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Vegas

Three of my girlfriends and I went to Vegas to celebrate our 30th Birthdays the other weekend. It was my first trip there and we had such a great time. It is true what they say, great friends pick up right where they left off, as if no time has passed at all. The issue with that, for me, is that time has passed and not so quietly. I have looked forward to my 30th birthday for quite some time because in my mind it’s the start of a new decade, new beginnings, and new possibilities. What I found instead, is on New Year’s Eve watching the ball drop, I was sad and mad. Sad, that another year had passed so quickly and mad that I was getting closer to Maxwell’s anniversary and further away from him. 3 years. I can’t believe it has been 3 years since I had to say goodbye to my baby.

Sad that I was happy another year had past, mad that it had passed so quickly, and the inevitable guilt for feeling both. I want time to pass slowly so that I can take in every moment I get with Emery and in that same breath I find myself wishing time away because I long to see and hold Maxwell again. It’s a constant tug of war. I feel like one keeps me closer to her but neither one keeps me closer to Maxwell. I feel as if each passing day I get further and further away from him and the reality of him. Vegas seemed to amplify that reality, but it wasn’t until after the trip when I was sitting in the airport that it hit me…I had to go back, back to my “real word”. Being with 3 of my best friends I have known since college just took me back to a simpler time, a time I wanted so desperately to stay in and honestly in that moment (3 days) thought I could. It wasn’t something I was conscious of but sitting in the airport Monday morning waiting to board my flight I realized more than just a part of me didn’t want to go back. I wanted to stay in my simpler time with no responsibility, doing whatever I want when I want, not having to worry about if anyone or anything is depending on me, and also not constantly struggling to find happiness knowing a part of me is forever gone. I allowed myself care free happiness for 3 days without guilt until it was time to go back. Please don’t misunderstand, Maxwell and Emery are the two greatest things that have ever happened to me and I wouldn’t change that for the world, truly I wouldn’t. I wish there was a way for Maxwell and Emery to exist together, with me, in this lifetime. I’m aware that is unrealistic, but try telling your heart that. So every day is a struggle for me, on one end I get to watch my beautiful daughter grow, challenge me, and look at the world with such wonder and on the opposite end I have no idea what it would be like watching Maxwell grow. Would he be as challenging and head strong as Emery, who challenges me at every turn ( and I secretly like it) or would he be more laid back and just take mommy’s “no” to mean no?
Of course the day to day struggle lessens the more you get up and go thru the motions. Just like with anything else you continuously do over and over, it becomes a routine, muscle memory if you will, until one day it doesn’t feel like you’re just going thru the motions, you start to feel like you’re actually living and participating in life again. Unfortunately for me routine also brings guilt and makes me feel as if I’m forgetting him. Everyday that passes I feel further away from him it I try to convince myself that is just in my head…

Until next time
Xoxo

FL&R

+ - 2 comments

John - Reading your notes, brings home to me how precious life is and why family and friends are needed in our lives. Continue to be forthright with yourself and others and life will be beautiful and simple.

Emery is a very lucky girl.

You are in my thoughts often.

Gina - That’s the percfet insight in a thread like this.

