Sunday, April 13, 2014

Walk away

There are a lot of things that people say when they "mean well" that used to make me crazy that don't really anymore. Things I have learned to ignore. I am so glad to have moved out of that really raw and vulnerable place - the one where well-meaning but unthinking people hurt my feelings ALL of the time.

That being said - I am not sure I will ever move past people intentionally minimizing my grief (and therefore Maxie's death). It is not a minimal loss - it is still devastating to Ted and I every minute of every day. There are constant reminders of his not being here, even things that may seem small to others. One of those things was "international siblings day" - a "holiday" that appeared on Facebook the other day, out of the clear blue sky, as if it had ever existed before.  I felt like a punching bag after seeing about the 20th photo of friends kids smiling with their arms around each other, with the "international siblings day" tag. Seeing siblings together just about tears my insides out. My Mo should have a living older brother! Maxie should be playing with Mo & teaching him new things! How is that not clear to anyone who knows us? 

Let me explain something - it's not cute, or "no big deal" or anything small! If I tell you I am having a hard time or suffering - believe me. I am.  It is a tragedy of epic proportions to us that our child died....that Mo doesn't have an older brother...that our hearts are broken and that our lives are such a struggle. Max's birth, life and death changed the very core of who we are forever.  Kissing him goodbye, while he lay in a hospital bed and then driving away from our baby to live a life in which we will never see him again has been a complete and total nightmare that I still cannot BELIEVE we are living through. You cannot imagine the gut wrenching pain of it.  I wouldn't wish this on my worst enemy. So do me a favor - don't try and be cute & don't dare make light of the situation... And if you can't help yourself from trying to minimize it, walk away and don't say anything at all.

Friday, April 11, 2014

T squared

Writer's Note: My friend Daphna tells me she is "addicted" to reading my blog and that I've gone too many days without giving her "news".  So, this one is for her.

Ted doesn't allow me to say "Terrible Twos" but I don't think that I am not allowed to write it (double negative?).  I AM allowed to write it - until Ted tells me I can't.  

Ted calls it T squared, which also conveniently works for Temper Tantrum.

He isn't being controlling.  He is just WAY superstitious and he believes that if I say it, it will come to pass.  Unfortunately, I think it might be a little late.  Not that I would EVER call anything my little angel does "terrible".  :) (Yes, I am still against them overall, but the emotee was necessary in this case). 

Mo has historically not been moody.  In fact, he is pretty much always in either a mellow or happy mood.  Max was the same way.  A mother's dream!  But, in the last week, there have been a few melt downs.  Little ones.  Nothing big - crying on a playdate when a friend hugged him, grumpily pushing away food he doesn't want....that kind of stuff.

But, yesterday - OH YESTERDAY!  It was ON!  T squared started mildly during a playdate, escalated during dinner, went to crazy town during a bath and then got taken home during bed time routine.  I actually found it to be kind of funny, which is a clear indicator that I've only had to deal with it a few times.  I am not sure it will be funny for long.  ESPECIALLY SINCE....

Tonight we get on an overnight flight to CT for Passover.  It is officially the last flight where we didn't buy him his own seat.  I am not as worried about the flight there, as it is a red eye - but the flight home comes in the late afternoon.  

I am loading up on snacks, small new toys (matchbox cars and chuggington trains), ipad apps and movies and hoping that will help some.  I am also hoping that the appearance of T squared yesterday was just a "one off" and that it will go away and not come back until we are back at home (if ever....).  Wishful thinking?   


Tuesday, April 8, 2014

20 months old

I thought it was about time to catalogue some of Mo's current interests, likes, and habits.  He is 20 months old and SUCH a cutie.  I've been having a hard week (what else is new?)  This little guy saves me every day.

He loves playing with cars - trains - buses.  He rolls them around on the floor and table tops, sticks little people in them, and rolls them on tracks.  He tries to carry as many of them as possible and even tucks them under his chin when his hands are full.


He loves wearing other people's shoes.  Whenever he sees shoes on the floor, he just cannot resist sticking them on his own feet.  This can sometimes be dangerous - I have to keep a close eye on him.

He loves slides.  He has no fear either.  He will climb to the top of the highest slide in the park and just take it down over and over and over.  I think he would never stop if I didn't eventually pull him away.

He loves ketchup!  We took him out to dinner a few weeks ago and Ted put some ketchup on whatever Mo was eating and he ate it right up!  I bought some organic ketchup with hidden vegetable purees in it and I squirt it on everything savory.  He already loved fruit so now all we have to work on is protein.  So far, he really only likes fishies (not "fish", but "fishies" - the organic fish nuggets from the market that we bake.

