June’s Name Project


It’s no secret, the statistics about pregnancy and infant loss are incredibly high. Every twenty minutes a baby is stillborn. One in four pregnancies result in loss. One in one-hundred and sixty babies are stillborn. I wish I knew all the statistics, but those are the ones I remember on the top of my head. Either way, that is a lot of babies, a lot of parents, and a lot of families experiencing this tragedy.

Even more outrageous, there are so many people who don’t even know this still happens. I know I didn’t and I feel horrible for not ever recognizing this beautiful community of grieving mothers.

A few days ago, I shared that I wanted to do a name project this month. Usually I like to do name wreathes and in December I wrote names on the beach. Well, the last two times I went to the beach, I wasn’t able to write names. So, I’ve been brainstorming on how I can write baby names creatively around me.

Every June, the community I live in does garage sales. It’s sort of a big event for our small town, but it brings in a ton of people and it’s pretty fun. Usually, everyone walks to each sale and, honestly, it really is just a good way to bring neighbors closer together.

With knowing this event is coming up (next weekend!) and having all the pregnancy and infant loss statistics flying in my head lately, I wanted to incorporate the two. But how am I going to do this? I’ve thought of handouts or writing on rocks, but I didn’t feel right. Then, I thought of writing names in chalk on the ground.I’m hoping it will be a way to provide healing to parents by seeing their child’s name written out AND bring some awareness to others.

Sometimes it’s hard to see so many names… I wish the names would only fill up a small part of the sidewalk, but in reality it could fill up the whole entire street. That’s the reality of loss though. It can happen to anyone.

I’m going to stop taking names on Wednesday night, since the garage sales start on Thursday. The plan is, I’ll write names down and take pictures of each baby name and then send them to their parents. Then I’ll post a big picture of how many names there were written on the sidewalk.

To submit your child’s name, (first and/or middle please) you can comment on where I share this post on Jensen’s Facebook page, on the picture that’s on here on Instagram, or you can comment below on this blog. If you do comment on here, please leave your email address so I can make sure the picture gets to you. Please feel free to share to your loss mom friends. It means the world to me when you all reshare and tag others because it really shows me how tight this community really is.

Thank you all for participating and reading along. I’m excited to be able to do this project to help others and myself on our healing journeys.

Advertisements

The Reason I Keep Going When I Know It’s “Not Going to Get Better.”

This was Jensen one year ago today.

I was getting ready for my baby shower and asked the ultrasound technician to try to get as many pictures of him as she could. Jensen was posing on this day. He let her take pictures of his face, after he played hard to get and covered it with his hand. She kept trying to trick him so she could get a profile shot, but he wouldn’t cooperate.

That doesn’t sound like he was like me at all.

In a really nice, motherly voice I asked Jensen to please let mommy see the side of his face so all his family could see when they came to celebrate him. Within five seconds he rolled and let her take that picture. Then another one and another one. He stroked his hand on his chin and put his fingers in his mouth. I saw my son, so lively and with so much personality.

I’ll never forget this day. 

He was alive and growing perfectly. I was happy. Life was good.

I knew that in the next two months my life would be forever changed, but had no idea it would in the way it did. There was no sign he was going to be born silently. Jensen hit all his milestones and was monitored twice a week. All these precautions and the worst still happened. The doctors and books I read never prepared me for this type of motherhood. I was thrust into this dark and isolating world where babies die and moms had to live without them.

Somehow death stole my son and I’m never going to stop feeling that pain. I had thirty-eight weeks and two days with Jensen. This might sound like a short amount of time, but this was Jensen’s forever. It was my son’s whole life. That fact doesn’t get easier with each day that passes. There’s not a cure-all or replacement for a baby dying, nor will there ever be. It’s the reasons why I’ll never be move on from my son or this grief journey.

I’ll never have my Jensen back.

Death will have always entered my body and not have taken me.

The memory of that silent delivery room will not fade away.

I can’t forget feeling the painful emptiness that took over my stomach in the days following his birth.

My physical body may have healed, but inside will always feel like a fresh wound.

Time doesn’t solve these problems.

I know that. I’m not okay with the fact and I don’t want to accept any of this, but I’m here living this life. There are times I want to quit. Just clock out forever because what makes me so special to live and Jensen not? On average, I ask myself that around 50 times a day and my answer is always the same.

