Thursday, June 29, 2006
Insanity Central:

My whole house has been out of control since boychik's arrival. It's hard for me that things are messy, as I have a deep emotional need for order. I can't do much around the house, because the baby always wants to nurse or be held. The kids are wacko, which is nothing new, except that now it's a little wackier. Yaakov and my mom are watching them. Yaakov is much more generous than I am in the "project" department - he lets them really go to town with the paint and glue.

My mom being here is a huge help, but we get into our mother/daughter dramas. Yesterday I broke down in a hormonal fit, and she told me to settle down. I snapped at her and told her to "mix out." Today she said, "I know I can't shower on shabbos, but can I put on make up?" I told her no. She threw up her hands and made this exasperated sound. "You mean I can't wear make-up to my grandson's bris?" I wanted to say, "No, you can't wear all your gross eye liner. You can't cake on the foundation that's the wrong color for you. You can't wear the obnoxious red lipstick with the brown lip-liner." Yaakov answered, "Don't worry - I can't wear my make-up, either."

Then there's the ba'al teshuva weirdness: The bris is on shabbos, and our families have to attend. No mom, you can't wear your scary geisha-face, but all our relatives can drive to shul.

Guess who's giving them directions?

Wednesday, June 28, 2006
Two Drink Minimum:

Today the boychik had his first doctor's appointment. Everything looks good, so we're heading towards a shabbos bris.

This has me very nervous: I look at his tiny part down there, and I'm scared for him. I think I'm going to need a glass of wine before the bris - I'm not kidding. Maybe two.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006
See That Girl, Watch That Sheen...

A couple of months ago, I blogged about the gay dermatologist. I made an appointment for Yaakov, who has some patches of redness on his body.

Yaakov went today, and the doctor had to examine the redness under a black light. Yaakov joked, "Cool man, let's get some strobe lights and velvet posters and turn on Pink Floyd."

Dr. Gay answered, "I don't know any Pink Floyd, but I know ABBA's "Dancing Queen" by heart - would that help?"

Ha Kadosh Baruch Hu, I LOVE YOU.

Last night I was talking to Hashem, trying to thank Him for our healthy son. I told G-d two things came to mind:

One is a Breslov song that goes; "If I lived a thousand years, if I lived a million years, I would never be able to thank Hashem." That's how I feel. If I had a million years to live, I'd never be able to properly express my gratitude.

The other is an old Lubavitch story about a chossid who went to his Rebbe. The chossid said, "Rebbe, I'm not sincere. And even when I tell you that I'm not sincere. And even when I say it now I'm not sincere." He repeated variations of that about a dozen times before he fainted. I can relate to that too.

How can I ever, ever truly and sincerely thank G-d for His kindness?

Monday, June 26, 2006
The Birth:

I started feeling some good contractions Friday night, so I called Sharon (my midwife). Despite my telling her to wait (I was afraid it was another false alarm), she came with her students. When she checked me at around midnight, I was 1cm. We all went to bed - the students slept in our guest room/office and Sharon slept on the couch.

I woke up at 4am having lots of cramps and contractions. I was officially awake from then on. When Sharon checked me at 9am, I was 3cm. She and her students left, with instructions to call her when the contractions were 5 minutes apart. Soon after, Mrs. Stein came over and took my kids for the morning. I laid in bed and rested, having contractions about 10 minutes apart.

The kids came back at around 12:30, uber-hyper. I decided if I couldn't rest from their noise, I might was well get up and walk around. I did, and my labor picked up. Around and around my house I went, ducking into bedrooms or bathrooms when a contraction came on. The kids were completely bananas, and it was very liberating for me to just let them be. I was busy laboring, and couldn't control them. I think they helped distract me from the intensity of my situation.

My contractions picked up to 5-6 minutes apart, and after an hour I called Sharon. Once during a contraction I was leaning against a wall, and Chaya ran through my legs yelling that I was a tunnel. At that point I decided I hated all my children, and they had to go. Yaakov insisted on not leaving me alone, so we agreed he would ship the kids out when Sharon arrived.

Sharon came and the kids went, and I was 5cm. She monitored me, and the contractions were 5 minutes apart for about another hour and a half. Then the midwifery students showed up. I don't know whether it was the change in energy or what, but all of a sudden my contractions lessened to 10-15 minutes apart. They were less frequent, but much stronger. I was moaning my way through them. I was too tired to do laps around the house again, and I started to really despair. The contractions were so intense, and I was scared the labor would drag on forever. I started crying to Yaakov that I wasn't going to make it.

