Mila: 0 – Bee: 1

I had something else planned to share today, but life always has its own plan. Today was one of those scary days when a moment happens and you question everything. Our moment wasn’t that big, but it did the trick.

Mila loves to be outside. She points to our door when we’re inside to let me know she’s ready to go play. When she has to go inside, she screams until she realizes she’s not going to win. I’m so happy she loves to be outside. On the flip side, Mila is fearless. She’s not afraid of heights, animals, the water… anything. I mean, she’s a little young to know real fear, but when something hurts her or if she falls, she just keeps redoing it. It’s a little scary for me, but I like her a little wild. I don’t play into things and just let her experience what she needs to. Obviously I don’t let her get injured, you all get the gist.

Anyways, today we went to my mom and dad’s house to help maintain the pool. They have a hot tub with steps that she loves to sit on. After playing for a little while and eating her snack, she took my mom over to the steps to sit with her. As soon as she swung her legs under them, she started screaming. Not an attention scream, but a ‘I’m really hurt, help me’ one. Mom instantly picked her up, brought her to me, and said a bee stung her. This is the first time (of many that’s sure to come) that she’s been stung. I just help her close and kept reassuring myself she would be okay.

Then that little voice in my head was playing tricks on me.

What if she’s allergic? She could die if she was. What if this is the last time you get to comfort her? My mom is allergic, is anyone else she’s related to? Please don’t let her die.

I put a strong outside appearance on, but I was terrified. Immediately, we tried to get the stinger out, washed it out, put a cold compression on it, then baking powder to stop the burn. After a few minutes she calmed down and wanted to walk. Her foot was bright red and swelled right up, but the swelling stopped at her ankle and she’s been fine since. My mom joked and said handled it better than she did, I can agree with that.

Now that she’s fine and I can take a deep breath, I realize how scary that was for me. I kept thinking about the movie “My Girl” and was so upset. Thoughts about what I’d do if Mila died went through my head.

Sometimes I wonder if these are just normal, mom thoughts. She’s my first living child and I know there’s a lot of worry with that. Then I think life is fragile and it sometimes ends just like that. I’ve been there. I lived that. That’s one of the lessons from Jensen dying that I’ve embraced. We make each day special because it could all just be done in an instant. I recognize this and I realize it’s okay to be scared when these things happen. Being scared to lose her isn’t so unbelievable for me, but I hope one day I don’t instantly have those thoughts.

So today the bee got Mila, but she took it with grace. I’m also proud of myself in how I was able to handle my thoughts and mothering her. Losing Jensen will always play into how I parent Mila and I think it’s made me an even better mom.

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Since it’s her first bee sting and I was paranoid the swelling would get worse, we took pictures of her foot. Her little foot was so hot, red, and swollen. Here’s a visual. It might make me look like I overreacted, but who cares.

Her little toes which are normally pretty skinny got so big. They’ll be normal by tomorrow. Thank goodness she can walk normally. She’s freak if she couldn’t run wild. Again, swelling has stopped and I’ve been putting wet baking powder on there to stop itching. If you have any other suggestions, let me know.

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Our Toddler Friendly Summer Bucket List.

This Friday, June 21, summer officially begins. Even though it’ll probably be raining or storming, I am so ready for warmer weather and sunshine.

Last summer, Mila and I were inside for a good portion of the time. I wasn’t super comfortable nursing her in front of people and at that time she was nursing every two hours on the dot. On top of that, she had horrible allergies last year. It felt like every every time we ventured out, she wheezed and her eyes would get so red; my poor girl. BUT this year, she’s been outside constantly and cries when we have to go inside. Since I know how much she enjoys getting out and doing things (minus the car ride, I have the one child who absolutely hates the car), I’ve decided to do something I’ve never done before: a summer bucket list. 

With it just being Mila and I most of the time, I came up with a super toddler friendly list that I would feel 100% comfortable doing with just the two of us. A lot of activities aren’t costly and can be done anywhere. I have local places in mind to take her to, but I feel as if this could be adapted no matter where you live.

To be able to see our bucket list daily, the most obvious place to hang it up was on the refrigerator. Technically the side of it, but what better place, right? Anyways, the goal is to check every box on the list and document with pictures. I’m hoping to be able to make a photo book inspired by this little list and to make it our family tradition.

I know the picture can be kind of hard to read so to make it easier to see, I’ll list them here.

