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

aftermath. 

Following the loss of a child, so many changes take place in us. Even our physical appearance changes. Our skin shows signs of aging. Many people say their hair turned white overnight. Others say they couldn’t see clearly–their eyesight changed. 

Mentally, we live in a fog. We can’t remember where we put things. We often get lost when driving to places such as the supermarket. We get confused. We cannot complete easy tasks. Our minds cannot focus. Physically, we might feel aches and pains we never had before. We might suffer from panic attacks. 

This is only a small peek inside the new life of grief that now belongs to parents of child loss. Losing a child is not a singular loss, but rather a series of losses that continues all of the days of our life. If only others understood the courage it takes for child loss parents to get out of bed and face each new day. 

• Silent Grief—Child Loss Support 

my grief.

Recently I posted a photo on IG that said I was “the kind of tired that sleep can’t fix”. A lot of people would just read this photo as myself being tired from having a newborn. Sure, I can understand that, but the caption I wrote said so much more, and I feel like this really goes to show you that people try to understand, but they are completely unable.

I received comments like, “You’re just tired from having a newborn”, “Have you tried talking to someone?”, or my personal favorite…” Diet and Exercise help grief so much!”….

I appreciate all of the support that I get, because quite honestly it’s overwheming and I know these people don’t HAVE to support me but they do. I know these people mean well (or at least I think they do) but, I just literally can’t with the responses. So, let me break down my latest IG post in a little more detail to try and help people better understand.

I’m Tired. I’m physically tired. I’m emotionally tired. I’m mentally tired. I’m ALLLLLL kinds of tired. My body hurts. My brain hurts. My eyes constantly burn from either tears, lack of sleep, or both. No amount of sleeping is going to change the fact that my daughter is dead.

I have tried talking to someone, yes. Talking to a therapist about what you’ve gone through undoubtedly helps, sure. Shane and I saw one for 8 months after Kenley died. You know what though? She can’t relate to the way I feel, either. She has not been here. “Here” is such an awful place, and I truly believe as a therapist that this “situation” would be a hard thing to deal with. Our therapist was never able to offer us  “ah-ha” type of advice; there was never a time where I felt that she truly helped me figure out anything.

Diet and exercise will help grief. Oh? Most days I forget to eat a meal, or literally have no appetite. Yesterday I forgot to eat dinner, so from 11:30am until 8:00am today I didn’t eat anything. Or sometimes I feel like eating everything in my face. I drink way too much coffee these days, and not enough water. Worrying about diet and exercise is the last thing on my mind. Somedays it’s a battle to get out of bed. Maybe once I can tackle that better, I’ll start to jump back on a diet, or start walking and taking hikes again but for now, no. For now, I’m going to focus on getting my feet on the floor in the morning while the darkness inside is begging me to just lay back down and not get up.

I’m not sure how to make someone understand the pain that a mother who lost a full term child feels. Most the time I feel like a broken record. I’m still sad. I’m still angry. I’m still depressed and anxious and emotional and broken and feel hopeless most days. Having Alden did NOT take those things away, and sometimes I think that it actually made them worse. She is here, and Kenley is not. I see a picture of Landon with Alden, and I see the space where Kenley should be.

A space where my middle child should, but never will be.

15078697_1172500812841868_397450472686012627_n

This is another thing that often comes up. “You have Landon and Alden, you need to be strong for them! You are so lucky!”.

For real? Of course I need to be strong for them, and I am. I wake up every day don’t I? I cannot tell you how easy it would be for me to crawl into bed and not get out again. Grief is awful. Coupled with depression, and anxiety it’s a nightmare. Just because I have them, does not make the hole in my heart any smaller. It honestly exacerbates her loss.

I had Landon and watched him grow into this amazing 6 year old boy. I watched him get his first tooth, eat mushy food, use a sippy cup, take his first steps, talk, laugh, coo, and now he gets in the shower by himself. I’ve watched him every step of the way. I was fully prepared to watch Kenley do those things, and never for ONE SECOND doubted that I would get to be able to. Until she died. As a parent, I grieved her death, and her role in our family of little sister. I wouldn’t be able to watch her do those things. Now, with Alden here, she is smiling and cooing.

