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.

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

 

 

weekly randoms.

Yesterday we had an NST and Alden did wonderfully. She was SO active this time that I was seriously concerned something was wrong. The nurse always reassures me that there is no such thing as “too much activity” which I don’t know if I agree with. I mean I guess too much activity followed by immediate decreased fetal movement might be what I’m thinking is bad, but I don’t know. It’s just always something; too much movement, not enough movement, weird movement, different movement patterns. It’s all enough to drive you crazy, honestly.

After our test we went to get Lunch at a little cafe. We talked a little about how we are planning to set up people being at our house for the c-section date etc. It really really sent me into a PTSD spiral. A lot more than I expected to be honest. I just couldn’t help but think about December and how Landon had to stay with my Mother in Law for days. He was confused, and worried and thought everything was fine until he came to the hospital and everything changed. I literally can’t even think about it without getting dizzy and wanting to hyperventilate, so we decided to table that conversation until we are closer.

Shane’s been replacing all the doors in our house with new 2 panel doors.

This is the Nursery closet and bedroom door


 He got some handy tools for Christmas (not by coincidence) and he’s been busy with that for a few days now. It looks so much better. I hate that the people who built this house went so cheap on everything. It would save us a lot of work if things were done just a little nicer. Instead, we are planning on replacing all the doors, painting all the god awful trim work, remodeling both bathrooms, and that’s just inside. Oh and we had to repaint the entire house when we moved in because…just yikes. It’s amazing what a few days of work can do for your home. I can’t wait until spring so we can plant some flowers, and do some more work outside. Unfortunately, I think we’re going to have to paint our fence which I am NOT looking forward to.

We hung Alden’s mirror above her dresser the other day. It looks really awesome, and I’m pretty happy with out it turned out. 


We keep putting off working in the Nursery, and I know it’s just nerves keeping us from doing things in there (by doing things I mean going through her clothes, washing them, organizing her closet etc etc). I can vividly remember washing Kenley’s things, and folding them with such love one night. I am not there yet. I cannot do that again, and lose another baby. So, I guess in my mind I think if they’re just hanging in the closet, and Alden doesn’t come home then I’m one step ahead of where I was with K.

It’s going to be in the 60’s all week. It’s February. What is happening? It’s fine, I’m happy the weather will be nice, but it just makes me feel like I need to be outside, when I really need to be focusing on crap I have to do inside my house. You watch, when March 15th rolls around, it will be freezing and snowing.

I tried to get Landon to go see Aladdin with me today at the movies- sort of a Mother Son afternoon date- and he pretty much straight up told me that he’s too cool for me. He said that Aladdin was a girls movie (he’s never seen it), and that he didn’t care if we went to get milkshakes afterward or not, that he just didn’t want to go. I’m to the point now in my pregnancy where I’m really emotional, so it made me cry. I didn’t let him see that it made me cry, but it freakin hurt my feelings! FINE. We won’t go then. I don’t have the emotional strength to drag him out of the house and listen to him whine the entire time. I just am running low on the Fucks that I give. So instead, he would like to stay home, and play board games with me all day. Ok then. When he says things like that, it makes my heart ache for Kenley. I know that she would just love spending time with me, and he did too when he was her age. I guess he’s just out growing me.

I really wish that Shane and I could go on a vacation. I could use some relaxing time with just him. We are home during the week together on his days off, but it’s just not the same. We have so much that we have to do here that we never get a chance to just relax and enjoy each other. He is my calm, happy place and I’ve been feeling pretty rattled lately. Pretty sure the anxiety of what’s to come in the next 26ish days is really hitting home, possibly for both of us more than I realize.

I am so thankful for the loss moms that I’ve connected with. There are days where one of us will feel just awful, and will send out a text that we all can relate to. I’m so thankful for that fucked up connection we all have. I feel like I can go into our group chat and just say literally whatever I need to, and they will understand, and not judge me all in one. Just so thankful to have them in my corner.

Tomorrow I’m getting my hair done. I’m going to go super light, more white than honey blonde. Here’s to hoping that my well water doesn’t screw it all up. My sister, and my friend both suggested that I buy bottled water to wash my hair and I seriously think I’m going to do that. I have the right kind of shampoo and conditioner for blonde hair, so we’ll see if this makes a difference.

I need to hire a professional organizer. I have so much crap in my house that just needs to be thrown away, and then the house needs to be organized so well. Ugh. It’s got to be the nesting kicking in, but I want to just organize everything and it’s driving me nuts cus I can’t. My giant stomach is in the way of everything, and it’s frustrating because I get dizzy and winded. I’m not complaining about being pregnant, because honestly I love being pregnant, but damn! I sometimes forget that I gotta take it easy.

Off to do laundry.

 

l&d

Last night before bed my back started to hurt, and I felt like I couldn’t take a deep breath. It’s not unusual for me to not be able to take a deep breath cus, well, all of my space is taken up. Breathing is not a fun activity these days. I went to bed with some back pain but didn’t think anything about it. I also felt really tired, but again, that’s normal these days. When I woke up this morning, my back still hurt; I couldn’t bend over without being in pain. Shane helped me by getting Landon ready for school this morning. When he was off to school, I went back to bed. I ended up sleeping until 11:30.

