two and a half.

Today you should be two and a half years old. You should be doing a wide array of things that I have not allowed myself to even think about quite honestly. I don’t know what type of little girl you would be. Would you be a stubborn independent child, or would you be a cuddly love bug? Or both? Would you let me put your hair in pigtails and let me paint your nails?

What would your voice sound like?

Would your eyes stay brown like I read on your autopsy report they were?

How much would you love Landon? He loves you so much and he never got to meet you. That is one of my biggest “I don’t know if I did the right thing” moments…it’s probably the only moment in my life that I’m always questioning or replaying…should I have let him see you? He misses you so bad.

I don’t typically allow my brain to go to these places because it’s just too sad. It is so fucking sad. My heart breaks daily for you and what our family lost when you left us. I wish so badly that you were alive and I was able to hold you in my arms and kiss your warm skin. I would give anything to run my hands over your beautiful face one more time. I love you, sweet girl.

It is not lost on me that both of your sisters wouldn’t be here if you were and that is a very hard thing to swallow. These days, it feels like I can’t imagine you being alive, and them not being here. I never thought I would be able to even think that way, but grief is weird and confusing. I know it’s all part of healing but it makes me so sad.

Grief is changing for me lately.

Maybe it’s not the grief that is changing per se; I still miss you as much if not more than the day you left me. Instead, maybe it’s the fact that your sisters are helping me heal in ways I never thought possible mixed with the fact that my heart has cried all it possibly can for you. There are times when everything feels fresh and I am overwhelmed with the raw grief of the early days, but that is more rare now. More often it is something small that brings a tear to my eye; instead of crying for an entire day, I will be blindsided and cry for a few moments. The grief is short lived and super intense but I’m able to pull myself from its grips.

Christmas anything, songs, colors, the weather, noises, driving past certain places, wearing certain clothes, certain scents, the way your Daddy looks at me…these are some of the things that are normal, yet somehow are also triggers for me. Life is like a second hand puzzle you get at goodwill and you are the missing piece; Everything now feels discounted, and cheap. I feel cheated. I’ll never get that piece back.

Today you should be 2 and a half. How is that even possible. The mind is an amazing thing capable of understanding some really intense stuff but I will NEVER understand your death. I know that there is a “scientific reason” why you died; we were fortunate enough to get that answer. But, there is no logical reason in the same sense…there is no reason a perfect child should die. My perfect baby should be alive.

I’ve never allowed myself to fully go back to that day. My heart is one small break away from irreparable damage. It’s not that I don’t want to remember it, I do so badly, but it hurts. It’s a memory that no one should ever have.

Kenley, you were (are) so wanted. I planned for you. I prepared my life for your arrival and you never came. I am so sorry that I couldn’t save you; I know that it’s not my “fault” but IT IS.

Two and a half years…how does it feel like just yesterday, but also an eternity since I’ve held you in my arms? Two and a half years closer to you, my sweet first daughter.

I love you.

————-

Your skin

Oh yeah, your skin and bones

Turn into something beautiful

You know, you know I love you so

You know I love you so

-Coldplay. Yellow.

SAHM after loss

When I found out I was pregnant with Landon, I thought I would have him without issue, stay home for 6 weeks, then go back to work. Wrong. The minute I laid eyes on him I knew that I didn’t want to return to work. It just so happened that Shane makes good enough money that this was an option for us. We would have to sacrifice some extra spending but it was so worth it. Raising Landon was the hardest (and still is the hardest) thing I had been through. He was difficult, didn’t sleep, had colic and acid reflux and on top of all of those things was my first child so I was super anxious. Fast forward 7 years and he’s still the hardest kid I have!

Being a stay at home Mom is very rewarding, and on the other hand it is the worst thing in the world some days. I am a very social person, and I crave interaction with other adults so at first immediately after Landon I struggled SO BAD with this. I was lonely, I felt like it was just me and Landon all day every day. We had no family to visit, I didn’t have a job, and I was in a town where I had about 4 friends (all of whom worked at the job I no longer had). It was rough. I remember feeling sad a lot. Shane worked really weird hours, and it left me alone with Landon a lot. I took on the morning routines, and the night routines and pretty much everything, honestly.

When I found out I was pregnant with Kenley, I was scared to take my SAHMing to another level with two kids. Landon was 4 (almost 5) and would be starting Kindergarten that fall, so I was nervous about preparing him for that while having a newborn. It’s funny the things I used to worry about…So when Kenley died, I was stuck at home, again, without a baby, and with a child who just witnessed his Mother and Father go through the worst thing in the whole entire world. I was left to handle my grief and help this poor  4 year old navigate his own grief. How are you supposed to help someone handle and understand their grief when you literally are barely able to wake up every morning and DO NOT understand it yourself?

