Tag Archives: stillbirth

What to expect when you’re expecting…the worst.

I don’t believe that there are any mother-to-be books out there that enlighten readers on the darker, unforeseen happenings that can occur during pregnancy. I’m almost sure of it. My husband and I took a trip to Barnes and Noble recently and as I stood uncomfortably in front of the “Parenting” section I read the covers of several books that touted key insights to child planning, successful deliveries, and “beautiful beginnings.” I remember paging through a few of them during my first pregnancy and don’t remember any chapters that discussed the possibility of losing a child. Nobody warned me that you could reach 40 weeks, progress into natural labor, and leave the hospital empty-handed. I thought the most difficult part of pregnancy would be getting pregnantwhich, in our case, ended up being the easiest part. Not once did I see the word “stillbirth” in writing, nor did I hear anyone speak it out loud, before May 12, 2013. Since that time I’ve learned that 1 in 160 pregnancies in the United States result in stillbirth. Unlike what I’ve heard from most medical professionals, the occurrence of stillbirth sounds far from “rare” to me.

While 37 weeks pregnant with our second baby and full of uncertainty, I scanned the shelves for “what to expect in the first year of parenthood” books. I contemplated my upcoming purchase for 20 minutes as I stood there in a frozen gaze, covers of happy moms and dads holding their newborns staring back at me. I may as well have been standing in the “fiction” section for how surreal those images were at that moment. Here I am with only a short time before active parenthood finds its way into my arms and I still can’t believe that it’s 100% achievable. I’m actually afraid to buy a book that has anything to do with planning because I’m superstitious that my small purchase (and tiny shred of confidence) will bring about a flop in the universe, causing us to lose another child. I wrestled with my craziness for awhile, grabbed up one of the well-known titles, and tucked it under my arm. Another obstacle overcome.

It doesn’t seem fair. Not that we lost a child. Not that we lose more than our children. We lose our way. We lose hope, and for some, the will to live. Connections to people we love—to the world around us. We lose ourselves—who we thought we were. In the face of loss we must rally ourselves to keep moving—and do it with a forced smile. We sober up to the fact that life can hand you rotten limes and still expect you to make lemonade. That’s how I feel at this moment. While personal experience urges me to approach this pregnancy with the utmost fear and uncertainty, life is asking me to proceed with confidence and faith.

Wow, Life, you’re asking a hell of a lot. Count me in.

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Hop to it!

I wanted to send my sincere congratulations to the Hopper family, who just welcomed their 2nd son into the world, Samuel Hudson. The Hoppers said goodbye to their baby, Luke, last year, a few days after we lost Rylan. I have followed their story from the beginning and feel so happy to witness this new joy in their lives. Thank you for sharing the highs and lows of your lives with others and for giving other grieving parents hope that active parenthood is not out of reach.

Congratulations Mom and Dad Hopper. I know that you’ll appreciate every second with Sam. 🙂

For those of you interested in getting to know this lovely couple and their family, please visit littlelightluke.wordpress.com.

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.

Plain and simple.

I want my son back. 

I don’t want Christmas gifts. The only thing on my list this year is the one thing that no one can give me.

I don’t want people to pray for me. I’m not like other people. I don’t feel comforted by prayers, nor do I feel like they do anything for me. I don’t want to offend people who read this who feel differently-and I certainly don’t want to offend the people who’ve been kind enough to make time to pray for our son and for our recovery. I appreciate the sentiment. I think some people say “I’m praying for you” as a way to say “I care about you.” I think it’s a way for people who feel powerless in a situation to do something for the people they care about. I really wish I felt differently about prayer, about faith, and about God right now. It’s hard though. During my pregnancy, and for the first time in my life, I genuinely felt that I opened up my heart to God, my mind to religion, and put my faith in Him— that He would take care of my family. Having that little baby in my belly was really the first time in my life that I can remember having so many people pray for us—and on a regular basis. I suppose I look back now and wonder where my faith in God and all of those prayers really got me. It’s one hell of a devastating place.