Summer Bucket List 2019

  • Beach Day
  • Blow Bubbles
  • Bonfire
  • Drive-in Movies
  • Feed Ducks
  • Fireworks
  • Go on a Hike
  • Lake Day
  • Visit a Library
  • Rainy Day at the Mall
  • Market Vibes (Go to a Farmer’s Market)
  • Museum
  • Random Act of Kindness
  • Outside Story Time
  • Visit Parks
  • Parade Time
  • Go on a Picnic
  • Pool day
  • Plant Flowers
  • Photo Booth
  • Paint Outside
  • Root Beer Stand
  • (OG) S’mores
  • Water Park
  • Zoo

I think the only one I will REALLY have to plan in the beach day. We did go to the beach in May, but I want to go back so bad. This will probably be a little tricky and hard to do just her and I, but I’m remaining positive and am going to start planning now. Maybe a birthday present to myself?

Anyways, cheers to summer finally being here. Of course I’ll be posting through every item we check off. Let’s hope by September 23, the end of summer, it’s complete!

Have you ever done a summer bucket list? Or have a bucket list in general? What other activities would you add to yours?

Oh Snap – Mila’s Current Words of Choice

Over the last few months, Mila has discovered her voice. She’s always been pretty vocal, but she’s been remembering words and phrases. Her first word was cat, although I tried to get her to say and know ‘mama’ before any. She knows peoples names, random animals, ‘lo’ for hello, and a lot more. Before we left for vacation last month, she even started saying ‘uh oh’ in context. Seriously was the cutest thing, until she started throwing things on purpose and redeeming herself by saying it. She’s cute and she knows how to work it.

I mean, look at her.

Shortly after we got home, Mila learned a new phrase… one not so Rated G. I can finally mark down her first swear word. Anytime she drops something, trips, or someone startled her, her eyes get big and she says, ‘oh shit.’ At first I thought it was a fluke, then she just kept saying it. I can’t lie, I totally laughed when she started saying it and people usually do when they hear her say it. Hopefully this little phrase won’t stick and the next one will be just as cute, but a touch more innocent.

But for now, here she is saying her current favorite words. I’ll keep secretively giggling and persuading her to say ‘uh oh’ to her face instead.

 

Distractions.

My body knows April is approaching.

Honestly, it’s like I have this internal clock that just relives these last weeks I had with Jensen. They’re all happy memories, but the build up to the big day is still so dreadful. It feels like something else bad is going to happen or my body and mind dealt with the worst trauma during this time that triggers everything to be… weird.

I can remember in the early days, I always heard how everything would be better with time. A part of me wanted to believe it. How could someone live with that intense of grief for their entire life? Another part of me thought it’d be awful to lose that connection with Jensen. It’s not that I wanted to be a zombie like I was, but I didn’t want to let go of any of the pain. So, where are we almost three years out? It’s not better. It’s different, but not less. I wonder what he’d be doing or looking like everyday. It’s hard when people ask me if Mila has siblings and I’m unsure if I want to see the look of horror on their face or not. Losing a child isn’t just a thing that happened in someone’s life, they carry it with them everywhere they go.

Lately, I haven’t been sleeping. It’s sort of a new March tradition in my life. Near his first birthday, I had a lot of nightmares. I don’t remember if I wrote about any of them here, but they still haunt me. I’d wake up in a cold sweat and would just not go back to sleep. I haven’t had a nightmare about Jensen since then, but they were awful. It had to be a mix of not knowing what to expect on his big day and just the fear of time moving on. Then last year, when I was pregnant with Mila, I didn’t sleep for like an entire month. I would only get like two to four hours a day. I was processing another year without Jensen and trying to manage my grief with this new life inside me. Then I was in constant fear of her dying. I kept reliving how it felt when he died in my stomach. Anytime I felt like she had gone limp (she was probably sleeping), I’d nudge her and just tell her to move so I could relax for five minutes. I hope she never has to feel that panic or fear in her life.

Somehow now I’m three years out and still not able to sleep. It’s almost one now and Mila’s fast asleep beside me as I type away. Since last week, I felt myself staying up longer and waking up through the night. I think deep down I’m terrified of those nightmares coming back. It’s been two years since I had them and I can still see them play out. I’m also trying to be so positive with her first birthday coming up. She deserves a happy mom and I am a good majority of the time. I just hate knowing my child died and there are days when her smiling face doesn’t even put a dent in how badly that hurts. It’s a terrible feeling and makes me feel like a bad mom to them both.

