Jensen’s Certificate of Life.

Yesterday was such a whirlwind of emotions for me. I’m thankful for all the support and love that poured in. My family helped me have the the best birthday I could have considering I was so upset I couldn’t be celebrating with Jensen. I’ll admit, I cried a few times, but I survived one of the first big anniversaries of his life. Being yesterday was also the day we found out we were pregnant and it was his twentieth week in heaven. I never like to wish time away, but I’m glad yesterday is over. Thanks to each and everyone of you who sent over birthday hopes and wishes. I was so happy to share a piece of Jensen yesterday. His feet are just so perfect and one day we’ll be able to share all of him with you.

Besides everything that came with yesterday, I’ve had a lot on my mind about the events and differences after a stillbirth happens. For one, we never received a birth certificate or any document that says Jensen lived. We have his fetal death certificate that they gave us right after we picked up his ashes. I was really bothered we never received anything to say that Jensen was here in the eyes of the government. Maybe that’s silly of me, but he did exist and he lived 38 weeks. In Ohio, you can actually get a Certificate of Stillbirth. The parents have to apply for it through the Office of Vital Statistics and send it in. I can’t speak for every state or country since I haven’t researched it, but it gave me another sense of closure to have something from the government stating his name and birthdate. It didn’t say anything about death though, which is so nice to have something office not talk about his death. His name and birthdate was also filed away so they recognize he was alive and born. If you can get one where you live, I’d really recommend doing it. It didn’t take too long to fill out the form, send it out, then receive the documents.

If you have been through that process, I’d love for you to share your experiences so others could read from different parts in the world.

Anyways, my friend, Melissa, and I were talking about how we never got a document that celebrated our angels’ lives. It really bothered both of us how there’s no standard papers for stillbirth or miscarriage. We both agreed how we thought their lives, no matter how long they were with us, should be on a certificate and shown off. So, Melissa ended up coming up with a way to celebrate and honor her son, Lachlan, by making certificates of life. She wanted to really embrace what made our babies special and acknowledge their length and weight and what time they were born. Just because our babies were stillborn, our birth experience matters and is important to us. All those little details are so unique to each and every baby, that they should be celebrated. Of course when she told me she was going to start making one, I wanted one for Jensen. Today I received it!

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The Greatest Gift.

If I could ask for anything for my birthday, and every single day, I’d ask for you.

For my birthday, I wish I could be counting your toes. I wish I could have taught you how to walk and then I’d see your footprints all the time. I’d have to wipe them up each day, but every night they’d grow just a little big bigger. In this lifetime, your feet will forever be this big. Even though they were just little, baby feet you continue to leave a huge footprint on my life and this earth.

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This is one of my favorite pictures of your perfect feet. Your ten little toes, that look just like mine. All those perfect creases make such a unique print. Every single part of you as beautiful as the last. I’ll forever be longing to see you using these perfect pair of feet. You are the greatest gift I’ve ever had.

Jensen Grey, I’m wishing for you today and all the days of my life.

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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The Battle.

Have you ever watched Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2? At the very end of the Battle of Hogwarts, Harry and Voldemort battle. They jump of a tower at the school and during the sequence you can see the two merging into one another. It’s a really beautiful part of cinematography, but I’ll get back to that part in a second. When they both finally get back on the group, they start the real fight. *An Obvious Spoiler Alert* Harry’s good magic eventually beats out the evil. In the books Voldemort just dies and his body hits the ground, but in the movie he kind of crumbles and turns to ask then floats away. I think they did it that way in the movie because it ‘looked’ better. Right now, I’m thankful they did it that way…

I keep saying I feel like I’m stuck in my body. Maybe I’ve written about it here too, but I know I say it quite frequently. It didn’t really hit me to what I meant until Anthony and I re-watched the series again. At first I was bothered because it looked like how I imagine cremation going, but then it really represented what I keep saying. I don’t think I’m evil or anything, but gosh if it was that easy to just crumble up and be free. My insides feel like they continuously are burning and turning to ash. It hurts to be inside my body and the part where his face sinks in and breaks is how I feel. Actually, I think if I read or heard anyone explain that they feel like they’re movie Voldemort dying, I’d be concerned. But in that moment, it just made sense. It looked like relief.

