Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Ringing in the New Year

So, it's New Year's Eve.   The last day of the worst year in my life.  I cannot even begin to tell you how relieved I feel to have made it to this day - or how much I am looking forward to that midnight ball drop.  For some reason, the switching from 2013 to 2014 is symbolic to me.  Like stepping out from a dark tunnel into the bright light of morning.  Almost a cleansing of sorts.  The muck and grime of the last year will be washed away, flowing from me in dark, winding rivers.   Not to forget, but to break free.  I feel like I am breaking the chains that 2013 had shackled to my ankles.  Chains of guilt and hopelessness, of despair and fear, of regret and broken promises.  Chains that bound me and kept me down.  Chains that prevented me from finding my way back to the light.  

I'll never, ever break free of my love for my daughter...and of course, I wouldn't want to.  Moving on from 2013 does not mean I leave her behind.  I will carry her with me for as long as I live, nestled inside my heart like a bird inside a nest.  I will always ache for her.  There will always be a piece of me missing.  Always.   As I watch her sister grow, I will wish she were here too.  Every day and for the rest of my life.   What I want to leave behind is not my memory, but my pain.   Not my love, but my fear.   As much as I hate this year with the fire of a thousand suns, I have to admit that it has taught me many things.    Here are 13 things I learned in 2013.

1.  I became a mother in July 2012.  February 2013 did not take that away from me - it just changed my perception of what a mother is.

2.  My heart is bigger and wider than I ever knew it possible to be.  It is full of more emotions than have names.  

3.  It is possible to break over and over and over again without dying.

4. Strength is something everyone has, it is just not always recognized as such.  Those showing true strength just think of it as survival.  No one person is stronger than another.  We all have the ability to survive, but it is our choice to do so.

5.  My friends and family come from the best stock on planet Earth - and I wouldn't have come nearly as far as I have without them.  My husband and I are definitely not perfect, but we are perfect for each other.

6.  Loss colors everything in your life, and your view on everything changes.  Forever.  

7.  A mother's love is not only eternal, but is unbreakable beyond imagination.  It stretches across universes - a grasping hand always reaching for her children.  If you want to fight to the death, make a negative comment to a woman about her child.

8.  People don't always know what to do with someone else's pain.  Even though giving them the benefit of the doubt gets old and often exhausting, it's the right thing to do.  Continue to educate the clueless with how to handle grief with care in hopes that through inadvertently hurting you, they will be better prepared for the next person who needs support.   

9. In contrast, sometimes, some people aren't worth the fight.  Sometimes, it's time for them to leave your life to make room for the ones who deserve to stay.  And that's okay.   Holding onto the tail of a bird who desperately wants to fly away will only bring you bloody scratches.  Let them go.

10.  When it rains, it pours.  And pours.  And pours.  And pours.  When you are soaked to the bone and drying off seems impossible, learn how to live dripping wet.  It won't be easy, but the sun will peek through those clouds one day.  Hang on - and keep your head held high.

11.  I am a better person because I am her mother.  I am a better person because she died.  That's a really hard sentence to write because it hurts to admit it, but it is true.  Obviously, I would never have chosen this path.  Obviously, I would much rather have her in my arms today, a happy, bouncy ten month old.   But losing her has forced me to find parts of myself I didn't know existed.  I am a fighter.  I am a warrior.  I am a badass.  I am hardened and softened at the same time.   I wish she were here, but I am proud of the person I have become in the face of her death.

12.  Life isn't fair.  Life has a sinister way of kicking you when you're down by continually shoving other people's happiness in your face.  It's hard to be happy for someone who has what you so desperately want.   It's hard to hurry up and wait.  But, letting go of resentment towards people who are smiling when you can't is like letting go of a lead weight as you flounder in the ocean.  It frees you to float away from unnecessary struggle - and lets you focus on swimming back to shore.   

13.  Kenley Evelyn Wood is my first great accomplishment.  She is more than my daughter.  She is my heart and soul.   I am the mother of star dust, connected to the universe with a tether of light and love.   Her DNA still courses through my veins, and will continue to do so as long as I live.  Nothing can sever me from her.  Not time.  Not space.  Not death.  She will live through me and in the hearts of the people who love her.   2013 stole her life and her body, but it didn't take who she was.   It never will.
So, goodbye 2013.  I can't say I'll miss you.   I look to the new year with hopeful eyes and an open heart - and I wish all of you the same.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Bah Humbug

I can't even begin to tell you how much I am dreading Christmas.  If I could skip over the day completely - the week even - I would do it in an instant.  I don't want it to come without her.   I don't want to wake up in the morning to a still silent house.  I don't want to have to face another childless holiday, especially this one.   

This one is the big one.  It's the first big event almost every mom immediately imagines when she is pregnant.  We picture the outfit we will shop for our baby to wear - both on the actual day of Christmas and for any pictures we might take beforehand.   We picture putting up the tree with the various "Baby's First Christmas" ornaments we have either been given or purchased ourselves.  We picture relatives coming from afar to ooh and ahh over our beautiful baby.  Maybe we are even hosting the day at our house for the first time because the baby is here and it's easier than lugging everything all over town.  We imagine how our baby's eyes will light up as we hold her close to the tree, carefully brushing her fingertips over the branches.  We imagine sitting her on our lap on Christmas morning and helping her rip open the brightly wrapped presents that have been lovingly bought for her.  We picture the laughter and the smiles, the eyes shimmering with joy, the music, the light, the family.  We construct this day in its perfection while our baby is still forming her fingers and toes inside us.  

When you are pregnant, everything your baby has yet to do is still bright and shiny inside your mind.  When your baby dies, everything goes dark.   Like Ebeneezer Scrooge's Christmas that is yet to come, fog rolls in, the lights go out, and nothing is what it was supposed to be.  Only, I don't get to wake up on Christmas morning with a second chance.  Kenley will not suddenly be alive in her crib. My Ghost of Christmas Future has come and gone without leaving me a reprieve.  My baby is gone.  There will be no Baby's First Christmas.  Not for her.  I hope Bean will get one, but there are no guarantees in life.  And there's still another year to go before that happens.

This Christmas will be hard.  I will wake up like I have every day for the last ten months to a house without my child. I will hear her absence echoing in the silence.  I won't get her dressed in an adorable dress and tights.  There will be no shiny black shoes to snap onto her wiggling feet.  No presents to open.  No new toys to play with.   There will be only an empty crib and a living room without a Christmas tree.   There will be a broken promise and a weary soul.  

As I write this, a tiny sliver of hope squirms slightly below my belly button.  A little ray of light the size of a sweet potato quietly reminds me that not all is lost - that maybe, just maybe, next Christmas will be different.  While Kenley will always be missing, I hope Bean will be here.  But, now, instead of thinking of a future with bright, shining lights, I hope with a softness that cannot be helped.  A quiet pleading.  Please.  Please.  Please don't take this one away from me too.  Please let me have this one.  Please.  Please.  Please.  

But, she's not here yet.  I still have a long way to go, and all I really have is right now.  Right now, Kenley is gone and Bean is still growing.  Right now, I do not have a baby in my arms.  Right now, life is hard and uncertain and Christmas is still coming.  The first of many I will face without her, but hopefully the last I will face with empty arms.  