Now that I think of it, it’s not like I’ve been physically tired during this time when I haven’t slept. My body just turns on autopilot and does what it needs to. If only I could figure out how to do that with my thoughts.

Anyways, I wanted to write today because noticing the lack of sleep and realizing I was distracting myself from thoughts made me realize this is how my depression/grief plays out. Every year, it’s the same. The only outlet I’ve had is this right here. Instead of making something for Mila’s party tonight, I’ve been trying to connect and do what’s best for my mental health… easier said than done.

I don’t know about other loss parents, but finding an outlet and some healthy distractions have helped get from day to day. Writing has always helped me. That’s why I have a stack of journals beside my bed and I’m writing now. When I heard that Jeremy Richman, a dad who lost his daughter, Avielle, in the Sandy Hook school shootings, committed suicide this morning, I just felt it. It being his pain and just feeling out of control. I feel for his wife and other child. My friend, Amber, actually told me about what happened and to check out his haikus too. I read through all the ones he had pictures for and they just echoed through me. Like, how many people just suffer and feel like they’re losing grasp of it? I mean, I do. If I didn’t, I don’t think I’d be awake right now and distracting myself even further from going to bed…

There were three that stuck out to me the most, you can find all of them on his Facebook page, here. I’m going to copy and paste his words. I didn’t know this person, but I don’t think he’d mind if I shared his words on here (mostly because they were public on his page, but I think he’d like to know his thoughts really made an impact on someone who is also grieving).


Untitled on July 4, 2014

Miss my hummingbird

She is everywhere I look

But nowhere I am

Untitled on August 22, 2014

The mirror reflects

A face I don’t recognize

Have you seen my ghost?

Untitled on August 29, 2014

Another first day

Lost in empty yellow space

Haunted by echos


Since Jensen’s been born, I’ve always said I wish I could live on an island with a community of people who’ve lost a child. Everyone would understand. There would be someone to always listen if you needed and if you were having days like the ones I’m having, they’d be patient and help you get to the next day. I know that’s impossible. Maybe this online community is our virtual island where we get to do our best from afar.

And maybe, I’m just distracting myself from feeling what I need to feel and giving my body the rest it deserves.

Mila reading her big brother’s book. She helps heal me in more ways than she’ll ever understand.

3.21.2019

There were a lot of world and national “holidays” that were recognized today. Of course today was 3.21.2019, which is World Down Syndrome Day. If you’re not familiar with Jensen’s story, after his anatomy scan, they told us he would have Down syndrome. This day took on a different meaning for me. Every year, I rock my socks with Jensen bear and now with Mila too (I posted a picture of all of us on Instagram, which is hilarious because Mila kept ripping Jensen bear’s socks off). It’s another thing that Jensen has brought to our little family that I’ll definitely continue doing with Mila. I’d like her to learn all about Jensen AND appreciate the fact that every single person is different in the world. Instead of looking at these differences like they’re bad, we should honor and celebrate them.

Although I knew one of today’s celebration, I learned another too. It’s National Single Parent’s Day. I didn’t really think much of it after I first heard, then it made me really think. Everyday, it’s just Mila and I. Yes, we have an awesome family and Jensen always in our hearts, but I’m her one and only.

I haven’t really thought about how it’s just me for a long time. In the beginning, Mila cried constantly and I would think how badly I needed a break or just a second to take a breath. Parenting after loss and being a new mom was difficult for those first few months. Then there’s times I wish I could share her new things she does or all the pictures I take with someone. I didn’t plan everything that I’ve been through in this crazy life, but especially not this.

Tonight when I was giving Mila a bath, I really needed to use the restroom (TMI, sorry). I tried to wait till she was done playing in the water, but I couldn’t. It was so fun watching her splash and I didn’t want to end her fun. Weirdly, after knowing that there was this day for single parents, I was almost hyperaware of what our normal. I thought, if someone was here during this, she wouldn’t have to stop her fun because of me. It’s not disappointing to think about, but it’s almost like I think she’s missing out. Anyways, I wrap her up, but her in the bathroom sink and everything is normal. I could tell she wanted to go back in the bath and play, so I did something different. Instead of waiting to take a shower after she went to sleep, I just brought her in with me. Something that I couldn’t do before, I was able to now. And let me tell you, in that exact moment, I was so glad no one was here with me.

