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.
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?
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
- 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)
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.**
Some days there are no words that come to my head when I think about describing how sad I am without my middle child.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Recently I posted a photo on IG that said I was “the kind of tired that sleep can’t fix”. A lot of people would just read this photo as myself being tired from having a newborn. Sure, I can understand that, but the caption I wrote said so much more, and I feel like this really goes to show you that people try to understand, but they are completely unable.
I received comments like, “You’re just tired from having a newborn”, “Have you tried talking to someone?”, or my personal favorite…” Diet and Exercise help grief so much!”….
I appreciate all of the support that I get, because quite honestly it’s overwheming and I know these people don’t HAVE to support me but they do. I know these people mean well (or at least I think they do) but, I just literally can’t with the responses. So, let me break down my latest IG post in a little more detail to try and help people better understand.
I’m Tired. I’m physically tired. I’m emotionally tired. I’m mentally tired. I’m ALLLLLL kinds of tired. My body hurts. My brain hurts. My eyes constantly burn from either tears, lack of sleep, or both. No amount of sleeping is going to change the fact that my daughter is dead.
I have tried talking to someone, yes. Talking to a therapist about what you’ve gone through undoubtedly helps, sure. Shane and I saw one for 8 months after Kenley died. You know what though? She can’t relate to the way I feel, either. She has not been here. “Here” is such an awful place, and I truly believe as a therapist that this “situation” would be a hard thing to deal with. Our therapist was never able to offer us “ah-ha” type of advice; there was never a time where I felt that she truly helped me figure out anything.
Diet and exercise will help grief. Oh? Most days I forget to eat a meal, or literally have no appetite. Yesterday I forgot to eat dinner, so from 11:30am until 8:00am today I didn’t eat anything. Or sometimes I feel like eating everything in my face. I drink way too much coffee these days, and not enough water. Worrying about diet and exercise is the last thing on my mind. Somedays it’s a battle to get out of bed. Maybe once I can tackle that better, I’ll start to jump back on a diet, or start walking and taking hikes again but for now, no. For now, I’m going to focus on getting my feet on the floor in the morning while the darkness inside is begging me to just lay back down and not get up.
I’m not sure how to make someone understand the pain that a mother who lost a full term child feels. Most the time I feel like a broken record. I’m still sad. I’m still angry. I’m still depressed and anxious and emotional and broken and feel hopeless most days. Having Alden did NOT take those things away, and sometimes I think that it actually made them worse. She is here, and Kenley is not. I see a picture of Landon with Alden, and I see the space where Kenley should be.
A space where my middle child should, but never will be.
This is another thing that often comes up. “You have Landon and Alden, you need to be strong for them! You are so lucky!”.
For real? Of course I need to be strong for them, and I am. I wake up every day don’t I? I cannot tell you how easy it would be for me to crawl into bed and not get out again. Grief is awful. Coupled with depression, and anxiety it’s a nightmare. Just because I have them, does not make the hole in my heart any smaller. It honestly exacerbates her loss.
I had Landon and watched him grow into this amazing 6 year old boy. I watched him get his first tooth, eat mushy food, use a sippy cup, take his first steps, talk, laugh, coo, and now he gets in the shower by himself. I’ve watched him every step of the way. I was fully prepared to watch Kenley do those things, and never for ONE SECOND doubted that I would get to be able to. Until she died. As a parent, I grieved her death, and her role in our family of little sister. I wouldn’t be able to watch her do those things. Now, with Alden here, she is smiling and cooing.
Yes, I LOVE watching her, and it fills my heart with so much joy. But, there is always a sadness. She is not Kenley. I know that there a lot of Loss Moms who might feel this way too, but feel guilty saying it. I do too. I feel guilty that sometimes I hold my newborn daughter and can’t help but think about my dead daughter. I can’t help it. Some times I walk past her Nursery and glance in wishing I could see Kenley’s colors instead. As I write these things, I feel guilt, but I know that I’m not alone in my feelings and I know they are valid.
Sometimes you don’t need to say anything.
Sometimes all I need is a hug.
Sometimes I just need a text saying you miss Kenley; say her name.
I don’t need your grieving advice, because this is my timeline.
This is my grief.
Some days the reality hits a lot harder.
I will live on this earth without you.
Never again will I kiss your face.
Or hold your body in my arms.
Some days it stings more than normal.
I won’t get to watch you crawl, or walk.
I can’t watch you ride a bike.
I’ll never braid your hair.
I’ll never help you mend a broken heart.
I can never watch you get married.
The secondary losses are infinate.
I miss you. I love you.
I don’t understand how a Mother goes on without one of her children; that life is obviously cruel and unfair.
Isolating and torturous.
Dark and lonely.
I want you here, baby girl.
I’m just so tired.
Shane’s been on vacation since last Thursday, and it has been so nice having him home. He’s helped a lot with the kids, and with the house. I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again- I love having him here, and I wish he was off every day! We finally watched Making a Murderer; we were obsessed. We had t-ball on Saturday morning and then my mother in law took both kids for the evening. She kept them overnight, and we went out on a date.
We went to the movies and saw Guardians of the Galaxy 2, then got 5 guys and came home to binge watch Making a Murderer. When we got home, we didn’t move until we were finished with the show…5 episodes.
We spent Mother’s day at my in laws which was nice and relaxing. I’m pretty happy I didn’t have to go to a big get together or something because this holiday isn’t very fun. It just…I don’t know. It hurts. I’m a mother, and I don’t have all of my children here. I’m a mother and one of my children is dead because I didn’t understand her pattern of movement well enough to realize she stopped moving. That, doesn’t make you feel like a good mother, I’ll tell you what.
Today, we went to breakfast and then to Lowes to buy shelving for our garage. We cleaned the garage today and ended up setting some things by the end of the road for free in hopes that people would stop to take them.
We sat our some golf clubs, a dog cage, and 2 small tricycles.
Eventually someone stopped to get the clubs, then later someone stopped for the bikes. She walked up to the garage where we were still cleaning things out, and asked if the bikes were for sale. I told her she could just have them for free, and it would help us out. She asked if the cage was free too, and I said yes. She said thank you and that her almost 2 year old grandson would love the bikes.
After she left, I started to cry.
It hit me kinda unexpectedly, because I had been fine all day about getting rid of them. I just realized that those bikes should be in use. They should be being used by my 16 month old baby girl, BUT instead I gave them to some random person who stopped to pick them up.
I hope her grandson loves them. I enjoyed watching Landon use them all of his life and it is just another small minuscule thing that breaks my heart into millions of pieces all over again…
I think sometimes I am in denial at how fucked up my reality is.