Painfully Beautiful.

Let me tell you, this month is horrible. The majority of days are filled with heartache and sadness, but in those days I’ve tried my very best to see the light and good. This weekend, I couldn’t see anything but the top of the waves crashing on top of me. I would say the mix of the oncoming six month mark and all the other troubles going on in my life have not helped with my grief. Those stories are for another day. I’ve felt that I haven’t been able to write about what’s going on with me and my grief. Every time I sit down to write the words, they just fly right out the window.

But, I wanted to share with you what happened yesterday. It all started last month when I got an invitation in the mail about a memorial put on by the hospital. Now it feels like that was forever ago, but I had made sure to make sure I planned today for the ceremony. I thought I had everything ready to go, until life happened. There were unforeseeable events that happened this weekend that made me not want to go. Made my grief so much more intense and wanted to stay in bed all day long. Somehow I dragged myself out of bed, put on my most favorite dress, and went to celebrate my Jensen’s life.

When I got there and saw the three big tents and all the chairs, I instantly started crying. I kept thinking about how many babies aren’t with their families. Then it hit me. All the pain I was going through without Jensen. How he wasn’t there with me looking up at me from his carseat. All the memories I wanted to have with him physically here. When did my life involve going to a memorial remembering my child that died?

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The Elements.

Grief is usually described in two ways: a crazy line graph or the waves of an ocean. At first I tended to relate more to the scribbled mess of the graph. It was black and white, had the path going everywhere, and there was always an endpoint. I used to be comforted by that end point, it represented no more pain. As if all of this anger, sadness, deep grief would just stop at the end of the line.  I was naive and have never faced grief before. I would never have thought pain and loss could be described by the beautiful, calming ocean.

It only took me a month to realize pairing the ocean and grief together is pretty spot on.

At first, I was dropped right in the middle of the biggest ocean ever. It was calm while I was still shocked and realizing the depth of where I was. I don’t think anyone can explain those first few weeks of shock, especially in stillbirth. My body still felt wonky and I really believed I could still feel Jensen kicking around. I was completely numb to everything. Then it seemed like the ripples that started when I was first dropped in, came back with the biggest wave I’ve ever saw. It put me down and I couldn’t breathe for a very long time. I was getting tossed and turned. Every time I felt like I was reaching the air, I actually was flipped around. Nothing seemed normal. I wouldn’t cry for an hour, then my email would ding and it was a baby email. Then tears and not breathing and screaming, all at once. From the end of that first month to even now, I am constantly being thrown from wave to wave. There have been days where it’s calm, but there’s always rippled. At times, I can even feel the warmth of the sun.

The comfort of the end point in the line is nonexistent with the waves of ocean and grief. Yeah, I know that the shoreline would be the endpoint, but have you ever just floated in the ocean? If you’re not continuously paddling, you get pushed back. Grief is no different. I have to constantly battle all my emotions at all times. Even when I feel like I have no strength to keep paddling, I have to tread or I’ll be pulled way under. Of course I slip up. Sometimes I feel like I could be touching the ocean floor. The breakdowns, in public or in private, let me feel all that I felt when I was in shock. I flashback to not hearing his heartbeat, the stillness in the room when he was born. That’s what happens when you slip under. Maybe driftwood comes every few days to help give me something to hold on to. A good memory. A happy ultrasound picture. My driftwood is Jensen and his love. Sometimes it can just be the cat laying on me. The calm waters on the driftwood, those warm, happy moments are all I look forward to right now. They help me gain strength for the next wave that I know will be coming. There’s no shoreline in my viewpoint right now, just the oncoming of waves and the relief of the breaks.

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Even though I’ve only been kayaking twice, I’ve found so much peace. Obviously I can relate grief to the waves of the ocean, but I relate the calmness of it with Jensen. That’s what going on the lake is like for me right now. I hear him in the wind and feel him on the gentle ripples of the other boats going past me. He’s dancing there in the cloud. The trees rustle giving me the background noise I have to hear. You can’t see it in that image, but the sun is swaddling me with warmth and it’s love. It’s the same kind of feeling I pray Jensen has every second in heaven. In this picture I am at peace. The rest of the world is silent in that moment, but I can hear him in the elements.