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Fun Facts

So, I'm sure you've seen (or will begin noticing now) the "Pregnancy Fun Facts" statuses that have been popping up on Facebook.  Women are randomly posting a few facts about their pregnancies as their status.  The amount of facts shared is related to a number assigned to them by a friend.   I saw one for the first time the other day and read it with curiosity, excitement, and, obviously, jealousy.  How wonderful it must be to have a pregnancy that results in happy, living children!  I don't mean that sarcastically at all.  There's a sense of innocence to these posts that I envy.   

For the last several days, I have wondered if I should create one of these statuses myself, but I held myself back.  Not because of my usual "hatred of the norm" attitude, but because I wasn't sure if people would want to read about my pregnancies since the first one ended in tragedy and the second is still only halfway through.   But when it comes to "normal" baby related activities, I want to participate so badly in all of them.  I want to be normal.  I want to be the happy-go-lucky mom who can talk about her babies without taking a sharp emotional left turn.  So, I am going to share that here.  

1. I got pregnant with Kenley the first time we tried in June of 2012.  Mike and I had been married almost a year, but knew we wanted to start a family quickly.  It took me three cycles of trying to get pregnant with Bean, which happened in August of 2013.  

2. With both pregnancies, the first trimester was very hard.  With Kenley, I threw up about 5 times.  Bean's number is closer to 10.   Regardless of actual vomiting, I had food aversions and nausea constantly from about week 7 to week 14.   Nausea with Kenley lightened up faster than with Bean.  Even at week 17, I am still very sensitive.

3. I lost about 6 pounds my first trimester when pregnant with Kenley.  Overall, I gained 18 pounds.   I lost almost all of it within a week of her birth.  With Bean, I have lost a little less than 10 pounds, but am starting to level out and hopefully, will start to gain.  I expect the weight gain to be similar.

4. Kenley moved like crazy.  I felt her for the first time around 13 weeks.  I know that's early, but I remember very clearly sitting on the couch, leaning forward, and feeling three little pops.  I wasn't sure then if that is what I really felt, but as time went on and I felt her more, I knew that was it.   

5. Bean is much more mellow than her sister.  I haven't felt her very often, but I am just now starting to feel her more.  When I do feel her move, it's not pops, but more of a wiggle.  Sometimes, I think maybe my stomach is still numb in places from the C-section.

6. Kenley was born on February 25, 2013 at 36 weeks and weighed 5 pounds, 1 1/2 ounces.  She was 19 inches long and had a boatload of dark hair, just like her mama.  Bean will be a scheduled C-section at 36 weeks as well, which puts her birth near April 20th, 2014.

7. I really didn't like being pregnant very much.   The only things that made it worthwhile were those quiet mornings where Kenley would move and wiggle and I would poke her back, giggling as she tickled me.   I loved to feel her move and to picture what each of her parts were doing in there.   I am looking forward to those moments with Bean.

8. My pregnancy with Kenley was very typical and normal right up till the end.  So far, Bean is healthy and normal as well.

9. I had a really hard time finding names.  I didn't want my daughter to have a name like every one else, but I didn't want a crazy "flower child" name either.  When I first stumbled across Kenley, it was under the boy section.   I'm still working on Bean's name.  It's hard because I already went through - and rejected - so many names when naming Kenley.  And I don't want to give Bean a "Kenley cast-off".

10.  I admit, I did love not having to ever suck in my stomach.  Now that I'm starting to show, I'm letting it all hang out again.   Nice!

11.  Maternity clothes are the most comfortable clothes in the world.  When I was pregnant with Kenley, I joked around that I would continue to wear them for the rest of my life.  I really see no reason to revise that statement.

12. Kenley was supposed to be the first of two.  She might now be the first of three, but we will cross that bridge when we come to it.  I'm no spring chicken.  Plus, I really just want to focus on getting Bean here safely and dealing with her when she does.

13. I took two pregnancy tests with Kenley.  Obviously, I took the first one to confirm I was pregnant.  A few weeks later, I took the second one simply because it was just sitting in the box and I felt like it.   Still pregnant.

14.  I have more ultra sound pictures of Bean's first 17 weeks than I do of any pictures of Kenley, including the 5 taken in the hospital.  I don't really feel guilty about that, though.  It's just the way it is.   

15. When I found out Kenley was a girl, I made pink frosted cupcakes for my class.  This year's class still doesn't know about Bean.  I think they think I'm just getting fat.   I have no plans to make an official announcement to them any time soon.  Probably after Winter Break sometime when it becomes more obvious.   

16.  I am doing all the regular pregnancy things with Bean that I did with Kenley.  I am writing to her in a journal.  I am tracing my belly on canvas.  I talk to her.  Sometimes, I sing (badly) to her.  I don't care about "getting too attached."   She's my baby.  I'm already attached.  

I could probably continue forever.  I love to talk about my children.  But, that's enough for a Fun Fact Post.   Maybe you learned something about me.  Maybe you already knew all these things.  But, I feel better being able to participate in something "normal" with my babies.  

Monday, December 9, 2013


Some days are extremely overwhelming.  Some days, I feel like those migraine commercials where the woman is holding her head and the camera zooms shakily in and out to represent the pain she feels.    I am overflowing with too many different emotions - emotions that completely contradict each other.  Some days, I don't know how I am going to handle this for even the next few months, let alone the rest of my life.    I feel like I am going to explode and implode at the same time.  Explode because I am so full of so many things that need to be sorted, but just can't.  Implode because the world just seems so heavy and crushing - and not always understanding of or accommodating to what I need to sort.  It pushes down on me to feel things a certain way, to process things a certain way, to have some sort of linear motion to this journey.  But, that isn't the way it is.  It has never been that way and it will never be that way.  I am stumbling through my life, like someone who drank too much, but is still trying so hard to walk upright.  I'm hazy and unfocused, and I'm afraid I'll never get a handle on myself again.

I miss Kenley every day and with no less intensity than the first day she was gone.  I think of her every day.  I love her every day.   My heart is still broken for her.   There are moments of those first few days that I do not let myself think about for too long because they just hurt too much.  Moments of writhing in anguish on the ultrasound table after seeing her unbeating heart - of what it felt like to walk, swollen with death, to the operating room for my C-section - of how cold and soft she was in my arms - and of how absolutely beautiful she was despite her lack of life.  I can't even write those sentences without taking ten minutes to compose myself.  Even as hard as I have worked to wade through this mess, I have still pushed a lot of it away.  I just can't do it.   I am still actively mourning for her.  

And yet, I am now pregnant with her sister.  How do I push all of that sorrow aside and be joyous for this new life?   How do I decide which child is more important to me?  Which emotion?  I can't.  And, you might be saying, "Well, you don't have to."   While that's true - while I don't have to choose between my children - there is only so much a human heart can take.   There is only so much room for such conflict.  Sorrow and joy can go together in a bittersweet swirl, but not always to this extent.  I try so hard to find that balance.  To find that path where my devastation over losing my firstborn can live harmoniously with my excitement over carrying my second.   But, I am not even sure there is a balance.  I don't know how to achieve it.  I am constantly faltering back and forth, back and forth.  Feeling intensely guilty towards one daughter if I spend too much time on the other one's side.  

