Just a baby

Remember this photo?

Here is what went down:

He's not ready to be a big boy yet!

Letting you off the hook

I think I am easier to be around these days.  (*I think*...I don't know).  There are a few reasons for this as I see it:
1) Mo is here.  I love him.  I love that you want to talk about him.  I could talk about Mo all day long.  You are probably more comfortable talking about Mo than you are talking about Maxie.  I have become more accepting of that.
2) I have finally accepted that you don't get it.  You just don't.  I can't make you get it.  I can't talk you into getting it.  I don't really care anymore if you get it or not.
3) I started talking a low dosage of Zoloft.  Now that I am not pregnant anymore, I felt it was important that I make my life as manageable as possible.  I checked with the hepatologist, the pediatrician and the geneticist.  Everyone agreed it was fine.  I plan on going off of it when I get pregnant again.  It hasn't helped my grief one bit...it isn't supposed to....but it has helped me to stop the constant looping in my brain about Mo's future.  It has helped me to cope.  I am grateful that it has put a floor at the bottom of this deep dark pit.  I have much. much more to say about this in a future post but today, I am just putting it out there.  Maybe you think it is crazy for me to announce on my blog that I am on antidepressants, but considering how many people I know on antidepressants who haven't lost a child, I don't think it is crazy at all.  I'm taking care of my mental health.

I'd say that it is a combination of these three things in equal parts that make it easier for you to be around me (and for me to be around you too).  I will never be able to describe trauma and unexpected loss to those of you who haven't experienced it.  I have tried all year long and been totally unsuccessful.  I just don't have the words.  I was trapped in the hell of my own mind...still am from time to time.  I'm not sure why it was important for me that you understand that I was barely functional.  I am only now slowly developing the thick skin needed to walk around this planet interacting with other human beings.

All year I would ask Ted if any of his friends and family were talking to him about Maxie.  I wanted to know if he was being supported.  He told me that, in part, he didn't even want them to say anything.  He knew that they didn't get it.  He was happy to let people off the hook because it was better than having expectations and then being disappointed.  I didn't get that at all.  I thought - if they care about us, they will want to tell us.  When they said nothing.  When they avoided the topic completely or said something hurtful, my mind would be blown to pieces.  But, I get it now.  It has taken a whole year for me to realize that most people cannot handle being uncomfortable for the few minutes it might take to say "I'm sorry".  I realize that people have shortcomings and that empathy is a very common one.  So, I am letting everyone (well, most everyone) off the hook.  Chances are that if you mostly cut contact with me after Max died, our relationship is over anyway.  But, for those of you who are still around, you don't have to feel like you need to talk about Maxie to me.  You can talk about Mo, or your job, or your boyfriend, or your lack of boyfriend.  It's fine.  I'm starting to get a better sense of who can handle it anyway.  I won't bring him up to those of you who can't.

And, for those of you who have gone out of your way to show us love and support all year long - Please know that you have saved my life in some way.  Know that you are incredibly special.  I hope I've told you many many times.  I know I haven't been easy to be around.  I'm sorry and forever grateful.  There are amazing people in this world.  There are amazing people in my life...some who have always been my closest companions, some who were on the fringes of my life and stepped out of the shadows when Max died, and some who were complete strangers to me before.  I am amazed and blessed by profoundly empathetic people who have supported us in countless ways.  One only needs to look at the comments that have been left on this blog, at the candles that were lit for Maxie, and at the thousands of trees planted in his memory to know it.  We are so lucky to have you in our lives.

A few words about Mo

Have I told you how awesome adorable easy Mo is?  We are banana nuts crazy about him!  He is a delicious expressive engaging perfect little dude.  I am completely obsessed with his every facial expression, funny movement, little sound.  Yesterday I swear he said "hi".  I said "hi" and then I heard him say "hi" back and I said "hi" again and then he said it again.  I mean, I know he didn't really say "hi", it probably just sounded like "hi", but he really is smart enough that it wouldn't surprise me.  He smells unbelievable and to kiss his cheeks is absolutely divine!  I never, ever, ever thought I could love anyone as much I love Max.  I honestly didn't think it was possible.  But, last night, while Mo was sleeping, I told Ted that I was excited to wake up to spend more time with Mo.  Big words for someone who prayed not to wake up for more than a year.  He is a gift from god!  I don't say that lightly either.  Between you and me, I was not looking forward to an infant after losing my baby.  Babies are just so much better than infants (is that wrong to say?).  Mo's infant stage lasted about a week!  Or, at least it felt that way.  He is almost 14 pounds!  He can pretty much hold his head up, making "tummy time" so much less painful.  He smiles and coos and almost straight up chats (ask Eowyn, who was here yesterday.  Mo just sat up on the couch in between us and got in on the conversation).  I can't say enough about my baby boy.  He is a total dream come true!

Ramblings on god and the book of life

Yesterday was Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement.  I spent some time thinking about the meaning of the day, my seemingly endless sorrow and my spiritual journey.  My search for understanding our profound loss seems to be taking me everywhere except within my own faith.  And I really have no explanation why, as I feel as Jewish as ever.  But, my Judaism has never had much to do with my spirituality.  My connection to my faith was always rooted in tradition, history and social justice.  Surprisingly, in the wake of Maxie's death, I haven't found anything from my own background to lean on.  I don't remember any kind of teaching about what happens after we die, I can't remember learning anything about why some people are forced to live nearly unbearable lives, only that we should help those who are less fortunate.  I have wondered if perhaps the answers I am seeking lie not within the Conservative and Reform traditions that I have been brought up with, but maybe rather in either the more religious or fringe practices of Judaism.  I thought about studying Kabbalah or meeting with an Orthodox rabbi but I just haven't gotten around to it.  I feel failed and punished by god and somehow, for me, that has translated into anger at my faith.  I'm not so much even looking for another god to connect to, as I truly believe that we are all praying to the same god, we just have different interpretations of him (her/it).  I am looking for some kind of meaning.  I need to understand WHY US?

