Tag Archives: Pregnancy

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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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.

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.

Reflection

There are things you can guarantee when it comes to the grieving process. There will be some good days and some that are bad. There will be days that you feel like, despite the heartache, your life will be okay–that you’re doing fine considering the circumstances. Than there will be others where you can barely stand up and when not living may sound like a good alternative to life as you know it today–even if deep down you know that you don’t want to die. I would guess that the lowest moments are simply (or not-so-simply) fueled by the want to be with our children. The need to be parents. The want to hold our children close to our heart like all of the people around us who can cradle their babies in real life. We feel that staying here to endure the unspeakable pain of losing our children is much worse than leaving this Earth to be with our babies immediately. I know that my husband and I have both traveled across this spectrum of grief. If you’ve stumbled onto my blog (and are still reading) I’m sure that you know what I’m talking about. One of the things I’ve learned from this experience is that we all have life lines that accompany us on this uncertain journey. I believe that everyone has at least one thing or one person that motivates them to keep going. It may be your husband or wife–maybe that you know how much their survival depends on you being here. It may be the love you have for your parents–that they would be devastated if they lost their child–something we can understand all too well. Maybe it’s your little angel baby–that as much as you want to be with them, you also want people here to know how much you loved them–how much you still do even though they’re gone. Maybe you want to do something to honor them. I believe that’s a big one–considering how many blogs I’ve seen and the number of parents who are compelled to tell their own stories. I want to task you to take note of what you consider to be your life line(s). Don’t lose sight of them because they will be your guiding light through this terrible thing that has happened to you. And, that it is possible over time for that one thing, or one person to become two, maybe three, or more. A snowball effect, but in a good way.

My life line has, most importantly, been my husband. I don’t think I’d be here today if he hadn’t been by my side from the beginning. I live to make him happy, to see him smile. I want to make it through this experience with him–to witness our relationship become stronger and to become better people–happier people. To become more satisfied with the life we lead–as individuals and together. Our parents are definitely up there on the list. I know that the thought of losing them is scary and can only imagine how they would feel losing us. To some it might be silly, but our dogs are big for me. I love them and feel a motherly responsibility to take care of them. Rylan is, of course, a big motivator. He is the reason that I sit here typing–telling his story. Our story. My story. With hopes of helping other people enduring the same loss. The people who read this are also on my list, then. See what I mean about a snowball effect? My list grows well beyond the above as my days move on. I admit that when things are darkest it’s hard to see beyond the sadness. I guess I’m asking you to hold onto your life line(s) when things get hard. I can’t promise that you’ll be absolved of your pain. I’m certainly not there and don’t really feel like there will ever be a time that I feel 100% okay. But I’m still here. I’m making it through. And, so will you. If you’ve read previous posts you may already know that many times I write when I’m feeling pretty low. I guess that’s why I wanted to write today. Today is a good day for me. I wanted you to see that for every couple crappy days you experience you will also have good ones. You will have days to reflect on the obstacles you’ve overcome. Even small ones are important. Don’t lose sight of how far you’ve come (even if it’s only been 1 week).

Thank you for reading and for giving me another reason to go on.