When it's time to go

I used to say that when I died, I wanted to be cremated and to have my ashes scattered over my three favorite places: the hill at my summer camp, the banana fields of my kibbutz in Israel, and the beach at Tulemar in Costa Rica.  It sounded nice - to be able to be in my three favorite places at once for the rest of eternity.  Now it sounds like fantastical thinking - like the thoughts of someone who thought death was far off and wouldn't really happen until I was old and somehow prepared for it (are we ever really prepared?)

I have been worried lately about where my final resting place will be.  I know I want to be buried next to my Maxie.  Or maybe even directly on top of him.  My mother's parents are buried that way.  Maxie is buried at Mt. Sinai, near our home.  Both set of my grandparents are just steps away.  Obviously, that would be the ideal place - but there is no more room there.  All of the plots are sold.  They have another space in Simi Valley - I guess we could go there, but for what reason?  Nobody we know lives there.  I can't imagine we will move out there.  Being buried in the same franchise as family is not exactly the same as being buried near them.

More likely, we will have to find a new cemetery when it is time for Ted and/or I die.  Who even knows where we will be living by then?  What that means - is that whichever one of us lives longer will not only have to worry about burying the other one, we will also be responsible for exhuming Max and moving him.  The thought is beyond stressful.  I can only imagine all of the trauma that process will cause. You can understand why Ted and I each hope we are the first to go.

It's morbid, I know.  You don't want to hear about this - but these are my thoughts.  I want to try and find a place for us to be buried and figure out ahead of time what the process for moving a burial site is.  I want us to be prepared next time we have to face tragedy and/or trauma and loss.  Because the question isn't "if?", it's "when?"

Top Ten List

Thank you for all of the great advice yesterday. I am feeling so much better!

In the meantime, all of the suggestions about what to do were not only helpful but also somewhat hilarious.  Since I searched all over the internet for help, I figured I would share the wisdom I gleaned from my readers.

Here is a list of the Top 10 recommendations (think Letterman).  From straight up practical to "out of the box" and giggle inducing.

1. I always cooled as much as I could with gel compresses in between feedings, and what did the trick for me was really warming the breast up with heating pads right before nursing. (*By the way, this is what I did and it seems to have worked).

2. Heating pads, warm washcloths, non-stop massaging to the area. if you can actually feel the duct and where the clog is, go to town on it and just try to massage it out. it is sometimes easier to have someone else do it, since they can apply more pressure and pain than you usually can and will to yourself. (Ouch!)

3. Nursing, nursing, and more nursing. Try having him nurse from a different angle. I know it sounds odd, but worked for me a few times. 

4. A very warm shower can help – let the water just run over your breast.  You can also use a wide toothed comb to massage towards nipple. 

5. You can also take ibuprofen, which will help with inflammation and pain.

6. While nursing, aim baby's chin in the direction of the plug. 

7. If there is a fever, mom can take Raw garlic- at least 2-3 raw cloves per day, 4-5 cloves a day if possible. Chop a clove into 5 or 6 pieces and then swallow the pieces whole like pills.Raw garlic acts as a broad-spectrum antibiotic, without the added antibiotic side effects of the development of antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria, or the development of yeast infections or thrush. (I did this...not sure if it helped)

8.  Use a diaper for moist heat - take any diaper and run water through the inside of it and then microwave it.  I like to do the microwaving in :30 increments because you don't want it to be scorching. 

9. Use an electric toothbrush or a vibrator  (Yep, you read that right) on the spot where the plug is.  You can do before or after heat or just any time while you have the plug.  The vibrations can help break up the plug.  I know it sounds nuts but the ladies at the Pump Station taught me this one and it works like a charm. 

And the number one (funny) way to release a plugged duct!!!!:

10. Nurse on all 4s.  So, get down on hands and knees and have Mo under you and nurse the sore side that way.  The gravity helps.  Again, I know it sounds nuts but it can really help. Just warn Teddy that you're going to try it out so he doesn't think you've lost your mind.  I made that mistake once

Like a rock

Would you like to just stop thinking about everything for a while and focus completely on yourself?  I recommend a plugged milk duct or mastisis.  It is really working for me.  I am completely focused on myself (and the shooting pain that is aching through my one rock hard breast).  It's a great excuse to take a warm bath and then a warm shower and then another warm bath.  It's also a great if you like (to) massage (your own sore breast).  And finally, it's a terrific reason to endlessly surf the internet!