Someone brought a copy of Harold Kushner's "Why Bad Things Happen to Good People" to Maxie's shiva for me (I frankly cannot believe I only got one copy of this book, especially considering I got 4 copies of "Goodnight Moon" when Max was born).  Rabbi Kushner speaks early on about how when he was a young rabbi, he made a visit to a young family whose child had just died.  One of the first things they told him was that they believed their child's death must have been their fault, since they hadn't attended services the past Yom Kippur.  He assured the family that our god is not a punishing god, that he would not take their child's life as revenge for their absence from synagogue on the High Holidays.  He found it incredibly distressing that Jews (or people in general) would think that the bad things that happen to us in this life are a punishment - that our concept of god is so "godless".  I may have mentioned before that I started reading this book and had to put it down before ever really getting into it.  It felt like a defense of god, and at that time, right after the death of my baby, I really felt there was no defense.  I am still not sure there is. And, whether god is punishing me, or Maxie's death is a random tragedy, or this is karma getting me back for something....it SURE FEELS UNFAIR!  It sure feels like we are being punished.  If god has no hand in this at all, what are we praying and atoning for?  If, as Jews, we don't even believe in an afterlife as such, what is the role of god?  It seems fairly irresponsible to create emotionally complex living beings and then just leave them to die and work out all of this pain.  

Which brings me to my feeling that this can't be all there is!  I mean, this just can't be it!  Will I really never see Maxie again?  Was nine and half months all he was really given?  And, while I have been searching for meaning (or god) in everything, I still haven't really found him (her/it)...though I am more and more convinced of there being "something".  Truth is, I don't even think I am searching for god...it's almost too late for him (her/it).  I am searching for Maxie..because I cannot BEAR the idea of never seeing my child again.  Victor Frankl talks about a similar search for understanding in the concentration camps in his book, "Man's Search for Meaning".  He refers to the seances that were held in Auschwitz, where prisoners secretly gathered desperately hoping to connect to the loved members of their families who had already been gassed and murdered.  It is only human to find meaning in such a devastating loss.  It is only human to feel like our loved ones can't be gone.  Afterall, they were so alive just moments ago.  If I could only understand why...if I learned that it was predestined somehow...that our souls had a contract before we were born perhaps...that we will be together again in Heaven or the Invisible World or a parallel universe...if I could know that I WAS indeed being punished for something in this life or another one....perhaps then I would understand why us...  Why Max...perhaps it would be more bearable??

After young people finish the army in Israel, it is customary for them to go on a big trip.  Many Israelis leave for a year or more to spend time abroad.  More and more they are leaving Israel, a place that most people go to to find a connection to their faith, to seek out meaning in treks to places like India and Tibet.  There is an ongoing conversation about why young Israelis feel the need to look for spirituality outside of Judaism.  Going to synagogue, saying the same prayers over and over and in the same order every time, hearing the rabbis sermons that most often are uninspiring to my generation, watching the people who haven't been there in a year all dressed up and greeting each other....it's devoid of inspiration for me.  And, although my own rabbi's sermon was actually inspiring last year, when almost nothing could have inspired me, it was basic and common sense about how to be a more caring and empathetic person.  I honestly would have liked to have had it streamed into the homes of some people in my life who didn't get the memo.  But none of it helps me understand one bit what my purpose is, what the purpose of suffering is, why some people lead charmed lives while others have to fight it out.   We learn to be good people, to be charitable, to take care of our neighbors....well, I did all that and my baby died!!!!  I am not feeling inspired.

The year that Maxie was born, we prayed for him to be written into the book of life, and our prayers were mocked.  This year, I silently asked for Mo to be given a chance that his brother was not given. I know that there are other religions that promise more to their followers - that teach that if I follow the rules I will be blessed in the next life - but I am not sure I can get behind some people being saved and others not.  It just doesn't resonate.  I think a Christian god would love me too, even if I wasn't bright enough to understand his teachings in this lifetime.  If I am wrong, and I am going to hell, how much worse can it be than the hell of losing Max?  And, really, I am not sure if my search this past year has been for "god" or "faith" anyway.  I mean, I am still pretty sure that I like my own religion.  I like that we are taught to be good just because it is the way we should be - not because we will be rewarded for it here or in the next life.  Although, to be on the receiving end of such pain, I sure wish there was something we could do to avoid bad things happening again.  But, I look around on the internet at other blogging parents and children die of all religions, and as far as I can tell, all of the parents I am reading about are really good people...and more importantly, they are all really good parents!

So, what does Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish calendar mean to me now?  Now that my worst nightmare came true?  I guess it was a day to think about how Maxie's life fits in with my search for truth.  It was a day that I spent some quality time thinking about the pure love that we will always have for him.  It was a day that I spent wondering what my connection to god really is now in the wake of this tragedy.  The truth is that I never gave much thought to god before Max died and now all I think about is the order of this universe and what part god plays in it.  And, it makes me mad to think that Maxie's death was meant to be some kind of wake up call ... so I spent much of the last year aggressively fighting that idea by being mad at god.  This Yom Kippur, I tried my best to make peace with god because the truth is that I might need a relationship with him (her/it) in order to connect to and be with Maxie again, which, along with Ted and Mo, is the most important thing in my life.  So, just in case, starting this year, I am working on making my peace with god and praying that Mo is written into the book of life this year and for many, many, many to come.  I was mocked before but I won't be mocked again.  I don't believe god could possibly do it to us again.  The premise of Kushner's book is that the role of god is to comfort us when bad things happen, not cause them to happen and fighting that is just exhausting.  So, while I am not a particularly religious person, I am thinking that I might try that angle for a while and see where it gets me.  I'll let you know.

G'mar Chatima Tova - May you and those that matter to you be written in the book of life.

Maxie - we are missing you desperately every day of our lives.
You will never be forgotten.
We love you to the moon and back again baby!

Mo's Smiles

Mo is getting really good at smiling.  His favorite places to smile are on the changing table, in his rainforest jumper (looking at the little jumping frog...just like Max did), and staring up at himself in the mirror on his baby swing.  His smile is the best thing that has happened to us in 14 months!

Like any baby though, he isn't always happy.  
But he IS always cute:

Subject: Great photo of Max

Yesterday, Ted got this email from his good friend John:

Subject: Great photo of Max

Hey Teddio!

Going through my phone clearing out pics and came across this great pic of you guys with Max at the Venice Garden Tour. Wanted to get this to you. 
Hope you had a great weekend!

Ted forwarded me the message
Subj: Great photo of Max

I wrote back:
I miss him so much. This picture is beautiful

He wrote:
We used to be so happy

Me again:
We will be again

Usually it is Ted reassuring me that we will be happy again.  Sometimes it just seems impossible that we will ever be happy like that (see photo above) again.

