‘Walk for the Angels.’

One in four pregnancies end in loss.

My heart knows that fact, but even with online support, it’s hard to see that statistic in person. Maybe that’s why when I heard over six hundred people registered for the God’s Tiny Angels ‘Walk for the Angels,’ my heart skipped a beat. It was still just a number until I saw the line of people waiting outside the church to register. Even then it still didn’t click.

Yesterday was my first remembrance walk since Jensen has been born. I made big orange and navy buttons with a white J in the middle. We went out and bought bright, orange bandanas. I needed to be prepared for the day because I didn’t really know what to expect. It would be the first time I was around a huge amount of people who have been effected by loss, not just the small groups I was used to. There would be a lot of stories and emotions all in one room that I had to be aware of. I probably should have warned my family and Frank about those raw emotions that radiate off.

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Then there we were, in the sea of people in an ocean of grief.

The board members of God’s Tiny Angels spoke of sharing, healing, and helping. Their pillars of support and what they strive to do. I cried as the spoke knowing that each of those have shaped my grief journey. Jensen and I’s support heard those words for the first time, that didn’t come out of my mouth. They heard and they saw love, loss, and the magnitude of how many people are touched by angels. I think the heaviness of sadness was felt by everyone there, but we could surrender ourselves to that emotion and let hope flow in by walking for them.

Each step of the walk, I kept thinking of taking the steps for Jensen. He’ll never be able to take the steps for himself, but he had so many people there for him. As did all the babies gone too soon. The walk was peaceful and hundreds of balloons floated above our heads, symbolizing Jensen and all of his friends being with us. I also thought of the walk as journey of grief too. Although we have to take our steps to move forward, there are always people around to help us keep walking. AND we are always surrounded by our angels.

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As we got back to the church and went to the courtyard to release the balloons, I really could see how many people were there. Families grouped together with their buttons representing their child and packs of pink, blue, and white balloons everywhere you looked. Music was being played and we were asked to release our balloons and messages of love to the clouds, knowing our babies would see them. We let go of our pack of blue balloons with the glimpses of orange lettering on the cards. They danced up to the clouds, not alone, but with all the other balloons from each family. In that moment, it clicked. Each of those hundreds of balloons represented a baby gone and a family whose life was changed forever.

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I watched Jensen’s balloons until I couldn’t see them anymore. Tears fell down my cheeks, the release of love and loss is therapeutic. Although I couldn’t see the balloons dancing in the wind anymore, I knew he still saw them. He grabbed them and played with the balloons in awe. Maybe he was read those messages, but he already felt the warmth of the love we have for him. That’s all he’s ever known.

Surrender & Embrace.

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I’m in a constant state of falling apart and picking up the pieces.

From the minute I was being wheeled out of my hospital room, I let myself surrender to the heaviness of sadness. The unfairness of leaving without Jensen was overwhelming. I wanted to scream, but no sound came. Instead, tears flowed so freely and I couldn’t stop them even if I tried. While we were in the elevator, I kept opening and closing my eyes wishing that when I did it I would finally wake up from this nightmare. When I sat in the front seat of the car on the way to my parent’s house, I felt like I was in a vacuum. In this vacuum, there’s no outside noise or reason. There’s just me and my uncontrollable thoughts. After we got home, I realized that I would never be able to fight off the pain and sadness. I promised myself that I would accept whatever feelings and emotions came my way.

I surrendered myself to sadness, anger, pain, depression, and even joy.

Sometimes I wish I didn’t. There are moments in life where feeling everything so intensely isn’t ‘acceptable’ or ‘normal.’ Yet, they’re right there. Sadness and pain are always reachable for me. Almost everything in my life right now can be set back to, ‘If Jensen was here.’ I love being able to imagine it, but breaking down at a restaurant when they ask how many people are eating and I always have to say one less than what’s in my heart, is unacceptable. Those moments I can breathe through. In the few other times where I’ve felt like I had to hold it back and tried to force another certain emotion, grief came back around in a few hours times; one-hundred times worse. Worse as in, the emotions were just more intense where I literally can only lie there.

