Dreams and a new year

Monday, December 31, 2012

I dreamt about Maxie all last night.  I dreamt he had been saved by the CPR and was a sweet two year old boy.  I dreamt that I told him that I dreamt all of this....this whole life that I have now without him.  I can't believe I wake up every morning to him not being here.  I love him so much and I worry all of the time that I will forget the details of our life together.  In fact, my greatest fear is reaching the end of my life and NOT realizing how lucky I am that I will soon be with Max.  The end is something I want to continue to look forward to because I miss him so endlessly.  I don't ever want the missing to go away. 

After the first year of mourning and the birth of Mo (and probably because I started taking Zoloft as well), the pain dulled a bit.  I am always thinking of Max, he is never out of my mind.  Never.  But, human beings are resiliant and we keep moving forward, whether we want to or not.  And, I think that is what makes the second year so hard.  You realize that you are still living in a world without your child and the greatest gift - that you can finally breathe again - is what you feel most sick and guilty about.  Because even though I am breathing (and laughing and sleeping and smiling and enjoying my baby Mo), my heart is still 100% broken.  It is smashed and unwhole and it just makes me sick that my broken heart isn't the only thing that matters anymore.  Honestly, it makes me sick.

I've come to realize that I have no idea what this life will bring - good or bad (though all of the good is tempered somewhat by the gigantic BAD, SAD, KILLING ME loss of my child).  So, my New Years resolution is to work on having healthier hands.  Yes, that is it.  I want to lotion my hands everytime I wash them because they've been dry and cracked and hurting since Max was born from so much washing all of the time.  I think it is a resolution I can stick to and something that is actually in my control.  I want to have healthier hands.  That's about all I can manage right now anyway.

Today is Auntie Beth's birthday, by the way.  We love her so much and have had the most wonderful time with her.  Happy Birthday Auntie Beth!  Thank you for hosting us, feeding us and entertaining us all week long!

Also, we have not seen Teddy's parents at all since we've been here.  Teddy's mom, Gigi, got sick a day or so before we got here and the last time we saw her was on Christmas.  Teddy's dad followed right behind.  I feel so badly for them that they haven't gotten to hang out.  Looks like Gigi is on the mend, thank god, and will get to spend some time with Mo today! 

Good Boy!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Last night a few of Teddy's oldest friends came over.  We laughed and ate and probably drank too much wine.  And, guess who slept through the night AND slept in until 8:30?



He is SUCH a good boy!

Lighter Moments

Saturday, December 29, 2012

I DO like to post about our lighter moments....because thank god we finally have them.  Here is one of my favorite lighter moments from our visit to CT so far....

Teddy's Day

Friday, December 28, 2012

Yesterday was Teddy's birthday. We went to lunch with Auntie Beth, Cousin Sadie, and our friend Ryan.

Then Ted wanted to go to Newtown. He wanted to bring flowers to leave at the school or a memorial site.  We stopped for flowers and boxes of "cuties" tangerines. Our first stop was the Sandy Hook Healing Center, where Beth had visited already and plans on volunteering. Beth dropped off the cuties there. The healing center is a volunteer organized warehouse with food, healing classes like yoga and meditation, massage stations and a children's corner with games and art therapy. It is nice to see that there are so many good people donating their time to help heal the community. I think it will be wonderful for those people suffering with PTSD and other fear and trauma complications.

Then we drove into the town to find an appropriate place to leave the flowers. There are makeshift memorials all over Newtown. They are just mountains of flowers, stuffed animals, signs declaring "We are Sandy Hook" and "Love will see us through". It's intense. But, as a bereaved parent, maybe I was seeing it through different eyes.  It's just that people feel so helpless- so they bring flowers and stuffed animals...and now the town is moving all of the memorials to central locations. The amount of "stuff" is overwhelming. Our flowers began to feel like an empty gesture and when you think about any of it - nothing will help heal the hearts of those people who lost loved ones....those who lost their children.  Anything we do only helps us feel like we are doing something, but it doesn't help them. It's incredibly frustrating. We all, like you all, feel helpless.

I can only think of the parents who lost children, even though I know that the whole town needs healing.  I worry about them so much.  People keep calling them strong and remarking on how well they are doing and I KNOW it is because of the early trauma numbness factor.  I had a strong case of it.  Things will get so much worse from here...as it sinks in that they will never see their children again....as it sinks in that those little lights who held so much promise are out.....as everyone else in the world "gets over" Sandy Hook and those who have lost their loved ones do not.  I know that even though they are suppressing the visions of what their children's last moments were like, they won't be able to for long.  I visualize Maxie's last moments ALL of the time.  Not knowing what they were for him is torture.

A colleague of mine in Israel who I have never met but who has been supporting me from afar (and who I can't wait to meet), Yael, sent me a link to an article written by an Israeli mother who lost her son to terrorism.  I think that her words hit the nail on the head.  You can read it by clicking here.

This post lost it's way, because it started out about Teddy's birthday.  But, you know...this is what Ted wanted to do on his birthday.  It was his plan from the moment he woke up, probably even earlier.  So, back to Ted's day - We came home and just hung out - something we have been doing a lot of here in CT.  Hanging out is our favorite thing to do - We laughed and ate too much cheese and played with our baby and our niece.  Ted says he had a nice birthday.  I'm so glad.

Happy Birthday Teddy!  We love you forever!
-Abby, Maxie and Mo 


Around her house

Thursday, December 27, 2012

These pictures illustrate one of the MANY reasons that I love my sister in law so much!  She ALWAYS remembers and honors our Maxie.  I cannot begin to describe how much that means to Teddy and I.  We love you so much Auntie Beth.





