Ryan was here ...

My not-so-sweet nothings, mostly comprised of my feelings at losing my two-day-old son, Ryan David, to congenital heart defects, and to celebrate the arrival of Ryan's healthy little sister, Megan Elizabeth, and hopefully welcome another little miracle into our brood in July 2010.

Friday, September 30, 2005

Glutton for punishment

I've been having a hard enough time dealing with my emotional state over the last week, but I made matters worse last night by watching one of my favorite shows, "ER."

Last night's episode dealt with a woman who was acting as a surrogate mom for a couple who had been trying, unsuccessfully, to have a baby on their own. From the start of the show, I just knew the outcome wouldn't be good, but I couldn't pry myself away from the TV.

The baby was in a breech presentation, but the surrogate mom refused a C-section, claiming that she "knew" her body and felt she could deliver the baby without surgical intervention. She did deliver naturally, but not at the expense of the baby boy. He was deprived of oxygen at one point during the delivery and arrived with no pulse or heartbeat, and the prognosis for a neurological recovery was slim to none.

Unfortunately, the baby's parents wanted nothing to do with him since they hadn't agreed to a "ventilator baby" and the surrogate mom said the baby wasn't hers. Poor little guy was abandoned in the NICU when he needed someone to love him more than ever.

This episode just about broke my already-broken heart, just as an episode did two seasons ago where Dr. Carter's son died while still in the mother's womb.

I realize that it's just a TV show and probably a fictitious storyline, but still ... how could anyone even think of abandoning their baby, regardless of his condition and bleak prognosis?!

This was so upsetting to me! I dwelled on it for the next several hours, which resulted in another shitty night's sleep, and even this morning I'm disturbed by it.

In the last few hours of Ryan's life, we were faced with the possibility that his neurologic state was compromised since his heart was having difficulty pumping oxygenated blood into his body. His other organ functions were also possibly affected by all the drugs being pumped into him to keep him from crashing altogether. But, as grave as his condition was, I never, EVER could have left his bedside - period. He needed his mommy to be by his side, giving him reassurance that everything would be okay. I couldn't imagine doing anything less for my precious little boy!

I guess I should take some comfort in knowing that Mike and I did everything possible to help Ryan, including making a decision no parent ever wants to make. But we did it for him, not ourselves. And I'd do it again in a heartbeat. ...

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Kids say the saddest things

This weekend, Mike and I took a much-needed trip to visit out-of-town friends and family. It was supposed to be our first family vacation and my opportunity to play "show and tell" with Ryan. Instead, it was spent talking about him in the past tense and showing pictures of my beautiful little angel, rather than passing him along from person to person and swapping stories from the trenches with the other parents.

Although we weren't able to introduce Ryan to the pitfalls of road trips and hole-in-the-wall rest stops, we did manage to join in celebrating a couple who is very dear to me and Mike. This couple had an informal shindig to renew their marriage vows since they skipped out on the huge wedding production when they officially tied the knot two years ago. It was a nice, casual gathering of approximately 50 people and it provided me the opportunity to catch up on the local gossip and to meet the new additions that have arrived in the two years since my last visit.

It was a breath of fresh air to be around the new additions to my group of friends and family; it was also a harsh reminder of what I had so briefly and lost so tragically. Most times we avoided discussing the sad outcome with Ryan and instead focused on the precious bits of the positive, but there were unfortunately times that the negative unexpectedly kicked me in the gut.

The happy couple who renewed their vows have an absolutely adorable 2-year-old little girl. Even though Mike and I aren't blood relatives to this couple, both "mom and dad" refer to us as being their little girl's aunt and uncle. In fact, this couple asked Mike and me to be their little one's godparents - what a compliment!

This couple and their little girl had visited me and Mike during the last month of my pregnancy and joked with their little one about the baby in my belly. As much as we adults liked to think that this little girl understood what we were joking about - she is a very bright and sharp 2-year-old! - we didn't take it all too seriously, considering how much new info she absorbs on a daily basis. We figured that once she was back home and reacquainted with her usual routine, she'd forget her visit with us, forget the kitties she tortured for four days, and forget "Peanut."

There was an instance during the weekend where our conversation turned to this little girl, talking about cats and dogs and how she wants her own kitty. Her mother asked her if she remembered my cats, and to our surprise, this little girl remembered all three of my cats' names. Then, without warning, the little girl said, "And Peanut - the baby."

Oh God.

It was one of those agonizing moments I had been dreading and hoping to avoid. What in the world do I say in response to something so precious and innocent, but so unbelievably sad? Of course, I didn't have any words - just tears ... and lots of them.

Without warning, my soon-to-be god-daughter hopped into my lap and gave me the sweetest kiss and warmest hug I've gotten from anyone since Ryan's death.

