I’ve learned to watch the calendar closely through scrunched eyes. It’s a slow march up to the date but with all other aspects of time whipping by me. I don’t want it to sneak up on me, catch me unguarded against the tidal wave. I’ve watched it creep up, marking three years since Piper died. Giving me a shocking reminder of times passage.
How has it been that long? I ask Beau. In one instance I can blink my eyes and feel her kick, recall the joy of her and the horror of her quick death. Then upon opening them I’m thrust in to the now and am acutely aware of how much time separates me from her.
Only when I see it coming do I unlock the scary, painful memories. I reach for them, touching each one gently, trying them on before moving to the next. You see I need to look, to remember how we survived. I play them back in my head ending with her, her in my arms. Our first baby girl.
i rarely touch her things now. It used to be a ritual of mine to sit amongst her belongings. To fold all of her clothes. To imagine the events that would no longer happen. It lessened after time taught me how to integrate my grief in with my happy. But today I opened the box, looking at the lock of hair and that tiny, pink hat. I spent some time with the single photo I have of her, hating to admit how hard I look for similarities between her and her baby sister. Slender feet and fingers. Blonde. Wrinkled and perfect.
This anniversary of Pipe’s death coming just a month after my brother, Taylor’s, tragic death has left my tribe reeling and is forcing me to question all sorts of big life things. My family is currently learning to live without our T and it ain’t smooth sailing although my mother and father’s grace is inspiring.
It’s not easy being positive or trusting of my own happy. I’m a little leery going forward. My path more than shaky. Perhaps if I say it aloud it will help hold me accountable.
My mission this year, Piper, is to slow down. To breathe in these fleeting moments and learn to meditate on the positive. To pay attention and make time my accomplice. Pipes never took a breath and T walked this earth for 28 years but it will never be enough. All I have are those memories I haphazardly collected. A feeling, a flash, a look. I hope to be intentional as I create memories with those I love. To be purposeful in selecting my joy.
We miss you and all that was to follow. You were so very loved and are so very appreciated. It always makes me happy to say your sis has your nose. Even Lolly thinks so.
Our Piper Kai passed away early July 11, 2016 and was born still July 13, 2016 secondary to a rare, non-genetic umbilical cord complication, following a healthy pregnancy, nearly full term. 6 lbs, 4 ounces. Her rainbow baby sis was born just 13 months later, 5 weeks premature, and surviving the same complication her sister suffered shocking everyone including our medical team. She and I are 1 in 10,000. We may be a statistic but I count it as a miracle, dictated by our first girl.
Rest easy, Piper Kai Bennett. Until we meet again.
Hi I never in my darkest days would have fathomed being here to write goodbye to anyone else from my tight knit tribe. Taylor Christian Bowen was young, witty and so full of life he hummed. His life force would punch you in the gut and make your cheeks hurt from smiling. He was a beloved son, grandson, little brother, uncle and friend. A student and an extremely hard worker. A friend wrote that T was always the first to come to work and the last to leave, eager to learn and please. Really, everyone loved him. Even Beau says he married me to be near Taylor’s energy. He loved a good pair of vans and spicy foods. He had very bad taste in movies and was a terrible driver. Probably the only person with a dirtier car than mine. When T left a room it was always with a hug and an “I love you.” He was sensitive, sweet and laughed easy. Taylor has this amazing uniqueness that allowed him to talk to anyone, anywhere collecting friends as he went along. He loved his family and the Washington Capitals.
And he died.
Or rather lost a very, very long and difficult battle with addiction. One of the last things he said to me besides “I’m so sorry” was that he hated living in this constant state of turmoil.
How? How does a handsome, well-loved and privileged man lose such a battle. He had the same comfortable and loving upbringing that me and his brother did. A mother and father who exhausted all resources seeking treatment and offering support. I can see how far and wide his tribe touches by the sheer outpouring of love coupled with the devastation and shock of his too soon death.
He had so much love and it didn’t work because his disease was too powerful. It ravaged all of his logic and wrang his wit and life from his body. What is important for me to say was that he was not weak. He did not go quietly though and fought with all he had but his opponent was unfair. He was unmatched. We were unmatched.
We all knew he was in a life or death battle so when we received the phone call late that evening I thought I’d feel the numb sort of sad that had slowly built its way in to our relationship but all I feel a soul crushing anguish that my baby brother was ripped from this world before he was finished leaving his mark.
