3.21.2019

There were a lot of world and national “holidays” that were recognized today. Of course today was 3.21.2019, which is World Down Syndrome Day. If you’re not familiar with Jensen’s story, after his anatomy scan, they told us he would have Down syndrome. This day took on a different meaning for me. Every year, I rock my socks with Jensen bear and now with Mila too (I posted a picture of all of us on Instagram, which is hilarious because Mila kept ripping Jensen bear’s socks off). It’s another thing that Jensen has brought to our little family that I’ll definitely continue doing with Mila. I’d like her to learn all about Jensen AND appreciate the fact that every single person is different in the world. Instead of looking at these differences like they’re bad, we should honor and celebrate them.

Although I knew one of today’s celebration, I learned another too. It’s National Single Parent’s Day. I didn’t really think much of it after I first heard, then it made me really think. Everyday, it’s just Mila and I. Yes, we have an awesome family and Jensen always in our hearts, but I’m her one and only.

I haven’t really thought about how it’s just me for a long time. In the beginning, Mila cried constantly and I would think how badly I needed a break or just a second to take a breath. Parenting after loss and being a new mom was difficult for those first few months. Then there’s times I wish I could share her new things she does or all the pictures I take with someone. I didn’t plan everything that I’ve been through in this crazy life, but especially not this.

Tonight when I was giving Mila a bath, I really needed to use the restroom (TMI, sorry). I tried to wait till she was done playing in the water, but I couldn’t. It was so fun watching her splash and I didn’t want to end her fun. Weirdly, after knowing that there was this day for single parents, I was almost hyperaware of what our normal. I thought, if someone was here during this, she wouldn’t have to stop her fun because of me. It’s not disappointing to think about, but it’s almost like I think she’s missing out. Anyways, I wrap her up, but her in the bathroom sink and everything is normal. I could tell she wanted to go back in the bath and play, so I did something different. Instead of waiting to take a shower after she went to sleep, I just brought her in with me. Something that I couldn’t do before, I was able to now. And let me tell you, in that exact moment, I was so glad no one was here with me.

I got to hold her and really look at her discover something new. She liked how each bottle made different noises and how the water felt on her arm. When she saw me wash my hair, she wanted to help out. It was a whole new adventure for her to be in there with me and it was just as new for me too. I got to see how the water droplets hit and stayed on her face. Then after I would try to wipe them off, she’d stick her face right back in it. When she was experimenting with the noises, I really got to stare her eyes. Who knew trying to really look at your kid’s eyes would be so hard, but I finally got to really look at them. A light brown on the inside then darken up to a deep blue ring on the outside.

And to think I would have never gotten those moments with her if things weren’t different. It also makes me wonder how I missed moments like these with Jensen, so getting them with her is just extra special.

After our shower, I got her in her jammies and read the same book twenty-five times. We crawled into bed after all the reading was done. I laid there, playing with her hair and just reflected on everything that her and I have: a house that we love and is perfect for us, food that I love making for her, a comfy bed, Jensen watching over us, a family who loves us, and most importantly each other. I love where we are in life, even the hard moments.

I’m unsure what the future holds, but I do know we’re going to be perfectly fine. Being a parent no matter if you have a partner or not is full of ups and downs, but so worth it. Everyday I just look at her and am so happy she’s physically here with me because I live the other part of my motherhood not being able to see my son grow. Jensen taught me to never wish a moment away and it really prepared me for Mila. I’m so thankful for all the responsibility I have in raising her. Yes, it means less sleep, less time to myself, less (sometimes) sanity. It also means, I get to feel and have all the pride, all the time, and all the love.

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Hi Again…

It’s been nine months since I’ve last posted and none crazy ones at that. In one more month, Jensen will be three and Mila will be one. If you told me three years what would have transpired from then to now, I would not have believed you.

I never would have believed that my baby would have died. There is no way I could have imagined planning his funeral or even going to it. That first year… it was the hardest in my life. Each day new struggles presented themselves, but through it all, I made it. I thought the second year would be way easier, but I learned loss and grief doesn’t really give you a break.

