Crawling!!!!!!!!

Sunday, June 30, 2013

I have been waiting a long time to say that MY BABY IS CRAWLING!

Check it out! 


It officially started Thursday!  We are so happy AND officially in major baby proofing mode!



Bar Mitzvah

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Today we are going to a Bar Mitzah for my cousin Jennifer's son, Riley. I can't help it, I keep thinking about the cute shirt that our friend Marissa bought for Maxie:


My non-Jewish nanny said I wouldn't believe it, other parents that she babysits for had already started planning the bat mitzvah of their daughter, who is twelve.  "I believe it", I said, "We had already started planning Maxie's Bar Mitzvah".   It's what we Jewish parents do. It was going to be in Israel.  We just hadn't decided if we would do it at the Western Wall or at Masada.

All of the Milestones Maxie won't have are hard to think about.  I am going to wait to start planning Mo's Bar Mitzvah.  Anyway, he might want a Star Wars theme or something.  Who knows?

My Fortieth Birthday

Friday, June 28, 2013

I am planning my own fortieth birthday celebration.

When I tell friends of my plans, some of them are surprised - because they can't believe anyone would "celebrate" turning 40.  It highlights for me what a different planet I am living on.

I am not really celebrating turning 40, because I couldn't care less about that. I have hardly celebrated any of my adult birthdays. I don't care about getting older because at this point, I know age is just a number, the superficial aging has already started.  If anything, getting older just means getting closer to Maxie. I feel not one ounce of sadness about getting older. I have much bigger things to be sad about...like my losing my baby.

What should really be surprising, and what is surprising to me, is that I have come to a place in my grief where I actually want to celebrate anything other than Mo.  It speaks VOLUMES about the resilience of the human spirit - of MY human spirit.  To be clear, it is not something that happens naturally, it is a choice that I make every morning.  It is a choice that I continue to make throughout the day, all day long.  I choose to celebrate life because I know all too well how short and fragile it is and how extremely special and precious it is.

My fortieth birthday celebration will be more like a "coming back to life" party in my mind.....not in spite of Maxie but in some ways BECAUSE of Maxie.  Life without him is hard every second - all of the time.  And, at the same time, the small joys - the laughs, the victories, the love, the friendships, the truly lovely moments - they don't go unappreciated anymore - they are life - they are what I am celebrating now and what I will be celebrating when I turn forty this November.

Maxie's Birthday Benefit

Thursday, June 27, 2013

I've spent some time this morning working on this year's Benefit for Maxie.  I spoke with the CEO of First Candle to talk about how they can support our event and how we can best support their work.  Being able to support an organization that will educate people about safe sleeping, help grieving families and fund research to eradicate SIDS is a meaningful way for me to continue to parent my precious baby.  I am very excited about working with them and think that the work that they do is so important.

After that phone call, my new friend, Rachael (who I LOVE), arranged a conference call with a local business owner who is interested in helping us by donating space at one of her awesome venues for our event.  I CANNOT tell you HOW excited I am about this.  I absolutely LOVE the venues that she and her husband own and I am humbled that they would consider supporting our cause (I don't want to jinx it until I know it is happening for sure, so you'll have to wait to find out where but TRUST ME - it is so cool!).  It lights up an otherwise very dark time for us....Maxie's birthday last year was so hard, so lonely.  I know it will be as hard this year but doing this event gives us something positive to focus on.  I am grateful.  Like, HONESTLY, I am really grateful.  Can you believe it?

Now, I am going to put it out there -  I am looking for additional sponsors.  Corporate and Individual Sponsors to help cover the costs of the event AND sponsors to donate for our silent auction.  First Candle is going to set up a family event site for us.  Donors will be able to make their donations directly to First Candle, that way they will be issued letters for goods, auction items and in-kind donations, which is good for your taxes!   Please consider donating towards our silent auction!  Great silent auction items are vacation homes, airline miles, goods and services.  Maybe you have connections to cool stuff that you can donate towards our cause in Maxie's sweet memory.  Our silent auction was such a success last year!  We had such cool items - Cuisinart goods from my wonderful mother in law, a reading from one of my favorite mediums, lots of vacation homes and packages, restaurant certificates, clothing and more.  Ted and I LOVE silent auctions ourselves and think it is such a fun way to be able to get something awesome while contributing towards a good cause.  We are so grateful for your support.  Honestly.

Anyway, stay tuned!  Maxie's Birthday First Candle Benefit - coming this October!



Relaxed driver

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

He still loves this little car that was Maxie's. Mo is a real relaxed driver!!



Alternative Doggie Medicine

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Several years ago, I met up with an old camp friend who was a chiropractor and living in San Francisco. We took a walk around Dolores Park with his aging dog. He told me how years earlier, his vet had basically told him that his dog's time was up. Being an alternative medicine practitioner, he knew there was more that he could do for her. He had been taking her for doggie acupuncture and chiropractic work and at the time of our walk together, it had been 7 years since the vet had given him the bad prognosis of her health.

I've lost too much. And, no, I don't think losing Jake would be anywhere near as hard as losing Max. Not even in the same ballpark. But I would be really sad, because I love him very much. And I don't like change, so I want to keep him here as long as possible.

This morning we are getting a little doggie acupuncture. He seems pretty happy about it too! I have high hopes!!

We love you Jakey!!!

Rules

Monday, June 24, 2013

I like to follow rules.

I wasn't always this way.  In fact, when I was younger....I liked to push the limits of rules....not break them really.....just stretch them.  I think I had a reputation for being less serious than other girls I went to school with.  Not as good of a student (Bs at a very competitive school for over achievers) and someone who wasn't as responsible as my peers.  I was forgetful.  My parents were divorced and had split custody.  I found it hard to keep track of which house I had left things at.  At times I felt unsettled always moving back and forth.  I had some difficulty concentrating.  I was more interested in sports, my social life and boys, than in school. 