Um, seriously - I'm losing my mind.  And I don't have time to lose it!  I have a bunch of deadlines in the next two weeks, Mo is going to the cardiologist this afternoon and my nanny is sick!  What's the answer mommies?  Cabbage leaves?  Cold compresses?  Raw garlic (I tried it last night - that is how desperate I am!)  HELP!


As soon as she began her sentence, I wanted to scream, "DON'T SAY IT!!!"  I knew where she was going and I wanted to beg her not to go there.  WHY must they always go there?  Instead, I stayed quiet and listened as she went exactly where I was so desperate for her not to go, "I can relate to how you feel", she said, "I recently lost my cat".  I didn't respond.  "Tiger was MY baby".  I wanted to yell at the top of my lungs, "IT ISN'T THE SAME!", but I just kept quiet.  "I'm just getting to a new stage in my grief now.  It's been six months", she explained.  Finally, I forced myself to tell her "I am sorry about your cat" and then listened as she told her tale.  I decided NOT to tell her mine.  I didn't want to help her find the similarities in our experiences.  I just don't have the energy anymore to argue about her thinking that losing her aged cat is the same as losing my 9 and a half month old baby.

The false me

It often feels like I am having an out of body experience....or like I am playing the part of myself in the movie of my life.  I go through a lot of motions without much connection to the role.  I say what I think is expected of me and I laugh in all of the right places but I am not engaged in the material.  I don't feel any of the emotions of the character I am playing.  The authentic me is in hiding most of the time.  When she comes out, it can be like an explosion that I cannot contain.  It is full of sorrow and despair and fury and so I mostly stuff her away where nobody, not even me, can see her.  I expose her every so often, angering or scaring those who see her....even myself.  Most likely, you are engaging with the shadow me, the false me, the surface me....and I guess that is just fine.

Seven Months Old

Mo at seven months is so grown up.  He can sit up for long periods of time by himself.  He makes lots of excited happy noises and screams like he is on the way down on the most fun roller coaster ever.  He likes to sit on my lap and pretend to type on my computer.  He reaches for toys and his doggies too.  He laughs when tickled and sometimes when he is just amused.  He smiles all of the time.  He is a really happy baby!  We love him so much! SO SO SO SO SO MUCH!

Let's take a look back:


 * A lot of people have asked about Mo's onsies.  They are actually stickers.  You can find them all over ebay and etsy.  They are 13 month onsie stickers.

Our NEW Mo alarm clock

We've got a new Mo Alarm Clock.  This newer model doesn't have a snooze button!

(There isn't really video - just audio.  You will experience it as we experience it....except we are asleep)

Another beautiful friend

I was emailing a couple of days ago with a woman whose daughter was stillborn four years ago.  We were sharing bits and pieces of our journeys with each other.  Something she said that struck me: "Oddly enough, I have to admit, I've met some of the most wonderful people on my grief journey. "  I have been thinking the same thing a lot over the past few months.  I spent a lot of time feeling so sad and disappointed about the friends I'd lost after Max died - the ones that just faded away - the ones who didn't have the strength to support us.  I am not really sad about them anymore.  They have been replaced by amazing, wonderful, special people.  People with depth and empathy and deep spirituality.  They are funny and interesting and dynamic.  I do believe that the people I have gotten to know since losing Maxie are some of the best people I have ever met.  I am excited knowing that the rest of my life will be filled with these kinds of people. 

I've written a couple of times about my new friend Kim.  Someone who reached out to me seemingly from out of nowhere.  She had read about Maxie when my friend Bianca posted on a yahoo user group that I was donating my frozen breast milk (I also HAVE to mention that I am so lucky that I already had many incredible, loving, compassionate friends in my life, like Bianca, before I lost my Maxie).  At first Kim just wrote every so often to comment on my blog, then she sent me a beautiful children's book about reincarnation, finally we met for lunch.  It turned out that we had worked at the same organization at different times and had so much in common.  She and her husband came over for dinner a few months ago and we had so much fun.  She always tells me that she believes Maxie is right next to me...and it calms my heart.  Sometimes you meet someone and the connection is just immediate.  We often wonder how we didn't meet earlier.  It seems like our friendship was predestined - we believe that we would have met and become friends eventually.  I love spending time with her and our lunches always run way longer than we plan.  

