As the year comes to a close and Kenley’s second birthday speeds toward me like a fucking bullet train, I am so thankful for the donations we will be making to the hospital in her memory.
After Kenley died I knew that I wanted to do something in her honor for the Hospital where she was born. I didn’t know what; nothing felt right to be honest. We ended up donating 2 large photos and they are placed in the room where she was born- 3E11-, and the room next door. I didn’t think that was enough, and still didn’t feel right. What could I do to make her name mean something to other people?
I was given a book and a rubber bracelet when Kenley was born still. I wear the bracelet every single day, as does Shane. I haven’t taken it off once since I put it on; I had it on the day Alden was born. I thought for a while about what would be good to put in the bags. I came up with a list of items that I knew would have really helped me had I received them at the time of her death.
- good quality tissues (my nose was bloody & raw from the hospitals)
- relaxing lotion
- a candle to light in honor of your baby
- two books that helped me in my early grief
- a note pad and pen to jot down information
- forget me not seeds to plant in honor of your baby
Last year, we donated 20 bags in Kenley’s name. We also donated some crocheted hats, and sleepers for the babies who are born still.
I was contacted by the Hospital and told all bags had all been used within 6 months. Twenty babies born sleeping within 6 months in my town. How? How is this still happening? I know that it’s never NOT going to happen, at least not in my life time, but it’s just mind boggling that in 2017 babies still die. The fact that these babies don’t even get a chance is what hurts the most.
This year, in honor of Kenley, we have chosen to donate 40 bags to the Hospital system. We are also going to donate 40 girl sleepers, 40 boy sleepers, and 40 books for the parents to give to the siblings (if needed). This is going to be a huge undertaking, and I’m looking forward to organizing it again this year! I’m starting things early that way there is plenty of time to organize the creation of all bags, and make sure things fall into place.
Last year, tons of people reached out to me and asked what they could do for Kenley’s birthday. I chose to have people take photos of her name and send them to me. I then printed them out and have them in a collage in my home. It was so healing to see her name written in all kinds of places, in all kinds of ways.
This year, I’m asking for people to donate to her care packages.
I’ve made an Amazon wish list as well if people would rather purchase items instead of donating money to the *gofundme account we made for donations.
I’m planning to post this information in a separate page at the top of my blog so it’s accessible all the time and you won’t have to go fishing through old posts to find the information. It’s extremely hard for us to “shop” for things that will go to grieving parents, but I don’t know anyone better to help other grieving parents than another grieving parent. It broke my heart to add all of these sleepers to the wish list knowing that they will be given to babies who didn’t get to spend time with their parents how they should. I wish that they could be worn while the child is laying in their parents arms, staring into their eyes full of joy and a future, instead of the parents staring at all they lost in their child.
I hope that you will consider taking a peek at the Amazon wish list to see what we plan to donate! (Please view the entire list as Amazon makes it impossible to set default priority settings, or simply sort by priority)
Please feel free to reach out to me if you would like to donate something than what is on the list, or have any questions what so ever! Any help or donation is appreciated SO very much!
**ALL DONATIONS WILL GO TOWARD CARE PACKAGES.**
Some days there are no words that come to my head when I think about describing how sad I am without my middle child.
There have been conversations lately that revolve around my newest child and make no mention of Kenley. I want my life with Alden to move forward; I don’t want to live one second without her sweet face in my life. I just want people to remember Kenley, too.
I often wonder if people think about her as much as I do? Do certain things that they do, or things that happen to them remind them of her? Are certain situations reminders of the sweet baby girl we lost?
Do they wonder what she would look like now, or what she would be doing?
Do they wake up each morning with her near the front of their minds like they did for so long?
I doubt it.
And I cannot blame them- life continues to move forward and my life in the “after” includes Alden. It IS Alden. It’s incredibly hard to explain, and this is a very random post so don’t try to make heads or tails of it- I just needed to put this down somewhere.