At a certain point in my life though, rules became very important to me.  I liked studying knowing that I would do well as a result.  I like having a routine.  I like being on time.  I like knowing that if I add this ingredient to that one, it will end up tasting good.  I am a homebody, even when traveling.  I like to pick a place to go and go back over and over until I know the people who live there.  I am uncomfortable with change.  It takes me a while to get comfortable with new people, new routines, new places.  I like knowing the rules.

When I was single, I had heard about "The Rules".  When I followed them, things went well.  When I didn't follow them, there was more drama and confusion.  Ted advised me early on in our relationship that he liked when women followed the rules, which I have always found funny.  He basically told me to play hard to get.  I think I did a pretty good job.  He doesn't think I did.  Oh well - we ended up together regardless.  I must have done something right.

As I've mentioned, I have gained and lost the same 10-15 pounds throughout my adult life.  I have always found it easy to lose the weight by just following the simple rules of eat less, exercise more.  It makes me feel like I am in control.  I like writing down what I've eaten and making sure I stay in the recommended range for weight loss.  I like seeing the change on the scale each week.

For the last three months (even longer), I had been following these rules like a champ (until about a week ago) and nothing happened at all.  And, it wouldn't be such a big deal - I mean, I don't know if I would be so upset about it if the circumstances of my life were different or if I were a different person altogether.  But, considering who I am and what I have been through, I feel like there is nothing that I have control over and it has me in a bit of a tailspin.

As a mother to Max, I followed all of the rules.  I took prenatal vitamins every day.  I exercised throughout my pregnancy.  I breastfed (and it was no joke since my job was not really in an office - I was pumping while driving from appointment to appointment - co-workers teased me for pumping all of the time - it was fine with me - I knew that it was important that I follow the rules!).  I researched day cares vs. nannies and then visited many day cares.  I chose the one that I truly thought would be best for him.  I made his food - rarely gave him anything from a jar.  I read every book under the sun about babies and learned that he had to sleep on his back, in a baby safe crib, no co-sleeping, in a sleep sack and 70 degrees - so that is what we did at home.  I was VERY careful.  Max was the most precious and important responsibility in my life.  I took his care very seriously.  And he died. 

I am hard on myself.  I worry that there was something I missed.  I wonder if I know the complete story of what happened.  I feel the need to KNOW what the missing piece of his story is.  How does a child just stop breathing?  It wasn't even a"classic" SIDS case in that I am told Maxie wasn't sleeping when he stopped breathing.  My head spins and spins and spins....I don't understand any of it.  To say that the uncertainty and lack of control makes me uncomfortable, is putting it very mildly.  This is beyond my worst nightmare - every part of it. 

When I tell people about my diet and how I am failing, they suggest that I exercise or stop eating carbs or try to track my foods.  I am doing all of those things.  I didn't eat carbs for three months.  I tracked every morsel of food.  I exercise every night.  I know that nobody (except Ted) believes me.  There must be something I am doing wrong.  And this is SO SMALL in comparison to the challenges of my life but it is a metaphor I guess.  Or maybe it is one small thing that I would like to feel I have control of in my world that often feels very out of control.

When I tell people that I did everything right with Maxie, I am sure that there is some skepticism.  I don't even believe it myself, which is why I go over it and over it again and again.  I have found little mistakes that I made when I really inspect.  I made his bottles with tap water.  I really believed that tap water was safe.  I used fabric softener.  I've heard it may not be safe.  I never thought one minute about the fact that I froze breast milk and then defrosted it to use in making purees and then sometimes froze those purees.  My pediatrician tells me that wouldn't kill a baby but I just don't know.  I don't even know exactly how he slept when he wasn't in my care.  I have to be more perfect.  I cannot allow myself to slip at all.  How can anyone BE SO perfect?!  I wonder if the people who knew me in my younger days just assume that this happened because I was so imperfect.  Not like it matters what they think.....I guess.

When I let myself slip, things go crazy.  I ate and drank like everyone else while Sharon was here - I gained 6 pounds.  I don't even know how to approach losing them since NOTHING I do seems to matter anyway.  It is a living metaphor for the lack of control in my life.  A life that I spent years putting into perfect order.  There seems to be nothing left of the control and order I once knew.

Sometimes I think Maxie's life would have turned out exactly the same if I'd fed him fruit roll ups.  Nothing I did mattered at all.  Even though a friend pointed out recently that it did.  It mattered that I took good care of him because that was part of the foundation for our love.  It was important as his mother that I took good care of him, even if he is gone.  It is important that I do the best job I can so that at least I know I've done all I can.

I continue to follow the rules even though I don't know if they make a difference.  When I don't follow a rule, I am very aware of my rule breaking.  I feel like a total rebel when I let Mo watch TV or put in a fabric softening sheet with our towels.  Sometimes what I really wish I could do is let go.  Somehow I'd even fabricated the fantasy that if I stopped counting calories for a week, maybe I'd drop some weight.  Gaining six pounds just confirms to me that I cannot win.  I am overwhelmed with my failures.  Just overwhelmed.  Sometimes finding it hard to take a step back, collect my composure and get on with starting from scratch.  I am back to four months ago with my diet after one week.  We are back with Mo to where we left off with Maxie after almost two years.  I am EXHAUSTED. 

Eleven Months Old

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Our Mo is such an awesome eleven month old!  He is always babbling.  He loves to drink water - it is his FAVORITE!  He still loves watching Pajanimals....we have 5 episodes Tivo'ed and we just watch them over and over and he still gets SUPER excited.  He's gotten a little bit more clingy lately - he really loves his mommy and what can I say?  I don't mind being loved so much.  He loves his daddy too - smiles so hugely whenever daddy comes in the room and has so much fun playing with him.  He is REALLY into his dogs, Jake and Layla.  He still loves the playground and riding on the swing....his nanny also bought him a swing for our backyard for an early birthday present and he likes to watch the dogs while swinging in it.  He loves his music class and listening to the music class CD in the car.  He still twirls his hands and feet when he is happy and excited.  He has four teeth on top and two and half on the bottom.  He is an incredible boy who has made our lives so much fuller than we could have ever imagined a year ago.  We never ever thought we could have happiness like this again.  It is impossible to be depressed around him - he is pure joy!