As sad as her memory of better times made me, that hug and kiss from such an innocent, loving cherub went a long way in helping this heavy heart heal.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

The bitch is back

Since Ryan's birth, I've wondered how long it would take for my dear "Aunt Flo" to find me. I was concerned that between the stress of Ryan's death and the physical stress of the C-section, dear ole Auntie might have lost her way.

Turns out she and her little dog, Spot, were missing me a LOT since last October's visit and kept a pretty good set of directions back to my place.

Don't I feel like the lucky one?

Okay, yes, I do feel fortunate that my body seems to be recovering and jumping back in the saddle physically. But, I'm also pissed that the Bitch is rushing me along, giving me a not-so-gentle push back into my life. Admittedly, it was damn nice having that reprieve for nearly ten months!

I just don't know how to feel about this. I feel badly because, despite how much I emotionally lag behind in rejoining life, my physical self seems ready to march forward, with or without my emotional state intact. I feel somewhat betrayed, since my emotional self is no where near normal, so how can any other part of me be ready to move along? But, when the rational part of me kicks in, I know that deep down this a good sign that my 36-year-old body hasn't quit yet, leaving the door open to possibly (and hopefully!) expanding my family of three.

This certainly explains the uncontrollable cravings for chocolate I've been having the last few days!

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Stopping to smell the rose

These days, with the hurried pace of society keeping me in high gear almost non-stop, I seldom take the time to stop and appreciate the world around me. Yesterday was different, though, whatever the reason for my moment of reflection. ...

Although it's almost six weeks since Ryan's death, I have been slow to remove the baby items from some of the rooms in my house. It's been a source of comfort to see these things, a gentle reminder that I was ready to embark on the trip of a lifetime. But now, sometimes these items make me sad, so I decided maybe it was time to gather up these things and move them to his nursery for safe keeping. Hopefully there will be future use for these odds and ends.

As I opened the door to Ryan's room, I immediately noticed the wonderful baby-like aroma his room still held. After I had put some of the baby items away, I walked around his nursery, running my hand over his crib bedding and winding up his musical lullaby lamb. I smiled as I looked at a goofy musical puppet Mike and I had bought for Ryan, and I wondered how he would have giggled at this silly little toy. I held up one of his sleepers and tried to imagine how he would have looked wearing it, with his favorite stuffed animal tucked under his arm. As I squeaked one of the toys in his bath basket, I felt compelled to smell the baby wash I had intended to use on him. With one sniff, I immediately recognized that fresh scent of my baby and travelled back to six weeks prior.

I clearly remember how sweet Ryan smelled and how velvety soft his skin was. His long blonde hair tickled my nose when I kissed his angelic head. My heart warmed at one glance from his beautiful, big blue eyes. He truly was an unexpected delight to my senses - just like a perfect rose.

I stayed in his room for nearly 20 minutes, savoring every reminder and memory of my dear little angel. I had a million other things I could've been doing at that moment, but what else could be more important than to appreciate the beauty and uniqueness of the rose I grew and nurtured for nine months?

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Proclaiming victory, how ever small

I was overjoyed this weekend to stake my victory over a war which contained many not-so-victorious battles during the last seven years. And, in addition to being the reigning victor of an old war, I won my first of new battles, all part of a war that began on August 11. ...

And old neighbor from my condo neighborhood in Pennsylvania called last night to give me some news. Now, my neighbor, "KB," and I haven't spoken to each other in almost five years, so hearing her voice on the other end of the phone was great. I had felt badly about letting that friendship slip, but I've had KB in the front of mind since she, too, is a mommy to several angels. And, since Ryan's passing appeared in my hometown's newspaper, I assumed KB was calling to discuss that news. But, the conversation ended up being much more than I had anticipated!

Naturally, we started off with the "how've you been?" greetings and saying how nice it was to talk again after so long. Then KB went into the news she had for me. She explained that she had run into a mutual acquaintance - "LS" - and LS said that she would be taking care of a friend's dog while the friend is getting divorced and looking for a new place to live. Well ... it turns out that this "friend" is actually my ex-husband and the "dog" is one of Sasha's puppies and former dog of mine, Toby.

I was absolutely floored by this news. The ex and I do not keep in direct contact, but his sister has remained friends with me and she keeps me informed of any worthy news concerning the ex, but she hadn't told me about this news! Here's the quickie run-down of my history with the ex: He cheated on me with a woman he met in a chatroom. This woman's employer sent her on business to the area where I used to live, and she and my ex had a weekend fling. My ex of course denied that an affair was taking place, even when I presented him with my proof. Once I kicked his lying butt to the curb, he finally came clean about the affair. He and I tried to salvage our nine-year marriage, but my intuition told me he would do this again. I didn't want to be in that unfortunate position again - possibly with children in the equation - so I felt it was only fair to leave the marriage. When I told my ex I wanted a divorce, he became bitter and resentful, which started the period of no contact between the two of us, which has lasted for seven years.