Breathe

As I lay my head on Emery’s back and listen/feel her breathe I’m filled with so much love and happiness knowing I made this beautiful and sweet human being. At the same time I feel anger that it didn’t turn out to be so easy for Maxwell and it pains me to admit I check on Emery breathing more than I should. I find myself waking up suddenly and then freaking out because that’s the same way I woke up before touching Maxwell and realizing…well, you know. Then I HAVE to check on Emery and only then do I realize I had been holding my breath until the moment I feel her breathe.
I also never realized how beautiful the sound and feeling of breathing was until it stopped and ceased to exist. Not once, in his four months, did I check to make sure Maxwell was breathing because there wasn’t a reason to. Of course he’s breathing. Why wouldn’t he be? There was no warning from the pediatrician and they didn’t even consider him a premie since his 2 month checkup because he was doing so well. I play that night over and over in my head, even when I don’t want to. I have more nightmares then I care to admit and I have yet to let go of the guilt. Guilt from not waking up earlier than his usual feeding time to check on him…maybe I could’ve saved him? I think guilt is an innate feeling for me and I can’t shake it. I can’t shake the guilt or the blame. I’m trying…or maybe I’m not….more on that later.
There are so many things in life that I have taken for granted and still do. I took breathing for granted because it seemed so simple, inevitable, like the sun rising and setting, I never realized it could be difficult.
This weekend Emery was very whiny and needy. She wanted me to hold her all day and anytime I put her down she would start screaming and through a fit, so by Sunday I was frustrated, losing patience, feeling very overwhelmed and tired of hearing my name, mommy, in a whining tone. By her 3rd timeout, for hitting mommy in the face after being told not to, she comes running to me with a smile on her face and a snotty nose, trying to calm herself down and I started crying as she was hugging me because I didn’t understand what I was doing wrong for her to be so needy/whiny. Then I felt enormous guilt for ever letting the thought creep into my head that I was tired of hearing her say mommy. I remember being so upset that I would never get to hear Maxwell say mommy or tell me that he loves me and in that moment while I’m holding Emery I felt like such a terrible mother. I was taking something so simple for granted instead of being thankful.
Ever since Maxwell passed and I found out I was pregnant with Emery, I’ve held myself to a higher/unrealistic standard. Higher because I know how quickly the love of your life can be taken from you and unrealistic because at the end of the day I’m still human. I’m still just an exhausted mother trying to raise, love and teach her daughter all of the greatness this world has while hoping that Maxwell is looking down and proud of the mother I am to Emery and the mother I would’ve been to him. I realize I need to ease up on myself and not feel guilty for feeling the same way I’m sure other mothers have felt from time to time. It’s just hard to shake the feeling that I should be held to a higher standard since losing him….One thing is for sure. I will never give up or stop trying to be the best person and mother that I can be.
Until next time
Xoxo

FL&R

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Closets

I’m currently sitting in what’s to become my new “master closet” enjoying a beer, the view (yes, there’s a window in my closet), and this new chapter that’s about to start in my life. I finally own a home with a yard for my daughter and Baxter to run to their hearts content. A place to call my own, a place where I feel I finally belong. Since Maxwell I haven’t truly felt like I belonged anywhere. The loft we were “renting” from a great, great friend was ours for as long as we needed it but it never felt like home. We didn’t hang any pictures and we’ve been there for 2 1/2 years. Just blank white walls. Now I have painted walls and there will be pictures of Maxwell, Emery and anyone else I love and see fit to put up! 🙂
Even though I traded in the white walls I now have a guest room that I walk passed everyday and try not to think that it should be Maxwell’s room. Or the sweet thought goes through my mind that Maxwell and Emery might “fight” over their room…part of me thinks Maxwell would pick the room Emery is in now because it has 2 windows instead of 1 and I like to imagine he is a very curious boy with a big imagination. This bittersweet feeling seems to trump my excitement at times but my saving grace is that I hope Maxwell is looking down on me and proud of the things I’m doing for Emery and for him. He’s forever in my thoughts and when I’m thinking of what’s best for Emery I’m also hoping it’s the best for him. I also imagine Maxwell having this grand idea to chase the geese that are in the field behind our yard and tricking Emery into following him. I’m laughing now just thinking of their smiling faces as they run towards the geese in triumph.
As all these thoughts pass through my mind it occurs to me that the last time I found myself sitting in a closet was after I found out I was unexpectedly pregnant with Maxwell. I felt as if the stick turned blue as soon as I peed on it and I instantly ran to my closet and sat Indian style while crying. I called the first person that popped in my head, Kelly, and she calmed me down and asked me what I wanted to do. At that moment it hit me I “had” a choice but as soon as that was made apparent to me I realized I didn’t need the choice…this baby was meant for me and mine from the beginning. This clarity instantly stopped my tears and calmed my nerves and for the first time in a long time I was sure of the direction my life was going and coincidentally it was the same direction I wanted to go. Maxwell was and always will be a blessing and even though I feel as if I’m forever missing apart of me, I’m reminded in times like these that he, alone, helped me find who I truly am, and who I’ve always been. Since losing him that girl is hard to find, but I catch glimpses and its reassuring that she isn’t lost forever…

