May We All Heal | Celebrate

We celebrate to honor our children. 

We celebrate our motherhood. 

We celebrate because of the love we feel. 

We celebrate to let others know it’s okay to say their names. 

We celebrate the time they were with us. 

We celebrate because we know they would want us to. 

We celebrate so they’re never forgotten. 

We celebrate because they lived. 

We celebrate our children because after all, they will always be ours. 

Advertisements

To Anyone with a Fragile Heart:

I want you to know you’re not alone.

Since my son, Jensen, was stillborn last April, I’ve found myself living with a heart that has been hastily taped together. There have been so many moments I didn’t believe I would be able to make it to the next. My heart felt like it was going to collapse and it still does to this day.

Lately, I’ve collectively felt what has been happening around the world. This could be you reading right now whose baby has tragically died. I know this journey you’re facing because I’m living it every second. This past few months I’ve seen so much loss. From the tragedy that happened in Manchester earlier this week to the person in school that doesn’t think their life is worth living. Even the people who are being mentally, emotionally, physically, and sexual abused. I feel like I’ve been extremely empathetic to every story I hear.

I’m sorry to each person this has happened or is continuing to happen to. I see you. It breaks my heart that you’re feeling this pain.

I will never be able to take your pain away, but if talking helps ease it, I’m right here. There have been times I’ve felt lost, but knowing there was someone who listened, that wanted to help strengthen my heart made me feel less afraid. Less fragile. It is terribly vulnerable to talk about your demons, but opening up and releasing those feelings can let someone know how to be there for you.

Please don’t ever feel alone in this world.

Here’s a little secret. To some, I’m a fellow loss mom or a substitute teacher or the girl down the street. In each of these roles, I’ve heard your story and feel everything that’s going on in your  life. When I see you struggling with your relationship, loss, or even yourself, I want to run up and comfort you. The worst is or has happened and left you broken. Each time I see you I want you to know you can come to me because ultimately we have lost part of the same thing.

Through each and every of  our difficult unbearable journeys, we have lost a huge part of our innocence. Nothing will ever change or bring that back. We now see this fragile world for how it actually is: broken.

The glue holding the world together is you and me and our relationships we build to strengthen each other. We’re able to help each other pick up the pieces. We are each others shoulder to cry on. when we are connected we become stronger. We fit in this beautifully, fragile community of survivors.

You are never alone.

You are so wanted

You make an impact on this world.

You are loved.

Remember, I’m always here for you.

Love,
Danielle
Jensen’s mom

May We All Heal | Ink


The permanency of his loss will be written in ink in my story.

In the beginning, it felt like God has just taken his pen and broke it over Jensen’s death and the months following. The blackness and finality of stillbirth blinded me. Even though there were moments of light, like I explaining yesterday, the world around me seemed messy and dark.

Just like an ink blot.

I can’t tell you how many times I though, ‘if my life was a book, this part of it would be solid black.’ Would me and everyone in my life only see the mess of grief when we looked back to these pages?

It hurt. I wanted to clean and erase his death. In place, I wanted to rewrite his beautiful birth with him screaming and being put on my chest. Instead of the unending silence and pain, there should have been pages full of how he grew and was thriving outside of the womb. Not this.

My motherhood was so fragile during those ink-filled pages. I tried to use that very ink to make it seem more real, more tangible. Tattoos soon scattered over my body. I wanted him to know he’d alway walk with me through life. Since his footprint has been on mine, he has walked so many steps with me. He has to be seen. My motherhood needed to be seen, so the Celtic knot of mother and child was placed on the back of my neck. But most of all, I want people to ask whose name is scribbled across my wrist, so I can tell them all about him.

I did it and it helped me heal.

Not even God could erase this ink from me, just as I will never be able to erase His.

Being able to feel like he’s physically connected to me made me really look at our story. Instead of just seeing that scattered ink across my book of life, I saw the pages full of Jensen. All two-hundred and sixty-six of them. They are written in beautiful cursive writing full of loops and love. These are my favorite pages in my book.

No one can EVER take those pages from me. Jensen and I have been connected from the moment he was made. His pages will never be erased or forgotten.

It also let me know that the blank pages after the ink splatter are waiting to be written in. Just as I have made Jensen’s mark on me, I can forever continue having pages full of him in my future.

He’s not here, but I won’t allow him to be wrote out of our story. He will always be my son and I’ll continue writing his pages.

The permanency of his legacy will be written in ink.

May We All Heal | Communicate


We used to communicate through kicks and pats on the belly.

Sometimes even through music and feeling you dance to your favorite song.

You heard me whisper how loved you were and how I couldn’t wait to hold you in my arms.

The way we communicated was my favorite.

Then it all went away.

Instead, we had to learn how to talk in different ways.

Writing letters and waiting for you to join me in my dreams.

Seeing you paint the sky blue and orange just for me.

No matter how much we communicate to each other, the message is always the same.

I love you. I miss you.

