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.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

"How long have you been trying?"

After a brief exchange yesterday with a stranger in the drugstore, I got to thinking about how long Mike and I - and before that, my ex-husband and I - have been trying to bring home a live, healthy baby.

My ex and I began planning our family in August of 1997, almost nine years into our marriage. We got lucky on our first cycle of "not trying, not preventing," much to our surprise, but unfortunately that pregnancy didn't last and our marriage crumbled shortly after that.

During my time of being single, which was fortunately short-lived, I knew I wasn't in the right place to bring a child into the world, but it was never far from my mind. I held out hope that I'd meet the real Mr. Right (which I did) and we'd be able to fulfill our dream of having a family.

I realize that a couple need not be married to start a family, but my upbringing was such that I felt very strongly about being married before becoming pregnant. Plus, I wanted to be absolutely certain that my relationship with Mike could weather any storm and that we'd bring a child into the world for the right reasons and into the most loving environment possible.

Mike and I had a longer engagement than most couples (three years), but we learned a lot about each other and ourselves during that time. The journey wasn't always pleasant and at one point we almost went our separate ways. But, our love for each other proved to be the driving force in our relationship and we decided we were ready to make the ultimate commitment of marriage.

Like most newlyweds, we began to toss around the idea of having a baby. It was a scary prospect, but we had faith that we could make it happen and would be the best parents we could possibly be.

That was in August of 2003, almost four years ago.

So, that brings me back to my conversation in the drugstore, where the stranger asked, "How long have you been trying to get pregnant?"

I never know quite how to answer that question. This time around, we're on cycle 21 and still counting. Before that, it was seven cycles after my miscarriage that we got pregnant with Ryan - but I was pregnant for nearly 12 weeks and on hold for two months after my miscarriage (even though I didn't faithfully heed my OB's advice to wait). Before that, it was seven cycles of actual trying. But, really, we've been trying since August of 2003, even though many of those months were spent either pregnant or recovering from a recent pregnancy. How do I count that time? And, with Ryan, I technically had a full-term baby, so is it fair for me to count those 40 weeks as "trying" time?

The stranger's question was straight-forward, but I didn't have an answer that was as uncomplicated. My response to her ended up being pretty generic: "A very long time." What else could I say? She didn't need me over-explaining our unusual situation, nor did I want to scare her off with the reality that trying to make a baby can take a long time for some couples.

After I got home from the drugstore, I decided I'd do a more precise calculation of how long we've been trying:

August 2003-January 2004: 7 cycles
February 2004-April 2004: pregnant
April 2004-June 2004: on hold, 2 cycles
June 2004-October 2004: 5 cycles
November 2004-August 2005: pregnant
August 2005-September 2005: post-partum recovery, 1 cycle
September 2005-present: 21 cycles

So, by my estimation, we've been trying for 33 cycles, we've been on hold for 3 cycles, and we've been pregnant approximately 51 weeks (whatever that equates to in terms of monthly cycles).

Yes, it has been a very long time. And now I wonder if there truly is an end in sight, or if I'll only ever be tabulating instead of celebrating.


Friday, April 13, 2007

My foray into self-employment

Here's what I've been up to:

I am now my own boss. Scary thought!

But, this is what I've wanted to do for a very long time, but didn't have the means or courage to do. Maybe having a heartless boss for three years was the motivation I needed to make that dream a reality.

I also chose today to "launch" my business because it's the third anniversary of losing Peanut #2, and I wanted this day to be one filled with more than just sadness, as the last two anniversaries have been. I don't want to always mark off the bad anniversaries and overlook the good ones.

As I was pulling the pieces together for this project, I seemed to be stuck on a suitable business name. I was trying to use my beloved Ryan as my inspiration in choosing a name, but I was coming up empty-handed every time I'd sit down for a brain-storming session. Then, quite literally, one night I dreamt about him and the word "heartstrings" was uttered by a faceless person in my dream. When I awoke from my dream, I knew that that was THE name I had to use, for more than one reason. And, it seemed the most fitting way to honor my Ryan's little life - and the lives of my other Peanuts who never made it here - and to keep his legacy going.

It feels good to share good news. I haven't been able to do this in a long time.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007


Just before I walked out of my job last month, I had a verbal exchange with one of my co-workers who was complaining about being awakened by his newborn at 3 in the morning.

The conversation didn't start out as a baby discussion; in fact, it started out as a compliment to me and how "together" I always looked when I marched into work each morning. So, he jokingly said that I must get up hours before work in order to "pretty myself up" for the day. I explained that I hopped out of bed a mere hour and half before work's starting time and didn't put all that much thought or energy into getting myself ready for the day, which was true.

He rolled his eyes and then said, "I wish I could sleep that much, but I'm up at 3 every fucking morning." Then he laughed.

I'm not sure why I felt the need to comment further, but I did. So, I replied, "You know, before you complain about having to be up at 3 in the morning, you might want to consider your audience, because some people would kill to be awakened in the middle of the night for the reason you're griping about."

He didn't say a word, but the look on his face spoke volumes.

With that, I turned and marched back to my work area, feeling somewhat better that I finally called someone out on an insensitive remark made about children in my presence.

