Monday, October 30, 2006


This book is too cute. Baby-Gami: Baby Wrapping for Beginners

Cord Blood Banking

I just can't believe no one has responded on this issue yet.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Real Beauty

Very interesting Dove Advertisement, a video showing how photos of models are manipulated to form images of beauty.

The other night I watched The Thomas Crown Affair, the original with Steve McQueen and Faye Dunaway. I don't think I'd seen it before. I can see why the French would love it. It can be a little slow at times, in that 1960s kind of way. But it is also so bad-ass. Those multi-screen shot must have been soooo high-tech at the time. They are still really cool. Steve McQueen is ultra cool. This quality is the inspiration of The Tao of Steve, a movie I was thinking about the other day.
The recent Spike Lee movie, Inside Man has some similarities: super-clever bank robbery carried out by a group of people conveniently disconnected from the leader; super-clever tough blonde sexy woman brought in by the insurance compny to solve the caper.

The seduction scene in Thomas Crown is one that you just wouldn't see in a movie today. Not only because it is slow and involves a game of chess. But because the extreme close-ups explose the deep crinkles around Steve's eyes and the small scars (chicken pox?) in Faye's. They are both stunningly gorgeous people. To my eye, they're all the more beautiful with those little flaws. You just wouldn't see them anymore, they'd be airbrushed away if the actors hadn'd had them surgically corrected already.

I liked Faye's rich looking beige nail polish in that scene too.

Brain Book

I will admit that my interest in Simon Baron-Cohen's book began because he is realated to Sacha Baron-Cohen (aka Ali G., aka Borat, aka Bruno). But I am really enjoying reading
The Essential Difference: Male and Female Brains and the Truth About Autism. His thesis is that on average, women's brains are more likely to be wired for "empathy" and men's brains are more likely to be wired for "systemizing".

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Pregnancy Conference

Last week I went to a pregnancy conference at a local hotel. Basically this was an opportunity to stock up on free stuff and listen to some lectures given by doctors from the hospital where I'm planning to give birth. The lectures were so-so and the free stuff selection wasn't stunning but still it was kind of nice to be in the presence of so many pregnant tummys. Well, a little smelly too.
I smiled at the vendor who was selling brit mila (circumcision) kits.
"Got me a girl," I told him.
"Good, good, take one of these," he said and offered me a free booklet with prayers for before & after the miraculous event.
"Thanks!" To me, this is one of those things that make me happy to live in Israel. That circumcision is assumed and that there would be such a vendor at such a conference. I also overheard a woman (who didn't even look religious) asking a formula vendor why her product was kosher but not kosher l'mahedrin, that is, super kosher.

You should have seen how the free snacks were devoured. This wasn't just a group of Jews facing free hotel food. This was a group of PREGNANT Jews facing free hotel food. I think a swarm of locusts could not have done better.
After the doctors there was a lecture about the importance of choosing a good name. Now, I loooove the name game discussions. But the speaker, who had a backround in psychology, proported to follow something called "cosomo numerology". If you have not heard of this field, you are not alone. I will summarize it for you. It is a boolshit.
It combined a bit o' gematria with a bit o' energy & chakra stuff with a whole lotta boolshit.
I did learn one interesting fact however. It is not only my in-laws who have issues with middle names. Apparantly Israelis in general are very anti middle names. They don't see the point, think it is one name too many and just a pain in the tuchus. Oh well, too bad. Cholent is gonna have one.

Later I quizzed a group of houseguests on the subject. We agreed that it was a highly cultural decision. The native-born Israelis were pretty set against while us foreign-born parents-to-be were pretty pro one if not more middle names.

