The Bris

Mo's bris was really special.  I felt lots of love and support from all of the friends and family who came.  While I was feeling so many complex emotions, I was able to "be in the moment" just for Mo for most of the night.  Ted welcomed everyone and did a beautiful job putting Mo's birth into the context of our lives without Max.  He did not sugar coat the situation and said that the last year has been a complete nightmare and even though Mo will never replace Max - he gives us lots of hope for the future.

There were so many parts of the evening that reminded me of Max's bris...many of the same faces, being outside, the emotions that I felt as a mother surrounding this important but (let's be honest) BRUTAL event.   Everyone commented on what a good boy he was - he hardly cried at all.  Neither did Max at his bris.  I remember the Mohel at Max's bris said that you could tell a lot about how the baby's disposition would be in the future based on how they were at their bris.  Max was an angel and continued to be one for his very short life.  Mo was also an angel.  I carried him around in an ergo (that I really should have fitted and practiced using first) all night. while he slept so peacefully (my back and feet are paying for it today).

Last night was an extreme example of feeling both intense joy and complete devastation at the same time.  And even though I had a smile on my face all night and was genuinely happy, my broken heart was never out of my mind.  What was most special for me last night was being able to be with all of the people who supported us this year.  It felt good to be able to share with them the joy of this new chapter of our lives, and knowing that they understood that our happiness does not erase our devastation.  As I walked our grief counselor around introducing her, the reality of losing Max was always with me.  And when everyone left, the horror of Max not being here to share Mo's special day sunk in hard again for both Ted and I.

But last night was about Mo - as it should have been.  He was celebrated, he was kissed, he was admired and loved....and after all he had to endure last night physically, he deserved to be the center of attention!

Sweet Baby Mo - we love you more than words can say.  You have given us reason to smile again.  We will always be grateful to you baby.

A few shots of the evening

if you were there and have any more, please share!  We didn't get as many photos as we wanted (never do).  Thank you so much!

Mo's Bris

Today is Mo's bris.  A much anticipated event.  A day to introduce him to our friends and family.  A day when he is announced as a Jewish little boy into our community.  We wanted to keep this a small affair because we are overwhelmed and because the day is so very special.  It is turning out to be a bigger affair than we had imagined originally but it will be ok.  I wanted to be able to invite many of the people who really stuck by us this year.  We will be happy to feel all of the support and I am so looking forward to seeing everyone. On the other hand, even in the best of circumstances, a bris is hard on baby and parents.  After all - it is a circumcision.  No momma wants to see their baby go through something like that.  Also, I am worried about the expectations about where people think we are emotionally - my feelings are so complex about our lives in general.  Plus, my first priority is to Mo - so I will probably be busy nursing in the baby's room and changing diapers.  I may not even  get to spend time with guests. And, as much as I want everyone to meet Mo and coo all over him, I want to keep him close to me and away from germs or dangers.  I know it will be an evening that we will remember forever and as much as I am looking forward to seeing friends who support us, I am also looking forward to Tuesday - lying around, cuddling with my baby, in my cozy and quiet house.

Saying it anyway

I have been debating about writing this all morning...because it isn't what you want to hear.  But, I decided when I started this blog that I would always be honest, because I would have wanted to have found more honestly online when I was looking around for other people who have had the experience of losing a child.  So, here is the truth - I am "still" heartbroken - always will be.  I am so so so sad that there are times throughout each day where I can hardly breathe.  Max was the center of my universe.  I love him unconditionally and I felt newly alive when he came into my world.  I loved getting to know him, loving him more every day, knowing he was mine.  My lips were permanently attached to his face.  I loved him so much that thinking about it breaks my spirit entirely.  And, he is "still" dead.  It makes me nauseous.  And, as suspected, the little things I do with Mo, not only remind me of doing those same things with Max BUT the reason I know how to breastfeed, avoid the belly chord when changing his diaper, heat the cold bottle in a warm bowl of water, use a noise maker to help baby because of my experience with Max.  He is in every move I make.  Every caretaking move is a reminder.  All day, every day we say, "Oh, ya, Max used to do that." or "That never happened with Max".  And, to top it off - they look alike.  I LOVE that they look alike...but let's face it - Mo's arrival did not make the memory of Max go away....not that I ever would have wanted it to...but somehow it seems like everyone else assumed that that is what would happen.