The only comfort I have, now that he rests, is that the demons have let his soul free. That his pain is no more.
Let his precious and important life not be in vain. The opiod epidemic is burning us down, please let’s not give it oxygen. I plead that we ban together and take action against this force that steals our loved ones.
If you pray, pray for his peace and ours. Pray that we are given the guidance and have strength to continue to live our lives in a way that is joyful and that can honor Taylor’s light. Pray for my Mom and Dad. As we know it is not intended for us to out live our babies. They are on a journey I wish for no one. Join me in celebrating Taylor’s life and remembering the silly, happy and fun-loving man that was my baby brother.
I feel incredibly lucky to have been his big sister for 28 years.
You may now rest easy.
I love you, T.
Hi, it’s me.
I have several valid excuses I prepared to head this blog post but ive mommed too hard today to be less than blunt. It hurts and scares me sometimes to be here, with my own grief.When I skim back through my words, even from six months ago, my voice sounds funny. Like when you listen to yourself on an answering machine, you know it’s you because well you recorded it but it makes you scrunch your nose.
Now try reading how when your baby died you thought you would too. So.
Ive been avoiding it, here.
It took a crazy amount of energy, therapy, prayer, love, patience and swearing to learn how to compartmentalize my grief. We now co-exist. I’ve put it in a cardboard box, with bold sharpie outlining the letters, and it lives in the corner of my mind. Not Piper but the pain, anguish, horror, trauma stay in the box with mear packaging tape. If I clean, blow the dust, read an old blog post ahem, open a Mother’s Day card the box could tip over and you might as well rename it Pandora. So sometimes I tip-toe around it.
I shook and cried as I opened my notewriter this evening. I wanted desperately to end my day with quiet and the latest episode of real housewives but I read a hard, raw article yesterday about child loss and all kept thinking about was I need to tell them.
You will survive.
I think my my therapist used the word “catatonic” to describe me after my baby died. I had to google it because while I know the Hollywood protrayal I was fuzzy on the medical terminology.
“An immobile or unresponsive stupor” says Mr. Webster.
Yup. That was me. With a side of anxiety and a sprinkle of hysteria.
I can’t tell you how but you will, survive. Your child doesn’t need to be survived, you’ll celebrate them. I’m incredibly proud to be both Piper and Birdie’s Mom but the pain will need to be fought. And it will be one hell of a fight but when you are standing there with your sharpie you will fell this, this peace, this joy and love. I really don’t know who needs to hear this. I know I did and someone told me. I’m ending my third Mother’s Day without Piper saying this:
You will stand on the other side with a sharpie in hand and your baby in your heart. You will survive.
I wanted to take today, Mother,s Day, to honor my girls by spreading hope. Because sometimes that’s all there is, hope.
rest easy Piper Kai.
I had different intentions for this post. I always do then something is laid on my heart and I find myself blubbering over my writing. I ended up here because I feel guilty. I yelled, a little, at my toddler today.
You see she is every, single thing I prayed for and have since encouraged. She is feisty, smart, chatty and oh so very mobile. Running from us like a water lizard.
When she demanded “more, more, more cheeerrriooos” whilst I tried to drink my coffee AND fold 5,68637 loads of laundry AND unload the dishwasher. When she cried for the two hour allergy appointment, because she has now a very healthy doctor fear (since her 15 month immunizations) then the next 30 minutes in the car because she was pissed at said doctor (and me). And when she screamed “no, no” and knocked over a fragile display in a store when I returned something and the teenager behind the counter rolled her eyes at me. Yeah I saw you girl, I’m not mad, I feel ya.
I yelled or more slightly raised my voice, in exasperation. I lost my shit, a little. Not to mention I was sweating.
Now please don’t think this is the first time my toddler has hit a nerve and I’m certain it won’t be the last but I was slapped with some major mom guilt. My face is still stinging. I’m not saying its different from other mom’s guilt. I’ve had plenty of chats with mom friends like “yeah today just wasn’t my day”, solidarity sister. I’m sure we all yell too much, sometimes, but I always feel especially bad because well I wanted her, extra.
It’s like when Piper died I solemnly swore to be THE BEST MOM ever. Bringing my A game to the rainbow baby arena. There’s another post way back citing how rainbow babies cry. For those of you new here, a rainbow baby, is a baby following the loss of another child. Reminding us that even though we’ve weathered the storm, something beautiful can follow.
