Friday, March 23, 2012

Da Magical City

If you work with me, it's probably not a surprise to you that I'm writing about my trip. I LOVE this place and have been talking about  it for the last month and a half. When I was asked to come for training (Thanks, Deb!) I was so excited. There's just something about this place...

The first time I came to visit Chicago (October 2010) I was here for finance training and it was a two week trip. At first I felt like that was way too long but I knew the hubby was coming for the weekend and that I'd meet folks. Good trade off. By day 3 I had made some wonderful new friends and was having a blast. I even discovered a delish wheat beer. (Goose Island 312. Say what you want; I love it.) My new friends and I hit up some of Chicago's best restaurants (best restaurants on our budget I should say) and learned all about Title IV funding. (Thrilling, I know.) Hubby came out for the weekend and we did all of the touristy stuff. Sears' (Willis) Tower. John Hancock. Michigan Ave. Chicago Bean. LOVED IT! (p.s- For all of you Harry Potter fans...the Chi-town trains are very Harry Potteresque. I was totally looking for platform 9 3/4 at Union Station.)  Hubby played in a Playstation 3 tournament (lost to a 7 year old) and I got razzed for my flyers gear. LOVED IT! By the time Friday of our second week rolled around, everyone was totally ready to head home.....everyone but me. While I missed my husband, mom, friends and puppy, I could've stayed. I would've stayed. (Ya know, if I didn't have a wonderful hubby at home.)

<--Willis Tower, Skydeck.

At the Chicago Bean--->

I came back in December of 2010 but only overnight. Though I was happy to be back in Chi-town I didn't really do much other than work. That's okay....I was here and that was enough for me. Sadly, I didn't get to come back in 2011 but I understand. The whole "we need money to run the company thing" comes before "plan for Amanda to go to Chicago thing"! Can't win 'em all. But, Thanks to Project DELTA there was a legitimate need for me to return. That brings me to this trip (March 2012).

I've been here since Sunday night and it's been a fantastic trip. Again, I've met some pretty kick ass people (DeVry employs rock stars apparently) and I finally got to eat at Weber Grill restaurant. The hotel bartender remembered me and I've made some great new friends. Beer and friends, YES PLEASE! It's crazy though. I work for a company with 99 locations across the country. Seems pretty big, right? Well not really. I met a lot of people in this training who work with folks from my lsat trainings. It makes the whole "big company" feel more small company. Helps with networking too! One of my besties even came to visit. She lives in Minnesota and the 8 hour trip to Chicago is a better option than the 22 hours to PA. We went downtown for dinner with some of my new friends and laughed....a lot. She loved the Bean (not really but I'm pretending) and even drove me over the river. I couldn't really see it because it was pretty late but I still got my pretty excited.This trip wasn't just about making new friends though. Training has been a bit overwhelming but I'm confident. I'm leaving with contacts from Cali to VA to TX so I know I'll be okay. These are the folks I'll lean on when we go live in 67 DAYS! (Yes, we had to countdown every day. First and last question of every day.)

Anyway, I have to end this blog cause I have to head to bed to be ready for our last day of training. I may update this from home but really did want to get it in while I was still here. Mission Accomplished. As much as I'm looking forward to going home to see my hubby, mom, friends and puppy, I'd totally be okay with another week. Mission 'Get Back to Chicago' staaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarts NOW.
Okay, I'm home now. Flight was delayed and I didn't get home until after 1am. So sleepy! Hubby, mom and puppy were very happy to see me so that made me feel good. I've spent most of today sleeping and am getting ready to do the homework I neglected in Chicago. Remember how mission get back to Chicago started on Thursday night (when I started this post)? Well, there is a pretty high chance that I'll be back in Chi-town the week of April 2nd. Fingers crossed!

p.s- Someone asked why I wrote "Da Magical City." Well, it's a play on Da Bears. Now you know.

p.p.s- As much as I love Chicago (and even if I wind up living there someday) I can promise I am not nor will I ever be a Blackhawks fan. Yes, they beat us in the cup but it was a phenomenal series. I respect that but my heart will always belong to my fly guys. GO FLYERS! ! ! 

Thursday, March 15, 2012

So Frustrated!

I love Facebook. It helps me stay connected to friends near and far. It helps me share my life with friends through pictures, posts, links and the like. It allows me to celebrate with friends when they marry, graduate, give birth or celebrate a birthday. It gives me the chance to support in times of need. It also frustrates me beyond belief.

Tonight I cam across a video link of our governor discussing the PA Ultrasound Bill. Though I'm against the bill, and hope my congress woman, Allyson Schwartz, votes no, I'm not even pissed off at the ultrasound part. Supporters of the bill say an ultrasound is necessary before an abortion in order to determine gestational age. I agree with that. My surgeon performed an ultrasound the day before my surgery. When he first told me he was doing one, I freaked out but went along with it because my husband convinced me it was the right thing to do. My surgeon had never even met me and it was important for him to see an ultrasound for two reasons: 1. confirm the fatal diagnosis we received from our doctor and 2. determine gestational age in order to determine the appropriate procedure to perform. Like I said, I freaked out. I was crying and yelling and really didn't want to do it.

