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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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

 

It’s Been Awhile

Let’s see it’s been about three weeks since I’ve last updated. Well, a lot has happened since then. Namely this:

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To fully tell the story, I have to backtrack a little so bear with me here.

Saturday, November 9

Over the weekend, I saw my OB and had a special trip to Labor & Delivery (L&D) for a NST since my blood pressure was becoming alarmingly high, mix in with a little nausea and just overall yuckiness.  Go to L&D and turns out everything is okay. In fact, while I was at L&D, I was contracting; not enough contractions to warrant being in labor but enough where they were noticeable. My OB comes in about an hour later to check on me and sends me home. He calls me that following Sunday to make sure I’m doing alright.

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Me right before the Saturday OB appointment. Despite my smile, I was feeling pretty miserable in this picture.

Monday, November 11: Now this is when the bullshit started.

I go to my OB’s office late Monday afternoon (he’s courtesy enough to be open on holidays). My blood pressure is once again through the roof so my OB sends me straight to L&D for a NST. I wasn’t allowed to eat before I went so I had to go there straight from his office.

Keep that in mind: I wasn’t allowed to eat anything. 

So M and I go to L&D where we’re informed we have to wait a while so they can get a room ready for us. The secretary tells us 10 minutes. Well, 10 minutes turned into 15, which turned into 30, which turned into an hour. So imagine a full-term pregnant woman, who hasn’t eaten anything since breakfast, isn’t allowed to eat anything, is waiting for a spontaneous NST at her doctor’s orders? Yeah, you’d be pissed off too.

I finally went ballistic and went home. I left. I’m not sure how long it took for everyone to realize I wasn’t there but my phone started blowing up about an hour later from my OB to the L&D nurses begging me to go back. The only reason why I went back is because I didn’t feel Yoda move that much. We went back to L&D around 11:30 PM and returned home around 2 AM. Everything was fine. I was ordered to make an appointment with my OB first thing Thursday morning. Fun.

Wednesday, November 13

M decided to take the day off and take care of household items. We go on what would be our very last twosome date to a local pizza parlor. We both feel it’s the calm before the storm and just enjoy the day with each other.

Thursday, November 14

I go to my OB’s office first thing Thursday morning. My blood pressure once again is through the roof, no to mention, there is protein in my urine for the first time this pregnancy. This immediately puts me as a candidate for preeclampsia and my OB told me to go straight to L&D. No NST this time – I’m getting prepped for a c-section.

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Excited because I knew what’s going to happen!

We checked into L&D and this time they’re ready for me. I get changed and I have a set of nurses taking my vitals and what-not. One of the nurses graduated from my alma mater, Azusa Pacific, so she has student nurses with her, also from APU. That’s pretty cool. I immediately took that as a sign from God.

We had a chaplain come in right before the surgery to bless the delivery of Yoda’s arrival and a good surgery for me. And then it was on!

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M being his usual silly self

I got wheeled into the operating room and I requested jazz music to be played during the delivery. I told the anesthesiologist that anything else would hype me up. I was given a spinal block and once again, I just didn’t like that shit. Needles and my back just don’t get along. But the spinal worked and I couldn’t feel anything below my chest. The sheet was pulled up and my OB asked me if I could feel anything. I told him no and he replied with, ‘Good because I just made an incision.’ (It’s funny now.)

M was let into the room and sat next to me with camera in tow. Minutes later with a few tugs and pulls, my OB holds up Yoda and says, ‘Here’s your baby!’ The moment was surreal. It honestly felt like I won the lottery.

We have our first family photo and I’m a little out of it. A lot of drugs are in me but I managed to smile:

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This photo below, I honestly don’t remember taking. I was that drugged up:

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Here is the photo we debuted to everyone on our respective Facebook pages:

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I told you he had my lips. 🙂

Yoda’s going-home outfit:

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Here is a photo of me, one week postpartum:

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Yoda’s official name is Bogdan Michael. Bogdan is Russian for ‘given by God’ and Michael, in honor of his big brother, Ethan, who shared the same middle name.

During the hospital stay, I kept getting asked if Bo was my first baby. I answered yes even though it wasn’t true. I didn’t want to go through explaining to each person about Ethan and I most certainly didn’t want to cloud a happy moment with sadness. I didn’t feel bad about lying, however. I’m very protective of Ethan’s memory and I would rather lie to protect him than be honest and deal with uncomfortable reactions from people.

My surgery recovery is going as expected. I’m always sore but it’s manageable. I’m on Vicodin and heavy-duty Motrin that I take twice daily. I’m not allowed to pick up anything heavier than Bo and that’s fine by me. I recently got my staples removed and Bo had his first pediatrician appointment the other day. Other than getting used to no sleep, everything is great. I can honestly say my life is perfect. 🙂

My parents weren’t able to come up due to other issues that I’m glad had nothing to do with my brother but I hope they can come up soon.

Needless to say, this blog will go from talking about my pregnancy to raising a biracial, multi-ethnic baby in Los Angeles and being a ‘first-time’ mother.