If Mo were on Maxie's schedule

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

This morning I took Mo to the pediatrician for his nine month appointment.  He is 30 1/2 inches long and 21 pounds.  He looks great, she said.  This appointment comes at the exact same timing that Max's nine month appointment did - exactly one week after his nine month birthday.  If Mo were on Max's schedule, he would stop breathing on Sunday and Tuesday would be our last day with him.  If Mo were on Maxie's schedule, these would be my last days with him.  I'm furious about losing Max - completely out of my mind furious.

I spoke to my great-aunt Harriet a couple of weeks ago.  She is also a bereaved mother.  I was telling her how I feel like I am going a little crazy with worry and doubt.  She said that every person has their own path.  Maxie's path will not be Mo's.  I listened, but I could not hear her.  A little later in the afternoon, I took Mo for a stroll, and it occurred to me that maybe she is right - in fact, she MUST be right.  Life is way too random (as I know WAY too well) for the exact thing that happened to Max to happen on the exact day to Mo.  Right?  RIGHT?!!!!!!!

Another mother I know her lost her 15 month old wrote to me recently and said that one thing that keeps them going is that it rarely ever happens to the same family twice....but, she pointed out, that doesn't make the loss of our child any easier.....it just means that for now at least, it may not get any harder.  When you go through life, as I do now, always expecting tragedy, horror and trauma, it is nice to think that things may not get worse.

Nap on grandma

Monday, April 29, 2013

Mo is so focused on trying to figure out how to get from one place to another - how to stick his tush up in the air and get crawling - that he can hardly sleep.  That is, he can hardly sleep until he does - and then he sleeps HARD.  Yesterday, he missed his entire first nap because he just rolled around and around in his crib until he completely lost it and cried his eyes out.  Then he went to grandma's house for a couple of hours while Ted and I ran errands.  I thought I would put him down for a nap when I got back.  He couldn't wait that long though.  We came back to my mom's to find this:


She said, "I am in heaven....except for that I have to go to the bathroom".

This nap lasted only 30 minutes - the only one he took all day.  I sure hope he figures out how to crawl soon!

Mothers

Sunday, April 28, 2013

As we approach Mother's Day, I just wanted to post a thank you to the mothers of my friends who have supported me in various ways since Max stopped breathing - Tanya, Harriet, Nancy, and Nelle, and so many who've reached out to me - Kathy, Livia, Ruth, Nechama and others.  and the mother of my very best friend - Gigi. we love you. Thank you all for your kindness and warmth.  I have come to know a few of you in such a deeper way over these last 21 months and I am deeply grateful for the support you have given me. 

Happy Mothers Day, lovely Mothers!  You are all very special!

Took it down

Saturday, April 27, 2013

I posted something this morning but then I took it down. What I had to say doesn't really matter anyway. What matters is this guy .. And nothing else.



Treading Water

Friday, April 26, 2013

It is time for me to cut out all of the nonsense.  I have to concentrate on getting through the next month and then the months after that - leading to Mo's first birthday - as best as I can.  As Ted explained last night, we've been treading water for a very long time now....just barely keeping our heads above the water.  Then these things come up - like anniversaries or memories or outside drama - and it is like we are then expected to carry these bricks....and our legs are just too tired.  I don't have enough in me to take on the additional weight so I am just dropping it all.  If my load cannot be lightened or shared by a situation or person - then I cannot invite them into the water with me.  I woke up to go to the bathroom last night and awoke with the knowledge that nothing outside of the mental, emotional and physical health of my family really matters right now.  We are on the verge of drowning and I need to focus on keeping us afloat.  Everything else is a brick.  Considering what we've been through, what we've lost, what we've seen with our own eyes - taking on all of these bricks is just ridiculous, unhealthy, unwise.  All that matters is Max is gone.  All that matters is that Mo is here.  All of the rest of it is nonsense and drama.  I don't need it.  I can't handle it anyway.  I've got more important stuff to concentrate on.

Ted just sent me this song:

Fell on Black Days - Chris Cornell

What'soever I've feared 
Has come to life 
And what'soever I've fought off 
Became my life. 

Just when everyday 
Seemed to greet me with a smile 
Sunspots have faded 
And now I'm doing time 
Now I'm doing time 

'Cause I fell on black days 
I fell on black days (Black days) 

Whomsoever I've cured 
I've sickened now 
And whomsoever I've cradled 
I've put you down 

I'm a search light soul 
They say 
But I can't see it 
In the night 
I'm only faking when I get it right 
When I get it right 

'Cause I fell on black days 
I fell on black days 

How would I know 
That this could be my fate? 
How would I know 
That this could be my fate? 

(Bridge) 

To what you wanted to see good 
Has made you blind 
And what you wanted to be yours 
Has made it mine 

So don't you lock up something 
That you wanted to see fly 
Hands are for shaking 
No, not tying 

No, not tying 

I sure don't mind a change 
I sure don't mind a change 
Yeah, I sure don't mind 
I sure don't mind a change 

I sure don't mind a change 

'Cause I fell on black days 
I fell on black days (Black days) 

How would I know 
That this could be my fate? 
How would I know 
That this could be my fate? 
How would I know 
That this could be my fate? 
How would I know 
That this could be my fate? 