I got to hold her and really look at her discover something new. She liked how each bottle made different noises and how the water felt on her arm. When she saw me wash my hair, she wanted to help out. It was a whole new adventure for her to be in there with me and it was just as new for me too. I got to see how the water droplets hit and stayed on her face. Then after I would try to wipe them off, she’d stick her face right back in it. When she was experimenting with the noises, I really got to stare her eyes. Who knew trying to really look at your kid’s eyes would be so hard, but I finally got to really look at them. A light brown on the inside then darken up to a deep blue ring on the outside.

And to think I would have never gotten those moments with her if things weren’t different. It also makes me wonder how I missed moments like these with Jensen, so getting them with her is just extra special.

After our shower, I got her in her jammies and read the same book twenty-five times. We crawled into bed after all the reading was done. I laid there, playing with her hair and just reflected on everything that her and I have: a house that we love and is perfect for us, food that I love making for her, a comfy bed, Jensen watching over us, a family who loves us, and most importantly each other. I love where we are in life, even the hard moments.

I’m unsure what the future holds, but I do know we’re going to be perfectly fine. Being a parent no matter if you have a partner or not is full of ups and downs, but so worth it. Everyday I just look at her and am so happy she’s physically here with me because I live the other part of my motherhood not being able to see my son grow. Jensen taught me to never wish a moment away and it really prepared me for Mila. I’m so thankful for all the responsibility I have in raising her. Yes, it means less sleep, less time to myself, less (sometimes) sanity. It also means, I get to feel and have all the pride, all the time, and all the love.

Anxiety.

Dear Mila,

If a person could feel their mother’s emotions in the womb, you’d know all about anxiety.

I never used to be an anxious person before. Of course I worried about trivial things all children and teenagers face, but nothing like I’ve experienced now.

The first time I had an anxiety attack is when we found out Jensen had Down syndrome. I didn’t expect any ‘abnormalities’ in any of the tests with him. In my naive mind, nothing bad ever happened to babies or pregnant women. You probably think that’s crazy since you know how paranoid I am about pregnancy in general. Anyways, after those results, I couldn’t catch my breath and it felt like the world was sitting on my chest. After a few days, that anxiety went away. He was mine. I would do anything in my power to give him the bed of everything. So, I did what I do best and prepared.

It wasn’t until a few months later that I had my second ever anxiety attack. When we found out Jensen was gone, I fell apart. I guess it was like a major life attack. My blood pressure spiked, my vision went black, and I couldn’t catch my breath. Life felt like that for months after abs sometimes still does…

Nothing traumatic had ever happened in my life before that. I didn’t have any reason to worry about things before. My mind didn’t overwork. Then, as with everything, my world flipped upside down.

I worried every time my phone rang or if someone didn’t text back quick. Then I went through a stage where I didn’t care about anything. My anxiety flipped-flopped like that until I got pregnant with you. Then a new type of anxiety slapped me in the face: pregnancy after loss.

Everyday I woke up wondering if this would be the day you would be gone. When you hit big enough, I’d poke my belly until I felt you moving, then could breathe for a little while. I didn’t sleep much. My mind went through every horrible scenario. At every appointment, I asked my doctor if this anxiety was good for you and that I just needed you to be born alive. They knew all about Jensen so they didn’t think I was extra crazy for bringing it up each time.

With your birth, the anxiety of my body failing ended. You were here and in my arms. The longer you looked at me, the less I felt that anxiety.

Now that your here, I worry about other things, but it’s different. I’m not sure how to explain it.

As a mom and especially a loss mom, I’ll always have anxiety. I worry about you when you sleep, when I’m in the shower, or anytime I’m not holding you. It’s just because I love you so much and want you to be safe.

I hope you never experience the trauma and anxiety I went through with stillbirth. Even though I would never trade your brother or my time with him, I wouldn’t wish the aftermath of the mental madness of child loss on anyone. With that being said, when you are feeling anxious about whatever you’re going through during your life, I’ll help you make it through. I’m always here to listen and if you want my advice I’ll give it to you. One of my jobs for the rest of my life is to comfort you, even when you’re a grown woman facing this big world.

One of the things Jensen taught me that I’m able to teach you is that we can make it through anything. All it takes is a lot of love and a little patience.

I love you.

Mama

Beginnings.

Dear Mila,

This is how we began this morning. A walk around the big block before it got too hot. You love being outside and I love hearing the birds, that reminds me so much of Jensen, all around us.