I don’t want to swallow my sadness and despair anymore in order to keep up with the daily grind of the work week or the expectations and needs of others. I’m so tired. I just wish I could take the time I need to adjust to what has happened to us and to mourn the loss of my baby. No matter how long it takes.

I don’t want to be subjected to the tons of people who have babies without complications and tragedy. Whose families grow as effortlessly as weeds in a garden. They’re everywhere. Everyone but us. I know that people like us exist—because I’ve read stories and met people over the web—but in daily life it feels like my husband and I are so alone. Being expected to survive this loss shoulder-to-shoulder with a world full of people who are so different than us seems impossible and cruel. I wish that we didn’t have to do it anymore.

I don’t want anyone else to put me on the spot when I least expect it. We had to take our dogs to the vet over the weekend and the vet, although with very good intentions, asked us, “ah, you’re both here, who’s watching the baby?” I just shook my head, no. I’ve already had this conversation with him and he must have forgotten. When he walked out of the room my husband said, “I’m sorry.” I said, “It’s okay.” But it’s not. I’m tired of having to explain what’s happened to us. I’m tired of having to tell people that my son has died. It’s like I’m stabbing myself in the heart. Every time I say it I feel like he’s dying all over again. I’m tired of my husband having to feel bad for me when he sees me in pain. I’m tired of having to feel sorry for him and his pain, too. It’s not fair. We shouldn’t be here. This isn’t how it was suppose to be. 

I don’t want anyone else to tell me how I should feel or what I need to do with regard to my son or “moving on” from his death. Good intentions or not, nobody else knows how I feel. I don’t want to know where you think my son is or why he was taken or that you know he’s in a better place. In my opinion, the only better place he could be is in my arms. I don’t want you to tell me that things will get better or easier. I can’t see that. I don’t feel that. No day that exists without my baby, my son, will ever feel better or easier. Not today, not next year, not ten years from now. It will just feel farther away from the day that I lost him. And, stop telling me that we should have another baby. It’s not the antidote for my pain over Rylan. And, furthermore, you don’t know that the next time we try—if I can make it through nine months of extreme fear—that we will leave the hospital with a living, breathing baby. Yes, this can happen more than once.

I’m sorry to the people who read my blog who are searching out hope. Over time I began to feel a sense of responsibility to try to end my posts on a positive note, when possible—to give others some optimism in their journey—to not let my writings get too dark. But I’ve given this additional thought and believe that my initial need to start this site was to tell our story, in the truest way possible. Obviously, I would still like to help other people and give them something to relate to… but first and foremost I need to be honest. So much of my life is filled with lying about or hiding my true feelings from others—this place, my blog, must be more about truth. How I really feel, even if every post says the same thing over and over. I hope that my readers will understand where I’m coming from and not be pushed away.

Until next time I have only one thing left to say.

I want my son back.

My angel.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tis the season to be…uncertain.

The holidays are fast approaching and I find myself feeling more and more uncomfortable. Now, to be perfectly honest, I’m somebody who dreads parts of the holiday season during an average year. My parents have been divorced since I was 8 years old so I’ve been doing to “split the holidays” dance for as long as I can remember… and keep in mind, that was a waltz between two families. Now add my husband’s side and my sisters in-laws to the mix (who always extend an invite) and you can imagine the tug-of-war and guilt that goes along with devising the holiday plans for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and just about every other holiday that people find important. I’ve tried everything from eating multiple dinners in one day to splitting visits across 3 days to scheduling everyone at our house without overlap (which did not really work or eliminate the stress as I’d hoped it would). Either way you feel like someone or some group is being slighted–including yourself. I find myself trying so hard to please everyone else that my own wants are pushed aside. I literally begin stressing about the holidays in September. And, as the families know that we have many to choose from, they also start trying to solidify plans with us earlier to catch us first. I’m not sure if that is intentional or if that’s just how it feels to me after all of this time.

Besides the big questions around “where do we go?” I find that venturing out into public becomes a nightmare around the holidays. People drive erratically and fight over parking spaces in high volume shopping areas. They push each other over to get the last fad-of-the-year toy on the shelf. Checkout lines are a mile long. I always hold off to the last minute then try to knock out all of my shopping in 3 days.