Happy eleven month birthday MORRIS!

Here is a look back at the last eleven months (and let me tell you, it is getting harder and harder to take these pictures....a little tip for next baby - all of the picture should be sit up photos - in a chair or on a couch....lying him down at 11 months is next to impossible!)













Updates

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Here are the answers to many of the questions I have been asked lately:

1. Mo's Poison Oak is already basically gone. It was really bad for about two days and now I just see a thin little red line. No more bumps or welts! I am so grateful it was such a minor case.  Ted gets it bad and we know it can be really nightmarish.

2. My diet has not worked at all. No, I have not been cheating (well, I may have cheated while Prima Sharon was here but that is really it with the exception of maybe three times total in three months.) We are still working out every night so I am not sure what is going on - maybe thyroid or hormones.  Anyway, I caved and bought a pair of "Not your daughters jeans" after I read how much Padma Lakshmi loves them. If they are good enough for her, who am I to turn up my nose at them? They really do make me look a full size smaller!

3. Yes, we are watching the Bachelorette. No favorites yet. This group doesn't have a ton of personality, right? Call me crazy, but I think my favorite is the plumber - Mikey. What I've learned is that the young people are into hairless chests. That's about it! I can't wait for Monday!

4. So many good baby food recommendations! Thank you everyone! You can see them in the comments section of my advice post a couple of days ago. To add- waffles, gyoza or potstickers, and quesadillas! I'm excited to feed my baby! He tried applegate organic chicken nuggets and LOVES them!

5. Mo is still not crawling but he is SO close! He is actually in such an easy stage that I know won't last long.  He sits up and plays in one spot.  I can tidy up or work a little and he is content and I have have to worry about him going anywhere.  Depending on where we are though, I have to be more watchful. Here is a glimpse:

Sibling Rivalry

Friday, June 21, 2013


Sometimes I catch myself saying things that make me feel terrible:
"Who is the cutest baby in the world?"
"You are the best baby boy!"
"I love you more than ANYONE!"
They aren't just words either because I love Mo more than anyone and he is the cutest thing on earth.
How can I say these things though?  My Max was just as cute!  Just as good!  I love him just as much!
I worry that Max hears me.....that he thinks I love Mo more than I love/d him...that I think Mo is better or cuter.  Most people worry if my love for Max will make Mo feel badly.  I know that Mo will know how much I love him, because I am obsessed with this boy and I am not afraid to express my love.  I'm all over him all of the time.  I worry more that Max will think I've forgotten him or replaced him.
I wonder if it would be the same if I had two living boys.  Would the words just not even come out of my mouth?  I know I'd have to perform a balancing act - making sure they both felt equal love - but I can only imagine what that would be like.  My reality is that I get to show Mo all of my love every day - with words, with cuddles, with hugs, kisses, and pushes on a swing.
I don't know how to show Max my love.  I have to just rely on him being someplace where jealousy, sibling rivalry, and feelings of rejection don't exist.  I rely on him knowing that he is always in my heart and part of my soul.  I love him just as much.  Always will....






Some advice for me from you?

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Indeed, Mo has poison oak.  It doesn't seem to be bothering him so his pediatrician just told me to keep an eye on him and the rash.  He isn't scratching or anything.  It's a relief.  Even though I stopped googling scary stuff a while back, I actually googled "Poison Oak + death" and apparently that can only happen if you eat the Poison Oak.  If he had gotten his hands on it, he probably would have eaten it, but thankfully, he did not.  We were really careful.  I don't know how he got the Poison Oak at all quite honestly.

He also has some kind of a "yeasty" rash in his diaper area.  I made Ted run out and get Monistat 7 as prescribed by the pediatrician yesterday to get rid of it.  This morning, I just left the tube on the changing table.  My nanny came, changed Mo, took in the other room to play.  About an hour later, I explained about Mo's poison oak and yeast rash.  She looked incredibly relieved to know that I hadn't just left my Monistat on the table.  Pretty funny.  We both laughed about that one!

Anyway, while I have your attention - I need some solid food advice.  Mo loved EVERYTHING I gave him until just recently.  He's gotten kind of picky.  He doesn't really like me to feed him as much as he likes to pick things up and feed them to himself but I fear I have burned him out on everything I can think of to give him: scrambled eggs, yams, bananas, cheerios (he's REALLY sick of these), black beans, broccoli.  He likes carbs - puffs, toast, cookies.  Can't say I blame him.  Last night I made him a grilled cheese and hid broccoli in it.  I try to make turkey meatballs and meatloaf every week or so.  I was thinking about buying turkey or salmon burgers and breaking them up for him.  I have a food grinder that I put a hamburger and fries in while camping and he went to town on it but I tried to grind up some pasta and butternut squash when we got home and he ignored it.  I guess it's true that food tastes better when camping.

I'm wondering if anyone has some good ideas for hand held easy foods.

And while I am asking for advice - does anyone know of a good DOG chiropractor.  Yes, I said Dog Chiropractor.  In the LA area.  Poor Jakey is having a rough time.  I love him so much and I am worried about him.

More fun from the weekend

Wednesday, June 19, 2013





The bad news is - I am pretty sure Mo got poison oak on our camping trip.  It was EVERYWHERE.  We are going to the pediatrician this morning to get it checked out.

Glamping

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

This past weekend was so much fun.  We went to El Capitan Canyon Lodge with friends and had the best time "glamping".  Our friends stayed in cute little cabins and we "roughed it" in a safari tent.  Now, you know how much I loved summer camp as a kid!  This place is like an adult camp lover's dream come true.  There is a camp style swimming pool, fire pits at each lodging site, a little restaurant with delicious food, a ropes course, hiking, and tons of activities.  Saturday night there was BBQ and concert.  Sunday, there was beer tasting.  We had talked about bringing Maxie here right before he stopped breathing.  So, to be there (or anywhere) without him was bittersweet.  Mo LOVED it.  He took MAJOR naps and slept so great at night.  He played on the swing and loved watching the children playing (there are so many children there).  He danced with mommy and daddy at the concert and got lots of attention the whole weekend.












