Monday, January 29, 2007

Got Milk!

Big success with those precious 100ml of my milk today. I felt more better about leaving the house when wonderful nanny N. came in the afternoon, knowing there was breast milk on hand. She drank some of it then. Later, during the peak of the "Cluster Feed" cycle, Adi gave her more, enabling me to prepare dinner. Win, win!
"How's Aba as Ima?" (How's father as mother?) I heard Adi asking a happy Ahuva as he fed her, sitting as I do with the nursing pillow. Pure pleasure, seeing them like that.

Bath Time

She enjoys!

La Leche League

In an effort to get out of the house and meet other new mommies, I went to a local meeting of la leche league ( yesterday morning. It was a short drive from home, making it a major milestone: my first solo drive with Ahuva. I was pretty calm, checking to make sure she was breathing at read lights only. I could see her purple fleece hat rising and falling as her little head moved - but not too much thanks to a super little head\neck pillow she got as a great gift from J.
When I arrived there was one other Mommy there. She was nursing a baby who was a week or two older than Ahuva - and not nearly as big or robust! There was a counselor and another woman - counselor in training? who never introduced ourselves. We introduced ourselves and had the chance to ask questions. I got one of my questions answered. What to do when I feel I'm becoming a human pacifier? That is, when sucking continues but feeding is done. Well it was sort of an answer. One option: so what? If she's happy who cares? Other option: so what? break the suction and remove her. Hmm. OK.
Then about half an hour into the meeting, another mother burst in. She was carrying a baby who turned out to be her FOURTH child. Before she set him down in his carseat carrier, the other mother said, "Are you coming to my house for coffee afterwards?". Hmpfh. Not that I wanted to join them but that was kind of rude, to say the least. New mother - who looked younger than me and in amazing shape for being the mother of four, the youngest also a week or two older than Ahuva (but again, much smaller! HA!) - totally dominated conversation. Without introducing herself either, she launched into animated tirades about all sorts of things. I listened, a little stunned.
Eventually (when new mother loudly answered a cell phone call) I got to sneak in my next question: is there a trick to pumping? Answer: yes! Pump in the morning when there's the most milk. Nurse on the other breast while you pump since cute baby sucking will stimulate the "let down reflex". I tried it this morning while watching "An Inconvenient Truth" and it worked! Well, pretty well. I got 100 ml, more than my previous pathetic yields. Enough to give me confidence to leave Ahuva with the wonderful sitter for a while while I came here to my favorite cafe to write this blog. Not bad.
The other useful thing I learned was that Ahuva's evening fussy, hungry period in the evenings has a name: cluster feeding. The idea is that she's getting high-calorie, denser milk to stock her up for the night. So our intuition - that it's worth 2-3 tough hours to get a good night's sleep - is true. What to do? One suggestion is to have a bottle ready to give her after nursing, to satisfy her hunger. Another theory is to get her to bed earlier. We tried that yesterday. So-so results.
I don't think I'll be going back to the meetings since I did not feel great so simpatico with the other women. But I came home feeling more confident. Even though the counselor "corrected" my nursing hold during the meeting, I came home quite sure that Ahuva and I are doing SOMETHING right given her healthy size.
OK, time to run home!

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Photo site

Sending pics via mail is tiresome.
See for pics.

Pink Elvis

I heard sounds that made me SURE we'd have to combine diaper change with bath but when we got everything set up and I put her down to undress her, it turned out she was fast asleep. I love the upraised colars on these Carter's onsies. This one (a great gift from P & S in Florida) has cute pink bows on the feet and wrists.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Postpartum Survival Kit