The 4th was rough. Alden enjoyed the parade and I found myself getting choked up quite frequently. I mentioned to Shane that I was getting upset and he comforted me. He is amazing and I am so thankful for him. I ended up leaving him there with Alden so I could step away and break down.
It was too much.
I was brought to tears by a fucking parade.
All because my daughter is dead.
It is not fair that everything is so hard for a parent who has lost a child.
It’s so unfair.
This Holiday sucks for a lot of my loss mom friends.
For me, I have a very strong dislike as well. It makes me so mad that loss has stolen this holiday from me as well. I LOVED the 4th before. It was my favorite holiday for reasons unknown; It just was.
I remember being 4 months pregnant with Kenley in July 2015 and going to the lake to watch fireworks with Shane’s family. My sister in law gave me Kenley’s first gift- a 6 month outfit for next July 4th. It was adorable. SO CUTE. and I just had all these visions of her wearing this outfit, and sitting up, eating little puffs while sitting on a blanket under a tree with me.
But, that never happened. She never even got to see this outfit, or fireworks.
After she died, this outfit hung in her closet, mocking me. Just staring at me, trying to convince me that I’m a bad mom and Kenley’s death was my fault. I know that sounds crazy, but these are the things people don’t talk about. Shit like that ACTUALLY happens.
This year, it’s still there. Alden can fit into 6 month clothes- they’re a little big but they fit.
The Fourth of July outfit is 6 month.
I looked at it.
I took it off the hanger and washed it.
I just hung it back up in the closet- on Alden’s side.
Alden will be wearing it this holiday- in honor of Kenley.
As I reached into the back of my spice cabinet and felt them, I knew what they were. The numbers 3 & 0. They were my birthday candles; hot pink, and glittery on tiny little toothpicks. They were my favorite candles, and they were from my favorite birthday- My 30th. I was finally pregnant after all of our infertility treatments, and I was so happy. Shane and Landon went together to buy me a birthday present. They bought me a past present future ring that I’ve worn on my right ring finger ever since.
This is the only gift I have “from” Kenley. When I opened the gift, I imagined giving it to her when she was older, maybe on her high school graduation day. Maybe on her wedding day; it could be her something old. People don’t prepare you for these things.
No one ever tells you what happens after.
After the initial shock wears off.
After you wake up for consecutive days without the baby you carried for 9 months.
After you can so sadly say “I’m a survivor of child loss”.
No one ever tells you that every day is a fight; to get out of bed, to not fall apart every second of every day, to feel normal- whatever that new normal may be. No one ever tells you that you will feel like your body failed you; that you will hate yourself for what your body did to your child. You never hear about the judgement you will face, like you’re damaged goods, and now you’re less of a Mother because your child is dead. No one tells you that you will constantly replay the moments over and over in your head, no matter how hard you try to block them out; your memories become your nightmares.
No one tells you that somehow you make it through. Somehow you are still alive. Somehow you are still breathing, but you are not the same person as before. You will never be that person; that person died with the child you lost.
That person no longer exists.
I don’t know that I would have believed anyone, during the early days of grief, had they told me that eventually you just learn how to survive. Surviving doesn’t mean that things get easier; honestly, things get more complicated and weird as time goes on. Surviving doesn’t mean that you forgot, or ever will forget the child you lost, or that this child is any less loved than they were the moment you found out of their existence.
Surviving means that the love you have for that child transcends time and space.
Surviving means you are keeping the memory of your child alive.
Every day that I survive on this earth, is one day closer to my Daughter.
Most days (now) I wake up and feel like I’ve lived a really bad dream for the past (almost) 18 months. It just doesn’t seem like this can be MY life. This type of stuff happens to other people, not to me. Not to my family; we had already faced so much when we found out Kenley died. How could we be dealt this hand, too? Why me? Why Shane? Why Landon? But most of all, why Kenley? My sweet girl. My innocent little baby…what did she do to deserve this?
I often think of her, and what she would be doing these days. I find myself looking at her photo while feeding Alden. Staring at her, staring at both of them, hoping to see a similarity that I can cling to in my living child’s face. I usually come up empty handed. Alden is her own person, and I know that, but I wish I could see Kenley in her.