I paddle to shore and my moment of peace ends. Getting, literally, grounded is like getting swallowed by the waves. On this day, I pick daisies and see a blue dragonfly. Blue, like Jensen’s colors, leading me to the flowers I pick. Here I am, picking flowers with Jensen again, trying to tread in the waves. The sun, wind, lake, clouds, and trees all still singing to me. I guess I pick what Jensen wanted me to, the blue dragonfly hovers right in front of my face then flies back to the waves.

We leave all these elements that remind me of Jensen; the waves of grief growing as we drive away.
*Originally posted on Still Mothers on July 18, 2016*

Space.

Near the end of my pregnancy, I was in hardcore nesting mode. All of Jensen’s clothes were washing, the diaper bag in my car, his car seat set up, the house almost ready, and I counted how many packs of diapers we had over and over again. I had to know we were prepared for Jensen and his first nights at home would go perfectly. An unrealistic expectation, of course, but I had to be sure I thought everything was good enough for him. Even though the house wasn’t done, his nursery and where he would be was all set. My world was revolving around he would be, his space.

As all moms do, I put him before myself and didn’t really care how my space would be. If he was content, I would be happy with whatever. I put myself on the back burner, not that I would have changed a thing looking back. Even after Jensen was born, I was still obsessed with his space. I couldn’t comprehend his space having to change or how it would impact me. His nursery isn’t set up, the swing isn’t in the spot I knew it would go, and his pack-n-play isn’t peacefully sitting in my bedroom. It’s been a week and a half since we moved in and I’m still looking at all those places. All the places he needs to be.

It’s okay I can’t put those places where he should be out of my head, I’ve had to refocus on how he is incorporated in our home. His urn is always in the room I’m in. It might sound crazy to you, but I do move his urn around the house. I have an ultrasound picture on the wall right beside his footprints. His silver J will be hanging in my built in bookcase. Jensen’s bedroom still has his colors on the wall, navy blue and orange. I’ve planned on ordering more remembrance items to display in the house. Every item that I bought with him safely in my belly has a story. I’m still making space for him and probably always will.

Yet, this week I was motivated to make space for me. Space to collect my thoughts, journal, and remember him in. It might technically be classified as a space for him, but it’s intent is for me. In my Mothering Your Heart workshop, we’re focusing on space. Again, I am so thankful for the loss community to help me manage my grief and help me along through this process. It’s helped me realize everything I’m going through is ‘normal’ and okay how I process it. I think space is different for everyone. For me, I had to physically make space to feel like I was connecting to Jensen. My house is so new to me and there’s no where I can really retreat from everything. So I had a huge motivation factor to help push me make space for Danielle. After 38 weeks and 2 days of pregnancy and a little over two months of grief, this momma needed a place to tackle grief and honor her baby.

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That is my safe place. Yellows to brighten my day, words to help me think positive, and comfy seats to welcome my thoughts and emotions. All things to try to make each day a little more bearable. Safe from triggers, negative energy, and loss. It’s the one part of the house I didn’t have planned while Jensen was with me. That spot was supposed to house his pack-n-play. I wonder if he would like the yellow? Or would he be mad that I created this space for me? Sometimes I see it and feel guilty. I would never have bought this little space if he wasn’t here…

I second guess every move I make now that he’s not with me. Doing everything for him came so naturally. Now refocusing my attention on myself just feels wrong. My brain is at constant battle with itself. I don’t want to move forward, but I know the whole world keeps spinning. The whole world is trying to pull me along, but I want to stay stuck. Staying stuck thinking about my little Jensen is much more appealing than playing along with everyone else. I try to play along, then I retreat. I have to create this space for my reality. My two yellow chairs bring me comfort and give me the space I need to retreat from the world.

Jensen would have loved my space. He would be so happy I’m making space for myself and trying to care for my heart. I know he guided me to all the elements that occupy this little retreat.

Oh little love, how I wish I could still have you here. I’d much rather be creating space for the both of us, making sure everything was perfect for you.

Move-In.

