No one.

As I reached into the back of my spice cabinet and felt them, I knew what they were. The numbers 3 & 0. They were my birthday candles; hot pink, and glittery on tiny little toothpicks. They were my favorite candles, and they were from my favorite birthday- My 30th. I was finally pregnant after all of our infertility treatments, and I was so happy. Shane and Landon went together to buy me a birthday present. They bought me a past present future ring that I’ve worn on my right ring finger ever since.

This is the only gift I have “from” Kenley. When I opened the gift, I imagined giving it to her when she was older, maybe on her high school graduation day. Maybe on her wedding day; it could be her something old. People don’t prepare you for these things.

No one ever tells you what happens after.

After the initial shock wears off.

After you wake up for consecutive days without the baby you carried for 9 months.

After you can so sadly say “I’m a survivor of child loss”.

No one ever tells you that every day is a fight; to get out of bed, to not fall apart every second of every day, to feel normal- whatever that new normal may be. No one ever tells you that you will feel like your body failed you; that you will hate yourself for what your body did to your child. You never hear about the judgement you will face, like you’re damaged goods, and now you’re less of a Mother because your child is dead. No one tells you that you will constantly replay the moments over and over in your head, no matter how hard you try to block them out; your memories become your nightmares.

No one tells you that somehow you make it through. Somehow you are still alive. Somehow you are still breathing, but you are not the same person as before. You will never be that person; that person died with the child you lost.

That person no longer exists.

I don’t know that I would have believed anyone, during the early days of grief, had they told me that eventually you just learn how to survive. Surviving doesn’t mean that things get easier; honestly, things get more complicated and weird as time goes on. Surviving doesn’t mean that you forgot, or ever will forget the child you lost, or that this child is any less loved than they were the moment you found out of their existence.

Surviving means that the love you have for that child transcends time and space.

Surviving means you are keeping the memory of your child alive.

Every day that I survive on this earth, is one day closer to my Daughter. 

face. 

Most days (now) I wake up and feel like I’ve lived a really bad dream for the past (almost) 18 months. It just doesn’t seem like this can be MY life. This type of stuff happens to other people, not to me. Not to my family; we had already faced so much when we found out Kenley died. How could we be dealt this hand, too? Why me? Why Shane? Why Landon? But most of all, why Kenley? My sweet girl. My innocent little baby…what did she do to deserve this? 

I often think of her, and what she would be doing these days. I find myself looking at her photo while feeding Alden. Staring at her, staring at both of them, hoping to see a similarity that I can cling to in my living child’s face. I usually come up empty handed. Alden is her own person, and I know that, but I wish I could see Kenley in her. 

People have asked me if I’ve called Alden by Kenley’s name. I haven’t yet, but it is only because I consciously tell myself that it is not her name. Every time I speak Alden’s name, Kenley’s name comes to my lips first. Always. I’m pretty sure this is normal, and I’m also sure it will be a life long battle in some capacity. 

I know that as Alden becomes her own person I will be able to separate them more. I only knew Kenley inside of me, and outside, even though she had passed away, for a few hours. I won’t ever really know her, because I already know all there is to know about her. I know the foods she liked, and the music she liked. 

She loved Mexican food, and Ceasar Salad from Panera Bread. 

She loved Christmas music. 

But, I will never know her favorite color, or if she would have been tall like me. What color eyes would she have had at Landon’s age? These are things I will always have to wonder about. I will get to see Alden become her own person, and every single day I am so thankful for that, but you know what? It still stings. I am not ok. I am not “better” because she is here; I am different, sure, but not better. My life will never be “better”- I’ve lost a child and that is something you cannot replace. 

Alden does not take Kenley’s place in my life or in our family. 

I read a quote the other day that said “I think hell is something you carry around with you, not somewhere you go”.  

This rings so true with me. No matter the happiness I feel, no matter the joy and light that Alden brings to me, or the length of time that passes since Kenley’s birth, the scars of going through the deepest darkest  hell are still going to be there. I will be carrying the aftermath, my new life, the “hell”,  with me forever. 