Until next time
Xoxo

FL&R

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September

I’ve been working on my new house a lot and I took a break to go get my dad and I dinner. On my way back I saw this little boy with only his shorts on running towards 3 ducks by a pond and I started laughing but couldn’t take my eyes away and before I knew it I was almost stopped on the side of the road just watching what would unfold. Sure enough that sweet little boy caught one of those ducks but quickly released it into the air and the duck flew, then landed in the water where the other ducks had scurried into to get away from the little boy.
I found myself in tears. September is Maxwell’s birthday month and it has surprised me how quickly the month has come back around. I remember thanking God when April finally came because I felt as if I could relax without any looming anniversaries or Holidays to come. But here we are 6 months later…where does the time go?
I’ve been asking people around the office what theme their 3 yr old had at their birthday parties. I was thinking about doing a Mickey Mouse cake but wasn’t for sure if that was too “childish” for a 3yr old. Everyone I talked to said no, it wasn’t too “childish” so Mickey Mouse cake it shall be.
Seeing that boy today made me wonder if Maxwell would have ran after them or been afraid to get too close and what he would’ve done if he, in fact, caught one. Would he throw it in the air and watch him fly? Would he try to convince me to keep it as his new pet? The possibilities of what he would’ve chosen are endless and I hate that I have to try and guess. I hate even more that I have to ask people what a 3yr old boy would like for a birthday theme, but how else would I know if I didn’t ask? I would like to think that he would run to the ducks without fear and once he caught one he would quickly release and let it fly, then come running to me to make sure I saw what he just did with a huge accomplished smile on his face, and I would say, “Good boy. That was so sweet of you to release the duck after you caught him.” All the while letting out a huge breath that I had been holding ever since he caught up to that duck and praying for the little ducks safety lol. We all know how kids can be a little too aggressive with animals. 😉
I will wait a lifetime to find the answers to all of my sweet baby Maxwell questions but I will never stop imagining the kind of boy and man that I would’ve raised and how happy I’d be just watching him grow before my eyes. Maxwell, this is your month and you have so many people who love and miss you! Your birthday cake will be amazing!! I love you so much! 🙂
Until next time xoxo

FL&R

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Autopsy

I’m not for sure if I’ve ever spoke of the autopsy report we got back on Maxwell but after a recent interview I feel I may or may not be ready to share. So here it goes. In my last post about Jim I told you how my sister urged me not to move the blanket because it was positioned just right to hide where they had….well you know, and the stubbornness in me wanted to move it but my heart couldn’t take it, so I left the blanket. I can’t tell you how long I waited for the autopsy report to come back and it felt like forever. In my mind the autopsy was going to free me from all my guilt and blame. So as awful as this sounds the autopsy report gave me hope. Hope that this wasn’t my fault. Hope that there was a reason. Hope that my questions of “why” and “how” would be answered.
I remember the day the report came in. I was at work and even though Mark told me not to look at it because he knew it wouldn’t help, my stubbornness, this time, won. I sat at my desk and pulled it up on my phone. I read it in its entirety over and over again and true to form only took one thing away from it. I of course ran to the bathroom trying to get ahold of myself because I was at work but instead I just kept crying uncontrollably. I had expected in big bold red letters at the top of the report to say, “Paige, THIS WASN’T YOUR FAULT in any way, shape or form.” Instead it said nothing. Nothing was wrong with his heart, brain, lungs or any other organ. He was perfect and perfectly healthy. But in the bottom right hand corner was one sentence, not even a complete one at that, it was more of a statement and I wonder if they even thought at this point what good it would do to even include that for me, the mother, who just lost her baby. I can understand having to be medically correct and citing where he was but where was the bed side manner? Apparently it was lost on this report and I will never forget those words…co-sleeping. That term in and of itself holds a negative, blaming connotation that I had done something wrong. On top of the SIDS diagnosis, another term that leaves you with no answers, I’m left with the word co-sleeping to piggy back onto that.
How many mothers and fathers fall asleep while holding their sleeping child? How many parents put their baby/toddler in bed with them because they are worn out, tired, and that’s the only way the baby will sleep? I’m willing to bet at least 80% of parents do this. To this point Maxwell had always slept in his crib but this weekend my mom and I were driving up to Chicago in my Honda Civic for my sisters bridal shower and the car was stuffed with wedding things and bags…no room for the pack and play. I didn’t really think twice about it because I thought we would make him a nice bed on the floor but once we got there the apartment blew cold air on the ground and I wasn’t comfortable putting him to sleep there, so I put him to sleep in bed with me (he wasn’t rolling over yet) and he had his own side of the bed. Even if I stretched my arm out I couldn’t reach/touch him.
I startled awake at 4:40am which was the time he usually woke up for his feeding and I remember getting up and putting my hand on his back but nothing happened. So I shook myself, thinking I was still asleep, touched him again and realized he wasn’t breathing. The rest of the story you know.
Some people don’t fully grasp why I blame myself and why I will always blame myself. Yes, I’m working on the blame but that autopsy gave me no closure and the diagnosis of SIDS gave me no closure. So I’m left wondering why and racking my brain as to what I could’ve done differently to change the end result for Maxwell.
What I have found to be true is that we have no control over when we go. I do not understand this and unfortunately I’m not a “blindly follow” kind of person. I wish I was but I’m not. I question everything and as previously stated I’m stubborn :). Even though I don’t understand it, God chose to take Maxwell and I know he’s in a better place. His entire life all he knew was love, so I should be happy knowing he never felt pain in his lifetime but being a mother also has me being selfish and wanting him here so I can love on him and I can protect him because that is MY purpose and MY job as his mother but I have been overruled and I know he’s in good hands I just wish those hands were mine. 🙂
Until next time Xoxo