People have asked me if I’ve called Alden by Kenley’s name. I haven’t yet, but it is only because I consciously tell myself that it is not her name. Every time I speak Alden’s name, Kenley’s name comes to my lips first. Always. I’m pretty sure this is normal, and I’m also sure it will be a life long battle in some capacity.
I know that as Alden becomes her own person I will be able to separate them more. I only knew Kenley inside of me, and outside, even though she had passed away, for a few hours. I won’t ever really know her, because I already know all there is to know about her. I know the foods she liked, and the music she liked.
She loved Mexican food, and Ceasar Salad from Panera Bread.
She loved Christmas music.
But, I will never know her favorite color, or if she would have been tall like me. What color eyes would she have had at Landon’s age? These are things I will always have to wonder about. I will get to see Alden become her own person, and every single day I am so thankful for that, but you know what? It still stings. I am not ok. I am not “better” because she is here; I am different, sure, but not better. My life will never be “better”- I’ve lost a child and that is something you cannot replace.
Alden does not take Kenley’s place in my life or in our family.
I read a quote the other day that said “I think hell is something you carry around with you, not somewhere you go”.
This rings so true with me. No matter the happiness I feel, no matter the joy and light that Alden brings to me, or the length of time that passes since Kenley’s birth, the scars of going through the deepest darkest hell are still going to be there. I will be carrying the aftermath, my new life, the “hell”, with me forever.
This is my life, forever. Nothing can ever change that. Nothing can bring Kenley back, so this is it.
I am the parent of a dead child.
Following the loss of a child, so many changes take place in us. Even our physical appearance changes. Our skin shows signs of aging. Many people say their hair turned white overnight. Others say they couldn’t see clearly–their eyesight changed.
Mentally, we live in a fog. We can’t remember where we put things. We often get lost when driving to places such as the supermarket. We get confused. We cannot complete easy tasks. Our minds cannot focus. Physically, we might feel aches and pains we never had before. We might suffer from panic attacks.
This is only a small peek inside the new life of grief that now belongs to parents of child loss. Losing a child is not a singular loss, but rather a series of losses that continues all of the days of our life. If only others understood the courage it takes for child loss parents to get out of bed and face each new day.
• Silent Grief—Child Loss Support
Having a “rainbow baby” doesn’t take away the grief of losing a child, it preoccupies you with having a new life to care for, which puts your grief (and everything else in life) on the back burner. It also means that you are taken by “grief surprise” more often. Normal every day things seem to be super heavy when maybe they weren’t before, even while carrying your rainbow.
Some days everything just feels like I am trying to complete a task with an extra 500lbs on my chest. Some days I wonder how I am still alive, and how I get up to face the day. Easter and the day before were those days for me recently. I knew that we were going to Shane’s grandma’s for Easter and while I love his family so incredibly much, I knew it would be hard. It will ALWAYS be hard from now on. To make matters worse, there is a child in the family who is a month and a half older than what Kenley should be. I see that child, I think of what I’m missing. You can surely understand why it’s hard? It’s not this child’s (or her parents) fault my daughter died, but it still stings more than there are words and I will never not be sad around them. That is my life now.
Easter morning it was just me, Landon and Alden. Landon ran into our room saying “the Easter bunny came!” Then he excitedly ran out to get both his and Alden’s baskets. As I was putting them together the day before, it just hit me like a ton of bricks- there should be three, but there will always only be two.
Even if we have more children, we’re always going to be down one child and that is so fucking cruel. I know we’re not the only family who deals with this, but that doesn’t bring me any comfort what so ever.
So needless to say, Easter was rough. I feel like such a bad mom, too. I didn’t buy Alden or Landon any cute little Easter specific outfit. (I also didn’t decorate eggs until today…) I’m kind of thinking that I just didn’t care enough, I’m just too sad to make an effort? I love my kids and I would love to dress them up all cute but this year was unexpectedly hard. I felt like the grief and sadness was fresh. Last year I was sad because Kenley should be have been here enjoying Easter, and this year I’m sad for that as well as feeling guilty that she isn’t here and Alden is.
