What It’s Really Like To Survive The Death of Your Baby

Remembering Ethan

Weird.

That’s really all I can muster. It’s weird. Not a bad weird. Definitely not a good weird. Not weird.

There’s a hole within you that will never close. Sometimes it gets bigger and overwhelming. Sometimes it returns back to size. But it never closes. It never heals. It’s just kinda…there.

I lost Ethan seven years ago and I had Bear five years ago. I still feel someone, something is missing from my family. It’s not a situation where one loses a job, and they can get another. You wreck your car, you can get another. You end a relationship, you can be in another.

When you lose a baby, there’s no guarantee you’ll have another. Or, if you even want another.

2011 was a difficult year for us for I had two miscarriages that year – an early miscarriage in the spring when shook me to the core, and later, my late-term loss with Ethan, which flipped my world onto its axis.

There’s a feeling of constantly playing catch up. Every time we do something for Bear, we always think, ‘We should’ve done this already.’ Whenever Bear discovers something, we think, ‘His brother should’ve introduced it to him by now.’ There’s always that feeling of constantly trying to do something but felt like it should’ve been done before.

And it sucks, for real.

Sometimes the grief is small and unnoticeable. And sometimes, it hits me like a Mack truck when I’m having a relatively good day (which is the worst because it literally comes out of nowhere). And then sometimes…I’m just numb to it all.

You remember your life in two distinct phases – how you were before the epic loss and how you were after. Parts of you remain the same, but it’s very different. If you were easygoing, you might be more quick-tempered. If you were materialistic, you might not put so much value into things and possessions like you used to.

The grief comes out in different ways. You might be angrier than before. You might be confused when you knew what you wanted down to the letter. You’re trying to figure out this new normal, this thing that you didn’t ask for nor did you want, this club you’re forever a member of…while you’re trying to stay sane.

I often link to this article because it explains how I feel.

I don’t talk about Ethan very much but it’s not because I’m “over it” (I never will be), or I don’t want to make anyone feel uncomfortable (because fuck your feelings when it comes to my grief), but rather, I want to protect him.

Mommy,Daddy, Ethan,Yoda
Us in our  maternity shoot with Bear and our Molly Bear Ethan.

I’ve never shown a photo of Ethan online and I asked family and friends not to. One, I don’t want to satisfy anyone’s morbid curiosity. Two, I want to hold onto the images of him that I do have. He’s finally hanging up on our walls at home and that’s a huge step since there was no evidence of him previously.

Bear is still trying to grasp the concept he had a brother before him and it’ll be a while before he does. We don’t force the issue. As we plan to TTC for another sibling for Bear, we do wonder how we will explain Ethan to them as well.

So yeah…surviving your baby’s death is weird. Angry at God, angry at the universe, angry at people who have normal, uncomplicated pregnancies; angry at those who can conceive just by sneezing…

And then there’s sadness. Heart-wrenching, inconsolable sadness that will follow you for the rest of your days.

Somewhere along the line…one smiles. Smile that you saw how beautiful your baby was and happy your baby doesn’t have to live in world that can be so cruel. And hope one sweet day, you can meet them again.

And then the weirdness isn’t so bad, after all.


Please light a candle for Ethan and all babies lost on this day at 7 PM.

 

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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.

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.

 

Pregnancy and Infant Loss Series

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I know I’m late in the game posting about this and honestly, I was wondering if I should. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not ‘over’ anything, rather I want to make a post that will consolidate everything into one.

It’s been a so-so month for me, emotionally-wise. I haven’t felt like I was in the dumps but I haven’t felt 100%. Fall is usually tricky like that. It’s my birthday, then Bear’s, then Maks’s and inevitably, Ethan’s.

I have learned that it’s the time leading up to his birthday that’s worse than the actual day itself. It’s something I still haven’t gotten used to and I’m approaching his five-year angelversary. While I’m sipping on everything pumpkin, there’s a quiet¬†melancholy underneath.

I’m fine for the most part. I think once it comes to Ethan’s birthday, I’ll be happy. I’ll bake a cake, light a candle, and celebrate my baby boy as if he were on Earth.

I did want to show all the new angel parents that, well, a couple of things:

One, you’ll never get over your loss. A new baby won’t make things instantly better. Sometimes, it might make things worse. This is not to deter you from having a baby but to prepare you. There will always be an underlying feeling the things you go through in parenthood is something you should’ve “done already,” even if you already have a child.

Two, a loss doesn’t just go away. You don’t wake up one morning and think, ‘I’m all better now!’ Oh how I wish it were that easy. It is something you’ll deal with for the rest of your life. You’ll be fine one moment and then it’ll hit you like a freight train the next.

You’ll hear stories about women with their easy pregnancies and become instant jealous because you wish you had that problem.

You’ll hear parents complain about how much of a brat their child was and you’ll be jealous because you wish you had a bratty child to complain of.

You’ll have resentment of couples who got pregnant without trying or medical intervention while you’re going through numerous treatments for a pregnancy that’s not guaranteed to stick.

Sigh…I know. I know, I know, I KNOW.

But it does get easier. While you’ll have the aforementioned moments and feelings, you’ll also have this incredible joy about your baby and your pregnancy. You’ll feel proud that you had your angel, even if it was only for a brief time. You’re going to smile knowing they’re in Heaven and hope they’re having a good time.

To the new angel parents and those who’ve followed me for a while, here are links to previous posts and an article I will forever link to that, I feel, best describes what angel parents really go through.

Why Are Dead Babies Still Taboo?

What NOT to Say After a Miscarriage.

How to Cope with Sudden Loss

When Other People Don’t Acknowledge Your Loss

Different Ways to Honor Your Angel

The Land of Not OK (<—– I will reblog this post a million times. Though the Mom speaks of having a special needs child, I also feel this can relate to pregnancy and infant loss as well.)

Love and Light,

Crys

What Happens When Your Child Asks About Their Deceased Sibling?

someonecamebeforeyou

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.

Mommy,Daddy, Ethan,Yoda
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?