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

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?

 

rational brain=non existent

I’m pretty sure that the last two weeks of this pregnancy are going to just drive me absolutely up the wall crazy. Since last Wednesday when I posted last, I have gone off the deep end it feels.

Thursday we had our NST, and it was CAKE…like nothing has ever gone so smooth in my life kind of cake. We walked in, I peed in a cup- all was good, I lost two lbs, blood pressure was like ridiculously perfect, and Alden was kicking the NST’s ass. We were in and out within what felt like 30 minutes. After, we went to Panera bread and enjoyed a nice relaxing lunch. I love Thursdays with Shane because we always get lunch together and it’s just so relaxing to be with him.

So, fast forward to Friday. Landon is in school, and my mom came to visit for the weekend. Everything is going well, but just somewhere in the back of my mind I feel super uneasy. I think the closer it is getting to d-day, the worse I’m feeling. Saturday I convinced myself that she wasn’t moving “right”, or that her pattern was different. Of course this caused me to spiral and push on her a bunch to see if she would move (which she did). I would get so close to saying I had to go into L&D, then she would move enough for me to feel confident in her being alive.

Saturday night however was a different story. She didn’t move while I laid in bed with Shane watching tv. She didn’t move when I rolled on my back, or my other side. In the tiny little rational part of my brain I have left I’m thinking, ok…she is sleeping so much right now, everything is fine. It’s constantly overshadowed by the giant irrational (read: totally legit) part of my brain that says  OMG. IT’S BEEN FOREVER SINCE YOU FELT HER MOVE. GET UP. GO TO LABOR AND DELIVERY. GO NOW. WHO CARES IF YOU CAN HEAR HER HEART BEAT ON YOUR DOPPLER. THAT’S NOT GOOD ENOUGH.

Saturday night I slept like SHIT. I was up 4 times to pee, and one of those times I was woken up by a contraction that hurt like hell.

Oh and at 4:45 am that “legit” part of my brain made me use my doppler to hear her heart beat.

FOUR. FOURTY. FIVE. AM.

Tomorrow it will be 16 days until she’s here. Kenley died a week before her scheduled c-section date. I cannot stop thinking about how were coming up on that date. Sure, this is a different pregnancy, and things are different this time yada yada yada, but honestly? Things are so much worse this time. Before, I was excited. I wanted to let her cook in there as long as she could! I asked for a c-section at 38 weeks and was told no. If my doctors would have agreed, she would be here. They had no reason to not agree.

This time, my MFM is willing to take her at 37 weeks, and I’m pretty sure I’m going to beg her to take her at 36, or 36.3 I don’t know, just something. She needs to come out while I know she’s alive. I didn’t know that Kenley wasn’t alive. It was so unfair, and cruel. I want to be able to say that this isn’t driving me insane, or that I’m handling it super well, but the truth is I’m not.

My anxiety is overwhelming. My fear of losing this child has become to much. I am excited for Alden to come…but what if she doesn’t get to come home with us? What would I do? People are taking time off of work for her arrival- just like with Kenley- and what happens if she doesn’t survive. It’s all too much.

Tomorrow we have an NST followed by a Growth Ultrasound and an appointment with my MFM. She is so reassuring, so I know she will calm me down, but I really really hope that she considers my mental health when I ask her if we can go any earlier.

I’m sure she’ll say no and try to talk me down…but I feel like my concerns are valid and my opinion matters.

Having a baby should not be this god damn hard.

NSTptsd.

Yep. It’s a real thing, at least it should be a real word anyway.

Yesterday at our first NST of the week, Alden decided she would be a super jerk and not let the nurse find her heart beat right away. And, by right away, I mean it took THREE WHOLE MINUTES to find her heartbeat. Sure, 3 minutes doesn’t seem like a long time, but remember the standard NST testing hook up is how we found out Kenley died. That was the longest probably 10 minutes of my entire life…

So, I’m sitting there… the nurse says “ok lets have you roll toward me” (I do) still no heartbeat.

Lets have you roll on to your other side (I do) still, I hear nothing.

I’m feeling her move inside me, or so I think; I thought Kenley was moving, too, but I was horribly mistaken.

I say, “ok let me lay flat on my back for a second because sometimes when I do that she moves and brings herself pretty close to the surface and we get her heartbeat”.

I lay flat. NOTHING. 

I lost it; I cried and was shaking so much we had to turn the machine down because it was so loud. I’m sorry, but there is only so much you can handle! I had reached my limit about 20 seconds after we couldn’t find her heartbeat in the beginning so the nurse is lucky I held out as long as I did.