Here are some items I found truly useful in the first joyful yet confusing, painful, teary, and overwhelming days after Ahuva's birth and beyond.  I am grateful to friends who clued me in to some of these. Others I picked up from various lists on the web and in books. Others I learned about the (very) hard way. I share this list with you, pregnant woman, not to scare you but to give you a realistic idea of what's to come. I hope you won't need any of this stuff, but, in the (likely) case you do, well, at least you will have been warned! It WILL be OK, you WILL survive this!
DISPOSABLE UNDERWEAR - It was even worth a trip to the dreaded mall for me to buy some. At SHILAV, I recommend you buy the cheapest kind. They look like boxy nets but as a result they are the most breathable. Believe me, you will not be auditioning for any fashion shows any time soon. Also, this model is easier to rinse out and wear again. Take them with you to the hospital so that bringing home bloody underwear is one less thing you'll have to deal with.
EYE MASK - Because "night" and "day" as you know them will cease to have meaning. You must sleep whenever you can. This will help.
NOVA-LI PADS (cheap sanitary napkins) - You will have "discharge" of one kind of another for quite a while. Most women will advise you to bring your own favorite pads to the hospital. In fact, I found the bulky, non-adhesive pads supplied for free by the hospital to be just fine. They're more breathable than the more expensive Kotex or Always I usually buy which have a sort of plastic liner. Also, in the beginning you will really not want to deal with "wings" or any extra anything to deal with. It's not like they're going to "fly away" anywhere. By using these cheap ones, you won't feel bad about changing them a million times a day or even using two at a time if you have to.
RAPHAEL NIPPLE CREAM - Smells funny, but it works. Apply after nursing to avoid or reduce irritation. Wipe off excess before nursing, but it's safe for baby too. Goes on easier than the Lanisol version I got from the US, but same idea.
NURSING PADS - Their purpose will be clear as soon as your milk comes in! Try to get some of the soft flannel ones that you can wash and reuse.
BUTT WIPES - Alas, I hope you will not need them, but you probably will, especially if you are fortunate to experience a natural or "regular" birth. Apparently when figuring out how to get the baby out, mother nature thought it wouldn't hurt for you to push out half of your ass as well. In fact, it hurts like HELL. For me, hemorrhoids were worse than the dreaded epistomy stitches which I didn't feel at all for over a week. I recommend the Dr. Fisher 9 months brand for the "intimi" area if you can find them. In the US, TUCKS wipes work well. Tip: you can leave one on top of your pad for extra relief. You will also need some kind of cream of your choice.
RESCUE REMEDY - This Bach flower potion sounds like bullshit, but trust me, it works and it's safe. Take before or after any stressful event such as oh, having a baby, or visiting with your in-laws.
MENTOS - Or other minty candy. Because you won't always have brushed your teeth when people come to visit you in the hospital. And sometimes you just want something sweet. Plus, you'll be thirsty ALL THE TIME.
SHOPPING LIST - Here are a bunch of things you should stock up on before you go to the hospital if you can. Or else, ask people to bring them to you.
WATER - you will be insanely thirsty.
SNACKS - dried fruit and nuts are great, high-calorie healthy foods
HERBAL TEA - chamomille, fennel (shumar) are recommended for nursing mothers

Thursday, January 25, 2007


It's official

We went to register our marriage and Ahuva's birth at the Ministry of the Interior yesterday. Ahuva had her first subway ride! We took her in the Carmelit, Israel's only underground and the world's shortest subway line.
We also applied for a passport for her. Adi took her to get her passport photo. They require that your eyes be open for the photo. Ahuva did not exactly cooperate, so she looks a bit like Don Corleone in his later years in her passport photo. Very cute.
Had some trouble with blogger recently so sorry there haven't been new pics. Will try to rectify.

Monday, January 22, 2007

5 Kilos

Ahuva had a hep B vaccination today at tipat chalav. I cried more than she did. She was asleep when we arrived and emitted only a single cry when nurse Ela injected the vaccine in her little thigh. I was holding her during the ordeal and shed several tears. Ahuva then woke up but stayed quiet. She now weighs 5 kilos and measures 57 cm, putting her at the 90th percentile for girls her age. She also has excellent proportions (height\weight ratio). She peed on the scale, showing good attitude!
I'm feeling much stronger and walked with Ahuva to the shopping center today to buy fish for dinner and butt wipes (for me, alas).

