Monday, October 5, 2015

Been 18 Years...

Quick Note: I know it has been nearly two years since I've blogged, but it's been a crazy time and my focus just wasn't here. I hope to get back into it and blog more regularly and thank you for sticking around and reading! 

Yesterday was October 4th. That means it has been 18 years since my Bubby passed away. WOW! It's crazy to think that more time in my life has passed since her death than had passed when she died. (I was 17.)

It was September 4th and I had just started my senior year at Northeast, literally just started....that day. I came home from school and my mom and her boyfriend were out. They were on a 'staycation' and were just taking day trips in and around the city. My aunt called and desperately needed to speak to my mom; she was frantic. I knew something was up but she wouldn't tell me anything. I had no idea when my mom would be home and started to get nervous. Luckily, my mom's boyfriend had to use the bathroom and they stopped home before heading to the movies. I gave my mom the message and she called my aunt. Everything changed with that phone call.

Just minutes later I was in the car, without shoes on, waiting to drive to Atlantic City. My Bubby was in the hospital, in a coma, and it didn't look good. We spent the next two weeks driving to AC pretty much every single day. We would've just stayed there but I had to be home for school. It wasn't easy but we did what we had to do to be there. After two weeks I couldn't take it anymore. My Bubby was losing weight (and not looking herself) and was still pretty much unresponsive (less the random toe twitch or hand squeeze.) I decided I didn't want to remember her that way and made the difficult decision to not visit anymore. My mom respected my decision and continued her almost daily commute without me.

I don't regret my decision. My Bubby was an incredible woman and I carry with me so many wonderful memories. I am glad that my memories do not center around her in the hospital, and instead remain focused on her on the boardwalk, the beach, or eating breakfast in the bathroom so as not to wake me in the morning. I am happy that I can still remember her laugh and see her smile. Hell, I'm even happy I remember how annoying it was when she sucked her teeth. I'll always carry with me the memories of being amazed at how she always had hot oatmeal ready for me, regardless of what time I woke up. (Yes, when I grew up and learned how to make oatmeal/keep water hot, I was  a little less impressed but still incredibly happy that something so small created such a wonderful memory.) I have a million memories that I could share but that would take all day and, truth be told, I prefer to keep them close to my heart.

Bottom line, it's been way too long since she cut my grapefruit and put my sugar packets out before a beach day. It's been way too long since she handed me $20 and told Meredith and me to "go have fun" on the boardwalk and then didn't get mad when we needed more because $20 just wasn't enough for Steel Pier AND Ripley's Believe It or Not AND pizza. It's been way too long since she packed lunches to eat on the beach, very well knowing I was going to skip lunch and just ask for a fudgesicle. It's been way too long since we sat together on the boardwalk eating ice cream at night, her her butter pecan and me, my whatever concoction I dreamed up. It's been way too long since she called me the apple of her eye and the love of her life. But you know what? With all the time that has passed since hearing that...I still feel it and know it's true.

While my Bubby hasn't been around to see me grow into adulthood, I know she's watching over me always. And while she may not have agreed with all of my decisions, I know she'd still be proud of the woman that I am and I know she'd be my biggest supporter. Being confident in that is comforting during those times when I feel alone. What gets me through it is remembering that because her spirit lives in my heart, I'm never really alone..

I love you, Bubby.

'Big Al & Till'
I hope heaven has a boardwalk and you're walking it together.

(One more side note: It still irritates me that her death records report her date of death as October 1st. It wasn't. Grrrrr)

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Been a Hot Minute

Hi there!

Soooooo, I haven't blogged in what feels like FOREVER. In the past few weeks I've had a few friends ask me why I stopped blogging. I have to say, it was special to hear people missed my words. This blog started as a therapeutic tool to help me heal. It has turned into so much more and I'm grateful to all of the wonderful friends I've met through the blog site. So, hopefully this is the first of many more consistent blogs. :) I'll try not to take so much time off between entries...

Well, this year started off pretty freaking crappy. We all know what happened in December (if you don't, read this entry) and that just pushed me deep down into a dark dark place. I wasn't in a good place and had a really tough time climbing my way out. I am happy to say I'm in a good place now. I wasn't sure how or if I'd pull through, but the strength of self is amazing and I made it.