I often find myself saying "I just want my baby."  I want both, but I can only have one.    In a perfect world, I would have both.  But, in a perfect world, Kenley would still be alive and I would not have had a reason to get pregnant again right now.  So, what does that say about Bean?  If I give Kenley priority in my heart, then it seems like Bean is a consolation prize.   If I focus on Bean, then what about my Little Ninja?   You might say I am over-thinking all of this, but really, I'm not thinking anything.  I'm only feeling.  And I don't know how to make it manageable.  I don't know how to organize these emotions anymore.  I'm just a swirling ocean of one crashing wave after the next.  Slam, slam, slam. 

Love, anger, excitement, fear, joy, sorrow, guilt.  All at once.  All the time.  

I still can't believe this is actually my life, and not some horrible nightmare.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

It's Not Easy Being Green

It's hard to pinpoint what my thought process has been in getting pregnant again, but I can easily tell you I wasn't expecting it to be this hard.  I knew it would be tough.   I knew it would bring forth stress and conflicting emotions, but I really wasn't prepared for this.   I don't think any mother is.  I remember thinking, "If I can just get pregnant again, then I will feel better.  I will feel less empty.   I will feel like I am moving forward."  And while some of that is happening, it's not happening to the extent I thought it would.  And so many other things are going on that make this roller coaster ride even more stomach dropping.  I can't put all of them in one post, so I'll just write about things one at a time.

The first thing that caught me off guard was my emotional reaction to my physical changes. I'm not one of those lucky women who float through their pregnancies with a happy sigh and a joyous glow.   My first pregnancy was physically difficult.  My second is not different.  Nausea, heartburn,swelling, bloating, fatigue, soreness - you name it.   I had all of these things with Kenley - and I have them again with Bean.  I knew they were coming.   But, there's a part of me that feels that it is just so unfair that I have to go through it all again.   I am angry that I have to put my body through the pains of pregnancy a second time without being able to reap the benefits of the first.   While every pitch over the toilet bowl reminds me that Bean is alive and growing, it also irritates me that I have to be there.  And it makes me think of the last time, when it was Kenley who was causing my stomach to flip flop its contents.  Every time I wake up in the middle of the night with my esophagus on fire, I reach for the Tums with a sigh of frustration, not just because I'm uncomfortable, but because I'm uncomfortable again.   And when I'm too tired to do anything after work but sit and breathe, I wish it was because my baby kept me up all night crying and not because she's dead and I'm pregnant with her sister.  Every ache, every pain, every discomfort of my body is a reminder of what I have and what I lost.  

And then, there is the comment that always comes after I express these feelings.  "It will be worth it."   Oh really?   I'd love to take a look in the crystal ball you have.  Please, show me the guaranteed future where all of this is worth it.  Where my baby is in my arms, healthy and alive. Then there's the "At least you were able to get pregnant again."  These comments frustrate me for many reasons.   The main reason being comments like this make me feel like I have no right to complain about being pregnant - and that's just not fair.   Every woman has the right to complain about being pregnant.  Being pregnant is hard!   Our bodies go through so much.  I should still be able to talk about how crummy I feel without someone reminding me to remember how lucky I am to have a second chance.  I know how lucky I am.  I know so many women don't get pregnant as easily as I have.   My many support groups are full of these women, whose hearts break every month over and over and over again.   I get it.  No one needs to tell me of the hardships of pregnancy or infertility.  I have cried for them and with them.  We cry for each other.  I have been in this community for several months.  I know I could have it so much worse.   But, that doesn't mean I still shouldn't be able to complain.  In fact, I need to complain.   I need to have someone tell me they understand - or at least that they understand my right to be upset.  Let me hang on to this one bit of normalcy in a life that is anything but.

There's this mindset among those who aren't in the baby loss community that a Rainbow pregnancy is - well - full of rainbows.  This attitude that once that egg has been fertilized again, it's just smooth sailing until a screaming baby pops out.  And that any slight bump along the way should be taken with a smile because - hey, you're pregnant again!  Yay!    Yes, there are moments when I am truly happy and excited - when I'm not nauseous, when I have some energy, when my stomach isn't a boiling pit of acid.  And then there are moments when I feel like crap and I wish I had a baby already.   By the time Bean gets here, I will have been a human oven for almost two years, with a sixth month break in between babies.  And I will still only have ONE baby.  (The uncertainty screaming around in my head regarding that statement is definitely for another post)   I have earned my stripes.  I have earned the right to vocalize whether or not I have a stomach ache, or how tired I am, or how I just want my body to be done with this already.   

I have five more months - twenty more weeks - to go.  Twenty more weeks until my body is mine again.   Twenty more weeks before Bean is in my arms.   It seems like an eternity.  

Monday, November 25, 2013

Thanksgiving: No Thank You

I am having a really difficult time dealing with Thanksgiving approaching.   Halloween was tough, as I had imagined for months the costumes she'd be old enough to wear when that holiday rolled around, but it was nothing like what I am experiencing now.   As Thursday creeps closer, I want nothing more than to hide away.   I want to pull the covers over my head, snuggle in, and stay safe from the cold, harsh world.   

Maybe it's because I keep thinking about how on Thursday, I should be snapping my daughter into her highchair at my parents' house with an extra large bib secure around her chest.   How it would be her first time tasting stuffing and cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie.  How I should be watching her slap her food around with glee, smearing her cheeks with a thankful feast.   

Maybe it's because I know that Thanksgiving is the doorway to the holiday season.  The threshold to a festive time that doesn't seem festive anymore at all.  It's just the beginning.   Commercials of families smiling and laughing around Christmas trees.   Advertisements for toys.  Bright and cheery songs, twinkling lights, joyful laughter.   Despite the rainbow in my belly, I don't feel joyful.  I don't feel thankful.   I feel cheated.   And not, "hey you rolled the dice twice when you were supposed to roll it once" cheated - but "hey, you stole everything near and dear to me, including the clothes off my back while you beat me with a stick" cheated.  

What I have already begun to hear from people are sentiments like "Be thankful that you still have your family and friends."   "You and Mike are healthy."   "Be happy you are pregnant again."   While I understand that those are attempts to help me feel more secure in my life, they don't help me at all. They are all true - and they are all good things - but they don't bring her back.  They don't fill the void she left behind.   I will never see Kenley eat pumpkin pie.   I will never see her unwrap Christmas presents.   Instead of ringing in the new year as a newly made family, Mike and I will count down to midnight without her.  This year and every year.   

It's the "every year" that really gets me.   The fact that this is just the beginning.  This is the first holiday season of the rest of my life where she will not be here.  That's a hard reality to come to grips with.

So, this Thanksgiving, I am not really going to bother to struggle to find things to be thankful for.  I have had 9 months to realize the wonderful people in my life.  Loss is the one thing that really makes you stop and reevaluate your life and your relationships.   I don't need the last Thursday in November to remind me to do that.  I do that every day.   No, this Thanksgiving, I will do what I have done on all the hard days before this one.   I will wake up.  I will get dressed.  And I will get through it.  I will get through Thursday and every day left of this miserable year with as much dignity and grace as I can muster.  

And if, sometimes, I have to pull the covers over my head, so be it.    

