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.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

My soulmate

I've known from the moment I met Mike that he and I were "meant" to be together. In the almost eight years we've been a couple, he's always treated me as a princess - even during the times when I was far from deserving pampered, royal treatment.

Over the weekend I realized just how wonderful my husband - my soulmate - is and just how much he loves and cherishes me and our relationship.

On Sunday, I unfortunately suffered another devastating meltdown. It was not a pretty sight: uncontrollable sobbing ... snorting ... incoherent rambling ... sniffling ... followed by more sobbing.

We were attempting to decorate for the holidays since I really felt I was emotionally ready to do it. Besides, we both felt strongly that our angel would want us to rejoice and be happy about the upcoming holiday and not become recluses for the next month.

I still don't know what came over me so suddenly that caused me to become a blubbering mess. I guess it was just the mere thought of having to suffer through what should be a joyous holiday without my beloved son by my side - him taking in all the sights and sounds of his first Christmas. Realizing that dream would never, ever be fulfilled, I completely lost it.

When I get in this kind of mood, nothing can snap me out of it. It's as if I'm stuck in my own emotional whirlpool, being pulled further and further down, regardless of how desperately I try to swim away from it. Even my dear husband's best attempts to pull me back up to the surface failed, and he - the person who knows me almost as well as I know myself - knew I was in serious need of help before I completely cracked.

Unbeknownst to me, he "texted" my best friend, begging for her help, briefly explaining that I was having a serious meltdown. So, when my best friend, T, sent me a text message on my phone a few minutes later, I just assumed that she and her dear husband were out and about and she was just sharing some of her typical silliness. Unfortunately, I wasn't in any kind of mood to appreciate her giddiness and I rather rudely gave her the cold shoulder though a very curt text reply. She responded with a quick apology and said she couldn't call me just then - she and her husband were at a holiday concert - but would try her best to call later.

I spent the next several hours salvaging what I could of my dignity and apologized to Mike for behaving so badly and worrying him to death. In his usual, nurturing way, he told me that no apology was necessary.

My mood eventually improved as the day drew to a close and I was prepared to head to bed to put the dreadful day behind me when the phone rang.

It was T.

We started our conversation with the usual "how are ya?" and "what did you do this weekend?" Again, she apologized for not being able to call me when I needed her most, but I told her I understood - and I do - because it's not her job to pick me and make everything better.

She quickly changed the subject and said, "You know, you have a fantastic husband who loves you so very much." I agreed because I know it's true; not many men would love me with snot running down my face! But, then she said, "No, he really loves you and I am so glad you both have each other."

I was a little confused at this point - why would she so strongly emphasize how much Mike loves me?

That's when T told me that Mike had texted her not once, but twice, out of concern for me. He had explained that he tried all he could think of to lift my spirits, but maybe I needed to hear from my sister instead. (T and I have been friends for almost 30 years and have shared so many joys and sorrows that we call each other sisters.)

I was dumb-struck. I mean, I know that Mike would do anything for me, but I couldn't believe he was so worried that he felt he needed the help of the person who knows me almost as well as he does.

Mike had already fallen asleep while reading a book, so I decided to check if what T was telling me was actually true. I checked Mike's phone, and sure enough, he had texted her with the sweetest, albeit urgent, of messages, telling her I was in major crisis mode and that all of his efforts had failed.

Even though those messages to T were brief, his concern for me was clearly evident. Instead of just letting me wallow in my misery, he literally did everything in his power to pull me from the emotional black hole I was being sucked into.

When he and I finally made our way to bed that night, I thanked Mike for everything. He, in his usual, modest fashion, said no thanks were necessary - he just wished he could do more for me.


What a selfless person ... someone I'm proud to call my husband and my soulmate.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

DO talk to strangers

If someone had told me yesterday morning that I'd have a conversation about trying to conceive (TTC) in the middle of a drugstore with a complete stranger, I'd have told that someone they were nuts!

But this actually did end up happening yesterday, oddly enough ...