Beginnings used to be one of my favorite things. They mark the start of a new adventure. A way to learn more about the world and yourself. Beginnings were awesome.

The beginning of my motherhood is my favorite. When I found out I was pregnant with your brother, I was full of joy and hope for the future. Of course I was scared about certain things, like how crazy different my life would be after he was born and if I was going to be good at the whole mom thing. My heart told me I’d be just fine though and your brother always made me feel so calm. He made this beginning so sweet, I couldn’t have asked for anything better.

What I didn’t realize about beginnings was they sometimes were born out of really horrible situations.

The end of my pregnancy and Jensen’s birth was the start of my grief journey. I didn’t expect my motherhood to lead me to this point, but I was thrown in to this world where babies died and moms had to live without their children for the rest of their lives. It’s so hard.

In that beginning, you wouldn’t have recognized your mom. I know you’ve felt me sad or when I’ve had an anxiety attack, but this was different. Nothing could make me smile. A cloud of grief and shock clung to me everywhere I went. My days and nights meshed together by sleep and tears. I wouldn’t wish the beginning on any person in the world. I hated that my wonderful beginning with your brother brought me here, but I fought not to let grief and depression and everything else I was feeling stop me from remembering him with the light he brought to my life.

A little over a year after Jensen was born, a new beginning happened: pregnancy after loss. When I found out I was pregnant last spring, I felt like I could hope for the future again. Unfortunately, this hope lasted for a short amount of time. This beginning and end sort of go together. But it brought me to the next one, which gave me you.

I wish Jensen could physically be experiencing the beginning of your life here with us. A big part of me thinks he was there picking you out before I even knew you’d be with me.

If he’s taught me anything I could pass down to you, it’d be that no matter how hard things get, you have to keep moving forward. You don’t ever have to move on from something, ignore any of your feelings, or forget, but you have to keep going for whatever reason. You have this beautiful gift of life that so many don’t even get a chance to have. I know that probably sounds like a lot of pressure, but I want you to know how special and lucky you truly are, so would your brother. Take it from your mom, who has encountered some of the worst beginnings, that you are going to do great things in this world. When things go wrong in life (and they sure will) you can start a new adventure or begin again.

You always have me and your brother cheering you on. And I promise you’ll never be alone through any of your beginnings.

I love you.

Mama

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The 2018 May We All Heal prompt list:

Post Mila Triggers.

Photo by Katie Finnicum at Simplicity of Grace.

When Jensen died, all my dreams I had with him were stripped away in one moment. I was looking forward to sleepless night, poopy diapers, and the unending adventure that is motherhood. I didn’t get the first two things and was continuously reminded about others that I wanted too. Even now, as I’ve just passed his second birthday, I can imagine him as a two year old.

In the early days of my grief, my brain was so cloudy. I couldn’t process his death or even think about how he would have changed or his actions. Yes, I knew I was missing out on so much, but in the midst of intense grief my brain made me focus on just surviving. Now, with Mila’s arrival, I’m experiencing different emotions in my grief I didn’t know was possible. Every little and big thing she does that I never even considered with Jensen will strike me.

With these new feelings, I wanted to share how certain things have triggered me since little sister’s arrival. I hope in sharing these, I’ll feel less alone or guilty that these special, special moments with her have a cloud of grief hanging over them… I guess this is parenting after loss.

Holding her for the first time…

When Jensen was born, I remember asking the doctor if he had all ten fingers and toes. I just needed the whole thing to feel somewhat normal because it was anything but. With Mila, I didn’t hear her cry right away so I remember having a mini panic attack and asking if she was okay. Then I heard her cry…

After the doctor cleaned her off and suctioned everything out of her nose and mouth, she was placed right on my chest. I can’t remember if she had a diaper on, but I don’t think so. It didn’t matter anyways because she was right there: a living child in my arms. I remember being faced with wanting to cry happy tears for her being safe and then immediately after sad ones because I never had that with Jensen.

Seeing my family with her…

This was so hard in the hospital and still now when people see her for the first time. When Jensen was born only one of my friends came and my mom and dad didn’t stay the whole time. I felt completely alone and heartbroken and everything a new mom should not feel. If I could travel back in time, I would go to myself right then to just hold me. I’d go get Jensen from the room next to us and tell myself how perfect he was. I would hold him and show her she didn’t do anything wrong at all.

