the first year without you.

It finally came…Kenley’s first birthday.

The days that followed Halloween were brutal. It was like the Holidays were taunting me. I knew where we were at each moment in time last year (How far I was at Thanksgiving/how many days until she was born etc etc…) and so going through each day up until her birthday was really rough. When we went to get our Christmas tree this year, the place we normally go closed before we could get there (Landon started Kindergarten so we didn’t have enough time to get there after he got off school). We had to go to a new place; It was nice, but far less exciting than our normal place.

It felt good to do something different than we had the year before, though– the year when Kenley was safely tucked inside of me, growing and thriving like she should have been. When we put up the tree, I was overcome with intense grief. I cried, and I cried hard. No, let me rephrase that, I sobbed. That deep sob, you know? The one that you have no real idea where it comes from except you know deep down that it comes from a place of pain that no human being should ever have to feel.

Having to put an ornament on my tree in memory of my daughter, instead of having her there to clumsily hang hers (read: tear down the lights/tree/decor) was extremely hard. I was transported back to the Hospital when they told me she wasn’t alive anymore. I felt THAT level of sadness. It wasn’t just that she wasn’t here anymore, it was also the fact that she would NEVER be here. Maybe a realization occurred? I’m not sure.

She will never be able to hang an ornament, instead, for the rest of my life, I will be hanging her memorial ornaments. Do I buy a new one each year? Do I only hang the one that I bought specifically for her? How does a mother handle Christmas decorations when one of her children is no longer with her? There isn’t a guide for how to handle these types of things.

I avoided Christmas music VERY well this year; I think I listened to it maybe 2 times? I’m pretty happy about that, to be honest. I started listening to Christmas music the day after Halloween in 2015 and soon found out that Kenley loved it. She would dance around while it played. Avoidance was my only coping mechanism re: xmas music this year.

Every Christmas Eve, we go to Shane’s family’s get together. We went last year, and I was about to burst- 38 weeks exactly. It was SUCH a great day. I remember people giving us gifts for Kenley, telling me they were so excited for her to get here, asking how I was feeling/how things were going/next doctors appt/squeeing that her C-section date was literally a week away.  A week. Like…ouch. It still stings so deep when I think of that. It stings extra bad when I remember that I asked to have a c-section at 38 weeks 1 day- the day after Christmas- and my doctors told me no. It stings really badly when I remember that the day after Christmas last year I called my obgyn and told them I was having contractions that were able to be timed pretty close together, but the OB thought I “sounded ok”, and advised me that she didn’t think I needed to be seen, but if it made me feel better that I could go.

What kind of bullshit doctor says that? “You sound ok”. Oh good, I’m glad you can register what is happening inside my uterus by the tone of my voice. And for someone to pretty much patronize me by saying “if it makes you feel better, you can go in”, is just something that I will never EVER be able to live down. I hope that this Doctor feels extreme regret for not telling me to go to L&D that night, because who knows what could have been done…

Anyway, this year I didn’t want to go to the annual Christmas Eve get together…but I went for my Landon. I know he needed things to feel as normal as possible. When we got there, I lost it. People hugged us, and I just couldn’t handle it. It was like everything from last year just washed over me. All in all it ended up being a decent night, and I am thankful we went. Landon had an incredible time, and that is what really counts.

Christmas morning wasn’t too bad for me either. I’m not sure why…Maybe it’s because Landon’s joy just overshadowed my sorrow. Seeing him smile is the greatest gift to me, and hearing how excited he was about all of the gifts that Santa got him really really made me genuinely happy. And also, maybe I was actively blocking my feelings out; not thinking that I should have two children on Christmas morning. I should have a little girl crawling all over and being amazing. I’m pretty sure it was 50/50 (ok …70/30).

As the days ticked down to her birthday, I could feel my anxiety ramping up. The plan was to have immediate family over, have lunch, a cake, and a balloon release. I had been talking with Shane for a few weeks about what he wanted to do to “celebrate” (side note- I hate this term. I hate it so much. I’m not celebrating her birthday, for fucks sake, she’s not here. I’m mourning her, and all the things I lost when she died) her day. He’s pretty easy going so he ultimately said “whatever you wanna do”, which I sometimes hate. So, the day before he admits to me that he was surprised I wanted to have people over, and thought it would be nice to just have him, myself and Landon together on the day.


