May Afterthoughts

My goal of writing everyday of May crashed and burned. I started off strong, but life happened and I got way more busy than I expected to. Instead of being upset with myself, I just rolled with it. I think that shows a lot of grief growth.

In the first year and a half of my grief, I felt like I had to outwardly express how much I missed Jensen. It’s what’s I needed to do and I did just that. I needed to share his name with the world and I’m glad I did. I’ve written his name countless of places and brought Jensen bear with me most of the time I travel. Being surrounded by him and the things that reminded me of him helped me.

When I got pregnant and Mila and now that she’s here, that’s slowed down a lot. I’m constantly doing something and that’s just apart of my motherhood now. It doesn’t lessen my love for Jensen or doesn’t mean I don’t write his name or take a screenshot every time I see it’s 11:11. I swear I have hundreds of 11:11 screenshots. We still look at his picture everyday and say his name. When we went on vacation over Memorial Day, his name was written in the sand. He still walks every step with me and will until my last. I still miss him every second of the day and wish he was here.

And yet, I’m also growing around that grief and am able to make room for healing. Mila has sort of definitely helped me get to this point and even if I didn’t have her, I think I’d have gotten there eventually. Healing isn’t forgetting. I still love sharing about him and when someone mentions him to me, oh my goodness, I’m elated.

Earlier this year I mentioned how I want to sort of redo my page and share more about Mila adventures and the other parts of my life too. Not that anyone wants to know, but I wish I would’ve wrote more as she’s grown. There’s so many experiences that could help others and so many more left that will. I want to be able to do that to show others in different stages of grief that there is a huge range of ‘normal’ or what life looks like after loss.

Speaking of posting different things. I just want to say thank you to everyone who read my last post and all the positive messages I received. There were so many emotions when I wrote it, but I knew they needed out. I’m unsure if I’ll ever write about more of that part of Mila’s life. I can’t tell the future, but for now, I’m just glad I could share what I did.

When it comes to writing, I want to continue writing when I can and even sharing the happiest moments. Mila literally does the funniest things. They’re too cute not to share and express. And I want to keep talking about Jensen and show how he still is making an impact in our world. It’s possible to live with one foot grounded in grief and the other in healing and even happiness.

I hope all of you have a gentle June and start of summer for most. Let this month be what you need it to be and remember, you’re never alone.

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To Those Who Didn’t Deserve Her Anyways…

Throughout the last three years I’ve documented the most vulnerable parts of my life on this blog. Things I didn’t think that were safe anywhere else somehow oozed through me when I started typing. Everything felt okay to talk about besides one thing because I promised I never would. Words and promises don’t mean a lot to most people anymore, as most of us know, but I try my best to be a person someone could trust.

Somewhere around two years ago, I met someone who swept me off my feet, Adrian M. We could talk about anything and when we did get to hangout, a couple hours felt like a few minutes. I felt like I could by my whole self and there was an understanding of what we needed each other to be for one another. After a little while, I ended up getting pregnant. Things happen and birth control doesn’t always work, but I was okay. I was ready to start with pregnancy all over again and hopefully being home a living child. On the other hand, I was terrified. I didn’t think a mistake had been made, but I definitely was nervous to see what my family would think and how I’d tell him. For a few weeks, I sat on my little secret. I continued talking to him and going on about life fairly normally.

Then something popped up a few weeks later. When he was over one day, I caught a slip in what he had told me about himself. Like any person, I went to the internet to investigate more. What I found wasn’t at all what I had thought. I found he had a family and a life he had never talked about. The things he said were true, just the other people left out. Honestly, I was shocked and didn’t know what to do. I went to my mom to tell her, first about the baby, then about everything else. She wanted me to keep it all to myself. That I could do it all alone and that’s totally true. Maybe I should have and it would’ve saved a lot of pain… but I couldn’t imagine having a child and just not knowing. Maybe I’d end up solo parenting this child, but I juggled with her advice and telling him. Instead of taking her advice not to tell Adrian, I had to…

