My Community Cross-section: Jodi

A blog series on the everyday people in my community.

Jodi

Jodi & her husband Chris

Location of birth: Durban, South African

If overseas, when and why did you move to Australia: At the age of 22, after being married for exactly one year, my new husband and I moved to Australia for a work-and-travel-maybe-stay-forever stint… that was 8 ½ years ago and we are now citizens!

Year I was born: 1979

Interesting family history: My Dad’s family is Polish-Jewish and they fled Poland during the war to South Africa and in the process, lost an ‘f’ in their surname (Hofmann) in an effort to disguise their Jewish blood and survive the slaughter! Mums side of the family is French / Afrikaans. My maternal grandmother had 4 children at a very young age and then lost her husband in an accident. She was so poor that she had to put all 4 children (whom she brought up Afrikaans) into an orphanage as she couldn’t even afford to feed them. Then she met my grandpa who married my granny and brought all 4 kids home and then went on to have 2 more together: my Mum and aunt – whom they brought up English which created the unique scenario of a blended English / Afrikaans family where different kids have different 1st languages!

Jobs I have had: Self-employed from the age of 15 years old, making chocolates and selling them at school to make enough money to fund an entire months worth of spending money on a family trip to Israel. I’ve managed the family delicatessen, waitressed, Grade One teacher, Travel Agent for 5 years and now I am a Domestic Engineer.

Things I am passionate about: my faith, Zumba, exercise, food, baking, cooking, my Thermomix and party-planning! My family are the most important thing to me and I am in constant pursuit of getting the delicate balance right which, I am the first to admit, I fail miserably at most days and so I do rely heavily on G-d to get me through the day.

Things I don’t like: Gossip, fake people, the smallness of our home (a work in progress, renos TBA…), living far away from my big brother, drama, drama, drama.

Chris & Jodis Wedding

Places I have lived: South Africa (born and bred), Wissembourg, France and Australia. I was a Rotary Exchange Student in France during my first year out of high school – it was the BEST year of my life! Every month I was in another European country, eating, drinking, sight-seeing, immersing myself totally in the culture. By the time I went home I was totally fluent in French and could only think in French, dream in French and I even (allegedly) talked in my sleep in French! (Parlez-vous?!)

Dream/goals as I was growing up: I wasn’t too much of a forward thinker in this regard although I do remember at one point having aspirations to be a fairy?! I was very keen on public relations and event management which I still regret not pursuing. I was keen to become to a flight attendant too but coming from a country emerging from the shadow of apartheid, most job opportunities went to people of colour and unfortunately I didn’t fit that category. I ended up completing my teachers diploma which I loved doing.

What was it like growing up: We have a very close-knit family of 4 and we went on a lot of memorable family holidays – mostly coastal holiday homes and caravanning in the mountains. The coastal holidays involved a lot of fishing, cray-fishing, musseling and dune-jumping. The caravanning involved camp-fires and marshmallows, tubing down the rapids, swimming in creeks, family pranks! We did the long driving thing too from Durban to Cape Town over a few days, staying at little tiny towns along the way, with my big brother and I giggling and fighting in the backseat from wo-to-go!

Advice I would now give myself as a child:

Jodi & her big brother

Being close with your brother is the best thing you can do growing up as you will have a lifelong friend who you can always rely on to be there for you.

Teenage girls are mostly bitches and they are just jealous of you which is why they talked about you behind your back and often sent you home in tears – thank goodness for boy… friends! Get into a healthy eating routine while your metabolism works in your favour, you won’t always be able to famously eat whatever you want and remain 57kgs… trust me! Be patient – your best friends in life are yet to come and once you meet them, it will be like you’ve known them all your life 🙂

Travelling: Quite a bit but I have the travel-bugs eating me up and just wish my budget would comply! I’ve been to Israel twice, travelled extensively around South Africa (mountains, beach, desert, the big wild animal reserves and more!), I lived in France for a year which allowed me to visit Germany, UK, Spain, Italy, Austria, Switzerland, Belgium, Czechoslovakia and Turkey. I’ve also done a fair bit around Australia: Uluru, most of the Whitsunday Islands, Great Ocean Rd, Sydney as well as the usual Aussie-abroad trips of Thailand a few times, Vanuatu, New Caledonia and New Zealand. It sounds like a lot but I haven’t even scratched the surface!

