Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Bravery

An open letter to anyone who I have hurt or has hurt me over the last seven months:

Dear Friends, Family, Colleagues, and Acquaintances,

I am sorry for any hurt I have caused you.  Losing Maxie, my son, has brought out the very worst in me at times and for that, I am not proud.  Sometimes in life there are instances that bring you to your knees and you forget that most of the people around you are still bouncing along.  That you are not in the pit with me is something I forget and when I remember it, I just feel envy.  I hope that you can find it in your heart to forgive me.  At the same time, I forgive you for not being brave all of the time, because I think that is what it comes down to: Not being brave enough to say, "I'm so sorry that Max is gone"; not being brave enough to acknowledge our loss; not being brave enough to acknowledge that there is no "bright side" to our losing our child.  I am sorry that I have not been brave enough to put on a happy face and just ignore the elephant in the room.  I am sorry for reminding you of my loss and pushing Max down your throat when you just wanted to check in on something much more benign or enjoy a casual lunch.  I forgive you for having not been very brave and only asking about the "easy stuff" - like - how my job is going...how the renovations are coming along.  I hope you will forgive me for not being brave enough to really answer.  Sorry that I put superhuman expectations on you when you are just a normal person.  That wasn't fair.  I am sorry that I haven't been brave enough to face friends, go to my office, care about how uncomfortable my situation makes you, or find the silver lining.  I am sorry that I have been searching for answers and have become frustrated and angry with those people who haven't had or haven't been willing to give me the answers that I need.  I am sorry that I have become angry with those of you who have given me answers that I don't want to hear.  You have meant well when you have tried to talk sense into me (that I can still have other children and things can only get better).  You just had no idea that you were trying to reason with someone for whom logic went out the door when the baby died.  I forgive you for putting on your biggest grin to greet us at our lowest point, when I felt you should have been holding your arms open to embrace us in our pain.  I understand now that you just weren't brave enough.  It was enough that you were willing to be near us.  I know it was something that probably scared you.  You were brave to just keep talking to us.  Some weren't as brave...and I forgive them too.  I am sorry that I wasn't brave enough to return your gigantic grin and play along.  I just didn't have it in me.  I have known all along that it is my job to be the braver one.  To brave through this heartache and to make you feel ok about your lack of bravery.  Again, I haven't been courageous enough as of yet to take on this role, which is why you haven't seen much of me.  I haven't been ready to live up to my end of the bargain - where you get to smile and gossip or tell me about your troubles (which sometimes seem blown out of proportion to me) and I act like everything is right in the world or where I act as compassionate as I keep hoping you will be.  I am sorry that I have been judgmental about what you are going through - I am sure that I was more sympathetic before my son died.  I wish I could be fun and smiley or a good shoulder to cry on.  I am working my way towards finding the strength for that much bravery...but it is hard.  I have been depressed, angry, sarcastic, and argumentative.  I am sorry.  I'm still not sure it warrants having the cops called on me, but I still apologize.  I'll take responsibility for making you so upset that you felt threatening me was your best move.  I have wanted to wipe the grin off your face - hoping to bring you to the pain that I feel.  That isn't fair.  This isn't your burden to carry - even if you are related to Maxie.  You weren't his parent.  I understand that.  I also recognize some of you might actually not really care that my son died.  You didn't know him.  Maybe you hardly know me.  I have wished you to be more empathetic and human, by my definition, not yours.  I can't control how you feel, even though I have tried.  I have wanted you to know how perfect he was and to feel closer to him so that you would feel his loss more painfully.  I have wanted you to feel as much pain as I do - ALL OF YOU - our parents, our friends, our colleagues, our siblings, our doctors, our everyone...  I acknowledge that nobody will feel the pain like we feel it.  It was unreasonable to think that anyone else could even come close.  Some of you have pulled away and made it clear you don't want to know how wonderful he was or how painful this is.  That's ok too.  Like I said, I am not proud.  I haven't cared what you have wanted.  I have been singularly focused on Max and MY pain.  I hope to one day soon pull out of that place.  I think that at some point, I may actually come around to the point of smiling with sincerity.  I hope one day that it will be organic and not something that I have to force.  I hope that I am coming to the point of recognizing that the world continues to spin on happily without my most precious love monkey.  I hope that someday I will be the person you once knew - sort of funny, adventurous, outgoing, and somewhat loving.  If you know me, you know I had a dark side before Maxie died too, so I don't think it is going away entirely.  I just hope that one day the light inside me shines brighter than the dark now weighs me down.  I know it will be some time still.  I hope that as I find the bravery inside myself, that you too, will look for the bravery that I know is inside of you.  Let's both be brave....and if you really cannot, I will do my best to hold up my end of the bargain and be the brave one for both of us.

* As with ALL of my posts, this is not directed at only one person or one encounter - but rather to a body of people and encounters.  Perhaps if I include this disclaimer on more of my posts, I can save myself and you a lot of heartache.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Loads of support for Maxie

Please, please, please - don't forget to register for Maxie's Forest Benefit on March 15th.  (Click here to register online).  This is such an important night for Ted and I and our families.  I know many of you have already made a gift to Maxie's Forest but I want to stress that this night is more than just a fundraiser to us.  It isn't just a night to make another donation in memory of Maxie.  It is a night to show support for us and our families.  It is basically the first night that Ted and I have even been out in months and we are looking forward to seeing all of you and being able to celebrate Max's life together.  I know that $40 plus two drinks might sound like a lot of money, but you would probably spend that much for a night out anyway (if not more).  Perhaps knowing that this is for such a good cause will help ease your worries about your finances.  There will also be opportunities to score great vacations, dinners, outings and other stuff at the silent auction.  Also remember that your $40 entrance is tax deductible.  I promise you will feel good about coming.

Some words about the 5k on Saturday, March 17th -
My friend Stacy just signed up to participate in the 5k and raise funds for Maxie's Forest!  Yay Stacy!  Thank you!  Stacy has been my friend for years, since she went to graduate school with my friend Joslyn in like 1999 or something.  They are the ones that convinced me that being in graduate school was WAY better than being employed.  Seemed like they were always going rollerblading or something while I was sitting in front of a stupid computer in a boring office.  A couple of years later, I ended up in the same program that they did.  It was more work than I imagined but I still found time for so much fun!  She has been incredibly supportive over these past months (and frankly, over the many years that we have known each other).  She has always been up for doing stupid stuff with me - like going Israeli folk dancing at the 92nd street YMCA in NY and then practicing our moves in her apartment like big nerds.  We also took an alumni trip to Germany with our graduate program a few years ago.  When everyone else went to sleep after our long days of programming, Stacy and I hit the Berlin nightlife with our guide Cornelius (aka - Corny).  I love her loads and lots.

And, honestly, I can't recall if I ever wrote about my old roommate and one of my BFFs - Jess, who is also fundraising for Maxie's Forest by participating in the 5k.  Jess was a roommate in college and afterwards.  She lived with me on Rexford Dr., in the building that my family owns, upstairs from Shawn Pelofsky, my comedian friend who organized the whole line up of laughs for Maxie's Benefit.  Jess and I share some of the craziest memories of my lifetime - like the time she fell of a 50 ft cliff in Mexico in the pitch dark on a camping trip and luckily landed on a little foot path on the side of the cliff like 10 ft down.  She only cut her little pinky (but it was bleeding like a mutha) when her hand, that was holding her beer, hit the side of the cliff.  Or when a lunatic, who will remain unmentioned, tried to break our door down in the middle of the night and we had to take him to court.  Or our trip to Amsterdam with our other college pals Robyn and Eowyn SO many years ago to visit my French/Dutch friend Daphna.  Holy cow, did we eat a lot of french fries and cheese on that trip! Honestly, I could go on and on but you get the picture.  Her son, Everett, was born only a couple of months after my Maxie and was supposed to be Maxie's best friend --- wait!  I HAVE mentioned her here before.  She is a love and I am so grateful to her for doing this on our behalf.

