donating.

As the year comes to a close and Kenley’s second birthday speeds toward me like a fucking bullet train, I am so thankful for the donations we will be making to the hospital in her memory.

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Update: Kenley’s Care Packages

I was just going over the items that have been sent so far for our project and I just need to share with everyone because I am amazed by the generosity of the people involved!

So far we have-

We also have 12 packs of tissues, all the pens requested, and all of the journals requested. The candles are being donated by Aggies on Main again! I cannot wait to get them because they smell so amazing. I know that they were able to bring some comfort to the parents who lost their babies last year and early this year.

Our gofundme has raised $580 as well! This money is going toward the book “You are the Mother of all Mothers”. 40 of these books are nearly $500. This book was so beneficial for me when Kenley died; it showed me that I was not alone in all of my deep dark feelings. I also will have some money left over to put toward some relaxing hand lotion for the care packages.

I am so excited to keep moving forward with this project! It makes my heart smile when the mail lady brings packages every day! She probably hates me — Job Security, though, amiright!? 

Thank you for all your help! 

Care Packages.

After Kenley died I knew that I wanted to do something in her honor for the Hospital where she was born. I didn’t know what; nothing felt right to be honest. We ended up donating 2 large photos and they are placed in the room where she was born- 3E11-, and the room next door. I didn’t think that was enough, and still didn’t feel right. What could I do to make her name mean something to other people?

Care packages. 

I was given a book and a rubber bracelet when Kenley was born still. I wear the bracelet every single day, as does Shane. I haven’t taken it off once since I put it on; I had it on the day Alden was born. I thought for a while about what would be good to put in the bags. I came up with a list of items that I knew would have really helped me had I received them at the time of her death.

  • good quality tissues (my nose was bloody & raw from the hospitals)
  • relaxing lotion
  • a candle to light in honor of your baby
  • two books that helped me in my early grief
  • a note pad and pen to jot down information
  • chapstick
  • forget me not seeds to plant in honor of your baby

Last year, we donated 20 bags in Kenley’s name. We also donated some crocheted hats, and sleepers for the babies who are born still.

I was contacted by the Hospital and told all bags had all been used within 6 months. Twenty babies born sleeping  within 6 months in my town. How? How is this still happening? I know that it’s never NOT going to happen, at least not in my life time, but it’s just mind boggling that in 2017 babies still die. The fact that these babies don’t even get a chance is what hurts the most.

This year, in honor of Kenley, we have chosen to donate 40 bags to the Hospital system. We are also going to donate 40 girl sleepers, 40 boy sleepers, and 40 books for the parents to give to the siblings (if needed). This is going to be a huge undertaking, and I’m looking forward to organizing it again this year! I’m starting things early that way there is plenty of time to organize the creation of all bags, and make sure things fall into place.

Last year, tons of people reached out to me and asked what they could do for Kenley’s birthday. I chose to have people take photos of her name and send them to me. I then printed them out and have them in a collage in my home. It was so healing to see her name written in all kinds of places, in all kinds of ways.

This year, I’m asking for people to donate to her care packages. 

I’ve made an Amazon wish list as well if people would rather purchase items instead of donating money to the *gofundme account we made for donations.

I’m planning to post this information in a separate page at the top of my blog so it’s accessible all the time and you won’t have to go fishing through old posts to find the information. It’s extremely hard for us to “shop” for things that will go to grieving parents, but I don’t know anyone better to help other grieving parents than another grieving parent. It broke my heart to add all of these sleepers to the wish list knowing that they will be given to babies who didn’t get to spend time with their parents how they should. I wish that they could be worn while the child is laying in their parents arms, staring into their eyes full of joy and a future, instead of the parents staring at all they lost in their child.

I hope that you will consider taking a peek at the Amazon wish list to see what we plan to donate!  (Please view the entire list as Amazon makes it impossible to set default priority settings, or simply sort by priority)

You can find our gofundme page here.

Please feel free to reach out to me if you would like to donate something than what is on the list, or have any questions what so ever! Any help or donation is appreciated SO very much!

**ALL DONATIONS WILL GO TOWARD CARE PACKAGES.**

sometimes. 

Some days there are no words that come to my head when I think about describing how sad I am without my middle child. 

Sad? Understatement.  

Lonely? Always. 

Guilty? Yep. 

Ashamed? Yes. 

Depressed? Absolutely. 

Anxious? 100%.

There have been conversations lately that revolve around my newest child and make no mention of Kenley. I want my life with Alden to move forward; I don’t want to live one second without her sweet face in my life. I just want people to remember Kenley, too.  