The thoughts in my brain are things that I can only share with a few select people. Loss mom’s, and maybe my mom or/and sister. They make no sense and they are dark and scary.
Today I was cleaning up the nursery. It’s been a disaster, like the entire house, since Alden came. I am overcome with anxiety which makes cleaning up pretty much impossible until I have a good day (today was a decent day so I took advantage) I don’t know why, but I started taking the newborn diapers out of the diaper caddy that I placed there with hopes and dreams of diapering Kenley. It was so so hard. I felt a heat rush over my body and down my chest.
How is this my life?
How am I deciding if I want to remove these or leave them there (probably forever) instead of just simply running out because they’ve all been used. It hurts. My eyes got hot because I knew I was going to start crying any second.
How is this my life?
In my before, they were just diapers, but now, unfortunately, they come with so much attached to them.
Guilt because I’m replacing them with her sisters.
Parenting after a loss is all sorts of messy. You never know what a trigger is going to be ( although I knew these were a trigger…that’s why they’re still there…) I will never understand why this happened to our family, to my precious daughter who was wanted SO badly. I would give anything to have her laying here in front of me. No…she would probably be running around actually. Ugh.
The realizations of what she should be doing sting so badly. This is also why Easter was so. fucking. hard. this year. The child I mentioned above was walking, and running, and talking. That should be Kenley…and it never will be.
I guess I was feeling extra ambitious today (read: felt like torturing myself more then usual today) because I decided to put Alden in Kenley’s clothes again today. I chose a shirt that I picked for Kenley and fell in love with. It was in her diaper bag at the hospital when we found out she died. The leggings are the ones I had ordered just a few days before she died…they were in the mailbox the day we came home from the hospital.
I also put her in the outfit my sister bought for her. She wasn’t too happy with it, but she looked cute so here’s the best picture I could get.
Alden is officially one month old! It’s flying by, and I can’t believe it.
She loves to sleep, eat and poop. She is recognizing our specific voices, and trying to grab her toys. She’s also been holding her head up for a long time now! Still wobbly as heck but she does a good job trying. Also, she’s a grunting, stretching, farting rude girl 🙂
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.
When we were 13 weeks pregnant with Kenley, my neighbor asked if she could bring over some gifts she bought us. I was so excited- Kenley’s first gifts! I couldn’t wait. One of the gifts was a baby book; the kind that I would have chosen myself which made it that much better. I remember flipping through and thinking about all the entries I couldn’t wait to make. First teeth to come in, first steps, favorite cartoons, or books. Except, I only filled in the first two or three pages; I was denied the opportunity to complete the other entries.
When we got pregnant with Alden, things were extremely different- how could they not be? I didn’t want gifts for her; I didn’t want to make plans for her future because I was all too sure she would be ripped away from me too. A week or so before she came, I received a surprise gift in the mail from a dear friend.
A baby book.
I had put off buying one intentionally because I just couldn’t even think about filling in the beginning again.
“Mommy and Daddy were _________ when they found out you were coming!”
Scared. Guilty. Mad. Excited. Happy. Sad. Anxious. Depressed.
How do you fill in that answer?
I took her book to the hospital to make sure her foot prints found the proper home inside, but I haven’t opened it yet to look at them. I know she deserves me to fill out her book just like I started to fill out Kenley’s, or how I’ve filled out Landon’s. I know that. I’m sure that some day I will fill it out because I want her to be able to look back at it after she’s had a child of her own to see when she started walking, or when she got her first tooth and to see which one it was.
She deserves that.
I owe it to her.
I want to make her life as “shadowless” as possible and I know that having a baby book for her will be a step in that direction. I don’t want to ever imagine how she would feel if she asked me to see her book, and I told her I couldn’t make her one because after her sister died I would rather have sawed off my arm than write in another baby book.
I’m finding out each day that there are new mountains to climb in my new life with Alden.
One foot in front of the other, right? One step at a time.