Cousins

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

I am so fed up with blogger! I can't format my posts. Posting photos has become so difficult it is nearly not worth it and half the comments I approve don't show up on my blog. It's so frustrating!

In other news - we are in CT, visiting Ted's family. We are staying with Auntie Beth and Cousin Sadie. The cousins are getting to know each other. Here is a snippet from their hangout session yesterday.


As

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

As - Stevie Wonder




As around

the sun the earth knows she's revolving 
And the rosebuds know to bloom in early May


Just as hate knows love's the cure 
You can rest your mind assure 
That I'll be loving you always 

As now can't reveal the mystery of tomorrow 
But in passing will grow older every day 
Just as all is born is new 
Do know what I say is true 
That I'll be loving you always 

Until the rainbow burns the stars out in the sky   ALWAYS 
Until the ocean covers every mountain high  ALWAYS
Until the dolphin flies and parrots live at sea   ALWAYS 
Until we dream of life and life becomes a dream 




Did you know that true love asks for nothing
Her acceptance is the way we pay
Did you know that life has given love a guarantee 
To last through forever and another day 
Just as time knew to move on since the 
beginning 
And the seasons know exactly when to change 

Just as kindness knows no shame 
Know through all your joy and pain 
That I'll be loving you always 
As today I know I'm living but tomorrow 
Could make me the past but that I mustn't fear
For I'll know deep in my mind 
The love of me I've left behind Cause I'll be loving you always 




Until the day is night and night becomes the day   ALWAYS
Until the trees and seas just up and fly away   ALWAYS
Until the day that 8x8x8 is 4   ALWAYS
Until the day that is the day that are no more
Did you know that you're loved by somebody?
Until the day the earth starts turning right to left  ALWAYS
Until the earth just for the sun denies itself
I'll be loving you forever
Until dear Mother Nature says her work is through   ALWAYS
Until the day that you are me and I am you  ALWAYS
Until the rainbow burns the stars out in the sky ALWAYS 




We all know sometimes lifes hates and troubles
Can make you wish you were born in another time and space
But you can bet you life times that and twice its double
That God knew exactly where he wanted you to be placed
so make sure when you say you're in it but not of it
You're not helping to make this earth a place sometimes called Hell
Change your words into truths and then change that truth into love
And maybe our children's grandchildren
And their great-great grandchildren will tell
I'll be loving you 

Until the rainbow burns the stars out in the sky--Loving you 
Until the ocean covers every mountain high--Loving you 
Until the dolphin flies and parrots live at sea--Loving you 
Until we dream of life and life becomes a dream--Be loving you 
Until the day is night and night becomes the day--Loving you 
Until the trees and seas up, up and fly away--Loving you
Until the day that 8x8x8x8 is 4--Loving you
Until the day that is the day that are no more--Loving you 
Until the day the earth starts turning right to left--Be loving you 
Until the earth just for the sun denies itself--Loving you 
Until dear Mother Nature says her work is through--Loving you 
Until the day that you are me and I am you-- 
Now ain't that loving you 
Until the rainbow burns the stars out in the sky 
Ain't that loving you 
Until the ocean covers every mountain high 
And I've got to say always 
Until the dolphin flies and parrots live at sea  ALWAYS 
Until we dream of life and life becomes a dream ALWAYS 
Until the day is night and night becomes the day  ALWAYS 
Until the trees and seas just up and fly away-ALWAYS 
Until the day that 8x8x8 is 4 ALWAYS
Until the day that is the day that are no more ALWAYS
Until the day the earth starts turning right to left ALWAYS 
Until the earth just for the sun denies itself ALWAYS
Until dear Mother Nature says her work is through  ALWAYS 
Until the day that you are me and I am you 
Until the rainbow burns the stars out in the sky
Until the ocean covers every mountain high
Until the dolphin flies and parrots live at sea 
Until we dream of life and life becomes a dream 
Until the day is night and night becomes the day 
Until the trees and seas just up and fly away 
Until the day that 8x8x8 is 4 
Until the day that is the day that are no more 
Until the day the earth starts turning right to left 
Until the earth just for the sun denies itself 
Until dear Mother Nature says her work is through 
Until the day that you are me and I am you











A hike and some bragging

Monday, December 24, 2012

Ted has begun a routine of taking the dogs for a hike every Sunday morning (he'd probably go Saturday too but he has had to work every Saturday for the last month).  He takes them to a great (but really steep) trail in the Burbank hills not far from our home.  The impetus for the Sunday hikes was a trip to the vet to see why Jakey has been acting so sad - crying and moaning - lately.  His hips are not doing well and he needs to be building up strength so he can get up off the floor easier.  He is also overweight.  So, in addition to getting on medication for the pain, Jakey was prescribed some hiking.

It sounded like a good family activity so yesterday I asked him to wait until after Mo's first nap so we could join them.  PLUS - I wanted the opportunity to take Mo out in our new BOB stroller!


Have I mentioned that I have the most wonderful girlfriends?  This AMAZING, AWESOME, INCREDIBLE stroller was a gift from my bookclub girlfriends for Hanukkah, organized by my friend Annie!  Is that not crazy?  It is light as a feather and super comfortable for Mo and off roads like a champ.  I love it.  I still only made it up half the hill.  My plan to to try and join them every weekend until I can make it to the top with no problem.  I guess sitting on my couch for a whole year has really caught up to me.  The old me could have take this hike with no issue at all.  Anyway, if I wake up sore the next day, I can always book an at-home massage because another group of girlfriends and family organized by my friend Eowyn (actually, there was even some cross over) bought me 12 gift certificates for at home spa treatments!  I've already had two massages and a pedicure in the luxury of my own home.  Am I blessed or what?  I'm VERY lucky to have the most amazing friends on earth.  I often complain about the disappointments, the jerks, the insensitive - but I need to spend much more time bragging about the wonderful, empathetic, funny, and loyal.  I love my friends.  Truly.