You can’t quit on Jensen. You can’t let him see you fail. You have to take the steps he’s never going to take. You are his mom. You feel so very deeply because you loved him so much. You have to keep going. 


The eleventh month mark is in just a few short days. I don’t know what this last month of the year is going to hold for me. It’s been an intense lead up to this point of time and I’m guessing it’s not going to be the best month.

There is a lot going on in my head. The memories of this month last year have become very tangible again, which I wasn’t expecting. Like today, it’s hard to remember and almost feel that pure bliss I felt on this day, exactly, last year. My mind is going to revisit a lot of days this month, especially in the weekend that led to Jensen’s birth last year.

Hopefully I’ll be able to put them to words. Not only will it help me try to calm myself and figure the thoughts out, I think it’s going to be beneficial for others to be in this loop. I have a feeling I’ll discover more. About what? I don’t know. But it’ll be here in writing.

Back to December.

The month I’ve been actively avoiding has finally arrived and I’m terrified. I’ve honestly been putting off talking about how it’s here. It’s like if I don’t talk about it, then it’s not really here. It’s just hard. If December goes as quickly as November, I’ll be out of 2016. Out of the year Jensen was born in and into new waters. As hard as this past eight months has been, there was still so much love and happiness.

I just want to stay here forever, or at least on November thirtieth.

As we all know, December holds some pretty big events. We have Christmas, Advent, and the New Year. For me personally, I’m going on vacation, we found out big Jensen news this month, and it’s my first year decorating for the holidays. Jensen will also be apart of at least two Christmas ceremonies that I’m going to. They’ll definitely be sad, but I’m glad I can enjoy those events in remembering him with others. Most of all, it would be Jensen’s very first Christmas. There were so many things that I had planned for us and they just feel lost to me. Kind of like how I feel lost in December. The clash of grief and celebration should be ‘interesting’ to navigate. Such a horrible juxtaposition that no one should experience.

BUT, here I am. Although I’m doing this blindly, I am going to honor Jensen and this month in the best way I know possible. Starting with the Christmas tree.

Christmas Tree.png

This month, I want to share certain ornaments on our tree and tell their meanings. There’s a lot of Jensen incorporated here, along with all Jensen’s friends gone too soon. I’m looking forward to telling you all about them.

I’m also planning something for my trip. We’re going to the beach in the middle of the month, but I want to bring Jensen and his friends with me. On Jensen’s Facebook page and probably on Instagram, I’m going to post to see if anyone would like to have their child’s name written on the beach. Hopefully I can get a lot of sunrise/sunset pictures to make it look beautiful! So, be on the lookout for that. I want to be able to just make an album on his page and tag people there. Or if you have loss mama friends, you can tag them on the post and on the picture when it’s up. Like I said before, I’ll talk about this more Monday or Tuesday.

With all that said, it’s going to be a pretty busy month. As always I love to share with you guys and keep you updated on this journey of loss and love. I’d also love for you guys to share some of your special ornaments or even your Christmas trees with me. It’s so nice to see how other’s honor their babies through grieving while trying to ‘celebrate.’

Just a reminder to everyone who’s having a hard time with the upcoming holidays. You’re NOT alone. Grieving through the holidays is so difficult to process. On the outside it looks like everyone is so excited for the big day, but you feel its eternal doom.

Feel how you need to feel. Cry, in front of everyone if you need to. Decorate or don’t. Recognize Christmas or any holiday you observe, or just act like it doesn’t exist. Do what you need to do to survive the holidays. There’s no right or wrong way. Let your heart lead you. No matter what, you’re not letting yourself, your family/friends, or your child down. They’re so proud that you’re surviving and doing the best you can.

If at anytime you need support, feel free to message me to talk or anything at all. I’m here for you just as I know you’re here for me.

Avoiding Situations.

Earlier this month, I talked about Reliving the Moment and how Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is common in moms who have experienced pregnancy/baby loss. In that post, I shared the four major symptoms of PTSD and my experience with the first one. Although right now my mind is blocking when I found out Jensen’s heart had stopped through the day he was born. Moments come flooding in my brain and I can only analyze those small bursts of time. Even though there’s no way to know when I’ll remember more about those two days, I find myself clinging on to the second symptom. For the ease of this conversation, here’s the list once more:

  1. Reliving the event.
  2. Avoiding situations that remind you of the event.
  3. Negative changes in beliefs and feelings.
  4. Feeling ‘keyed’ up or being on the lookout for danger.