Sharon suggested she manually break my waters. I wasn't into it. It makes the labor stronger and faster, and I was already a mess. I made a deal with her. She would check my dilation, and we'd make a decision then. Anyway, I was 7cm (!!!) and the water bag was too close to the baby's head. So that was that.

I was thrilled, and I asked Sharon how much longer she thought it would be. She said, "This phase usually lasts between one and three hours." "Three hours?!!" I cried. She laughed. "You didn't hear the 'one' part!" Anyway, the contractions got closer, I wailed louder, and 45 minutes later our little man was born. He came out after 2 or 3 pushes - by far my easiest pushing phase yet. In fact, when Sharon told me the head was out, I couldn't believe it.

I have come to the conclusion that I will never have an easy, rosy, "Spiritual Midwifery" kind of birth. For me, birth is hard, agonizing, and intense.

But I can do it.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

It's a boy!

Born (at home!) on shabbos - 7lbs, 4oz.

Friday, June 23, 2006

The show was intense.

We got there and were looking for parking, when this hairy biker-lookin' dude leaned into the car and greeted Yaakov warmly.
Yaakov met SO many people he used to know - he's 7 years older than me, and had a lot more time on the Dead scene. "Park in the garage and save yourself 20 bucks!" crowed biker-dude.

While we were on line, more people came to kiss and hug Yaakov
. I couldn't help but laugh at the incongruity. Yaakov with his big beard, tzitsis, and black hat, being hugged by all these hairy, hippie men. Several times I had to beg off from getting wookiee-hugged, which they all graciously understood.

There were other frum people at the show, a couple whom we knew. Tons of Yidden in general, always a Dead standard. It seemed everywhere I turned, I was looking into another Jewish face. Many people came up to greet Yaakov with a "Shalom Aleichem," which reminded me of something the Rebbe said: when a Jew sees a beard and tzitsis, something is aroused in him.

Anyway, they opened with "Passenger," and the show was pretty tight. The band was great and Phil was looking healthy. The highlight of the first set was "Bertha," one of the musicians was playing pedal steel. It gave the song a country-ish twang, a nice twist.

One thing I haven't experienced in a long time is pot. Everybody was lighting up everywhere, smiling and offering to their neighbors. The guy next to us was smoking the biggest joint I've ever seen. All I could think of was, "Man, my sheitl is going to stink!" I also thought of the Alter Rebbe, and I realized I was standing in a pit of self-indulgence. Rav Plony flashed into my mind...what would he think if he saw us here?

Second set opened with St. Stephen, which oddly segued into "Slipknot!" Of course I was excited, because "Slipknot" usually goes into "Franklin's Tower." I literally groaned and wrung my hands at them when they played "Shakedown Street," instead. Don't get me wrong, it's a great tune - but I love "Franklin's Tower" and was sorely disappointed when they didn't play it. About midway throught the second set I couldn't stand anymore. We had been standing for about 2 hours and my legs felt like jello. There were some benches by the soundboard, and I plopped myself down next to another pregnant woman. We got a good laugh. Once I was away from our original place - front and center - I realized how much better I could breathe. I didn't realize how intense the pot was until I got out of it.

Of course, "m'shaneh makom, m'shaneh mazal" - "change your place and change your luck." In our new location, there was a crazed amazon woman. Twice she almost trampled me with her manic flailing. She was obviously very drunk. Yaakov noticed her fussing with her nose alot, and mentioned there might be a little cocaine happening, too. Once she even started talking to me. "You wouldn't date your sister's ex-boyfriend, wouldja?" "No, I wouldn't" - which is certainly true since I have no sisters. Then she offered me some vodka (she musta known I was a Lubavitcher).

On the way home I was having some serious contractions - strong and regular. We got home and they continued for about 2 hours. I said, "If this is early labor, we're both going to need some sleep. Let's just go to bed and see where it leads."

It went nowhere.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Phil! Tonight!

I can't believe I'm still pregnant.

Monday, June 19, 2006
Domo Origato, Mr. Farto.

So today at the library we got to see a magic show. I marvel at all the programs our local library provides - if these are my tax dollars at work, I'm happy.

Anyway, on the way out I perused the books for sale.
I found "The Good Earth," by Pearl S. Buck. I read it in the 8th grade. I remembered how much I enjoyed it, so I picked it up to buy it. Apparently, the original owner had a sense of humor (and a black marker).

Later, on the carpool line, Chaya saw one of her friends. "Please Mommy, can Rochel come home with us?" So I arranged with her Mommy, and Rochel came over to play and have supper.

