Happy Birthday, angel

Celebrating Ethan this year was different. I didn’t cry as much as I used to (I’ll get to that in a minute)It s, but the impact of his loss was still the same. After putting it off for so long, I finally decided next year, I’m going to get Ethan his grave marker.

You’re probably wondering why so long since it’s been several years (seven to be exact). Well, a grave marker, to me, is the realization of ‘Yeah, this really did happen.’ The finality of it all.

And you know what? It really fucking sucks.

I can have all of the memorial tattoos, the little signs throughout the day that Ethan is watching over me, the little keepsakes about him, but there’s nothing more permanent than, ‘I just buried my infant son’ than a grave marker.

Ethan deserves to have one. each time we go to visit him, we see more graves around him and it breaks our heart just a little more. We’re glad he has company, but we’re also sad that he has company, you know what I mean?

It’s a long time coming and he needs one. And we need one for him. He needs to have that permanent stone so we’re in the process of getting one that would have Ukrainian lettering on it.

Celebrating Ethan this year was different. It was a quiet day spent between the two of us (Bear was at school). There was the obvious sadness but there was also joy in celebrating him.

I miss our son terribly and I hope he’s making a lot of friends and spending time with family up in heaven. It seems the mourning period takes on new levels with each passing year. I could be bawling my eyes out one year only to not cry as much the next, like this one.

But I also realized just because I’m not crying it doesn’t mean I’m finally over it. For one, you don’t get over losing a child; you just learn how to deal with it as time progresses. Two, mourning can morph into different things.

I decided to be more business-centered and concentrate more on building wealth this year. While I was super successful at it, it was just a cover of mourning. If I keep busy, I won’t have to think about it so much. And yeah, it’s worked. Our bank accounts look a lot better, our credit is amazing, and I didn’t have to spend too much time thinking about Ethan.

But late at night, that’s when the thoughts come in. That’s when it hits. And that’s when it doesn’t matter if I’m on my way to millionaire status or if I’m writing a juicy screenplay, I don’t have a son and I should have two. No amount of money and success will ever bring Ethan back.

So yeah, this year was different in honoring Ethan. I’m still new to the grieving process, even though I’ve been here for seven years. I hope one day, I’ll figure out the right way to grieve. I just don’t know what it is yet.

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One Sweet Day

Remembering Ethan

It’s weird knowing six years ago, I gave birth to one of the most beautiful children I’d ever seen. It’s equally weird that I buried him just days later.

Ethan, had I carried him to term, would’ve been five this year. He would’ve entered kindergarten. As other April 2012 mothers celebrated and posted pictures of their kids’ first day in kindergarten, I wondered what could’ve been.

You see, it’s different with Bear. He was born a year later, in 2013. Had I carried Ethan to term, there’s a chance Bear would’ve been here, anyway. It’s something I often wonder.

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Me and Ethan early in my pregnancy. Maks took the picture. 

This year was incredibly hard but it was also wonderful in many ways. As always, I donated to one of my favorite charities in honor of Ethan – the LA Food Bank. I feel his presence where ever I go. And I visited his gravesite for the first time in years. I hope to decorate it for Christmas and give him a toy.

It’s still a blur about everything. Every December I’m reminded of his birthday and how close it is to Christmas. I’m reminded how much I loved life and was hopeful on December 12th, just for all of it to be taken away from me the next day.

However…

I’m reminded how much unconditional love I have for my babies. I’m reminded how I want to help other parents who have lost their babies. I’m reminded that despite it all, there are some really good people in the world who care.

So I celebrate Ethan. I celebrate his short life. I celebrate the lessons he taught me. He taught me how to forgive. How to mourn. How to love.

I’ll love him forever and ever until the end of my days. And I can’t wait to see him again. Until One Sweet Day.

Why Picking Out Your Son’s Grave Marker Really Sucks

img_0046Ethan died five years ago and this is something most people who follow me know. I haven’t been shy in my grief, and I make it a point to let everyone know I had a son before Bear.

What a lot of people don’t know is that we haven’t purchased a grave marker for Ethan.

It’s complicated. It really has nothing to do with money nor time. It’s the finality of it all. Once that marker is in place, then I know for sure, this did happen.

Now you might be wondering, ‘Well, how could you not have known since you’ve talked about it?’ Grief is a funny thing. Sometimes, if you try hard enough, you can think it didn’t happen at all and it was just a bad dream. Does someone really want to reminisce the time they went to Target to pick out an outfit to bury their son in? Does anyone want to remember what mood they were in when a certain song is playing because it reminds them of their son’s funeral?

