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

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always grief. 

Having a “rainbow baby” doesn’t take away the grief of losing a child, it preoccupies you with having a new life to care for, which puts your grief (and everything else in life) on the back burner. It also means that you are taken by “grief surprise” more often. Normal every day things seem to be super heavy when maybe they weren’t before, even while carrying your rainbow. 

Some days everything just feels like I am trying to complete a task with an extra 500lbs on my chest. Some days I wonder how I am still alive, and how I get up to face the day. Easter and the day before were those days for me recently. I knew that we were going to Shane’s grandma’s for Easter and while I love his family so incredibly much, I knew it would be hard. It will ALWAYS be hard from now on. To make matters worse, there is a child in the family who is a month and a half older than what Kenley should be. I see that child, I think of what I’m missing. You can surely understand why it’s hard? It’s not this child’s (or her parents) fault my daughter died, but it still stings more than there are words and I will never not be sad around them. That is my life now. 

Easter morning it was just me, Landon and Alden. Landon ran into our room saying “the Easter bunny came!” Then he excitedly ran out to get both his and Alden’s baskets. As I was putting them together the day before, it just hit me like a ton of bricks- there should be three, but there will always only be two. 

Even if we have more children, we’re always going to be down one child and that is so fucking cruel. I know we’re not the only family who deals with this, but that doesn’t bring me any comfort what so ever. 

Before anyone gives me crap about Landon’s basket and the math work book, he loves math! He asks for “plus” when we go to bed at night. The kid loves his math.

LOL at our creepy eggs. Thanks to Target for the pirate egg kit. Landon had fun…even if it was a day late. #parentingfail #doingthebestIcan


So needless to say, Easter was rough. I feel like such a bad mom, too. I didn’t buy Alden or Landon any cute little Easter specific outfit. (I also didn’t decorate eggs until today…) I’m kind of thinking that I just didn’t care enough, I’m just too sad to make an effort? I love my kids and I would love to dress them up all cute but this year was unexpectedly hard. I felt like the grief and sadness was fresh. Last year I was sad because Kenley should be have been here enjoying Easter, and this year I’m sad for that as well as feeling guilty that she isn’t here and Alden is. 


It’s just all so messed up. 

The thoughts in my brain are things that I can only share with a few select people. Loss mom’s, and maybe my mom or/and sister. They make no sense and they are dark and scary. 

Today I was cleaning up the nursery. It’s been a disaster, like the entire house, since Alden came. I am overcome with anxiety which makes cleaning up pretty much impossible until I have a good day (today was a decent day so I took advantage) I don’t know why, but I started taking the newborn diapers out of the diaper caddy that I placed there with hopes and dreams of diapering Kenley. It was so so hard.  I felt a heat rush over my body and down my chest.

 How is this my life? 

How am I deciding if I want to remove these or leave them there (probably forever) instead of just simply running out because they’ve all been used. It hurts. My eyes got hot because I knew I was going to start crying any second. 

How is this my life? 

In my before, they were just diapers, but now, unfortunately, they come with so much attached to them.

 Sadness. 

Grief.

Guilt because I’m replacing them with her sisters. 

Parenting after a loss is all sorts of messy. You never know what a trigger is going to be ( although I knew these were a trigger…that’s why they’re still there…) I will never understand why this happened to our family, to my precious daughter who was wanted SO badly. I would give anything to have her laying here in front of me. No…she would probably be running around actually. Ugh. 

The realizations of what she should be doing sting so badly. This is also why Easter was so. fucking. hard. this year. The child I mentioned above was walking, and running, and talking. That should be Kenley…and it never will be. 

I guess I was feeling extra ambitious today (read: felt like torturing myself more then usual today) because I decided to put Alden in Kenley’s clothes again today. I chose a shirt that I picked for Kenley and fell in love with. It was in her diaper bag at the hospital when we found out she died. The leggings are the ones I had ordered just a few days before she died…they were in the mailbox the day we came home from the hospital. 

I love seeing her wear these but I cannot help but wonder what Kenley would have looked like in them…


I also put her in the outfit my sister bought for her. She wasn’t too happy with it, but she looked cute so here’s the best picture I could get. 

Not too pleased with all the picture taking


Alden is officially one month old! It’s flying by, and I can’t believe it. 