Now the people who this is intended for don’t really need to know that background. I’m the bad guy in your guys eyes.. I get it. It’s fine and I’m alright with it. The whole time Mila was a secret to you, it was very real to Adrian and me. You were unaware of the war that was going on in his mind and sort of a second life/family, whatever you want to say. There’s 100x more damaging information to him and the family that was told to me that would shock you, but that’s not for me to share…

What I need to say is way more important than that. All the secret stuff was never really about him and I. It was always about Mila. You didn’t see after the shock when we’d talk about how we thought she’d look like or me telling him what I planned on naming her (which I had picked when I had my child, I didn’t even know it was.. taken. Even though I asked if I should change her name.). You didn’t see the trying to catch her moving around or the belly kisses. Or know about the constant updates from allllllll the doctor appointments or see the ultrasound I tried to point out what body part we were looking at. You didn’t see the worried texts from when I was in labor and I’m guessing you didn’t understand why he probably seemed off that week. You didn’t see his face the first time he met her or how weird it was when he asked to hold her. You didn’t know how many times a week he’d come to see her or how she looked at him. You have no idea how hard it was when he’d leave and she’d look or crawl towards the door wanting him to come back. You don’t know the gifts he got her for Christmas or anything.

There’s also the negative you didn’t know existed too. Like my many options for him to ‘get out.’ A complete erase for everything and continually was turned down. Or the times I wasn’t the only one being ‘talked’ to and shut it down. Arguments about how supporting Mila and how everything needed to be in the open. Everything would always turn around and a compromise would be made. Things would go back to the normal because there was never an option of him being out of Mila’s life.

I can’t tell you how many conversations there were about her calling him dad or how that’d work out in the future. He told me that no matter what, he was biologically made to love her and she gave it right back to him. There were many conversations about her meeting her grandparents because I thought about how horrible it would be to not know she ever existed or to see how much of him was in her. All the promises he made to never not be in her life because if you know him, you know he’s an awesome dad.

When things started to turn mid last year, I started to be unaware of what the future would hold. I got angry when he told me he loved me and Mila, wouldn’t even say it back, although we both knew for awhile. Yeah, ‘mistakes’ were made. He wasn’t always a great person, neither was I, but isn’t that everyone?

The day he told you, we were on the phone for hours, just arguing on what to do. None of us wanted to let go, but I don’t think we really wanted thing to change or to hurt anyone either. There were so many times I wanted to tell everyone, but I stuck to my promise. I’ll never forget the things he told me was said… like how he’d forget ‘that’ child and me in six months time if he just stopped communication. Because that’s not obviously happened… I don’t even understand how this thought could even make sense. I haven’t had my son for three years and I still think of him everyday. To have a child just a few towns away… there’s no forgetting. How I’m a serious ‘home wrecker,’ which is hilarious because if you knew me, I’m totally the opposite person to that. I’m sure you think that’s annoyingly humorous as well. It’s known that I’m not the ‘problem’ and you continue to choose to ignore it. And if you knew Mila, you’d know you could never forget her. People that aren’t even her family wouldn’t forget her… but it was so easily for you to and to see how much that affects him…

I guess you were never her family anyways nor would I want that. I wouldn’t want anyone to make a person in their life feel like poison in my daughter’s life. When she gets of age and starts to ask questions, I won’t lie to her. I’ll tell her everything she asks and wants to know. Because she does matter and she has a right to know. And in that truth that she’s told, it’ll never be because you didn’t want her or to have your family/image tarnished or whatever your reasons are, it’ll be because you simply did not deserve to know her. And at the end of the day she’s loved beyond all measure.

Insights.

Insights is a fairly hard prompt to write about considering this whole blog is pretty much the insight on my life after loss. So, I’m not going to write a big post, but instead a list of the important things I’ve learned through this journey. Maybe they can help you or you can comment some of your own to help others out too.