This has been the greatest summer in a really really long time. I was able to get back into the Philly music scene and I'm THRILLED to be there. I didn't realize how much I missed the original music scene until I got back in! I've discovered a few "new" local bands and I'm loving it. I also got to spend some real quality time with ALL of my best friends....specifically those that live way too far for my liking. I spent July 4th with my Leighski and the family W and then went down to FL to see NessaBear and all of her girls. I got to meet her future hubby and helped Vanessa pick the most beautiful wedding dress. It was an honor to be there for that special day. I saw New Kids on the Block TWICE in two days and Donnie Wahlberg is now following me on Twitter. Yes, I died and still check it almost daily to make sure it wasn't a dream. (Are you on Twitter? Follow me at @Champagne37!) Hubby and I went on the most extraordinary vacation to Mexico to celebrate our 5th wedding anniversary and we're already planning a return visit. It was absolutely incredible and we cannot wait to be back there. You can check out my review of the resort here.

Oh, did I mention that I graduated with my Master's in April? Yeah, that happened too! Now I just need a J-O-B! Know anyone who may work for a company that's actually hiring? #toughoutthere

So anyway, thank you for your patience in waiting for my triumphant return to the blogging world. I'M BACK, BABY.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

A Fallen Hero

Anyone who knows me knows that Chicago Fire has quickly become my favorite show on TV. The pilot episode was intense as we saw a firefighter lose is life in the line of duty. With consultants from the real Chicago Fire Department the show does a great job documenting the lives of the brothers and sisters of Chicago Firehouse 51. I think I've always had a fascination with firefighters and the idea that there are men out there that choose a profession that, by design, puts them in immediate danger every time they're called to duty.

Growing up my mom always told me that firemen were the only "civil servants" that you should want to see sitting around. We'd drive by fire houses and see the guys all sitting around a table or standing out front of the house just hanging out. I'd ask why they weren't working and she always said it was better that way because it meant that everyone would be going home to their family. As young as I was when the message started, I understood. I grew up with such a great respect for firemen and her message has been with me since I can remember.

Yesterday my hubby, my best friend, and I spent the day with Philly's 2nd Alarmers at their Annual Phillies' tailgate. It was a great time with great friends for a greater organization and we had a blast. We bought some raffle tickets with hopes of winning but only expectations of supporting the cause. Around 6:15 we checked the winning numbers and realized we won the "Fire Basket." We got a Fire Department lanyard, mug, sticker, sweatshirt, and blanket. So cool!

Little did I know that just minutes before the drawing a fire ignited in the Queen Village section of Philadelphia. As our brave PFD responded to the call of duty, we continued the party in their honor, not knowing what was happening just a few neighborhoods away from where we stood. Sadly, one of our city's bravest lost his life that night. The news coverage has been emotional as our city comes together to honor this fallen hero. I didn't know Captain Michael Goodwin but the loss still hit me. I have friends in the department and I know how strong the bond of brotherhood can be. I feel sadness for their loss, for his family's loss, and for our city's loss.

I know I can't do much but I do think it's important that we honor his memory and support his family with our gratitude, love, and prayers. The Mayor has ordered all flags be flown at half-mast for the next 30 days. I don't have a flag to fly but my Facebook profile picture will remain the PFD mourning badge for these 30 days.  It isn't much but it's something. I will continue to keep his family, our PFD, and all of our emergency responders in my thoughts and prayers.

We can never forget or take for granted the service, sacrifice, and extraordinary responsibility that fall to our firefighters. And next time I drive by a firehouse and see the men all there, safe and sound, I'll say a little prayer of thanks to whomever is watching over them keeping them safe that day and always. I ask that you do the same...

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Blog For Choice Day

Today is the 40th anniversary of the landmark decision in Roe v Wade. In honor of this anniversary, it is national Blog for Choice Day. So, here is my blog for choice...

I spent my entire life being pro-choice for America and pro-life for myself. In fact, my mom tells me that as a teenager I told her that if I ever got pregnant I'd keep the baby. To this she replied, "then you better not get pregnant while you're living in this house 'cause I'm done raising babies." That pro-life mentality stayed with me through college as I worked to achieve my goal of becoming the first college graduate in my family. I was educated and took care of myself as a woman. (Side note, without Planned Parenthood I would not have received women specific health care in college. So, thank you PP.)