Yes, I LOVE watching her, and it fills my heart with so much joy. But, there is always a sadness. She is not Kenley. I know that there a lot of Loss Moms who might feel this way too, but feel guilty saying it. I do too. I feel guilty that sometimes I hold my newborn daughter and can’t help but think about my dead daughter. I can’t help it. Some times I walk past her Nursery and glance in wishing I could see Kenley’s colors instead. As I write these things, I feel guilt, but I know that I’m not alone in my feelings and I know they are valid.

grief-when-a-child-died-448x300

Sometimes you don’t need to say anything.

Sometimes all I need is a hug.

Sometimes I just need a text saying you miss Kenley; say her name.

I don’t need your grieving advice, because this is my timeline.

This is my grief. 

t-ball.

On Wednesday night I got a voicemail from Landon’s t-ball coach. He told us that Landon’s team had practice this Saturday @ 11am. It’s been raining for 3 days, and I’m pretty sure that practice is going to be canceled tomorrow (not to mention it’s freezing cold for May).  Shane and I went out the next day to buy him new cleats and baseball pants while he was at School.

I was doing dishes tonight and my mind got to thinking about last t-ball season. After one of the first practices last year is when I started my blog. I think about how fresh in my grief I was, and about the things that bothered me then. If I’m being honest, not much has changed. I know a lot of people think that by now, at 16 months and 6 days after our daughter was stillborn, we should be feeling better, but the sad truth is we’re just not. I don’t know that we will ever “feel better” as I’m pretty sure this isn’t something you learn to feel better about. I think about how I was so upset seeing the family who had 3 kids perfectly spaced out…and that stings even more this year in some odd way.

Three kids.

I have 2

but…I have 3.

And this year, we’re on a team where no one knows our family’s story…

I’m not looking forward to all the families- the normal families- at these events. There were more strollers at the games last year than I could ever count. Now this year, I have to witness the little girls running around that would be Kenley’s age. I just don’t know how your heart is supposed to handle these things…year after year…

I know it’s a lifetime thing, and someday I’m sure i’ll be less aware of the ages of these children, but for now it just fucking sucks. And it sucks a lot.

I’m very excited to have Alden here, safe, in my arms. I’m excited that she gets to come to Landon’s t-ball games and he gets to show her off to his friends. I’m thrilled that I feel stressed out about having two kids and often having to take them alone to Landon’s games as Shane will be working…but…

There will always be one missing. It feels weird to say that because who knows, maybe there wouldn’t always be one missing per se. If Kenley had lived, we wouldn’t have Alden- we were done. If Kenley had lived things would be different. If Kenley had lived, I would be chasing around a 16 month old and she would be eating popcorn and waving at her brother while he’s on third base putting dirt in his glove instead of paying attention to the ball.

So many If’s associated with loss, and it’s just so sad to think about. I don’t like to let my mind go there because it’s too sad and painful. I can’t even do the “May we all heal” prompts this year. I’m pretty sure my grief has just become a part of me now; it’s now deep in my bones where it will stay for the rest of my earthly life.

I think my grief is so intense that I cannot allow myself to think about it because it will straight up kill me.

Imagine having to live every day knowing that you cannot see one of your children. Ever again.

Imagine waking up to their photo- in which they are dead-  instead of their face.

Imagine thinking about the day they died every. second. of. your. life.

Imagine thinking if you had gone to the Hospital that morning instead of waiting that she could be here, she would be alive, they could have saved her because the doctor said she had only been gone for less than 3 hours.

Imagine having to choose one of your children to live without.

It’s enough to kill you, isn’t it?

 

everyday stress (& randoms)

Lately I’ve been trying to figure out how to strike a balance between my every day stressors, my grief, and my two living children. It’s not easy, and I’m really afraid that I’m doing a shitty job. There are days that I just literally cannot do anything except exist and I feel that is extremely hard. Then, there are days where I feel good- positive almost. It never fails that those days where the positivity starts to creep in always end in disaster. I will feel ok then something will happen in the afternoon that makes me derail and feel like shit. I can handle the fact that Kenley died; I’ve almost come to accept the fact in a way…but add in the every day crap and it just sends me over the edge.

I’m trying to figure out how to balance all of that. I know that I will never wake up and feel “normal” and I really don’t want to feel that way. I feel like normal is a relative word and I’m discovering what my “new” normal is every day.

