Wednesday, July 6, 2016


Caution! This post contains TMI. If you don't want to know TMI about me, I suggest you move on to another post.

This morning, my doctor confirmed that I had medically reached menopause. My hormone levels fit the exact levels for a woman in menopause.

I am some what ambivalent about this news and feel as though I've suffered a loss. Every time, I got my period, I said how much I hated it. Every time, I didn't get my period, I held out hope I was pregnant.

Except now. At 47, I didn't get my period (of course, the last one HAD to occur when I went on vacation ALONE with my husband. Karma is a bitch). I thought, what if I am pregnant? It happens (at least in the movies - cue Father of the Bride 2). It also happens in the Bible and Sarah was much older than I.

This time, there was no appeal to being pregnant. As I wrote in my last post, I have a 20 year old son and two teenage daughters. I don't want to go back to sleepless nights, exhausted days and never a moment to myself. I'm happy to leave that to my younger friends and borrow their babies for now (I said FOR NOW, I'm talking about grandchildren, are you listening kids?).

My older (and wiser) sister told me to get over it and move on, as did a friend. A new phase of life. I'll be honest though, it feels more like a downward slide to the  end of life, not a new phase. (this might be a Debbie Downer part - be forewarned).

What happens now (beyond the financial savings on not having to buy sanitary products)? I suppose deep down, I already knew since I've been having hot flashes for a while. Of course, I've googled all the information on this, what your hormone levels should be, what the average age is (I'm at the very edge of the low average), etc., etc.. I'm prepared for more hot flashes, vaginal dryness and perhaps some moodiness (I say some, since I'm damn near perfect now)

I'm sure in a few months, this will be the new normal. It's a bit of a wake up call because I know that the healthier I am now, the better off I'll be when I'm really ancient. When I'm all dried up like a prune and even KY Jelly won't help. When I can't hear shit and my memory is even worse than it is now. When hitting the age to be a member of AARP seems like years ago.

When I turn 90 and all of my children, and my grandchildren and my great grandchildren all come together to celebrate my birthday. In August we are celebrating Mimi's 90th birthday together with her daughter, her 3 grandchildren and her 7 great grandchildren.

But for now, I'll just crank up the a/c and bid goodbye to my friend of over 37 years. It won't be the same without you.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

My 20 Year Old Gift

I haven't known many things for sure in my life, but I did know, from a young age, that I wanted to be a mom.  Of course, wanting and becoming are two different things.

I married at 23, and was ready to have kids right away. My husband felt differently so we waited a few years. I had trouble at first getting pregnant. I finally did and promptly went away for the summer to work at camp. The day I was leaving camp, I began to miscarry. I was scheduled to meet my husband at the airport and fly directly to visit his family in Mexico. Instead, I ended up in an ob-gyn office in Chicago hearing that I had miscarried. I went home to Louisville where we were living at the time, had to have a d&c and that was that. We went to Mexico in the end and i remember crying hysterically in the car the night we went to see Silence of the Lambs.

Once we returned home and were working, the miscarriage hit me like a truck. I couldn't sleep, I was petrified of dying and I had panic attacks. When my husband traveled for work, I had to stay with my parents. After a bout of therapy, we decided to move to Skokie and get a fresh start. A year had passed and I still wasn't pregnant again so I began to take a round of Clomid.  And then, I didn't get my period. I took a home pregnancy test and it was negative so I was sure I had some horrible disease since I had been having my period like clockwork since age 10.

Again, I found myself in a strange ob-gyn office, having just moved to Skokie. I told the nurse I had done a pregnancy test at home and it was negative. She said they were pretty accurate and then decided to do one anyway. Lo and behold, I was pregnant. To say I was thrilled is an understatement. My husband too, was over the moon. At the doctor's office, I had done all the tests, etc. and a day or so later, received a call telling me that my hormone levels were low and I was in danger of losing the baby. The panic came roaring back. I was prescribed hormones to take in hopes that would boost my levels and keep the pregnancy.

It did. My baby boy was determined to be born. My pregnancy wasn't easy, I had off the charts blood pressure and ended up on bed rest. On one of my doctor's visits at 36 weeks, my blood pressure was so high that the doctors determined I had to go to the hospital and have the baby. So off I went, scared and tired, only to be caught in an enormous traffic jam on the way to Evanston because Princess Diana was speaking at Northwestern University.