FL&R

+ - 5 comments

Brooke - You’re so brave and doing such a good thing writing this blog 🙂

Laura Schaaf - Paige Maire, This is beautiful. I love reading your blog- you have an amazing way of pouring your heart out for everyone to see. I’m simply blown away with how strong you are.

Love you lots and can’t wait to read more 🙂

Laurie - Reading this my heart was beating a hundred miles an hour. I know the story, I know your pain, I have had tears fall for you and once again I feel the pangs of hurt for you and Mark. I can tell you that both of my girls co-slept with me from the time I brought them home from the hospital until they were older. I was terrified to have them out of my sight and I half-slept every night so worried that one of a million things might happen. I will never judge a fellow mother who is making a decision they feel is right for them and their baby. I know that you have carried blame over this, but if I could take it all away and help you to let it go I would. Paige, you are one of the most compassionate and kind people I know and from the time Max took his first breathe, you were 100% committed to being his mom. Max does not hold any blame and he is your guardian angel and for reasons that NO ONE on this earth can answer his journey had to continue on the other side. I hate that answer, but I do know that it was of NO FAULT of yours. My cousin carried her child all the way to full term, had numerous check-ups and ultrasounds and he was born and passed away shortly after birth. They did an autopsy and not one thing was found to be wrong with him. No reason, no excuse, no cause. My cousin has struggled with your same questions and same pain. I wish I had answers or a magic wand to heal your pain, but I can only offer my friendship, love and support and those things are never going anywhere. You will see glimpses of Max throughout your life and in features and expressions of your beautiful little girl and hopefully in time, the pain will lessen and your heart will not fill the hole but accept it and learn to live with the scar. Thank you for sharing the most delicate parts of your life and heart with all of us. Your words can be just what another mother needs to read. I rambled long on here but just know I admire you and love your strength!

Donnie garmon - This is the most powerful and most heart touching life experience I have ever read.. I am so in awe of your strength ,courage, and wisdom .. You are such a special person, and mother and so is Maxwell

Carmen - No answer will be enough for you until you get to hold your sweet baby again. I watched you love Maxwell from the moment you found out you were pregnant, until the end of his beautiful life. I saw you shed tears during the first few weeks you were home with him due to exhaustion because you were so dedicated to feeding him on a schedule and helping him keep his weight up. I saw literally 10’s of 100’s of photos you took of him with various different facial expressions – evidence that his mother loved him for even the tiniest characteristics unique to only Maxwell.

I have seen you love Emery with a full heart even though that heart is broken. You have given more of yourself to both of your children than humanly possible.

There are no words of comfort that I or anyone else can offer – there is no comfort to be found, period. All I can say is from one mother who witnessed you from start to finish with Maxwell – you did everything right. No autopsy report or doctor can determine those things. Parents try their hardest to make the best choices for their kiddos. As long as those choices are made with love, they’re right. I know this isn’t a concern for what others think of you – this is a concern for why your baby is not here and a need for answers. I can honestly say that no one will ever understand the emptiness left from the loss of a child unless they have experienced it first hand, and I myself do not understand the pain you feel – but I truly hope you find the peace you deserve. Because, whether you believe it or not, you deserve peace. You ARE a good mother. You always have been.

We love you Paige Marie.