Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day

img_0185

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.

Advertisements

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.

Why Mother’s Day is Still Difficult for Me

IMG_1532
First Mother’s Day with Bear.

Over the last two weeks, I’ve been bombarded with Mother’s Day as I’m sure the rest of the country, if not world. Mother’s Day sale here. Mother’s Day deals there. Mother’s Day in my inbox. Mother’s Day when I turn on the TV.

Mother’s Day. Mother’s Day. Mother’s Day. (For a surprising history of lesson of how it got started, click here.)

I should feel excited. I am a mother. This is a holiday dedicated to me. I’ve been celebrating my mother for years and now, I can share a holiday with her that’s for us!

And yet, I don’t feel that way. Not even close.

My first Mother’s Day was in 2012. It was supposed to be my first Mother’s Day. Ethan was prematurely born and died in 2011 and I spent Mother’s Day 2012 with no baby to show for it. I celebrated International Bereaved Mother’s Day instead but it was still somber.

When Mother’s Day 2014 rolled around, my mother declared it was exciting because it was my “first official Mother’s Day,” completely ignoring the fact I had a son before Bear. I quickly reminded her it wasn’t my first Mother’s Day and left it alone.

nothere

And it’s just…unless you have a deceased child, you don’t understand.

There’s always the feeling of something, someone missing. Sure, I can have all of the spa days, nice jewelry, breakfasts in bed, etc. on Mother’s Day. And I’m sure those days will come in the future. But I’m always going to remember there should be an extra person celebrating. And he’s not here with me.

I take comfort in having a strong family and friend support, both here and offline to help me through the day. While it hasn’t been as bad as I thought it would be, it hasn’t been Mushrooms & Roses, neither. And that’s okay. It’s a grief I’ll have for the rest of my life.

Every Mother’s Day, I try to find some articles online that bring me some comfort. This year, I’m sharing them with you in case you need comfort on this day.

Being the Mother of a Child Who Died on Mother’s Day.

The Land of Not OK (she refers to her disabled son but it also applies to bereaved parents as well). This is one of my all-time favorite articles because it explains what I live with everyday.

To all of my angel mamas, you’re beautiful, blessed, and loved. If the world ignores you, I’m here for you. To my rainbow mamas, celebrate your Mother’s Day with your rainbows as you remember your angels as well.

God bless you all.

Don’t Cry

It gets better but it’s still pretty shitty.

For those new to the blog, I’ll share this with you: over four years ago, I lost my firstborn, Ethan, due to incompetent/insufficient cervix. That means, my cervix shortened before term and since Ethan was just a few days short of viability, he couldn’t be saved. He lived two hours and peacefully died in my arms with my husband nearby. That being said, if this post might bother you, you can stop reading now.

Let’s talk about the ongoing aftermath, shall we?

I’m forever clothes shopping for Bear. He has too many shirts. He doesn’t have enough shorts. He needs more jeans. We need to invest in a belt for him. We should probably get new socks for him. Hmm…we should probably get more shorter-sleeve and sleeveless tanks for him now.

IMG_0438.jpg

Yet, there’s one piece of clothing I could never buy for him:

little-brother-shirt
Available here: http://gardeningbear.com/wp/product/carters-little-brother-graphic-shirt-gbc-jp-106-toddler-clothing-philippines/

It’s one of those things where I could purchase because technically speaking, he is a little brother. But if I purchase the shirt, I’m going to get the inevitable question – ‘Where is his big brother?’ and that requires an  answer I don’t think I’m ready to explain to strangers.

When people hear you lost a child, they naturally feel sympathy towards you. Let’s face it – no parent should ever bury their child, no matter how old. When the same people hear you have another child or other children, they have a noticeable relief on their faces, as if they were saying, ‘Thank God you have at least that one!’

Prince.gif

(In future reference, don’t ever say that to a parent who’s lost a child. Just don’t.)

But back to the topic at hand…it’s one of those things that you’re constantly dealing with in one way or another – the permanent effects of baby loss. When people hear about a miscarriage, be it early or late-term, they think, ‘Well, they went through something bad then but everything’s okay now!’

Is it, really?

When we mourn the loss of our babies, we’re also mourning what will never be – no first days of school, no playdates, no first crushes, no sporting events to attend, no driving lessons, no graduation dates, no weddings, no births of their children – our grandchildren.

We could be watching a movie and a certain scene will trigger a crying spell. We can hear a song on the radio and remember our babies through that tune. There’s always two sides of our lives – before the loss and after. It’s a very defining moment.

There’s someone missing, there’s something missing. I can have all of the memorial keepsakes, tattoos, special dedications to Ethan, but it doesn’t change the fact he’s not here. It’s also a factor why Bear is so spoiled. We know the pain of suddenly losing a child and we don’t take life for granted.

Someday, I’ll buy Bear’s future sibling that same shirt I wanted to purchase for him. And I’ll probably be an emotional wreck about it. And I’ll wonder aloud that I shouldn’t have to buy it at all because Bear should’ve had one already for him to use.

Until that time, I’ll go shopping for Bear. I’ll contemplate if I should get him a size 3T or 4T. I’ll probably chastised myself for once again buying him light-colored shorts as I watch him happily play in the mud. And all the while, I’ll wonder how Ethan is doing in heaven with his friends.

 

For Ethan

402310_500695209980764_1105276998_n

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.

IMG_1650

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