Cord Blood Banking

So I'd like to open up a discussion and get your opinions on this subject. There were several vendors at the fair pushing banking of cord blood. For those of you who have not spent a minute on any pregnancy website lately, I will explain the concept. The rest of you are already familiar with the idea from the constant barrage of guilt-inducing advertisements.
At the time of birth, one can have the doctors collect blood from the umbilical cord. (I do not know if having the father chew apart the cord with his teeth makes a difference. ) The blood is then sent to a lovely lab (possibly in Switzerland) where it is frozen and stored. Cord blood is no ordinary blood. It has some pretty cool, stem-cell like properties.
The idea is that in theory, if your dear child should someday God forbid develop some sort of horrible disease requiring a very particular sort of translpant that their own cord blood could be used to save them.
My readings on the subject at sites like make me feel pretty confident that while this is a lovely idea in theory, the world is not really close to being ready to actually exploiting this resource.
Needless to say the service costs many money. It's a kind of insurance policy. The tricky point of course is that while it seems unlikely (statistically speaking) that this blood will ever come in handy, there is that nagging, guilt-inducing worry of "what if"?
I read that you could donate your cord blood where it would be used for research and or banked for others who might be able to use it. This seems to me like a win-win idea. It's free, it's a no-brainer that it might help someone. And, bonus, because it's kind of like stem cells it's a nifty little kick at a certain president who is bent on blocking medical research and, well, PROGRESS of human kind.
I called one of the cord bank companies to ask about donating and they directed me to the Israeli Magen David Adom. Alas, they told me that only two hospitals in the country (Haddassah Ein Kerem near Jeru, and Tel Hashomer in Tel Aviv) collect cord blood donations. Bummer. When I toured my hospital, I asked and was told the same thing. I asked again at the conference (in front of everyone, to raise consciousness about it) and got a very dissatisfying answer from the doctor about the donations being "problematic". Hmm. It wasn't clear why donations were "problematic" but commercial collection was not.
Anyway, I'm wondering if anyone out there (no, not you from those cord blood companies!) can give me a convincing reason why I *should* bank the blood. Also, if any of you out there have media connections, I think it would be nice to have an article about why exactly it is that so few hospitals in Israel are set up to collect donations of cord blood.
Final note: I could link to any number of cord bank companies, but I bet you that the AdSense links I have on this page will now automatically point to them. These guys are VERY aggressive advertisers.

20 Seconds

Thanks to Leah for this very cool speed pregnancy video.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

And Counting

A few days ago I was going to start a post with "5 days since I last puked". But then, I puked again, two days in a row. So that's how it goes. I was feeling better: more energy, more "normal". Then exhaustion returned. So it's just day by day.
I'm working on some more pleasant and interesting projects at work. That helps. It was a nice surprise too after recent announcements about mega cuts at MegaCorp. Turns out the cuts both will and won't be deep. They take time to implement. My projects are probably safe. At least for the time being. Of course, as Alex From Hungary says, "We do not know the future. Only the woman who has this as her profession knows the future." Meaning of course a fortune teller.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Bathing Belly

Finally made it to the beach this Saturday. Yes, there are advantages to living in the Middle East, like perfect bathing in October.

Going to Work at 30 Weeks

That expanding skirt I bought in Jerusalem during the war is still a comfy part of my wardrobe. This Target Liz Lange maternity T is not as loose as it used to be.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Free Trip To Israel!

Do you know someone in the USA who is:

  • Jewish (either parent, or converted),
  • Aged 18 (and graduated high school) - 27 (must turn 27 after Dec 1)
  • Who has never been to Israel on a peer (organized) program?

    Taglit-birthright israel Winter program is a FREE 10 day
    educational trip to Israel with other adults from all over the USA –
    we even have special trips for people over 22 years old! You can even
    extend your ticket for around $125 and stay on in Israel for up to 90
    days…you've got nothing to lose and a free trip to gain!

    Registration is open ONLY for a few more days!! If you don't
    register, you have no chance of coming – so even if you are not sure
    about coming yet – register, it's free and will only take 5 minutes!

    See or call 1-800-218-9851


pregnancy week by week

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

I Was Thin Once

This pic just popped up on my puter today. A reminder that I didn't always have this belly. I am starting to look at other post or pre pregnant women and feel jealous that they can wear normal clothes.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Rough Spots

This week was a bit tough. I didn't feel so great. Lots of tired and puking. I had to take stock and scale back on all of the few extra-work commitments I had left. Didn't feel good about that, not easy.


Yom Kippur was not bad. I started it with a personal "tashlich" trip to the beach. I didn't have much time because we moved the clock back in Israel and my day raced by. That was OK though, I didn't have enough energy for a walk and quiet contemplative moment. Instead I walked into the sea getting the bottoms of my capri sweats rather wet and wishing I'd been smart enough to wear a bathing suit. The water was perfect. I sat in the sand. Or rather, sort of lay in it on my left side (the only comfortable position now). The sky was full of bible-illustration clouds. You know, the kind that filter the sun through in impossibly beautiful rays.