For three days, they tried to induce me. They took me on and off the induction - they were too busy and then took me off at night so I could "sleep". I had an amniocentesis in the middle of the night to see if the baby's lungs were mature and to determine if he was ready to be born.

My parents and my sister came immediately along with my nephews. In the end, we all settled in to wait. I starting going into labor but the baby didn't like contractions, and his heart rate would go down whenever I had one. The residents kept coming in and out, they broke my water which meant I was going to have the baby in 24 hours. My parents and sister went to dinner and a movie and we sat and waited, watching the baby's heart rate.  My doctor came in, took a look at the ekg of the baby and that was it. I was going in for a c-section. Immediately they prepped me, took me in, gave me a spinal block and began the surgery. Once I wasn't contracting, the baby's heart rate was fine, so I was allowed to stay awake. During the surgery, the loudspeaker in the OR started announcing: "crash cart" "STAT" "anesthesiologist STAT". I knew it wasn't me, but I felt like I was in an episode of ER. (ok, I'm old that was a popular show then). The doctor later told me they had to put in some blood pressure medicine because it had spiked during the c-section. Hmm, I wonder why.

And then he was there, this beautiful, tiny little boy. Perfect. The doctor came to see me and told me I was very lucky. You see, I had a blood vessel running through my placenta instead of around it. It's very rare and she even showed it to the residents in training. When they broke my water, if they had nicked it, I would've hemorrhaged and we would both would have died, me from blood loss, the baby from drowning essentially. Had I given birth vaginally, the pressure of pushing would've broken the vein and it would have been the same result.

Today, that beautiful baby boy, the first of three gifts that I had wanted so badly from such a young age, turns 20. My memory sucks, my kids will tell you that, but I remember this story like it was yesterday. For the last 20 years, from that beginning, I have watched his story unfold. No longer a baby, no longer a kid, no longer a teenager. He has achieved his goals and fought hard what he believes in, including himself. On that day, 20 years ago, his being born alive was the gift. Now, on this day, 20 years later, who he is and what he has become is the gift.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Teenagers (eye roll)

Yesterday, my youngest daughter participated in a "lobby" day for LGBT rights at the Israeli Knesset (Parliament). She went as a member of her youth group which also serves that community. She suggested I write a blog post about it because it was a very important day. She is right, it was an important day.

I want to write mainly though, about her. This summer, she came home from camp early and as part of the process, announced that she was bisexual. My first reaction to this was "are you sure you just aren't gay?" (#parentingfail? Discuss.) She said no and so we went on. This was truly no great revelation for anyone as I already had my suspicions since she was in grade school.

As time passed, she adopted a more "masculine" physical look, cutting her long hair and choosing not to wear skirts or dresses anymore (pink was gone a long time ago). She also finally decided she was ready to tell us she was actually gay (!). Her line was "have you seen me?".

Yes, we saw her and so did everyone else. It takes courage and a firm resolve to  unequivocably show who you are, especially as a teenager. I am proud (pun intended) of her and continue to be as she conquers the world beating to her own drum.

Her friends and her school and our family and friends have been and continue to be supportive. It honestly doesn't matter and doesn't change the essence of who she is.

Lately, she has worked hard at pushing the limits much like any other kid her age. When I think on it, there is more there though. More than just a teenager experimenting with limits and trying to find herself.

In fact, she finds herself in a world that isn't truly hers. She is one foot out and one foot in. The world around her isn't mostly gay.  If you follow Buzzfeed, watch Ellen DeGeneres and go to your local pride parade, it may seem that the whole world is gay.

But it's not. It's taken until now for Barbie to come out with dolls in different body sizes. We still haven't had a woman president and the police are still killing people of color. When you look around and you see an ad with a same sex couple or a family with two moms, you remark on it. It's still different. There is still work to be done which is why its important for her to be involved in helping to advance change.