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Pain and grief effing suck.

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He Paints the Sky.

The sky was painted for me last night.

How do I know it was painted for me? Because of all the colors in the universe, he chose his favorite two. The two that decorated his room: orange and blue. He spilled them out for me as he guided and protected me on my way back home. Instead of finger paintings on the fridge, Jensen paints the whole sky for me.

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laurelbox.

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I love sharing the many different ways I get to honor and remember Jensen with, as well as what helps me through my grief. Today I got my birthday present, from myself, from laurelbox. I’ve been eyeing up a bunch of their items from their page and finally broke down and ordered my favorite two. I was so blown away by the presentation when I opened the box and all the little details of everything.

laurelbox was created by two cousins, Denise and Johanna, after seeing friends go through the aftereffects of loss. They wanted to create comfort in a box for others to purchase for their friends to help ease grief. You can find more about them, here. Their website allows the purchaser to pick from prepared boxes or customized boxes and also to just pick out certain items to purchase, which is what I did. They have items ranging from tea towels to necklaces to tea collections. Each are so adorable.

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The humidity was high, darkness set in, and you could feel the buzz from excitement as the lights scattered. First the drums set in, followed by the guitar, and then the screams of people who so patiently waited for the main act to begin. Music filled the air and everyone joined in singing along with him. I knew all the words, but at that exact moment where everyone was so in the moment, my thoughts turned to you. My eyes filled with tears that on your day that I wanted to celebrate you, I was at a concert that I’ve wanted to go to for so long.

There I was crying and thinking how I would never, ever be able to take you to your first concert. I would never get to see that look in your eye when you see your favorite band go on the stage. The expression when you hear the first note to your favorite song that I would have heard you sing over and over again. Would you belt out every word and dance to the beat, like I do? I’ll never know those little details. Maybe most people don’t wonder about that little moment until that happens. But as I stood there, I remembered him always kicking to the beat of every song we listened to. He loved my horrible singing and kicked even more when I would dance along with him.

In that split second of the first song starting and all those thoughts running in my head, I knew Jensen was there with me. I felt him, waiting to hear me sing along with Mark and Matt and most definitely embarrass his dad and uncle Logan as I danced crazily. Even if I’ll never be able to see Jensen at his first concert, he was definitely there and I already know what he would be like. His eyes would grow wide and he’d look over at me excitedly. Each time he knew a song he would yell over the title of it then start shaking his head from side to side as he sung it. His feet would constantly be stepping from side to side and he would sing. Probably as horrible as I would, but it would be the sweetest sound to me ear.

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The Hurt in Healing.

Today started off like any other day. I woke up, touched Jensen’s urn, and thanked God I made it through another night. When I was out of bed, I talked to Jensen and told him what I had planned for the rest of the day: work, therapy, clean the house, and then the blink-182 concert tonight. The morning went seemingly ‘normal,’ until it came time for therapy. That’s when I learned about the hurt in healing.

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My favorite little button nose.

It hit me, today is Tuesday. My son died on a Tuesday and it wasn’t the first thing that popped in my mind. It’s been eighteen weeks and that doom that I’ve felt on every Tuesday since he’s been born, skipped today. Honestly, I didn’t even process this usually huge trigger day, until I was mid-conversation with my counselor. I was talking about healing and trying my best to continue moving forward in this life after loss. Then I realized I’m healing more than I realize each day. Instead of doom, I felt thankful to be alive and that I was able to touch Jensen’s urn. Instead of crying all morning, I talked to Jensen about what I’m looking forward to doing in the day. This Tuesday wasn’t as heavy as any other one.

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The Evolution of a Relationship After Loss.

Relationships are hard, especially after losing a child you both created and loved so much. There are a lot of couples that break up after loss for a variety of reasons. Many argue because they don’t grieve the same way or they’re terrified to move forward in continuing their family. No matter what, the couple has to decide whether to stay together or part ways. As Anthony and I go through month four after losing Jensen, our relationship continues to evolve in different ways. From personal emotions to thinking about our forever without our son, not every conversation is easy. But, we grow each day and involve Jensen in our daily lives.

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From my experience these six things have helped us stay strong during our hardest time and have evolved from the beginning of our relationship…

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