No one.

As I reached into the back of my spice cabinet and felt them, I knew what they were. The numbers 3 & 0. They were my birthday candles; hot pink, and glittery on tiny little toothpicks. They were my favorite candles, and they were from my favorite birthday- My 30th. I was finally pregnant after all of our infertility treatments, and I was so happy. Shane and Landon went together to buy me a birthday present. They bought me a past present future ring that I’ve worn on my right ring finger ever since.

This is the only gift I have “from” Kenley. When I opened the gift, I imagined giving it to her when she was older, maybe on her high school graduation day. Maybe on her wedding day; it could be her something old. People don’t prepare you for these things.

No one ever tells you what happens after.

After the initial shock wears off.

After you wake up for consecutive days without the baby you carried for 9 months.

After you can so sadly say “I’m a survivor of child loss”.

No one ever tells you that every day is a fight; to get out of bed, to not fall apart every second of every day, to feel normal- whatever that new normal may be. No one ever tells you that you will feel like your body failed you; that you will hate yourself for what your body did to your child. You never hear about the judgement you will face, like you’re damaged goods, and now you’re less of a Mother because your child is dead. No one tells you that you will constantly replay the moments over and over in your head, no matter how hard you try to block them out; your memories become your nightmares.

No one tells you that somehow you make it through. Somehow you are still alive. Somehow you are still breathing, but you are not the same person as before. You will never be that person; that person died with the child you lost.

That person no longer exists.

I don’t know that I would have believed anyone, during the early days of grief, had they told me that eventually you just learn how to survive. Surviving doesn’t mean that things get easier; honestly, things get more complicated and weird as time goes on. Surviving doesn’t mean that you forgot, or ever will forget the child you lost, or that this child is any less loved than they were the moment you found out of their existence.

Surviving means that the love you have for that child transcends time and space.

Surviving means you are keeping the memory of your child alive.

Every day that I survive on this earth, is one day closer to my Daughter. 

30 days left.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There just isn’t. 

This post really went all over the place.

realization.

I took Landon with me today to pick up the last 5 sleepers I needed to buy to have equal amounts of boy and girl sleepers. I told him I wanted him to help me pick them out, so he got right down to business. He has such a huge heart, and wanted to buy everything of course, but he also did something I was so unprepared for.

He picked up a sleeper that came with a bib and said “Mommy, this one is so cute, AND it comes with a bib so it’s perfect for a baby!”…

I felt like someone punched me in the gut.

“IT COMES WITH A BIB”.  

Realistically, I know why I’m buying these sleepers, I know that the children who wear them will not be alive, they won’t need a bib, but I think hearing those words from Landon’s sweet naive mouth really just hit harder than I ever expected. I am so thankful to be fortunate enough to purchase these sleepers for other families, but oh how I wish things were so so different.

7 days until Christmas.

11 days until Kenley’s first birthday.

My heart cannot handle all of this sadness while trying to be happy for my son to enjoy his Christmas.

Kenley, I miss you. My heart is aching without you here, sweet girl. I hope you know how much I love you, and I hope you see all of the good I’m trying to do in your memory.

grief is love with no place to go.

I’ve been wanting to adopt a family for Christmas, but with all this grief and stress I have going on time has slipped away from me. Today was the last day to actually take the gifts to the office, and I didn’t even get a chance to pick a family. ugh. I really really wanted to do this.

15 sleeps until Christmas.

19 sleeps until Kenley’s first birthday.

Landon is with my family this weekend. My Mom and Stepdad are taking him to the grinch musical, and to dave and busters to eat. He’s going to have one hell of a weekend. I’m so thankful that they do fun stuff with him, but I miss him terribly.

I spent the night shopping for preemie and newborn sleepers online to buy and donate to the hospital. My goal, once again, is to have them up to the hospital by Kenley’s first birthday.

•• If you feel you would like to purchase a sleeper and send it to me for donation, let me know. The more we donate, the more loss parents we can help. ••

Tonight I was able to purchase 4 preemie sleepers, and 6 newborn sleepers. I’m sure that I will buy a few more tonight as I browse the internet for great deals.

Once again, grief is love with no place to go.

I have all this love for my daughter who should be here. Who should be crawling around causing chaos. Who should be giving me wet kisses. But, it has no place to go. So, helping people makes my heart feel better…and that’s all I can really ask for.

Just another shout out to my amazing husband for supporting me and all the things I need to do to make my heart feel better. I love you. I love you. I love you. You will never know how much.

 

need help!

 

I’m going to put this out there, and maybe someone will stumble across it and have advice.

I’m planning on making (at minimum currently) 20 care packages of the hospital where we had Kenley. I am planning to include a bunch of things, but the one thing I’m struggling with is a candle. I would like to include a glass votive candle, or something bigger (depending on price) with a healing quote, or something about the candle being a memorial candle etc. I cannot find any that I like on the internet anywhere. I’m thinking of aromatherapy type scents. Nothing too over powering, and definitely nothing that would smell like anything child related.