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Beautiful Mysteries.

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The sun is just starting to peek through the curtains beside my bed. I lay there, waiting for the day to start. Thoughts rush through my mind of what all I need to do and how messy the house has been. Then I hear it, the tiny steps sneaking into my room. I stay still because the next part of my morning is my favorite.

He climbs up the bed and lays right beside me. I pretend to sleep by closing my eyes and then feel the tap on my shoulder. His impatience builds up as he starts playing with my hair and whispering in my ear.

“Good morning, mommy. I lub you!”

I tickle him and give him a big kiss. The sound of his laughter fills the house. In that second there isn’t anymore worry to what needs to be done during the day or how messy the house is. I take in his big smile and his dirty blond hair, just a little bit too long. His eyes are squished up as he laughs. He throws his head back as he laughs and then when he stops, he gets serious. Every time he gets serious he asks for one thing…

“Mommy, I’m hungry. Can we have ‘nana pancakes?”

His eyebrows raise, waiting for me to answer. Before I get the words out of my mouth, I smile, and he jumps off the bed and runs to the kitchen. One more big breath and stretch to start my day. Sometimes I don’t even get that, he’ll plea for me to come in and I can’t say no to him. As his sits on his chair at the island, I can see his black and white pajamas are getting a little shorter. He’s growing faster than I can keep up with.

He helps me mash-up the bananas and stir in the eggs. When I pour the cinnamon in, he yells ‘STOP,’ whenever he feels like there’s the perfect amount in the bowl. I ask him if he had any dreams last night, while I pour the batter in the pan. He speaks with his hands and his voice gets louder and louder as he explains them. His imagination grows along with him. He finishes explaining each and every character in his dream, just as I flip the last pancake on the plate.

I place his in front of him. He gives me the look as if I’ve forgotten something, but I know what he wants. His pancake needs cut so he can easily eat them, but he usually asks me for a specific shape. This morning he wants triangles and he’ll get them. He smiles as he eats each one of his triangle banana pancakes.

“Mama, you are the best nana pancake maker!”

The morning continues with him playing under his tent as I pick up after him. He’s so curious and inquisitive, but I answer each question he asks me. I see him figuring out the world around him and as I’m in awe of this little human who is all mine, my mind keeps going back to one though. This is my heaven and I know as he grows, there will be one day where these mornings cease. For now, I will soak up every second of him at this age.

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Myths.

Life after loss is all about discovery. Discovering healing and how to keep surviving each day. There are good discoveries and there are bad. Most of the bad are from myths that our society have compiled about grief and child loss. I’m going to do my best to debunk some of these myths and probably ramble a lot.

I’ve narrowed it down to the four that really get under my skin. They all kind of loop in with one another, but they are all things I’ve heard. I’ve also wrote about all of them before which really helps show the progression of my grief journey.

Happy debunking.

Myth One | Everything happens for a reason.

Before loss, I found comfort in this statement. In my logical mind, there had to be a reason for everything that happened. It was just be pandemonium if there was no answer to each thing that happened in the world. There had to be a lesson or something we could learn from everything that happened in life.

Then Jensen died.

There is no a reason a baby should die. I can remember searching within myself, thinking if I did anything wrong. Even if I had some sort of bad karma, there still isn’t any way that Jensen’s death would solve anything. His death didn’t happen for a reason. Don’t tell me God needed him and that’s why he died. That’s preposterous, there are a ton of people who die everyday that God can have; not my baby or anyone else’s baby.

Honestly, it just floors me when I hear this. Even if you think there’s a justifiable reason for a baby to die, just don’t say it. It’s not true and something a grieving mother (or any person) needs to hear.

Myth Two | At least you didn’t know him.

Please don’t say this to me, ever. I knew his kicks and when he was uncomfortable. I knew his schedule. I knew his favorite foods. I knew what music he liked. I knew when he was annoyed and didn’t want to participate for the ultrasound tech. I knew he loved to hear people talk about him. I knew he loved being read to. I knew everything about my son.

Just because he didn’t live outside the womb doesn’t mean he didn’t exist or that I couldn’t know him.