I had to stop at the drugstore to pick up some prescriptions, as well as essentials, but my intent was for this stop to be a quick, in-and-out sort of thing. I had a very specific list of what I needed to do after work and my well-thought-out journey didn't include time spent browsing through the make-up section or rummaging through the clearance bins. After leaving there, my plan was to do major food shopping, tend to the watering of the yard, take the dog for a walk, and get dinner rolling before Mike got home from work.

I hustled through the drugstore, stopping only in the aisles that contained items on my list. The last item on my list was an ovulation predictor kit (OPK), and the aisle containing "family planning" needs is just around the corner from the prescription pick-up, so it made perfect sense to pick up my OPKs and just cruise over to the prescription counter to get my meds and pay for my other items.

As I was grabbing a box of OPKs from the store shelf, I hear this little voice behind me ask if they really work. Surprised, I turn around to see who had asked me this unusual question.

Standing there was a black woman in her mid-30s, who truly looked interested in knowing if the OPKs I was holding really worked or if they were just a marketing gimmick.

I decided to answer her question as truthfully as I could from my own past experiences: "I think they work. They helped me get my baby boy!" I stated excitedly.

The stranger's eyes got wide and her curiosity had definitely been piqued. She explained that she and her husband have been trying to start a family for three years, she's suffered two miscarriages, all of the testing she and her husband have had done came back normal, and now her doctor had prescribed Clomid, a fertility drug to induce ovulation, hoping to finally make them parents.

I told her how the OPKs worked for me when I took Clomid last year when I conceived Ryan, and how it was especially useful and helpful since my ovulation was delayed by taking the Clomid. Then I filled her in on how helpful it is to temp and chart and what signs to look for from your body to know if the timing is right. She was grateful that I had mentioned these little tips since no one had ever told her how all of these tips can work together and be successful in baby-making. For the next 20 minutes or so, this stranger and I stood in the family planning section, swapping stories from the TTC trenches and sharing TTC tips we've picked up along the way.

We reached a point in our conversation where she asked about Ryan, not knowing he was a full-term baby, assuming he was a miscarriage as my first two pregnancies were. Once I explained what happened to him, a wave of sadness washed over her face and her eyes swelled with tears. For a moment, I regretted telling her about losing Ryan, since I never want to make people sad by talking about him. But, I wanted to give her hope and to know that she wasn't alone in feeling the way she does about trying to start a family, wondering if the gift will ever be given to them.

She immediately expressed how sorry she was to hear about Ryan and wished me and Mike the best of luck the next time around. She was sad that Ryan didn't make it, but I explained that he was a strong little guy and he fought so hard to stay here with us, but his defects were just a little bit stronger than he was. I told her how happy I was to have had him for those two precious days and that because of him, Mike and I wanted to try to give Ryan a brother or sister.

As we said our goodbyes, she thanked me for all the helpful TTC tips that she was excited to try to increase her chances of sustaining any future pregnancies.

Before she turned away to return to her life and I to mine, she smiled and said, "God bless you."

"You, too," I said.

It was the first time I really stopped to think about what those words meant. Yes, God has blessed me.

And, despite my 20-minute TTC detour, I managed to complete the rest of my errands and chores and had a hot dinner waiting for my dear husband.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Sweet dreams

After the last few fitful days I've had, where my sleep time has been as uneasy as my awake time, it was quite relieving to have a good night's sleep that was accompanied by pleasant dreams of being blessed with another baby.

Yes, a healthy baby that's here with me and not up in the heavens.

I dreamt that Mike and I were sitting in a room at the birthing center - the same place where I had Ryan - and in my dream, I was a nervous wreck at the thought of holding my baby girl for the first time. I was scared that something was wrong with her and that the doctors didn't take enough time to check her for problems. Mike was beaming and just kept squeezing my hand, reassuring me that our little girl was really perfect and healthy and that no one was going to take her away from us.

