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. 

Nine Months.

In my house there’s a room that remained empty for almost nine whole months. There are white squares on the wallpaper and one navy and orange wood wall. The curtains are drawn and frame a picturesque, snowy backyard. Its grey rug in the middle of the room calls out to be sat on. It yells for you to read all the books packed away in storage. Although it looks like any normal room, there should be a crib, a changing table, and bookshelves full of adventures. Instead, the only signs that it was anyone’s space is his name, weight, and birthdate written on the chalkboard paint right as you walk in.

For all this time I hated its emptiness, but there was no way I could take seeing his empty crib. It stayed waiting for Jensen and all his things. A nasty reminder of how life should have been.

Recently, I’ve gained the courage to actually use his room. The first step in this process has been putting up a big piece of furniture, a futon. In fact, it’s a grey futon with navy and orange pillows. My mom and dad came over to help me put it up. We decided the best place for it to sit was where Jensen’s crib would have welcomed his dreams every night. I truly believed that seeing his room being used would help heal my heart. That it wasn’t just a room that held stillness. As we assembled and centered it on the wall, the room started closing in on me. This just wasn’t how it was supposed to be.

I took a huge deep breath and tried once again to accept my reality.

Yes, I had to accept Jensen wouldn’t be using this room. At nine months old, Jensen isn’t in there standing on his crib mattress, waiting for me to pick him up. Instead of him crying to wake me up, there’s nothing but silence. There would be no bedtime stories or a room full of toys. I wouldn’t hear him jump out of his bed as he grew older. He wouldn’t race to his window to see if the snow had covered the street beside us, hoping school would be canceled. There would be no slamming of his door or sneaking out of it. None of these dreams will ever become memories. The futon in his room would always remind me of that.

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Today when I walked in and seen the image above, I smiled and then cried. No matter how much this futon reminds me of all things I don’t have with him, he is so present in this home. In the navy and orange, I see the color of crayons he would pick. The squares on the wall could only help grow his imagination, maybe he’d even become a better drawer than me. Who knows, maybe when he would have been older, he would have wanted this very futon in his room. He probably would think it was cool to have some place to hang out and play video games. I cried today because I wish I knew him at nine months and everyday of his life. His room would’ve become such a huge part of his childhood and now it’s up to me to use it.

I can’t bear to use see any other colors than the ones I picked out for him. It will always be Jensen’s room. My hope is to use his space to be close to him and do what I can in his honor. It took nine months for me to put a futon in there, so it might take nine more for me to actually sit there for a while. Everyday I’m doing my best for him and for me. Even if that means accepting what shouldn’t be.


Happy nine months in heaven, Jensen Grey. You are loved and missed beyond what words could ever describe. I hope you like the futon that occupies your room. It really is comfortable and I could really see me sitting there and watching you play. I hope you have your big nine month sticker on and sending me a most special snowflake. I miss you. I love you.

Creative Heartwork.

“I need to have a part of Jensen on my forever. Everyone needs to see him on me.”

A few weeks after Jensen was born, I kept repeating those words. My heart hurt that no one could see my baby in my arms and I wanted to somehow prove to the world that I was his mother. That and I wanted to feel physical pain, there was so much emotional pain that I needed to focus it somewhere else.

So we got tattoos.

Even though the one I got wasn’t the one I originally planned, I’m so happy it worked out that way. The celtic knot for motherhood is forever on the back of my neck. It’s beautiful and to me, represents that Jensen will always be with me. The pain I expected it to bring wasn’t there. Instead, the humming of the machine relaxed every muscle in my body. After it was all done, I was so proud Jensen was honored there for the rest of my life. I loved that I was able to find the design and put his birthday underneath it.

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As much as I love sharing my first Jensen tattoo with everyone, I think a lot of creative heartwork happens behind the scenes. It’s sharing your story online and at in-person support groups. Or it can be the connection you make with other loss mamas and doing anything you can to be there for them. Maybe it’s writing your baby’s name hundreds of times in every font you know how to do. It could be framing your favorite outfit of their’s in your favorite spot, so you can see it everyday. If a baby is buried, you can be creative during all the holidays and anniversaries and decorate their spot. SO many things that is creative and comes from the heart.

