Friday, November 30, 2012

A common misconception

A common misconception is that crying is bad - or that if I cry when I am with you, that you caused me to cry, that you caused me pain.  Crying is often cathartic and can be very healing.  When you allow another person to cry, you are allowing them to be vulnerable, to express their joy and sorrow.  A common misconception is that to help someone feel better. you should make them laugh.  The truth is that sometimes laughter can feel worse than crying - sometimes not.  Sometimes feeling understood far outweighs feeling funny.  A common misunderstanding is that laughter must mean an absence of pain and that it is therefore compassionate to make someone laugh.  Sometimes the most compassionate thing to do is to sit with another person while they cry....or to cry with them if you, too, feel pain or sorrow (for them, for you...)  A common misinterpretation is that what you see as causing me to cry is what I see as giving me the opportunity to cry.  (ie - when you think, "Don't mention his name, she might cry!")  A common misconception is that you think you should avoid talking about my heartache because it might make me sad when the reality is that I am sad already.  You haven't caused a thing.

Thank you for allowing me to cry.  Thank you for sometimes crying with me.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Real compassion

Last week there was a war in the Gaza/Southern Israel region.  I am sure you probably heard about it.  Where I work, the emails and updates were flying day and night.  Interested parties of all persuasions were worried about the children on either side of the border.  Children should never ever become victims of their parents wars...but they do.  I am on the emails lists of many who take interest in that part of the world.  I got updates from far removed acquaintances with the details of how their families were getting along, what their thoughts were about the rockets and the iron dome defenses.  I was forwarded email conversations between concerned American friends and their far removed Israeli relatives, "We are worried about you!", they said, "How are the children?"  I have sent many many many similar emails to my friends and colleagues in Israel through the years - to let them know I am thinking about them, to assure myself that they are alright.  In an unstable region, the threat of terror and war are constant.  The drama is never ending.

So, I really don't know how to say exactly what it is I want to say...so, I am just going to say it.  When I read SO many emails SO full of worry about the children of Sderot, Israel, I wondered why those same concerned people sending emails had been so seemingly unconcerned about the death of my child.  I'd rather not compare the situations too much - I know that rockets falling on a town and threatening the lives of innocent children is completely terrorizing, in fact, I know that children (and adults) on both sides of that border are suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome just from having to be on high alert all of the time.  But, a child DID die!  A child that those email senders are not at all far removed from.  MY child died - right here, right down the street from my house.  And, his parents (Ted and I) are still suffering every single day and I haven't really heard much of anything from any of those email writers since it happened 16 months ago.

I am not really sure what it is that I draw from that.  It just feels like a complete disconnect.  I mean, are you worried about children or not?  Are you worried about parents who lose their children...or not?  How authentic is your worry for those children in the Middle East?  Or, is it that their safety is just another way to say "We are right!  They are wrong!" - and I am not pointing fingers at either side - because I think both sides do it.  "Our children are in danger!" - both sides say.  Look, I am not an idiot.  I know that a war is frightening and that the stakes go far outside of the immediate threat to any one child....and what happened to Maxie happened in a peaceful middle class American neighborhood.  But, how then is the compassion so different?  I have seen certain people work themselves into a frenzy about protecting the lives of innocent children who they don't know in Israel while asking me, in the same breath, if I am over the death of my child yet.  Someone even came to Maxie's shiva and told Ted, "Children die in Israel every day"....to which I am sure Ted mostly felt like responding with a swift kick to the guy's nuts.  I guess I just question the authenticity of all of this concern.  I mean, either you care about children or you don't.  Either you are compassionate to those experiencing loss or you aren't.  I am taking it all with a grain of salt.  If you care about children - then go ahead and care....make a difference why don't you.  But, if you don't care, it is written all over your well crafted email - you aren't fooling me one bit.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Unprepared

Is it weird that I loved going to the pediatrician with Maxie?  I didn't even love my pediatrician.  I found him a little odd.  But, I loved getting the updates, hearing how healthy my Max was, the nurses telling me how cute he was, watching him smile at them and the other children in the waiting room.  It also meant getting to leave work early or for a few hours during the day to spend special time with my boy.

I have two vivid memories of times with Max at the pediatrician that stick with me.  One was getting there a little early for his last appointment, the week before he stopped breathing.  I parked the car and got in the backseat with him.  I pulled him out of his carseat and put him on my lap.  I played with him and told him how much I loved him and how happy he made me and how excited I was to spend the rest of my life watching him grow up.  We cuddled and smiled at each other.  I loved just being in that moment with him.  It breaks my heart in a million pieces thinking about it.

The second memory is probably from the same visit, though I am not 100% sure.  We were in one of the examining rooms, waiting for the doctor.  Max was on my lap and I was reading a book I found in there to him.  I could feel his contentment.  I mean, I could literally feel him feeling content.  It was amazing...it made me feel like the most important person in the world.  Then the doctor came in and looked at us and said something like, "He is sitting in the place he is happiest....right on mommy's lap".  I am sure I was beaming.  I was the mommy.  It blew my mind.

The pediatrician visits with Mo aren't quite the same.  In fact, they are a giant trigger.  They set me back and feel like someone has just punched me in the gut.  I feel stupid sitting there listening to the doctor, who I really like actually, tell me how great Mo is doing.  It's all just words.  Max was doing great...until he died.  I can only ever count on the present moment - Mo is doing great NOW.  Meaning - Mo is doing great in this instant.  No more, no less.  Not helpful.  For the last year and a half, doctors have been looking at me with either pity or complete lack of understanding saying things like, "the likelihood of this happening again is next to nothing".  To which I usually ask, "What is this?" and they look at me with complete dumbfoundedness.....like the dumbfoundedness that I feel every waking minute of every day.

