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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. ๐Ÿ™‚
Until next time Xoxo

FL&R

+ - 5 comments

Brooke - You’re so brave and doing such a good thing writing this blog ๐Ÿ™‚

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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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.

Jim

About a year ago I wrote about Carol, one of my grief share counsellors, who lost her battle with cancer. Mark and I had the privilege of seeing her at uptown art and painting a picture with her. A picture that we still have in our home. Carol and Jim also made us a “goody” basket when they found out we were pregnant with Emery. She hand knitted a hat and put tons of other stuff in there. The hat still sits on our window seal in the kitchen next to a Maxwell poem. I got a call the other day that her husband, Jim, another one of my grief share counsellors had passed away. He chose to take his own life. If there is one thing Carol taught me, it was that it’s ok to be angry and ask why, and she made me feel normal in having both of these feelings. No matter how many years pass you’re still allowed to have angry days and you’re allowed to ask why. This is what she taught me and let me feel at peace with. The one thing that Jim did for me was after a grief share session that I was having a very hard time with, head in my hands and ugly crying, he pulled me aside and said “even if you knew why it wouldn’t change what happened.” In that moment something made sense and he was sadly right. Him and Carol had lost one of there four sons to suicide so they understood the question of WHY more than anyone.
Jim’s funeral was held at Scott’s Funeral Home (a lovely place). Coincidentally that is where Maxwells ceremony was held. As you could imagine it was tough to be there but I wanted to show my support, so I went. Maxwell did not have a showing so Jim’s was not in the same room as the funeral, which was a relief to me. But it was just a hallway over, so naturally I felt the room that Maxwell had last been in calling to me, and what do I do….of course I walk in there. I’m alone, the room is empty and yet I still see the room how it was, how it had been when Maxwell was there, all of the pictures, the blanket, the angel statue, his sleep sheep, his favorite blanket…How it looked when I demanded to see him before everyone else got there and my sister urging/sadly warning me not to move the position of his blanket, Mark pacing back and forth at the doorway while I knelt down by his place of rest and spoke to him as if he were still in my arms.
I will forever remember Carol and Jim because they were both right. It’s ok to be angry and ask why because you’re going to have bad days, it’s inevitable. Jim was right, even if I knew why it wouldn’t change the fact that Maxwell isn’t here. Carol and Jim were such a huge part of helping me and Mark through our grief and I will never forget them and what they did for us. Heaven is lucky to have such great souls and I am at ease knowing they are there with Maxwell.
Until next time xoxo

FL&R

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Memories

The other day I watched a video on Facebook where kids were blindfolded and had to figure out which women was their mom from sense of smell and touch alone. Naturally, I cried watching the video because each child picked their mother and it got me thinking, will Maxwell remember me? Will he remember my smell, my touch, the sound of my voice?
I remember him so vividly, even though sometimes I worry I’m forgetting him. One memory that comes to mind right now, is when he would wake me up in the middle of the night for a feeding (every 2 hrs) and I would try so hard to not make eye contact with him (because that’s what the books said) and every time he would catch my eye and start smiling, either on his own or through his bottle and I remember thinking…you win. You win my sweet baby and I would smile back at him with every fiber of my being because in that moment he was my smile, he was my whole purpose of being. All I wanted, in my mind at the time was sleep, but with his sweet, unforgettable smile, he made me realize that I was exactly where I was supposed to be and doing exactly what I was supposed to be doing. He was my everything, my purpose in life.
I can only pray and hope that when it is my time, many years from now, my Maxwell will be waiting for me and he will know me without seeing me. He will know me from my smell, my smile, my touch, my laugh, the way I used to hold him, my voice, the songs I sang to him. I pray he remembers me in every way I remember him. I hope it’s like seeing an old friend…you haven’t seen them in years but you pick up right where you left off. Fingers crossed.

Until next time xoxo

FL&R

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Stuck

It’s been a while since my last post and a lot has happened. Unknowingly I took time away from the blog after the holidays and then the anniversary of his passing to give myself a break. You never realize how much energy it takes from you until those months have passed and you feel like you can breathe again. It was harder this year than last and maybe that’s because I have Emery now…so last year I was able to be sad or feel blah without feeling guilty but not this year. This year I was torn between being sad for Maxwell and happy for Emery and then, right on queue, guilt for feeling both. My guilt and blame seem never ending at times (most of the time).
Yesterday, I went to the movies with a friend to see Insurgent… I’ve been waiting so long for this movie and once in the theater and a little into the movie I realized this was going to be a hard movie to sit through. For those who have seen it you’ll understand when I say Tris’s guilt and blame were palpable…to me this is what the movie revolved around and if anyone is ever wondering how I’m feeling all you have to do is watch this movie. At the very end Tris has to fight herself in a simulation to past the final test, her alter ego, and her alter ego keeps provoking her to fight. She points out her insecurities and how no one will ever forgive her or love her for all that she has done (parents died for her and she killed her friend to keep from being killed in the first movie). At the end she forgives herself for everything that she has kept on her heart and releases that burden. In therapy the other day I broke down to my therapist saying, “I wonder how freeing that feels to finally forgive yourself.”
Sadly I may never know how that feels but I’m working on it.
I think with every milestone Emery passes it makes me so so happy and relieved for her but heartbreakingly sad for Maxwell. Why wasn’t it this easy for him? Every day I’m torn in between what my heart is missing (Maxwell) and what fills it up (Emery). I know I will eventually find my balance and every night I pray and thank God for both my sweet Emery and sweet Maxwell but today is not so easy and all I can do is hope that tomorrow is different.
Until next time xoxo