I understand it’s a different sense of knowing a person. Jensen was only a baby and I didn’t know him as a toddler, or as a child, or as a teenager, or as an adult. I don’t know what kind of person he would have turned out to be. That’s just a fact, but to say I didn’t know him at all hurts and disregards him as the little human he was. Even though I don’t know for sure who he would have become, I can imagine and dream of that. Tomorrow’s prompt dives into the beautiful mystery he is and I’m excited to share that with you all.


Myth Three | Grief follows five steps in an orderly fashion.

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We all are told and know the telltale stages of grief: Denial. Anger. Bargaining. Depression. Acceptance. In the stages of grief, we’re only supposed to be in each for a designated time and then find acceptance in all of it and move on with our lives. If we stay in one stage longer than an another, we’re not grieving ‘right.’ Or if we go from anger to depression and back to anger again, we didn’t do something right. We already prejudge our grief before we even start grieving. There’s this list of stages that we’re supposed to follow and when we don’t, we look down on ourselves, just as others do. But we’re not talking about each stage or the ones I’ve been in and tangoed with over and over again. There are many posts I’ve written about grief and the stages.

Still, it’s ridiculous to expect someone to follow grief in a timeline or a specific order. Grief is so individualized and different things let different individuals heal. Honestly, there are days where I’m still in denial that I have to live the rest of my days without Jensen. I’m twenty-three years old, let’s say I die at seventy years old, that’s forty-seven years I have to live without my son. I am in denial about that. I’ll expand that thought with the next myth. Then I have days where I’m in a complete rage. I could break plates and punch anything around me. There are times I scream at my cats if they meow because I just have so much anger built up. Then I go to bargaining and guilt. Depression is always there, so these stages make no sense for me.

I’ve left out acceptance for a reason. It’s supposed to be the end all of grief and it’s really not. For me, I feel like there’s different stages of acceptance. I’ve half-heartedly accepted Jensen’s death. Half-heartedly because I know he’s never coming back, but I don’t like it and I’m not comfortable with that fact. So there’s that slight acceptance. Right now, I can’t accept that I’m going to live for decades without him. It’s sad and heartbreaking. I don’t like it, but that’s grief and trying to process everything.

When I hear I’m not grieving correctly or if you think someone’s not, just know it’s their journey and process. Their heart will lead them to where they need to be at that particular time. Trying to rush them through their grief will only hurt them in the long run.


Myth Four | Time heals all wounds.

I feel like every last attempt to comfort me leads to this phrase and I hate it the most. Maybe because when the conversation gets to this point I’ve already lost hope with talking about Jensen and I know they’ll never understand.

Time sucks. I feel when time passes, I’ll become stronger and be able to be productive in my own ways. There won’t be a time where I go back to Danielle before Jensen and I don’t want to go back to her. Maybe in time the pain won’t be as intense? I don’t know. Thinking towards the future has been really difficult for me lately, so I’ve just stopped. As I was saying before, I keep thinking of living all these years without Jensen. He’s gone. The life I planned is gone. It’s overwhelming and to think as time as a savior, I just can’t think that way.

Maybe I’m just feeling defensive right now at this point with my grief. I don’t want time to slip away, but I also want it all to end quickly. It’s just strange. Do I want my life to get to a point where I’m excited for things again? Yes. But that doesn’t erase the pain or the hole in my heart. That hole will never get smaller.

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Time passing isn’t comforting to me nor do I know if it’ll heal me. Right now it’s a huge myth to me in my six months into grief. My wound is still deep and open, it’s one that will take a lifetime of healing.

Empathy.

Before I begin this post, I want to show the difference between empathy and sympathy. I think a lot of people think they’re the same thing, but they’re very different from each other.

empathy – the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.

sympathy – feelings of pity and sorrow for someone else’s misfortune.

The first time I thought I understood what empathy really meant was in college. I remember the professor telling us her sister’s story; I won’t tell her story, but it deals with the loss of a child. My professor said to feel empathy you had to put yourself in the other person’s shoes and somehow understand those feelings.

