A Defeated Rant

I'm sorry to have to say this, because I SO want to have a better attitude about all of this than I do but I am so angry that I worked so hard with Jake to get him back on his feet.  He was in bad shape for about six months, really having trouble and in a lot of pain.  But, I was determined to get him back!  I knew I couldn't sit back and just watch him deteriorate.  So, I took him to acupuncture every week (I mean, COME ON - who takes their dog to acupuncture every week?  And, it isn't cheap either), giving him chinese medicines throughout the day, pills and drops.  Ted has also been working so hard to keep Jake comfortable - taking him on walks and to the dog park, keeping up with his medicines and giving him extra love.  AND - Jake was doing so good.  I felt so proud that we were able to help him so much and I really, really thought it meant we would have more time with him!  The vet said she wanted to have Jake wear a clinic t-shirt around town because he was such an impressive patient.  This tumor totally blindsided us.  I just feel totally defeated!

I am smart enough to know "it's not my fault", just like losing Max "wasn't my fault".....but MAN, it makes me so angry.  I can't tell you how much time I spent pumping and pumping and pumping breastmilk to make sure that I wouldn't have to give Max formula.  I was even driving from appointment to appointment WHILE pumping....because "breastfeeding lowers a babies risk for SIDS"!!!!!!!! (and yes, I am screaming and I am also calling B*LLSH*T on it!).  Now I see these poor new mothers beating themselves up over low milk supply or poor latch and I want to shake them and say, "My child died of SIDS and he was BREASTFED!  My other child is alive and he started drinking formula at 7 months!"  It is such B*LLSH*T! And by the way, "anonymous", I am fully expecting you to post your holier than thou breastfeeding comment here and the fact is, you will be missing the point!  The point is - there is no rhyme or reason!  No amount of breastfeeding saved my baby's life!

And, what I haven't even told you, is that I lost my cat a month before losing Max.  Ugh.  I haven't even really been able to talk about it because in retrospect, after Max died, I felt like an idiot being SO upset over Lupe (my cat).  But, she got into a backyard and disappeared and when I found out, I cried for days.  I called all of the shelters in the San Fernando Valley looking for her.  I went to a conference for work and had to leave halfway through the day because I was so distraught about Lupe.  And, for some reason, at Maxie's Shiva, everyone kept asking me where she was - as if it really mattered, which it didn't at that point - but I couldn't even talk about it.  I just kept saying "I can't talk about that right now".  I still don't really want to talk about it.  If I think about her, I feel sick.  If I think about any of this too much, I feel sick.

I think of myself as such a good parent - to babies and pets alike but you know what?  I just feel so defeated.


Look how psyched little Mo is when he makes it to the top of the bed! Sometimes we have to let him get up there just so we can see this happy face!

I'm CRAZY about this baby!!


When I was pregnant with Mo, I was scared out of my mind.  I was literally waiting for tragedy to strike the whole nine months.  Having a miscarriage the month before getting pregnant with him didn't help at all.  People would tell me, "Lightening doesn't strike twice".  It was meant to calm me down and I know that everyone believed it to be true but, honestly, it sounded so incredibly naive to me.  The same people who said that probably also assume that they will never be struck by lightening.  They had no understanding of the fact that I was once like them... I, too, thought myself invincible before losing Max.  I also assumed bad things happened to "other people".

Another blogging mother wrote a post about this a few days ago which pretty much summed up all of these thoughts I have been having all along.  Tragedy is not like a vaccination against further tragedy.  There is no law of the universe that says that once something bad happens to you that nothing bad will ever happen again.  And, once tragedy strikes, you almost wonder how you even made it as far as you did without something terrible ever happening before.  This world is chaos.  Things don't always make sense.  Bad things DON'T only happen to other people.  To think that we are now immune just seems incredibly silly to me. 

The story of Jake

I like to say that I "Secreted" Jake.  You know?  The Secret?  Where you just wish really hard for something and it comes to you?

My friend Tamar was telling me about the dog that her brother and sister-in-law and their family had just gotten.  His name was Jake and he was a goldendoodle.  Then she showed me photos of the cutest puppy I'd ever seen in my life.  "And", she told me, "He doesn't shed!"  OMG - too good to be true!  Every time I spoke to her for months to come, she talked about Jake and what a special dog he was.

I had been thinking about getting a dog for a while.  I knew I'd be moving home to Los Angeles before too long (I was living in San Francisco at the time) and I really, really wanted a dog.  Whenever I had down time, I was googling "goldendoodles".  I loved looking at their pictures and reading about the various breeders.  I couldn't really justify buying a dog when there were so many shelter dogs who needed homes. I was determined to find a shelter doodle.

Many months later, I found myself living in New York, and still browsing the doodle pages.  Tamar had a conference in town and I ditched my dingy apartment for the weekend to stay with her in her plush hotel.  It was over that weekend that she told me the news - her brother and sister-in-law couldn't keep Jakey and needed to find a new home for him.  "I'll take him", I said in an instant.  I couldn't believe this was happening.  I knew it was some kind of destiny.  Seriously.  I KNEW I needed to have him.

I remember very clearly her calling them to tell them that I wanted him.  I thought that they would be thrilled to know that he would be coming to live with me, since they knew me and all.  Instead, there was some hesitation on their part.  Maybe they were just having a hard time thinking about actually giving him away.  I know they had been talking to another family.  But, I wasn't going to let this one go.  I think it was all I talked about to Tamar until the deal was finally sealed.  I am pretty sure that they know now that they made a good choice.  Jake was the center of my universe until Max came along.  Jake couldn't have asked for a better daddy than Ted.  Ted and Jake are even closer than me and Jake, which used to make me INSANELY jealous.  Now I am just grateful that they love each other so much.

Jake is a special special boy, who I really have always felt was a soulmate of a certain type.  I don't know how we will bear seeing him in pain.  I hope that we can keep him comfortable during the time he has left.  Jake has had a really nice life.  He lived with a family that loved him and then moved to live with another family that loves him.  He has lots of friends.  He gets lots of love.  I can't imagine my life without him but I never expected Jake to outlive me.  There aren't dreams and hopes that I had for his future....just that he would always feel loved and happy, which I believe he has.  When Jake is gone, I hope he will join my sweet Max, and that they will play together and keep each other company, having fun and sharing love until I can come and join them someday and then for all of eternity.