Then the door to my room slowly opened and my nurse walked in holding our baby girl. The nurse gently placed her in my cradled arms, careful not to disturb my little girl's slumber. She continued to sleep contently and was unaware of my or her daddy's presence and how we gently caressed her cheeks, head and hands. Mike and I just sat there with ear-to-ear grins, watching as this beautiful creature slept peacefully, without a care in the world. ...

I don't remember much else from this dream, but it was the overall feeling of joy, happiness and comfort that stayed with me more than the specifics.

The timing of this dream was perfect, too, since the days leading up to it were the shittiest by far and I really needed to have something positive to hold on to. I even woke up with a smile on my face!

Finally ... a breath of fresh air!

Thursday, November 10, 2005

@$#& ME!

That's it.

Over the last few days, I've had enough difficult reminders that my son isn't here that I've decided I'm finished playing this game of life.

Well, no, not life per se. I guess what I've had enough of is all the horrible, unfair, heart-breaking, gut-wrenching reminders of what my life was supposed to be but isn't.

I'll warn you now: If you're feeling timid or if you become offended easily, you might not want to read the remainder of this entry since I'm in a no-holds-barred frame of mind and I'm going to write as freely as possible.

Yesterday Ryan would've been three months old. (There's that damn contraction, "would've," again.) And, to celebrate this I receive Ryan's birth certificate via "snail" mail. Well, the Vital Records office did say a "minimum of 90 days after the birth of the infant" - but, with their office being a government agency, I figured I wouldn't see it for another six months. Nope. I was having a difficult enough time dealing with his three-month "anniversary," and seeing that fucking envelope in my mailbox and knowing exactly what is was, just reignited my anger and sadness over what happened to Ryan, Mike, and me.

I was so pissed off after receiving this letter that I decided I needed a distraction, and that distraction was spending time with friends. We hadn't gotten together for a few weeks, so I jumped at the opportunity to get away for a few hours.

Halfway through my drive to meet them, I pulled off the road, parked in front of a future Chinese restaurant, and literally cried my eyes out. I don't know exactly how long I was there and I don't care. I don't care who saw me in that state; I needed to express all of that heart-breaking sadness and unending grief I have over losing my first-born child.

I sat in that parking lot and let all of my emotions out. I cursed God for letting this happen to Ryan and for how it has hurt and devastated so many people who don't deserve to feel this way. I asked Him how he could tease me for nine months, leading me to believe that I would really have my own baby to love, and then snatch that gift away in an instant. I asked Ryan to give his mommy strength to make it through another long day since she wasn't doing a very good job at it. I told Ryan that I love him and always will. I sat there and just mumbled to myself about random things that happened during my pregnancy with Ryan and during those 54 hours of his far-too-short life. I remembered how afraid I was to deliver him. I remembered seeing him that first time, seeing this perfect little person who looked mighty pissed off about everything going on around him. I could still hear that one and only cry he was ever able to do. I could remember how wonderfully fresh he smelled and how incredibly soft his skin was. I remembered how I was immediately thrilled that Ryan was the spitting-image of Mike. I remembered how incredible and awe-struck I was when Ryan responded to me - his mommy! - and how those beautiful big blue eyes gazed into mine. I remembered how my stomach hit the floor when the first cardiologist informed us of the first of Ryan's heart defects. I relived that panicked feeling of rushing to the NICU after receiving that urgent call from the head nurse. I remembered how utterly horrible I felt seeing my tiny baby connected to what seemed like a thousand machines and knowing I couldn't do anything to help him. I relived that dreadful moment when Mike and I accepted that Ryan wasn't going to make it. In my head, I again heard Ryan's doctor say to me, "Mom, do you want to hold your son one last time?" And, I remember how absolutely heart-broken I was after holding my beautiful son for the very last time.

I hate so much what this has done to me. It's like I don't know who I am anymore. I just don't understand any of this and instead of getting easier, it seems to be getting harder.

I ended up meeting my friends, but didn't have the best of times, although I made a decent attempt and I guess that's what really matters.

