June’s Name Project


It’s no secret, the statistics about pregnancy and infant loss are incredibly high. Every twenty minutes a baby is stillborn. One in four pregnancies result in loss. One in one-hundred and sixty babies are stillborn. I wish I knew all the statistics, but those are the ones I remember on the top of my head. Either way, that is a lot of babies, a lot of parents, and a lot of families experiencing this tragedy.

Even more outrageous, there are so many people who don’t even know this still happens. I know I didn’t and I feel horrible for not ever recognizing this beautiful community of grieving mothers.

A few days ago, I shared that I wanted to do a name project this month. Usually I like to do name wreathes and in December I wrote names on the beach. Well, the last two times I went to the beach, I wasn’t able to write names. So, I’ve been brainstorming on how I can write baby names creatively around me.

Every June, the community I live in does garage sales. It’s sort of a big event for our small town, but it brings in a ton of people and it’s pretty fun. Usually, everyone walks to each sale and, honestly, it really is just a good way to bring neighbors closer together.

With knowing this event is coming up (next weekend!) and having all the pregnancy and infant loss statistics flying in my head lately, I wanted to incorporate the two. But how am I going to do this? I’ve thought of handouts or writing on rocks, but I didn’t feel right. Then, I thought of writing names in chalk on the ground.I’m hoping it will be a way to provide healing to parents by seeing their child’s name written out AND bring some awareness to others.

Sometimes it’s hard to see so many names… I wish the names would only fill up a small part of the sidewalk, but in reality it could fill up the whole entire street. That’s the reality of loss though. It can happen to anyone.

I’m going to stop taking names on Wednesday night, since the garage sales start on Thursday. The plan is, I’ll write names down and take pictures of each baby name and then send them to their parents. Then I’ll post a big picture of how many names there were written on the sidewalk.

To submit your child’s name, (first and/or middle please) you can comment on where I share this post on Jensen’s Facebook page, on the picture that’s on here on Instagram, or you can comment below on this blog. If you do comment on here, please leave your email address so I can make sure the picture gets to you. Please feel free to share to your loss mom friends. It means the world to me when you all reshare and tag others because it really shows me how tight this community really is.

Thank you all for participating and reading along. I’m excited to be able to do this project to help others and myself on our healing journeys.

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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.

On This Mother’s Day…

From the moment I saw the word ‘pregnant’ on the first test I took, he made me a mother.

Through those early weeks of excitement to see him grow and feel him move, he made me a mother.The first time I heard that strong, galloping heartbeat, he made me a mother.

When he showed off what made him be a boy on the ultrasound screen, he made me a mother.

During the worry of wondering if I was going to be a good enough mother to him, he made me a mother.

Feeling his kicks everyday and him jab me when I didn’t lay on my left side, he made me a mother.

Through those last weeks of anticipation for his big arrival, he made me a mother.

Giving me a quick, almost painless labor, he made me a mother.

During those weeks of deep pain and grief, he made me a mother.

In these weeks of healing and living our new normal, he made me a mother.

Even through our tragic story, there is an endless, unbreakable love that will always stay because he made me a mother.

He made me a mother and I am so proud that he’s my son.

On this Mother’s Day, I’m honoring my motherhood and the love I have for my son by showing him off to the world. When I see him, my whole being fills with pride and happiness. I made this little human and he’s given me a life I never knew was possible.

My only wish for this day (as it is on every day) is to have him back in my arms. I know this isn’t possible. So instead, I hope someone tells me ‘Happy Mother’s Day.’ I hope someone says Jensen name to me. I hope every mother who has lost a baby feels honored today. Just as I hope anyone who is facing this day without their mom, or sister, or aunt, or grandmother, feels like their loved one is forever remembered and honored.

Hold the ones you care about most near your heart. There are so many others that have to carry others in their. Just like I carry Jensen and his great-grandmother in mine.

This little boy, he means the world to me. He made me his mother and that’s my favorite part about myself.

