Fourth. 

This Holiday sucks for a lot of my loss mom friends. 

For me, I have a very strong dislike as well. It makes me so mad that loss has stolen this holiday from me as well. I LOVED the 4th before. It was my favorite holiday for reasons unknown; It just was

I remember being 4 months pregnant with Kenley in July 2015 and going to the lake to watch fireworks with Shane’s family. My sister in law gave me Kenley’s first gift- a 6 month outfit for next July 4th. It was adorable. SO CUTE. and I just had all these visions of her wearing this outfit, and sitting up, eating little puffs while sitting on a blanket under a tree with me. 

But, that never happened. She never even got to see this outfit, or fireworks. 

After she died, this outfit hung in her closet, mocking me. Just staring at me, trying to convince me that I’m a bad mom and Kenley’s death was my fault. I know that sounds crazy, but these are the things people don’t talk about. Shit like that ACTUALLY happens. 

This year, it’s still there. Alden can fit into 6 month clothes- they’re a little big but they fit.

 The Fourth of July outfit is 6 month. 

I looked at it. 

I took it off the hanger and washed it. 

I just hung it back up in the closet- on Alden’s side. 

Alden will be wearing it this holiday- in honor of Kenley. 

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

the after.

There are a lot of emotions that one can feel after something powerful happens in their life. You can feel sadness that the event is over, joy that it happened, or even excitement for what is to come. I knew that getting pregnant 7 months after Kenley died would be a very profound time in my life. I don’t think that I was able to clearly see how the outcome (read: my life with Alden in my arms) would shake out. I’m not saying that I thought things would be fine once she was here, because quite honestly there was a large amount of time during her pregnancy where I wasn’t sure she would ever come home. I assumed the worst would happen; I panicked every appointment, and dreaded the NST’s or getting bad news.

When we found out that I had the rare blood clotting disorder called Protein S Deficiency and would need to be on injectable blood thinners, I just assumed that the worst would happen again. It didn’t matter to me that the “problem” was discovered and hopefully a blood thinner would keep clots from forming again which would lead to a positive outcome. In a loss Mother’s brain all you hear is that there is an additional problem with your pregnancy. High Risk. More monitoring.  I am forever thankful my Doctor chose to run this testing on me because had I lost another child, I’m not sure I would have survived that.

Here in the after that is Alden’s life earth side, I’m finding that I feel a lot of random emotions at random times. I feel happiness when I thought for sure I would be stricken with sadness. And on the other hand I feel sadness when for sure I should be feeling joy. I think throwing the element of losing a child into the mix is what makes things so backward. Losing Kenley means I miss out on a lifetime of love, joy, happiness, and milestones. A lifetime. I will never see her smile for the first time, or witness her chewing on her hands when she’s hungry. I will never get to see these things, these early little milestones that I’m witnessing with Alden. It’s hard to dress my living child in clothes that I bought and envisioned my dead child wearing. I thought I would try to dress her in something of Kenley’s yesterday, and I just couldn’t. So I didn’t put any pressure on myself; if I have to pack all of Kenley’s clothes in a tote when Alden is too big for them, then so be it. I don’t need to put added grief and pressure on myself over clothing.

I had Postpartum Depression after I had Landon, and I was very worried about having it with Alden (and it being coupled with grief from losing K). So, I googled the signs and symptoms just to keep myself honest about how I’m feeling. I can honestly say I check off almost every box.

(Keeping with the spirit of honesty through my loss, pregnancy after loss, and now life & parenting after a loss, I will mark the ones that I am currently feeling/have felt in green. Being transparent is important. PPD sucks and I know that I’m not alone in my feelings.)

Symptoms of PPD can occur any time in the first year postpartum. These symptoms include, but are not limited to:

  • Sadness
  • Hopelessness
  • Low self-esteem
  • Guilt
  • A feeling of being overwhelmed
  • Sleep and eating disturbances 
  • Inability to be comforted
  • Exhaustion
  • Emptiness
  • Inability to experience pleasure from activities usually found enjoyable
  • Social withdrawal
  • Low or no energy
  • Becoming easily frustrated
  • Feeling inadequate in taking care of the baby
  • Occasional or frequent anxiety

When I had it with Landon we had a lot going on; a newborn, Shane’s extremely stressful job, buying a house, moving across the state in one day and just adjusting to our new life so I wasn’t surprised when I started feeling sad when I should be happy and enjoying my exciting new life.