It makes me chuckle how I was focused on bringing home a baby, that I conveniently forgot how exhausting a baby is or maybe I didn’t know. I certainly had misguidided notions that mothering a miracle would be light and airy.
Let me tell y’all about toddlerhood. Or better yet raising my rainbow. Sometimes it’s hard. And it’s 2 vs. 1. Lord help us if we add to our tribe.
She is is her mother’s child with her Daddy’s boundless energy and she is a force to be reckoned with. She is the boss. Nobody’s perfect, no matter how hard we social media. I’m over here, trying to shed some light on parenting after loss, eating stale cheeerioooos while Baby Bird naps on my chest.
I hope my my lesson learned today was yelling doesn’t mean I love her any less. I’m not less appreciative of being a mostly stay at home mommy but I’m getting exactly what I always wanted, normalcy.
What time does Daddy get home again?
Rest easy, Piper.
I find myself writing less and if I’m going to be brutally honest it’s because the writing has changed. It now sometimes forces me to feel it, really feel it rather than offer the reprieve that it once was. It’s nice to feel her though. I can easily pull her face and weight against me to the forefront. I sit here in the silence with my sleeping Bird upon my chest, next to Beau who I hope is dreaming peacefully and the hot, fat tears fall.
Shes missing. I knew her so intimately and maybe that’s why quiet moments like these can feel too loud. I’m missing a piece of me.
I know now the holidays are hard for a lot of people for a host of reasons. It’s hard for me because those moments become more touchable, real. The holes become bigger, more menacing. Their quietness screams at me in the one less present, one less stocking sort of way.
I am positively giddy about the little, red push car we purchased Birdie. I clapped my hands just the other day telling Beau how we are going to wear matching PJs, put Bird to bed and probably argue on how to construct it.
There’s the tangible. I have one little red car when there should be two.
I’m hopeful that our grief journey, following Piper’s death teaches you this, it’s OK to not be OK. I’m sure I read that somewhere on Instagram buut even in it’s cliche nature it’s the truth. Early on, my dear counselor said lean in, hard and feel it. Give attention to the pain. If you can’t acknowledge the broad spectrum of feelings you have surrounding tour tragedy or even regular life, it WILL swallow you whole, creating a blackness that is difficult to surmount. I’ve been there it was hard. But Oooh this light. I bask in it.
It’s important to create your own. My light is cherished as it was hard fought and I invite others join adding their brightness to mine so I can shine even brighter.
Similar to my obnoxious colored lights. Sorry Beau.
In very recent months I’ve felt my light burn so damn bright that I can feel it finally touching people I love. The me that I feared would never return is here, wounded but not damaged. Stronger, happier and better because my daughter left me with her light to carry.
This is is our third Christmas with out Pipes and we miss her all the same. My heart feels so much less grinchy as I delight in my family and the miracle of the season. Take care you beautiful tribe and as always rest easy, Piper Kai.
Merry, merry Christmas.
Pipers stocking, thanks to Mama Bowen.
Its alright to still hurt.
to miss her and dream of her possibilities,
I have pages and pages of things to share. A million thoughts. October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness month. One in FOUR women experience pregnancy loss and infertility. That’s a staggering number of our population yet I felt alone after Piper died. My purpose of all these run on sentences is to let women know you are in fact not alone. I’m here and I hear you.
I’ve been balancing a big old tray of life and it always catches up to me. I felt like a little update on my grief journey may be warranted after radio silence. I keep wanting to sing the Adele song “Hello from the other siiiiide” but really there is no other side. It’s all crappy. Maybe “Hello from just right over here”.
I don’t carry that all the time sad, depressed feeling anymore. This is monumental. I feel mostly joy and am deliriously in love with B. Although a photo of my daughter and niece playing dress up knocked me off my feet for a full three days. I couldn’t get over the fact, the fact, that my Piper girl was missing. Then Beau will whisper those words that make me shudder but occasionally sneak into my own thoughts “but then would Birdie be here”. I can’t get all philosophical or I’ll vomit. I believe Piper sent her to us and that’s good enough for me.
What remains my major struggle is anxiety which I’m discovering is mainly misplaced grief or symptomatic of surviving a trauma. I feel that if I’m not hyper vigilant about alllll things Birdie I may “miss” something. I knew something was amiss with B which prompted me to show up and L&D and have a baby out the sun roof in a very emergent fashion. What if I hadn’t gone in? What if I somehow missed signs with Pipes. What if I drop the ball and miss something again? I swear if I think about it too hard it makes my hair fall out (faster, coz post pumping hair breakage....)