Year two brought different emotions and changed grief. Pregnancy after loss didn’t make things easier either. Jensen and Mila’s due dates were so close. I was afraid she was going to die 99% of the time. Weirdly, being pregnant again made me feel closer to Jensen. Maybe it’s because that’s the only time I got to spend with him. I wrote a lot to Jensen in that span of time, so that probably has a lot to do with it too.

Then this year. We’re headed straight to his third birthday. Three whole years with your child takes a toll. I think a lot of people believe once you have your rainbow that things get easier. For me, it didn’t. I saw all the things firsthand that I missed with him. There were a lot of times I overcompensated with her because I thought I needed to prove that I would’ve been great for the both of them. I tried not to change my life too much when she was first here by writing and keeping up with everything. When I realized I couldn’t, I felt like I had let Jensen down. Mila… wasn’t the easiest baby. There were lots of times I could barely take care of myself. She hated being put down. Mothering her was so challenging, on top of feeling like I was neglecting the way I had learned to mother Jensen. Slowly I learned I could do both, just not in all the ways I thought I had to do before.

I want to get back into writing and creating for my Etsy shop. Miss Mila has been better in playing by herself and napping. It’s cleared space for me to do some serious heart work. I’m unsure with what I need to continue writing about here. Some days I’d love to write about Mila adventures. Most moments are wild here and I feel like we always have fun stories to share. Then I feel like this is my Jensen space, but this is apart of his story too. He’s always with us and talked about. So maybe in the next few weeks, I’ll rework this site and make it inclusive to all aspects. We will soon see.

Now that I’ve taken a paragraph to ramble, I guess what I really want to say is we’re still here. We’re figuring out this life after loss and parenting too. For me, losing Jensen hasn’t gotten easier. There are days where it feels like it just happened and others I’m so busy with everything that it feels lighter. The waves of grief have gotten longer, but they crash hard. No matter if you’re in the raw part of your grief or years out, there are always ups and downs. Through it all, we’re never alone.

Thanks everyone for sticking around and reading this way past due update. I promise it won’t be another nine months.

Blossom.

Dear Mila,

It’s been a few days since I’ve been able to write. I wanted to post and participate every day of May We All Heal, but life gets a little crazy at times.

In the days I haven’t shared, you’ve grown and changed everyday. It seems impossible that a person can get so much bigger in just a few short days. You truly are blossoming I’m more ways than I imagined and I know this will happen for the rest of your life.

After you were born, I realized all the things I had missed with your brother. Things that I didn’t really know happened with parenting a newborn or being a mom to a living child. There are so many moments and experiences I crave even more with him now that I know I’ll just have to imagine. Sometimes that’s a hard pill to swallow, but I’m thankful I get to have them with you.

Do you want to know the one thing I always thought he’d do for me? Pick me flowers. I imagined he’d go pick flowers from the landscaping and the dandelions in the yard. He would bring them in to the house for me and we’d have to put them in water so they would keep. Maybe that’s why I always have fresh flowers in the house. They make me smile and think of him and the imaginary little cup of dandelions we’d have all summer long.

That’s one of the ways Jensen continues to blossom.

His love continues to grow and that’s what keeps his memory alive. He’s in every dandelion I see and every bouquet of flowers I bring home. The only difference is he continues to blossom and we’ll never let him wilt away. He’ll always be your big brother and my son.

You two will blossom in different ways, but each as beautiful as the other.

I love you.

Mama

Need.

Dear Mila,

My needs have changed a lot since you’ve been born. Instead of needing so much for myself, I make sure you’re constantly and perfectly content. This is what moms do.

I love being your mom. It makes me so happy to see you grow, knowing that I’m able to get you all that you need. When I see you progress developmentally with smiles and coos, I light up. All this play and talking you need is really working. Everything that happens during our days together is to help you become the best human.

This wasn’t the motherhood I once knew before.

