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.
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.
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.
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?
Lately I’ve been trying to figure out how to strike a balance between my every day stressors, my grief, and my two living children. It’s not easy, and I’m really afraid that I’m doing a shitty job. There are days that I just literally cannot do anything except exist and I feel that is extremely hard. Then, there are days where I feel good- positive almost. It never fails that those days where the positivity starts to creep in always end in disaster. I will feel ok then something will happen in the afternoon that makes me derail and feel like shit. I can handle the fact that Kenley died; I’ve almost come to accept the fact in a way…but add in the every day crap and it just sends me over the edge.
I’m trying to figure out how to balance all of that. I know that I will never wake up and feel “normal” and I really don’t want to feel that way. I feel like normal is a relative word and I’m discovering what my “new” normal is every day.
I had a follow up MFM appointment on Thursday. They gave me a postpartum depression questionnaire thing to fill out. When my Dr came in she said ” So your depression scale was really high” (no shit) so we decided to add in an anti-anxiety medication on top of my anti-depressant. I know that I need this medication to get my shit under control. Then we talked about a few other things like when I would be able to get pregnant again if we decided to do so, testing to see if I have a blood clotting disorder that will require lifetime medication, and was given a full exam.
- Not allowed to transfer an embryo for at least a year if we decide to have more children.
- Went to the lab to have blood drawn
- Full exams suck
The next day the doctor called and told me that my Protein S levels were in normal range which means that it was artificially lowered in pregnancy BY pregnancy…This means that Kenley did not die from my blood clotting disorder because I don’t technically have one. I am NOT ok with this answer, so I am seeking out a hematologist to discuss things further. It does not make sense that my levels were so extremely low during pregnancy and I took blood thinners and bam, Alden’s here alive and healthy and Kenley died. I’m just confused on it all so I will leave this open ended and post more about it when I know more/have more time.
Yesterday should have been a good friends Daughters 1st Birthday. She was taken too soon, just like all of our babies. I went to Starbucks and said my name was Meredith so they would write it on my cup, and I paid for the two cars behind me in honor of Meredith on her birthday. (Also- side note- had a cake pop for the first time…omfg. so good.)
My planner is full of names of babies who are gone too soon, and I hate it. It makes me so sad. These poor babies should be here with their parents, it’s just unfair.
Alden is nearly rolling from front to back already. It’s insane! She has almost done it three times now, and I give her a few days before she masters it. She’s such a good baby, I’m so thankful that she isn’t colicky like her brother because I would not be able to handle it.
I need to get my hair done, Landon needs a hair cut, and so does Shane. It’s insane. We all look homeless.
The paving company came last Monday to fill in the sides of our driveway with dirt, and no one told me they were coming. I was in my robe at 8am and my door bell rang. I thought it was UPS and didn’t answer it, then I hear the sounds of dump trucks backing up. When I looked outside there were tons of machines and men working. WTAF? Why didn’t anyone tell me they were coming????? I walked out and told them, hey sorry I didn’t move the truck, no one gave me a date or time for the work to start so you’re going to have to work around it. This week they should come to seal the drive way (per the man doing the work last week…) so we’ll see what happens. They didn’t tamp the dirt down, so when it rained yesterday the dirt ran into my yard. Shane took pics and sent them to the company because that shouldn’t happen, and quite frankly this company has been shit-tacular at best in doing the jobs the way they should.
I can’t wait until it’s all done, and we can not have to worry about them anymore. I will be hiring other people to seal the driveway in the following years.
When it’s all done, were buying Landon a basketball hoop for the driveway. Then, we will be getting mulch, and flowers for the front of the house. I can’t wait to get my daffodils planted around all the trees and get the house looking nice again for spring time. I’m pretty sure that Kenley’s tree is dead; it’s pretty “crisp” and hasn’t had any new buds this spring sooooo……I guess I’ll give it another year.
Yesterday, Kenley should have been 16 months old.
Ouch. My heart.
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:
- Low self-esteem
- A feeling of being overwhelmed
- Sleep and eating disturbances
- Inability to be comforted
- 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.