Tag Archives: Rylan

Hope for tomorrow.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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.

Fly on the wall.

I started 2 posts this week with no publishing success. I’m about to rework the second in hopes of sharing it with you by the end of the night. Here goes nothing.

Chris has been busy lately so I’ve recently found myself with more time to fill. It doesn’t happen that often, as he is by my side about 98% of the time. We really appreciate our relationship and try to honor that gift by spending as much quality time together as our schedules allow. It feels strange when I’m alone. I think about how Chris works from home and how he is by himself a lot, and wonder how he does it—especially since my work schedule and commute cause me to arrive home late most evenings. It’s a long day for both of us. Me, constantly busy and stimulated, longing for the safety, comfort, and quiet of home—Chris, looking forward to human interaction, conversation, and getting out of the house. I don’t know whose day is worse. Maybe neither. I know that most days I wish that I could work from home. Or maybe not work at all. In any case, I think a lot about how hard it must be for him sometimes. It’s tough not to sit here and get lost in your own head. I compare it to those dreaded evenings, which happened more in the beginning, when I just couldn’t shut my brain off and felt consumed by my loss. Laying awake, wide-eyed, heart pounding, while the rest of the world was in dreamland. It’s difficult not to feel sad, lonely, and deeply depressed. Even though there is a part of me who is totally satisfied and overjoyed to get some peace and time for myself, another part of me feels so overwhelmed with sorrow. All of those difficult moments I experience on a daily basis just add up over time. They fill me up, silently stewing, just waiting for the right moment to boil over. Every time I have to witness the family life that I don’t have—whether it’s from afar or whether I’m smack dab in the middle of it—it’s like getting stabbed in the heart every time. Then add in the moments I spend considering my own experiences—where I was, where I sit now, how I wish things were, and where I hope to be in the future—a few minutes alone and you can imagine how easy it is for me to surround myself in darkness.

I’m really tired of being the onlooker. It’s beyond difficult. I’m tired of having to listen to and watch everyone else get what I feel like my family should have, too—right now. There, I said it. I’m tired of feeling jealous, angry, disappointed, sad, and awful. And, I’m tired of keeping it inside all the time. Why must I be subjected to a world where all babies live while I’m trying to come to terms with the fact that my baby died?

I just want to get off the ride for awhile. I don’t want to listen to discussions over baby names. Pregnancy diets. OB appointments, weigh-ins, and especially not the heartbeat. I don’t want to hear about ultrasound photos. Sick kids going to the doctor. Christmas mornings. I don’t want to hear about the hair color of a newborn. Daycare. Your kids’ voices in your iPhone video. I no longer want to hear stories about the amazing, wonderful, silly, annoying, loving, or funny thing a child did yesterday, last night, or last year. And, I’m sorry if that makes me a bad person. I’m sincerely sorry if that makes me a bad friend, sister, or daughter. I know that I sound selfish, and I feel guilty admitting it. I just wish that the people in my daily life could truly understand how I feel and what I’m really going through. Rylan died eight months ago. It may seem like a long time ago to others but the loss is still fresh in my heart and soul. A week of goodbyes does not mean that I’ve magically moved on or away from the loss of my son. My grief is a part of my daily routine. I begin my days by putting on a necklace engraved with his name, think about him during the day, and end it by blowing a kiss to a picture frame that houses a photo of his beautiful, sleeping face.

It wasn’t so long ago that I was pregnant and filled with all of the hope and excitement that goes along with it. I was staring at black and white images dreaming about what my baby’s face would look like—wondering how his smile would glow, whose eye color he would have, and what it would be like to hear his tiny voice for the first time in that hospital room. Back then those thoughts were surrounded by the anticipation of what was to come. By the promise of tomorrow. Those thoughts kept me going when the physical part of being pregnant was tough to bear. I always told myself that it was worth it—because in the end I would have the most amazing gift for the rest of my life. Now, I sit here with the same thoughts, but without the security I once felt. Now I know that I’ll never have those answers. I won’t know what it feels like to hold my son again. I’ll never hear his cries or laughter in the next room. Never see his open eyes, or know what it feels like to have him grip my finger with his tiny hand. I’ll never read him a bedtime story or kiss his forehead goodnight. The list in my head is endless—a lifetime of memories that will never be. The feeling is so difficult to live with—and impossible to explain to anyone who hasn’t been through it themselves. I can honestly say that I now know why people commit suicide. I know what true despair is—to be so physically and emotionally weak that you don’t feel like you can possibly go on. I’m not suggesting that I would do anything so rash, so any calls for help are unnecessary. All I’m saying is that I completely get it. It’s hard to want to continue on after you lose your child. It’s really so unnatural. I don’t think parents are meant to bury their babies—no matter how old they are—I think that’s what makes it so traumatic. I truly feel sorry for those who have experienced it and just want them to know that, however you are feeling, you are not alone.