My husband and I walked into a darkened exam room and I laid down on the table. As I sat there waiting for the ultrasound machine to be turned on I cried uncontrollably. The nurse asked if we wanted her to turn the monitor. Yes please! She then asked my husband if he'd like to stand with me. Yes please! He came up toward my head and took hold of my hand. We stared into each others tear filled eyes for what felt like forever. Suddenly we heard it....the wooshing that most expectant parents long to hear. We were about to hear a heartbeat. TURN IT OFF! I DON'T WANT TO HEAR IT! TURN IT OFF! I started screaming and yelling at the nurse to mute the machine. This only made me cry harder. It's not that I didn't want to hear the heartbeat; I just couldn't. It's not that I didn't want to see pictures of our precious baby; I just couldn't. Having been been emotionally drained already it was just too much.

So that brings me to this bill...which will mandate that ultrasounds be performed and that the monitors be faced toward the mother and/or the father. ARE YOU KIDDING ME? Had this bill been in place at the time of my abortion, I would have seen my precious baby and heard his or her quick little heartbeat. My husband would have had to look too, as he was standing next to me facing the machine. We would have been forced to take pictures from that appointment to deliver the next day. The thought of it makes me want to throw-up. Seeing those pictures or hearing that heartbeat that day would have done nothing but torment me. They would have made my already broken heart shatter. The whole thing would not have made me change my mind. Instead, it would have been an even more clear reminder of what we were a family. I would have spent the next 24 hours staring at the precious little face in those pictures crying my eyes out that we would never get to hold, kiss, hug, care for, change, burp, laugh with or watch grow. I would have heard the heartbeat and repeated the rhythm in my mind for the next 24 hours...knowing it would stop beating "tomorrow." Again, none of this would have changed my would have simply tortured us.

Is that what you want to do, Governor? Do you think it's that easy to just "close your eyes." How easy was it for you to close your eyes at your last ultrasound. Oh wait.... Do you think this is a decision that comes easy to everyone who makes it? Do you think that every woman that has an abortion is a teenage girl who doesn't think of her fetus as a baby? Are you under the impression that women having abortions are not informed?

Let me tell you, you're so wrong on EVERY level. I would not have been able to close my eyes; I was crying too hard. This was the hardest decision my husband and I have EVER had to make. The statistic to which you think I am a part is the exact reason I made the nurse check off the "married," "college graduate," and "aged 29-34" boxes on my medical form. (They had been left blank and I insisted that they be completed. My husband laughed at my persistence then but now completely understands.) Do you think my doctor just said, "Hey, here's this option. I'm not going to tell you anything about it or discuss consequences with you. Just go for it."? Nope, wrong again. We were so informed and no picture or sound would have changed the decision we made to terminate our pregnancy out of LOVE for our baby.

You people seem to think that all women having abortions are doing it because they WANT to. What you seem to forget is that there are hundreds of thousands of women in my situation who are having an abortion to terminate a pregnancy with a fatal diagnosis. I am a member of a few social media support groups for pregnancy loss and these women and men are some of the strongest I've ever "known."  These groups are made of men and women who have been forced to make really tough decisions that change their lives forever. Everyone seems to be forgetting about this group and only discussing the young women using abortion as birth control. (Which, for the record totally disgusts me!)

This past Sunday was my due date. My husband and I cried that day, a lot. We bought a happy birthday balloon, 1 pink latex and 1 blue latex and let them go outside our home...the home we've built together over the last 9 1/2 years with unconditional love. It's that same love that both brought about our pregnancy and our decision to abort. None of this is something I'd ever expect you to understand but, as unfortunate as it may be, you are MY governor and you are MY voice. I beg you not to lose site of that.

Friday, March 9, 2012

How to Ruin a Good Day...or Not

This will be short and sweet, as I expect to have a lot to say this coming due date.

Today was a good day. Fridays are usually my favorite day of the week. We have a skeleton crew at work and we always have a blast. Friday afternoons are usually full of laughter, stories, smiles and, of course, work. The four us that work full days on Fridays always have a blast; we've even started karaoke dance parties (when time allows...But come to think of it, we don't really get to do it for more than one song. Ya know, that whole work thing really cramps our style.) Recently we've started a tradition of going over to Comcast for lunch and it's always a blast. I work with some pretty fabulous folks.

So, I left work early today because I worked late every night this week. My commute wasn't bad and I finished my latest read. (My Fair Lazy by Jen it!) I came home to start my paper but saw my new US Weekly in the mailbox. I opted for some quality time with my gossip mag and Mr. Bubble. Ahhhh, love relaxing.

After my bath, I jumped into the shower and started reflecting on my day. I smiled and thought about what a great day it was. Then I remembered I hadn't cried today. I've been shedding tears every day for a few weeks now. As I've said in previous posts, approaching my due date hasn't been easy. Some days I cry harder than others but it has been pretty consistent. When I realized I hadn't cried today I stopped for a second...and then started to cry.