 

May We All Heal | Empty

I never knew what the word empty meant until thirteen months ago when I walked to the shower after giving birth. I felt nothing but the emptiness in me. The space Jensen occupied for thirty-eight weeks and two days, was eerily droopy and not right. My belly was this big, visual reminder that my baby had died. That the only, sacred place I held him was now this dreadful pit of despair.

The following weeks, I caught myself staring at the empty hole my body had every time I went by a mirror. Not only did I physically feel emptiness, my feelings began to feel the same. All the pain I felt was numbed by my brain. I didn’t allow myself to feel, so it was always just blank, but gosh did those tears fall.

On Jensen’s very first monthday, I promised myself (and him), that I would choose love. That’s how I’ve been able to get through each day, feeling that sweet love and wanting to do my best. When I wrote about him and how I was feeling with my still motherhood, I wanted to be brave. I projected that. But, I felt the emptiness. It was always there and it’ll always be here. Even with a whole year of grieving and healing behind me, emptiness. 

When I wake up every morning, I don’t choose to be sad or let grief overwhelm me. I try to wake up and smile as I say ‘good morning, Jensen,’ as I give his bear a hug. Maybe sometimes I have to smile through the tears from waking up from a nightmare, but I try. I try my best. Yet, as the day goes on his absence is so present, the emptiness grows. My house is empty. My womb is empty. My heart even feels empty sometimes. I don’t choose this at all. I’ll always pick love instead of pain, but I can’t stop this feeling.

Feeling empty draws you in. A person can even get lost in feeling that way.

Today I felt empty. Maybe because I was thinking about this prompt all day or that it’s the fifth of May. I questioned myself if I always feel this way, but it’s more noticeable since I’m focusing on it.

I reminded myself that whatever I feel is okay. A person cannot make themself feel a certain way. You have to let whatever comes to you pass through and not suppress it. Being sad doesn’t make me a horrible person. Feeling empty doesn’t mean I have to fill it with something else. This grief journey is a huge learning process of knowing my ‘new normal.’ That comes with positive and negative thoughts, feelings, and beliefs.

What I want to leave you all with is feeling empty after loss is normal. Your baby’s physical body is gone. There’s no weight there anymore, but there’s something that remains. Even when it feels like storm clouds are happening on the outside and nothing is on the inside, I promise you this one thing stays.

Love.

I know there will always be a missing part of your heart and an empty feeling in your belly from where your child left, but what remains in the emptiness is love.

May We All Heal | Timeless

It’s early in the morning here. I couldn’t sleep last night and found myself staring at the clock.

4:25

The time that ended all other times flashes across my bright phone screen. My body is telling me to go back to sleep, to get lost in my dreams and push it aside. Of course, I didn’t listen to my body. I woke up, made tea, and looked at today’s prompt. Timeless.

Funny how the universe works right? Or maybe it’s the mind, constantly working and trying to make everything connect.

In the past two days I’ve been in a serious battle with my depression. Nothing I can’t handle, but it hurts. It’s impacted everything I’ve written and drawn for May We All Heal. Today is no different. The pessimism in my drawing taunts me.

Timeless. Any other millennial would have thought of an infinity sign. Just think of all the pretty synonyms: unending, forever, and vastness. This page could have truly been beautiful and filled with positive thoughts.

Instead, a clock flows out of me. Although this clock looks broken, it really isn’t.

Time stopped at 4:25am on April 5, 2016. It was the exact minute Jensen was born into this world. At that same time, he was taken away; breaking our physical connect forever. This very minute, halted my world. It stopped so hard and quick that all the minutes and hours fell from the face of the earth. Just like my world crumbled around me. All I could do was watch and feel the sharpness of the pain. Time felt like it would never go on again.

Then I asked about him.