I remember the day well.  Feeding Maxie his "yammies" at John's apartment before the tour, taking turns with Ted going into the houses on the early part of the tour while Max slept in his stroller, nursing him on a curb outside a very cute one story home with a small pond, Ted carrying him in the Baby Bjorn for the second half of the tour, stopping at a gourmet catering truck for lunch.  Something that I thought, "would be different and fun thing to do" at the time is now one of my most precious memories....like everything we did during the short nine and a half months that Maxie lived.  All of the "ordinary" moments (changing diapers, breastfeeding, reading to my baby) are now sacred....the out of the ordinary experiences are the memories that we cling to.  It's so unreal.  It is so hard to imagine ever being that happy again.  In the meantime, we take turns assuring each other (and ourselves) that it is coming.  But, when?

My Astrological Forecast

What if you could know your own future?  Would you even want to know what was in store for you?  What if you could know whether you would find the love of your life?  Or whether that love would last?  Have you ever been curious about whether you are following the right career path or if you will have financial success in the future?  These days I have a one track mind about my future - and it all revolves around the loss of our Maxie.  I need to know that Mo and our future children will live.  I need to know that Teddy will live to a ripe old age as well.  I need to know that there will be a time when life won't feel so oppressive and overwhelming.  I need to know that we will be with Max again.

Several months ago, another bereaved mother reached out to me.  She has been on this road without her daughter for ten years now.  Her daughter was two when she passed away.  This mother is one of the most healed bereaved parents I have interacted with.  She found my blog after I attended the afterlife conference in Phoenix.  I have emailed back and forth with her many times about what therapies and experiences helped her the most.  For her, it was doing an out of box therapy for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder called EMDR (Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing), having a personal reading with the famous medium John Holland (which is how she found my blog - he posted a link to my post about the conference experience on his Facebook page), and having her astrological chart done by a Vedic astrologer.  I had never heard of Vedic Astrology before so I asked her a bunch of questions about how it could have possibly helped.  I have never been into Western Astrology, other than to read my horoscope in a magazine from time to time and forget it seconds later.  What she told me about this ancient Indian practice of Astrology was very interesting.

In India, Vedic Astrology is considered a science.  You can actually study it at the University level and major in it.  It is so much a part of the accepted belief system in fact that Indians will not get married or start a new business without first consulting the astrological charts.  India's independence was not declared until the stars aligned just so.  My bereaved mother friend explained to me that having charts done for her and her deceased daughter convinced her that there is a bigger picture to life that we cannot understand...that much of her life as she knew it had been predetermined.  That isn't to say that there is no belief in free will.  In fact, followers can often find out about health, financial and relationship issues from looking at their charts and astrologers will prescribe remedies to cope with the issues that might come up.  None of it is set in stone.

I felt sufficiently intrigued to set up a personal reading with Juliana Swanson, the same astrologer who did my friend's chart ten years ago.  And now you really think I've lost it.  I'll admit, the whole thing sounded incredibly far out but I am in an experimental phase.  I am seeking out unconventional practices to help me explain to myself this most unbelievable loss of mine.  What I can tell you is that my experience with Juliana was way beyond my wildest expectations.  She spent hours preparing charts for me, Maxie and Mo based on our dates, times, and locations of our births. Juliana talked about the cycles of my life, correctly designating several distinct phases I have gone through: one leading up to my parents split when I was eight or nine, one beginning at the age of 35 with my marriage to Ted and then a couple in between.  She spoke with me about my strengths and weaknesses both personally and professionally and she was right on.  I took lots of notes and read them back to Ted afterwards who kept saying, "She KNOWS you!".  She suggested that I should pursue a career in either non profit work or therapy if I was not already on either of those paths.  She believed I would focus my attention in the areas of disaster relief, death and dying, women and children issues and refugee issues (which happen to be the issues that I am most interested in).  My chart indicated that there was a strong likelihood of my losing a child and Maxie's chart indicated a strong likelihood for a short lifespan.  Mo's chart, on the other hand, had many combinations for longevity.  She told me that she saw a need for me to get acupuncture for my liver quarterly and that I need to be vigilant about doing breast exams.  She suggested that I read "Autobiography of a Yogi" by Paramahansa Yogananda (the founder of the Self Realization Center at Lake Shrine) as part of her prescription.  She also saw another birth coming up for us.  Likely a girl, she said, but perhaps even twins.  

I honestly still don't know what to make of it all but I believe that I will be coming back to this experience many times in my life.  Most importantly, my take away was something that she kept telling me repeatedly about Mo - that his biggest challenge would be the legacy of Maxie.  She told me over and over that it is important that we make sure he knows how loved he is and that his brother's death has nothing to do with him....that he is just as important to us and that we love all of our children equally.  That broke my heart and renewed my awareness to concentrate so much love on Mo and his life.  There is nothing that I can do to bring back my Maxie.  But there is so much I can do to ensure that my Mo is a happy and loved boy.  In the meantime, I am not going to say that the reading answered all of my questions and wrapped the case up for me in any kind of an explainable way, but I am humbled enough by Maxie's death to say that I am open to the fact that there is much in this life that doesn't make sense and that I don't understand.  I am open to learning about all of the various ways that people make sense of this world and this life.  I am open to the idea that perhaps we are all part of a bigger plan of sorts.  All I can honestly say is that I really don't know but am finding the journey to be enlightening.

This elephant photo was taken by my mom in India

Two Months Old

Just Born

One Month Old

Two Months Old

Mo's two month birthday is today!  He is such a good baby!  He wears a size two diaper, he is busting out of his size 3 onesies, he smiles more and more, he loves bath time and swinging in his baby swing, he likes to suck on his fingers and pacifier.  We think he weighs about 13 pounds (I weighed myself and then weighed myself with him...his two month pediatrician appointment is next week so we'll know for sure then).  We are so grateful he is here!  We love you Baby Mo!

