There is something innately unnatural about burying a child. Like it really goes against God’s plan and all laws of nature.
This Friday marks the second angelversary of Ethan going to heaven. I can vividly recall that entire day – going into labor at 2:30 in the morning, and fighting the labor the entire day until 5:30 that night when Ethan appeared on his own. It was then I learned I had incompetent (now diagnosed as insufficient) cervix and would require a cerclage and bed rest for all subsequent pregnancies.
Supposedly IC affects only 1% of all pregnancies though I beg to differ. I know many, many women who have suffered the same fate as me; in some cases, worse with many women having several losses. No parent should ever have to bury their child. It’s a surreal feeling – knowing I should have an 18-month old toddler and I don’t.
I remember the days after Ethan’s passing were a fog. My mind convinced me that it was a nightmare and that I was never pregnant and for a while, I believed it. (I learned later this is a coping mechanism.) I lost a couple of friendships, one being 30+ years, and some other friends and family members I have no desire to talk to. A friend who I thought had my back through thick and thin, admitted he kept his distance from me because he couldn’t handle my grief. As a result, I terminated the friendship. (Funny how said person is trying to get back into my good graces now that Bo is here.) My brother (yeah, that brother) used a bullshit excuse of ‘not knowing what to say’ for an entire year and decided it was better to avoid than to acknowledge (now can y’all see why I want absolutely nothing to do with him ever?)
I felt (and still feel) abandoned by both sets of parents – mine and M’s – as they refuse to talk about Ethan or count him in the number of grandchildren they have. A lot of the time, it feels like I’m the only one who cared that I had a son before Bo. Both grandparents are proudly showing off pictures of Bo in their home but not a single one of Ethan. I decided who ever comes over to my home is going to see a picture of Ethan. He’ll be in a frame and along with other pictures of friends and family. It’s my home and if seeing a picture of an angel baby bothers them, they can get the fuck out and not come back.
Tragedy brings out the very best and worst in people. You will quickly learn who cares and who doesn’t. Some people can’t handle grief for reasons only they know while others embrace it. I guess I was so used to unexpected deaths from friends and family, I was able to deal with Ethan’s death head on. It wasn’t easy, though. I can vividly recall the day after Ethan’s funeral, I attempted suicide. I had a note written out and I cut up both arms with a very sharp knife, waiting for M to come home so he could discover my body in the living room. It was then I decided to seek treatment from a therapist.
Caring for Bo has been a challenge. For a while I thought I was suffering from postpartum depression and maybe I do have a mild form of it. I talked to other angel mom friends of mine about my feelings – why I’m feeling sadness when this beautiful moment just occurred. They all expressed the same thing – they were dealing with their rainbows milestones and big moments when they should’ve celebrated their angel’s milestones.
It makes sense. You would always wonder about the ‘what ifs’ and ‘could’ve beens’ instead of what actually happened. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve wondered if Ethan would’ve been a fussy baby like Bo or what type of child he would’ve grown up to be. Would he be into art? Would he like sports? What about European football? Would he be a cool kid or a geek? What type of girl would he be into?
It’s sad. What hurts about infant loss is that you’re robbed of the opportunity to know what could’ve been and nothing will ever make it better. It gets easier over time. You smile more before you cry. I can look back at my pregnancy with Ethan and smile fondly. But I’ll always wonder what could’ve been. No matter how many children I’ll have, I’ll always long for the one that never came home.