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.

In the beginning…

Every April since Jensen was born, I recognize it as the hardest month to get through. There’s a mix of sadness and joy. April welcomed my motherhood, twice! But when it’s over and May begins, I can finally take a deep breath.

May let’s me celebrate my motherhood. It lets me recognize that there’s no right and wrong way to parent, especially Jensen who isn’t here and how to parent Mila after losing him. I’ve always thought of the saying, April showers bring May flowers, since Jensen’s birth. That’s how my life feels now. All the tears and hardships April brings, let’s May be a little more beautiful and light. May also brings May We All Heal (MWAH) to help get through some difficult parts. Mother’s Day can be triggering and most of the time is. There’s also Bereaved Mother’s Day and it can all seem overwhelming. With MWAH, I like to blog, take pictures, or create every day. Last year didn’t go so well, so I’m going to push myself and make time for my grief and this part of my motherhood.

Today’s prompt is In the Beginning. I might not follow every prompt from the MWAH prompts. Another site I might be using if need be is here. There I read before journaling or writing you should write three emotions you’re feeling before you begin. After those three words, I’ll write. Thanks for joining me this May.

Calm, loved, valid.

There are many beginnings in life.

Each day, school, a new job, relationships, learning to do something new, music, books, and the list could go on and on.

Then there’s the actual beginning where you’re born, pretty obvious, huh? We could also argue the moment you’re conceived is the beginning. Thinking that way, we can say everyone alive and dead had their start. Two people came together to make a person. This life is so unique at the very beginning. But, I think most people would say the beginning of their life is the day they were born.

Before I was pregnant with Jensen, I thought the same thing. Then I heard his heartbeat and saw him on the ultrasound screen. He was there and had an entire way of living inside of me. I found out what music he liked and when he was most active. He was read so many stories and we did a lot of walking. That was the beginning of my motherhood and I didn’t quite realize it until it was too late. I was conditioned to thinking his life would start when he was born. Never did I think he would die beforehand. It felt like he died before he lived and it still feels like that. But he was stillborn and was a handsome, little man. Through his birth, something else was born too.

His death and birth began a completely different life for me. It was a beginning to motherhood I didn’t want. I was different. The one thing I thought would never happen, happened.

That beginning feels like so long ago. I’ve morphed into this new person who sees beginning and ends in a new light.

I don’t think I really began a new part to my life until I got pregnant with Mila and it directly goes hand in hand with Jensen’s beginnings. Her birth brought something new to me, but he was always in mind. Their journeys are their own, but forever connected too.

There are many beginnings in life, but my favorite has been motherhood.

Yes, death stole the traditional sense of me mothering Jensen, but that’s where it began. It’s brought me to where I am today with both Jensen in my heart and Mila in my arms.

Happy Tears & Rainbow Babies.

Everyday I try to incorporate Jensen in Mila’s life. Just because he isn’t physically here with us doesn’t mean he isn’t her big brother. I often wonder what questions she’ll have about him as she gets older and why I call her my little rainbow. It’s HUGE for me to let her know how special her and Jensen are to me.

Another huge activity I like to include in our everyday life is books. Sometimes Mila brings me like 20 books to read to her throughout the day… which sounds overwhelming, but I love watching her interact with them. I’m always on the lookout to find children’s book pertaining to loss. Books are a great way to sort of break the ice in those early conversations by using a familiar medium. A few weeks ago, I was contacted to check out Happy Tears & Rainbow Babies by Natasha Carlow that centers on those topics.

Happy Tears & Rainbow Babies.jpg

Not to spoil the story for you all, but it’s about a family who go out on a walk to the park. The family is portrayed after the authors family, with Rosie and Capi her own children being presented in the book. While at the park, the children see a rainbow and the parents explain how beautiful and meaningful rainbows are to them. Not just rainbows we find in nature, but also ones born after loss. I find the story very sweet and loving. It introduces a real way to talk to children about their siblings who have passed. I would also like to add, there’s a religious tone to the book that mentions God, Noah, and praying.

Natasha does a great job of sharing her family’s story of life after loss. She focuses on creating a safe place for discussions on miscarriage, loss, faith and hope. It’s very brave for something to openly share their story and feelings. This book will be able to help many families who share the same beliefs and similar journeys.

I really did find this story to bring a happy light on rainbow babies. It doesn’t diminish the sadness of losing a child/ren, but shows how we can remember them with subsequent children too. With me having Mila in mind, I know she would love the bright colors in the illustration. Along with the message, I know Mila, at her age now, would like to point out the animals and everyday items she interacts with as well. But most of all, I think the description of happy tears and letting children know that a person can live with grief and it’s okay to be happy too.

