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, April 26, 2006


This is my lazy post of spring pictures; that way I'm only required to write captions. Since I have no seedlings to show off, I'll instead show the color and progress of my outside obsession as of last night.

I really enjoyed snapping these pictures. The weather was beautiful and there was a nice breeze. And, despite so much being taken from our backyard, there's still lots of beauty left to enjoy ...

Here is Ryan's tree. It's a Japanese Maple variety called "Lionheart." It was the only one of its kind last fall at the nursery and both Mike and I immediately fell in love with it. Beside the physical uniqueness of the tree, we felt the name was fitting since Ryan was a little Leo and the "heart" part of the name goes without saying. (And, please pardon my weeds in the background - someone forgot to do the trimming last weekend. Oops!)

The leaves on his tree are so delicate that I decided to include a close-up that shows better detail.

Here is our newest tree, a Pin Oak. It's been in the ground just a few weeks, but it is flourishing! We hung a thistle sock from the support post, and the golden finches can't stay away from it. Maybe they think we added this tree so they'd have an additional place to roost.

Do you see it?

In case you didn't see him (or her) in the other picture, here's a good profile shot. Darn toad scared the crap out of me when it jumped into one of my gardens. They're everywhere in our yard, but it still catches me off guard since they blend so well.

My first daylily blooms!

I got this rose on clearance in Fall 2004, just before I found out I was pregnant with Ryan. The variety is Chrysler Imperial and I've been extremely pleased with the hardiness of this rose. I haven't given it any special care - just rose food - but it's doing wonderfully well and smells so nice.

I can't remember the variety of this rose, but it was another clearance purchase. When I bought it last fall, the blooms were mostly cream and the tips of the petals were "dipped" with pink. Imagine my surprise when I discovered this gigantic bloom of mostly pink!

This rose - another name which escapes me - was planted just a month ago, and I'm so happy to see a bloom so soon. The particular garden where my roses are planted must have some magic dust in the soil since they grow so healthfully in that spot.

That's all. Hope you enjoyed them as much as I do! = )

P.S. Yes, I'm addicted to buying the "Charlie Brown Christmas tree" version of plants so I can nurture them back to health. They're usually a bargain and with a little TLC, I end up with beautiful plants without spending a fortune.

Oops, she did it again

I ranted pretty heavily and heartily last September when pop bimbo Britney and her skanky husband had their baby boy. I despise them both - in many, many ways - and the thought of being over-shadowed by her pregnancy - and then her living baby - was almost too much to bear.

And, now, the rumors are flying that she's with child again.

Of course!

Thank you, Lord, for blessing that free-loading husband of Britney's with an abundance of sperm and supreme fertilization abilities. Never mind the rest of us who are struggling to bring home a healthy, living baby - a baby that wouldn't be a novelty or media fodder.

Hopefully they'll have a less-rickety high chair for this next one.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Messages to the heavens

Following on the heels of Friday's tree devastation, we attended a Family Fun Day event sponsored by the Maeghan and Heidi Heart Foundation. We weren't the least bit motivated to attend - our emotional states never recovered from the stark vastness that was once our backyard view - but we had agreed to attend and I'm a woman of my word and commitment. Plus, Mike wasn't about to let me go alone, knowing I'd be an emotional train wreck.

"Family Fun Day" is a way to locally acknowledge the babies treated by the hospital's pediatric cardiovascular unit (heart babies) and/or babies who grew their angel wings. The founders started the organization after losing their infant daughters to congenital heart defects, and every year they hold this event to honor their brief lives, as well as acknowledge the lives of other angels. It's a day about celebrating, but, given the circumstances, it's a little tough to celebrate when practically every set of parents in attendance has lost their baby.

I tried my best to stay composed, but it was a losing battle; I broke down in tears the minute I entered the fellowship hall where the event was being held. This was the first social engagement of this kind that I've attended, so I really didn't know what to expect. I didn't know if it would be rather somber or surprisingly upbeat. It was a good balance of both; too much of one or the other wouldn't have felt right.

There were hot dogs and homemade BBQ sandwiches, side items, baked goods, and beverages offered for lunch. The kids - and there were a lot of them! - had a huge bounce-house to work off their extra energy and food. The founders set up a memorial wall, where all the names of the angels were listed. Every heart baby had a foil heart sticker above his or her name, which was neatly printed out on blue or pink paper. It was heart-breaking to count so many other babies who had been stricken with hearts defects similar to Ryan's. There were even yellow sheets to memorialize the miscarriages among the group.

