On Lisa Ellis’ arm is a tattoo saying: “I held you your whole life and will love you for the rest of my life.”
The tattoo is just one way she remembers her first born son, Easton. Easton was born just shy of 22 weeks, without a heartbeat, in 2018.
Mother’s Day, for Lisa and many others who have had a pregnancy loss, can bring mixed emotions. The peer support volunteer for Sunnybrook’s Pregnancy and Infant Loss (PAIL) Network shares her journey.
What has been helpful following your pregnancy loss?
My husband Chris and I share our story of loss with anyone who is open to listening. We’ve learned to not feel embarrassed if others are uncomfortable when we talk about Easton’s death. If I were to say anything to a parent who has a loss it would be: it’s your story and you own it. You earned the right to grieve and process however it feels right for you. Regardless of “normal” timelines and expectations.
In March of 2020, your family welcomed baby Nash. Can you talk about the experience of “trying again” following your loss?
There is no right or wrong or a certain timeline in grief. I know some people feel guilty about trying to conceive after a loss. It can feel like everything stands still when you’re grieving. When I first learned I was pregnant again, I felt happy. Later, for sure, the uncertainty and concern set in, but in that moment it was joy. We weren’t “replacing” the baby we lost, we were continuing to build our family. Now, Nash is a healthy, happy and thriving toddler. He’s incredible.
How do and your family remember Easton?
We honour him on his birthday each year. And when Nash is old enough, we will have him pick a gift for the age Easton would have been that year and donate the present. We’re going to continue to be very open and speak about his brother. Both Chris and I got tattoos following the loss. I like that it’s a way to open up the conversation and our way of carrying him with us always. On my wrist, I have his hand and footprint, and Chris has the same on his chest, along with “Father of an angel.”
What does Mother’s Day mean to you now?
I remember my first Mother’s Day following Easton’s death. I kept thinking, “Am I a mom or not a mom?” It was like I was at a party I wasn’t invited to. This Mother’s Day, I don’t mind feeling sadness. The sadness comes with a bit of comfort as it means we haven’t forgotten about Easton. I have a baby, but not both of my babies. That is just our reality in how we celebrate and honour the day and really, I think speaks to the diversity of the makeup of a mom.