Last week, our nanny was cleaning off Jakey's face when she noticed something in his mouth.  She called me into the room to show me.  His gum was really swollen in the front.  I can hardly imagine how we hadn't noticed it since the swelling was so bad.  "Maybe he ate something weird?", I said.  "Ya, or maybe he got stung by a bee?", she replied.

I took him in the next day, expecting nothing really.  There is always something with Jakey.  He plays kind of hard.  The veterinarian took one look in his mouth and called the bump a tumor.  "Tumors in the mouth can often be insidious", she said.  "But we can't jump to any conclusions yet, we need to do X-rays and biopsy first".

Insidious - I couldn't help but be reminded of the Ambulance driver telling us that Max's condition looked foreboding.  It meant that our baby was gone.  I knew it as soon as it came out of his mouth.

That was Friday.  The results came in yesterday.  Jakey has cancer.  The kind of tumor he has would best be treated if it were removed, but because of the location of his tumor, it can't be removed without removing the whole front of his face.  They'll probably have to do radiation instead.  She says if things go well, we could have a year or two left with him.  Two would be nice.  A year is already more time than I got to spend with my son.

I love Jake.  I have had MANY pets in my life (I am a pet person - dogs, cats, rabbits, PETS!).  I have never had a bond with a pet the way I have with Jake.  I am obsessed with Jake.  We are tight.  He makes me happy.  He is always up for a snuggle and he is always in a good mood.  His cuddles were a necessary salve on our hearts during the year before Mo was born and both of our babies have loved him so much.   He loves his grandma, swimming, his sister Layla, his cousin dogs (too many to name), and sitting under Mo's chair waiting for dropping food.   I am convinced he helped me to win over Ted, who loves him wildly, and who came into my life only one month after Jakey did.

No, losing a dog won't be like losing my child...but sometimes I just feel like everyone I love is just slipping away.  Our plan now is to spend as much quality time with him as possible with whatever time we have left - go camping, take hikes, go to the dog beach.... continue with his acupuncture & try to make him as comfortable as possible.  Mostly, we want him to know how much he is loved.

A Re-Enactment of Hell

Ted and I have been watching marathons of our new favorite show.  When we really get into something, we just watch back to back episodes until we either get through the whole series or completely burn ourselves out.  So, we've been doing that with a new show over the past week or so, forgoing everything else on television to keep up with our new favorite characters.

Last night, our protagonist's son died.  It was a sudden and unexpected death, which included parental panic at fearing the worst, hospital scenes and then the agony of the show's parents, realizing that, in fact, the worst had happened.

Watching even a dramatized version of a story so close to ours took our breath away.  We kept watching.  I felt the anxiety rising up from my stomach to my throat.  The numbness that I work SO hard to maintain began to crack.  Our eyes were glued to the television - a reminder that we have been through hell!  We are still IN hell much of the time - even though you may not even see it anymore when you are with us.  You probably are glad to see that we've recovered.  But - I see it.  I see it in Ted and I see it in myself.  We are numb.  Where there was once an abundance of joy and silliness, there is now deep sadness.

We turned off the TV.  "How are we going to survive this?", I asked him.  "We just will", he said.

Let's Stick Together

Other than Ted, nobody understands me more than other grieving parents.  Nobody. Not even my own parents. Unless you've lost a child, you can only imagine the horror and heartbreak....even if you've experienced traumatic loss. I can't relate to other kinds of loss in the same way either.  And, I'm not saying that ANYONE will ever fully understand MY loss, because nobody else was Maxie's mother...but another bereaved parent usually gets it pretty close.  If we don't support each other, who else will support us? I do my best to comfort other grieving parents, to relate to them, to let them know I care...because I really do. I'm sure sometimes I come up short, as everyone does, but I will never belittle their loss, never judge their grieving, and never cut them down or accuse them of grieving too hard or asking for too much attention.  My favorite people are other bereaved parents. I rely on their support myself. I HATE why we know each other but I consider it a blessing that we do.  I think we need to stick together.


Mo and I stopped at the park on the way to meet my colleague on Thursday.  We were running early.  After pushing Mo on the swing for a little bit, I put him on the grass so he could crawl around.  There is nothing he loves more than to just be set down to explore.  He was very excited to find a little boy to crawl over to and the little boy's father started talking to me.  "How old is he?", he asked.  "He's thirteen months old.  How old is yours?".  "He is 15 months," he replied.  We made more small talk along those lines - When did yours start crawling?  When did yours start walking?  blah blah blah.  And, then - the question!  The one I usually dread.  "Is he your first?", he asked me.  I didn't pause, I just answered with whatever came naturally.  "No.  He is my second," I said.  "How old is your other child?", he asked.  "He is almost three", I said.  He smiled.  I asked about his kids.  Our boys played a little longer and then we were on our way.

Pretty painless in the grand scheme of things.......

Blowing Kisses

Mo and I spent the afternoon yesterday with an Israeli colleague of mine and his wife.  They are stopping through LA on their way back to Israel after having lived for the last few years in the States.  I'd never really known this colleague very well, he had been living in the South.  We've talked on the phone a number of times and in the last couple of years, I'd written several grants for him.  But, he had called me right after we lost Max to tell me of the loss of his own son, 12 years previous, and to lend me his support.

His son was 4 years and 9 months old.  The youngest of three children - the baby.  His mommy worked in the Kibbutz Library and could see him playing in his kindergarten class through the library window.  Throughout the day, he would see her too and blow kisses to her.  He was sweet and cute with a head full of curly hair.  He died from complications of the flu.  It happened overnight.

After his death she couldn't go back to the library.  She could hardly stand being in the kibbutz, full of the children her son once played with.  Her husband (my colleague) was offered emissary gig in the United States and they left.  They needed to escape.

Since that time, they have escaped many times and always come back.  They adopted a beautiful little girl, then two years old who is now twelve, from China.  They have two beautiful grandchildren.  They kept on living.  But every morning as soon as she wakes up and then again just before bed - and many, many time throughout every day - she thinks of him and how he used to blow her kisses.  Her heart is forever broken.  Of course it is.

Stories of Loss

This week has been filled with stories of loss. 