I sure don't mind a change...
.


Watching kids at the park

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Mo and I went to the park in the evening yesterday to play on the swing and sit on the big cement frog - something Mo loves to do.  Mo notices the others kids a lot.  He loves bigger kids and they always come over to the frog to play with "the baby".  Mo smiles and giggles at them.  Seeing how much he loves bigger kids breaks my heart.  I know he would love his big brother Max.  I started talking to another mom last night who was there with her two children.  She was new to the neighborhood and very nice and friendly.  Her two boys were 5 and 2 1/2.   I couldn't take my eyes off of the younger one.  He was running around after his big brother and talking so much.  He was up and down the slide and playing make believe games.  Is this how my Max would be?  Would he be doing all of these things?  My heart sank when I heard her call his name..... "Max".  I actually felt a little sick.  I was praying she wouldn't ask me if Mo was my only child.

I really don't feel cut out for this sometimes.  It's too too hard.  I really don't feel like I have the strength to keep it up.  I can't even believe it is real.  And, I know that we lost him a year and nine months ago.  I do.  But to those of us who loved Max most, it feels like yesterday.  It really really does.  And I feel like I am still in the earliest stages of figuring out how to cope in the outside world.  Remember - I spent a whole year indoors.  A full 60% of my time in bed actually.  While I am a year and nine months into my grief journey, I am only nine months into figuring out how to interact with this completely new life - how to interact with people.  Do I interact honestly with them or do I keep things superficial?  I've found that in this new life, I should even keep those closest to me at arm's length.  They don't want to know about what's really going on.  I don't expect anyone to understand - but it is hard - all of the time.  It definitely redefines what I even consider when I say that someone is "close to me".  There are very few in that category anymore, and that's ok - but it takes some getting used to.

Not a moment goes by that I am not thinking about him.  Half of the time I am thinking about being with him, remembering how we played together - sharing smiles and giggles, tickling him, getting him up from a nap, seeing him smile at me from his crib.  I am thinking about smelling his sweet smell and kissing his soft cheeks.  Just the mere memory of him is too much for my heart to take at times.  The other half of the time, I am thinking about how I will tell new people about him, how I will find out what happened to him, how I will protect Mo and future children from whatever happened to him.  My mind spins and spins and spins and it is so exhausting.  I try to focus all of my extra energy on Mo and work and Ted....after that, there isn't much left.  And, THIS is what life is like since its gotten "easier".  

I wish my life were different.  I really miss my Max.


Mo watching the big kids playing at the park from his swing



Flawed

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Like any other human being - I have flaws....quite a few in fact.

I am very sensitive and my feelings are easily hurt.  I am defensive and I hold a grudge.

I am very impatient - something that makes my husband crazy.  When I decide that something needs to get done, it can't happen quick enough.

I have a temper.  I don't blow up often, but when I do, stand back.  I can be a real jerk.  I won't say where I got that from but I did in fact inherit that one.

These are all qualities I am not proud of.  They are flaws that I have been working on for a long time.  Long before Maxie died.  Having him in my life helped me with my patience and my temper...it didn't do much for my sensitive side (hormones make that a flaw that was and is nearly impossible to work on)..but overall, I feel that I had made great progress.

Then Maxie died.  Unsurprising to me, but somehow VERY surprising to others, losing a child did not "fix" these flaws.  I did not emerge from this tragedy with greater patience, a cool and easy going "sticks and stones" attitude, or an absence of temper.  There is an expectation that when bad things happen to good people, good people should become even better people.  It is a near impossible expectation to live up to.  Sadly, I am still human.

When someone is diagnosed with a frightening disease, loses some physical capability or part, or loses a loved one, they won't all become heroes....even though it would make us feel so good if they did.  We love the stories of the people who lose limbs in shark attacks but keep on surfing, who are diagnosed with terminal illnesses but continue to keep a positive attitude and never ever show their pain, and who lose limbs but continue to participate in marathons.  Those people ARE so inspiring.  I am SO inspired by those people.  I am grateful that they give me something to aspire to.  But, I am not one of those people right now.

I am just a normal, flawed human being.


I've been listening to this Jewish music CD with Mo lately (I LOVE it!) and was reminded of a song I loved as a kid.  "Lo yisa goy":

The English part of the song goes:
Don't walk in front of me, I may not follow
Don't walk behind me, I may not lead
Just walk beside me and be my friend
And, together, we will walk in the path of Ha'shem

One of the kindest things said to me after Max died was by my boss.  He said, "I will walk beside you"....to me that meant, "no expectations" and I felt complete relief upon hearing him utter those words.  He has stayed true to it and has indeed walked beside me...as many others have.  I think those people who have walked beside me have given me the strength to continue walking...period.