Fathers Day

Monday, June 17, 2013

I know that Fathers Day was hard for Teddy. He is in a really hard place in his grief. He often comes home from work very sad. He misses Max so much. I also think he has some delayed grief and I am partly to blame for that. He was so worried about me, he wasn't able to fully feel the pain himself. Now that I am in a better place, he is really feeling the depths of our loss. I know that being a father to Mo has been incredibly healing but it doesn't erase the sorrow of not having Max here... Of knowing Max won't get to participate in life. Teddy feels all of this very deeply and yet he is still able to really be in every moment with Mo. Their relationship is so special. Ted is an amazing daddy!!! Happy Fathers Day Ted! I'm so sorry our boy wasn't here to tell you how much he loves you - because he does - so much! We all do!

Reincarnation

Saturday, June 15, 2013

I was told by many people when I was pregnant with Mo, that Max was coming back to me - that he'd be reincarnated in a next child. It was finally an explanation that made sense. Finally a way to soothe my aching heart. He'd be back - in this next child, or another. I hoped it would be sooner rather than later.
When I found out that we were having another boy, I looked for signs that it was Max inside of me. At our first 3-D sonogram, the doctor showed us that the baby's hand was up by his head. Ted and I looked at each other with tears in our eyes. Maybe it was Max, who was born with his hand by his head. I knew that the first thing I had to look for when this baby was born was the birthmark on the back of his head - just like Maxie had - just like Ted has. When Mo was born, I saw it! He has the same birthmark!!! I swear.

I knew that I would KNOW if Mo was Max. That's how well I know my Max. I would see his soul shining through, even if his brother didn't look just like him. I knew I would know.

I read every book I could find about reincarnation. I asked rabbis if Jews believe in it. I also asked everyone else I met of every other religion. I wanted to believe in reincarnation. Maxie coming back is the only way I could make sense of his death. It had to be so!!!

But I don't know if Mo is Max. I am tempted to say he isn't because I don't know if I believe in reincarnation. I mean, I never did before. It's true that they look so much alike, they've slept so similarly, they like similar foods, have similar temperaments and love all of the same books. But Mo does that thing with his fingers and his favorite book isn't Goodnight Moon, it's Trashy Town.

Whether Mo and Max share a soul doesn't really matter because I still love them separately. I love them each differently for their differentness. I love the Max I see in Mo but I love Mo for the Mo I see in him. His unique specialness that makes him my angel. Max redefined my life! Mo saved it!

Thinking Mo is Max feels like a disservice to both of my boys. It doesn't honor Maxie's memory for me to easily replace him with his brother. It doesn't honor Mos uniqueness for me to think he is Max. So I have chosen to let that go. I choose to believe the package that doesn't wrap up quite so easily....I choose what seems like the simpler explanation but is actually the more complicated one for me. But I still choose to believe we will be together again - just not in this life.
See how close he is!!!

More Max in Mo

Friday, June 14, 2013

I know that I am just a few days away from posting a video of Mo crawling.  He is getting so close.  He can get anywhere he wants to get by rolling, pulling himself over people and things and doing a kind of ineffective army crawl.  He's got places to go and he is determined to get there.  I just know he will crawl soon.

When he is pushed up on all fours, smiling at me, so proud of himself - I see Max as I last saw him.  This is exactly where he left me.  It turns my heart upside down.  The smile is the same, the hair is even now the same, the shine in his eyes - SAME.  Sometimes when I tell people how much Mo reminds me of Max, they shut me down.  "They look nothing alike!", they say.  They say that because they didn't know Max.  Anyone who did, sees the Max in Mo.  There are times when I feel like I'm looking at the same kid.  Teddy sees it.  Beth sees it.  My mom sees it.  Sharon sees it. 

Every time that Mo accomplishes something that Maxie never did, I feel both the victory of that accomplishment and the mind melting disbelief that Max isn't here, showing his little brother how it is done.  I wonder if it will always be this shocking.  I suppose it probably will.  I will always be carrying devastating sorrow and complete joy in every moment.  I've been looking so forward to Mo crawling - getting past the point where I lost his brother.  I wanted to see Max crawl so badly.  Not really understanding what was happening in the hospital, I kept asking Maxie's doctor's and nurses if he would be able to crawl when he came out of the coma.  "He is only a day or two away from crawling", I kept repeating.  He was so determined.  He was so close.  How dare he be taken away before he could crawl!  It makes me furious.

Once Mo starts crawling, I'm afraid that my most immediate memories of Maxie will further fade.  Having Mo in this stage helps to me keep Maxie alive in my head, as I last saw him.  I'm afraid Mo won't remind me so much of Maxie anymore.  He will look less and less like Maxie as I last remember him.  He already IS all Mo - a completely unique little boy - but I love that I see his brother in his face.  I love it.  I love them both so much.

Stay tuned for crawling vid.  Pretty sure it is coming real soon.

Counting Down to Max

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Time flies by

They grow up too quickly

Where did the time go?

Time was my enemy.  From the day summer camp started, I was already stressed out about it ending.  

So little time!!!

Every vacation is the same way.  5 days left.  4 days left.  3 days left...... It's time to go home already but you just got there.

Getting older felt like a curse.  There was so much to accomplish and life was getting ahead of me.  It felt like I was running out of time.

For the year between losing Max and Mo's birth, time stood still.  STOOD STILL.  The minutes felt like hours.  I felt trapped in hell.  I had all of the time in the world to think about the huge enormous loss we'd suffered and nothing at all could distract me.  Even when I tried, because I did try here and there, it was impossible.  I could only think of my Max.  I could only think of my broken heart.  When I was speaking about anything else at all it was like a robot on autopilot.  Words would come out of my mouth but I was completely detached from them.  This remained true through Mo's first months of life.  I was going through the motions.

My days fly by now.  They "fly by".  I am busy working.  I am busy with Mo.  I spend time with friends and family.  I have so many distractions.  Time is no longer my enemy.  It passes quickly because my life is full.  I don't worry about Mo growing up too quickly - I want him to grow up quickly.  I want him out of, what I consider to be, the danger zone (even though I know people die of all ages...)  Instead of counting down with anxiety like I have always done in the past, I count down to Max.  He is waiting for me and I am trying to get to him as quickly as I can.

