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

43 comments:

DramaCity said...

Oh, Leah..I have missed you and have been praying for you..
You ARE a mother, the mother of Christian...and though his life was short on this earth, you will again hold him in heaven. It's not an easy thing, I am sure. But you are a wonderful mother, just in the midst of your grief process. You are beautiful and loved.

Anonymous said...

Leah,
I am so glad to see that you have "come up for air." I have no idea what you are going through because I have not been there, but your writing is so real. My heart breaks for you! You are a mother and one of the best because you have given your sweet son to God. That must be the hardest thing for a mother to go through. My oldest child graduates from college this weekend and I can't imagine what life would be like without her. You gave your little man the best, you nutured himfor 8 1/2 months and loved on him while he was with you. You gave him your best and Mother's Day is for all who have conceived, given birth to, raised, or had to let go of their babies too soon. Celebrate that little guy every day and be proud to BE his mother.

Carrie Breilein said...

I love you Leah, I love your open heart, I love the mother you are to your son, I love that you are in the Lord's hands and that you've so lovingly placed your sons life there. And I really love knowing that you and Ryan will be with him for eternity...I am excited to watch you all there. I love my time praying for you Leah. Thank you for bringing me once again to my Father's feet. I want to be like you so much...I know you didn't mean to inspire so many, but these times are so brutal for God's children. So many trials for all of us during these days, thank you for being so drawn to Him and for being heavenly minded.

Hadley's Heaven said...

I have missed reading your honest posts. You are an amazing mother to Christian. You are in my prayers everyday even tho you don't know me, you have touched me. God only trusts those special "perfect" children to the most special mothers, you are one of those mothers.
With love,
Tammy

Mandy said...

Leah,
I am so glad that you have come back. I have been thinking and praying for you during this whole time.God knows what a great mother you are.Christian was so lucky to have you to care for him.We will continue to pray for you.

Lisa said...

I was disappointed on Mother's day too when my husband didn't mention our two girls who are gone...
Later that day we talked about it (after I had a meltdown) and he siad he just never knows how to handle me anymore...nothing he does seems to make me happy, (and he tries all the time to do everything he can to make me happy!) He knows that the one thing that will make me happy is to have our daughters back, but that is the one thing he can never do... he feels inadequate and a failure as a husband. This really opened my eyes and made me realize that my husband needs guidance in how he can help me... so if I wanted a card "from" our daughters- i should have told him so! I know that you probably think you shouldn't have to do that (I did too!), but you have to understand that men just don't work that way. :) I really think that Ryan, like my husband, probably is just at a loss as to how to help us best. They probably think that since they can't give us our babies back, we don't really want anything else. Do you think that is the case with Ryan?
Anyway, I would like to send you a poem about how even the 9 months that you carried Christian make you a mother! Do you have an email I can send it to?

Mrs. Mother said...

I had been wondering how you were. I missed seeing your posts. Big hugs to you. I know Mother's Day had to be hard for you. It was hard for me, and I have a living child. I even wrote my column this past week about losing a child, because I had mother's who have lost their only children in my hearts. Big hugs to you.

katrynka said...

I am sorry that it was such a difficult day for you, but glad that you and Ryan were able to talk to each other. I agree with the person who mentioned that he might not know what to do, I would not know either. I cannot even begin to imagine your pain. I have not lost a child, but I have not been able to get pregnant. Perhaps it is not the right approach, but I just try to ignore the day. I gave my Mom her gift early, as we were not able to see her on Sunday. I called her in the morning to wish her a good day, and then I tried to just forget it for the rest of the day. My husband's Mom died when he was 14, so he does not like this day either.

Carla said...

I am so glad that you wrote again. I have been thinking about you. I need to apologize...I was one of those people who thought about you on mothers day but did nothing. The thought even crossed my mind (or rather I believe the Spirit of God laid it on my heart) to email you on Sunday with an acknowledgment of your motherhood...but I talked myself out of it and focused on my own life instead. I am sorry.

