WHERE I'VE BEEN

Three months to the day since I last posted. Wow! I want to start off by saying thank you to everyone who has reached out to me a) to see if I'm still alive; b) to ask if I was ever going to blog again; and c) to congratulate my family on our big news

I didn't intend to take a three month hiatus from writing. It just happened.

It was a tough summer.

At the beginning of June, I did something very vain: I did a photo shoot with a professional photographer in Central Park. It's something I'd been wanting to do for a long time - take midriff-baring pictures before I got pregnant. My body is far from perfect but I work hard and I'm proud of it. I'd decided to give Intermittent Fasting a go several weeks before the shoot and took my body composition the morning of. My body fat was the lowest it's ever been and I was so proud. I had a such a fun day. 

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The following weekend, Ben and I headed back to Miami for the first time together since our wedding in October of 2015. Typically we like to travel a lot during the summer but this was a last minute trip and hands down my favorite weekend of the summer. We only had one real "vacation" planned: a weekend in Fire Island. 

We got home from Miami on Sunday, and on the following Wednesday I got the news that my great godmother, Norma, had died. I don't really know how to explain this other than to say the news of her passing really knocked me on my ass. My godmother, Lynn, is my dad's best friend from childhood, and when he started dating my mom, she and my mom became extremely close as well. My great godmother died in the same home where my godmother grew up, the place where my dad told me countless stories about sitting at Norma's kitchen table talking to her for hours on end, and where I spent countless holidays with my own parents. Norma was like a second mother to my dad and a third grandmother to me. At my bat mitzvah, she said to me, "I hope I can dance at your wedding someday." She came to my wedding, and Ben and I took a photo with her that I'll treasure for the rest of my life.

Perri and I were on a plane back to Miami the next day, where my dad was waiting for us. It was a horrible reason to return back home so quickly, but I was so grateful that we were all able to be together. She was a leader in our Jewish community and her funeral drew hundreds - many people that I hadn't seen since childhood or my own bat mitzvah. My dad gave a beautiful eulogy and the rabbi sang, "In My Life" by The Beatles. I typically don't allow myself to cry in public - I cried alone a lot when my mom was dying - but I sobbed openly during Norma's funeral. 

Being back in Miami for those few days brought open a new sadness that's a little hard to articulate. There's something about being in the company of the people I grew up with that's unbelievably comforting because not only did they know me, they know my mom and my parents as a couple. I kept thinking about the incredible community my parents built for us in Miami and how I really didn't have that in New York. Sometimes it kind of hits me like a ton of bricks that I'm not going back there permanently - at least not anytime soon - and it stings.

A few weeks later, I was back in New York and I had a weird feeling that I might be pregnant. Ben and I went out for sushi and doughnuts, and then I asked him if we could have a second dessert, and we stopped at the Wafels and Dinges truck. A second dessert is a stretch, even for a sweet tooth like me, and I wondered aloud if I was pregnant. I woke up the next morning and realized my period was officially late, and I told Ben I was going to take a test. By this time I'd taken several failed tests, the last of which was on the anniversary of my mom's passing. That was a really tough one. He shrugged and said he was going to take Winnie for a walk. I peed, laid the stick on the floor, and waited. I heard the front door shut and I looked down. The stick said "Pregnant."

I started screaming, "BEN! BEN!" at the top of my lungs and ran into the hallway without underwear. Luckily he and Winnie were still waiting for the elevator and I got to tell him the good news within seconds of learning it myself. It was wonderful. I immediately used my Glow app to tell me that I was 4 weeks pregnant. 

The two weeks between 4 and 6 were fine physically but tough on me mentally. I was dying to talk to someone about it and it was really hard NOT to tell my dad immediately. If you've been reading my blog for any amount of time you know that my dad is my best friend and I tell him everything. 

Something else I want to note, because I'm willing to bet at least one of you will relate here, is that I actually went to therapy last summer because I was afraid to get pregnant without my mom here to experience it with me. Not afraid... terrified. I actually didn't go wedding dress shopping because the prospect of doing it without my mom was just too sad. I didn't think I deserved to enjoy that process if she couldn't. I ordered a dress online, had it delivered to my dad's house, and I went over and tried it on. Then we took it to Dorinda's boyfriend's dry cleaner for tailoring. That was it. There is a part of me that regrets this now - not the Dorinda part, best tailor in the city - but it's what felt right to me at the time.