Friday, November 22, 2013

I'm not Fixed

I have this fear that this pregnancy will make people think that everything is all better.   That I am "fixed."   I have this fear that people are thinking to themselves, "Well, now that she is pregnant again, she can stop being sad." "Thank goodness she can stop thinking about her loss and focus on the future."   I don't know if it is a valid fear or not.   I really don't know what is going on in other people's heads.  Heck, I rarely even know what's going on in mine.   But, just to clarify, nothing is fixed.  Nothing is suddenly better because I am pregnant.   I don't miss her any less.  I don't think about her any less.  

 I actually think about her more now.   Pregnancy is really all I have to connect with Kenley.  The nausea, the exhaustion, the poking out of the belly, the pops and wiggles that will soon become full-blown jabs and jolts. A little over a year ago, I was experiencing these physical changes with Kenley.   And now, I am starting again with Bean.  Every moment, I worry about Bean in there - and I think back to last year when I was carrying my little ninja, which makes me feel empty and full at the same time.   I am happy I have this second chance with Bean, while also being angry I have to even have a second chance.   Why didn't I get to keep my first chance?   I love, love, love both of my children, so it is so difficult to rejoice in one at the expense of the other.   To be happy for Bean reminds me of why I am pregnant now, and why I don't have a baby in my arms.  To wish I had Kenley seems like a slap in the face to Bean.  I still don't know how to reconcile this.   How do you handle loving your children equally when the life of one is the direct result of the death of the other?    

That conflict aside, Kenley is my first born.  She will always be a part of me.  I will always love and miss her.  Being pregnant again does not take away the hurt of her loss.   I can have a hundred more children, and I will always ache for her.  I will always choke back tears when I think of never holding her again.  I will always have to catch my breath when I look at the few pictures I have of her beautiful face.  Those things will never be "fixed."   Not by another pregnancy.  Not with time.  Nothing will ever make this better.  

I just wanted to put that out there.   I love Kenley.  I love Bean.  I am happy for my second child.  I still miss my first.  I am not fixed, and I won't really ever be.   I am learning to navigate around the holes in my heart, but those holes will always be there.  When Bean comes, my heart will swell in the places where Bean fits, but they won't close the gaps where Kenley is not. The thing with rainbows is you can't have them without the rain.  

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Tightrope

The wind is cold and biting so high above the earth.  The tightrope walker steadies herself against the chilly rush.   She bends and flexes her toes inside her leather shoes, curling her aching feet around the bundle of wires.   As her hands begin to sweat, she grips the pole a little tighter, it's heaviness spread out on either side of her weary body.  She is exhausted, having to balance for this long.  The canyon below her sprawls out from a dark and jagged crevice in dusty orange fingers, and the other side is so far away she can't even see it.   As she steps forward, her balance shifts too far to one side.  She pitches and wobbles, her heart jumping into her throat in a panic before she centers herself.  Careful.  Steady.  She takes a deep breath in, her knuckles white and her knees screaming for rest.  But there will be no rest.   There is no stopping and there is no going back.   She can only go forward.  One foot in front of the other.  One step at a time, she will cross this canyon, balancing everything she is with everything she has.   That's the key - balance.   She has to keep herself in line.  From her own posture to the position of her feet on the wire to the steadiness of the pole in her hands - it all contributes to keeping her from plummeting into the darkness below.  And it requires her complete and utter attention at all times.  The average bystander does not realize the amount of concentration it takes to stay balanced - or the amount of balance it takes to stay upright.  To her credit, she makes it look so easy.   She is graceful and poised, keeping the chaos of her racing thoughts hidden beneath her collected demeanor.  But underneath, she is terrified.  Not necessarily of falling, but of tipping.  Of giving too much attention to one side and not the other.  It is in that moment of tipping - that moment before the fall - that the terror is real.  It's not the fall itself, but the reason for it that is so upsetting.   The knowledge that she allowed herself to lean too far to one side.  That she allowed the other side to be neglected.  If she falls, it will be because she was unable to maintain equality.  If she falls, she is a failure.   She braces against the wind as it bites through the thin material of her leotard.  She takes a step.  And another.  And another.   Forward and balanced, she continues her journey across the canyon.  Head high.  Heart steady.  

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Try Not to Stress

Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaahahahahahahahahahahahahahaahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!  (deep breath!)  Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha! 

"Try not to stress" is a well-meaning phrase used by well-meaning people.  I understand the sentiment and the point of the advice, I really do.  It's just not going to happen.    

Don't get me wrong, I try.   I use meditation apps to help myself relax.   I take deep breaths and time-outs when I recognize I am winding myself up. I think about positive things as much as possible - like the next time I'll see the Bean on an ultrasound, happy and healthy, or picturing myself holding a crying baby in the delivery room in April.  Every day, I make the effort to keep myself centered and calm.   I am managing my stress - but I am still stressing.     

There is no way not to.  That's just plain and simple reality.  Pregnancy after loss is stressful, chock full of worry every step of the way.   Kenley was a healthy, normal pregnancy until the very end.  Everything was fine, and then suddenly nothing was.  She was there one minute and then gone the next.  My brain has now been conditioned to this experience.  36 weeks is a long time to wait, especially when doing something as complicated as making a baby.  Anything can happen between now and the time I can bring this one home.

I know people just want to help.  They want to be positive and supportive.  They tell me things like, "Don't worry, everything will be fine."   Or, "I know things will work out."   I can't fault them for trying - and I truly am very glad to have such caring people around me.   

But, I am still going to stress.   I am still going to worry.   It is going to be a constant struggle every day.   A struggle where half of my brain ticks off a list of all the things I should be worrying about while the other half counteracts those reasons with soothing thoughts of peace and hope.   I worry.  I hope.  I worry.  I hope.   It's exhausting.   I'm working with my grief counselor on ways to work through this anxiety in a healthy manner, but that's really all I can do...work through it.   I can't make it go away.  I can't make it less than what it is.  I can just deal with it as it comes and do my best to keep my head above the water.  

So, if you're talking to me about my pregnancy, and you happen to let slip "Try not to stress", you'll see me take a deep breath and close my eyes.   I know you mean well - and I'll try - but the only thing that will truly keep me from being stressed is buckling my baby into their car seat to make that first drive home.   And even then, I'm sure I'll find something to worry about.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Voice

If you're a regular reader, you know I have shared a little bit about my past struggles with self confidence and depression.  I battled a serious darkness in my teenage years that spread to my early twenties.  From around the age of 10 or 12, I can remember thinking I wasn't as good as everyone else.  I wasn't as pretty or as smart.  My clothes didn't fit right.  My hair didn't lay right.   I always kind of felt like I was on the outskirts.   I had friends who liked me, but I still felt like an outsider even among them.   As I got into my teen years, the twilight that loomed over my self-esteem settled into complete darkness.  One I couldn't really see any way out of.   

Through the darkness, I would hear a voice.  One that would whisper and hiss.  One that would spit words at me that cut like a knife.   "You're not good enough", she would say.  "You'll never be good enough."   "You're horrible.  You're disgusting.  You don't deserve happiness."   Any time I started to even think about trying to be a normal person, there she was.  Screaming at me.  Telling me how terrible I was.  Telling me how nothing would ever work out for me.  How I was destined to live a life of misery  - because I deserved it.   

