Learning How to Swim, Again.

Yesterday, as I floated alone in my parent’s pool, I was fueled by anger. In my head I was screaming so loud, but my exterior just seemed like I was uncomfortable. I tried to calm myself by watching the clouds, feeling the sun’s warmth, and letting the cool water extinguish the flames of madness inside me.

How is this my life?

Let me back this up a little bit. Since my D&C, I’ve had this horrible cough. I can’t sleep at night due to it and nothing seems to ease my coughing fits. In trying to figure out why I am lacking in sleep, I realized it was from the breathing tube they had to put in my throat for surgery. The lasting, physical evidence from this pregnancy. The combination from the lack of sleep and headaches from constantly coughing and drinking hot tea has me on edge: emotionally and physically.

Knowing all of this, I wanted to try my best to relax yesterday since I had the pool to myself. Right before I plugged my iPhone in to blast music, I scrolled through Instagram like I normally do. Now, I follow lots of loss moms, motivational accounts, and profiles that have journal prompts. If you didn’t know, I write a lot for myself, that no one ever reads. Sometimes it’s nice to be guided in writing. One of my favorite accounts, @rusticojournal, posted a seemingly fun and innocent prompt yesterday…

@rusticojournal


The mix of no sleep and my emotional battle twisted this nice, light prompt into a soul crushing reality that is my life.

Dramatic? Probably, but that was the spark that lit the fire in my mind. Since I felt so emotional after reading the prompt (and spewing while floating) I decided to write a response and wanted to share it with you.

I learned how to swim in this new life after loss because I was pushed off the highest mountain into an ocean that’s undercurrents pulled me down to the bottom. During the fall, I forgot how to swim or even which way the surface was to swim. I succumbed to the ocean of grief and let it twist me around. It would have been easy to just stay there in the darkness, for I was afraid of what would happen when I came back up. The world had defied me and how could I trust it ever again?

Something inside me made me want to begin swimming, to try to heal from the loss of my son. Stroke by stroke, I became stronger and reached the surface. There were waves so tall and big that knocked me back under, but I refused to sink. Each time I was plummeted down, it took me less time to swim back up. When I resurfaced I saw different beautifies that didn’t exist before. Yes, the world had looked different, but I couldn’t go back to how it was before. I didn’t want to go back to a world without Jensen, so I had to accept these pains and joys.

For a year, I learned how to swim in the ocean of grief. I was actually getting quite good at maneuvering and predicted the waves. Then it changed when I got pregnant again. There were still huge obstacles ahead and it didn’t take away all those I had overcome, but something new had come into play, hope.

My short pregnancy after loss experience was smooth, until the hurricane came and I had to learn how to swim again.

I hate comparing this loss to losing Jensen. They’re so different in many ways, but the pain I feel… it’s still heartbreaking. My hope for the future was extinguished and the flames of anger and the intense grief is back. Yes, I’m still in the ocean of grief, I’ve never left. I was pulled down to the bottom again and am still swimming up.

This time though, I’m not afraid of getting back to the surface. I know what’s there now. Learning how to swim this time is easier than what it was when Jensen died. My muscle memory is guiding me in how to grieve, even though it is different from before. The movements and waves are tricky, but I want to be on top. I want to see where I am in this sea and how far this hurricane threw me. There’s no way I can go back to where I was before this miscarriage. It’s a new terrain for me that created completely different situations and experiences.

Loss has altered me and the world around me, but it hasn’t taken away my ability to learn how to swim.

Usually it helps getting all the built up words out on paper, but this wasn’t the case yesterday. My cough kept me up again last night and since I released some of my pent-up emotions, they just wanted to spill out. I questioned God why He had to take Jensen, when he’s all I want, or why He had to take his little sibling away, when he or she gave me so much hope for the future.

If I could share anything from my experience in learning how to swim again (navigate life after loss), is that no matter the loss, it hurts like hell. There is no reasons babies should die and parents to be subjected in this pain and grief. No words can take away that pain, no future living children can erase what has happened, and no matter how much time has passed, a parent can feel how deeply their child’s loss impacted their life. All we can do is help each other swim.