I considered myself pro-life until September 2, 2011 when I was presented with the most devastating news I ever hope to hear. My much wanted, already much loved baby was not going to survive the pregnancy; I had a CHOICE to make. Together with my doctor and my husband, and through a broken heart and many tears, I made the choice to terminate my pregnancy. I experienced so many emotions related to the news, our decision, and the aftermath of our decision that my head was spinning. Sadness, guilt, anger, resentment, relief, and everything in between, I felt it all. The bottom line is, I felt it. My husband felt it. Our family and friends felt it. Strangers did not.

So, when strangers react to my blogs and posts with hateful comments and aggressive name-calling, I can only shake my head. I've been called some pretty heinous names and have had some pretty heated debates. I've been ridiculed and judged, even by loved ones, and have been offended on way too many occasions. It used to really bother me because I felt like no one was listening. I'm not the uneducated, unwed, unemployed, abortion addict that pro-life extremists like to pretend that I am. I am one class away from finishing my Master's degree. I have been with the same man for 10-1/2 years and we've been married for 4-1/2. I wake up every morning and commute to a full-time job where I work 50+ hours per week. I've never been arrested and take pride in my volunteer work. I come home to a house that I own and cherish quiet nights at home with my family and friends. I am not the embodiment of evil that many like to accuse me of being. I am a woman who was faced with a very difficult situation and who was lucky enough to have the strength, knowledge, courage, support, and freedom to make the choice that was right for her family.

We all have the right to our opinions; I don't want to take that freedom away from anyone. With that said, NO ONE has the right to judge anyone for their personal decisions, decisions that have zero impact on anyone outside the family making that choice. You don't get to make me feel bad for choosing my own path without also having the compassion to listen to the why behind our decision. I'm not asking you to agree with me; I'm just asking you to listen with an open-mind.

While I have always been politically active and passionate, the debate over women's rights has suddenly became much more personal and much more important to me. I decided to share our story because I don't want any woman to feel alone in her pain. I don't want women to feel shamed into silence. I want to remind extremists that not every abortion is a result of promiscuity to get rid of an unwanted baby. There is a whole other side to this debate and that side needs to be heard. If I have to tell our story in a million ways a million times on a million forums, I will. I pledge this commitment to women everywhere who have ever been judged, silenced, or shamed for their decisions. You are not now, nor will you ever be, alone.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Another New Chapter...

I was going to blog tonight about how sick I am of being told I'm different. The blog was going to be about how many people tell me "your story is different" in terms of the abortion debate. No, I'm not one of the disgusting human beings that uses abortion as a form of birth control. Those women should be spayed. But, in the debate as it stands today, I'm not different. If you take away the right to choose you take away the right of women like me everywhere. Yes, the issue needs to be discussed and stories like ours need to be told AND HEARD. K, enough about that...this blog is taking a different direction.

So, our doctor called tonight. She received the results of the baby's tests and it looks like it was the same issue as last year. Baby no. 2 had full triploidy. Hubby isn't convinced that baby no. 1 had it and is going to call the surgeon from last year tomorrow. I'm about 110% sure that it was full triploidy and that hubby must have been listening with his man ears when we received those results. But, I understand his need to be sure so I encourage his call tomorrow.

Full triploidy is rare in its first occurrence. Our chance at having another baby with the same issue was no greater than a woman that had no pregnancies with baby's with genetic abnormalities. (ps- That is the ugliest term!) Supposedly it's all just "a freak accident" and "purely bad luck." Yeah yeah yeah..... I am doing my best to stay away from the Internet right now. I don't want Dr. Google to tell me ANYTHING so I'm just steering clear. That's why I'm here and why you have something to read right now. (Thanks, by the way.)

