Sunday, October 1, 2017

on a century of Phyllis

My grandma Phyllis would have been 100 years old today.

She was born before women had the right to vote, and died in 1994 at the age of 77. She modeled strength and tenacity- but also and weakness and human-ness. She had, of course, deeply unconditional love for her son, my biological father, despite his demons.

Phyllis was ahead of her time. She was a strong single mother in a time where that was unacceptable, and her influence is alive 23 years after her death. I am proud to be part of her lineage.

I like to think she would have been amused and adored by my babies. Her legacy and generosity has touched their lives, even though they are too young to realize it. I also like to think she had a heavenly role in sending my "step" dad to our family and influencing the next phase of our lives.

My life intersected with hers for less than ten years - but her memory is alive. May we all be remembered with love, by happy and grateful grandchildren, more than two decades after we are gone.

Happy 100, PDM. You are missed.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Ava Jeanne Special: A Love Story

On Saturday, February 25, Scott and I woke early.  I had primped like crazy, knowing it would be a while before I could do that again.  (Also, not going to lie, there are a lot of downsides to a scheduled cesarean, but being able to prepare is not one of them).


We met my parents in our kitchen, and excitedly said our goodbyes.  They had arrived the night before to watch Jacob while we were in the hospital welcoming our baby.

During my pregnancy, I worked toward a simple vaginal delivery... however, upon the recommendation of my physicians, due to a number of specifics, I accepted the recommendation of a second cesarean.  After some initial disappointment, I made peace with that decision and moved all systems go toward the most important thing - welcoming our second child, and welcoming him or her with joy and peace in my heart.

Let's do this.

Our appointment was at 9AM, but we were to arrive at the hospital by 7AM.  Scott dropped me off at the front door, and parked the car.  We checked in to the nurses station on the Labor floor, and were assigned a wonderful nurse, Natalie, who would calm my nerves and boost my sagging spirits.  I signed a million consent forms ("Cesarean's run a risk of blah blah blah").

9AM came... and 9AM went.  Our doctor was running late.  Around 9:30, the doctor breezed in, and said a few words that I did not want my operating physician to say: "Sorry I'm late... I couldn't get my act together this morning.  So, are we just doing a cesarean or are we doing a tubal as well?"

I'm documenting this because... well... it's laughable.  I couldn't get over it.  It shocked me, and freaked me out.  Not the best bedside manner of the woman who was about to operate and help usher my child in to this world.

I shook off my fears, and was told it was time to go.  I was wheeled- alone - in to the operating room.  (The support person isn't allowed to be present until it's time for surgery to begin).  I will spare the medical graphics, but I was given a spinal block, a few other pre-operative details, and then Scott was allowed to come back.  I threw up - more than once.  (I'm not surprised by this, as I had a similar reaction to the anesthetic during Jacob's birth).  I was covered in blankets (the OR was freezing!) and... it began.

I kept staring at Scott, like... THIS IS HAPPENING.  OUR CHILD IS ABOUT TO BE BORN.   It was surreal and beautiful and terrifying.

Life.

The doctor told Scott he could stand up to watch our child breathe their first breath - and he did.

"It's a girl!" which were three of the sweetest words I have ever heard.  (For the record, "It's a boy!" were the other three sweetest I've ever heard).


I began screaming - howling - in joy and relief and happiness.  I would have been thrilled with any healthy baby - ANY BABY - but the chance to mother a son and a daughter is a privilege I won't ever take for granted.


My surgery was completed (with, um... STAPLES OMG... which is another story for another time).  My baby was analyzed and declared "perfect".  She was 6 pounds, 8 ounces and 18 inches long.  And we began the spectacular honor of introducing our baby to her family (including my brother Joe, who flew in on the red eye to surprise me!)



We named our daughter Ava Jeanne.  Ava is a name I've loved for close to 20 years.  In high school, I remember saying that if I ever had a daughter, she'd be named Ava, and I'm glad to have a husband who agreed.  Jeanne is my middle name, and my grandmother's first name, my aunt's first name.  I am thrilled to have another little "Jeanne" in our family.


Our visit was fairly uneventful, and our babies birth was textbook cesarean.  I am delighted to live in a time of medical advances which allowed my children and I to have safe, healthy deliveries and so grateful to welcome little Ava in to our lives.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

on Immigration

As far as I know, the entirety of my family tree came from elsewhere.  England, Ireland.  Eastern Europe.   To my knowledge, I have no indigenous blood running through my veins.  My ancestors came here, to America, seeking refuge, hoping for a better life.   And America was that for them - for so many million of us - a place where we are all invited, where we are all free.  The Statue of Liberty shining in a harbor, emblematic of that welcoming spirit. 

Give me your tired, your poor... your huddled masses yearning to break free.

Today the world was shocked by President Trump's inhumane executive order, which, among other things, banned all people from 7 countries, including Syria, whose citizens were banned indefinitely (and who need our help, desperately).  

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me.

President Trump - you do not speak for me when you say "we do not want them there". I have no hate in my heart, no fear in my head.  We are all immigrants.  I am ashamed that you represent me.   

How can this man (and his supporters) claim to be "pro life" and yet anti-refugee?  Do they see what will happen to these people?  These people are just like our ancestors were, one or two hundred years later.  The hypocrisy is both heartbreaking and enraging.  

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me.
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.

Friday, January 20, 2017

on our President 2017

Today Donald Trump becomes president.  I have yet to fully wrap my head about it, but I'm not a denier- as a proud American, he IS now my president, like it or not.  (And to be clear, I do not.  I do not very much).   It's a very strange day.  A very strange time.  

I hope that 4 years from now, that people's lives have gotten better, not worse- in that way I wish him well; I hope his policy changes fail decidedly- in that way I wish him failure. 

I will not be watching the inauguration today.  I do not have to embrace something to accept it.  I will be powering off the TV, closing the browser on CNN and letting my donations do most of the talking today: to Planned Parenthood, to the ACLU, to the Council on American-Islamic Relations.  To the NAACP.  To NARAL Pro-Choice America.  To RAINN.  

President Trump, I am angry.  I’m angry and I’m frustrated and I’m disappointed in you already.  If I have any hope in you at all, then it’s just that you begin giving the sacred office the respect and honor that it deserves.