Great visit

Today Molly and I went and visited Christopher, Laura, Grace and James. We had a really nice time. I loved getting to just be with Christopher and Laura. It was also wonderful to be around Grace and listen to her talk and giggle and play. She was extra snuggley with me and I ate it up. She wanted to sit in my lap a lot and it was so nice to have a toddler that I love sitting in my lap again. We read books with her in my lap. That was a huge deal for me. Every morning Max and I would read book after book after book and he would sit next to me on the couch or on my lap. On his last morning with me he sat in my lap. Thank you God for Max wanting to sit in my lap that day.

Here’s Grace in my boots. She seemed to really like wearing them. They are as tall as her legs! I’m so glad I get her as my niece.

grace in my boots

After dinner both James and Molly were covered in chicken pot pie and cottage cheese so all the kiddos took a bath.

bunz

Um aren’t those the cutest baby buns you’ve ever seen!?

cousin bathCousin bath!

Questions and Answers

I thought I would blog about, “how I’m doing.” I have a friend that blogs about her chronic illness and she has said it helps her to process and I really like knowing, “how she’s doing.” So I get asked a lot of questions and I usually answer them but I will answer them here too. So I get asked, “how I’m doing” all the time. Its more of a greeting in our culture so I never know if people really want to know or if they just want to say, “hi.” I usually don’t want to talk about how I’m really, really doing. Its deep, dark and painful so I usually just say, “great!” with a smile and move on. I don’t want to cause someone else to feel super sad and I don’t want to dwell on my sadness.

How am I doing?: I miss my baby. I miss my sweet boy. I crave his voice, his touch, his giggle, to see the sparkle in his eyes, to hear what he would say about something. My heart is shattered. If I didn’t have Molly I might just stop eating and drinking so I could die too and make the agonizing pain go away. I am glad that breathing is involuntary or I might just choose to stop. Mornings are the worst time of day because I wake up and realize that yes, Max is dead and it wasn’t a nightmare. It really happened.

My Faith in God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit: My faith in Jesus Christ being my Lord and Savior is stronger than ever. Thank you for praying for me, for Kelly, for Molly for our families, for our marriage! Your prayers for peace and comfort are working. God hears your prayers and answers them. Am I angry that God didn’t “save” Max so I could enjoy watching him grow up here on earth – you bet! This isn’t fair and its not what I signed up for. I will talk more about God’s “plan” and how I really don’t like people saying it was God’s plan for Max to die in a later post.

Why are you out smiling and visiting people?: If I just stayed home and “mourned” I would probably end up killing myself. I am a social person. When Max was the same age as Molly I was getting out and doing stuff and with friends and their kids. Also being at home is tough right now. I am a stay-at-home-mom so my day and pretty much my life was all about Max for three years. He is everywhere here. I am slowly being able to spend a day or so at home and that is a real gift from God.

Max’s room: Max died in bed in his room. It looked to me like he died in his sleep. I asked Kelly, my dad and his dad to take Max’s bed apart and put it away and get rid of all of his bedding. They also re arranged his room a bit so its more of a play room. I leave his bedroom door open and his blinds and curtains open. I don’t think I want his room to be a bedroom again and I don’t think I want to see the door shut again. I’m the one who opened Max’s door to find that he wasn’t just sleeping in. The thought of opening that door again if another child of mine is “sleeping in” is just too much for my brain to handle.

Pictures of Max in our house: We left all of the pictures of Max up. I had just put up new pictures in our living room of Kelly and I, baby pictures of the kids, the two of them together and with their cousins at Easter in April. It would feel strange to take pictures of him down to me like he never existed because he did!

Children’s Hospital: I am so grateful for Children’s and all of the doctors, nurses and staff that we came in contact with. We were able to meet on a street corner in Seattle with Max’s neurologist and talk about everything that happened. She is a great pediatric neurologist and did everything she was supposed to do. In no way to we blame her or Children’s for Max’s death.

Contributions to Children’s Hospital: So many of you have been donating to Seattle Children’s! Thank you so much! Because of all the donations Max’s name will be put up permanently on a wall there

Crying: I cry about every other day. Its in the car lately. I feel like I have a little bubble around me so no one can see me. I usually just tell God that I want my son back over and over and over again through sobs. I can’t cry big cries in front of Molly because she starts to cry too.

Talking about Max: I talk about Max some times. Its still very strange to spend time with my friends and their kids and not talk about Max. He and I were dealing with picky eating, him telling me, “no!”, him wanting to do everything himself, nap times, throwing tantrums you name it so sometimes I add in what we were doing when subjects like that come up. I don’t say it to be a downer I just can relate and want to participate in the conversation.