I tried. I tried really, really hard. I would listen to Landon, and let him cry, and ask questions, and say all of these things that would cut me like a fucking knife. It hurt. It hurt my heart every single day (still does) to watch him process the death of his sister. He is still processing it. He talks about her, he draws pictures of her, looks at her picture, includes her in conversation, but sometimes I wonder if he really considers her a person, or just a dream. I’m not sure.

When we had Alden, I was nervous again. Now, I had my living child who was plagued with grief from losing his first sister, and I had MY grief from losing her, and then we had a newborn. I was scared that things wouldn’t flow properly and that I would resent her for taking Kenley’s “space” (nursery). I really felt a lot of emotions about having her. Some good…some bad…some scary.  When she came, I couldn’t have loved her anymore. It took me a while to really feel connected with her, I won’t lie. I loved her so much, but it was different. Once we settled in, and things become routine, my love for her just exploded and now I cannot imagine living without her. It does hurt to know that Kenley should be here, and be older than her, but at the same time it’s so hard to think that way because Alden wouldn’t be here if Kenley was here. I hate even allowing my brain to think that way. It’s not fair. It shouldn’t be one or the other– it should be BOTH. Or better yet, ALL.

Alden and Landon’s interactions make my heart burst. It is so amazing to see Landon be a brother to her. He is amazing, and loves her so much. He loves Alden fiercely; I can see the protection in his eyes when he is with her. And he also loves Kenley, albeit differently. That makes my Momma heart proud. Having two children at home was different. Having all things compounded with grief, and fatigue was super hard. But, Landon went to first grade and Alden watched him get on the bus every day. When she could talk, she would scream “bubby” as he left in the mornings. She is a PERFECT baby. She sleeps so well, she is so fun, she entertains herself when needed, and she is my little bestie.

When we found out we were expecting Rowan it was SO different. We were done after Alden. We weren’t expecting to have another baby let alone so quickly after Alden arrived. Alden was barely 4 months old when I found out I was expecting Rowan. Cue fear. I was done being stressed out and worried but now I had no choice but to go through it all again. Once Rowan arrived it was the same course of emotions I experienced with Alden; fear, fatigue, and tons of grief and guilt. I didn’t feel connected to her just like with Alden, and I feared it was far worse that with Alden because she was a “surprise” (for lack of better words). As we all fell back into a routine, now with 3 living children at home, my feelings towards Rowan changed. Now, once again, I couldn’t imagine my life without her. She is growing into this little person and it’s so much fun to witness.

Having 2 under 2 is rough. SUPER ROUGH. I’m tired, I’m always covered in puke, or food. I pee with the door open, and as fast as I can because undoubtedly someone will cry, or Alden will come running into the bathroom with cold (sometimes wet?) hands and smack my legs while I sit there. SAH momming is NOT pretty. I don’t wear makeup, I don’t change out of my pjs usually.  I never have a second to sit down and just breathe. I found the time to write this today because the girls are napping and I made Landon go do something and give me space. Not because I don’t love him and want to be around him, but because I am a person too, and I deserve a free second. I work extremely hard every second of every day and I need “me” time. Having the babies is a lot of work. I am always changing a diaper or feeding someone it feels like (and that person being fed is never me!) . Landon is home for the summer, and in ways it’s super helpful but in some other ways it’s so much worse because he needs attention on top of the girls, and trying to find time to include him is kind of impossible.

I explain to him that the girls NEED me, he is able to take care of himself, and that I need him to help me out, but I know that he feels left out a lot. It’s hard. It makes my heart feel guilty. The days when I have a bad day (emotionally) are the worst. Everything seems 1000x harder, and I feel like I snap and yell a lot. It’s a work in progress, this life with 3 living kids. I’m trying the best I can, but I cannot help but feel like I lose myself a lot.

I am a Mother of 4 children, and a lot of times that is all that people see. Heck, they technically only see me being a Mother to 3 children, and they miss this HUGE part of my life. I feel like my life is an Onion; I have a trillion layers and some of them will make you cry. Finding time to include Kenley, and remember her is super difficult with 3 living kids, too. I feel guilt over not being able to spend time with her daily. I see that she is showing me she is with us in certain ways though. For example, I always tend to look at the clock on the “32” minute of whatever hour it is. It’s weird! She was born at 10:32 pm and I don’t know why it happens, but it just does. And if it’s just a completely random thing that happens, fine, but I NEED to think it’s a sign because it makes me feel close to her.

Being a mom is rough. Being a stay at home mom is rough. Being a stay at home mom, to 4 kids one of whom died before you got to know her is sad and rough.

But, somehow, it’s also the greatest thing I’ve ever done and I am proud of myself that I am able to hold my shit together to raise these little loves we created.

I can only dream about having them all here…

Someday we will all be together again. I look forward to that day–whenever and wherever it may be.

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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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. 


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

bikes.

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.

Almost 2…

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.

 

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?