A little TMI

There are so many things that will remind me of Maxie when Baby M gets here.  I am scared of all of the emotions that will come up when I do the stuff I did with Max.  There are things that I imagine doing that feel like they could be too hard emotionally.  When I was pregnant with Max, Ted read "Oh, Baby, the Places you will go!" the "in utero" version to my stomach all of the time.  He would put his lips directly on my belly for extra amplification.  He desperately wants to read it to Baby M but I just am not ready.  It makes me too sad to think about.  We need a new "in utero" book I think.  Once Baby M gets here, I wonder what else will be too sad:  Will I read him "Good Night Moon"?  Will I sing "Rad Ha Yom" to him before putting him down to sleep (as if the thought of putting him down to sleep wasn't scary enough)? Will I be able to bathe him in the same tub that I bathed Maxie in?  It's all a little overwhelming.  I am not sure what I should feed him....was the food that I made for Max adequate or did it somehow contribute to his life ending?  The activity that carries the most emotional baggage for me is actually breastfeeding.

I know that for some of you, that is too much information, but it is the truth.  For the first time, my breasts were more than just a tool to get my husband's attention.  My breasts actually kept me physically linked to Max.  They provided the nutrition that exclusively fed my baby for the first six months of his life.  He continued to breastfeed until two weeks before he stopped breathing, even then, he still drank my breastmilk from a bottle.  He had just become impatient with my actual breasts.  I had about three months worth of breastmilk frozen on the day that he stopped breathing (9 months ago today).  At his funeral, my breast were sore, they ached.  In the months following his death, my nipples would turn black - a physical manifestation of the horror of losing my baby.  There are still times now when I look down at them and I start to cry.  Breastfeeding Max was another physical connection to my child, like the connection we had when he was in my womb.  When I would nurse him, we would stare into each others eyes.  It was a time when I felt our love for each other grow deeply.  It was also a time that we were very playful together.  Max would become distracted as he got older, preferring to "pop off" and smile at me, rather than stay latched and nurse.  If I looked at him, he would giggle and pop off again, which would make me laugh and then we'd be there forever.  So, sometimes I would try not to look at him. This would make him suck extra hard (and sometimes even hurt me) to get my attention.  I'd yelp, "ouch", and look down to find him staring at me smiling.  He was a very playful baby.  I have such funny memories of him nursing while giggling to himself.  I miss his little giggle so much.

Now, it wasn't always easy.  It took a while for Max and I to figure out what we were doing.  And, as a pretty modest gal, I was shy about breastfeeding in public, which made going anywhere a real chore.  I also wasn't always super keen on having male friends over in the very early days after Max was born because I knew with Max's nursing schedule, we would be forced to go into another room for a while, leaving the friend alone.  But, we went to nursing clinics and practiced a lot and eventually figured it out.  I remember the first EASY nursing session.  It was in April of last year.  Ted, Maxie, Prima Sharon and I went to the Huntington Gardens and I nursed Maxie in a chair outside one of the galleries.  He was all covered up and comfortable, I was easily talking and not feeling self conscious.  I don't even think most people who walked by us noticed that I had a little dude under the blanket draped over my shoulder.  It felt like such an accomplishment.  I was proud of us.

I am not sure why the idea of nursing Baby M feels so overwhelming.  A combination of things I think - I am nervous about having to relearn this skill with a new baby.  I am emotional about feeling that familiar tug that will remind me of Max...and therefore remind me so physically of his absence.  I am afraid of connecting so deeply to another child and risking the possibility of another heartbreak.  I know I won't be able to hold him at an arm's length if I nurse him - not that I would be able to anyway.  Sometimes I wonder if my breasts failed my Max.  I was SURE that breastfeeding him meant that he would be ensured optimal health.  It didn't ensure a thing.  I keep wondering if there is some magic formula that would have had better nutrients for him than the ones I provided.  Would that have kept him alive?

Oh Maxie!  The thought of bonding with your brother makes me feel guilty...like I am moving on without you but I promise I am not!  You are always with me.  I would trade anything to have you back.  I like to think that there are things that can be reserved just for you and me but I know your brother might like "Good Night Moon" or living room dance parties as much as you did.  All I can promise is that you and I did it all first.  All I can promise is that my memories with you are special and I am not replacing you but I am trying to bring some of the joy that you brought to us back into our lives.  I want your brother to feel as much love as possible and to know that he is special in his own right.  But, I am so scared.  So scared of loving him as much as I love you.  I have lots of regrets but I never regret opening my heart to you and loving you with everything that I am.  Never forget that you are special baby.  I love you with my whole heart baby boy and I hope that you know and understand - I already love your brother too.


Erin White said...

Hi Abby,

I wanted to send this directly to you, but don't have your email, so I guess you'll see this when you review the comment?

I debated on whether or not to send you this link because I don't want to increase the paranoia, but concluded that more info is always better than less. Perhaps you already checked all of this stuff out anyway.

Since pregnant, I obsessively check this site to review all the products I use and before I buy new ones. http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/
Hopefully, it will bring you peace of mind about one more aspect of your life you can keep safe for Baby M. I really hope it doesn't stress you out. I know I was surprised by some of the stuff I use every day.


Tiffany Torres said...

i feel like i could have written this post. BF-ing was such a sacred time for me and Julius too. and i too was scared about nursing our rainbow. but i have found that i also enjoy my time nursing her. we have different memories. but they don't at all overshadow the time i spent feeding Julius. thinking of you and Maxie.

Taryn said...

What an honest and beautiful post! Your boys are very lucky to have you as their mother. I feel confident that things will fall into place with sweet Baby M. Just so you know, some of these questions are asked by every single mother when they are trying to envision adding another little person into the family mix. Your questions and worries are probably far more poinent than many (I certainly am not trying to down play your unrelenting agony) but I assure you that you are in good company when it comes to wondering how on earth you could possibly give another baby your whole heart. Baby M will find his proper position in your family and that position will NEVER fill Maxie's place for anyone. They are both incredibly special (and unique) boys, sons and brothers.

Ronja said...

Maybe you could view it like this: Maxie taught you how to breastfeed and that will help baby M., so Maxie kind of got to help his little brother. Does that make sense? I know he should be there to help him and show him everything. He will watch over him and he taught you how to be a mommy.

Sarah P said...

This post is beautiful and heartbreaking and brought tears to my eyes. I don't know you, but you are so often in my thoughts, as is beautiful little Maxie and Baby M. Sending you a hug.