Saturday, January 20, 2007

AAP Opposes Private Cord Blood Banking

But Doctors Group Favors Public Storage Efforts
We decided not to do it, by the way...


A few nights ago when I got up for a feeding (or maybe just to go to the bathroom, or because I woke up sweating, or some combination of the above), I found Adi awake watching a movie called "Jackass". If you have not heard of the concept, you are probably not a young male. That's OK. I will attempt to enlighten you. It is a very popular series involving a bunch of guys who do really, really stupid masochistic "stunts". Some of the guys are buff and tattooed. One is very fat. One is a midget. The stunts are often performed half-naked, suggesting there is something else going on here. An example of a jackass stunt is a guy putting a fish hook through his cheek (yes, actually piercing his own flesh), then jumping into shark infested waters. The stunts don't last long. Pain is often involved, not to mention risk of really severe damage.
I've never understood the appeal of the show.
But suddenly I saw it in a whoooole new light. These guys should try childbirth if they want to experience a scary, painful, death-defying feat! Not one of the stunts I saw could even compare. Ha.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

On our own

After one fabulous, extraordinarily helpful month, my parents began their journey home. I felt pretty devistated, though I know that I am much stronger than that first impossible week home when I made my mother promise she wouldn't leave me if I wasn't OK. I still cry easier than normal but not constantly. I'm tired, but my body doesn't ache in every possible place all the time, just two or three tender areas. Ahuva has grown so much that she is easier to handle with confidence. I still have a hard time reading her "cues" but I'm trying to learn. Last night for instance, it was pretty clear to me and Adi that she was OVERTIRED but it wasn't obvious to us what to do about that until eventually the three of us just crashed in mutual exhaustion in our bed.
I will need ongoing help, as it was a major feat to get dinner on the table last night (I didn't get to eat it in one sitting either) even though all I had to do was put a dish in the oven that my mother prepared before she left.
Adi is happy to be facing the challenges of parenting together, just us and I guess it is time. For me, it was nice having two eager extra sets of hands to hold the baby, make home repairs, cook, straighten up, answer the phone and perhaps not least important two extra voices to provide a constant stream of encouragement and support. It was also just great having their companionship during the day while Adi is studying and most of my friends are working (I don't have a lot of energy to make plans yet anyway). Also of course in the middle of the night. My mother would sit with me and talk while I nursed or my father would take a kvetchy Ahuva so I could sleep without waking Adi.

Week 3

We can't believe how quickly she grows! It feels like every time we pick her up after a nap she's gained weight. Her face is chubby cheeked and full, her grip and kick are so strong.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Ahuva Yonit at 2 weeks old