I've wanted to write about my friend Glenda since I met her!  She led a session on surviving grief at the Afterlife conference that I attended last April.  Glenda knows about surviving grief - and I am in awe of her survival skills.  Glenda lost her only child, Chad, when he was 21 years old and hit by a car on a class trip to England.  When people said, "You are still young enough, you can have more children", they were wrong.  Though she was still young enough (she was a little older than I am now), she could not have more children.  My grief work was fast tracked by the birth of Mo.  Glenda didn't have that option (not that I know whether she would have taken it anyway).  She lost a 21 year old....her only child....a bright and handsome and vibrant young man...it's hard to imagine, but I try to put myself in her position and it is just earth shattering.  I have traveled all over the world (often on my own) and my parents used to worry every time I got on a plane. The sense of having no control that every parent feels when they drop their child off for daycare or school or college is amplified when that kid gets on a plane and flies off to a foreign country.  But Chad was going to England on a school trip - it is mind boggling that he didn't just return wiser with wonderful stories and pictures of all of his adventures.  My chest hurts just thinking about it.  

But 20 years later and Glenda is still standing - better than that - she teaches people how to survive grief!  Her clients call her "The Queen of Grief Relief".  And I feel so lucky that she has chosen ME to be her friend.  She reads my blog every day and writes me encouraging emails!  I have a folder FULL of emails just from Glenda.  Here are some examples of her encouraging words:

 "Poignant and right on sista "

"I feel heavy with the sadness you describe so well...hugs sweet lady"

"I didn't nurse Chad but I too loved his middle of the nite feedings.  He'd always study my face and coo.  I miss that.  Thanks Abby for bringing back a fond memory with your post!  I just love your heart.  Hugs"
"Another spot on post ....hope I've been in the listener crowd ;).  Sending hugs lady"
I wrote her the other day to say that every time I take two steps forward, I take one step back.  I wondered if it ever stabilizes.
Her response: "I was serious when I said you could call anytime.  And yes it does.  This is your souls way of searching for a new balance. I know it's hard but I promise it's worth it.   Please hang in there and just allow. "
I keep rereading her words.  It is a lifeline to me.  I know I can do this!  She is such a role model to me. 

I could go on and on.  She sends me these encouraging words all of the time.  ALL OF THE TIME.  I've called her more than once knowing that she would be able to talk me off the ledge.  She is just amazing.  
Glenda is not only a grief specialist - she is an intuitive medium.  Imagine getting your grief relief along with a message from your loved one!  She receives beautiful messages from Chad all of the time, of which I am so grateful for her (and totally envious of).  She is my dream come true!  And - on top of that - she wrote a beautiful book about her journey that I read in one night.  I couldn't put it down.  I had to try and understand how someone who lost their only child became the amazing, outgoing, uplifting, joyful spirit that I met in Phoenix.  I want to be just like her!!!!!  As a side note - my mom and aunt loved her too!  We were all just gushing about her after the session that she led. She has a light that shines from her insides out.  Something about her also reminded my mom and I of my mother in law, Bonnie (or Gigi as the grandkids call her).  Her enthusiasm and compassion are contagious. She is a remarkable woman.

Glenda lives in Indiana - much to my chagrin.  It's probably lucky for her because I would be at her house every day (no joke) if she lived nearby.  
If you want to find Glenda for her medium skills, her book, or for some grief relief - you should visit her website: www.livingthroughloss.com or you can email her at Glendia456 at aol dot com. 

Glenda - I am honored that you have chosen to walk beside me and be my friend.  I admire and love you so much.  Honestly.  

XOXO - Abby 

Special visits

I have said many times that I missed Maxie when he slept.  I miss Mo when he sleeps as well.  There is this moment of brief sadness I feel when I have put him down to sleep for the night where my heart aches knowing that our day together is over.  I won't lie - I relish the evenings and being "off duty".  I can cook and read and watch television and cuddle with my husband.  It's great.  But, I check that monitor often and long to smell him, kiss and nuzzle his cheeks, and make him smile.  I have a sneaky suspicion that Mo misses me too...because he wakes up every two hours and he seems a lot less interested in nursing than he is in smiling at me and checking out his daddy.  Sometimes I end up nursing him for only two minutes before he is fast asleep in my arms.  And though I am sure I would be a lot more functional during the day if I could "sleep through the night" - I love our middle of the night visits.  I honestly do.