And I believed her.  For years. When friends would shake it on the dance floor, I would hang in the corner because she told me I'd just look stupid if I tried to fit in.   When boys tried to smile at me in the hallway, I'd turn and look around for the prettier girl who must be behind me.  Surely, it's not me they're looking at.  The Voice was very clear about the value I should place on myself - which was none.   And for a long time, I didn't.   She had convinced me that I was sub-par, and so that's how I treated myself.

But then, the years of darkness began to take their toll.  I began to crave the light.   "You don't deserve the light," she'd tell me.  "The light is not for you." Only then did I begin to question her.   Of course I deserve the light!   I am a person.   I have worth.  I have value.   I began to rebel against her.  Little by little, step by step.   When she would hiss into my ear how fat I was, I refused to listen.   "I'm not fat!  I'm curvy!"   When she would tell me how I would never find happiness, I told her to shove it.   She didn't give up, but then neither did I.   It took me years - from about 18 years old till about 26 - of fighting tooth and nail, but I defeated her.   She didn't disappear, but she retreated back into the shadows, her tail between her legs.   Every now and then, she'd try to pipe up with more of her nonsense, but I shut her down immediately.   I've lived Voice free for a while now.  And it has been wonderful.   Finally, living the life I knew I always deserved.  The life I fought for.  My life run on my decisions - not the orders from a twisted sense of self.

But, she's come back.  When Kenley died, the Voice slithered back into my ear, hissing "It's all your fault."   "Everyone will forget about her".  "You deserved this!".   Even though I was weak from grief, I readied for battle against her.   I was not going to let her take over again.   I did a pretty good job keeping her at bay - until I got pregnant again.   And now, she's louder than ever.   She tells me over and over that this baby won't make it.  She tells me I don't deserve a child - that I'll never have one.  With every body twinge,  every moment I'm not nauseous, every second of every day, she's there.  In the back of my head.  Her sinister smile revealing a mouth of dripping fangs.  She will not rest until I am broken.   

Now, I know my enemy.   I know how to fight her - and fight her I will.  But, there is one big difference from what she has said in the past and some of what she is saying now.   Some of it actually has validity.   The first time she crept into my head, I was not the disgusting person she made me believe I was.   I was a great girl who had not yet discovered how to be great.   I triumphed over her lies because I realized they were just that - lies.   This time, though, it's different.   Not all of what she says are lies.   Not all can be waved off or dismissed as rubbish.   For the last eight months, I have lived in a world where babies die.  I have seen too much to turn a blind eye to this reality.   When she wraps her claws around my heart and tells me my baby isn't going to make it to birth, it sends an unimaginable chill of terror straight through me.  A fear I can't shake.  A fear that refuses to be soothed.   I can rise up against her telling me I am undeserving or unworthy because I know that's not true.   I can steady myself against the blows of guilt and fault because I have been able to work through those lies and accept them as such.  But, I can't do a damn thing with the fear.  It washes over me in waves, knocking me to my knees.   

I am afraid - pure and simple.  I am afraid of losing my baby tomorrow.   Of losing my baby next week, or next month, or the day before my scheduled delivery.   You can reassure me all you want.   You can tell me you have a good feeling about things.  That you are praying for me.   That you know everything will work out.   But, that isn't going to help.  I've lived in a harsh and terrible reality since February - one that won't let me be unafraid no matter what people tell me.   A world where 25% of babies don't make it to birth.  A world where by first baby was one of them.  Why not this one too?   

I'm not telling you this to be negative.   I'm not telling you this so you will boost my confidence with kind words of support.   I'm telling you this because I want you to know that this pregnancy is not the joyous romp in the meadow many pregnancies are.  I want you to know that I am scared out of my mind.  Every day.   And that it takes every bit I have to keep myself from spinning out of control - including the bits that are already ripped to shreds with grief.  All of my energy goes towards silencing The Voice - to reaching towards the sunlight when she tries to plunge me into darkness - to trying (yet failing) to not be afraid.    

All I can really do is take it one day at a time.   Today, my baby is alive.  Today, I am pregnant.   Today, I am one day closer to holding my live child in my arms.   Who knows what tomorrow will bring.  And although The Voice wants to tell me what she thinks about tomorrow - I am doing my very best not to listen.   And it is never easy.  

Friday, November 8, 2013

My Stretched Out Heart

This year has been the worst year of my life.   I know I don't really need to explain why.   When you lose your child, especially so close to birth, you lose your future as well.   You lose every moment you should have had.  Every step they should have taken.  Every milestone they should have reached.  You lose a lifetime of memories you should have been able to make.  All that potential seems so pointlessly wasted.   You think to yourself, "why bother living now?" When everything seems like it's nothing more than a shadow, it's easy to get lost in the darkness.

My future with Kenley was stolen.   That is a fact - an unchangeable fact.  I will always wonder what could have been.   I will always watch her grow in my mind, comparing her to other children (and eventually teenagers and adults) I see.   I will always wonder if her hair would have stayed black or have lightened over time like mine did.   I will always wonder if she would have inherited her father's ability to dance - or my ability to fall down with grace.   Would she have a developed goofy sense of humor?  Would she have loved to climb trees, watch movies, and play house?   Who would she have been?

That not knowing is an ache that never goes away.  Nothing will ever change it.  Nothing will ever make it better.   It will always be a rock in my heart, rolling around in the vast cavern of what will never be.   

But, Kenley left me with more than uncertainty and fear.   She left me with more than sorrow and desperation and pain.   She left me with love.   When something breaks and then is pieced back together, it's never quite the same again.  It's looser.  Wider.  Gaping. Stretched out.   As I have spent these last few months sewing my heart back into its shape, I have noticed it's much bigger than before.   There's more room inside.  Like an old patchwork satchel, saggy and worn.   And while that means more room for fear and anxiety to creep in, there's also more room for joy.  More room for hope.   More room for love.   I have broken but I am not broken.

I have nestled my baby girl inside my heart with tender care.  She will always live within me.  My heart beats with her name.  Kenley.  Kenley.  Kenley.  Kenley.  But it also beats with another name.  A name to yet be made.  The name of a baby yet to be born.   It's still a hard concept to wrap my brain around, but there IS room inside my heart for more than just my little ninja.  There is room enough for a brother or sister still to come.   The brother or sister who WILL come.   In April.  

Friday, October 25, 2013

Balance Day

Today is my Balance Day. That phrase is one I made up to describe the day where the amount of time since loss is equal to the amount of time with life. For one, brief moment, that time balances precariously on the scale. A shaky evenness before starting to tip the other way.

Today marks eight months. She's been gone the same amount of time she was alive. It's hard to believe that after today, I will forever be without her longer than I was with her. And it's so unfair. I should have an 8 month old. I should be watching her crawl around on the floor and shove things in her mouth. I should be feeding her soft foods. She should be at my mother's new condo (which they never bought), covered in smooshed up banana, squealing in delight - giving my mom a wonderful story to tell me when I come to pick her up after work. But she's not. When I leave work this afternoon, I will go home to my husband, my dog, and an empty nursery.

After today, time will continue to creep and crawl away from her. As it always has. But for some reason, today makes it seem even more final than it already is. I only had her for 8 months. I only felt her move for 5. It's not enough time! The lifetime ahead of and behind me is vast and open. Sprawling over decades. It seems obscene that she only took up a tiny sliver of it. A fraction of moments in a ocean of time. How is it possible that the most important and wonderful thing I have ever done in my life has such an inconsequential space on my timeline? I hate that.