There are days when I feel strong and days when I completely fall apart. my feelings are hurt easily. I have very few coping skills anymore and my emotions are raw and sitting at the surface of my skin. I am ALWAYS on guard. I am flawed as I imagine you are too. I am extra flawed without Max.

I am grateful for so many of you for accepting me, even with all of my flaws, and for walking beside me. It's the kindest and most compassionate thing you can do for another human being who is suffering.

Nine Months Old

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Today is Mo's NINE MONTH BIRTHDAY!!!!

I'll tell you what - these photo shoots aren't getting any easier.  Mo rolls around, pulls off his sticker and isn't super interested in being photographed.  That's the way it should be at nine months, right?  We are so happy to be celebrating Mo's nine month birthday!!

Mo at nine months is so awesome!  He makes lots of funny noises.  He "talks" all of the time.  He loves food that he can pick up and eat himself - like puffs and now, black beans!  He loves television puppet shows like Pajanimals and Sesame Street.  He loves being read to - especially Trashy Town and books about animals.  He rides in a regular stroller now, never in the snap and go.  He wears a size four diaper and I have no idea how tall or heavy he is but we do have his nine month check up on the 30th.  He sleeps about 11-12 hours every night and usually takes very good naps!

We love him sosososososososososososososososo much!!!!

Ready, Set ........GO:











And - for fun: a little video of Mo eating his nine month onsie sticker:


On the eve of your nine month birthday

Monday, April 22, 2013

Dear Mo,

Tomorrow you will be 9 months old.  We have been waiting for a year and nine months to have a nine month old baby again - to love, and cuddle, and play with and sing to; to bathe, and dress, and feed, and kiss and hug.  We have dreamed of having a nine month old baby again to fill our arms and hearts.  Our dream is coming true - because tomorrow you will finally be nine months old. 

Your daddy and I are having a very hard time these days.  Daddy has been very, very sad...but you brighten his days.  He told me last week that he feels sad all day long until he comes home and sees you.  You are the best medicine in the world - for both of us and our whole family.  You are a wonderful, amazing, sweet, and funny little boy.  My heart leaps out of my chest whenever I look at your beautiful face.  You are just perfect.  It makes us so happy to think of getting to see you grow up.  You are helping us to heal - you give us purpose and joy.

Mo - I cannot wait to stick a nine month onsie sticker on your chest tomorrow and take your pictures.  Even more - I cannot wait to stick a ten month sticker on your onsie next month.  I plan to relish every moment that I have with you forever but PARTICULARLY this month.  You are such a gift to us.  Thank you for every smile, scream, raspberry, jump, squeal, cry.  You are an amazing baby.

We love you so much little Morris.  We can't wait to wish you a Happy Nine Month Birthday tomorrow!!!!

XOXO
Mommy & Daddy




Acting out in my dreams

Sunday, April 21, 2013

The night before last I had a very vivid dream.  I woke up unclear about whether it was true or not.  I dreamt that a woman I know lost her oldest child.  This woman I know is one of the people who has been running around telling everyone that it is time for me to get over Max.  I don't talk to her anymore but I did in the first year after losing Max, because everyone told me that she meant well.  In those days, every time I heard from her or saw her, it would set me back in my grief.  I would end up in arguments with her about why I am allowed to be overwhelmed with sadness.  She would say she understood but then would say awful things to me.  I know she "meant well", but I don't talk to her now.  My heart cannot take it...no matter how much "well" she meant.  Sometimes just thinking about the things she said and wrote to me makes my blood boil.  They say it is easier to be angry than in grief...maybe that is why I get SO incredibly angry.

I wouldn't wish this pain on my worst enemy....I really wouldn't.  But I am embarrassed to say that sometimes, I would like those well meaners to feel it for just a moment - or maybe an hour..then maybe they would stop judging.  Maybe instead of EVERYTHING else that they could say, they would just say, "I am so sorry.  You didn't deserve this.  Ted didn't deserve this.  And, most of all Max didn't."  Or something along those lines.

I guess my subconscious mind agrees, because I very vividly dreamt that this woman's child died and that the woman I am talking about fell apart.  And, in the dream, I was incredibly unkind to her.  She came to me because she knew that I understood, but I threw all of the stupid stuff she said back in her face, knowing that she was in hell.

I know that if someone I knew ever actually lost a child, I would do everything I could to comfort them.  I would.  Even if they have been terrible to me.  End of story.  Though I think there was a reason my mind put this particular dream together and I was somewhat disappointed that I woke up in the middle of the dream even - I sort of wanted to see where it went.  I guess I wanted to continue to be unkind to her in my dream - a place where I think it is ok to be unkind and where you might even be able to let yourself off the hook for being so unkind.

I didn't ask for the dream....I am sure that it is enraging to know that my brain conjures up these stories ....I fully expect to hear from "anonymous"....but I am not sure I have much control and I figured I'd share.  Something tells me that I am not the only one "acting out" while I am asleep.

Play date!!!!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Mo had a play date with his cousin Camille last week. It was a lot of fun!!









