Friday, December 29, 2006

One Week Old

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Baby Girl

Proud parents Adi and Laura Mahalel are thrilled to announce the arrival of Ahuva Yonit Mahalel, born December 21 by regular delivery at Bnai Zion hospital, Haifa, 8:18 AM weighing 3.4 kilos.
 
Mother and baby are healthy and well, thank God.
 
Ahuva, meaning "beloved", is named for Adi's paternal grandmother, Ahuva Mahalel, of blessed memory. Yonit, meaning "dove", was the Hebrew name Laura's dearly missed friend friend Janis Ruth Coulter chose for herself.
 
So far she is a good little eater and sleeper!
 
Laura and Adi
 
P.S. Sorry if you heard already and sorry if you didn't yet.. it's been a joyous, exhausting, unbelievable week! We appreciate your good wishes and might take a while to respond...
 
 

Eat, Sleep, and Nurse

I know that my only jobs right now are to eat, sleep and nurse. Pretty much the same job description as Ahuva has now. She's much better at it than I am. She's proving to be a pro at eating and sleeping and pooping. That last task, a necessary bi-product of the eating task, is very painful for me now quite a production. I'm enjoying the nursing though. She took to my breast right away, increasing my confidence. I had read several books on the subject and asked for tips in the hospital from the lactation consultant. On Sunday, Wendy B., our birth prep class teacher came for a consultation too. She made useful adjustments in my posture and gave a thumbs up to a daily glass of wine or beer. Ahuva starred during that session, nursing the full hour she was here.
My milk came in on Sunday or Monday. It's hard to have a sense of days or time at all. 
 
I feel happiest when I'm nursing, gazing at her gorgeous face. Sometimes she looks back at me with big grey-blue-black eyes. Often her eyes are closed, but a little click-click-click sound and rythmyic movements of her head and neck assure me that she's focuesed on her task.
 
I had heard about sleep depravation but I was not prepared for how physically wrecked I'd be feeling after delivery. My whole body aches. I had cramping and back pain so bad that I was shaking and thought about going to the E.R. But the fear of being separated from my baby made me tough it out with a hot bath. The following night I didn't sleep even when she did because of pain. Insane by morning, I spoke with my Dr. who said there was no choice but to go to the hospital for an exam (this was my nice general doctor, my ob-gyn is still in Thailand and his replacement who pushed out my placenta was gruff on the phone and said the same thing: "It should hurt, but not that bad, if it does, come to the hospital".) 
 
So Tuesday after a good long nursing I went to the hospital. It was torture. They sent me up and down the elevator, at least 6 floor changes. Ultrasound showed nothing wrong thank God, no pieces still inside me or anything. Maybe the myomas (fibroids) make the natural contractions worse. Long story short, to get out of there I had to throw a fit (crying gets FAST attention in Israel). 
 
I am grateful for all the calls and emails. I hope you understand that so far it has not been possible for me to do more than return one call a day if that and that I'm barely up for  visitors.

Grateful, Happy, Overwhelmed

I feel the need to clarify after my last post. Despite feeling beyond exhausted and totally insane part of the time, I am also totally grateful and thrilled. Thank God she is perfectly healthy and beautiful! Thanks to my dear Adi for giving me this gift and for encouraging and supporting me. And thanks to my amazing parents who are not only gushing with admiration for Ahuva but are also taking care of me: feeding me, shopping for me, and shielding me from overdoing it.
 
If you can SMS me rather than call me, that's the best for now.
 
Love and thanks to all my friends, family, and other reader fans.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Photos

Try clicking on the line below. If that doesn't work try copying
this and pasting it into your browser

http://www1.snapfish.com/share/p=870231166868267820/l=235311802/g=6178195/otsc=SYE/otsi=SALB

Thursday, December 21, 2006

A beautiful baby girl has arrived!

Zahava gave birth at about 8:20 this morning at Bene Zion Hospital in Haifa.  It was a very long and so a difficult labor, but mother and daughter are both fine.  Adi was wonderfully supportive, and Barbara did her best. (They let the husband and the mother into the birthing room.) The midwife, Bat-Zion, was great. We don't know the ht and weight statistics yet -- right after the birth we had to run to the synagogue for a naming ceremony so we could use the baby's name:  Ahuva Yonit, which means "beloved" and "dove".

 

When last seen, Ahuva Yonit was on her mama’s belly turning pink!

 

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

I put on the makeup

So it will be easy for me. We're going out the door.

Contractions Continuing...

Slept through the night, waking every hour or so for a contraction and going right back to sleep. Frequency has been increasing hour by hour but still not up to the go to the hospital strength, duration, or frequency.
Staying chill, hangin' with my 'rents. Doing stuff around the house, went for a walk (it's a nice day).
Will be happy if she shows up today. Trying to stay cool if she's not yet ready.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Week 40

Here I am after a contraction. Biiiig belly! Contractions started last night but are still mildish and randomly spaced. So we're just chilling. Most of the day I felt like lying around so I did. In the evening Adi and I took a little stroll around the block after we lit our Hanukah candles, retracing our steps to a spot we sat on three years ago also during Hanukah when my parents were visiting.
Her room is really nice with a new POANG Ikea chair for me and a dresser full of clothes for her... we're ready when she is!

Something is Happening

Had mild, period-cramp like contractions all night. I'm not in active labor yet but something is going on!
Please share your blessings and wish us luck!

The Last Few Days

The last few days have been so up and down. Moments of excitement and exhilaration, moments of utter meltdown exhaustion moodiness.
My parents arrived Thursday. It is great to have them here and to have them here now. I'm trying to get into the habit of accepting help. I think part of my melt down is just being able to, able to let my Mommy and Daddy take care of me and not have poor Adi shoulder the whole burden of my hormonal insanity.
I have felt pretty strange. Physically just big and tired, with my belly clearly lower than it was, my hip joints looser, my waddle more pronounced. Vicious "red ear" hot flash like symptoms in the afternoon. But mostly weird feelings in the moods. Sometimes fine, then with a flash I fell into Zombie mode. One incarnation I became totally bossy, forcing Adi & the 'rents into completing an important task together with me without break.
The Zombie modes are scary because they feel like they won't end. But they do.
In between, some wonderful productive things have happened: we got windows in Cholent's room and bought a beautiful rug! We helped Adi complete a major academic milestone. We got my mother used to the workings of my kitchen. My father got used to driving my car. My parents got re-acquainted with the neighborhood. And we had some lovely Hanuka celebrations with Adi's family and cousins.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

No Sleep Till Brooklyn\Cholent

That assistant blogger post is from my dear mama who arrived today with my dear papa to help with Cholent. They'll be here for a month and are now sleeping, cute and snug as two bugs in a rug, in the guest room\Adi's study.
My mother was practicing posting for when Cholent arrives, so she can keep you all posted.
Meanwhile, as I type, Ahmed and crew are here starting to set up the WINDOWS in her bedroom. I'm thrilled! They should be done tomorrow. We just need a rug and we can start setting up that room. Enough of this supersticious waiting. I think it's time to start unpacking her cute little clothes (of which we've already got BUCKETS) into her dresser.
And how am *I* feeling? The book we love has weekly chapters with updates on "your baby" and "How YOOUOOUOUOUOU might be feeling" (Adi always reads the "you" like that). So meeeeeeeeee. Well I am feeling VERY VERY STRANGE. Strangely. Not so much physically though that too. Physically, I feel I have acquired the dimensions of Azimat, Borat's sidekick. If you don't know what I'm talking about, what are you waiting for? Go see the movie already! At least, as Adi points out, though my belly may sit on my thighs when I sit, at least I am not HAIRY. Phew! At least that!
What I'm feeling is well the best description I can think of is like the feeling you get when you're on a really, really long trip. At various turns utterly exhausted, then exhilarated, sometimes bored, confused, sometimes frustrated, sometimes so happy. Awake at the wrong times. And sometimes the body wants sleep but the mind will not follow, leaving me feeling a bit like a giant brick. Or ton of bricks. Imobile. Yet, thinking. Other times my thinking is muddled and my mood can turn with amazing speed. In short I guess my hormones are making me feel what a baby feels. Or something like that.
That Beastie Boys song, "No Sleep Till Brooklyn" captures it, this feeling. No other way to explain it really.
A persistent, wierd daze I would like to end though I can't and it's not entirely bad either.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Assistant Blogger

 I am getting ready to leave New York tomorrow to fly to Israel.  The last trip was for Zahava’s & Adi’s beautiful wedding. This time is to joyfully welcome Cholent to the world!  When the new parents are otherwise occupied, I will update the blog-sters around the world with the news.  This is my practice run!