Im diligently working at quieting this noise, this horrible beast and being present and enjoying my sassy 13 month old. It’s not always easy.
I to shy away from talking about anxiety because somewhere my mind thinks it’s weak. Get it together Bennett. Suck it up. Everyone look at me being a competent wife, mom, employee. It’s not weak, it’s a very present and real struggle. A battle. A chemical imbalance. Anxiety is more than a feeling of general unease, it can beat you down.
If you know me or well pretty much anyone whose anxious it’s hard to tell. It’s not like I’m walking around with an A embroidered on my shirt although I wish I could. Then you’d know when I’m humming with anxiety, and it would be best to offer me a cookie and a listening ear.
I am attempting to make more time to grieve purposefully and engage in self care. You giggling about that buzz phrase self care. It neeeedds to happen more so that I am not obsessing about my child. I mean I am still obsessing but not googling myself ill. Talk therapy and a supportive tribe is always a help. I will sometimes literally and figuratively run from it in the form of exercise.
Its that time again where I need to hate eat a salad, say a prayer and fight like hell because I will not survive Pipers death I will be the best me I can. You only get one trip around the sun folks.
Rest easy Piper Kai.
Another year has passed, my love, and I miss you all the same. I don't have to close my eyes to envision you because I see you everywhere. I see you in the way I love your Daddy. I see you in your baby sister. I see you in the way the waves kiss our toes. You must know, you live in my heart.
Your life shapes the way my heart interprets the world, my perspective and purpose while I remain here earth side.
I understand now that there is no reason for you have gone so soon. Your pain free life and sunny picnics must be beautiful. It took me a long time to feel the sunshine and the peace. Your brief yet important life gifts us all the big picture, the grand adventure and our mortality. We are meant to appreciate our circumstances and use what time we have wisely. We are to love hard, live hard, give unselfishly and eat all the donuts.
How I wish I could have held you forever in my arms. Let me tell you sweet, Piper Kai, that it is a privilege to be your mother. An absolute honor to be the one who grew and felt you live. Time inches forward but we haven't left you behind. We carry you, you see, you live in our hearts.
Rest easy darling. Until we meet again.
All my love,
I like to organize my posts. Link up all my little thoughts from week to week, here in my private, public corner of the internet but I've felt somewhat lost. I haven't written much lately. I frequently want to blame it on my busy life but in true transparency, I didn't want to face it. I didn't want to name the pain and we all know how super helpful it is to bottle up your grief. Stupid old Andy.
Mother's Day came and went and stung. Like all the holidays and anniversaries before it. I'm here still, without her. You think there's this predetermined amount of time that's going to help, like somewhere along the way it should soften up a bit, lose some of its bite, and it doesn't. You learn to cope better. You start to let it become a part of you, cry in your car (or shower) to internalize it a bit. I think it's what happens after you've experienced a trauma. You can turn down the volume but mute isn't an option. Maybe it's society, maybe it's me not wanting to hurt so bad, maybe it's healing. Time or a healthy mix of it all. But it's not the holidays that hurt so much anyways, it's the everyday things.
I cried over a pile of t-shirts. The charity race that I co-chair took place recently and it's one of the races I ran with Piper in my belly. I planned (and did) run it with Birdie in her stroller. Both my girls ran a race. I don't get to have that thought or experience often enough and it hurt, bad.
Its those moments. All those little moments that I should have. I should have holidays, birthdays and trips to the grocery store. I should have matching hair bows, I should have two children.
I should. I should. I should have Piper.
But I don't.
I do have Beau, and Birdie, and Karma. I do have my family, my health, my tribe. While I don't have her, I do have lots. She gifted me motherhood and a capability to really love. To appreciate Biride's eyelashes and knuckle dimples. It's not always easy and I mess up all the time. Times I complain and worry too much and drive Beau within an inch of his sanity. I could use a reminder, a good old dose of reality of what is and isn't important.
The shoulds will always outweigh the dids, but man do they matter.
Rest easy Piper.
