. Spring does not just bring about the expectation of sunnier days for me, but the promise of sorrow.

My beautiful son, Rylan died, and was born, on May 12th. That was Mother’s Day last year. I think that made losing him feel extra cruel. It still hurts me to the core. Both his 1st birthday and Mother’s Day have come. This year they actually fall on different days. I’m not sure if that softens the blow at all. In fact, I will now have two, consecutive days of extreme heartbreak to overcome—every year. And that’s not saying that the other days of the year are easy. The past few weeks grew more and more difficult as today approached. It’s been harder to make it through regular days. I haven’t been able to sleep, and it’s not because I have to get up 8 times a night for bio breaks. I’ve sat and stared at this computer screen several times trying to complete this post and have found it difficult to gather words on a page that can truly capture how I feel.

I can’t believe that it has been a year. Sometimes I run through those last few days, the weeks that closely followed our baby’s death, in my head and in my heart. It’s like experiencing a nightmare while you’re fully awake. I can feel everything inside as if it’s occurring in the present moment. I can feel the nervousness and fear of not knowing what delivery will be or feel like. I can see my husband laying next to me in bed as we wait for labor to progress. Waiting to go to the hospital when the time is “right.” I can hear our conversation about how our lives are about to change in such a different, and amazing, way. Our excitement. I concentrate on the music playing and the designs that dance on the computer screen in our guest room. I feel how painful the contractions are and how hard it is to make the drive to the hospital, which is not super close to our home. I can picture my car, abandoned by the front doors, hazard lights flashing against the columns of the entryway in the middle of the night. The concern on my husbands face when the first entrance we approach is locked. I can feel the contractions becoming stronger. I’m scared. Barely able to walk. Once inside, my husband wheels me up to the elevator so we can get to the maternity floor. I hand my insurance cards to the nurse once we reach our destination. I try to keep calm. We enter the room where our lives will be forever changed. The pain becomes scarier. Nearly unbearable. My water breaks immediately. The nurses use a dopplar on my stomach. Than an ultrasound machine. I can sense that something is wrong. I hear the silence in the room as they look and listen. It feels like an eternity and mere seconds when they look up at us and say, “I’m sorry. There is no heartbeat. I’m sorry.” I can barely process what is happening at that moment. Between the shock and severe physical pain I can only concentrate on breathing. Devastated. The only word in the English language that remotely comes close to how I felt that night—how I felt after—and how I continue to feel over our great loss every day.

I cry less these days, but when I do it’s long and hard. Sorrow runs deep. Losing a child is not something you can ever accept or get beyond. I know that I’ve said it before, but I think it’s unnatural. I really don’t think that parents are meant to bury their babies. It goes against the cycle of life. The process is so backwards that parents can’t be expected to easily and comfortably move forward. The loss is something we carry forever. I wish that the people we encounter everyday could understand how we feel. But I’ve learned that even the people who come close to understanding (like some of you readers) can’t relate to everything I say, nor do I relate to everything you say. All of our experiences are different. Our actions after losing our children were different. The way we cope is different. Even my husband and I, who have endured losing the same child, handle the loss individually. Some of the hurt is the same, some varies. Losing a child can leave you in a very lonely place. Sometimes the hurt is tucked down deep inside you. When you attend family functions or go out with friends. When you go to work or take a trip to the store. But keeping it down or feeling like you have to keep it under the surface-especially for days or weeks on end—can intensify the isolation and hurt you feel. That is where I am a lot of the time. I wish that no one had to experience the loss of a child. All I can say is that it will alter your view of the world and change who you are forever.

So let’s talk about Mother’s Day. Leading up to yesterday was tough. Listening to other people’s upcoming plans at work last week. Commercials on television. Advertising in just about every store you stepped into for the past month. For as sad as I feel I must say that my day at home was easier than the days leading up to it, in some ways. The sun was out and the weather was warm. No rain, thank goodness. Sat outside for a little. Picked up some hanging baskets for the porch with my hubby. It’s nice to be surrounded by green leaves and flowers again. I saw my mom and wished her a happy mothers day. I gave her a book about us. Filling it out was nice because it adjusted my focus from the time I’m missing with Rylan to the time I’ve shared with my mother over the years. My parents gave me a lovely hibiscus tree for our back deck and it was my favorite color, yellow. My sister dropped off some pretty flowers and a flag with a butterfly on it for the walkway up to our house. My mother-in-law gave me a bracelet with a butterfly on it. An unexpected bouquet of roses was left by one of my mom’s friends (whom I’ve never met) which was really nice, and surprising, as well. I also received a bunch of thoughtful text messages. It was nice to be remembered. I did my share of crying, but all in all, the day was fine.

May 12, 2014. Rylan’s first birthday. It hurts to think about what today should’ve been… what the past year may have been like for our family, had he survived. All of the milestones we missed out on together. And, I’m not just talking about crawling and graduating to jars of baby food. I’m talking about the little things that matter even more. Reading him books and rocking him to sleep at night. Watching him interact with his daddy, including watching Chris fumble around with stinky diapers. Seeing Ry smile and laugh. Hiding beside his crib to watch him sleep. Calling him by name and telling him we love him, in person. Taking him on outings and admiring as family and friends hold him in their arms. Gazing into his eyes. Memorizing the scent of his hair and skin. Playing with him at bath time, in the swimming pool, or at the beach. There are so many things that I could write a novel covering just 1 year of life. I imagine we would have planned a small gathering of friends and family to celebrate. That there would have been a cute theme and photos of his little hands grabbing onto a handful of cake and icing—the dog brothers, no doubt, sweeping up the remains. I wish things were different so badly. But with saying all of that, Chris and I decided to make the most of his day, even if he can only be present in our hearts. We decided to continue the butterfly release that we were able to perform at his funeral (thanks to some friends last year). We ordered a dozen for Chris and I to release today and decided to free most of them at the cemetery, with just a few left for home. We wanted them to be a gift to Rylan. Something that we can do in his memory every year. A family tradition for our son. We started our morning with a trip to his grave. We brought flowers and butterflies in tow, along with a blanket to sit on. We stayed awhile and watched the butterflies flutter about in the grass and dance among the flowers nearby. It was sad, but peaceful. Shortly after we went to lunch at a nice restaurant nearby and enjoyed each other’s company. Just as yesterday, and many days of the year, today has been a mix of happy and deep sadness.

I want people to know that Chris and I are so thankful to have each other. That we recognize that having people in our lives who care, even if they may never truly understand the loss we’ve endured, is a blessing. I want people to know how much Chris and I love our Rylan. How missed he is, how beautiful he was, and how touched we’ve been by his life and by his premature departure from our lives.

Happy 1st birthday, my sweet Rylan. I miss you terribly.

 

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