2015 started off so great. We invited lots friends and family over to bring in the New Year with a bang. It was our first time having a lot of people over to stay since buying our first house and I was taken back to Christmases when I was a little girl at my grandmother’s house with all my aunts, uncles and cousins packed in for the holidays. I loved getting to wake up and make breakfast the next day and enjoy being surrounded by love and excitement for what the new year would bring. Just a month later we found out I was pregnant. There was so much joy surrounding this news. Our first child and the first grandchild on both sides of our family. Even before we new anything about our daughter, we knew she would be loved beyond measure. For about 5 months I reveled in being pregnant; I loved seeing my belly grow, especially when I began to feel her kicking and moving. It was the most beautiful thing I had ever experienced and so very special. When my husband and I finally found out that it was going to be a little girl, he said he knew it all along despite always saying it would be a boy. We picked the name Evelyn Ryann. She would be the 5th Evelyn on her mothers side following her mother Evelyn Grace and late grandmother Evelyn Ann, great-grandmother Mary Evelyn and great-great grandmother Evelyn Brannan. Her middle name, Ryann, is a namesake for her father and was originally going to be spelled “Ryan” just like her dad but when we decided we might actually call her by her middle name, we added the additional “n” to make the name more feminine. We could not have been more excited about the future and about finally getting to meet our beautiful little girl. Things took a sharp turn for the worst when I went in for an ultrasound at 23 weeks and a few days. I was told my cervix was opening and funneling and that I would have to go to the hospital immediately. When I got to the hospital we found out I was contracting as well. The doctors did everything they could but within 2 weeks I had delivered our beautiful, perfect baby girl. She was healthy but so very early and due to more complications than I have emotional capacity to explain at the moment, our daughter was only with us for 3 weeks. Our world came crashing to a halt and my heart broke into a million pieces. I did not feel brave or strong, I felt small, lost, broken and as though I had failed everyone- myself, my husband, my daughter, my family. My body could not manage to do the one thing it was built to do. The questions circled my head “what could I have done differently?”, “Was it my fault?”, “Could I have saved her?”, “Could I have tried harder?”, “Could the doctors have done more?” and then the blame “If only I had listened to my body more carefully”, “If only the doctors had gotten her out sooner”, “If only the doctors had checked my cervix sooner”, “If only I had worked out less”…
I know that I did not kill our daughter. I know I cannot change what happened and that blaming and questioning will not bring her back but sometimes moving forward in my life feels like walking through the swamp of sadness in the Neverending Story. “Everyone knew that whoever let the sadness overtake him would sink into the swamp”. I have to keep moving forward, one day at a time.
The holidays this year were far from easy. I cried – ALOT. Even my strong rock of a husband cried and in those moments I was just glad to be surrounded by family that support and love us unconditionally, even if they can’t fully understand our emotions and what we are going through. I watched my cousins running around after their children and that longing in my heart would grow along with the knot in the pit of my stomach and the tears behind my eyes. I was wishing I could be running around after our own children as they reached out to grab the colorful ornaments off the tree or run towards the stairs because they know they are “off limits” or explain to them that they can not go outside with the “puppies” because those “puppies” are too rambunctious and might hurt them without meaning to. I had to step away a few times, going into a back guest room and wiping my eyes. I didn’t want it to look like I was always about to cry, I didn’t want to make everyone else sad and I didn’t want to steal the holiday spirit from anyone the way I felt it had been stolen from me.
Christmas used to be my favorite time of the year, don’t get me wrong, I had a great time with family and friends this holiday season but one moment I would be doing fine and then all of the sudden I would get this stabbing sensation between my stomach and my chest, reminding me of the stark reality that our daughter is gone. We lost her. This past year was her year, her chapter in the book of our lives, but I know it is not her only appearance. Her name will continue on with her memory for years to come.
Mommy loves you.
Peace, Be Well.