If you can't make it to the benefit and want to make a donation to one of our fundraisers pages, here are the listings.  If you don't know any of them, maybe choose one to whom you might feel a particular affinity or that looks like they could use some help.  I'm thinking my mom and Paul.  Their only contributors so far are Paul himself and Auntie Beth, but I leave the choice to you.  Perhaps you have an affinity towards folk dancing - in which case, donate to Stacy.  If you like Cliff diving, go with Jess.  If hot tubbing is your thing, may I suggest Ann?  If you like supporting the person on top - go to Auntie Beth's page.  She has become a fundraising wizard.  Click on her page to be impressed (and keep in mind - most of the money she raised was for the NY Marathon that she ran in November).

Stacy Katz: Running a 5k for Maxie's Forest
Jessica Clements: Running for Maxie's Forest
Ann Frederick: Maxie's Forest
Susan Chadney and Paul Fleishman (Maxie's Grandma and Uncle): Maxie Leviss
Beth Gardner (Maxie's Auntie Beth): Team Maxie: Running to Remember

The sites are also all compiled on one page: Check it out, if for nothing else than for the cute picture of Maxie.

I know fundraising can be daunting (afterall, I do it for a living).  I promise that even if your friends don't give you a dime, they won't think any less of you for sending them an email that tells them that you are supporting your friends who have been through a terrible tragedy.  Knowing that it is scary, it means SO much to us that these friends and family members are willing to put themselves out there to support us and our baby boy.  "THANK YOU" will never express how much it means to us.  Frankly, it isn't even so much the money that you raise but the message that you send us of support and love that you are willing to put yourself out there on our behalf.  We love you.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Maxie's day at the park

Max only swung in a swing once....and I missed it because I was napping.  We had just flown across the country for a long weekend in CT for a wedding and to visit Ted's family.  We got in at 6 am and I was sleeping off my jet lag in the guest room Beth's house.  Ted and Gigi took Maxie to a little park near Beth's house.  I am so sad to have missed it, even though from what I understand, he didn't really like the swing.  Ted took lots of photos though.  I loved thinking about the future trips we would take to the park near our house.  It's walking distance.  I knew that when Max was old enough, that would be our perfect go-to weekend activity.  No swings, no parks, no more memories.  Does this really get easier?  Can't be.  I'm looking for the positive twist.  It was a lovely trip.  I loved having Maxie on my lap on the airplane out there.  He was such a good boy.  Being with him in CT is a nice memory.

I'm really trying to keep the icky out of my brain but it is so much easier said than done.  I had a melt down last night while watching the Oscars....brought on by a two second clip of James Earl Jones doing the voice for The Lion King.  We used to dance around the living room to hakuna matata.  It is crazy that my sole (soul) purpose in life right now is distraction.  That's it.  And, if anything at all creeps into my "distracted space" (because I am never really distracted), I lose it.  Ted was working on the renovation this weekend (I'll save that for another post) and had Pandora Radio playing and one of the songs from the Jack Johnson, Curious George CD, that we listened to every morning with Max, came on - I lost it.  I can't live like this.  But I have to.  This isn't living.  A mommy can't be without her baby.  But I have to be.  It's like I am living in the world's longest nightmare (forever).  I am not sure I'll be able to focus ONLY on good like I see some of the other bloggers who have lost children do.  I read their blogs and think, "Am I crazy for missing my baby so much?"  I don't want anyone who has lost their baby and feels like me to think they are crazy.  I'll still do my best to have as much positivity in here as possible over the next few weeks but I am trying to keep an accurate account of this "journey" (to hell - and hopefully back someday).









Sunday, February 26, 2012

My wonderful friends

Oh!  I am such a lucky girl to have the most amazing friends.  I mentioned a couple of times about my friend Ann and her workout studio Pure Barre doing two donation classes for Maxie's Forest this past weekend.  This is part of the email that I received from her afterwards:


My sweet friend, 

Today we honored your baby boy at Pure Barre. I was there to personally thank everyone and Matt made cookies for all that donated. It was a pay what you can donation class and I have an envelope filled with $400.00 in cash. I will add it to my fundraising page on Monday. I am almost to $1,000.00. I saw Amy M and Courtney at the 3pm class, I imagine them being very sore tomorrow! (lol!)  

I am proud of the money made today for the forest and I hope I have much, much more in the next few weeks. I love you so much. 

Ann is married to my high school friend Matt.  As soon as I met her (in a hot tub), we were instantly bonded.  She is crazy silly funny and so smart and a wonderful and caring person.  As I have mentioned, she set up a fundraising page for Maxie's Forest that has already raised over $500.   She also JUST had her second baby only a couple of months ago. The other two girls that she mentions in her email are friends from high school.  Amy left presents for Maxie at the cemetery on his birthday.  She was pregnant with her second boy when I was pregnant with Maxie.  Courtney has been bringing us delicious meals ongoing - even after the end of the food train.  She is Ted's favorite friend "chef".  Her cooking is so delicious that Ted even got excited for the leftovers from Thursday night on Friday night.  I love leftovers, Ted thinks life is too short for leftovers usually.  The leftovers got a little cold while I talked it out with the police - but they were still so good!

These friends are just three of the amazing, supportive, loving, wonderful people that are in my life.  Even if I haven't seen them in months, I know that they are still there - quietly and sometimes not so quietly supporting us and honoring Maxie's memory. 

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Forgiveness

I have had all day to think about this.  Really, I have had more like seven months to think about it.  The death of Max has brought up a lot of anger...not just in me, in other people who loved Max as well.  The truth is that the anger doesn't really get us anywhere.  It really doesn't.  I can't help but be questioning.  I am his mother.  I wonder constantly what I could have done differently, what anyone could have done differently.  I cannot apologize for this.  It is human nature.  I can't help but feel protective.  I am extra fragile and probably way too vulnerable to able to hear what people are saying without feeling hurt.  I don't think that most of the comments people make are to hurt me.  I think they are made because people don't know what to say.  And, truthfully, there are people who have said and done things expressly for the purpose of hurting me, and even being mad at them doesn't help bring back Max.  All it does is sink me to a lower level of humanity than the plane the I operated on before losing my precious boy.  I can explain until I am blue in the face that my grief about Max is greater than the hurt anyone else has felt about my blogging or questions or feelings since then.  Again, there are people who just won't understand and it shouldn't matter either.  The most important thing here is that the world has lost a beautiful soul and that this soul has lost the opportunity to live what would have been a wonderful life.  Anger "does not serve me" (and I am actually using a phrase here that is a favorite of someone who really hurt me).  It is true though, it does not serve me.  Bad behaviour and mean comments and angry feelings just wash the beauty out of the memory of Max - who was none of these things.  He was beautiful and pure and trusting and loving.  I need to move forward and forgive.  I still have questions.....but, I forgive.  I have to or I will be stuck here forever. 

Enough

Last night Ted and I had just sat down for dinner and a movie when we received some surprise visitors.  The Burbank Cops.  Three of them.  I guess someone really took my Princess Bride fantasy seriously.  They came over to make sure that I am not a danger to anyone.  They had been told that I had made some threats in my blog.  Really?  I asked the cop if she had looked at the blog.  She said she had.  I asked if she felt that I had made any threats.  She said that she did not believe that I had but that since they had been called, it was their duty to check it out.  Let me say this - I have had enough.  My husband has had enough.  If my asking questions and expressing my despair is too much for you to handle - STOP READING MY BLOG!!!!!!  I will likely be asking questions and feeling despair on some level for the rest of my life.  Telling the cops that you think I am a danger to anyone is nothing but malicious and frankly, a very self centered and terrible thing to do to grieving parents. You and I both know that I am not a dangerous person.  More than that, it is dishonor to my son's memory and I will not have it.  I am done.  Enough!