Flirting

Friday, April 19, 2013

Teddy went to visit Maxie recently when Gigi was in town. He was very upset to find a new grave, two over from where Maxie is, for another baby.  I had kind of forgotten about that baby and then yesterday a big package arrived for Ted.  I figured he had ordered something for our home or something for Mo.  Instead, he opened it up and unwrapped a new metal pinwheel, not for Maxie's grave, but for the baby nearby.  He didn't say much about it but I can tell there is a lot going on in his heart these days.  Things are always hard for us without Max, but these past few weeks have been especially torturous.  I'm sure it has a lot to do not only with the fear of Mo being almost nine months old, but with the fact that he reminds us A LOT of our last memories of Max.  Max was SO incredibly cute at this age.  We couldn't wait for him to get better and better as he got older - but he didn't get any older.  I've been flashing back a lot to Maxie in the hospital, hooked up to machines and tubes.  I have to seriously FORCE myself to think of something else.

Our housekeeper was here yesterday.  The same housekeeper Maxie used to flirt with all of the time - he was especially flirtatious in the weeks leading up to his death.  Yesterday, I watched Mo doing the exact same thing with her.  It was so sweet but I nearly burst into tears.  I can't believe Max is gone....and I know that sounds crazy almost two years later...but, if you have ever lost someone that suddenly, I am sure you understand.  It is just completely unbelievable that someone THAT alive just stopped living in an instant.

I caught a little bit of Mo's flirting yesterday on my iphone.  I wish I had caught Maxie doing the same thing but I never realized that I wouldn't have another opportunity.  I try to capture everything Mo does.  I'm running out of storage space.  Anyway - I'll set the scene...I was sitting in front of Mo and our housekeeper was walking behind me, back and forth between the kitchen and our bedroom.  Watch Mo watching her.....it's too cute!







Working Out

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Yesterday, while Ted and I were having our nightly work out session, he said, "I keep waiting to see that you've written about this on your blog".  He knows nothing is sacred anymore (insert smiley face emotee-con)!  As part of my 30-day challenge, I have VOWED to exercise everyday.  I also find that it helps take my mind off dark and horrific thoughts for the period that I am pumping it out.  Ted has been saying for months that he has no time to work out because he works so many hours, so I enlisted him in a nightly work out in our living room before dinner.  We have been going strong for a whole 4 days!  (insert another smiley face emotee-con here).  I know that doesn't sound like much but....it is what it is.  I would have waited to write about it until it had been a lot more days but Ted's comment last night felt like a challenge (insert another one here).

We have been doing Jillian Michael's 6 week six pack and her 30 day shred, but with our crappy knees and with both of us still getting over injuries we are going to do something more low impact tonight - ZUMBA!  I think his knees must really be hurting for him to have agreed to Zumba in our living room with me.  Our front door has a window on it and the first night we worked out, Ted kept glancing out the window to make sure that we wouldn't get caught by the UPS guy. I have a feeling getting caught doing Zumba would be more embarrassing for him than getting caught doing an abdominal work out.  I know it would be for me.  If he's lucky,I'll let him use the weighted maracas.
 Anyway, I have been exercising daily for a week now and counting calories for more than two - I have seen no change in the scale or in my clothing but I am trying not to lose hope (even though it really is SO discouraging!).  My fellow challengers have been encouraging, which makes it easier to stick to it.  Tomorrow we have our second weigh in - there are almost 20 of us!  It has been fun swapping recipes, exercise ideas and sharing challenges.  More to come.....

Bear with me....

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

I don't know how I will get through these next weeks without losing my mind.  It seems nearly impossible that Mo will make it but I know I have to keep positive - which I am doing most of the time.  BUT he is exactly where Max was at this age.  EXACTLY.  He has the same favorite foods, he gets fussy about the same things, he is in the same stage of development.  AAAAAAAAAAARRRRRGGGGGGGGG!!!!!  THIS IS SO HARD!  And somehow the pediatricians office seems to have dropped the ball on scheduling his nine month appointment....not that that appointment did one thing to save Maxie's life, but I still NEED to have one with Mo.  There are 21 days until Mo is 9 and a half months and 37 days until he is 10 months old.  Can you bear with me while I completely lose my marbles?

Big plastic hammers

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Sometimes our world feels (and is) so scary - so full of threat and it seems like there is so little regard for the value of human life.  It makes me want to stay at home with all of the lights off and the doors locked and never come out again.  I know I sound incredibly naive but, honestly, what has to happen to someone for them to want to end other peoples lives?  I mean, I really cannot wrap my brain around it.

I've been thinking all morning about the period of time when I lived in Israel in 1994.  It was a very insecure time (when isn't it?) and there were many attacks and suicide bombings.  I have several very distinct memories of complete chaos surrounding the insecurity of the situation.  I remember being on a bus to Eilat that had to turn around while I was on my way down there because of a suicide bombing near Be'er Sheva.  I remember the other students I was studying with who stopped taking buses altogether and relying solely on taxis.  I remember a  tragic double bombing at Beit Lid that killed a young medic soldier who had lived on my kibbutz - he was really popular and fun and such a good person.  The people who knew him then still mourn him today.  He was my age at the time and so full of promise.  I can remember coming back to the United States and people wondering what the hell I had been doing in Israel - a place that was constantly threatened by bombs and suicide attacks.