I'm still really upset today and I'm like a damn leaky faucet, but I'm slowly getting better.

Maybe Ryan gave his mom a little pep talk after all ...

P.S. And, dont get me wrong: Im very happy to finally have this tangible proof (his birth certificate) that my little boy - a beautiful baby that me and my wonderful husband made! - really did exist, if only for two days.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

You know, the people up the street who ...

Yesterday, while Mike and I were working on our backyard, we were chit-chatting about some of our neighbors.

Other than the people who live directly on either side of us, we don't know any of our neighbors by name or anything about them. We're rather private people and since I don't have an interest in getting sucked into the gossip mill that runs amuck on our street, we stick to ourselves and refer to all of our neighbors by nicknames or labels.

Most of these nicknames are based on something unusual or striking about the neighbor's house or yard, or habits of the owners that set them apart from our other neighbors. When you don't know the names of all your neighbors, it's the easiest way to refer to them in conversation so that the person you're speaking with knows to whom you're referring. For instance, the people who live across the street always sit in their wide-open garage and watch everything that goes on around them. Their label is, "the house where they're always sitting in their garage." Not very original, no, but accurate nonetheless. Another, "the guy who's obsessed with his car." Or, "the place where the slutty daughter lives." I have many others, too, but they aren't quite as nice, so I'm better keeping those to myself. But, I digress ...

Once Mike and I had finished our yardwork, we stood on our back porch to appreciate the efforts of our hard work. We gave each other an approving nod and smile as we gathered up our tools and equipment to head into the house. Then, Mike says, with a devilish grin, "Well, at least they [referring to our neighbors] can't say we're the ones with the shitty yard."

No, I guess "they" won't be able to say that, if they ever did in the first place. Somehow I'm guessing that our crappy yard isn't what our nickname would be based on anyway. Let's face it: Nicknames are formed by finding those things that make a person different in a not-so-good way, and Mike and I are different from our neighbors in a huge not-so-good way.

No, we won't have a shitty yard anymore. But we'll always be "the people whose baby died," even if our yard one day ends up on the cover of Better Homes & Gardens.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Turning the page

At work, I have one of those three-months-at-a-time wall calendars. It was quite handy when I was pregnant since there seemed to be millions of appointments to keep track of and it was nice to see those final weeks counting down to the big day when I'd get to finally meet my little boy.

When I returned to work at the beginning of October, my calendar was just as I had left it before my maternity leave, showing August, September, and October. I couldn't bring myself to flip the page when I first returned to work, and I even went so far as adding Ryan's birth date and death date in the appropriate boxes in August. Even though seeing those dates makes me incredibly sad, I felt they needed to be added to reflect other events in my life that were worthy of jotting down. And, since there was still a current month available for my use, I really didn't see the need to go to the next page, containing October, November and December. Seemed to make perfect sense to me at the time. Or maybe I talked myself into thinking my decision was rational - who knows?

But, now it's November.

Everytime I looked at that calendar today, I realized that the months I was looking at were finished and it wouldn't help me too much in November.

I'm very particular, maybe even obsessive, when it comes to dates and times. I make certain that every clock in my house has been changed at least 12 hours before the official time change in the spring and fall. All of my clocks and watches - whether at home, in the car, or at work - are set to the same time. And, I always change my calendars on the first of the month.

So, not changing my calendar at work was really bugging me, but I just couldn't flip the page to cover August. In some strange way, it would have been as if I was covering up Ryan. I could never do that!

Finally, in the last half hour of my work day I came up with a solution, even though it all but killed me to follow through with it. I tore the sheet from my calendar that contained August, September, and October, cut out the month of August, and tacked it up in my cube. Unfortunately, a perfectly good calendar was sacrificed in the process, but, in my opinion, the end justifies the means: August isn't covered up and forgotten.

Now, where can I find another 2005 calendar, even though I need it for just two months?

I didn't really think that part out too well, did I?