Last week was FILLED with so much negativity for me.  It compounds my grief when I feel so much anger and regret on top of the already debilitating grief.  Make no mistake about it though, anger is a very normal and common part of grieving.  I am just not afraid to talk about my anger.  My therapist (also known as my "spiritual advisor") thinks that it is very important that I have a few positive weeks.  Obviously by "positive", she means relatively speaking.  So, I am going to work very hard for the next few weeks to focus on those things that I can affect: keeping myself busy with work and healing activities, focusing on the Maxie Benefit coming up in only 22 days, relishing the support and love from all of you who are coming to the event and who have supported us in SO many other countless ways, reading good books, letting go of the things I cannot change and cherishing the time I had with Max.  I need to give my anger and frustration to god (I've never really known what that means but somehow I still like the idea of it).  What will be, will be.  Wish me luck.  This is going to take a lot of effort but I feel like I should be able to do anything for a couple of weeks, right?

The most important reason to find some positivity is for Max.  This song is a beautiful summation of how I feel about Max.  Have I mentioned that Stevie Wonder is my ABSOLUTE favorite?  I don't think I could love him more if he sang en EspaƱol.




Friday, February 24, 2012

Another icky week

It was another hard week.  On Monday I spoke with my doctor, who had very generously offered months ago to go over all of Maxie's records (from the pediatrician, from the ER, from the PICU, from the Coroner's Office) and give me his professional opinion as to whether anyone had missed anything. I had begun to close that chapter of this story only a few weeks ago but speaking with him just re-opened the very newly scarring wounds.  The thought that anything at all could have been done differently for Max so that he would be here with me right now makes me want to die.  I mean, it is the one thing that literally makes me want to leave this life.  I won't get into all that he said, but it started off a very dark week for me.  I have had some terrible thoughts this week.  I am not sure how to move forward, accept what cannot be changed, and find some healing.  It is a complete nightmare.  The looming jury duty didn't help.

I DID get out of jury duty though.  My mom and I went down there (downtown) and then had to meet with a jury excuse interviewer.  Actually, they wouldn't let my mom in with me and the man bossing everyone around in mean "DMV style" made it clear to her that I am a big girl and can handle it on my own.  Little does he know that I can barely handle anything on my own anymore.  I sat down with the interviewer who looked over my excuse sheet where I had written, "My nine and a half month old son died seven months ago.  I am suffering from clinical depression and PTSD".  He read it over and then looked at me and said accusingly, "You know you need a doctor's note for this, right?".  The tears came pouring out as I explained that I had my doctor fill out a form already and we sent it in.  Then I gave him the notice I had received saying that my excuse had been rejected.  So, he sighed heavily and told me he'd go look for my original.  He was extremely put out by having to get out of his chair.  When he came back, he showed me, like the dummy I am, that I had not signed the form.  Indeed, somehow I had missed that.  There was a place for my signature at the bottom that I had missed.  "If you had signed that, you wouldn't have had to come down here", he said, annoyed.  So, then he started walking me through the whole form like I was a numbskull and explaining each section (even though I had filled the rest of it out properly).  "Well, what are you going to do with me?", I asked.  "I am not done explaining to you how this works", he said.  He really taught me a lesson.  After his explanation, he looked at me, crumpled in my chair, in a pool of my own tears and said "EXCUSED - you can leave!"  I am recognizing that it is a very important part of this process that I am DEGRADED every so often.  Losing my child never seems to be enough punishment in this lifetime.  My mom was so nice to take the whole morning off work, ride the subway to the courthouse with me and then go through the whole process with me while I literally barely held myself together.

This week also reinforced how much I HATE how angry I have become since Maxie's death.  I have some really icky thoughts - going back to my Inigo Montoya (Princess Bride) musings and wanting to get revenge on people who have caused me more pain during the last seven months.  I actually wrote a really long post about exactly the kinds of suffering I'd like to see those people go through but my grief counselor talked me out of posting it, for now.  This is about as close as I'll come to telling you what it entails but I DO have fantasies about pulling up a seat and some popcorn and watching the people who have hurt me suffer the way I have had to suffer.  The thought actually tickles me pink.  It makes me feel a little bit better to have even said that.  The original post made me feel REALLY good.  My type of revenge would be of the Inigo Montoya/Wesley ilk in that I would revenge "to the pain".  If you recall, Wesley threatens to fight the 6 fingered man "to the pain" - cutting off his nose and lips and limbs but leaving perfectly good ears so that the 6 fingered man would always hear the horrific screams of young children at his approach.  Unfortunately, I actually feel like I am the one who has been punished to the pain.  My most important pieces have been cut away forever and I am moving through this life hearing the sounds of happy parents and small children, causing me nothing but horror and pain.  I recognize it is a little different but, trust me - it's not THAT different.  When did god become Wesley and I become the 6 fingered man?

Other than all that, I have spent a lot of time this week just missing Maxie.  I loved his little fists and how he was always trying to get them fully into his mouth.  I miss his little drooley bibs and his baby breath.  I miss having my baby to love and to dote on.  I miss planning around his schedule and packing up bags for visits to Grandma's house.  I miss watching his eyes adjust to the light in the morning in his crib and his sweet smile.  I am nothing without him.  Not sure if or where I will ever find myself again.  Hoping that at least I will be found again with him, when this whole thing is all over, and we are together again in some other place.  That makes me smile.
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Sometimes I get so consumed with all of the bad in my life, I forget to mention the good. So, I need to mention my friends Ann and Jessica, who are both not only walking the 5k with our group but are also fundraising for Maxie's Forest. My mom and brother are also raising money through their participation in the 5k.  THANK YOU to all of them, and of course, my awesome sister in law, who is always fundraising for Maxie!  Ann started a few weeks ago and has already raised almost $500.  She also is the one who told the folks at Pure Barre in Brentwood about Maxie and his Forest.  Their donation classes tomorrow (one at 1:35 and one at 3) already have 28 people signed up.  It's so amazing!  I wish only the very best fairy tale Princess Bride parts on all of the people who have made us feel so loved and supported - even complete strangers.  A lot of friends have also already signed up for the Benefit.  Thank you for signing up early.  If you have not yet signed up and you plan on coming Click Here.  Our show line up is complete and our silent auction is filled with SO much awesome stuff.....I can't believe the generosity of our auction donors.
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Thursday, February 23, 2012

Jury Duty

I was assigned jury duty a few weeks after Max died.  Somehow my brother got me out of it.  Still not sure how he did it, but I am grateful  Of course, a few months later, I got another summons.  So, my therapist and my regular doctor filled out and signed the request for an excuse - based on my horrific grief and post traumatic stress.  I think anyone who has been up close and personal with me over the last seven months knows that I am not up for jury duty.  I received another summons in the mail indicating that they received my request to be dismissed but that my request was not granted.

Now, I am not just trying to get out my duty.  Last time I was on jury duty, I was really into it.  I was on my A game.  I served for three weeks.  I was the jury foreman even.  I play by the rules.  I don't ignore my summons, pretend I never got it, or throw it in the trash.  I call in and see if I need to report for duty.  Last night I called in and today I am reporting to jury duty at 7:30 am.  Honestly, if having your baby die and suffering from PTSD is not a good enough excuse, I think you need to die yourself to get out of it.  I think it is an important duty to serve the justice system and to take part in the judicial process but I just can't imagine that I am the type of person that they are looking for to make well thought out decisions that will affect another person's life (because I actually care about how my actions affect other people's lives).  Anyway, I am lucky, my mom is coming with me for moral support. Wish us luck.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Addict

I CANNOT BELIEVE I AM STILL DOING THIS.  I feel like an addict - just one more day without him.  Max was and is my addiction.  It started when he was born.  I was addicted to his smell, his smile, his personality.  Oh my lord!  I loved everything about him.  I RUSHED home to be next to him.  I couldn't get enough.  Now, I just need to make it through this one more day without him.  But, then there is another and another and another.  Seven months "sober".  I was living in a dream before losing Max.  I am seeing life differently than I ever did before....and it isn't nearly as pretty as I remember.  Where is the beauty and hilariousness that used to make me laugh?  Is grief clouding my vision or was I in fantasy land before this loss?  Sober living is forcing me to see things that I don't want to see.  I miss my Max so much.  Every day without my monkey is another kick to the gut.  My soul is melting away.  I'm scared to see who is going to be left standing in this body.