That year on Yom Ha'atzmaut (Israeli Independence Day), I traveled to Jerusalem by bus from Haifa with my Arab Druze friend, Ramez, to visit our friend Saul and join in on the wild celebrations in the streets of downtown.  There had been many bombings in the weeks leading up to the celebration and Hamas had promised a "blood bath" in the streets of Jerusalem - exactly where we were heading.  Ramez assured me that we'd be safe - that there would be so much security and that we would quickly forget to be scared.  In fact, he was right, and the scariest part was the bus ride - I felt paranoid the entire time that there might be a suicide bomber on the bus with us.  At one point, the bus broke down and we were all moved onto another bus.  My heart was pounding out of my chest.  I felt totally out of control and helpless.  I remember thinking that if I died, it would be ok - because I'd be dead.  End of story.  I was more scared of losing limbs or my face or the person sitting next to me.  I remember feeling so angry that we had to live like that - always scared that someone nearby would explode themselves so that they could kill me.

Obviously, we were fine.  It was an awesome celebration.  Everyone out in the streets, dancing, singing, throwing confetti, spraying silly string and for some reason the thing I enjoyed most was running around and bonking people on the head with a big plastic noise making hammer.  I bonked old people, religious people, children, soldiers.  It actually helped me work out some of my fear and anger.

At the same time that I was living there, I was hearing scary stories of random acts of violence happening here.  I was actually scared of returning back to LA because of the gang violence, car jackings, armed muggings, rapes and murders.  At least in Israel, I felt safe to run by myself at night through a park.  I felt safe leaving a bar and walking home.  I even felt safe hitchhiking (perhaps I shouldn't have - but I did).  You hardly ever heard of non-"political" violence happening over there in those days.

Today it is obvious that our security situation has become a lot more like theirs and their society has begun to more closely mirror ours.  I don't know which country I feel more sorry for...and, the truth is that neither place has probably ever been as safe as we thought it was....perhaps no place is.  All of the places that I once thought of as safe have become totally unsafe - recently a villa in Costa Rica near our house was robbed by armed intruders in the night, children are gunned down and murdered their school in Newtown, CT, two bombs exploded in Boston during the marathon yesterday; and of course, my beautiful nine and half month old baby dies at daycare....not by violence but still dead.  Honestly, is no place safe?  And, now that my baby is gone, I am not even sure what the point is in trying to keep the ones I love safe....or if there is a point in loving other people so deeply. It feels like there are all kinds of threats coming from everywhere and there is nowhere to escape to. I want to put Mo in a bubble and never let him out but I can't.  This is the world we live in and I brought him into it knowing that the worst can happen to anyone, anywhere, and any time....and that it actually does happen....not just on tv either.

Lots of people asked me about Beth yesterday, because they know she has been running marathons these last few years.  She was not in Boston yesterday, thank god.  One of MY people is safe and accounted for....while so many other people's people are not.  It's hard to feel total relief when I know how many other people are suffering.  People have lost limbs and two people lost their lives, one of them a child.  It makes me so angry - so sick - so confused.  Why does life have to be THIS hard?

I guess this is just another one of my rambles.  Not sure where it is going entirely but I woke up today and realized that it is Yom Ha'atzmaut - the 65th anniversary of Israel's independence.  It's a day that is celebrated in a place where insecurity is felt all of the time and where people gather knowing that the gathering itself and the cause of their celebration is what makes them a target.  And yet, today people will travel from all over Israel to celebrate in the streets of Jerusalem and bonk each other on the head with big plastic hammers.  Bonking each other despite the fact that they are risking their lives to bonk.  So, it makes me wonder what will become of our celebrations here in the US - because Patriot Day is a celebratory day in Boston...a day that was targeted (I assume) for that very specific reason.  Will we continue to gather and celebrate knowing that the act of our gathering puts us at risk?  I would be surprised if we stopped.  It just isn't in human nature to stop celebrating life.  We couldn't stop for long even if we wanted.  I think that the celebration, for some of us, is what helps us get through.  If there was no celebrating, there would really be no point in my estimation.

In the year after Maxie died, I assumed I would never smile again, never laugh again, never dance again, never ever celebrate again...but I have.  And every time I do any of those things, it honestly feels like I am putting my whole heart at risk again - especially when I do any of those things with Mo.  Perhaps it would be easier to hold him at a distance and just wait out this life - keeping us all safe from potential heartbreak while living a heartbreaking life.  It just isn't possible.  I am keenly aware of the risk but I choose to live anyway....like the Jerusalem celebrators.  If this is what life is....what choice do we have?  It is complete scary and unsafe - so we might as well just enjoy what we can, if we can.

Still, I think that I know how I could work out a little of this fear, anger, and anxiety.  I think I figured out a way to express myself without actually hurting anyone physically or verbally.  What I'd REALLY LIKE TO DO is - I'd like to gather a room full of "choice" people and spend an afternoon bonking them on the head with a BIG PLASTIC HAMMER!!!!!!