Yesterday I was realizing that even though Mo is so similar to Maxie, he is also becoming so much more of his own person.  A person who, even at only four months, is very different from his brother.  While I am completely obsessed with everything that Mo is, it also highlights everything that he is not.  He is not Max.  Mo is no stand in for Max....just as Max would be no stand in for Mo.  And, I miss Max desperately.  I miss him with my whole self.  Our relationship was different than what I have with Mo.  I love them equally but they are different.  Every look Max gave me was filled with adoration and love and I am sure that is how I looked at him too.  Our connection was palpable.  I could just feel his love.  I'm not saying that it isn't similar with Mo - it's just different.  There is a desperate clinginess that I feel with Mo too, that I didn't feel with Max.  Sometimes I am just scared to leave whatever room that Mo is in.

I can't help but wonder - is this just how my life is now?  I am so tired of feeling everything SO deeply.  I just want to rest.  I wish I could just have a regular life with the usual ups and downs.  I miss being angry that something annoying happened at work or feeling blue because I just dropped my baby off for the day and won't see him until I pick him up at 5.  This longing, this desperation, this lack of control, this lack of relaxation.....it's exhausting, consuming, heartbreaking.  This feeling of missing my child....it makes me sick to my stomach.  I literally woke up last night and thought I was going to throw up.   Is this it?  Is this what I have to look forward to....forever?  It's just too much for any one person and I fear that I am just not up to this task.  I have been woefully unprepared for this much pain.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

4 month check up

Today was Mo's four month pediatrician appointment.  I really don't know how much I should attach to anything I learn - like that he is doing great!  I was always told at Maxie's appointments that he was doing really great too.  But, I like getting the stats - like that Mo is 17 pounds and 26 inches long.  He is in the 90th percentile for weight and somewhere in the high 70s for length.  The pediatrician agreed that it is time to ween Mo off of a swaddle for sleeping, which we've been doing.  She said that after four months, a swaddle can be dangerous for babies that can roll over (he isn't rolling over yet even though he is really good at tummy time).  He is mostly doing a really good job soothing himself back to sleep at night by sucking his thumb.  Last night he woke up at 2 am and wanted to play - so we played.  I was grumpy about it for about a minute until I realized how grateful I was that he woke up and wanted to play.  I love him so much!  It just isn't really possible to be annoyed by a lack of sleep when I have a seemingly very happy and healthy baby.  I am grateful for every minute I get to spend with him.

Whenever I am at the pediatrician's office and she is telling me everything about what milestones Mo should be hitting and how to take care of him, all I am thinking is "I did all of that with Maxie".  No matter which way I look at it, we did everything "right".  He slept in a sleep sack, with nothing else in the crib (no stuffed animals or toys), with breathable bumpers and the temperature set at 70 degrees.  He was fed breast milk exclusively for the first six months of his life and we introduced solids one by one every week or so.  I made almost all of his food myself.  I made sure he had plenty of variety and mostly organic stuff.  We never took our eyes off of him.  We never left him by himself on a changing table or raised surface for even a second.  I read all of the books about babies that everyone was recommending.  I mean, I really don't know what went wrong. I really have no explanation.  And, I know that not everyone is as careful as we were.  I know that because people tell us the crazy stuff they do with their babies (not sure why....bragging?).  I've seen cribs that look like death traps and watched a mommy leave her newborn face down on a blanket in the front yard at a party while she went inside to get a drink and visit with adults.  If anything, I was made to feel overprotective of Max.  I got lots of eye rolls when I reminded caretakers about Max's needs - and still get them with Mo - like when I tried to pick his pacifier up off the floor to clean it before giving it back to him and a friend said, "oh come on Abby - he is your second baby.  With the first you boil, with the second you wipe it off and with the third you just stick it back in their mouth".  I don't know.  I kind of feel like you get lax with your subsequent children when the first one lives...no?

I just feel dumbfounded all of the time.  I know it doesn't matter if I do everything right.  I really really really think I did everything right with Max.  I really really really think I am a good mother...even though I know that not everyone else does...because Max stopped breathing.  I definitely get A LOT of advice about what to do with Mo.  Sadly, I get a lot of conflicting advice...so, I am just doing most things the same way I did with Max and hoping for the best I guess.  I also get advice that I know is outdated but I just nod my head and smile because it just doesn't matter really.  People are going to do what they want to do and I am sure their kids will be just fine, which is wonderful...honestly, I wouldn't wish this pain on my worst enemy.  I am just so sad that this is our pain.  I am so sad that Max isn't here to enjoy his little brother.  They are so alike.  I know they'd love each other so much.


Monday, November 26, 2012

Loss

My mom's neighbor died Saturday night.  She was only 51.  She left behind two children and an adoring husband.  I think they'd been together since they were only 15 years old.  Not that it matters but they were a BEAUTIFUL couple - he is dashingly handsome and she was strikingly gorgeous - and they always looked so young and happy.  The husband has been growing a beard, like Teddy, for a while now.  He looks much older....and so so sad.  Their son is probably 30 years old, with a baby who was born around the time that Max was; and their daughter is about 20.  I have watched their daughter grow up.  She has always been sweet and outgoing and adorable and very, very close to her parents.  My heart is broken for all of them.  It makes no sense.

There is absolutely nothing that can be said or done to make life better for them.  Nothing.  How could anything we say or do fill the hole in someone's heart that was left by someone who they loved with everything that they are.  There are no jokes that can be made that will lighten the mood. No topics that will "take their minds" off of her.  It's insane to think otherwise (though I know people will try - because that is what they do).  Their lives are changed forever.  There is no way around it.  That is what death means.  All we can do is try to maybe make life easier - send some food, offer to run some errands.

Honestly, those things helped us so much in our earliest days.  People still bring food once in a while.  Sometimes they still text and email to say that they are thinking about us and it feels nice to know that people still care - that they know our lives are still broken - so are our hearts. Time doesn't really heal all wounds, it only cushions the blow somewhat.  "They say" that losing someone close is like losing a limb.  It never grows back, you just eventually learn to live without it.  That sounds pretty accurate to me.