Sharon's Birthday Party

Wednesday, June 12, 2013




It is so nice to have friends who are willing and happy to come over on a school night to celebrate Sharon's birthday.  We had a lot of fun, lots of food and wine and probably too many cupcakes.




Tiring himself out

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

After the last few days of blog drama, I don't feel like writing a thing.  So, I leave you with this video of my Mo in his favorite place.  Today is Prima Sharon's Birthday and she is here, celebrating with us!

video



Relating

Monday, June 10, 2013

Every few months, someone (or several people) who are too cowardly to reveal their name, posts a mean spirited comment to my blog.  It is always in response to me writing about being angry, shaken up and/or hurt.  I think very carefully before I post, because I know that when I am angry, it makes those readers of mine who are not in grief very uncomfortable.  I usually decide to write anyway because I know that there are grievers who read my blog who can relate to my fury.  I write about these experiences, not because I think that my issues with others are so unique and my anger is special in any way.  I write about them for the exact opposite reason.  I write about them because I KNOW that the other grievers get it and are going through the same stuff I am.  They are the ones I care about.  They are the ones that have been or are in my shoes. 

Every week I hear from other bereaved parents - ones that I have met through my experiences over the last 22 months, ones that I have found online, and ones who have found me.  Invariably, the conversation always turns to how we have been hurt by the immediate and peripheral people in our lives.  Sometimes our anger is totally misdirected.  Sometimes it is completely appropriate.  It doesn't really matter.  What matters is that we all share this experience and I believe that when I share my honest feelings here, my grieving readers feel less alone.  I know that I feel less alone when I learn that others are dealing with many of the emotions that I am.

There is a blog that I have been reading pretty much since I first lost Max.  The writer has so many wonderful things to say about life with the child that she has had since losing her first born.  Her memories of her first born are so well illustrated and familiar.  From her writing, she seems very happy and content, loving and forgiving.  I used to read her blog with an inferiority complex....always wondering why I couldn't feel more accepting, like her.  I wondered if perhaps people weren't saying the same stupid things to her or ignoring her because she made them uncomfortable.  It made me feel bad about myself.  I hoped that I could become more like her.  More accepting, less angry.  I didn't think she even knew I existed.

One day I received an email from her.  It really surprised me.  She was writing in response to a post on my blog - about being angry.  In her email she told me about all of the terrible things people had said to her since her child passed.  She told me how she felt she couldn't mention the terrible things that family and friends had said to her.  They might read it on her blog and be offended (strange that we worry whether people will be offended if we write that we were offended by the offensive things they've said and done).  She related to my feelings of anger and said she had them too.  She was really angry!!!!  And, oh lord!  Some of the things people said to her were shocking.  Why shouldn't she be angry?  Her beautiful child had died.  It isn't really all that surprising.

Many months ago, I was speaking to a woman whose first child was stillborn.  It had been many years since that very dark time in her life.  She told me how angry she had been at the doctor whose lack of attention to an issue she was having was likely the reason that her child did not live.  She told me how much her relationships with her mother and sister suffered because they repeatedly told her to "get over it" or just acted like nothing had happened at all.  She was talking to me on her cell phone, waiting outside of her daughter's school to pick her up.  The doctor with whom she had been so angry was a parent at the same school.  The woman I was speaking to told me that she wasn't even that mad at the doctor anymore, "In fact, I am waving to her right now".  I found that stunning.  If I ran into Max's pediatrician, I think my heart would stop.

There was a point in my grief where anger was my most prevalent emotion.  I was SO angry at those who hurt me - on purpose or by mistake.  "Why couldn't people be more sensitive with me?", I wondered.  "Didn't they understand how fragile I was?"  Honestly, this isn't how I feel anymore.  I don't know when the shift happened because it was so gradual but I honestly feel empathy for people who don't know how to reach out and express condolences.  My heart is more understanding for those who felt too much fear to approach me and be kind.  I feel kind of bad for the people in my life who cannot connect to me since Max died.  They just don't know how to be there and it is sort of sad.  Even though once in a while the anger creeps back in, it just isn't the most overwhelming thing that I feel. 

Recently I had a very bad day and I was hysterically crying to a friend - telling her how angry I was.  How much people have hurt me and how there are certain people that I wish had taken more responsibility for their actions.  On that day, anger WAS the most overwhelming thing I felt - or at least, I thought it was.  She reminded me that in this case, what people say and do doesn't matter at all.  What matters is that Max is gone...but the weight of that emotion alone is too much to bear and so it gets spread around and sometimes it shows up in the form of anger at people who haven't been incredibly sensitive and that's ok.  They will live. 

When I feel misunderstood by some "anonymous" commenter (who is, let's face it, likely someone I know), I remind myself that they haven't stood for even one minute in my shoes.  If they had, I know that they would understand my periodic anger, apathy, loneliness and heartache.  Instead of writing to chastise me, they'd probably be writing to tell me that they feel the same way too. 

Laughter

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights were filled with laughter and best friends - the friends who stuck right by my side, even though for a long time I wasn't laughing with them at all.  They stuck by me until my laughter returned.  I never, ever thought I would laugh like this again.  So hard that my eyes fill up with happy tears and my stomach hurts and when I think about our conversations the next day, I burst out laughing again.  I am so very grateful to have hilarious people who love me in my life.  I am so glad I am still here, even though it HURTS sometimes so badly that I think the emotional pain is enough to kill me.  The laughter is worth sticking around for.