For me, it seems like I share all the creative heartwork that I do for Jensen. I love showing how much he means to me and my creative side. Today i’m going to share something a little more personal. As I’ve said before, when people walk into my house, Jensen is everywhere. Most people wouldn’t even notice the stack of notebooks of letter, filled with love, that I have written to Jensen. It started when I was pregnant, I would write a verse and then tell Jensen all about my day. When he was born, I started drawing him pictures and adding color to every letter. It was my way to be creative with him while I let all my emotions out on the paper. Every single word filled with love and appreciation to him. These letters have became my favorite part of the day and are a huge part of my healing. It’s my favorite heartwork I do for Jensen.

In between all those love letters, are drawings and letterings of his name or anything that reminds me of him. Today, I keep writing his name over and over again. If you’ve been following along, you all know Tuesdays are hard for me. They’re even harder when I can’t be creative and do things for him. All I’ve been able to do is writing his name. Even finding the words to this Capture Your Grief prompt has been difficult. This Tuesday marks twenty-seven weeks since Jensen was born sleeping. All those weeks ago, I bought my first remembrance bracelet to remember him by. It was Aries constellation bracelet, that I wear everyday. I never imagined then, that six months from that moment my favorite heartwork would be the letters I wrote to him just two days before his birth.

Tonight, as I continue my private, creative heartwork for Jensen,  I’ll be thinking of the love we show to all our babies everyday. Even in our deepest pits of pain, we continue creating beautiful things to honor our angels; out of these dark pits, blossoms the loveliest flower.

Happy twenty-seventh week in heaven, Jensen. When you look down on me from heaven, I hope you see all the creative heartwork that I do all for you. I miss you. I love you.

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Symbols & Signs.

The morning Jensen was born, my best friend came to the hospital. He brought flowers and just sat and listened. It was fairly early when I texted and told him Jensen was born so silently. I remember just talking and explaining it, I don’t even know if I was crying or if shock had taken my tears. He had to be so brave coming into that room. It’s not the scenario anyone expects to walk in. Usually there’s the baby being passed around and the mom is beaming. Anyways, during our talk he told me, “Jensen will come to you in a red bird and a blue bird.” I remember the thought of a sign from Jensen giving me so much hope.

It would be a happy moment that he was with me even in his death.

When we got home from the hospital, I completely forgot about our conversation on the birds. There were no birds going to come in my room as I let the darkness cover me. I was dragged out of the house to go on a drive two days before his funeral. We drove all around the county and ended up going to eat at a little restaurant that I’ve been to countless times. I sat down in one chair and didn’t like it, so I sat in the chair across the table. It felt better about that chair, weird I know. Then I looked up at the wall, one I’ve looked at before, and I saw my sign. A picture of a red bird and one of a blue bird right beside it; my sign from Jensen.

I remember just staring at it and not listening to a word my mom said. All I could do was point at the pictures and say, ‘he’s okay.’

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‘Walk for the Angels.’

One in four pregnancies end in loss.

My heart knows that fact, but even with online support, it’s hard to see that statistic in person. Maybe that’s why when I heard over six hundred people registered for the God’s Tiny Angels ‘Walk for the Angels,’ my heart skipped a beat. It was still just a number until I saw the line of people waiting outside the church to register. Even then it still didn’t click.

Yesterday was my first remembrance walk since Jensen has been born. I made big orange and navy buttons with a white J in the middle. We went out and bought bright, orange bandanas. I needed to be prepared for the day because I didn’t really know what to expect. It would be the first time I was around a huge amount of people who have been effected by loss, not just the small groups I was used to. There would be a lot of stories and emotions all in one room that I had to be aware of. I probably should have warned my family and Frank about those raw emotions that radiate off.

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Then there we were, in the sea of people in an ocean of grief.

The board members of God’s Tiny Angels spoke of sharing, healing, and helping. Their pillars of support and what they strive to do. I cried as the spoke knowing that each of those have shaped my grief journey. Jensen and I’s support heard those words for the first time, that didn’t come out of my mouth. They heard and they saw love, loss, and the magnitude of how many people are touched by angels. I think the heaviness of sadness was felt by everyone there, but we could surrender ourselves to that emotion and let hope flow in by walking for them.

Each step of the walk, I kept thinking of taking the steps for Jensen. He’ll never be able to take the steps for himself, but he had so many people there for him. As did all the babies gone too soon. The walk was peaceful and hundreds of balloons floated above our heads, symbolizing Jensen and all of his friends being with us. I also thought of the walk as journey of grief too. Although we have to take our steps to move forward, there are always people around to help us keep walking. AND we are always surrounded by our angels.