More about our evening walks

Monday, April 15, 2013

Mo and I have been going out for evening walks for the last week or so.  I know that this is something that most parents do with their children - walk around the neighborhood.  But, not for me.  This is something that I have just now worked up to doing.  Walking around my neighborhood, even just driving around my neighborhood, has really been too hard for me.  These are the streets that I walked with Max.  The alley across the way from our house, the stroll down Riverside Dr., the walk through the Equestrian Center - they are all places that have lots of Max memories for me.

 Max in the Equestrian Center

 Mo in the Equestrian Center

While I was out on maternity leave with Max, I bundled him up in our Moby wrap and walked all of the streets of our hood.  I walked by the daycare I knew we'd be sending him to everyday because I wanted to assure myself that he would be safe there.  I zig-zagged the surrounding streets, listening to music, feeling such bliss and delight to be free all day with my newest and most profound little love. 

After I went back to work, I made a point to stroll Max to and from daycare whenever I could.  We'd walk down Riverside Dr. - past the Equestrian Center, the Riverside Cafe, the park....  I haven't even driven down that street in a year and almost nine months.

 Maxie in his stroller

But I had this urge last week to see Mo on a swing....because the one time Max sat in one, it was in Connecticut and I wasn't there - I was napping after a red-eye flight and I hate myself for missing it (I hate myself for missing a lot).  Mo loves the swing.  He's been warming up to it a little more each day.  I am so glad I braved the walk to get him to the park.  So glad.

Mo at the park with Teddy, my mom and I yesterday

It is still so painful and I just wonder if it will ever get easier.  I'm missing my Maxie every minute of every day.  Every minute.  Sometimes it feels like I am just hanging by a thread.  My chest hurts with so much intensity I sometimes feel sick.  Honestly.

But, my Mo!  He makes every hard push I make completely worth it.  He is an angel.


Ted's other tattoo

Saturday, April 13, 2013

A few people have asked about Ted's other Tattoo.  You can see it on his arm in some of the photos I have posted recently, though he has had it for months already.  He had the language from Maxie's headstone tattooed on his arm:

"Maxwell Judah Leviss - Our Beautiful Baby Boy, Your Smile Will Shine Always -27".  

27 is not on the headstone but it is a number that connects Ted and Maxie for eternity.  Our brokenness is not always obvious - you cannot see where we have been hurt and so it is easy to forget that we are not who were once were.  Ted's tattoos are a reminder that he is a man who carries the weight of his loss with him wherever he goes. 

This is a man who carries his son with him always - even when he doesn't get to do that in the physical sense.  Ted's tattoos have engraved on his arms what you cannot see perhaps in his face, in his smile, in his gentle demeanor.  Ted's tattoos have engraved his heart in a more visible place.  They make him vulnerable in that they open him up to questions - questions that he doesn't always even want to answer.  They are a reminder of the father Ted was to Max - a beautiful, loving, self sacrificing father who had just begun to wear his heart on his sleeve when his baby was torn away from him. 

I asked Ted his thoughts about his newer tattoo and this is what he had to say:

"I had a lot of confusing emotions when Mo was born.  He was looking so much like Max and that was confusing too.  So, I wanted to make sure I kept my mind right and at the same time not disrespect his memory by thinking he was being replaced or that Mo was Max.  It was just generally confusing.

It was also a way to help me release my pain.  To let some of the black out.  I wanted the tattoo to really hurt.

I wanted people to know and see my pain - sort of wearing it on my sleeve as the expression goes."

Ted's explanation is so beautiful and I can relate to it so much.  I love Ted's tattoos.  They remind me that I am not doing this all by myself.





Being there afterwards

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Not too long ago, a bereaved mother friend (that I have known for many years - long before she lost her child) contacted me to tell me that someone else she knows had just lost a child.  She was devastated.  Not only is it devastating to know that someone else is about to get on this nightmare rollercoaster, but learning of another loss can actually bring you right back to the earliest moments of your own loss.  More than one bereaved mother reached out to me in my early grief and then disappeared - it was just too much for them.  This friend could not bear to go to the funeral of the child who had just passed.  She would have been transported to an ugly place that she works very hard every minute of every day to get through.  She told me that her plan is to help the grieving mother moving forward as best she can....after everyone else disappears.

I was really upset then to learn through the grapevine that people were judging her for not coming to the funeral.  They were saying that "of all people, SHE should have really been there to lend support".  My question is WHY?  In my opinion, of all people, SHE should be given "a pass" to skip the funeral and then help in whatever way she can moving forward.  Anyone can attend a funeral or a memorial event - only very special people step forward to be supportive after that.

Now, don't get me wrong.  I appreciate very much that so many people came to Maxie's funeral.  I really do.  But, most of them disappeared soon after - never mentioning Maxie again (in the best case), never to be heard from again (in the worst).  Attending a funeral is the "easy" part - there are other people to sit and make small talk with, and even if you don't know a soul - the time is taken up with prayers and speeches and eulogies.  The hardest thing you'll have to do is give a hug and say "I'm sorry".