How is Molly: Molly is doing great. She is a happy healthy 10 month-old.

Will Molly have seizures: Molly is more prone to have fibril seizures (having a fever and then having a seizure) She is not more likely to have epilepsy. It is possible though.

Does Molly notice that Max is gone?: I think at first Molly probably noticed her super fun, loud, protective, talkative brother Max was missing. But with her being so young I can’t ask her what she’s thinking or feeling. I of course want to know. She is too young to have any real memories of him (our first memories are usually from when we are 2 or 3) but there are pictures of him and I have quite a few videos of Max and of Max and Molly together.

How’s your marriage: Our marriage is strong but no marriage is untouchable. God is at the center of our marriage and he pulls us together. That said Kelly and I grieve differently because we are different and he is a man and I am a woman. We will probably do some therapy together to help us through this. We do talk about all kinds of stuff together and about Max etc. Of course we fight as well. Because we are both dealing with trauma fights are compounded with that extra emotion.

Therapy: I started talk therapy with a therapist that I have seen a couple times in the past and I love. I am a strong believer in therapy for just going through this broken life. I am grateful to God for my therapist!

Are we going to have another baby?: If God gives us another baby that would be great. I am not in a huge hurry to get pregnant. Max died a month ago. I want to have two kids again but I also want to be on my anti depressant/anti anxiety medication right now and if I were to get pregnant right now Molly and the baby would be like 20 months apart. That’s too close for me.

Why did Max die?: As of today Max’s body is still at the King County Medical Examiner’s office in Seattle. The doctors there are almost done looking at his brain. It does and it doesn’t matter to me why Max died. He is still dead. Yes, I want him back but he’s not coming back. I will see him in heaven.

What will be done with Max’s body?: When the Medical Examiners are done with Max’s body the funeral home we chose will pick his body up and cremate it. Our plan now is to make a reservation on one of the ferry’s to Whidbey Island to spread his ashes off of the ferry. They will stop the ferry mid way, make an announcement and blow the horn. Kelly or I will walk to the edge of the ferry with a ferry worker and drop Max’s ashes into the water.

My Drinking: I am still sober – praise God! I still don’t really think of alcohol any more. I used to think about it almost on an hourly basis. If I hadn’t prayed to God and asked Him to lift the burden of alcohol from me and then HE DID I would be at the bottom of a bottle on a daily basis. I would self medicate with alcohol and probably never come up for air, destroy my marriage, my family, Molly and eventually die.

How am I sleeping: For the first month after Max died I took Benadryl every night to go to sleep and stay asleep. I haven’t taken any the last few nights and I’ve been okay. I’ve had one very bad dream but I’m praying that I won’t have any more.

Am I eating?: I’m pretty much eating normally again. For the first weeks I didn’t want to eat. The pain of not eating felt good because it was a physical thing that I could control when my life felt out of control and I hurt in my heart so the hurt in my stomach almost felt good. I did eat to feed Molly I just only ate when I was really hungry.

 

 

Where God has been and where God is

max and mollyMax holding Molly for the first time and patting her when she was two days old.

I wrote just some snippets of what I was thinking and feeling in the days after Max died. I read them at the next MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) meeting at our church the Tuesday after Max died because I wanted to share a lot of stuff with the women there. I also didn’t want people to feel that that couldn’t ever talk to me or that I was the woman who’s son died and ssshhhhh don’t talk to her. So here it is and its not necessarily going to make sense but I thought I’d post it anyway.

Looking back God has been preparing our hearts and minds for this for a while.

Max was innocent! He will never know how awful and broken this world is! He has a great life! He lived every day full throttle with complete joy! He wasn’t kidnapped and murdered. He passed away in his sleep! He wasn’t scared or alone! God wrapped his arms around him and took him home.

I am thankful for Max being diagnosed with epilepsy last September. It caused me to slow down a little bit, take more time with him and Molly, being willing to read another book, not get as frustrated when milk would get spilled or a tantrum would happen. Also I didn’t want Max in MOPPETS (childcare during MOPS meetings) because I didn’t want him to have a seizure and have me not be there. So my mother –in-law who I adore offered to stay home with him on Tuesdays. And they had a ball together! So Max and Betty had this very special bond. Also I went to my parent’s house in Kent every Monday night so Max and Molly could really know my parents. I am so thankful for that. My sister got to babysit Max a lot so she also had a special bond with him. Kelly’s grandma who I also adore was able to spend the night after Max’s third birthday party on April 27th and got to play with him and Molly.