Perspective

Saturday, June 8, 2013

One of my first jobs out of college was working for The Shoah Foundation - an organization that collected and archived the testimonies of Holocaust Survivors.  I was a cataloguer, working the night shift. Night after night I sat in front of the computer and viewed the videotaped testimonies of people who had been through hell and had somehow lived to talk about it - many of them had been witness to their parents, siblings, spouses and children being selected to go to the gas chambers, executed in front of their eyes, and beaten to death.  I was unable to get the horrific images out of my mind.  When I was home, I would lie on my couch for hours trying to figure out where I would hide people in my apartment should anything ever happen like that here.  I had a hard time sleeping.  I was perpetually plagued with the terrors of humanity - how people could be so awful to each other - so full of hate and with such a disregard for human life.  It put all of the "problems" in my life into perspective, making it nearly impossible to "sweat the small stuff".

In 2003, I co-founded the San Francisco Bay Area Darfur Coalition with a survivor of the Bosnian Genocide and an refugee from Southern Sudan.  The three of us felt that we could not ignore the horrors of Darfur.  Having listened to hours of Holocaust testimonials over a period of two years touched me so deeply that I was forever changed.  My co-founders had lived through genocide.  They had both been in the heart of the hell.  They had dedicated their lives to ensuring that nobody else would ever have to go through what they'd been through.  While I had the luxury of putting it all out of my mind very often, they spent all of their waking hours fighting to save the lives of others.  Though we were working towards the same goals, their experience gave them a different perspective than me. Their stories and those coming from Darfur could not (and cannot) simply fade from my consciousness.  That I had not been through a genocide was something I was very aware of as we sat together and discussed our methods and approach.  My life had been blessed.  Their experiences gave me perspective.

Sitting by my child's bedside as he lay connected to life support, knowing that I would never again play with him, read to him, sing to him, cuddle with him and get to physically love him ever again in my life changed my perspective so profoundly that I will never be the same.  I too will grieve over pets, I will feel frustrated when I am misunderstood by colleagues at work or "anonymous" readers of my blog, I will feel anxious when my child won't go down for a nap or I have burnt a casserole.  I will feel these things, as much as the next person, but my experience of losing my child will forever put these things and everything else in my life into perspective.

My blog is a sacred space where I share MY perspective.  What you call "an appalling lack of empathy", I call perspective.  I recognize that most people do not share my perspective.  Most people have never and will never have to experience losing their child.  I recognize as well that many people have no ability to put things into perspective.  The hardest thing that they will go through will be the death of their pet, an argument with their boss or any of the other things that you feel I have dismissed.  I don't dismiss those things, by the way, I just am able to put them into perspective because I TOO have experienced these things and I will continue to in the future.  This isn't good or bad - it just is.  You are free to judge what I have to say, because I have made my private thoughts public.  You have not been where I've been.  You have not seen what I've seen.  You have not walked one minute in my shoes.  I urge you to take a step back and put your comments into perspective.

I often look back on the things I have cried about in the past - the stuff I thought was really big.....and I wonder how I wasted all of those tears.  I know there are others who are crying over things now that they will one day look back on and realize were of very little importance....that they were lucky that their big things were not all that big.  You are lucky if you don't have my perspective.  You are lucky that are sitting at home in front of your computer, with living children and grandchildren, feeling frustrated and judging my perspective.  

If you'd lost what I've lost, you'd probably have my perspective too.

Germ Buggy

Friday, June 7, 2013


I know that they are complete germ wagons, but I could not resist getting one of the buggy shopping carts at the market earlier this week.  He had so much fun driving around the store.







STRENGTH

Thursday, June 6, 2013

I've been wearing a new necklace around my neck these days*.  I actually bought it for myself.  It says "STRENGTH".

It used to make me so mad when people told me I was strong in the early days of my grief.  I hadn't shown anyone strength yet.  What were they talking about?  I wanted to die and mostly slept all of the time.  Where is the strength in that?  (I know that when I say I wanted to die, you think it is a figure of speech - it isn't.  I wanted to die.  I don't say it lightly....AT ALL).  So how was I strong?  Because a horrific thing happened to my baby?  That didn't make me strong.  That made me unlucky.

To get to where I am TODAY has taken strength.  To get to a place where I can manage the nonsense of daily life, where I can be in the moment with Mo or anyone else and feel complete joy, to accept that my life will never be what I had hoped and that my child, who was my everything will never have any life at all - THAT takes strength.

It was too soon when everyone started telling me I was strong.  It was too much pressure.  I didn't want to be strong, I wanted to crumble.  You've gotta let people crumble when their lives fall apart.  It has to be ok to completely crumble.  Please start being ok with that.  It is THE kindest thing you can do for another human being in pain.  LET THEM CRUMBLE.  They don't need to be strong.  They have ENOUGH on their plates.  Trust that they will find their strength eventually.  They will have no choice.  Until then - you can go ahead and be strong for them.  Be strong by sitting with them even though it is uncomfortable for you.  Be strong by telling them how sick you are that this happened to them. Be strong by allowing yourself to crumble as well.  Expose your vulnerability.

YOU  BE STRONG!  YOU BE STRONG!

I wear the necklace not because I think I am so strong but because I am finally in a place where I WANT to be strong.  The necklace is my mantra.  I am ready to be STRONG.  And I am proud that I have made it this far.  I AM STRONG!

Those of you in the ickiest, creepiest, most horrific dark tunnels of pain - you will be STRONG one day too.  Until then, it's ok to crumble.  Surround yourself with others who are willing to crumble with you and a few strong people too.

*My mom is wearing the SAME necklace.  We are STRONG!

Drama

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Since losing Maxie, the usual stresses of the world don't bother me that much.  I know that nothing is that big of a deal in the grand scheme of things.  Compared to what we've already been through, nothing seems worth losing any sleep over.  So much so, that I find it sort of hard to be around those people that are perpetually stressed out or angry about unimportant things.  Those people who are never happy or make such a big deal over small work related stuff or worry about getting their carpets dirty or whatever else.  It's just hard to relate or feel much empathy at all.  That's just where I'm at.  I have no time for drama these days.  Sometimes it is just unavoidable though and it really frazzles me.

Early last evening, I took Mo and the dogs out for a stroll around the block.  Our dogs are big and the truth is that it isn't super easy managing the two of them and pushing a stroller.  But, Mo likes to get outside and loves watching Jake and Layla from his seat.  The dogs really need the exercise, especially Jake, whose hips are really worrying me.