I'm so sorry for this family.  So sorry for the sweet little girl, who is now a young woman, that has lost her mother.  So sorry for the father who loved his wife so much.  So sorry for the grandson who won't really remember his beautiful and sweet grandmother.  I don't know....life is really painful.  I'm not sure why it has to be this way.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

It's about family

When we are in LA, we have two Thanksgivings, as my dad and his wife have people over their house for a second turkey dinner on Friday each year.  Between the two days, many people asked how we are doing in various ways.  I think that seeing us with a beautiful happy baby and big smiles on our faces was perhaps confusing and misleading.  To be expected I suppose.  Some of the conversations were awkward, some were really lovely.  Also to be expected.  It used to make me so sad to know that from now on I am the person who makes many other people uncomfortable.  Now I don't really care about it so much.  The people that I make uncomfortable don't seem to be bothered about making me uncomfortable.  I am as eager to get out of conversations and situations with them as they to get out of them with me quite frankly - so we're even I guess.

What I was most looking forward to this Thanksgiving was seeing my Auntie Harriet at my mom's house.  She is wonderful, and so warm and funny and Ted and I are crazy about her.  She is my grandpa Jack's sister and I haven't seen much of her since Maxie passed.  She is my only living relative who knows exactly what I am going through, because she lost a child too.  Not too long ago in fact. Auntie Harriet lost her wonderful, beautiful, HILARIOUS daughter, Andrea, who used to live in our guest house with her husband Stan when I was a teenager.  My memories of hanging out with her in those days were of just laughing all of the time...and then they moved out and I went off to college (Pitzer - Andrea's alma mater).  I don't really remember which came first.  That she is really gone doesn't seem real still.  It just feels like maybe I haven't seen her in a long time, which sometimes happens with family.  It doesn't feel real, the way I am sure Maxie's death doesn't seem real to many people, because I am not her mother.  Or her twin.

Andrea's twin Stephanie is also hilarious.  HILARIOUS.  I have spent lots of time since she lost Andrea thinking about how totally devastating the loss of a twin must be.  Like losing half of who you are.  Terrible.  I won't say too much more about it because they are really private, and while I am an open book, I get and respect privacy.  I'll just say this - the time I spent with the two of them this Thanksgiving was the most special.  I was bummed that I had just put Mo down right before they arrived but when I saw him squirming on the monitor 20 minutes later, I ran upstairs and got him.  I knew that Auntie Harriet was crushed to hear that Ted and I lost Maxie.  It was in some ways just too much for her to handle after losing her own daughter, which makes perfect sense.  I was so glad and excited to be able to introduce Harriet and Stephanie to Mo.

Before we started eating on Thursday, my mom raised a glass to remember those who aren't with us anymore...as she does every year.  Those who we love and miss and who, at one point or another, sat beside us for this very same meal. The first year Andrea was in that list, I felt like we all looked around the table in disbelief that we were actually listing her as one of the missing.  Stephanie explained to me that Thanksgiving was Andrea's favorite holiday - which explains why they hadn't been at my moms for the last years of Andrea's life.  They had been at her home.  Last year and this year, mom's list included my Maxie.  Still totally unbelievable and shocking to me.  I am sure it always will be.   It meant SO much to Ted and I to have our baby acknowledged on this day when his presence is so glaringly absent.  Above all else, to me, Thanksgiving is about family - the ones who are there physically and the ones who are there only in our hearts.


Friday, November 23, 2012

Four Months Old

Morris is four months old!  He is so awesome!  As seen earlier this week, he is in a full blown raspberry blowing stage.  It is hilarious and never gets old.  We all just blow raspberries from morning till night.  Turns out blowing raspberries is nearly as effective as therapy for beating the blues.  I recommend it - whether or not you have children.  He is also really engaging with people and his toys.  He likes to play with toys dangling above him best.  He smiles a lot and hardly cries at all.  After we left Seattle, our hosts from airbnb.com wrote that our "little boy Mo was probably the most quiet 4 month old in the history of babies!"  Both my boys have been super easy babies.  We are so crazy about Mo!  He brightens up every day!

So, here's the recap:
Just Born




One month old


Two months old


Three months old


Four months old




Also, for fun, a brief video of part of today's photo shoot:




Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanksgiving 2012

My mother is a wonderful hostess!  Every year she opens her home to so many friends and relatives for Thanksgiving.  She makes sure that people who have no place to go are also included and opens her doors to their dates and friends too.  What I have always admired about my mother is how much she enjoys the process of getting people together.  She takes on the bulk of the preparations but when someone offers to bring something, she welcomes their contributions as well.   We always have a ton of delicious food and so many people.  She never feels or acts "put out" by the festivities.  In fact, I know she really loves that Thanksgiving is "her" holiday - it is the holiday that she gets to host in her home and she has been doing it as long as I can remember.  Everyone who comes always feels welcomed...even her former mother-in-law (my Grandma Ann) came all of her last years.

Last year, I asked her not to host Thanksgiving.  It was sort of selfish.  I just didn't feel like celebrating holidays last year...or celebrating at all really.  The truth is that there are so many people - friends and family - who have experienced loss in our family, I really wouldn't be alone in that crowd.  I just couldn't handle any of it.  I wanted all holidays banished.  They were too painful.  Plus, the previous Thanksgiving had been Maxie's coming out party to a certain extent.  Most of my mom's side of the family met him for the first time that evening.  I don't know - I was too raw to be there childless.  There is no perfect or better explanation than that.

This year Thanksgiving is back on but many people won't make it because of other obligations and hardships of their own and I will truly miss them.  I hope that they will be able to come back next year.  I am looking forward in a way to Mo's first Thanksgiving.  It is sort of fitting that it is really his first holiday and coming out as well.  Perhaps the new memories will help blunt the pain of the old ones.  That is my wish for this holiday week.