Close friends of mine are grieving heavily for one of their best friends - a young man, killed by a hit and run driver.  They are visiting with his parents, planning his memorial, cleaning out his apartment, and figuring out where donations should go in lieu of flowers.  I remember these things so vividly - how they kept my mind and my heart occupied at first.  There was a frantic pace involved with it all.  There is no easy way to plan for such unexpected tragedy.  Every decision has to be made within hours, sometimes minutes.  It's too much.  And then when it all finally calms down, you are left with the unbearable loss - the vacancy, the emptiness, the broken heart.  It is so awful, I can hardly bear thinking about it. 

And then I heard about another loss of a young man gone way too soon - only 49 years old, leaving behind a wife and two small children.  This guy was a huge part of our teenage years.  Someone who always made us laugh - successful, warm, fun, funny.  I haven't seen him in ten years and so I am not sure why I feel such a deep sense of loss.  But I do.

I am thinking about their friends.  I am thinking about their families.  I am thinking about their parents.  I am thinking about their mothers most of all.  I hate to sound so bleak but I don't even know what to make of it all anymore.  I hate knowing what's coming for those who grieve them most - the horrific grief, the sleepless nights, the disbelief, the stupid comments, the abandonment.  I am so sorry that anyone has to walk this road I am on.  The world stops making sense, the color all disappears, the joy (when you can find it) is muted. 

I am sorry.


Speaking of Scents:  Another bereaved momma commented on my blog yesterday saying that she too was holding onto the only unwashed outfit of her baby girl.  She is keeping it in a Ziploc bag and opening it up only once in a while because she is afraid of letting out the smell and losing it forever.  I feel the same way!  I am afraid of sniffing it all out.  I would be devastated to open it up and not smell Maxie's smell in there.  I want the smell to stay with me forever.  If I close my eyes and think of Maxie, I can smell his smell even without the clothes.  He is eternally with me.

My grandpa Jack died at the end of my Sophomore year at Pitzer College.  I wouldn't say it was completely unexpected, and on the other hand it was.  He seemed to be in pretty good health, despite having been in and out of the hospital.  He was even said to have walked five miles the night before he died.  He was well known for his walking ways.  My grandpa was the Chief of Pathology at Kaiser Southern California and everyone who knew him knew that he would walk from Kaiser Sunset to Kaiser West LA (a fairly far distance) while reading thick medical journals and pulling out the pages as he read to lighten his load.  He was a character - loved by many.  I loved him (and still do) so much.  He was one of my greatest supporters - he was smart, funny and such a good man.  I told him everything.  I still miss him every day.

After my grandpa died, my grandma gave me three pairs of his recently worn pajamas.  They came right out of the hamper.  They still smelled like him.  I took them back to college with me in the fall and wore them every night, despite the suffocating Inland Empire heat.  I wore them and wore them and wore them.....and didn't wash them.  I know it's gross, but I couldn't risk losing the smell.  He smelled like Old Spice, or one of those spicy grandpa aftershaves.  

The other thing I did, which I have hardly told a soul, is to try and recreate the sound of my grandparents condo in my dorm room.  I put my fan on full blast (which I also had to do because of the suffocating heat I already mentioned) and let it rock the hanging vertical blinds in my room.  My grandparents lived at the beach and there was always a breeze flowing through their condo, rocking the blinds.  I didn't talk about it to many people but I was grieving.  I couldn't fathom him being gone.  I spent a lot of time in my room crying.  Eventually I washed the pajamas (had to be done) - but kept on wearing them. I wore them until there were holes in them and they were falling apart at the seams. I can hardly believe how long it's been since the last time he told me a dirty yiddish joke.  I miss him.

My grandfather has come to me many times through the years in various ways but so much more so since losing Max.  I have smelt his aftershave in my room when there has been nobody else around, I have seen him in dreams and meditations, I had a vision of him caring for my Max while in a hypnotherapy session.  He is the first one to show up every single time I sit down with one of my mediums hoping to hear from my baby.  I didn't love him more than I loved my grandmother (I loved her wildly and madly), but our bond was something from out of this world - like my bond with Max in some ways.... Not of earth.  From someplace else somehow.  Even stranger is that my grandpa Jack wasn't even my biological grandfather - but we connected very deeply regardless.

Maxie is buried just a short walk away from my grandparents.  Whenever I visit Max, I visit them afterwards and remind them to "take care of my baby".  I believe that, along with Ted's grandparents and my father's parents, they are.

"Jack Gordon was fond of quoting Muriel Humphrey's admonition to Hubert Humphrey, when as mayor of Jack's hometown of Minneapolis, he was speechifying, that she told him 'You don't have to be eternal to be immortal'.  So I'll be brief, but Jack will still be immortal".  This was the opening to one of the eulogies given for my grandpa Jack at his funeral, which was attended by hundreds of people, by one of his colleagues.  I hadn't pulled out the eulogies in years but found them again recently when cleaning out my file cabinets.  I love and nearly can't believe that this is what he was fond of quoting. It is a sign I think.  They are together.

I wish I knew the context for his fondness of this quote.  "You don't have to be eternal to be immortal".  I wish I understood what his feeling was about eternity or immortality.  I'm pretty sure that, while alive, he thought they were both pretty bogus.  My grandparents were extremely unimpressed by organized religion.  They were more political than spiritual but as my grandmother lay in bed, near her own death, she seemed to be talking to him.  I wish I had paid better attention.  I wish I had asked her whether he was there. 

Despite his obvious disinterest in god or the spiritual realm, it's funny to me that THIS was his favorite quote.  And yet, it makes perfect sense - for over these past two years, his immortal presence (or the idea of it) has been a great comfort to me.

 Grandpa Jack with me - hanging out in our PJs

His Scent

His scent was totally baby and so intoxicating. I loved to cuddle close and breathe him in. Max was delicious. I miss his smell! I miss it so much it might kill me.  

Max stopped breathing on a Tuesday and was taken off life support on a Thursday. On Thursdays our cleaning lady comes - I knew that I needed his dirty clothes to stay dirty. I needed to keep his smell.

I am so grateful that my moms boyfriend climbed in through our doggie door to get Maxie's clothes out the hamper. I keep them sealed in freezer bags in Mo's room.  Every once in a while, I open them up so I can breathe him in. It makes me feel like I am back with him again - iit also makes me want to die at the same time.  
One of my greatest fears is that someone will accidentally wash his clothes and take the most important connection to him that I have left. 