This time I wasn't crying out pain, I was crying out my guilt. I felt sad that I had a good day, like maybe I don't deserve it. I know that some of you reading this may think that's silly and may not understand. That's okay, I'm not looking for anyone to make sense of all of this. I just appreciate you reading and allowing me the time I need to express, share, weep, laugh and grieve.

I get it though and I just let myself cry AND feel guilty, standing right there in my shower. If there is one thing I've learned about myself through all of this it's that no emotion I feel is silly. (Which is a lesson my mom has taught me from a very early age. No feeling you feel can ever be wrong because it's a feeling! Thanks, Mommy!) I can't suppress these feelings, whether I want to face them or not I have to do it. If I need to cry from pain and sadness, I will. If I need to cry from guilt and anger, I will. If I need to laugh and smile, I will. If I need to fell hopeless and resentful, I will.

The good days out number the bad and that gives me great hope when I look at what is to come. 

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Truth or Fiction

So as I approach my due date the memories of everything we've been through since September 2nd have come crashing through my mind at the most random times. I'll probably be blogging frequently (as time allows) just to get all of these thoughts out of my head. I was in a really good place and had come to terms with everything...then someone (inadvertently) reminded me that "your due date would be soon, huh?" Ugh, since then...what a roller coaster of emotions.

This morning, as I was waiting for my elevator at work (which by the way is the slowest elevator in the City of Philadelphia) I started thinking about the day we found out the baby would not survive the pregnancy (September 9th.) I thought about sitting in the doctor's office with my husband and the doctor telling us the diagnosis. In my head, it was "blah blah blah" and the scene was cloudy. Then I started thinking about how we broke the news to our family and friends, the people that had shared in our joy and excitement when we announced that we were expecting. I thought about the e-mail we sent to our friends (I could barely speak) and about telling my mom to call my best girlfriends. I remembered, almost verbatim, what we wrote and told my mom to say. My mind shot back to watching my husband step out of the house to call his mom, dad and sister. I thought back to how numb I felt and how the tears flowed uncontrollably and then not at all. I remembered finally understanding how you could be full of emptiness. All of these memories came flooding back in a matter of two minutes or less. It was fast. It was crazy. It was surreal.

As I reflected back on the day that changed our lives forever, I started thinking "wow, that must've been terrible." For a quick minute I was confused about why my memories of "that situation" were so vivid. It wasn't real. I thought to myself, "I could never go through that. I can't imagine the pain." I then reminded myself that those memories were mine, which is why they were so clear, and I didn't/couldn't believe it. It was extraordinarily strange and left me really confused.

I expect to stay emotional, especially through the next 10 days (and immediately thereafter.) Now should be a time that I'm doing final preparations for baby's homecoming. Instead, I'm fighting against HB1077. I'm e-mailing and calling my congresswoman to vote NO on this bill which will mandate the following (including but not limited to):
  •  women must have a trans-vaginal ultrasound 24 hours prior to an abortion
  • during said ultrasound, the monitor must be faced toward the woman and the volume cannot be muted (The woman can opt to look away. How thoughtful that they're not planning to strap our heads down with eyes pointed toward the monitor.)
  • the woman must take and deliver TWO copies of ultrasound pictures to the surgeon performing the abortion. 
This disgusts me. Why do people assume that all women having an abortion are having it because they WANT it? What about me and all of the women and families in our position? Do you think we wanted this? If you do, let me tell you now how very wrong you are.

I am, however, thankful that we had the right to choose this option. I am also forever grateful that the ultrasound technician turned the monitor away from me. This allowed for me to keep my head turned AND for my husband to stand with me holding my hand as the surgeon confirmed the fatal diagnosis. Had HB1077 been in place, my hubby would have had to have his back to me, as he did not want to view the monitor either. That would've made it pretty hard and uncomfortable for him to hold my hand through the ultrasound. We also were able to ask the technician to mute the machine (though she didn't at first but quickly realized it as I began to scream at her "turn it off. I don't want to hear.") We were also given the right to deny receiving any pictures. It was the right decision for us at the time and we don't regret any aspect of how we handled ourselves.

I am not one to push my political opinions on others. I have friends of every race, gender, sexual orientation, political affiliation and age. I love the diversity that surrounds me. I love that we can agree and disagree and through it all smile and laugh. The fact that we're able to have different opinions is what makes this country so grand.

What isn't okay, is when people think it's okay to judge me based on my experience. I have been called a lot of names, including baby killer and monster. At first, it hurt...a lot. Now, I brush it off because I realize those people are ignorant to the idea of compassion and understanding. I just hope they NEVER have to face what we faced. I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy.

Not all women who have abortions have them as birth control. Not all women who have abortions have them because they were "careless" with sexual activity. Not all women who have abortions have adoption as an option. Not all women who have abortions are evil or awful human beings. Have a heart and consider the feelings of the woman you're don't know her story and there is probably a lot more to it than you'll ever understand. The pain these families have felt is far worse than any name you could ever call them.