Forever. 

This is my life, forever. Nothing can ever change that. Nothing can bring Kenley back, so this is it. 

I am the parent of a dead child. 

Forever

shower.

This past weekend was my baby shower for Alden. It was in my home town and was small as far as guests go. I was so anxious leading up to the shower that I literally made myself sick over it. Landon and I drove up on Saturday afternoon, and hung out for a little before the madness of Sunday. I knew that I would have a good time celebrating Alden, and being with friends and family. I think that I was just feeling more guilt over not having a shower for Kenley than I thought I actually was. It just kinda hit me hard; we didn’t have a shower for her, and we never ever would. It is what it is.

The shower was amazing, and I really really enjoyed myself. My sister and mom really made it special, and included Kenley, too. There was a small fox, and letter K behind where I was sitting on the entertainment center. I felt like she was there watching me open all these gifts for her little sister.

We received many many gifts for our sweet girl. I am so thankful that people came to shower her in love along with us. There were a few times where I felt like crying, specifically when I opened gifts that had “little sister” onesies in them. I know she’s a little sister, but it should say “littlest” sister, or something similar. She’s my THIRD child, but she will always look like my second and that is really hard to swallow.

When I got home, I showed everything to Shane. He of course loved it all. It’s so bittersweet. You want to be excited for this baby and her arrival, AND WE ARE, but we miss our first born girl. We wanted to do all these things for her, and we never will. It’s just rough. On Monday Shane had off for the holiday so he helped me get a lot of things done around here that we needed to do. We then went into the Nursery and took down all of Kenley’s decor.

Shane took her name banner down.

This was one of the hardest things to do since hearing Kenley died. 

I cried. I cried realllllllly hard. It seemed to rip my heart wide open again. I hate when this happens because I feel like it sets me back 1,000 steps. I know that’s not true, yet I can’t help thinking that. Taking down her name banner was awful. I felt like somehow taking it down was just the end of her. No more of her left in that room. But, that’s not true. Her little sister is going to be lucky enough to wear her clothes, and use her crib, and dresser. She’s getting her older sisters hand me downs and I’m thankful for this (Disclaimer: This opinion changes on the daily, so don’t hold me to these feelings).

Landon helped us do some of the stuff we needed to do, and ultimately he ended up crying. He told us he missed her and wanted her here. We comforted him, and eventually he was ok. It’s just a constant secondary loss. I feel like that is what our life is going to be now; life will be one constant secondary loss.

I’m just really ready for this girl to be here, screaming. I have seen a lot of the moms I follow on IG having their rainbows, and it’s just making me antsy I think.

The painters rescheduled for next Tuesday @ 8:30 am. Shane will be here, so he can go in and set them all up. I don’t think I will be able to go in there and look at the room for a while. I don’t know, maybe I’ll surprise myself but I highly doubt it. Sometimes I feel like I “power through” because it’s all I know how to do. I don’t want to sit and be sad, and cry over this.

I’m so sick of crying all. the. god. damn. time. 

I cry when I’m sad. I cry when I’m happy. I cry because I don’t want to throw away the December part of the calendar because it has Kenely’s first birthday with a heart around it.  I cry when Alden moves, because I can’t remember how it felt to feel Kenley move. I cry because Landon misses her, and Shane misses her. It’s just so unfair.

 

 

the first year without you.

It finally came…Kenley’s first birthday.

The days that followed Halloween were brutal. It was like the Holidays were taunting me. I knew where we were at each moment in time last year (How far I was at Thanksgiving/how many days until she was born etc etc…) and so going through each day up until her birthday was really rough. When we went to get our Christmas tree this year, the place we normally go closed before we could get there (Landon started Kindergarten so we didn’t have enough time to get there after he got off school). We had to go to a new place; It was nice, but far less exciting than our normal place.

