August 18, 2009

Christian's Birthday Tribute


video

Dear Friends,

I am working on my next post in the next day or two. But, I wanted to post this video Ryan made as a tribute to our son's life. Today is Christian's birthday...so I much I need to say...but I want to let this video tell you some of our story...

You'll have to pause my music at the bottom of my page in order for this video to run properly...

With Love,

Leah

May 14, 2009

Coming up for air

Dear Friends,



It's been three months since my last post... a long, long time, I know. I have no good reasons for my absence... I guess I just needed some time to myself.



Many of you have written emails letting me know you are still here with me on my journey and I do so appreciate the support and love you continue to show me and my family.



It's been nearly nine months since Christian died and still I have trouble coping with his absence from my life. Will the pain ever go away? I don't think so. And I hope not. This pain has left a scar on my heart that will forever remind me of the most joyful time of my life. On most days, I welcome the constant heartache. Because with it comes the vivid memories I have of my son. Joy, love, loss, loneliness... all feelings which have permanently taken up residence in my heart. No, I am not the same person I was a year ago...when I began this journey. I was innocent then...so naive. I feel I have aged a hundred years since that time.



I've spent many hours in Christian's room. Nothing has changed... His toys, clothes and bassinet are still there....waiting for him to come home. I am unable to pack them away...afraid that by doing so, would mean admitting to myself that he is truly gone forever. And, I'm just not ready to let him go. Some days, I feel this giddy excitement when I cradle the teddy bear which held constant vigil over Christian's little body while he was in the NICU. It's almost as if I'm anticipating seeing my son again...and then reality hits me. The precious few days I spent with my son are all that I will ever experience with him in this lifetime. That bitter reality chokes me. Even now, tears form in the corners of my eyes. I miss my son so much.



This past Sunday was Mother's Day... another holiday...another first...another dismal reminder of what I had...of what I've lost. I suppose it's unnecessary to tell you that it was a tough day. My mood began changing a few days before Sunday... sadness...uncertainty. Would I be included in Mother's Day and all the fanfare which make up the day? I wasn't sure... Of course, I carried my son for 8 1/2 months... took the best care of us during that time. I gave birth to him...made the best decisions I could for him when he struggled to live, and I held him close...my tears covering his face as he took his last breath in my arms. I am a mother, right? I had 4 days and I did the best I could. I am Christian's mom... I was there when he took his first breath....and I was there when Jesus called him home. I thought I would be included in the day... but I was disappointed.



I made mention to Ryan a few days before Mother's Day that I was sad. Somehow, he mistook that statement into believing I did not want to celebrate the day. And that's just what happened. I was so horribly let down and hurt.



We woke up early on Sunday morning because we planned to surprise Ryan's mom for Mother's Day... Since she lives 1.5 hours away, we needed to move quickly to get to Sarasota to meet her and Ryan's younger brother, Mike, for breakfast. I remember waking up and my foggy morning brain hearing Ryan say, "Happy Mother's Day". He said it in a low tone...almost somber for the occasion and I couldn't help but think that I must have heard him incorrectly. I didn't press him, but rather, I acknowledged the sentiment with a wistful smile before I bounced out of bed to get ready for breakfast.



Little did I know that would be the extent of what the day would hold for me. As the day grew longer, my heart sunk to the lowest depths. My first Mother's Day and I would be forgotten.



At any rate, breakfast with Patti went off without a hitch...she was surprised and we were elated to be able to spend the time with her. On the ride back home, we were both off in our own little world... the combination of a hearty breakfast and a long trip back home made for a lull in conversation. We were exhausted! And, as soon as we walked into the house, we both made a bee line for the bedroom for a mid-day nap. At this point, I still held out hope that Ryan would give me a card or letter...something to mark the day. I drifted off to sleep determined to give him the benefit of the doubt...although my rest was constantly interrupted by an awful pain in my stomach. I knew he forgot about me.



I don't know at what point in the day when Ryan realized he made a grave error...I could only tell later on in the afternoon because he was very quiet and VERY reserved. For my part, I fought hard not to crawl back into bed and cry myself back to sleep. I wished the day would hurry up and be over with... I kept telling myself this was nothing compared to what I've experienced in the last several months... I could handle disappointment. But I was on the fringe...



By the end of the evening, our conversation basically consisted of one word sentences...and several, "umm hmmms". There was a huge and vast empty space between us waiting to be filled with some sort of explanation...but it never came. We went to bed uneasy about what transpired throughout the day.



