Yesterday I posted a bunch of poems.  It was kind of a cop out, although I think I get to set the rules here, so that is good.  I posted the poems because I was way too sad to write anything and I just wasn't in the mood to give "Anonymous" or anyone like him/her anymore ammunition.  Anonymous (and probably others) think I am borderline suicidal (his/her words, not mine).  Yesterday I was feeling like I wanted to die.  It isn't the same as wanting to kill yourself.  I often feel like I want to die.  I don't plan how to kill myself.  If you don't know the difference, you just have to believe me that there is a big one.  You see, my doctor told me that I would ovulate again this cycle and that I could try to get pregnant.  So I have been using a fertility monitor.  I wake up every morning and test my fertility and it has been registering as "high" for more than a week.  I need it to register "peak" fertility and it never does.  For some reason, I really thought it would yesterday and getting yet another "high" was just so disappointing (by the way, just tested again and feeling much less surprised to have received another "high".  Should I even expect my luck to change around?  I was and now I feel silly).  I guess "peak" means you are ovulating.  "High" just warns you that "peak" might be coming.  Whatever.  The point is that my whole day is ruined before it even begins and guess what?  It is already ruined from the second I wake up because Max is gone.  I just woke up from such a terrible dream (but not really much different from the dreams I have every single night).  I dreamt that Max was very sick and had been that way for a while.  My mom and I decided to run out shopping for a little bit and we left Max with I don't know who.  Anyway, while we were out I realized that I hadn't breastfed Max in days, like I just forgot to and I told my mom this.  She said that was terrible on his little immune system, and that I should know that.  I said that I simply just forgot and I was feeling terrible.  Then she said, "Well, you know Max is dying anyway".  Just another dream that is not as bad as reality.  I have been feeling terrible about introducing formula to him at the beginning of month 8, even though I know some people introduce formula much earlier.  Hell, some people exclusively feed their babies formula and their babies live.  But it is one more thing I did leading up his death for which I cannot forgive myself.  I also used fabric softener a couple of times.  I can't imagine that there aren't babies out there wearing clothes with fabric softener but I knew that I shouldn't use it and I did it anyway.  It makes me sick.  I miss him so much, I can't imagine one more day without him.
I have to say a few things I did right.  I made almost all of his food myself, cooking and pureeing yams, butternut squash, peas, carrots, and little baby recipes from my "Baby's first foods" books.  I had a bunch of frozen breastmilk (so much so that we ended up donating it to a mother who could not breastfeed her child) and so he kept getting breastmilk even if I had stopped breastfeeding him (I stopped because he wouldn't take it from me anymore.  I really tried to keep it going).  I put him to bed in a sleepsack, in a crib with nothing in it, just a fitted sheet, and I watched the temperature in his room to make sure it never got too high or too low.  I don't know....I feel like I did lots of things right.  I loved him with all of my heart and soul....does that count for anything?  Yes, anonymous, sometimes I want to just give up.  Yesterday, I woke up and took some Tylenol PM (a regular dose before anyone gets crazy) with a plan of just sleeping the whole day away.  I woke up around 2pm and my new Medium friend texted me about something she was watching on Oprah (yes, I have successfully made her my friend...so there is good news.  I can still make friends even though I am a nightmare).  I actually thought Oprah was off the air, maybe it was a re-run.  Also, I have to admit something...I don't really like Oprah, but I put it on anyway.  It was depressing.  About women who have lost children.  And, it didn't give me the hope to go on or anything.  But, I did realize I was hungry.  It woke me up enough to realize that I wanted to get out of bed to get something to eat.  Then my friend Stacy came by to bring me an early birthday present.  Then my friend Marla came over to hang out.  Then it was dinner time.  Then we went to sleep.  So, I got through that day, just barely.
I haven't written about my Maxie in a while and I promise to do that again soon.  My intention for this blog was for it to be a space both about remembering Maxie and to chronicle our grief (mostly mine, since I can't really accurately chronicle Ted's) since losing him.  I think that so far I have done both but I have definitely written more lately about the grief than about my beautiful boy.  I was going to write about him today but there is something else that I wanted to say today and that is that I feel bad about my sweeping generalization about the lack of support from the Jewish community.  There have been individuals inside the community that have totally taken my breath away.  While I am disappointed to not be hearing from many of the people that I thought I was close to, I have heard from some of them often.  I have also heard from certain individuals who I was never close to, some I have never even met.  And, I have no idea if the community even knows about my loss.  I guess that is one of the things that I think is so weird.  Has nobody told anyone about my loss?  It's not that I am super important person, but I am an individual who has been working in this community for over 15 years and the unspeakable happened to my family.  Maybe SIDS isn't a very Jewish thing to happen?  Kind of like alcoholism or suicide?  Not sure.  Still, I have a colleague in San Francisco, whom I have never met, who has been checking in and has sent some very thought provoking and sincere emails to me, which I have really appreciated.  I have another colleague in Israel, whom I have only "met" by email, who has also been beyond kind to me...emailing me personally and posting comments on my blog.  I have a few colleagues around the country who have posted nice comments on my facebook page and sent an occasional email to let me know that they are thinking about me.  I have a former boss who has been in touch with me, checking in from time to time.  I have already mentioned my CEO, who has been truly wonderful, considering how useless I am.  I also have a donor who emails me several times a week with "Chai" (life) in the subject of her email and "Thinking about you" in the body of the email.   I shouldn't have made the generalization.  These people have been wonderful, and, of course, I have lots of Jewish friends....but they are just friends who happen to be Jewish.  I don't really consider them to be part of the established Jewish community (since most of them are not).  I wasn't referring to individuals so much as the "institution" of the community, if that even makes sense.  Not sure if that clears it up, but I thought I would give it a try.  I am still disappointed so I won't even pretend that I am not.  I am finding a new community...maybe that is part of the finding a "new normal" that people keep telling me about.  And, as I have mentioned, I have even made a few new friends.  I was on the phone with one a week or two ago and telling her how some of my very best friends have no idea what to say to me and how it amazed me that she interacted with me with complete ease.  Her response made lots of sense.  She said that those people knew me before and when they are with me now, they are with a person who they see has changed and they are not used to that change.  She never really knew me before, so she has nothing to compare me to, and she likes who I am now.  I love that.  I know there will always be people who liked the old Abby better and right now I am one of them.  But, it is nice to know that there will be people who come along that never even knew the old Abby and that the new Abby is likeable enough to make friends too.  Phew.