Too much television, too little time

The year of television has turned into my life.  I watch a lot of television.  This isn't a new thing.  I always have.  It's just that now there is so much to watch, I find myself worried that I am spending too much time with one show and ignoring another.  I feel guilty when I am watching terrible tv when there is so much good tv to be watching.  I am pretty sure that tv is rotting my brain and I don't care.  I need the distraction.  Ted is just as bad.  He even has shows that he watches without me in what little free time he has (none).  He pries his eyes open to stay up late watching "Zombies" (The Walking Dead) because it is just too creepy for me (Ted and I have actually made a plan for what to do when the zombies come.  It seems like anything is possible these days).  The Zombies aren't going to help our baby making at all....but they make my husband happy.

I am still hooked on The Bachelor.  I don't like the people but I do like the premise - getting married to someone you competed for is just awesome (and unholy).  I am anxious for Ted to get home tonight so we can watch Shaun go out on his hometown dates.  We would have watched last night but Ted had to work late...so I caught up on my reading (shocking!).  We have many, many, many episodes to watch of our favorite shows (for some reason all very, very, very dark programming): Breaking Bad, Sons of Anarchy, Dexter, Homeland, and Damages....and we are WAY behind on the funny stuff: 30 Rock and old episodes of Arrested Development.  I watch all of the Housewives (except Miami) and I have never missed a season of The Real World (why?  I have never related to even one of these characters....ever.  And - I am sort of lying - I missed the season in Brooklyn - hoping to catch a marathon one of these days.)

Television is an escape - a way to get away from your own life and live in someone else's for a while.  I know its rotting my brain but I like to think of it this way - when the Zombie's come looking for brains to eat, they probably won't want mine.

My practice in patience

People always ask me if I am pregnant again.  They do!  I swear!  I've made no secret about the fact that I want more children.  But, I mean, let's get real - Mo is only six months old!  People have been asking me for months actually.  Before Prima Sharon (btw - Prima means "cousin" in Spanish - now you know) came to visit, she had a dream that I was pregnant and was convinced it was true.  I am not.  I promise.

But, the truth is, I kind of wish I was.  It would be pretty near impossible I think - because I am still nursing Mo - and nursing seems to be a natural form of birth control for me.  Now that Mo is eating solid foods, I have been wondering if I might start ovulating again.  So far - not so much.  It's one of the reasons I have been seeing the acupuncturist again.  I keep telling her (half kidding - but actually not kidding at all), that if she isn't going to make me pregnant, I'd like her to make me skinny.  Thus far, sadly, I am neither.

A bunch of mediums told me that I would be having back to back children, and that I should be expecting a girl next.  I suppose I am sort of working on making it a self-fulfilling prophesy.  That way, I can say "See!  The mediums were right!"  and that will help me to believe that Max is still with me and we will be together again.  Obviously, I want to believe in the whole package - that we have another baby, we get to be with Max again, we live a very happy life and Ted strikes it rich (have I mentioned that part of the prophesy?  It has come through in all of readings...including the astrological one.  AWESOME!  Can't wait!)

Yesterday I tried on a pair of my "medium fat" jeans - ones that haven't fit since before I got pregnant with Mo - and they fit!  Hurray!  I know beggars can't be choosers but I AM more interested in the pregnant again than the skinny again (hindsight is 20/20 - I am finally NOW comfortable with the body I had before getting pregnant with Max.  Too bad I couldn't have appreciated it when I had it.)  My new life seems to be a real practice in patience - something I have always sucked at.  I believe it will happen again for me - both the pregnancy and the skinny.  I'm more interested in the former than the latter but I'm looking forward to both!


I am a forgetful person.  I don't remember the specifics of things that have happened to me.  I have friends who joke that if it weren't for them, I wouldn't remember the important details of my life.  Old friends make "inside jokes" to me and although I remember that the joke is funny, I often don't remember why and I need to be reminded.  Kind of pathetic!

Only - it's gotten WAY worse....like, WAY WORSE!  I can't remember things people tell me about their lives.  I read whole books and then forget what they were about by the next week.  My new job is as a grant writer - I have created a complex set of calendar reminders, spreadsheets and folders to remind myself of the work I've done.  I mean, I will literally write an eight page grant and a week later, I can't really remember doing it.  Yesterday, Ted and I stopped for gas and I couldn't remember which side of the car my gas tank is on.  I've had the car for six years already.  It's bad.