 

Nesting II

Nope, not yet.
But she's getting closer, bigger, more insistent in her kicking.
We went to the Dr. last night. He informed us he'd be flying to Thailand in two days but gave a detailed note for the attending physician and maternity ward crew outlining my situation.
No opening yet but there's some effacement and her head is good and down so all systems on track for her Dec 20 due date.
Meanwhile I'm feeling really, really big. And tired, clumsy, a bit frustrated. I finally understand why women get interested in inducing labor. We're not quite ready yet though. Still want to finish a few projects. My parents arrive Thursday and the windows are not yet here. So meanwhile, got to keep breathing.
A few friends have given the green light to a little liquor too. So far no need.
The most annoying thing people can tell me now is to get sleep now while I can. I'm trying! But it's very difficult to roll over now and I wake up a lot in the night. Last night I was awake for a long time but decided to just stay imobile, my eyes closed. That was a good strategy because I eventually did fall back asleep and woke up reasonably rested.
Winding down to stop working Thursday at the latest.
Have figured out how to create blog posts by sending email, so I promise to do my best to alert you all when contractions do start.
Meanwhile, please keep sending me your positive energy!
Oh, and this made me laugh so very hard, a much needed (enormous) belly laugh:

Saturday, December 09, 2006

The Name Game II

My favorite Hebrew weekly newspaper, Sha'ar L'Matchil (Gateway for the Beginer - offering news in easy Hebrew) recently reported on the most popular names in Israel for 2005 as compiled by the Central Bureau of Statistics.
Top girl's name = Noa, with 3% of baby girls getting that name. (The biblical ark builder, Noah, is pronounced very differently in Hebrew, No-ach).
Top boy's name = Uri, with 2.1% of baby boys getting that name.
Next top boy names:

  • Noam (pleasantness)
  • Itay
  • Ido
  • David
  • Roi (shepard)
  • Amit (friend)
  • Yosef (Joseph)
  • Moshe (Moses)
  • Yonatan (Jonathan)
Next top girl names and their English meanings:

  • Shira (song)
  • Agam (lake)
  • Maya
  • Tamar (data palm)
  • Roni (happiness?)
  • Yael (mountain goat)
  • Adi (jewel, precious stone)
  • Sarah
  • Yovel (jubilee)

And some new girls names that made the list too:

  • Elia
  • Gaya
  • Alma
  • Oryan
  • Yaheli
  • Noya
  • Chava
  • Liam
  • Tohar
  • Tair
  • Nama

Not many changes in boys names.

In 2005, 144 thousand babies were born in Israel. 23% Muslim, 74% Jewish.

Most popular Muslim names included Mohamed (14%!!), Ahmed, Machmoud, Machmad. The most popular Muslim girl name was Aya. Among Christian boys, the most popular names were Elias (Elijah), George, and Fadi. Among Christian girls: Nicole, Natalie, Maya.

And nope, Cholent's name to be is not on the lists but we're not telling yet!



Friday, December 08, 2006

38 Weeks and Counting

Each week, each day, sometimes each minute of the pregnancy is different. Physically, mentally, emotionally. Sometimes it feels like I'm on a racing roller coaster, sometimes I'm watching the landscape change from the window of a train, sometimes I'm stuck in traffic or waiting at the airline gate.
I'm well aware now that our lives are about to change forever but I have only a vague idea about how. I can only liken the feeling to the anticipation you feel before a major trip. What will it be like there? Who will I meet? How will it be familiar, how will it be different?
Statistics fan that I am, I've been feeling confident that Cholent will arrive no sooner than her due date. Late arrivals are more common for first babies. Both my brother and I were born late. So while I'm huge now and can readily smile and agree with well-wishers say "Oh, any minute now!" I haven't really been believing that internally. Not, anyway, until yesterday.
Suddenly towards the end of the work day I started to feel funny. Not physically. Sure my ears and cheeks were burning red (as they've been daily every afternoon for a while now, a sort of hormonal heat that makes me want to emerse my head in a bucket of ice-water). And I was experiencing the belly hardening Braxton Hicks contractions, but that too was not really new. Nope. This new funny feeling was in my head.
I looked out my window at the familiar view of MegaCorp's huge construction site and the mountain that is Haifa just beyond. I felt like the colors had a new intensity, the greens greener. And the crane was moving in slow-mo. I might not see this view again for a while, I thought. I could go home tonight and have a baby, I thought.
I confided my thoughts to Esti, who urged me to go home. She's right I thought, after 5:00 came. What am I doing here? I had planned to buy fish but decided to skip it and go home.
I called Adi and left him a message on his cellphone. He turns it off during classes. Turns out he doesn't always remember to turn it on in between. I tried hard to sound calm and make it clear that no, nothing was *actually* happening yet, but... that I felt funny and would appreciate it if he could come home right away after class.
I drove home in a bit of a daze, very aware of the Braxton Hicks bowling ball in front of me and the highly uncomfortable strap of my seatbelt that really didn't fit around it.
I started to feel VERY focused. A list of action items formed in my head: bake brownies? repack my hospital bag? shower? straighten up? work on Adi's grad school applications! yup. Suddenly, those MUST get done. Now. Tonight. Maybe stay up completing them.
I straightened up, showered, ate, started the brownies and sat down and in a fit of focus made a final (brilliant) edititng pass at Adi's personal statement. I made it sharper and tighter. He'd have to like it. Where was he? I fed the cat and ordered more food for her. I called Adi again and left a text message. I decided he was going to have to learn how to keep his phone on vibrate, and would have to warn his teachers that his wife is very pregnant.
Finally Adi burst in, a look of concern on his sweet face. He had just heard my messages on the way home, after watching a Yiddish movie at the library. I'm fine, I reassured him. But we're completing at least one grad school application now. Today.
OK, OK, he said.
I was p-r-e-tty bossy, directing his focus back to the task whenever he tried to kiss or distract me. I could have the baby TONIGHT I told him, so let's do this.
OK, OK! And so we did. It took about two hours and we still have a paper to translate, but it was a real milestone.
Task complete, I accepted a piece of hot brownie with ice cream and we started watching a wierd movie, Hard Candy, before Adi fell asleep and we went to bed. My belly felt ROCK hard. I made sleepy Adi touch it and warned him that I'd have to wake him up if the baby came.
But no, we slept through the night. Well, not counting the 3 or 4 times I got up. And I still was up in time to catch yet another sunrise. Glowing orange ball today. And I had WEIRD dreams.
But no baby yet. Good. That gives us time to wrap up the rest of the applications!!!



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Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Is Barbie Gay?

