Faith, Family, Infant Loss, rainbow baby

An Angel & A Rainbow

 

cropped-baby-marcus-hospital-session_20160720_5117.jpg

Markie, my Markie. How much I miss you.

Last month, your Daddy and I found out that you are going to have a baby brother! The excitement beaming across your father’s face when he saw your brother’s little willy on that ultrasound screen brought tears of joy to my eyes. He wanted a boy more than anything in this world… I mean, can you blame him?

GLADIATOR, Russell Crowe, 2000. ©DreamWorks/courtesy Everett Collection
GLADIATOR, Russell Crowe, 2000. ©DreamWorks/courtesy Everett Collection

To be honest, I REALLY thought we were going to have a girl this time around, but I am beyond happy to announce that we will be welcoming Maximus Gordon Montanez into the world this January.

We decided to keep the same initials that you had, MGM, but also give your brother a name that meant something to all of us. Maximus actually means “greatest” in Latin and this sweet boy is by far the greatest blessing to be bestowed upon our family since you, Markie Mark. Also, your Dad LOVES Gladiator & apparently that is the name of the main character played by Russell Crowe. (Hey, we could be naming him after something worse, right?)

After we found out that we were going to have another baby boy, I was overwhelmed with feelings. Feelings of happiness to bring another boy into a family of predominately girls. Feelings of pride that our boy will be able to carry on the Montanez name… but I was also feeling extremely… sad.

 

IMG_0319It hurts my soul that Max will not be able to meet you, his big brother. You won’t be here to teach him the things that big brothers usually teach their little bros. And I won’t get the chance to stop the two of you from wrecking the house or break up y’all fighting with each other. Nor will I get the pleasure to watch you stick up for each other and love each other in only a way that brothers can… as well as all of the other things that come along with being a mom of two boys.

I watch friends of mine go on to have their second child and it is so sweet to see how the older sibling interacts with the baby. I long for that, and am kinda jealous, but I guess I will have to wait until Max gets the chance to be an older brother to truly experience what that is like.

Your death day is this Monday, Markie, and honestly, I don’t know how to feel. I can’t wrap my mind around the fact that it has been two years since my perfect baby went home to be with the Lord. This pregnancy has flown by SO much faster than yours did, but the feelings of having a precious little rainbow baby inside me can be almost too much to handle at times. My mind races and I get so caught up in all of the things that could happen. I have been SUPER **possibly overly** careful with everything this time around. I can’t risk taking any unnecessary risks…

IMG_6028The more and more time that passes since losing you, son, I doubt how good of a mother I will be to little Max. I wish I had the chance to really learn how to be a “good mom” the first time around. Not saying that I wasn’t, but during my nine short weeks with you here, I feel like I was robbed of the chance to learn and cherish all the ends and outs of how to raise a little man.

I hate when people assume that this is my first pregnancy just because you are not around. But it is so hard to stop people from giving me “new mom” advice. What can I say to them without having to get into a sad conversation with a stranger, explain to them what SIDS is and risk having them judge me as a mother? I usually just smile and try to move on with my day, but it gets to me now that I am so emotional **UGHHH, pregnancy hormones** and it is REALLY hard. I wish you were here talking your cute little babble to your little brother and giving your brother kisses on my growing belly.

I know that you are watching over your brother and I, but as much as I would give to have things different, they never will be. All I can do is keep my faith in God strong, pray that everything continues going well and know that Max has the BEST Guardian Angel a boy could ever have.

Never would I have imagined this would be the plan God had for my life, but I have a mission: keep the memory alive of my angel & raise one beautiful rainbow.

 

 

child loss, Faith, Family, grief, Infant Loss, SIDS

5 Things I’ve Learned Since the Death of My Son

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome is the leading cause of death in infants under one year of age, yet I never believed that SIDS would claim my precious, healthy, and SO loved nine-week-old son, Markie Gordon Montañez. Today, September 24th, marks the one-year anniversary of the day that I lost a son became a Mommy to an Angel.

Analyzing all that has happened this past year, including marrying the man of my dreams, I realize that due to my son’s death, I have dived deeper and gone farther in the quest of learning more about myself, figuring out my purpose, and discovering who I truly am.