I know I will always feel cheated. I will always wonder and wish. I will always want more. There is no closure with this. No neatly wrapped packages. No loose ends tied in sweet, little bows. This will always be a jumbled, messy knot that spirals around me. The only thing I can do is learn to walk in a tangle - as gracefully as possible.

The last 8 months have taught me more than I ever wanted to know about grief and death and the human spirit. They have taught me that life is never what you expect it to be, and is often instead what you'd give anything to change. They have taught me that although death is a force to be reckoned with, so is love - and love is the only thing that holds any of us together at any given time. They have taught me that strength is something that is within everyone, and it is only when we are called to use it do we realize just how much of it we truly have. I have learned how to recognize the difference between valid fear and triggered fear, and how to show both of them who's really in charge here. I have learned that my heart is an infinite cavern, capable of storing an endless amount of not only sorrow and despair, but hope and joy and love. I have learned that being a mother is not limited to wiping noses and changing diapers. Being a mother is placing a piece of yourself inside the soul of another human being. Being a mother is being vulnerable in order to be strong. It is holding your head up high in a world that doesn't always understand the path you are walking. Being a mother is loving your child with every fiber of your being, even when your child isn't here with you.

On this, my Balance Day, I am once again "Saying it out loud." My beautiful Kenley is gone. And as I live my life, I will continue to get farther and farther away from the moments I had with her. But nothing makes those moments any less special, any less wonderful, or any less miraculous. Not guilt. Not fear. Not pain. Not death. I am a mother. She IS my daughter. And I am forever changed.

Side note: I have no idea who drew this picture. I found it on an internet adventure. But, I felt it captured Balance Day pretty well.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Try, Try Again

When you return to life after loss, things are just so very different.  You can't approach your old life the same way.  Because it's not your old life.  It's a brand new one - and you are a brand new you.

Mike and I have been trying to get pregnant again since July.  So far, we have had  no luck.   I feel like my life is broken into two week increments: the two weeks after ovulation, where I live in hope and anticipation, and the two weeks after my period, where I live in disappointment and frustration.  A constant upswing and downswing.   I am trying to be hopeful and to not stress.  

That's what everyone says to a woman trying to have a baby.  "Don't Stress.  Just let it happen."   "It will happen when you least expect it."  Holy, crap, shut up!   Telling me not to stress is like throwing me into the deep end of a swimming pool and telling me not to get wet.  I'm already here.  I'm already soaked to the bone, treading water like mad, and you're standing on the bricks in an evening gown, sipping a glass of chardonnay.   Someone saying those things clearly has no idea what it's like to be in this situation, and I know people are just trying to help, but stop.    Just let me stress.  Let me talk about my frustrations and my fears.  Don't tell me "It will happen when it's the right time."  It was the right time in June 2012.  It was the right time all the way up to February 25, 2013, when it was no longer the right time...and it was just too late.   And please, under any circumstances, don't tell me "Three months isn't that long."  Three months is an eternity when you are trying after loss.  For three months, I have been trying to do something I shouldn't have to even be doing at all.   I should be watching my six month old bounce around on the floor, not trying to have another baby.  Each attempt and each failure is yet one more reminder of what I've lost - and what I still don't have.  I shouldn't be here.

But I am.  I am because I owe it to my daughter to carry on with the life I want and the life I deserve.  More than anything in the world, I want to be the mother of Kenley's little brother or sister.  I want to have a live, healthy baby in my arms whom I can love here on Earth.   A baby I can watch grow.  A baby who will have all the firsts their big sister never would.   A baby who would learn all about the life that came before them.   Kenley made me a mother - and she is also making me into the mother I will be for her siblings.  As much as it pains me to admit it, I will be a better mother because of her. 

A month ago, I stopped the blog because I felt I was caught in a spiral of grief - and I was.  I needed to take time away from repeatedly breaking and re-enter my life as best as I could.   School started, and I got back on that horse as best as I could.  This entry is not necessarily a restart of the blog because I can't guarantee I will continue with the regularity I once did.  But, I need to sort some things out, and that's why this blog exists.  This is a part of my journey.   Grief does not end, but it does change.   It shifts and molds itself into your life, and you carry it with you.   

One of my friends told me this saying in Italian, "Vivere Nella Speranza", which translates to "Live in Hope."   This is what I try to do each and every day.  Hope that life will turn around.   Hope that my broken heart will continue to heal.  Hope that I will get through the day without crying in front of too many people.  Hope that my finances will improve, and that my days may begin to get a little easier.  Hope that my body will remember how to carry a child.  Hope that the universe will see fit to deliver her soundly.  Hope.   And, as I shift my focus from full time grief to hope in trying again, not one second goes by where I do not think of my little girl.  Not one moment passes where I function without her influence.  She will always have her tiny, chubby fingers wrapped around my heart, and she will always steer me through this fragmented life.  

That's all for now, friends.   See you around, until then...

Friday, August 2, 2013

Only for Now

I'm taking a break. Yesterday's post pretty much explained it all. I'll be back. But, for now, I need to focus my efforts on other things. Thank you for always supporting me. See you soon.



Thursday, August 1, 2013

Enough Now

This post has been a long time coming, but I haven't really realized it until now.  My days have been really tough for me lately, and I have been trying to figure out why.  Some people would tell me it's because school is starting up and that is making me nervous.   Others would say it's the additional stress of Mike trying to find a job, or of wanting to get pregnant again.  I wanted to push it on the Royal Baby or North West.  I wanted to say it was because reality makes grief so heavy.  I wanted to say so many things.  And while all of these things surely haven't helped, it is not the real reason life has been so hard.  

It's because I have been clinging so tightly to something that doesn't belong to me.  I have been running around trying to hold on to a memory - hoping that by clutching it so close to my chest, I might be able to find the joy every other mother has.   But, I'm not every other mother.   I am the mother of a daughter who is dead.   I will never be like every other mother.   I will always be different.  My relationship with my daughter will always be momentary.

I have been shoving her in people's faces.  Every conversation is about her. Almost every facebook post.  Clearly, every blog post.  I am offended when people don't bring her up in conversation.  I have put her at the absolute center of my life and I have been spinning around her like a tornado. Maybe that's what mothers are supposed to do - put their child first - but, again, I am not a run of the mill mother.  I am a mother of loss.  You can't put death on a pedestal.   You can't redirect your life so it revolves around a ghost.  That's why everything is so heavy.   Why I feel like I am being crushed beneath a hundred elephants sitting on a wall of bricks.   It's because I am trying to hold onto something that doesn't belong on this earth.   I need to let her go. 

I need it to be okay to have an afternoon with friends where I don't talk about her.  I need it to be okay to go a few days without writing - without pulling her back to me again and again and again.   I'm not talking about forgetting about her.  I'm not talking about moving on or "getting over it".   I've already made peace with the fact that I will always miss her, always love her with more heart than I have.   What I am saying is that it is no longer healthy for me to continually and consciously focus on her death.  At the beginning, it was necessary in order for me to process what had happened and to learn to deal with my emotions.   Now, it has just become a morbid dance, where I am simply twirling madly in an empty ballroom.  I am like Miss Havisham in Great Expectations who can't take off her wedding dress.   