It takes a much stronger person to be with the griever in their own home, to talk about their loss, to sit with them while they cry, to keep oneself from trying to "make it better".  That is the really hard part.  Speaking from experience, those are the people who helped me get through the early mess.  To be honest, there were so many people at Maxie's funeral, and I was in such shock, I can't even remember everyone who was there.  I only remember bits and pieces of the day.  Having a crowd there meant a lot, but I cannot account for who exactly made up this crowd.

Speaking from my heart, I have to say, I am not sure if I will be able to attend funerals moving forward.  I am sure I will be judged for that- and I guess that is ok.  Funerals are maddening to me - because while everyone thinks that they bring a sense of closure, my experience is that the funeral is the easy part...the "party" that marked the beginning of my descent into hell.  It was the place where most everyone and everything I knew dropped me off and said goodbye and then left me for good.  While important and meaningful, there is something awfully superficial about a funeral - a ceremony that is performed before the loss even sinks in for the ones who are most affected.

As the months pass and the more recently bereaved mother begins to fully absorb the magnitude of her loss, she will be most grateful for the mother who has walked these footsteps ahead of her.  It won't matter to her that the other mother wasn't at the funeral.  The newly bereaved mother may not even remember.  She will understand why her friend couldn't be there on that day and she will appreciate that she is there now.

If you haven't been there yourself, you should not judge - for you would never EVER want to know from your own experience what you would do in the same situation.

Shared article

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

A bunch of friends sent me this article a couple of days ago about how to talk to someone who is going through an upheaval (grief, illness....).  Thank you for sending this along and thinking of me.  It is a very smart and simple way to think about how to talk to someone whose life is in upheaval.
http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-oe-0407-silk-ring-theory-20130407,0,2074046.story


The one thing I would say that this article doesn't, is that in MY case (and I can only speak for myself), I DO like to know that Max's death was tragic for other people.  I hate when people act like it never happened or like it was a light affair.  My friend Carmen sent me an email several months ago saying that Max's death was the most tragic and terrible thing that had ever happened in HER life and that because of that she can only imagine how much more horrible it was for me.  It was one of the most meaningful emails I have received.  I hated seeing everyone go on with their own lives after Max died like nothing had happened.  I couldn't believe that people were still hanging out and out on the town and taking family vacations and going to sporting events....when my baby had died.  I don't care if it makes sense - my brain and heart haven't been connected in a year in almost nine months.  I say - tell me how how heartbroken you are and then acknowledge how exponentially worse it is for me as his mom.

Milestones and Benchmarks

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

When Ted and I are traveling, we do a lot of daydreaming about what our lives could be like in the future.  We talk about dreams we have, vacations we want to take, business ideas, and all sorts of fun stuff.  It helps us to hope that there is happiness ahead because life is still incredibly difficult and we are so heartbroken.  Sometimes we will mention "family" vacations or new neighborhoods with "good school districts" but we still never really go so far as to fantasize about Mo in the various stages of his future life.  It almost seems to good to be true....that he might grow up.  The truth is that Ted feels much more confident that it will happen than me.  Everyone is.

In the back of my head is a nagging voice that tells me scary things that I push down and try very hard not to listen to.  I see that Mo is happy like Max was.  I know that he checks out healthy at all of his physicals - like Max did.  He love yams and puffs - like Max did.  He sits but doesn't crawl - same as Max at this age.  Seeing my second little boy moving along at the same speed as my first little boy scares the living daylights out of me.

I recently attended an event and was talking to the grandmother of a very advanced baby.  This baby was walking around by 7 months and talking at less than a year.  I complimented the grandmother saying that her grandchild was so advanced.  The grandmother thanked me and then added that I had no reason to worry about Mo (didn't say I was worried about him but...ok) - that all children advance at their own pace and afterall, "they all grow up eventually".  Kind of a stupid remark to make to someone whose child DIDN'T grow up, but this grandmother says stuff like this to me without thinking all of the time.  She means well I am told.  It is astounding how truly dense some people are.

I honestly (HONESTLY) believe that every child advances at their own pace and I never worried about it for one minute with Max (not ONE minute).  And I never worry that Mo isn't advanced enough.  He is perfect in every way in my eyes and he can take all of the time he needs to learn how to crawl.  But the truth is, I do worry about Mo...but it has nothing to do a fear that he is going to grow up and still not know how to crawl or walk. My fear is that he won't grow up.  Honestly, it doesn't really take a genius to figure out that that is my fear right?  I mean, in my experience, my children don't live to see their first birthdays.  In my experience, we are approaching my last days with my lovebug.

If Max had lived even one more day - I am sure we would have seen him crawl.  He was THAT close.  I would give anything to see Mo crawl.  It is a benchmark for me - one that says (no, HOLLERS!) -"YOUR CHILD WILL LIVE!!!!!!"  You see, crawling has nothing to do with the benchmarks and milestones of other people's kids.  Crawling is a milestone that I need Mo to reach to put some of this suffocating fear to rest.