Finally, we got it. It was faint and sounded super distant. I don’t know what she was doing in there (besides stressing me the hell out) but she just kept her distance. We were finally able to get a good trace on her, and she passed with flying colors, as per usual.

After the nurse left to let my MFM read the strip, I lost it again. Shane could tell I wasn’t holding it together very well, and I could tell he was a little stressed out too. He swears he heard her faintly in the beginning, and that the Nurse was never worried…well, I sure as hell was (and I know he’s lying and was scared half to death too…) 

So the rest of the appointment I was scared. I wanted to just cry to my MFM and beg her to take Alden now. Please god just take her while we know she’s still alive. I know that she will be fine on the outside. What if my body kills her again between now and the time she’s supposed to come? Kenley died 7 days before her scheduled c-section date, so what am I supposed to do around that time with Alden? I’m pretty sure I’ll either be at an NST, in Labor and Delivery getting monitored, or I’ll be sitting here with my doppler on my stomach listening to her heartbeat all night.

I talked with my MFM, and told her I had been having some Braxton Hicks contractions, and that they pretty much happen every time I stand up. I sit down, and they eventually go away after a few seconds. I drink tons of water, so I know I’m not dehydrated. She told me that if they increased, or the pain intensified that I should head to L&D. She didn’t seem too worried about them, but I go for another NST on Thursday and so far today they have been happening again so I will mention it to her.

She told me that she had put her cell phone number in my chart so that if I end up at labor and delivery in the middle of the night they know to call her for delivery- That kind of freaked me out I won’t lie! We also discussed that I need to stop Lovenox 12 hours before I deliver because if I don’t, they won’t give me a spinal due to bleeding risks, and I’ll have to be put under. I would just lose my mind if I had to be asleep for her birth! Not cool!

I have been trying my hardest to not let my mind get the best of me, but the NST just pushed me over the edge. I don’t know how I’m going to get through the next 20-something days. I really don’t know.

On a happy, less neurotic, note- Alden now has a light fixture for her bedroom!

lydia-flushmount-chandelier-c

 

 

30 days left.

We had an NST today, and Alden was once again an over achiever. They want to see 2 accelerations in 2o minutes- she had 10. I’m so thankful that she is proving to me she is healthy, and active but damn I can’t wait until she is earth side and in my arms. While we were sitting there listening to her heartbeat (which, by the way is computer generated and not the real noise… I feel like I’ve been lied to!) I looked over at Shane and told him that I cannot wait to see him holding Alden. He was sitting so close to me, keeping a hand on the monitor because he wanted to make sure we were getting a good reading (her heartbeat wasn’t showing up strong so the nurse suggested I keep a hand over top of the monitor).

I am so thankful for him. I know I say it a lot, but sometimes it just hits me really really hard how much I love him. He really can’t wait for her to be here, and I am so excited to watch him be a Father again. I wanted to watch him Father Kenley, but I get to see that done in different ways. I know that he is going to love this little girl so much. I just can’t wait. I can’t wait to see Landon interact with her, too. Ugh, my heart is exploding just thinking about it! I know she will bring so much joy to our lives, and I am genuinely looking forward to that, but I am still so scared of Kenley being forgotten.

Tomorrow is Valentine’s day. Last year on Valentine’s day I remember sitting on the edge of my bed, in my robe, crying- no sobbing more like it, and thinking about how this was supposed to be Kenley’s first real holiday. I had gotten a cute little onesie for her to wear as an xmas gift; It say’s “Daddy’s Sweetheart”. I was looking through the clothes in the closet the other night when I came across it. It sent chills down my spine. I wanted to rip it out of the closet and throw it in the trash, yet at the same time I couldn’t stand to look at it long enough to even remove it. I’m not too sure what will happen with that outfit…

Last year at this time- specifically Valentine’s day- I did not want to be alive. I remember thinking about how badly I wanted to be with Kenley. I would never actually kill myself, but I remember thinking how sad I was, how lonely I was. I was in the raw grief period, and that period is like no other. There is no way to prepare someone for the darkness that you feel in the early days after a loss. It’s indescribable. I knew I needed help, so I called up some therapists and scheduled an appointment with one. I am so proud of myself for doing that because honestly? I could have literally laid down in bed and refused to get up again because that’s how awful I felt. I STILL feel that way sometimes.