Too funny:
http://planetgonecrazy.blogspot.com/2006/09/mattel-to-sue-over-lesbian-barbie-show.html

Meanwhile, I feel SO VERY BIG and PREGNANT today. I guess that's because I am. 38 weeks. Having trouble sleeping. My legs ache. Other than that and associated tired irritability, I'm just fine.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Stocking the Freezer


I made Faye's Sweet Carrot Kuggel (see photo). I got inspired at the end and topped it with some coconut flakes. It came out sweet, light, very delicious. I made a double recipe. I'd been debating since I'd never made it before, but I listened to all the books I've been reading which recommend making extra qunatities of food and freezing them for when the baby comes. In my case, my parents will be here to help and cook but you never know. It will be nice to have some familiar favorites on hand. So half went in the freezer.
I also baked Challah, making two largish ones and four "babies" to freeze for weeks when we'll just need a pair for blessing.
I made mushroom barley soup.
And I made these dried cranberry biscotti: Agreed with reviewers that the white chocolate would have been overkill. I like my biscotti nice and dry, no melty additions.
And finally, I made Faye's Sour Cream Walnut Cinnamon Coffee Cake. I used some buttermilk and Israeli "ski" cheese in lieu of actual sour cream. That may have been the problem but basically this cake was just a little boring, oddly not sweet enough too. Half of this sucker is going in the freezer too, for a rainy shabbos morning...
What can I say, I guess I enjoy baking. I like the precision, following instructions, measuring. And I love the results, especially now!

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Cool and Confident


I'm feeling WAY more relaxed and confident these days about the birth. Much of the confidence comes from understanding some numbers. Here are a few helpful facts I've learned recently:
  • The drive to the hospital is much more dangerous than labor itself. As a fan of statistical logic, I take great comfort in this.
  • Contractions don't usually last for more than 90 seconds. That doesn't mean they're not a bitch of course, but yoga has tought me a lot about what you can endure for 90 seconds.
  • I can expect a few good hours of pre-labor or first-phase, "latent" labor before we need to get to the hospital. It may seem silly, but since I was a little girl and heard about this whole birthing thing, I've had a secret fear that I would not *know* when it was time. Seems to me it will be rather obvious, and there will probably be a rather wide window of time to get there and get settled in. Or not, but in the case things move so fast we don't have time to get there, all the better! It's a sign that things are just fine.


Cooking A Bit

Having neglected my Faye Levy project for a while, I made her baked version of shakshuka, a North African egg dish. Alas, delicious but Cholent-resistant tomatoes were a key ingredient and I experienced quite the violent puking a good couple hours after enjoying my lunch. Oh well.

Dreams


Sleep is poor again. For a while I was making it through the night with as few as one pp wake-up breaks and an early rise. Now I'm back to more like 3 trips up before a pre-dawn awakening. Oh well, I see lots of pretty sunrises.
This week I bought a new humidifier, thinking it might help. If you don't know, one of the many, many wierd side effects of pregnancy they don't advertise is the way your body produces more mucus to help protect you from disease... and stuff up your nose with an alergy like congestion.
I was very excited about sleeping the first night with humidifier. I was a little hungry when I went to bed, but too tired to eat. Mistake! Going to sleep hungry is a sure-fire recipe for nightmares.
Well the first part of the dream was fine. I was at a party at the shul. My friend Larry was there, he was playing with small baby Cholent. He then passed her to Richard Dryfus (slightly younger version than current Richard Dryfus). He was lying on his back on the floor and held Cholent to his chest and lifted her in the air. She was happy, with dark hair, still a small baby.
Flash to part two of dream. Now Cholent was a little older, with brown-blonde curls, light eyes, and a happy smile. We had two cars. One, our current beauty, the Disco Corsa (featured here decked out for our wedding). The other, a 70's red compact with the word JEEP inconguously printed across the back in big, guidish black letters. Cholent was in a car seat in the back of this later vehicle which for some reason I had to leave in the middle of the road for a few minutes (with her in it) while I manoeuvered Disco Corsa in front of it. I parked Disco Corsa and turned to the back seat to get something out of the back seat when an intruder opened the back door and reached his hand in. He was saying "Hey, baby".
My thought: "I must defend Cholent!" Car keys in hand, I planned to stab the intruder's hand with the sharp point of my keys but first emitted a scream. It came out out loud, for real, waking Adi.
"What? what?" he said, somewhat in his sleep.
"Nothing, bad dream," I said. Why Cholent was in the other car I don't know.
But the two cars is probably because earlier that day I helped my brother-in-law jump start his car which was conveniently stranded across the street from our apartment.
What Richard Dryfus was doing in my subconscious I do not know.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Product Plug


Strange but every time I use it I keep thinking "I must write about this on my blog". So here it is. My mother-in-law bought me a bottle of this AHAVA "Pure spa Multi-Vitamin Dry Oil Mandarin - Cedarwood". It's a spray-on body moisturizer that really rocks. It's fairly light, yet soothes my stretching, growing skin and provides a nice gentle scent. Best of all, the spray feature makes it easy to apply to hard-to-reach areas (basically ALL areas are now hard to reach) and it absorbs well so even if I can't quite reach to rub it in, no problem.
Turns out a sales girl at the duty free told her it was a must-have for pregnant women and go figure, she was totally right.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Too Funny


This is from an e-card you can send from the www.doula.co.il website. The text translates to:

My contractions have started
and I feel
that birth is
approaching

Wish us luck!

Gee, I hope I'll be wearing red feathers around my tummy when contractions begin. And I'm so sure I'll have the presence of mind to send you all an e-card. NOT!
In fact, I felt a lot of Braxton Hicks contractions today. These are the body's natural training exercises of the uterine muscles. Or so I'm told. What happens is my tummy goes from pretty darn hard to rock hard, like a helmet or a turtle shell. They don't hurt. Sometimes I don't even notice them but today they were more frequent and felt a bit weird. Not scary weird. In fact, sort of comforting, since they can be taken as a sign that my body is on track.
Yesterday I observed something useful when looking at a drawing of the baby at 36 weeks (Cholent's age) inside the mama. While head is down (as Cholent's is), the feet are not straight up as I'd imagined, but more at an angle. This makes the kicking sensations I've felt make a bit more sense.

Ah, well...

Seems our hospital of choice does not allow doulas. Details (in Hebrew) http://www.doula.co.il/Index.asp?ArticleID=501&CategoryID=165&Page=3. However, they say that each midwife is responsible for only 2 laboring women at a time. They're flexible about birthing positions and pain relievers.
I suppose you could still have a doula who you don't identify as such. But perhaps the decision just got easier!
Checked the other 2 Haifa hospitals. Same story.

Doula

Charles, in keeping with the Alex from Hungary spirit, wrote:

I think having a Doula is a grand idea. When you want to know the future you go to the woman whose profession it is to tell the future. When you want to have a baby you go to the woman whose profession it is to help bring in a baby.

In reality having her there will probably make you more comfortable. Example she is a person whose profession it is to make a woman having a baby more comfortable. Especially as it sounds as if you could have her there and Adi there and then Rotate one of them out s your mother could be there. Example this is a good situation! Example here is the last sentence of your blog entry I think you have decided “…everyone I know who hired one was glad they did.”

Ariella's Tripple Chocolate Brownie's

Something fun for a change: a recipe. This one comes from my Mega-Corp colleague who just gave birth to twin boys. It contains the secret weapon of LOTS OF CHOCOLATE. I made a batch for the first time last week, in my latest attempt to treat my recent brownie cravings. See notes on how it worked out at the end.
  1. In double-boiler, melt together:
    200 g. bitter chocolate
    200 g. butter
    Remove from heat, let it cool. Meanwhile, as it cools, do steps 2, 3.
  2. Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl, beat together:
    1 c. sugar
    5 eggs
  3. In a separate bowl, break up into squares:
    100 g. bitter chocolate
    100 g. milk chocolate
    100 g. white chocolate
  4. When chocolate butter mixture is cool, fold it into the egg sugar mixture. Add in:
    5-6 tbsp. cake flour
  5. Pour batter into a baking dish (I had a ~10 x 7 in. that worked well). Spread the mixed chocolate squares over the batter. Some will sink in a bit.
  6. Bake at 180 degrees C / 350 F for 45 min. (more or less, depending on your oven).
  7. Enjoy! This is the main thing.