We were walking up a nearby street towards an alley that we always cut down and I could see a woman walking towards us.  Something about her seemed off.  I can't even put my finger on it.  She was walking like she was on a mission and she was headed straight towards us - arms swinging, intense look on her face.  I should say, Jake and Layla are really friendly, they are not at all threatening and would never hurt anyone unless they really thought there was a threat.  I had this feeling that the way this woman was coming at us was no good but I figured we'd lose her when we cut down the alley.  I even kind of gave her a "You'd better stay away from us in the interest of maintaining the peace" look.  But, NO SUCH LUCK.  She decided to also cut down the alley, walking crazily with her arms flying, totally invading our personal space.  Before I even knew what was happening, Layla turned around and growled at her, bearing her teeth.....The woman FREAKED OUT, stumbled backwards and broke her fall by landing on her wrist.  She had a couple of plastic bags of groceries hanging from her wrists that fell down with her as well.

She started shaking uncontrollably - "Your dog attacked me", she screamed.  Before I even knew what was coming out of my mouth, I calmly said back, "You've gotta be kidding me".  I mean, REALLY?  I know I came off totally cold but oy vey, my heart just can't take this kind of stuff.  And, I don't mean to sound insensitive because I do know that some people do find dogs (especially German Shepherds) to be really intimidating - but then - DON'T WALK CRAZY-STYLE, WITH ARMS SWINGING, DIRECTLY AT TWO BIG DOGS!  I know that that's not how it goes though.  I am the one with the scary dogs and she is the one that fell down and somehow, the whole thing could have been prevented (if she had decided to skip the alley).  I felt more annoyed than anything.  I couldn't get close to her to help her because I was still holding Jake and Layla and had Mo's stroller that I wasn't about to leave in the alley either.  There wasn't anywhere to tie up the dogs.  I really didn't know what to do.  Out of nowhere, I heard a man's voice screaming "What the hell is the matter with you?  Why aren't you helping her!  Your dog attacked her!".  Did I mention that my dog DID NOT attack this woman???!!!  I mean, I know that is how it may have looked....and I admit that my dog (obviously) scared her but NOTHING HAPPENED.  She came at us and Layla growled protectively.  SO MUCH DRAMA!  "What would you like me to do?", I raised my voice back at him! "I'm still holding the dogs that scared her and I have a ten month old in a stroller!"  "What is wrong with you?", he screamed again at me.  Even looking back on this incident, its like drama for the sake of drama.  I really DO understand that people are afraid of dogs but I just don't understand then WHY on earth those people would bee line for the very dog that they are afraid of.  WALK AROUND US!  JUST WALK AROUND US!  Sheesh!  It's so infuriating to me.

The guy helped the woman up.  I asked her if she was hurt and she replied, practically in tears, that her arm was scratched.  I offered to carry her groceries for her and she declined my offer and then she and the dude both took off.  I suppose I am "lucky" that they didn't decide to sue me for walking my dogs.  Seems everyone is suing everyone these days - I have even been threatened twice with law suits about things I've written on my blog (ever heard of freedom of speech?!  I have to wonder what kind of a person would feel good about suing a woman who writes about life after losing her baby.)  Anyway, the drama left me so frazzled.  I am not mean spirited and I think I am a pretty compassionate person, but I just could not muster the strength to stress over this lady and her scratched arm.  The whole incident felt more ridiculous than anything but for some reason, I was shaking for hours afterwards.

There is this though - I have OFTEN wondered if these dogs of mine would or could protect us in a scary situation and I am pleased to know that indeed - they would.

Reclaiming your life

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

I want to give you hope because I know it is so hard.  I want to tell you that everything will be ok - but it will never be ok that your loved one is gone .  You will be ok - just different.  I want to tell you that something or somebody will come along that will have all of the answers, and that it will all suddenly make sense.  I want that so badly.  I want to tell you that there will be another person who you will love as much - but I have no idea if that is true.

My life will always feel somewhat empty.  My heart will always be broken.  It will never be ok that Max didn't get a chance to live his life.  I know it would have been a beautiful one....because he was such a beautiful person.

What I can tell you, and I think that this is probably true for most people - is that there will come a day when you stop wishing you were dead.  I know, I know, you want to take your loved one's place.  I would still trade my life in an instant if I could, so that Max could have his.  But, I can't....and, by some miracle of the resilience of humanity, I no longer wish I were dead.  It took almost two years to feel this way, but I honestly love being alive again - despite how hard it is, despite the fact that Max is no longer on earth, despite having lost relationships that were once important to me, despite my broken heart.

I KNOW you are thinking that it is because I had Mo....and you are probably right.  I think that Mo has sped my process for sure.  No doubt about it.  I love Mo with the same intensity as I love Max....something I didn't think was at all possible.  I don't know if I would be exactly where I am now if I didn't have Mo, but I am pretty sure that the rays of light would have started filtering in again by now.  Mo is AMAZINGWONDERFULSTUPENDOUS! but he isn't Max. 