I hold Birdie while she sleeps. She falls asleep around the same time each night, in my arms, after a bottle, and I hold her for far longer than I should. She's a noisy breather, often with her little heart shaped mouth partially open. I memorize her and enjoy the weight of her on my chest. I hold her for most of her naps too, morning and afternoon. Sometimes for hours. One day she'll be big and not want to be held, is what I tell Beau. Now I would have probably done it no matter what but I think how I only had a few moments to hold our Piper girl. How I wish I had held her longer. It's among the many regrets I have.
I can't tell you how long I held her there in that hospital room, maybe an hour, but it wasn't enough. Then I think would it ever have been long enough? It's all a painful haze with love as a strong under tone and while I don't really think our girls favor each other too much, aside from their noses, there have been moments when I find myself searching for a hint of Piper in Birdie's sleeping little face. And it's there. My sweet baby birds.
While grief does it's ugly little dance, I cry silent sobs on her peach fuzz head and listen to my miracle snore. I read lots of things about grief and the authors efforts to describe how consuming it can be, how it shifts and threatens to ruin you then become a dull roar. All these people attempting to describe the worst sadness but you simply can't. It's different for each person and it can't be adequately expressed but the one common theme is that it doesn't ever go away.
As my grief holding hands with Andy changes I find myself putting it in a box. In my mind it's a regular, medium-sized, brown box. Really, a boring, packing box with tape and all. This box sits in the corner and I sometimes look at it or touch it but last night I climbed inside it as I watched my sleeping daughter. I let myself relive those precious moments that I held out first girl. My soul hurts knowing I only met Piper sleeping. That she never opened her eyes on earth. That I have a whole life before I meet her again.
People say things like enjoy them because time goes so fast. I'm listening. I'll hold her here and her sister in my heart. And one day a long time from now Birdie will read these words. I hope she learns how much she is loved and cherished for just being herself but how she saved us and gave us new purpose.
I do not really feel all too positive right now but I'm thankful that brown box exists because before I didn't realize there was an option to climb out of it. My counselor said that I used to live in that box and she's not wrong.
Goodnight Piper, Goodnight Birdie.
Rest easy Piper girl, until we meet again.
The shift happened slowly when I wasn't paying attention. First I stopped crying every day, the happy moments crept in then one day was OK, then more good then bad, then my new normal. A term I hated until it was my reality. My grief journey is constantly shifting and keeps evolving. It's slippery and sneaky and drags Andy along too.
Very recently I found myself hysterically crying in the shower, crumbled on the floor, hopeful the water would muffle my sobs. Privately, I let my tears and heartache circle the drain.
In the months following Piper's death I cried everyday, sometimes all day. There was no discrimination, where I was or who I was with I let it happen. It was one of the fears I had early on that I would never stop crying. That I was so very broken that I was actually broken.
I think crying is therapuetic and I thank all of those of you who cried in unison with me. It was an honor and a tribute to my first born. The other night as I sat on the shower floor crying until my face was red I thought about all those things that I feared.
"I have a daughter, she's 6 months" I beamed at a parent of a patients. There is an entire blog post on how I would never not mention Piper in our line up but as my grief matures I find that sometimes I can't rip off the delicate stiches and explain to strangers how my blonde baby died before she even got the chance to leave her mark on this world. I feel awkward or can't cry another tear at work.
But here is a deep seeded fear all of us child loss moms have, people will forget. Time goes on and there's a natural expectation that you'll be alright. Perhaps you have another baby or clean up really good. I finally put a cap on crying in the grocery store but not my car it's free game. And I get it, I've thought to myself shape up Bennett but really deep down I'm scared that people will forget her little life because her physical presence is not here. I like to picture her with sassy pig tails causing a raucous with our tribe. It's why I casually mention that I have had two children and chit-chat about how the first go around I was just as sick. Why I feel weird to take off my Piper necklace and why I let Birdie sleep on my chest and type this blog soaking her head with tears.
Time moves on but there is a big piece of our hearts missing. I'm glad I'm a more presentable and tolerable human. Also, so relieved that I don't cry all the time and I can feel joy. Not force it, really just feel it. Pumped when I go days without Andy.
Do me a favor, don't forget our first girl. Don't forget all those babies who just didn't get their chance. It's sad and horrible and a really hard thing to think about. Time goes on but I still need y'all to hold her in your heart. Time goes on but she is burned in my soul and a part of me can't go on.
Rest easy Piper Kai.
Piper Kai Bennett
I will scream, sing and share her story may it be short. Our only child was born still at 36 weeks secondary to an umbilical cord accident. This is our journey about choosing life rather than existence.