Beautiful Aliya

Life changing moments: Holding my eldest daughter while she died in my arms when I was at the tender age of 24. After a naively perfect pregnancy my waters broke at 40 weeks and an hour later I was at the beginning of our worst nightmare, except I wasn’t able to wake up from it. We (the baby and I) had a very rare, undiagnosed condition called Vasa Previa (not placenta previa) which affects 0.0003 pregnancies or something ridiculous along those lines. There are 2 kinds of which I had the rarer (typical) which involved my placenta having another tiny piece of placenta attached to it by a blood vessel which ran across my cervix. When my waters broke the membrane ruptured that blood vessel and I was bleeding out (by bleeding, I mean absolutely GUSHING) profusely and no one could tell me what was going on. The Dr arrived an hour after that and my worst birth scenario became a reality – having my baby under general anaesthetic. In record speed I was shaved, pierced with an IV, catheter shoved in and put under with so much anaesthetic it took me days to wake up. On being shaken awake I was told that my baby was very sick, that ‘it’ had lost a lot of blood and that they didn’t know why but the baby had to be transferred to the Neonatal ICU at Royal Brisbane. I was told I’d had a boy but they weren’t sure as they had to resuscitate the baby for 10 minutes when she was born with an Apgar score of 1 – technically dead. Later they said she was grey, almost transparent in colour from blood loss. While I was still under, my husband was pacing the corridors of the hospital and heard them calling for blood – he thought it was for me. I soon found out that I’d had a baby girl and we named her Aliya which, as it turns out, means “to go up” in Hebrew. I followed her to the Royal later that afternoon blissfully unaware of the severity of the situation. I, along with my parents, brother, mother-in-law, sister-in-law and husband, spent the next 5 hours glued to her side in the ICU praying for Aliya, singing to her, talking to her and gazing at the perfection of her chubby, pink little body. Luckily my clever husband had his video camera with him and we have about 40 minutes of us with her including a few times when I was talking to her and she opened her sleepy little eyes to look at me. She was twice the size of the other babies in the ICU and unlike the other tiny patients who shared a nurse, she had her own one dedicated to her and I was informed that despite appearances she was the sickest bubie in the whole neonatal icu and they still didn’t know why! At 10pm my family went home and my husband and I tried to sleep in our little room in the ward – me still reeling physically from major abdominal surgery. At midnight we got a call to say that we needed to go back down to see Aliya as she was deteriorating. I held her greying body in my arms, tubes, pipes and monitors all still attached. Her best blood pressure had been 40/30 which is barely passable. At this stage we were lucky to crack double digits. Then, with my family and husband around me we took turns saying goodbye and kissing her on her head, all the time, I was in denial, not believing that this was actually happening – certainly not without a medical reason! At 5:47am on the Sunday morning, exactly 25 ½ hours after she was born, she took her last breath on life-support. Her heart rate shot up to 189, then down to 20 and then, just like in the movies, she flat-lined. Beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep. Silence. Deafening silence and pain which gripped at my chest like the whole hospital building was actually sitting on my chest. It was a physical pain which literally left me struggling to breath, for the next year, I struggled to breath from grief. This is the short version of my story. My long version involves all the obvious steps of grief, my own personal ‘faithquake’ including visions from G-d, anger, confusion, counselling, more tears than I thought possible for the body to produce in such a continuous stream, true friends and a husband who, in my eyes, became a goliath of a man and picked up the shattered pieces of his wife off the floor and physically nursed me while I sobbed myself to sleep at night. 6 1/2 years on and we have 2 perfectly healthy, adorable daughters (2 ½ and 3 ½ years old) who crack me up, make me furious, keep it interesting and continue to ask me about their big sister Aliya who lives in heaven with Jesus.

Chris & Jodi pregnant with Aliya.

Jodi holding Aliya with her husband, dad, mum & brother.

Jodi & Aliya

What does my future hold: No more babies (my beautiful family is complete), lots of Thermomixing, Zumba instructing, possibly cert 3 & 4 in fitness down the line, waaaaay too much chocolate and thus the eternal pursuit to lose my child-bearing weight (when does that excuse run dry?). Hopefully some renovations and extensions to our lovely little (emphasis on the ‘little’) family home and perhaps even a party-planning business – who knows?! I aspire to be an old married couple with my eternally patient husband and to keep enriching the friendships with my few incredible girlfriends who I am currently blessed with in life.

Jodi & her gorgeous girls doing makeup.

Let me know if you would like to take part in this series.  Anyone is welcome!

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9 responses to this post.

  1. You are so inspirational Jodes. xxx

    Reply

  2. Posted by Shara on April 20, 2011 at 8:17 pm

    You’re so amazing Jodi, I couldn’t get through it all today, my hormones are still running high, but I just wanted to tell you that you are such a strong and inspirational woman!!

    Reply

  3. Posted by Erin on April 25, 2011 at 12:44 pm

    It’s not pregnancy hormones Shara – I still cry every time I think about it. Brendan found me sobbing my heart out at the computer – Thanks for sharing Jodi xx

    Reply

  4. Posted by Jodes on May 1, 2011 at 4:55 pm

    Thank-you for your lovely words girls – this was the first time I’ve ever put any part of her story into writing and when the grief came back whilst writing and I had to relive those emotions, they were just as painful as when she first died. Any impact my story can have gives her short life some sort of purpose which we didn’t go through it all for nothing.

    Reply

  5. A READER’S COMMENT FROM MY FACEBOOK PAGE: luv the read!

    Reply

  6. A READER’S COMMENT FROM MY FACEBOOK PAGE: Great idea Katrina. Already a very inspirational story. X

    Reply

  7. […] things on my list to accomplish in the near future: my friend Jodi has inspired me to make my own jam.  There is also a course you can take in Cooroy which shows you […]

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  8. […] wasn’t that I was ‘letting myself go’ just because I was in holiday mode. My life experience has taught me that I’d rather eat some grains or partake in dairy and enjoy the experience […]

    Reply

  9. […] Unfortunately I’ve already survived it […]

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