He loves big sticks.  I never need to worry about him having toys to play with because he will always find a big stick and that will keep him occupied for hours at a time.

He loves animals - he likes animal cartoons, stuffed animals, animal noises and of course, LIVE animals.  We takes walks around the block looking for neighborhood dogs, birds, horses, cats and squirrels.  This kid loves squirrels.

My favorite thing, selfishly, is that he loves cuddles and kisses.  I cannot get enough of them so I am glad he seems to like them as much as I do.  I am dreading the day he pushes me away so I am going to snuggle up now as much as I can.



Monday, April 7, 2014

Bump

I've got this bump.  I guess it's a little suspect.  I've been putting Vita Merfen on it since getting back from Israel.  Nothing has happened though.  I was using tea tree oil on it before that - also nothing.  I'm sure it is nothing - though I am actually really not sure of anything these days.  I should just go get it checked out - and I will.  It's just that the last time I was at the dermatologist was the day before Maxie stopped breathing.  The day before my life, as I knew it, ended.  The doctor had a three month old and left the office to go pump.  I had just stopped pumping a couple of weeks before.  We talked about babies, and breastfeeding and maternal love and adoration.  It's just too much for me.  I don't know why I make these associations but honestly, the idea of going back there makes me sick to my stomach.  I could easily find another dermatologist I suppose, but that sort of stresses me out too.  I don't even know why.  Maybe writing this post will be the push that I need to just go get this bump check, because once it's in my calendar, I'll just go.  My whole life feels like a series of befores and afters and I really can't face either.  Even this tiny little bump feels completely connected to that awful day. 

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Bragging


I reposted this on Facebook the other day.  I wondered if it seemed like I was bragging that I was the "strongest person in the world".  The truth is that I think I am pretty strong....especially when I start thinking about how I thought I was strong before losing Max.  That was nothing.  My strength was in its infancy.  It is shooting through the roof now.  But - when I read this quote, I wasn't actually thinking about my own strength, though I obviously only know about this kind of strength because of the experience that I've had.  I was thinking about all of the men and women that I know who've been through what I've been through.  They are the strongest people I've ever known.  Any one of them would take any kind of disease, torture, diagnosis and/or death onto themselves rather than know and live through their children's death.  Of course they would trade their own lives for those of their kids - what parent wouldn't?  Some of their stories feel more unbearable than others - if that is even possible.  Senseless, pointless, meaningless loss.  The guilt and anger and deep sorrow that they carry is overwhelming.  And still, they are some of the funniest, warmest, most self deprecating, intuitive and lovely people I have ever met in my life.  Without a doubt - they are the strongest people I've ever known.

I wasn't bragging about me - I was bragging about all of my new friends.

* By the way, it obviously should say "parent" and not just mother.  Grieving dads are strong AND overlooked.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Angels and Heaven and Butterflies (Oh My!)

A little conversation got started in one of my online bereaved parents groups.  The conversation is about the flowery language that people use around the death of a child - angels and butterflies and heaven and somehow it is all wistful and beautiful and fluffy. 

It does not comfort us. 

Because, here is the truth - I think all that stuff probably resonates with the people who know the family and are looking for comfort for themselves but it (generally speaking) does NOT resonate with those of us who have actually lost our child. 

My child died.  He died.  It is the darkest, thorniest, most awful, sickening thing I could have imagined happening ever in my entire life.  It has left a void in my heart that is bleeding all of the time.  It has turned my world upside down completely.  There is nothing fluffy about any of it at all.

Maxie's death feels the opposite of rainbows and angels and heaven.  It feels like blackness and hell and the devil. There is nothing sweet or lovely about it.  It is complete and absolute sh*t.

Just thought I'd put it out there. 

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Unconscious

On Saturday morning I had a plan - I was going to take Ted's car to the Burbank 24 Hour Fitness to take a Bodypump class and leave Ted with my car (that has the car seat) so he could take Mo and the dogs to the dog park.  As soon as I got on the freeway, I realized that I was in my own car and had left Ted and Mo stranded.  When I pulled up to the gym, I realized that I was at the North Hollywood location (not Burbank) where their Bodypump class was already half done.

