Tag Archives: love

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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My angel.

Since this nightmare began I’ve tried many things to work through my pain. As you already know, writing is one of them. This is a poem that I wrote about a month after we lost Ry. I debated about sharing it, but I think it still captures how I feel… plus, I haven’t really held much back up to this point so here you go:

Are you an angel in the sky,
adorned with wings of grace?
Barely a comfort as we lie awake,
dreaming of your beautiful face.

I wish we could hold you in our arms,
and trace your perfect skin.
We’d gladly give our world away,
for one more chance to breathe you in.

Our lives just keep on moving,
while our hearts are standing still.
We wonder if the hole you’ve left,
will find a way to fill.

Our love for you will rise each morning,
like the sun that shines so bright.
We’ll carry thoughts of you throughout our days,
and fall asleep to them at night.

We miss you Rylan Michael,
and look forward to the day
when mommy and daddy
to you, will find their way.

Music to my ears

In the past few weeks since my computer crashed I learned something very important. Writing this blog has been way more crucial to my survival than I thought. It has undoubtedly been one of the top 3 ways that I manage my grief. There aren’t many positive twists I can put toward the unlucky cards we’ve been dealt. Reaching others and giving parents like me someone to relate to is one of them—even if it means that I only help one person in some small way.

It’s been awhile and I know that I won’t have time to cover everything in 1 post. So, I’ll try to touch on a few and save the rest for the following 50. That being said, this post may be a compilation of unrelated thoughts and feelings. Try to bear with me.

First, I want to talk about music. I’ve reflected a lot on how music can be a bookmark for certain details of our life. Maybe someone remembers what song was playing the moment they received their first kiss. Shared a dance with a special someone they were crushing on. Maybe a song or album reminds them of a feeling–like the freedom of driving down the road in their very own car at 16. We often mark special moments with a song–and we can agonize over picking the perfect one, when the choice is ours. How many people felt perplexed over their wedding ballad? Music can capture so many things. It can warm your heart or bring you to tears-or both at the very same time.

This time in my life has been defined by several songs. Some that I remember listening to when Ry was still alive. Some happy, some sad. The last song I remember listening to with him was a sad moment. It was “Sweet” by Dave Matthews Band. I’d been working late, driving home, and was crying. I was talking to him and apologized for not taking better care of us/him. I told him that if he could just hang on a little longer that things would be different once he arrived. That I was looking forward to changing my life for him. That I couldn’t wait to meet him and dedicate my life to being his mom. I still think about that late night car ride. Here are the lyrics to that song:

**
Try to swim, keep your head up

Kick your legs, never give up, boy
If I could I’d turn it around
Let me out, I wanna get out now
You know it gets so deep 
You know it

You know it, you’re feeling so deep
But if you make it out, it tastes so sweet
Sweet
Sweet

I’m so high, I wanna come down
I’m so old to wanna be younger now
If I could I’d turn it around
Let me out, I wanna go home now

You know the feeling, when you’re in too deep
And if you make it out, the taste so sweet
Sweet
Sweet

Cover me, cover me, cover me
Till I’m gone
Cover me, cover me, cover me
Till I’m gone
Cover me, cover me, cover me
Till I’m gone
Gone

You know the feeling, when you’re in too deep
And if you make it out, it tastes so sweet
Sweet
Sweet

I miss, make it oh yeah
**

At the time the lyrics spoke to me because I wished that I could turn around my work situation. I felt like I was choosing work responsibilities over parental responsibilities. I was going against what I felt was right for me and Rylan. I listen to that song when I’m sad now. It immediately takes me back to that moment in the car. I still wish that I had taken better care of us… worked less… rested more… stopped feeling responsible to do for everyone around me all of the time. Now, more than ever, I wish that could turn things around.

I remember the music that was playing when I started going into labor. I can’t hear a Jack Johnson song without picturing my husband and I laying in our spare room bed, nervous and excited—holding hands, awaiting the baby that we were sure would change our lives forever. If only I knew how true that would be and what that would really mean for us. I think about the drive to the hospital. My favorite, DMB, played in the car. I remembering being very afraid and in a lot of pain. I focused on the music as I tried to breathe through the contractions. After we lost Rylan, the room I was moved to had soft music playing, I think… but all I remember is silence. The initial days home, the funeral, and some desperate moments that followed are marked by the DMB lullaby CD that my friend had given us at the shower. I was so excited to receive it and looked forward to the days that I could share my favorite band with my little guy. As of now, I can’t even listen to it—unless of course I need a trigger for a good cry (which isn’t often). I’ve recently related to a song by a band called “The Weepies.” The name of the song is “World Spins Madly On.” Here are the lyrics:

**
Woke up and wished that I was dead
With an aching in my head
I lay motionless in bed
I thought of you and where you’d gone
And let the world spin madly on

Everything that I said I’d do
Like make the world brand new
And take the time for you
I just got lost and slept right through the dawn
And the world spins madly on

I let the day go by
I always say goodbye
I watch the stars from my window sill
The whole world is moving and I’m standing still

Woke up and wished that I was dead
With an aching in my head
I lay motionless in bed
The night is here and the day is gone
And the world spins madly on

I thought of you and where you’d gone
And the world spins madly on…
**

I don’t know what the lyrics actually mean, but I’m guessing that anyone in my position may relate the words to their own experience. I do wake up and wish I was dead. My head literally hurts from no sleep and too much thinking about what has happened. Whether I stay “motionless in bed” or choose to move about with people in “normal” life, I feel very alone. Alone in my own sad world. Inside I feel like my heart stopped beating. Like I’m barely breathing. Like hope is a thing of the past. I feel like I want the world to stop and be sad with me. Until I’m ready to move forward—if that time ever even comes. But instead, I’m still while the “world spins madly on.”

Another song that I’ve reflected on recently is one from my childhood. One that gives me a warm feeling. When I was younger my mom and I sang the song, “You Are My Sunshine” to each other. Even today I refer to her as “my sunshine.” It makes me smile. Recently, and I don’t know why, I looked up the words to the song. I feel that some verses—not all, but some—relate to how I feel right now. Here are the lyrics I’m talking about:

**
You are my sunshine, my only sunshine
You make me happy when skies are gray
You’ll never know dear, how much I miss you
Please don’t take my sunshine away

The other night dear, as I lay sleeping
I dreamed I held you in my arms
When I awoke, dear, I was mistaken
So I hung my head and I cried.

You are my sunshine, my only sunshine
You make me happy when skies are gray
You’ll never know dear, how much I miss you
Please don’t take my sunshine away
**

This song now has two meanings for me. It will always remind me of happy times with my mom. And she will always be my sunshine. Part of the reason that I searched the lyrics recently was because I wish that I could’ve shared the song with my child—to pass on what my mom shared with me. With regard to Ry, I definitely felt that he was a ray of light for me. Being pregnant with him and knowing that I was going to be his mom warmed my heart so much. I often dreamt about what it was going to be like once he was born and I just couldn’t wait to hold him. I still dream about him now, but my heart definitely hurts knowing that I’m imagining something now that will never be again. Sorry to be so literal, but I do feel like my sunshine was taken away. I feel pretty dark inside and I’m not sure how to recover most days.

So, those are some ways that music has defined the past few months for me. But please know that music helps me in so many ways. Some nights when I can’t sleep—when my brain just won’t shut off—I put on my headphones and play some relaxing music that I can concentrate on, which has been so helpful. Sometimes music helps initiate a good scream or cry—other times singing along to a happy song changes my mood and helps me make it through my long commute. Music at work and at the grocery store (again, thank goodness for headphones) has been helpful in avoiding or minimizing tough situations. I recommend them for anyone that struggles with family conversations or places that parents and their children gravitate toward. Sharing music instead of TV time has been a great way for my husband and I to connect. And, as I’ve said before, I love the moments where I can listen to my husband sing and play his guitar. It is always so comforting. Listening to old (like 80’s/90’s “old”) music has given us an outlet to be silly.

On a side note: Finding ways for you and your significant other to get a good, deep-in-the-stomach, uncontrollable laugh in is great—I can’t recommend it enough. Even if you have to act like children and resort to good old fashioned tickle fights or wrestling is so worth it—even if you pull a muscle in the process. We all need a way to balance the sadness we’re carrying. And, every minute counts.

Well, speaking of my hubby, he just walked in the door. I have to run. I hope that I get another chance to write real soon. Like I said, I have a lot to say. Thank you, as always, for taking the time to read our story.

Come back soon!

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

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

Surreality.

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

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

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

Stage 1: Confusion

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

Stage 2: Auto-pilot

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

Stage 3: Shock

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

Stage 4: Anticipation

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

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

To be continued…

Something(s) to celebrate.

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

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

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

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

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

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.