Despite my blue mood, the day was very nice. We had had thunderstorms early in the day, but the skies cleared up just in time for our balloon release. All of us attached heart-shaped tags with personalized messages to the balloons in remembrance of our dear babies. It was the most moving sight, seeing the dozens of pink, blue, and white balloons being carried away towards the heavens. Everyone quietly watched the balloons drift off, but occasionally you'd hear a muffled sniffle as people wiped away their tears.

We all stood outside till the last of the balloons disappeared from view.

I sure hope Ryan got the little message we attached to his balloon, even though he already knows how much we love and miss him.

Every shade of ...

This weekend was very blue - the bluest in recent memory - and I've yet to recover fully from the emotional downward spiral.

It all started on Friday afternoon when I got home from work. We have this beautiful wooded area behind our house that we paid a lot premium for because, being the bird and nature nerds we are, we wanted lots of wildlife and privacy. When I arrived home on Friday, most of the trees were completely gone, thinned out to a tiny glimmer of their former beauty.

Mike and I were both devastated - and still are. We've watched as our feathered friends bring their newest brood to our feeders. We've laughed at their crazy antics and smiled at how comfortable and trusting these wild animals are within our presence. We've watched the parents during their nest-building projects, where they pluck Toby's discarded fur from the yard to line their nests. We plant trees and flowers to specifically attract certain types of birds and other wildlife. To us, it was our own private oasis to nurture and protect.

But, all of that changed with the excavation of our haven by money-hungry, corrupt developers. The area behind our house is so sparse now that it's depressing and harsh on the eyes. And, now our outside friends are scrambling to make new roosts or find their mates. It was truly sad to watch their confused states, trying to figure out what had happened to their once-peaceful and simple existence.

The price of progress - if progress is what you can call this destruction.

We were grossly misled when we purchased our home; we were fed any line so the realtor could close the deal. (Talk about buyer beware!) Sometimes I wish I didn't have so much faith in people and my belief that they're inherently honest, because then I'd never be let down when life doesn't play out as I'm told it will. There was supposedly no way this land behind us could be developed - something to do with a species of tree growing there that was protected, as well as a swamp-like area within all that acreage. But, as usual, bureaucrats twisted the laws to their advantage, stripped that area of its protection, and ultimately raped the land and its occupants.

Seeing those trees gone almost from one minute to the next is what shook me up the most. They were there when I left in the morning and ground to mulch eight hours later. It reminded me of how Ryan was here one moment and gone the next, with no way of getting him back.

And, I know they're "only" trees and they're "only" animals, but why do people care so little about the smallest forms of life? They matter, too. Just because they can't speak out in their defense doesn't mean they're insignificant.

Another loss to mourn.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Through new eyes?

With all my holiday wallowing consuming my thoughts this past weekend, I forgot to mention a weird - weird in a different way - thing that happened at my optometrist appointment on Friday.

When I last had my eyes checked in February 2005, I was just about through the first trimester and was almost convinced that my pregnancy was in cruise control. As part of the usual questioning, my eye doctor asked if I was pregnant, to which I responded with a cheerful and excited, "Yes!" He extended his congratulations to me and on we went with the appointment.

Until I walked into the eye doctor's office on Friday afternoon, telling him about Ryan was just about the furthest thing from my mind. I was more concerned about trying to drive home - into the setting sun, no less - in rush-hour traffic with dilated pupils, as well as trying to follow the assistant from room to room after she had me remove my contacts. Not a nice game to play with a terribly near-sighted individual such as myself.

The doctor came in, did a quick review of my chart, and then commented on how when he saw me last year I was pregnant and due in August. I answered him with an affirmative, but didn't say anything else. Naturally, his next question was to ask how the baby is.

So, I told him.

I told him that I had my baby, yes. I paused for a moment and then added that my son died two days later due to complications from severe heart defects.

Even though my doctor was sitting just a few feet from me, all I could see was a very blurry figure - I can't make out exact facial expressions or see people's eyes without my glasses or contacts. But I didn't need to see his face to know what sad look was written across his face. I've seen that look so many times on the faces of others who've heard my story, that on Friday it was almost a relief to not see that painful look yet another time.

It was a very strange feeling, though. I knew that the doctor was shocked by my unexpected news, but maybe because I couldn't read that awful look in his eyes, it didn't affect me as much as telling Ryan's story had in the past.

I don't know if I turned a different corner Friday or if it was just coincidence since I was blind as a bat and couldn't see my doctor's face when I delivered my unfortunate news; I'm so heavily influenced by the depth of emotion in a person's eyes. Or, maybe telling the story for the ump-teenth time has desensitized me in some way, so sharing the news almost seemed routine.