Simchat Bat

On Friday night we welcomed Ahuva Yonit into our tribe at the Moriah Synagogue. It was a stormy night and many people were unable to make it but we were thrilled by everyone who did manage to come. It was lovely.
Regular kabbalat shabbat services were given an extra boost of ruach, of spirit, by the presence of some thirty teenaged scouts attending a shabbaton at the shul. Together with our guests, we filled the cozy space. We hadn't really discussed or planned the ceremony in detail with the rabbi, but we couldn't have been more pleased if we had. During lecha dodi, a prayer which welcomes the sabbath queen, the rabbi signaled for me and Adi to take Ahuva back behind the congregation. I pried her out of her Bubbe's loving arms and we walked back where four cute young scouts were holding the four poles of a chuppa formed with a talit. Our little family stood under the shelter of the chuppa, much as Adi and I had stood at our own wedding back in March. One of the young scouts was quite short and Adi had to nudge him to hold his pole higher.
At the end of the prayer, the entire congregation rises and turns to face the door to welcome in the sabbath queen. Today, our Ahuva Yonit was symbolizing the sabbath queen! We then walked slowly and with great pride to the front of the congregation, escorted by our trusty scouts. The rabbi said a few words of blessing and mentioned that in the bible, it is Joseph's blessing for his sons, for the children, which is most significant. He also recalled how I had sent my parents racing from the hospital to the shul just seconds after delivering her on Thursday the 21st so that they could announce her name for the first time during an aliya at the sefer torah. Until that moment, Adi and I had successfully guarded the secret of her name as tightly as an envelope at the academy awards. I hadn't even written it down yet and had to scrawl it on a post-it, my hands unsteady, with Ahuva on my chest for the first time. I told the rabbi and the congregation that the idea of shaharit services at 8:30 had motivated me to get her out on time. There was a huge clock facing me in the delivery room and I kept hoping we'd make it on time.
The rabbi then asked the families to rise. Our parents, Ahuva's grandparents, were all seated in the front center row. On one side, Adi's aunt Noga, Uncle Israel, and cousin Tal rose. Together we said the shehechianu, the blessing thanking God for sustaining us to reach this moment.
Adi then read the text he prepared about Ahuva, explaining how his beloved grandmother inspired him to love the Hebrew language and pursuit of knowledge and that these were qualities we hoped for our Ahuva. I read the text I prepared on Yonit, the name chosen by my friend Janis Coulter. I expressed the hope that like Janis, our Ahuva Yonit would actively choose to live her life as a Jew, that she would be respectful of others, and that she would overcome adversity. (Full texts in the previous blog entry).
We returned to our seats until the end of services. After services, we gave our daughter the traditional blessing for daughters after the kiddush, that she may be like our foremothers. One and all then enjoyed the appetizers my parents ordered. There were salads, vegetables, cookies, fruits, and because she is a girl, strawberries! We had a few moments to visit with our friends and Ahuva's admirers. Ahuva collected some wonderful gifts, including a used stroller in excellent condition.
"It's like you're giving us a car!" I told Maggie, sincerely moved by this gift. A high school friend of Adi's showed up and even brought an adorable outfit. Friends of mine came all the way from their home north of Karmiel, and another dear family of friends who happened to be here from France were able to attend.
Ahuva Yonit, by the way, slept peacefully during the entire event! She only woke to be changed and fed when we got to her grandparents' house for dinner.

Ahuva Yonit

For those of you interested in knowing a bit more about why we chose the names we did, here are the texts Adi and I prepared and read at her simchat bat ceremony last Friday.

We read them in Hebrew but I include our translations too.

אהובה מהלאל

אני מאד גאה לקרוא לבתי הבכורה על שם סבתי אהובה מהלאל זכרונה לברכה. אהובה עלתה לארץ בתור נערה מפולין כאשר בפיה כבר שגורה עברית מצוחצחת של הגימנסיה העברית שם. לימים היא גדלה להיות מורה ללשון עברית ומחנכת נערצת פה בחיפה. דמותה הייתה רבת השפעה עבור דורות של תלמידים, ולא בכדי הרופא שבדק את אהובה שלנו במכשיר האולטרהסאונד זכר שאהובה המורה אמרה לאימו שהוא יכול להיות תלמיד, אם רק ילמד. הערה אופיינית לסבתי שגם בי החדירה עמוק עמוק את האהבה ללמידה ,לקריאה לשפה העברית, ולרכישת ידע. גם לאחר שיצאה לגמלאות המשיכה אהובה יום-יום לפקוד את ספסל הלימודים באוניברסיטת חיפה ולהסעיר את שכלה החריף. תכונות שכולנו מאחלים לאהובה הקטנה שלנו.