There are things that I am really thankful for today:  I am thankful for friends and family...new and old.  So many of my family and friends have stuck by me through this nightmare....and I've even met new friends, something I totally can't believe.  People I like who are warm and funny and cool and sweet.  I am SOOO grateful.  I am thankful for our dogs - Jake and Layla.  They are sweet and comforting and helped us get through a year without children.  They are very important to us and we love them so much.  I am so thankful for Maxie.  Maxie was one of my soulmates.  I am so grateful that I even got to spend 9 1/2 months with him.  I am grateful that he came into my life.  As I've said before, I wouldn't trade my 9 and half months with him for a lifetime with any other kid.  No way!  I miss him every minute of every day.  I am so grateful for Mo.  Having him was the best medicine for Teddy and I in the world.  He is a very special boy - he reminds us so much of Max but is his own person as well.  He is so funny and SO cute.  I can't say enough about him.  He is also my soulmate...no doubt about it.  We know each other so well already.  It's just intuitive.  I am thankful for Teddy - a soulmate and the perfect person to share my life with.  He is my rock and going through this together has only made us closer.  I am incredibly grateful for that.  BEYOND grateful.  It's amazing really, that despite our loss, we still have a lot to be grateful for.  This time last year, I couldn't even imagine thinking that.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Baby nightmares

4 am is my "normal" wake time these days.  I can't seem to keep Mo awake past about 6:30 pm.  He wakes up twice to nurse throughout the night before waking up "for real" at about 4 am....which is fine.  He is only up for about 30 minutes before he passes back out in his swing and I go back to sleep on the couch.  We wake up once more around 6 am and then again at about 8:30 "for good".  Mo then naps for 40 minute stretches throughout the day and stays awake in between naps for an hour and a half.  It is a weird routine, but a routine nonetheless.  I don't want to sleep train him yet and this is what he has come up with on his own.  It's working.

This morning's 4 am wake up was different though - Mo had a nightmare.  I find it so strange and disconcerting that Mo sometimes has what seem to be very vivid nightmares.  He wakes up and screams in fear - it is obvious that that is the emotion he is feeling when this happens.  It scares the life out of me.  Ted grabbed him and cradled him tight and assured him sweetly that "it's ok".  How could he possibly be having nightmares when he doesn't even know of anything scary?  He spends all day being loved, blowing raspberries and smiling at everyone.  My mind goes to weird and dark places and I start freaking myself out.

The amount that I love Mo is frightening.  I wish that it could just be sweet and transformative and pure - like the love that every other mother I know has for their child, but it isn't.  I mean, it is all of those things too....believe me.  But, it is also desperate and scary.  My whole life depends on Mo waking up from each nap....each of the 5-6 naps he takes every single day.  My whole life depends on him being here tomorrow and the next day and through the next year and every year of my life after that.  That's a lot of pressure for one little boy.  I like to think that his waking hours are just filled with fun and love.  He is read to and sung to and played with and kissed (oh my god!  He is kissed like crazy all day long).  Everyone tells him how much he is loved.  We joke about how much love this child gets....his family has really pulled out the BIG love guns for him.  So, how does he have nightmares.  Memories?  Premonitions?  What?  WHAT????!!!!!!  I must quiet my mind before I lose it.  It's 4:40 am - back to sleep on the couch for me.....if I can shut off long enough to make that happen.

Monday, November 19, 2012

The Mask

Turns out that I am not "feeling" Thanksgiving.  I am in a dark place.  Oh!  So dark!  You wouldn't know it when Mo is awake, because I put my best self forward for him...because he deserves everything good (and only good).  Also, he genuinely makes me happy and when I am with him, my heart feels almost full.  But, the reality is that I am so so so so so so sad.  I can't even write about the things that are plaguing me because they are sure to get some anonymous reader all riled up enough to send me a completely disgusting and inappropriate comment and that would just push me over the edge that I am barely clinging to.

I just think this life is too hard.  It's just too hard for me.  I am plowing through and thank god I have this little one to shower all of my love on, otherwise, I just don't know how I could keep going (but, of course, I would keep going).

Ted says that eventually we have to reenter the world, knowing that we don't relate to the people that live in it anymore.  Mostly, I am choosing not to.  As long as I can, I want to stay in this protective bubble I've built...where, for the most part, I am in control of who I interact with.  I am only comfortable in my own skin when I can authentically be who I am right now.  When I leave the bubble, I lose control and I find myself in a completely inauthentic place...pretending.  It kills my already dying soul.

The holidays pose an enormous challenge for me in this way.  I will have to figure out how to tuck my authentic self away and put on "the mask", as Ted calls it.  The mask isn't just a smile (because we smile often).  The mask is made up of all sorts of talk that is difficult for me to get through but that "shouldn't" be so hard.  It's what I wear sometimes when I am talking to other mommies and they are telling me about the activities that they do with their child...when inside I am burning with jealousy over their blissful ignorance.  On the outside, I am smiling and nodding and remembering what those activities were like for me with Max, before I knew what I now know.  The mask is what I wear when I listen to people argue about politics or complain about fixable things.  It's what I wear when I am pushing the emotions out of my brain, when I am trying to listen but not hear.  The mask is what I wear when I know that I am being listened to but not heard.  I will be wearing the mask a lot in the coming weeks and months and it scares me.  The mask often sets me back.  I guess everyone wears the mask sometimes, I am just not remembering how.


Sunday, November 18, 2012

Better with Mo

Yesterday was a little better.  Ted had to work all day so Mo and I spent the day together 

Cuddling


Learning


and Playing


Life is so much better with him

Saturday, November 17, 2012

My search

I've been so sad this week.  So unable to compartmentalize my grief.  My friend Eowyn hit it right on the head when she wrote me a few days ago to say: 

"it strikes me that you had such a huge disappointment after months of anticipating the possibility of connecting to Maxie and then we kept you very active the rest of the weekend.  We also had lots of good laughs and you had very little alone time and I'm wondering if that somehow delayed you allowing yourself to really feel the disappointment and hurt."

Yep.  That's it.  I just feel shattered that Max wasn't there....and it is a reminder to me that he isn't here...and that is really a reminder I don't need because of course, it is obvious with every breath that I take that my baby is no longer physically here and it is completely soul crushing. 

There are times when I just don't know how I am doing this...how we are doing this...because we are both in so much pain.  Even when it relents for just a little while (and thank god it sometimes does), it seems to come back and hit us with twice the force.