Please come back home.

May We All Heal | Distance 

The distance between a mother and child should never be too far. From conception to a time we can’t even comprehend, they should always be together. While her child grew in her belly, they were literally connected by an umbilical cord to provide life. This lifeline stay connected even after birth, until someone makes that cut.

Does that cord ever really get disconnected though? When it does happen, is there a real distance between mother and child? Or is that lifeline always there?

Even in death?

I remember the moment he was born. Immediately the emptiness filled my body. Yet, he was right there in the room, still connected to me. It felt like time stood still as the doctors handled his body, covering him in his blanket. They asked Anthony if he wanted to cut the cord and I wanted to scream out ‘NO!’ Please don’t disconnect his lifeline from me. Let it stay, forever. Instead, they cut it for him and took Jensen away. The first moment I was ever distanced from him. It’s a moment that will always haunt me.

There are times I feel the distance between earth and heaven is just too far away. My heart and arms ache for some physical connection to Jensen. I try to hold Jensen bear or go through his hospital folder. Anything to take me back to the moment before we were physically distanced.

Then there are moments where I feel like I can tug on this invisible lifeline that’s connected between him and I.

I can send him messages and tell him I need a sign. It’s our little secret connection to diminish this earthly distance. I can really feel him here with me. He’ll send me a cardinal or blue jay. Or something will just let every cell of my body know that he’s reaching out to me. Everyday I wish I could take this cord and pull him down from heaven and into my arms. That way we didn’t have to talk through this secret, silent language we’ve created. I really wish that.

Each day I try and fail to make this wish come true. Deep down, though, I don’t think the connection between mother and child ever goes away. We are all invisibly connected to them, but, some distances can be seen and others cannot.

But no matter the distance, my heart will always be connected to his.

May We All Heal | Succumb

I refuse to succumb to the darkness.

For me, grief has thrown me so many emotions and thoughts I didn’t know I had. There’s so much anger, sadness, and guilt that is so embedded after Jensen was born, that I never felt before. Which, honestly, makes sense. Life after loss is completely different from what it was in the before. Emotions are much more intense and this longing for Jensen… it knocks me off my feet some days.

There are many days where the cycle of those emotions don’t stop turning. During those times, it feels like there will never be light moments for me again. My body and will become weak, sometimes feeling like they are going to break.

The thought of picking up those pieces, again, seems ridiculous. I did it in the weeks and months following Jensen birth. It was a painstaking process that I had to do for myself. But if I would ever, once again, get to that broken place… What is the point of doing this again? Why not just let myself slip into a slumber that I’ll never awaken from? Be with Jensen for eternity. Succumb to the pain and anger to just be free.

That darkness stays with you. It tempts you and makes you question all of what you believed before. You could easily surrender yourself to it.

But, I refuse to succumb to the darkness. 

When those moments flood me, I remember love’s light.

I think of Jensen and the happiness and life he would wish for me.

I think of my family, who would do anything to make me smile and feel like I have a place.

I think of my friends, who are old and new, that support me and choose to be here.

I think of Leo and Poe and the joy they bring me every day.

I think of an impacted future where I can continue sharing Jensen’s name.

I think of succeeding and knowing that since I lived through the worst imaginable loss in my life, I can conquer everything else.

To succumb to this grief and pain would never solve any problems. It would only cause more loss. I can’t let anyone else ever feel this way. That’s why I refuse to succumb to the darkness and choose to follow love’s light.

May We All Heal | Reflect 

When I woke up this morning, I knew I had to do a great page for today’s May We All Heal Prompt because I didn’t share mine from yesterday. It was a busy day and what I wrote, just didn’t need to be shared. But, reflection. I reflect every time I write about Jensen and this journey.

How could this go wrong?

Then, I spilled water all over my page today after of a few minutes of trying to be artsy and get an orange reflection for the pictures. It smudged ‘reflect’ and Jensen’s name. Instantly, I was angry.

Why does everything I touch just get messed up?

My eyes filled with tears from the wheel of negative thoughts that keeps turning in my head. Some days I just don’t feel good enough or that any of my actions don’t matter. So what’s the point of even doing them? Over a year of grieving and waiting for Jensen to just magically appear in his room one morning and it still hasn’t gotten any better. This sucks and me spilling half a glass of water on this book and page I’ve worked in everyday this month just topped it off.

Logically, I know that I haven’t messed up everything in my life. I can look back in the time Jensen has been gone and see positives that have come out of the love I have for him. Most times, I can list a handful of great people and things I have right here. Then, I reflect on Jensen’s life. He was here and he lived so greatly. I didn’t hurt him or cause him to die. Quite the opposite.

So why do I want to scream when I  see this water-soaked and marker smudged page?

It reminds me of sadness, tears, and negative reflection. Which shows how easily grief can take this day and twist it and me to something it’s not. This. Is. So Hard.