The next day was a blur... it was as if the air was sucked out of the house. It seemed as though we couldn't be near each other. We weren't fighting...we weren't bickering...we just weren't in sync. I got a card in the mail... a Mother's Day card from dear friends of ours...but it was a God Mother's Day card...no mention of my own son... I think that was the straw that broke the proverbial camel's back for me... I was HURT.



I went to bed that night doubting my relevance as a mother...If no one else seemed to think I was a mom...perhaps I really wasn't. I was sick hearted and I missed my son. I kept repeating the words, "I am a mother"....over and over again until I fell into another restless night's sleep.



Everything finally came to a head on Tuesday. I finally asked Ryan what I had done to make him behave this way. The pain in my voice was evident because with each word came a pregnant pause...I had to choke my tears down and it was a struggle. He just said that he was, "going through some things..." and left it at that. Angrily, I snapped that while he was dealing with his issues, he was tearing my heart out. I hung up on him...disgusted with myself for losing control.



About an hour later, he sent me a text message asking if we could talk when he got home. I never responded...too afraid of what I might say to him in anger. It took a monumental effort for me to meet him at the table for a discussion. At this point, I felt indignant... he hurt me and I wanted make sure he knew it! But after I sat down and looked at his face, I realized he was hurting just as much as I was. Instantly, the stiffness left my shoulders and I let them sink down...the weight of all the pain I was feeling bearing down hard. All I could muster in that moment was a pitiful and questioning look.... "Why?...What happened?"

After several moments of awkward silence, we broke the ice... In a fragmented voice, he told me he was sorry....he misread my wishes about Mother's Day and he felt horrible. Actually, his words came out in bits and pieces...but I could put everything together..I knew what he was trying to tell me. I was okay after that... all the disappointment left me and I was OK!

We struggled through the next several minutes...trying to find our way back to the easy rapport we've managed to cultivate over the years. But it was hard... on both our parts. We stumbled over words and had long period of silence between us. But the huge cavern that separated us seemed to shrink with each passing minute. Finally, he got up put his arms around me and told me I was a great mother... We just stood there...hugging each other. Our actions speaking louder than what our voices could communicate. We were back on track...

What amazes me about this event is just how fragile our relationship really is. Ryan and I have been through a life changing experience... we had a son together. And, he died. We have cried together, laughed together...and truly leaned on each other in the most difficult of times. And yet, we still have much to learn about each other. We are still growing in our relationship. Christian's life was the pinnacle of achievement in our marriage. But we still have much to learn about each other and we are still building a life together. There will still be moments when talking to each other can be as foreign as each of us speaking different languages...but we will get through it. We have seen each other so broken...tears and snot running down our faces... curled up in a ball and fighting to breathe... but we are standing today. And we are together.

It wasn't the Mother's Day I had hoped for...but I'm grateful for the experience. Each day I learn knew things about myself and about my marriage that continue to shape who I am. Some days it's not pretty...but then again, I have a long way to travel on this journey.

Love,

Leah

February 6, 2009

Where to start

Dear Friends,

It's difficult getting started after being away from my writing for so long. I have so much to update you on...so many events to share..and yet, trying to figure out where to begin is extremely overwhelming.

I guess I should start by giving you an update on my wrist. As you already know, I had surgery on January 20th which went well. My doctors were able to reset my wrist and support it with a permanent metal plate and 11 screws. The bandages and stitches were removed this past Friday and I have now graduated to a Velcro wrist brace. After 3 different casts over a period of nearly a month and surgery, I am finally on the mend.

Although the surgery went well, I did have some complications with regard to the pain block which was administered prior to surgery. Truthfully, the pain from surgery was incidental to the pain I felt from the block. It's funny (or maybe not) that the sole purpose of having a pain block was to help alleviate any discomfort I experienced from surgery. That was certainly not the case.

As a result of the complication, I had a lot of bruising, swelling, and considerable pain down my arm, sides, back, and neck. The block even affected my good arm. Apparently, I am one of a very small percentage of individuals who experience any kind of complications. Of course, I should have known that! My track record has proven to be just the case with regard to many instances in my life as of late.

I am the one percent or less....and that fact is depressing.

Needless to say, I was in pretty rough shape for a week.

But, as time heals all wounds...I have started feeling much better these last several days.

It's been difficult to not feel sorry for myself. I've often wondered why I am being so challenged in my life. It's been nearly 5 1/2 months since Christian died...I'm still so sad and hurt... Yet, I haven't been able to focus on my emotional healing these past several weeks because of the physical pain I've been dealing with since December. 26th. In fact, my recent injury has left me even more vulnerable than ever before.

