Friday, December 28, 2012

The "yeas" and "nays" of New York City: Part 1 of 4

Merry post-Christmas!  We arrived back in Austin after our 2.5 month stint in New York to a house that was left by two people going on vacation for four days...filthy refrigerator, underwear left on the dresser and all!  As I figured would happen, it's been an emotional roller coaster getting home and reflecting on the magnitude of what we endured.  We continue to feel blessed that we are now 33+ weeks pregnant and the baby is weighing in at over 5 pounds.  It truly is a miracle I'm still with child (at least that's what our doctor alluded to during our visit today)!  

I plan to continue blogging as we limp along to the end of the pregnancy (and I mean literally limp!  I'm in so much pain these days that not only do I waddle, I also limp!).  While it's fresh in our minds, Gayland and I have decided to compile a four part series of posts highlighting the following areas of our New York City adventure:  Transportation, Dining, Lodging and Misc./Entertainment.  Without further dew, here is the first recap:    

   DO NOT, under any circumstance, rent a car and try to drive in Manhattan!  No matter how stellar you think you are behind the wheel, driving should be left up to the professionals and that does not include you!
   Horn honking is part of the culture there so get used to it and consider a friendly "toot toot" a sign of affection or that you're about to get run over!
   Don't try to hail a cab between 4-6pm as this is shift change and unless you're going to Brooklyn, (where their corporate office is domiciled) you will not get picked up.
   When you do successfully get into a yellow taxi, ask your driver where he/she is from.  Inevitably, you will meet someone from a different country every time.  This will give you true understanding of why NYC and America is the melting pot of the world.  Listen to their stories and let THEM tell you why our country is so great!  It will leave you inspired!
   Ride the subway; it gives you culture, perspective and it's cheap.  Maps are located in every Subway entry way and in every hotel in the city.
   The fancy black cars (usually Suburbans or Lincoln Town Cars) are luxurious and legit but do not take debit/credit cards so have cash in hand if you plan to travel this way through the city.
   Pedi-Cabs are as prevalent as flies on a fresh patty of cow poop in the middle of my Daddy's pasture!  They stink, swarm around you everywhere and we sure as hell would not step into one knowing better than to do so!
   And lastly, if you have the time, just hoof it on foot!  This truly is the best way to see the city, meet new people and get a little exercise too but be warned, what looks like a "few blocks" on the map is much farther than you think it is.  Five blocks to a Texan is actually more like 1.5 miles!  

Saying Adios and Buenos Noches from Austin, y'all!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Danke, Gracias, Merci, Thank You

Did you know over 465 languages offer a form of "Thank You" for its native speakers to use when showing gratitude for kindness, generosity, etc.?  While living in New York the past two months those two words have come out of our mouths more times than in the last five years combined.  I, for one, am very thankful for the opportunity to show my gratitude to the many wonderful New Yorkers we've come in contact with since October 22nd and have forever positively impacted our lives.

Since our time in the city is quickly coming to an end, I feel it befitting to say "Thank You" to those that mean and have done so much for us over the last eight weeks.  Honestly and perhaps amazingly, this in and of itself brings a mixed bag of emotions.  

Last Friday, unbeknownst to us, was our last visit with Carnegie Imaging for Women.  Over the last two months, Friday afternoons routinely began with a pilgrimage to 148 Madison Avenue where we would joyfully have a new sonographer measure the length of my cervix, carefully monitor the baby's heartbeat, artfully determine the length and size of each major organ and skillfully evaluate the amount of amniotic fluid in my uterus.  After the assessment was completed, we would get to see our favorite Mississippi born/New York residing physician, Dr. Chad Klauser, where he would answer a myriad of questions we threw at him.  I was prepared to say goodbye to the phenomenal team at Carnegie Imaging for Women this Friday, 12/21, so you can imagine my surprise and sudden onset of water works when I learned while sitting in Dr. Klauser's office this visit would be our last.  After he gave us the final "green light" to head back to Austin, I started to cry...and cry.... and cry.  Saying goodbye proved to be much harder than saying hello.

Today was our last visit with Dr. Szilvia Nagy, our general OBGYN.  She, being the consummate professional, handed-over all medical records for us to pass along to Dr. Grogono in Austin and hugged me at least five times while we both expressed our mutual love and admiration for each other.  I cried before I got into the exam room so my emotions were a little more controlled at this visit.  I only wish Dr. Nagy was a tad bit closer as I will forever love and respect her as a person and physician.  Unfortunately, most practices don't allow, based on revenue demands and the business models put into place, the kind of care Dr. Nagy showed us.  Having a doctor hand over a personal cell number and spend 20 to 30 minutes with us at each visit is unheard of these days and I'm thankful Dr. Nagy took care of us while we were in New York.  God knows exactly who and what we need and at the exact times we need them.  Dr. Nagy is proof of this!