Five Months Old

Sunday, December 23, 2012




Mo is five months old today!  He is still up to his old tricks though - blowing lots and lots of raspberries.  He is on the verge of rolling over - so close.  He is a big time thumb and finger sucker - which helps him calm himself down and put himself to sleep.  He is very verbal and expresses so many emotions with his voice and facial expressions.  He is such a lovebug!

Today we received an email from Teddy's cousin Janee saying that today would be Ted's great grandpa Morris' 125th birthday!  Coincidence?

Ready for the recap?









We love you Morris Lee!!!

My pledge to you

Saturday, December 22, 2012

My baby boy
I promise to always walk beside you
To shield you from as much pain as possible
I promise to always have your back
To love you with everything in my soul

Baby boy
You will always come first with me
Even before myself
And when there is nothing I can do to save you from hurt
I will make sure to love you even more

Little Mo
You are my everything
You are my whole heart
As your mommy, nothing else matters but you
I love you, my love.....

Thank you for giving my life purpose, my sweet boy
Today and everyday 

For no matter how old you grow 
(because I pray that you grow very, very old)
You will always be my baby boy
More important to me than anyone
My child


End of the World

Friday, December 21, 2012

If I'm being really honest, I have to say that I was somewhat disappointed to wake up this morning and see that the world has not ended as predicted in ancient Mayan prophesy.  I'd actually been looking forward to it.

Earlier this week, I went to see my accupuncturist who asked, "Do you know what Friday is?".  "The end of the world!", I excitedly replied.  "No", she replied, "it's the dawning of a new age.  A wonderful day to meditate on manifesting your dreams!".  My dream is to be with Max again.  Can I somehow manifest that?  Perhaps I should meditate on manifesting the end of the world.

I know there is still some time left in the day but, it looks like the world is going to keep on spinning.....something I still can't believe, since my world already ended long ago.

Christmas

Thursday, December 20, 2012

People keep asking how we are doing with the holidays.  As I mentioned, Thanksgiving was hard.  I imagine that New Years will be too.  But, we don't celebrate Christmas and it is a blessing.  I imagine that Christmas would just about kill a bereaved parent, the way that Halloween almost killed me the year after Maxie's death, but worse.  An entire season just about celebrating children - all of the music, all of the toys, all of the tv specials and commercials, all of the joy and cider and singing.  It is truly a special kind of hell for those who are living without their children I'm sure.  None of those things are important to me (well, I like cider a lot but that's about it) and I am lucky.  So lucky that I only have to deal with Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, and New Years - those are bad enough (although Hanukkah was strangely not hellish - though I imagine it might become somewhat different once Mo is old enough to enjoy it.  Knowing what Maxie is missing out on will always hurt, but that holds true for everything).  My heart is broken for parents who have to endure Christmas without their children. It is like the whole world is just mocking their pain - it is so cruel.

Dear Christmas celebrating friends - I wish you so much strength to get through Christmas.  Sleep as long as you can, stay in your pajamas all day if you want, try to be present with your other children (if you have them), if you want - completely ignore the holiday if you don't have other children (I'm not Christian but I think Jesus would understand) - you can do your shopping online and you can just read a book that day.  I know, it's easier said than done.  My heart is broken for you and for what you should have this Christmas - and all Christmases to come.  You should have your little one.  You should be hiding presents in closets for weeks and then putting them under the tree you decorated with the little ornaments that they made in school.  You should be singing songs and watching the Christmas specials together, cuddled up on the couch or in bed.  I am so sorry.  So sorry that your baby is gone and your dreams are crushed and Christmas will never be the same.  Keep breathing.

The most beautiful sound

Wednesday, December 19, 2012


Mo's giggle is the most beautiful sound in the world


This boy has saved my life

How to say what you mean

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

*Platitude is a trite, meaningless, biased, or prosaic statement, often presented as if it were significant and original. The word derives from plat,the French word for "flat." Whether any given statement is considered to have meaning is highly subjective, so platitude is often—but not always—used as a pejorative term to describe seemingly profound statements that a certain person views as unoriginal or shallow. Examples of statements which could be considered platitudes could be "You only live once", "The power of friendship", "Go with the flow", "Everything happens for a reason", "It is what it is!", "If it's meant to be, it's meant to be", and "We need to do what we can do."

Over the past year and a half, I have written a lot about what not to say to a grieving parent.  What hurts us, what makes the loss even more painful, what pushes us away and makes us feel completely removed from the rest of society.  Often, I get defensive responses - "We didn't MEAN it that way!".  I know you didn't mean it that way.  I am not sure that is the point though.  You didn't think it through.  You just said it because "that's what people say" - that's what makes it a platitude.

If you are reading here and you haven't lost a child, I assume it is for one of a few reasons: 1) You are just curious about how a person deals with the ultimate loss 2) You are someone who knows me directly or indirectly and you want to know how we are doing or 3) You are actually interested in knowing how you can be more sensitive towards the feelings of people who have experienced a tragic loss.  Many of my readers are here for reason three.  If you are one of those people, please pause before you feel defensive.  Know that you are reading the words of a woman who has lost a child, the words of a woman who has spoken to many other people who have lost children, the words of a woman who has been reading the words of other bereaved parents for almost 17 months.