When I made the decision in 1998 to leave my husband and marriage, it literally broke my heart. It was the hardest thing I ever had to do, but I had to do it to save myself.

My reasoning in making that life-changing decision was validated when KB told me that my ex had done the same thing to his new wife that he had done to me. Fucking idiot. What else can I say about a guy who cheats on his first wife and gets caught, then turns around and does the same thing to his second wife and again gets caught? Hey, the shoe fits. ...

As much as I don't like to take pleasure in someone else's misfortune, I feel that this new information justifies an exception to my personal rule, so I'm taking extreme pleasure in being able to say, "Told you so!" I've been suffering through many moments of self-doubt since Ryan's death, so being crowned victorious of this long-running war felt pretty damn good. Yes, I've been vindicated. Finally.

After closing that chapter of our conversation, I broke the news to KB about Ryan. She was devastated to learn that a friend of hers had experienced this horrible tragedy as well. She, like so many other mothers in our unfortunate position, understands the agony of losing the baby you wanted so deperately. She has dealt with five lost pregnancies, though she's actually lost six babies. (One of her pregnancies was with twins, and she lost both of them around the 26-week mark. I remember that loss so well even though it happened nearly ten years ago, because I remember how helpless I felt while KB was going through that hell.) From all KB's been through, she offered as much advice and support as possible and told me not to lose hope. She said that she "could have easily lost hope, but the results of babies seven, eight, and nine wouldn't be here today."


There I was, talking to a woman who has traveled down this horrible path on six occasions. Six. Six times of emotionally hitting rock-bottom. Six times of not knowing why your body couldn't or wouldn't sustain your babies. Yet, she didn't let those losses shatter her dream of having a family: She's now a mom to three little munchkins in addition to her six angels.

I got the teeniest glimmer of hope from my talk with her. And with it I got another, albeit much-smaller, crown as my prize for winning my first new battle.

One down ... many more to go.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Missing Buddha

Since Ryan's death, my mind has been working in strange ways. Conversations or incidents that took place while I was pregnant will suddenly pop into my head. I certainly don't mind, though. Those nine months were the absolute happiest months of my entire life. And I do mean the happiest ever.

That being said, yesterday I was remembering how strange it was to look at my profile while I was "in that special way." I'd look at my belly hump and wonder what was going on in there with my little Peanut. On one occasion, Mike was watching me while I scrutinized my ever-changing body. He told me how wonderful, radiant, and beautiful I looked while pregnant. The compliment caught me off guard, since most days I felt as though I was waddling around like some lost duck and couldn't have felt more unattractive to the outside world.

But yesterday, I finally admitted to myself just how much I absolutely loved being pregnant and loved that Buddha belly. Despite the weird faces I'd make while examining my baby belly, I secretly loved how it looked and how it felt to rub it, especially when I'd get the occasional kick or nudge from my hibernating cub.

I had never felt so alive during that time and now I feel so empty and lost. Sure, I can still rub my much-smaller Buddha belly, but it's just not the same. That magical feeling that came from rubbing it is gone, just like my special little boy.

For old time's sake, maybe I need to go look at my belly again and rub it one more time for luck.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

May I have some cheese with my whine?


Pop princess Britney Spears is a mom to a little boy. There's a scary thought.

I seem to be dwelling on this since I found out yesterday. Obviously, this news is really bothering me. In my opinion, the girl is talentless and lucky. Very lucky.

She's lucky because she's got a baby to cuddle. She's lucky that she lives a seemingly charmed life. She's lucky that she thinks about motherhood for all of two seconds, and poof, her wish is granted. How the fuck is that fair?!

I'm ashamed that the green-eyed monster has reared her head, but how the hell am I supposed to feel? Should I be doing cartwheels over this princess and her freeloading, sperm-donor of a husband, who have received the greatest gift I can imagine? Should I be thanking the powers-that-be that another mother has been spared the hell I've been enduring the last five weeks?

Yes, I'm feeling a tad bit bitter at the moment. I'm bitter that I'm 36 and may possibly never have another pregnancy, let alone another child. I'm bitter that my little boy was fighting the odds from the time he was conceived. And I'm bitter that I don't have him here right now to hold and love till the day I die. How is it that someone like her can be entrusted to nurture a new life, but I wasn't worthy enough to do the same?

Okay ... I'll take that cheese now.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Mirror, mirror ...