marirob said...

Abby - I've started to read your entries every day and even though my heart breaks with every post thinking about your family, I do so appreciate you writing your thoughts. You have put in words so many feelings I've had in the past but didn't quite understand or knew how to process. I didn't know the old Abby too well (other than you are one of the few non-architect wives!) but I think the new Abby is very wise.

Kimberly Bonheim Birbrower said...

Abby, I'm thinking about you a lot these days. I continue to be horrified by people judging your process. It's so unhelpful and unsupportive. I want to start a "I Hate Anonymous" page on facebook and just keep hitting "Like" all day. I'm also thinking about your posts where you list all the things you think you did wrong with little Maxie. I keep thinking how the day to day reality of motherhood isn't always blissful, or easy, or fun. It is a struggle to maintain your selfhood when there is suddenly someone there who you love more than you love yourself. How to balance, how to juggle, how to continue being a wife, daughter, sister, friend, colleaugue, whole human... and to simultaneously be a mother. That should be a life-long endeavor, a lifetime of figuring out. But you only had 9 months. I guess what I am saying is, when I read your descriptions of motherhood, I think - she was the best mother ever. She loved her child, she allowed herself to hit those highest of highs and lowest of lows, she was that honest with herself, she was that present. She was conscious of her choices. She noticed. She loved her little boy. I know that I can't tell you not to have regrets. But if I could, I would, because from here, you have absolutely nothing to feel sorry for. Maxie was loved and cherished and cared for in the most perfect of ways. What a very lucky little boy. And how painfully unfair that he is not here anymore to enjoy all those blessings. Thinking of you today. xxoo

Tallie Fishburne said...

I love you, New Abby!! And even though I did know the old Abby, and will wish forever that New Abby grew under very different circumstances, I'll keep loving and liking you with every new iteration of yourself. XOX -- Tallie

Yael said...

I didn't know "old abby" - but I think that "new abby" is amazing, wise, and loving. I agree with Kimberley that posted above - I would join the "I Hate Anonymous" page on facebook! You deserve only support and you just continue breathing and taking each day as it comes.

Amy R said...


You did everything right. You were the perfect mother. What happened is a horribly unjust. NOTHING you did brought this on. It is so unfair.