Grief is exhausting and all-consuming.  Knowing this is a lifelong journey makes the whole thing so much more overwhelming.  This isn't something I am going to get over.  It doesn't matter how much time I take.  This is something that I will carry with me forever.  I am just praying that every day brings me one step closer to Max.  Ted always says that the thing I need to work on most is my patience.  Max taught me a lot about patience.  Losing Max has been another kind of test in patience.  I have to be patient and somehow KNOW that Max and I will be together again and not rush to the finish line of life (but it is tempting sometimes).  I have to learn to live each day in pain and sorrow and incorporate those feelings into who I am instead of letting them consume my identity.  For now, and for the last seven months, I have been the grieving mother.  There are no other parts to my identity right now.  The days pass SO SLOWLY.  It doesn't matter if I am on the couch watching television the whole day or if I am busy with work and activities.  Just beneath the surface, my brain is singularly focused on Max and obsessing about his not being here.  The waves of grief hit me so hard, they literally rock my entire being.  There is no escape. There is no moving on.  I miss him so much.  I am an addict and I am going through a life-long withdrawal.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Someone to relate to

I don't think I really need to spell out that I have been in a DEEP depression for months.  I hardly leave my house.  I wear the same clothes over and over.  I don't really see friends and family very much.  I watch a lot of television.  So, when I see depressed people on TV, I become curious.  The "Jersey Shore" actually became interesting to me for a few weeks when poor Vinnie went through a mild depression.  His friends didn't know what to do with him.  They kept trying to get him out to the clubs to "party".  They didn't understand why the usual getting drunk and picking up chicks didn't pull him out of his anxiety and sorrow.  He tried over and over to explain that he just needed to go home and then they would surprise attack him for a night of boozing - only making the situation (no pun intended) worse.  I could relate.....TO VINNIE.  (Dear Lord, what has become of me?)  So, yesterday, I turned on the tv in the middle of a "Khloe and Lamar" episode.  I do not watch this show.  I promise.  And, you KNOW I would admit it if I did.  But, anyway, Lamar was visiting a friend who was in a deep depression.  He was laying around in a messy apartment, looked like he hadn't showered in a while, he hadn't been seen by friends in a while....so I kept watching.  What does HE have to be so depressed about?  Instead of learning about this mystery man, I got stuck on Lamar's pep talk, in which he started talking about when HE went through something.  He kept saying, "When the baby died...".  "When the baby died, I didn't think I'd ever play basketball again." or "When the baby died, I didn't want to see anyone".  WTF?!  What baby?  I went searching online to see what the hell he was talking about and I found this:

It turns out his baby died...of SIDS....at 61/2 months old.  It sounds like he went into a deep depression, lasting months.  He hid out from family, from friends, didn't know if he would play basketball again.  Oh man, I could totally relate to everything he was saying.  Finally he chose life...I am hoping I might get there someday too.  You know who else has lost babies from SIDS?  Robert Redford and Lloyd Bridges.  Why do I know this?  Because I spent HOURS on the internet in the early months of this loss looking for anyone who had been through what I have been through and had ANY words of wisdom to share.  All I have really learned is that everything I have gone through losing Max is what everyone goes through when they lose their babies.  We just handle it differently.  Somehow that's comforting to me.  

I showed this clip to Ted last night, thinking that maybe it would be comforting to him too.  I don't think it was.  His eyes got so sad.  He face hung for a little while.  He got really quiet as he just stared at Maxie's photos on the walls.  I keep relearning the lesson that Ted and I are handling this loss differently.  He is much better at being out in public, making small talk, listening to friends talk about their worries, going through the motions.  Whereas I am holed up in the house, searching for answers, reading 1000 books, visiting therapists, mediums, spiritual guides, and talking to other parents who have lost children.  We are both trying to navigate this road together but we are doing it so differently.  I am looking for people to relate to.  He doesn't bother because he doesn't think anyone can really understand.  We can relate to each other though.  The loss of Maxie is SO present for both of us all of the time. We miss him so much and nobody can better understand our loss than we can.  We are the only parents who lost OUR Maxie.  Part of this journey for us has just been trying to figure out what the other one needs.  We don't always get it right but we keep trying.  After all, there really is nobody better to relate to what I am going through than my husband.  For that, I am grateful.  

Monday, February 20, 2012

He plays beside me

When I think of Max (all of the time), the same images come back to me over and over.  Little snippets of our life together.  I remember very clearly standing in my mom's kitchen, washing dishes one afternoon, while Maxie hung out nearby in his "office".  He was in a diaper and playing very contently on his own.  He kept looking up at me though, hoping to get my attention.  Whenever I turned around to look at him, a smile would spread across his face.  As I would turn back to the sink, I could see out of my peripheral vision that he would just go back to his "work".  Then I would look back and he would smile again.  I am not sure why this sticks with me.  I think it is so indicative of his personality.  He loved attention but didn't beg for it.  He was just as content to keep himself occupied.  He was so hard to ignore though.  His little face was too cute to turn away from too long.  My Max - I spend a lot of time wondering what he would be like today.  One year and four months.  I really don't have a clue.  Would he say Momma or Dadda?  Would he run so fast that I would be worn out trying to catch him?  Would he still be mellow and happy (I am sure he would be).  I'll be wondering all the rest of my days.  My love keeps growing for him.  I may not be looking at him but he is in my periphery and I can't ignore him for long.  I like to think he is still there, playing beside me.




Sunday, February 19, 2012

Seven Months Later

I'm tempted to post this link http://smallbirdstudios.com/2012/02/05/when-you-lose-a-baby/ and just leave it at that.  I am stealing the content off other grief momma blogs (I'm not the only one either.  I guess this link has received a lot of play).....I think I am doing it in part to prove again that I am not the only bereaved parent of a baby that feels the way I do!  See!  We ALL feel this way.  One of these days I will stop feeling the need to justify it (I hope).

Yesterday was a good day.  There, I said it.  I had two good days in one week.  Yesterday my mom and I went shopping at the Glendale Galleria and then went and got foot massages.  Then, my cousin Laurie came over last night and made us dinner (she forced her way in here even though I told her not to come....she is determined).  I actually had a "protective shield" around my heart in the mall while I passed all of the babies and strollers.  It didn't make me want to die, like usual.  Good days come with so much complexity, make no mistake.  I feel guilty for having a good day.  Can life be "good" without my baby?  The thought disgusts me.  The day after my good day with Molly, I had one of the worst of my journey in months.  And yet, I came to the realization earlier in the week that Ted and I actually DO deserve happiness and joy in our lives. I am not saying it will be easy to achieve - but, we do deserve it.  This is a huge shift for me.  This whole time I truly believed that I didn't deserve happiness if Max didn't get to have any.  I now understand what people have meant when they have said that Max wouldn't want to see us unhappy.  I am working hard to forgive the people that Max loved and that includes Ted and I.  We deserve some peace.  One of my great fears, however, is that the moment I start to feel some peace, the people surrounding me will think it's over, or that somehow the grief of losing Max was not that bad.  Is that a little crazy?  It will never be over.  I miss him and love him as much on a good day as on a bad day (which is with all of my heart and soul).  When you see Ted or I smile, or hear us make a joke, or we gossip with you about funny nonsense - that doesn't mean we are not still totally consumed with grief on the inside.  Don't let the facade fool you.  But, our souls need to take breaks once in a while because it isn't sustainable to feel the gut wrenching devastation on an ongoing basis.  I have felt it for 7 months TODAY and I am exhausted.  Again, I am surprised to still be standing and often still wish I wasn't.  But, somehow I had 2 days of lifted spirits and it gives me hope that there might be more in my future.

(Please, oh please, I beg of you - please don't tell me that you are glad I am "feeling better".  I KNOW it is so tempting.  I KNOW you think I am "better".  What I AM, is learning to cope with this life and it is the hardest thing I have ever done by miles and miles.)