And can I tell you HOW many people I have heard from this week who haven't contacted more than once (mostly not at all) this whole year?  I mean, intellectually I knew it would happen..because that is how people are...but - oh my god!  It really happened!  And the messages from these people (and even the ones who I have been in touch with all year long) are like this: "You must be SO overjoyed!"...which I am....on the one hand...but the joy I feel for Mo does not at lessen the sorrow I feel at having lost Max.  I mean, are you CRAZY?  My baby died!  He died!  I will never see him again.  And, I stare into the beautiful eyes of Mo and I cannot imagine anything more horrible than losing him.  Let me ask you something - when you look at your baby....your child...can you imagine ANYTHING more horrible than having them die in your arms?  No!  So, how can you think that it would be any different for me?  It boggles my brain.

Don't worry there will be plenty of updates about my sweet baby Morris.  He is SO cute and funny. He is ALWAYS hungry, he is sleeping like a champ, he knows the sound of my voice and the smell of my skin and I could kiss his cheeks all day long and never come close to getting enough of him.  But, I felt that way about Max.  I will always feel that way about Max.  They are my greatest loves...the very essence of who I am.  One boy does not cancel out the other boy.  They enhance each other somehow.  And though I finally remember what joy feels like - the hole in my heart keeps growing as I am further and further away from the last time I kiss my firstborn.

My sweet Max - Wherever you go, my love will find you.

Guard Dog

Teddy and I are not the only ones who are happy to have a baby in our house again....

Layla has been doing a good job protecting Baby Mo

Only The Good Die Young

Today was Mo's first pediatrician appointment.  Considering that Max's pediatrician never suspected that anything was wrong with him and that Max's "incident" was only 5 days after his nine month visit, I just don't know how important this visit could possibly be to us.  Obviously, it IS important.  We want to make sure there is nothing glaringly wrong with our baby.  But, I am not worried about the obvious stuff.  I am worried about the insidious, hidden, "something" that no pediatrician would ever find.  And, since we have an appointment with our geneticist and one with a SIDS specialist already set up and another one with a pediatric hepatologist pending, this one seemed like small beans.  Still, it was good to know that this pediatrician, who was standing in for our future "regular" pediatrician as she was on vacation, felt that Morris is a very healthy little baby.  

I nearly had a little panic attack in the examining room.  I am not sure what happened.  The doctor was talking to us about "stork bites" (birthmarks) and acid reflux and other stuff that seems so unimportant to me and I started thinking, "Oh my god, my baby Max is dead" and I suddenly felt totally light headed.  I probably should have had some lunch before we went.  Plus, I have been nursing this kid like crazy for days.  I felt like I was going to pass out.  The room was burning up and then a kid in the room next to us started screaming bloody murder and I am surprised that I didn't just fall out of my seat.  My mother-in-law, who was with us, saved my day and went and got me some water and crackers that totally helped me get back to myself.  I am sure that the doctor thought I WAS completely crackers.  But, it's all too much at times.  And, how can anyone look at Mo and tell me so definitively that Mo is healthy, knowing that his brother was too?  

For the last year, I have had Billy Joel's song, "Only the good die young" playing over and over in my head.  I love the song.  We danced to it at our wedding.  I've always preferred "laughing with the sinners" to "crying with the saints".  But - not now.  Now that I've spent a full year crying over the death of a true little saint.  A little boy who did nothing but make people smile.  It was playing in the car on the way to the appointment, while I sat in the back seat looking at my sweet little lovebug.  I didn't stand a chance.

Touching on the complexity

Everything I do with Mo feels so familiar and brings back SO many memories of his big brother.  I miss Maxie so much.  I wish he was here to give his little brother big kisses.  I feel guilty for feeling joy even though he is gone forever.  There is hardly enough room in me for everything that I feel right now.  But, honestly, part of what I DO feel is happy and it is weird.  It has been so long.  I knew I would love Mo, but for whatever reason, I didn't imagine feeling so much joy.  I just didn't think it was possible.  At the same time, I would be lying if I didn't say that I am devastated still (probably always will be) that I lost my soulmate.  I am actually looking forward to my body healing so that I can break down and cry hard.  I want to howl - like really let it all go but for now I keep pushing it down because I am in too much physical pain.  I feel like I've been in a car wreck.  And, I am scared - he looks so healthy!  He looks just like Max did.  Remember - Max was not a sick boy.  We have a bunch of doctors appointments coming up for Mo - he is seeing his pediatrician, the geneticist, a hepatologist (liver specialist) and a SIDS specialist.  Maybe one or more of these will help put my mind at ease.  I sure hope so because I need some peace desperately.