My commitment to healing

I spent a few hours hanging out with my grief counselor on Thursday (yes, we are friends...I know it is unusual but it works for us).  She is wise.   I had several "a-ha moments" with her.  I was telling her about my experience with the people who count my blessings and fight with me about my grief. "How aggressive!", she said.
"They just don't think before they speak to me", I responded.
She then explained that they are actually aggressively pushing their agenda on me.  That these kind of people typically react this way to the grief of others and that they have giant control issues.  She explained that many people are just so uncomfortable with grief that their agenda is to put an end to it.  Their insensitivity is in fact, quite intentional.  They have no way of understanding that grief (even heavy grief) is a natural and necessary part of loss.  It is an important part of healing in fact.  The people that PUSH me to stop grieving believe that I am committed to staying in grief.   Well, I can assure you that I am not committed to staying in grief...in fact, I am totally committed to healing.  But, this was SO interesting to me!  Of course that is what they think.  It was an epiphany...like a light bulb went on over my head.  Connected to this, I also explained to her that I find it so hard to understand why it is actually very easy for me to make small talk with the friends and family of mine who are willing to go to the deep and dark places with me.  What she explained made complete sense - that I am willing to swim in the shallow end with those that are also willing to join me in the deep end.  She suggested that I stick with those people and forget the other ones for now.  Even if they mean well, they unintentionally hurt and aggravate me....something that she explained is common for those who are grieving.  It is not healthy to subject myself to them.  It hurts me that they cannot understand why I am unhappy and so I explain and explain and explain (and actually end up wondering what the hell is wrong with people that they really cannot understand why parents would be deeply unhappy after the death of their child).  But, it is not that they don't understand why we are unhappy, it is that they are trying to MAKE us be happy regardless of the circumstances because they are so uncomfortable with our unhappiness.  They are trying to control our reaction to our loss!  How crazy and yet totally obvious.  I don't know how I didn't see this before!  What's clear is that I need to protect myself from any more pain and stress.  As part of my commitment to healing, I will do my best not to engage with these people anymore.  To finally understand what was motivating people to constantly challenge my grief or to flat out ignore it, like it isn't the MOST GIGANTIC elephant in the room, is actually like a weight lifted off my shoulders.  I could NOT understand why these people were so incredibly insensitive to our loss.  I now realize (FINALLY) that its all about their control issues (trust me when I tell you that there is nothing that will make you feel more out of control than losing your own child).  These folks don't like grief (as if anyone does) so they are pushing me to abandon mine.  Most likely, they have never experienced a devastating loss or, if they did, they never appropriately dealt with it.  She suggested that I just smile and nod or ignore them entirely.  And as far as where I am with my grief - she assured me (again....as she always does) that I am right where I am supposed to be.

Little Max

My mom came over to visit Mo yesterday and left her iPad.  On it, I found these adorable photos of Maxie from when he was about two - three months old.  He was so cute.  Always a happy and funny and expressive little guy.  I love him and miss him so much.

Accept it

Yesterday I again found myself justifying my grief to someone who was busy trying to convince me that my life is good.  It suddenly occurred to me during the course of the conversation that we were actually having two different conversations.  She is hoping that I will be happy again someday....sooner rather than later I guess....so she is listing off things I should be happy about (things that I AM happy about: Ted, Mo, my family etc...).  I am trying to explain that in the post traumatic distress and heartbreak of having my baby die in an instant, the world is a different place for me where I have to figure out what happiness is again.  And while she believes that she is helping me to see the light, she is unintentionally minimizing my grief.  Because after 14 months, she believes I should be "happy" again or that brief moments of joy should make me happy....whereas I feel like I am still in shock that my former (actual) happy life that consisted of almost entirely happy moments is gone.  We are still trying to absorb that.  You see, everyone else has been in the acceptance phase with our loss for some time.  But that is precisely the issue....it is OUR loss.  I understand that YOU are over it (you make that clear)...and I suppose I would be too...if it were YOUR loss.  But, it is ours and we are very much still getting used to it.  To have relative happiness and joy for 37 years and then have the rug pulled out from under you takes some getting used to.  That's why we keep hearing and reading that we need to find "a new normal".  We haven't found it yet.   But, what you also imply, whether you mean to or not, is that we are grieving too hard or too long.  And for me,what that sounds like is that you believe who we are grieving for (Max) doesn't deserve THIS MUCH grief.  The expectation that my colleagues had that I would just come to work a week after my baby's funeral and then conduct business as usual...and that I should be treated like nothing had happened still knocks me over whenever I think about it.  Their motive (I guess) was to make me feel normal, which is not humanly impossible to do for a person after their baby has died.  My loss was catastrophic.  If you refuse to acknowledge that....if you keep pushing for me to be who I was.....if you truly believe that this loss does not define me....you are discounting the importance of Max and I just will not have that.  He is worth all of this grief and more.  We deserve to cry our eyes out for how ever long it takes.  To us, he was the most special person that ever lived and life without him isn't the same anymore.  It isn't even the same as it was before we had him (as some have implied) because back then, we anticipated him.  I anticipated having a child since I was a child.  Ted and I anticipated and planned for a family as soon as our relationship became serious.  You want me to choose life...but I've already chosen it.  Now, let me work through my pain.  Don't try to lighten my load...you can't.  A complicated loss like ours is known to take up to seven years to integrate.  This happened for us 14 months ago.  You mean well but it comes across as dismissive and insensitive.  Max is more than enough to grieve for, so stop trying to convince me otherwise.  In fact, I can't imagine that there is anyone I know (other than Mo) who is quite as deserving of my devoted grief.  I will miss him for my entire lifetime.  I think it is probably just time to accept it.  And, though you may not see progress in my daily grief, trust that progress is there.  It is happening ever so slowly...totally incrementally....day by day, minute by minute.  But, the pain will never be gone.  The other implication, that I am SURE you don't mean, is that we should just be happy with what life has given us....that we somehow deserved this.  I know that can't be what you mean, but that's how it comes across.

Every time I explain all of this, I think "this is the last time I will explain this" and then I explain it again.  The language does not exist to help you understand.  And, I am not sure if it matters to me anymore whether you understand.  It is becoming too hard and I am feeling repetitive and it doesn't matter at all whether it makes sense to you or not.  When you lose a child (and I sincerely hope that you never do), you can model a better grieving process for me, ok?  Perhaps then I will smack myself in the head with the realization that I have been doing it all wrong.  Anyway, let's just leave it there.  I know you mean well.