Just a mother trying to learn all she could about her son. In the same day my son was stillborn and it felt like nothing would ever make me smile or feel anything but gasping for air, I learned he in fact had ten fingers and ten toes. That made me smile and feel a blanket of warmth cover me that I hadn’t felt since I heard he was gone. Hearing about Jensen… feeling the unending love I had for him… somehow it made the sting of everything lessen in that minute.

So the clock’s gears started back, slowly. Some would say barely visible in the first few months. They couldn’t see the littlest one though, its way in the middle working overtime. This gear doesn’t tire or need greased. It keeps moving, even when the others don’t want to budge.

This gear will infinitely turn. It never even stopped when the world did. One day, it’ll almost coax all the others back to as they did before. A part will always be missing and there’s no numbers to even tell how long or judge how long the clock takes to make its way around.

And that’s okay.

Because love is timeless. 

Love does not judge. Love motivates. Love keeps turning, no matter if it’s the only one doing so.

Jensen is my love. He does not judge his mama and only motivates her to do better. The love I have for him and I know he has for me will always be.

This love is timeless.

May We All Heal | Imagine

I Imagine…

Waking up on a warm spring morning, filling my pink, mom cup with coffee before Jensen starts stirring. Somehow he’s already almost thirteen months old. He hears me just as I finish my last drink. The sun hits his crib in the most wonderful way. When I look at him, he’s already staring back at me with his big, hazel eyes. He smiles, of course. His blond, curly hair seems to have dark pieces intertwining as each day passes. I pick him up and the day begins.

After our morning routine of breakfast and getting dressed, I play him music. He loves to dance around and is always showing me these crazy dance moves he somehow learned. I’m hoping with all this dancing he ends up being better at it than me. His moves make me smile and laugh. I have to take pictures and videos to remember this moment. The house is fluttered with all the moments of the past year.

With the sun shining so brightly, I take him outside. The sun is shining so brightly and he continues to dance and play. His steps are getting more sure and stable. All of them so important and I know one day his footsteps will take him on great adventures. We’re outside for a while. I notice him picking the little flowers. He brings them over to me, proud that he found them. I take them and this pleases him, until he’s hungry again.

The day passes, almost too quick. I wish these day were unending. The sky starts to change and soon the stars will be twinkling. I open the curtains in Jensen’s room so he can stare outside as I read him his nightly story. He begins blinking slowly and more frequently. His hand starts to twirl his hair, but he’s hanging on to every word.

When he finally does sleep, I finish the book anyways. Then I hold him tight. I have my whole entire world in my arms. There is no pain or loss. Everything is just the way it needs to be.

But I’ll never get this day. It’ll always be just something I imagine.

Now imagine a love so big, that even though none of this can ever happen, my heart is still full.

Imagine this love that heals.

There’s No Excuse Why My Child Died.

I had a miscarriage.

Don’t worry, it’s not even like it was a real baby. Just a clump of cells.

My child was stillborn.

At least you didn’t get to meet them and see them alive.

I watched my child die in my arms after they spent their life in the NICU.

Good thing you didn’t bring them home and get too attached.

My child died from SIDS in infancy. 

These things happen, next time you’ll just have to watch more closely.

I’m in a constant battle with infertility.

Just relax, it’ll happen in its own time.

My child died in child/adulthood.

Be thankful you have all those memories with him/her.

I am a grieving parent.

Don’t worry, you can always try again.

There is no excuses when it comes to a child dying.

Unless you have experienced child loss, do not think there is solution to ‘get over’ or ‘move on’ from a mom or dad grieving. These ‘helpful’ phrases only create more pain.

This grief is uncomfortable. It’s sad, but it’s very real for so many of us. We do not need judged for how we grieve. There is not a timeline. If you wouldn’t say it about any other loss, then it does not need to be said about this type of loss. Our children are very loved and real. No matter if we lost them a day after we found out they were there or after many years.

Please think before you speak, you have no idea the war that we’re battling every. single. day.

The Day Everything Changed.

It was a Monday.