I spoke to another bereaved mother the other night who did the therapy with her husband back in February.  She tells me that it worked for both of them and was amazing.  It seems to have even lifted her husband's grief in a way that he hadn't been able to lift it in the three years since his son died.  I told her that is what I wanted for myself.  She told me that a couple of months later, her mother in law traveled to Washington to do the therapy too and that it didn't work for her and that it totally re-traumatized her and sent her into even further depression.  I had a feeling that could happen to me but the possibility of connecting to Maxie was too important to care about how it could hurt me.  I SO wish it had happened.  

What I can say is that something happened.  At one point something was happening.  Something I have never experienced before - a feeling like there was a presence with me but too close to see - an undulation of color and movement - or some kind of manifestation happening but not coming together somehow.  I can't even really describe it but I felt like - "this is it!"....and then it wasn't.  Perhaps it was all in my head, perhaps it wasn't.  I broke down shortly after.  Maybe I just blew my opportunity by breaking down.  

My friend Greg wrote me earlier this week and said:

"I read all the stuff about Seattle and could seriously feel how in hell you are.  I know this sounds strange - and maybe I'm out of line - but I sometimes don't understand why you have to justify the stuff you do.  I mean, your son died and you wanna connect with him...why is that strange?  If you told me you were going to Mongolia tomorrow on the .05% chance a wiseman there could talk to your son for 2 seconds, I wouldn't think it was even remotely strange." 

I would, you know.....travel to Mongolia for those 2 seconds of connection.  Sadly, my search has just begun.  Max only just left us.  I have my whole long lifetime (without him) to find him.  I am exhausted already but determined to keep trying.  I will find my son.  I will never stop trying. 

Friday, November 16, 2012

In my heart

Sometimes it feels like it never happened...like he was never here....like he never died.  Some of the people almost act like it was all a bad dream.  Like it was bad dream that is over now.  Life moves on...only it hasn't for me.  My heart is still with Max.  He WAS here!  He was loved tremendously, with my whole soul.  He was and is just as important as every other child....just as important as Mo and all of their cousins.  Don't you remember who Max was?  His sweet smile?  His drooley lips, his chubby thighs?  Don't you remember how he could tell you if he was happy or sad or hungry with his eyes?  Don't you remember how he had a funny little sense of humor and liked to be held and kissed?  Don't you remember his gigantic smile.  I don't understand - he's not here but he isn't gone.  I can hardly live without him.  He is in my heart.  Isn't he in your heart too?


Thursday, November 15, 2012

Space Needle Photo Op

I'm feeling super blue....but here is something that made me smile.  Canned Space Needle Photo Op.



Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Struggling

Coming home has made something very clear to both of us:  We are really struggling.  I can't speak for him as to the intensity of his struggle but I can say that I am really, really struggling.  But, I know he is too - because he told me and because he looks so sad and because after we kissed goodnight last night, I saw him staring at the ceiling for a long time before his eyes finally closed.  As much as I hate struggling.....I hate watching him struggle even more.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Where can I go from here?

As I was sitting in the therapists office in Washington, I was feeling more and more ridiculous.  Why did I believe that I could connect to Max this way?  But, I spoke to other people who had gone through the process and for whom it had worked.  If I hadn't tried, I would have wondered forever.  But still....I felt pretty stupid....and sad.  How can gone be gone?  How can my Max just be gone?  It's just not possible.

I came home and told Teddy how disappointed I was.  He told me not to feel stupid.  Going there and meeting with this therapist was an important part of my journey, he said.  He suggested that perhaps I have to go through certain things to get to Max.  Ugh.  I am so frustrated and so so sad.  It often just feels like too much to bear.

There were some valuable insights that I received through the process.  She told me that she felt I continued to be traumatized by the insensitive things people said and keep saying to me since Max died.  That there have been additional traumas as well - the cops getting called on us, the panic attack I had, the coroners office losing Max's bloodthe shallow interactions with people who didn't mention Max at all or acted like his death was no big deal.  I am not sure that she understood that our appointment was traumatizing for me as well.  I am really only absorbing how traumatizing it was now.  I had an incredibly violent dream last night that has me seriously shaking today.

I don't know where to go from here.  I miss his face.  I miss his two little teeth.  I miss his little cheeks.  I miss his eyebrows and beautiful eyelashes.  I miss the way he looked at me and how special our love was.  I miss cuddling with him before bedtime.  I miss everything about him.  I miss my Max so much.  My heart is aching.  I am shaking.  This is really my life....I can't even believe it.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Rainbow Connection

Here is the truth - I came to Washington to connect to Max.  I am not going to even get into the specifics but I did try and go over to the "other side" to get my boy to bring him back (even for just a minute) to be with me...to hug and kiss and love.  I learned of a therapist who was helping people to connect to their lost loved ones and I knew I needed to try.  I had been looking forward to doing this for months.  It didn't happen.  I didn't connect.

Once again, my husband was an amazing sport...this time by coming here with Mo and me and 100 pounds of luggage (literally) so that I could try and catch a glimpse of my baby.  I knew there was a good chance it wouldn't work, even though I read that the connections happened 100% of the time.  I hoped I wouldn't be the one person who it didn't work for....but I was.  I was told it was because I am "too sad".  I've heard these words many, many times since Max died.  I am not sure what they mean.  How sad is "too sad" when your most important person, your baby, the person for whom your life existed for dies?  Apparently I am on the other side of the appropriate threshold for grief.  "Your grief is like molasses", she said, "He can't get through".  Ugh.  I left my all-day appointment exhausted and devastated, again in tears.  Part of me thinks I should stop trying to find him....the other part knows that I will never stop.  If there is even a small chance that he is somewhere and I can reach him, I will figure out how.  He is too loved and too important for me to let go of him.

