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.
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-
- 21/40 boy sleepers
- 22/40 girl sleepers
- 15/40 Wherever You Are : My Love Will Find You books
- 3/40 The Invisible String book
- 1/7 Chapstick
- 4/40 Angel’s embrace figurine
- 3/40 Handprint Keepsake Kit
- 1/2 Forget me not seeds
- 29/40 Memories too few book
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!
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.
This past weekend was my baby shower for Alden. It was in my home town and was small as far as guests go. I was so anxious leading up to the shower that I literally made myself sick over it. Landon and I drove up on Saturday afternoon, and hung out for a little before the madness of Sunday. I knew that I would have a good time celebrating Alden, and being with friends and family. I think that I was just feeling more guilt over not having a shower for Kenley than I thought I actually was. It just kinda hit me hard; we didn’t have a shower for her, and we never ever would. It is what it is.
The shower was amazing, and I really really enjoyed myself. My sister and mom really made it special, and included Kenley, too. There was a small fox, and letter K behind where I was sitting on the entertainment center. I felt like she was there watching me open all these gifts for her little sister.
We received many many gifts for our sweet girl. I am so thankful that people came to shower her in love along with us. There were a few times where I felt like crying, specifically when I opened gifts that had “little sister” onesies in them. I know she’s a little sister, but it should say “littlest” sister, or something similar. She’s my THIRD child, but she will always look like my second and that is really hard to swallow.
When I got home, I showed everything to Shane. He of course loved it all. It’s so bittersweet. You want to be excited for this baby and her arrival, AND WE ARE, but we miss our first born girl. We wanted to do all these things for her, and we never will. It’s just rough. On Monday Shane had off for the holiday so he helped me get a lot of things done around here that we needed to do. We then went into the Nursery and took down all of Kenley’s decor.
Shane took her name banner down.
This was one of the hardest things to do since hearing Kenley died.
I cried. I cried realllllllly hard. It seemed to rip my heart wide open again. I hate when this happens because I feel like it sets me back 1,000 steps. I know that’s not true, yet I can’t help thinking that. Taking down her name banner was awful. I felt like somehow taking it down was just the end of her. No more of her left in that room. But, that’s not true. Her little sister is going to be lucky enough to wear her clothes, and use her crib, and dresser. She’s getting her older sisters hand me downs and I’m thankful for this (Disclaimer: This opinion changes on the daily, so don’t hold me to these feelings).
Landon helped us do some of the stuff we needed to do, and ultimately he ended up crying. He told us he missed her and wanted her here. We comforted him, and eventually he was ok. It’s just a constant secondary loss. I feel like that is what our life is going to be now; life will be one constant secondary loss.
I’m just really ready for this girl to be here, screaming. I have seen a lot of the moms I follow on IG having their rainbows, and it’s just making me antsy I think.
The painters rescheduled for next Tuesday @ 8:30 am. Shane will be here, so he can go in and set them all up. I don’t think I will be able to go in there and look at the room for a while. I don’t know, maybe I’ll surprise myself but I highly doubt it. Sometimes I feel like I “power through” because it’s all I know how to do. I don’t want to sit and be sad, and cry over this.
I’m so sick of crying all. the. god. damn. time.
I cry when I’m sad. I cry when I’m happy. I cry because I don’t want to throw away the December part of the calendar because it has Kenely’s first birthday with a heart around it. I cry when Alden moves, because I can’t remember how it felt to feel Kenley move. I cry because Landon misses her, and Shane misses her. It’s just so unfair.
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.
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.
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.
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.