“I’ll sleep tomorrow,” I told myself and others, in the days immediately following Kyleigh’s birth. The classic advice given to all new parents (get your sleep now) certainly applied to me too, but little did I realize that my new found perspective would continue for another 24 months. As it continues still today.
When we were in the hospital, I stayed by Leann’s side. We were going to share in the experience as best we could, and I felt the best way for me to begin to understand her grief was to be with her continually. I wanted to hear everything the nurses and doctors said. Every time they checked her vitals, for every round, every consultation I was there, and I was awake. I didn’t sleep in the night and rarely did I nap during the day. The hospital staff took notice, and it was discussed several times. I told them that I understood their concern, but without fail my response was always the same, “I’ll sleep tomorrow.”
Tomorrow took the form of planning Kyleigh’s celebration of life, caring for family at home and hardest yet was living with my own grief. We slept at night of course, but there is a very real toll that grief takes on the body, and we were tired. I piled onto this my decision to be more assertive at work, which took up more time and energy. But at the time that was ok, because I could always sleep tomorrow.
We built a new technology which required a deeper understanding of my profession and I was behind. I had worked for the same employer for six years, but I still needed to know more. During the project, I took time to learn, ask questions and understand the principal of how the systems work. I wanted to know more, do more, and understand fuller. There weren’t enough of us on the project, so in order to do all those things I had to give up something else. My choice was sleep but not to worry, I would sleep tomorrow.
Projects come and go and time passes. While the pain of grief subsides, the wound of loss never heals. It takes effort to find ways to channel the energy associated with loss into something positive and that cost isn’t free. While I love the fact that the Sleep Sack initiative is well underway, one thing clear to me today is that l can’t do it all and I’m grateful for the support that we have found in our friends and family and the dedicated staff at the hospital.
At work I have now become the subject matter expert for our technology. I also manage the development programs. There are also sales efforts and customer presentations. While I enjoy the challenge, something clear to me over these last few months is that I simply cannot do it all. The weight of “knowing it all” is simply too much. It’s not healthy for me or the organization and certainly not helpful to the people that I’m entrusted to manage.
I’ve also not felt all that well for the last few months. I love helping to coach the boys’ soccer team, but it’s hard to do when you have nearly lost your voice. I’m tired in the evenings more than I ever thought possible, and that says a bit because we do have two wonderful growing boys and I’ve “been there” when it comes to being up half the night with newborns.
The ironic thing about all of this is that there was a three month window during these 24 months when I was actually feeling really well. We purchased a treadmill last spring, and when I used it regularly, I was resting well and I felt great. Then I stopped. I know my travel schedule has been rough for the last six months and while that was a contributing factor, I just didn’t give it the time. The truth is I was lazy, and I’m tired of not feeling well.
So we’re planning a walk/run to celebrate the Liberty Hospital Birthing Center and raise funds for Kyleigh’s Gift while recognizing the National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Day for October 11th this year. I hope there will be a 5k run, and I want to run. I want to feel better because I know that when I do, I’m a better father and husband to my amazing bride. So today, on Kyleigh’s second birthday, I’m going to start training for the October 11th event, and I will look forward to the amazing things that God will do.