I (we) saw a therapist until August, when all of a sudden one day it just didn’t feel right to go anymore. Shane and I agreed that we felt like we were just wasting money by seeing the therapist, not that she wasn’t a great one, but just that we were at the point in our grief where we could lean on each other. Before, it felt like I needed someone to hear everything I had to say, all the time, and I would sometimes lay it on thick to Shane (who was also grieving but wanting to make things easier on me so he would just listen to me cry for hours when that wasn’t fair to him). I can honestly say that I feel 100% not seeing a therapist anymore. There are days where I feel the darkness heavy inside of me, but I can battle that now. I know when it comes that it will pass, and I know why it’s coming- be it a trigger, or just a bad day.

Losing Kenley was a terrible, terrible thing. I think I can confidently say that losing a child is one of the worst- if not THE worst- things in the world. People think that just because you didn’t “spend time” with the child you lost, that you should heal quicker and move on; just the notion of that makes zero sense to me. Where in these people’s minds do they think it’s okay to expect, well, anything from a Mother who lost a child?

I text with a group of loss moms (Hi! I love you all!) and we were discussing God + losses today. We’re a pretty open minded bunch, and a few are religious (while a few aren’t) so this  next stuff isn’t some anti-christ opinion here. Anyway, we were discussing the things that people say to you after a loss, specifically when someone tells you that “it’s God’s plan”.

First off, no. Just no.  Yikes. Like…do you not realize what that sounds like? It sounds like you are telling a person who’s CHILD JUST DIED that God intended that to happen? Like he specifically chose that person and said ok, that baby won’t live. Just does not make sense. Also, there was another comment and it was greeted with a reply from one of the women who said “Ask that woman which one of her children she would like to give back” and that makes so much sense. People say things, such as “God needed another angel(this saying makes me cringe deep into my soul) with intention of making you feel better, when really it’s just making THEM feel better (fuck if I know how it makes ANYONE feel better???). When you say God needed another angel, you’re telling that person “God” wanted your baby more than you deserved it. So, because he’s “God” he should just get what he wants. What about what you want? The chance to raise your baby (in a faith that serves him NONETHELESS!!!). 

Bottom line, don’t say dumb shit. Like, before you open your mouth, take FIVE seconds, and really, really think about if what you’re going to say is REALLY going to make this person (not yourself) feel any better.

Chances are, the answer is no because there is no comforting a child loss mother.

There just isn’t. 

This post really went all over the place.

Dresser. 

Today was the day. 

We painted over the color I spent months trying to find for Kenley’s dresser. When I found out I was pregnant with a girl, I looked at probably 8 different shades of coral.  I knew this one was it when I saw the paint chip. It was pink without being salmon, and orange without being too much like an apricot. 

It was perfection. 

And now, it’s gone. I know you’re thinking it’s “just” paint, and it’s “just” a dresser, right? Wrong. It was for my baby girl. I knew in my heart that some day I would tell her how long it took me to find that perfect color for her; I knew one day she would grow up and tell me how much she loved it. 

Shane told me a while ago that he would paint it for me after I had a major melt down while talking to him about it. But, somehow, it has been pushed to the back of the to do list. I know it’s extremely hard for him, and we talked about it today. Before we started painting I was crying just thinking about actually doing it. Guilt. So much guilt and sadness. 

He looked at me, grabbed my hand, and said “we will do it together”. 

I am the luckiest woman alive, I believe. 

So, together, through many tears on my part, we painted her dresser. We painted our daughter’s dresser; our second loved and oh so wanted daughter. 


Shane also painted her name letters yesterday, as well. They are gold, but l know they don’t look like it here. 

Painting her dresser, their dresser, was extremely emotional. The dresser is the last piece of “Kenley’s nursery” that we had left. The last remaining specific decor piece and it just felt like someone put that final nail in my coffin for lack of better words. They just reminded me that my daughter is gone, and she will NEVER be alive to enjoy the things I created for her. 

That…is a really really hard pill to swallow all over again. 

It seems like once a day I have to deal with something reminding me that she’s gone. Not just when I open my eyes and see her picture on my nightstand instead of her sweet face. Not when I feel her abscence in the silence of every day life. Not even when I walk by my dresser and see her urn, memory box and the bear I have that weighs as much as her. 

I’m talking a gut wrenching reminder that she is not here. 

Like when your insurance lists her as “deceased” on their website…with one date next to her name. Never to have a single claim billed for her medical care. 

Or when they deny coverage of the blood tests that ultimately proved you have a blood clotting disorder that killed her. 

Or when your son says he’s scared for the new baby because he “doesn’t want her to die, too”. 

I’m scared for the new baby too, buddy. 

I’m so incredibly scared. 

32 weeks today. 5 weeks to go.