Updated: Mar 27, 2019
Photo cred 📸: Victorian Photos
I’m going to probably make you anxious in this blog post. Then I promise to bring you back off the edge. Please stay with me.
I have always struggled with anxiety. While I hope to address this topic in another blog post, all you need to know for now is that I was always terrified while I was pregnant. Always. Was my baby okay? Would I be okay? Would I be a good parent? Would we be close? The whole time, I wondered if there was really something wrong, if everyone felt that way, or if I would always feel that way. I’d go to an ultrasound, feel relieved for a couple of days, and then go right back to being an anxious mess. I researched every possible pregnancy complication I could find (I never did come across a FMH). It wasn’t until I hit my third trimester that I started to calm down. Before this nagging feeling again overcame me the week before Rylea was born. Not again! I thought I beat this prenatal anxiety! I settled right back in to the same worry I’d had my whole pregnancy.
But, this is the mindset I’ve always struggled with long before my pregnancy. Is it partially as a result of physical factors and previous traumas? Sure. But is it also part of my worry-filled nature? For sure. Of course, I did end up being right, but what I want so much to convey is that the whole 8 months of worry never made a single second of losing Rylea any easier.
How much time with my precious daughter did I waste on worrying?
I do feel like we did everything possible to celebrate our sweet Rylea. I remember sitting for hours – rubbing my belly and watching her wiggle about. And honestly, the rest of my life on earth would never have been enough time with her. But the fact that I spent a single second worrying instead of singing to her, reading to her, or talking to her stings my soul.
Like so many things she taught me, here she taught me that I gained absolutely nothing from worrying so much about the very thing that would end up happening. Us losing her.
I think somewhere along the line, I felt entitled to taking a baby home. I felt entitled to waking up next to my husband in the morning. I felt entitled to being able to pick up the phone and being able to call my parents. I felt entitled to waking up in the morning. Sure, I was incredibly thankful for everything. I loved every second of Rylea’s presence on earth in a way I’m probably not able to express in this lifetime. But how much of life I did not yet understand.
Because you, I – all of us – we are not entitled to anything. We aren’t entitled to our health. We aren’t entitled to wake up tomorrow. We aren’t entitled to take a baby home. We aren’t entitled to get one more day with the ones we love so much. I desperately want these things for myself and for you, but how much time with the ones we love are we wasting now on worrying?
I don’t say that to scare you, but the reality is that it scares me too. What I’ve realized is that in order to make the absolute most of our time with the ones we love, we have to realize that we are not entitled to any of it. Everyone and everything we have to be thankful for - they are gifts. It could all be taken away.
Instead of being scared, be truly present.
Put your phone away when you’re spending time with your loved ones (unless it’s to take a picture - take a lot of those).
Drink in every single second. What if it’s the last one you get?
Stop worrying about what could happen. Bad things are going to happen. That’s life. You can’t stop it.
I struggle so much with this.
But, Rylea taught me to be present in those moments with her. Though we hoped differently when she was born, we soon knew things were not going to turn out in our favor. The moments we got to hold her, kiss her feet, and tell her about heaven - I was just so thankful that I was able to be present in that moment and to make time stand still. Every moment. I’m not saying you have to be happy - Lord knows I’m not there yet. I’m just saying that it is imperative that we take each and every moment for what it is. Life is made up of the good, the bad, and everything in between.
Instead of being scared, keep dreaming. Let yourself dream. It may be the only thing you have someday. With as few memories that we got to make with Rylea here, I am so incredibly glad that I allowed myself to dream about all of the things she might turn out to be. In my head, I’d like to think that’s who she would have been. I’m telling you to dream anyway with the acceptance that you don’t know and often have very little control over the outcome.
When I was pregnant, I would day dream about our time together. I remember being nervous about breastfeeding. One night, I had a dream that it was late at night – just her and I – and I was breastfeeding her. The dream felt so real. I had her bassinet by the window in our bedroom, and the window was open as I felt a warm, gentle wind on my skin. I remember being so at peace with her sweet face looking up at me as I looked out the window at the star-filled sky. She cooed as I changed her diaper and then I held her as she fell back asleep. I woke up so excited to breastfeed and, yes, change her diaper because of the bond I felt at that dream.
I recall another dream that Rylea was much older. She was a little girl, and it was her and I playing together in a meadow at sunset. I saw her dancing, twirling, giggling. She grabbed my hand as I hugged her. Quickly, the sunset turned to night and the same star-filled sky was painted up above us. We looked up at the stars. So much peace.
In a lot of ways, it’s sad that these dreams make up a majority of my memories of our time together. But, often they give me peace. In a way, it feels like we actually had that time together. More time that I got to be her momma. That I’ll get time with her again. Some days, I’d like to think she sent me those dreams. I’m thankful I have them. The dreams, the present – it may be all we have.