Sleepy Baths

Baths make Mo sleepy


I guess the nightmares are back.  I was hoping that the other night would be a one off.  Last night's was BAD.  I dreamt that Mo was a few months old already and that we had to go to the hospital for some kind of procedure.  One of the nurses said she would take Mo to the hospital daycare while I was in surgery.  She came back later to tell me very nonchalantly that Mo had died.  When I started screaming, she said, "I've had to experience hard things in life too."  I cried and cried and wanted to die and everyone was smiling at me and saying things like, "Think positively - you can always have more children" and "Oh, we'll always hold them in our hearts".  And I was drowning in trauma and horror and being totally ignored.

Then, in real life, I woke up to nurse Mo and when I went back to sleep, and the dream just kept going.  Today, I feel totally traumatized by the dream, as if real life wasn't traumatizing enough.  But it astounds me still that Max's life seems to have left no impression on so many.  Some have even assured me that good has come from his passing.  And I'm constantly told not to worry about Mo, to "think positively", as though any mother is capable of not worrying...especially one who sent her child to daycare (a place where he was supposed to be taken care of) to die.  Recently, friends were joking in front of me (and seemingly about Mo) about how much care goes into a first child and by the second and third, you just don't worry as much.  That might be true for someone whose baby didn't wake up perfectly healthy and then go to daycare and DIE an hour later.  As if Mo were a typical second child.  Why is this SO hard for people to understand?

And this is going to sound crazy and I guess I just don't care what you think to a certain extent.  Sometimes is feels like the whole world is in on this but me.  Like everyone conspired together to create this crazy unsolvable mystery around Max's death.  How is it possible that the coroner kept losing things and misplacing things and finding no cause of death?  That samples of blood were put in a package to be sent to the Mayo Clinic and they never got there?  And then the geneticists found nothing?  I mean, they tested every single gene in all three of our bodies and found nothing?  And the other unmentionable people got so freaked out by my questions that they actually called the cops on ME?  ME! - the bereaved mother who has to live day after day without my child for the rest of my life.  I mean, what the F am I missing here?  Why is everyone protecting their own asses?  It even sometimes seems like the every day people in my life who brush off Maxie's death with an "oh well, you can always have more children" or "Let's just focus on Mo" attitude are in on the conspiracy.  It's like the whole world has turned on us.  Or maybe it's more like people really don't care about dead babies (unless those babies are in Africa or Israel or caught in the cross fire of some political war or belonging to an animal in the zoo)  And, of course, I know it isn't so, but holy sh*t - this loss is isolating.  I can't make sense of nearly anything that has happened over the course of the last year and two months.  There are days when it just feels so unreal that all I can think is that it MUST be a massive cover up.  How else can I explain why everyone acts like this was no big deal?  Why everyone thinks this is just something for me to get over?  Like I am CRAZY out of my mind for letting "it" (the death of my BABY) consume me so much!  My Max was my everything.  How could it NOT consume me?

And all this to say - I'm scared.  Mo is home, safe with me.  "Nothing to be scared of", you say.  "Think positively", you say (must I point out that you are not the most positive thinker? - strange that under the circumstances you should suggest that I "think positively").  But - I AM scared.  Obviously, I AM scared or I wouldn't be having the dreams that I have been having.  I am scared because I love Mo the way I love Max.  Completely, entirely, with my whole soul - I love this boy and HIS LIFE COUNTS....just like his brother's did....whether you want to talk about it or not.

Saturday Excursion

We are slowly re-entering the world.  Baby steps.  There is a new Farmer's Market in our neighborhood - at the Autry Museum.  We've been going there for breakfast and to buy our produce for the last few weeks.  I wouldn't have been able to handle the place before Mo was born - lots of babies.  But, I look forward to it each week.  It is a good excuse to get out of my pajamas and think about what I might cook for dinners in the coming days.  Occasionally, I see babies of about two years old with their happy parents and I think, "We should be them".  We should be here with our two boys.  Camped out next to a Face Painting booth yesterday, I thought, "Maxie would love getting his little face painted".  Life is heart breaking.

I worry about this losing this excursion.  There aren't enough people coming to this Farmer's Market.  It's new so maybe it will just take some time for the word to get out.  Already though we noticed that a booth selling fresh seafood that was there for the first three weeks was not there this past Saturday.  Hopefully they will come back.  In the meantime, there is amazing produce, fresh baked gourmet breads, Vegan Korean food, great breakfast and lunch booths, and a few crafty booths too.  If you live nearby, you should definitely check it out.  There is LOTS of parking and maybe you can hit up the pony rides down the road afterwards.  There is also a big green grass area where you could have a picnic or throw a frisbee.  If you come and see us, say hello.  I don't want to lose my Saturday excursion.


I dreamt about Max last night...well, not exactly about him.  I dreamt that I was crying and trying to tell people how much I missed him and they kept ignoring me and talking about other things.  I was screaming - "I miss him!  I miss him!" and they just looked past me, never hearing me at all.  It was painful.  And somehow, I sensed his presence with me....I didn't see him, but I could feel his essence...all of that which was Max.  I miss him and it is infuriating to me that language is inadequate to explain all of my emotions and experiences.  Missing doesn't cut it.  And there is a special feeling I had with Max...a special feeling I can sometime conjure up to feel close to him again.  Usually I can't do it and the only feeling that makes me feel close to Max is grief.

I miss him.  I miss him desperately, like I can't wait one more minute to be with him again.  Like I have butterflies in my stomach with the anticipation of seeing him again.  Only, I won't see him again and I just have to live forever with this nervous, anxious desperation.  And I have another baby and he is delicious and he smells good and has his own sweet essence, but it is different than Max.  While I was playing with Mo the other day in the babies' room, I opened up the ziplock bag with the shirt Max wore the day of his incident and smelled it.  It still smells like him.  I have been wondering if perhaps all babies smell the same, but Maxie smelled different than Mo.  I miss Maxie's smell.  I miss everything about him.

I miss his long eyelashes, his perfect lips, his adorable dimple.  I miss that his ears stuck out and that he smiled so much.  The list of things I miss are endless.  I miss feeling the bliss of finally having the family that I always wanted, swaying in a group hug with my husband and my lovely Max to Kermit the Frog's "Rainbow Connection" and knowing that this is what I waited my whole life for.  I miss knowing what happiness is.  I miss Max and missing doesn't even begin to explain it.

Ted played this for Max over and over in the hospital.  I wish he had heard!  I wish he had remembered our group hugs in the livingroom and realized he couldn't be without us.  I wish he had turned around when he saw the bright light and come back to us.  Why didn't he come back to us?  What could it mean?  We're forever broken hearted...forever without Max.