This time, after so much struggle and infertility, we ended up losing our beautiful girl. I knew that I would be sad after losing Kenley, and fully expected PPD to show it’s ugly face again, which it did. I’m pretty sure that it never actually left in some senses; this could also just be regular ol’ run of the mill depression now. I’ve been on medication since February 2016 and I’m pretty sure that I will always want to be on it as I feel like it really does help to take the edge off of my anxiety.

When Alden was born screaming, I knew my struggle wasn’t over. I knew that now, probably more than ever, I would be feeling a wide range of emotions and I was absolutely correct. Life has been filled with happiness, sadness, joy, grief, guilt, and in some ways even more secondary losses that I’m finally able to physically experience. Things as simple as getting Alden dressed, while she stares at me, I feel both joy and sadness while doing. I think that this feeling of both joy and sadness while doing the most mundane of things with your living child is one that only a loss mother can truly understand. A feeling that a women who was so close to having her child in her arms, then that child was stolen away taking all of her dreams and part of her soul with her, would understand to the fullest.

Alden has brought so much love and light to my life, and for that I am so happy. I know that she will be loved more than she can ever imagine, and that I will give her everything she could ever want and need as a human to thrive in this awful world. I know that someday I might be able to look at her and feel complete joy, but that day is very far off. The grief I feel for my daughter that didn’t get a chance at life is a grief that no one should ever have to feel. It’s the grief that you can feel in your bones, the one you can taste, the one that makes every part of you hurt. It’s the grief that makes every part of you wish that you had died right along side your child because that is the only way it would feel right.

I knew that bringing Alden home, safe and sound, wouldn’t be a fix for losing Kenley. Nothing will ever take away the pain of losing Kenley, and nothing will ever completely fill the hole I have in my heart where she should be. Losing a full term child is the worst thing that can happen to a person. I am 100% certain of that.

Navigating this life with one beautiful daughter in my arms, and one in my heart is turning out to be a lot harder than I expected.

baby book. 

When we were 13 weeks pregnant with Kenley, my neighbor asked if she could bring over some gifts she bought us. I was so excited- Kenley’s first gifts! I couldn’t wait. One of the gifts was a baby book; the kind that I would have chosen myself which made it that much better. I remember flipping through and thinking about all the entries I couldn’t wait to make. First teeth to come in, first steps, favorite cartoons, or books. Except, I only filled in the first two or three pages; I was denied the opportunity to complete the other entries. 

Secondary Losses. 

When we got pregnant with Alden, things were extremely different- how could they not be? I didn’t want gifts for her; I didn’t want to make plans for her future because I was all too sure she would be ripped away from me too. A week or so before she came, I received a surprise gift in the mail from a dear friend. 

A baby book. 

I had put off buying one intentionally because I just couldn’t even think about filling in the beginning again. 

 “Mommy and Daddy were _________ when they found out you were coming!” 

Scared. Guilty. Mad. Excited. Happy. Sad. Anxious. Depressed. 

How do you fill in that answer? 

I took her book to the hospital to make sure her foot prints found the proper home inside, but I haven’t opened it yet to look at them. I know she deserves me to fill out her book just like I started to fill out Kenley’s, or how I’ve filled out Landon’s. I know that. I’m sure that some day I will fill it out because I want her to be able to look back at it after she’s had a child of her own to see when she started walking, or when she got her first tooth and to see which one it was. 

She deserves that.

 I owe it to her. 

I want to make her life as “shadowless” as possible and I know that having a baby book for her will be a step in that direction. I don’t want to ever imagine how she would feel if she asked me to see her book, and I told her I couldn’t make her one because after her sister died I would rather have sawed off my arm than write in another baby book. 

I’m finding out each day that there are new mountains to climb in my new life with Alden. 

One foot in front of the other, right? One step at a time. 

36+2

I cannot believe that it’s so cold today. When Landon was born, it was the coldest winter on record; the hospital room was extremely cold. I remember my mom and sister driving down in a flat out blizzard. This upcoming week is supposed to be “unseasonably cold” per the weather man this morning. When I heard him say that this week will be cold, I almost cried. I’m not exactly sure why but I have a good idea.

Landon was born when it was freezing.

Kenley died when it was unseasonably warm; It was 70 degrees when I went to the hospital to have her.

All the days in the past week have been super warm, mid 60s, unseasonably warm…so for me to hear that it’s supposed to be cold made me feel like maybe this will happen after all. I don’t know, I guess this is how loss brain works. It finds all these fucked up things and tries to make heads or tails of it when in all actuality there is no rhyme or reason to ANYTHING.