When I first decided to talk about PTSD with you all, I didn’t even realize how much the holidays would go right along with the discussion. With Thanksgiving being my first, BIG holiday without Jensen, I didn’t know how I would handle the day or my emotions. Every day has been a test for me, but Thanksgiving and Christmas are really big days. They’re days where I’m supposed to be showing him off to the whole family and they let me know how big he’s getting. It’s the missing out on what his favorite holiday food would be, what his face would look like seeing the shiny ornaments on the tree, and so many countless things that these days bring with children…

As a loss mom, I have to weigh my emotions for family-get-togethers and other type of situations.

For the sake of not going on and on, I’m going to specifically talk about avoiding situations during this Thanksgiving. Maybe in the future I can touch on situations that directly remind me of the day Jensen was born. There’s so many ways this second symptom could go, but I think this is more relevant and timely for right now.

Going to Thanksgiving this year was hard. My family actually had two different ones, one that had all the kids and the other with just adults. Honestly, it was bittersweet to have. It’s nothing against my family, at all, but it sucks that Jensen wasn’t here. That he couldn’t be experiencing his first Thanksgiving with his whole family. I felt horrible, obviously I didn’t go to the first one. I avoided it, completely. There was no strength in me to go or even think about it. The whole night I would’ve pictured Jensen there and there and there. But like everyday since he’s been born, he isn’t physically here. There’s no silly smiles or trying to take all the food off the table. My brain puts it there, but it only makes his absence even more noticeable. I thought the second one would be better.

It wasn’t.

In the morning, I laid out my outfit and did everything I needed to around the house. As the clock kept getting closer to four, my anxiety kept getting stronger. Again, I felt myself wanting to avoid the situation and all the visions I thought I was going to have. Then when I told myself it was okay to have those thoughts, I was terrified to have everything come back to me. I didn’t want to go down the rabbit hole and that’s a really big possibility. My brain has been actively trying to remember those two days. I feel like if I give it a little room to explore my deep thoughts, it’ll play it all out. That scares me, especially because I don’t know if I’m ready for that.  So, logically what does a person do when they’re not ready to face something? They avoid it.

That’s what I did, for a few hours at least. Four came and went, and I still didn’t feel like leaving my bed. Jensen’s urn candle was on and I just kept watching it flicker, wondering what he would want me to do. I was still seeing him eating mashed potatoes and how he would look like at thirty-three weeks. Even sitting here in my room, I could see him dressed, ready to go, and watching me frantically get ready. I saw him in a denim shirt and khaki pants, with his white tennis shoes. Those images came so vividly even with me not at the dinner table. I avoided what I was afraid of for as long as I could. This type of situation of reliving the event, never goes away. I relive the days I was pregnant with Jensen, certain moments of his birth, and each day that he should be here.

When I got to my uncle’s house, I took a deep breath before I walked in. I kept playing with my Jensen bracelet as everyone greeted me. My arms felt empty, I kept thinking how I should be carrying him in his car seat. I’m not going to lie to you guys, it hurt. It felt like my chest was being crushed. This feeling overwhelms me and is usually present in my day-to-day life. Yet, I still made it to Thanksgiving dinner. A plate was given to me and I filled it up to eat. I sat, ate, and talked. There were moments I wanted to cry and there were moments I laughed. I kept wondering why I had avoided going over for those few hours and I wondered about my lifetime of avoiding these situations.

Losing a child brings a lifetime of hurting, dreaming, and avoiding. But with every step and day we continue on, we heal just a little bit at a time. I know how stressful the holidays are and how the PTSD can really hit. Even though I went to Thanksgiving dinner and have certain plans for December, it’s perfectly okay to avoid these days. Grieving is a learning process that we have to figure out each day. If one day you’re ready to face these challenges head on, do it. If the very next day, you just want to stay in bed and avoid everything, you have every right to do so.

You are not alone. These feelings are not strange or weird. Be gentle on your heart. I know how hard this is, just like I know you’re doing your very best.

 

Screen Shot 2016-11-28 at 1.51.26 AM.png


A little side note to this post…

I’d like to let everyone know that Poe made it home on Sunday. He’s lost a few pounds, but he’s safe and has no injuries. I am so thankful for my community, the positive thoughts that were coming my way, and that Jensen lead Poe back to his home.