When I tell you that it hurts us when you say "I am going to hug my children tighter" and then I explain to you why it hurts me....try not to defend yourself.  Trust that when I tell you that it hurts us, that it in fact DOES hurt us and then just don't say it anymore.  It doesn't matter what you meant - I know you think you are saying something incredibly empathetic - perhaps even profound - you aren't - it hurts.  We are often without the ability to step back and logically give you the benefit of the doubt - especially when we are early in grief.  We don't care about giving you the benefit of the doubt because our heads are spinning and our hearts are breaking, we can barely breathe and we don't know how we will take one more step into the future.  What you meant is just about the last thing on our minds.  We are extra sensitive and vulnerable and our defenses are on high alert.  You do have control over the words that you say and the message that you impart.  I am telling you that it hurts because I don't want you to say something that might be taken in the wrong way.  I don't want you to hurt anyone - even when you didn't mean to.  I want you to be able to comfort your friend who is hurting, as I know that is what you would like to do.

And, yes, as I said in my post this past weekend- you SHOULD hug your children tighter.  You should never assume that they are safer than anyone else's children.  We actually want you to know that you should relish every minute you have with your beautiful children because you never know.... BUT - like many things - it is one thing for us to tell you to hug your children and it is another thing for you to just offer up that information.  You may not grasp the difference, but please trust me.  I am not leading you astray.  And if you read the other blogs that I referred to with that post (here: http://offthedivingboard.wordpress.com/2012/12/15/i-know/, here: http://susansobspot.blogspot.com/2012/05/you-have-made-me-hug-my-child-little.html, and here: http://lifewithoutjude.wordpress.com/2012/12/15/inappropriate/), you will see that I am not alone in feeling very hurt and misunderstood when people have said this to me.  And maybe there are some parents out there who love hearing these words, but since you don't know who does and who doesn't, wouldn't it be better to err on the safe side?  Believe me, my point is not just to criticize you - my point is to try and help you have more empathy, so that you can say the right thing and comfort those in pain. You don't even have to understand WHY it hurts (although my post was an attempt to explain to you why), you just have to believe me that it DOES.

Human communication can be so complicated.  We say things all of the time that are taken out of context and misunderstood.  We think we are being funny and we are really being insulting.  We think we are expressing anger and people think we are trying to be funny.  We hurt each others feelings unintentionally.  We forget things we've said and things others have said.  We put our feet in our mouths - I do it too, all of the time.

I know you are wondering what you can say.  I have been told that I have too many rules.  Here is what has felt compassionate but obviously it should come from your heart:

1) I/We am/are always thinking about you guys and Max.
2) What happened to Max is so tragic.  He should be here with you.
3) Max was a beautiful baby/ Max was so sweet/ I love Max so much/ I miss Max
4) You and Ted are wonderful parents.  I am so sorry that Max isn't here.  It isn't fair.
5) I heard what happened to Max and I was shocked/stunned/ angry/ hurt
6) I know you will never be the same.  I will never be the same either.

I encourage you to *think* about what you are saying instead of just saying what you think people want to hear.  Don't just repeat my list above. Don't just repeat things you've heard.  There are many hurtful platitudes:
1) god needed another angel
2) He's in a better place
3) god doesn't give you more than you can handle
4) You can always have more children
5) You are still young enough to remarry

In fact, I feel weird making a list of what to say....because it's best to speak from your heart.  I think it is important to direct your comments to the family and keep them about their loss, their child (or spouse or parent....unless perhaps you have also lost a child, a spouse, a parent), the unfairness that has visited their lives.  You can also talk about how you feel about their child not being here (not about how their loss makes you feel lucky....they know that....they want to know that your heart is broken too).

My intention here is to save you from hurting someone who is already hurting.  My intention is to help you express yourself in a way that your intentions are felt because I am sure you DO mean to be compassionate.  That's it.  Take it or leave it.

* Wikipedia definition of Platitude

Bath Time

Monday, December 17, 2012


Mo loves bath time as much as Maxie did.  We love bath time with our babies - they are so mellow and happy and warm.  We get to suds them all up, brush their hair, cuddle them up in their towels.


I wish I could give these boys a bath together!  It would be so much fun!

The stigma of loss

Sunday, December 16, 2012

I feel the stigma of my loss wherever I go.  I feel it even when the people around me have no idea that I have lost my son.  I know that someone might ask me at any minute whether Mo is my first or if I have other children and then I will have to make the decision about whether I should tell them about Max.  Nine times out of ten, their reaction is one of complete horror and disgust - they can't wait to get away from me.  And then there are the instances where I encounter people who know me, who know of my loss.  People see Ted and I coming and they look the other way, praying not to make eye contact, hoping not to get stuck next to me in line for the bathroom or at the buffet table.  It used to tear me apart - I've always been extremely social - suddenly, I was someone to avoid.  It stings less these days because I've realized that the people who have dismissed me based on my loss are worth nothing to me.  They aren't people I value anymore than they value me.

We were recently at an event where there were a lot of these kind of interactions going on.  Upon arrival, someone I have known for years, walked right past me pretending not to see me.  I turned to Ted and said, "Oh my god, people are not going to talk to us tonight".  While it doesn't hurt as much as it did in the first year of my grief, it is always a slap in the face.  I know that the sight of my face is a buzz kill.  Very few want to have to interact with the bereaved mother when they are out for a good time.  It's amazing how quickly you become valueless to people.

