What It Felt Like.

It was a cool Monday afternoon in April. The sun was shinning, but the wind made me chilly even though my pregnant belly usually made me hot. We sat in the doctor’s office, waiting to go in the back to see Jensen dancing around as he usually did. He was a little quiet that morning, I wrote it off to him not having much room. We impatiently waited. I knew the doctor wanted to discuss inducing me and having Jensen before his due date. Although I wanted him in my arms as soon as possible, I really wanted him to have those final three weeks for his brain to develop even more.

My name was called and I was escorted to the room where I would see Jensen every Monday.

The ultrasound tech who was usually very chatty and made jokes was suddenly silent. I unknowingly tried to break the silence and she brushed my comment off to go get the doctor. At that second, I knew something was wrong. The doctor came back placed the wand on my belly again, then set it down. Then he said it and the world around me turned to static.

“I’m sorry. There’s no heartbeat. Do you understand what that means?”

I couldn’t catch my breath or speak, so I nodded my head. My mind was so full and empty at the same time. It was telling me that this could be due to faulty equipment or maybe he was just turned funny. I just had felt him move the night before and I saw him just the past Thursday. It couldn’t be true. Babies just don’t die at thirty-eight weeks. He couldn’t have died.

But he did.

When we got to the hospital they confirmed his heart had stopped beating, not once, not twice, but three times I saw him laying there motionless. I had to see it to believe it. At this point, I hadn’t started crying. My body and mind was in shock. It was falling from the greatest high in my life. After the third time they told me my son was dead, my blood pressure spiked so high that my vision was black and my arms were numb. For some reason the nurses didn’t understand why it would be spiking? I had to be preeclamptic, they said. No, that wasn’t it. Turns out your blood pressure goes up when you find out death had creeped inside you and stole your son from you.

Death stole him and the future I planned with him.

Then my mom came in the room and it all hit. I didn’t have to feel strong when she got there because she was the strong one. Even with her tear-stained cheeks, she held me up and retold me everything the nurses and doctors said. That’s when the tears hit and they didn’t stop falling until they told me I needed to walk to the room I would deliver him in. Her familiar voice that helped me learn everything I knew made my brain realize Jensen wasn’t ever coming home with me.

What did it feel like to know my son was dead?

It felt dark and almost like the world around me was crumbling. I was in complete shock and went through each stage of grief (minus acceptance) all in a short of time. The world had betrayed me. There was so much anger and sadness and loss of hope flowing through my veins. I wanted to scream, but I couldn’t. My brain knew he was gone, but he was right there in my belly. His weight was so heavy as I laid on the hospital bed. He was right there and I would never be able to have him.

I felt completely broken and betrayed.

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Often, I wonder how I didn’t go completely insane with all that information. Some would tell me it was strength and I will tell you it was anything but. It was love. The love I had for my son and the love he reciprocated back. I felt him all around me. In those moments I felt that because he was right there in my belly, but in actuality his spirit surrounded me and kept me glued together. Even on the worst day of my life, love guided me.

In the midst of being completely broken and betrayed, I felt the love that only comes from a mother and her precious child.

laurelbox.

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I love sharing the many different ways I get to honor and remember Jensen with, as well as what helps me through my grief. Today I got my birthday present, from myself, from laurelbox. I’ve been eyeing up a bunch of their items from their page and finally broke down and ordered my favorite two. I was so blown away by the presentation when I opened the box and all the little details of everything.

laurelbox was created by two cousins, Denise and Johanna, after seeing friends go through the aftereffects of loss. They wanted to create comfort in a box for others to purchase for their friends to help ease grief. You can find more about them, here. Their website allows the purchaser to pick from prepared boxes or customized boxes and also to just pick out certain items to purchase, which is what I did. They have items ranging from tea towels to necklaces to tea collections. Each are so adorable.

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Reassuring Kicks.

Jensen loved going out in public. When I would walk through places with a bunch of people, he would kick to every different voice. Then he’d fall asleep within fifteen minutes because he was my lazy, little boy. Every time I went out though, he would perk up and listen. We went to the doctors a lot. He’d get bored of their same voices; I think he knew I was annoyed of the doctors and all their bad news. He always tried to cheer me up though; he may have been a lazy butt, but he knew his kicks made his momma feel better.

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I always thought this was his “silly” face ultrasound or like he was super excited the camera was on him. He would be giving me the thumbs up today. Such a happy, little baby.

Today I needed his kicks to make me feel better. I ventured of into the “real world,” more like the comfort of my house. It’s been a day I’ve dreaded for a week: my ‘six’ week postpartum exam. I didn’t think I could take putting myself in a vulnerable situation. What if she said his death was my fault? What if she said I did something wrong? What if she told me I was a bad mom? What if she discarded his life? What if I couldn’t breath because I had a panic attack?  All the “what ifs” were adding up and they were dangerous.

I’m sure if Jensen was here, I wouldn’t have dreaded it so much. I’d just be excited to know I was healthy and show off my beautiful boy to everyone in the office. Believe me, I would do anything to be showing him off to everyone if I could. If only I had his kicks to reassure me. Well, now it would have been his little looks towards me. His little blond hair so very different from my dark, brown hair.