So, what does this all mean? Am I growing stronger in my ability to share Ryan's story, without it turning me into a blubbering mess? Does it mean I'm moving on and really beginning to heal and recover from Ryan's death? Or, does it mean nothing and I'm merely over-analyzing the whole incident?

My head feels too full to try and sort this all out.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Yay - another holiday

In just a few hours, the Easter Bunny will make his hippity-hoppity rounds, delivering baskets filled with the sweetest of treats.


No, I'm not the least bit enthused that Easter is here. It's just another day to remind me - as if I need any more reminders - that my baby is dead and that we're a different kind of broken family.

I think my newest approach to the holidays, with this "whatever" sort of attitude, is so I don't have to bear to think about what I would and should be doing instead of moping and crying. If I treat this Sunday as I would any other Sunday, maybe I can manage to limp through it with a bit of my emotional being intact.

At least I'll be able to tear into the bag of Cherry Cordial Hershey Kisses that have been residing in the back of my freezer for the past month.

Note to self: Don't ever again succumb to others' urges to "give something up for Lent." All you managed to do was torture yourself for weeks on end, and your ass is still as wide as it was before making this unproductive commitment.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Another "first"

Last night I got an e-mail from a gal who is the daughter of good friends of mine. Actually, referring to them as friends could be interpreted as an insult; this family is always there for me when it matters most. They stood behind my decision to divorce my ex-husband; they traveled 1200 miles to attend my wedding to Mike when even my own family didn't make the trip; they dropped everything to drive eight hours to be with us after Ryan passed away.

So, my friends' daughter has an almost three-year-old (Britney) who is quite a firecracker. She's got the sharpest mind I've ever seen in a toddler and she forgets nothing. Even after not seeing me or Mike or our cats for almost nine months, she constantly asks about "Uncle Mikey" and "Auntie Sherry" and our kitties, all of which she knows by name. She, unfortunately, even remembered Peanut and couldn't understand why "the baby" wasn't still in my belly. But, I digress ...

Even though I haven't come right out and said to people in our life, "Yes, we're trying to have another baby," it's pretty much an assumption that we are, even though no one brings the topic up. I supposed my wounds are still very fresh - or aren't healing well - so it's difficult to see pregnant women or women with newborns when I'm out and about. And, luckily, I haven't had anyone close to me announce a pregnancy since Ryan's death. Till now, that is.

Last night I saw this e-mail and my heart began to race. My friends' daughter doesn't usually send me e-mails, so I thought it was a little unusual.

As soon as I opened the e-mail, I started quickly scanning the body of it, hoping my eyes would fall on a keyword. And, they did. A baby is on the way, probably in late November/early December. At that moment, it didn't matter to me what other tidbits she had to share. The only thing I saw was that.

Okay, so I cried a little about this news. Or, a LOT about it.

Yes, I'm a little disheartened by this new development since I selfishly wanted to be making that big announcement before anyone else did. And, I'm really hurt, too, because of the insensitive way my friends' daughter chose to share this news with me. We talk on the phone frequently, so I didn't think a phone call was too much to ask when it came to news like this. I'm sure they wouldn't have looked too kindly on me e-mailing them when Ryan died. Different circumstances, yes, but that same courtesy in sharing sensitive news should apply, right?

The e-mail from my friends' daughter is still sitting in my in-box. I'm still absorbing this news and trying to recover from my shock and disappointment before I respond - via e-mail - with a fitting, congratulatory reply.

The first pregnancy announcement since losing Ryan wasn't a "first" that I had been anticipating - it's anniversaries and milestones that usually catch me off guard. Plus, I really, really thought I'd be the first to announce that kind of news. That was the sort of "first" I was expecting and hoping after all of the more sad first's I've had to overcome.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

My Beloved Ryan,

Today is eight months since we said goodbye.

I can only imagine what a big boy you'd be by now and what new tricks you'd be learning on an almost daily basis. I think about things like that all the time and hope that my dreams and imagination are close to what a different reality might have been.

Spring has finally arrived, and I constantly envision the fun times that would've been had during our outdoor adventures. I'm certain that our walks would've been interrupted with passers-by commenting on your gorgeous blonde hair and big blue eyes. By now, you probably would've had a tooth or two to flash a smile to them in exchange for the kind compliment. And, I'm sure you would've been wearing one of the many goofy hats that daddy so lovingly picked out for you, to protect your little head from the sun.

Toby would've been such a good baby protector - I just know he would've been. I can almost hear your gleeful and excited shrieks as Toby gives you sloppy puppy kisses while you pull out a chunk of his long white fur.

