Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day

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Please join us, along with other families around the world, and light a candle at 7 PM (any time zone) as we create a wave of light to honor lost babies today.

Lost but never forgotten.

Too beautiful for earth.

God’s children.

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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.

What Happens When Your Child Asks About Their Deceased Sibling?

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Most parents are concerned about emotional and physical development when it comes to their children – when’s the right time to talk about the birds and the bees? How to handle menstruation concerns? How to deal with male puberty?

Some parents take it a step further and try to map out their child’s financial future – will there be enough money for college? Do we have enough savings? Are they expected to stay inside the home past 18? Those are very important and sometimes, the talks come more fluid and naturally than expected.

But what happens when your child asks about their deceased sibling? Then what?

Last night, Bear was being his little rambunctious self late at night. He didn’t want to go to sleep and we accidentally overstimulated him so he was very wired. He kept pointing to the lights we have on our balcony and up to the sky. Naturally, I asked him if he saw his big brother Ethan and he responded with a simple question:

Where?

The innocent question knocked the wind out of me and to be honest, I’m still recovering from it. (I did tell Bear Ethan was one of the stars in the sky.)

You see, it’s been a discussion between Maks and I for the past several years on how to tell our children about their oldest brother who died in infancy, and why he’s included on our annual Christmas cards. I equate us talking about it and planning it out as the famous I Love Lucy labor episode – everything’s all planned and ready to go until it actually happens, then all hell breaks loose.

 

I’m fortunate that for now, Bear is too young to understand the concepts of life and death, Heaven and Earth, so on and so forth. Him being this young is only a temporary advantage. As anyone with children can tell you, they grow up fast and a lot can (and will) change right before you.

Right before Bear was born, we did purchase a book – Someone Came Before You. We barely got through it before we had to put it away. Maybe one day, I can finish reading the book without breaking into hysterics and I can explain to Bear that while he is our second child, he is just as loved and cherished as our first.

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Our maternity shoot with Bear and Ethan Molly Bear.

So, let’s open it up for discussion…is there a way to talk to your child about death?

I Should Have a Four Year Old

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I should be planning a birthday party. I should make sure the cake is made just right. It might be Paw Patrol one. It might be Thomas & Friends. I should have the numerous gifts picked out because although Christmas was just a short time ago, a birthday only comes once a year.

I should have local Mom friends who I regularly meet for coffee because we met at the preschool/day care where our children are best friends. I should be trying to figure out how to tell our parents not to give him that super-expensive toy that he doesn’t need and will probably only play with it once and just put the money in his trust.

I should.

But I don’t.

Because although I should have a four year old, I only have memories.

April is a so-so month for me.

You see, I used to like April. For some reason, it was always my favorite month despite my birthday in October. I guess April represents spring, a new beginning, and it’s closer to summer, which is my favorite season.

And five years ago, well, I didn’t like April that much.

I had my first miscarriage in April 2011. It was like I found out I was pregnant and a few days later, I wasn’t. At least the trip to the ER was pleasant and my EMTs were pretty nice.

I became pregnant with Ethan a short time later and everything was fine until it wasn’t. I went into premature labor on December 12th and gave birth December 13th. I’ve been pretty open about my loss so just check on the Ethan tab if you want to know more of the history.

My miscarriages will forever be tied to each other – my original April miscarriage should’ve been a December 2011 baby. Ethan’s original due date was April 20th.

I’m still friends with quite a few mothers from my April 2012 board. They’re amazing women and I love them dearly. Yet, I’m jealous of them. They’ve had four years with their babies, watching them grow into small children. I had two hours.

I keep wondering what Ethan would be into. Would he like carrots or would he hate them like his little brother? What type of music would he like? What would be his favorite book? I think Noddy would’ve been his favorite cartoon. I always feel a strong connection with this particular cartoon.

Every April I’m reminded that I don’t have a small child. Yes, I have Bear and I love him dearly. Bear, however, is a November 2013 baby. He’s not and will never be an April 2012 baby.

It’s one of those things I’m still coming to terms with and honestly, I think I’ll forever come to terms with. It gets easier over the years. It doesn’t hurt as much, but when it does, it feels like a Mack truck sideswiped me.

So yeah, I should have a four year old. Instead, I only have memories.

 

 

For Ethan

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My Dearest Ethan,

Not a day that goes by when I don’t think about you. You were originally scheduled to arrive in April 2012 but you made your appearance on December 13, 2011. It was the most wonderful two hours of my life and I will forever cherish your birthday.

I often wonder what type of toddler you would be right now. Would you be like your little brother who is very precocious and full of energy? Or would you be more reserved and observant? What would be your favorite color? What would be your favorite cartoon? Would you have liked ice cream? Would you have been picky about eating veggies? These are questions that I will always wonder.

Your short life changed me in so many ways and I wonder how different things would be now had you survived. I also wonder how things are in heaven for you and if you have plenty of friends and family watching over you.

I recently got a tattoo of your handprint inside my arm to match the one your Daddy has on his back. Now whenever I look down at my arm, I can see you’re always with me and it gives me some peace. I always knew you were with me.

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I hope you are having fun in heaven and I can’t wait to see you again. I love you to the moon and back.

Love You Always,

Mommy