I miss my baby so much.  I miss his beautiful, intoxicating, delicious baby smell. Some days I really don't know how I'm doing this STILL.

A break

It occurs me to lately that I don't really care what you think of my grief.  I don't care if you think I am grieving too much or not enough.  I don't care if you don't ever mention Max to me again - if you haven't yet, our relationship probably isn't that deep anyway.  I don't feel deeply wounded if you say something really stupid or insensitive.  I'm not saying I like it, I'm just saying that instead of getting angry, I just feel like you are being stupid and insensitive.  Everyone is from time to time.....some more than others.  I get it finally that you are protecting yourself by staying away from me - and that is ok.  Where I am at now, I don't really need everyone I once had.  Believe me when I tell you - I am strong.  I am one of the strongest people I know.  I've had no choice.

You see, I spent a lot of time and energy arguing with people who felt I should be grieving differently: that I should have moved on, or seen that it was all part of god's plan, or realized that Max "was only a baby" and that I "could have more children".  I recognize now that those people don't have any idea what they are talking about.  They are just talking from the point of view of someone who has no clue - talking to hear themselves talk. You can tell me until you are blue in the face how differently you would grieve if it was you, but you won't ever know until it happens to you.  Somehow us grievers all get it.  So, it doesn't really matter what you think.

It's liberating really.  I mostly expect people to say nothing, so when I get nothing, I'm really ok with it.  It still touches my heart when people DO show that they care but I get that most people may not.  That's ok too.  They didn't know Maxie.  They didn't know how perfect and wonderful he was.   They are worried about themselves and that is fine.

I've always heard that as you age, you care less and less what people think.  Considering I've aged at least 20 years in the last 2, I'd have to agree.  I just don't care what you think.  All that matters to me are Ted, Max, Mo and the people we love.  All that matters to me is what is in my heart.

They say these stages of grief cycle and so it's possible that the anger is just taking a break.  I plan to enjoy it while it lasts.


I ran into my college friends Jenna and Mitch yesterday at Whole Foods. Ted, Mo and I were there eating lunch. Jenna said she'd been reading my blog and saw that we were having an event for Maxie and she'd thought about donating classes at her bellydance studio but wasn't sure we would be interested because my blog post about Maxie's Birthday Benefit suggested kids activities but not adult ones.  My response was of course, "Yes! We are interested!" Kids activities, pet activities, adult activities - all good silent auction items!

My friend Ann offered to chair Maxie's event.  It has been awesome having someone take on so much responsibility.  We have been having fun texting each other about updates and ideas.  She has been calling around to people she knows AND people she doesn't know for silent auction items.  She's already gotten 2 Pure Barre packages of 10 classes each (in Brentwood and Woodland Hills), Yo Gabba Gabba live tickets for four, Tickets to the exclusive Magic Castle (sounds like a kids activity but it is an adult one!  and so fun!), yoga classes, hotel stays and more.  She just thought about all of the places and things she's wanted to do and started cold calling! 

You guys - there is so much good stuff being auctioned off at our benefit. I want it all! Our friend Sammy is donating his landscaping services, UrbanSitter is donating a $100 gift certificate for babysitting, we'll have Cusinart appliances (including at least one snow cone machine - which was a big hit at both of Mo's birthday parties).  

If you have goods or services to donate and you aren't sure whether we'd be interested, email me at teddyabby at gmail for com. I am 99% sure my answer will be "Yes! We are interested!"  

Thank you or supporting our family, Maxie's memory and First Candle!

Foot Fortune Telling

You know I am into some stuff these days that many would consider to be "out there".  I like visiting mediums, and reading about the afterlife and about all sorts of other religions, and reincarnation and watching "Through the Wormhole".  I am ready to try just about ANYTHING to get closer to wherever Maxie is while I am still in this lifetime.  Instead of calling me a sucker, let's just say I'm "open minded".  But, even I have to laugh at this one.

I had been seeing a certain alternative medicine practitioner who will remain nameless since many of my friends have been to see her.  I love this woman really.  She is warm, and exotic, and interesting, and (not that it matters) but very beautiful and she has helped many people I know with various issues ranging from constipation to fertility.  I swear it was because of her that I got pregnant with Mo (I mean, I am *almost* positive it was because of her).

Anyway - She is awesome and not only have I been going to her myself, but I've sent others.  She's very confident in all of her recommendations so I don't even bother to question her "prescriptions".  I figured that since NOTHING was helping me in the weight loss department, this would be an easy assignment for her.

Instead of our regular mode of therapy, she wanted to try something new on me.  I took off my shoes and lay on her table and she started asking me questions about my diet, exercise and lifestyle and then pressing on the soles of my feet. I didn't think much of it (I'll take a foot massage wherever I can get one), but then she started asking "my body" questions about me.  For example, She'd say "Is the problem in the liver?"  Foot press.  Serious look.  "No.    Is the problem in the pancreas?" Foot press.  Serious look. "No".  This went on for a while.  Until she determined that I had parasites that were making me fat.  Sounded reasonable to me - I mean, there has gotta be some explanation. But, don't parasites usually make you skinny?

Then she left the room and came back with two crates full of herbs and other remedies.  She began again, "Should she take the anti-stress formula?"  Foot press.  Serious look.  "Yes......How many drops?   One?"  Foot Press. "Two?"  Foot Press.  "Three?"  Foot Press.  "Yes, three drops of anti-stress formula", she said as she wrote it down for me.

"Wait a minute", I cut in.  "Are you saying that you can ask my foot questions and based on the feel of the push, you know the answer?"  "Yes,"  she laughed "All of the secrets of the universe are within you and I can read your body through your feet!"


Ok, I know what you're thinking.  I've really lost it.  But, I don't know.  She sounded so sure of herself.  I mean, I didn't really believe it....but I sure wanted to.

"So, does that mean I could ask you about anything and you could tell me the answer based on my foot?"
"Yes."  "In fact," she told me "when my daughters like a boy at school, they come running home, take off their shoes and say, 'Mommy, does Billy like me?' and I press on their feet and tell them the answer."

Who ever knew about FOOT FORTUNE TELLING?!  Not me.