I’m leaving you tonight with a heavy heart and a crazy amount of love for my angel baby. And, wishing you a good night’s sleep.

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Turning the page.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Good tidings.

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

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

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

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

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Go to ButterStore by clicking here

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saying goodbye

How do you say goodbye to your child? Well, I will tell you that it’s extremely difficult when you feel like you’ve only just met. That and it felt like we had to say goodbye more than once. The first time was at the hospital and was, by far, the hardest for me. I was so afraid of that moment. I would have stayed in that hospital room forever if it meant that the three of us could’ve stayed together. But I knew that was not reality. We were lucky to have more time with Ry than most parents with stillborn babies do. And, while we had him with us we knew that his appearance was beginning to change. The time to say goodbye was growing near.

There are so many questions and decisions that need to be made when your baby is stillborn. Decisions that require near-immediate answers. Decisions that reflect the good of your child can be hard enough when you are a parent and your child is living. When your child dies, it is even harder. You don’t even have the time to process the loss of your baby, your future as a family, before you need to act. Do you want to have anyone present during the birth? Do you want to see your baby? Hold him? Do you want family to come into the room after and see or hold the baby? Do you want the professional photographer to take photos of him? Of you with your baby? How long do you want to keep him with you? How long do you plan to stay at the hospital? Should you ask anyone to visit the hospital? Then they ask you what your plan is moving forward. Did you pick a funeral home? Do you have their information? Wow. Talk about difficult. Then for the questions that followed after we left the hospital. Are you ready to go home? Do we want to stay with our parents for a few days? Should we have a wake? When? A burial or cremation? A burial. Then where? Do we want a service? Where? With who? What will he wear? Do we want to place anything else in with him? Where do the flowers come from? What should they look like? What about the words on the card that people can take at the funeral home? Should we find a nice poem? Which one? Should we play music? Do we have a pastor or priest at the wake or service? Who? What about after the service? Catered food? What kind and how much? The list goes on and on. Well, below you will find out how my husband and I answered those questions and how we made it through that first week or so.

As I mentioned in my previous post, Chris and I decided to see Rylan. To hold him. To share him with some of the special people in our lives. We took photos and so did the hospital photographer. I’m so glad to have those things now. We kept him with us for about a day and a half. Like I said before, we had a great deal of support from friends and family during our hospital stay and in preparation for the wake and service. My husband and I were terrified to leave Rylan at the hospital, and the word morgue in the same sentence as my baby’s name was horrifying. In the past few years we’ve gotten to know our friend’s brother-in-law, Bobby, through various get-togethers and events. Thank God for him. He is partial owner in a local funeral home and agreed to take care of Rylan for us, and ensured that we could have the services we wanted for him. Bobby personally came to the hospital to take Rylan so that he would never have to go to the morgue and so we wouldn’t have to leave him behind. I don’t know if my husband or I could have done it any other way. He came when we were ready. Our parents were able to hold him one last time. Then Chris and I held him together, once more. We kissed his forehead. We said, “I’ll always love you.” Then, after switching his knit hat out for another one, my husband handed him over to Bobby. I’d be lying to you if I said that was easy to do or to watch, but I will say that handing him to a good person, someone we trusted to take care of him, made it easier than it could have been. My husband and I cried and held each other once he was gone. I was so afraid to leave the hospital after that. After all, we came to the hospital knowing that we would be leaving different people. We were going to be parents, embarking on a new life as three. But we were wrong. We came as two and were going to leave as two. It was heartbreaking. My husband and I both had tears in our eyes as we waited for my dad to bring the car around to pick us up. While I waited with the kind nurse who tried comforting me during this tough transition, my husband stopped in the gift shop to pick up a (very large) stuffed animal that he’d eyed up during our stay. When he brought it over to where I was sitting he apologized for spending so much money on this big, stuffed lion. He said that is just made him feel connected to Rylan. I remember telling him that he could of bought a human being at that gift shop for a million dollars and brought them home if I knew it would make him feel better. We got into my car and my dad drove us home. I can’t thank him enough for taking the baby’s car seat out before we had to make that drive.

We made it home. We walked in the front door to a living room filled with some of the gifts from our shower. The pack-and-play and stroller that Chris and I had put together (just recently) was right there, ready to be used. Our parents stayed for a little bit to make sure that we were okay before leaving. Chris and I decided that the first thing we would do after returning home would be to visit Rylan’s room–together. I thought that his room would be the most difficult place to see in the house. It’s funny, but his room was the one place I felt at peace in the beginning. Maybe it’s because it made me feel close to him.