There is another little voice inside my head that says "Calm down!  This couldn't possibly happen twice"....even though I know it does.  "But the statistics say....", the voice begins... and I want to SCREAM at that voice because those statistics didn't save my Maxie. (F*** YOU STATISTICS!!!!)  But, I don't scream at that voice.  Instead I listen to it and try to take comfort in what it is trying to tell me.

These weeks are hard.

Photos from the weekend

Monday, April 8, 2013

It was so fun.  I seem to take so many photos of Mo, I basically forget to photograph anyone else!  We spent lots of time with my cousin Leslie in SF and i didn't get one photo of her with Mo!  I am kicking myself.  Still, I did get some great photos of my baby boy and a few others too!  I'll start with the cutest video of Mo and his new friend Travis (my friend Robyn's little boy).  It was the first meeting in what we hope will be a lifelong friendship.













One more, taken by Ted, who spotted Carl Lewis at breakfast and tried to take a photo of him surreptitiously but ended up with this super fuzzy thing.  You'll just have to take our word for it:


Night by the River

Sunday, April 7, 2013

We spent last night a few hundred miles south of San Francisco in Big Sur. We stayed at a rustic inn next to the river. It was really pretty and quiet. After Mo went to sleep, Ted and I played gin rummy and I won for just about the first time ever. Lots of pictures coming!! I am praying I can get through the start of this week without suffering my usual post-fun depression.





Road Trip

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Teddy, Mo, and I are in San Francisco visiting Auntie Beth, who is here for work. Mo is an easy baby to travel with. He is mellow and curious. He has been having trouble sleeping this morning and right now he is asleep on my shoulder while I am typing this post in my iphone. I am in heaven!





A positive distraction

Friday, April 5, 2013

I really wasn't sure if anyone would respond to yesterday's post! But we have a good group so far! Thank you! I'm really excited about this and it is something very positive for me to channel my energy towards! I have to admit, it really wasn't entirely my idea. I told my friend Carmen that I wanted to lose weight and she suggested that a contest is really the best motivator. This is evidenced by the fact that my sister in law who has no extra fat is currently participating in two weight loss challenges. She just enjoys the competition part. So listen, this thing officially will start on Monday. Carmen and I will come up with some rules and tips and email you all privately. We'll probably poll you on how you think we should do a few things like weigh ins and such. I think first weigh in should be next Friday because I always weigh less at the end of the work week than I do at the end of the weekend. And, NO- you don't have to do 2004 version (or any version) of weight watchers! You can do whatever you want. If you have no idea how to lose weight, we'll send some suggestions. A really good start is to go to www.myfitnesspal.com. You can find out how many calories you need to consume to lose weight and then track your food there. They also have an easy to use app you can download. Sign up for the "contest" by Sunday by emailing me at teddyabby at gmail dot com. You can join anytime or participate without paying the buy in amount if you just want motivation and someone to hold you accountable.

Teddy, Mo and I are off on a road trip this weekend. I'm feeling released of my beginning of the week bitterness. I am grateful for my readers, my friends. Thank you for supporting us. I hope I can have the opportunity to support you too.

30 Day Challenge

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Throughout my adult years, I have gained and lost the same 10-15 pounds over and over again.  In my early twenties, I discovered Weight Watchers and have gone back to the counting points method many times.  I am a pro.  I know the points values of all foods by heart.  I really do - you can test me.

After having Max, I rejoined Weight Watchers.  By then, they had changed the system and the points values of all my favorite (and not favorite) foods.  I got to eat much more than I ever had before because I was nursing and they had changed the rules to allow as many fruits as you wanted.  It was pretty much the first time I had allowed myself to eat a banana in about 10 years (fruity beach cocktails not included - I have issues).

But the diet really didn't work after the first few months and I got stuck with those last fifteen pounds.  In fact, they stuck with me until I got pregnant with Mo.  I gained about 10 pounds less with this pregnancy and am stuck again at the same place - putting me 20 pounds above my pre-Max weight.  Realistically, I am still looking to lose 15 pounds (or get pregnant - those two things are in direct opposition, I am aware.)

Anyway, this post may make no sense to anyone who has never done Weight Watchers BUT, I decided this new system is not working for me and that I needed to go back to the 2004 O.G. version.  If it ain't broke...... I found a nerdy folder of old WW materials on ebay:


and I am rocking the slide scale to determine "points" values:


 If nothing else, counting up points each day keeps my attention off bigger, life and death kinds of worries.  I have challenged myself to a 30 day weight loss contest.  I even did my Jillian Michaels 6 week six pack DVD yesterday and I am SORE today (for reals).  Thing is - it's no fun competing against myself.  So, I am putting it out there.  Anyone want to join me in a 30 day weight loss challenge?  We can have a buy in and winner (who loses the largest percentage) wins the pot?

I'm looking for distractions and I think this is a good one.  Who is in?  Anyone?  Anyone?  teddyabby at gmail dot com

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