 

Blank Insides.

I’ve been a little MIA this week with writing. If you’ve followed along with my journey, I moved into my house exactly eight weeks after Jensen was born and posted about those challenges here. I purchased the house a few months before I got pregnant and it was a complete fixer-upper. We rushed to finish it before he arrived, which we probably wouldn’t have even if he was born at forty weeks. Anyways, the whole pregnancy I designed his nursery, the living room he’d take his first steps, and the mudroom where I’d be able to watch him from the backdoor window.

Well this week, I’ve been working on getting everything organized and decorated in my home office. It’s been a BIG task for me. There’s so many work papers, supplies, and moving all the furniture  that I’ve done mostly by myself (My mom has been a huge help for me!). During this time, I’ve found old pictures and notes I wrote to myself during high school. It’s been fun to go through and try to remember those moments. I’ve had bad memory loss since Jensen was born, so it made the gears turn in my head. Which is both good in bad. When some good flashbacks come, the bad also slide in there. I’ve been handling it quite well actually.

BUT, as I just said, with the good comes the bad.

Today, I hit a box that was filled around my final weeks of pregnancy. Only, I didn’t know it had all of these memories piled in it. At first, it was certain clothes I wore during that time. Then the movies and TV shows I had watched in the last two months. All made me smile because those were happy items that I shared with Jensen. They helped me with my swollen feet and I can remember the shirts I wore to rub my belly and talking to him. Seeing these made my heart flutter, but I had to keep pushing through. This room would never get done with this box unpacked.

I had this mentality until I pulled the next thing out.

It was a tiny, black box with a clear cover over it. Being a stationary lover, I knew it was a box of cards. I thought I had organized all of my cards and put them away. When I opened it up, cards fell out onto the floor. As I began to reach down to pick them up, I froze when I saw what they were.

Screen Shot 2016-11-19 at 3.10.39 PM.png

Unwritten, baby shower thank you cards.

I bought them only twenty-days before Jensen’s silent arrival and hadn’t had time to write them out for the baby shower guests. Those final weeks were full of preparing and organizing diapers, lotion, and clothes from my shower. I figured I’d add a picture of Jensen and his details when he was born to send them out to everyone.

These were supposed to be happy cards filled with love and good news. Jensen and I were supposed to be using all those beautiful gifts and showing off his cute outfits to everyone.

Just as those cards remained unwritten, those gifts are still being unused.

Triggers aren’t always seeing happy, healthy babies with their moms or a glowing pregnant woman when you’re out and about. They can come in a small, black box of unwritten thank you cards in the comforts of home. Both take your breath away, they unsettle your very soul.


Hemingway once wrote this six-letter story:

“For sale: baby shoes, never worn.”

People say it’s the saddest sentence they’ve ever read. I agree, it’s sad and it is hell to live through. Today, I can tell you that saddest words are the ones that were never written. The thank you’s that were never sent out.

Their blank insides will forever haunt me.

Six Ways to Honor Your Child this Thanksgiving.

As Thanksgiving quickly approaches, there are a lot of anxious and sad feelings for loss parents. Many of us feel there isn’t much to be thankful for after losing our children. This results to a lot of people not participating in any previous holiday traditions and making their own. No matter what a person chooses, their decision should be welcomed with love and acceptance.

Since this is my first Thanksgiving without Jensen, I’ve thought of different things I would like to incorporate for the days just before and on the big day. Although this is just a short list, I hope that it will allow me to feel Jensen’s presence and maybe help another mom and dad cope on Thanksgiving.

6 Ways to Honor Your Child on Thanksgiving.png

Thanksgiving Day Craft or Graphic

When I was pregnant, I pinned a lot of crafts to do with Jensen on all of his first holidays. For Thanksgiving, I always planned on getting his footprint and making it into a turkey. It makes me sad that I can’t get Jensen’s seven month footprint for this craft, but I’m thankful to have his footprint from when he was born on my laptop. As much as I love free graphics offered in online support groups, I wanted it to be a little more personal. I was able to make a turkey with Jensen’s footprint using PowerPoint and some help from this website. It’s really adorable and I can’t wait to share it on Thanksgiving! (Maybe I’ll post a little sooner so you all can see.) Although you’ll see it then, it’s a clipart turkey with Jensen’s feet as feathers. Really personal and really cute. It’s important to me to still do all the crafts and things I had planned for his first year. Also, it’s a fun way to be creative and take your mind of things for a little bit. I’ll be looking forward to using that feature on PowerPoint to do more crafts for some upcoming holidays as well.