I have a deep understanding NOW of how hard it can be to continue to move forward in life, and get up, showered, dressed, ANDDDD still manage to put on make-up to appear not completely insane “normal” to the outside world, each and every day, when all you truly desire is to go back in time, sulk in bed, or drown your sorrows.

I realize NOW the power of deep, passionate, unconditional love, and how special time shared between loved ones really is. I treasure the time that my friends and family have taken out of their day to spend with me or even share kind words and uplifting messages to my husband, Marcus, and I. Y’all truly do not know how MUCH each simple, sweet message means.

I also NOW know what it is like to be in this strange, awkward, un-talked about group in society. Are we parents? What do I say when people ask my husband and I do we have a kid? How am I supposed to respond to the people who STILL (a full year later) ask how the baby is??

To narrow down all of these feelings into a single blog post, without ranting on forever, here are the 5 Things That I’ve Learned Since The Death of My Son.

1. You literally HAVE to surrender.

Okay, so I guess you don’t REALLY have to surrender, but it sure helps. When everything first happened, I had a ZILLION questions.

“What happened to my son?”

“Why did this happen to my son?”

“How could this happen to my son?”

“What did I do wrong?”

“Why would God let ANOTHER person close to me just die?”

“How am I going to move on from this?”

“What in the world is happening to ME?!?!”

If you take a look at all of those questions, only one thing is the same in each question.

ME & I.

AKAEGO.

I know there is nothing humanly or scientifically possible that can be done be done to bring my son back (trust me, I’ve Googled it more times than I’ll admit), so why do I punish myself with all of these selfish, self-centered questions, that will literally get me nowhere?

In order to grow, I must LET IT GO, surrender my worries to The Universe, and continue to move forward with my life, while still cherishing and nurturing the memory of my sweet Markie.

If I choose to drive myself absolutely insane with the “what-ifs”, I won’t be able to enjoy the now. Surrendering is a daily thing. Over time, and with LOTS of practice, I’ve grown better at surrendering to every situation.

As my father always told me, “98% of what happens around you is outside of your control. Focus on your 2%.”

2. It’s OK to not be okay.

If you wake up and want to cry, do it. Stop holding it in. Stop telling people to put their chin up. Somedays are REALLY hard. Men, also, need to let it out. Crying is NOTHING to be ashamed of. You don’t ALWAYS have to put on a smile. Going through these emotions allow for the grieving process to actually take place. And even if you are not grieving anything, it is OK to not be okay! We are only human and I guarantee that after you have yourself a nice good cry, you will feel SO much better. Communication to others, for myself it’s talking to my family, best friends, and husband, about how I feel, why I feel, and what I am feeling help in my recovery process. Which leads me to my next point…

3. The people who CHOOSE to be in your support system WILL make themselves known, while others fall by the wayside.

If you would have asked me a year ago, “Who would be in your support system if you lost your son today?” I promise you, I would have given a list of names of people that I have not talked to in *now* over a year.

The few friends people I assumed would be there, wanting to be supportive and either call or text me to check in to see how I am doing, have hidden in the shadows, only throwing an occasional like here and there on a social media post about my son, but remaining completely silent otherwise. (I still have the same number, y’all!)

I don’t miss those friends people, but I do catch myself asking why they are no longer apart of my life. To be honest, they probably don’t know what to say to me. Heck, I don’t think I would even know what to say to me, but that’s no excuse to not say anything.

If someone you know and love is going through something, a simple I love you and I’m thinking of you goes a VERY long way. Remember that if you find yourself asking what you can do to help.

…but to get away from the one’s who don’t deserve praise, let’s bring up those that do.

I have been so BLESSED to have the AMAZING friends and family I do. This past Mother’s Day, as well as again on Markie’s birthday, I had two different friends send me just the cutest, sweetest, little gifts. (PS my love language IS gift giving, so y’all rock! It’s like y’all know me or something, hehe) These two amazing human beings really mean a lot to me, and although they both live out of state, they have been there for me 150% of the time when I needed them.

I have gotten many phone calls, text messages, and even a letter(!!), from old friends. Friends that I hadn’t seen or been in regular contact with since my middle school days, went out of their way to let me know that they are sending their love, prayers, thoughts, and blessings towards me and mine, during this difficult time.