My mom has been telling me that since losing Max, she has got the same thing going on.  Just a complete inability to remember anything - conversations with people, important dates, details of things that have happened to her.  Remembering stuff has never been her strongest trait either.  I suspect that between the two us, we *might* be able to piece together a memory or two - then again - maybe not.  Again, it's not good.

I suspect that being in deep grief along with being a mother to a six and a half month old is a tough combination on the brain.  I always hear other mothers talking about "mommy brain".  What I've got is that - times a thousand.  I am using a lot of brain power just getting through each day.  I need to be constantly encouraging myself and working out in my head how I am going to continue on with my life and find meaning.  I literally am my own cheerleader - every minute of every day and I am often too exhausted to keep encouraging myself.  That's when I slip back into the deep pain like I did last week. I am actually surprised that I remember to get done as much as I do.  I should be proud of that really.  I hold down a job, I make dinner every night, I pay bills, exercise, and take care of Mo.  What I guess I am saying is - go easy on me.  Please.  I am going to do my best to remember stuff - but my brain just doesn't work like it used to.


If you want to be a good friend to someone who has lost a child, or is otherwise in deep grief, my suggestion is to just listen.  I know I've said it before.  But - really, just listen.  It isn't even that your friend doesn't want to listen to you - but he/she cannot HEAR you.  She cannot and does not hear you telling her that things will get better, she does not hear you telling her about your troubles at work or home, she is entirely focused on her loss.  She cannot even help it - it is all she can think about.

I am not even talking about myself anymore, because I have finally moved out of that stage.  My brain has compartments again.  I can hear someone tell me about their hardships without immediately feeling jealous of how simple they sound.  I can empathize with problems that aren't as big as losing a child.  But, it took a really long time.  I think it is ok to be self centered when you've lost a child.  Anyway, I couldn't have helped it if I tried.  It was and is the most enormous thing that has and will ever happen to me and everything I thought I knew about everything and everyone I've ever known was totally rocked.

Many people have reached out to me over the last year and a half to tell me that they have a friend or family member who has just lost a child.  I always give the same advice: LISTEN (and bring food).  I know it is hard, but try not to make it about you.  Try not to point out the silver lining - "at least you had 9 good months", "at least you can have more children".....if your sentence starts with "at least", don't say it.  Try not to tell a "sadder" story about someone else, thinking that it will alleviate their grief.  There is no sadder story to your bereaved friend than their sad story.  I am and always have been a bleeding heart - I work in non-profits and I feel others' pain deeply.  My life's work has been in raising awareness, advocating for special needs children, survivors of genocide, care for the elderly....  I get teared up when people tell me about their breakups and other heartbreaks.  But, there is no sadder story to me, than my sad story.  Nothing even comes close.  Losing Max is sadder to me than anything I have ever known.  Your friend will never know anything sadder than losing her/his child.  Nothing on the news, no natural disaster, no traumatic event anywhere will ever be as sad to your friend as the story of his/her own child's death.

You wonder why I keep repeating myself here and you are probably sick of reading the same thing over and over and yes, I do feel like a broken record.  But I continue to hear the same stuff time and time again.  I don't only hear it with respect to us and Max anymore either.  People contact me to ask how they can be a better friend to someone who has lost a child and then they immediately go to all of the "at least"s.  "At least my friend had those 5 months" or "At least my friend's child wasn't murdered" or "At least my friend is young enough to have more children".  I know I could keep telling others until I am blue in the face - there is no "at least".  There is none.  If it makes you feel better - great.  But, keep it to yourself.  Please.  I have learned that people can't help themselves, because they honestly think they are helping, and so it doesn't hurt me quite as much anymore...but I promise, your friend doesn't want to hear it.  Her child was supposed to outlive her so the beautiful 8 days, 8 months, or 8 years she had with her baby was not enough - there is no at least.  Trust me.

I've been so lucky to have so many people who were willing to just listen.  People who I am now honored to listen to as well.  I am forever indebted to these people.  They allowed me to be selfish - to complain and cry and ask "why me?" and talk and talk and talk about my beautiful boy and I can finally hear them now.  I can hear them now.   Your friend will hear you again too.

