Begin Again

This blog post was originally written as a story for the series Long Story Short: An Evening of Storytelling at Space252 to support Anaheim Performing Arts Center


My son dies at the end of this story. It’s not a happy ending, but this is my story on how I found my own happiness and a beginning in this ending. 

Most people measure their milestones through normal life events like graduation, marriage, even a break up, a new career. I measure my life based on one event- what life was like before Mordecai and who I’ve become after. 

Mordecai was a healthy baby. I had a very healthy pregnancy. He died on the day he was supposed to be born due to a cord wrapped around his neck and a blood vessel burst. The doctor told us it was a .001% chance of this happening to any pregnant woman.

I consider myself a pretty strong person, I’ve been through some tough things, but coming home to an empty nursery, I knew this wasn’t going to be something I can just “toughen up” and move forward. When you lose a parent or a grandparent, it’s heartbreaking, but it’s expected as painful as it is, respectively, it’s the circle of life. When you bury your own child, that circle, along with everything else, gets broken and you don’t know which way the line goes. 

I remember sitting in the hospital recovering, and I was reading the different stages of grief. In my (unrealistic) optimistic Diana manner, I seriously thought, this will be fine. When I got home and saw that empty crib, I wasn’t expecting to fall apart so easily. Grief is like a wave, it comes unexpectedly and you don’t know how big it will get. I told myself I could either ride this wave or have it kill me. 

There’s the universal belief that good things happen to good people. We all know it’s bullshit but yet we still believe this. Things just happen, no matter what. I grew up in a evangelical (somewhat abusive) home, went to Sunday school, married a good man, worked hard to buy the pretty house. Despite my abusive upbringing, I struggled with motherhood but Mordecai changed all of that for me once I saw that heartbeat. It wasn't magical or romantic or even ideal. It was real and the pain I grew up with wasn't enough to stop me from wanting to become his mother.

 I did everything by the book, and nothing went as planned. Not even the support I expected from a group of people I've known for years. Those people loved me but they didn't love my heartbreak. I can't fault them for that but I felt completely isolated and kept being shoved into this corner to be happy or else! I discovered I could separate people and faith, thank God. The whole “God won’t give you what you can’t handle” is not Biblical and to think the American church and God can’t handle pain was eye opening. I didn’t realize I’d mourn my idea of what faith was, too.  

I was mourning a person I never met, but I was also mourning my hopes and dreams. I was mourning the plans I’ve made for the next 18 years. I didn’t know how to function after that and crying spells in the middle of Costco and panic attacks in the middle of the night weren’t defense mechanisms I could hold onto much longer. 

I went to a therapist specializing in infant loss. I was diagnosed with PTSD. I always thought PTSD was something soldiers had when they came back from war like I’ve seen in the movies. Apparently, birthing a 10 lb dead baby brings it’s own kind of personal war. 

I remember the first time I laughed, it was weeks after. I was watching Stephen Colbert (the old Comedy Central Stephen) It was a feeling I’ve been waiting for, invited in for so long, but at the same time, guilt, an unexpected emotion, resided itself, nestled itself along the other ugly feelings. I was mourning my baby, my old self, my friends who weren’t there when I wanted them to be, but I was also celebrating. I reached new levels of friendship with the ones who were there. I celebrated finding a new church and left the one that ignored our pain. Grief broke my heart but it also mended it. Grief reveals who people really are and it's been heartbreaking and incredible. 

Beginning again is never easy but every morning I have a choice. Mordecai made me stronger when I didn't want him to and he made me softer where I needed to be. There are moments I don't realize until later how much a gift that's become. 

Miko has a hard time sleeping. I was sitting in her nursery, in the rocking chair, and I remember how frustrated I was. When I think about the night I spent in the chair crying myself to sleep, I can't help but be so grateful for having her in my arms. This is exactly what I wanted and I don't want lack of sleep to hold me back from enjoying my moments with her. 

A lot of people may look at me and say, hey you have your happy ending! It's Miko! Yes, she does bring happiness but she's not my ending. She's my beginning. She's a baby now, but one of these days she's going to grow up to be a person and I don't want that person to resent me. I don't want her to look at me and feel like I put her on this pedestal to fill the void that grief took. I don't want her to look at me and say I had these unrealistic expectations of wanting to love her for a brother she never met.  I want her to be the beginning. 

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