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. 

He's feeling better

First of all, thank you so much for your encouraging comments and emails.  I got lots of good advice for next time...because I am sure there will be a next time.

Little Mo finally went to bed the other night at 2:30 am.  Then he slept for 6 hours straight, which I believe is what they call "sleeping through the night".  Lord!  If that is sleeping through the night, I will gladly hold off on any repeat performances.  The next day though he woke up at 8:30 and then a couple more times until our eventual real wake up time at 1 pm.  Thank heavens.  He also woke up in the best mood and smiled and cooed at me all day and was my dreamy boy again.  Must have had a tummy bug or something.  But, trust me, it was like he was possessed.  He wouldn't even close his eyes to blink.  He just stared into space with eyes wide open in the pitch dark, yelping and crying.  Alright, alright, I won't repeat that whole story.  What I realize is that this boy needs me and I am madly in love with him.  I can't give up.  I need to push forward for him.  I really love him more every day.

How cute is he?

Spoke too soon

I'm hanging by a thread.  It is 1:30 am.  Mo has been fussing, crying and yelping since 10:30 am yesterday morning.  He took three 20 minute naps in the last 15 hours.  I can't find anything wrong with him.  He has no fever.  I haven't changed anything in my diet in the last two days.  There is no explanation.  But, I am having a tough day to say the least.  Earlier, I decided to take him out for a walk, thinking that might soothe him to sleep (that was over 12 hours ago) and we went to Starbucks.  I was wearing my "Rainbow Baby" t-shirt and when the barista asked me what it meant, I told her.  She awkwardly offered me my frappaccino for free.  Then I walked home thinking about how many times I would have to explain my sweet Maxie's death to complete strangers for the rest of my life.  It is completely daunting.  I was having these thoughts as my baby Mo cried and yelped and fussed all the way home...and then cried and yelped and fussed more.  He is still doing it now as I type this post, camped out on the living room couch while he swings away...unhappy. I have shushed, swaddled, bathed, rocked, and cuddled.  Ted has walked, hummed, sang and pacified. Sometimes I really think I am not cut out for my life.  Not sure how to keep pushing through.

And, yes, I called the pediatrician.  Nothing to tell me except to bring him in if he is still like this tomorrow


Lately I have been worried about this guy:

Jakey, or "Yakey" as my Columbian housekeeper Amparo used to call him, was my baby before Maxie was.  I got him about a month before Ted and I re-met.  He was a year old then.  He is seven years old now.  I adore my Yakey.  He is such a funny dog.  He's super friendly and cuddly...not the brightest candle on the cake.  He forgets how to use his doggy door several times daily.  He's afraid of vacuum cleaners and ironing boards.  Whereas his sister, Layla, is a staunch protector of Maxie and Mo, Jakey hardly notices our babies at all.

By Goldendoodle standards, Yakey is middle aged with the average lifespan of his breed being 9-12 years.  But, lately he hasn't been feeling great.  He lies on the floor and moans and cries.  When you approach him to see what's going on, he wags his tail and acts like he wants to play.  But, then when you walk away, he moans and cries again.  There have been a few nights lately where Ted and I were roused from near sleep by the sounds of Jakey's groans.  I can't stand it.

In all likelihood, he is just having some joint pain.  Goldendoodles commonly develop hip displacia. We can tell that it is a little harder for him to get off of our wood floors once he is laying down.  They are slippery for him and he hasn't got the strength to push past that as easily.  It seems like it happened over night...or maybe I just didn't pay enough attention to him over the past year.  I'm sure he'll be around for a few more years but I am worried and scared about him getting old.  I know I've said a hundred times that a dog's death is not the same as a person's death.  It isn't.  But that doesn't mean that losing him won't break my heart.  It will.  Hopefully he'll be here for a long time.  He is an important part of our family.

Good Grief

Ted and I haven't had a grief counselor in three months.  Our grief counselor, who used to come to our house weekly, lost her mother in June and has been in her own grief since then.  There were a few times in those months where she intended to come visit with us but it didn't really happen.  Each week I could barely keep myself together, waiting for her to come so I could spill my guts, but then she would have to cancel at the last minute.  She took a trip with her children to Northern California to scatter her moms ashes, and one time she got sick and another time her kids came home with lice.  I'm not bad mouthing her.  I love her.  I feel her pain.  Still, I've had no outlet.  A couple of weeks ago, we were about to get back on track when I got a call from one of her friends saying she had fallen and cracked her head and was in the ICU.  She was in bad shape.  We took Mo to visit her the next weekend and found out that she will be out of work until December and can't drive.  She has been running around in a grief haze for months and actually feels like this was inevitable and a much needed break.  I believe she is right.  Losing her mother hit her harder than I think she thought it would.  For the months leading up to her mom's death, she kept telling me not to worry, that she will be totally available and present afterwards.  Although she had been working in the field of death and dying for many, many years, she had not lost someone so close before.  She knew death and dying from an academic perspective and from seeing it first hand working in hospice and doing grief therapy.  But, she hadn't felt it herself.  She had heard from patients from years about how their losses had been compared to the loss of a pet by others.  When a neighbor casually commented the day after her mother died that it was such a coincidence that his dog had died the night before as well, she felt a punch to the gut.  People keep telling her that her mother is "in a better place" when she knows that the best place for her mother is here - where she can hug and kiss her grandchildren.  She couldn't believe that she was hearing all of the cliches she'd been told about all of these years.  She couldn't believe how much they hurt.  To know how someone feels, you must first feel it yourself.  That has become obvious to me.