Happy Tears and Rainbow Babies is being launched today, May 1, 2019 at 10am on Amazon. I hope you can check it out and let me know what you think.

This post was inspired by Happy Tears and Rainbow Babies by Natasha Carlow.  If you’d like to know more about the book click the following links…
Happy Tears and Rainbow Babies Amazon Page
Happy Tears & Rainbow Babies Information Page
Natasha Carlow’s Facebook Page
Natasha Carlow’s Instagram Page

Motherhood is messy…

Motherhood is messy… and I’m not talking physically messy with Mila playing in mud, food, and whatever else she can get her hands on. It’s also mentally messy and challenging, especially when parenting after loss.

Last week, I got tagged in a comment on a blog post about how grief slightly lifts after a rainbow turns a year old. I read it and had to think on it for a long while. Then today when I was looking in my memories on Facebook and on my phone (the little baby Mila pictures are just too adorable), I came across a blog post I wrote a year ago today. Essentially, it’s all the post birth/days after I had Mila triggers that I didn’t expect to have. I never had the ‘typical’ bring your first baby home and everything feels magical moment and bringing Mila home didn’t really change that.

Don’t get me wrong, Mila is magical in ways I can’t even explain. She makes me smile everyday and keeps me on my toes. Anytime I’m sad, she’ll snuggle me and I love watching her explore the world. My life has been improved because of her, but I wouldn’t say my grief has lightened. It’s evolved like it had before she was even made.

Now that we’re past the year mark, I would say certain parts have lightened. I can be around babies more and not worry so much. Pregnant women still get me because I wonder if they’re going to be the 1 in 4. And Mila, she doesn’t trigger me in ways that I thought she would. I love seeing her grow and I wasn’t worried about her getting hurt or pushing the limits as much as I thought I would. I encourage her to climb and if she falls, I don’t freak out. She isn’t my trigger, but the absence of Jensen and not seeing him get bigger is the worst. Maybe they go hand-in-hand, but I won’t let my brain make that sort of connection.

I sort of think there’s this misconception where a rainbow baby comes and there’s a lot of happiness. This hasn’t be the exact case for me. There’s a TON of happy days with Mila, but grief still happens…

Missed Milestones

After Jensen was born, I was pretty well aware of how many weeks had passed, then months, and years. Those first few months, I was in this huge fog and couldn’t accurately picture how big he’d be. With Mila, I can see her growth and try to picture Jensen there. I make it a big deal to capture her growth every month. I don’t want to forget and deep down, I still think she could be taken away from me. On Jensen’s birthday this year though, I felt like I was on the verge of tears a lot of the day. It was a good day, but thinking how he’d be so into blowing his candles out and wondering what his reactions would be seemed more intense to me. I think his birthday will always be somewhat tricky, especially with hers only nine days afterwards. The other milestones I’m weirdly aware of at the moment is that he’d be starting preschool this fall or those huge ones.

Holidays

The holidays still suck for me. I love watching Mila get to enjoy them, but it’s in the back of my head that he’s missing. Knowing he’s missing when all the other kids are around… hurts. I want him there. It’s hard to know there’s always one more that should be with us. I do hope the holiday grief will lighten in the future.

Random Grief Attacks

There’s just days when grief knocks me on the ground. I try to distract myself and pour myself into Mila, school, projects, my house, and a ton of other things, but it doesn’t help. I can be completely fine on the outside and managing but the grief is like a fire inside of me. This time of the year is awful for me. Their birthdays and the holiday and the thought of spring bringing rebirth has gotten to me since he’s been born. When she was younger and would cry so much, I can remember just feeling so down on myself. Like, I would just want her to stop crying for a minute to just give myself a second, then I would feel awful. All I wanted was to hear Jensen’s cry and I was wishing for hers to stop for a minute. I felt like I didn’t deserve her. Then that would kickstart my head to somehow blame myself for Jensen dying. Grief is crazy and it’s random like that. Even now, I’ll get frustrated when she doesn’t listen or if I’m just tried and need her to go to sleep. Then those thoughts creep up.

Grief and all the triggers haven’t went away. They’ve changed and hit me at different times than they did before. I’m learning how to distinguish negative thoughts and seeing what part of me needs to be looked after. Losing Jensen has completely changed my life. It’s changed the way I view the world and others. He’s taught me how to love fully and not want to lose loved ones. Losing him has taught me to be a better parent to Mila than I thought I ever could be.

My motherhood is messy from grief, but wildly full of love from my two babes. There’s no ‘right’ way to be a mom or journey through life after loss.