And so that is how I ended up spending an hour in her office asking all of my questions and getting her expert Foot Fortune Telling advice.
"Will we ever really be happy again?"  Foot Press.  Serious look.  "Yes"
"Oh good!  Will I get pregnant again soon?"  Foot Press.  Serious look.  "Yes"
"Is Mo the reincarnation of Maxie?"  Foot Press.  Serious look.  "I am sorry, but no".
She prescribed my "parasite fighting" herbs: Wormwood, black walnut hull, anti-stress formula, vitamin B complex, at least 1 whole avocado every day, tons of papaya, cilantro and lemon.  She told me to go home and eat a whole pizza because after starting the new plan, the weight would "melt" off of me.
AWESOME!  Right?  Not only would I finally lose these 20 baby weight pounds but I am also holding ALL of the mysteries of the universe in my FEET!  It was all very good news as far as I was concerned.

For the next three weeks, I stuck to the plan faithfully.  Nothing happened.  I ate pounds of papaya, doused everything in lemon, smushed cilantro into avocados and chowed down.  Nothing.  So, I made a follow up appointment to see what could possible be going wrong.

"Hmmmmm.  Are you taking the Vitamin B complex?"
"Yes, I am taking everything!"
"Are you eating enough avocado?"
"Yes!  I eat at least one every day."
"Hmmmmm.  So, maybe I was wrong.  Maybe it isn't parasites."
"What?  But how could you be wrong if I hold ALL of the answers to all of the mysteries of the universe in my feet?"
No answer.  Just heartfelt regret that she couldn't help me.

I'd tell you I left feeling a little ridiculous but I think I was laughing too hard.  AND - before you discount her entirely - I have to remind you that she DID help me get pregnant with Mo.  I am like 95% sure.  Or, at least like 80%.

To wind up my story, let me tell you that I have lost 10 pounds since then, which is HUGE for me.  I still have another 10 to go but I am telling you that NOTHING worked.  After the foot fortune telling went awry, I was referred to another alternative healer and she just recommended a book for me:  The Fast Metabolism Diet.  The premise of the book is that chronic dieting makes you fat and that once your metabolism slows, you can exercise and diet your face off and it won't make a difference.  You need to heal your metabolism by eating specific healthy foods.  I have hesitated to even tell you because when you see me, I may not look that different but there you go.  It is working.

Yes, the Foot Fortune telling is probably all in her pretty head but I think she is talented in MANY other ways. 

And.....I still believe the answers are out there, even if they aren't all contained within the sole of my foot.


Mo is one determined little guy.  This has become especially clear since he's become mobile.  He will crawl over or under just about anything (often times it is a sleeping Jake) to get to where he wants to go.  As part of our morning routine, we bring him into bed with us.  He gets up really early - usually around 5 or 5:30, sometimes as early as 4:45.  We "sleep" while he drinks his bottle and then watches "Pajanimals".  I'll save the way that we know every word to every episode by heart for another day.  Today, I am focused on his determination. 

As soon as he hears the closing song of the show, he flips himself around and starts climbing up the pillows, over our faces, up to the headboard of our bed.  The headboard isn't really a standard headboard, it is a shelf with opening cabinets and there is some "great" stuff up there - our alarm clock that holds an old iPod, usually a Carmex, Ted's baseball cap, a box of kleenex and the white noise machine that all three of us currently need to get a good night's sleep.  We don't really like him crawling up there because hazards abound - including a brick wall, a huge gap between the mattress and the headboard, and all sorts of wires and plugs.  If he climbs up there, we have to be alert, sitting up and watching him - which neither of us really wants to do at 5 am.  So, we continuously pull him back down, swing an arm around him and put on another episode of his favorite show.   Of course his favorite show would be only 15 minutes long - so every 15 minutes, the whole cycle repeats over and over again until we just either have to give in and supervise the headboard climb or get up and get breakfast ready for him.  It's our new Mo alarm clock.

We keep wondering when he is going to tire of this routine and get bored of our headboard but considering these photos were taken this morning - I think it may be a while.

Guilty reminders

For the most part, I'm doing much better with seeing babies. My heart doesn't start racing and I don't struggle to catch my breath anymore every time I see a baby.  I really credit having Mo for this.  Before he was born, it was really bad and one of the many reasons I didn't leave my house much.

Once in a while, I still get caught off guard - like when I see a baby in a doc band or when I see a baby wearing an outfit that I dressed Max in, or when I see any baby that looks at all like Max.  

There were lots of shows I had to stop watching after losing Max - Dexter & Mad Men, off the top of my head, both had babies during the seasons I was watching right after Max stopped breathing.  I couldn't watch.  I think I could handle those now.

There is this one commercial for baby lotion that stops my heart and makes breathing near impossible every time I see it.  It pushes every button.  The mom and baby are cuddling on the bed, after bath time I assume. She is putting lotion on the baby's body and the baby is looking at her adoringly, like Max used to look at me.  The baby even looks a little like Max to me. Then the voice says something like "You are doing a great job mom." Ugh - its like a punch to my gut. I thought I was doing such a good job with Max. Being Maxie's mom felt like the most natural thing - what I had been waiting my whole life to do. I knew he adored me. Our relationship was so deep. Whenever this commercial comes on, I can't help but feel like I failed.  It makes me sick - sick with myself. It takes my breath away.

I spend hours every single day thinking about what I could have done differently.  I could have quit my job and stayed home with Max.  I could have chosen a different solution for his daily care. I could have been more vigilant about things that I wish had been done differently when I wasn't with him. But, I honesty don't know if any of those things would have made a difference.  At times, I feel in my heart that they would have but then my soul tells me they wouldn't have. I just don't know.  All I know is that I may never forgive myself. Living with this much uncertainty and guilt is sometimes just unbearable.  

I am sick with myself and sick with missing him.

Mo is sick

Mo has his first cold. He's got an awful cough and is wheezing, sniffling and sneezing. We moved him into his own room in Monday night, before we realized he was really sick. He did fine sleeping on his own. I, on the other hand woke up every couple of hours, all night long. I finally woke up for good on Tuesday morning at 4 am and just waited for him to get up.  

Yesterday, his cough got progressively worse all day so I took him to the pediatrician around 3.  She told me that he sounded sick but that I didnt need to worry too much.  Fat Chance!  Even so, I had already broken down the pack and play in our room and decided to put him to sleep in his own room again. His room is much smaller than ours, so I reasoned that it would be a better space for the humidifier.