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As we got back to the church and went to the courtyard to release the balloons, I really could see how many people were there. Families grouped together with their buttons representing their child and packs of pink, blue, and white balloons everywhere you looked. Music was being played and we were asked to release our balloons and messages of love to the clouds, knowing our babies would see them. We let go of our pack of blue balloons with the glimpses of orange lettering on the cards. They danced up to the clouds, not alone, but with all the other balloons from each family. In that moment, it clicked. Each of those hundreds of balloons represented a baby gone and a family whose life was changed forever.

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I watched Jensen’s balloons until I couldn’t see them anymore. Tears fell down my cheeks, the release of love and loss is therapeutic. Although I couldn’t see the balloons dancing in the wind anymore, I knew he still saw them. He grabbed them and played with the balloons in awe. Maybe he was read those messages, but he already felt the warmth of the love we have for him. That’s all he’s ever known.

Surrender & Embrace.

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I’m in a constant state of falling apart and picking up the pieces.

From the minute I was being wheeled out of my hospital room, I let myself surrender to the heaviness of sadness. The unfairness of leaving without Jensen was overwhelming. I wanted to scream, but no sound came. Instead, tears flowed so freely and I couldn’t stop them even if I tried. While we were in the elevator, I kept opening and closing my eyes wishing that when I did it I would finally wake up from this nightmare. When I sat in the front seat of the car on the way to my parent’s house, I felt like I was in a vacuum. In this vacuum, there’s no outside noise or reason. There’s just me and my uncontrollable thoughts. After we got home, I realized that I would never be able to fight off the pain and sadness. I promised myself that I would accept whatever feelings and emotions came my way.

I surrendered myself to sadness, anger, pain, depression, and even joy.

Sometimes I wish I didn’t. There are moments in life where feeling everything so intensely isn’t ‘acceptable’ or ‘normal.’ Yet, they’re right there. Sadness and pain are always reachable for me. Almost everything in my life right now can be set back to, ‘If Jensen was here.’ I love being able to imagine it, but breaking down at a restaurant when they ask how many people are eating and I always have to say one less than what’s in my heart, is unacceptable. Those moments I can breathe through. In the few other times where I’ve felt like I had to hold it back and tried to force another certain emotion, grief came back around in a few hours times; one-hundred times worse. Worse as in, the emotions were just more intense where I literally can only lie there.

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Beautiful Mysteries.

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The sun is just starting to peek through the curtains beside my bed. I lay there, waiting for the day to start. Thoughts rush through my mind of what all I need to do and how messy the house has been. Then I hear it, the tiny steps sneaking into my room. I stay still because the next part of my morning is my favorite.

He climbs up the bed and lays right beside me. I pretend to sleep by closing my eyes and then feel the tap on my shoulder. His impatience builds up as he starts playing with my hair and whispering in my ear.

“Good morning, mommy. I lub you!”

I tickle him and give him a big kiss. The sound of his laughter fills the house. In that second there isn’t anymore worry to what needs to be done during the day or how messy the house is. I take in his big smile and his dirty blond hair, just a little bit too long. His eyes are squished up as he laughs. He throws his head back as he laughs and then when he stops, he gets serious. Every time he gets serious he asks for one thing…

“Mommy, I’m hungry. Can we have ‘nana pancakes?”

His eyebrows raise, waiting for me to answer. Before I get the words out of my mouth, I smile, and he jumps off the bed and runs to the kitchen. One more big breath and stretch to start my day. Sometimes I don’t even get that, he’ll plea for me to come in and I can’t say no to him. As his sits on his chair at the island, I can see his black and white pajamas are getting a little shorter. He’s growing faster than I can keep up with.

He helps me mash-up the bananas and stir in the eggs. When I pour the cinnamon in, he yells ‘STOP,’ whenever he feels like there’s the perfect amount in the bowl. I ask him if he had any dreams last night, while I pour the batter in the pan. He speaks with his hands and his voice gets louder and louder as he explains them. His imagination grows along with him. He finishes explaining each and every character in his dream, just as I flip the last pancake on the plate.

I place his in front of him. He gives me the look as if I’ve forgotten something, but I know what he wants. His pancake needs cut so he can easily eat them, but he usually asks me for a specific shape. This morning he wants triangles and he’ll get them. He smiles as he eats each one of his triangle banana pancakes.

“Mama, you are the best nana pancake maker!”