Notes:

  • I'd consider reducing the butter a little bit. Sometimes I felt it to much.
  • I didn't expect the batter to rise or get at all cakey so I used 6 tbsp. of flour. But amazingly, they do rise and actually become quite cakey so next time I'd aim for just 5 tbsp.
  • The chocolate chunks in the brownie are great, even considering that I used a (cheaper) Israeli "cow" chocolate. Though biggish chunks are nice, next time I'd consider trying to get the pieces even smaller, more like choc. chip size. Or just use choc. chips, if you have access to those. This would also help the bigger chunks from sinking and lining the bottom of the brownies.
  • When warm, the chocolate chunks are soft and gooey. When cold they are hard. Both are tasty.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Other Good News

Last week Adi was invited to be a teaching assistant by one of his professors. It's a big honor, all the more so because the prof had to get special permission since Adi is only a B.A. student. It's not too much work (or much money) but it's very nice and should be a good experience, especially since he likes and respects the prof.

In Like an Areye, Out like a Lamele

Last week was tough. It started rough but ended well.
Last Friday I came home from a fairly good teaching day in Tel Aviv utterly exhausted. Overtired, I couldn't nap but watched the movie Ghost World sprawled out (on my side of course) on the couch. By evening for dinner at my in-laws, I was still exhausted and dreaded the windy drive to their house. I kvetched and Adi told me to stop kvetching and come or stay home if I wanted to. I should have stayed, but that made me want to stop kvetching and go. Exhaustion is often tied to puking and tonight was no exception.
My father-in-law has discovered a new talent as sushi chef (learned from my brother-in-law ;-)and he thoughtfully made some fish-free sushi for me. Alas, moments after eating some I felt that familiar twinge of dizziness that I know by now is the tip off that puking is sure to follow. I excused myself, whispering my destination to Adi. I went down the two flights of stairs to puke my guts out, then curled up in an empty bedroom with one of Adi's favorite books from childhood, "The Indian in the Cupboard" and promptly fell asleep until after midnight.
I woke up the next day with a wretched cold and stayed home from work Sunday and Monday. Sunday of course was also the all-important visit with Dr. Shapiro. I actually gathered my forces for that pretty well. The hardest part of that visit ended up being finding parking when I got home.

The News


Am I happy, people kept asking, that I do not have to go for the planned C-section? Well, yes, and no. Yes, because I suppose it is always better NOT to have a medical need to do something invasive. But no because I'd psyched myself up for the C-section and convinced myself that it's not without it's merits. You know the date, for one thing. And you don't have to worry about the pain of the birth itself, only afterwards. That part didn't really scare me, since I've recovered from operations before. Plus you can take drugs.
Suddenly I felt like people must feel who have that recurring nightmare about being unprepared for an exam. You know the one: you wake up, you're sitting in an exam and you realize you never went to a single class. [Actually I never had that dream. It is no doubt telling that instead I dream before every major trip or move that the travel\moving day has arrived and I haven't packed. This dream usually comes at a good time to cause me to wake up and start packing.]
Sure, we went to the birth class. But we both just went through the motions during the breathing and didn't really pay attention to the parts about the birth itself, thinking it wasn't relevant for us.
I guess the good thing is that I missed out on several months worth of worrying about it. But now I'm making up for it, big time.
Talking to people really helps. Examples:
I put in a call to our birth class instructor. She was thrilled by the news and invited us to join her current group for a relevant makeup class. Adi and I both kind of felt "enough already" with the class by the time it ended, but maybe we'll go, or I'll go.
Girlfriends suggested we hire another coach (a woman who was their lactation consultant too) for a one-off private lesson. "She'll give you lots of tips," they encouraged.
I was also encouraged by Yael's birthing story. Her second daughter was born in the hallway of the hospital. Locked in place by a contraction, the nurse was trying to get her to the delivery room but Yael couldn't move. She bent down to inspect the situation and rather than force the move, called for sheets to be laid on the floor. A screen was produced to create some privacy and a beautiful little girl was born just like that.
A co-worker told his wife's birth story. She was scheduled for a C-section but the baby had other plans and decided to come early. Suddenly a calm, planned procedure became an emergency event. But all was fine there too.
Charles gave excellent advise, paraphrasing from the sage Alex from Hungary: "It will be easy for you. You will put on the makeup, you will go to the hospital, you will put on the gown, you will have the baby." Indeed. I just have to remember the makeup. And the story about Alex when he was working in the laundry.

Alex Does the Laundry


Jeremie tells this story about Alex, working in the kibbutz laundry when a little old lady came in with a delicate sweater.
Little Old Lady: Is Nomi here?
Alex: No.
LOL: Do you know when she'll be back?
Alex: No.
LOL: Do you understand me?
Alex: Yes*.
(* a bit of an overstatement, he didn't really know much Hebrew, he was just guessing the right answers by intonation).
LOL: Can I leave this with you? Will you take extra good care of it? It needs special washing...
Alex: Yes.
LOL: Are you sure?
Alex: Yes.
LOL leaves and Jeremie asks Alex: Alex, do you know what she said?
Alex: No.
Jeremie: So why did you say you did?
Alex: (sighs loud, Hungarian sigh) Jeremie, what can it be? This is a laundry. In a laundry, you do the laundry. I see that her sweater is delicate, it must need special care. So I know what to do!

And so in life, when in the laundry, do the laundry.
This worked for me when I joined a swim club in Haifa. I had no idea what the names of the strokes were in Hebrew, or how many sets or whatever I was supposed to be doing. After a moment of panic, I channeled Alex and told myself: "This is a swimming pool. You are here to swim. Swim! What else can it be?"

So too for the baby. When I am in the hospital and I want to push and they tell me to push, what will there be to do but to push?

Doula or not Doula?


Talking to Abby was very helpful. She raised a question which I hadn't really thought of yet: who do I want there with me? Like so many other questions, this one simply wasn't relevant under the planned C-plan, because they ONLY let your partner in the room with you, and even that was a recent concession. With a regular birth, you can have up to two supporters with you in the room. They can tag team with other supporters. So it could be Adi, my mother, and or a doula or anyone else I want.
Indeed, what do I want? What role do I want my mother to play? What will Adi want? And do we need a doula?
The pros of the doula, or birth assistant, seem to me to be as follows.
Well, let me first back up and tell you how I understand the birthting thing to go here in Israel. When you think it's time, you show up at the hospital where you're admitted (quickly, one would hope) via the emergency room. You can show up at any hospital. Your doctor is not involved. If you pass the admissions requirements (sufficient labor readiness), you are ushered into the maternity ward. There, 1-2 midwives are on duty. There's a doctor around somewhere if needed. But basically you're on your own, with support of that midwife or two who is simultaneously responsible for all the births happening on her floor at the time. So you could have plenty of attention or very little. Both of which could be OK, who knows?
Meanwhile, if you are in labor for a long time (and, according to my reading, average labor for 1st time mothers is a leisurely 15 hours, give or take several more), you will inevitably experience a changing of the guard amongst the midwives. That could be fine too, if they are all good and nice. But it could also be a drag to re-explain stuff to new people and to be subjected to the luck of the draw as it were. (I thought about how annoyed I was when they switched sales girls on me during my recent bra shopping experience. Both were competent but I wanted the first one back so she could compare what she'd already seen.)
I am reasonably confident that the hospital midwives are good and have my best interests at heart. But they also may be driven by motives and priorities which may not match mine. For example, they may be in more of a hurry to get me out of there. That may not be a bad thing, but if it means pumping me with drugs to induce rather than giving me another hour or two, it's not necessarily the best thing for me and Cholent.
Hence, the desire for a doula. The doula would offer consistency, if nothing else. She'd also come with experience, and could be a useful, educated advocate when it comes to questions about drugs, say. And as Abby points out, while mothers and partners are useful, they do not have anything near the experience of a paid professional who has done it a million times.
It was helpful to explain all this to my father. He also offered to be there, though he thought he'd be "an obvious third" to Adi and my mother. I hadn't even thought about it but in fact I can imagine him being quite a comfort, especially if there's a lot of waiting.
Bottom line is I just don't know. And I realize that I can't know. If the whole thing proceeds very quickly then obviously the doula won't make much difference one way or the other. But who knows?