  • You never know what’s going on in a person’s life and they might not always be what they seem.
  • A person just doesn’t get over the death of a loved one.
  • There’s no timeline on grief.
  • Every person grieves differently and that’s perfectly okay.
  • Talking helps. No matter if it feels impossible to do.
  • A subsequent child does not erase the pain of having a child die.
  • Pregnancy/parenting after loss is the second hardest thing I’ve been through.
  • Grief is isolating.
  • People will be in and out of your life, hold on to the ones who listen and validate your emotions.
  • It’s okay to not be okay.
  • Do what’s best for you.
  • Smiling after a loved one dies shouldn’t make you feel guilty (even though those first few months it makes you feel just that).
  • Say the person who’s died name. It will mean the world to the person who is grieving.
  • Ask for help. Even if it’s as small as someone listening to you or as big as you need. We all need help sometimes.
  • Grief becomes manageable, but in an instant, it can drown you.
  • Love never dies.
  • Throughout life you will change and grow. Some events, such as death, will evolve you into another person. Don’t be afraid of that growth.
  • If someone opens up to you, just listen.
  • Sometimes our journeys are not what we expected them to be. Your journey is still as beautiful.

If only…

Relaxed, present, wanting.

If only this picture and every picture of these two could actually be of him and her and not of his bear.

If only he was here taking an afternoon nap with us on my big bed.

If only I could have one day to spend with him and soak everything about him up.

If only I knew what it felt like to feel his touch, know his voice, and look into his eyes.

If only love could have saved him.

If only one of these things could happen, I’d be forever grateful.

If only, if only, if only is the only thing I can say when thinking of Jensen in the present.

If only people were educated with the pregnancy risks and stillbirth before it happened to them.

If only we could all go back in time.

If only pregnancy outcomes could change and mothers and their children be safe every time.

If only one person finds healing in these words and the words of others on this journey, I will be thankful.

If only I could have saved Jensen and all the babies gone too soon.

If only…

There are a million ‘if only’ situations I could think of. I’ve said it a million times since Jensen was born. I wanted to see and know every part of him and the future he should have had. In the beginning, the ‘if only’s’ felt like way I could have done better and it put blame on myself. Now I see them as ways he would be in our family now and how because of him and his memory, he can positively impact someone in our shoes. This transformation of the phrase shows true healing, but the first ones will always haunt me. I will always long to know more about him and if I could have done anything to save him, but I can’t let that bring me down. He’s brought so many positive things to me and lessons I would have never learned if he’s not exist.

If only he knew how much his life has made mine better.

If only I could tell him I am a better person because of him.

If only he could hear me say I loved him.

Beauty & Nature.

Full of love, longing, blessed.

I first want to start off by saying that I hope everyone had a gentle Mother’s Day. It can be such a hard ‘holidays’ for a lot of people to recognize, but we did it!

The last two May We All Heal prompts are beauty and nature. Since I was busy the last few days and didn’t have time to write, I thought these went perfectly together for my journey in motherhood. For me, motherhood is beautiful and not just mine, everyone’s. It can be messy and hard, but at the end of the day, raising a child is wonderful. After Jensen was born, nature played a big part of my motherhood and nature is very beautiful as well. This post may make zero sense, but I wanted to respond on how they made me feel.

When Jensen died, everything felt ugly. The world didn’t feel bright or like it had any good in it. I didn’t really like being inside because it felt too depressing, so I was outside a lot. I just sitting out there made the dark weight inside me lift a little. I felt Jensen whispers in the air and voice while the birds sang. Actually, I feel a big connection to blue and red birds with Jensen. They’re my little signs from him. The sun and water helped me heal and Jensen has his tree down the road that I enjoy walking down to see. I can remember the first year after, I would notice so many different types of flowers and all the colors. It took my mind off the ugly things and let me focus on the beauty around me. Nature helped me heal so much.

Last year, Mila was just itty bitty. She cried a lot, but every time we went outside she would stop. What wasn’t awesome was she either had a horrible sinus infection or allergies that didn’t allow her to stay outside for long. That meant a lot of time inside for the both of us. For me, that was hard. I feel like I’m outside all the time during the spring and summer, but it went down to a walk or two a day to keep Mila feeling good. So fast forward to the last few weeks… I was worried that she wouldn’t be able to stay outside for long periods of time. I wouldn’t have her out there if it hurt her more than helped. Truthfully, I didn’t (and don’t) think I could go another summer inside. It felt like I couldn’t fully connect with Jensen and I felt trapped. Maybe that’s due to PPD, but I was never diagnosed with it…

Of course if you follow me on Instagram, you can see Mila LOVES to be outside. We go outside everyday, unless it’s pouring down rain. She likes to go on walks, play in the water, visit parks, and honestly just laying in the grass. It feels right to be our there and I feel connected to Jensen too. I’m pointing out red and blue birds to her, even if she can’t see them quick enough. We walk to her brother’s tree and I tell her about him. It’s cathartic for our little family.