But as it got closer to our bedtime, I started worrying.  Maybe he would be better with us. I know I would feel better if he was with us.  Halfway through our episode of Sons of Anarchy, during a scene with tons of crying babies, Mo woke up in his room and started crying himself. I went to get him and he was snotty and breathing heavy and so uncomfortable. That was it - I asked Ted to reset up the pack and play.  I was much happier having him with us. My plan is to move him back to his own room when he is feeling better. I think if I wait too much longer, he won't want to sleep in there and right now, he doesn't seem to know the difference.

I'm trying not to freak out about his being sick. Trying - sometimes succeeding.  I am sure he will be fine. He's in good spirits, crawling around, making a mess and smiling a lot.  Babies get sick - People get sick! He'll be fine.

Maxie's Birthday Benefit - October 20, 2013 - Golden Road Brewing

Please join us on Sunday, October 20, 2013 from 10:30 am - 2 pm at Golden Road Brewing for Maxie's Birthday Benefit supporting Maxie's First Candle Fund.  It will be a really fun day and a special way to raise important funds for SIDS research and awareness in honor of Maxie's third birthday. 

Golden Road is an awesome place that Ted and I love (and if you've been there, I am sure you love it too).  They have a great lawn area for kids to play and delicious food and they brew their own tasty beer.  We are so lucky that they are opening their doors for us, giving us everything at cost and donating Chloe's - their private event space

Event Day:
10:30 am - 12 pm - Supervised kids activities (with sitter services donated by urbansitter.com) on the side lawn - face painting, arts and crafts, games and more!
10:30 am - 2 pm - Silent Auction, food and pitchers of beer inside.
Also - Toy Drive for children in need!

How you can help:
There are four ways to help us honor Maxie's memory on his third birthday.

1) COME TO OUR EVENT!!  Mark your calendars now!  Plan on bringing your whole family!

2) Bring an unwrapped toy, still in its packaging to the event.  We will be distributing toys to patients at Children's Hospital Los Angeles.  You can learn more about their toy program by clicking HERE.

3) Contribute to our silent auction.  We already have an awesome list of items but we need more.  Think about who you know who might be willing to contribute great items including (but not limited to):
  • Vacation homes, timeshares, hotel stays, airline miles
  • Dining experiences
  • Wine packages
  • Kids classes and activities
  • Concert, Theater, Movie tickets
  • Apparel, accessories, jewelry
  • Collectors Items
  • Unique experiences
Contact Abby at teddyabby at gmail dot com to contribute!
4) Consider sponsoring the event!  This is a big one.  Remember, your contribution to First Candle is tax deductible and it can be a nice PR opportunity for your business.  The more we raise in sponsorships, the more event money can go straight to First Candle.  A list of sponsorship opportunities is at the bottom of this post.

Thank you so much for helping us to honor Maxie's spirit.  This is SO important to us.  It helps us to continue to parent him, even though he isn't physically with us anymore.   It occupies our minds during a time that is especially difficult for us, and helps to lift the burden a bit. 

Maxie's Birthday Benefit Sponsorship Levels - Contact Abby at teddyabby at gmail dot com to contribute:

Gold (Title) Sponsor - $6000 (One available) – Covers all food and beverages for event.  Individuals or Company will have prominent individualized signage in the kid’s area and in the private event room.  Sponsors names and/or logos will appear on all flyers, emails and table top sponsorship pieces at event.  Event will be named for sponsor - i.e. "Maxie's Birthday Benefit: Presented by SUPER GENEROUS COMPANY"

Silver Sponsor - $2500  (Two available) – Covers all food for event.
Individuals or Company will have prominent signage in the private event room.  Sponsors names and/or logos will appear on all flyer, emails and table top sponsorship pieces at event. ONE LEFT!!!

Bronze Sponsor - $1500 (One available) – Covers all kids’ snacks and beverages for the event. Individuals or Company will have prominent signage in the kid’s area.  Sponsors names and/or logos will appear on all flyer, emails and table top sponsorship pieces at event - ALREADY SPONSORED!!!

Playtime Sponsor - $1000 (One available) – Covers materials for kid’s activities including arts and crafts, face-painting and games.  Sponsors will have shared prominent signage in the kids’ area. Sponsors names and/or logos will appear on all flyer, emails and table top sponsorship pieces at event. - ALREADY SPONSORED!! 

Friends of Maxie - $500 (Multiple available) – will help defray the costs of the event.  Sponsors names will appear in a roll of honor at the event and in thank you email afterwards.

* All sponsorships are tax deductible and donors will receive letters from First Candle.  First Candle is a registered 501C3


How my thoughts get from here to there

Mozie has a little cough.  I know babies get coughs.  I am trying to keep it together because it isn't a big deal. 

But, Maxie had a cough.  He was always coughing.  I assumed it was just a cough that daycare kids get and his pediatrician kept confirming that it was nothing to worry about....even though it had the tendency at times to sound really hacking. 

I know I will never feel like we are safe.  I know this.  And, I can either freak out every time Mo gets a little cough or try to keep calm and know that it is likely nothing. 

Though you wouldn't necessarily know it....I've been having a hard time lately.  All of the really horrible images keep rushing back to me all day long - the phone call, the ER, the run to our cars to drive after the ambulance, sitting on the floor of the hospital hallway with Ted outside of the ultrasound room where Maxie's was, leaving without him, sitting with the funeral director, being asked for one of us to identify his body at the funeral, Ted and my father walking to the tiny coffin to check.  

I can't believe this happened.  The burden and heartbreak are too much to bear most of the time.

But, I started off just writing about Mozie's little cough. 

I don't know - this is how my brain works now. 

Small Victories

After the Passport Photo victory this week, I was feeling unstoppable and decided to go for another challenge - one that I had been trying to conquer for a little more than two years already: CONTACT LENSES.

Contact Lenses have worn me down.  They have tested my nerves and my inner strength.  Ask my poor friend Bianca, who was here with me one day when trying to get a lens out of my eye literally threw me into a panic attack.  Oh!  It was bad.

Ted and I went to Costco last week to get party supplies and I decided to stop by the optometrists office to see if I could get my contact prescription.  You see, they won't even let you take home your prescription unless you can show them how you can get the contacts in and out of your eyes.  Since I have never been able to do that, I've never come home with the prescription.  Somehow, the woman sitting at the desk just handed mine over two weeks ago.  Just like that.