I tried to think about sin and forgiveness and the main thought that popped into mind was:

Sure, I can be forgiven. Until recently, it was too hot. And there was the war. But now there's no excuse.

The streets were empty on my way home. Rather than perceiving that as a relaxing, spiritual thing, it reminded me of the war and freaked me out a bit. I was glad to get home, shower quickly, and dress to go out for Kol Nidre.

During the next day, it was a little strange - but essential - to eat. To mark the difference I refrained from some favorite foods (coffee, cake) until after the holiday and didn't cook anything. Not using the computer was challenge and difference enough! I spent the morning resting and reading my journal per my annual tradition. Adi was home studying, not to be disturbed!
At 3:00 in the afternoon I waddled slowly to the Moriah shul (Conservative) for mincha. I was amazed at how few people were there. I took a seat towards the back of the "real" chairs (before the plastic filler seats began). Little did I know that of the many empty seats I'd inadvertently snagged the chair of Haifa's American Consul. D'oh! He was up at the bima to read the book of Jonah. I hope he wasn't too miffed.

The book of Jonah is pretty funny, in a "Humor in the Bible" sort of way. Not ha ha funny. But there's something absurd going on there... the fish, the whole gourd thing (which my Art Scroll machzor said the "kikayon" might not be a gourd but in fact a shady covering - makes more sense to me), and then the ending where G-d says "Yeah, I saved 'em, those people who don't know their right hand from their left, and also so many cattle." Hm. Like the cattle were sinning? The cattle also fast and don sackcloth.

Anyway services were nice. I've come to the conclusion that try as I might, there's no getting over the fact that I prefer mixed seating to mehitza situations, no matter how "egalitarian" they try to be. I think for me it's less a question of feeling miffed by the separation as it is a matter of what's familar. I also find the mixed seating davka less distracting that separate seating. With a balcony or barrier, I'm always curious to see what's going on "over there".
So that was good. And having familiar tunes (sung by many congregants with a lingering American Asheknazi accents) was also comforting.

The young rabbi pissed some people off by sneaking maariv in before the shofar blowing. He did a cool thing though: all the kids were invited upstairs where they were given light sticks. Meanwhile, he turned off ALL the lights. It was pitch dark. The kids came down with their light sticks and he did the declarations ("Hashem OOH Aaa-elokim!" in his South American accent. When the cong. responded with "Hashem HOO HA-elokim" it soudned almost like we were correcting him) ;-) and the shofar blowing all total darkness through havdalah! It was very very tribal. I dug it.

Break Fast

Friends came over for break fast at my house. Some of them unexpectedly early, surprising Adi in his study state while I was still at shul. Not cool. Nice in the end though. I served an apple cake I made before the chag and threw some frozen burkeas in the oven.
One-year-old Almog was a hit with everyone and offered Adi a nice opportunity to talk practicalities with her father.
"This will have to go," he told me of a standing wine bottle\wine glass rack. "But we have about six months before she starts crawling around." Pretty neat.

Back to work/Puking

Tuesday morning I puked when I was about to go to work so I stayed home to work so I could freely puke more if I had to. Work n' puke.
Wednesday was my normal telecommuting day plus I had a checkup at "Tipat Chalav" so I was home again for convenient puking. I felt really pukey. It didn't help that the nurse at Tipat Chalav was surprised when I told her that I'm puking again. She actually got up to check with a colleague, while I sat there thinking, "Duh. I KNOW this can be normal. Not fun, but normal."
And it's not as bad as it could be. I did have a pleasant break from puking during my 2nd trimester. And it's not EVERY day now. And I don't feel constant nausea, just a few dizzy moments before I have to puke. I can eat and drink in between, so I'm not afraid of any real dangers. It's just annoying. And tiring.
My glucose results were good. That means no gestiational diabetes, phew! But my hemoglobin was a little low. Ask your doctor, she said.
Adi interpreted that piece of information as an order to eat meat. I was not thrilled about his conclusion but reluctantly agreed to eat a shnitzel for lunch after bursting into tears.
Since, I've learned that the iron pills I've been taking should be enough. So the test could have been off. I will clarify next week with the doctor when I see him. And I will have a leeetle less faith in the Tipat Chalav nurse.
Hormones have been shifting my mood all over the place.