She loves to sleep, eat and poop. She is recognizing our specific voices, and trying to grab her toys. She’s also been holding her head up for a long time now! Still wobbly as heck but she does a good job trying. Also, she’s a grunting, stretching, farting rude girl 🙂

36+1

We had our second to last NST this morning at 10:30. Before we left the house, I used my doppler to check her heart beat; I cannot be surprised in the worst way ever again in my life. She sounded great, and I was able to get it right away.

The nurse was able to find her heart beat immediately, too, so that made me feel really good. Her NST was going really well, when all of a sudden she got this really weird deceleration for 5-7 seconds. Shane and I both heard it and looked at each other. Her heart rate went from 140s down to 100 and stayed low. We were both like ummm what the hell is happening? After those few seconds, it went back to normal, and everything sounded perfect for the rest of the NST. I asked the nurse about it and she wasn’t concerned.

We then met with our MFM and I asked her about it. She said that they don’t get concerned unless it’s a deceleration over 15 seconds. She reassured me that everything looked amazing, and that she is consistently doing fantastic on the NSTs. We talked a little and I asked some questions. She also gave me her cell phone number which I thought was pretty sweet and amazing of her. She did tell me that if I went to L&D this weekend and ended up delivering, that she wouldn’t be the one to deliver me. I told her I would try to keep the crazy at bay this weekend to avoid L&D, because I really really want her to deliver Alden. It’s been a long freakin road, and we’re all ready. She said “I know you’re nervous, but I’m really excited for Wednesday- we finally get to meet her”. I am so thankful for her; she will never know how much her care has meant to me during this pregnancy.

Today is Shane’s Monday…so needless to say the next 5 days when he is at work will be incredibly difficult and taxing on me while I’m here alone. If you’ve been wanting to text me, or email me to catch up, this weekend is the time to do so! LOL Help keep me occupied! I’ve got a few things on a list that I would like to accomplish, so I’m hoping to work through those things.

Preparing for this c-section is bringing back so many memories about Kenley’s c-section. I need to pack my bag, and the baby’s bag…I remember doing this for K. We need to get the camera all charged up, and I remember doing this for Kenley…the only video I have on my camera of me carrying Kenley is right before we left for the hospital and she had already died. I can’t even stand thinking about that. I will never be able to watch that video, ever.

Just so many emotions and feelings are flooding into my brain these past few days. I’m trying to separate them, but it’s proving pretty difficult. I did manage to sit down and figure out that Kenley actually died 8 days before her scheduled c-section (here I was thinking it was 6 days before, which would be today). It wasn’t a “good” realization per se but I felt kind of glad that that day came and went and I was worried about today, when actually today is just another day.

Currently, Alden has the hiccups.

Six days left.

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

 

 

husband. 

Dear Shane, 

I know you don’t read this, but maybe someday you will. 

I want to tell you how much I love you. 

I want you to know how special it is to me to watch you lay your head on my belly and talk to your second daughter. 

It almost brings me to tears to hear you laugh when she kicks you in the hand or the side of the head randomly. 

She loves you, and so do I. 

You worked super early the past two days, yet you are having a sleep over with Landon…on his floor… telling ghost stories way past his bedtime because he asked you to. 

You’re an amazing Father. 

You’re an amazing Husband. 

I cannot wait to see you hold Alden, and to see the love in your eyes. 

I love you more than you will ever know. 

Love you always, 

Your best friend

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. 

What I wish people knew about losing a child.

It feels like such a cop out to say “you will never understand how it feels until it happens to you”, but that is the only way to properly convey this type of pain.  Many can only sympathize, and there are few that can fully empathize with the pain. I believe truly that it is too hard for people to actually empathize because no one wants to put themselves in our shoes. Why would they? Why would anyone want to truly try and feel the pain that accompanies losing a child? I’ve been thinking about a few things regarding what I wish people knew about losing a child, so I decided I would write about them here. What better place, right?

 

Just because time passes, doesn’t mean that I am (or things are) better.