When Maxie was alive, we used to play the Rainbow Connection, sung by Kermit the Frog, and dance around our livingroom.  I'd hold Max in my arms and Ted would hug the two of us and we'd sway back and forth - cheeks pressed against cheeks pressed against cheeks....our hearts full of love.  When Maxie was in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, hooked up to the machines, Ted played it for him over and over again as if to say, "Maxie, come back!  Don't you remember our love?"  The words swirl in my head and make me dizzy with love and heartbreak.  My Washington therapist told me that rainbows are a sign of the afterlife...."What about rainbow babies?", I wanted to ask.

Ted gave me a beautiful infinity symbol necklace for our wedding.  I love it and wear it almost every day.  Maxie used to sit on my lap and study it, twirling the charm over and over in his hands.  The necklace now symbolizes my love for him - for all of eternity.  I will not let him slip away from me - not ever.  I honestly still can't believe he is gone.

My Maxie - I love you for all of eternity.  I am not going to wait until the next life to be with you again because I need you now.  And - if it takes the rest of my lifetime to be with you again, I will work on it every single day because my love for you is forever and with no end to its depth.  The hole in my heart is killing me and I need you back to fill it in for me.  Please Maxie - I'm doing everything I can.  I don't know what else to do anymore but I will keep searching.  I promise.

XOXO - Mommy



The Rainbow Connection

Why are there so many songs about rainbows
and what's on the other side?
Rainbows are visions, but only illusions,
and rainbows have nothing to hide.
So we've been told and some choose to believe it.
I know they're wrong, wait and see.
Someday we'll find it, the rainbow connection.
The lovers, the dreamers and me.

Who said that every wish would be heard
and answered when wished on the morning star?
Somebody thought of that and someone believed it.
Look what it's done so far.
What's so amazing that keeps us star gazing
and what do we think we might see?
Someday we'll find it, the rainbow connection.
The lovers, the dreamers and me.

All of us under its spell. We know that it's probably magic.

Have you been half asleep and have you heard voices?
I've heard them calling my name.
Is this the sweet sound that called the young sailors.
The voice might be one and the same.
I've heard it too many times to ignore it.
It's something that I'm supposed to be.
Someday we'll find it, the rainbow connection.
The lovers, the dreamers and me. 



Having fun in Seattle

I almost feel like my old self this weekend.  Almost.

A part of me feels like I left my saddest self in Los Angeles.  I've been taking a break from her - most of the time.

Being with funny friends has helped.  Yesterday, we had one of our biggest laughs in a long time, when we parked on this street:


The street name is already decidedly hilarious as it sort of looks like a dirty word at a quick glance, as pointed out by my Seattle friend Greg.  But, I wish every single one of you had a Hebrew speaking friend to ask why this is even more funny.  I took the photo and sent it to my Los Angeles friend Greg, whose wife Ayala is Israeli.  I told him to show her the photo.  He texted back minutes later, "I just learned the funniest new Hebrew word!"...his next text - "Are you on a street with only Indian food?" -his next text "When you're sliding into first and you're feeling something burst..pft pft...."  Yes, my friends, it's the Hebrew word for diarrhea....and, yes, we are all incredibly immature and found it to be incredibly hilarious.  The Hebrew word for diarrhea was pretty much used for the rest of the day ad nauseum - good times!

We did also some touristy stuff, had lunch in a cool pub on the main street of the Ballard neighborhood where we are staying and then ordered in pizza and tried to play a Saturday Night Live version of Trivia Pursuit, which was way too hard for anyone except perhaps the biggest SNL geeks of all time.  We gave up after about five minutes.  Just hanging out is more fun anyway.









Saturday, November 10, 2012

Mo's first plane ride

We are in Seattle this weekend visiting our friends.  I've never been here before but I am already in love with this place.  It is so beautiful.  We are renting our own little one bedroom apartment through this service that Eowyn told us about called www.airbnb.com.  The name is kind of misleading in that it isn't a B and B service.  It just hooks people up with an apartment, room or house vacation rentals for short or longer term stays.  Our little apartment is perfect - we have a bathroom with a real jacuzzi tub, a full kitchen, a nice living room area with plenty of space to play with Mo, wifi and television, a nice comfortable bedroom and LAUNDRY!  Laundry is such a bonus when traveling with a baby (I've already done two loads - Mo has a new trick of peeing through the leg of his diaper in the middle of the night and then I get pee all over me when I nurse him.  It ends up being a really awesome and warm surprise!).  The family that owns the apartment even lent us their pack and play crib so we didn't have to lug ours.  Its very homey and way cheaper than any hotel would have been - plus we don't have to feel burdensome getting up at all hours at our friends homes.  Eowyn went to Trader Joe's before picking us up at the airport and got us all sorts of snacks and fruit for the house.  It is the perfect set up.

Mo did great on the airplane.  Everyone was checking him out and commenting on how cute he is.  Of course.  I wore my bebe au lait (otherwise known as the "hooter hider") to block the light out for him and he passed out on my lap and slept most of the way.  Ted and I were a little squished and my hand was under Mo's head in an awkward position for basically the whole flight.  About a half hour in, I asked Ted how much more time was left and he answered that we still had two hours. I must have sighed or something because the guy sitting at the window smiled and asked, "Is this your first baby?"  Ted and I both smiled back and said "no".  I guess he didn't hear us because he asked again....and we answered again.  It hurts.  So much.

Anyway, today we are off to explore.  More on Mo's first vacation later....

Friday, November 9, 2012

He cannot be trusted.....

....with his own hands!

I am trying to wean Mozie off of his miracle blanket.  Once babies can start to roll over, their swaddle becomes a SIDS and suffocation hazard.  I am being extra cautious with Mo, so even though he isn't rolling over yet, I want him in a sleep sack before that day comes (it is coming soon, he is already tossing his leg over and moving to his side occasionally).  The thing is....his hands are like crack to him.  When he has access to his hands, he cannot stop nibbling on them....and he gets CRAZY about them.  He talks and talks and talks and drools and goes crazy for these hands.  The more he chews, the crazier he gets.  I am sure he is cutting a tooth or something but as soon as I take away his access to his own hands, he passes out.  Last night I put him in a sleep sack with FULL ACCESS to those hands and he woke up every hour.  I really don't know what to do.  He also needs the pacifier to calm him down but knocks it out of his mouth with those wild hands.

