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


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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:

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!