I've grown weary of putting up a tough exterior when I'm bombarded by senseless comments like that. I realize, that had Ryan lived, Mike and I would've played up to the doting parent role as much as any new parent. But, I know we would've been humble enough and respectful enough not to go overboard, since you never know what horrors someone within earshot has undergone. He and I had already experienced our own losses and understood how emotionally debilitating it is to have the good news of others constantly rubbed in your face.

Even while pregnant with Ryan, I sometimes tried to hide my swollen belly because I didn't want to make anyone feel badly that I was happily pregnant, when so many other couples struggle to bring a child home. And now that I am one-half of a struggling, childless couple, it hurts that much more when people make tactless remarks such as my co-worker's. It would be like a newly married woman going on and on and ON about her fairytale wedding while within earshot of a newly widowed woman. It cuts you to the core.

I'm certainly not suggesting that people should harness their jubilation over the joys in their life, but there's no need to go overboard, and a little bit of tact can go a long way in saving a hurting soul's feelings.

I know that most people don't set out to harm others through hurtful talk or insensitive actions, but that doesn't prevent it from happening anyway. I just wish people would give a little more thought to what words spill from their mouths before it's too late. Once you've said it, you can't take it back and no apology is sincere enough to heal the invisible wound that's been reopened by inconsiderate words.

P.S. Even though the initial conversation with my co-worker had been side-tracked by my abrupt reply, I did thank him for his kind compliment on my appearance and demeanor at the start of each work day. I was flattered that someone noticed and thought enough of me to share their thoughts.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

I've been tagged!

My response time these days is truly lacking, and I apologize for that. Kristin "tagged" me nearly three weeks ago, asking me to choose a photograph that represents myself in my role as a mother.

But since reading her post, I've been stumped over what photo to choose. I managed to narrow my choices down to two, which I feel, in their own right, represent me as a mom in a happier time.

This picture was taken in Ryan's nursery in June of 2005, just two months before his arrival. My mother-in-law and her husband were visiting from out of town and volunteered to take a picture of the proud parents-to-be in their son's room. When I look at this photograph, I see so much promise and happiness in both our faces, and I can still feel Mike's loving embrace enveloping me, with his hands resting gently on my swollen belly. In that moment, I never felt more surrounded by love.

This picture was taken about 15 minutes after Ryan entered the world. It was after the apparent crisis had been averted during my labor, but was before our world came crashing down with the word of Ryan's bleak diagnosis and prognosis. Everything was still right with the world and I was in complete awe at the sight of this little person that I had helped to create. It was before his little body was whisked away and was tethered to a dozen machines. It was when I could see how proud Mike was to meet his beautiful son - the spitting image of himself. And, it was when my heart was full of so much love I thought it might burst.

As much as I adore both of these pictures, it's sometimes difficult for me to look at them, since I know that our story doesn't continue as we had dreamed and hoped and planned, and as most people would imagine it would have. I look at these pictures and realize that our innocence and our baby's life were snatched away in the blink of an eye, with no explanation to help ease our pain or lighten the burden of grief that we will always carry.

These pictures will always hold a special place in my heart and my memory, since it was in those moments, frozen in time, that I felt my life and my role as a mother had finally been fulfilled and I was complete.

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Saturday, April 07, 2007

One is the loneliest number

It's late - later than I can usually manage to stay awake ordinarily - but I have all these random thoughts dancing through my head.

I keep thinking about our little boy. It's nothing and it's everything; I can't put my finger on just one thing. Maybe I reopened some wounds this evening while visiting a good friend. Conversation, at one point or the other, turned toward Ryan, and as happy as I am to talk about him, that talking stirs up a lot of powerful emotions. And, now that I'm home and it's late and the house is quiet, I've realized that I'm not as well equipped to deal with such potent feelings as I had thought I was.

I'm sure the two glasses of wine didn't help matters, either.

Regardless, I'm feeling very empty and alone and not at all looking forward to yet another childless holiday. My period is just around the corner - another stark reminder of how far I am from where I want to be. I want nothing more than to hold my own child in my arms, but it seems that that dream is impossibly out of reach.

I guess a lot of this is also about being lonely. I have Mike, yes, but no other family. Everyone who came before and after me is gone, and it's just me now. It's a weird feeling to know with almost complete certainty that I am the last of my family and once I'm gone, it's over. There is no legacy to be carried on. There won't be anyone to know or remember my precious little boy and all the ways he struggled to live for a mere 54 hours. There will be no one to pass along family stories or photo albums or cherished recipes.

Maybe I can chalk up some of this emotion to the fact that, besides tonight's alcohol consumption and my impending period, I'm recovering from a horrible bout of seasonal allergies. And, when I say "allergies," I'm not talking about just sneezing and itchy eyes. I've been ill the majority of the week with a fever, laryngitis, and a terrible cough that still tests my bladder control - all the while worrying and wondering if I'd be stricken with something more serious. Not a fun week.

See? I'm a heaping mess of nothing and everything tonight.

I think I'll do a shot of Nyquil, slip into my jammies and into my cozy bed, and hope I can sleep myself out of this unsettling state I'm in.