And, at the end of our busy, fun-filled day, daddy and I would get you ready for bed and lull you to sleep with a bedtime story or a gentle lullaby - or both.

Those are just a few of the wonderful things that would've been part of our life together - the three of us as a family.

My dear angel, mommy and daddy love you more than we could ever describe - there are no words fitting enough to fully express the depth of our love for you. You are forever in our hearts and missed even more with each passing day.

I love you, Peanut - now and forever.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Privacy, please

Since my empty-arms homecoming almost eight months ago, I've learned to really appreciate my private time with Mike, as well as my own alone time.

From the moment I first arrived home from the hospital, our house was a flurry of people coming and going, and doorbells and phones ringing almost constantly. Those first few days were not only physically exhausting for me while recovering from a C-section, but that time was also mentally and emotionally draining from the many times I had to re-tell the story of what happened, as well as make the final arrangements for Ryan's memorial service. Once all our houseguests left, our house returned to an almost normal state - or as normal as it can be after something so devastating invades and redefines your life.

There are few people with whom I openly discuss Ryan, what happened during those two days, and my feelings about all of it. Some things I gleefully and willingly share - mostly those blissful moments during pregnancy and right after Ryan's delivery that weren't tainted with bad news. The more sad and unfortunate aspects and pictures, though, Mike and I keep to ourselves; no one needs to know or see that side of the situation when they already know the ultimate outcome.

That being said, I was a little more than shocked on Friday when I received a message on my answering machine from an adoption agency, who my sister-in-law contacted without our knowledge. When I told Mike about the phone message, he said that his sister had forwarded to him the e-mail she sent to this agency regarding our situation. Now, don't get me wrong - I was floored by some of the sweet sentiments about Mike that his sister included in her e-mail to the agency and the fact that she thinks so highly of us as a couple that she chose to pursue that route on our behalf and with such fervor. But, I was also mortified that his sister went into great detail with a complete stranger at an adoption agency about our situation and Ryan!

I felt violated, to say the least, probably for a few reasons. What happened to us is a very, very private matter, and even though I blog about many situations relating directly to Ryan, and my online pregnancy board knows the whole story since those women were there from start to finish, I'm always in control of what I share. I know what my comfort level is and I know where I need to stop; I ultimately dictate what the outside world knows about Ryan. And, adoption is another private and personal matter where outsiders shouldn't over-step their bounds. I've already prepared myself for all the Ryan-related questions that will eventually come to the surface during any possible adoption proceedings, but I wasn't ready for a step in that process to bypass me altogether.

Maybe I'm hyper-sensitive to this. Maybe my over-protective motherly side is kicking in. Or, maybe it's the telling of Ryan's story combined with the sensitivity surrounding adoption that's really got me up in arms. Plus, Mike's sister (or anyone else) doesn't decide which direction our life will take, and I don't appreciate gentle nudging - even if we're already headed in the direction of the prodding.

I only know that I liked it better when I felt that my private life was private. Now I'm feeling very vulnerable and feeling that nothing is sacred.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Sweet surprise

Whenever I fear that my little Ryan will be forgotten by the outside world, people manage to surprise me - and make my heart smile - with gestures like this:

The wonderful ladies from my chat board wanted a Thomas and Ryan tribute "signature" to include with their posts, and this was what they came up with.

Of course, I wish there wasn't a need for any sort of memorial banner like this. I wish that my Ryan was safely here with me, just as I wish that Ryan's angel buddy, Thomas, was safe in his mommy's arms, too.

But, this is a wonderful way to keep their spirits alive and their lives known to the world ...

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

No 2006 baby for me

Yes, I know it's a little odd to think about things like that, but I suppose all sorts of thoughts you wouldn't normally consider become commonplace after your baby dies.

I was really hoping and praying - and then praying some more - that there would be a 2006 blessing for us. No such luck, though. And, as I expected, no answered prayers.

After the delivery of yesterday's low progesterone news by the OB nurse, my title of an unfinished mother came rushing to the forefront of my mind once again. Will I ever be able to complete my role as a mother, or will I always be stalled right where I am, never to know what it's like to be a mom in the truest and purest of senses? Will I ever carry my healthy - and living - baby into the safe confines of the home so lovingly prepared for its joyous arrival?

This time around, trying to become pregnant seems to be so much more difficult than it was before Ryan. I'm painfully aware that there are more obstacles to overcome, but again I wonder how it can be so hard to do something that my body supposedly knows and remembers how to do. Both Mike and I take relatively good care of ourselves health-wise (okay, a girl has to succumb to the call of chocolate once in a while!), we have no known problems that could impede our baby-making efforts, we time our intercourse at the optimum times, but still we're not successful. I mean, even filthy, disease-ridden crack-whores manage to get knocked up easily AND deliver healthy babies. Where the fuck is the justice and logic in that?!