Saturday, February 18, 2012

The thin line

Someone told me recently that it is a thin line between grief and self pity.  Frankly, I see them totally intertwined.  Am I supposed to feel guilty or ashamed that I pity myself for my loss?  Because, I really don't.  I am not embarrassed that I feel sorry for us that we lost our son.  I think we, as a species, have children for many reasons but there is a selfish aspect to having children.  We want a family.  Children make US happy.  We want to feel unselfish love.  We want to relive all of the good from our own childhood and undo all of the bad.  We want to continue our lineage and pass down traditions.  We want to be on the sidelines of the soccer games, in the back of the dance and karate studios.  We want to throw our children the best birthday parties, that make their eyes light up and sparkle.  We want our hearts to open up and let in enormous amounts of joy.  Parenthood is selfish.  When Max was born, I remember feeling an enormous sense of responsibility.  I was on the phone with my father and I asked him if he thought having children was selfish.  "Why?", he asked.  I told him that I suddenly felt like bringing a child into this world meant exposing them not only to all of the good stuff, but also to the bad - stuff that could hurt them emotionally or physically.  "Having you kids was the best thing I ever did in my life", he said.  A beautiful answer - but, let's be frank, the answer was about him.  I'm not putting down dear ol' dad (not that he is old either) but I just use the conversation to make the point that, indeed, parenthood is a selfish endeavor at some level.  So, when you lose a child (which most of you will not), how could you not feel an enormous sense of loss?  All of the hopes and dreams you had for this singular most important person in the world (sorry, but we love Max 100 times more than we love anyone else we know on this planet) are gone forever.  We feel the loss FOR HIM most acutely - that is where the sickening guilt comes in; though we feel the loss almost as severely for ourselves.  Not embarrassed, not ashamed, just honest.


Thursday, February 16, 2012

LIbraries, Foot Massages, Grief Judgments and a Shout Out

I have been hanging out in the library lately.  I am thinking I need to do it more often.  I work better in the library and I like feeling totally anonymous there.  There ARE kids but they are usually in a special room that is really like a library of their own.  There are books about grant writing and fundraising for my workly pursuits and books about life after death and grief for my sadly pursuits.  Today I got up to use the bathroom and lost my seat.  When I came back, I got a great seat in a little cubicle next to some AWESOME books.  I wanted to pull every one of them off the shelf and read them right then and there.  That's when I realized I was in the Young Adult Section.  Twilight, Gossip Girl, and other teen romance stuff.  I am not incredibly mature.  Next time I need a breather, I should probably just follow my impulse and pick up one of the teen books.  Anything to give the grieving brain a rest.

The coolest thing happened in my therapy last week.  My therapist stood up and came over to my chair and said that she thought I looked tense.  Then she started giving me a shoulder massage.  She has STRONG hands.  "Man Hands" even!  All I could say was, "Have you had these hands the whole time I have been seeing you?  We have lots of time to make up for!".  I have now received two sessions with shoulder and FEET massage as well. So, I get to do regular talk therapy and get a rub down.....TOGETHER!  All therapists should combine the two practices.  Perhaps that will be my next professional pursuit - combo therapy.  I have left feeling lighter two weeks in a row now!

I had a really yucky realization this week.  I think that some people say insensitive stuff about moving on and whatever because Max was a baby.  I mentioned it to another bereaved parent who lost a three year old and he agreed.  He thinks people probably don't consider a baby to have had a full personality or as deep of a connection to us.  He even had an example of someone who said something about how SIDS babies aren't as big of a loss as other children.  The realization came on the heels of reading about a woman who participates in the same online SIDS forum as me.  She said that another SIDS mommy, who also lost a 9 month old, made a comment about not relating to parents of SIDS babies who weren't as old as her 9 month old.  From what I gather, she felt that her loss was more significant because her baby was older than most SIDS babies.  What I can say is this: while I feel angry all day long that Maxie lost his life to SIDS, I am grateful all of the time that I got him a few months more than the average parent gets with their SIDS babies.  It breaks my heart that someone lost their baby at 7 weeks and never got to do the stuff that Max and I did together and it breaks my heart that someone lost their baby at 3 years old and built so many memories with their child.  It breaks my heart that we have the shared experience of having our dreams and hopes for our futures with our children that we loved devastated.  What breaks my heart even more is that these beautiful, deserving, well-loved children didn't get to do everything that they were put on this earth to do.  It kills me that we, who LOVED our children, who wanted our children and felt so blessed to have them, lost them.  Our grief therapist says to "Compare is to Despair" - it doesn't make you feel any better.  While Max may have never uttered one word, I communicated with him better than I have with anyone else in my life.  We got each other - that's love!

Hey - I got a "shout out" on my new friend Molly's blog.  She also posted a photo of us.  I think it is the first photo that has been taken of me since Max died.  It is NO BUENO!  I am looking much worse than I even thought.  I could have sworn I put on my awesome emphasEYES liner and Color Me Beatiful mascara on Tuesday.  I think I need to work on my hairstyle next.  It's BAAAD.  Anyway, she looks cute - I think she is naturally photogenic too!  Check it out - you can see all of the cute photos of her trip to California: http://jacksonparkcity.blogspot.com/2012/02/schizophrentic-vacation.html and you can see what I mean when I say it is obvious how crazy they are about their little boy (because he is SO super cute) and how much their darling Lucy is still with them all of the time.

Beauty Products for the Bereaved Woman

Honestly, I am less than beautiful these days but I HAD to write about the eye makeup that I discovered since Max's passing.  I cry all day long and it doesn't come off.  If I wear make up to therapy, I am surprised to look in my rear view mirror upon returning to my car to see that it hasn't even smudged.  I wish I had known about this in my happy years.  I could have looked so much more put together while surfing or swimming or lounging around in the jacuzzi.  Sadly, I am not sure that the mascara is available in the US.  My cousin Sharon brought me two tubes from Mexico.  She was wearing it the week she was here for Maxie's funeral.  We went swimming and when she came up out of the water, she looked like a Maybelline commercial - only her brand is called "Color Me Beatiful" and yes, that is how it is spelled right on the product.  It seems to be trademarked that way as well.  I am thinking if cousin Sharon plays her cards right, she could be the US "Color Me Beatiful" distributor.  It doesn't come off until I take it off.  It doesn't smudge or give me raccoon eyes.  And, I cry so much I hardly use a tissue.  I usually just use the back of my hand - and STILL no smudge.  Amazing!  Secondly, I am using a new eyeliner - "Tarte - emphasEYES"  I use the it in blue.  It comes with a little liner brush and goes on wettish but then it dries and literally doesn't come off until I take it off.  Again, back of hands, tissue....NOTHING is taking this stuff off my eyes.  My tears DO unfortunately streak my foundation but it isn't too noticeable, unless I am in the sun.  Next on my list is to find a good waterproof foundation.  Now, I honestly only wear makeup about 3-4 days out of the week but it is nice to know that I have found stuff that suits my new lifestyle of crying all of the time.  I also carry eye drops with me most of the time, but can't really be bothered with them usually.  I would love any other tips anyone else has to share!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

My friend who I do know (now)

Yesterday was the most normal I have felt since Max's shiva ended.  I met Molly and her family before they left to go back home to Park City.  We were supposed to meet on Sunday but they all came down with a bug.  So, yesterday, I picked up lunch and went over to meet them at the house they were staying at in West LA.  She was so much better in 3D.  She was sweet and warm and compassionate.  And, although, our stories are so much different in the ways that we lost our children, our stories as bereaved parents are very similar.  We both lost our first and only.  We were both in the hospital with our children while they were hooked up to life support.  We both watched our children die.  We both suffered (in my case, am still suffering) from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  The way she described the most horrible scenes flashing in front of her at all times of day without warning was so familiar.  I always think about Maxie's beautiful smile and sweet disposition (and his tiny little hands, and chubby feet and perfect belly button) but I never know when those terrible scenes of him in the hospital will come rushing over me.  They make a lot of surprise attacks and it is really scary.  I met her husband Vic and their almost three year old son, Peter, too.  It was a really eye opening experience for me to see just how much they love their little boy.  I feel like I could never love another child as much as I love Max even though intellectually I know that can't be true.  A lot of what Vic told me about his experience mirrors what I see Ted going through as well.  Next time, I hope we can all meet together.  This family has been in the trenches and they are on their way out but Lucy is so with them still.  I know that they both still struggle and they told me that even still, almost four years later, they wake up and can't believe that it actually happened.  It was also the first time I have spent time with a little kid in months.  Gosh - I just love kids.  He was so full of energy and love.  I felt a little stab in my heart when he climbed onto his mommy's lap.  I longed for Maxie so much when I saw Peter get into his car seat with his little bee blankie and fall asleep.