So, we've been released to head back to Texas, which we plan to do next week, and resume our lives with a healthy baby coming our way sometime in the near future.  The purpose of today's blog is to send our sincerest "Danke" for all those that have made our stay painless and memorable in New York...Here goes:

"Merci" to the medical professionals and physicians at Carnegie Imaging Center for Women.  Your knowledge, experience and expertise saved our child's life.  How do we ever properly thank you for that?

"Nagyon köszönöm" to Dr. Nagy and her staff at NY Downtown Hospital.  You made us feel like we had a medical home when we were utterly homeless and we forever love you.

"Gracias" for the love and care given by the Labor & Delivery nurses, medical students and staff at NY Downtown Hospital while we were hospitalized for five days.  Their quick action and diagnosis saved Baby P and thus, we are forever indebted.

"Dhannvaad" to Hector, Marlon & Dawud in our building for being the friendly faces and kind words we saw and heard each day that consistently brightened our spirits.

"Efharisto poli" to Billy, Jimmy and the crew at the Market Diner for taking our minds off my failing cervix and allowing us to feel normal while watching the Aggies and Vols play each Saturday afternoon at their counter bar.  These are some of the best memories we have of New York.

"Shukran" to my Brooklyn-based friend, Suha, for meeting me for lunch twice over the past two weeks.  Though we haven't seen each other in ten years, real friendships are the kinds that pick up where you last left off.

And lastly, "THANK YOU" to our friends, family and work colleagues across the country for your gifts, cards, emails, texts, phone calls and mostly prayers in arguably the hardest two months of our lives.  We will NEVER forget any of you!

In closing, I like most of you have been adversely affected by last week's horrific murders in Newtown, CT.  I found myself asking a few different friends and myself one question, "My gosh, what is this world coming to?"  We may never know the motives behind Adam Lanza's acts of evil but there is one thing I want everyone that reads this blog to know...Keep believing in Good!  We have been the recipients of more kindness, generosity and love over our time here than we could have ever imagined.  Yes, there will be other atrocities before the end of time, I'm sure of it, but don't quit believing in the good 99% of the rest of the world has to offer those in need.  I choose to focus my attention on these acts and I hope you do too.


Saturday, December 15, 2012

Dear Jimmy

Dear Jimmy-

Well, it’s December 15th, which means today I haven’t kissed your cheek or hugged your neck in three years!  This is the one-day of the year I wish we could just skip over but I know you’re smiling down on us from heaven finally healed after years of battling cancer.  There are so many things I want to tell you but if you get nothing else from this letter, please know we miss you desperately and though you’re gone you’re not forgotten.

Everyone knew Drew and I meant the world to you (along with Mom of course) and in case we never told you, you meant the world to us.  Many of the goals and aspirations you had for your children have been achieved while we still strive for greatness on a daily basis!  One of the biggest goals you had for Drew was obtaining a college education…I'm happy to report, HE DID IT!!  Your amazing son graduated from college a year ago and is a sensational young man.  He possesses so many of your traits; he’s kind, loving, supportive and gentle.  I’m so thankful he’s my brother and have enjoyed watching him learn and grow into the man he is today.  Yes, like all of us, he’s struggled over the past few years but I know 2013 is going to be his year to shine!  Send him a shooting star every once-in-a-while to let him know you’re up there proud and cheering him on to victory!

As for me, gosh you’ve missed so much!  Remember that wonderful man I introduced you to in the summer of 2009 (when it was 114 degrees in Austin and you willed yourself to climb all the steps up Mt. Bonnell with horrible neuropathy…your strength and desire amazed me)?  Well, all of your prayers came true for me to find a true, honest man.  I did it right this time, I married the man God made for me and have never been happier in my life.  He’s a real man too…he’s loving, supportive, kind, generous, strong and puts family first.  I never thought I’d end-up with someone so amazing and I thank God for him daily.  I’m so sad you didn’t get the chance to spend more time with him or meet his family.  They are the in-laws I always wanted in my life and love them like I love our own family.  Being a “Paffe” has been one of God’s best blessings and I just hope I do the last name proud through the rest of my life. 

Guess what else Jimmy?  You’re going to be a first-time grandfather!  Can you believe it?  Man, if you only knew the journey we’ve been on to get this baby here and healthy…it’s been crazy!  We’ve lived in New York since October trying to remain pregnant until 32 weeks and we're almost there!  Yesterday was our final appointment with the Maternal Fetal Medicine specialist and my condition is stable enough that we have been released to go back to Texas!  God is so good.  It crushes me that you won’t be here to welcome this beautiful child into the world but rest-assured Mom is excited enough for both of you!  And, it goes without saying, you will be ever-present in our child's life through pictures, stories and our memories.  Though he/she may not know you in-person, they will know your spirit.