Talking to Jen was helpful. "I just wasn't very into the whole birth thing," she told me. "Some people are. They get really into it, and that's OK. But my attitude is that the kid has to come into this world one way or another. How she gets here really doesn't interest me as much as parenting does. Parenting really interests me."
Excellent point. It is like women who obsess about the wedding but give scant thought to the marriage that follows. I really enjoyed my wedding, and even had fun during the stress of planning it. But it came, it went, it was over pretty fast. Being married is much more fun and most days it's not as overwhelmingly intense.
Like Jen, I'm not a real "earth mother" type. When faced with the prospect of a planned C-section, I felt no loss (well, maybe 5 minutes worth) at the idea of "missing out" on a unique female experience. I have brutal menstrual cramps. I know from pain. And the miracle part of growing a baby is no less a miracle if she exits via a side door. But at the same time, I need to devise a strategy to soothe my concerns now.
So I'm at the "information gathering" stage. I though I'd interview doulas. But now that I'm feeling better I've decided to take a step back and first read the chapters in the books I already have on the birth itself. I'd skipped those before, focusing on the C-section sections. Now, I have to keep in mind that I could *still* end up with a C-section (some ~30% of births do!). Luckily, I'm WELL prepared for that scenario!

Meanwhile, back to my week. All this thinking and talking was going on as I got over my cold. I went back to work Tuesday and felt pretty uncomfortable all day.
Wednesday I worked from home. I worked hard, making up for lost work. It was a busy day: Jihad and the guys came and did beautiful work in Cholent's room. Jihad also sent two different window guys to take measurements and prepare bids. Lily came over for lunch (bringing falalfel, that rocked!) and went through her very professional fung shui analysis of my home. That was really cool, but I was tired and missed my nap.

The transition from sick to healthy is the worst for me. I pass through a depression. It peaked Friday morning when I woke up to find the kitchen full of dishes from the night before, when friends of Adi's came over for coffee and cake. He'd promised to clean up and I'd fallen alseep on the couch. Waking up involuntarily before 6 AM, I saw the mess and I lost it. I stood there fuming, wanting to smash the dishes, resisting the urge to clean them up.
I drove down to the beach for a walk, and I thought, to have breakfast. Nothing was open at 7 AM. Go figure!
I walked, I wrote in my journal, I calmed down some. Then I went to the Pelephone store to change my cellphone. This was a chi-improving move I'd wanted to do for a while, sice the phone I have is small and annoying, with horrible usability. I wanted to downgrade to something you flip open, with no camera, and with sensible navigation.
Going to the pelephone store is a bit like going to the airport. The agents wear stewardess-like uniforms. There's a lot of waiting, a lot of counters. You might think it would be only worse for my bad mood to go to the cellphone store. But I sort of felt that since my mood couldn't be worse, it was a good time to go since for once the store couldn't bring me down any more. Eventually I got what I wanted, more or less.
When I came home, Adi had cleaned up the dishes and put away his laundry, thank heavens. I collapsed into bed for a while. Later we acomplished a major, major task: hanging the internet wire that fell messily in a trip line across the threshold to the living room for more than a year. It wasn't easy, ivolving measuring and cutting plastic casings that affix to the wall. Worst part was that the wire ended up being really too long and neither of us could face the untangling at the end, leading to minor mutual breakdown. We got through it though, talked and made up and rested with a bit of movie.

Friday for dinner I kept things simple, defrosting a challah I'd already baked and heating up frozen shnitzel. But I also made a fabulous Quinoa dish. It is inspired, oddly enough, by a pasta recipe I picked up at the cellphone store. Someone came up with the bizzare but clever marketing idea of blending their current catalog offerings with sumptuous recipes and photos of food that somehow sort of hints at the phone. Rasberry soufle, say, on the page opposite the cute, light, pink phone. Or chocolate blocks across from the think slab of black phone. Or, well some of them weren't really connected but reading the recipes gives you something to do while you wait and makes you want to keep the catalogue.

Quinoa with Peppers and Cranberries


Ingredients: one onion, a couple of peppers (red & yellow), handfull of dried cranberries, oil, 1 c. quinoa.
Instructions: Sautee chopped onion in oil. Add pepper, cut in strips. Meanwhile, rince the quinoa. Strain it in a fine strainer (I didn't have one so I used a cheesecloth).
Check the pepper mixture, add some water if it starts to get sticky. Thow in cranberries. Add quinoa and 2 c. water. Cover and simmer gently for 15-20 minutes, until the quinoa bursts and shows its funky little tail.
Just before serving, toss in a tsp. or two of sesame oil (tip from Sarah) to really bring out the nutty flavor. Big yum!

Shabbos


I even made it to shul (late) Friday night. It was nearly empty and really nice. Two English speaking women spoke to me and encouraged me to come to the fundraising party next Saturday. A kind elderly artist walked me home and we had a nice chat.
Saturday was already much, much better. I slept better (finally), I could breathe again, and Adi and I had the whole day to be together and do stuff.
I did major organizing of my craft supplies while he slept. Then we worked together on translating one of his school papers. Not easy, but interesting and fun.
At night we went to the theater. The play totally sucked but we were all the way in the back which meant I could put my head against the wall and nap.
After the play, Adi was in the mood for a fallafel.
"But you're too tired," he said.
"No, no, no," I insisted. "Let's go. Pretty soon we won't be able to be so spontaneous, let's go!"
Halfway downtown already, we swung downtown even farther, looking for something open at 10 PM. Above the wadi, my eagle eye (specially developed sensors help me identify rare and exciting food sources) spotted a little place, brightly lit, tucked away in an alley. It proved to be awesome. The fallafel monger was "old school" as Adi said: generous, patient. An old Egyptian movie was playing on a TV inside, but we happily found seats under a tree outside. A cat played with a glass doorknob. A man chain-smoked cigarettes near the kitchen. Another, in a disposable apron, seemed to be on an endless bucket moving mission between the kitchen and yard around the side. A pair of Jewish women finished a plate of humus and chatted. A barrel-bellied policeman showed up for a meal and to discuss the recent escape of a rapist in Tel Aviv. Haifa had sent police officers to help. The big fear was that the guy would somehow skip the country - not an easy feat! A pair of Russian security guards came for their nightly meal. And the fallafel man called Adi "Achi," my brother, when our order was ready. As in, "You want oil on that humus, Achi? Tehina, Achi?". The fallafel balls were perfect. Hot but not dangerously so. Crispy brown on the outside. Just the right color green on the inside.
"Smell," Adi said. Perfect aroma.
I even ate some delicious hot sauce with mine, to hell with heartburn! But amazingly, I suffered no heartburn!

Final note on doulas: everyone I know who hired one was glad they did. Some people who didn't hire one wish they had. What's your doula deal?

Monday, November 20, 2006

Construction Begins




Last Thursday, Jihad and his crew began transforming our mirpeset (porch) into a nursery for you-know-who.

Here's Jihad's son Fadi (L) and worker Samir (R) starting the job.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

teevee

Lying on my back at Dr. Shaprio's hurt. Not only did my back hurt from the extra weight of my now very very big belly but it seemed as if Cholent was pushing on my lungs, making it hard to breathe. It was perhaps the only time that a vaginal ultrasound was more comfortable than the trans-belly ultrasound because for the vaginal examination I got to lie on the table with legs bent at the knees, resting comfortably on a platform below.

What did he see? Well the main thing is that the myomas are no longer in the way! One has moved up-up and away as it were, to somewhere above Cholent. The other one is MIA. Perhaps it is hiding behind Cholent, whose bones now make it hard to get a full 3-D view. But the main point is that her head is sitting neatly along the edge of the cervix, as in a textbook illustration, and no obvious blocks remain between her and her and this world when she decides to join us.

