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, August 29, 2007

Last time and next time ...

August is almost over; I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, and I'll just assume and hope it's not an oncoming train and instead is the start to a peaceful few months.

This year's August anniversaries have left me feeling vulnerable - especially after experiencing some rather vivid flashbacks to two years ago. Moments that had slipped from my memory suddenly returned and, unfortunately, some of the details that emerged weren't things I ever wanted to think about again. I didn't want reminders of how distraught both Mike and I were during those gruelling 54 hours of Ryan's struggle for life. I didn't want to relive any of the horror, but it found me anyway.

I've thought a lot about those things I wished I had done differently with Ryan. When you're in the middle of your unfolding tragedy, you can't expect to have lucid thoughts - especially when your mind is still unwilling to accept or believe that "this" is happening and that it's happening to you. Back then, it was like I was some wind-up toy that kept going and going. I *had* to keep going; there was no other choice.

I also realized the other day that if I lose another baby, I'll already know how the whole process works. I didn't know anything when Ryan died, because who the hell thinks through something as unimaginable as a baby dying. But, I'd be able to glide through the process the next time. I'd know what things to not waste my precious time on, and what things and moments to cherish. I'd know to call bereavement photographers to capture the fleeting last moments with our child. I wouldn't allow the nurses to keep me from visiting my baby. I'd insist that my angel be dressed in the clothes that were intended for his homecoming, instead of being wrapped in a generic blanket. I wouldn't allow the nursing staff to tape my baby's lock of hair to an index card, never to be stroked again. And, I wouldn't allow myself to feel rushed in saying my final goodbye to my angel and spend more time just gazing at his tiny face and stroking every little wrinkle and dimple.

I hate how rushed everything was back then. Or at least it felt that way because it seemed we never had a moment to sit down and take a deep breath. Every minute was spent in consultations with surgeons and doing our best to make sure that at least one of us was at Ryan's bedside. Even then, I feel I wasn't able to spend enough time with him due to being hounded by my nurse for stats. (I often forgot that I, too, was a patient of the hospital and needed care as well.)

I guess what I'm feeling is perfectly normal, but who the hell knows anymore? It's so confusing and frustrating and I wonder if I'll ever understand any of it.

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Thursday, August 23, 2007


Sharing photos from Ryan's birthday ...

We decided on cupcakes this year instead of doing another cake. Plus, we always playfully joke about Ryan's little bum being like two little cupcakes.

I took this picture in the angel garden on Ryan's birthday last year and loved it so much that I enlarged it and had it framed. It looks even better than I imagined it would.

Ryan's "auntie" Tina sent him this beautiful flower arrangement.


All in all, it was a bearable few days for us. Not great, but not terrible, either. Just difficult and bittersweet.

On the morning of Ryan's birthday, we went to the Original Pancake House and had a hardy breakfast filled with lots of carbs. We got some lovely cards from all sorts of people and even a few very thoughtful memorial gifts. And, for dinner, we chose to have grilled cheese sandwiches and chicken noodle soup as our tribute to Ryan, since that was his favorite meal while in-utero.

The next day was a bit harder for me, since it was the one-year anniversary of my dad's death. My mind was riddled with lots of "what if" scenarios and remembering all the things I wished I had done for my dad before his surgery. At dusk, I stepped out onto our front porch and just gazed up towards the heavens, wondering once again if my loved ones are really up there looking down upon me. Just as my eyes were tearing up while thinking of my dad, the setting sun situated itself among the clouds in such a way that I was suddenly standing in the middle of blinding sunbeam. It was like a little spotlight shone on me alone and, somehow, in that moment I felt a bit better, almost as if my dad was letting me know that things were okay.

Ryan's angel day was a much more somber one for me. I kept having especially painful flashbacks from Ryan's final day, which made it even harder to accept that two years had already passed since my beloved boy rested ever-so-lightly in my arms.

But, it's all over for another year, giving me plenty of time to work up my strength for next year's go-around.

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Thursday, August 09, 2007

Happy Birthday, Ry

All my love to you on your second birthday, my beloved little butterfly.

Always and forever,


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Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Diversionary tactics

- Allow oneself to be completely and shamelessly sucked into the reality show "Rock of Love" with Bret Michaels. Nothing boosts self-esteem better than watching a flock of bimbos fawning over an almost "has been" rocker.

- Also allow oneself to be sucked into a "Top Chef" marathon on a lazy Sunday afternoon.

- Cleaning frenzies are a wonderful distraction.

- Buy a variety of fresh-cut flowers at the grocery and make a cheery bouquet.

- Immerse oneself in online games of Scrabble.

- Avoid celebrity gossip outlets, as one will certainly trip over news that another Hollywood starlet is unexpectedly expecting.

- Indulge in a glass of wine to soothe the inner beast. Two glasses dulls the pain in one's heart pretty nicely.

- Pull out an abandoned crochet project and spend many hours refreshing oneself with the stitch, only to throw everything down in a heap, utter a few expletives, and search out another project to keep oneself occupied.

- Make homemade baked ziti at 9 o'clock in the evening. It's very liberating and yummy and comforting, and not at all neurotic.

- Chocolate.

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Wednesday, August 01, 2007

The freak-out has officially begun

It's August, and my annual meltdown is underway.

I'm not sure why I thought this year would somehow be easier or less painful, but it's not. I honestly believed that once I got through that horrible year of "firsts," I'd be able to heave a huge sigh of relief and things would be brighter and I'd be able to feel normal again.

Not so.

If anything I feel worse than I did last year at this time. I don't have that sense of panic as I did last year, wondering how on earth I'd made it through my baby's first birthday, but instead I'm filled with a more pronounced feeling of sadness and it's weighing quite heavily on my heart.

I'm positive that it's a combination of Ryan's birthday and angel day - and the first anniversary of my dad's death sandwiched right in the middle. But, even though I know what's triggering my feelings, it doesn't make any of this easier to accept or handle. It still fucking hurts in a way that I can't even describe.

And, sometimes, I still can't believe that our beautiful baby never came home. It's still painful to think that we had to write our infant son's obituary instead of his birth announcement. Or, that we had to make arrangements for his memorial service instead of proudly introducing him to friends and family. Or, that his room is still untouched and pristine and looks nothing like a living child's room would look, with toys strewn everywhere and crayon scribbles on the wall.

All we have are the shattered pieces of a beautiful dream, all neatly tucked into a keepsake box that I view as our consolation prize.

This just isn't how it's supposed to be, and right now I'm having a hard time accepting that this IS how things are and I can't do a damn thing to change it or fix it.

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