My time in the hospital now was more… light. She’s healthy and everyone wanted to see her. They took her and held her. The room was rarely quiet, unless it was nighttime and just her and I. Each time someone held her, they just smiled and talked so sweetly to her. Don’t get me wrong, I loved it. I do every time someone falls in love with her. But each time, I think of him.

Being wheeled out of the hospital…

Right before we left the hospital with Mila, I was already crying. I felt exhausted and I could feel all my emotions bubbling up. She was in her car seat ready to go and all my bags and flowers had been packed in the car. The only thing left from me having a living child at home was the wheelchair ride down to the car.

As soon as I sat down, I was sobbing. I was thrown back to leaving the hospital without him, only holding his stuffed elephant. Goodness, I can’t even describe the pain I was in that moment. When they sat Mila down on my lap before the started wheeling me, I didn’t even know what to think. I hated it because I knew I should have been happy (and I was) and all I could feel was my heart skipping and breaking all at once.

Shower time…

After getting home from the hospital this time, I asked my mom to stay with me for a little while so I could shower. During both my pregnancies, shower time was my favorite. Jensen and Mila would dance away in my belly and I could feel them move to the warmth of the water. After Jensen was born, I took a shower after getting home too. I broke down. I’m pretty sure I’ve blogged about this before, but being in the shower and feeling my belly so empty made it even more real. I cried for myself and I cried for Jensen. In that one shower, I had never felt more vulnerable, until the one I took after Mila.

I asked my mom to sit in the room with me. Mila was still in her car seat and I had the hot water turned up as high as I could. When it hit my back, it felt like a corset of grief broke open. The sobs sounded a lot like before. My mom had to be mortified and asked what was wrong. Why was I crying after everything? After composing myself a little to talk, I told her what was happening in my head…

I was happy Mila was healthy and safe at home. That’s all I asked for during my pregnancy, but my heart hurt. I missed Jensen and everything that had transpired in the last few days are all I wanted with him. It hurt not to have those memories. I told her I was afraid that he’d be forgotten now. That no one would ever say his name again and sometimes that’s all I want to hear.

God only knows what she was thinking. She probably thought I was a hormonal lunatic.

The little things I never knew about before…

Before even giving birth to Mila, I knew I’d be triggered by certain things. I was prepared for all the firsts and coached myself into not having them be ‘bad’ triggers. Jensen wouldn’t want me to take one moment with her for granted. He’d want her and I to be happy. In the ten days I’ve had her, she’s surprised me with different things she does. Even the ones that I never expected.

Instead of listing everything, I want to share something that happened yesterday… After a long walk and spending time with my mom and my friend, Becka, we went home. I fed her and changed her diaper. After a big afternoon, I knew she would be tired, so I set up a nap area for her and I both. I wanted to be close to her to hear her breathing, it’s the one thing that gets me to sleep well now. Anyways, I woke up after a little while and she was still sound asleep. I had my arm close to her feet and before I knew it, she moved them and they were resting on my arm. The warmth of them and just the way she did it gave my chills. I didn’t want to move and hope she’ll do it again in the future.

When she finally did move again, grief hit. I never imagine something like that with him. It was always the big moments I knew I was missing… my mind protected me from so much.

As I sit here and reread everything I wrote, I just want to say I know reading this is triggering to so many. I am beyond thankful for both Mila and Jensen. Honestly, I never thought I would take her home. I cherish every second I have with her and love making these memories. The whole entire thirty-nine weeks with her in my belly, I just was preparing for her to die, which sounds awful. With that said, I didn’t even think about triggers until they were right in front of me.

It’s always been important to me to share this journey and this is just one part of it. I’ll never forget Jensen or stop seeing where he should be in our home. I also hope Mila grows up knowing her brother and how much she is loved and wanted. Parenting after loss is a new road in this journey that I hope I can continue sharing.

The Bittersweet Reality of Pregnancy/Parenting After Loss.

The morning after Jensen’s second birthday, I found myself in the hospital for extra monitoring. I woke up with an excruciating headache, swollen hands and feet, and vision changes. All of these are signs of preeclampsia. After an hour of the headache not easing, I decided it was best to be safe than sorry, with the help and encouragement of my family.

Honestly, I was terrified even though I felt her kicking. We had just hit the thirty-eight week mark and her brother’s birthday had went off without a hitch. I know how fast things can change though. All I could think was they wouldn’t be able to get her out in time or maybe my minds just telling me I’m feeling her, but I’m actually not. Each of these thoughts resulted in her death.