I guess this is good news. True, I was very much mentally prepared for the scheduled C-section. But I think the main appeal was knowing the exact date and the idea of having a relatively high degree of certainty about how the actual birth was going to go, and having the date be a bit sooner than the due date. Over the weekend I started thinking about the advantages of a natural birth. The main one seems to me that we are likely to get to go home sooner. The rest of it seems to be really six of one, half dozen of the other.

Ultimately, as long as we both come through it alive and well, who cares how it happens?

Now I'm feeling a little bit bad for being a slacker in the birth class and not really paying attention to the breathing exercise and everything. But it seems to me that at least some of that is a boolsheet. And that chances are birth will hurt in a manner not unlike a m*th%r f*ck#r. The one really useful thing I got from the class though is a reminder that somehow your body knows what to do. And women have been 'doin' it fo' yea's'.

Cholent is officially due December 20.

That Tom Petty song keeps going through my head now, "The waiting is the hardest part."

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

In a Cage! Adi Declares Victory!

Happy news this morning as the fruits of Adi's bait building labors were finally realized. Ha! Take that, you little RAT!
As you can see, he turns out to be a rather cute little mousey guy. However, check out the tail (severed, end is in left end of cage). Pretty long!

Monday, November 13, 2006

No Answer, Naturally

So of course we don't know.
First, very frustratingly, Dr. Gonen's ultrasound computer kept losing track of the measurements he made of Cholent's head, belly, and femur in order to estimate her weight. Finally he arrived at 2.7 kilos. Not that that means anything to me.
Next he informed us that her head was pointing down in what I think of as the "blast off" position. This is good news, because one of the fears was that the myomas would prevent her from getting into this "lock down" position. Indeed until now, she's always been in breach (horizontal) position.
However, the position of her head meant that she was preventing the good doctor from getting a good fix on the myomas. At last sighting, they were hanging out just below the cervix.
So to be on the safe side, he wants me to go back to Dr. Shapiro, aka the ultra ultrasound doctor. He should be able to get a more precise reading and make a recommendation.
Meanwhile, let's all take a deep breath and go back to assuming that the natural due date of Dec 19 or 20 (depending on the calculator you use, Adi says let's call it midnight between the 19th and 20th).

Excited and Anxious

In two hours I have an appointment with Dr. Gonen. He's supposed to give us a final answer with respect to planned Cesarean or not and if so, when.
People have been asking me "Which do you prefer?".
I prefer any situation where baby and I come out alive and well, perhaps with a slight preference for the more predictable C-section.

Belly Cam - Week 34 and Growing!


Shopping in Hadar

Last Friday I crossed a turning point. Nafal li haasimon, it suddenly hit me, as we say in Hebrew, that this baby is really going to come (God willing) in a month or so. I shifted into energy overdrive, making lists, organizing, shopping. That so-called nesting instinct all the books talked about had kicked in.

Still, I go back and forth between healthy Jewish traditional superstition which recommends against bringing any baby stuff into the home until the baby arrives least the evil eye get any ideas (tfu, tfu) and a natural desire to be ready and organized.
I decided that preparing my hospital bag is a good compromise. Women do go into labor early, so it makes sense to be ready. It's something I can do now. And it's mostly about stuff for me, less stuff for Cholent.
Another compromise that seems to make sense is setting the goal of completing all wedding-related tasks before she arrives. These include writing thank you notes, ordering copies of photos, and putting photos in albums. Yes, I know, the thank you notes should be done already. Slowly, slowly. I made a tactical error, doing the Israeli notes first. It was an error because Israelis don't even expect thank you notes! But once my in-laws friends started getting them, they were an instant hit and, being Israeli, those who hadn't yet got 'em were asking my mother-in-law where theirs was. Sigh. I think Miss Manners gives you a year, probably she didn't even have war in mind as a time-consuming post-wedding distraction. Anyway, I'm chipping away at them. Sometimes even sending duplicates, I fear. Oh well, as Charles says, thank you notes are like Candy Corn. One is good, more are better.

Back to the hospital bag. So one item I really needed was a long, warm, soft, BIG nightgown. I'm typically a pyjama girl, I like the way the pants stay put. But with my big belly, not to mention FREQUENT night trips to the toilet, only a nighty will do. I kept having these visions of one I used to have: cotton, stretch jersey. Originally white, I'd died it a pretty pink. But I hadn't worn it much except for after my myectomy operation back ~1999 so during one semi-annual clothing purge, I let it go. Rarely do you let things go in a clothing purge that you want back. Alas, that pink nighty was gone.

Where to get something like it? The maternity stores here seemed unlikely candidates. I did buy a cute "nursing gown" and matching robe online in the States (www.nursinggowns.com I think) but sleeveless and slinky, it was clearly designed for cozy California climates, not chill Haifa nights.

I didn't want to pay a lot for this gown. I had to go where big women shop. I had to go where fashion comes after function. I had to go to Hadar.

Hadar


Hadar is a mere 10 minute ride from my door via shared taxi. Yet it is another world. If where I live, the Carmel, is like the Upper West Side of Manhattan, then Hadar is like Flatbush in Brooklyn. OK, not a perfect analogy. Hadar used to be populated by the old ladies who now live in my neighborhood and hail from Germany. Today, Hadar is densely populated by recent Russian immigrants. They have revitalized the neighborhood and infused it with new flavors and sounds.
Most people who live in my world would not dream of shopping in Hadar. They'd sooner hop in a car and go to a dreaded mawl.

Shopping in Hadar rocks. Especially on a day like today: not too hot, not too cold. Sunny skies, cleanish air to refresh you between shops instead of canned mall stuffiness. Action, color. Crazy people.

No more than 20 paces from where I hopped off the shared taxi I hit pay dirt: a "lovely" nightgown hung from an awning, collecting exhaust fumes. I approached it for a feel. A frizzy-haired shop girl spoke to me in Russian. I answered in Hebrew, asking her if she had one in extra large. That one was extra large, the last, but first she kindly poured through related models in a variety of colors and sizes. How much? I asked. A balding middle-aged man she called "Johnny" said it was 50 NIS (about $10) and asked where I was from. Meanwhile, a Russian teen and her father came in and purchased one of those blankets that are ubiquitous in lower-income homes from Tashkent to Tunis to Topeka (or so I imagine). I bet that not a single one of my readers owns one, but I bet you've all seen them. Made out of a fleece-like material before the word "fleece" was used outside of the Jason story in mythology, they are typically adorned with tiger or other jungle scenes and come in monochrome shades of brown, red, blue, or green. They have a matching trim and are sold and transported in zippered plastic bags. You know what I'm talking about.
"Krassiva," Johnny assured the pair.
"Da, krassiva," the girl agreed.

Before ringing up my order, I spied a fly pair of terry slippers with animal trim.
"How much for these?" I asked "Johnny".
"Those," he said, "are not for sale."
I was intreagued. "But..."
"They are part of a set," Johnny explained. "They come free with these," he added, inicating a stack of matching robes.
"How much?" I asked. They were a mere 130 NIS. I couldn't resist and snapped one up. Somehow in calculating the total, the price of the nightgown fell because the total was just 160 NIS. I didn't make an issue out of it.
Johnny wished me good luck with the birth and encouraged me to come back again. "Anything you need, we have it!" he boasted.
"Where's a good place to shop for bras?" I asked him. He suggested two stores, one "expensive" was conveniently located just around the corner.

Triumph!