FL&R

+ - 1 comment

Laurie - Hello Paige! I wish I had a huge eraser and could just swipe it across and wipe out all the guilt you feel and carry. I can promise you that no blame or guilt should be carried by you when it comes to the precious beautiful life and love you gave to Max. You loved him with every part of your being and that has not changed. I can’t imagine the pain that you carry, but I pray that you will be able to let go of the guilt. Max, is watching in spirit and he is free from all the struggles and hardships that we endure on this planet earth. He knows the immense love that you had for him and my belief is that he wants you to be HAPPY, for you to live this life on Earth as happy and joyful as you can be. We have our lives to still live on this plane and to honor him is to do that with love, compassion, joy, humor, and peace. You DESERVE that and carrying guilt is only you punishing yourself when there is no reason for punishment. It’s ok to let go of the guilt. Emery is your angel here on earth and Max is your angel above, both deserve your happiness. I will be keeping you in my prayers always and I am so inspired by your openness and sharing of your life. Love you girlie!

Christmas

A couple of weeks ago I put up our prelit tree and then just left it. I didn’t stretch out the limbs to make it look pretty and I didn’t put any ornaments on it. I just left it. I felt like I had done my part in putting up some holiday cheer and I didn’t want to do anymore. After a couple of days I felt like the tree was taunting me, challenging me, as if I wouldn’t leave it looking like that. So to show the tree I meant business I told my husband we didn’t need to buy Emery or each other any gifts this year because she would just want the wrapping paper and boxes anyway. A few days after I said this, I found myself growing increasingly angrier, but at what? You would think by now I would know but the optimist in me wants to believe it’s something completely unrelated. Per usual I was wrong and it wasn’t unrelated. What is it about the holidays that leave you feeling more alone, less whole and vulnerably raw? I’m never not aware that I’m missing Maxwell, that a part of me is and always will be gone, but it’s magnified during the holidays. The holidays are making it harder for me to find my happiness, the happiness that was starting to be routine for me.
The day I buried Maxwell it was cold, light dusting of snow and sunny. Of all the things that I was hoping that day wouldn’t be, sunny was one of them. It just didn’t feel right to me. I needed it to be cloudy, dark and gloomy; not sunny. Today I woke up praying it would be sunny and to my dismay the sky was covered in a blanket of clouds. I needed it to be sunny today. If there was anything other than Emery to help me out of this awful, anxiety, sad filled mood it would be the warmth of the sun. It would’ve made me feel like Maxwell was watching over us and smiling down and instead it just reiterated that something was off with the day; not complete. Today I feel like the empty hole in me is visible for everyone to see. Most days I feel like I hide it well but not today. Today I feel as if I could give up because that’s how hard this day has been for me.
A couple of Sunday’s ago the prelit tree won…even it knows me better then I know myself. I put Emery in her pack-n-play and she watched me decorate the tree and once I was finished with that I went shopping and bought Emery her first Christmas presents. It was a very hard trip for me but with some help from my family I got through it, just like I’ll get through this day.
A part of me hates that I will make it through the day because I don’t feel as if I should but the other part of me is glad the day is almost over. I can only pray that each Christmas gets a little easier or I’ll get better at keeping the hole I have covered up. I thank God and Maxwell everyday for Emery because they know on days like these it is the only thing that keeps me holding onto the hope of tomorrow and the hope that tomorrow will be better than today, and that I will be better than yesterday. Today I hoped and prayed for a sign from Maxwell and I feel as if I didn’t get it or maybe I did and was just too overwhelmed by sadness to see it. Either way I miss him and I miss my family being complete. I bought Maxwell a gift and have yet to take it to him because I don’t know if he will like it. What if I got the wrong gift? I know I’ve said this before but I hate to have to guess at what my son might like.
Tomorrow I will take it to him and sit and talk to him. I’ll tell him about Emery and about Christmas morning and tell him I can’t wait to see him again. It will seem like forever for me but I know it will only feel like a moment to him, which I’m thankful for.

Merry Christmas Maxwell- love Mommy, Daddy, and Emery
Until next time xoxo

FL&R

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