Something I found interesting and that actually made me jealous really (if one can even BE jealous of another bereaved parent) was that she didn't relate to a lot of the strange comments I have received since Max died.  Nobody compared her loss to the loss of their dog or anyone else for that matter.  People in her community seemed to really understand that the loss of a little girl was incredibly tragic, not just something you get over.  That to be a parent, having to live each day without their child, was not the order of the world and shouldn't be.  She thinks that perhaps it was because so many members of her community were at church with them the day that Lucy choked.  It was their trauma too.  Yesterday evening I received an email from a bereaved parent who told me that one friend had made a comment about how the couple needed to be strong for their remaining child.  Bereaved parents KNOW these things.  We don't need you to tell us.  Mostly what we are thinking is "Easy for YOU to say".  The friend later apologized and the couple felt that perhaps the friend was just trying to be strong in the moment and forgot to be compassionate.  I am impressed that the friend even thought to apologize.  My experience has been that I have had to spell out in great detail exactly why hurtful comments hurt me to the person who made the comment.  Usually they even get defensive and mad at me in response for daring to say that they hurt me.  Anyway, it struck a chord.  Is that what has been going on?  Are people trying to be strong "for us" so that they don't have to be compassionate?  Or, because they feel strength is more important than compassion?  Or because they are just uncomfortable with compassion?  Ugh.  I don't need strong.  Ted and I have to be strong every day just to keep on living.  All I ever wanted was some compassion. I don't need your strength.  I know it isn't hard for you to be strong.  You didn't lose a child.  I know it might be a little harder for you to be compassionate - I think you are up for the challenge.

Another thing that I took away from my visit with Molly was to not feel bad about talking about Max when people ask me if I have children.  I struggle with this question.  Ted came up with a good answer to the one random stranger who asked him.  He said, "It's complicated" and left it at that.  A guy probably won't push any further.  Women usually do though.  I often say, "I had a son, but he passed away almost seven months ago".  When I say that, people look at me like I just ruined their day.  Or, they ignore it completely, like I never said it at all.  Molly told me she also just tells people about Lucy.  She said she doesn't tell them to punish them or make them feel uncomfortable.  She tells them because they asked.  If it takes people out of the comfort of their daily fog, then so be it.  We don't get the luxury of a protective shield.  I am already suffering day in and day out.  I don't really need the added stress of worrying how my loss will affect strangers.  I don't think I could ever say just say "No, I don't have any children".  I have a son whom I love very much, who lived a beautiful life, whose life had so much meaning, whose existence changed my life forever.

I loved meeting Molly, Vic and Peter.  Next time I see them, there will be a little girl with them too as Molly is five and half months pregnant.  We talked about dreams.  I told her that I dream about Max every single night now.  Usually I have bad dreams but once in a while, they are wonderful.  She told me that she has only dreamt about Lucy a few times since her passing.  That made me sad.  Last night, I actually dreamt about Molly and Lucy.  I dreamt that Lucy was sitting down in a chair and reaching for her mommy and that Molly was standing next to her and couldn't see her.  She did, however, have a smile on her face and her hands on her pregnant belly.  My subconscious brain wants to believe that Lucy is coming back to her.  Wouldn't that be lovely?

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentine's Day

Love has taken on so many different meanings in our home over the past few years.  First there was falling in love.  Ted and I going from loving each other to realizing that we were so much in love that we wanted to spend the rest of our lives together.  Making a commitment to stay together for better or worse.  Then finding out that we were going to have a baby.  I felt our love grow in the recognition that we would soon be starting a family and that brought us so much closer together.  When Max was born, a completely new definition of love was born as well.  A love neither of us never knew was possible.  A love that outshines everything else on the earth.  All-consuming, completely mesmerizing, unselfish in every way - love.  Then feeling that love grow with every squeak, cry, smile, giggle, kiss, bath, new skill.  A brand new love.  Never before have I felt a single emotional transform so much over the course of such a very short time.  Then Maxie's passing.  The desperate love we felt in the hospital, clinging to his very presence, clinging to hope and every word out of every mouth of every doctor, nurse, hospice worker, specialist.  Losing that love and feeling so much more heartbroken than any heartbreak either of us had ever felt before.  Watching each other grieve, realizing that sometimes we were more lonely together than apart, feeling too much pain to help the other one, knowing that all the while, our love was still growing - for each other and for Max.  Life is hard - love is harder.


Every Valentine's Day for 10 years, my husband makes a CD of love songs.  It started with another girlfriend and has probably gone to one or two others before me.  He spends many months collecting songs that perhaps do a better job at times articulating how he feels about love.  This year the songs will be different.  This year the love songs include lyrics about intense heartbreak and loss.  My heart breaks just thinking about listening to the CD.  He will probably kill me for saying this but I don't think it makes him any less manly that I know he cries listening to sad music in his car.  Before this, I can remember him telling me that he never cried.  I never saw it before.  I think his car is the only place he feels like he doesn't have to be strong.  He lost his son and he is strong all of the time.  When I think about how hard that must be, my whole body hurts.  Imagine coming home to a wife that doesn't even try to be strong - who has lost all hope, who feels totally defeated.  And yet, he comes home every night and kisses me and makes me feel loved and even sometimes makes me laugh.  Without him, I'd be even worse off than I am - unimaginable.  He should have a place that he feels comfortable to break down.  He tells me he is angry at life and I am so, so angry for him.  He is such a good man, such a good son, brother, husband, son in law, friend, FATHER.  I am mad at life for him because I love him so very much.  This Valentine's Day I am thinking about my boys and how very much I love them both - their hearts, their souls, everything about them. 
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I wanted to remind everyone who plans on coming to the March 15th, Benefit for Maxie's Forest to purchase your tickets!  You can easily do it online by going to http://www.jnf.org/about-jnf/events/2012/benefit-for-maxie-leviss.html.  It is $40 a person (not including a two drink minimum).  $50 at the door, assuming that there are still seats available.  We will have a terrific silent auction and some raffles too.  If you cannot come, please consider sponsoring a runner/walker in the 5k we are doing on Saturday, March 17th.  You can see the few tribute pages that have gone up by going to: http://www.jnf.org/support/tributes/in-memory-of-max-leviss.html and clicking on the participant you would like to sponsor (So far we have my mom and brother, Beth and my friend Ann!).  Also, my friend Ann's work-out studio of choice, Pure Barre, in Brentwood is holding two donation classes to raise money for Maxie's Forest.  How incredible is that?  Thank you to Ann and to the folks at Pure Barre for supporting our sweet boy's memory.  The classes will be held on February 25th at 1:30 and 3:00 pm.  Ann says it is an awesome work out so maybe go and try it out for the first time, knowing that you are contributing to Maxie's Forest while you sculpt your new fabulous figure: http://purebarre.com/CA-losangeles/index.html.  The address is 11819 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 213.  If you would like to set up a Tribute Page, or just walk with us the day of the 5k, here is the information:


To participate in the fundraising effort (ie - send an email to your friends and family and ask them to sponsor you for the walk to raise money for Maxie's forest), you can set up your own fundraising page.  Click here: JNF Tribute Sites and select "Tribute Pages".  When you create the page, you choose either honor, memorial or personal.  Choose "Personal".  You can name the page (where it asks for "Tribute Name") whatever you like or just name it "Maxie's Forest".  You can then design your own tribute page.  I can't see the whole form but if they ask for an "RN" or "Recognition Number", you can enter RN110241.  If you want to include a photo of you, of you running, of you and Max, of you and your family....whatever, you can do that.  Or, you don't have to.  If you want to include a photo of Max.  I am happy to send you a few to choose from or maybe you can pull one off my blog.  Please send me the link (teddyabby at gmail dot com) to your tribute site when you are done creating it so that we can put them all on one website together.  Also, I've learned you can register for the 5k online.  Click here: Link to register for 5k.  We will try to figure out a place to meet up in the morning so that we can all walk together.