It struck me that she feels like I felt as a Jew in America. Not everyone who is Jewish feels the same, but I did. Maybe because I didn't grow up on the East Coast where "New York Values" prevail. Maybe because it was the thing which I identified with most as my core self. I am American surely, and nowhere is that clearer than here in Israel. When I look around though, my identity is reflected in the society around. Israel moves to the rhythm of the Jewish Calendar and when I pepper my English with "Jewish" words, we all smile at the commonality.

Teenagers like to bulldoze through the world around them. They either want to stand out or fit in. There is no mild in between for them. The louder they shout, the more they think you will notice them. How easy it would be if we could just give them the answers they seek about who they are and what their place in the world is. What they will become and that all their dreams will be fulfilled.

I'm not the first parent to "suffer" through these years (sorry, Mom and Dad) and I won't be the last but when it's someone else's turn, I'll be the wiser.

Let her push. Let her search. She'll discover it all soon enough and I'll be standing there, waiting for her to come home.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Closing the Door on Childhood

When I was a senior in high school, I remember walking in to school one day and being confronted with the news the one of our class members and a friend of mine, had been killed by a drunk driver. It's hard for a teenager to stare mortality in the face as at that age, you feel invincible which is one of the things that leads to teenagers to do stupid, dangerous things. One of the few ways to get teenagers to pay attention is to slap them in the face with it and that is what something like the death of a friend does. Why it might not last forever, it leaves its mark.

The death of a young person is also a blow to adults. We all know the potential that was stopped, frozen in its tracks. The waste and the loss, while at the same time we thank God it wasn't us.

Recently, my oldest child, my son, was drafted into the Israeli army. Israel has a universal draft for men and women and this is a formative experience for all Israelis. Israel is a small country and even though he drafted into the army on Thursday, he was expected to come home the next morning for the weekend. We woke up early, the whole family going to Jerusalem to drop him off, wave him goodbye and see him tomorrow. The time came, they called his name and he was off, though the door to the bus, holding the candy and a prayer book that had been given to him by the Israeli equivalent of the USO.

I never though I would get into the car and cry or that I would sit the rest of the day in my office with a pit in my stomach. The way I described it to my family and friends was that it was as if the door to his childhood shut closed, never to be reopened. That part of his life and our life as his parents is closed. We are on a different path now, fill a different role and feel a difference in our house.

Yesterday, another key turned in that door, causing it to close even more. A friend of his, a young man who graduated school ahead of him, was killed by a car. This young man was also serving in the army was on his way home for a few days break. As I said, Israel is a small country and the community of English speaking immigrants is even smaller. This young man was friends with my son, his sister with my daughters and many other overlapping circles of our lives.

The army gave my son permission to leave his basic training for the day in order to attend the funeral with his friends. He came home but I didn't see him before he took the train back to his base after the funeral. I didn't get to hold him and comfort him and explain to him about how this all works. I didn't get to fulfill my own urge to touch him to remind myself that he was still alive.  I did speak to him after the funeral, when he was on the way back to the army and he sounded drained. This is part that journey to adulthood.

The day my son was drafted, I thought about why it had such an effect on me when I was going to see him the next day. I was reminded of a book by the prize winning Israeli writer, David Grossman, who himself lost a child in the 2nd Lebanon war, titled To the End of the Land. In the book, a mother, who is convinced the army is on her way to inform her of her son's death, takes off on a journey to hike the countryside in the hope that she won't be found and thus, won't be able to hear the news.

I began reading the book, but couldn't finish it. It was too much. Certainly, this is what we all experience as soon as we bring a child into this world. This fear that is mostly pushed to the back of our minds, allowing us to function normally, sometimes surges to the forefront of our thoughts when bad things happen to young people.

There are many things to be scared of these days. Shooters and stabbers in Israel, Paris, San Bernadino. Acts of political violence occuring randomly to try and make you flee to the hills and give up. But, if we allow this fear to paralyze us, we could not function and so we ignore it as much and as often as we can.

The family of this young man (of blessed memory), they don't get the luxury of ignorance, since their most dreaded fear is now their most dreaded reality. We, the lucky ones, only glimpse their pain in the faces of people who have lost someone and hug our loved ones a bit closer before returning to naggin them about putting away their laundry.

So welcome to adulthood, my son. Maybe once in a while you'll still let me hold your hand. You might not need it, but I certainly always will.