It felt good to do something different than we had the year before, though– the year when Kenley was safely tucked inside of me, growing and thriving like she should have been. When we put up the tree, I was overcome with intense grief. I cried, and I cried hard. No, let me rephrase that, I sobbed. That deep sob, you know? The one that you have no real idea where it comes from except you know deep down that it comes from a place of pain that no human being should ever have to feel.

Having to put an ornament on my tree in memory of my daughter, instead of having her there to clumsily hang hers (read: tear down the lights/tree/decor) was extremely hard. I was transported back to the Hospital when they told me she wasn’t alive anymore. I felt THAT level of sadness. It wasn’t just that she wasn’t here anymore, it was also the fact that she would NEVER be here. Maybe a realization occurred? I’m not sure.

She will never be able to hang an ornament, instead, for the rest of my life, I will be hanging her memorial ornaments. Do I buy a new one each year? Do I only hang the one that I bought specifically for her? How does a mother handle Christmas decorations when one of her children is no longer with her? There isn’t a guide for how to handle these types of things.

I avoided Christmas music VERY well this year; I think I listened to it maybe 2 times? I’m pretty happy about that, to be honest. I started listening to Christmas music the day after Halloween in 2015 and soon found out that Kenley loved it. She would dance around while it played. Avoidance was my only coping mechanism re: xmas music this year.

Every Christmas Eve, we go to Shane’s family’s get together. We went last year, and I was about to burst- 38 weeks exactly. It was SUCH a great day. I remember people giving us gifts for Kenley, telling me they were so excited for her to get here, asking how I was feeling/how things were going/next doctors appt/squeeing that her C-section date was literally a week away.  A week. Like…ouch. It still stings so deep when I think of that. It stings extra bad when I remember that I asked to have a c-section at 38 weeks 1 day- the day after Christmas- and my doctors told me no. It stings really badly when I remember that the day after Christmas last year I called my obgyn and told them I was having contractions that were able to be timed pretty close together, but the OB thought I “sounded ok”, and advised me that she didn’t think I needed to be seen, but if it made me feel better that I could go.

What kind of bullshit doctor says that? “You sound ok”. Oh good, I’m glad you can register what is happening inside my uterus by the tone of my voice. And for someone to pretty much patronize me by saying “if it makes you feel better, you can go in”, is just something that I will never EVER be able to live down. I hope that this Doctor feels extreme regret for not telling me to go to L&D that night, because who knows what could have been done…

Anyway, this year I didn’t want to go to the annual Christmas Eve get together…but I went for my Landon. I know he needed things to feel as normal as possible. When we got there, I lost it. People hugged us, and I just couldn’t handle it. It was like everything from last year just washed over me. All in all it ended up being a decent night, and I am thankful we went. Landon had an incredible time, and that is what really counts.

Christmas morning wasn’t too bad for me either. I’m not sure why…Maybe it’s because Landon’s joy just overshadowed my sorrow. Seeing him smile is the greatest gift to me, and hearing how excited he was about all of the gifts that Santa got him really really made me genuinely happy. And also, maybe I was actively blocking my feelings out; not thinking that I should have two children on Christmas morning. I should have a little girl crawling all over and being amazing. I’m pretty sure it was 50/50 (ok …70/30).

As the days ticked down to her birthday, I could feel my anxiety ramping up. The plan was to have immediate family over, have lunch, a cake, and a balloon release. I had been talking with Shane for a few weeks about what he wanted to do to “celebrate” (side note- I hate this term. I hate it so much. I’m not celebrating her birthday, for fucks sake, she’s not here. I’m mourning her, and all the things I lost when she died) her day. He’s pretty easy going so he ultimately said “whatever you wanna do”, which I sometimes hate. So, the day before he admits to me that he was surprised I wanted to have people over, and thought it would be nice to just have him, myself and Landon together on the day.

Ugh.

I told him that he needs to tell me these things when I’m asking him for a few weeks at a time. It was too late to cancel everything, and we ended up going forward with my plans. At the end of the night when everyone left, he hugged me tight, told me he was so happy we went through with it and that he had a really nice day. I’m so thankful that I can trust my gut sometimes, and strong arm him into things that I know are ultimately better for us.