On Monday, I set off for our synagogue Mommy and Me class.  I strapped Mo in and started driving and then realized, once I got on the 134 FWY that I was not going to the temple, which is off the 5.  I'm not sure where I was going actually but I had to get off the highway and wind my way through surface streets back towards the hills.

Yesterday, I had a physical therapy appointment at 12:15.  At around 12:10, I realized that I had driven past my exit and it took me 15 minutes to turn around and find my way back.

It happens nearly every day.  And, it would be easy for me to chalk it up to "Mommy brain" or just being a ditz (because Lord knows, I can be the ditziest) - but I think it is something else.  No, I KNOW it is.  I've got grief brain.  I am largely totally unaware of details (you know - like the details of where I am going) and am basically getting through each day with a numbed out brain.  My thoughts loop and loop and loop and though it all seems normal (if not a little air-heady) on the surface, it is messed up and jumbled on the inside.  You see, my every thought contains some bit of grief in it.  Sometimes it is completely consuming, other times it is just eating away at my consciousness little by little.

During a playdate with a friend Mo's age and his older brother yesterday, I found myself completely consumed with wondering if Mo and Max would play together like these two boys.  Would they wrestle and argue or hug and kiss?  During Mo's swim lesson on Sunday, I was thinking about whether I would be in the pool with Max and another teacher at the same time that Mo was in with his daddy and their teacher or would Max be doing something else by now (like Tae Kwon Do or My Gym or who knows?)  When Mo is being a picky eater, I am thinking about whether Max would still be a good eater or if age would have made him picky....and so on and so on and so on.

Every time I get in my car, I think about whether I am up to driving past Max's daycare and the thought of that preoccupies my brain for a long time after we've gone by.  I think about the kids who went there with Max.  I wonder if their parents ever thought about Max again (I wouldn't know - I never heard from any of them).  I wonder if the new families know that my son died there.  I think about how much he loved it there.  I just think about it.  I can't stop thinking about it.  When I finally snap out of it, I am nowhere near where I had planned to go.  I just drive and drive and drive.

When Mo is asleep and Ted and I have started our evening routine (which basically consists of watching as much television as possible in 3 hours), I am also messing around on my phone.  I don't even know what I am doing - reading people's blogs, checking out Facebook, answering work emails, reading articles about life after death and grief.  I am doing that while watching TV until my brain gets completely overloaded with information and I realize I am not really paying attention to any of it - I am actually lost in my usual train of thought - about Max and Mo and what should be and how much I miss him and how much I envy "normal" families and how I wish he was remembered by the people who he loved and on and on and on.

I seem to have cultivated unconsciousness and I sort of wonder whether that is necessarily a bad thing (it feels like it is) and how long I can expect this to last. The unconsciousness is actually exhausting because though I am completely lost to the present moment, I am also completely consumed by past ones and ones that "should" be and ones that I hope will (and won't) be in the future.  I am thinking that I am losing the present moment but worried that it would hurt too much if it were any other way.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Regret

I left the gym this morning and got in my car just in time to hear some author speaking on public radio.  I can't remember who it was or what the name of his new book is but he was talking about regret.  "I always hear young people say that they want to live their lives with no regrets, " he said (something like this).  "If you can't look back at your life with some regret, some ability to know how you could have done something differently, how will you ever grow?"

True.

I want to grow.  I am working on growing.

I've been thinking about that all morning.  To say that I have a few regrets would be a gigantic understatement.  Obviously, my biggest regret in life is dropping Max off at daycare on the morning of July 19, 2011.  If I hadn't, who knows what would be different today.  Maybe he still wouldn't be here - but I'll never know - and so I regret it.....with everything that I am I regret it.  The question then is - how can I grow from that regret?  Should I never leave my child with anyone ever again?  I tried that for the first year of Mo's life and at a certain point, it just doesn't work anymore.  And, of course, I've noticed that nobody else seems to be worried about leaving their babies with other people.  Hell, nobody seems to be worried about their babies really at all  - except for the stuff I find myself completely not worried about - "screen time", milestones, sleep habits, breastfeeding.  So, I leave Mo with people.  I do.  And, I am not sure how to feel about it.  I try not to do it very often because it still scares me.  It feels completely reckless - every. single. time.

This isn't what the author was talking about though.  He was talking about how we treat other people - how we behave in business and in our marriages and to our family and friends.  I regret being unable to see clearly in my early grief.  I regret depending on other people to help me get through the searing pain.  I regret not being able to help my husband because I was (and often AM) too consumed with my own grief to see and support his.  I regret spending time with people who didn't care.  I regret getting angry at people who couldn't empathize.  I regret having any expectations at all.  I regret not being the bigger person.  I regret telling people I shouldn't have told.  I regret explaining and explaining and explaining why I felt devastated.  I regret snapping at people who "meant well". I regret responding to "anonymous".