Although today has barely begun - it's just after 8 a.m. - I suspect it's going to be one of those emotionally trying days. Great. I'm glad I ate a good breakfast to have the energy to deal with this yet again. I'm sure I can point the finger of blame to a shitty night's sleep, or at least partially place blame there. It was one of those nights where nothing was comfortable: The sheets felt too hot; my pillow was too flat; my nightshirt kept twisting around my body.

Maybe I'm partially to blame for this state of mind, although my motive seemed innocent enough at the time ...

Last night I decided I needed to compare my facial features to that of my beloved little boy. Mike and I have joked many times about whose physical traits were passed along to Ryan, but in my opinion, he's a mini Mike. To satisfy my curiousity, I decided to compare myself to Ryan in the only way I can: by holding his picture next to mine while looking in the mirror.

I stood in my bathroom for what seemed to be an eternity, trying to stake my claim to any features in that adorable little face looking back at me. Hair? No. Eyes? No. Cheeks? No. Ears? Maybe. Nose? Ding, ding, ding! We have a winner!

Long after my comparison was complete, I continued to stand there holding Ryan's picture. I guess I was imagining what a portrait of a mommy and her son would've have looked like. Or what it should've looked like ...

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Who's your mommy?

This weekend is DEFINITELY one I'd like to forget.

Emotionally, I've been feeling as badly the last two days as I did right after Ryan's death. I keep having these "whatever" moments which don't easily pass. When I finally shake off those apathetic thoughts, I flop back into the various stages of grief. As I said, emotionally, I'm in a bad way.

One of the things that keeps swirling around in my head is the concept of being a mommy. Sure, I've earned the title in the most technical way - through pregnancy and childbirth - but, I really don't feel that I've earned it through merit. No baby to cuddle and soothe. No dirty diapers to change. No bouts of colic to bear. No middle-of-the-night feedings to manage. Nothing that makes me feel like a mommy, other than my overwhelming sadness for the loss of my precious baby boy.

As another mother in my unfortunate position put it, me accepting the title of "mommy" feels almost fraudulent. Hell, if I didn't have all the physical reminders and battle scars of pregnancy, I'd probably doubt that I really was a mom or that I ever went through any of this. It would be rather easy to convince myself that this was all a horrible nightmare and my reality is actually peaceful and happy. Instead, I'm trapped in my own freakish hell, remembering every second of every day that this really DID happen, and it happened to me.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Who ever said life was fair?

It's been one of those days.

Try as I may, I cannot get a grip today. I have one thought of my sweet little boy and I'm immediately on the verge of tears. I'm usually thinking about good things, but it turns to the horrible outcome and then the waterworks begin.

Mike and I both have been having a hard time the last two days. There will be random incidents or reminders that hit us like a truck, almost knocking us to the ground emotionally. It takes so much energy just to get through what used to be a normal day. Hell, I don't even remember what "normal" is anymore!

We tried to distract ourselves by visiting one of our favorite stores for birds and outside critters. We had been looking for a new birdhouse and finally found one that will be perfect for bluebirds, who have been hanging out in our yard the past few months. He and I both feel more attached to our outside family of critters since Ryan died. Maybe it's because we're both still looking to provide nurturing and care to someone or something, and it seems that the critters appreciate our attempts at making our yard pleasing for them.

While we were at the store, I was also trying to get inspiration for Ryan's memorial garden, which I plan to start either this fall or in the spring. I already have several gardens, but I want this one to be completely different, just as Ryan was. When I would allow myself to think ahead and wonder how different my life would be as a mom, I would always see myself and Ryan - he as my little garden gnome - in the garden, planting for the future. When I go to my gardens now, I'm consumed by loneliness. I had grown so accustomed to gardening with my little "gnome," and it's just not the same without him helping and inspiring me.

Damn ... it's just not fair. I'm supposed to be celebrating a new life and complaining of sleepnessless, not mourning the death of my infant son and pretending to be okay to the outside world.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Dramamine, anyone?

Well, the last week has been an interesting ride, to say the least.

Both Mike and I couldn't wait for last week to end. We didn't have any special Labor Day weekend plans, but we just needed to be together, with no obligations or distractions. It's so hard being away from him during the week and now I'm dreading the next four days of being without him again during the day. It's not easy on him, either. He feels as lost as I do when we're apart.

My emotions bounce around so much when Mike's not with me. My bad moments really bottom out, while my good moments are almost too good to appreciate. No wonder my stomach has been a wreck - just like after a hellish amusement park ride.

Ryan's death has shown me just how much I love and need my Mike. And I'm not afraid to let everyone know how important he is to me. I'm much more protective of him now than I was before Ryan's passing. I don't want to take anything for granted ever again. ...