How I’ll be Celebrating Jensen’s Twenty-First Birthday. 

This past weekend, my parents took my brother and I to Tennessee. It’s always bittersweet to go on family vacations or getaways; I constantly see the missing piece. Of course we find ways to incorporate Jensen when we go somewhere. At the beach we write his name or I’m taking pictures of his footprint. When we knew we were going to Nashville and Lynchburg, I was weary of how to make a new memory with him that was unlike I had before. 

In Nashville, we didn’t really have to opportunity to do anything besides walk around and eat (and drink). I was determined to do something special for him the next day in Lynchburg. When we first got there, I was so amazed by the Jack Daniels’ distillery. There was so much to look at and learn more about. Within the first twenty minutes, I found this huge visitor registration book. 

It was a perfect way to put Jensen’s name in the book and in their database. Other people could see and read his name. I scribbled our information down and was happy to leave his mark there. 


We began our tour shortly after signing this book. The grounds there were so beautiful. It was way bigger than I imagined and I had butterflies following me throughout the entire time. Everywhere I looked, they would be floating by my head. Jensen and Hux telling me hello, we’re always here with you. 

After our tour and tasting ended, a bunch of us went to their bottle shop. When I learned they could engrave on the bottle I wanted, I had an idea. This is another way I could incorporate Jensen, now and in the years to come. I picked out my favorite tasting whiskey and what I wanted engraved on the bottle. 


I bought my son his first bottle of whiskey at fifteen months old. That would sound like something a horrible parent would say, but knowing our story it makes sense. His bottle is to be open and drank on his twenty-first birthday. Not a drop until then either. Which seems like a long time from now, but this is how I can parent and keep his memory going. 

Honestly, it’s crazy to think I’ll be grieving for that long. That on his twenty-first birthday he won’t be here, or any until then. One year without him felt like a slap in the face. Missing him will be forever, but somehow by planning this one, tiny detail of that day made me feel loved but. 

In these little moments, I can do something for Jensen. They let me bring him alive again. This little bottle of whiskey will give me something to look forward to on his big day, twenty years from now.  

Life after loss has been a dysfunctional mess, but days like these are so much sweeter than I could ever have imagined. 

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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.

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 | Wish

I wish…

I could hear his laughter.

I could know if his nose scrunches when he smiles.

I could see him chase after Leo and Poe. 

I could hold him tight as he falls asleep in my arms. 

I could teach him as a child.

I could hear his protests as a teenager.

I could be nervous the first time he drove a car.

I could help him get ready for prom.

I could cry as I sent him off to college.

I could have a mother and son dance with him.

I could collect all the memories we were supposed to have.

I could have stayed in our little infinity forever.

I could have got him out a week earlier.

I could have taken more bump pictures.

I could live to see a day where there is no loss.

I could take the pain away from every grieving parent.

I could bring their babies to them.

I could still feel blissfully ignorant concerning pregnancy and loss.

I would have held him.

I would have whispered in his ear how much I loved him.

I would have known. 

for all the flowers he would have picked for me.

that I could have seen him wish all his wishes. 

that my house wasn’t empty when I got home.

that he was somewhere for the day and at any moment they were going to drop him off.

he was here.

I wished for a love so big, so strong that nothing could ever come in between us. That wish came true, but I wish death didn’t have to get in the way.

Support Circles.

Before I begin on today’s prompt, Support Circles, I’d like to take a second and just wish Jensen a very happy twenty-sixth week in heaven. This week brings on the big six month mark, but I like to acknowledge the weekday since it’s meant so much to me. I’m having an extremely rough time with the six month milestone, so I’m using today to ease into tomorrow. As I light my candle for Jensen tonight and tomorrow, I will light another for all our angels. I hope each of them are able to see the light and feel love’s warmth.

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When I think about support, my heart tears in two. The one side is full of love from so many people who hold me up, remember Jensen, and make feel like I’m not crazy. Then the other is cold and empty from the support I thought I would have on this journey. This is what makes talking about support so hard. I wish I was able to stitch both halves together and just fill my whole heart with the support I have, but it’s hard not to be bitter and think of the other side. Here’s another BUT, I’m not focusing on the bad today because there is so many people that have shown me love that I cannot thank enough.

I’ve written and rewrote this multiple times. No words will ever encapsulate my gratitude to those who have supported me and said Jensen’s name. I am going to try my very best!