"Srulik likes to take off his diaper and pish on the floor." Chaya giggled. "Chaya," I laughed, "Don't be giving away all our secrets." Then Rochel piped up, "Well, my Tatty farts all the time." I waited for Chaya's inevitable rejoinder, which would have been, "Mine does, too." But it never came.

Sunday, June 18, 2006
Happy Father's Day.

Yaakov is mowing the lawn. Then he's going to wash the cars. Fatherly things to do, right?

I got him this book for father's day. We've had a lot of success with the program! I'm looking forward to learning more, and further improving our parenting skills.

I was hoping for father's day we'd have a new baby - I'm officially overdue. People call me and ask, "Have you had your baby yet?" or, "You're still around?" I can't tell you how much I love that!

It's frustrating - I have lots of contractions (and sensations) that just go nowhere. I keep thinking, "Oh, maybe this it it," and it isn't. I had the same problem with Srulik: When I went into labor, I said, "Is this really it? Should we call the doula?" I couldn't believe it was actually happening, after all the "false starts."


Thursday, June 15, 2006
Getting Honest:

I have an anger problem.

I get very nasty with Yaakov. He's forgiving, and he takes my barbs in stride. I recently told him he was being an enabler. I suggested he give me a Love and Logic type ultimatum: "Maven, you can be sweet or I'm going to have to leave the house for a little while."

I had an episode with him on Sunday where I just totally decimated him. He was supposed to call me when he was done with shul, as
I needed him to go to the grocery store. I had my whole family coming over, and I wanted to get a lasagna in the oven. I needed spinach. He didn't call. He stayed late in shul to learn. Then he went to Rav Plony's house to fix his printer. He became the devil incarnate. Over a missed phone call. Over a stupid bag of spinach.

He said, "I think you enjoy being angry at me." That was heavy, and I had to sort it out. I realized he was right. That in some perverse way, I feel empowered by my anger. I'm sure it has to do with old baggage, but it doesn't matter what the reason is. We learn in chassidus, "ha-maisseh hu ha-ikkur," "Action is the main thing." How I treat him is what counts, no matter how I feel.

I was totally ashamed of my behavior. Yaakov is a good guy. He doesn't deserve that. I told him I am committed to changing this negative pattern I have. I've already stopped myself three times (!!!) this week from opening my mouth.

I think this is a good thing to be dealing with now. This is the Spiritual Midwifery approach. A woman has to sort herself out emotionally, so she can be in a good space to have her kid. This is especially important with issues involving her husband.

And committing to positive change is way better than a father's day card!

Tuesday, June 13, 2006
Kol Tuv.

I'm due this week.

I went to my midwife today, she said the baby's head was really low. That would explain the incredible pressure I've been feeling! She said, "Hang on 'til the 15th, that's when your insurance kicks in." I tend to run late with my births, and I've been saying all along that I won't have the baby until next week anyway. But now that she told me to wait, I feel weird.

I've also been contemplating a homebirth. I started thinking about it regarding shabbos - it would be much easier to have the baby at home if things started happening then. When I think about it, it seems like a much nicer option in general. Not that the birth center isn't awesome, it's just not home. I can imagine how much more relaxed I'd be in my own environment.

The only drawback would be having to ship the kids out. I don't want to make them leave their safe space, especially during such a transitional time. I think it would be ideal if I went into labor in the late afternoon or early evening, then the kids could go to bed and I could have the baby at night while they sleep.

Who knows what will be? It's all in G-d's Hands.

Sunday, June 11, 2006
Bad News for the Jews:

On Friday, in Israel, the IDF fired onto a Gaza beach. This killed 7 members of a Palestinian family, who were on a picnic.

This is a horrible tragedy. And the worst of it is, the lone surviving member was a 7 year old girl - saved because she was swimming. She came back to the beach to find her whole family gunned down.

Israel's officials have apologized. It was a mistake, with devastating consequences. But what pisses me off is the fact that Palestinians have been bombing and shooting innocent Israelis for years. They don't apologize, oh no. Hamas can't WAIT to claim the glory! They're proud to say "We did it!" They relish it. This picture is of Shalhevet Pass, shot point blank in the head. Ten months old. Did the Palestinians apologize for that? They probably high-fived each other for excellent marksmanship!

And you know what? I feel sorry for Israel, because you can bet revenge is coming. There'll be hell to pay, bloody hell. If I were in Israel right now, you couldn't pay me a million shekels to get on a bus.

The whole thing is a damn shame.

Friday, June 09, 2006
Entering the Covenant.

I was at a bris this morning. There's something so emotionally arousing about brissim for me, I always cry. I cry at the awesomeness of it. I cry with compassion for the baby. I pray that G-d hears the baby's screams.