The whole week that followed is a blur. I remember my husband saying, “just when I think that I’ve made it through the hardest part of this experience, the next thing I have to do seems even harder.” I felt the same way. We decided to have a wake at the funeral home, open to anyone to come see us and/or pay their respects to our son. We worked with a great florist who followed our suggestions beyond our expectations. She created arrangements that were bright and colorful and incorporated child-like elements like stuffed animals, beach pails, and trucks. One thing that most people don’t know is that babies are too small for typical caskets. They are actually placed in these little white boxes. It was really hard to see that box. It was hard to know that our baby boy was in there, just that tiny. In order to make his final resting place more comfortable we had Ry wrapped in a super-soft baby blanket. We included letters we had written to him, photos of our family, and some other things that were special to us. Knowing he had those things made us feel better. We draped two yellow blankets over the small box at the wake and service. We also had two photos printed and framed by a good friend so that we could share our beautiful son with everyone. You could say that Chris and I were on autopilot those days. The wake was nice but I feel that those rituals are really for other people. It is so nice to know that people care for us and for Rylan… but it was also hard because we spent that evening on our feet for hours, consoling the people who visited. So many people have told us that were such strong individuals–but I think in these situations you just don’t have a choice. We had to keep going in order to do the best for our son and to honor him the way we had hoped. It was a way to actively be his parents.

Rylan’s service was very unique. My husband had suggested that we have it at our home. It made sense. And, it would be so nice to have him come home, even if just for an hour or so. For three days before, some of our friends and family spent time trying to get our house in order. They cleaned. They emptied out rooms. They brought food. They brought chairs. They went shopping so that I’d have something to wear. They cut grass and cleaned up the landscape. They even tried to do laundry. They bought groceries, down to table linens and plasticware. We would have never been able to pull that all together without them. It was amazing. We invited close friends and immediate family to the service. We sat in neatly-aligned fold-out chairs in our dining room and front living room. They were arranged to face two windows which opened up to my husbands beautifully-landscaped backyard. Rylan was placed at the front of the room among his flowers. My friend’s dad is a pastor and agreed to conduct the service. He did such a good job. I feel that he really helped to honor our son that day and to support us with his words. In the background you could hear our DMB lullaby CD, the one my friend had given us at the shower just a month before. It was a nice service and everyone came up to say goodbye to Rylan at the end. They filtered outside and gave us a moment alone. It was a dreary day outside with the sky giving all indications that it could rain at any moment. It was because of that fact that I felt even more special when the sun had shone in the window over Ry, just as Chris and I said our goodbye. I like to think that Rylan was saying goodbye to us at that moment, in his own way. Chris carried Rylan out to the car. Boy, that was hard to watch as a mother and wife. There are so many things that I wish I could protect my husband from having to do in his life. That is definitely one.

We got into our cars and followed like a parade to the cemetery which is very close to our home. I wish I could stop time the way we were able to stop traffic for us that day. We regrouped at Rylan’s final resting spot, under a tree and beside my sister’s grave (that story is for another time). The pastor said a few words and we took turns leaving a rose beside our son. Now for the best part of the ceremony. We wanted to do something really special for Rylan and thought that a butterfly release would be great. It was beyond great. A close friend of mine ordered the butterflies for us, including a special box of them for my husband and I to release together. We all stood in a circle and let them go. It was amazing watching them–some of them even hung around in the surrounding grass–and my favorite was one who flew up and sat on a leaf in the tree above Rylan. I felt comforted knowing that one of the butterflies would look after him once we left. Now, every time I see a butterfly, especially a monarch, I think of him. But I guess you could say that every time I breathe I think of Rylan.

After the ceremony we headed back to the house for food and drinks. Our favorite pizza place catered and gave it all to us as a gift. The owner and one of his staff even came to the wake and sent us flowers. We always felt that they were more like friends. It’s amazing to see who shows up for you in your most difficult days. We will never forget all of the things that people have done for us-and that they continue to do. I’m still trying to get my act together enough to send thank you cards. I did buy some–I guess that’s a first step.

The aches and pains during pregnancy were tough. The week that followed also took its toll. Since then I’ve spent a lot of time resting. My job has been very supportive in my taking time off for awhile, to which I’m so thankful. I feel awful that my husband was only able to stay out of work for two weeks. It really only seems like one when you factor in the first week of goodbyes. I know that I can’t stay out of work forever which is difficult. At some point I have to go back to my “normal” way of life. But I don’t feel like the person I was before Rylan died. I can’t even remember who I was before I got pregnant. I think the same goes for Chris. I feel like him and I are back at square one. That we are slowly redefining who we are as we cope with this unbelievable loss. It’s not easy. More than anything I don’t want to lose “us” in all of this… so far we’ve done a great job of leaning on each other. I think it’s so important to run toward your partner when things get difficult. I’m so glad he feels the same way.

Well, that brings us to now. In telling our story so far, I know that I’ve left out a lot of the feelings inside and a lot of experiences that have occurred between then and now. If I included those things, this post would be more of a novel than it already is. I think you’ve had enough to take in for one day. So let’s just promise to keep meeting back here… and I’ll keep sharing for you.