When they wheeled me up to triage, I just kept wanting to hear her strong heartbeat. Thankfully, the nurse didn’t even have to search for it. Turns out, my excruciating headache and vision changes were just from a migraine and the swelling was from being thirty-eight weeks pregnant…

The rest of the weekend, I was on edge. Jensen died over the weekend after being thirty-eight weeks and I was preparing myself for that. She continues to surprise me. Everyday she moved constantly, letting me know she was a-okay in there.

At thirty-eight and two, I held my breath. That’s when he was born. I had never been pregnant for longer than this amount of time. When I went to bed Sunday night, I tossed and turned, fearing what would happen when I slept.

Then I woke up with one thought…

Mila is officially older than Jensen was ever able to be.

There was such a mix of emotions this morning. I smilies because I knew she was still with me and doing her morning stretch, but tears fell from my eyes. This milestone was only made for her because of the death of her brother. I wept because I wish I could have had him for another day and everyday for the rest of my life. It’s not fair that his time was cut short. Then I wept because I still have her. She’s brought me so much hope and an ability to look towards the future with a smile.

It’s a lot of emotions for this hormonal, grieving, pregnant momma.

I can’t imagine my life never having Jensen and his story in it. Do I wish he could have lived instead? Absolutely. Has his death completely changed my life? Yes. Will it alter the way I parent Mila? For sure. Without Jensen, I wouldn’t have been able to advocate for myself during this pregnancy, like I didn’t with him. It’s also allowed me to celebrate every week with her, in small ways. Every movement she makes, I smile (sometimes I yell too because she’s really hurting me at this point). When I think about the next few weeks with her being a needy newborn, I know I’m preparing for being exhausted and overwhelmed. Yet, I would choose having these pregnancy pains and her screaming 24/7 than not having her at all.

The silence and stillness that flooded my life after Jensen was born was the absolute worst thing ever.

As much as I’m looking forward to every moment with her, I know the same feeling of her achieving all the milestones in front of her will feel so bittersweet. I’ll be so proud. But I know in the back of my mind, I’ll wonder when Jensen would have hit them and/or how he would have helped her get to them too. I’m so scared to not be a good mom to her for this reason. All I want is to give her the world and encourage her to be the best human she wants to be.

Part of me thinks, when I see her it’ll just feel natural. For almost three years, I’ve waited to have a living child to parent. My dreams of having her in my arms are so close to happening. To watch one of the biggest parts of me grow and conquer the world around her makes my heart skip a beat.

As hard as it’s going to be in this new chapter of grief, I know he’ll always be walking with us and would want us to live bravely. It may feel extra bittersweet some days. There will be times I breakdown because parenting a child in heaven and one on earth is hard. Yet, for some reason, these little souls chose me and I’ll be damned if I ever let them down.

Intention.

Each day, I wake up with the hope to make each day the best it can be.

Four days into the new year, I’ve really thought of resolutions and goals for myself to achieve. The problem is since I’ve had Jensen huge chunks of time feel completely overwhelming. For me to set a resolution for the whole year is not possible. It causes me more anxiety than motivation and quite honestly, I don’t need anymore of that in my life.

When I was pregnant with Jensen as 2015 turned to 2016, I only made one resolution: to be the best mom I could be to him. I never imagined leaving the year without him physically with me. My goal for the year seemed impossible since I couldn’t mother my child the way I wanted. As everything with loss, this changed my outlook on how I would ‘celebrate’ all the following new years. Last year, I didn’t even make any. I stayed at home by myself and cried the entire night. Nothing could bring me the happiness I once had and it felt silly to even try to plan for a year knowing how differently they can end up.

This year, I wanted it to be different. I wanted to feel different to how I approached the upcoming year and take control. It’s the one thing I haven’t had throughout this journey, and a huge part of me wanted to take it back. So, since Christmas I’ve taken the time to really think about what I needed out of the year or even just through the day. The word that kept popping up in my head was intention.

Now this may seem like a broad word when it comes to a resolution or word for the year, but it’s what I need to live this life after loss. Each day I want to set my intentions and commit to them. No matter how small or big they seem.

Intention. 

I intend to be the best mom to Jensen I can be.

I intend to be the best person I can be.

I intend to find moments full of him.

I intend to do great things.

I intend to try to find something to smile about every day.

I intend to say his name and share his story whenever I can.

I intend to be.

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Photo by Roxana Soriano Rebolledo