Monday, February 13, 2012

I woke up to use the bathroom this morning at 3:30 am and didn't fall back asleep until 5:30.  I couldn't stop thinking about Max in the hospital.  He was hooked up to so many machines - to help him breathe, to monitor his heart, to monitor his brain activity (of which there was none), IVs.  Looking at my small child (MY CHILD!) lifeless like that on the big, big hospital bed is a nightmare that will stay with me forever.  It is part of my post-traumatic stress.  The scene of Ted and I saying our goodbyes to Max plays over and over in my head.  It might be too much to read about.  I know it is too much for me to think about (but I can't help it).  We had to watch our child die....understand?  We had to be by the bedside (sometimes in the bed) of the little boy we CREATED and watch him die.  When you wonder why I am not over it, remember how many pieces there are to this story of ours.

To be honest, I am losing hope.  Just when I think I am in the darkest place, it gets darker.  I can't think of anything other than "How can I live one minute more without my beautiful baby?"  The solution seems to be a combination of hardening my heart, numbing out, distancing myself further from life, accepting that he is gone, accepting that it is over.  I want to stop feeling.  While I intellectually know he is gone, my heart won't accept it.  It is too dark.  I am searching for him everywhere - in meditation, in prayer, in my dreams.  Where is my Maxie?  How long can I sustain this hell before I break for real?

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Accepting Faith

Ugh - knowing I can't do this one more day and also knowing that I have to is TORTURE.  How can I even do this one more day?  Even one more day will take all of the strength that I can muster.  Having to do this for my whole lifetime = Impossible.  Am I repetitive or what?  Imagine being in my head!  It never stops....which is why every hour is torture.  Nobody should feel this much pain.  NOBODY.  Still, there are people all over the world who have lost children, and I marvel at them.  I read about how they continue on with their lives somehow and I know I cannot do it.  Could it be that I am the weakest person who has suffered this tragedy?  Or, is it that everyone feels like I do but they also have no choice?  It is probably the latter.

I have an ongoing fantasy.  It is me, at the end of my life.  I am lying in a bed, old and dying, and I am happy...looking forward to what comes next, knowing I will finally be reunited with my baby.  My eyes have grown weary and I need no more strength to get through my days, because I know that there are no more days to suffer through.  I am having deathbed visions of Maxie coming to me, welcoming me to come with him, to spend all of the rest of eternity by his side.

If only I could fast forward time and be there now.  It is so cruel that I have to wait to get there.  If I knew that was coming, perhaps I could begin to enjoy the time spent waiting. I think about the years before I met Ted, never knowing if I would meet him.  While I enjoyed those years a lot, the uncertainty of whether I would ever find my life's partner always made me uneasy.  At a certain point, I just decided to believe it would happen, and it did.  Ted believes that we will be reunited with Max.  He doesn't even question it.  To question it would be too terrible to even think about, he says.  I am a born skeptic though and I can't just believe.  This is why I am finally convinced that faith is important.  I don't care what the faith is but it is vital to have some kind of faith to make it through a tragedy like this.  If I can hang on to my fantasy: when I feel that I KNOW Max will be with me again, my breath comes a little easier.  Another piece of my new normal - the skeptical self must be laid to rest before she just dies of hopelessness.

I am jealous of the old people I see.  I am sad for those that fear death.  This probably sounds insensitive to the sick and dying and I am so, so sorry.  Sometimes I envy them.  Waking up every morning and knowing I have to do this again, and then again, and then again, and then every day from now on...it's just a nightmare.  If I ever had to go through this again, I know I wouldn't make it.  I am constantly waiting for the other shoe to drop.  I have to start making an effort to believe the tragedy in our lives ends with Max and that we will see him again and that time it will last for eternity.  I can actually feel his weight in my arms when I think about taking him out of his car seat and carrying him into daycare. I love him and long for him so much.  I can't believe I have to do this again today.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Perdido Sin Ti

Yesterday kicked my ass.  Just when you think you've seen how incredibly cruel life can be, you get a close up view of how cruel people can be.  I have had the theme song from the show "Damages" in my head all week:
When I get through with you
There won't be anything left....
When I get through with you
There won't be anything left...


It must be the Heavens serenading my soul.  I certainly get the point.  There is barely anything left.  I spent most of yesterday morning shaking, literally shaking.  Fear, anger, frustration, deep sorrow.  I will not leave this lifetime without having felt the full range of human emotions.  Is there anything left?  Probably - Greed, ego, loss of humanity.....I haven't felt them myself but I have seen them  - more up close in the last six months than ever before.


Two nights ago, I dreamt about my sweet boy.  I changed his diaper, twice.  That is just like I remember.  He always waited until I just about had his new diaper on to pee straight up into the air and all over the fresh new one (and my hands).  I cleaned him (and me) up and then just stood there, hovering over him, admiring all of his cuteness, cupping his face in my hands and kissing him.  Sometimes dreams can't last long enough.  Some people have told me that when I have those dreams, it is Max himself, making a visit to me to let me know he is ok and he is with me.  I am not sure then, how we explain the nightmares....of which I have so many.  If 4 out of every 5 dreams is a nightmare and the 5th one is sweet - I'll take it.  I love being with him in the sweet dreams.  I long to be with him all of the minutes of my day.


I have another song running through my head.  If you really know me, if you are one of my nearest and dearest, you won't be at all surprised to know that my song is by Ricky Martin.  While I love all types of music, my favorite is the kind en Espanol.  "Perdido Sin Ti" - Lost without you.  Obviously it's a love song, like most of the music that makes us think of our Max.  


I am lost without you
Don't leave me alone without you


This loss doesn't leave me alone
Stay in my house


Don't go.  Without you I lack everything
Wait - without you there's nothing left


Love. Stay. Love
Stay all of my life
Stay. I'm lost without you




Friday, February 10, 2012

Follow the Rules

I wrote a blog post this morning about SIDS and the recommendations for how to safely put a baby to sleep.  Unfortunately, I was told to take the post down.  I say unfortunately because this blog is my only solace.  The only place where I can "freely" express myself.  So, since putting the post back up could result in some kind of action against us, I will instead just put part of it back up.

The prevailing theory of why certain children die of SIDS has to do with the amount of oxygen in their breathing space and whether they are able to move their face out of the way to get the air needed to keep breathing.  The leading researchers in the country believe that some children may have a brain stem abnormality that sets off a series of events that end in a child's death.  It happens very quickly and in most cases, the baby is otherwise healthy.  It is unexpected, sudden and certainly so tragic.  The American Pediatrics Association therefore recommends that babies are put to sleep on their backs with nothing else in the crib.  They should not be in there with blankets, stuffed animals, pillows/boppies or anything else.  Just a fitted mattress sheet and the baby.  Now, I have said this before but there are children who have died even under the most safe sleeping conditions.  Babies die in slings, strollers, car seats, and while being breastfed.  Plenty of babies also live even when they are put down under improper sleep conditions.  The issue is how much oxygen is in their breathing space.  The recommendations are made to ensure the best chance for ample oxygen.