After Jensen was born, all this maternal instinct to put his needs in front of mine sort of had no where to go. I learned that I had to get them out quickly though. Instead of feeding him, I decorated the house with his name and face. I wrote about him rather then giving him a bath. Then there came a point where I had to focus on what I needed. This was… hard to do. I changed my self care routine and took out some toxic in my life. The one thing I needed stable in my life after loss, was me.

Now that you’re here, I am both yours and Jensen’s mom. With that comes its own sets of needs. I promise I’ll do whatever I can to provide for your needs. Whatever will make you happy, I promise I’ll try to do for you. With Jensen, I need to hear his name. I need to remember I’m doing my best being his mom. I need the world to know about this little boy I love so very much.

I love you, Mila, and I never knew how much I needed you.

Mama

Triggers.

Dear Mila,

Strength grows in the moments when you think you can’t go on but you keep going anyways.

I took you to Jensen’s tree for the first time yesterday. There we dandelions everywhere and all I wanted to do was make a wish that he could be there with us.

We didn’t stay there long. I felt the heaviness of our reality and how his tree would be the only way I could see you two grow together. All I could think of is how unfair it was that you’ll never have your big brother physically here and how I can’t mother him the way I do you. So, I had to walk away and I don’t know when I’ll have the strength to go back.

This, for me, is a trigger.

A trigger is something that provokes a strong emotion. Mostly, it puts my grief in hyperdrive and they can just hit out of no where. I didn’t expect to feel the way I did going to his tree with you. Sometimes I can feel them coming on, like leaving the hospital with you or certain firsts. They don’t necessarily have to be bad or paralyzing. I just see it as an emotion or something that needs to be felt.

Lately, I’ll admit, I’ve been triggered a lot. It’s a mix of hormones, Mother’s Day, and knowing what I missed out on. I’m doing my best to keep my head up.

The one thing I hope for as you grow is that these triggers don’t impact you. You bring so much happiness in my life and I soak up every single second with you. If you see me sad, know it’s not because of something you did. Triggers can bring me down, but never you. Never.

Live your life to your fullest. Take every opportunity that comes your way and run with it.

I’ll always be cheering you on.

I love you.

Mama

Forgiveness.

Dear Mila,

“In order to heal we must first forgive… and sometimes the person we must forgive is ourselves.”

-Mila Bron

Forgiveness is important all throughout life.

Everyone you meet will make a mistake sometime while you know them. I’ve made mistakes and you’ll make them too. It’s inevitable. People are flawed, but most of us cut each other some slack and know this. We forgive big and little mistakes and it’s crucial we do this.

Sometimes in life bad things happen and we have no one to forgive. Maybe you’ll take that one thing and put it on yourself. This is what I did after Jensen was born. I was so angry that I didn’t know something bad was going to happen or that I didn’t feel something different. All I could do was be mad at myself, on top of grieving. It wasn’t a good mix and I didn’t know how to move through that patch. Sometimes, I still blame myself; even when I know I did all I could do. In this time, I learned the hardest person to forgive is yourself.

Just in the last month, I’ve truly forgave myself. I thought my body failed me with Jensen or maybe that I wasn’t good enough to have him. Everything negative I could think about myself concerning his death, I thought. Now that you’re here, I realized I didn’t do anything wrong. I didn’t do anything extra different during each pregnancy, besides worry and stews way more with you. With you and him, I carried, loved, and dreamed of so many things we would do. There’s nothing I could have done to change both outcomes. It’s just how it is and I know that now. In some crazy way, you and your brother both have taught me this in different ways.

I’ve forgiven myself and one day when you have to do the same, I hope you know there isn’t anything you could do that would ever prevent me in forgiving you.

Always be you.

I love you.

Mama

Mother.

Dear Mila,

Early on in your life, you’ll learn that not everyone’s journey to motherhood looks the same. You’ll know that there are moms everywhere around you, even when you can’t see their children. There are some babies us moms carry in our hearts.