The grief of losing a child is not linear. There are days where I feel great, and there are days where I honestly wish I could just be with my Daughter at all costs. The pain will never “go away”.  Sure, it might lessen, change, or I might just become better at carrying my grief on a daily basis, but it will NEVER go away. If you think by looking at me that I’m feeling better, you’re terribly mistaken. I am missing my Daughter; she died inside of me and I couldn’t do anything to save her. It’s not a pain that someone gets over, ever. The guilt is no joke.  The love I have in my heart for her is not a flame that can be put out, and I would hope that everyone understands that. I will grieve differently day to day, from now until the day that I die, and people need to understand that. Sometimes you should really just give me a fucking pat on the back for even getting out of bed.

Yes. Still. Even after a year. And probably for the rest of my life.

 

• Losing a child doesn’t have to destroy your marriage like statistics say.

One of the scariest statistics I read after our daughter was stillborn was that up to 80 percent of marriages end in divorce after the loss of a child. I remember reading this percentage, and then re-reading it, to convince myself that I’d read it correctly. 80 percent?! Was that even possible?–Paul (a guest post on still standing)

After Kenley died, I never wanted Shane to leave my side. I had to be held at night to sleep. I needed him to be near me at all times. He was my security blanket, for lack of better words, and still is. I know that many people feel differently about their relationships after loss. Some women feel that their husbands are “over” the loss, or that their feelings aren’t taken into consideration. I’ve personally talked to many loss moms who feel this way. Some say that their relationship suffers in that they can’t talk about the loss to their husbands, for whatever reason. Some mention they don’t feel attractive to their husbands anymore, which makes their sex life suffer, which inevitably makes them feel sad and alone.

I asked Shane’s opinion on the subject and he had some really interesting things to say. He mentioned to me that there were times around the 5-6 month mark where he started to feel better, but I was still feeling intense sadness. He told me that he remembers making a decision to never make me feel bad for feeling how I did. He would consciously make an effort to allow me to cry if I needed to, and to not get frustrated if I was having a bad day, and he wasn’t. I’ve read that some spouses feel resentment toward their spouse for having bad days (while they are having a good day), and “bringing them down”; Shane agreed with this, and even offered up a few times that he felt that way.

We also discussed opening up to your spouse. If you’re feeling something, there is a really good chance that they are feeling the same way too. The triggers, the grief, it’s all different for everyone, but who can you relate to better than the other person who is feeling the loss of your child as intensely as you are? Don’t keep it bottled up.

This is why I love my Husband. He is open with me about this stuff; the real stuff that sucks to talk about. He knows he can tell me anything, and that I will not be offended that he may have been angry at me one day when I had a bad day and he didn’t. It’s okay to have bad days– your child died, it’s fully expected. We both wanted our marriage to work after the death of Kenley; Living without one another was never an option. It’s been different, sure, but in a good way; our relationship is stronger. I can sit here and honestly say that I have NEVER once felt like a divorce was even an option for us and Shane agrees with this 100%.

 

• Just because we are expecting again does not mean this baby will replace the child we lost.

I’ve read a lot (A LOOOOOT) online about rainbow babies. I’ve read that they can bring you intense joy; joy you never expected to feel again. I’ve read that loss moms can experience a wave of emotions when they finally hold their rainbow baby. Emotions that they’ve been suppressing for months while carrying their rainbow. The raw grief comes out full force again. When my Daughter is born (even saying the word “when” is hard because I cannot guarantee she will come into this world alive) I fully expect to feel a million emotions. This pregnancy has not been “normal” and her birth will not be normal. Subsequently her life will be as normal as I can manage to make it (while I always live one foot in joy, and one foot in sorrow). She will know about her older sister, and I will always make it a point to not let Kenley’s death shadow the birth of her. But, I’m sure it will be extremely hard.

Kenley was planned. She was wanted, and we tired for a really long time to conceive her. For her to be ripped away from us, so close to her birth, is cruel in ways that I have no words to explain. This baby will not take that sadness away from us. I will still be sad, but will have a living baby to hold. I will still walk into the nursery and think of the child who never got to see it. I will dress this baby in Kenley’s clothes, all the while knowing that they are brand new hand-me-downs. Life is never easy; life after grief is even more messy.

 

• PTSD in relation to losing a child is very real.

