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

everyday stress (& randoms)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yesterday, Kenley should have been 16 months old.

Ouch. My heart.

coffee.

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

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

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

It was a fox…

and it was walking across my back yard.

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

I burst into tears.

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

 

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.

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

 

 

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.