I waddled up around the corner into a bright, new Triumph outlet store. A pleasantly plump saleswoman told me she'd be right with me and offered me a seat in the meanwhile. I parked myself and watched as women came and went, entering and exiting dressing rooms, pulling at elastic straps.
A silver-haired man in his mid-50s was having a discussion with another man involving comparing skimpy but elegant red and black thongs that hung on a wall rack. Their tones were quiet, respectful. Their conversation ended with a "spasibo" and "dos vidanya". Silver man turned to me.
"Can I help you?" he offered. I really didn't want help from a man right now.
"Oh, I'm OK, she said she'd help me," I said, indicating the busy plump woman.
"I can help you in the meanwhile," he offered.
"Um, OK. I need nursing bras...". He gestured for me to stand so he could measure me. He was unsmiling, but also totally un-leering so it wasn't really bad. He wore a small silver pinky ring that matched his hair and steely blue eyes. He seemed utterly indifferent or perhaps just very restrained.
He offered me three or four models: Triumphs and Playtexes. He indicated the prices of each one: this one is 60, this is 90... since I would have expected them to cost 160 or 190, I happily let my mind glaze over the differences in price. When a changing booth finally freed up, I went to try them on.
A skinny saleswoman came to inspect. She pulled and adjusted straps.
"Good, yes".
There were two clear winners, different Playtex models, one with snaps, the other with hooks. I took them both, thrilled that the total price was less than I'd expected to pay for just one.

I went out in search of lunch.
On the way I came across a healthfood store and ducked in to buy Rescue Remedy and Almond oil. The former recommended by Laurie as a hospital bag essential, the later recommended by the "milk drops" nurse for nipple massages.

I parked myself at a burekas stand with stools for a tasty spinach pie acompanied by a hard-boiled egg and pickles.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Dreams, Fears, Nesting

I had a v. cool dream last Sunday. I was post-op and to my amazement there were no scars and no pain. I woke up and realized that there was no pain but then suddenly thought, "Where's my baby? She hasn't nursed yet! Take me to her!" and before I could get there, they brought her to me. I put her to my right breast and she opened wide and started sucking away. I was delighted that it was so easy and again, no pain. She had a full head of black hair!
I think this dream clearly focuses on some of my key fears: pain, nursing success, and more pain. No idea what the black hair was about but you can see why the other parts made me sooooo happy and relaxed! Bonus is that she was cute and normal looking. Early in pregnancy I had dreams about v. tiny or v. big, odd-looking babies. Wacky hormones, once again!

I think the pain of natural childbirth freaks me more than the C-section, so at this point I'm hoping that's what it will be. We find out for sure on Monday. It used to be that I couldn't truly imagine how natural birth was possible (it comes out of where???!) but after a) seeing natural childbirth film and really paying attention and b)experiencing all the wacky changes my body is capable of, I'm now ready and willing to believe it. Still, it strikes me as being a bit like SCUBA diving. Example, so many ways to die! And unlike SCUBA, it hurts and there are no cute fishies to look at as you do it.

Read a good article in the New Yorker about modern medicine and birth. Author (Atul...?) claimed that birth is one of the few areas in medicine where truly dramatic strides have been made in the last 100 years. The Apgar test, named for a smart woman doc from Columbia U. who invented it, provided a simple measure for evaluting a baby's health after birth and helped many, many more babies survive than used to when they started being born in hospitals under the eye of idiot doctors instead of experienced midwives.
So the stats for babies are really, really good. The author complains (sort of) that part of the reason for the improvement in outcomes for babies is the increased use of the C-section which is apparantly much easier for any old doctor to learn, as opposed to natural birhting techniques which are a real "art" and require a special "touch". It's like the difference between a successful manufacturing line vs. artisinal production: on average, your odds are better because they're less dependent on the mastery of the craftsman. But you lose the "art".
However, he states, the next frontier is making things (recovery) better for mothers. C-sections are not a walk in the park, and there's currently no standard Apgar-like rating for how mothers do.

Speaking for myself though, I'd say any situation where baby and I come out alive and without brain damage is worth all the post-op pain you want to throw at me, esp. since I can then take pain killers freely. And intend to! I also think about the untold stories of friends of mine who suffer their share of post-natal symptoms following natural births (like, months of incontenence), so that doens't sound like such a great shake either.

You know in Brazil middle class women now consider natural births "barbaric".

I'm scared of the pre-op enema. I've never had to do one before and did not like the look of the plastic bottle the midwife showed us on our hospital tour. I suppose this will be the least of my suffering, but you know how it can be, how you focus on one (seemingly) insignificant point as the focus of all your real anxieties. Like when my sister-in-law planned every detail of her wedding in relative calm, then totally lost it when deciding how to do her hair. With another friend it was wedding shoe selection (she settled on pink platform mary janes, inspiring my pink pumas). Or how I freaked before college that my comforter wasn't cool enough and made Jake take me on a several hour return journey to Bed, Bath, and Beyond. Or how ALL my apt. rennovations were just fine, except when it came to choosing the ceramic tiles for my bathrooms which for some reason became a massive ordeal.

It's strange when she moves. Here, she just did it. I can't tell what's a foot, finger, or face. Or butt. Of course it makes me happy since v. v. often I wonder how this can possibly be true that I'm growing a person in me and her independent movement is a reassuring confirmation of sorts. But frankly it is not always comortable. And she is most likely to move when I am calm and stationary (read: interested in resting, not playing kicking games). Sometimes now it's quite strong and sometimes it's not that comfy. But then I have to try hard not to freak when she doesn't move.

I imagine the operation and reaching inside will feel wierd but a) wierd is better than PAIN and b) the whole thing is so incredibly wierd when you think about it! The movie on C-sections we saw in our birth class featured a sweet British couple having twins. They were so cheerful. And it's so quick! The father was like :
"Oh, it was such a jolly good experience! Everyone should have it so well." Ok, he probably didn't really say "jolly good" but you get the idea. And amazingly the mother was nursing BOTH twins minutes after the procedure, big smile on her face. If it's half as good as that, I'll be happy.

As for recovery, my friends who have been through it range from a Superwoman who drove herself from TA to Jeru less than 2 weeks after the op. and did everything herself, to another, usually fit and intrepid soul who was totally incapacitated for a month and refused to get up and walk around.

I imagine I'll be somewhere in between. I plan on accepting a lot of help. But I hope I'll also have the courage to get up because it's supposed to help you heal, though it feels at first as though your guts will all rush out. And I'm sure that knowing me I'll want to be independent if I can be and will feel some frustration at not being able to do everything. In a way, the fact that here with a c-seciton you have to stay in the hosp. at least 5 days is probably a good thing. If you can get over the hospital part of it, it can be more restful than home because there's not much to do. The clutter is not yours to organize, the cooking and dishes are done for you, and there are highly trained professionals who can diaper your baby for you round the clock.

Meanwhile, massive nesting instinct kicking in, causing me to run around and do stuff. Many lists being made, things being organized!

I have a colleague in Russia who asked how I could still be working.
"But isn't there a point when you're not supposed to be on the computer?" she asks. Turns out in Russia you get A YEAR AND A HALF materinity leave!!!!!!!!! And I was thinking the Israeli 3 mo. was pretty darn good! She can't believe we ONLY get 3 mo. Ah, socialism!

Rat Report

As of this morning, the rat is still on the loose! He partied (pooped!) in the big cage last night but got out. Adi is on the case!

Strollers

Adi and I went preliminary stroller shopping last night. The store was "Tzutzik", an old Haifa institution. Best of all it's a neighborhood store. Not our neighborhood, we had to drive, but NO MALL TIME REQUIRED!! They had quite a range of options!The salesman was informative and pleasantly low-pressure. He did not utter the words which always turn me waaaay off when uttered by Israeli sales people, namely:
"Kday lach!" (~it's worth it for you) and "Haval!" (~ a pity, or a shame).

There seem to be 3 big categories of strollers. In order of most to least expensive, roughly, they are:

FAMILY 1) Full 2-parts.


With these, you switch between the newborn baby bed-like thing and a sit-up thing later, on the same frame.
Pros: full-lie down capability for 1st 6 mo. + you get a little "bed" you can take with you.
Cons: price. More than you need?

At first I was least drawn to this family. But then we "test drove" some 3-wheel (aka "sport") models in this category and found them to be really, really light and agile which I liked A LOT, especially given that Haifa is full of stairs and crappy sidewalks. Examples:
The TFK buggster

and the slightly cheaper, Dr. Baby version (much bigger wheels)

FAMILY 2) Convertables.