So, the thrust of my previous post was to tell you that if you have a baby, are going to have a baby, take care of someone's baby, or are giving advice to someone about their baby - follow the guidelines.  The leading experts may still not understand what causes SIDS but they know a hell of a lot more than you do.  YOU DON'T KNOW BETTER!  Follow the rules. You have nothing to lose....except your baby's life.  I wouldn't wish this hell even on my worst enemy.  Just follow the rules.  You will never regret following them but you may regret not following them.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Renovations

I deactivated my Facebook account and I deleted the application from my iphone.  And while I won't be able to promote Maxie's benefit there and people won't just happen by my page and learn about Maxie, I think in the long run it will be better for my soul.  The benefits outweigh the "consequences" (a word that is mostly meaningless to me at this stage).  A quick email exchange with the daddy who writes Off the diving board was what finally pushed me towards making this decision.  I share his jaded view of social media since our sons died (ironic, since we both write blogs).  I should have done it a long time ago.  So - post away - talk about trading in your kids for new Jimmy Choos, gush about how cute your kid is and comment on everyone else's while you are at it, post one million photos of your baby's first day at preschool (not that you needed my permission....since you were doing those things anyway....as you should....as that is what Facebook is there for).  I am not there anymore and that part of my horror show is over for now.  Perhaps one day it will make sense again but not now.

And, speaking of getting rid of old stuff.  We (I should say Ted) is/are renovating our master bathroom and closet.  It has been the plan since we bought our house to tear out the back bathroom (I detest it) and our closets and for Ted to design and renovate the whole area.  The demolition begins this weekend.  So, I am cleaning out my closets and, like everything else I do, it makes me sad.  I have two bags filled with old dresses and suits - size 4s and 6s.  So many cute clothes.  Colorful, some sexy, some professional, some pretty dresses, some fitted suits.  I put them all in the bags to give away to Goodwill.  I can't picture myself ever wearing them again.  Unlike everyone else I know who lost their baby weight and has a beautiful, healthy baby (or more than one) to love: back in their pre-pregnancy clothes, enjoying their lives, I never lost the weight of having my beautiful baby and I don't even have my baby to show you why it was all worth it (though OBVIOUSLY it was) - Even though I did Weight Watchers for breastfeeders from 6 weeks post pregnancy until 8 months, even though I did kickboxing and walking all over the neighborhood and trying to squeeze visits to the gym into my schedule when I could, even though I switched to the regular Weight Watchers program when Max stopped breastfeeding and I started cycling for an hour 3 days a week.  Even still - I was still many pounds overweight when Max stopped breathing and I never lost it - even though most days afterwards I forgot to eat until dinner time.  And, honestly, most of me doesn't even care.  I spent so much time in my first 37 happy years worrying that I wasn't thin enough, or pretty enough, that I didn't have good enough skin or hair or whatever.  I wish I could take it all back.  I look at old pictures of me and I think - "That girl WAS pretty enough.  She was happy."  I threw away all of my party clothes because I can't imagine ever going back to the party.  I can't imagine ever having an occasion to wear a fancy dress to or fitting into the fancy dresses I have anyway.  I feel stupid keeping any of it - so many pairs of shoes.  I have worn nothing but sweats and knock off UGGs for nearly six months now.  Sometimes people tell me that if I wore nicer clothes, I would feel happier....good advice, I'm sure, but NOTHING has fit me except maternity clothes since I got pregnant with Max.  Lucky Ted!  You see, I am not only mourning the loss of Max, I am mourning the loss of myself, which I am much less sad about losing, but still sad nonetheless.

Another good reason to have deactivated my Facebook account.  I have no plans of updating it with anything other than information about Max, which you can read right here if you want.  I won't be posting photos of me at a party or dancing with my baby or wearing the suit and posing with my donors....because I don't do any of those things anymore.  My new normal.....aren't you jealous?

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Breakdown

I was going to go to yoga this morning but I can't get out of bed yet.  I am too sad.  I dreamt about Max again last night.  That we had to give him up for adoption.  He went to friends of ours, friends we really haven't heard from in real life since Max's funeral.  Since I don't talk to these people anymore, I knew it meant I would never see Max.  Maybe I could get updates about him from mutual friends.  The nurses pulled him out of my arms and I screamed and cried...."Don't take my baby!".  Oh god!  Again, reality is SO much worse. What kind of a life is this that I am living?  I wish god would just take pity on me and strike me down.  It's much too painful being here and living this nightmare day in and day out (the terrible nights, over and over).

Sunday, before the Superbowl, I had a breakdown of epic proportions.  And, yes, I understand that Sunday was supposed to be Teddy's day but the series of events and the idea of Max not being here to enjoy a lifetime of football with daddy just killed me.  When I woke up and started looking for photos of Max in his Giants gear, it sent daggers through my heart.  The photo of him in the bouncy chair with jeans was in a folder entitled "Maxie 11 weeks".  He was only 11 weeks old and grinning from ear to ear.  The same grin he would later have sitting in his bumbo chair months later.  I'm not sure why but knowing that he just started out that happy breaks my heart in a million pieces.  Ted and I went to breakfast - a place we have been eating on the weekends lately because there are usually no children.  Ted likes to go out to breakfast.  I find it rather hard because there are always kids.  We compromise and go either Saturday or Sunday...not both.  When we pulled up to the restaurant, there was a family getting out of their car - man, wife, baby about a year and a half.  Maxie would be about this baby's age.  This baby was toddling around and was cute and so we waited to see where they would sit and picked a seat far away.  I hate that this is our life now!  I absolutely HATE running away from children all of the time but I cannot see them.  We left the restaurant and Ted wanted to "off road" to Glendale.  He was excited to go to Whole Foods to get fancy snacks for the game.  We drove through the foothills of Burbank and Glendale and looked up all of the properties for sale on our iphones (even though I hope the next house we buy is FAR, FAR away from here!).  When we got out of the hills and onto the grid again, I looked up to see we were 1/2 a block from Max's pediatrician office.  I lost it!  I crumbled.  I avoid driving anywhere near there.  I even avoid looking up on the freeway at the exit sign when I have to drive on the 134 past the doctor's exit.  Just like I avoid driving on Riverside Drive by the daycare Max attended.  Just like I avoid driving by St. Joseph's hospital where Max was brought by the ambulances.  My whole life is avoidance.  I avoid people.  I avoid places.  I avoid topics,  I CAN'T LIVE LIKE THIS ANYMORE!!!!!  Why won't god take pity on me?  I HATE the pediatrician!  I hate him with all of my soul and he isn't the only one I blame and hate.  Was my baby not important enough to take good care of?  He was a human being!  He had his whole life ahead of him!  And, he was happy and sweet and he was the center of my universe and he would have had the most happy life and now he is gone.  Now he is gone and I am broken.  I am not the person I was.  I HATE the new me.  I HATE my "new normal".  My new normal SUCKS!!!!!!!!  We had a beautiful life.  We never did anything to hurt anyone.  We were good people.  We loved our son more than anything.  

Ted had to take me home before turning around and going back to the market.  I literally fell apart in the car.  It took a few hours to start functioning again.  And, that's all I do now....function.  When I am lucky, I am like a robot....with a dying battery.  I used to get a lot done.  I made my own baby food and I pumped a zillion times a day and I worked full time and took care of Max and made dinner every night and took conference calls at stupid times of day when I was trying to bathe my baby and went to events for work in the evening (time with Max I will never get back).  But, I made it all work.  And, then one day, I dropped him off at daycare and kissed him goodbye (my love) and he stopped breathing.  The next thing I knew, my family and I were in a hospital for three days praying for a miracle.  I am so sick of this life and it simply keeps repeating day after day after miserable F'ing day.

And I am SO angry!!!!!  So YOU move on!  YOU find something to be happy about!  YOU snap out of it!  YOU count your blessings!  My child never had a birthday party!  My child never tried frosting and birthday cake!  My child was sweet and happy and smiled from ear to ear and nobody bothered to keep him alive!!!!!!!   I can't take one more day of this.  Not one more hour.  Not one more minute.  But, as soon as I am done writing this, I have to find the energy to keep going and robot my way through another stupid, miserable day.