The morning continues with him playing under his tent as I pick up after him. He’s so curious and inquisitive, but I answer each question he asks me. I see him figuring out the world around him and as I’m in awe of this little human who is all mine, my mind keeps going back to one though. This is my heaven and I know as he grows, there will be one day where these mornings cease. For now, I will soak up every second of him at this age.

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Empathy.

Before I begin this post, I want to show the difference between empathy and sympathy. I think a lot of people think they’re the same thing, but they’re very different from each other.

empathy – the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.

sympathy – feelings of pity and sorrow for someone else’s misfortune.

The first time I thought I understood what empathy really meant was in college. I remember the professor telling us her sister’s story; I won’t tell her story, but it deals with the loss of a child. My professor said to feel empathy you had to put yourself in the other person’s shoes and somehow understand those feelings.

Then she said, ‘I could never imagine losing a child, therefore I can’t have the full understanding of empathy for her situation.’ Continue reading

The Unspoken.

Today I cannot talk about my nitty-gritty unspoken encounters and thoughts I’ve had the past six months. My heart is already heavy with longing and sadness. I think most people would be surprised to know there are a lot of things I haven’t talked about here. Seems crazy to think that since I’ve tried to be completely honest about everything.

Somethings are secret between Jensen and I.

Somethings I whisper in the morning to help make me through the day.

Somethings I’m not ready to talk about.

And somethings, I just want to be selfish about.

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What It Felt Like.

It was a cool Monday afternoon in April. The sun was shinning, but the wind made me chilly even though my pregnant belly usually made me hot. We sat in the doctor’s office, waiting to go in the back to see Jensen dancing around as he usually did. He was a little quiet that morning, I wrote it off to him not having much room. We impatiently waited. I knew the doctor wanted to discuss inducing me and having Jensen before his due date. Although I wanted him in my arms as soon as possible, I really wanted him to have those final three weeks for his brain to develop even more.

My name was called and I was escorted to the room where I would see Jensen every Monday.

The ultrasound tech who was usually very chatty and made jokes was suddenly silent. I unknowingly tried to break the silence and she brushed my comment off to go get the doctor. At that second, I knew something was wrong. The doctor came back placed the wand on my belly again, then set it down. Then he said it and the world around me turned to static.

“I’m sorry. There’s no heartbeat. Do you understand what that means?”

I couldn’t catch my breath or speak, so I nodded my head. My mind was so full and empty at the same time. It was telling me that this could be due to faulty equipment or maybe he was just turned funny. I just had felt him move the night before and I saw him just the past Thursday. It couldn’t be true. Babies just don’t die at thirty-eight weeks. He couldn’t have died.

But he did.

When we got to the hospital they confirmed his heart had stopped beating, not once, not twice, but three times I saw him laying there motionless. I had to see it to believe it. At this point, I hadn’t started crying. My body and mind was in shock. It was falling from the greatest high in my life. After the third time they told me my son was dead, my blood pressure spiked so high that my vision was black and my arms were numb. For some reason the nurses didn’t understand why it would be spiking? I had to be preeclamptic, they said. No, that wasn’t it. Turns out your blood pressure goes up when you find out death had creeped inside you and stole your son from you.

Death stole him and the future I planned with him.

Then my mom came in the room and it all hit. I didn’t have to feel strong when she got there because she was the strong one. Even with her tear-stained cheeks, she held me up and retold me everything the nurses and doctors said. That’s when the tears hit and they didn’t stop falling until they told me I needed to walk to the room I would deliver him in. Her familiar voice that helped me learn everything I knew made my brain realize Jensen wasn’t ever coming home with me.

What did it feel like to know my son was dead?

It felt dark and almost like the world around me was crumbling. I was in complete shock and went through each stage of grief (minus acceptance) all in a short of time. The world had betrayed me. There was so much anger and sadness and loss of hope flowing through my veins. I wanted to scream, but I couldn’t. My brain knew he was gone, but he was right there in my belly. His weight was so heavy as I laid on the hospital bed. He was right there and I would never be able to have him.

I felt completely broken and betrayed.

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Often, I wonder how I didn’t go completely insane with all that information. Some would tell me it was strength and I will tell you it was anything but. It was love. The love I had for my son and the love he reciprocated back. I felt him all around me. In those moments I felt that because he was right there in my belly, but in actuality his spirit surrounded me and kept me glued together. Even on the worst day of my life, love guided me.

In the midst of being completely broken and betrayed, I felt the love that only comes from a mother and her precious child.