And that’s the beauty of it all. Yes, our world is so amazing to see and it brings us so much happiness. I don’t know if I’m really doing this whole mom things right all the time, but I do know I want to do anything and everything that makes Mila happy and to remember Jensen too. Right now, that’s what we’re doing and I’m happy with that.

PS… we got these amazing pictures done two weekends ago and I just got them back. I’m so in love with them. They’re perfect for today’s prompt and I just had to share.

Mother.

Proud, confident, glowing.

I could talk about being a mom all day. My journey through motherhood has had the lowest lows and the highest highs. I have two babies I am so, so proud of in two different ways. Instead of just typing away, I decided to do an acrostic poem. How very un-Danielle of me, but different can be good too.

M is for magnetic.

O is for open-hearted.

T is for talented.

H is for heroic.

E is for empathetic.

R is for resilient.

Magnetic because no matter where I am, I feel Jensen with me and Mila wishes she could be Velcro-ed on me most of the time.

Open-hearted because they love their child, unconditionally whether or not they’re here physically or in spirit. If they’re here physically, they love their child no matter who they become.

Talented because moms can juggle like 800 things at one time. If that’s not talented, I don’t know what is? Even when I was just mothering Jensen, I mothered him by writing, creating, and talking about him, PLUS everything else in life. I think everyone can agree with this one.

Heroic because in their child’s eyes, they can do anything and that lets us believe we can. All moms are SUPERMOMS.

Empathetic because when we become mothers we truly understand there are feelings beyond our own that matter. With losing Jensen, I became very empathetic to those around me. I learned everyone has a story and wanted to understand and feel what they did. With Mila, I feel like I’m connected to her emotions. I feel with her and try to work with them with her.

Resilient because no matter what comes in our way, we overcome every challenge.

Mothers are magical.

‘New Normal.’

Reflective, full of thoughts, relaxed.

If you were right in front of me at this moment, you’d see Mila trying to nap on me and how I have to ignore her to get her to sleep. This is part of our everyday take a nap and go to bed routine. I guess this a lot of peoples’ lives. Doing whatever they can to take care of their child. It feels like their ‘normal,’ but what happens when you have a child that dies?

Before we go on, let’s define ‘normal.’

normal conforming to a standard; usual, typical, or expected.

Having your kid die is anything but normal and it leaves a lasting mark for the rest of your life. I sort of dislike the word ‘normal’ when talking about grief, trauma, and life really. There’s no defining line of what is normal. It means so many different things to people. My everyday life would seem completely weird to onlookers and it’s honestly not the life I ever thought I’d have. Most of the time I don’t feel normal, but I’ve adapted to living again.

Throughout life we face challenges that change our perception on life. I know for the rest of my life Jensen’s life and death will effect how I make decisions or view people and things. It already has now and it merges with other big life changes to morph me into who I am today.

I don’t think I ever want to be ‘normal’ and maybe I never can be. Before Jensen, I don’t think I lived a normal life either. I’m just me. This is just my story. Everyone’s life and routines are completely individual. One life isn’t greater than the others, it just the way of our universe.

If you’re wondering where life has taken me three months out, you’re in the right place. It’s full of love, exploration, and just making everyday the best it can be. A HUGE piece of my life will always be missing, but it doesn’t mean he’s not with us. We honor and remember him with everything we do and live to our fullest because we know so many don’t get that chance. I do what’s best for my family and that might not be the best for everyone. That’s our ‘normal’ and we’re making the most of it.

To see my perspective of ‘normal’ from two years ago, click here, it’s interesting to see how much it’s changed in two years.

Unexpected Gains.

Well everyone, I failed on writing everyday this month and I’m perfectly content with it.