We had a christmas gift exchange with my Dad and Sister before everyone showed up at 2 for the “party”. I wasn’t sure that I wanted to do this, as it felt like it was taking away from her, but ultimately I’m glad we did. Then, around 2, Shane’s family showed up. We all just kind of hung out for a little bit, then had lunch. We ate, and decided that we would do the balloon release. Everyone wrote or drew on their balloons (only popped 2!) and then we made our way outside. It was extremely windy, but so clear. Landon counted to 3, and we all let them go. It felt good to watch them float away. I kept my message short and simple. She knows how much I love her, so my balloon was just a small reminder of that.



After, we came inside, and had cake and ice cream. My sister brought a flower arrangement that is so beautiful and reminds me of Kenley in so many ways. My mom bought her a gift which I love. It’s a stuffed fox with a tutu on it, and I plan to keep it in her memory box. A wonderful friend sent over birthday balloons.


After all the commotion was done, we just hung out and talked for a bit. Slowly people started to leave one by one.

All throughout the day I was getting texts from people all over letting me know that she was on their minds, and that she was missed. I woke up to a specific Instagram tag from a woman who lost her son last year about a week or two before we lost Kenley. I don’t know what specifically about her words struck a chord with me, but it sort of set my tone for the day. I think it was what I was meant to see on the morning of her first birthday.


The love and support from everyone really made the day better- not easier by any means- just better.

I missed her more than I could ever explain to anyone, yet, I was so thankful there were so many people thinking of her and our family. Knowing she was and is so loved on her birthday, even after all this time, made my heart heal a little, I think.

I want to thank every single person who got in contact with me somehow yesterday. Your love and support means the world to us, and I believe it is what helped us through yesterday with a little less pain than I expected.

Our lives will never be the same, and I wouldn’t ever want them to be. If they were, I wouldn’t know my sweet girl’s face. I wouldn’t have ever known her hair color, or how her lips looked just like her brothers. I wouldn’t trade her for the world.

I am her Mother; she chose me to be that for her. It’s all that I can do to love her like she deserves, and honor her memory like she deserves.

I love you my sweet girl. Happy First Birthday.

I will hold space in my heart for you until I can hold you in my arms again.

 

 

 

 

realization.

I took Landon with me today to pick up the last 5 sleepers I needed to buy to have equal amounts of boy and girl sleepers. I told him I wanted him to help me pick them out, so he got right down to business. He has such a huge heart, and wanted to buy everything of course, but he also did something I was so unprepared for.

He picked up a sleeper that came with a bib and said “Mommy, this one is so cute, AND it comes with a bib so it’s perfect for a baby!”…

I felt like someone punched me in the gut.

“IT COMES WITH A BIB”.  

Realistically, I know why I’m buying these sleepers, I know that the children who wear them will not be alive, they won’t need a bib, but I think hearing those words from Landon’s sweet naive mouth really just hit harder than I ever expected. I am so thankful to be fortunate enough to purchase these sleepers for other families, but oh how I wish things were so so different.

7 days until Christmas.

11 days until Kenley’s first birthday.

My heart cannot handle all of this sadness while trying to be happy for my son to enjoy his Christmas.

Kenley, I miss you. My heart is aching without you here, sweet girl. I hope you know how much I love you, and I hope you see all of the good I’m trying to do in your memory.

grief is love with no place to go.

I’ve been wanting to adopt a family for Christmas, but with all this grief and stress I have going on time has slipped away from me. Today was the last day to actually take the gifts to the office, and I didn’t even get a chance to pick a family. ugh. I really really wanted to do this.

15 sleeps until Christmas.

19 sleeps until Kenley’s first birthday.

Landon is with my family this weekend. My Mom and Stepdad are taking him to the grinch musical, and to dave and busters to eat. He’s going to have one hell of a weekend. I’m so thankful that they do fun stuff with him, but I miss him terribly.

I spent the night shopping for preemie and newborn sleepers online to buy and donate to the hospital. My goal, once again, is to have them up to the hospital by Kenley’s first birthday.