Instead I sat in the exam room, telling the doctor my story and crying until my eyes hurt. Not only going through all the details of my pregnancy, but the end. How his heart stopped beating, why it stopped beating, and the silence of birth. I’m sure she’s seen new moms cry happy tears during their six week appointment, I would give anything for that to be me. When she told me I was healthy and all healed up, it didn’t even phase me. So what my body is okay? I might look okay, but I’m in pain every single second of the day. How can I not be in pain? She just said it herself, my baby died. This wasn’t supposed to happen, but when it does it’s all of the sudden.

I can’t complain, my new doctor was amazing. She spent two hours in the exam room listening and answering my “what ifs.” I didn’t do anything wrong and I could not have done anything to prevent this tragedy. She kept telling me how I was a wonderful mom, hearing her call me a mom as much as she did made me feel better. We talked about Jensen and how important he is. Jensen’s life is important and it always will be. He was my child during my pregnancy, birth, and the rest of my life. Not even death can take that away.

Grief sucks. Grief makes me focus on the bad and doubt myself. It tries to steer me away from thinking of all my happy thoughts I had with Jensen and makes me focus on the silence. I’d never wish this grief or loss on anyone. Everyone should have their baby to show off every time they go into public. Yes, it was a bad day of grief. The type of day where I couldn’t catch my breath. Even when I heard ‘good’ news, I couldn’t find the strength to smile.

Jensen would have made me smile. He would’ve loved her asking all about him while he was safe in my belly. I know he would move his head to make sure he could hear her and of course me. He would always move his head when I would talk to him. His kicks would be consistent for about five minutes, until he got bored with all the medical talk.

Jensen would have made today so amazing.

Nurse’s Day.

When I read today’s prompt I knew I had to alter what I was going to write. Although I would love to share more about my pregnancy I wanted to focus a little more on a certain side of Jensen’s birth story. Although I won’t go into detail about everything, I want to express my thanks to our nurse, Angie.

Day Six falls on Nurse’s Day and I’d like to share Angie’s role in Jensen’s story…

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The day we went into our OB appointed started off like any other. We went into the doctors and the ultrasound tech checked my belly to look at Jensen. There was silence.

The second we found out Jensen didn’t have a heartbeat I fell into a deep pit of shock and confusion. I just heard the worst news in my life and I didn’t know or I couldn’t think what came next. They rushed us off to the hospital for more ultrasounds to just make sure. There was more silence from the ultrasounds. I thought that was the worst silence and the whole entire world. I was supposed to hear his little heart beating away.

When the decision was made to deliver Jensen and be induced right away, I was quickly introduced to our nurse, Angie. I remember having to walk away from my family and Anthony, to get away for a second. Angie was right there. She told me she was frankly honest, but she would be there for me when I needed her. In the blur of the events, she was able to get the hardest information out of me. Words I had never imagined saying in my whole lifetime came out of my mouth. She had to draw thoughts out of me I never, ever wanted to think about. The whole time I was never mad at her or felt like she was being pushy. She let me take my time in answering questions.

During my pregnancy, I didn’t want any pain medication or and epidural. The thought it could potentially hurt Jensen did not sit well with me. I know I could take the pain just to have him here safe. After it was confirmed Jensen was in heaven, I didn’t want to feel any pain. I was already in unimaginable pain and suffering. I told Angie, I didn’t want to feel physical pain. She let me know that was okay and I didn’t have to. They warned me labor would long; like twenty hours or longer. Angie said, “As soon as you feel pain let me know. You need rest now, so try to sleep.”

My twenty hour labor only lasted six hours after they first induced me. Jensen came quickly and didn’t hurt his mommy. Not as much as I thought I would be in physical pain anyways. I remember at one point, I was feeling intense contractions. Lasting for thirty seconds and coming every minute. In my head, this couldn’t be the worst. I still had hours left of labor. Angie came in and checked on me during this and I told her what was happening. She was so frustrated because I didn’t tell her I was in pain. They were able to get one test epidural in me. Jensen came quick and peacefully.

If you’d asked me only a few hours before what the worst sound was, I would have said the silence from the ultrasounds. If you ask me now, I’d tell you the silence when Jensen was born. Every mom waits to hear that cry. That first scream of their child. When your child is stillborn, you only hear silence.

As I was getting cleaned up, Angie had Jensen. She held him like any other baby. Said how adorable and handsome he was. Angie kissed Jensen, sung to him, and rocked him. She was the one who took pictures of him for us to have forever. She got all of his footprints and handprints. She excitedly told me his weight and length.

If she saw I was getting too upset she’d come and comfort me. She was amazing. While I was pushing she cheered me on. Kept telling me I was doing perfectly. When I told her I needed to move a certain way, she was right there helping me. In my darkest time she was a ray of light.

When the shift changed, she came in the room and gave me a hug. She told me again how beautiful Jensen was. Asked if I needed anything at all. The only thing I could do was tell her thank you. She witnessed me at my absolute worse. My whole world was completely shattered and she was there to help with such kindness and grace. I can never thank her enough. While I was pregnant, I always wanted to make a nurse’s basket. I always hoped to get great nurses to help with Jensen and I. I wish I could have met Angie in another way. One where she saw Jensen dancing in my belly. I know Jensen would have loved her.

Although I would never have predicted this tragedy to happen to me, I cannot say enough good things about the nurses who helped Jensen and I.