Sooooo….I’m wondering if anyone makes candles, or knows of someone who makes them? Heck, or just someone who would like to be part of the donation and is willing to learn to make them? I would love to have something made by another loss mother, or someone who has been affected by the loss of a child in some way shape or form. Like I stated, I would be looking for 20 currently. If I cannot find a candle maker, I will probably buy them from somewhere, but would be interested in someone who could make a graphic sticker for the front of the candles, also.

Please let me know if you have any ideas, or know anyone who could help!

The goal is to have the 20 care packages done by Kenley’s first birthday…December 29th.

I’m open to suggestions as well for ideas to include with the care packages. What did you need after you lost your child? What did someone give you that really stuck with you? Is there something you didn’t think about needing but ended up REALLY needing?

• I needed tissues. The hospital tissues sucked ASS and my nose was bloody and raw from crying into them. My step-dad purchased a really nice box of soft tissues for us, and brought them the second day in the hospital. This is where the idea came from to buy puffs soft pack tissues (I bought about 40 full size packs) and I will be donating them to the maternity ward for baby loss mommas only.

• I needed chapstick. I didn’t bring any in my bag, when usually I do. I plan to include a nice chapstick in the carepack as many moms don’t plan to have this awful thing happen to them, and chapstick is the last thing on their mind…until their lips are so dry from constant crying and face wiping.

• I’m adding in a personal bottle of aromatherapy hand lotion. I know that the hospital gives you these things, but having a good quality lotion might make you feel more relaxed? I know that sounds like a joke, and honestly even saying it sounds awful because nothing can make you feel more relaxed after you just find out your baby died.

• I’m planning to include this book that I was given at the funeral home. It’s a very light read, and that is what I needed in the days after Kenley- not the gigantic book that I was given. This is such a good small book to start with.

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I’m also planning to include this book which has been the greatest book I have read since Kenley died. It is written by a loss mother, as well, and it just tells you what you need to hear. The version I will be donating will have Kenley’s name in the back on the memorial page.

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• A pack of forget me not seeds that are specifically packaged in memory of a lost loved one.

I had also tossed around the idea of including a molding kit for hand prints. I didn’t get any hand prints from Kenley and I would have loved to have them. These are things that you just don’t think of during the absolute worst moments of your life.

I had also thought of including some sort of lara bar, or something like that, but when I thought about it, it made me want to puke a little. I remember them wheeling in this huge cart of coffee, tea, drinks and snacks after she died. It sat in front of my bed about 10 feet away from me, staring at me the entire time we were there. The nurses would come in and ask if we needed our coffee refreshed and all I could think was “my daughter just died”.

Eating was not the best memory from the hospital.

Anyway, those are my ideas. I know there are a lot of you reading who have lost your children too, so please don’t keep quiet. I’m looking for input on ANYTHING you can offer me.

 

unreal.

This whole year has felt unreal; I feel like I am just going through the motions of life in a fog. I know a lot of that is grief and I’m sure someday it will feel different, but for now it still feels this way. Around the 6 month mark I started to feel like the fog was lifting, but now at 8 months out, it feels as if it’s starting to get foggy again.

My brain is pretty much mush anymore, I can’t remember anything, and I know that I’m blocking a lot of stuff out. At the end of each day I feel as if I’ve just finished running a mental marathon. I can’t wait until the moment I get to go to sleep for the night because it’s the only time I feel at peace. It feels like a lot of people’s lives have gone back to their “before”, and that’s ok- I don’t expect people to dwell on my sadness. There are people who randomly let me know that they are thinking of Kenley. They will send us something, text me, email me, or just make a gesture in honor of our family.

Those people are amazing.

I do feel, however, that there are people in my life who think I should be better. Maybe they think that I have too many “bad” days. Maybe they think that I have a grim view of certain things still. But, to those people I ask “Can you really blame me?”…

A friend (you know who you are! xo) who lost her beautiful daughter, but can’t really talk about it openly, sent me this last night. I woke up to use the rest room in the middle of the night and I saw it in my email. I smiled, peed and went back to bed. This morning I was able to read it. It is written to a non-bereaved parent in general, but I think that it can apply to family members, or friends who have no children, also. It pretty much applies to everyone. Please take the time to read it. It is the truth of my life now.

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Dear Non-bereaved Parent,

I know you care for me and am so glad you’re reading this. I know that you can’t fully comprehend, nor would you want to, what it means to be a bereaved parent. Honestly, I’m still finding out for myself. To live without my child is not something I ever wanted to learn and yet it’s what I have to.

I see that you want me to feel better. Let me assure you, you’re doing the best you can to soothe my pain, yet it is here and will be here… until it lessens. It won’t ever go away completely and this is ok. Can you be ok about it with me?

I hope you will have the courage to remember my child with me until we part. Please remember this: You may speak her name, you may remember her birthday or anniversary with me, whether that is by sending me a text message, card or flowers – it doesn’t matter, it’s the thought that counts.

Please do not fear my tears or my sadness, it means that I’m thinking of her or missing her. It’s not that I am permanently broken or sick, just broken-hearted and grieving. Please have the courage to sit with me and my pain, without needing to fix it.

At times I might say ‘I need some time to myself’ but more often, I do appreciate you being here, even without any words, keeping me company or doing something with me. Other times I might need distraction and I might even laugh and experience some joy and then feel guilty again and cry in the next moment. It’s ok, this is life and death: complex and paradoxical and not always to be understood.