•• If you feel you would like to purchase a sleeper and send it to me for donation, let me know. The more we donate, the more loss parents we can help. ••

Tonight I was able to purchase 4 preemie sleepers, and 6 newborn sleepers. I’m sure that I will buy a few more tonight as I browse the internet for great deals.

Once again, grief is love with no place to go.

I have all this love for my daughter who should be here. Who should be crawling around causing chaos. Who should be giving me wet kisses. But, it has no place to go. So, helping people makes my heart feel better…and that’s all I can really ask for.

Just another shout out to my amazing husband for supporting me and all the things I need to do to make my heart feel better. I love you. I love you. I love you. You will never know how much.

 

December.

Well, it’s here- December. I have been waiting all year for this month. Maybe waiting is a bad way to describe it, more so it’s been looming heavily over my head. As each month passed by and Kenley should have been another month older, I knew it was getting closer.

And here it is. In full force.

And I’m terrified.

We went Tuesday night to get our tree. We were going to go to the place that we use every year, but Landon doesn’t get off the bus until 4 and we found out (the hard way) that they close at 5. Half way there, I thought “damn, it’s getting really dark, I should see when they close” (why this didn’t cross my mind the entire day before we left is beyond me…). So we googled quickly and found there was another tree farm near us. We headed that way, and ended up loving the place. Their trees were pre-cut, but whatever. Maybe it’s a good thing that we didn’t get to go to the old place; maybe it was life’s way of cutting me a fucking break or something, who knows.

Anyway, the tree is super nice. I’m really happy with it, and at $52 vs the $80 tree from last year, I’m a happy camper. When we got home, I knew it was going to be super hard to put it up and decorate. We usually turn on christmas music and have a good time. Shane turned on the music and the lump in my throat came. He asked if I was ok, or if I needed to turn it off, but Landon was enjoying it so I said no, that I was ok. Seeing Landon put up the ornaments really really helped me; he was so excited that it kind of kept me happy. Then it came time to hang Kenley’s ornaments. This was pretty awful, I won’t lie. I cried and felt like I could have just crumbled into a million pieces on the floor. I ugly cried to which Landon told me I looked like I was laughing, which actually made me laugh. Thank god for Landon. He just speaks his 5 year old mind, and makes things all better.

We hung her ornaments, and just enjoyed each other. After we were done, Landon was SO tired. Rudolph was on at 8, and Landon crawled up on the couch with us to watch it. Poor dude, he was struggling to keep his eyes open but we finished it and then he went to bed.

We’ve been decorating a little each day since Tuesday. Today Shane and I spent the day at an antique mall shopping. Oh, you didn’t know that we are secretly 80 years old? Surprise.

We found a bunch of really cool old christmas things, and plan to decorate the front porch with them. Shane wants to make a big letter K to wrap in lights and include on the porch (actually this all started with his letter K idea to be honest…) so I’m excited to see what happens. I don’t want to talk about how much we spent at the antique mall today…I feel ashamed. Just kidding- one of my best days this year by far. We left the antique mall and went to dinner. I was craving a steak so bad, so we hit up outback and it was DELISH. I love spending the day with Shane. He is my best friend, and I am so thankful for him. I swear I could just sit with him all day doing nothing and be happy.

Tonight we pulled the trigger and bought Landon a 4 wheeler for Christmas! I’m so excited! It should be here in like 5 days, but were having it shipped to my mother in laws. I grew up riding them, so I’m excited for him to have one.

My dad is coming to visit this weekend, so hopefully Landon and him will get some good play time in. I know that he misses his grandpa a lot.

I’ve been getting a lot of emails with Kenely’s name in them, and I just want to say thank you to everyone who has sent them to me! I love getting them, and I can’t wait to work on the collage. I also have gotten ALMOST all the rest of the items for my care bags finally! I can’t wait to start working on them. I really really need to work on them. It helps to keep my mind occupied.

Well, December, I guess there is no turing back now…