Poor Jakey

Jakey went to the groomers a couple of weeks ago and they found a tumor on his toe - a really big, black tumor.  One that I almost can't believe we didn't notice.  The vet thinks that it is benign but still wanted to remove it and send it in for testing.  We feel so bad for Poor Jakey with his gigantic cone and bandaged up foot.

Be mine!

Happy Valentine's Day

(He is covered in my kisses!)

I'm so lucky that he's my Valentine!

* Ya, I know, I know,  I'm totally "THAT" mom - perhaps just a little over the top. Poor little Mozie!


They say that with grief you are always taking two steps forward and one step back.  It is one of the hardest parts about this second year for me.  I wish I could find myself at a new level and know that I would be able to count on staying there...but I can't.  Just when I start to feel comfortable in a new place, it all comes crashing back down on me.

I am having a hard week.  I seem to have those immediately following fun trips or good times.  The "hangover" from fun seems to include lots of questioning, heartache, longing and self pity.  Just like with alcohol, I have to start thinking about whether the hangover is really worth the good time.  I almost do better just being locked away, on my own, in my own house, with no adventures.  I can see why people become hermits.  It's just easier to dwell in what I know and can count on.

My head still hurts.  It's pounding, in fact.  I am scouring the internet for stories of hope and inspiration and coming up with the same old stuff.  I am halfway through about ten books that I started, hoping that they could help fix me.  I can't get through them.  They are all the same.  There is no recovery for what's happened to my family.

Countless bereaved parents have told me that time makes it easier....and it is true.  What I guess isn't so clear is that "easier" is still really effing hard.  It is SO hard.  I just want to have a simple life again.  But, I miss my son too much.  I just miss him so so so much.  I have mini surprise attacks of grief throughout the day.  Sitting at my desk and working one minute, quietly sobbing in the bathroom the next.  And, yet, this is "easier" than what it once was.  "Easier" is by no means "Easy" and it is killing me.

You think you know...

There used to be this show on MTV called "Diary of..." on which they would profile some pop star by mixing up bio material and also following them around for a few days.  The tagline of the show was, "You think you know....but you have no idea"... Like either the show was going to give us a greater insight into the true nature of the profiled pop star or that the opposite would happen - we'd walk away from the television thinking we had the whole picture but we'd be completely wrong.

The tagline has been looping over and over in my brain for about a week now - knowing that keeping an online journal doesn't touch the surface of the complicated picture of what it is to be living without my child and the nightmare of his death - knowing that those of my people who actually read my blog think that they know, but that they have no idea.  The blog either provides some greater insight into our devastation or it gives the impression of providing greater insight.  But, truly it probably really doesn't do either of those things.  

The only thing to do is to stop worrying what anyone else thinks that they know.  To stop reacting to the presumption of others when they think that they know what is best for me, or when they think that they know how I feel, or when they declare that they would have grieved differently.  They think that they know, but they have no idea.

They have no idea what it is to lose your very soul.  They have no idea what it is like to have your heart ripped out of your chest and stomped on.  They have no idea what it is like to lose Maxwell Judah Leviss - the most beautiful person I had ever known - my most prized love - the most important person in my life - the one who changed everything that I had ever known in the most beautiful and miraculous way possible.  My baby.  You may think you know.....


With everything that I am

My eyes are puffy and red this morning and my head is aching - because I cried myself to sleep last night.  Coming back to this home, feels like coming home to Maxie in a way...except that we never actually do come home to Maxie.  He is gone forever and it stings and hurts so much.  It is like a knife in my chest, and last night I couldn't even breathe.  I sat on the couch sobbing, my sputtering breath stammering through my lungs.  I moved to the bed, lying on my back, and I could not get a full breath.  Finally, I had to just focus on being still.  Eventually, I fell asleep.

There is nothing more important in my life than being a mother.  Nothing.  And, my baby is gone.  And, as much as I love Mo (SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO much) - that is how much I love/loved Maxie.  With everything that I am.  My children are in the fibers of my soul.  And he is gone.  It is completely horrifying.  I am completely crushed.  My heart is so broken.  I can't believe I have made it this far without him.  I miss him so much.  I long for him so completely.  I feel so empty without him.  I hate these words!!!!!!!!!! I HATE words period - because they do NOTHING to describe how empty and alone I feel without my child. 