בנוסף לכך, בשנותיה האחרונות לימדה אהובה את כולנו פרק בנאמנות, כאשר עמדה כל הדרך לצידו של בעלה, סבי המנוח שחר מהלאל, אשר הלך ודעך אט אט בשל מחלת אלצהיימר קשה. מותו היה קשה מנשוא עבורה והיא נפטרה כמה חודשים אחריו. אני מאחל ואני משוכנע שגם אהובה'לע הקטנה שלנו עוד תזכה לחוות רגשות עמוקים כל כך של אהבה בחייה. תודה לך אהובה-יונית שבבואך לעולם אפשרת לנו להיפרד פעם נוספת מסבתינו האהובה.

שבת שלום לכולם.

Ahuva Mahalel

I am very proud to name my first daughter after my beloved grandmother, Ahuva Mahalel, z"l. Ahuva made aliyah as a young girl from Poland. When she came she already had fluent Hebrew, which she had acquired at the Hebrew Gymnasium. She grew up to be a teacher of Hebrew grammar and was an admired educator here in Haifa. Her character had a great influence on generations of students. Even the doctor who checked our Ahuvale with ultrasound remembered that my grandmother had told his mother that he could be a student if only he would study….a typical remark by my grandmother who inspired me with a great love of learning, of books, of the Hebrew language, and of acquiring knowledge of all sorts. Even after she retired she kept attending Haifa University daily to stimulate her sharp mind. These are characteristics we all wish for our little Ahuva.

In addition, in her late years Ahuva taught us all a great lesson in loyalty when she stood by her husband, my late grandfather, Shahar Mahalel, who slowly faded away due to terrible Alzheimer's disease. His death was too much for her to bear and she passed away several months after he died.

I wish and am convinced that our little Ahuvale will experience such profound feelings of love in her life.

Thank you, Ahuva Yonit. By coming to the world you have allowed us to bid farewell once more to our beloved grandmother.

ג'ניס קולטר )יונית-רות(

המנהג לתת שם שני (middle name) מאפשר לנו לכבד את זכרה של נפש נוספת היקרה לליבנו. יונית הוא השם העברי שבחרה לעצמה חברתי הטובה ג'ניס קולטר. כשנרצחה ג'ניס בפיגוע בהר הצופים בחודש יולי 2002, תיארו אותה בעיתונות כדמות חשובה בקהילה היהודית. בשבילי, ג'ניס הייתה חברה יקרה ותומכת, אשת סודי.

הכרתי את ג'ניס כשהיא הייתה תלמידה באולפן בקיבוץ עין השופט, בקיץ 1996. אני הייתי מדריכה באולפן, ומכיוון שג'ניס הייתה מבוגרת ממני בכמה שנים וגם המבוגרת ביותר בין תלמידי האולפן, היינו צוחקות על כך שהיא החניכה המצטיינת שלי.

ג'ניס התגברה על אובדן ועל דיכאון, כשתמיד חיוך גדול על שפתיה המשוחות תמיד בשפתון מושלם.

"את הגיבורה שלי", נהגתי לומר לה, והיא הייתה עונה בצחוק מתגלגל.

יותר מכל אדם אחר שהכרתי, מימשה ג'ניס את מה שהגדיר הרב נחמן מברסלב כמצווה גדולה – להיות שמחה תמיד. היא גם תמיד ידעה כיצד לגרום לאנשים סביבה לחוש בנוח.

ג'ניס בחרה להיות יהודיה. אהובה-יונית שלנו נולדה כיהודיה, אבל לחיות את החיים כיהודי זה תמיד עניין של בחירה. אני מקווה שאהובה-יונית שלנו תבחר לעצמה חיים של אהבת תורה, עם ישראל ותרבותו. אני מקווה שהיא תאהב את אותם הדברים שאהבה ג'ניס-יונית-רות: משפחה, חברים, לימודים, ארץ ישראל ואת השבת.

אני מקווה שכמו ג'ניס, תתייחס אהובה-יונית לאנשים בסבלנות סובלנות ובכבוד, שתלמד להתגבר על אתגרים כשחיוך על שפתיה, ושהיא תזכיר לנו תמיד שזו מצווה גדולה להיות בשמחה תמיד.