My husband Kelly was supposed to be in British Columbia Thursday morning but his passport was expired so he was on Mercer Island instead and when I called him was able to get home in 20 minutes.

I am thankful to God for giving me the free will to realize that I had a drinking problem and choose to ask him for help to lift it from me. And he DID. Now I don’t have guilt that Max ever saw me drunk and was scared or that I was passed out and he cried out for me in the middle of the night but I didn’t hear him.

Kelly and I can’t blame each other for Max’s death. He passed away straight into Jesus arms while he was asleep! I didn’t have to watch paramedics try to resuscitate him and have a shred of hope that he would come back only for him to not.

I would tell Max, “I have secret for you.” He would excitedly say, “What?!” I would whisper in his ear, “I love you.” Then I would say, “I have another secret for you.” He would again ask, “What!?” Then I would say, “You’re my favorite boy.” He had never said that he loved me on his own until early last week. We were playing

—–Whenever Max would get an owie we would usually pray for God to heal it.  He would tell me, “God is healer! God is healer!” and not let me put Aveeno on his eczema on his wrists. So now I need to believe my baby that God IS the healer of all and that He will heal me.

We have Molly! So I get her as therapy every day and she smiles and laughs. And I have to eat well so I can feed her.

Also I have two choices I can shrivel up and die so I can go to heaven asap to be with my baby or I can choose God’s joy.

I’m mad at what happened and would do almost anything to change it but God is already using Max’s death for good.

I chose in the last six months to start staying home more from play dates so Max, Molly and I could just play with each other.

Also my husband had been working from home a lot in the past few weeks so they got to play together more than usual.

On Wednesday Max woke up with a very snotty nose. We were “supposed” to go visit a girlfriend of mine in Woodinville that doesn’t have kids. I probably would have let Max watch shows on my phone for the majority of our visit so I could have “my time” with my friend. Max would have liked that but it wouldn’t have been that great of a day. So looking at all of the green snot pouring out of Max I cancelled on my friend. And we had the best last day on Wednesday. We read books and highlights magazine on the couch. Laid out in the sun on the deck and read more and just played. Max wasn’t feeling good and said his tummy hurt and he had a fever. So we gave him ibuprofen and he asked to have a sink bath eat popsicles and watch shows and we let him. I gave him his epilepsy medication before bed time and I checked his temperature and it was back to normal. my husband Kelly gave him Motrin before bed to keep his temperature just in case. I did his bed time routine with him like I usually do. Max picked out three books and they were long ones. I usually bargain with him and ask him to trade a long one for a short one. But Wednesday night I didn’t. I read three long books and he laid his head on my shoulder and I gave him a kiss on his forehead. He was so tired that I told him that he could just lay down after the third book and then I started to sing him his songs that I usually do – Jesus loves the little children, Jesus loves me, This little light of mine, You are my Sunshine and Mr. Sun by Raffi. He was asleep before I finished Jesus loves me. So I quietly left his room.

The medical examiner told us that Max didn’t have any infections, she is still going to check for viruses, further study his brain. The medical examiner did say that his brain was enlarged and swollen. I have peace in that because I wouldn’t have been able to tell that! And to me it doesn’t matter what caused Max’s death because it won’t bring him back. I have no regrets with anything in raising him. At Max’s last appointment at Children’s his neurologist said he was the healthiest kid she’d ever seen. We were able to meet with her yesterday and thank her for taking such good care Max. She was completely confused as to what happened. And as a pediatric neurologist that lady is smart. It was so nice to give her a great big bear hug and reminisce about Max and what a joy he was.

Through Max’s death my husband Kelly and I really know what a supportive community we have. Our house has been filled with family and friends that come and give us hugs and pray with us and talk and laugh about Max and life. I had friends drive down from Bellingham and up from Portland just to give me a hug and pray with me! Thank you to those of you who are praying for us! I

Max loved parties! For Christmas and Easter my husband Kelly and I blew up lots of balloons and put streamers up in our living room to celebrate Jesus’ birthday and resurrection.

I already have a therapist I trust that I will start seeing asap. I’m already on anti depressant and anti anxiety medication.

We only want two kids. My huband Kelly is going to get a vascetemy eventually but hasn’t yet so if its God’s plan we will be able to have another baby. I’m looking forward to having that pure joy and bliss again.

I’ve never been afraid of death for myself and I’m not afraid now. I used to want to live though until I was very old. But now that has changed a little. If I only live until I’m 65 that’s okay because I just want to see my baby. I want him to tell me in his little voice, “Come on Mommy! What are you doing Mommy! Why did you take so long. Mommy I missed you. Come chase me mommy! Come play set go with me mommy. Mommy my tummy’s cold – I need hot cocoa.” I will wait because I have to until I see him again in heaven.