He literally cannot be trusted with his own hands!  Ay!  I need help!


Thursday, November 8, 2012

My birthday

My birthday was really nice actually.  I spent the day working, hanging out with Mo, had lunch with my friend Bianca, my mom came over to visit and then Teddy brought home a delicious dinner from Joans on Third.  If you live in LA, go there NOW and get the chocolate covered peanut butter balls!!! Not kidding - AMAZE-BALLS (literally).  Teddy bought one for each of us.  I was so close to eating his too and using my birthday as an excuse.  But, that wouldn't have been very nice....also, then we couldn't have talked about how delicious they were.  This weekend we are off to Seattle to visit our friends Eowyn, Greg, Kyle and Mandy - I am really excited about getting out of LA and spending time with some of our best buds.  Packing up a baby for a weekend trip is no joke - my list has so much stuff on it it is crazy: burp cloths, clothes, monitor, sound machine, bouncy seat, books, blankets, "Scout" the talking green dog toy....some of it might be overkill but it is better to be safe than stuck on vacation with a miserable baby.  Anyway, thank you for all of the nice texts, emails, calls and comments.  It was a good birthday.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Bring back the Happy

Today is my birthday and there are a few things that are making it a whole lot happier than last year.


Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Marriage after the death of a child

There is so much to say about the subject of marriage after the death of a child.  Anyone who is married knows that marriage is a challenge in and of itself, without facing a tragedy every single day.  Every marriage responds differently to losing a child, just as every marriage would respond differently to most every challenge in life: a new child, the loss of a job, the purchase of a home... I know that, for me, as soon as Max passed I began to worry that my marriage would end too.  I mean, I literally started worrying about it in the hospital next to Max's death bed.  The blow was just too large.  I wasn't sure we could handle it.  Many marriages don't last through something this catastrophic.

In many ways, for us, the whole point of getting married was to start a family.  If we weren't eager for the next stage, we could have just kept living together "in sin".  We were really happy with that arrangement actually.  But I was getting "older" and I was worried that I was losing valuable baby having years...so I started putting the pressure on Ted.  I felt it was time to get married.  Eventually, he did too.  Max completed our happiness.  He brought us so much closer together.  We saw sides of each other that we didn't even know existed.  My love for Teddy grew exponentially when I would see how Max looked at him.  I fell so much deeper in love with Ted after we had Max.  I am going to go out on a limb and say that I think that the same thing happened for him with me.  It was a really beautiful time in our lives and in our relationship.  I loved how our lives were moving forward with our new family.  I couldn't believe how lucky I was.  I had to remind myself all of the time that I actually had this beautiful life - these two wonderful boys.  I can't believe how hard it all came crashing in on us.

To be honest, I wondered what our purpose was after losing Max.  Obviously, I still loved Ted deeply but I felt too broken to give my love to anyone.  And, somehow I was already aware of the terrible statistic of 90% of marriages ending in divorce after the death of a child.  At a certain level, it made sense.  We couldn't really do anything to help each other.  Each of us were having a hard enough time wondering how to possibly go on living.  I remember telling my sister-in-law, Beth, how scared I was that I was going to lose Teddy and that most marriages split after the death of a child.  She told me that that statistic included all of the crappy marriages out there.  That 50% of marriages end in divorce anyway and plenty of couples stay together who shouldn't.  The death of a child would surely break up those marriages that weren't all that strong to begin with.  She assured me that Ted and I would be different.  Ted assured me as well.  I needed their assurances.  I am so grateful for them.  It wasn't until months later really that our grief counselor convinced me that I had too much to worry about to keep worrying about my marriage.  Ted promised we would be fine, I just needed to trust it.  I was having trouble trusting anything but I went with it.

The fact is that there was nothing left to give each other...except a promise that we would stick together.  People kept telling me how wonderful it was that I still had Teddy and that we should lean on each other.  Super Moronic words - even though I recognize that "they didn't know what to say".  Ted and I both felt that if we had lost each other, it would have been easier.  We even told each other that.  And, if he had leaned on me, I would have fallen over.  I hardly got out of bed.  If I did, I moved to the couch where I laid silently, staring at the television all day long until it was time to go to sleep.  That is the reality.  The reality is that I when I finally stopped being catatonic, I spent all day and night crying my eyes out, asking why, screaming at god, yelling "I miss Max!" and "This is NOT living"....and Ted hardly spoke (and you were offended that I didn't want to have lunch with you.  Is this picture becoming clearer yet?  Do you finally realize how much pain I was in?).  I can't even tell you exactly what was going through his head...because men don't really share.  I only could see that his spirit was absolutely decimated.  I can still see that broken spirit when I look into his once gleaming and joyful eyes.  There is so much pain in those eyes now.  When I would say, "I can't go on without Max!", Ted would say, "You have to" and then turn away from me.  He wasn't being cold, he just couldn't help me.  And, anyway, he needed to help himself.  He threw himself into work, the football season, and our bathroom remodel.  I thought that the remodel was something that was helping him take his mind off of his pain, but I guess it was really just causing him more stress.  I can remember crying and screaming and Ted turning up the volume on the football game to drown me out.  It isn't pretty but that is the reality.  My pain affected his pain.  In order to help himself, there were times he needed to shut me out.  And, the truth is that I couldn't have helped him get through his pain if I tried....mine was too deep.  In the hospital, he had mentioned the idea of leaving this life together "Thelma and Louise style" and I brought it up incessantly.  I wanted to be done.  He felt the need to keep going. He insisted that I keep going with him...and somehow, our love grew.  We saw (and still often see) the very darkest and worst sides of each other.  I guess if you can get through that, you can get through most anything.  