Your brain makes things out to be a lot worse than they probably are. But, at the same time…I’ve been the statistic. What is to say that I won’t be the statistic again? Why shouldn’t my brain go to the darkest place? It’s really hard to keep positive.

We put the Halo Bassinest in our bedroom today. It takes up a lot of space, but I think I’m going to love it. Shane and I are both feeling so anxious about her arrival. We were talking today about how excited we are for Landon to meet her. Landon was SO excited for Kenley, and when I think about the pain that he felt not knowing what was happening, I just can’t even think about it because it makes me sick. I want him to see this baby and love her. I want to watch him hold her for the first time. He loves babies, and he will be such a great big brother to a living child, as he is the best one to his little sister who isn’t here.

Today is Friday. Landon and I usually have pizza for dinner, and hang out. This is the last Friday where it will just be us two. I love him so much, and he’s growing up so quickly that I feel like I want to keep him this age forever.

He is my favorite.

Five days.

5 days.

5.

 

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.

looking inside.

Sometimes when it’s dark out, and were driving down the road I will look inside peoples houses if their curtains aren’t pulled shut. I know that I’m not the only person who does this, and so I know that there are people who have driven by my house and looked into the Nursery when it’s evening and the curtains have been open.

Those people are not aware of the pain and suffering that has been the last year of my life. They drive by, peer in and see a little girls nursery. They could have even driven by multiple times and seen a guest room, Kenley’s nursery, and then now Aldens’s. Maybe they didn’t notice, or maybe they did. It’s such a harmless thing, just looking out the window of a moving car. It’s just amazing what you will never know from just looking inside someone’s window while driving by.  It’s such a weird thing to think about, but it’s been on my mind a lot lately. Maybe it’s because I fully expect many people to discuss my pregnancies when we’re in the hospital, or maybe it’s because losing a child makes you wonder who else has gone through it?

Maybe it’s because I feel like everyone should just know about Kenley. I wrote about this in the very first blog post I ever wrote. I feel like once you’re a loss parent, you are marked and everyone should just see your pain, no matter how long it’s been, and no matter how your child died.

Shane and I were talking at breakfast the other morning and we were discussing how naive we were when we had Landon. Shane said he remembers how proud he was to take Landon out to meals and have people tell us how adorable he was. We talked about how we never in a million years would have ever thought that we were hurting anyone buy taking our child to breakfast with us in public; now however I’m constantly wondering who is suffering.  I know that there will always be someone in pain, and that we will never be able to know for sure who it is, but I will always be more aware now.

Today is March 1st.

I can’t even with all the weird feelings I’m having, but let me try…

I feel excited because yeah, theoretically, I should be having a baby soon (I’m not counting my chickens before they hatch though…).

I feel sad because I should have Kenley in my arms, as a beautiful funny 14 month old baby- instead, I’m super pregnant, again.

I feel nervous because I’m pretty sure I’ve forgotten everything I know about taking care of a baby. I had postpartum depression with Landon pretty badly, and I’m scared that it will be that again on top of grieving for Kenley.

I feel extreme love when I think about watching Landon hold Alden. I cannot wait for that moment; I have been waiting for far too long to witness it.

And, on top of all of that, I feel guilt. Guilt that I’m being monitored so well by my doctor and that Kenley didn’t even get a chance to be monitored like this. Guilt for being so excited for Alden to come. So much guilt over pretty much everything. It’s just so difficult to explain to anyone who hasn’t lost a child what the guilt is like and how I feel it vs pure excitement.

Tomorrow we have a NST, and my doctor is going to check the blood flow in her cord for us.  At Monday’s appointment I think that I scared my doctor. I have been cool and calm so far but not on Monday. I think she finally really understood how intense this has been for me. I let my guard down and cried and cried and cried. I begged her to take Alden at 36 weeks, or that day. Just take her while I know that she is alive and well. Kenley died 6 days before her scheduled c-section date, and I cannot go through losing a child this close to the end again.

She offered me daily NST’s, and to see me personally at everyone. I don’t think that I can bring myself to go up there every single day and not feel absolutely insane. The NST’s themselves give me super PTSD. They are how we found out that Kenley had died, so they just don’t do much to calm me down. I emailed my doctor last night, and she wrote back within 4 minutes- I appreciate that more than she will ever know.

I’m trying. 14 days left. 2 weeks. I can do this.