In February of 2011 I went for Jewish Genetic Counseling at the Victor Center. My mom is your typical Jewish mother and needed me to go for her own piece of mind. I went for her and 18 out of the 19 tests came back negative. My Tay-Sachs test was inconclusive so as a result of this latest pregnancy issue, hubby has to go get tested. I'm not too worried about that because my mom was not a carrier and the chance that I am is slim. The chance that hubby is a carrier is probably even more slim, which means the chance we're both carries (and could pass the disease on to a baby) is even more slim. But hey, we've beat slim odds before so who freakin' knows. In addition to having hubby tested to see if he's a Tay-Sachs carrier, we also have to go for "preconception genetic counseling." I'm trying not to freak out but it's hard. We've only had the news for about 2 hours now and I've already shed a shit ton of tears. (I truly believe that tears are natures way of cleansing the soul so if you need to cry....CRY!)

Your first thought when you hear that there could be issues with your genetics is, naturally, to ask "why me." You immediately think of the worst case scenario and pull the "it's not fair" card. You think about all of the people to which you think life comes easy. You think about all of the women you've watched get pregnant and go on to have healthy babies who don't really "deserve" to be moms. (This is not to say I wish pain or heartache on anyone at all. I'm just being honest about the emotions and feelings that come with the situation that hubby and I are facing.) You start thinking about what you did to deserve this. It's all irrational but it's all okay to feel and you HAVE to let yourself feel every emotion. I know life isn't fair but I'm allowed to be mad, and jealous, and resentful, and sad, and confused. I'm also allowed to say it all out loud and let my feelings happen. I've had to work hard for everything I have in my life. Statistics say I should be everything that I'm not: a drop out, uneducated, unemployed, on welfare, etc. I've fought hard to get where I am today and once, just once, I want something in life to come easy and just go the right way. I want it to be this.

I'm not one for self-pity and I try not to feel sorry for myself. I really do believe that we're given only what we can handle. (Even though I believe that G-d and I sometimes have different parameters for what my limits actually are.) With that said, I do feel lucky in so many ways. Though we're embarking on another scary chapter in what has been a tragic story, I do have a lot of really wonderful things in my life. There are a lot of things that have gone "right" and I'm thankful for each one. Hands down, I have the best husband in the entire world. Secondly, my mom is the most extraordinary woman I know and I am very lucky that I am the one that gets to call her mommy. Lastly, my friends are the most wonderful family I could ever know. I'm grateful for each and every person in my life and I find it difficult to put into words what they all mean to me. (Imagine that! Me, no words!)

So, maybe we are experiencing all of this tragedy because we have the strength and support to get through it. Maybe we are going through this so that a couple who wouldn't be able to handle it can have an easy pregnancy and the family they'll cherish. Maybe we're facing these issues because someone up there knows we'll be the voice for so many women/families who are silenced by fear and shame. Who knows, right?

Whatever the reason, what I do know is that we'll get through this and we'll be better people for having experienced it together. So, as I tell my students when they want to give up: onward and upward. 


Monday, December 24, 2012

The Light

So one of my very best friends from high school recently found my blog. He and I hadn't been in touch for about 10 years and we reconnected a little over two months ago. It's always nice to reconnect with special people and it has been great catching up. Last week he read my blog for the first time and told me he thought it was dark. Not gonna lie... I was a little offended. I don't think it's dark; I think that it's honest. There are days when I feel dark and if my blog reflects that then so be it. Anyway, he recommended that I blog about all of the positive/good things in my life. While it's impossible to list everything that is good in my life, there are a few things for which I'm grateful EVERY SINGLE DAY. So, here goes:
  • Hubby: I meant what I said on your birthday. You make it all okay and I couldn't do it without you. Thanks for choosing me for your forever. Love you. Love your show.
  • Momma: You amaze me every day and have for the last 32 years. I only hope I can be half the mom to my child(ren) that you were to me. I am who I am (good and bad) because of you. (Well, except the OCD.)
  • Sister: Twenty-one years and you're not sick of me; you deserve a medal. You are (always have been and always will be) my person. I love you always.
  • My girls: They say our friends are the family we choose for ourselves. Thank you for choosing me and for always being there. The bonds that tie us are unbreakable and I'm thankful every day that I can call you my family.
  • Jake & Sara: You are my heart and I couldn't love you more. Jake, thank you for ALWAYS making me smile. Sara, it has been way too long since we've seen each other but I love you every single day. I hope you both know that I will ALWAYS be here for you for anything that you need.
  • My work family: Simply stated, I love you guys; you make my every day worth it. Thanks for all the laughs and love.
  • My friends: I don't know what to say other than I FREAKING LOVE YOU.
  • My GSC family: I am who I am because of you. Whether it's a week, a month, a year, or more, we're family and I cherish that always. My memories of our time(s) together fill my heart with such joy. I am thankful for every memory we made in our home away from home.
  • Puppers: I know you can't read but you are my love. Your kisses make my bad days better and my good days great. Thanks for knowing exactly what I need and for being the best cuddle-bugger ever.
  • The Internet: THANK YOU Al Gore (kidding!) for making it possible for me to stay connected to everyone. I love knowing that with just a click we can reconnect and check-in to let each other know we're thinking of the other. Let's try to do it in person more frequently.
  • My former campers: Many of us are still in touch and some of you even read this blog. Please know how special you made my summers. I learned more from you in those years than I could ever have hoped to teach you. I am so proud of the young men and women you have become.
  • New Kids on the Block: You have brought a smile to my face since 1988. You filled my childhood with love and excitement and taught me how to dance like no one is watching. Your reunion reminded me that dreams really can come true if you never give up. Thanks for making this only child one of a million sisters.  (Readers: you can make fun of me all you want for having them on my list. I'm dancing like no one is watching and I don't care.)
  • Ellen: Thanks for proving that kindness and generosity are the most beautiful accessories we can wear. You inspire me every day.
  • The little things: You matter so much and I'm thankful that I know that.
  • The person who told me to write this blog: Thank you. You are very special to me and I love you.
(These are in no particular order by the way!)