My insides are black.  My lungs are made of sticky tar that won't open to let the air in or out.  My brain is crushed and full of glass - cutting and cutting my thoughts to pieces.  Nothing I know has ever mattered.  I can't count on anything at all.  I am sick and tortured and it's all too too too too much.

I am aching for Max.  With everything that I am.


We had such a nice day yesterday.

I've always had a thing for waterfalls.


Teddy, Mo and I are in Portland, Oregon this weekend visiting my Auntie Alison and Uncle Danny and hanging out with our friends Eowyn and Greg, who are in town from Seattle.  Mo took his 5th airplane ride in six months!  He was awesome!  We distracted him really well on the plane with light-up blingy toys and he even took a short snooze on our laps.

He also enjoyed the airport bar and a local brew house in my aunt and uncle's neighborhood.  Today we are going to check out the city and a nearby waterfall.

These days, we welcome distractions and weekend getaways are really a good way for us to get outside of ourselves and enjoy each other, friends and family!  Distractions are another gift we can finally handle courtesy of Little Mo.

Spies like us

Sometimes I think he knows we are watching him!


I woke up in the middle of the night to nurse Mo and was overwhelmed with the most profound feeling of gratitude for him.  If he is allowed to live, if we are allowed to keep him here with us - I promise to give him so much love and the most happy life possible.  He makes my heart soar!  I love him to the moon and beyond!

Being a better friend

I feel guilty that I haven't been a great friend to anyone this past year and a half.  I really haven't.  I have had friends come visit me and later Ted asks me how their kids are, how their husbands are....and I don't know.  Like, I haven't even asked.  I've been so lost in my own sorrow that sometimes I can't see outside of it.  And, in turn, I haven't been a very good friend...and I am so sorry.  And, in the last year and a half, so many people have been so wonderful to us.  They have listened and comforted us.  They have remembered Maxie with us and celebrated Mo.  They have sent cards and gifts and food.  They have read my blog and left comments and voicemails and sent emails and texts.

I get so riled up about the disappointing people - of whom there are probably less than ten.  There are probably five times that number (or more) of really wonderful people - REALLY wonderful people in our lives.  I want to work on being a better friend.  It is important to me.  I am sorry that I haven't been a better friend.  Truly.  I hope you can understand.

And speaking of the wonderful people in our lives:

*A few weeks ago, I wrote about the friend of my friend who lost her baby.  So many of you contacted me to ask me how you could make a donation to help this family with their funeral costs.  Many of you tried to make donations but couldn't.  I just wanted to thank you first of all - because you are kind and generous and wonderful people.  You are!  And, also to let you know those of you who weren't able to make a donation that the reason is because they closed the donation page once they had raised enough money.  It was so beautiful of you to help and to offer your help.

Daddy's boy

Mo just entered the phase of being totally enamored with his daddy.  He looks at Teddy differently than he looks at anyone else.  He smiles at him even when he is cranky with the rest of us.  He is just crazy about his daddy.  I remember when Maxie entered this phase.  It was SO cute.  You could just see how much of a daddy's boy he would be.  I knew he would grow up sitting next to his daddy watching football, that they'd have many adventures together, that they would probably have their own special language.  I loved how much Maxie loved his daddy.  I love seeing that Mo feels the same way.  Ted is SUCH a good daddy.  My boys have been so lucky!

It's just too sad

I always find it somewhat "funny" when people tell me that they can't read my blog - because it is "too sad".  I am chronicling my life here.  And, yes, what happened to Max and us is very sad.  That's sort of the point, right?  My blog is a journal of my grief journey.  That is what it is - and it's sad.  So, friends and family tell me they can't read it because it is too sad.  I am not such a narcissist that I need everyone reading my blog anyway.  I believe most people I know do not read it.  That's fine.  But, then they just offer up the reason - that it is "too sad".  They are basically just telling me that they need to distance themselves from my grief.  So, what I hear is that they don't want to get too close to my "sad story".  I sort of get it - I mean, I don't really watch the local news because it is too distressing for me.  But - those people on the news are strangers - I distance myself from them because I can.  If you are in my life, and you are distancing yourself from my grief, you are distancing yourself from me.  I don't care if you read.  Maybe you aren't reading because you'd rather talk to me personally or because you feel like the blog is too impersonal or because you don't like reading blogs or because you are really too busy or you forget to check in.  But, instead, you are telling me that you cannot handle my story - my life - ME!!!  You cannot handle ME!  And if you cannot handle me, I think it's fair to say that this relationship ain't worth much.  I think it's fair to say - it's done. When friends get together and catch up - they tell each other what is going on in their lives.  THIS is what is going on in my life.  It's all right here.  What people are telling me over and over is that they don't want to hear my story - "It's too sad."  It's my life!!!  And guess what?  I don't get to take a break from it.  I don't have that luxury.  I don't expect you to read this (and you aren't....you've told me!) but I do expect that if you are in my life that you be open to hearing about it.  I listen to your updates - about work, your relationships, your children, your news.....  If my story is too sad, what the hell are we supposed to talk about?  I am almost 40 years old - I am kind of over having a whole bunch of superficial relationships with people.  I don't have time or space for people who aren't interested in actually knowing me.  When you tell me you can't read about my life because it is too sad - it is clear to me that you cannot really be in my life, and THAT is what is too sad.

