To say the last 19 months has been a roller coaster ride would be the understatement of the century. The first 5 or 6 months after we lost Rees was nothing but a blur. I really can’t recall much at all from that time period, including how I felt at the time. Thankfully I have the writings I posted to read over and gauge where I was in the time after April of 2013 , but since I really did not write much, except for “Why?” in those first five months, I have no real reminder of where I was emotionally during that period. I remember I was hurting – but I forget exactly how it felt. I know there was a persistent knot in my stomach that would not abate – but it’s intensity no longer resonates. I recall despair threatening to overwhelm me at any given time – yet I could not tell you how desperate I truly was. These few things I remember seem like shadows at dusk to me; exaggerated and stretched, yet barely perceptible.
One feeling I can recall with clarity was the sense of hope I had. I had hope that we could start something in Rees’ name to help honor his short life and return the kindness countless others had bestowed upon us. I had hope that my daughters, Abigail and Lorilei, would learn that life goes on for the living and that true love never dies as long we take the effort to cultivate it. I had hope that Samantha and I would emerge through this ordeal a stronger couple, capable of taking on anything that life tried to throw at us. All of these things, and plenty more, were things I hoped for – and for the most part have come to pass. Yet of all my hopes and dreams for our future, there was one hope that lingered in my mind but I dared not share with anyone other than those closest to me: The hope that we would have another little boy one day…
I really never shared this hope with others for fear of people misunderstanding my feelings. It would be easy for those around me to just assume that all I really wanted was a “replacement” for Rees: That my wanting to have a little boy was fueled by my inability to truly let Rees go. I rationed that no amount of explanation would satisfy some people about the real reason for my desire, so I took the easy route… I kept it to myself.
Samantha and I always wanted a big family. While we never got into an ‘official” discussion about having a fourth child before Rees passed, it was something we both jokingly hinted at from time to time. My friends and family all knew that I was happy with our family dynamic of having 2 girls and 1 boy – but our hearts had plenty of room for more love,even though our house and bank account may not have. I vividly remember the day after Rees was born, sitting next to Samantha in the hospital with Rees in the bassinet next to us, thinking about how I felt that this was not the last time I would be in this situation. In my mind I was going to be a father again – and since I had my girls and my boy, it didn’t matter what I had, I just knew I would be there again one day.
I have written several times already about how badly I wanted Rees to be a little boy. I had two beautiful little girls before Rees and I just wanted the opportunity to have the experience of a father-son relationship. I always had a feeling that Rees was a boy and when the doctor announced “It’s a boy!” I could not have been happier. At that moment my life had come together in exactly the way I dreamed it would. 22 months later, in one moment of time that I relive in my mind constantly, that dream died. I lost my only son, and he was never coming back. All hope was lost. My future was robbed from me. One thing I do remember feeling exactly was the sense that the hole in my world would never be filled again. My only son had died…
I remember holding Sam in my arms outside of our neighbors house the night Rees had passed. We were not allowed back into our home until the police had finished their investigation so our neighbors, Marty and Vanessa took us in until we could return. I remember feeling trapped, both physically and mentally. Sam was beside herself and I tried everything I could to soothe her. I will never forget the dazed look in her eyes as she paced around, back and forth, calling out “I want my baby back, I want my little boy… our little boy is gone Richie…I want my little boy back!.”. What could I do for her? I felt so hopeless. Nothing I could do would take this pain away from her. That moment in time was the most pain I had ever been in – not only having to deal with my own loss, but seeing the love of my life broken and inconsolable. I remember just grabbing her and wrapping my arms around her and telling her we would get through this. I told her I didn’t know how, but we would get through this – that we had no choice really because the girls needed us. Her sobbing ebbed at that, and she regained her composure, looked me in the eye and said the words that I was feeling at that moment: “I want to have another baby.”
Now I realize that those words were forged in a moment of intense grief and loss that is honestly immeasurable. Those words were a mental defense mechanism to help maintain some sense of control over an untenable situation. As the weeks went by I recall Samantha and I having conversations about whether or not we wanted to have another child and we often flip-flopped our positions. Sometimes it was I who wanted to have another baby, and other times it was her. It wasn’t until April of last year that we both found ourselves on the same wavelength: we had too much love to give and we wanted another pair of little feet scampering around our home… not to replace Rees, but certainly to fill a void in our hearts.
After a couple of unsuccessful attempts we found out Samantha was pregnant in July of last year. I was ecstatic. It was almost as if the universe decided to set right a great wrong in our lives and bless us with another child. Being cautious, we did not tell anyone of Sam’s pregnancy with the exception of our former Au Pair, Melina. Melina was such a big part of Rees’ life – and ours as well, that we just had to let her know when we arrived in Berlin last August. Melina’s excitement was palpable – and everything just seemed so right. I wanted to fast forward the next nine months and meet my new baby.