I find it incredibly difficult to articulate exactly what it is about this that scares me.  But, it goes beyond the fact that we don't really have a grief counselor anymore.  Though I do feel like an important outlet for me disappeared right before the anniversary of Maxie's death, a time when I needed it most.  What actually scares me the most is that before she lost her mother, she reassured me constantly that people can emotionally survive loss and grief.  That things change and evolve...which I am still sure that they do.  She told me that her "experience, strength and hope" was that we would get through this.  But, to see that same person totally knocked out (literally) by this gigantic loss of her own scares me to death.  And, I know that losing a parent is enough to knock a person to the ground.  I know it is.  I never let the thought of my own parent's eventual deaths cross my mind before losing Max.  The thought was too horrific.  And yet, intellectually I knew it would happen some day.  I am so lucky hat they are both still healthy and very much alive.  But, as you know, I never thought I would lose my child.  I NEVER thought it would happen.  In fact, intellectually, I KNEW I wouldn't lose my child.  That isn't the order of the world.  And, so when I see her so knocked out by the death of someone who she intellectually knew would die before her, who was in fact sick for many years, I wonder how I can be expected to "recover" from Maxie's death.  Maxie's SUDDEN and UNEXPECTED death at daycare.  Not that I am being expected to recover exactly but there is this expectation that things should be getting better, that my grief should be changing.  In some ways it has.  In some ways, I think I am just dying on the inside.  I am just numb to most emotions.  I am a DEEP feeler...always have been.  I am sick of feeling stuff so I am just shutting down.  Someone recently told me that all Ted and I need is to have some time put between us and Maxie's death.  I don't know why it has stuck with me.  I guess I have been trying to just sit out my days, putting time between last summer and the present.  Putting time between me and my Maxie.  The thought makes me sick to my stomach.

I wrote a post on Sunday that I think was misleading.  If you read it, you probably thought - "She is getting better!".  I am not getting better though, I am becoming more functional...better at hiding the pain.  I guess what I am saying in part, is that if you haven't experienced a dramatic loss in your life, you probably don't know how I feel at all.  I think that is probably why you think that somehow this is all getting easier, when in fact it gets more complicated all of the time.  My post was in fact a kind of wish list of how I would like my life to be....not how it is.  It is a work in progress and I do not use the word "work" lightly.  I have never in my life been called to muster the amount of strength of spirit as I have been since losing Max.  To simply remind myself throughout every day that Mo deserves a happy mommy is hard work.  Happiness doesn't come easy to me anymore.  A small trigger (like accidentally driving by the ER where Max was taken after the incident) can throw me completely off balance to the point where I cannot figure out what the point of my continued existence is at all.  It makes me ask myself this question - Is it actually an honor to Maxie's memory to continue to experience joy in his absence?  I know that the answer is yes but it feel like a total betrayal.  I have no choice because Mo cannot be surrounded by grief.  It isn't fair to him.  It's complex.  I have to do joyful things with Mo so that he will be joyful but it feels like a mockery of Maxie's death.  Until Mo's birth, that's what it truly felt like.  Irrationally, hearing about my closest friends and family experiencing joy has felt like a mockery of Maxie's death.  That's one of the reasons I had to take myself off Facebook.  I couldn't see it.  I couldn't hear about it.  The world kept spinning after Max died...but not for me.  I was determined to sit in my house and ensure that, at least for me, time would stand still.  But now everything has changed.  I must be happy for Mo even if it means ignoring my greatest heartbreak.  I must be happy for Mo because he deserves only happiness.  Good thing he is such a sweet boy.  Good thing I love him with all of my heart.  Good thing he is a perfect, happy, easy dreamy baby.  Good grief this is hard.

Mind Control

I am in a new stage of grief...probably because little Mo is here now.  It is impossible for me to sit around looking at Max's photos and going over his whole life and his death over and over in my brain.  I can't just sit and wail and holler.  I am too busy changing diapers and taking care of his little brother.  Whenever Mo naps though, I have to either sleep or keep myself busy because my mind goes back to the trauma and takes me back to the pain.  I have been forcefully pushing myself to think about everything but Max all day.  Whenever I let myself slip, I think about the moment that we left the hospital without Max.  We just left him there!  And I feel sick with myself.  Sick that I just left the person at the center of my universe with a bunch of strangers in a strange place.  I left him there and am now living a whole life without him.  Honestly, it makes my head spin and my stomach turn.  I know there was no choice.  He was gone.  But, the horror of it doesn't leave me.  The horror is engraved on my heart.  It makes me feel unworthy and horrible.  I don't know why because I don't feel that way about other parents who've been through this nightmare.  I don't feel this way about Ted.  In fact, I feel like I have to pull it together to ensure Ted has a beautiful life.  I feel he is worthy of so much more than what he has been given.  Somehow when it comes to thinking about myself though, I feel disappointed and horrified.  Max was everything to me.  EVERYTHING.  And he is gone.  (I cannot believe my son is gone!)  And I just left him in the hospital and came home and started a new life without him.  I have to think about other things.  I have to forcefully push my mind into other thoughts...because when I go there, it is hard to return.

The Great Debate

There is an ongoing debate in the world of bereaved parents.  Are we allowed to be angry at people who didn't realize that they were hurting us?  Are we allowed to be jealous of people whose children are still living?  Are we allowed to compare our losses?  I say "yes" to it all but many say no.  Most of the ones who feel that we should not be angry, not feel jealous and not compare, are not bereaved parents.  They are outsiders looking in and telling us that none of those things will bring back our children.  They are right.  They are telling us that those feelings exhaust us and are a waste of emotional space.  They are right.  They tell us that all grief is significant grief in the life of the griever, so we should not compare.  Of course, my experience is that I don't compare....other people are the ones making the comparison (to their early miscarriage, to their dog's death, to losing their grandparent).  I am simply the one pointing out that those things are not the same as losing a child.  I am un-comparing....I am making that a word.  And, yes, I agree that it is a waste to be jealous.  On the other hand, why should I be held to a different standard than you?  Are you jealous of your friend with the amazing husband?  Are you jealous of your relative that takes spectacular vacations? Are you jealous of your co-worker that gets paid more than you do but doesn't deserve it as much?  And, yes, anger is a waste of energy.....so, why were you bitching about your neighbor or how your friend hurt your feelings at that party last week?  Why were you complaining about your brother in law or mother in law or whoever else it was that you were complaining about?

I guess my question is why you would think that I should be held to a higher moral code than you hold yourself to?  Is it because I lost my child?  Honestly, that makes no sense.  If anything, my emotions are more raw...it is harder for me today to keep my guard up than it was before I lost Max.  I am just as jealous, just as easily offended, and just as easily hurt as you are.  All of these emotions come from the same places in me as they do in you - feelings of not being worthy enough, feelings of sadness and hurt.  My wounds might be easier to see than yours, because I am making them public, but don't tell me you haven't been offended by someone's recent thoughtless offhanded remark.  Don't tell me you haven't been jealous of a friend or a colleague (why are things so much easier for other people?).  Don't tell me you don't compare yourself with others....I won't believe you.

