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.

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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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Can’t Tell Me Nothing -Baby Review Edition

It’s funny when you become an expectant parent.*

There is just so….much…shit…to choose from. Really, there is.

And every company is like a drug dealer…’Hey baby…you know want this high chair. It’ll make you feel real good.’

So, today’s post is about the hits and misses of things we had purchased or used over the past two years. If I can save you a bit of heartache (and money!), I’ve done my job.

Let’s start off with the Misses:

Pacifiers

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Seriously, this kid has never used a pacifier in his life. Any picture of him with one in his mouth, he spit it out very shortly afterward. The pacifiers and the pacifier clips we bought were a complete Waste. Of. Money.

Pampers

My son and Pampers just never mixed. Despite being told by many that Pampers were better for boys, I have to disagree. My boy and his blowouts were legendary in Pampers. While he may occasionally leak in his Huggies, he has never had a blowout in them. I have to say no to Pampers. That also includes the wipes. I found the wipes were dry.

Swaddle wrap

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My kid is an anomaly. He’s never liked being swaddled. Even in the hospital, he would kick out of them (real talk!). So while we only purchased two, it was a waste of money.

Cloth diapers

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This is probably the only item on this list that’s both a hit and a miss. I went into great detail on my experiences with cloth (see To cloth diaper or nah? for a refresher). Now, I’m not saying cloth diapering was a waste of money and time. If anything, it’s actually saved us a ton of money (which is why this is also a hit). However, cloth diapering, like many things natural, takes up a lot of time and energy. From finding the right cloth diaper, to cleaning them (which also takes up a lot of time) to having the financial means to build a stash, you have to be full-blown committed to it. Don’t pursue cloth diapering because it’s the ‘in’ thing to do and all of the cool kids are doing it. There is nothing wrong with strictly using disposables. Do your research and decide if this is something you really want to pursue.

Pack n’ Play

Honestly, we used this more for storage than anything. It was actually donated to us by family and I’m really glad we never paid for it. I don’t think Bear even slept in it and he really was not a fan of being inside it at any given time. So for us, this was a no-go.

Baby Rocker

This isn’t the one that we received but we were donated one similar. Again, Bear didn’t care for it. He spent a couple of minutes in it before he had enough.


 

Now that we know what I hated, let’s talk about what I lurved

Huggies

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For some reason, my kid has taken a liking to Huggies. They hold a lot more and as a result, are also a bit more expensive. However, they do the job. I never had an issue with Huggies other than running out.

Boppy

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There are many breastfeeding pillows out on the market today. And it seems like there’s a new one debuting every year. Yet, Boppy has always held its own and remains one of the best ones to purchase. I never had any issues with my Boppy and it came in very handy during those first few months. Highly recommend.

Wipe Warmer

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Bear was born during the fall and even in the hospital, he didn’t take too kindly to cold water on his bum. Some think wipe warmers are a waste of money but for us, especially in the colder months, they’ve been right on time.

Aden + Anais Burping Cloths

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Now, this is a pricey brand. It doesn’t matter if you purchase them from Target, Amazon, or where ever, you’re going to be spending some money. However, this cloths are the business. I have wiped Bear’s mouth full of guacamole, mac n’ cheese, spaghetti, and these cloths are still white! Can’t beat that! Get them! It’ll change your life.

Portable Rocker

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This came in very handy when Bear was a newborn and even now when he’s a toddler. While we didn’t pay as much as it’s currently being advertised, we definitely can say we got our monies worth. If you have to get a rocker for your child, I suggest getting one that can convert to a toddler chair.

Sophie the Giraffe

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Now, Sophie is expensive. When we purchased her, she was a little under $20 and now I’m seeing her retail close to $30. She, however, works and is a saint when you kid starts teething.

Child restraint/Leash

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I have to admit, I love this product. I didn’t think I would but I honestly do. It gives Bear freedom and lets him explore his independence while we still have a firm grasp on him. As he’s becoming more and more independent and resisting the stroller, it’s definitely come in handy.