Mo's arrival

Mo's birth was a mercy induction.  By Saturday, I was so overwhelmed with grief and Pupps and other pregnancy pain that I could barely stand it anymore.  Ted suggested that we move up the induction date, after all - inducing on the evening of the 24th was just as arbitrary in some ways.  I did not take much convincing.  I needed a light at the end of the tunnel.

So, we went in on Sunday night at 10 pm and they started me on a low dose of pitocin.  All of our nurses throughout the evening were amazing and had clearly already been informed of our story ahead of time, which was a blessing.  They didn't ask any questions really and were very compassionate.  I am not going to bore you with every detail.  There were highs (back scratches from Courtney, my ANGEL high school friend/doula) and lows (low blood pressure and nausea for a while) until I went into active labor around 12:30.  I was taken off the epidural (something I would come to regret) and then pushed for the next 2 hours.  Mo was not coming out easy and my epidural pretty much wore off by the time we were done.  We had no idea how big he was.  Finally, at 2:32, out came our enormous baby - 9 lbs, 5.2 ounces.  21 inches long.  CRAZY!  No wonder I was so uncomfortable.  We were so happy to see his little face - such a little Leviss!  Looking so much like his big brother.

I have to say, this was the complete opposite experience from Maxie's birth.  With Max, my water broke at 11 pm at 36 weeks pregnant, we got to the hospital by 12 am.  I got an epidural at 3 am, slept until 8 or so and then pushed for about 30 minutes starting at 9:40 am or so and gave birth to a teeny tiny 6.8 pnd baby, hardly feeling a thing.  I honestly could not understand what the fuss about giving birth was all about.  With Mo, I was literally screaming "Get him out of me Dr. D!" by the end.  Night and day!  When Dr. D came to visit our room yesterday he said something like - had we known he was going to be that big, we would have induced 2 weeks earlier.  My mom also remembers him saying, "I can't believe that big baby came out of that vagina!"  If HE can't believe it, then I don't know.... this kid must really be large!

Recovery from this pregnancy feels like it might take a while.  I am sore EVERYWHERE.  Mo nurses like crazy.  I totally can't keep up.  We have already had to supplement a bit with formula.  We'll see what happens.  It is really important that a baby this big eats whenever he needs to and since my milk hasn't come in yet, formula was suggested by every doctor and nurse who visited our room.  We watched this video that said that newborns on average eat 8-10 times a day.  I counted up how many times Mo had eaten this morning over the previous 24 hours - 18 times!  My boobs are is my back and I am cramping like crazy and I still have PUPPS!  I am SO itchy!

The last 3 days have been a crazy mix of emotions.  Mostly pure joy but there is a grief storm that I know is hiding for now and just waiting to roll in.  I love this baby.  Oh my lord - I LOVE THIS BABY!  Ted and I are both overwhelmed with how much of a blessing he is for us.  He has given us back our lives - he is our reason for living.  But, I cannot look into this face and not see my Maxie Moo.  Yesterday, I held Mo close and found myself in a puddle of tears, begging him not to ever leave me.  I couldn't live through losing him.  He is the most important living person in our lives.  He is wonderful.  He is perfect.  I have never ever wanted anything more in my whole life than I wanted this boy.  I am over the moon that he is finally here.  But, oh, I miss my Maxie.  I miss him from a place so deep in my heart  - the place that is permanently broken.

Little Mo - He's already made me so much happier than I imagined possible this past year.  We are trying to focus on that for now and it is beautiful.  Still, it is next to impossible not to make comparisons.

Newborn Max

Newborn Mo

I love these boys!

Day One Photos of Mo

Morris "Mo" Lee Leviss

Baby Mo was born today at 2:32 pm.  He weighs a big 9 lbs and 5.2 ounces and is 21 inches long.   He is super cute and looks a whole lot like his big brother.  Mommy, Daddy and Baby are doing great!

We will likely be missing in action for the next few days (but, you never know!)

Maxie's Candles

We are eternally grateful for your support........ Ted, Abby and Maxie