The weather was surprisingly nice being in April, but I felt off. Being thirty-eight weeks pregnant takes a toll on a person, yet this was a different feeling. I couldn’t quite tell what was wrong, but my body was telling me I needed to lay down. So Poe and I laid on the couch while Anthony left. I remember Poe laying super close to my belly and me talking to Jensen. A little part of me was wondering why he wasn’t moving as much as he normally did in the mornings. I kept pushing it out of my mind since I’d be going to the doctor at one.

On the ride to our appointment, I remember saying I thought something was wrong.

‘What would we do if he was still?’

Honestly, I thought it was just me worrying. Now when I look back, I think I knew. Anthony told me not to worry, Jensen is just fine.

He still hadn’t moved when we were in the waiting room. I was talking to him and remember walking into the bathroom three times while waiting. Finally we were taken back to the room, it felt like another appointment. She had me lay down on the table and put the jelly on my belly. I distinctly remember making a joke that there wasn’t much room left in there. She nervously chuckled and told me she’d be back.

I was worried at that moment, but everything was going to be alright. He was moving and passed his ultrasound less than five days ago. My comforting thoughts calmed the worrisome ones until my doctor came in.

It didn’t take him anytime at all to see that Jensen’s heart had stopped beating.

‘I’m sorry there’s no heartbeat. Do you understand what I’m saying?’ 

The world has come crashing down around me. I understood exactly what he was saying, but I didn’t know what happened next. He was talking, but I couldn’t hear any sound coming out. Just that we needed to go to the hospital to double-check and they would let me know what to do there.

When we walked out of that room, I felt Jensen’s weight just hanging there. I felt numb and in shock. As soon as I sat in the car, I cried and just kept saying the doctor was wrong. That they would tell me this was all a joke when we got there. After gaining somewhat of a composure, I called my mom. I needed her there with me. I don’t know what ran through her mind when I told her Jensen was gone. He doesn’t have a heartbeat. But she was there at the hospital way sooner than she typically drives.

At the hospital, they ushered me into a room I never been in before. They had the portable ultrasound in my room, three times, just to make sure. Each time I had my hopes up that his heart would start back up again. That I would see my boy’s heart flickering as it normally did.

It didn’t feel real.

When my mom got in there and they explained everything to her, I knew by her face that this wasn’t some sort of elaborate prank. The heaviness of the day crashed down on me. My blood pressure, which had been perfect before finding out, skyrocketed. I could only see huge black dots and my arms were numb. Everyone was quiet and giving me options at the same time. This isn’t what I had read in the baby books and it’s definitely not a situation they warned me about in baby class.

I don’t remember breathing, seeing, or feeling anything until they told me I needed to go back to the delivery room. Before I blacked out, the decision was made that I would be induced that night to deliver him when he came. I begged for a c-section. I was adamant on not seeing Jensen. I couldn’t believe that death had stolen the one person who meant more than anything to me. My mind couldn’t wrap itself around seeing him born lifeless. Yet, I still had to walk to my room.

At that time I needed to be alone, so I walked ahead with my nurse. I can remember taking a deep breath then. The next time I walked those halls, I wouldn’t be taking Jensen home with me. He’d be left there and it hurt.

She told me she was going to ask uncomfortable questions, but they had to be answered. I just kept nodding my head. It had to be done. I can remember her asking me about where his funeral was going to be, who could pick up his body, what his name on the death certificate would be, who I wanted in the room, if and when I wanted an epidural, and the most important at that time, if she could write his name on the white board. It was information overload all at once. I literally was going through the motions and my parents had to answer most of her questions.

I’ll never forget the room I gave birth to my son in. The bed was on the left side and the couch in the back left corner pulled out to a full bed. A bathroom was located in the back right and along that wall had the TV and whiteboard where she wrote Jensen’s name. To the right of the bed the hospital brought in snacks for the family. I thought it was ridiculous at that time. They ate and read the pamphlets about losing a grandchild. When I got my bag, I remember telling them to get it away from me.