Yes, I'm feeling pretty beat up these days... I've been struggling to see the glass half full...and I hate the way I feel. I had the most incredible experience of my life... 4 days and 3 hours with my son! And now, instead of revelling in the beauty of those fleeting moments, it feels as though I've been dropped in a hole...bleak, dark and alone.

I'd tell you that I need a break...but that would only be too funny given my current situation.

It's a far cry from my life a year ago.

One year ago...such a small measure of time...and, yet, so much has happened! I remember those early days of my pregnancy wistfully...I was so naive back then. Ryan and I were still in awe of the news that we were pregnant. And although I hadn't yet begun to show, Ryan was already rubbing my stomach...with the smile of a proud papa covering his face. We giggled so much those early days...every single time we caught each other's eyes, in fact. We were so happy.

Of course, Ryan and I still didn't know we were having a boy...but we knew the only name we could agree on was, Christian Dale Paige. Little did we know that God had already begun to lay his plans out for our family...for our son.

In my darkest moments, I have found comfort in knowing that Christian's life was mapped out long before I ever knew him.

January 23, 2009

On the mend...

Dear Friends,

It's been a long (and painful) month, but I am happy to report that my surgery went very well on Tuesday. The bandages and stitches come off next week and I'll be able to wear a removable brace until I am fully healed. I am so excited to be able to use my hand...at last!

I can't tell you how much I'm looking forward to brushing my hair! Strange as it sounds, I haven't been able to give my hair a good brushing in nearly a month. Every little task has been a struggle to accomplish...made especially more difficult because I broke my dominant hand.

It's incomprehensible to imagine how much we take our mobility for granted...until it is restricted for whatever reason. I can only say that I am thrilled to be on the mend!

Now that I can put pressure on my fingers, I am excited to be able to post more regularly.

Thank you for your prayers and well wishes!

Love,

Leah

January 19, 2009

A brief note...

Dear Friends,

It's been such a long time since my last post and I've missed all you very much.

Tomorrow, I am going to have surgery on my wrist which, I'll admit, makes me a little nervous. I am going to have a metal plate permanently inserted in my left wrist to help stabilize the bones that were broken in December. Apparently, the fracture isn't healing as it should and needs to be additionally supported by the plate. The good news is that once we get through tomorrow and a few weeks of recovery, my wrist should be almost 100 percent...and I'll be back to share more stories of my beloved son, Christian.

For now, I must say that I Love You all for continuing to travel on this journey of faith, love, and healing with me and my family. It means the world to me that you are all a part of helping to preserve the precious memories I have of my little boy.

Hopefully, I will be able to manage a little better after tomorrow...it's been difficult and awkward having the use of only my right hand...especially considering, that I am left handed! I tire easily which is why I must keep this post short...I hope you understand.

With Love,

Leah

January 6, 2009

Grief...

Leah and I have been so blessed. I believe we have come to a cross road in our grieving. The choice to let our grief for our son steer us into a downward spiral or manage our grief and use it in a positive manner. Many of you have shown us how our grief for our son has helped you. Whether it was with your own grief or someone you knew. The constant flow of comments and well wishes are overwhelming and we are so thankful that you continue to keep us in your prayers.


We are on the mend. I know we will never heal, but really don't want too. I feel the pain and accept it...almost like a badge of honor for my son. He has forever changed me...for the better.



God bless,



Ryan

January 4, 2009

Our Wisconsin Vacation


Christmas Mountain

A day of tubing promised to be great fun...


Ryan zipped down the mountain head first...






Leah went down a little more conservatively...


Bumpers cars at the bottom of the run


A natural in the snow...





January 3, 2009

Down...but not out!

Hey everyone, we are back from vacation. It was a white Christmas for us at a cozy Wisconsin cabin. It was just what the doctor ordered until Leah broke her left wrist tube sledding on Christmas Mountain.

Here's the story: Dressed in ski pants, ski jacket, and cowboy boots Leah made it to the top of the slope eyeballing the coarse. Tongue out and studying the fastest path down the mountain, She leaped onto the rubber tube expecting to soar down the mountain. When the unexpected happened. Leah bounced off the tube falling forward, hearing a loud crack and feeling tremendous pain. Her tube slid down the hill without her. She was calm...I think in shock...made it down the slope on another tube and walked over to me as white as her jacket. "I think I broke my wrist " She said. I rolled her glove back and sure enough, it was broken. She was such a trooper singing Christmas songs on the way to the hospital trying to keep our friends 5 yr old little girl from getting upset. She is now in a cast and will not be able to write in the blog for about 4 weeks. I will try to fill her shoes until she is better. There is so much to share and I will do my best.

Love and God bless,

Ryan