You wore one of your ‘little sister’ shirts today. It’s something I am so proud you get to wear because your big brother means the world to me; and so do you. Death cannot steak these titles from you both. You are always connected and have an angel watching over you. Even though we talk about Jensen everyday and integrate him in our daily routine, there is an extra special reason you wore this shirt… today Bereaved Mother’s Day.

I think it’s hard to explain why Bereaved Mother’s Day is important. Why not just ‘celebrate’ everything next weekend? Well, in the past I’ve done that too. Today, for me, is when I can allow myself to grieve. I cried when I woke up, when I put that onesie on you, and now as I’m writing this watching you sleep in my lap. Grief is hard, but this is apart of my motherhood. If I never lost your brother, I wouldn’t know about this day. I wouldn’t know about the many different paths to motherhood. Sometimes I wish I didn’t, but this is how life is now. Loss moms everywhere can share their stories, let each other know we’re not alone, and help educate others.

Being your and Jensen’s mom is my favorite title for myself. Motherhood is the most rewarding and sometimes heartbreaking experience I’ve been through. On this day, I get to mother Jensen in a way that can help others and myself. I also get to mother you on these Jensen days to make you a more compassionate person.

I promise to always mother you in the best way I can. Just as I promise to mother your brother in the ways I can too.

Thank you and Jensen for giving me this title and allowing me to be your mother.

I love you.

Mama

Isolation.

Dear Jensen,

Portraits by Dana

Today’s May We All Heal prompt needed to stray away from the letters in writing your sister. It’s actually not the prompt, more as the actual day. I need to share you.

The fifth of every month will forever be yours in my eyes. Today’s monthday marks twenty-five months or two years and a month since you’ve been born. It also shares your sisters three week mark. But today, I needed to write to you.

You’ve seen me throughout this entire journey: the good, the bad, and the ugly. There have been times of complete isolation. It felt like no one in the world knew what was going on in my brain. No one had ever lost you of the relationship we had, so in my mind they’ll never understand. But around this time two year ago, you helped me find the loss community. That isolation turned into healing because I realized there were people grieving their child and I wasn’t this crazy person.

Since your sisters been born… there’s a different type of grief isolation. I try to be my happiest for her and live in each moment. Although it’s only been three weeks with her, I haven’t been able to write your nightly letter. That’s so hard on me. Once I get this routine down, I’ll be able to start up again. I’ve noticed myself keeping my emotions down too. When I put your sister down to sleep and I try to, they all come up.

Maybe it’ll be this way forever. I just want to find a good medium with it all and for you to know you’re always being thought about.

I hope heaven is a celebration everyday and that you stay close to your sister and I as we honor you and motherhood this weekend. You’re always walking with me. I know you make yourself known to Mila too.

I love you, Jens. You’re the light of my life.

Mama

Anxiety.

Dear Mila,

If a person could feel their mother’s emotions in the womb, you’d know all about anxiety.

I never used to be an anxious person before. Of course I worried about trivial things all children and teenagers face, but nothing like I’ve experienced now.

The first time I had an anxiety attack is when we found out Jensen had Down syndrome. I didn’t expect any ‘abnormalities’ in any of the tests with him. In my naive mind, nothing bad ever happened to babies or pregnant women. You probably think that’s crazy since you know how paranoid I am about pregnancy in general. Anyways, after those results, I couldn’t catch my breath and it felt like the world was sitting on my chest. After a few days, that anxiety went away. He was mine. I would do anything in my power to give him the bed of everything. So, I did what I do best and prepared.

It wasn’t until a few months later that I had my second ever anxiety attack. When we found out Jensen was gone, I fell apart. I guess it was like a major life attack. My blood pressure spiked, my vision went black, and I couldn’t catch my breath. Life felt like that for months after abs sometimes still does…

Nothing traumatic had ever happened in my life before that. I didn’t have any reason to worry about things before. My mind didn’t overwork. Then, as with everything, my world flipped upside down.