There is a lot that I regret.  And, I also can't help wondering if there are people who regret the way that they have treated us.  Maybe they are dealing with pride on top of regret and that is keeping them from saying anything.  That has generally been what has kept me from apologizing to people that I should have.  While regretting, recognizing and moving forward creates growth - carrying around the anger and pride keeps you stuck.  I should know.

Regret can feel like an emotion that you are holding hostage at times.  The best way to learn from your regret is to apologize to the one who you behaved regretfully towards.  But there are people that I know won't give me the trade I am looking for (which is an apology in return) and so I've held off.

This isn't the case with everyone.  I apologized to a lot of people recently who treated me pretty poorly, who didn't apologize for their part.  I don't regret those apologies - because they made me feel lighter.  Staying regretful and angry only hurts me.

But there are a few regrets that I am still holding onto.  They are apologies that I worry if I made, wouldn't bring me much peace.  The very worst behavior that I've come across in these past two and half years.  Memories of my interactions with these people cause me uncontrollable anxiety at times.  It is one of the most difficult things I am facing these days. One of the things that I worry I might carry around with me for the rest of my life.

I hope I will get there someday....to the place where I can forgive those who have mistreated us the worst and make apologies that I am not certain are deserved.  I am starting at the bottom and working my way up.  Perhaps the evolution comes when I finally forgive/apologize to the worst offender.  It will be a while I think but when it happens - I will let you know.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Stockpiling the Vita!

In not my proudest moment in Israel, I fell through a glass table in my hotel room.  After crashing a wedding with my colleagues, I came back to find that the lighting in the room was entirely inadequate to find the PJs in my suitcase.  In a stroke of tipsy brilliance, I decided to lift my heavy luggage and gently put it on top of a glass coffee table next to my bedside table so I could use the lamp there to get a better look inside.  I'd be putting it mildly if I said things didn't go exactly as planned.  My bag broke the glass and I lost my balance and we all went falling through.  The glass wasn't tempered and broke in long scary sheets and I cut up my left arm and right leg pretty bad. The next morning, I did an unusual walk of shame to breakfast - wondering if anyone would notice that I was all gashed up.

Turns out I wasn't the only one who'd used my glass coffee table as a luggage rack (just the only one who broke the glass table doing so).  I suppose it wasn't as big of a dummy move as I thought it might have been.  I remembered from a past trip that our bus driver was also a medic and I let him bandage me up and give me advice.  My right hand pinkie looked BAD but he said he didn't think I needed stitches so I went with that.  I really did not want to spend one minute of my trip in a hospital.  I have a pretty high tolerance for pain so I just ignored the slashes all over my body for the most part.  After a few days of still bleeding - I was given the most incredible product EVER!!!!

An Israeli friend of mine went to the pharmacy and brought me back a tube of Vita Merfen.  I know you've never heard of it fellow Americans - because I really don't think you can get it here (not even on Amazon).  Oh how I wish I had taken before photos of these cuts so that I could juxtapose them with my almost healed wounds.  The difference is amazing. My pinkie had been bleeding for two straight days and I was seriously considering going to the emergency room to get stitches and after using the Vita for one night, it had stopped.  You can barely see the mark now.  Amazing.  I was instantly obsessed with the stuff and spent an afternoon googling it.  The best page I found about the Vita Merfen was this: http://mel-eigenheer.blogspot.com/2010/08/vita-merfen-to-rescue.html.  Hilarious.


So, I've literally been using it on bruises and blemishes and any irregular bumpage or mark.  Mozie fell down and scraped his wrist, I put Vita on it and the scrape was gone by the next morning.  I told my Israeli friend about the obsession with the Vita and got 3 more tubes in the mail.  I am stockpiling.  The stuff is amazing.  I think it's a Swiss product - look for it when you are abroad (or know someone who is going abroad) and buy it in bulk (the lotion, not the spray - though I am sure it has magical powers as well).  I believe that it would probably even rejuvenate wrinkly parts.  If it weren't so precious, I'd smear it all over my face.  I don't really believe that things happen for a reason but if I did, I'd say that I smashed through a glass table so that I could discover the all-powerful Vita Merfen.

And, no, this is not a sponsored post.