I told him that he needs to tell me these things when I’m asking him for a few weeks at a time. It was too late to cancel everything, and we ended up going forward with my plans. At the end of the night when everyone left, he hugged me tight, told me he was so happy we went through with it and that he had a really nice day. I’m so thankful that I can trust my gut sometimes, and strong arm him into things that I know are ultimately better for us.

We had a christmas gift exchange with my Dad and Sister before everyone showed up at 2 for the “party”. I wasn’t sure that I wanted to do this, as it felt like it was taking away from her, but ultimately I’m glad we did. Then, around 2, Shane’s family showed up. We all just kind of hung out for a little bit, then had lunch. We ate, and decided that we would do the balloon release. Everyone wrote or drew on their balloons (only popped 2!) and then we made our way outside. It was extremely windy, but so clear. Landon counted to 3, and we all let them go. It felt good to watch them float away. I kept my message short and simple. She knows how much I love her, so my balloon was just a small reminder of that.

After, we came inside, and had cake and ice cream. My sister brought a flower arrangement that is so beautiful and reminds me of Kenley in so many ways. My mom bought her a gift which I love. It’s a stuffed fox with a tutu on it, and I plan to keep it in her memory box. A wonderful friend sent over birthday balloons.

After all the commotion was done, we just hung out and talked for a bit. Slowly people started to leave one by one.

All throughout the day I was getting texts from people all over letting me know that she was on their minds, and that she was missed. I woke up to a specific Instagram tag from a woman who lost her son last year about a week or two before we lost Kenley. I don’t know what specifically about her words struck a chord with me, but it sort of set my tone for the day. I think it was what I was meant to see on the morning of her first birthday.

The love and support from everyone really made the day better- not easier by any means- just better.

I missed her more than I could ever explain to anyone, yet, I was so thankful there were so many people thinking of her and our family. Knowing she was and is so loved on her birthday, even after all this time, made my heart heal a little, I think.

I want to thank every single person who got in contact with me somehow yesterday. Your love and support means the world to us, and I believe it is what helped us through yesterday with a little less pain than I expected.

Our lives will never be the same, and I wouldn’t ever want them to be. If they were, I wouldn’t know my sweet girl’s face. I wouldn’t have ever known her hair color, or how her lips looked just like her brothers. I wouldn’t trade her for the world.

I am her Mother; she chose me to be that for her. It’s all that I can do to love her like she deserves, and honor her memory like she deserves.

I love you my sweet girl. Happy First Birthday.

I will hold space in my heart for you until I can hold you in my arms again.






Today you should be celebrating a first birthday, instead we will have family over in hopes of remembering you, and loving you in the only way we know how. 

You are my sun and my stars.

You are the breath in my lungs. 

You are my sweet, sweet Daughter. 

I will love you forever, my little love. 

Happy First Birthday, baby girl. 


I went and bought frames today for the collages. I had to buy a very minimal frame as the photos go all the way to edge of the picture. I wanted to have them framed before her birthday.

I cannot believe I should have a beautiful one year old soon…My heart is breaking. dsc_0198dsc_0199dsc_0200


This is not how our life is supposed to be. 

You should be here with us. 

The past few days have been terribly hard, but the worst is yet to come. 

3 days until your first birthday, my sweet girl. 

3 days. 


So apparently my child should never take a nap again. He spent the night with my mother in law yesterday night, stayed up late and was up early this morning, so he was super tired all day. Well, he napped in the car on the way home, and crawled into my bed crying when we got home and napped for a while longer. 

He goes to bed at 8:30-9pm normally…it’s 10:30 and he’s still wide awake. And some how weaseled Shane into letting him sleep on our floor. 