Cloth diapers

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Again, as I said before, cloth diapers did save us a ton of money and trust me, you feel that relief each time you do laundry. Cloth diapers also double as swim trunks so save your money to purchase special swim diapers!  Now, we live in an apartment so we don’t necessarily have to worry about a water bill. If we lived in a home, it might be a different story.

So, those are my hits and misses. If you’re expecting, wait until after the baby shower to shop for the big ticket items such as strollers, cribs, etc. You’ll be amazed how much people are willing to donate when they hear you’re about to have a baby. Many of our items (big ticket and small) were pure donations from friends, coworkers, and family.

My advice is a lot of baby items are space-consuming so ask yourself if it’s something you really need. Chances are, you don’t. The next post I will share some of my money-saving tips!

 

*Not currently pregnant but seeing what happens in life!

Too Many Hoze

Okay, that song has nothing to do with the blog whatsoever. But hey, the kid’s flow is pretty sick. (Parental discretion…he may look like a kid but his lyrics sure ain’t!)

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I’m not pregnant. How’s that for an opening line?

After a week and a battery of tests, not to mention I started to spot already, it’s pretty official I’m not pregnant. I have to admit, I’m still debating if I was never pregnant or it was another chemical pregnancy. I could’ve sworn I saw the faintest of lines and FRER (at least the updated version) isn’t known to have evap lines.

At first I was bummed because let’s face it, what woman doesn’t want to get pregnant the first time trying? But then I thought about it and I’m actually okay. Sometimes things happen when they need to and not necessarily when I want them to. I’m telling you, all that meditation and working out has made me all zen and shit.

My period should arrive within the next 24 hours and then it’s on to month 2. I have about a six-month window to get pregnant before we take invasive options so I’m not worried. I think if this were month 5 or even month 6, I would be concerned. But month 2 is a good sign. It tells me that at least during month 1, I know how long my luteal phase is and my period is finally starting to act right. It also tells me the important part – I’m ovulating. This time I won’t document it on YouTube. The viewership, albeit not widely promoted, was super low and I didn’t care that much about our boring life to really document it on Youtube for some clicks. I can always write a screenplay about it, lol.

Not sure what I’ll do differently this time around. I’ve been keeping up on my fitness, logging a daily average of four miles. (It’s hella easy to walk that much when you’re a WAHM and have a single child.) I’m not too keen on green tea, though I wouldn’t mind eating some pineapple and drinking pomegranate juice. I don’t know. I guess we’ll just see. But I’m forever hopeful. I know I’ll be pregnant soon; it’s just a matter of when. 🙂

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Be Alright

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What a difference a year makes.

I’m typing this post with a semi-sleepy Yoda on my boob. I’m sure you wanted to know that but you can’t deny I’ve been honest for this long so why hold back now?

A year ago, I found out I was pregnant and I remember I had a flurry of emotions go through me. The biggest emotion was relief. We were trying for a year. We both went through a battery of testing, all of them turned out normal. We were mentally exhausted (not to mention, physically) and we decided to take a break for a few months and start up again with medical intervention. I was researching IUI treatments at the time.

And then it happened. I remember it being a Thursday evening and I suddenly felt sick. I took a test and it was a pink dye one but it was also pretty faint.

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I showed M. the test and we pretty much had the same reaction – let’s not get our hopes up.

I retested the following Friday and the test was no better.

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We decided since my period was going to come by Monday morning, we’ll test then. I remember I could barely sleep the night before because I was so nervous. I was either pregnant or I was going to delay trying again for a while. It was pretty much black and white.

And then this happened…

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My only reaction was running into the other bathroom where my husband was, jumping up and down, yelling, ‘We did it! We did it!’

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My first bump pic at 4 weeks. All bloat and fat there. But damn, I look good.

Crazy. A year ago I found out I was pregnant and started this blog shortly afterward. A year later, I have this to show for:

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This was taken sometime last week.

My Saving Grace

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.

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I was about 16 weeks pregnant with Ethan in this picture.

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.

Remembering Ethan