Deep down inside me, I still thought there was hope. I thought somehow through labor and birth he would jolt back. That death didn’t creep inside me and take my son.

They decided to induce me at eleven at night. The doctor and nurse told me I would probably have him the next evening or longer. I was scared and I thought I had time. Not that you can ever prepare for a silent birth. Everyone kept telling me to try to sleep. That I would need my energy for the next day. They dimmed the lights and played Game of Thrones for me.

I’m not sure exactly what time it was, but my parents had gone home to take care of their dogs. Anthony had been sleeping and I was awaken by strong contractions. My whole stomach felt like it was violently vibrating and clenching all at one. So I went to the bathroom to scream, cry, and try to keep breathing. I called my mom to tell her she needed to get back to the hospital. For some reason, I felt like he was going to come a lot sooner than twenty-four hours. The nurses must have heard me or Anthony went and got them. They frantically knocked on the bathroom door and I told them I was in pain.

When I was checked in to my room I was only one centimeter dilated. Only a few hours after I was induced, I was fully dilated and contracting every one to two minutes.

Somehow my mom and dad got to the hospital just in time. It felt like as soon as they came in, Jensen was right there. The nurses kept telling me and my mom that it couldn’t be time yet. It hasn’t been that long at all for her first birth. But I felt him, he was right there and I kept telling my mom. After she yelled at them to check, I was right.

‘He has a head full of blond hair.’

Within a few hard pushes, he was born. My hopes that he would somehow come back to life were gone. I can remember them calling out his time of birth, 4:25. Then nervously I asked if he had ten fingers and toes.

I wanted nothing more to wake up from that nightmare. The nurses kept telling me how good I did. That I should be proud of myself for the ‘easy’ birth I had. But my son… he was gone and was never coming back.

Nothing in the world could ever make that right again.


Tomorrow, at 4:25am, Jensen turns one.

I’m planning on sharing something extremely personal with you all. Although I’m still questioning myself with it, I know you all will be here to support Jensen and I’s journey. Thank you all for reading my story once again. It is so healing to be able to share.

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The Love Letter I Never Read Out Loud to My Son.

April 1, 2016

Jensen,

After months of waiting, I’m finally going to meet you in sixteen days (supposedly). I wish I could explain to you all my emotions, but I think you will have to feel them for yourself one day. Even though I haven’t met you, just yet, I already know I’ll love you more than anything.

At this moment, I’m sitting at your grandparent’s house, feeling you move in my belly, and watching Finnick be a bad boy. I wanted to write to you just to say how much I love you already. I’m scared I won’t be a good enough mom to you , but I know you’ll help me learn to be the best I can be.

Right now, in my life, I’m twenty-two years old. Last May I graduated college and want to go back to be a teacher. Mostly because it would give\allow me the most time with you. Our house is still under construction, I’m hoping it will be done before your arrival. Your dad and I love each other very much and are always talking about you. Your nursery is almost done and I wish\hope you grow up and love your room as much as I do.

I wish I had more exciting stories to tell you that has happened in the past few months. But I’m trying to stay nice and healthy just for you! I make sure to read the Bible or a children’s book to you everyday. I hope you love to read and write as much as your dad and I do.

Jensen, if I could let you know anything or want you to remember one thing it is: no matter what you do or want to do in your life, I will support you. Growing up is so hard and you will make mistakes. Just know I have made mistakes too and understand. There is nothing you can do for me to stop loving and supporting you. I know your dad feels the same.

I am so excited to finally be able to hold you and kiss your face. I want to see you grow and become the best, little boy you can. I can’t wait to hear you laugh and see you smile. I know you’ll break my heart a few times, but you’ve already made up for it by just being in my life. I can’t wait for you to come home from school and tell me all about your day. I want to know all your likes and dislikes. I can’t wait to travel with you and show you what the world holds. I want you to realize how much everyone cares about you and how much you care right back. I know you have been made with love and care. I am so excited you are my son.