Yes, we should all cultivate a much more zen like approach to life - accepting what is - no jealousy, no anger.  But, I'm just being honest.  Time to put the debate to rest.  We are all human.  End of story.

A redefined life

Each day is different.  That is the craziest part about this grief.  Some days I feel strong, like I can face this life and get through it and even find a rhythm I can be proud of again.  Other days, I can't see past my pain.  I have an idea of what I would like my life to look like moving forward.  I'd like to re-find myself - pieces of my old self, that is.  I know life might last a long time and I need to live it as fully as I can.  It is the best way that I can honor Max.  The quicker I get through my days, the sooner I will see him again.  Learning a new way to be happy is the best way to mother Mo.  He deserves a happy, funny mommy.  I think I am already doing a pretty good job of putting my best self into loving him.  I want to find a way to engage with strangers who ask me about my children that feels honest.  I don't see myself ever saying Mo is my only child, but telling perfect strangers about the MOST personal tragic trauma of my life in casual conversation seems to understate my loss and my love.  I haven't figured this one out yet but I am working on it.  I want to get to a place of understanding that this life is hard and to just let it be.  I am tired of fighting that truth.  My struggle can be there without my constantly trying to battle it or suppress it.  Being Max's mom is part of what defines me.  I don't want to put that away.  It is a part of me that deserves a voice...and, not just here, on this blog, where I don't have to look it in the face.  Being Maxie's mom will continue to define me...I want it to.  I also want being Mo's mom to define me.  My boys are my entire life.  From the moment Max was born, nothing else really mattered.  I want to spend time with people who make me feel good and listen to me.  I want to create boundaries to shut out those who don't.  I want to learn how to have fun and enjoy the good parts of life.  If I don't, if I believe that life is only sorrow and trauma, then I wouldn't want to give life to my children, right?  I must still trust that overall, life is good.  That is why I gave life to Mo.  That is why I want to give life to more children.  To deny that which is good in life is to be a hypocrite now that Mo is here.  There is room for happiness within my grief, or grief within my happiness.  I am looking for these windows and they are slowly opening for me from time to time.  I don't love or miss Maxie one ounce less just because I am finding pockets of peace.  Nobody that I care about is judging my path...and if they are, that is their issue, not mine.  They haven't walked in my shoes and I haven't walked in theirs.  I want to live an honest life...never pretending to be more healed than I am...never feeling like healing is a denial of my sweet Max.

These beautiful bracelets were an anniversary present from Teddy to me.  
They are Hamsas (a middle eastern symbol for good luck)
with our boys Hebrew names engraved on them.  
Yehuda (Maxie's Hebrew name) and Eitan (Mo's Hebrew name).

Mo easy

I feel like a traitor telling you this, but I gotta speak the truth.  Mo is an easy baby!  Mo is an even easier baby than Maxie was.  Maybe it is because we've done this before so it isn't shocking, or maybe it is because Mo is such a bright light in an otherwise dark time, or maybe he is just easier.  Don't know.  Mo is an awesome baby!  He is a total natural nurser, which is especially fabulous because I am in no mood to be sitting at the Pump Station with a room full of first time moms talking about latches and pumping.  I am just not emotionally capable of it right now.  He is a good sleeper - meaning, he wakes up every few hours and nurses and goes right back to sleep (usually).  It doesn't mean he sleeps through the night, but I haven't slept through the night myself since my early twenties.  Girlfriend's got a tiny bladder.  As long as I am not up with the baby feeling frantic and helpless, I'm good.  There have been a handful of long nights but they really weren't that bad.  Ted always asks if he can "walk Mo around" - literally meaning he just holds Mo and hums to him and walks him around.  It always puts Mo to sleep.  He is also pretty portable.  We don't go out much but when we do, he is easy to be out with.  This week I took him to physical therapy with me and my six week doctor visit with Dr. D.  He was a trooper.  He likes being held, read to, sung to and played with.  Some days we "do stuff" like listen to music and play in his room.  Other days, he just sits on my lap while I read or talk to him or watch television.  He's really low maintenance and he is really good at tummy time (he was born with a really strong neck...everyone in the delivery room was commenting on it).  I am just wild about him.  Thank god that we got another easy baby.  Also, he lets me kiss him all of his waking hours.  My lips are literally glued to his delicious smelling cheeks all of the time.  He's just awesome.

A weight lifted

Yesterday morning one of the geneticists from UCLA called to tell us that Mo does NOT have the same carrier gene for a Fatty Acid Oxidation (FAO) as Maxie and Ted.

That was the very best anniversary present that we could have received.

And, even though nobody really thinks being a carrier killed Maxie (since being a carrier means Maxie didn't have the disorder, he just carried it, like Ted does), it was the one inheritable gene that was of great concern to us.  So, as far as I am concerned, Mo is back into the statistical pool with the rest of the population.

A weight feels lifted off my shoulders.  The chances are that Mo will live a long long life.  And, I just won't get into all of the feelings that resurface for Max right now.  Today I am dwelling in the positive.

On our third anniversary

Dear Teddy,

Today is our third anniversary and I am so grateful to be sharing my life with you.  We have experienced the kind of tragedy that most will not see in their lifetimes and it has made me want to give up on life at times.  You have given me the will to go on.  You have reminded me many times that there will be happy times again, and that we have each other.  You have indulged all of my fantasies to run away - to Santa Fe, to Israel, to Costa Rica.  You have never made me feel crazy for all of my questions about the meaning of life and curiosities about the afterlife.  You have spent night after night after night assuring me that you KNOW that there is more than this and that we will be with Max again someday.  You have repeatedly assured me that we won't become another statistic and our marriage will last through this....even become stronger...which it has.  You have listened to me yell about people who have hurt me and even allowed me to vent about those who I have felt haven't been there enough for you.  When I didn't think I could ever go back to work, you shouldered the responsibility.  You made our little shack into a beautiful home.  You are warm and gracious and forgiving.  You are handsome and funny and have made me laugh when I didn't think I would ever laugh again.  You are the most incredible father.  Maxie loved you like crazy.  I could see it in his eyes and it warmed my heart.  I know Mo will love you just the same.  When he is restless, you relax him with your strong arms and sweet voice.  He feels safe with you.  You are my soulmate and my better half.  You remind me daily that I am not alone.  I am so grateful for you.  I love you and again, words are inadequate.  

Your wife,