I often wonder if people think about her as much as I do? Do certain things that they do, or things that happen to them remind them of her? Are certain situations reminders of the sweet baby girl we lost? 

Do they wonder what she would look like now, or what she would be doing? 

Do they wake up each morning with her near the front of their minds like they did for so long? 

I doubt it. 

And I cannot blame them- life continues to move forward and my life in the “after” includes Alden. It IS Alden. It’s incredibly hard to explain, and this is a very random post so don’t try to make heads or tails of it- I just needed to put this down somewhere. 

The 4th was rough. Alden enjoyed the parade and I found myself getting choked up quite frequently. I mentioned to Shane that I was getting upset and he comforted me. He is amazing and I am so thankful for him. I ended up leaving him there with Alden so I could step away and break down. 

It was too much. 

A parade. 

I was brought to tears by a fucking parade. 

All because my daughter is dead. 

It is not fair that everything is so hard for a parent who has lost a child. 

It’s so unfair. 


Fourth. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 The Fourth of July outfit is 6 month. 

I looked at it. 

I took it off the hanger and washed it. 

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

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

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. 

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

aftermath. 

Following the loss of a child, so many changes take place in us. Even our physical appearance changes. Our skin shows signs of aging. Many people say their hair turned white overnight. Others say they couldn’t see clearly–their eyesight changed. 

Mentally, we live in a fog. We can’t remember where we put things. We often get lost when driving to places such as the supermarket. We get confused. We cannot complete easy tasks. Our minds cannot focus. Physically, we might feel aches and pains we never had before. We might suffer from panic attacks. 

This is only a small peek inside the new life of grief that now belongs to parents of child loss. Losing a child is not a singular loss, but rather a series of losses that continues all of the days of our life. If only others understood the courage it takes for child loss parents to get out of bed and face each new day. 

• Silent Grief—Child Loss Support 

t-ball.

On Wednesday night I got a voicemail from Landon’s t-ball coach. He told us that Landon’s team had practice this Saturday @ 11am. It’s been raining for 3 days, and I’m pretty sure that practice is going to be canceled tomorrow (not to mention it’s freezing cold for May).  Shane and I went out the next day to buy him new cleats and baseball pants while he was at School.

I was doing dishes tonight and my mind got to thinking about last t-ball season. After one of the first practices last year is when I started my blog. I think about how fresh in my grief I was, and about the things that bothered me then. If I’m being honest, not much has changed. I know a lot of people think that by now, at 16 months and 6 days after our daughter was stillborn, we should be feeling better, but the sad truth is we’re just not. I don’t know that we will ever “feel better” as I’m pretty sure this isn’t something you learn to feel better about. I think about how I was so upset seeing the family who had 3 kids perfectly spaced out…and that stings even more this year in some odd way.

Three kids.

I have 2

but…I have 3.

And this year, we’re on a team where no one knows our family’s story…

I’m not looking forward to all the families- the normal families- at these events. There were more strollers at the games last year than I could ever count. Now this year, I have to witness the little girls running around that would be Kenley’s age. I just don’t know how your heart is supposed to handle these things…year after year…

I know it’s a lifetime thing, and someday I’m sure i’ll be less aware of the ages of these children, but for now it just fucking sucks. And it sucks a lot.

I’m very excited to have Alden here, safe, in my arms. I’m excited that she gets to come to Landon’s t-ball games and he gets to show her off to his friends. I’m thrilled that I feel stressed out about having two kids and often having to take them alone to Landon’s games as Shane will be working…but…

There will always be one missing. It feels weird to say that because who knows, maybe there wouldn’t always be one missing per se. If Kenley had lived, we wouldn’t have Alden- we were done. If Kenley had lived things would be different. If Kenley had lived, I would be chasing around a 16 month old and she would be eating popcorn and waving at her brother while he’s on third base putting dirt in his glove instead of paying attention to the ball.

So many If’s associated with loss, and it’s just so sad to think about. I don’t like to let my mind go there because it’s too sad and painful. I can’t even do the “May we all heal” prompts this year. I’m pretty sure my grief has just become a part of me now; it’s now deep in my bones where it will stay for the rest of my earthly life.

I think my grief is so intense that I cannot allow myself to think about it because it will straight up kill me.

Imagine having to live every day knowing that you cannot see one of your children. Ever again.

Imagine waking up to their photo- in which they are dead-  instead of their face.

Imagine thinking about the day they died every. second. of. your. life.

Imagine thinking if you had gone to the Hospital that morning instead of waiting that she could be here, she would be alive, they could have saved her because the doctor said she had only been gone for less than 3 hours.

Imagine having to choose one of your children to live without.

It’s enough to kill you, isn’t it?

 

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.