Mothers day is a tough one for so many people. I wrote about it the day after mothers day on my blog in fact. Moms like you have been on my heart a lot this month as we celebrate motherhood.

You are a mother...and you always will be! You had life created in your womb, you gave birth and more importantly than any of that you loved a child and always will. You now have a mommy's heart beating in your chest and that will never go away.

love and prayers,

Carla said...

p.s I wanted to say too that I can totally relate to your relationship issues..we totally have days like that sometimes and we've been married almost 13 years.
It sucks when it gets to that point...even if you know you will eventually get past it, it still feels horrible at the time. Thanks for your honesty it makes "us" feel more normal :)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the update...You are Christian's MOTHER and I am sorry your first mother's day did not go as hoped, but I am so thankful you and your husband were able to get things out in the open...Praying for you both....

Becky said...

Leah - I have been wondering about you these past weeks.

Life is so uncertain. I was reminded of that this week when I thought about the Biblical story of Daniel and Shadrack, Meshack, and Abednego. The had NO idea what they would be facing in the lion's den and in the firey furnace. No idea. Yet they stood in full faith. So hard to imagine isn't it?

Each Holiday that has passed is in some way a milestone. The 'first' one has come and gone.

Take care.

Kathy said...

Hi Leah!

Just wanted to say that I totally agree with Carla and her comment said what is in my heart.

HAPPY(BELATED)MOTHER'S DAY TO A BEAUTIFUL, LOVING, DEVOTED, AMAZING MOM!!!

Thank you so much for your post and for your precious honesty. Prayers continue for you and Ryan.

Trish said...

I thought about you on Mother's Day, I thought about all of the moms who spent that day without proof of their unconditional motherly love. Like you said I have to continue to remind myself I am a mother.

My sister gave me a card that day and she said in it that she was so proud of the way I mothered Maxson and continue to. Leah, I'm proud of you too, you gave Christian more love in the time he was here with you than many children will receive in a lifetime from their mothers.

You should be honored every Mother's Day here out because you gave Christian a chance most don't...plus all the love you continue to pour out for Christian.

When you enter heaven I believe God will let you know how wonderful you ARE as Mom!

Glad to hear from you:)

Praying and thinking about you guys,
Trish

Kenzie said...

Leah-

I feel like I have let you down too. I'm so sorry about not checking in more often... I think of you every 18th and I know that each one of those days that marks the passing of another month is so hard. Please forgive me... I'm sorry you feel so let down and sad. Just like everyone else I want to assure you that you are DEFINITELY A MOTHER! I know the pain and the questions but just because he isn't in your arms doesn't take away all that you have been through to bring him to life here and usher him into eternal life with the Lord. I have had to learn the hard way that I can't rely on anyone around me: not my mom, my friends, Dusty or anyone else... only Jesus Christ because he is the only one that doesn't disappoint. I know it is just heartbreaking!

You know that I would LOVE to talk sometime if you are up for it... give me a call and we can check in.

Love you and praying for you still... You haven't left my mind.

Love so much,
Kenzie

twiceasnice4tots said...

I am so glad you posted again. I think of you EVERY day! I checked your blog at least 3 times a day. I thought of you on Mothers day and thought about how it would be a hard day for you..... It is so difficult for me when I see a friend going through a tough time. I never know how to act. Sometimes I say nothing out of fear. Sometimes I will not even come around in hopes I will not have the confrontation. I am wrong. I know the person in mourning actually needs sweet reassuring words. I feel like your husband.....Just not knowing "how" to act. The important thing is you kept your communication and got through it. My husband tells me ALL the time he cannot read my mind. So I tell him now what I need! He says he does not get my hints. HA!

Happy Mothers day today and everyday! Please continue to post. I missed you.

Anonymous said...