To illustrate my point, I found a clip from the movie Love, Actually.  Before Keira Knightly swashbuckled with Johnny Depp and Andrew Lincoln became a zombie killer, they played lovers never meant to be in this adorable independent film.  Andrew's character has loved Keira for a long time, but she has just married his best friend.   Watch the clip all the way to the end and then come back.

"Enough, now.  Enough."  he says as he walks away.  He's said what he needs to say.  He has spent enough of his time wishing and hoping for something he can't have - and now it is time for him to focus his efforts elsewhere.  He won't stop loving her, but he will stop pining for her.  He will stop clutching at a dream that isn't his.

Kenley is dead.  I love her with all of my heart.  I will love her until the day I die.  That will never change.   What will change - what has to change - is how I go about loving her.  I can't keep holding her memory so tightly to me.  I can't keep swirling every thought I have around her name.   It's killing me. I can still honor her.  I will honor her by living my life with vigor.  I will honor her by making decisions for my future and not because of my past. 

Long story short, the blog is not going to be my focus.  Not anymore.   I can't do it.  I can't keep dwelling on death.   I love Kenley too much to turn her into a martyr.  She's not a cause.  She's not a blog.  She's not a facebook post.   She is my daughter.    

I have said what I needed to say.  I have written thousands of bloody words with my broken heart and I have come to the end of the page - at least in this book.   As time goes on, as life goes on, there may be more I need to say.  I'll still post if I feel a major change in myself I need to document.  When I get pregnant again, I am sure I'll need to revisit my old stomping grounds to keep myself sane.  I'll probably update every now and then when I finish a fun project or work on a charity event.  The blog will continue, just not in the same manner is has been.  I will no longer center my life around these words, around my grief, and around her death.

I have to open up my palm and let that pink balloon float away into the bright and beautiful sky.  Fly High, Little Ninja.  Fly High.  

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Healing Words

Today, I'm pretty excited to share something with you.  I have been working on adding a page to the blog for the past few weeks.  Mostly, it's been just a jumbled mess in my head, but I finally got around to organizing it onto the computer.

Check out the "How to Journal through Grief" tab at the top of the page.  Let me know what you think.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Saturday Mornings

I remember Saturday mornings.  So used to getting up for school at 6, I'd wake up at 8 feeling like I'd slept in.  Mike would still be unconscious next to me - often times also snoring.   The cat and the dog would have put aside their mutual distain for each other to curl up together on the floor.   And it would just be the two of us.  Mother - daughter time in the soft light of the morning.  

I'd prop myself up onto the seven million pillows I had acquired during my pregnancy and look down at the blossoming roundness of my belly.  My little ninja moved all the time.  All.  The.  Time.  But, Saturday mornings were the times I could really stop and appreciate it.  The times I could push pause on the rest of my life and focus on just one thing.  How wonderful it was to have her there, twisting and swirling in her own private jacuzzi.  

I'd push my hands around on my belly, searching for my little girl.  Pop!  She'd push back.  "Hey, Mom!  Good morning!".  She'd flutter around, wiggling, stretching, kicking.  At the beginning, it felt like popcorn popping.  Like my belly was a hot pot on the stove and tiny kernels shot around inside, exploding into softness.   As time went on, her movements developed into different kinds.  I could feel her somersault from one side to the other as she tried to get comfortable.  It was a strange shifting of heaviness.  The solidness on one side of my belly suddenly became soft as she moved over to the other.  Sometimes, as she got bigger, she'd slide a knee or an elbow alongside me - and my stomach would ripple on the outside - like a whale surfacing with its fin in the air and then sliding back into the ocean.  Other times, she'd punch or kick in a quick, sharp motion.  One spot on my stomach would jut out for just a second and then snap right back.  

She moved like this often, but these mornings were my time to pay attention to them.  I loved these mornings.  I remember looking forward to them all week.  Just one more day of work and then it's just you and me, kid!  For an hour or two until Mike woke up, I would just lay there and smile as she danced around for her Mama.  I was so in love with her, it's not even funny.  I would imagine what she looked like - how beautiful she would be.   I imagined how her chubby legs and outstretched arms would look in a few months when I changed her diapers.   I imagined her laugh, her cry, her babbling.  I dreamed of the future as my future bounced around inside of me.  Those were great mornings.  

I could lament right now about how I want those mornings back.  I could tell you, truthfully, how there are tears streaming down my cheeks as I write this.  But, I do not want to taint those golden days with sadness.  Those days are mine and Kenley's.  Those days were the days I spent with my baby, and they were the best days.  They always will be.  

Monday, July 29, 2013


My grief is changing.  I can feel it.  It's shifting and transforming.  It's settling in.

At the beginning, everything is so raw and open.  Sorrow and rage and shock join forces in the dark and rush at you full force.  Grief stabs you repeatedly in the heart with the sharpest knives imaginable.  Blood pours, thick and metallic, from your wounds.  It bubbles up and out, choking your screams back into your throat.  The beginning is flashes of pain, thunderous screams, and gnashing teeth.   You lay on the floor, weak and beaten, helpless to do anything about the fact that all the light and goodness that once filled your soul is seeping out onto the cold tile.   You wait to die.  You are pretty sure that you will.  After all, what else could you really expect?  You have just been torn open like a gutted fish.   But, you don't.

As you lay there, bloody and broken, expecting the darkness to just take you away, you realize it's not going to.  You don't get to escape.   This is the first shift of grief.   The shift from painful chaos to sorrowed silence.  In this stage, you don't really do much of anything.  You've been ravaged by wolves and you're really too weak to even move.  So, you lie there.  Drained.  Empty.  Full of nothing but an echo of what once was but is no longer.   You wonder how you will ever get the strength to move, let alone stand.   Eventually, you do.  You wiggle your fingers and your toes.  You bend your knees and your elbows.  Slowly, slowly, slowly, you manage to pull yourself upright.  You are still a bloody mess, bits of you still raw and hanging.

This is the third shift of grief.  This is the part where you attempt to put yourself back together.  All of the pieces ripped away and torn apart - you gather them up and you try to shove them back where they belong.  Only, they don't really fit.  Some been stretched out and ripped to shreds. Other parts of you are lost forever, and you will never have them back.   So, you do the best you can with what you have left to make yourself resemble a human again.  This stage is never really, truly done.  Throughout the rest of your life, you will always have to rearrange your pieces.  Tuck things in, pull things out, move things over.  Nothing fits right, but it's what you've got.

Then comes the settling in.  Once you've figured out the basic mechanics of keeping yourself in place, you have one more thing to do.  You have to make room for your grief.  You can't leave that behind.  It's a part of you now.  It's a hard, lumpy boulder that you must fit into yourself somewhere.  You nestle it in among your soft insides, the weight of it crushing the air from your lungs.  It's heavy and cumbersome.  It makes you hunch over with effort.  Maybe one day, your muscles will gain enough strength to straighten up, but not yet.  For now, you are Quasimodo (which in Latin means almost, merely), misshapen and malformed.  You limp through your life, weary and burdened.