My Parenting "Style"

I am kind of a different mommy to Mo than I was to Max.  With Max I really tried to do everything perfect.  I followed every recommendation.  By this age (6 months), Max was sleep trained - sleeping through the night.  He had regularly scheduled naps - 7:30 am, 10 am, 3 pm.  I never put the television on while he was awake in the room.  I carried him everywhere, even just around the house, in a carrier (because I had read that carried babies are healthier)  I made all of his food. Before he slept through the night, I regularly changed his diaper every time he woke up.  I read and sang to him every night.  I practiced signing and infant massage with him too.  I read books and books and books about babies first year of life, organic baby cook books, theories on parenting.

I don't really do all of this stuff with Mo.  He still wakes up throughout the night.  He naps whenever he gets tired - there is no schedule.  I watch television while he is awake. I sometimes even put on shows for him.  It's not on all of the time or anything but I am not at all concerned with his baby screen time.  I don't carry him all over.  I make good use of swings and play centers and bouncy/Bumbo seats.  I am making all of his food so far because I like it and because my mother in law got us the most awesome Cuisinart baby food maker, but as soon as it becomes a chore, I will buy baby food.  I don't change Mo's diaper through the night.  I put an overnight diaper on him and hope it doesn't explode.  I read and sing to him when I feel like it, but it isn't every night.  Sometimes I sign "I love you" - but that's about it.  I don't read about parenting at all.  I just do whatever I feel like doing.

On the surface, I am a different mommy to Mo than I was to Max - but I love him just as much - with every fiber in my being.  I am obsessed with every hair on his head, with every smile, every sound, his finger sucking, his chubby thighs, and every THING about him.  I just don't sweat the small stuff anymore.  My goal is to keep him happy and alive.  That's pretty much it.  That's all that really matters.  People tell me that is what happens with a second child anyway....but, this is different.  I have a perspective that most second mommies don't have.  I KNOW that none of it matters and none of it is going to keep my baby alive.  Mo is just as happy, just as smart, just as funny as Maxie was.

Conflict of Interest

As it turns out - Bananas and Raspberries don't really mix!

Emotionally exhausted

I don't know how else to say it.  I am just so emotionally exhausted.  I miss my baby....my child.... so so much.  I am so sad that he is not here.  I am so sad that he doesn't get to live his life.  He was and is so loved.  I am mentally spent from working so hard all of the time to push sad and scary thoughts out of my head.  I am tired of acting healed and sometimes I feel so tired from trying to make the people around us feel comfortable.  Though my heart is getting used to carrying around all of this pain now...it isn't any easier - just different - less chaotic feeling.  It doesn't feel so excrutiating anymore because I am no longer SO uncomfortable with being in pain.  I just expect to feel pain - all of the time.

Mo is six months old, which is SUCH a fun age.  But I can't help it - I am scared out of my mind.  I am madly in love with him....just like I felt about Max at six months.  It just feels so heavy.  I just feel heavy.  The whole thing is just - HEAVY.  I wonder if a day will ever come when I can feel some peace again.

I have no idea how to handle what I am going through.  There seems to be no trusted path through this.  Everyone just does whatever works for them.  I wish there was a plan that I could follow to get me through this grief.  I guess the point is that I am stuck with it for life and there are still days where I just want out.  I would love to be with Max again.  I miss him so much.  But I remind myself of all of the love that I have for Ted and Mo and it pulls me back to earth, where I am just trying to get through it all.