You could also do this craft with printing out their handprints or footprints and drawing/gluing feathers on the paper. There are no right or wrong ways with crafts and there are a ton of ideas on Pinterest.

Donate Food to a Local Food Bank or Food Drive in You Child’s Name

I imagined Jensen being a little gentleman and wanting to help. As I’ve said many times, I wanted him to volunteer his time and be able to help others in need. To honor a value I wanted to instill in my son, I’m going to donate food to the local boy scout food drive in his name, which is actually going on a few days before Thanksgiving. There are a lot of different food drivers going on this time of year and local food banks are always in need of food. So many people are not fortunate enough to be able to eat on Thanksgiving Day and how special would it be to give back in our child’s name. It brings happiness to the receiver, you, and your child’s memory. No matter how big or small your donation is, you’re able to help out at least one person. If you’d like to be able to include your child’s story, you can always add a graphic you did for Thanksgiving and put your story on the back. It’s just another way to talk about stillbirth, miscarriage, infant loss, and child loss in general.

Make Child’s Favorite Food for Thanksgiving Dinner

Thinking ahead to actually getting ready on Thanksgiving brings me a lot of anxiety. I’m not even sure if I’ll be brave enough to go to dinner. To bring Jensen in on the meal, I think it’d be really interesting to make one of his favorite foods. Whether that being macaroni and cheese or just drinking chocolate milk with dinner. It brings Jensen to the table and probably a lot of laughs with the crazy cravings a lot of us have during pregnancy. If you’ve lost an older child, you can make their favorite and talk about the times you made it for them. This idea can be carried out whether you’re going to a big family dinner or just having a small dinner with you and your partner (or for me, Leo and Poe). Also, it brings comfort. Speaking from my experience, whenever I’m feeling a little down I go and make chocolate milk. It reminds me of Jensen kicking and ends up making me smile. I feel like having that little part will bring that experience to everyone else as well.

I can imagine everyone drinking chocolate milk out of wine glasses during my family dinner. It’d definitely be a light moment.

Set an Empty Place Setting

My family doesn’t really have a formal Thanksgiving dinner, but I really like this idea. It actually shows to the people around us what we’re seeing in our minds. I know for me, I always am imagining what Jensen would be doing and although he’d probably just eat off my plate, he would still be there and eating with us all. This is very symbolic and I think like the previous idea, would be able to bring your child into everyone’s hearts that day. I know this one is kind of sad to think about that missing place setting, but it’s just another idea I liked and have heard about before. It’s really hard because it makes it ‘more real’ for everyone else. Just the image of loss is hard to grasp, but I think it would promote family members being supportive. This could also be a plate for all family members that are gone in case there are others that are grieving on this holiday.

Family Picture Including Your Child

Years ago, my family took a big family picture. Since then, there’s been more people to come into the family and obviously we’ve all grown. It’s nice to document those days, especially when everyone’s all together. After child loss, it’s hard to gather everyone when, again, we know there’s a huge part of our family missing. Our child can’t physically be there and have their picture taken, so it’s difficult for a loss mom and dad to want to take these pictures. But, I think it’s important to have them. If this is an option for you family, include your child in the ways you can. Whether it be their Molly bear, a framed picture, or any other remembrance item, include them in this. They’re present right there and I know it’s not the same as them being there, but they’re being remembered in that moment. It’s also another way to open conversation about how you’re doing on your grief journey and to talk about our children. We want them to be included on these big holidays and this one way to document it.

Plus, I love showing off Jensen bear. It would be the first time my family will feel Jensen’s weight. It’s special to be able to share that with everyone.

Start an “I’m Thankful For…” Conversation

Another challenging moment for loss parents on this THANKSgiving, is what we’re thankful for. Yes, I’m so thankful for Jensen and the thirty-eight weeks and two days I had with him, but he died. I mean there’s really no other way to explain. Other than the time and memories I have with him, I haven’t been thankful for much else this year. There’s little things like bluebirds and dancing flames, but it’s hard. I’ve heard it doesn’t really easier during the holidays years out as well. Yet, this is a moment we can honor them. Say out loud we’re thankful for our child and death cannot spoil everything. Death cannot take away the time we had with them and I’m thankful for that. Going along with the theme, this is a way to talk about our child without adding death and grief in, which lets our support people know we still are happy to talk about them. That it’s okay to talk about our children and there’s way more to their lives than death. It could be another way of talking about the community and the others ways you’re honoring your child during the holiday season. I think our families might surprise us and let us know that they’re thankful for our babies too.