You don't know me but I found a link on the Stanfield's blog to yours... my suggestion is perhaps you and Ryan can have a second chance and celebrate your "parenthood" jointly on Father's Day. Make is a special day for you both - instead of just Ryan. Show him how you would have liked to celebrate on Mother's Day and then maybe he'll know what to do next year! I have two children with my ex-husband (and had a miscarriage in November 2007 - with my new husband - who doesn't have any children of his own so we were sorely disappointed) but Mother's Day past virtually unnoticed here too - the oldest made some magnets at school but was too excited and gave them to me as soon as he brought them home (a week before or so). So "The Day" didn't have alot of celebration to it, either. Thinking of you...
Denise in Canada.

Stephanie said...

My dictionary says a mother is "1-a female parent, 2-the origin or source of something." My definition would include one who has an unbelievable, unexplicable, unmatched love for her child. There is no one on this earth that can argue you as a mother.
I will pray for the healing of both your heart and your husband's as you continue to try to figure out how to handle this heart-wrenching experience.

mommyof2sons said...

I am so glad to see that you have posted on your blog. I am sorry that your Mother's Day did not go as planned. God knows what a great mother you are. I know him and Christian were looking down on you that day. Glad that you and your husband worked through things.

Prayers for you!

Megan said...

I think about you often and was glad to see a new post. Your description of your mother's day made my heart hurt so much for you. You are so open and raw with your feelings on here...
I am glad you and Ryan got a chance to talk and gain insight into each other's thoughts...
I know when I am really sad about my mom it ends up that I have to reach the point of a breakdown to even talk about it, because my husband doesn't always pick up on the little hints...
You are a wonderful mother! Your love for Christian is evident with every word you type and I know he is proud to have you as his mother. And I bet Ryan is in awe of you as a mother. God chose Christian a special mommy in you!

kekkey said...

leah,

so glad for an update. praying for you always.

kelley

Mirna said...

I nominated you for an award~ go to my blog to check it out. Hugs to you ;)

Ashley said...

I do not know you. I've been reading your blog for a while now. And I am so glad to see you back. I want to tell you that it breaks me heart to 'hear' the hurt in your words. You ARE a mother. Christian is your son. You will always be a mother. While I've never lost a child and have no idea what that pain feels like, I do know that you are an amazing, strong, courageous woman. Hang in there, and ALWAYS know that even though I dont 'know' you, I pray for you daily.

Kathy said...

Hey Leah!
Just checking in. Hoping to hear from you soon.
Prayers continue for you and Ryan!

Kim (marygracesummons.blogspot.com) said...

Dear Leah,
I think of you so very often along with your precious son Christian Dale. The love you have for him is an amazing love only a Mother can have. There are so many disappointments that continue to happen on this journey but you are fighting your way through it along with your husband. Keep fighting it together along with our Savior. I am sorry I didn't make it a point to wish you happy Mother's Day. I hardly get to the computer anymore but I think of you often. I will continue to pray for healing. This is such a beautiful, real, heart felt post that will speak to so many. You are a blessing.
With love,
Kim

Kim (marygracesummons.blogspot.com) said...

Dear Leah,
I think of you so very often along with your precious son Christian Dale. The love you have for him is an amazing love only a Mother can have. There are so many disappointments that continue to happen on this journey but you are fighting your way through it along with your husband. Keep fighting it together along with our Savior. I am sorry I didn't make it a point to wish you happy Mother's Day. I hardly get to the computer anymore but I think of you often. I will continue to pray for healing. This is such a beautiful, real, heart felt post that will speak to so many. You are a blessing.
With love,
Kim

mizbear said...

Am still following your story and hoping that as time passes this terrible burden gets easier to bear.

Kathy said...

Leah,
Still checking in and hoping to hear how you and Ryan are doing. Prayers continue!

Anonymous said...

I can relate in a different way too...I was pregnant 6mos when mother's day came around and I didn't get anything either.
Pretty sad..and my in-laws didn't help the situation.

Anonymous said...

Hope you will be "coming up for air" soon. Wish you are doing well, and are just to darn busy to post. I pray that your grieving heart is beginning to heal. It must be very difficult to be parents of an angel. Praying God is granting you peace.

