Relationships are hard, especially after losing a child you both created and loved so much. There are a lot of couples that break up after loss for a variety of reasons. Many argue because they don’t grieve the same way or they’re terrified to move forward in continuing their family. No matter what, the couple has to decide whether to stay together or part ways. As Anthony and I go through month four after losing Jensen, our relationship continues to evolve in different ways. From personal emotions to thinking about our forever without our son, not every conversation is easy. But, we grow each day and involve Jensen in our daily lives.
From my experience these six things have helped us stay strong during our hardest time and have evolved from the beginning of our relationship…
Accepting of Emotions
In the beginning and during our pregnancy, we were pretty much always on cloud nine. If we disagreed something, it was nicely resolved and we went along our way. Before losing Jensen, Anthony and I’s emotions were in check. Happiness followed us and that’s all we knew.
Now, I would say that 99% of the time, Anthony doesn’t know what Danielle he’s going to get when he comes through the door. There are some days where I’m crying on the couch watching sad movies and days where I smile and give him a big hug when he walks in the door. Other days, I’m literally breaking plates or something to get my aggression out. It’s a complete change of emotions and it’s so hard to juggle each one. There are days he comes home and is not in a good place. Then others he’s had a great day at work. On the days we’re on different ends of the spectrum, it’s even harder.
The best thing for us was being accepting of how we were feeling. Even if one was so sad and the other is happy. We make sure to be present and not judge each other for our emotions. This promotes a safe area and has helped us heal as a couple.
When I was pregnant, Anthony and I were always together or talking to each other. Space between us didn’t really exist. Maybe it’s because our relationship was so young and new, there was just no reason for space. We didn’t live together yet, so it felt like we needed to constantly be in contact. As Jensen grew and we were getting new things, I think we talked even more. If that’s even possible.
Now we need space. I know that’s how it is for every couple, but especially during loss. It plays in with the emotions. If I’m angry, I need my space to collect my thoughts and work through my grief. If I retreat to bed and cry for an hour, I need that time to just feel everything without someone else getting in those thoughts. On top of dealing with our own emotions, I think the space helps us connect with Jensen and see the importance of each other.
Before we found out we were going to have Jensen, Anthony and I went on so many dates. We went to the movies, museums, and out to eat all the time. During the six month mark in pregnancy, we stopped going out for us. We shopped for Jensen and went out to eat after doctors appointments. Most of the time we planned for Jensen’s arrival at Anthony’s apartment then watched Netflix and made food. It was nice for the time, but we strayed from dating each other.
When Jensen was born, we didn’t do anything. I literally locked myself from the world and still am resilient to even try to rejoin. My anxiety is so high and I’m not sure what will trigger me. We didn’t even do little house dates in the first weeks after Jensen was gone. I didn’t watch TV or listen to music. Heck, I didn’t even eat anything. It was rough, we were parents without our child. Seeing ourselves as just a couple was so hard to grasp when we planned for months that Jensen would be with us for the rest of our lives.
Now, I know when you bring your new bundle of joy home, that your partner and you are still a couple. There are nights when you find a babysitter and go out. When we went out on our first date to Olive Garden, I felt guilty. I knew parents went out with their baby, but I didn’t have a choice. Anthony and I started going out more. Lately, we’ve been to the movies, out to eat, and even on Pokemon Go dates. Dating your partner is important. It’s not forgetting your baby, it’s just strengthening your relationship.
Looking to the Future
The act of looking to the future has not changed from when Jensen was here to now; the future has. Being in a long-term, successful relationship makes you look and talk about where you want to be with each other. Yes, our future was filled with Jensen before. We pictured him growing so big and learning everything he could. Now it’s different. We plan different ways to honor and remember Jensen. The end game to our lives are similar, but the way we are going to get to them is completely different now. Talking about the future helps to let each other know, we’re still in love with each other; even through this journey of loss.
Remembering the Past
Evolution is the gradual development of something, anything. Before, we remembered our past to learn about each other. It was surface level remembering and just something people do to make more connections. Our conversations about remembering the past are much more important now. It’s one of the biggest evolutions we’ve had as a couple. A lot of our conversations are remembering Jensen and the time we had with him. We look at pictures of our adventures with Jensen safely tucked away in my belly. Most of the food we make is because Jensen liked it. Sometimes we go to places where we went with Jensen, just to step back to that feeling we have from the past. We’re not living in the past, we’re just remembering it and honoring Jensen through it. The past is the only time we had with Jensen, it’s the easiest time to remember. As a couple we will always remember that time and never judge each other for it. This remembrance has helped us heal and has been one of the best evolutions of our relationship in my eyes.
Being a Family
Two plus one equals three. We evolved from being a happy, young couple to a little family of three. The biggest part of our family is held in our heart, but he is so present in our life. Jensen is the best part of our relationship, just as any child. He made us both parents and has shown Anthony and I the true meaning of love. It’s true that we’ve physically lost him and we will never have him back. But no one could ever take our title of parents away from us. We will forever be Jensen’s mom and dad. Becoming a family is my favorite evolution of Anthony and I.