I hope you’re able to use some of these ideas or come up with new traditions this Thanksgiving. If you do, please share with me. I’m always looking for ways to honor Jensen and survive the holidays without him.

I’d also just want to let you all know, if you’re feeling overwhelmed and need support this coming week (and anytime really!), that I’m here for you. We’re a strong community that are always supporting each other. Especially when we need it the most.

As much as I’m thankful for Jensen, I’m thankful for all of you too.

Introducing… Jensen Bear.

In the last few days of my pregnancy, I could tell Jensen was going to be a healthy sized baby. The ultrasound ladies would let me know their guesses to how big he would be at his birth. Each week he got bigger and bigger. I felt his weight in every set and sometimes had to hold him in my belly. During those moments, I thought how much easier it would be to be able to hold him my arms and how happy I would be when I did.

But, that moment never came for me.

I don’t like to talk about this part of our story, but maybe I will another day. When I got home from the hospital, I didn’t want to feel his weight . It hurt too much to think about. At the same time, I knew one day I would, but wanted to make sure it was a special moment. That’s when I found out about Molly Bears and knew that’s what I needed. It would help me feel Jensen’s weight and to cuddle something at home in the place where Jensen would grow up.

On the next sign up date, I had my credit card ready and typed super fast so I could fill one of the one hundred and twenty-five spots. I hurriedly typed in my information, Jensen’s information, and what I would like my very own Jensen bear to look like. There were only two things I asked for: a grey bear and something navy and orange. After I finished the form, I found out I had a spot and the waiting process began.

Fast forward six months.

Yesterday morning was like any other morning. I was trying to be quiet making my bed so Leo didn’t run under the covers, then I heard my text message notification go off. It had been fairly earlier so I was intrigued with who it was. There was only two words I saw on the preview, bear and delivered. I dropped everything,  Leo ended up running under the covers, and I raced out to my car then to the post office.

In the car, I started getting anxious. It was finally time I got to feel Jensen’s weight in my arms. When I went back to pick my packages up, the mailwoman even said, ‘this one’s really heavy.’ She unknowingly picked up him up and her comment secretly made me so happy. It’s what I would want to hear about my baby, something about him other than death.

I came right home, went to my room where Jensen’s urn is, and opened it right up.

Jensen bear weighs seven pounds and one ounce. His grey fur matches Jensen’s crib and is so very soft. He was a bright orange bow tie right above his blue heart. Holding him, first brought tears to my eyes, but filled my arms. It meant so much to finally be able feel him. My Jensen’s weight was in my arms and I instantly didn’t want to let Jensen bear down. Jensen bear is perfect and even better than I imagined.

Without further ado, everyone meet Jensen bear.

Screen Shot 2016-11-03 at 7.55.13 PM.png

Thank you Bridget for creating my Jensen bear and allowing me to feel my little boy’s weight for the first time in my arms. Molly Bears is such a beautiful organization and way to honor your sweet daughter. I know you’ve been able to touch so many families that have experienced loss in such a positive manner. You have warmed my heart and filled my aching arms. There is not enough thank you’s in the world.

Healing Therapies.

Breathe in, one, two, three, four.

Breathe out, one, two, three, four.

I remember when deep breathing and counting were going to help heal the supposed worst pain of my life: giving birth. Even during my labor with Jensen, I don’t think I needed anyone counting for me. The contractions didn’t hurt, but I wanted some normalcy while I delivered him so silently. After he came into the world my body started healing, but emotionally, I didn’t even know how to begin healing. I was in pain and my brain instantly went into shock trying to protect the influx of emotions. During that time, I had to focus on healing my body by sleeping and trying to eat. That was the best I could do.