I rushed home and ordered a box for my left eye and a box for my right and checked the excitedly checked the mailbox every day this week.  They finally came on Friday night.

I am very pleased to announce that I successfully put in, wore, and then took out my contacts yesterday and I am wearing them again RIGHT NOW!  This might seem like a small feet to many but you'll just have to trust me on this one - it feels very, very big.  I take what I can get these days in the way of feeling "in control" and this one totally counts for me!

Contact Lenses - you have been quite the competitor, but this time: YOU LOSE!

The Perfect Passport Photo

My friend Rachel wrote me yesterday to tell me she'd been catching up on my blog.  She commented on the photos of Mo and Ted visiting Maxie and on the photos of what a trendsetter Mo is with his signature move.  Then she mentioned that she saw Mo was getting a passport.  She wondered where we were going and then warned us that if we are going to Costa Rica, we should watch for riptides.  (She's right.  Our beach can have a MAJOR undertow.)

But anyway, I didn't remember writing about the passport here.  "Are you psychic?", I wrote back (hopefully).  "No.  Ha ha.  I am not psychic.  Your mom posted Mo's Passport photo on her Facebook page."

If you are Facebook friends with my mom, you already have seen the final product.  (Her name is Susan Chadney & you should "friend" her.  She is also an amazing LA Real Estate Agent - you should also work with her to sell or buy your next home)

We are taking Mo to Costa Rica with us to celebrate my 40th birthday.  Or rather, my 40th birthday is an excuse to go back to Costa Rica - where we haven't been since we went last with Max.  After we lost Max, I couldn't imagine ever going back to this place that had brought me so much happiness through the years.  To do so felt like it would be a betrayal of Max.  Enjoying life without him is still something I struggle with daily.  However, It suddenly occurred to me a few months ago that I was ready and that to be able to sit in our spot with Mo would be tremendously healing for me.  I also think it is an important way to honor Maxie's memory.  So that is the plan - Me, Mo, Teddy, my mom, Auntie Beth, Cousin Sadie, Prima Sharon, my Auntie Alison, Uncle Danny, maybe Uncle Paul (my brother, not MY uncle), and a handful of close friends will head down to CR in November.  I can't wait!

One thing that I had completely spaced on though was getting Mo his Passport until my mom reminded me about it last weekend at Mo's birthday party.  Oops.  Getting Maxie's passport was no easy task....especially the taking of the passport photo.  Just getting him to keep his eyes open long enough to take the photo was the challenge.  He was only a week or two old.  I figured getting Mo's photo would be much easier.

No, it wasn't.

I took him to a mailbox store that also does passport photos.  The guy helping us could not grasp the concept that Mo does not understand directions (or English for that matter) and he kept telling him to "hold still".  "He doesn't understand you", I'd say.  Then he'd give me a weird look as if he couldn't understand how my child wouldn't understand his simple directions.  Meanwhile, we'd put Mo down in front of the white wall and he'd immediately start crawling away.  This went on for at least ten minutes before I thanked the guy for his time and left.  It wasn't happening.

"I don't need no lousy mailbox store for passport photos!  I can do this!", I thought and promptly sat Mo down in front of the white wall of our kitchen to start the photo shoot.

It started off ok:

But for a passport photo, it needs to be straight on, both ears showing, no shadows, perfect proportions.  It is no joke.  Plus, he was crawling away again after a few seconds.

Then I had the brilliant idea of putting him in the bumbo chair.  He still fits because he is kind of a skinny guy:

At this point, he'd had enough of me.

Between me and the guy at the photo place, this had been going on for over an hour and a half.  So, I decided to put him down for a nap and try again when he woke up.

While he was sleeping, I set up my studio - I hung a white sheet off the back of the couch, stuck the bumbo in front of it and got my fancy camera ready.  I would NOT give up.

This is what I was afraid of!  Sleepy Mo loves to suck those fingers.

Usually I am a big fan of "Cover it up!", but not today!

And then - just when I thought that I had set an impossible task  - it happened!

The PERFECT passport photo!!!!!  
Let's just hope that the Passport agency agrees because I am hoping to not have to do this again for a while.  At least - with Mo!

A Compassionate Listener

A colleague called me yesterday to ask a question about a grant.  "How are you?", she asked.  "I'm ok" (my usual response to this question).  "How are YOU?", I asked (Ted and I would both WAY rather have people tell us about them these days then to try to find the words to tell them how we are - how we are is much too complicated for small talk).

I really love this colleague.  She has always been someone that I have gotten along with well and connected to.  She is honest and real and I just like her.  Since losing Maxie, she has called and emailed many, many times just to check in with me.  She is a caring and compassionate person.

When I asked how she was doing, she paused.  She then asked me how I feel when someone who hasn't experienced tragedy and isn't experiencing anything life altering tells me that they are having a crappy day.  You know?  Just a regular sort of crappy day.  She apologized for asking, thinking it might offend me, but she just really wanted to know.

I wasn't offended.  Just the opposite.  It was very thoughtful of her to ask in my opinion.  I think it is a brilliant question and one that I almost can't believe I haven't really addressed here before.  It is something that I wonder about myself ALL of the time.  How come with some people there is no problem "too small" for me to listen and empathize with and with other people I literally want to plug my ears and scream "LALALALALALA"?

The truth is that it depends on who is complaining to me about their crappy day.  Just because I've been through a horrible loss doesn't mean that I can't remember a plain old crappy day - though one of the small "blessings" of this loss is that small things don't really stress me out all that much anymore.  I used to stay up all night worrying about something someone on my board said to me in a meeting, or whether an email I sent had the right tone, or when I would find the time to do certain important things.  I don't anymore.  My bad days really all center around not having Maxie here with me.

That being said, I know that people have less dramatic things that upset them.  I know that things that seem small to me can genuinely feel very big to the people experiencing them and I don't want to diminish those things or have a lack of compassion for them.  I try to keep perspective about the fact that most people I know have not lost a child and that their worries are probably a little less existential than mine.  I have compassion.

When someone I love, or even just like, who has shown us compassion, who has stuck by my side, with whom there is mutual respect, tells me that they are having a crappy day, I will generally empathize.  Crappy days are crappy days and they are part of life and everyone deserves to just feel crappy from time to time.