A close friend of mine is pregnant and has been struggling with the decision to terminate the pregnancy. Ironically, just a few weeks ago, her gyn told her that due to ovarian cysts, it was unlikely she could conceive without chemical intervention. Meanwhile, she already waspregnant! Idiot doctor.
I am totally pro-choice but I'm oddly disturbed by her decision. Maybe it's my hormones. Or it could be a selfish desire for all my friends to have kids the same age and to go through this pregnancy thing with me. Or it could be some maternal instinct. Or concern for her that she may regret it later.
I'm trying to be supportive. She's not me. Her boyfriend is not Adi. And they're not married. It's not an easy call for them either way.
It got me thinking about how very, very lucky I am that I never got pregnant when I didn't want to. And that I did get pregnant when I did want to. Neither of these are things that any woman can take for granted. There should be a special blessing for this. And we should all have the right to choose when we want to be (or stay) pregnant.

Wish List

Created a yahoo wishlist for the things not available from Target. Like that yummy Fleurville Pink Chocolate Sling Tote. And the Glamourmom nursing tank.

Better... created a Baby Cholent Wishlist at Amazon.

No, no, EVEN BETTER, a Baby Registry for Cholent at You can search this one!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006


I'm starting to investigate the "stuff" Cholent will need. It turns out that in addition to the major items (crib, changing table, stroller, car seat) we expect to inherit from friends, there are various little niceties.
I started a "baby registry" at Target for a few treats. If you search my name or Adi's you'll find us.
But basically we'll *try* to acquire as little "stuff" as possible, at least for the first 6 mo...

Thanks to friend Laura H. I have also discovered a fascinating subculture of women who seem to have an obsession with diaper bags. There is a whole yahoo group for them to trade and sell bags and swap advice and information. (There's one for stroller obsessors too, but that seemed too much for me now, even as a mere voyeur.) I wouldn't have thought it such a compelling subject, but I'm starting to understand the appeal. First off, you want a bag that is actually designed to strap onto a stroller, rather than slip down or knock over the stroller. Beyond that you hope for decent organization of compartments and such, like a pocket for bottles that won't tip over and at minimum pockets for clean vs. dirty supplies. And then, why not? An opportunity to accessorize, to express your style. As one the Fleurville diaper bag designers say"...when people become parents they don’t stop being hip or appreciating good things."

I bet it's also like what "The Girlfriend's Guide to Pregnancy" writes about keeping up with your manicures when pregnant: that at least you can look at your pretty nails and see ONE THING about your body that you have some control over. Maybe with the hectic life of parenting, you want to look at your diaper bag and think, "Wow, not only is it organized inside, that's a fly lookin' bag!"

Turns out diaper bags range from simple $30 Target type jobs to $400 designer things. In between, there are some particularly sumptuous bags in the $50-$150 range. The Keccis seem quite popular. They are pretty, but possibly too flowery for my taste. The Fleurvilles are even more up-scale, yummy-looking bags with names like "Mothership" and Daddy-oriented DJ bags in camo. Their site has techy pop-up diagrams of diaper bag interiors. They have the good sense to offer leopard print fabrics, but discriminatingly charge an extra $10 for it!!

And what do you put in your diaper bag? There are some really cute-looking cloth diapers out there, with features you'd hope for like snap buttons. Riqi recommends the FuzziBuns. I would happily try these except that our washing machine only does COLD water, so I'm afraid washabale diapers are not a viable option for us right now.

Then there are the baby carriers. The Moby Wraps site has very delicious mommy\baby pics if you click on "colors" links and mouse over the different colors. I think I'm going to inherit an Israeli version of these from a friend who never quite got it to work.

Another nice-looking diaper bag maker: Skip Hop

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Belly Cam - Ending Week 27!


I've heard it called "The Joshua Tree Effect". That when you suddenly become aware of something, you see it everywhere. So it's been with pregnant women. I see them everywhere. Is it that there weren't as many pregnant women around before? I doubt it. Since I first learned I was pregnant (at about 8 weeks, though I suspected before, I was hesitant to confirm it) I've been seeing them everywhere.
Lately I've noticed something new: babies. My focus has been widening to see babies everywhere. Suddenly I notice details I never noticed before, like that people with children under 3 get priority in the pharmacy line at the Kuppat Cholim (public health center). Then again, so do people over the age of 99, at least according to a line markered in by hand to the sign!
I take this as good sign, a hopeful sign. A sign that we're reaching for the home stretch and that things are going to work out.
Incidentially though I've also started looking at childless couples as "pre-pregnant". As though I can look into their future and see the inevitable that they do not yet see.
Maybe this is the reason that so many people, especially women who have had children before, are so excited that I'm pregnant and were so eager for me to get this way.