When kind people do approach us, we notice it.  The people who come over to say hi, ask how we are doing, talk to us about Mo or Max or whatever else - they stand out to us.  They have a different aura.  Sometimes, I can still sense their fear and trepidation, but they are of stronger character and I can feel it. They have put aside their own egos to be human beings.  Sometimes they just say, "I don't know what to say but I just wanted to come say hi".  Usually they find that I am not that scary, that though my heart is heavy, I can still maintain the lightness of the moment.

Maxie's death has given me a clarity and insight into the true character of the people who surround me unlike anything I have ever experienced.  I can see easily spot the empaths, the narcissists, the shallow, the insecure, the deep, the loving, the self involved, the selfless.  I have X-Ray vision - I know who you really are.  It feels like a super power - my ability to read people is one of the few capabilities that has improved since losing Max.  It's a strange gift - one that I never really asked for and didn't really want.  A gift with the highest price tag of them all.  A gift that I value now - but one that I would trade in a heartbeat to have my old life back.

Platitudes

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Our hearts are broken for the families in Newtown, CT who lost loved ones yesterday.  We are torn apart by the idea of children going off to school, where they are supposed to be safe, only to be killed by a madman.  When people load guns with the intention of murdering children, you really have to wonder what the point of this life is?  Where is the justice?  Is anyone ever safe?  The collective grief is palpable.  We are so angry and sad, like everyone is.

The thought of so many new members of our terrible "club" left Ted and I both feeling very sad yesterday, wondering how anything else even mattered other than this great tragedy, wondering again what kind of meaning our lives even have when children are murdered.  The darkness that has been left in the lives of the survivors is profound.  The weeks ahead will be filled with shock and distress, the months ahead with darkness and trauma - then anger, depression, meaninglessness - in no particular order - and the roller coaster of emotions that they will likely feel for the rest of their lives....along with the missing, the longing, the obsessing....Life can be so cruel and unfair.

Listening to the reports all day yesterday, I was feeling a little sick...not just because of the tremendous loss and the horror of the incident...but because of all of the misguided platitudes spewing out of the mouths of every reporter, every well meaning interviewee, every single parent who didn't lose a child yesterday.  Of all the platitudes you have to hear after a great tragedy involving the death of children, the one that feels most indulgent to both Ted and I is “I will hug my children a little tighter tonight”.  Ugh, we heard it SO much yesterday...and not just from our President.  What a smug little nugget of obviousness.  I mean, OBVIOUSLY you will hug your children – kind of goes without saying doesn't it?  Is there some reason that you feel the need to rub that fact in the face of the people who just lost the chance to ever hug their children again?  When did the death of those children become about you anyway? Also, perhaps on the occasion of my child's death, I am not so concerned with what lessons you've learned or what your plans for the evening are...because it isn't about you. There is some kind of presumption that the mourning have become selfless upon their great loss – greatly concerned with the lessons YOU will walk away with.   And, I won't lie, it drives me BANANAS that there are people in my life who have seemingly learned nothing from Maxie's death – Of COURSE, you should go home and hug your child tighter.  Of course you should.  You should learn from tragedy and loss.  You should learn that life is precious and to stop sweating the small stuff - but this “hugging our children a little tighter” business makes me wild. Hug your children tight always – whether or not someone else's child has died. Our children didn't die so you could learn a lesson about loving your family. You should have known your child was precious before mine died.  I can't speak for anyone else, but I'm no martyr – I would trade your child any day of the week to get my child back....and I wouldn't brag afterwards about all of the cuddling we were going to do either.  People always seem surprised to hear that we hate this platitude, but if you think we are the only parents who feel this way, click here to read one of my very favorite posts on the topic, written by another bereaved mother.  In any case, try to resist the urge to say this – I often wonder how this became the “go to” phrase of the non-bereaved, meant to comfort the bereaved. Nothing about it feels comforting and for some reason, people just can't help themselves from saying it.  Instead, please try to articulate your sadness at the parent's loss, at the loss of those children's lives - their futures.  Please continue to remember that their sadness will never go away, that they will be in trauma for many years to come.

Yesterday was a dark day for humanity....but the darkness for these families is just beginning and for that, we are just devastated.  So, yes, go home and hug your children tighter but stop bragging about it to those of us who cannot.


   

Nursing Strike!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Mo is on a nursing strike and it really stinks.  He just won't breastfeed unless he is REALLY tired.  What's weird is that he has never been good at taking a bottle but now he is taking them like a champ.  I am determined to stick this out but it is a struggle - I try to stay really calm and serene but he squirms all over me to avoid having to go "there".

What's especially hard about it for me is that Max was the KING of nursing strikes.  He used to go on them all of the time.  The absolute worst was on our vacation to Costa Rica.  We were out in public a lot and all I wanted was to discreetly nurse my baby under a light blanket.  One afternoon, I found myself completely topless in the front of our rental car struggling with him while tourists and Ticos (Costa Ricans) casually walked by the car peeking in at us.  A modest girl's nightmare.  I finally resigned to carrying around a hand pump everywhere and discreetly pumping under my light blanket and then giving him a bottle.  Twice the work but worth it not to battle it out every time he got hungry.  When we got home, he miraculously just started breastfeeding again.

As I struggle with Mo, I can't help but think of these challenges with Max and it is stressful in that I tend to forget that we ever had challenges....we were so sympatico.  It's 4:30 am and I am resisting defrosting milk for a bottle.  I'm hoping this nursing strike ends soon - it's incredibly uncomfortable for starters and I am eager to get back to easier, snugglier times with my baby.