I worried every time my phone rang or if someone didn’t text back quick. Then I went through a stage where I didn’t care about anything. My anxiety flipped-flopped like that until I got pregnant with you. Then a new type of anxiety slapped me in the face: pregnancy after loss.

Everyday I woke up wondering if this would be the day you would be gone. When you hit big enough, I’d poke my belly until I felt you moving, then could breathe for a little while. I didn’t sleep much. My mind went through every horrible scenario. At every appointment, I asked my doctor if this anxiety was good for you and that I just needed you to be born alive. They knew all about Jensen so they didn’t think I was extra crazy for bringing it up each time.

With your birth, the anxiety of my body failing ended. You were here and in my arms. The longer you looked at me, the less I felt that anxiety.

Now that your here, I worry about other things, but it’s different. I’m not sure how to explain it.

As a mom and especially a loss mom, I’ll always have anxiety. I worry about you when you sleep, when I’m in the shower, or anytime I’m not holding you. It’s just because I love you so much and want you to be safe.

I hope you never experience the trauma and anxiety I went through with stillbirth. Even though I would never trade your brother or my time with him, I wouldn’t wish the aftermath of the mental madness of child loss on anyone. With that being said, when you are feeling anxious about whatever you’re going through during your life, I’ll help you make it through. I’m always here to listen and if you want my advice I’ll give it to you. One of my jobs for the rest of my life is to comfort you, even when you’re a grown woman facing this big world.

One of the things Jensen taught me that I’m able to teach you is that we can make it through anything. All it takes is a lot of love and a little patience.

I love you.

Mama

Beginnings.

Dear Mila,

This is how we began this morning. A walk around the big block before it got too hot. You love being outside and I love hearing the birds, that reminds me so much of Jensen, all around us.

Beginnings used to be one of my favorite things. They mark the start of a new adventure. A way to learn more about the world and yourself. Beginnings were awesome.

The beginning of my motherhood is my favorite. When I found out I was pregnant with your brother, I was full of joy and hope for the future. Of course I was scared about certain things, like how crazy different my life would be after he was born and if I was going to be good at the whole mom thing. My heart told me I’d be just fine though and your brother always made me feel so calm. He made this beginning so sweet, I couldn’t have asked for anything better.

What I didn’t realize about beginnings was they sometimes were born out of really horrible situations.

The end of my pregnancy and Jensen’s birth was the start of my grief journey. I didn’t expect my motherhood to lead me to this point, but I was thrown in to this world where babies died and moms had to live without their children for the rest of their lives. It’s so hard.

In that beginning, you wouldn’t have recognized your mom. I know you’ve felt me sad or when I’ve had an anxiety attack, but this was different. Nothing could make me smile. A cloud of grief and shock clung to me everywhere I went. My days and nights meshed together by sleep and tears. I wouldn’t wish the beginning on any person in the world. I hated that my wonderful beginning with your brother brought me here, but I fought not to let grief and depression and everything else I was feeling stop me from remembering him with the light he brought to my life.

A little over a year after Jensen was born, a new beginning happened: pregnancy after loss. When I found out I was pregnant last spring, I felt like I could hope for the future again. Unfortunately, this hope lasted for a short amount of time. This beginning and end sort of go together. But it brought me to the next one, which gave me you.

I wish Jensen could physically be experiencing the beginning of your life here with us. A big part of me thinks he was there picking you out before I even knew you’d be with me.

If he’s taught me anything I could pass down to you, it’d be that no matter how hard things get, you have to keep moving forward. You don’t ever have to move on from something, ignore any of your feelings, or forget, but you have to keep going for whatever reason. You have this beautiful gift of life that so many don’t even get a chance to have. I know that probably sounds like a lot of pressure, but I want you to know how special and lucky you truly are, so would your brother. Take it from your mom, who has encountered some of the worst beginnings, that you are going to do great things in this world. When things go wrong in life (and they sure will) you can start a new adventure or begin again.

You always have me and your brother cheering you on. And I promise you’ll never be alone through any of your beginnings.

I love you.

Mama

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The 2018 May We All Heal prompt list: