GREELEY, Colo. (AP) – Ryan Mayeda points to his faith, or his unbreakable bond with his wife, Kim, or the friends who shoveled their walk, as the torches that lit the way through the darkest period of his life.
But perhaps it was running that gave him just enough strength to cope as he waited for his soul to heal.
Their long ordeal to become parents was astonishingly painful, but it was frustrating, too, in the way that their efforts were so unlike so many other things in his life.
Mayeda, 32, owns a chiropractic business. Just recently he was named Young Entrepreneur of the Year by the Greeley Chamber of Commerce. In 2008, he celebrated his 30th birthday by completing an Ironman triathlon, which, after two brutal distances in biking and swimming, ends with a marathon. He’s a member of the Greeley Planning Commission and the North Colorado Medical Center board of trustees. He did so many things that required discipline and focus and control.
Yet that struggle just to become parents, something that happens every day to such a wide variety of people, was, among many things, completely out of their control.
They tried for many years to conceive. They looked into adoption, but they also looked into diet and lifestyle changes for Kim, and finally, amazingly, really, she got pregnant. She carried their daughter to full term, but on Feb. 5, 2010, because of a one-in-a-million problem, Mayeda said, the baby died six days later.
She wasn’t breathing when she was born, and doctors did what they could, but the damage to her brain was too extensive. They held her in the emergency room to say goodbye. They donated her organs, and her heart led to one of the first infant heart transplants in the country.
That would be enough for any couple to endure, but two attempts at adoption were almost as bad. Both times, after long, emotional bonding sessions, the mothers changed their minds during labor and kept their babies.
The near-misses drained them emotionally and vaporized their savings. Adoption is an expensive process, not just an emotional one. And during a trip to Europe meant to help them heal, they came up with the idea to start a foundation, Kids for Kyla, that will help other prospective parents pay for infertility treatments, as well as the costs of adoption.
They may have given up, but despite being a counselor who hopes to open a private practice in a few months, Kim’s one dream, Mayeda said, was to be a mother, from the time she was a little girl.
So when the agency called and asked if they would be interested a third time, they had to say yes, even if they wanted to say no. This time, they learned, the adoption would be different. The mother signed off months ago.
The papers were signed, and they brought home Makyla Joy without much fear of a parent coming to take her away. Makyla is 8 weeks old, and the only obstacle now is a home visit from social workers to make sure they have a safe home.
“She’s not going anywhere,” Mayeda said with a big grin. “That little girl is so loved.”
The Mayedas, finally, are proud parents. They still can’t believe it themselves.
Through all that, Mayeda turned to running to at least dull the edge of the pain. Running did that for him his whole life. When he was attending the University of Northern Colorado and working at Old Chicago, he would get home at 2:30 a.m., put on his running shoes and go out for an hour or more to burn off the stress of a bad night.
Now he needs running for a different reason. He wants to use it to raise money for his foundation, which should receive nonprofit status any day now. He hopes to host a 5K/10K fun run on Labor Day in Greeley. He also wants to run 200 miles during that same Labor Day weekend.
The foundation gives him the chance to help others work through the pain they once felt. And after a long ordeal, he’s turning to his friends once again, only this time he wants them at his side for those 200 miles (or at least part of them).
Only that run won’t be a way to cope with the painful past. It will be a celebration of the joy that waits for him back home.
– By Dan England, The Daily Tribune
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)