Because of y’all, I know that whatever I go through, I am NEVER alone.

4. There is no RIGHT way to grieve.

Nothing is right, when everything is wrong.

If you want to pretend like everything is OK (like I did for probably, eh, the first month), do it. You WILL experience the ups and downs of the grieving process and at some point, whether it’s today or a decade from now, your feelings will eventually come spilling out.

My husband likes to go on runs with our dog, Maverick, when he gets caught up in his feelings. I prefer to go take a walk through the breaking waves on North Clearwater Beach. There is no RIGHT answer, so if people tell you something, and you don’t agree, take it with a grain of salt. That may be what works for them, but could be absolutely detrimental to you.

According to Elisabeth Kübler Ross and David Kessler, the five stages of grief are denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. These five steps are a part of the foundation of learning to deal with a loved one who is gone.

The stages of grief are in fact, interchangeable. Sometimes you will find yourself screaming, “WHY DID THIS HAPPEN?!” one minute, and then the very next second, you’re bargaining with The Man Upstairs begging, “Please bring my child back, and in place, take my life! I’m not even that great of a person anyways.

Grieving is not an overnight process, and there really is no tell-tale sign of when you are “done grieving.” Acceptance takes time, and is the hardest stage of grieve to go through. No one wants to believe their loved one is gone. People have a hard time losing a lover, let alone a child.

I continue to have to accept what happened daily, because I knew the internal turmoil I put myself through when I choose not to surrender to what is, is detrimental and devastating to my sanity and serenity.

I don’t think I will ever be done mourning the loss of my son, but I do know that…

5. Time doesn’t “heal”, but it SURE helps!

Time does not heal all wounds, but it sure as hell makes the pain hurt less.

I am so thankful and blessed to have spent the time with my son that I did. My now-husband, then baby daddy, allowed me to take online classes and work from home, so that I was able to be a stay-at-home mom, and spend every waking moment with our sweet baby.

Marcus, I don’t tell you this enough, but you are a great man, an even better husband, and literally the best father this world has ever seen.

So far, my husband and I have taken three major trips since our son passed, with our fourth scheduled in two weeks. While we can, and do, go out and enjoy ourselves, I won’t lie, it gets hard. On Christmas morning, at my husband’s grandmother’s house in New Jersey, I sat outside on her porch, crying, yearning for my sweet boy to be here, with us, to celebrate his first Christmas with his huge, loving, Puerto Rican family.

When we were down in Puerto Rico for our Honeymoon, I did not cry over the fact that my son wasn’t there, I was happy that because of my belief in God, I know that my son is in Heaven above, with my mother and grandmother, watching over my husband and I. I am thankful that even though we lost the most important person in our lives, our little love creation, we are STILL able to continue making happy memories by traveling the world, all the while growing closer to each other. The loss of our son, truly solidified our love for each other. (For those who don’t know, we had a small wedding the day after our son’s memorial, only two short weeks after.)

Time passes and memories, unfortunately, start to fade. Our generation is so blessed to live in an age with technology AND live in an age where Mom’s take a jillion pictures of their children each and every day. **Thank you, Snapchat!** 

My heart goes out to those who find themselves in the same situation I am in. Any loss of a child is tough; whether you lost your 35-year-old son to addiction OR you lost your unborn, unannounced child, privately in your home through a miscarriage.

Losing a child is THE absolute hardest thing a parent EVER has to go through. While we are not in this alone, and the battle is an ongoing one, know that you WILL live to see another day, the crying WILL begin to slow down, you WILL be able to smile and be happy again, and the next day WILL be a little easier, if you learn to let go and surrender to what is.

If my words help at least one other person, I believe that blogging about my story on  SIDS Sucks, was well worth it. Feel free to share your story with me in a comment below, or message me directly on my contact page. I would love the chance to remember the joys of our Angel Babies, together.

“I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always, As long as I’m living, My baby you’ll be.”

**Mommy, Daddy, Maverick and family miss you SO much, Markie Mark! We will always remember our Grumpy Pants. Rest in Peace, Marcus Gordon Montañez, Born on 7/18/16 – Taken Home on Angel’s Wings 9/24/16**