The day after we returned from Berlin the universe, which I thought owed me one, decided it was not yet ready to restore balance. I took Samantha to the hospital to find out she was miscarrying. I can’t describe the blow that was. I really felt like things were finally working in our favor, and then that happened. The lows we found ourselves in after that were not as severe as after losing Rees, but they were certainly lower than they would have been had we never had the perspective we had in the wake of losing him. Again, I was reminded of the fact that some things are just out of our control…
The next several months were a maddening repetition of failed pregnancy tests and frustration. I kept trying to rationalize why we were having troubles conceiving. Each month brought a new reason for our failures. “Well this wasn’t our month”, or “Maybe it was meant to happen on Rees’ birthday” became my mantra. Then Rees’ birthday came and went and we failed again. Sam and I really started to doubt that it would happen. I think we literally tried every wive’s tale and superstition to try and conceive – all to no avail.
Our lives started to become scheduled based on ovulation predictors and me applying the science I teach at school. It honestly started to become almost clinical – to the point where we both wondered why we were putting ourselves through this torture. Then, low and behold, the February test came back positive. My reaction this time was a 180 from the last one: cautiously optimistic, but expecting the worst.
The next four months found me in an almost daily repetition of that feeling of waiting for something bad to happen. I no longer had any delusions about universal recompense – I kept waiting for the bad news. My pensive thoughts kept focusing on what bad news we could get in each new stage of development – news that never came. Each test came back perfect. Heartbeat: perfect. Head and neck circumstance: normal. Spinal cord: located where it should be. Everything was perfect. There remained really only one thing left to hear: Was our baby a boy or a girl.
I found myself in an uncomfortable position regarding my gender “preference” for the baby. On one hand I really wanted to have another chance at the father-son relationship I was teased with for 22 months. On the other hand I really, truly, only cared about whether or not they were healthy. Since all of the previous testing had indicated that everything was fine, discovering the gender was really the only other unknown I had to concern myself with.
Sam was convinced the baby was a boy. So much so that she referred to the baby as “he”. I didn’t know what to think, but I was leaning towards a girl – figuring the universe wasn’t done letting me know who was in charge. Both Abby and Lori thought the baby was a boy too, along with over 65% of our friends, family and Rees’ pieces. I get why they felt that way; probably the same reason I did – the idea that universe would find a way to correct a great wrong and restore balance. Well the universe is a mystery for a reason…
We were all in the room for the sonogram. I was nervous waiting and I could see Sam and the girls were too. Before the sonogram technician said it, I saw it: It was girl. There was no doubt. 5 seconds later, she declared “You are having a little girl” and our reactions were all very different. Sam was confused. Abby was cheering. Lori was crying and I was in a state that I still can’t quite explain. I was both happy and sad all at once. I was sad at the recognition that I would now, most likely, never have the experience of being a father to a boy for more than 22 months – yet I was also happy that I had a new little girl to fawn over and call “Daddy’s little girl”.
Of course other things immediately started racing through my head at that moment like: oh my God, I have to pay for 3 weddings now! Or We don’t have enough bathrooms for 4 women! To, A lifetime of drama, mood swings and endless queries of “Do I look fat in this dress/outfit” would be the order of things from now on. At first I only saw the down side of having a third little girl. I really felt guilty.
I am truly blessed. A new little girl will be entering my world and I get the honor of being her Daddy. What a grand life I have planned for you, little one. There will be ups and downs, hits and misses – but we will go through it together. No father will be more blessed than I when you enter this world. I can’t wait to meet you little miss ^#(!\@ (sorry, you will have to wait to get the name!). I already know the first words I am going to say to you: “Hello little girl, I am your Daddy! – and boy, what adventures we are going to have”. I am no longer worried about whether or not I get to have that father son relationship… who knows, it could still happen (Cue Samantha smacking me as soon as she reads that) – after all, we still have plenty more love to give <3 But I am not worried about that. I just want to meet you and welcome you to a world made a little kinder by your big brother that I am sure you already know…
You write so beautifully and honestly. You gotta keep the dream, as you know. That is what keeps us going in all circumstances. God bless you and your family. Any child is blessed to have you as their daddy and your whole family. What an inspiration you are.
Rich, your honesty is so pure, we are so happy for you and “the girls”
Your feelings are so pure, honest and it is really incredible. Thank you for sharing your genuine thoughts. You express yourself so eloquently. My constant prayers and thoughts are with you and Sam and your girls. You certainly do have a lot of love to offer among many other wonderful attributes. My wishes for a healthy pregnancy and baby girl.
How heartbreakingly honest. You write about a topic so many of us feel (but are never brave enough to talk openly about). I wish you much love as you start your next chapter. xoxoxo