This is where I am now.  Carrying my grief inside like a rock.  Hard and unyielding - and as much a part of me as Kenley ever was.  It's exhausting.  Day in.  Day out.  Heaving this load around inside me.  I can't set it down.  I can't let it go.  I don't know what else to do except live with it.  So, that's what I do.  What I will continue to do until it shifts again.  

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Saturday Spotlight #16

This week has been really rough for me.  The Royal Baby was born on Monday, I saw my grief counselor Tuesday, I visited my grandfather in the hospital on Wednesday, Kenley's 5 month anniversary was Thursday, and I went to school to start the overwhelming set up of my classroom yesterday.   I haven't had much time to do anything of consequence to write up for today.   I did, however, manage to watch the 6th season of 30 Rock on Netflix.  So...yay?

As I tried to think of what I could write for today's post, I kept coming up blank. I didn't do anything but survive.   When I think about it, that's really all I've been doing all this time anyway.  Surviving.  Waking up every morning, getting through my day one moment at a time, going to bed, and then doing it all over again. 

So, today, I am going to focus this post on two things I am going to do in the coming weeks.

1.  I am going to go back to work.   August 7th is the first day teachers report.  Kids start the following Wednesday.   As uncomfortable as I am right now to start working again, I know most of that is just my anxiety.   Once I get through the stress of setting up the room and have my plans organized for the first few weeks, I'll be fine.  I know I am a good teacher.  I know I can do my job well - and I know that I enjoy it.   I just have to take a few deep breaths and relax.  It will be like riding a bike.  A little wobbly at first, but once I get my footing, I'll start to glide and I'll realize I really missed the wind in my face.

2. I am going to try for another baby.  August 25th will be 6 months since Kenley died.   6 months is the acceptable go-ahead for trying again after a C-section, and we are ready.   It will not be easy to be pregnant again.  I will be an insane bundle of nerves.  I will be completely terrified until I am holding a crying baby in my arms.  But, I can't let that stop me from trying again.  We did not have any difficulty whatsoever conceiving Kenley, so I am not feeling too much stress about that aspect.  However, that might change depending on how quickly we are successful this time.   It's so easy to think the worst once the worst has actually happened to you, but I will try to as hard as I possibly can to stay positive and rational.

Both of these things will affect the blog.  

Going back to work will mean I will have less time to write.  Most likely, I will not be able to post as regularly as I have been.  Six days a week will probably dwindle to about three.  Maybe four.  Although, some weeks, I might write more.  Who knows, really?  Posting will be irregular and unpredictable.  So, if you want to stay connected without forgetting about me, now is a good time to become a "follower".   You just need a google (gmail) account.    

Trying for a baby will affect the emotions and actions I write about in the blog.  My posts might begin to shift to the added stress of trying to conceive again.  When I become pregnant, that pregnancy will definitely be a subject of my writing.   I want to make it very clear now - beyond a shadow of a doubt - that this shift will in no way reflect any sort of dwindling memories or love of Kenley.  I will not love her less.  I will not think about her less.   I will not suddenly be "over" her death.   In the same way a second baby in a house with a living child does not diminish the importance of the first born, trying again does not mean I am forgetting about my little ninja.   When you are in a fancy restaurant and you order a delicious and decadent dessert, do you eat one bite and then put down the fork?  No way, Jose.   You savor every bit of that richness.   Kenley was just the first bite of motherhood.  I'm ready for more.  Kenley WILL be a big sister one day.   And Mike and I will be parents to a baby we can hold in our arms.   This story is far from finished.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Back to School

Today, I am going to my classroom to start getting things organized for the start of the school year.  It is not going to be easy.  The beginning of the year is always stressful anyway.  You have to sort through all of the randomness you shoved into cabinets a few months ago.  You have to figure out what you want to do the same and what you might want to change.  You have to decide what you might need from Target or the teacher's store to get the room re-organized and to set up a new group of students.  Every year, I spend anywhere from $300 to $500 in set up costs.   New folders.  New pencils.  New desk labels and cubby organizers.  But, before I get the joy of shopping, I have to go through the tediousness of sorting.

Normally, the first few days setting up a classroom result in a bigger and bigger mess before it starts to resemble anything of any sort of order.  It's always a little harried and hectic.   This year, it will be ten fold.  Because this year, I have to do it while carrying my grief on my back.   This year, I will hang pocket charts and cover bulletin boards with a piece of my heart missing.  
I am fully aware of how much of myself is available to the world.  Some of me is missing and the rest of me is wrapped up in holding myself together.  Can I do this?  Can I organize a classroom?  Can I still teach effectively?  Can I give the amount of focus necessary to do my job?  I hope so.   I know I will try my very best.  

I am nervous about what today will bring.  I am worried I will start pulling out posters and books and just fall apart.   I am worried I won't be able to focus on the decisions I have to make.   I suppose I just have to get in there, roll up my sleeves, and tackle it the way I have tackled everything else lately.  Head on and with a positive attitude.  So, here I go.  Diving back into the life I had before loss.   I just hope the water is still warm, and I don't drown.  

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Five Months

Today, it has been five months since Kenley left this world.   150 days.   150 times I have woken up to a world without her.  150 mornings that have greeted me with a harsh and bitter reality I would give anything to change.

According to a study I found, it takes people on average 66 days of doing something repetitively before it becomes a habit.  66 times for a behavior to become automatic.  I can feel the truth in that.  66 days is just over two months.   For the first two months, waking up in the morning was excruciating because I had to relive her death as soon as my eyes opened.  I had to pull myself from the foggy haze of sleep and into the sharp and piercing reality of the day.  My daughter was gone and was not coming back.   Every day, the shock of it was a little bit less.  The disbelief drifted further and further away from me.  After the first few months, I no longer woke up in a state of denial. My habit had formed.   I woke up knowing.  I woke up accepting.   She is gone.   I am no longer stabbed in the heart anew.  I wake up with the knife permanently embedded into my chest. 

I have been told that when you are getting a tattoo, at first, it hurts a great deal, but after a while, you become numb to the needle jabbing into your flesh.  Aware of the pain, but recoiling less from it.   I feel that is an accurate comparison to what I have become.  After 150 times of waking up as a mother without her child, my pain is no longer foreign to me.   It is not surprising or shocking.   It is familiar.   After 150 mornings, I know exactly what I am opening my eyes to.   An ache that my body and soul automatically shift themselves around.   An emptiness that is just as much a part of me now as she used to be.  

Every morning, I open my eyes and, by habit, I brace myself for the pain.  I am prepared for the catch in my chest, the deep breath of sadness that shudders through me, the heaviness that wraps itself around me like a wet blanket.   Every morning, I settle myself around the jagged pieces of my shattered heart like someone with too many packages may arrange themselves into a too-small subway seat.   I wiggle myself into place, pushing the broken pieces automatically into a manageable location, and I get up and face my day.  150 times I have done this, some days more successfully than others.   I will do it an estimated 21,900 more times if I live to be 95.   21,900 times (give or take) of waking up every morning without her.   

And I will always have to do this.  I will never again wake up and just face the world.  I will always have to play this game of Tetris - arranging myself into someone that most closely resembles a whole person.   The more I do it, the more efficient I will be.   As time goes on, it will take me less time and effort to do it, but I will still have to do it.  I am slowly coming to terms with this fact.   

I miss her.  Five months...150 days...3,600 hours....216,000 minutes....time does not change that.  It never will.