As the wise Sheryl Crow sings, “A change would do you good.” I’ve had a ton of changes in my life that have shaped the person that I am today…some by choice, some not, some good, some not so good. But all have played an integral role in who I am.
Here’s a partial (and in no way complete) list:
· Decided to go to graduate school after graduating from undergrad in 3 years
· Moved back in with my parents to try to save money during graduate school
· Moved out of my parents and on to campus after less than 1 quarter
· Moved to New York after graduate school to work for Publishers Clearing House
· Had 2 more jobs in New York before relocating back to Chicago
· Moved in with one of my best friends
· Let another old high school classmate move in to our extra bedroom
· High school friend introduced me to my now wife
When I think back to all the changes up to this point in my life, they all led up to me being introduced to the woman I would eventually ask to marry me in Paris after dating for 51 weeks. I should point out that we were on our way to a wedding in London which provided the opportunity (or change) needed to plan a few days in Paris which gave me the perfect moment to propose.
· Being let go from a job for the first time
· Leaving another job for a better “opportunity”
· Being laid off for the first time (from the job that was a better opportunity)
· Going through fertility for almost 5 years to avoid a genetic disorder our kids would have a 50% chance of inheriting
· Finding out our 1st child would be born with a different, severe birth defect giving him only a 50% chance of survival
· Being laid off for the 2nd time
· Losing a freelance job while my son was still in the NICU fighting for his life
· Dealing with the financial issues and burden resulting from not having a job and a child in the NICU
· Finding out 3 years later the my 2nd child would have the same life-threatening birth defect and still not having a stable job
Fast forward to last week:
· I got into a major car accident and totaled my less than 1 year old car
My point with all this is that “A change would do you good.” I’ve learned and grown from all the changes that I’ve had to deal with. Some I am still “learning” from (translation: dealing with). But I am learning none the less. If I hadn’t taken a chance on what I consider the first major change in my life—going to graduate school—who knows where I’d be today.
I’ve learned to embrace the change and feel I’m a better person because of it. I’m extremely far from perfect, but I wouldn’t change a thing.
With a 4 year old and a 9 month old, every day provides a new change for me to embrace.
I love my wife and my two miracle boys.
Neil Rubenstein has been married since 2003 to his wife, Amy. His CDH survivor (Aidan) was born in June 2010 after being diagnosed at 37 weeks. Aidan had surgery to repair his hernia when he was 4 days old. His surgeon discovered at that time that Aidan had no diaphragm at all, all his organs were in his chest (except for his liver), his heart had been pushed to the left side by his stomach. Even with all this, Aidan did not need ECMO and was only in the NICU for 29 days. Aidan had a follow-up procedure at 13 months old to close up an abdominal hernia that his surgeon created to give his organs room to grow once she moved them all back to their proper location in his abdomen.
While Neil and (his wife) Amy were still dating, they started Creative Celebrations, a children party planning and entertainment company. Neil has over 15 years experience in Integrated Marketing Communications and is currently looking for his next permanent role in the Chicago area.
Amy and Neil recently had their second child in September 2013. After spending 2 months in the NICU, Brody came home on an NG tube. Brody will need the same follow-up surgery as his big brother when he is 1 year old. Neil is the former CHERUBS Illinois (and Wisconsin) Rep and Co-Chair of the Parent Advisory Board. Neil recently created Help4CDH Families and is working towards nonprofit status to be able to continue to provide a forum for people affected by CDH to meet and support each other as well as to be able to provide financial support to CDH families in their time of need.