Janis Ruth Coulter (Yonit Ruth)

The tradition of giving a middle name enables us to honor the memory of an additional soul who is dear to our hearts. Yonit is the Hebrew name that my dear friend, Janis Coulter, z"l, chose for herself. When Janis was murdered in a terror attack on Mount Scopus in July 2002 she was described in the newspapers as an important leader of the Jewish community. For me, Janis was a dear supportive friend and confidant.

I met Janis when she was a student in the Ulpan at Kibbutz Ein ha Shofet in the summer of 1996. I was a madricha and because Janis was a few years older than me and the oldest in the group, we used to joke that she was my "best camper".

Janis overcame loss and depression, always managing a big smile on her perfectly lipsticked lips. "You are my hero," I used to tell her and she would answer me with an infectious laugh. More than anyone else I ever knew, Janis exemplified what Rav Nachman of Breslav defined as "big mitzvah": to always be happy." She always knew how to make people feel at ease.

Janis chose to be a Jew. Our Ahuva Yonit was born Jewish, but to live your life as a Jew is always a matter of choice. I hope that our Ahuva Yonit will choose for herself a life filled with love of Torah, Israel, and Jewish culture. I hope that she will love the things that Janis loved: family, friends, studies, the land of Israel and Shabbat.

I hope that, like Janis, Ahuva Yonit will relate to people with respect and tolerance and that she will learn to face challenges with a smile on her lips and that she will always remind us that it is a great mitzvah to always be happy.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Bigger and Stronger

We're all feeling a lot stronger. And Ahuva is getting much bigger! Yesterday I saw her newborn pics and barely recognized her. She now has full creamy cheeks and opens her blue-black eyes wider and wider. Her hair seems to be getting fairer.
I'm feeling like myself for longer stretches each day. But my time and energy is still all focued on eating, resting, and feeding with bathing in between.
We had a big milestone yesterday, venturing outside the home for a stroll in the neighborhood. I carried Ahuva in my chic purple Moby D wrap (a limited edition, mind you! A fabulous gift from Heller, thank you!!!). It was a huge hit. I got it wrapped on the first try (following the printed directions). Ahuva loved it. She fell into a deep sleep within steps of the house. My parents accompanied me as we made some rounds, showing her off to my dear manicurist and the girls at Sylva cafe. We stopped there for a coffee and a pastry shaped like a breast. Seemed appropriate!
Amazing how time takes on a new meaning and just getting clothes on and going down the block for a coffee becomes a fulfiling expidition!

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Photos of Ahuva, round 2

Faye Levy!

How cool! I got this post on my blog (repeating here because the replies sort of get burried unless you expand 'em):
Hi Zehava,

Congratulations! I hope you'll have much joy from Ahuva!

I enjoy your lively writing style and your sense of humor.

Some weeks ago you mentioned your "Faye Levy project" and I have to say, I've never been a project before! What did you mean - cooking from my articles?

Best of luck in all your projects, and happy 2007,
Thank you!
What I mean is that sometime during pregnancy, I started working my way through all the recipes in your book Faye Levy's International Jewish Cookbook. I received the book as a graduation gift from my aunt in 1992. I was inspired to make it a "project" after reading the wonderful book Julie and Julia while on bed rest in the 2nd trimester. That book describes a young woman's valiant attempt to cook every single recipe in Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking within a year.
My mother is cooking for me now and may attempt some new recipes from your book!

Wednesday, January 03, 2007


It turns out that the hormone, lacrimone, that makes the milk flow ALSO makes tears flow (as in lactate, but also as in lacrimonious). So this makes it really, really easy to cry now. Example: A few days after coming home from the hospital we were sitting at breakfast when Adi mentioned that James Brown had died.
"Don't tell me you cried," Katus asked when I told her. Of course I did! And how!
But when asked if the reaction was the same in response to Gerald Ford's passing, the answer is no. With no disrespect to the former president, I have to admit that I thought he was dead already.