Last summer was when I became keenly aware that I could avoid wedding dress shopping after losing my mom, but I couldn't avoid having a baby. I knew her absence was going to make pregnancy feel isolating and icky and I wasn't sure how I was going to handle it. I'm grateful to have found an amazing therapist who talked through so much with me and opened my eyes to so many things I'd never considered or thought through. She gave me what I needed: someone to listen to my neuroses and to reassure me that yes, it would be another milestone that I'd have to muddle through without my mom, but that I could do it and it would be okay. 

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Finally delivering the news to my dad and my Perri - I say "finally" but in reality it was less than two weeks later - was bar none one of the best moments of my life. I got cupcakes from Sprinkles that spelled out BABY and brought them over to my dad's in a sealed box. We were heading out to dinner but I told them to open the cupcakes because I'd put decorations on and wanted them to see. They opened the box and looked inside... my dad gasped and looked up at me as I nodded my head wildly. We were all screaming and hugging and crying. It was perfect.

Week 6 is when I started experiencing morning sickness, or as I like to call it, sickness. Who coined that term, anyway? I'm nauseous all day, every day. Winnie sensed something was going on with me and acted extra sweet. My dad, sister and I decided to spend Rosh Hashanah in Sarasota and I'd deliver the news of my pregnancy to Nana in person. I was so excited.

Week 7, my dad got a call that Nana had choked on her food and was in the hospital. This didn't feel terribly shocking, because Nana was like a cat. The woman had nine lives. She bounced back so many times from so many things. My dad headed to Florida anyway. It was a Sunday. She died that Thursday, the day we were supposed to leave for Fire Island. 

I always knew I'd be pregnant at her funeral, which I'm sure sounds bizarre to many of you. And I can't really explain it. But it was strange to be pregnant and not showing. I gave a eulogy and talked about how she and my mom are the two strongest women I've ever known, and how scary it is to be at the helm of my own ship without their direction. Perri is a loud crier and almost threw me off my game but I held it together. My dad gave a eulogy and talked about how when she was pregnant with him, her own father died and she suffered from hysterical blindness. I'd forgotten about that, and it made me feel more connected with her in a way. Not that I've ever suffered from hysterical blindness, and good God I hope I never do. But she was as attached to her father, as I am to mine and as I was to her. I have not allowed myself to properly grieve her passing and I don't know when I will. I'm afraid that it'll be too much stress for the baby if I allow myself to have the breakdown. Even typing this, I feel my breath caught in my throat but I'm not allowing myself to cry. 

That was over two months ago, and every day sort of feels like an uphill battle since. I'm working a lot and exhausted all of the time. Everyone swore to me that the nausea would dissipate by week 14 and here I am at 17+, still feeling sick to my stomach on the daily. As I'd guessed, pregnancy often does feel isolating as I think of my mom and all the things I never asked her, the conversations we'll never get to have. I think of how excited she would have been to hear, "It's a girl!" and the beautiful little outfit she'd have bought for her baby naming. I think of the grandmother my daughter got screwed out of, and I can't decide if I feel more mad or more sad about it all. 

When my mom died, I grieved a lot for my dad and my sister. My dad is the best guy in the world, they were the happiest couple I've ever known and I couldn't believe that he was a widow at 59. It's so unfair. I thought about how my sister was just 21, not even a college graduate yet, and how unfair it was to lose a mother that young. 

Now that I'm pregnant, I grieve for me. I grieve for my daughter. I overuse the word "unfair" but nothing else seems fitting. Doing this without her sucks.

It was a shitty summer but I'm hopeful for the rest of the year. Ben, Winnie and I are moving to our new house in the suburbs at the end of this month. Last summer I fell in love with a model home online, urged Ben to take me to see it, and he loved it, too. We decided to go for it and a little over a year later, our built-from-the-ground-up house is almost complete. Yes, there is absolutely a part of me that is mourning in a way for the childhood I had that I always thought my daughter would have... living within driving distance of all four grandparents, going to school at Beth Am, sunshine all year round. I have to remind myself every day that Ben and I are writing our own story, not rewriting mine. I have an attachment to Miami that I don't think I'll ever shake myself of (nor do I really want to) but truly I could live anywhere and as long as I'm with my family, I'm happy. I'm proud of my insane hometown pride and hope to instill the same loyalty in my daughter, though sadly for her Miami is WAY doper than Westchester. Sorry. Not sorry. 

Once we move and I'm no longer working crazy hours, I'm hopeful that I'll feel compelled to write on a more regular basis. I love this space and I really missed it, and all of you. If you've made it this far, thank you. Stick around, okay?