And, so much for my OB's theory that, "the body remembers being pregnant and easily goes back to that state, so you should be expecting again in no time at all!" He said that to me at my four-week postpartum check-up, nearly eight months ago. I venture to say that I blew his theory out of the water with my inability to get impregnated so quickly after giving birth. His theory might be true for some women though; there are a handful of women from my online August 2005 expecting club who are already well into their second trimester of subsequent pregnancies.

So, here I will sit and wait some more. Maybe 2007 will bring some long-overdue joy to our life. Something good certainly has to happen soon, because how much more could possibly go wrong?

Forget I asked that - I really don't want to know.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Oh, why not

I just received a phone call from the nurse at my "maybe" new OB's office. I went to their office on Friday to have my blood drawn to check my seven-day-post-ovulation progesterone level.

Obviously, I don't know the specifics on how all these things are measured, but I know enough to know that the magical number for a progesterone check is 15 - a level to indicate a good ovulation and enough sustain a possible pregnancy.

Mine was 8. Almost half of what's needed.

Why the-fuck not.

I'm till waiting to hear back about what's next, other than increasing the dosage on my Clomid to 100mg.

I just can't believe this.

Was that really it?

In life, I have always felt that we get an allocation of good fortune or blessings, and once that resource is tapped, that's it. And, more and more, I'm feeling that Ryan was my last shot at becoming a mother.

Yes, I know - I'm technically a mom, regardless - but, as a dear friend once said, having all your babies in heaven gets a little difficult on some days. But, I'm now seriously wondering if this is what's in the cards for me - to be a mom only to heavenly children.

Several times since Ryan's passing, I've questioned if he was my last shot at becoming a mom, and as cycle after horrible cycle passes me by with no subsequent pregnancy in sight, I'm becoming more convinced that this is my lot, whether I like it or agree with it or not.

Of course, the hopeless romantic in me wants to believe that something good eventually has to happen, but the more practical side of me realizes and understands the bigger picture in front of me, which isn't the prettiest one ever painted. I've already lost two pregnancies and have given birth to a child with severe heart defects. I have a sketchy family background, which makes it difficult to determine if Ryan's defects were indeed a cosmic fluke or a familial pattern. The nature of Ryan's defects related solely to the left side of his heart, meaning there's an increased risk of recurrence in a future pregnancy, especially if we have another son. My "advanced maternal age" is never far from my mind, either, since I'm constantly reminded of the increased risks during pregnancy, the higher rate of birth defects, and how much more difficult it is to get pregnant in the first place. Adoption was a consideration for us for all of two seconds, until we realized that there is no possible way we can afford that expensive option.

That's a lot of shit to overcome - especially when you have no control over any of those things. I can't tell my body to slow down and quit getting older; I can't erase what happened to Ryan; I can't repair my fractured family tree to find the answers I'll never get; we'll never be able to adopt, short of a financial windfall.

I'm really scared and sad that Ryan's birth was the pinnacle of my life and it's all downhill from here. And, unfortunately, from where I currently stand, I don't see any glimmers of hope over the horizon.

Monday, April 03, 2006

A walk in the park

Yesterday Mike and I went to visit a new park that's across town. We wouldn't normally go to a park that's so far from our house, but this park has an area which is designated as a Children's Memorial Walkway.

We first learned of this walkway a couple months ago while flipping through the newest county guide to our parks and the activities/interests which are offered. Bricks that make up this walkway are engraved with information about children who have died, regardless of circumstances or age. We've been considering purchasing a brick for Ryan - as well as one for his angel buddy, Thomas - but we didn't want to buy one, sight unseen.

As usual, our trip started out innocently enough. But after reading several of the inscriptions along the walkway, I felt that unmistakable lump forming in my throat just as my eyes started to sting from the tears I was unsuccessfully trying to choke back.

I couldn't believe I was standing in the middle of this sea of anonymous, shared grief. I couldn't believe that there are so many - too many, actually - parents who understand and know the indescribable pain that comes from your child's unexpected, premature death. I couldn't believe that we were even having to consider buying a brick to commemorate our beloved son's too-short life.

A walk in the park on a beautiful spring day shouldn't be like that.

I really thought we'd spent a day like that pushing a stroller along the walking trails, stopping along the way to pick flowers and watch the wildlife at play.

I never imagined that instead I'd spend that outing sitting on a bench, crying my heart out and mourning a life which is no more.