Jan 20 2014
“I’m going to a really hard exercise class today,” I told my husband as I poured my fourth cup of coffee. “And I’m scared.”
“Why are you scared?” he asked.
“Because I might die,” I reasonably replied.
“Well, on the plus side, if you die, you don’t have to go back to the class,” he responded.
I have five kids. And in the past three years alone–over 28 months, to be exact–I’ve had three babies. They are now 2.5, almost 15 months, and almost 3 months. It’s been a wild ride, and one for which I am grateful.
But I’m not going to lie: it’s been hard. Pregnancy is tiring. Kids are tiring. The older we get, the more interesting and tiring life gets. And my body shows the tiring part. And I want to take control again, both of my fatigue and my tired, sagging self. Read the rest of this entry →
Dec 12 2013
The above mustachioed young man is Samuel Sommer, and he’s inspired over 36 rabbis to reach for their clippers. In a bold effort to support pediatric cancer research, 36 Rabbis Shave for the Brave is a fundraising campaign in which a group of rabbis will shave their heads this coming March in coordination with the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, a charity committed to funding the most promising research to find cures for childhood cancers.
The fundraising campaign is spearheaded by Kveller contributor Rabbi Rebecca Schorr in honor of her colleague’s son, “Superman Sam,” an 8-year-old Chicago-area boy who suffers from refractory acute myeloid leukemia. As explained on the “36 Rabbis” donation page:
At the end of October, Rabbis Phyllis Sommer and Rebecca Schorr had a crazy idea: what if thirty-six Reform rabbis would shave their heads to bring attention to the fact that only 4% of United States federal funding for cancer research is earmarked for all childhood cancers as well as raise $180,000 for this essential research. Two weeks after this conversation, Phyllis and her husband, Michael, learned that their son, Sam, had relapsed with AML (acute myelogenous leukemia) and that there are no other treatment options for him.
Schorr has already recruited 44 registered shavees, including eight women and one rabbinical student, along with 10 additional rabbis who are fundraising in order to reach the goal of at least $180,000 in sponsorship donations toward research grant funding. Most of the rabbis are gathering in Chicago on March 31, 2014 to do the actual shave.
In just two weeks, their efforts have already raised over $81,000. To learn more about the cause and donate to “36 Rabbis Shave for the Brave,” click here.
Like this post? Get the best of Kveller delivered straight to your inbox.
Nov 7 2013
Deborah Cohan, OB/Gyn and mother of two, entered the operating room at San Francisco’s Mt. Zion Hospital to undergo a double mastectomy. Instead of being fearful and spiritless as many of us would be pre-surgery, Deborah opted to have a joyous dance party, and had her entire medical team breaking it down to Beyonce.
To make this hospital dance party story even more heartwarming, Deborah asked all of her friends to join in and make their own “Get Me Bodied,” dance videos too. And they did!
Kudos to you Deborah. You are one courageous lady (and an amazing dancer)!
Via Huffington Post
Oct 31 2013
“I’m a word person, but for this I have no words.” That’s how I started an e-mail to a good friend the day I found out she was diagnosed with aggressive breast cancer. It took me a full hour to process the news, and I spent the next several in tears. That was four weeks ago. Three weeks ago she told me what caused the cancer: her second pregnancy.
Today I’ve found my words again. Chalk it up to going through the steps of grieving–grieving over her diagnosis–but ever since she told me that because she created life, she’s now fighting for her own, I have been angry. Not angry at my friend, who wishes to remain nameless–“The message is the most important aspect,” she said–but angry that after having two kids myself and knowing a very fair share of other moms and having an OB/GYN in my family, I had never heard of pregnancy-induced breast cancer.
My friend never heard about it either, so when she noticed a lump in her left breast, she figured it was a clogged milk duct. She had no genetic history of breast cancer and felt fine. In September, when her second child was 10 months old, she sought treatment for a cough and pain in her chest, back, and shoulders. The doctor diagnosed pneumonia. At a recheck a week later, he found the antibiotics had done nothing. He sent her for further testing, and on September 27th, she was diagnosed with stage four (metastatic) breast cancer.
About 1 in 3,000 pregnant women will get it, according to the American Cancer Society, and it’s the most common type of cancer found during pregnancy or within the year after delivery. Read the rest of this entry →
Oct 29 2013
Sometimes, your partner–being a human being (presumably; unless you’re like this guy which I sincerely hope you’re not)–will take some very trivial tiny hiccup that your baby does and freak out, worrying that he’s about to lose a leg. This risk is particularly high if it’s a newborn, or a first child–and if it’s both, watch out!
“Oh no, he sneezed… could he have a genetic lung disease?” Or maybe, just maybe, he just… sneezes sometimes?