Then she said, ‘I could never imagine losing a child, therefore I can’t have the full understanding of empathy for her situation.’ Continue reading

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.

Who They Are.

 

Capture Your Grief – Day Two

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His name is Jensen.
He was so lively.
He loved chocolate milk and macaroni and cheese
He danced every time he heard music.
He posed for ultrasound pictures.
He listened to his momma’s voice.
He was surrounded by warmth and love for all his days.
He will forever be thirty-eight weeks and two days old.
He was born on April 5, 2016.
He had blond hair.
He had his mother’s nose, feet, and pouty lip.
He was perfect.
He taught me patience.
He showed me love.
He is my son.
His name is Jensen.

Twenty-Five Weeks.

It’s the twenty-fifth Tuesday.

One-hundred and seventy-five days since Jensen was born.

Jensen’s big day of the week and honestly today was busier than any other Tuesday I’ve had since he’s been born. The morning was really rushed and stressful. Leo and Poe were being trouble makers, we were in a rush to work out, and then I had therapy. Even when that was done, I was only home for a bit to go get supplies for the house and then finally eat. Today was just more rushed than I like my Tuesday’s to be. I honestly didn’t know if I’d write tonight since I posted a lot my feelings yesterday. I know I have a lot of Jensen and grief feelings going on write now, but I can’t make sense of them. Maybe at the end of this.

Then I figured everyone would have heard enough from me after my video chat with Emily Long, from Invisible Mothers, about love, loss, and figuring out life through grief. Which if you didn’t see and would like to, you can see it here. It was nice to be able to talk and actually speak what’s on my mind with words coming out of my mouth and not just directly on the screen. I am so very thankful she asked me chat with her to share with other loss moms and just feel what we’re feeling. Honestly, I didn’t re-watch it. I’m so afraid to hear my voice. I promise there’s good stuff on there and if you want to see me talking, it’s the perfect video to see.

But BIG things are happening.

This Tuesday is also the last Tuesday of the month of September, which means October is almost here. As I said in yesterday’s post, October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss (PAIL) Awareness Month, which is a pretty big deal. Especially since this is my first October without Jensen and knowing what else October holds besides Breast Cancer Awareness. It’s going to be an emotional month in general. October fifth is also Jensen’s six monthday, which I just cannot fathom. I’d do anything to be playing and picking out Jensen’s, at six month old, Halloween costume….

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Broken.

The majority of time I hear a lot of phrases that are supposed to be helpful, but usually do more harm. I’ve written about it many times before because it really does hurt and those words just swirl in my brain. On top of all those things, I’ve had a really horrible week with Anthony moving out and adjusting to being alone.

I want to be very candid with you all; week twenty-four sucked. The majority of the week was spent in bed, under my covers. There were moments I wanted to rip my skin off to feel relief. Seriously, physical pain would have felt so much better than this mental and emotional anguish. I feel so bad and I know Jensen sees this. What kind of mom sits there and loathes herself? I guess someone could answer with, you’re really not a mom. This week I probably couldn’t have even defended myself and my motherhood…

The very person who would do anything for her son wouldn’t have had the energy to defend my motherhood. Grief has completely broken me.

Today I heard one of the best things since Jensen’s been born:

“He’ll always love and remember you.”

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Twenty-Four Weeks.

When I decided to start blogging about Jensen and life after loss I promised myself I would always do two things:

  1. To honor Jensen by sharing his story and the positive impact he brings to me each and everyday.
  2. Be completely raw and honest no matter how hard.

Today, I unfortunately have to share news that hurts and is ultimately life-changing. Before I begin, I’d like to say this is not wrote in an ill tone or manner. This is real life and a fairly common thing to happen after losing a child.

Anthony and I have decided to go our separate ways to be able to focus on ourselves through our different grief journeys.

It hasn’t been an okay time for me and although I can’t speak for Anthony, I know he’s hurting too. The reality is grief does awful, awful things to a person and their relationship. I don’t think we’re going into this next stage of our lives with a bad taste on our tongues. We’ve been able to identify how each other needs to be able to better themselves and it’s hard, but in this time we have to be apart.

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