Yesterday we had a growth ultrasound, and a doctors appointment. I had to to my 1 hr glucose testing as well. I currently have a wicked cold which is kicking my ass and causing me to cough a ton. I barely kept my glucose down because I had a coughing fit and ran to the bathroom. We got the scan started and we’re able to see our little girl. She looked right at us a few times, and I just fell in love. She is measuring 1lb 13oz, and is in the 58th percentile- I was 25w1d. Here she is looking at us, with a little smile on her face. I had to draw this out for my sister to see the face so I figured I would include that for reference too lol. 

We also talked about scheduling our c-section date. Dr.F said she’s ok with March 15th, as that is exactly 37 weeks. We can’t officially schedule it until after the new year, but she said she’s totally ok with it. 

We talked about Kenley and how I was feeling (she always asks how I feel emotionally which I’m thankful for) with her birthday coming up and Christmas right around the corner. She agrees that it’s absolutely ok for me to keep taking my Anti-depressant during the entire pregnancy, and after. I’m pretty sure that has made all the difference for me emotionally. 

Then, I had my 1 hr blood draw for the glucose test AND PASSED! This has never happened. Failed with Landon, Failed with Kenley. I passed and I am SO thankful that it’s one less thing I have to worry about. 

As to be expected, the past few weeks have sucked and I’m pretty sure the next few weeks are going to suck even worse. I am not sure how I am feeling, to be honest. I feel all of the sadness and grief that I normally feel but it’s intensified by Christmas. Yet, in some ways it feels like her birthday is being over shadowed by the holidays. I’m not sure how to explain it; I think my body and mind are working over time to keep me occupied and sane. They are in defense mode to keep me out of my own head for sanity reasons. 

 All I truly know is I miss her, and life should not be the way it is today…she deserved a great life and I am so sad to know I can never give her that. 

I love you sweet girl. I miss you every second of every day. 


You know what sucks? When your 5 year old gets pink eye. 

You know what sucks even more? When he gives it to you…in both eyes. 

So for Thanksgiving I had pneumonia, and apparently for Christmas I’ll be celebrating with pink eye! 

What. The. Hell. 

It just goes to show you that 2016 is just an awful awful year, and needs to kindly fuck off outta here. I know many people had a great year, but I know many women and men who had a shit-tacular year. We can’t wait to say bye to this year. 

This year has been filled with more emotions than I care to feel, and they’ve been felt on a nearly daily basis. DAILY. Everyday I wake up with the same sadness and every night when my head hits the pillow, I’m constantly reminded of the events of December 29th 2015. 

Unfortunately there is no heartbeat. 

There are nights I can shut it down, but most nights I lay there hoping my mind just shuts down on its own in “protection mode”. Most nights I ask Shane to hold me until I fall asleep. When he falls asleep before me, it’s ok because his breathing calms me down and I can fall asleep to it. But on nights that he’s super tired, crawls into bed, and passes right out, I have a bad night. I can’t expect Shane to hold me every night, but I know he would (and does) if I asked him. 

As our Christmas countdown chain keeps losing its links, my anxiety keeps creeping up. Every morning when Landon tells me how many days are left, and we take the link off, I just shudder. It’s a few days away now…which means that Kenley’s first birthday is a few days away. 

My gone too soon daughters first birthday. 


She will never celebrate a birthday, and I’m so scared she will be forgotten. 

I feel like she’s already being forgotten. I will never forget her, but I just worry she will slip by the wayside as years go by. 

I just want my baby girl in my arms. I miss you. I love you. I love you so much, and I cannot wait until the day I get to see your sweet face again, and kiss your soft cheeks. 

I can’t wait until the day I can hold you in my arms again. 

Mommy loves you more than there are words, sweet girl. 


I received so many photos from so many people, that I decided to print two 16×20 collages from the Internet. They should be here December 26th, so thankfully before her birthday. 

Here they are. The quality is low, and remember the whole photo is 16×20 so they will all be bigger and more clear. 

Thank you to everyone who participated in this, it means more to me than you could ever know. 

I cannot wait to have them hanging in our bedroom 💜


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.


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.


