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, January 30, 2009

I melt with you

She actually knows who I am. And, I can't help but assume she loves me, judging by the way her face lights up when she sees me.

I kiss her forehead and wave "bye-bye" every morning, after Mike has secured her in her car seat, and she flashes me that big gummy grin and returns my wave with her own uncoordinated one.

She and I both look forward to when I get home from work so I can feed her. Mike does a great job at it, but she clearly prefers me at mealtime and gets wild with anticipation while I'm preparing her food.

She giggles and smiles at my not-so-perfect renditions of her favorite nursery songs banged out on her toy xylophone. Doesn't matter to her that I'm off key while singing along.

This little person has completely stolen my heart.

Wow ...


Monday, January 26, 2009

Just bein' honest ...

I've tried to constructively use all the comments I received with my last blog entry - thank you for the feedback and support! - and took my first step at being true to myself, even though I risked upsetting others with my honesty.

We had a memorial service for Ryan the week after he died so our friends and family, most of whom don't live locally, could attend. At that point, only a week had passed, but it seemed like an eternity for both Mike and myself. Back then, we clung desperately to one another for strength. And, in that moment, it was all we had in our newly shattered world; it felt like it was us against the world.

We both held ourselves together relatively well until Ryan's service started. Then, we both crumbled, but Mike more so than me. I'm not sure why, since I'm the hyper-sensitive one of us, but, I did my best to comfort him during his vulnerable moment and I seemed to be his pillar when he needed it most.

But, while I had my head nestled against my weeping husband's shoulder, my ears were pierced by the sounds of my 14-month-old niece's incessant cries. These weren't just whimpers or whines; she was a few tears shy of an all-out meltdown - in the middle of my baby's memorial service.

Now, I understand that babies cry, but I had silently questioned the appropriateness of a baby attending another baby's memorial service even before we left the house that day. That same morning, while getting dressed for Ryan's service, my niece's crying triggered my milk to come in. So, I stood in my bedroom futilely stifling my tears, while my unused milk for Ryan leaked everywhere. Yeah, what a great moment that was, too.

Sitting in the pew at the funeral chapel, I could feel the back of my neck getting hotter the more my niece's cries went unattended. My sister-in-law, mother-in-law, and Mike's uncle all sat there and did nothing. They did absolutely nothing to quell the cries of a baby who drowned out my baby's last moment of public acknowledgment - the last time anyone would gather to celebrate him.

But, when it had first happened, I truly thought I was being selfish and just needed to reconcile my anger and frustration within myself. But, in the weeks following the service, several of my friends and members of my family asked who the crying baby was at Ryan's service. When I'd tell people it was our niece, I'd receive mixed looks and comments, all hinting that our niece's presence wasn't appropriate given the nature of the service and because she drowned out the majority of the pastor's sermon.

That sickening moment has haunted me practically every day since then. And, because it was Mike's sister's child, it wasn't something I could ever casually introduce into conversation. How does one delicately mutter, "Our niece ruined Ryan's funeral!" But, after receiving so many comments which affirmed my feelings on the situation, I felt it was time to finally tell Mike how his family disappointed me and dishonored Ryan.

After Megan had gone to bed on Friday night, I told Mike that I had something to tell him - something that had been weighing very heavily on my mind for a very long time and since it involved his family, I needed to tell him what was bothering me rather than allowing this to fester any longer.

I explained how gut-wrenching our niece's presence was for me in the first place during our early days of grieving, but I understood that his sister had no alternative but to bring our niece for the memorial service. I went on to explain that I certainly didn't blame our niece for crying through the service's entirety, but that I was disappointed that no one in his family made an attempt at consoling her or even removing her from the chapel.

Mike didn't remember the incident at all and I didn't expect that he would, given his emotional state during the service. I don't think he immediately realized how deeply this all affected me until I could no longer contain my emotion and burst into tears.

He received my news surprisingly well, and then wrapped his warm arms around me and told me he was sorry I had anguished over this for so long. I felt badly for unloading a whopper piece of my broken heart into his lap, but I was glad that I had finally broken my silence and let that demon out of its dark closet.

And, I think he knew that I didn't tell him all of that in an attempt to upset him or ridicule his family. I just wanted to be honest with him about something that affected me so deeply. It was a moment when Ryan's star should have shone brightly and instead it was eclipsed.

I don't know that I necessarily feel "better" about coming clean about this. But, at least I'm not silently shouldering the burden of it.

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Monday, January 19, 2009

The great pretender

That's the conclusion I've arrived at.

I've spent the better part of the last three years merely pretending I was okay and "better," but I couldn't be further from that.

There's a tremendous amount of guilt that I shoulder - that I still feel this way after grieving for so long. And, especially since I've finally received the sweetest of blessings in the form of Megan. She's saved me from myself in many ways, but she's not the cure-all, end-all as some people would believe. There's still a giant, empty hole in my heart, filled with infinite sadness.

My sadness ebbs and flows. But, most of the time I can't be who I really am. I can't be that desperately sad mother who still longs for her baby boy. I can't be in a somber mood around the masses and instead put on a half-hearted smile to spare them all the angst in my heart.

I've spent the last few months curled up in my shell, where I know I'm safe - where I can be me. Where I don't have to answer the never-ending, "What's wrong?" or "Are you alright?"

I'm tired of pretending I'm someone that everyone else wants me to be.

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