When I had to focus on emotional healing, I was lost. I felt alone and didn’t even know where to start. For the first few weeks, I just sat and stared into the nothingness. Everything felt numb and black. Even now, I can’t recall those moments or it just spirals out of control. The second week I looked in Jensen’s hospital bag. A brochure fell into my lap about online and in-person support groups. From there, I found You’re Not Alone – Love Letters from Loss Mom to Loss Mom, so many blogs journeying through others’ losses, and support near me. I read and read through so many pages, learning about how other’s heal. I realized how much reading through their words had helped me.

Then I decided to write Jensen’s story and share.

It felt so healing to write his name. To let the whole entire world know about him and his impact on my life. I needed to share the good, the bad, and the ugly. There would be a lot of ugly, but love always paved the way for the good. Six months later, it’s one healing therapy that I do every single day.  Usually with hot tea in my mug and candles lit throughout the whole house. Sometimes I want to share with the world and others, I keep it between Jensen and I. I haven’t missed a day of writing since that two-week mark. Getting all my emotions out on paper, or laptop, has let me sort through it everything.

Screen Shot 2016-10-18 at 4.50.48 PM.png

As much as I wish writing could just heal me and I’d be perfectly back to normal, that’s not how grief works.

Talk therapy has done so much good for me.

One of the hardest things I’ve done post loss was making an appointment to a therapist. I did not want to ‘be weak’ and talk to a counselor. The first time seeing her, I was terrified. Then being able to say his name, talk about how I was feeling out loud, and not feel judged was healing. It encouraged me to go to my first in-person support group, then the second. I spend a lot of time with talk therapy, six times a month to be exact. Sometimes, like this month, I’ve gone to other groups or events where I could talk more about Jensen. It’s been one of the most healing therapies I’ve done in my life after loss. This journey is so lonely and knowing there’s so many people to support me is, well, bittersweet. It breaks my heart knowing these amazing, strong women have felt this way and are able to channel that to help me and so many other moms going through loss. Reaching out and letting others know you need help, is the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but it’s helped.

There’s no rulebook on what to do after your child dies. That’s what makes finding these healing therapies so individual and hard for people to narrow down. I believe it’s trial and error. What works for me, might not work for the next person and that absolutely fine. I will say, if you are a support person reading this and wondering how to help your loved one, the most healing therapy someone can help with is saying their child’s name. It’ll open the line of communication between you two and might help find what the other person needs to heal.

I’d also like to say one more thing, losing a child takes a lifetime of healing. Please be patient with them or yourself and never feel like they or you need to put your grief on a timeline. Loss moms and dads are trying to figure out their new normal and how to move forward with their life. Be gentle with our hearts, we’re doing our best to find our healing therapies.

Even if it begins with breathing in and out.

Sacred Space.

Space seems so scary sometimes.

In the early weeks, it felt like all I had was space suffocating me; the space Jensen was supposed to occupy. Especially when he was first-born and I only had his nursery items and all his clothes. I didn’t have any remembrance items, besides what the hospital gave me, but I couldn’t even look at his prints at first. When I moved into my house, I kept seeing where I planned on having his pack-n-play and swing. The walls were empty and all I could imagine is what his newborn pictures would look like. It was hard in those beginning weeks of creating a home that I imagined my son growing up in, without him. Then I put his big silver J up that was supposed to be in his room.

Seeing his J everyday made me smile and feel like he was where he was supposed to be. From then came his pictures, the Painted Name Project print, and the most perfect footprints all over the walls. Everywhere I look there are pieces of Jensen that belong. I turned my whole house into my sacred space. I’ve added in silver birds and elephants to represent me sending messages to Jensen and how I’m not alone in this grief. My house makes me feel safe and comfortable. Even though he’s not here, he fills our home and that couldn’t make me happier.

Screen Shot 2016-10-17 at 7.53.49 PM.png

The space that felt so daunting in the beginning brings me so much solace now. It’s what I search for when the waves of grief are pulling me down and what I look at when they have subsided.  His candles are always on, like a lighthouse, leading me to the shore.

I wouldn’t call my home a shrine to him. My house is exactly how it would be if Jensen were here, minus the amount of toys. Although there will never be any pictures that show him growing from the day he was born, I see the progression of his life when he was here and the impact of his life since he’s been gone. My sacred space is all about him, just like it would have been if he was sleeping in my arms now.

This space that seemed so scary in the beginning has become a place I can call home.

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.

Screen Shot 2016-06-16 at 10.13.19 PM.png

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.

Screen Shot 2016-10-11 at 5.22.58 PM.png