When I woke up, I was waiting to feel Alden move and I didn’t feel it. I kept waiting, and waiting…But I didn’t feel anything. I turned from side to side while laying in bed, expecting her to kick me hard like she usually does but nada.
I drank a sprite. Nothing.

I ate some food. Nothing.

I took a shower. Nope.

I ate some candy. Nothing.

I had her HB on my doppler which didn’t really calm me down, and she had the hiccups twice which also didn’t do much for my anxiety.

So, we decided that it was best for us to go to Labor and Delivery. I really really really didn’t want to go, but, I know that it’s better to be safe than sorry or whatever. I knew the PTSD was going to be full blown today, and I just really didn’t want to feel all that. We got there, and went back to a triage room.

They told me to give a urine sample and leave it in the bathroom …PTSD SOOOOOO much PTSD. I remember walking into L&D with Kenley, and giving a sample, and just feeling so naive to anything being wrong. Like, I think I made a joke about how bad I had to pee. But, it was like the clearest memory of the entire night when we found out she died. I left my sample in the bathroom that was in my personal room, and climbed into the bed. The nurse came in, talked to us about why we were there, and hooked us up to the monitor. We found her HB right away, thank god, but she wasn’t moving. Her heart rate was up in the 160’s and the OB resident wanted to see it a little lower so we kept monitoring her for about an hour.

The OB resident was so freaking sweet. She came in and discussed my history with us. She brought up Landon’s birth, and asked how we lost our second child. She offered her condolences about Kenley and she let me talk about her for a few minutes. It always feel good when someone cares about our story. She told us that Alden was showing good signs of accelerations, but she wasn’t moving as much as she liked so we were going to keep watching her for a while longer. After about 30 more minutes she came back in and told us that she was going to get the ultrasound machine (cue super PTSD- This is where I saw my sweet Kenley, lifeless, on screen. A mobile ultrasound machine is what confirmed my worst fears) and was going to make sure that they could see physical movement on the screen. I started to cry. She told me that she wanted to do everything possible to make me feel comfortable because of our history. I felt like she actually cared, and I jokingly told her to let me stay there for the next 5 weeks.

Once she brought the machine in, we were able to see Alden moving and squirming around. I don’t know if she had just changed positions again, and I’m just not able to feel them as much or what, but ugh. She showed us Alden’s stomach and told us that it was “black and fluttering” which meant that she was practicing breathing (a good thing), and that if she was in any kind of distress that this would be the first thing that would stop. Because she was breathing, having lots of movements, and her heart rate had dropped back down into the 130/140s, they said they felt comfortable sending us home. The resident said that there was no reason why she felt that our baby was in distress, and that we should feel confident in her health.

I cried a few more times, and thanked her for taking so much time with us to show us all these things even though we just had an NST yesterday.

Pregnancy after loss is a mind fuck.

Pregnancy after a full term stillborn child is a whole different kind of evil.

 

 

six.

Last year, on 2/7, Landon turned 5. I remember (before Kenley died) spending so much time thinking about how “stressed out” I was going to feel for his birthday party. How was I going to throw it all together when I had a newborn? How was I going to make it special for him with his new sister in the mix? I had plans to have him Paw Patrol party, and I was going to dress Kenley up as one of the dogs to surprise him. Instead, the reality of the situation was, how can I walk through party city and buy paper plates without bursting into tears (I couldn’t)? How can I function enough to make this day special to him because his sister just died and isn’t here to celebrate with us (still not sure I succeeded).

It’s stuff like this that I really kick myself for. Sure, I didn’t know that Kenley wasn’t going to survive, so technically I shouldn’t beat myself up for that. However, I should have been thinking about all the awesome ways that I would be spending Landon’s birthday with him AND his sister- not how stressed out I was going to be. How dumb and naive I was.

This year, as Landon’s birthday started to creep closer, I found myself on Amazon. What can I buy on Amazon so that I don’t have to go to the store (read: so I can avoid a panic attack/PTSD flash backs)? I found everything online. I didn’t have to go to a store, and I found that I was better able to control my anxiety here at my house vs actually walking into the store again.

*Side note*

You know, as I sit here and write these things out all I can think is “god people probably think I’m a giant loser cry baby”…

That’s totally fine.

Think whatever you want to think about grief, but, try not to judge us who are grieving the death of a child too harshly. And, I hope with all of my heart that you never ever have to grieve the way that I am.

Anyway, I am pretty happy with how everything has turned out. He’s having a minecraft party, so I was able to buy a lot of the stuff on Etsy, which was cool.

So here we are again, at a birthday milestone. Six. He is going to be six. He was turning 5 and so excited for his sister to be there, and I couldn’t even give him that. Sure I’m pregnant now and things are looking good for her to come very soon, but let’s be honest here…I’m pretty sure his little mind doesn’t understand if he will ever get a real living sibling. I can try to explain it to him over and over, but, I’m sure he won’t believe it until she’s here either.

Can’t say that I blame him.