Missing Maxie

Thursday, December 13, 2012

One of the recurring nightmares that I've been having lately is that somehow Mo has been misplaced.  I've left him somewhere in his carrier and I am not sure where.  All I know is that I am completely frantic.  And, generally I can't get any words out.  I can't scream or yell or even articulate to anyone around me that I need help.  I have this dream at least once a week...usually several times.  And it doesn't take a genius to figure it out.  He is missing....like Max is missing.

Alls not well.  My baby is missing.  He is missing from every photo shoot.  He is missing from every event and activity.  He is missing from every single card I send out that says, "Love, Teddy, Abby and Mo".  Sometimes I even think to write his name but then I stop and realize that people will just think I am being morbid, or indulgent, or dramatic.  Nobody wants to receive a card from a family that lists their missing member.

You see, not only am I missing Maxie in the sense that I long for him, I ache for him, I feel empty without him.  I am missing him because he is missing.  Our lives, our home, our hearts are missing one very special person.  We are missing Maxie.  Every minute of every day.


I love LA

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

I am actually not even sure that I do love LA anymore.

Ted and I figured out how to access my Shutterfly photo albums on our tv set the other night.  We sat and watched slide shows from our former lives - the ones before I met Ted, the ones from before we got married, the ones from our wedding, the ones from before Maxie was born, the ones from when I was pregnant with him, the one from when he was here.

Speaking of which, both my brother Paul and Prima Sharon dug up the "I love LA" rehearsal videos from our wedding that I mentioned in yesterday's post!  He had three.  The first one is just Sharon and I doing the routine.  The second one was our performance with Carmen, who sexys it up a bit - as she is known to do.  We are sweaty because we are practicing a dance routine in my livingroom, which happens to be in the middle of a rainforest.  It's like 1,000,000 percent humidity.  The third is with all of my girlfriends practicing the night before Ted got to Costa Rica.

Ted likes to tease me that I love Randy Newman just because I love this song.  I don't love Randy Newman.  I really don't.



Abby and Prima Sharon


Carm, Abby and Prima Sharon

Sharon says she practiced again yesterday at home because you never know when we might need to do this routine again.  Ha!  Classic Sharon.


Carm teaching the routine to the ladies

The rehearsal went better than the show!  Trust me.



I miss the "old me".  I really really do.  I'm feeling nostalgic for myself.  





Keeping busy

Monday, December 10, 2012

Remember I said I'd be getting out with Mo?  Well, we've been getting out a little and it's been good for us.

First we went to a Baby and Me Yoga class.  It was making me nervous just thinking about it.  I used to take Maxie to Baby and Me Yoga starting when he was only 6 weeks old.  It was something I looked forward to every week.  But, I remembered that we used to go around the room and say how many children we had and what their ages were and I didn't want to do that again!  Even though I was going to a different studio now, I worried that they would do the same thing.  I was sort of praying that I'd get there and be the only one in the class.  Anyway, turns out that I really AM good at manifesting stuff!  Mo and I got a private Baby and Me Yoga class with the most wonderful and compassionate teacher.  I told her about Maxie and we worked on working out my anger and grief.  It was fabulous.  The fact that she had her beautiful standard poodle with her was a total bonus.  "There are no accidents", she told me.  My mom has had 3 standard poodles.  They are a sign of family to me.





We also took a baby carrier dance class this weekend with my friend Carly and her baby Gavin.



If you know me, you know I LOVE dance routines.  My cousin and I even choreographed a surprise routine to "I Love LA" for Ted and my wedding.  We taught all of my girlfriends the day before Ted arrived in Costa Rica and performed it "flash mob" style during the reception.  It sounds a little cooler than it was.  (Speaking of which, does anyone still have a video of our rehearsal?  There was one on my Facebook page but now that I am no longer on Facebook I don't have it anymore).

Anyway, I don't even have to say much about the class, just check out the insane video.  You can see that we were on fire!  That's Mo and I in the back.

video

I guess I feel it's important for me to write about the lighter moments as well as the heavier moments...because grief is not linear or only just one way.  Neither is life.  There are ups and downs and we are on the biggest roller coaster ride I could have ever imagined.  I know that there are other bereaved parents that read my blog and I am grateful that you are here.  I know if you are in early grief, you probably can't even imagine having the light moments - I didn't have light moments for almost a year...and they are still infrequent.  I want you to know that they will come.  You don't have to believe me, because it is totally unbelievable...but they will come.  If you are further along - like where I am now, you probably feel incredibly guilty for ever having light moments.  You probably worry that people think you have forgotten your baby because you are laughing.  You know you haven't - couldn't - wouldn't want to - even for a minute.  It just isn't possible.  While I feel so guilty having light moments, I want them for you.  If I want them for you, shouldn't I be as compassionate with myself to want them for me too?  If you have been reading my blog and hoping for lighter moments for me, please work on having them for yourself too.  Life is too hard otherwise....and SLOW.

I wish for you lightness, laughter, joyful moments, poodles and dance routines.  Perhaps the meaning of life is just that simple.


Existential me


Over the past almost 17 months, I have spent quite a bit of time wondering what the point of it all really is.  You are born, you live, you die.  Along the way, you try to build some meaningful relationships, see some stuff, maybe make a difference in the world or at least to your own family.  You watch the people you love die, the relationships you worked so hard to build fall apart, and the difference you hoped to make doesn't amount to much.  If you are lucky, you get a few good laughs out of it.  And, that's it.

Since Maxie died, many people have asked me if I am "over it yet".  If they haven't asked me directly, they've asked the people close to me.  I may have mentioned - I will NEVER be over my son.  Never.  I have had more than a few friends drop off the face of the earth since Max passed.  Good friends - never to be heard from again.  I guess I just stopped "counting" once my life got sad.  And, people who I thought loved Maxie really never mention him at all.  Lucky for them, Mo has taken Maxie's place and "alls well that ends well".

