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 1st…and 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 journey…terrified, 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.