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.

Continue reading

Update: Kenley’s Care Packages

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

So far we have-

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

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

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

Thank you for all your help! 

Care Packages.

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

Care packages. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You can find our gofundme page here.

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

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

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?

 

rational brain=non existent

I’m pretty sure that the last two weeks of this pregnancy are going to just drive me absolutely up the wall crazy. Since last Wednesday when I posted last, I have gone off the deep end it feels.

Thursday we had our NST, and it was CAKE…like nothing has ever gone so smooth in my life kind of cake. We walked in, I peed in a cup- all was good, I lost two lbs, blood pressure was like ridiculously perfect, and Alden was kicking the NST’s ass. We were in and out within what felt like 30 minutes. After, we went to Panera bread and enjoyed a nice relaxing lunch. I love Thursdays with Shane because we always get lunch together and it’s just so relaxing to be with him.

So, fast forward to Friday. Landon is in school, and my mom came to visit for the weekend. Everything is going well, but just somewhere in the back of my mind I feel super uneasy. I think the closer it is getting to d-day, the worse I’m feeling. Saturday I convinced myself that she wasn’t moving “right”, or that her pattern was different. Of course this caused me to spiral and push on her a bunch to see if she would move (which she did). I would get so close to saying I had to go into L&D, then she would move enough for me to feel confident in her being alive.

Saturday night however was a different story. She didn’t move while I laid in bed with Shane watching tv. She didn’t move when I rolled on my back, or my other side. In the tiny little rational part of my brain I have left I’m thinking, ok…she is sleeping so much right now, everything is fine. It’s constantly overshadowed by the giant irrational (read: totally legit) part of my brain that says  OMG. IT’S BEEN FOREVER SINCE YOU FELT HER MOVE. GET UP. GO TO LABOR AND DELIVERY. GO NOW. WHO CARES IF YOU CAN HEAR HER HEART BEAT ON YOUR DOPPLER. THAT’S NOT GOOD ENOUGH.

Saturday night I slept like SHIT. I was up 4 times to pee, and one of those times I was woken up by a contraction that hurt like hell.

Oh and at 4:45 am that “legit” part of my brain made me use my doppler to hear her heart beat.

FOUR. FOURTY. FIVE. AM.

Tomorrow it will be 16 days until she’s here. Kenley died a week before her scheduled c-section date. I cannot stop thinking about how were coming up on that date. Sure, this is a different pregnancy, and things are different this time yada yada yada, but honestly? Things are so much worse this time. Before, I was excited. I wanted to let her cook in there as long as she could! I asked for a c-section at 38 weeks and was told no. If my doctors would have agreed, she would be here. They had no reason to not agree.

This time, my MFM is willing to take her at 37 weeks, and I’m pretty sure I’m going to beg her to take her at 36, or 36.3 I don’t know, just something. She needs to come out while I know she’s alive. I didn’t know that Kenley wasn’t alive. It was so unfair, and cruel. I want to be able to say that this isn’t driving me insane, or that I’m handling it super well, but the truth is I’m not.

My anxiety is overwhelming. My fear of losing this child has become to much. I am excited for Alden to come…but what if she doesn’t get to come home with us? What would I do? People are taking time off of work for her arrival- just like with Kenley- and what happens if she doesn’t survive. It’s all too much.

Tomorrow we have an NST followed by a Growth Ultrasound and an appointment with my MFM. She is so reassuring, so I know she will calm me down, but I really really hope that she considers my mental health when I ask her if we can go any earlier.

I’m sure she’ll say no and try to talk me down…but I feel like my concerns are valid and my opinion matters.

Having a baby should not be this god damn hard.

husband. 

Dear Shane, 

I know you don’t read this, but maybe someday you will. 

I want to tell you how much I love you. 

I want you to know how special it is to me to watch you lay your head on my belly and talk to your second daughter. 

It almost brings me to tears to hear you laugh when she kicks you in the hand or the side of the head randomly. 

She loves you, and so do I. 

You worked super early the past two days, yet you are having a sleep over with Landon…on his floor… telling ghost stories way past his bedtime because he asked you to. 

You’re an amazing Father. 

You’re an amazing Husband. 

I cannot wait to see you hold Alden, and to see the love in your eyes. 

I love you more than you will ever know. 

Love you always, 

Your best friend

six.

Last year, on 2/7, Landon turned 5. I remember (before Kenley died) spending so much time thinking about how “stressed out” I was going to feel for his birthday party. How was I going to throw it all together when I had a newborn? How was I going to make it special for him with his new sister in the mix? I had plans to have him Paw Patrol party, and I was going to dress Kenley up as one of the dogs to surprise him. Instead, the reality of the situation was, how can I walk through party city and buy paper plates without bursting into tears (I couldn’t)? How can I function enough to make this day special to him because his sister just died and isn’t here to celebrate with us (still not sure I succeeded).

It’s stuff like this that I really kick myself for. Sure, I didn’t know that Kenley wasn’t going to survive, so technically I shouldn’t beat myself up for that. However, I should have been thinking about all the awesome ways that I would be spending Landon’s birthday with him AND his sister- not how stressed out I was going to be. How dumb and naive I was.

This year, as Landon’s birthday started to creep closer, I found myself on Amazon. What can I buy on Amazon so that I don’t have to go to the store (read: so I can avoid a panic attack/PTSD flash backs)? I found everything online. I didn’t have to go to a store, and I found that I was better able to control my anxiety here at my house vs actually walking into the store again.

*Side note*

You know, as I sit here and write these things out all I can think is “god people probably think I’m a giant loser cry baby”…

That’s totally fine.

Think whatever you want to think about grief, but, try not to judge us who are grieving the death of a child too harshly. And, I hope with all of my heart that you never ever have to grieve the way that I am.

Anyway, I am pretty happy with how everything has turned out. He’s having a minecraft party, so I was able to buy a lot of the stuff on Etsy, which was cool.

So here we are again, at a birthday milestone. Six. He is going to be six. He was turning 5 and so excited for his sister to be there, and I couldn’t even give him that. Sure I’m pregnant now and things are looking good for her to come very soon, but let’s be honest here…I’m pretty sure his little mind doesn’t understand if he will ever get a real living sibling. I can try to explain it to him over and over, but, I’m sure he won’t believe it until she’s here either.

Can’t say that I blame him.