To you who was there when we heard the news.
To you who rushed from Jensen’s room to get to the hospital.
To you who was there as soon as you could and stayed the whole night.
To you who heard the silence instead of the loud cries.
To you who went to his funeral.
To you who first reached out and welcomed me into this community.
To you who shared your and your angel’s story.
To you who sent me your words to let me know I wasn’t alone in my thinking.
To you who met me for lunch, even though I was so nervous to go.
To you who encouraged me to write.
To you who saw them first.
To you who showed me what was best to say to a mother who has been grieving silently for years.
To you who wrote his name so beautifully.
To you who made me feel so proud of him.
To you who let me find my voice.
To you who did not judge.
To you who saw Jensen’s pictures and exclaimed how beautiful he is.
To you who know the part of my story that I regret the most.
To you who welcomed me in many groups.
To you who made me smile.
To you who will answer any text at any time.
To you who gave me a chance.
To you who reminded me that I wasn’t alone.
To you who listened to Jensen’s story.
To you who have followed along our journey.
To you who have heard my voice.
To you who lets me cry.
To you who dries my eyes.
To you who has a huge part of their heart in heaven.
To you who walks with me in grief.
To you who celebrates his life.
To you who is reading now.
To you who says Jensen’s name.

I say thank you, to you who continues to support Jensen, me, and our story.

There’s one more person that I would like to take a second to thank.

Also, wanted to say thank you so much to the Share Your Mother Heart group. You all have been a HUGE support to me throughout all of this. Each of you have encouraged me to keep writing, even on my darkest days.


Support Links and Pages I Follow Closely:

Still Mothers

Mother Your Heart

Invisible Mothers

God’s Tiny Angels

Precious Parents

Sweet Pea Angel Gowns

Lettered Hope

Addison’s Army

 

 

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-Three Weeks.

The memories of the day before and the days following Jensen’s birth have slowly been coming back to me. It’s almost like water coming from the faucet. My brain tries to let a steady stream come out, but sometimes it just comes flooding. I’ve been getting used to the constant flow, yet this past month, it’s came back so fast. Certain things come out of nowhere and it breaks me.

That and the fact that time refuses to stop. I know that probably sounds silly because how can time stop? It’s just going too fast. Me finally getting on a somewhat regular sleep schedule hasn’t helped slow time down. I used to not sleep until three or four then wake up by nine or ten. It felt like the day lasted and I could actually think. No I wake up and go to sleep fairly early so I have more time in the day to get work and life things done. Maybe it’s good for grief, but I hate the fact that I don’t have a five month old baby waking me up.

Which brings me to today. Another Tuesday without Jensen physically getting another week older.

It’s actually a really weird time because the outside world has moved on. A lot of people think I should be ‘moving on’ by now. Almost a half a year and I’m still ‘stuck’ on him. Or when I just post about him because nothing else seems relevant to my life right now. Some days I almost feel bad about revolving my life around Jensen and his time here with me. Then I think, if Jensen was here would I be moving on from him right now? Would I move on from him at a year? Or five years? Or twenty? You can’t move on from a child and I hate that I’m supposed to feel bad about being sad.

Yesterday was a bad day. Monday’s I’m usually in a bad mood anyways because I just don’t want the day to end. So, I didn’t have a good day to start out with. Then I got bad news and I couldn’t stop crying. To try and make me feel a little better, I tried to go shopping. I was met with an associate who told me to ‘turn my frown upside down’ and ‘nothing could make your day bad on this beautiful day.’ Except when your baby dies and you hear things aren’t going they way you thought they would be, you’re allowed to have bad days. Not just one, but a lot. Long story short, I told her my baby died, she gave me an appalled look, and I ended up tears while walking out of the store.

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In the past, I’ve shared pictures of what a bereaved mother looks like a various stages of grief. I believe it’s important to see this rawness; especially when I try to keep it together a good percentage of the time. I will admit, I wiped most of my tears off so I could see where to press the button. But, when I walked out of that store, I knew I had to capture that moment. It’s vulnerable to sit in a car crying as people are walking by looking in. Being told to cheer up because there shouldn’t be bad days on such a beautiful day outside is wrong. I know I wasn’t having the best okay day after loss, but the harsh reality someone was having the worst day of their life. Someone’s baby died yesterday and I don’t know them or how many families were effect by loss yesterday, but I do know they’ll be going down this path. There’s days where the sunshine will not heal you. Days where you don’t get to sit at dinner with your partner and attend an amazing support group like I did after this moment. Most times, you can’t pull yourself out of this moment. You don’t know yet that just writing your angel’s name down on paper over and over again can help you. You’re lost and spiraling and an associate trying to do her job ruins your day even more. The point is death happens and people are sad. That’s the unfortunate promise of life. Why should we shame others in sadness when they already feel horrible? Why do we feel the need to fix the unfixable?