If you would like to be praying for me and us this is what we would like you to pray for: For God’s peace, for God’s comfort, for Kelly and my marriage, for the image of what Max looked like when I found him to be replaced by Christ and for our daughter Molly to not be lost in the shuffle.

Molly is 10 months old!

Taking pictures of Molly with her 10 month sticker on earlier this week was hard. I am glad she’s 10 months old but Max isn’t here with us. He was here playing in the background when I took her 9 month picture. But milestones like this still need to be celebrated. Molly is such a blessing from God. I am so grateful for her.

Here is a little bit about what Molly is up to.

Physical: army crawling and sometimes regular crawling. She likes to feed herself (yay!), she pulls herself up to a standing position, she likes to clap and wiggles to music.

Social/Emotional: She loves being around other people, she cries and comes looking for us when/if we leave the room, she talks a ton, she waves and says, “Hi” to a picture of my parents, sister and myself when we were little. She exhibits reluctance toward strangers aka mean mug. She expresses affection by kissing and patting.

Communicative: She turns her head when we call her name and briefly stops a behavior when told, “no.”

Cognitive: She intentionally drops toys

tigger 1

tigger 2

tigger 3

tigger 4

tigger 5

tigger 6

Max

I started this blog post having it be about Molly turning 10 months old but instead I feel like I can blog a little bit about Max and his death. He was here when Molly turned 9 months old but now today Molly is 10 months and he is in heaven. It hurts so much that he is not here for me to hear, hold, read books to, snuggle with, kiss, help get dressed and just watch grow up. I think I’ll use my blog to write every once in a while about how I’m feeling to help me and so you can kind of know how I’m “doing.”

My friend Jenn wrote this on her blog soon after Max died and I feel it is a beautiful description so I’m reposting it for you.

A year or so ago, we had a large stump in our back yard that we wanted removed.

“Kelly is coming up to visit us this week,” Mike said.  “He can get it out for us!”

I knew it was true; on more than one occasion, I had seen our friend Kelly use his truck to successfully pull things out of the ground.  After all, Kelly is the type of person who gets a glimmer in his eye when a piece of electronic equipment needs to be fixed, a fire needs to be started, or a couch just needs to be blown up.

With this in mind, I implored Mike to call a tree removal service.

“No,” Mike firmly told me.  “Kelly can do it.”

And he did.

Knowing this, you can now maybe imagine how glorious life was for Kelly and Katie Keeton’s three-year-old son, Max.  A grand adventure of tools, construction sites, rain boots, and car parts.  A mommy and daddy who valued silliness, play, and surrounding their kids with family, friends, and faith.

So, it is with monumental, unfathomable sadness that we are now grieving the loss of Max, who passed away earlier this week.  He was with us for only three years…but what a three years he had. Both sides of grandparents to dote on him, little and big friends to play with, and some amazing parents who helped him get dirty, explore the world, and learn to play on his dad’s pinball machines.

We last saw Max on New Year’s Eve, which we spent with the Keeton’s on Whidbey Island. Max gleefully played with his grandparents all evening, running through the house in his cozy pajamas.  The next morning, he agreed to dress up in clothes a friend had brought back from Thailand for he, his sister Molly, and Luella.  He sat sweetly for pictures during the ensuing photo frenzy, giving Molly a little kiss on the head as she sat beside him.

We’re going to be missing our little friend at every holiday and get-together, and, well, all the time in between.

And to the one and only Max:  thanks for letting us be part of your life, pal.  We’ll keep on loving you, your sister, and your strong, big-hearted parents.  And if he’s lucky, we’ll probably even let your dad pull more stumps out of our yard.

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Here are some of my favorite pictures of Max from this past April and May. We had a grand time every. single. day.

max and molly sink bath

m and m

drinking rain water from the table

fishing reading max

     favorite sink bath pic

favorite sink bath pic

beach max birthday max 2 boy in a bin bunny max carrot cake muffin 1 carrot cake muffin 2 carrying max and molly daddy and max dad's 59th birthday diaper and boots mxa doll hair at natalias donuts from grandma darlene helping max IMAG0597 jump rope max max holding molly 2 max holding molly max not wanting his pic taken max wanting to hold and nurse molly pizza max 2 pizza max 3 pizza max 4 play dough playground max shenanigans sliding max train max whidbey sink bath 2