So, what is really the point?  If the expectation is to "get over" the single most important and loved person in your life as soon as they unexpectedly and prematurely die - why would any of us ever bother to build relationships?  If you died tomorrow, would you want your parents or spouse or friends or children or siblings to "get over" you so quick?  Of course you would want them to move on and find happiness.  But, don't you think you are worth mourning?  Don't you kind of hope you are?  I know, I know, you want your funeral to be a "celebration of your life" - but then do you want the attendees to go home and say, "That was a great life and party" and then forget all about you?  Because most of them will.  After you are gone, there will only be a handful of people who care.  Your spouse will be encouraged to find someone new -perhaps as early as in the weeks following your death.  Your parents will be told to focus on your remaining siblings.  You children will be told that a year is the appropriate amount of time to grieve but people will start getting impatient with their process after a couple of months.  I'm not even dead and people have forgotten me.  And, I am not so much complaining or feeling sorry for myself because those people suck....but I am more wondering - what is the point of it all?

If my own son is someone that I should get over - there must be no relationship on earth worth investing in.  Surely, I would have thought that my relationship with Max would be the greatest investment of my life.  If relationships don't matter, if love doesn't matter, if someone's life doesn't matter, if we become valueless when we are in grief - WHAT IS THE POINT?  What is the meaning of this life?

Happy Hanukkah

Sunday, December 9, 2012


Happy Hanukkah!
Whatever you celebrate, I'm sure you will enjoy the 
awesome pics from our Hanukkah photo shoot:





I originally bought a different shirt for the photo shoot.
One that I thought said, "Mo's First Hanukkah"
in a size six months.
Instead I received this:


It must be the sample.  
It says, "Name's" first hanukkah
and it is a 12 monther.

So, I figured that Maxie's old "Challah Back" Tee would do.

Happy Hanukkah to all of our fine Jewish friends!


Old Dog

Saturday, December 8, 2012

It is becoming increasingly clear that I don't see so well.  If I am not wearing glasses, my eyes are permanently squinting.  My vision has gotten worse with each pregnancy.

Just before losing Max, I went to the optometrist to get contact lenses for the first time.  Ted wears contacts - he is a pro!  I am very late to the contact game.  Anyway, the doctor gave me a pair of lenses, sat me in a chair, and told me that they couldn't let me leave until I got the lenses in and out of my eyes once.  I guess they've had people go home with the lenses in and not be able to get them out.  Good thing he made me sit there - that would have been me.  I could not get those suckers out.  I tried for 45 minutes.  My eyes were red and itchy and there were tears rolling down my face - from frustration and just plain old irritation of my eyes.  The lenses were my kryptonite!  They had defeated me - but I swore I would be back!!

Then we lost Max and contact lenses didn't seem so important anymore - especially since I never left the house (or my bed really...).

But, my eyesight got worse while pregnant with Mo and now Mo does something Max never did - which is to reach up his sticky little hands, which he warms in his mouth all day, and grab my glasses.  When I finally wrangle them out of his little grip, they are all shmutzed up.  I usually try to wipe them clean with my shirt, thus spreading the shmutz more evenly all over the lenses.

My nanny came to help me the day before my maternity leave ended.  Together, we went to the optometrist to face my demons.  After what I have been through in the last year, this contact lens thing should be a cake walk.  This time the practice round only took twenty minutes - twenty minutes of deep breathing, collecting my emotional strength, concentration.....and then - VICTORIOUS! - or so I thought.  I brought my new contacts home, so excited...and tried for the next two weeks to get them in my eyes without any luck.  I cannot get these things in or out of my eyes.  My eyes just glue themselves shut whenever they see my finger coming at them with that lens on the end.  It's kind of hard to fake out your eyes too - I mean, they literally see everything.  Ted says he started wearing his contacts in college - his motivation to get them in and out of his eyes was his interest in girls.  Good motivator.  Mine is Mo - You'd think it was just as good of a motivator, right?

Since Mo and I are getting out more, I can't keep going around with these squinty eyes.  But I won't be able to see anything through my shmutzy glasses.  What's a girl to do?  Like the Jerky Boys say - "My eyes is going crazy!!!!!"  Is it really too late to teach this old dog one new trick?

Focus on the moments

Friday, December 7, 2012

I have had a few really hard interactions recently.  I try to maintain my "bubble" of a life, but it just isn't possible and there are people that I cannot avoid.  People who have hurt me incredibly.  And, the thing is, even though I know not to expect anything from these people - because they just are who they are, I still feel disappointed when they act EXACTLY how I expect them to act.  I don't know why it surprises me at all.  I feel like I have set up a few opportunities for people who hurt me to say, "You know what?  I can't believe how poorly I handled Maxie's death.  I am so sorry.  How terrible that your baby is gone."  Not only were the opportunities not taken, in their place were more hurtful words, more ignoring of the elephant in the room.  II actually think some of these people are waiting for me to apologize to them!  t just leaves me feeling so lonely.  As with everything else on this journey, my expectations will adjust, but for now it is still incredibly hard.

An interaction earlier this week knocked the wind out of me and I spent the rest of the day feeling so down.  During Mo's last nap, I just let it go and I cried and cried and cried.  I even called my mom to cry to a listening person.  "Don't let them hurt you!  Don't give them that power!", she said.  She is right, I know.  But, it is so hard.  I've always been sensitive...always had my feelings hurt easily.  When I went to get Mo after his nap, I was still crying and he was looking at me with concern.  Honestly.  He really looked concerned for me.  He gave me a few tentative smiles, as if to say, "Cheer up Mommy.  What's wrong?"  Mo is the best medicine.  Teddy's pretty good too.  He came home and I felt 1000 times less lonely.  He understands how hard this all is - it's hard for him too.