You probably feel that I have changed. You might even hope and wait for me to return to the ‘old me’ again. I’m sorry but that won’t happen. I’m forever changed. Losing a child is like losing a limb. Even though the scars of the amputation will heal, it’s a permanent change and as much as it sucks, it is what is. I have to get used to it. Will you bear the chance to get to know me as your ‘new normal friend’?

I’ve chosen you as my friend because you have a big compassionate heart, yet I know it’s (almost) impossible to understand the unimaginable. Don’t say things like: “Wouldn’t it be time to move on?” or “At least you have…” I know you might say those kind of things in an attempt to support me. I know you’re well-meaning yet I’ve become sensitive and certain sentences are like shards of glass on an already wounded heart. Even if you don’t understand, would you allow your heart to reach out and trust the sensitivity of my broken heart? (For examples on what to say instead, click here.)

I might not be up to celebrating pregnancy news, I might even feel jealous of those lucky mothers who are joyously carrying their children. It’s not that I’m mean, it’s because my heart longs for my child and seeing those mothers with their children is a reminder of what I don’t have.

With time and healing, I will be sad less often or cry less often as at the beginning. This does not mean I’m ‘over it’. My child lives on in my heart and I will never get over the fact that I’m never to hold her hand in life. Please do not confuse my healing with ‘been there, done that’. My child might have gone with the wind, yet I’m still searching the world for signs of its fleeting presence.

Thank you for being here for me and with me.

Thank you for being my friend and having remained my friend through this.

Thank you for creating a new friendship with my ‘new normal’ self even though we wanted everything to remain as it was…

Thank you for remembering my child and therefore honoring me as her mother.

Every day that I wake up, I am sad. I know I have so much to be thankful for, and trust me, I am VERY thankful. I’m thankful for Landon, because I don’t know if I would have been able to pull through this without having to care for him. I’m thankful for Shane because he  is my rock, and even though he is incredibly sad as well, he keeps a strong face for me. He is the only one who feels my grief 24/7, and also deals with his own, too. I’m thankful for this new baby girl growing inside of my body. I’m so thankful that we were able to even afford IVF with no insurance coverage. I’m thankful for my doctor who is amazing, and always lets me be neurotic, ask a zillion questions, and roots for us.

I’m thankful to be alive, but that doesn’t mean that somedays I wouldn’t rather not be if it meant I could see Kenley for even 5 seconds again. And I don’t think there are many people in the world who really understand that statement.

I’m trying. Every single day. I wake up, I repeat the cycle of the day, except it’s not how it used to be. I’m a broken Mom, and Wife now. I’m a broken Daughter, Sister, and Friend. My heart is broken, and it effects every part of my life.

And it always will.

 

blah.

I feel very blah today. I don’t really know how to describe it other than that. I’m tired, I’ve been randomly nauseous all day, and I have a wicked headache.

I know these things are normal, but I can’t help but think about my previous pregnancy. I took a medicine for nausea with K that I didn’t take with Landon–could that have contributed to her death?  I definitely don’t want to take that medicine this time around, but if my nausea gets as bad as it was, how will I function?

I think of how tired I was with Kenley. I remember how amazing Shane was about letting me nap whenever I needed to. Now, I can’t help but think, “Well, you’re going to have all the time in the fucking world to nap while Landon is in Kindergarten, and you are all alone without your daughter”. I know it’s irrational to think like that, I do, but I can’t help but have those thoughts.

The same irrational thoughts go along with this current pregnancy, and getting congratulations about it. I don’t want congrats. In my mind I’m getting these congrats on being pregnant because a series of really fucking shitty events happened in my life that led me here. My daughter who I tried so hard for, died, without warning and stole the light from my soul. I went through (and am currently/will always be going through) the worst time of my life. I went through IVF, and paid completely out of pocket (how much is IVF, you ask? We’re looking at a cool $23,000 after this cycle is said and done). And countless invasive procedures to get where I am. Yes, I am pregnant. I am so thankful for this pregnancy, and I will love this child (if I get to keep her) with all of my heart.

It’s just hard. I think that people heard we’re pregnant again and immediately think “ok they’re done grieving”. Nope. Not anywhere near what the truth is. I am not ok with being around your baby. I do not want to see your baby bump or talk about your pregnancy. I am not okay with being around large groups of people yet. The pain of these things, is not gone just because I am pregnant. I don’t know how to explain this to people yet, or how I can make them understand this. I know that some people will never understand it; they will always think that I should “be ok” by now.

I know that people are going to expect one thing from me during this pregnancy and I’ll probably be over here doing the complete opposite, but I hope that they try to understand. If I don’t want to come to the christmas get together this year, I hope you understand. If I don’t want to buy a million gifts, and celebrate this year, I truly hope that you get it. If, on thanksgiving, I would rather be with my family at my house, alone, I hope you understand why I need that. This year of first’s is going to be the hardest, and I need people to just fucking understand it.

I think we need to take a vacation for Christmas this year. Santa can find Landon anywhere, so why not, right?