Thanksgiving has never been my holiday. Don’t get me wrong, I have no problem giving thanks—I just wish that the turkey and cranberry sauce could be replaced with lasagna and spaghetti and the football—well, that could just disappear all together as far as I’m concerned! Having said all of that, there are many things that I love about Christmas. The lights draped across my neighbor’s rooftops. The piney smell of a real Christmas tree in my living room. Listening to holiday music while I curl up with my husband and dogs on the couch, staring at the lights and decor placed in every corner of our home. Hot cocoa with peppermint and marshmallows. Giving gifts to the people that I care about. Attending church on Christmas Eve–especially when I can hear the chiming of the bell choir playing classic carols. Having our annual backyard bonfire, which has become a tradition among our family and friends.

The holidays are going to be so different than I imagined. I know it may sound selfish, but I felt like this year was our year. I’ve spent so much time sharing in our family’s Christmas celebrations–going to their homes and being a part of their lives. So much time watching the world around us enjoy the holidays with their kids. So much time wishing it could be us and feeling like it would never happen. Then we got pregnant. I thought that this year was going to be our time. To spend Christmas at our home as our own family unit. To begin our own traditions. To share memories that were completely new and different from anything we’d ever experienced. I was so excited. I couldn’t wait to add that hokey “baby’s first christmas” ornament to our tree. To make and hang Rylan’s stocking. To have people as interested in sharing in our family as we do in theirs. I couldn’t wait to hold my baby in my arms while sitting by the tree at night. I couldn’t wait to read him Christmas books from my childhood. I couldn’t wait to bundle him up in cute, holiday outfits and show people how proud I am to be his mommy. I wanted to join that group that sends family photo cards attached to update letters about their family members and what they’ve been involved in this year.

Now, I don’t know what to do. I don’t really feel like doing anything. If I could I’d probably run to Hawaii or lock myself in my room and hibernate until after May 12th.  I considered sending Christmas cards that double as the thank you’s that I haven’t yet sent. Well, you have to write them out to send them, I suppose. I think about wanting to do them, I just haven’t had the emotional energy to actually follow through. So maybe that’s a good option. I want to avoid everything-especially the families that I will encounter in every store, every hallway, every restaurant, every public bathroom, on every t.v. commercial, catalogue, and hallmark movie…among others. As far as traveling to the homes of friends and family this year, I just don’t want to. I feel torn. I want to see everyone–I love them–but at the same time want to be at home–alone. I feel like I put on a brave face for people every single day–at work, for family-birthday celebrations, for visits with friends. Over the holidays I want to be able to feel when I feel, as silly as it sounds. I want to be able to cry the second the sadness makes its way to my eyes–with no discomfort or worry about what others will think or with concern over how uncomfortable it makes them feel. I want to sleep all day if I’m tired. I want the quality time with my immediate family that I expected–even if it has to be without Ry. I want to have some good memories with Chris this year–I think that’s very important. We actually talked about going away. Traveling to some small, Christmas town. Escaping the norm this season–after all, the norm isn’t our life right now. We’ve contemplated the idea…as Christmas towns will surely harbor large amounts of family festivities. So who knows if that will happen. Plus, I work Monday, Tuesday, and Friday that week. Doesn’t exactly make it easy to take a long weekend. Chris and I have talked and decided that we want people to donate money in Rylan’s name in place of buying us gifts. It was Chris’ idea and I think it’s a great one. We just have to nail down some charities that we feel would be best–all we know is that we want it to benefit children. I would also like to find some way to volunteer this season–to help someone/people in need. I’m not sure how yet, but I definitely feel the urge to do something positive for others.

Well, it’s late and I’ve found this post to be a bit of a ramble. I guess my point is that I need the holidays to be considerate of us this year, and I don’t think that’s too much to ask. I want to acknowledge our son’s life even if he’s not in our arms. I want to be comfortable. Spend time at home. To be able to keep our plans unplanned–flexible to change as little or as often as needed to accommodate our aching hearts. I want to have some smiles. I want to feel warm. I want to feel loved.

Before I go I have just one thing left to say.

I miss Rylan so much.

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. 🙂