Out and about

Here is what Miss Molly has been up to! She still inch worming around. She occasionally gets up on all fours and rocks. She’s still a great eater! She LOVES to feed herself. She likes to eat green beans, mangos (from Great Grandma Dixie), bananas, pancakes, waffles, cooked carrots, cherrios (of course) etc. Some other things that Molly likes to do are, take baths and splash in the water, “pet” the cat, inch worm around and play with toys, tip over her toy bin to get to her toys, play in boxes, play in Max’s tent, play with balloons, ride in the front pack or back pack, watch Max do almost anything, get her feet nibbled, clap, be startled etc. Molly does not like having her diaper changed (I distract her with toys), being laid down to sleep, being tired, teething. She is still a pretty calm baby – woo hoo!

Max and Molly’s Great Grandma (GG) spent the night after Max’s third birthday party. We got to enjoy lots of GG time.

GG and molly

mollys pool

We discovered that this blue bin is a perfect pool for Molly

sun baby

I think the glasses were a wee too night after seeing this photo…

sun baby 2

Playing a computer game with Daddy.

father daughter bonding

Eating Max’s birthday cake (shhhh don’t tell him!)

chocolate cake  molly

Peacefully sleeping.

sleeping molly 3

A straight jacket of a bib. Molly is excellent at taking off her bibs. So I found these darling little things!

  dr seuss

Sink baths at Whidbey

The kiddos and I were able to go up to Whidbey with Betty for a few days this week. The weather was mostly rainy but there was a lot of playing chase and other games. We also learned what double sinks are really for.

whidbey sink bath 2 whidbey sink bath 3 whidbey sink bath

 

Sleeping Molly

While on our walk the other day Molly fell asleep. I just don’t know how you could look at that and think it was random chance. She is such a gift from God.

sleeping molly on a walk

Higher level thinking

Max will be three this month. Yes, THREE. He’s almost getting his drivers license he’s so old! Every day I can tell he’s getting smarter. Kelly or I read three books to him before his nap and before bed time. If he’s being a little rascal and not following directions getting ready for either slumber session we take away one book. Yes, we are horrible parents and punish our child this way. It works fairly well though because that kid loves books! Yesterday I had to take one book away before nap time and Max was not happy. In his room I told him to pick out two books. He was dilly dallying around and so I told him two books or no books. (I was pulling out the big guns.) He told me, “Mommy, don’t be mean to me because it makes me feel mad.” Whoa a little almost three-year-old cause and effect! I informed him that I was sorry if he felt mad but he still needed to pick out his books.

Here are some activities Max has been up to:

boy in a bin

Reading in the clothes hamper.

bunny max

Being a cute little carrot eating bunny. The boy loves eating carrots!

carrot cake muffin 2

This is Max saying no to the mommy paparazzi. He was just so dang cute in his “farmer hat” eating his carrot cake muffin. I couldn’t resist.

carrying max and molly

We had some spare time on Friday so we walked to the school to play on the playground. There are some horses nearby. Well less than a mile. Round trip it was about a three hour walk. Molly fell asleep and Max had a great time finding dandelions, rocks and sticks. He liked getting to see the horses and hear them make funny noises. On the way back he started to get tired. He would tell me he was tired and needed  rest so he would just sit down on the side of the road. It was pretty dang cute. I offered to carry him on my back and he loved that idea. It was quite a lot of effort to get him up there while having Molly attached to my front but as you can see it worked out. We were quite the sight!

daddy and max

We had this strange kush type ball that Max loved playing with.

diaper and boots mxa

He just had to go outside as soon as possible and didn’t have time for clothes! Who needs them anyway?!

doll hair at natalias

We were at a friend’s house who has a daughter the same age as Max. I saw him brushing the doll’s hair. It was so cute and sweet! He gave her hair a few brushes then decided to run around.

max not wanting his pic taken

Peek!

 

Molly is eight months old!

8 month molly 1I couldn’t help but put bunny ears on Molly for her eight-month-photo shoot. I was able to keep her in one spot by bribing her with Cheerios. Oh and why yes, those are watermelon socks with teal sock ons on her!

bigs

Molly and her big brother!

molly eating cherrios

Eating snacks out on the deck watching Max play.

molly loves boxes

Molly has a brown cloth bin of just baby toys that I keep down on the floor for her. She’s able to tip the bin over and get her toys out.

shirt hair with meow meow

Doesn’t everyone wear shirts on their heads?!

sleeping molly on a walk

She fell asleep in the ergo on our walk with Max to see some horses today. It was really sweet seeing her beautiful sleeping face. Babies are such a miracle from God.