Keeping with our sacred Jewish tradition ever since Exodus 20 of having lists of 10s broken into half positives and half negatives–here are five dos and five don’ts for this situation:
1.) Don’t try to reason logically with her/him. When she’s in freak-out mode, it’s her motherly instinct (or fatherly instinct, as the case may be) wanting to make sure the baby is perfect. You can’t process logical chains of reasoning when you’re in freak-out mode. Of course, logical analysis is essential, but that comes later, when you’re both calm. The militant say, “Shoot first, then ask questions”; I’d say, “Hug first, then ask questions.” Read the rest of this entry →
Oct 28 2013
On July 16th, we (OK…my wife) gave birth to our second daughter.
Six weeks early.
By emergency C-section.
The day after our 8-year-old returned from a month-long motor home road trip with Bubbe, Grandpa, and the cousins.
And that was the easy part.
Her name (the daughter, not the wife) is Eliana Tova. The common translation of Eliana is “God has answered,” and Tova translates as “good.”
We were attracted to the name in part because of the 8-year gap between our children. Suffice it to say that the gap in time wasn’t voluntary, so we were grateful that God had, it seemed, answered us with something good. Or had He? Read the rest of this entry →
Oct 22 2013
From left to right: Chris, her daughter Kara, and son Erik.
October is the official Gaucher’s disease Awareness Month. Gaucher’s disease is the most common genetic disease among Ashkenazi Jews.
Gaucher’s disease is a rare, inherited disorder caused by a deficiency in a particular enzyme. Gaucher’s (pronounced go-SHAYZ) disease occurs when certain harmful fatty substances accumulate to excessive levels in your liver, spleen, lungs, bone marrow, and brain. The accumulation of fatty material in tissues interferes with how your body works and may cause organ enlargement and bone pain.
Besides wearing green shoelaces to show your support, you could also learn much more about this disease by reading the following Q&A with Chris Lang, mother of two, who was diagnosed with Gaucher’s at 31 years old.
How/when did you first find out you had Gaucher’s? What type are you? Read the rest of this entry →
Oct 17 2013
I never saw my mother naked.
Not even when I was a little girl.
With her clothes on, she was slender and supple. Her legs were shapely beneath black Gap stretch pants, and her breasts rode high underneath her cotton turtlenecks. She’d change with the door closed, and I knew better than to open the opaque glass door when she was showering.
She never wore bathing suits. Even when we went down to the lip of the sea where the waves licked our feet, she’d stand there in her leggings and a baggy t-shirt while my father and I would charge into the billows, our firm bodies buoyant in the waves.
I never saw the softness of her belly, or spider veins etching a life story on her thighs. I don’t know if her nipples were brown or pink or red or peach.
I never heard her use the “F” word. No, not that one. This one: Fat. Read the rest of this entry →
Aug 26 2013
April 2012: I am very, very dizzy. I close my eyes when we drive across bridges, because it looks like the right-hand side is slicing the car in half. I am dizzy at night when my head feels like it goes back several feet before reaching the pillows. I am sick when I drive, squinting my right eye roughly so I can focus on the road.
One night I am dizzy enough that my 10-year-old son calls his friend’s father to take me to the ER. Their daughter watches my kids, who must have been terrified. I can’t bear to think of it. I cover my eyes in the ER, drink a sip of water, and instantly vomit it up on my shirt. I finally get an IV because I am so dehydrated, as well as a mega-dose of Meclizine. I am dizzy for weeks, but I ignore it. I drink huge amounts of water and cut out caffeine in an attempt to feel steady. The Meclizine, the gold standard for vertigo I am prescribed, does not work at all. Eventually I feel normal again and chalk the incident up to a weird after-40 situation. Read the rest of this entry →
Aug 15 2013
I had a dream the other night; it was vivid and frightened the hell out of me. My son was on a table, and his body looked like a roasted chicken. He was crying because there was a doctor behind him pulling his chicken limbs off, one by one. I screamed and cried with my son, but had no power to stop or reverse his pain.
This dream is crazy but perhaps painfully understandable when you consider my history. Four months ago, my son Idan, who was 8 months old at the time, was rushed to ER because his respiratory rate had increased to a speed of 80 times per minute and he was panting like a dog. Obviously, something was wrong, but we had no way of anticipating what would come next.
We spent three weeks in the pediatric ICU with Idan hooked up to a ventilator and half a dozen tubes and IVs. He had contracted PCP, a rare form of pneumonia and was being treated for it, yet on the day he showed signs of recovering, the doctors came to deliver worse news. “Your son has a severe immune deficiency disorder, but we don’t know what it is yet,” they told us. Weeks went by until we had a diagnosis: Hyper IgM, also known as a CD40 Ligand Deficiency. Okay, it was worse than that: it was X-Linked Hyper IgM, meaning it was passed down through the mother.
Take a moment to digest that one. It came from me. Read the rest of this entry →