This weekend was pretty busy for me. Saturday I was just busy, then yesterday was Bereaved Mother’s Day. I had Jensen’s candle on, made waffles, and then Mila, Jensen bear, and I got pictures done. It was such a nice day for us. We got Mexican food and watched Game of Thrones, of course, too. It was so important to give myself space. I’m thankful for space and bring in the moment. It helps me and brings me peace. When I saw what today’s prompt was, I knew exactly what I wanted to share.

Optimistic, loved, warm.

I’m going to be SUPER blunt here, when Jensen died, I could’ve died too and not cared. For over a year, nothing really felt good. Some days did, but most were awful. I worked on myself and my mental health to the best of my ability. I joined workshops and write my heart out to help me relearn how to function. That dress didn’t really stop until I got pregnant with Mila. I was in a better place in my life and I had hope she’d be here, not that I really believe it though. When she first arrived there were so many hard days, but I remembered they could be much worse. There could be another urn by Jensen’s with Mila’s ashes. Any time I’d feel extra tired or like I wasn’t handling mothering Mila amazingly, I remembered Jensen and how easily she could not have been here. Unsure how healthy that is… but it was always right there.

What I’m trying to get from this is… I never thought I could be happy again after Jensen died. I’m not saying Mila took my pain away or erased what happened, at all, but she has been my unexpected gain. Her happiness and literally just her presence has been a huge life gain for me. Hanging her carry around Jensen’s picture and her giving him kisses effects me in ways I didn’t know could happen. I know they have a connection that I can’t fathom.

In the beginning of my grief journey, I asked Jensen to send my signs almost daily. Then I asked him to protect Mila for all her life. I feel like he’s close to her, always watching over his little sister. After our pictures were done yesterday, Mila of course played with Jensen bear during the shoot, she’d snuggle then push him down, typical right? But then she started playing in the grass and picking flowers. It was so peaceful and I knew I’d want to revisit that moment so I pulled out my phone’s camera. This picture above was the first one I got.

Maybe it’s me looking to into it, but it’s him protecting her. It’s their relationship all in one picture. The light is circling her, but on top there’s a rainbow and the bottom part of the circle has a blue light. In the live version it goes from completely surrounding her to going away. Then the light beam, I just feel like it’s him guiding her. It was my sign for the day, that he’s here for it all and that he was happy to be apart of our family’s pictures. He’ll be watching her forever and that is a gain in itself. Not that I don’t wish that he could physically be here to protect and love on her.

Mila and Jensen are both the biggest gains in my life. They taught me how to love unconditionally and to be a better person for them. Her and I are both so lucky we have an angel guiding us for the rest of our lives.

Responsibility.

Caffeinated, Scattered, Impatient

If I would have had this prompt two years ago, my mind would have thought of a completely different response. I would have thought about who or what was responsible for Jensen’s death. Although I know nothing is or was, somehow I would have put it on myself. Maybe I still do sometimes, but I know I did all I could do.

This morning when I looked at the prompt, images of my life and the two little’s I’m responsible for popped in my mind. I think responsibility continuously changes throughout our lives. When you’re younger you have chores and duties you’re responsible for. Then as a teenager, you have a ton of responsibility and are gaining independence as well. Now as an adult, with my own house, work, car, kids, and going back to college, I feel like I’m responsible for the world around me. Well, I don’t feel responsible, I am responsible for them.

At this current time in my life, I’m responsible for three people: Mila, Jensen, and myself.

Mila

She’s the first person I see in the morning and the last before I go to bed. All my time is spent with her and she is my FULL responsibility.

I encourage her to explore. We both do activities to help her learn and grow. Our whole schedule is set around what is best for her needs. Some nights like last night), I have to stay up with her because she’s either starting to have nightmares or just not wanting to sleep. She’s my shadow and wants to constantly touch me to know she’s safe. She’s mine, on the good days and bad. Sometimes when it’s completely overwhelming for me, I just look at her and realize she’s becoming this little human and I want her to be the best person she can be.