No matter what, I will always be on your side, encouraging, comforting, and loving you. In sixteen days I’ll meet my favorite person and start the best part of my life. And I cannot wait.

I love you very much!

Your Mommy

The Baby Shower.

I woke up early that morning.

The rush of excitement to see my friends, family, and all the planning of the past few weeks filled me. Of course there were still more things to do, like the set up and making sure all the food got there. Then there was getting ready and making sure I put my feet up before I’d be on them all day. While I was constantly going over this checklist in my head, Jensen’s assuring ‘Go Mom!’ kicks made me smile.

When I stood up from my bed, I swore Jensen had dropped even lower. His weight gradually had been getting lower and lower over the past few weeks, but today he was the lowest. I waddled down the steps and we all started moving everything to the car. There was all the decorations and the table clothes that needed setting up before anything else, which was perfectly fine with me. As usual, I had to wait until after ten to get something to eat. Mr. I-don’t-like-mornings still hadn’t let me eat breakfast like I normally did before I was pregnant.

The boxes of my mental checklist were being marked quickly. On days like these, the hustle and bustle makes time go fast. Before I knew it, the guests were arriving.

I greeted people as they came. The first thing they probably noticed was my huge belly and my white slippers because no shoes would fit right. It seemed like the whole room filled up in under twenty minutes. Everyone was talking and laughing. Jensen kicked when he heard different people’s voices. I imagined this was how it was going to be from now on. His presence in the world brought happiness already and it would continue doing so when he would be in my arms.

My mom told me to go in the back while they played their first game, so I could eat. I can remember eating and a little one came up to me and asked what Jensen was doing in my belly. I smiled and told her he had been sleeping because we had a busy day. She touched my belly and asked if he was right there. Then he kicked. He was going to be friendly and love to interact with his cousins and friends.

After I was done eating, I remember walking out the door and seeing the huge, blue, ‘BOY’ balloons with the presents on the one side and diapers on the other table. I felt so blessed that Jensen and I were loved by so many.

The games had finished and everyone was eating. It was the perfect time to start opening gifts. I opened clothes, diapers, car seats, gift cards, pacifiers, books, stuff animals, bath needs, towels, and anything else you can think of. It was all there. We only needed to get a stroller which would be covered with all the gift cards. Everything was set for his big arrival now. All I had to do was get everything washed, unpacked, and assembled. Those things and of course waiting.

When everyone was getting ready to leave, I hugged them all and felt Jensen moving around. It was a tight squeeze so I felt him pretty frequently. In between every goodbye, I laid my hands where I knew his put was and then would trace down where his back was. He liked when I did that. He would move to follow my hand. Now looking back, a lot of those goodbyes were the last ones he had. They departed from us happy and thinking our future would be bright.

No one ever expected the worse was about to happen in a few short weeks.

My family helped take all the presents back to my house. We had to put them in the closet/laundry room because we still had to figure out everything with his room. I remember we went through each outfit and every book. In my mind, I had to organize everything so it would be easier for us to put away. Diapers in one corner, the bathing stuff in the other, and everything else had its place too. The clothes came with us so they could be washed.

Then we went home. Happy with how they day played out. I spent the evening reading the ‘Wishes for Baby’ and ‘Advice to Mom’ cards. Each out loud so Jensen would most definitely hear. I put them back in my purse so I could read throughout my appointments and ultrasounds, or whenever I felt like I needed to see them.

I was going to be a great mom.

That thought played in my head over and over. I was nervous, but I saw how much he was loved and I knew everything would work out just fine.

As quickly as the day went by, sleep welcomed me. Jensen and I had our nightly routine of reading a book and him kicking me until I laid on my left side. I’d be seeing him the next day and letting the ultrasound technician know how the shower went.

I dreamt of what he would look like that night. We were in the hospital room and I was holding him. He was snuggled so close to me and I was humming a lullaby in his ear. His body was warm and his hair smelled like a new baby.

Everything was perfect that day.