Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Phantom Child Syndrome

Most of the time I remember that Ryann is gone. I know I'll never catch her reading in a corner of her room or chasing the cats into the closet. Most of the time I remember that it's just Jared and me now. Once in a while I'll catch myself reaching down for a little hand or turning to check on a small passenger. And then I remember that she's not there.

I used to have such a hard time dropping her off with her babysitter for the afternoon. Leaving her always felt like there was a rubberband stretching, stretching, pulling me back. The rubberband is still there and still pulling, but there's nothing on the other side. It's disorienting and breathtaking. When I find myself looking around for her I feel it snap back and I gasp.

The strongest thing I remember of those first few weeks was the overwhelming sense that my arms were empty. I could literally feel the wriggly little body. Feel her weight settled on my hip, my arm snugged under her, her hand on my shoulder. But there was nothing there. No little fingers grabbing my nose. No soft cheek rubbing against mine. Gone. It was suffocating.

I feel a constant pull forward to our other children we hope to have. To feel the incredible little life in my arms again. But a part of me is so scared that instead of embracing the lives to come, the me who is Ryann's-Mommy will only be able to be bitter and jealous of the me who is Again-a-Mommy.

It hurts to know that there will be people who will know and love the rest of my family, but who will never be able to know and love the first set of chubby little arms I will always feel. So we tell stories and remember and share the baby girl who will always be our firstborn.

On moving day with Auntie Rachel
A champion wiggle-worm

Content in eachothers arms


  1. That was a very touching story, Damie and my heart goes out to you and Jared. Thank you for sharing. It must still be difficult. A part of your heart will always be hers.

  2. You have a way with words that express so much is such a short note. I cannot see you doing anything but loving your next child with your whole self. I think that not being able to share your absent loved-ones with the new people who come into your life is the most difficult part of loss for me. Sometimes it feels like those new people in your life won't really get who you are without knowing this incredible person who has made your life better in very deep and meaningful ways. I am so glad I was able to share the experience of Ryann with you and I hope to meet your future children someday, as well.

  3. I am so glad you share these candid moments with us. This brought tears to my eyes. God has given you such a strength, though I'm sure it doesn't feel like it. You are such a witness of faith and strength to me. Keep trusting, praying and never taking your hand from God's. And always looking toward that soon Coming where the precious little lives that have been lost will be placed back in their mother's arms.

  4. This post made me cry. I really should be careful of reading your blog at work. :') Every time I look at pictures of her during her last two weeks of life - the only two weeks of her life that I wasn't a part of it - I am amazed at how much of a little girl she was, how much of a child. The toddler, baby, chubby cheeks and little baby-face Ryann was changing into an adorably beautiful child. I'm sad I didn't get to see that in person through to the end. But I am OH so glad I spent all the rest of Ryann's life with her. What a privilege, what a joy. I love that girlie.