This is what healing and reflecting is though. The grief process mangles us. It takes us and drags us through the mud. Who’s to say these negative moments and days aren’t apart of healing too? With every up, there’s a down. Just like there has been the past over thirteen months.

This is healing. This is grieving. This is reflecting.

May We All Heal | Sunshine


You are my sunshine, my only sunshine. You make me happy, when skies are grey.

I can’t think of a better prompt for today. The day was beautiful with the sun shining bright and the birds singing their melodies. I felt Jensen all around me.

When I think about being pregnant with Jensen and just his whole being, I think of the sunshine. He was so lively and bright. Even though I was mostly pregnant with him during the winter, I was never cold. He brought a warmth to my heart and soul that wasn’t there before. The morning after he was born, the sun peaked in my room and tried to heal me the best it could. He will always be my sunshine, no matter what happens in the future.

I’m not sure if you’ve heard this before, but babies before loss are called sunshines. Babies who have passed are called angel babies. The grief is the storm. Babies after loss are called rainbows. Well not all the time and not for every person, but in general that’s what you hear. Even though I know Jensen is my angel, I really believe he’s my sunshine too. Having him was the brightest part of my life. It was the greatest high full of love. Yes, losing him was devastating, but he didn’t bring that pain. The loss of his life and not being able to see him grow and thrive like he should crushed me. I guess you can call it the storm, but Jensen never brought about anything bad.

It’s my hope that one day, people won’t be afraid to bring up babies who have passed because it’d make the mom or dad sad. They are our sunshines, our happiness, our children. They make us smile and we can feel their warmth even after they’re gone.

I also wanted to share this flower sent to me by Lily Katherine’s mom, Hannah. From sunshine grew this beautiful flower and our two sweet babies brought us together to form a friendship. Knowing Jensen’s remembered and remembering my sweet friends babies with them, let’s me know we’re all connected through this journey. 

Hannah, thank you so much for always remembering Jensen. It means the world to me. 

May We All Heal | Tears

 

 

When I was younger, I thought a person cried because there was so much sadness or pain inside them, that the only way it could go out was through tears. Little Danielle believed all those emotions were tangible because that’s how we explain things to ourselves when we’re younger.

Honestly, I wasn’t too far off.

Tears are a physical representation of when a person is feeling sadness and/or pain and so much more. Your body cries as a defensive mechanism and to communicate to others that there’s something wrong.

When I say I’m in an immense amount of pain since losing Jensen, I’m not joking. My whole body hurts and my thoughts can be so negative and complex. With all those emotions trying to escape, I cry… a lot. There hasn’t been a single day since I heard those words that I haven’t cried. It could be one or two tears or it could be a sob-fest. It just depends on the day and the trigger.

I’ve cried going to get groceries, not caring who in the world saw me.

I’ve cried going out to dinner and telling the waiter not to worry about me.

I’ve cried in front of people I never thought I would.

I’ve cried driving down the highway and then feel bad that I was driving poorly.

I’ve cried telling Jensen’s story.

I’ve cried when people have asked how I was doing.

I’ve cried alone in my bed.

I’ve cried brushing my teeth.

And I’ve sobbed in the shower.

Here’s the thing I’ve learned about tears, they don’t show weakness. A lot of people have grown up hearing that projecting their feelings and being in pain is ‘bad.’ We’re told to suck it up and stop crying. Or there’s other people who try to make a person ‘feel better’ when they’re crying.

I’ve learned, it’s okay to cry in public and in front of the whole world. There’s battles people are facing every second of the day and getting those tears out releases a lot of what’s bottled inside. There is nothing weak about that.

There is strength in tears.

And that’s a good thing for me because I’ve cried enough to fill the oceans.

May We All Heal | Remember 


Remember… how could I ever forget?

Everyday I wake up and you’re the first thought that pops in my mind. I am filled with all the mornings we spent together. Our routine was spent with me telling you how loved you are as I traced my hand over each of your kicks. We took those first minutes of the day to just sit in peace. Even to this day, I spend that time saying good morning and still telling you how much I love you.

When I look at myself, I can see what I gave to you. You have my hands and feet. My nose and cheeks. I wish I could have known the color of your eyes or the sound of your voice. But when I see those parts of me that you had, I remember what love created.

I’ll always remember what food you liked and what times you tolerated eating. Just like I’ll remember to lay on my left side so you could sleep soundly. Or the time we were painting in my bedroom. We had all the windows open and each time I reached up, I felt you stretching to help me out. My little home improver. There are countless moments and memories from our thirty-eight weeks that I will never forget.

There isn’t a time where I have to sit here and try to remember you. It’s just natural that you’re in my thoughts every second. No matter what happens in the future, you’ll always be thought of and honored. You are my first-born child. The little guy who made me a mom and showed me a love that is so big and powerful. There will never come a day where you aren’t remembered.

I love you, Jensen. Thank you for all the memories we spent together and the ones we have made since you’ve been physically gone. I will always hold you in my heart.