In the first year after Max died, I admit it - I just didn't have the stamina to listen to people talk about the "hardships" of normal life - job problems, breastfeeding issues, how hard it is to take care of multiple children, the stress of closing escrow on their new home.  I STILL would sell my soul to have these be my big problems, but I understand that they are real and that for the person experiencing them, life can feel chaotic.  It wasn't that I genuinely didn't care - it was just that the trauma had numbed me from feeling compassion for anything less than death.  There are times when I still feel like the person with the "problems" isn't being incredibly sensitive when choosing the "issues" that they cry about to me.  That's ok though, we all do that from time to time.

As my trauma has "normalized" - my heart has opened.  I want to be there for the people who have been there for me and for those who I love. 

That being said, I find myself having less tolerance for those people who haven't shown us any compassion, who told me from the beginning that "everything will be fine" because I "can have more children", who have dismissed our very real anguish because it wasn't comfortable for them.  They deserve to have their crappy days too but I just can't bring myself to be the compassionate listener.  They MUST be able to find a better ear to chew than mine.

I find that the people who are constantly complaining about the really "small things" and unable to appreciate the beauty in their own lives are always the same people who dismiss our loss.  They are the same people who've told me that losing Max was "ok", because now I have Mo.  They are the same people who never ask us how we are doing and have hardly even acknowledged that our child died.  They are the people who pretend that Mo is our first child and that Maxie never existed.  I don't have it in me to sit and compassionately listen to the complaints of the people who expected me to bounce back after my child died.  In fact, if it were up to me, I'd probably remove them from my life entirely.  Sadly, that isn't always an option.

I think if you talked to most of my friends.....the ones that are still in my life, you would hear that I am a compassionate listener.  I DO recognize that work can be super stressful and that for some people, so can having a bunch of people over for dinner.  

I believe I am a compassionate person but I do draw the line.  I think we all need to draw it somewhere.  Treat people as you want to be treated and those people who are deserving of your compassion and respect will treat you back the same way.  If you were one of those people for whom my child dying seemed like no big deal  - I can almost guarantee that most anything stressful happening in your life seems like no big deal to me.

To my caring, empathetic and thoughtful colleague - Please tell me about your crappy day and I promise to be a compassionate listener. 


A reader of mine from Germany sent me this photo yesterday.  MaxiMo is the name of a German brand baby toys and clothing company.  How funny!  Thank you Ronja!!!!

By the way - you've convinced me.  I stopped trying to get Mo off the bottle.  He's happy - so I'm happy.  Thanks.


My relationships with each of my boys is different, even though they have such similar personalities in so many ways.

I've said many times that when Maxie was about 4 months old, I was giving him a bath and I had a feeling that I'd known him forever.  He was very familiar to me.  More than that - I KNEW him - better than I had ever known anyone before in my whole life.  I figured that this is how all mothers felt about their children.  When we lost him, I lost the person I'd loved most and known best in the whole world.

Mo is more of a mystery to me - he feels to me like new love.  You know that feeling where every little thing is totally new and wonderful?  I'm always surprised by the funny faces he makes, the hilarious sounds, his unique quirks.  I love him equally but our relationship is totally different.

Mo fills part of a space left empty by Max.  I am madly in love with Mo.  He is so very special.  He made me a mother again.  He "normalized" us and made us less scary to others.  He is a very unique boy and I love him wildly.

Max was my first.  He was the greatest love I had ever known up until his birth.  He can never be replaced.  He will always be missed.  As a parent and a human being, I love my children differently, because they are different people.  I don't think it is right to assume that Mo would even want to take the place of Max.  Like all people, I believe that Mo would want to be his own person, not a replacement child for the brother he never met.  And he is his own person.  One that Ted and I each love uniquely.

That is how it should be. 


People are always excitedly telling me about their pregnancies, or their babies, or their friends babies, or the babies of mutual friends that I haven't seen in decades.  Babies are WONDERFUL!  They are sweet and cozy and loving and innocent.  When you play with them, you talk baby talk and you get to kiss and squeeze them and listen to sweet children's lullabies and other happy music.  They make you feel warm and safe and full of excitement. Babies are the embodiment of love, happiness, trust and loyalty.

My baby experience isn't like your baby experience.  Mine includes the death of my baby.  I know that you know that.....but you don't really think about it when we are talking about babies.  You aren't aware that my insides hurt thinking about babies and how much I miss mine.  You don't realize that I would KILL to be up all night with the baby I lost or what I would give to be in the position most pregnant women are in - unaware of the fact that babies die.  I know you know mine did, but I also know that you KNOW it won't happen to you....and I hope you are right.  I am sure you are but I'd be lying if I didn't say that it crosses my mind that it could happen.

Babies are wonderful.  I love them so much.  I love my babies so much.  I love yours too!  They are amazing.  I guess I just wanted to point out that they strike a chord in my soul.  That when you carelessly talk about the excitement and anticipation of having your baby.  Or, when you talk about the stress that having to take care of your baby causes you....that I am thinking about my baby and how broken my heart is here without him.

They remember him

I love my funny, sweet, smart nieces Sadie, Mandy and Camille so much. Sadie and Mandy were both little when Maxie was born.  Each of them  had such special relationships with him. He was the first cousin for both of them and they were both totally obsessed with him. Mandy followed along my pregnancy, so eager to meet the cousin who was coming. She was one of our first visitors in the hospital.  Sadie came to visit right after Max was born and then really bonded with him in Costa Rica when he was almost four months old, showering him with hugs, kisses and attention. 

I don't really know how much they remember, but they remember that they miss him and love him.  They are never embarrassed to tell me that either, which I love. I love knowing that he is remembered by them. I love that they are too young and totally unashamed of saying his name, asking about him and expressing how sad they are that he isn't with is.  I know he would love them and look up to them so much.

When I am with them, I feel like a little part of him exists in them. Even when they forget someday, I will always remember how much they loved him.  

When we were in Connecticut, Sadie talked a lot about Maxie.  I can tell that she knows we like hearing his name.  She kept saying how much she LOVES Mo and wishes she could "Squish Max into Mo" because she misses him so much.  It made sense to her and it made sense to me too.  I know exactly what she was talking about.

Yesterday we had a West Coast birthday party for Mo and afterwards, we decided to release some balloons.  Mandy wrote messages for Max that were so sweet and heartfelt. I cannot tell you how much I missed having my older little boy in my arms yesterday.