There hasn’t been a moment during this loss journey where I haven’t claimed Jensen. When the moment is right during certain conversations, I talk about him. I would never force conversation on a person, but if there’s a chance, I seize it. Some part of me knows that it probably makes others uncomfortable. He’s my son, so I don’t find it weird or strange to talk about. I’ve had strangers and students I sub ask if I have any kids or remark about my Jensen tattoos and ask. Each time, I beam with pride while I show him off.
That’s the way I wanted it to be when I was pregnant and it’s not going to change because he died.
But, life screws everything up.
Here’s another secret for you all… I’ve been dreading getting my taxes done. 2016 was a roller coaster ride that I’m okay being done with now. Yes, it’ll always be Jensen’s year, but I’ve finally found peace with it being over. Too bad I have to comply with the government to not go to jail over this ‘tax’ matter. (Please read that with sarcasm, I’ve always done my taxes and I think I’m a pretty good citizen). Well, technically, I called because my mom put the number in my phone and pressed send…
Long phone call short, I gave her my name and got a date for an appointment, then she started asking the typical questions you need for your taxes. I knew it was coming and I knew the answer I had to give.
“And do you have any kids?”
The question vibrated in my ears and throughout my body. I swear it felt like a five-minute pause before the biggest betrayal tore past my teeth.
“No.” Not in the eyes of the government for me to claim him.
I can’t claim the baby I grew in my belly for thirty-eight weeks and two days. The baby that was loved and nurtured for his whole life. Who had a name and a birthday. The one that I labored and birthed, knowing what the future held. My whole pregnancy and his life cannot be claimed. Which is the reason why I never got a birth certificate for Jensen and the reason when they ask if I have kids, I have to say no. His life is just a blink to them. They don’t understand how hard it is to lie to the tax people when you say you don’t have any children.
Obviously, I could tell them I have a son, but he was stillborn. Then I would have to hear he doesn’t count and that’s not true. He counts to me and to so many other people. The fact is, I don’t want the money you get for having a child or whatever. I want the satisfaction of the government opening its eyes to the fact stillbirth happens. That these children are real and they matter. That this 1 in 160 statistic in the United States is absolutely too high and unless there is conversation about this, it will stay right there.
Some might think I’m being dramatic here, but it is as simple as ‘claiming’ my son on my taxes. Just as it’s simple as giving him a birth certificate. It’s breaking the silence and letting people know I gave birth to this child. It shouldn’t matter if he had passed, I’m still a mom and he’s still my son. We should be recognized for that from the government.
Jensen counts. I’ll always claim him. That lie I told the tax lady felt like a huge injustice to his memory and everything I stand for.
I know she heard that silence and my resistance to answer. Who wouldn’t? When I hung up and went back home, I cried… and then cried some more. I kept telling Jensen I was sorry. That he’ll always be my son, but with things like this I’m not allowed to claim you. I have to follow their rules, but I want to change them. One day, I hope a bereaved mom will be able to confidently say how many children she has. She’ll be able to tell them that her child has passed, but they still count and the other person will agree.
Because our babies do count and they always will.
After everything that happened last night, the ways of the world offered me a way to put Jensen’s name back out there. When my therapy was done, I went to Lowe’s to get some more sawtooth hangers for the Etsy shop. (Which thank you all for your support with it!). While checking out, the cashier asked me if I’d like to make a donation for a child to go to summer camp. Of course I said yes and I got this four leaf clover to write the donor’s name on…
I know one little boy who would have loved to help others out.
Happy forty-eight weeks in heaven, Jensen. Your impact on the world is noticed and you matter. I can’t imagine never having you here with me. There isn’t a moment where I’m not thinking of you. I miss you. I love you.