I really just expect her to be in the next room. I watch videos of her, and she is so full of life and personality that it just isn’t possible that she isn’t here anymore. She MUST just be in the next room with Mike, right?

Earlier today, I went into the bathroom. Before I knew what I was doing I called out, “I’m right here Baby Moo! I’m just going to the bathroom! Mommy will be right out!” and then I remembered. She wasn’t on the other side of the door. She wasn’t wondering where Mommy went. Instead, Mommy is wondering where SHE went.

I had a routine for when I needed to take a shower. I would pull her high chair into my bathroom. I’d strap her in and set her up with snacks, and then I could shower away while I watched her through the glass. I could hear and see her. Now, every time I shower I turn expecting to see her smile. I never knew a shower could be so lonely.

It seems like every day has an obstacle to overcome. Sometimes I can see them in the distance. The seventh and eleventh of the month, every Tuesday, there are big arrows and Xs pointing at them on the calendar. It’s the hidden land mines that are the hardest. The little things that I don’t realize are going to punch me in the gut.

I’ve been using Maddie’s things. I use her body wash, but today I realized HER bottle was almost empty. Her hair clips only hold a few wisps of my hair. At night I sleep with her dolls, and the last articles of clothing she wore. Her scent on her dolls is fading, her sweet baby essence now mostly in my mind.

I go to pick a piece of lint or a random dime up off the floor, and then I remember that Maddie isn’t going to come across it, so why bother?

After I was laid off in October, it took a long time for the reality of my new stay at home mom job to hit me. Mike was home with us for the first few months, so it felt like a really awesome vacation. And then when he went to work full time, I kept waiting for someone to say, “oh, PSYCH! Vacation over!” I expected someone to tell me that I had to go back to work, that I didn’t get to spend all day every day with this amazing awesome little person. I woke up every morning and couldn’t believe that it was MY JOB to take care of her. To teach her and play with her and be responsible for her.

Mike goes back to work today, Thursday, at 8 am. And I’m wondering if that’s when someone is going to say, “PSYCH! Maddie isn’t REALLY gone! You’ve just been in some weird alternate universe where you had to prove that you really wanted to be her mommy.”

Except, I know that I’m not in some bizarro world. I am not in denial. I’m just in disbelief. She was JUST HERE. She was playing and babbling in my house thirty hours before she left the world. How could it happen so fast? How could her attending doctor, only ten minutes before they decided to put her on a respirator, think the most pressing issue facing Maddie was her weight? How could she just BE GONE? She ALWAYS came home from the hospital. How come she didn’t this time?!

I know a lot of readers are new here. It’s important to me that you know Maddie was NOT a sickly child. She was a happy, vibrant child that occasionally got very ill. But she always got better. For every step backward she took two steps forward. And no one knows why this time was different. And that’s what makes this so hard. No one knows. No one expected it. I wasn’t prepared.

I wasn’t prepared.