I had a follow up MFM appointment on Thursday. They gave me a postpartum depression questionnaire thing to fill out. When my Dr came in she said ” So your depression scale was really high” (no shit) so we decided to add in an anti-anxiety medication on top of my anti-depressant. I know that I need this medication to get my shit under control. Then we talked about a few other things like when I would be able to get pregnant again if we decided to do so, testing to see if I have a blood clotting disorder that will require lifetime medication, and was given a full exam.

  • Not allowed to transfer an embryo for at least a year if we decide to have more children.
  • Went to the lab to have blood drawn
  • Full exams suck

The next day the doctor called and told me that my Protein S levels were in normal range which means that it was artificially lowered in pregnancy BY pregnancy…This means that Kenley did not die from my blood clotting disorder because I don’t technically have one. I am NOT ok with this answer, so I am seeking out a hematologist to discuss things further. It does not make sense that my levels were so extremely low during pregnancy and I took blood thinners and bam, Alden’s here alive and healthy and Kenley died. I’m just confused on it all so I will leave this open ended and post more about it when I know more/have more time.

Yesterday should have been a good friends Daughters 1st Birthday. She was taken too soon, just like all of our babies. I went to Starbucks and said my name was Meredith so they would write it on my cup, and I paid for the two cars behind me in honor of Meredith on her birthday. (Also- side note- had a cake pop for the first time…omfg. so good.)

My planner is full of names of babies who are gone too soon, and I hate it. It makes me so sad. These poor babies should be here with their parents, it’s just unfair.

Alden is nearly rolling from front to back already. It’s insane! She has almost done it three times now, and I give her a few days before she masters it. She’s such a good baby, I’m so thankful that she isn’t colicky like her brother because I would not be able to handle it.

I need to get my hair done, Landon needs a hair cut, and so does Shane. It’s insane. We all look homeless.

The paving company came last Monday to fill in the sides of our driveway with dirt, and no one told me they were coming. I was in my robe at 8am and my door bell rang. I thought it was UPS and didn’t answer it, then I hear the sounds of dump trucks backing up. When I looked outside there were tons of machines and men working. WTAF? Why didn’t anyone tell me they were coming????? I walked out and told them, hey sorry I didn’t move the truck, no one gave me a date or time for the work to start so you’re going to have to work around it. This week they should come to seal the drive way (per the man doing the work last week…) so we’ll see what happens. They didn’t tamp the dirt down, so when it rained yesterday the dirt ran into my yard. Shane took pics and sent them to the company because that shouldn’t happen, and quite frankly this company has been shit-tacular at best in doing the jobs the way they should.

I can’t wait until it’s all done, and we can not have to worry about them anymore. I will be hiring other people to seal the driveway in the following years.

When it’s all done, were buying Landon a basketball hoop for the driveway. Then, we will be getting mulch, and flowers for the front of the house. I can’t wait to get my daffodils planted around all the trees and get the house looking nice again for spring time. I’m pretty sure that Kenley’s tree is dead; it’s pretty “crisp” and hasn’t had any new buds this spring sooooo……I guess I’ll give it another year.

Yesterday, Kenley should have been 16 months old.

Ouch. My heart.

coffee.

Alden woke up at 6 this morning to eat. I felt pretty good after feeding her, so I put her back to sleep (read: laid her down cus she was passed the heck out anyway), and I went to make coffee. I looked out the kitchen window and noticed it look so calm outside. I grabbed a cup of coffee and decided to walk out on the back deck, something that I never do in the mornings.

I walked outside. It was so calm, and so still. I couldn’t hear a car, I couldn’t hear anything other than birds quietly chirping as if they were just waking up. I stood there, warm coffee in hand thinking of Kenley; Of how quiet the morning was…of how quiet her birth was. It was a beautiful and heartbreaking moment as the sun slowly started to rise.

Then, I noticed something out of the corner of my eye.

It was a fox…

and it was walking across my back yard.

I cannot tell you if I have ever seen a fox in “nature” before, but for some reason this morning there was a beautiful one trotting across my back yard at 6:30 a.m.  It walked from the field, to my yard, to the side of my yard, then down our tree line back to the field. When it reached the fence of my yard, it stopped for 2-3 seconds and stared at me.

I burst into tears.

I’m not sure I’ve ever felt more at peace in my life…