There have been many times since losing Kenley where PTSD hits me hard. I know there are people out there who think this (and all mental health issues) are not real; that they don’t deserve to be talked about and we should be ashamed of them. Well, those people are assholes. Those people have never had a bad day in their life, so its inconceivable that others could possibly feel anything other than great. There have been nights where I lay in bed, reliving the worst day of my life while listening to Shane’s rhythmic breathing as he sleeps next to me. It doesn’t matter what I do, I can’t stop my brain from taking me back to that triage room, and hearing the words.

Yesterday in the shower I was rinsing my hair and it hit me like a ton of bricks. I saw myself in the hospital shower, having to be washed by my husband because I physically could not move my arms due to shock. PTSD has no mercy. It hits you whenever it damn well pleases. Shane chimed in on this subject as well. He told me that he’s noticed it’s a lot harder than he ever expected it to be when co-workers and friends talk about their newborns or grandchildren. He went on to say that you want to be included and don’t want people to feel awkward talking about these things in front of you, but at the same time it’s extremely hard to hear. I think he was truly surprised at how sad/anxious he felt when he experienced his first “trigger” out side of the normal ones (babies in the store, etc etc). It goes to show you that PTSD can affect anyone, anywhere, anytime.

I found this on Grief Speaks and I think it’s an important piece to add to this post just incase someone is wondering if they might have PTSD related to child loss:

What are the symptoms of PTSD?
PTSD can cause many symptoms. These symptoms can be grouped into three categories:
1. Re-experiencing symptoms:
  • Flashbacks (reliving the trauma over and over, including physical symptoms like a racing heart or sweating)
  • Bad dreams or nightmares
  • Frightening thoughts     

2.  Avoidance Symptoms:

  • Staying away from places, events, or objects that are reminders of the experience
  • Feeling emotionally numb
  • Feeling strong guilt, depression or worry
  • Losing interest in activities that were enjoyable in the past
  • Having trouble remembering the dangerous event        

Things that remind a person of the traumatic event can trigger avoidance symptoms. These symptoms may cause a person to change his or her personal routine. For example, after a bad car crash, a person who usually drives may want to avoid driving or even riding in a car.

3.  Hyperarousal symptoms:

  • Being easily startled
  • Feeling tense or “on edge”
  • Having difficulty sleeping, and/or having angry outbursts                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Hyperarousal symptoms are usually constant, instead of being triggered by things that remind one of the traumatic event. They can make the person feel stressed and angry. These symptoms may make it hard to do daily tasks, such as sleeping, eating or concentrating. It is natural to have some of these symptoms after any dangerous event. Sometimes people have very serious symptoms that go away after a few weeks. This is called acute stress disorder, or ASD. When the symptoms last for more than a few weeks and become an ongoing problem, they might by PTSD. Some with PTSD don’t show any symptoms for weeks or even months. 

 

• Some things are always going to be hard for us now.

Seeing babies, attending Holiday functions, or get togethers, or seeing children around/younger than Kenley’s age are just a few things that will always be hard for us. Like our Grief, I’m sure these things will change in intensity, and possibly become less triggering as time goes on. This, however, does not mean that I want to see your “baby bump” photos, or that I am ok with seeing your child who was born after my child died. There are few women who I am ok with seeing the above things, and they know who they are because I’ve told them.

I don’t mean to sound like an awful person, but it is what it is. I didn’t make the rules of grief, people. I know that there are some people who understand us not wanting to be around their children, and they respect that. I am so thankful for those people. Then, there are people who think it’s okay to send you a Holiday card with their newborn baby’s photo on the cover. THIS IS NOT OK. This has not happened to me, thank sweet baby Jesus, but it has happened (more than I can actually believe) to friends of mine who have lost their children. Getting a photo of your newborn child, on what should be our child’s first Christmas, is not something that should happen-ever.

Please tell me on what planet that is ok? Oh wait, you can’t because it’s not.

I’m pretty sure I won’t ever send out Christmas cards again due to the fact I think I jinxed my pregnancy with Kenley by including her name before she was born.

I know that grieving a child comes in all different shapes and forms. I know that everything I posted won’t necessarily apply to you, and your situation, but if even one person reads this and feels like they’re not alone, my job is done. That’s why I started this blog. I need people to know that they are not alone. There are so many women who came before me, and unfortunately, there will be so many who come after me.

You are not alone.