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.

The Importance of the Loss Community.

During the car ride home after Jensen had been born, I felt completely alone. My mom and dad had no idea what I was going through or even what to say. Not only did I know anyone who went through a stillbirth, but feeling the emptiness that Jensen had filled just the day before hurt so much. I know Mom and Dad were talking on the car ride home, I sat there not hearing a word they were saying and completely silent. My thoughts were so jumbled. It would feel so real when I got home without Jensen. Where would I go from that point? Is this whole experience even normal? Am I normal? Am I alone in all of this? These thoughts came and went constantly for the first few weeks.

After Jensen’s obituary, that I still have not allowed myself to read, was in the newspaper, I got one of the most important messages in my life. A girl, I knew back from high school, reached out and opened up about her experience with loss. She introduced me to a local loss group and told me I wasn’t alone. I saw that there were so many people in my small area that are on this journey with me. It was my first experience with this community and I can never thank her enough for the introduction.

Honestly, at first I felt so naive to think that I was the only person to go through this loss, then the pain of knowing so many others have kept me up all night. Well I wasn’t sleeping at all, but that first night I kept thinking, “How can this world hold so much pain?” I held on to that question through Jensen’s funeral and till about his first month in heaven. I didn’t even have the strength to look and see everyone’s story after that first experience of feeling everything so deeply. It wasn’t until Anthony went back to work and my first therapy session, that I actually saw the importance of the loss community.

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Seventeen Weeks & The Biggest Trigger.

As you all know, Tuesdays are the roughest days for me. I woke up in disbelief that today marks Jensen’s seventeenth week in heaven. The past few days, I’ve been preparing myself for Friday, the four-month mark. For some reason I just didn’t mentally prepare like I usually do. I’ve felt dizzy all day and am just trying not to break down in tears every second. It’s so much harder to fight grief and emotions off when you’re physically and mentally tired, it just floods your system.

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Last night I dreamt of Jensen as an angel. He was constantly around me, but I could never reach out and grab him. I could just see him smiling at me and guiding me on. In my dreams, Jensen grows to what I would imagine his age now. His cheeks were still big, he had a big Buddha belly, and chunky legs. He looked happy to be watching over me, but I thought he was upset that I couldn’t hold him. All I could tell him was that I loved him and I’m trying my very hardest to be the best mommy I could. Oh how I wish I would have just been able to grab him and wake up with him in my arms. Instead, I woke up crying. My face was wet and everything hit all over again.

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Forty-Seven Days.

The day Jensen was born was beautiful. Our window revealed a cloudless sky with the sun shining bright. It was so bright and happy outside, I think God made the whole day beautiful because he was welcoming this pure soul. I remember just wanting to paint it black because it was so bright out. It would have been a day where Jensen and I would be sitting outside, watching everything go on around us. I’d probably would have been reading to him and telling him about all the things we were going to do when he got here.

That wasn’t the beautiful day I had though. I sat in the hospital, crying; trying to make sense of everything. I didn’t understand how the world could still be spinning when mine had just violently stopped. How couldn’t everyone feel my pain, it was radiating off of me. My baby was gone and he took a huge part of me with him. I was just a shell full of anger and sadness. How could the earth be so beautiful THAT day, when the most beautiful thing had left? Honestly, I was so angry it was nice outside. It was storming inside my hospital room. That window taunted me.

Today is one of those beautiful days. It reminds me of the day Jensen was born, but a little warmer outside. I keep taking in all the sounds: the birds are chirping, kids are playing, and my family is talking. I’m making no sounds. Here I am sitting outside, thinking about my Jensen. My thoughts always go to what we would be doing. I’d probably be doing what I wanted to the day he was born. Just sitting outside and reading to him. Taking all of his features in. A perfect day.

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I know he’s here with me, I just wish it could be in my arms. Sundays are family days and I’m missing the most important part of my family. I’m stuck here in the after, wishing I could be in the before with him. It makes me feel better to look at the clouds. I know Jensen is dancing with them. He sends me the birds and I swear he runs around with Finnick. Jensen’s spirit is always playful and peaceful at the same time. He makes himself known.

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I’ve been reading You Are Not Alone: Love Letters From Loss Mom to Loss Mom by Emily Long, a lot lately. The book is a huge group of letters from mothers that are on this journey of grief with me. I read them when I need support. Which is like more times than I can count on my fingers each day. It just allows me to feel everything. Cry with other moms, think about Jensen, and just feel. This book has been such a blessing to me. 

Although each letter is different, they all have some of the same themes. Three of them have been able to keep me from breaking down every second of the day.

  1. Love.
  2. It’s not my fault.
  3. It’s okay to feel however I need to feel.

Today I’ve needed all three of these themes. It’s a day that reminds me so much of April 5, 2016, the day my baby became an angel. Beautiful days like today we’re supposed to be happy and I feel about a thousand different emotions. I keep telling myself and reading that it’s okay not to feel just happy.

It’s been forty-seven days since this journey has started and it’s okay I still am the girl that wants to paint all the windows black. It’s okay to be content sitting outside, listening to the birds chirp. It’s okay to cry. It’s okay to be happy the sun is providing me warmth.It’s okay to laugh at the dog running on the pool. It’s okay to feel all this love between Jensen and I.

It’s okay to just be.

In my forty-seven days, I’ve learned to just take everything as it comes.

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.