It’s important for mother’s who have outlived their children to say “I’m not OK”. What’s tricky is that we, I, look OK. If you peep my Instagram, see me at work or run in to me buying wine at Harris Teeter, I look OK. Unless it’s 9 pm and I’ve run in to our favorite spot for take out in my PJs and house shoes and always manage to see at minimum two families we know then maybe not so OK.
I suppose it’s the age old, don’t judge a book by its cover but kind of the opposite. Just because I’ve brushed my hair and am smiling with my toddler upon my hip does not mean I don’t cry when Bird asks for a sister or when I forget just for an instant when I go to text Taylor, that he’s died.
Like most mental illnesses, grief is often unseen unless that person feels safe enough to share it. It lurks beneath the surface and could have ruined my life. It feels like it will ruin your life. I am fascinated with and can better understand cultures that mourn for extended periods of time. Widowers wearing black the rest of their lives. Where the heck is my scarlet G.
I read something from another mom who lost her son, saying how there is something about the ‘togetherness’ of the holiday season that highlights those missing from our lives. It’s the festive air and twinkling lights that yell be merry and bright, but for most also whisper reminders of our grief.
This holiday season. Try to look past the polished holiday cards and remember someone is always missing someone. That it’s OK not to be OK. Let’s all take heed to be kind and gentle with all the people.
Rest easy, Pipes and T.
Oh hiiiii blog. It’s been roughly three months since I’ve sat down to write anything longer than one of my super, sappy Instagram posts and what brings me back to this small platform is a gigantic pull from grief.
October is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. Tragically 1 in 4 women experience a loss and even more tragically feel ashamed to talk about it.
I could write for hours and hours about the women who came forward to share their own stories of child loss with me over the past three years. Of the many hugs and hands held as we whispered our children’s names in one another’s ears. All of the connections I’ve made through social media with incredibly resilient women across our globe. When I met these women, I learned we’d somehow survive. That those of us left to navigate the world without those we love, must draw on the strength of others until we regain our own. I can remember searching “stillbirth” 4 days out of the hospital, seeking information, seeking hope. It’s only fair now to pass it along.
You will survive. It will not be easy. It is always worth it.
I hear you. That’s complete crap. I said crap instead of bullshit because my Mom doesn’t like when I swear. My tribe said it and I didn’t believe them but you know what they kept saying it until it was my mantra. You will survive. You won’t be the same but you will not be broken. And the one thing that you’ll need, and this is the hardest part, is time.
When I sat across from my counselor today, she reminded me of those first few months while I stumbled around in a painful fog. When the anguish of Piper’s death made it difficult to navigate the simplest of activities. I relish in these reminders. Nestle down in to them. They no longer scare me but serve a mighty purpose, to remind me that we can do hard things. WE are capable of not only surviving tragedy but leaning to use it to shape the rest of our lives.
When I want to view something as anxiety inducing or painful I have a true end of the spectrum to offer a comparison. That pain is freeing me to live a beautiful life, where I appreciate things in a very special way. This freedom does make the grass greener.
Taylors recent death was another shock to my world . My family now is coping with another one of our tribe gone too soon. I again refuse to let his life be in vain. I will not go into the hole again. I will use his example of love to well love even harder. T would be in there with me smoking a cig and telling me a horrible joke.
If someone you know is embarking on their grief journey, or hell has been on it for a century. I suggest you climb down in that hole with them. But bring a ladder and snacks. The name brand kind. It will be awhile. And they’ll need some help climbing out.
I am 1 in 4. Her name is Piper Kai. 6lbs, 4 ounces. Blonde, slender hands and feet with her cute nose and full lips. Perfect in every, single way. I wish for her with ever breath and I live my beautiful, happy life in honor of her.
Tomorrow, October 15th, is the wave of light. Where we light a candle to honor our babies. 7 pm, or close your eyes and whisper her name to the heavens.
Rest easy Piper Kai Bennett.
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.