Maybe I overcompensate with her sometimes. I think parenting after loss has possibly complicated things most parents would overlook. When I was pregnant and first came home from the hospital, I just thought she’d die too. I felt like my only job was to keep her alive that I didn’t see what else I was doing for her. That sounds ridiculous, but it’s so true. A part of me will always feel responsible for her actions. I want her to make mistakes and learn from them, but I want to be able to help her no matter how old she is.

Jensen

As much as Mila is mine, Jensen is too. While pregnant with him, I was super strict on what I could do, eat, or whatever other restrictions there are in pregnancy. I read to him every night and only missed one doctors appointment (out of like 100). For some reason it feels like I had more control over his pregnancy, until the end of course, than Mila’s. Then when he was born, everything went dark. I didn’t really care about anything else that was happening around me. I didn’t even care about myself. That’s when I found this awesome community of parents who had lost their child/ren. They knew exactly how I felt and helped me find a purpose again.

Parenting a child in heaven has responsibilities. It’s different than parenting a living child, but just as important. I think one of the scariest things for a loss parent is having their child forgotten. For me, it feels like I’m responsible for not having that happen. I have to honor and remember him in the best ways I know. Just by writing this and saying his name everyday keeps him remembered and thought of. I also feel like I need to advocate for pregnancy and infant loss. When I found out Jensen died, I honestly didn’t believe that could happen. In my opinion everyone should know realistically what the statistics are. Jensen taught me that anything can happen to you.

Me

And me, I have to be responsible for them and maintaining so much in my life. I parent Mila and Jensen. I do everything that needs to be done for my house. I’m going back to school and there’s just a lot in between. All these things I’m responsible for and I wouldn’t have to any other way.

I think something that I need to do, but don’t ever find the time for us focusing on self care. I feel that. I want to be responsible in helping me and I try. With all these things I have to look after, I have to remember to fill my cup too.

Life, Death, and Grief.

Today’s May We All Heal prompt is Life & Death. I wasn’t particularly interested in the prompt when I first saw it, but thought I might tackle it when the time came to write. BUT here I am and I’m still not feeling it. Sort of weird how a single idea can be off putting to you for no apparent reason. Instead I decided to check out A Year of Journaling Through Grief and pick one of the prompts there to choose something close to the original prompt.

Remember, it’s perfectly okay to go off path with these prompts. May We All Heal is to help you with exactly what the title says: healing. Do what’s best for your heart, mind, and grief.

Today’s prompt: Do you think your grief will ever end?  Why/why not?

Needed, tired, introverted.

(I just want to point out whenever I specially feel this way, I sort of brush things to the side instead of working through them. Feels like a little gain I’m making today.)

This is Jensen. He is my firstborn. I’ve never shared this picture of him. Every morning when I wake up, I think of him. When I go to sleep at night, I think of him. Throughout the day, there are reminders of him and all I wished he could have been. He died, in my belly before even having the chance to live like you who is reading this. And to those who are reading this and have lost a child, I think you know the answer to the prompt above.

When a person gets pregnant, they’re already bonded to the child inside them. Fathers bond with their son or daughter as well. This bond is a little thing called love. We plan to love our children, no matter what happens, until the day we die. It doesn’t change if they die before us.

Many people describe grief as love that has no where to go. Maybe they are interchangeable in this circumstance, but grief feels more complicated. For me, the initial reaction is always love. Then there’s a lightening bolt that slowly travels to the depths of my mind and begins a grief attack. They’ve evolved and changed since those beginning days and it’d be ignorant to say they won’t change as I grow older and experience new things.

Do I think my grief will end? Absolutely not.

I think it’ll become more manageable in the future, sort of like it has now. There will be different things that trigger me knowing what he should be doing. I’ll always want to know what he looks like or what his interests are. There hasn’t been a time where I would wish I couldn’t give him a huge hug. And I know when I’m an old lady (hopefully) and know it’s almost my time, that I’ll be happy and one I’ve waited all this time to see him.

My grief will be with me till the end and there’s nothing wrong or weak about that.

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While I was writing this prompt, I kept thinking of a drawing by Mari Andrews that I thought perfectly described grief. It only took me ten minutes of scrolling to finally find it, but I had to share it with you… especially in this post.