But I want to tell you, yesterday taught me an important lesson in my twenty-three weeks post loss. When it feels like the world is turning it’s bad on me, I don’t have to hide those feelings and I can work through them. I’m learning how to catch my breath when I’m drowning. In times of feeling like others look down on my grief or think I’m not ‘moving fast enough,’ I can tell them it’s their opinion and I’m doing what’s best for me. Grief is selfish and I need to continue being selfish for Jensen and I.

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There’s Jensen’s name.

Today I shared, “The amount of times I’ve written his name already today is mind-blowing. It’s very therapeutic to just see it over and over again.” One hundred and sixty-one. That’s how many times I wrote his name today. It’s also the amount of days Jensen has been gone. I wrote how the amount of times I wrote his name was mind blowing, but it never crossed my mind that the amount would end up being the number of days he’s been gone. It’s a crazy amount any way you look at it. But it is written and no one can erase his name from that paper. Just like they can’t erase the memories or the impact he continues to bring to my life and the world around me.

Jensen, the second thing I told you this morning will be the second to last thing I tell you again tonight. Happy twenty-three weeks in heaven my sweet, little boy. You are so loved and missed everyday. Your momma will never, ever forget you. The strength you bring to me each and everyday is what keeps me treading. I hope you played with all the other babies and are now being rocked to sleep as the day comes to a close. Let me love swaddle you as you sleep and dance in the clouds.

I miss you.

I love you.

 

The Story Behind the ‘Yellow’ Nails.

There are a lot of days in grief where there is no lightness. Most times I’m drowning in the waves of loss and depression. It’s a dark time in my life, but as always I keep treading. I have to keep going and living life for me and Jensen. Even in the ever-present darkness, there’s moments of light. I’d like to share my latest light moment with you all…

“What color nail would you like?”

“I’m thinking a deeper, yellow color. Still clinging on to the last of summer.”

“Okay, I have the perfect yellow for you then!”

As I washed my hands, I was looking forward to see the beautiful, mustard-yellow color I had envisioned on my nails for the remainder of September. There isn’t one part of me that wants fall to arrive. I kept thinking, I could still see glimmers of summer on my hands. I didn’t have to move forward right now and I was perfectly fine staying in the summer months. After I dried them and walked back to the station, the technician presented me with his perfect ‘yellow.’

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I’ll pause for laughter here. No, they’re definitely not yellow. No one that sees color would ever tell me they were yellow. Even if they’re not, this color is so special to me.

This man’s ‘yellow’ was Jensen’s bright orange. When he asked me if I loved the color, I couldn’t tell him no. Of course I love the orange; my Jensen’s color. Was it the yellow I wanted? No, but there it was. It was my sign from Jensen. Him letting me know he’s right there with me and really wanted his mom to have bright orange nails. It’s the color a little boy would most definitely pick out. My little love’s bright orange that’s painted on the wall, that his crib would still be filled with.

Maybe you could say it was a confidence that this guy picked out this orange when I told him to pick out a yellow. Or maybe it’s not? I believe in the feathers, blue and red birds, and dragonflies he sends me. Why would it be ridiculous to believe that this bright orange was anything else other than a sign from Jensen. It made me smile. It still makes me smile as I see them while I type. It’s a good moment. A good moment that will span over the next two weeks.

These ‘yellow’ nails, that some would see as a mistake, are happy little reminders that Jensen is here with me, always.

To Danielle at Twenty-Two.

Happy twenty-second birthday. This birthday will bring you joy and hope for the future. It will be busy going to a football game, spending time with your most loved ones, and choosing baby names. Today you found out you are carrying the most precious gift in the whole entire universe. At that second it turned positive, you knew this year for you would be completely different from any before. You would start counting down the days to important pregnancy milestones and planning for the rest of your life. Soak in this happiness, this will be your last birthday that you will be able to freely smile with meaning.