Ted gave me good advice - advice that I think people have been trying to give me all along when they say, "one breath at a time".  His advice was that we need to try and find joy in the small moments of life.  Find joy in Mo.  Find joy in our marriage.  Find joy in Jake and Layla.  Find joy in our nieces and our family.  There may not be the happy story any more but there are happy moments.  Focus on those and let everything fall away.  Good advice whatever your heartache might be.

By the way - reading all of the diaper suggestions was awesome for me - so, how's that for appreciating the small moments?  

Soaked

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Look, I am ALL for saving the environment - but when I get soaked for like the 8th time in the last two weeks in the middle of the night when Mo's Seventh Generation diaper leaks all over my lap, I gotta wonder if there isn't a better solution.  Like, pampers maybe?  Thoughts?  Ideas?






My "secret"

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

You know about the Law of Attraction, right?  Where you just imagine yourself with the things you want and then they magically come to you?  If you've never heard about this before, go rent "The Secret".  Before I ever heard of The Secret or The Law of Attraction, I was practicing something similar.  It was a shift in perception that I just decided to make to help me get through a rough patch in my life.  I decided to believe (really BELIEVE) that I would get the things I wanted from life and stop worrying about what would happen if I didn't get them.  I figured that it wouldn't influence the future at all but it would probably help me live more fully in the present.  For example, I just decided to BELIEVE that I would meet the perfect man for me.  I even wrote a list of all of the things I loved about him.  He was a tall, handsome, Jewish man, who was funny, smart, a great dancer, and lots of fun.  Then I met Ted. and he is all of these things - and more!  I decided to believe that we would be able to get pregnant easily.  I figured I could always worry about it later, if it didn't happen....but that rather than stress about it, I'd just believe that it would happen.  Then Max was conceived.  I decided to believe he would be healthy and happy - and he was perfect!

Somewhere in the middle of all that, I actually did learn about the Law of Attraction and I thought - I am totally a pro at this already.  I thought about some other stuff "I got" just by thinking positively about it.  Like, when I saw pictures of this awesome goldendoodle that my friend's older brother had gotten and decided that I wanted one so much.  I looked them up online and read all about them.  Then, my friends brother and his family realized that they couldn't keep their doodle and he needed a new home - that's how Jake came into my life.  I "secreted" him!  I also got a promotion at work (I mean, I worked really hard for it too but...), Ted proposed to me (I had begun to think it may not happen but I really used a lot of energy thinking positively about it), I don't know...I could name a bunch of other things I "secreted" but suffice it to say - I actually thought there was something to it.  I wasn't conjuring up fancy cars or material things, I was dreaming about starting a family and growing my capacity for love.

Let's skip what we all know happens next - because it is doesn't fit in with the rest of my story and I put more energy into that one person than I have ever put into anything in my life.

Sometimes it feels like I ordered Mo from the baby catalog.  He is exactly what I wanted - a baby boy that looked Max, but was his own person, who was big, happy, with a funny personality and very easy.  He is perfect.  We would have loved him if he turned out to be a grumpy, tiny, baby girl (of course) - but he didn't.  My spiritual guide/yoga teacher used to tell me that I was very talented at "manifesting".  It sounds so hocus pocus....so arrogant really.  But, with the exception of one GLARING loss, my life has turned out to be everything that I imagined and hoped it would be.

Back to my little Max.  It makes no sense.  It proves the whole theory wrong...even if everything else continues to manifest perfectly.  This one person. This one life.  He was everything.  The thing that mattered most.  I literally repeated the same mantra to myself all the way to and from work every day of my pregnancy - "a healthy and happy baby with a long, long life".  Over and over and over.  I sometimes wonder if it wasn't god laughing at my arrogance.  Thinking that I could just wish for happiness and love and it would come to me.

OUR ONE GLARING LOSS!  Holy cow!  It takes the "wonderful" out of everything.  EVERYTHING.  And, remember yesterday, when I said I sometimes feel happy - well happy is almost always followed up by guilt, shame, and longing.  But, I did want other grieving parents to know that I DO, honestly, sometimes feel happy.  I would have liked to know that early in my journey.

Life is so hard without our Max....doesn't matter what else happens.  Of course we wish for a wonderful, beautiful life for us - for Mo - for his sibling(s)...but is it even possible now?  With the GLARING loss of Max?  I'm not even sure I could manifest that.

Happy

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

My boss has taken to sending out a thought of the week to our staff lately.  

Today's read: "Being happy doesn't mean everything is perfect. It means you have decided to look beyond the imperfections."

- Gerard Way - Musician

The fact is that I've noticed that there are actually moments, hours, and sometimes even whole days where I genuinely feel happy.


Love enough for two

Monday, December 3, 2012

Mo's personality grows daily it seems.  He is so engaging.  He makes eye contact and smiles.  He flirts - looking at you, smiling and then quickly looking away shyly.  He makes it clear when he is bored.  He lets you know when he is sleepy.  He loves to be played with.  He is a real cuddler and snuggles right into my neck when I am holding him (to die for!).  At four and a half months, Mo is his own complete person.  Sometimes that really highlights for me what we lost in our nine and a half month old Maxie.  He was also a complete person with a large and lovely personality.  These guys would love each other.  I've got love enough for two but Mo is the only one I can give it to.

 


I try to love Mo enough for both of them.  
Sometimes it might be a little over the top.



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