The main idea here is that you can switch between front and back facing baby (towards parent at first, then towards world). You go from semi-reclined to full sitting as the kid grows. Huge range of prices here.
At first I was most drawn to this family because the one stroller that switches just seems logical. But then we drove the 3-wheelers mentioned above.

Pros: One solution. Nice, sturdy 4-wheel classic design. Fold to fairly compact.
Cons: Usually no full-recline for beginning. A bit heavy.

Examples:
Peg Perego Venezia Stroller . Awfully cute. Looks practical. A bit more pricey than others in it's class. These seem to be popular in my neighborhood. I get twinges of "stroller envy" when I see them. Why not? They're Italian. The knock-offs in this group are kind of weak-looking.

FAMILY 3) Combos.


The combinations, where the car seat fits into the frame. These are cheapest because you get car seat + carriage. We pretty much ruled these out though because of the dangers of shlepping your baby too much in the car seat. Plus it just doesn't seem right for our needs. Most stroller walks will probably be around the neighborhood, without car involvement.

Brands


It seems quite a few of the biggies are represented here. There's an Israeli company called "Dr. Baby" which seems to sell good knock-offs of some of the pricier brands. They don't actually make the strollers here, rather they're the same "guts" that sell under other brands like GRACO. You gotta see their "fashion photos" of high-heeled Mommies... Hm, now I see she has a smaller-wheeled 3 wheeler. That could be nifty.

If you have a stroller, can you please share:
1) If you have a small car, or intend to travel a lot by plane would you spend an extra $100 for more compact foldability?
2) Which "FAMILY" of stroller did you start out with? Are you still using it now, or did you switch as baby got bigger?
3) What do you love\hate about your stroller?
4) Do you expect to use your stroller with your next kid, or will you need to upgrade/refresh anyway?

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Eeek! A rat!

The other night we were woken up at 4 AM by scratching noises coming from the top of our bedroom closet. A mouse! We banged on the closet door and the scratching ceased, but we were far from relaxed!

For those of you who know Koshka who are wondering how a home with a cat can have a mouse in it, let me explain the word boydem. The boydem is a kind of crawl space under the ceiling, common in Israeli apartments. Usually located over the bathroom, it provides some additional out-of-the way storage space. Or, as the joke universal to olim goes, a place to hide a Jewish family.
(My former roomate and I used to have conversations like this:
"Hey Josh, do we have any more toilet paper?"
"I think so. Let me check with the family."
"Cool, thanks.")

In our apartment, the boydem is accessed through a door in the laundry mirpeset or porch. You need a ladder to get up to the door. I store Passover dishes there, Koshka's traveling cage, and for about a year a huge duffel bag belonging to Carla. Our boydem connects to an air vents for the heating and cooling system that reaches into the hallway over the dining area. Another route leads to the top of our built-in bedroom closet and out an air vent there, again for heating and cooling. So a small creature that gets into the boydem, say, by jumping from a tree onto a little, screened up window in the boydem, could have quite a nifty little playground throughout the air shafts, separated by vertical space and a floor from the killer cat below.

That's what happened.

We sent Koshka up to the high reaches of the closet. Some quiet moments later, as expected, she came crashing through the big air vent in the hallway. It's a plastic grid backed by a screen, not big enough to support her weight. While it's cool seeing that cat landing on feet thing, it's kind of a pain to restore the cover to the vent.

No sign of dead mousy.

So Thursday I went to Home Centerrrr after work to buy a trap. Adi had experience with mouses in houses from his parents house and told me what to buy. But confronted with the scary looking metal cages, I opted for a set of glue pads on Styrofoam trays. "No bait needed!" they boasted. "Throw away after use!". At 10 NIS for a pack of two, they seemed like a great bargain.

That night Adi added some cheese to the glue for extra incentive and within a short time, there was scampering again! Adi set Koshka up there again for extra help. Adi reported seeing a long tail stuck in the glue, but the body of the beast had worked itself into a cardboard shoe box (probably holding letters from my ex-husband). Koshka was focused.

I escaped to the guest room and closed the door. It's silly but I was very worried about Koshka, especially when Adi shut the closet door. She's 9 years old, full-figured, and, well, not really so wild. But Adi assured me that she was at least 20 times bigger than the intruder and that she'd know what to do. I reasoned that she'd call me if she needed help, and went to sleep.

In the morning, I heard a little meow from our bedroom and opened the door to find a happy, purring Koshka who had apparently opened the closet door and jumped down. It had been a quiet night. Adi bravely inspected both traps and found evidence of a struggle on each. He spared me a peek at the stuck hairs. It was clear thought that we were dealing with a bigger beast than the cute little mousy I'd imagined!

Koshka seemed extra sleepy on Friday, so we like to believe that she bravely backed the rat into a corner at least and stood threateningly over him all night long.

Friday afternoon, Adi drove to his parents and borrowed three metal traps. He set one in the closet, one in the boydem proper, and one just inside the still-open air vent in the hallway. We slept in the guest room again (there is no boydem or air vent over the bed there).

The night was quiet, but alas, our intruder eluded the traps! Either that or he escaped.

Needless to say this situation makes for some less than peaceful sleeping. And someone who is not pregnant is going to have to deal with a bunch of messy mouse doodies before the baby comes. Yichk!

Belly Cam - Week 33!


This is from last week, wearing the pretty and stretchy (!) shirt Adi bought me in Tel Aviv during the war + my Old Navy Velour Coture maternity suit.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Proteksia

Last Wednesday I went to my local Kuppat Cholim (health office) pharmacy to buy TUMS for me and my pregnancy heartburn and cold medicine for Adi. As usual, there was a long line and lots of chaos. The "take a number" system adds as much confusion as it prevents, since in addition to the "regular" line, there is an "express" line for people who are:

  • accompanied by children under 3 years of age
  • buying 3 or fewer items
  • buying only OTC items

Since all 2 of my needs were OTC, I positioned myself in a seat facing the "express" line, while grabbing a number as backup.
My number came up before my place in the express line did, but I was not able to waddle down to the far-flung free counter in time before an elderly patron with a higher number beat me to it. The pharmacists were zipping through the numbers pretty fast, since any given number could easily correspond to a customer who got served at the "express" line. I could have fought her for my position but since she had been ahead of me in the "express" line it didn't seem to matter. (If you're wondering: I had a better number than she did because another woman gave me her unused number after getting served in the express line. Confused? Yeah, so was I.)
Besides, I could see that the pharmacist at the express line was a young woman who I'd connected with before, so I was happy to wait for her as long as I could wait in a chair.
The young pharmacist spotted me and smiled. I thought I saw a bit of extra belly popping out behind her counter, but I wasn't sure. She signaled to me to go outside and around.
Around where? I signaled. Someone pointed me out of the pharmacy towards the medical center hallway. Confused, I went. There, the young pharmacist opened a door and waved me in.
I entered and found myself in the pharmacy storeroom. Cool!! Now it was clear that she too was pregnant! We exchanged cheerful belly points.

The reason we recognized each other is that when I went in to buy a pregnancy test from her back in April, she'd suddenly burst into tears. Now she explained:

"The day you came in, I had miscarried before that day. I had just tried again and done a test myself that morning. It was negative and I was so disapointed and upset. But now, thank God, I'm pregnant with twins!"

I wasn't surprised. I was very happy for her.

She asked me what I needed.
"Oh yeah, I suffer from heartburn too, at night." And on the cold medicine, she helped me choose something better for Adi than what I'd requested. I waited by the open shelves of drugs while she made change, hoping she wouldn't get in trouble as her colleagues came and went, filling orders.

I was so thrilled by our connection and the special service that I kissed her on both cheeks to thank her.

"We should get together... with the babies!" I suggested warmly and gave her my card. "Do you live in Haifa?" I asked her. She's Arab, so I had some doubts.

"Oh yes, on Stella Maris," she said.

Cool. So I have valuable "proteksia" at the pharmacy and a nice new friend!