I’m sure you’re wondering about Mom…we’ve all been on a journey since you left us but I feel like we’re finding our way together again.  There's no way we could have known what a tremendous void would be left in our lives once you died.  That’s the same for Mom.  Don’t worry though, she’s as beautiful as ever and found a really nice, caring man to keep her company and spend time with.  I believe in my heart you'd really life him if you had the chance to meet him.  Don’t get me wrong, she would be the first to tell you that this is not the life she had planned for herself but would also tell you that in death comes new life and we can’t dwell on the past.  She may not say it often, but she misses you as much as we do.

I want you to know that though we have hard days, we're doing all right.  We get strength from your memory in times of need and smile when thinking back on our years with you.  We're appreciative of the example you gave of unconditional love and plan to pass those lessons on to our children.  
I know we’ll meet again, and I can’t wait for that day, but until then I’ll look forward to celebrating your life each day of the one I’m still living.


Thursday, December 6, 2012

Live...Like You Are Living

Driving in the middle lane on the eastbound frontage road of Loop 1604 about to turn northbound onto Blanco Road in San Antonio, TX, a song came on the radio that stopped me dead in my tracks.  Uncontrollable tears flowed from my eyes as my hands began to shake on the steering wheel while I listened intently to every lyric of the masterpiece.  It was one of those songs where you remember exactly where you were and what you were doing when you heard it for the first time...for the hundredth time.  The year was 2004 and Tim Nichols and Craig Wisemen had just penned a song that would change the face of country music, altar the way American's lived their lives (if only for a brief moment), not to mention, make them a ton of money.  Tim McGraw sang and made if famous..."Live Like You Were Dying" is it's title.  The song talks about a middle-aged man who just received a cancer diagnosis and begins living his life like every day was his last.  

I've never lived my life like I was dying though I found the lyrics of the song inspiring.  I'm too worried about what's going to happen tomorrow or next week or five years from now to enjoy the simple pleasures of this day.  Yes, I've done some things that others might not consider doing at the ripe 'ole age of 30 like quitting a corporate sales job with a steady salary, health benefits and a company car to be a waitress at a restaurant in Nashville in order to chase my dream of becoming a famous country singer.  Do you know what I did the entire time I was in Nashville?  Worry... Worry about what everyone thought of me, listened to "experts" tell me I was too old to start my journey and fret about how I was going to pay my next bill.  I can honestly say there was not one minute while I was there that I took a deep breath, let it out and simply enjoyed the exact moment I was in.  I was too worried about being judged or wondering how I was going to get to the "next level".  It makes me sick to my stomach now as I feel like I wasted two years on worrying...not really living!    

As our journey in New York is coming to an end, I found myself thinking about our time here and what it has meant to me.... to us.... to our future family.  I'm proud to say, I've stopped and smelled the roses, the bacon cooking in our mini-kitchen, my husband after a work out, the diesel fuel of a city bus, the urine in the subway, the collective flavors and spices cooking up in a Manhattan eatery while enjoying the smallest place I've ever lived.  The smells, while not always pleasant, were still smelled.  For the past six weeks I've lived, like I'm living, and it has changed my life.  I may not sky dive or ride 2.7 seconds on a bull named Fu-Man-Chu but I've stopped every day, thanked God for giving me the gift of another day with my child still growing inside of me and another moment I'll never get back with the man I love most on this planet, Gayland Paffe.  I've enjoyed the simplicity of a good cry over the third book I just finished called "Roses", the kindness of the ladies sitting next to us at dinner on Friday night at a little Italian Eatery that are just about to marry and start their own family, our doctor giving us her cell phone number and texting me back immediately when I reach out to her with a question, the fact I can finally let my eyebrows grow out since I don't have to see any customers right now...the list of "Live... like I am really living" goes on and on.

We live in a hustle and bustle society, I get it...when I'm not on mandatory medical leave I'm crazy with my life too.  But I dare ask you, when is the last time you stopped to enjoy the smile on your child's face?  Can you remember the last time you showed extra kindness to the checker at the grocery store?  Why not stop your husband/partner when they get home from work, grab their face and really give them a kiss?  Have you given thanks for the greatness God brought to this moment, today, this week - big or small?  Have you told your spouse, children, parents, and friends that you loved them lately?  It’s the little things that count the most!  

So, while you're one day closer to dying (as we all are) why not stop and live?  It may just change your life!