With that, I'm going to sign off. This blog could wind up being a million words long because I'm that lucky. While the last two years have been a struggle for our family, I've never lost sight of the fact that I'm a pretty lucky lady. I have a great husband, an awesome mom, amazeballs friends, and a job that allows me to help people (almost) every day. Yes, some days are dark but that's okay because no day lasts forever.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Is it January yet?

December has got to be the worst month of the year to have a miscarriage. You get to spend the entire month looking at pictures of kids. You also get to see lots of pregnancy announcements. Ugh. It's like nature's cruel way of reminding you of everything you don't have. IT SUCKS. On top of that, December is the month that my husband and I celebrate our birthdays. Yeah, not this year; I'm not into it. I plan on skipping my birthday except to go out with my work family and get wasted. Yep, that's how I'm celebrating.

I also plan on skipping the holidays this year. I'm not into it and I have no interest in pretending that I am. I don't want to be a debbie downer and ruin the holiday for anyone else so I think I'm just going to stay home. I don't want to have to pretend that I'm happy. I don't want to have to listen to people tell me that it'll be okay and that everything happens for a reason. I don't want the "hold a little tighter" hugs with the "I'm so sorry" message. I get that it comes from a good place, I really do, but sometimes it just makes the pain worse. I don't want to hang out with our pregnant friends and family and pretend that I'm not in pain. So, for everyone's benefit I'm just going to skip this "holly jolly" time. It's not meant to hurt anyone's feelings and honestly, this year isn't about anyone else but me. I know that sounds harsh but it is what it is. I need to concentrate on me. I need to deal with all of this in my own way so that I can continue to move forward. We all handle pain in different ways and we have to let ourselves cope in our own personal way. My head and my heart are telling me that this is what I need and I'm going to listen.

Our experience this year was very different than our experience last year. This year, nature made the decision for us. Last year, we made the decision. This year, the day of surgery was much easier than last year. Last year, I gave myself time to cope and deal with my emotions. This year, I jumped right back into life and "moved on." Last year I didn't play the "why us" game. This year, I play it every day. Honestly, I think it has something to do with the time of year that everything happened. As much as I love seeing the holiday cards from our friends, it's painful. Yes, I'm thrilled you all have happy healthy families and I love your kids like I would love my own. Hopefully you know that. BUT, this year it's different. It's a little more painful than it is joyful and that sucks. I think that adds another dimension of emotion to all of this too. I not only get to feel my own pain but then I also get to feel guilty about all of that. Blah.

The bottom line is: December is just a shitty effing month for life to veer off course. The upside is that December won't last forever and in exactly two weeks it'll be a new month in a new year with a chance for new beginnings.

May 2013 bring you joy, happiness, laughter, and love.