Almost one year ago, I bought my very first house. The three bedroom house needed a lot of work, but I was more than excited to do the complete tear down. I pictured where everything would go and what room would be what the very first second I walked in. It was going to be my very first house and all my own. This little three bedroom home would be the start of my future.

Three months after buying and tearing it mostly down, I found out Jensen was growing in my belly. My very first house all on my own became a house all about the baby. Every room I was imagining a lifetime of memories: first bath, first steps, first day of school. It was all unfolding. The back left bedroom would be the perfect nursery. It had a beautiful window that outlooked the backyard. It was nice, big, and full of personality. That would be my little baby’s room.

All during my pregnancy, we worked on the house. In my head it was closer and closer to the perfect family house. Our little guy loved to come work on the house. The sounds never made him upset. It was like he wanted the house to get done and he loved the work. I can remember being eight months pregnant working, not too hard, but trying to get everything perfect for him. Everyone was helping me out, not letting me lift things too heavy. I would tire easy, then his little kick would get me through the tiredness. He was just as excited to be in here. When Jensen was Jensen and not a little girl, the planning really started. We painted his room blue and orange on one wall and put wallpaper with squares up on the rest. I painted the closet grey. The curtains navy blue with orange accents everywhere. The grey crib with the bright orange and dark blue would welcome his sleep every night. It was unraveling so perfectly. Our little family home would soon have baby Jensen to house.

Then came the smack.

We didn’t get to bring Jensen home. His crib wouldn’t be welcoming his sleep every night. We wouldn’t be able to give him his first bath. His first steps wouldn’t happen here. The floor wouldn’t have little footprint smudges everywhere. All the hopes and dreams for the future ended all in that one second. My little, perfect family home of three became Anthony and I’s home filled with dreams of Jensen that would never happen.

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Our first night, officially staying in the house was Tuesday night; Jensen’s eighth week in heaven. I was so excited to finally stay in this house that I’ve practically tore down and rebuilt. It was so relieving to see all the hard pay off. For it to finally mean something. For our future to be starting. I’d like to say blood, sweat, and tears built this house, which it did, but it was built on the foundation of love and dreams.

The house is filling up with furniture, wall decorations, and kitties. It’s still filled with love, hope, and dreams. Every wall is the color I wanted it to be. The floors are exactly what I pictured and the kitchen came out way better than I expected. All the decorations look exactly how I wanted to when they go up. Anthony and I smile at each other while the cats are running around. We’re trying to play ‘normal.’ An outsider looking in would believe this is the perfect little starter home for a young couple.

I guess our reality is hard for other’s to see. It’s hard to see a baby that isn’t here physically. They don’t see the little, blue urn with two silver birds on it and the candle that’s usually is burning. Our decorations with J’s, his name, and the ultrasound pictures would have people believe the baby is on the way. The boxes in the basement full of Jensen’s would let them wonder why we didn’t have them back in his nursery. No one wants to think of the bad.

In all honesty, I wish I could tell you my first night here at the house was great. I wish I could tell you it’s all that I imagine and that everything feels perfect. It’d all be a lie. That first night was so hard. I saw where Jensen should be every time I turned my head. This house has an emptiness that cannot be filled, not that I’d even want it to be filled by anything else. I couldn’t fall asleep, it felt like the first night after he’d been born. It was quiet even with the tick of the fan and the television on. I guess the first night here in the new house was a way I stepped into my new reality that I’ve been trying to fight back.

Move-in day is the next step in this horrible grief process. It’s apart of the acceptance step in the rational part of my brain. I see his nursery, still blue and orange with the playful wallpaper. The backyard that the window frames begs to be looked at by anyone that walks in the room. My memories from when Jensen was here floods me every time I walk in there. It’s the stillness of the room with the flood of internal emotions that takes me by surprise every time. Jensen’s room will always be that.

I was afraid I would resent this house and his room because he wasn’t here. It’s hard because he’s not here, but so is every single day. I pray every day for strength and courage to go on. This first night I prayed I would make it through even though it hurt so much to be here without him. I dreamed that night of Jensen and being in his room together. Jensen knew how much I loved this house. We built it together. In the midst of his absence, love is still shining through.

Love will keep me in this house. Love will keep me on my feet.