Landon spent the last weekend with my mom, and came home with pinkeye. Ugh. He has been on antibiotic drops for the 24 hrs deemed necessary by his dr and went back to school today. 

Shane and I spent the entire day together. We went to breakfast, then to pick up a filing cabinet. We even drove the shitty truck. 

Then, we got home and watched an episode of a show we’re binging on. After that we decided we needed to go shopping to try and finish up Christmas. We spent the afternoon at target. Then, before we went home we went to babies r us. I tried out a few gliders and we decided on one that we like. 

After that we came home and had a chance to relax before Landon got home. 

Days like today mean so much to me. They are special because they aren’t, if that makes any sense. We didn’t do anything special- we just spent time together. I am so lucky to have a husband who loves me. I have wicked wrinkles on my face, and I just don’t give a shit because they’re all from laughing at my husband. He is hilarious and amazing. 

I bought him a Christmas gift even though I told him I wouldn’t, and now he’s mad because he doesn’t have anytime to find me something. But…he doesn’t realize that he gives me a gift like every single day. Spending the day with him is fun for me…laying on the couch watching tv is relaxing…he is my safe place. He is what calms me down. He gives me what I need, so gifts are unnessacary. 

I’ve been collecting/buying sleepers to donate to the hospital where we had Kenley. I’ve had 3 people donate them to me, and I’m so thankful for them. It’s amazing to see what people are capable of when something is done out of love. I’m just going to keep looking for deals on them, and buy them up until I’m ready to take them to the hospital. 

So far I have 19 sleepers, 4 of which are not here and will be preemie sized. I need to buy some more of that size. 

Shane has been on board since day one with pretty much whatever I decide to do RE: giving to the hospital. Another gift that he gives me is allowing my heart to be generous. I’m sure there are men who wouldn’t be on board with their wife spending the families money on sleepers to just give away, but he knows me. He knows that this is healing me. He knows how happy it makes my heart to mother Kenley in any way possible. 

He supports me…and that’s the greatest gift of all. 

We purchased two large photos in memory of Kenley to be hung in the room we spent all our time with her, and another room. We have been putting having them hung at the hospital off for a long time because we just weren’t ready to go back there. We both decided it wasn’t right for us to go into the hospital and witness them being hung up, so we gave the go ahead to the hospital to hang them without us. 

This photo hangs in 3E11, Kenley’s “room”

This photo hangs in the room next to the room we shared with Kenley.

Both photos are engraved with a different plaque that we requested. 

Seeing the room again, even on photos, cut like a knife. 

I miss her. I want her back. I’m so sad without her. It’s all so unfair, and I HATE the thought of Christmas without her. 

However, I think I’ve come up with an idea to honor her memory every year around her birthday. This year I am just trying to make ANYTHING happen- i.e., the care bags, the hats, the sleepers etc. But next year, id like to reach out and ask the hospital what they are in need of, and take up donations for that thing. I want to do this every year…in honor and in memory of Kenley. It could be books for the NICU, or clothes, or binkies. Whatever they need, I want to help with, in Kenley’s name. 

I think it’s a great way to really make her day mean something to everyone whom participates in donation, and who will be helped by the donations. 

I love her so much, and I wish so badly she were here. 

Mommy misses you, sweet girl. Two weeks exactly until your first birthday. 

My god, how I wish things were different. 

if you have a second…

Through Kenley’s death, I met a loss momma on IG. Her and her husband are struggling with secondary infertility (no issue with first child, fertility issues with the second pregnancy). 

This speaks to me because it’s what happened to us. Landon, no issues. I was diagnosed with dinished ovarian reserve which lead to 2.5 years of struggles, 6 rounds of clomid, 2 rounds of letrozole, 1 round of tamoxifen, and 3 IUIs later we got pregnant with Kenley. Then, we lost her. 

This family has DOR, and needs IVF. If they win this contest they will get a fully funded IVF cycle. 

We paid out of pocket for our IVF cycle, and it cost us $23,000. 

Please take the time to watch this video and vote (thumbs up there video to vote) to make their IVF cycle happen. 

Vote for Joan & John!