I am no expert on how to find your way back to life but these are my suggestions:
  • Temporarily cut out everyone who doesn't make you feel good.  This is SO important.  It's ok to be selfish, even if they mean well.  You just don't have the strength to worry about other people right now.  You are fighting a battle for your life.  You may regrow your thicker skin down the road and some of those people will still be there.  Those who aren't you don't need anyway.  It's ok to hurt feelings.
  • Try to get outside.  I'm not talking about getting "out" - like to the mall, or the movies, or parties, or weddings, or funerals (you can definitely skip these - people WILL understand).  Do these things if they make you feel good but don't do them if they don't.  They didn't feel good to me.  Get outside - someplace quiet, if possible.  Drive someplace pretty and sit in your car if you can't get out.  Roll down the windows, breathe fresh air.  Take a hike, if you can muster the strength.  Even once a week should be fine.
  •  Take the path of least resistance.  In everything you do.  Make your life as simple as possible.  Watch TV or read or write in a journal or get a cheapy massage (or a really expensive one).  Eat comfort food (you can worry about your diet later).  Wear comfortable clothing (I wore sweats for a year - it was fine.  Nobody cared).  If you have animals - play with them.  Animals are pretty uncomplicated.  They love you and they'll lie in bed with you while you cry.  I got my cat, Lupe, after my engagement broke off many years ago.  Cuddling with her put my heart back together.
  • Talk to your loved one.  Do anything that helps you keep them present in your life.  Look at their pictures and videos (if you can), visit their grave (if you can - I have a hard time with this one but it brings a lot of comfort to Ted), do things to honor their memory, do good things for other people who are suffering.  Whenever you can help someone else in pain, you will recognize a purpose in this life...and that's what you need - purpose.  The woman who hosted the grief event I attended on Sunday lost her only child.  She is now like a mother to many.  It doesn't bring back her daughter, but it honors her daughter's memory in a profound way.  It gives her life a purpose that nothing else probably could.  Touch as many lives as you can but take your time.  There is no rush.  Start small.  You will find your path.
  • Only tell who you want to tell.  I felt a burden for SO long to tell everyone I met.  I thought I was dishonoring Max when I didn't tell a new person that he was here - and that now he isn't.  The truth is that most people you tell, won't react with compassion and that might make you feel worse that you already do.  Share your loved one with those who show that they deserve to know him/her if it feels bad otherwise.  You aren't doing your loved one any disservice - I promise. 
  • When you are ready, start exercising.  It will make you feel better - and help pass the time.  
 Email me if you need someone to listen.  I know that sometimes that is the best therapy.  I have spent the last two years forming new friendships and reaching out to people who have been where I am and then waiting for a response, often times hearing nothing in return.  I will respond.  I promise.  teddyabby at gmail dot com.

My Club

Monday, June 3, 2013

These are the things that I know you know about my club:
It's a club that nobody wants to belong to.  Being a member of my club means paying the highest price that there is.  Once you are in my club, you can never get out of it - you are a member for life.  Everyone in my club feels broken - none of us will ever feel whole again - our lives are incomplete - we cry a lot - we feel sorry for ourselves - we carry a lot of guilt - we have good days and bad - our bad days are REALLY REALLY bad.

These are the things that you may not know about my club:
The members of my club are some of the kindest, most empathetic, warm and loving people I have ever known.  They often try to fill the void in their hearts by doing incredible things for other people - they are selfless in their generosity and desire to make a difference for others who are suffering.  There is very little petty nonsense among the members of our club. 

We are sad every time that we learn that a new member has been inducted into our club, but we welcome them with open arms.  No matter how big the burden is that our members carry, we always have room to carry a little bit of someone else's burden too.  We hold each other up - we comfort each other - we remember birthdays and "angel days" - we cry and smile together and have an instant connection.

Being a member of my club means having a child who is no longer alive.  NOBODY wants to be in my club.  But, the members of this club!  I could go on an on- they are some of the best people I have ever known.

Rescheduled Sunday

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Last Sunday, I had a whole plan in place.  It was a day I had been looking forward to for some time.  Ted would watch Mo.  They would go over to my mom's to swim and have dinner.  I packed up all of the things he would need for the day, we traded cars (I have a CRV....much more baby friendly that Ted's Jeep Wrangler), and I drove for an hour to my destination: I would be attending a grief meeting with a special speaker.  I was really excited - strange to be excited about going to a grief meeting but I don't have time right now for the meetings that don't lift me up.  By the time I got there, I had to head straight for the restroom.  While I was in there, I could hear the people outside talking about their disappointment.  I wasn't quite piecing it together.  I came out and scanned the room for the speaker, who wasn't there.  That's when the organizer got my attention and let me know he'd been in a small car accident on the way to the event.  My heart sank with disappointment.  She told me he was fine, he just wasn't going to make it.  I felt sick.  I really felt sick to my stomach.  I sat down to what became an impromptu meeting of the folks who'd shown up.  Everyone began telling their stories, I sat for a little while and then excused myself.  Being away from Mo isn't easy for me.  I only do it for things I REALLY feel can't be missed or feel like they might be healing or are important.  I felt nauseous the whole way to my mom's.  I was told that the speaker felt really bad and was planning to reschedule sometime during the week (he's from out of town).  So I basically spent the week refreshing my email non-stop, waiting to hear about the reschedule.  Today we are giving this a second go.  I am taking the Jeep and Ted is taking Mo to meet a brand new baby (BRAND new)!  Wish me luck!

Strange Concoctions

Saturday, June 1, 2013

At the end of the weight loss challenge, I am down one pound. Two months of counting every piece of broccoli and working out 5-6 days a week so that I could lose one pound (which easily reappears on the scale whenever I eat salt). Something ain't right - it shouldn't have to be this hard.  It inspired me to go to my acupuncturist who also practices raphaology - a diagnostic practice of reading one's feet to get to the root of various health challenges. If nothing else- it was totally interesting and I always like a good foot massage. Her conclusion is that my thyroid is out of whack and her prescription included a bunch of herbal remedies and a diet plan consisting of a whole avocado, cilantro, olive oil, papaya and lemons every day. She also said that all of the information contained in the universe is also contained within the cells of our bodies and we proceeded to do about a half hour of what I am calling "foot fortune telling". But, that's for another post- or not.  She assures me that the fat is about to start flying off my body- so far, however, not so much.  Three times a day, I am drinking the strangest concoctions of thyme, vitamin B complex, walnut hull, cloves and something called anti-stress formula.  I'm also drinking a lemon, cayenne pepper, honey hot drink once a day and the rest of the time it's lemon water.  These better be magic potions because they taste just AWFUL!*

In the meantime, I have a backup appointment with an endocrinologist for September! She came highly recommended and literally didn't have an appointment for three months.  She has a crazy cancellations wait list and a bunch of policies about confirming appointments or losing them, getting there 15 minutes early or losing your slot...etc. With all of that hype, she BETTER be able to fix me! And perhaps then I can stop drinking all of these strange concoctions.

*No, I am not breastfeeding anymore - not pumping - nothing.  Mo is 100% food and formula fed.

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