 Almost a year and a half later, there are things that are much easier now.  I hardly ever feel the need to scream out loud even if my feelings are just as strong.  When I do need to cry, Ted often is able to comfort me.  Ted expresses himself more easily these days, but still keeps most of it to himself.  We don't NEED to lean on each other because each of us has found the strength within ourselves to lean on.  But, I think we both find it easier to lean on each other in the darkest moments where are own strength isn't enough to carry us.  It is tragically hard every day and probably will continue to be for a long time.  I think we have made it through the worst part.  We know that our future is together.  Nobody else can come close to understanding who we each are without having known Max as a parent.  He is a big part of who each of us is.  I think I speak for both of us when I say that despite having the greatest challenge imaginable to carry each and every day, we are stronger and more in love.  I think we both know that we are lucky for that.  I know that I feel very, very lucky for that.


Monday, November 5, 2012

Mo these days

Mo is such a happy baby.  He smiles at us all of the time and loves blowing raspberries.  It's so funny.  He starts with the raspberries first thing in the morning and then keeps blowing them all day long.  We think it is so super cute.  Mo also talks A LOT.  He is always chatting and smiling.  We love him SO much.


Sunday, November 4, 2012

Doesn't mean anything

Love songs have little to nothing to do with romantic love as far as I can hear anymore.  Love songs seem to all have been written for Max.  There is a soundtrack of songs that play in my head these days.  This one's included.  Nothing means anything anymore without my baby.



Doesn't Mean Anything
Alicia Keyes

Used to dream of being a millionaire, without a care
But if I'm seeing my dreams and you aren't there
'Cause it's over, that just won't be fair

Darling, rather be a poor woman living on the street, no food to eat
'Cause I don't want no pie if I have to cry
'Cause it's over when you said goodbye

All at once
I had it all
But it doesn't mean anything
Now that you're gone

From above
Seems I had it all
But it doesn't mean anything
Since you're gone

Now I see myself through different eyes, it's no surprise
Being alone will make you realize
When it's over, all in love is fair

I shoulda been there
I shoulda been there
I shoulda, shoulda

All at once
I had it all
But it doesn't mean anything
Now that you're gone

From above
Seems I had it all
But it doesn't mean anything
Since you're gone

I know I pushed you away, what can I do that would
Save our love
Take these material things, they don't mean nothing
It's you that I want

All at once
I had it all
But it doesn't mean anything
Now that you're gone

From above
Seems I had it all
But it doesn't mean anything
Since you're gone

I shoulda been there
I shoulda been there
I shoulda, shoulda

All at once
I had it all
But it doesn't mean anything
Now that you're gone

From above
Seems I had it all
But it doesn't mean anything
Since you're gone

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Superstorm

I was watching Anderson Cooper earlier this week talking about how inappropriate he felt it was for celebrities to be throwing extravagant Halloween parties in the wake of Superstorm Sandy.  "Don't they know that the entire East Coast is without electricity?", he said...as if to say: How dare they celebrate while we are sitting here in the dark!  I am sure LOTS of people could identify with this feeling of "How can the world keep on spinning?".... and "Don't they know we are suffering?".

I couldn't help but think of the millions of people worldwide who live without electricity every single day and those who suffered MUCH MUCH greater things than a loss of power in the aftermath of Sandy.  I was feeling a little incensed myself watching a segment on the Today show (or the like) about how to entertain your family while the power is down -  examples included: play boardgames, make conversation about important issues - like the environment.  Barf.  Do people really need a superstorm to figure out how to talk to each other?  And, in my estimation - not being able to plug in your ipad is far less worrisome than having ones house under water.

There has also been this sensationalized report about the mother whose two children drowned because a neighbor wouldn't let them inside his house.  Oh my god!  It is too effing much to bear.  I feel my heart in my throat.  It's so unbelievable.  She's been too upset to comment so far.  Um, you think?  She's probably wondering how she will go on living.  I am sure she can't even imagine a reason at this stage.  I keep wondering how long it will be before someone tells her it's ok because she can have more children or that they are in a better place.  Surely, friends have already told her that they will go home and hug their own kids tighter after hearing her story (then, presumably, they will play parcheesi and talk about deforestation).

The fact is - the world DOES keep spinning even though the worst you can imagine has happened.  People will keep throwing parties and celebrating.  Pretty soon, people will probably start making the sick humored jokes about the storm and throwing "The storm is over" parties.  They will even try to convince you to join in the party, wondering out loud why you wouldn't want to raise a glass to toast the event.  The fact is that in every story, there are real live people who are suffering, who have lost unfathomably, who don't want to join the celebration..... because they just need to try and figure out how to get through the next minute of their life.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Signs

I am ALWAYS looking for signs that Maxie is with me.  Why?  Because I cannot let go of him.  Because he came into my life and left it all so quickly.  Because I love him so much more than life itself and my heart is dying without him.

I spend so much time every day begging him for signs that he is with me.  I know our light bulbs have been burning out like crazy since he left.  I have noticed the lights in the bathroom and kitchen surging whenever I am thinking of him (of course, I think about him all of the time, so what does that mean?).  Ted sees the number 27 everywhere.  Was it there before?  Are we just noticing these things now?  We want to see signs.  Even if we knew for sure that they were signs from Max, they aren't the same as having him here.  I want him back so badly, I don't understand how I am expected to keep moving.  How can I keep going without him here?  It just leaves me breathless whenever I think about it (always).

My friend Rachel said that she thinks I was drawn into the baby boutique over the weekend by Max.  That "Goodnight Moon" being on the bookshelf was a sign from him.  That my buying it was something I wouldn't have been able to do without the strength of Max behind me that day.  I hadn't thought of it that way, but I like the idea.  Is "Goodnight Moon" on every baby store bookshelf (probably).  Is it every baby's favorite book? (I think so).

I am looking for signs and I swear that even if they smacked me in the face, I wouldn't believe them.
Another bereaved parent told me recently to think of it this way: If indeed Max IS trying to send me signs and I am questioning them all of the time and ignoring them, I am probably frustrating the hell out of him.  That is the very last thing I want to do.  I love him so much.  I wish I could know whether he is sending me signs but I am trying my hardest to just accept them, just in case they are being sent to me by my little boy.  Oh my god - I cannot believe how hard this all is.....