Hugs,
Lisa

Akul's mama said...

You are strong, careful and wonderful mom...always remember that.

Kathy said...

Hi Leah!

I keep checking in, hoping for a post. Please drop us a line and let us know how you and Ryan are doing. Does not need to be long just say "Hi!"

Prayers continue for your sweet family,
Kathy

Anonymous said...

just checking in to see how you're doing. i think we would all love an update! you have a lot of prayers coming your way :)

Diana said...

Your post has left a spot on my heart. You are a mother - your son is in heaven - not with you here on earth. Please know that times does help - it doesn't take all of the pain away, but it eases it.

Please continue to post on your blog what is going on. It will help you in ways you cannot believe.

Susie said...

I'm a couple of months late but I was glad to see you posted again. I'm sorry your Mother's Day was disappointing - Happy belated Mother's Day - you are indeed a mother. Looking forward to more posts...

Anonymous said...

Ryan and Leah,
Hope all is going better! I know (wait , no I do not know. I have never lost a child. I believe or should I say I expect) this month of August is difficult for you. Because, August is Chritian's month. I do not know you, but I remember that dear sweet Christian's birthday is right around the corner. August 18th if I am correct. So here is New Brunswick, Canada, a total stranger is praying for you. Wishing I could send you some strength. ( To reassure you that I am not a wing nut in remembering Christian's B-day is that mine is the very next day. No wing but here;-)))
Hugs
Lisa

ReadyAim said...

Hi, I just wanted to let you know that you are in my thoughts and prayers as Christian's one year birthday is in just a few days. I know he is never far from your thoughts, but I wanted to assure you that he is not forgotten by others either. I hope you are doing well.

Lisa

Kenzie said...

Leah-

Hey there sweet girl. I just wanted to let you know that I have been thinking so much about you! I know that Tuesday is surely weighing heavily on you right now... for me the weight of the world was almost too much to bear as we approached Maddox's birthday this past January. Be gentle with yourself- the anticipation is so emotion-driven and I fought with everything in me to stay focused. A sweet friend recommended something to me that was very helpful- she suggested to carve out of your day some very specific alone time (you and Ryan both) and then some special together time for you to remember Christian. It served us really well and we celebrated Maddox's birthday for a dinner out- it was wonderful just to have that time to talk about him, our lives, God's plans, etc. By no means am I saying you need to do anything specific, but just to pass on what worked well for us. I'm sure in the future we will celebrate with cupcakes or something... just not this past year.

Love you girl. Blessings and praying for your heart this week!

Kenzie

Anonymous said...

Ryan and Leah:
Do not know if you check your blog anymore. But I am praying for you today, Christian's 1st birthday. Hope you are doing OK.

Hugs from New Brunswick Canada

Lisa

thetalbotts said...

I just wanted to let you know that I'm thinking about you on your precious son's 1st birthday today. Hope you can find a way to celebrate him through the pain from the wounds that will forever be a part of your life now. Christian is worth celebrating!

Kathy said...

Leah, still praying for you and Ryan. Would love to hear from you!

Kathy said...

Today is Christian's birthday. I hope that you are in a place that you can celebrate your precious son and yet, I know your heart is still broken.

I went back and looked at all the pictures of his birth and cried tears seeing again his sweet face and all the many, many people that came to visit and love on him and you and Ryan.

Wish there was something that I could say to take away the pain and leave you with the joy of your beautiful memories of Christian. But I cannot. Please know that I am praying for you and Ryan.

The Fluck Family said...

you do not know me...i found your blog through NILMDTS. i have a friend who lost their baby at birth. your blog about mothers day opened my eyes and i plan on celebrating it and sending her a card letting her know that we are thinking of her and that she IS a mother. it has only been a couple of months for her since his birth but i know her pain is as raw as the day of his birth. i wish there was a way to help her more but i now see that to help her means celebrating his very short life on earth. thank you...