Fifteen Months. 

Another month is here without him. One more that I never thought I would survive, yet here I am trying to be strong. The anticipation of each month change has not gotten easier since the very first one. I feel its weight in my bones trying to make me crumble. 

This past month has been one of the hardest. Two weeks ago my second child’s lifeless body was taken straight from my womb. The grief of losing him or her ontop of what I feel for Jensen and his loss has been complex. Most of the time I don’t know how to describe what’s going on in my brain. Maybe this extra weight has made this month change so much worse. 

I went into his room today. Sometimes I have this strong pulling to just sit in there, more than my everyday look. 

Every time I step in there, it’s like I’m transported to another reality. I see his room what it would be like if he was here. Not at infancy, but right now running and testing his limits three months after his birthday. Toys are scattered along his rug and there’s clothes to be put away. There are projects we have done on the wall and all his books are on the shelves. I see this scene and him in there. Somehow I wish I could describe it better than just being transported to another reality, it’s literally like I step through another veil and there he sits. That’s how I picture Jensen and I’s heaven.

After snapping out of the world I want to be living in, I saw things I hadn’t paid attention to in awhile. The little details that I love that wouldn’t be exactly there if he was here. On his changing table lies a little racecar and my favorite sign I bought before he was born. ‘Just be awesome.’ There wasn’t any pressure on him to be something, just as long as he was happy and growing up to be a good boy. Then there’s the books I actually have in his room. Stuffed away with a lot of his things is his whole library, many of those books from the book drive we did during the baby shower. The ones in his room are my favorite though. Sometimes I pull them out on special days and read out loud for him to hear. I know he’s listening and sometimes Leo comes to listen too. 


Yes, I accidentally bought two of the same J’s…. oops. 


Fifteen months have gone by since I last physically felt Jensen. In that time I’ve picked up most of the pieces, dropped them multiple times again, and kept trying to place them back to a new normal. I’ve felt the biggest heartbreak, twice, but I’ve also learned how to love so deeply. 

To feel everything so deeply. 

I wish this wasn’t my reality, but I’m surviving and doing my best to thrive. Even if I knew what was going to happen, I’d still choose my little, blond hair boy born fifteen months ago.

A Little Light in the Darkness. 

Every month I try to do an outlook of what I have planned or what’s going on. Just four short weeks ago, I announced ‘June’s Name Project‘ and how I had a surprise for you all. Of course that surprise was the little baby inside of me and unfortunately I told you all, just not in the way I had planned. It’s cause the outlook for July to be a little different. 

Honestly, I don’t know what’s going on right now with me. It’s been less than two weeks since my surgery and I’m in am emotionally chaotic state, understandably. My doctor appointment this week will give me a better perspective of what’s going on with my actual body and hopefully brings me some sort of peace with the upheaval of losing this baby. On the other hand, I’m terrified of the possibility that there’s something more wrong with me. Something unfixable and that I actually hurt Jensen and his siblings. Maybe a mid-month update will be better this month when I have some more information, but only time will tell. 

I’m going off track of what I originally wanted to say…

A couple months back, Still Standing Magazine called out for writers to apply to be on their writing team. Since I backed out of Still Mothers due to my pregnancy, I really wanted to continue writing for a huge and incredibly helpful source for grieving parents. The timing was perfect and I knew I had to at least apply. 

For weeks I was so nervous. I’ve fought with anxiety since Jensen has been born and this was no different. Everyday I checked my email hoping to get good news. There were new writers being added to the writing team and I truthfully thought I was out. 

On the morning of my miscarriage, I received an answer. I was in. Although I didn’t know what was going on with me and my pregnancy when I read that message, I was so happy and excited to be able to share about my little family and more importantly to try and help others through their grief journey. My response was haulted with the tragedy I found myself in, but I finally was able to accept and today my bio went up. 


I’m truly honored to be writing for Still Standing Magazine. Being able to write about my grief has helped me heal in so many ways. My other hope in writing is to be ab to let someone know they’re not alone in their journey of loss and love.

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.

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.