But almost all of the time, you know it did happen and your mind is trying to keep you from going insane by inserting that defense mechanism to protect you.

I’m not sure what spurned me to look up grave markers. Maybe it’s because it’s been five years and I figured it’s time my baby boy actually has a marker on his grave. Originally, we wanted Ethan to be buried with us but moving his grave might be too costly to do so. I do hope we can be buried near him, though.

I don’t visit Ethan as much as I should have and to be perfectly honest with you, it’s been a long while since I’ve visited his gravesite, though I talk to him regularly and feel his presence. I’m not too sure if having a marker means I’ll start visiting more often, honestly. But I just hate the fact he’s there with no marker on his grave at all.

So, now I’m in the process of searching for the perfect grave marker for my son. I’m going to make an appointment next week to talk to the folks at his memorial park and see what options I have.

But yeah, it sucks. There’s no two ways about it. I wish I could be all light and joyful about this but I just can’t. One of the many aftereffects of dealing with infant and child loss. It truly stays with you forever.

 

 

 

Ethan

Remembering Ethan

The build-up to his birthday is always the hardest. This year has been incredibly difficult because having a preschooler is one more reminder of what could’ve been and what currently isn’t. I know it may sound weird and I don’t sound like I’m grateful for Bear, but I am. I thank God every day for Bear. But I also wish Bear had his big brother.

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The pain of losing a child is something I wouldn’t wish on anyone because it stays with you forever. Some women never recover. Some never have any more children. IMG_1457

I love you then. I love you now. I’ll love you forever.

 

Does Painful Loss Really Get Any Easier Over Time?

October marks Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness month and every October for the past few years, I’ve dedicated the entire month to posting about my experiences with loss and helping other people in similar situations.

As I’m preparing for the upcoming month, which is also my birthday month, I’m constantly reminded of fall. You see, I used to love fall and I still do in some ways. I mean, hello, my birthday? That’s always a plus. Pumpkin spice ever-ree-thang? Another bonus. And come on, Halloween and I get to steal Bear’s candy without him noticing (too much)? Hells yeah!

I’m also reminded with each fall, what will inevitably await me in December – Ethan’s birthday.

Five years ago, around this time, I was pregnant with him. I say I was close to the second trimester but not quite there yet. It was a rather uneventful pregnancy. Got the morning sickness, was struggling with my body changing, and broke out into a horrible case of PUPPPS.

At the time I was a pretty big girl so my OB was concerned about any weight gain I would have. Fortunately for both of us, we found out I tend to lose weight during my pregnancies (I lost 25 with Ethan and yes, I ate a ton).

Everything was fine.

And then, everything wasn’t fine.

I’ll go into detail later about what led to his premature birth and death and why I’m such an advocate for the cerclage (in any form). Now, I just need a moment to reflect.

I talk to Ethan a lot. Maybe not as much as I used to but I definitely talk to him at least once a week. I feel his spirit in my home and sometimes I see different forms of him in quick flashes. The other night, I swore I saw a toddler standing up, wearing a white onesie. At first I thought it was Bear but he was on the bed, asleep. It occurred to me it was Ethan.

I’m five years out from my loss and honestly, I’m struggling to wonder if it’s truly gotten better. I’ll admit the first year really, truly fucking sucked. There’s no eloquent way of putting it. As we celebrate Bear’s achievements and be in awe at his growth, a part of us will always feel like we should’ve done this already. We should have two kids in preschool. I should be juggling with two kids, getting them fed, bathed, and limit their iPad time.

I should be. But I’m not.

And I know some of you who follow this blog are probably thinking, ‘Well, it’s a good thing you’re about to TTC again so you get to have that opportunity!’ Well, no. TTC isn’t a guarantee there’s going to be a baby; just a lot of sex (not that’s a bad thing, mind you). Furthermore, it’s not the same. It’ll never be the same.

There are times where I’m fine and everything’s okay. And then there are times the grief hits me like a Mack truck and I can’t breathe for five minutes. I feel that’s why we spoil Bear because we didn’t have the opportunity to spoil Ethan.

And maybe that’s why we tolerate Bear’s tantrums a bit more because Ethan didn’t have a chance to throw a fit. And maybe that’s why Bear gets away with sometimes having a Popsicle or pizza for breakfast because that’s all he’s in the mood for and I don’t feel like fighting him.

Maybe…maybe…it is.

I leave this post with a song that really helped me a lot in my grief. I hope one day I’ll meet Mimi and tell her in person how much she’d helped me.