Graduates from Birthing Class!

We had our final session of our birth prep class this week. Wendy B. gave each couple certificates indicating our successful completion of the class. Apparantly posession of such a certificate used to be the requisite passport that would open delivery room doors to fathers. Today all Haifa hospitals grant entry to two guests, for example father + friend or mother. But it used to be that the father had to prove his qualifications! Wendy keeps giving the certificates because people like to get them. It will make a nice addition to Cholent's scrapbook.

The next to last class was all about breast feeding. We saw a movie that was much more pleasant than the natural childbirth movie. It included lots of cute, happy babies hungrily opening their mouths WIDE and sucking their little heads off. The film also dealt with some of the less pleasant aspects of nursing like PAIN. But in general I walked out with a still positive if somewhat more realistic notion of what's in store.

For some reason the idea of pumping really disturbs me. I guess I will have to see. But I'd like to avoid that if I can. I REALLY hope Cholent will take to nursing. When we went through the "pros" and "cons" of nursing in the class, I mentioned the pro of "feeling like I'm finally getting use out of these things I've been carrying around all my life!". This got snickers of non-identification from several of the small-breasted women in the class. Whatever. They were more interested in how breast feeding helps you return to your pre-pregnancy weight. Goody for them!

I was pleased to hear that at least in Wendy B.'s opinion, you can eat as you like when nursing. That is, healthy food of course, but that there are not especially restrictive limitations on the menu the way there are during pregnancy. I'm sure there are a wide range of opinions on this matter. I think I'll go with Wendy's advice until clear reason otherwise. She is a lactation specialist after all!

Hospital Visit

We visited B'nai Zion hospital (aka Rotchild) where, if all goes as expected and we end up with the planned C-section with our doctor, Cholent will be born, G-d willing sometime in early December.

The midwife giving the tour was nice and competent, but otherwise the hospital wasn't great. The maternity ward is undergoing renovations, as is every other maternity ward in the city of Haifa. This meant that recovering mothers were packed into the women's ward instead of the usual maternity ward. Actually those rooms were pretty nice, if a bit crowded. I snuck into one of them and talked with a mother and her family,
"This is my 3rd birth here, I wouldn't go anywhere else, even if it's crowded now," she told me, happily eating her lunch as her baby slept beside her and older daughters and husband joked.

The birthing room was pretty dismal, in that it was old. But they clearly were trying: there were massage oils, a small boom box, a TV... and most encouraging was seeing the little clear basket for the baby. So cute!

A bit disturbing was that you could hear the sounds of labor going on all around. Many frightened looks passed between the women in the tour.

They have a "nautral childbirth" room which was more cheerful: a funky round bed with pretty purple sheets, windows, some poles to swing from, a ball to bounce on, a fung shui fountain... and inexplicably, some hiddeous little Himmel knockoffs.

Still, if we're there it's for the C-section which will be over and done with quickly in an operating room (which we couldn't see). So all that will really matter to us is the post-op care. By December, we can hope that the rennovations will be done and that we may have a nice room with a porch. Getting a porch depends on "protexia". We should have that since our Doc is head of the dept. and if that doesn't work maybe Adi's uncle the surgeon who works there can help. The rooms are not private: 3-4 women to a room. But some of that just depends on how many people are giving birth then. Theoretically, December is a slower month.

We also learned that planned C-sections happen on Mondays and Wednesdays. I saw Adi visibly calculating his class schedule in his brain.
"Can I choose?" he asked me, hopefully.
"Um, I think Dr. G. will choose, and it will depend on Cholent too.
"So I guess that's a 'No'" he said.
"Well, if there's any choice left, yes, you can choose." I told him. My only request: let's try to do it early in the day since you have to arrive FASTING. Good thing is if it's planned, I'd go in a day in advance to do various tests and prepare paperwork. So on the actual day we can pretty much get straight to it. Also good: unlike an unplanned birth, when you can expect to be attended by a doctor on a TWENTY FOUR HOUR SHIFT, chances are Dr. G. will be well-rested and fed. At least, I sure hope so!!