This year you will grow and not just your belly getting bigger and bigger. Your love will grow and be greater than anything you thought was possible. The pride you have for you family and son will burst from the seams. There will be a light in your life that grows with every single beat of Jensen’s heart. He will grow and as you watch him dance across that screen, your smile will grow at each visit. Your little house will have a ceiling and walls up, even a nursery. Instead of your mind focusing in on a single person’s house, it will grow suitable for a small family. Everything around you will be nurtured for the future you came up with, as you woke up on your twenty-second birthday.

November will be the happiest month of your year. You find out the little baby in your belly is a boy, your Jensen. He sits there just like Dad does on the couch. He isn’t shy about being a boy and you’ll soon find out he cooperates for everyone when you ask him to. Even when he’s being the most stubborn little boy for the nurses, when you ask him to move he does. The love you have for each other is unbreakable. You find out his heart is strong and he has hair; the only two things you asked for when you found out you were going to have a baby. Even though you didn’t think you would see Jensen twice a week while you were pregnant, you will be so thankful for that time with him.

There will be so much happiness and love in this year, you will be on the greatest high in your life. Collect those moments as they come and never let them go. You will have bumps while you’re pregnant that you’ll never think you can get over. They are not important. You would’ve got through the, but you didn’t think anything worse could happen. You could never have imagined the alternative. Instead of listening to almost everyone around you, you’ll fight for Jensen. Just as any mother would. No matter the challenges placed in front of you, you will always do what’s best for Jensen and you.

Then comes April. At this point in the year, it’s gone so perfectly. You will be so ready for his arrival, just getting a few more things the weekend before. In the second day of this month, you will joke how you feel like Jensen won’t wait to come out for very much longer. You will be surrounded by Anthony and your family. Love will pour in that weekend. Everything will feel just like it has, until you walk in the doctor’s office on Monday, April the fourth. This is when everything changes. The joy and happiness that you felt on your birthday, this day one year ago, will vanish. Your hopes and dreams will go away and you have to say goodbye to the one, little person that brought you so much light.

On April fifth he is born. You find out he did in fact have hair, looked exactly like you, and never once brought you pain. He’s a perfect baby at seven pounds one ounce and nineteen and three-quarter inches long. All ten fingers and all ten toes are there for you to count. His big cheeks and button nose would have scrunched up to boast a big smile. You made him with love and he looked so peaceful. The day will be static, even as your twenty-third birthday comes. I can’t tell you when that day comes back clear. It hasn’t yet, there’s a chance it never will.

I’ll be honest with you, Danielle. The days, weeks, and months that follow his birth are hard. You’ll plan your son’s funeral, tears come more freely than smiles, and the light is impossible to see. It will hurt to breathe and nothing will scare you anymore. I wish you never had to meet death this year. This isn’t what you wished for as you blew out the candle on top of your sundae. You’ll wish to go back in time, something you never did before. Depression will creep up, self-doubt will happen, and all you will be able to do is survive. There will be people who don’t understand this and you’ll feel alone. A loneliness and emptiness will eat away at your everyday. There will be darkness.

Somehow, you will keep surviving.

Jensen, even in death, is your light. He and all the memories you have with him will keep you going. There’s not a lot of smiles in the last few months of your twenty-second year, but when you do, it’s when you remember him. Many will tell you to find some light in your life and somedays it’s just a flicker. Jensen’s light is so strong, but sometimes grief is pitch black. When you feel like giving up, search deep down. You’ll see his light. No matter how pitch black it is, Jensen’s light never goes out. He never hurt you when he was here and he would never leave you in the dark.

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I want you to know that grief does not get lighter, we become stronger. This pain and darkness does not go away. You just learn how to live with it. There will always be an absence in your life, but his presence was so great. Through this year, soak up all the light and happiness you can. Even now, as this year is coming to its close, I would never wish it away. I would never want to forget all this love and each day Jensen was with us. I can say that even through this darkness and pain.

This year you will become a mother of all mothers. One who does not hold her son in her arms, but in her heart. Forever.

Love,

Danielle at almost twenty-three.

Day of HOPE Prayer Flag Project 2016

When you drive by my little grey house with black shutters, you’ll be welcomed by a big pallet chair, flowers, and a big signs welcoming you. Everything is very monochromatic, besides the flowers and one flag that hangs to the right of the chair inviting you to sit. This flag is different. Even though it’s oddly out of place, it feels like it’s right where it should. It hangs behind an angel that sits and protects the house. When the wind blows the frays on the bottom dance. Each part of the flag tell a story and as the frays dance in the wind, it also tells a story of love, loss, and hope.

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