I pray He hears the private screaming of every Jew.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

My neighborhood is very diverse, both in ethnicity and economy. There are all kinds of houses here. Mansions. Dumps. Houses that have landscaping, houses that are simply neat and tidy. Houses with loud paint jobs (like the orange one on my block).

But there's one house I can't stop thinking about. Maybe it's because its owners are people I care about. People who are poor and struggling, who just gave birth to kid number 8 or 9.

About 10 years ago, while still a student in yeshiva, my dorm counselor spent a shabbos meal with a large family. She came home and told me about their poverty, but also about their cleanliness. She said the house was spotless, their clothes worn but neat. "There's a huge difference between being poor and being slovenly," she noted. "They're not always hand-in-hand."

I don't know why her comment struck me so, but it did. I never forgot it. And I think of it whenever I pass this family's home. I feel so depressed when I see it. The rusted-out cars in the driveway, the heaps of stuff on the porch. The old shelves, piled with junk, sitting outside. The dark clutter that looms inside. I want to fix it!

But now that I write about it, I realize it's not the house that needs fixing. There must be some kind of pathology behind the mess. Because even when Yaakov had no jobby-job for 9 months, our Brooklyn apartment was neat as a button. Like my dorm counselor said, it's not always a hand-in-hand kinda thing.

Now, I understand I'm extra-sensitive towards this issue. I admit, I'm a neat-freak. I don't leave my house in the mornings until the house is tidy: Floors swept, beds made, dishes washed.
I understand that my proclivity towards cleanliness makes me more upset by their situation.

But I also feel weirded out by the fact that there are other large families here. Ones who have nice homes, and full time help. Why did G-d make it this way? Why should some have so much and some have so little? How is it that we all live in the same neighborhood?

It makes me feel defeated.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006
Open Mouth, Insert Foot!

So today at the library I stopped in the bathroom to give Srulik some tylenol. I went there specifically, so I could wash the little dose-cup in the bathroom sink.

Anyway, we're in the bathroom when all of a sudden, I smell poop. "Srulik, do you have a poopy diaper?" I asked. "No," he said. I checked. He didn't. "Maybe somebody had gas, it sure smells like poop in here."

A minute later, a lady emerged from a bathroom stall. I had no idea she was there, I thought it was just me and the kids.

Talk about embarrassing!

Love and Logic IV & V

I didn't write about last week's L and L session because it was mostly reviewing situations with the instructor. This week was more of the same.

But I realized; I'm not offering my kids a choice when I say, "Either do this, or you can take a break." That's me saying: you do what I want, or you do what I want. There's no real empowerment happening for the kid.

For example, last night Chaya kept making these elaborate sneezing noises into her napkin at dinner. She was riling up Srulik, who stopped eating was goofing off. We asked Chaya nicely to stop, and told her she had a choice: She could stay at the table, or go into her room. We even added how much we wanted her at the table with us. I mean, this is fair. It just could have been done better. She finally went into her room, but it turned into a little bit of a showdown.

We discussed it with the L and L instructor, and he suggested the following: "Chaya, we see you're having such a great time sneezing! If you want to sneeze like that, you can do it in your room." So it's not like a threat; "stop or go to your room." It gives the kid a little wiggle-room to make her own choice. If she continued, we could say - "Wow. We offered you a choice, but it looks like we need to make the choice now. You can stop with the sneezing, or go to your room." Always emphasizing the choice aspect, reminding her the ball is in her court.

Which reminds me of another L and L thing: The kid ideally comes to the conclusion that the behavior is HIS problem, not the parents' problem. If the parents are being empathic and fair, then whatever the kid is doing is his responsibility. "Oh gee, I'm doing x, but my parents are giving me loving choices. If I don't change my behavior, whose fault is that?" We trust that our kids are smart enough to figure it out.

This morning Chaya was dilly-dallying about getting dressed and going to school. I gave her a few gentle reminders/choices, but basically backed off as much as I could (another L and L thing - don't be afraid to let the kid screw up!). What happened? Her carpool ride came. She missed breakfast. She learned!

I was secretly praying they would get to our house before her breakfast was ready.

Monday, June 05, 2006
AIDS at 25

That's the name of a compelling new feature on

Thinking about AIDS makes me think about my life. I remember when the first information was coming out - "the gay cancer." Nobody really knew what was going on. I feel like I grew up with this disease in the background. On magazine covers. A teacher who died.

If you were diagnosed, you could kiss your life goodbye. There were no drugs like there are now. Today, people have AIDS and they live with it. It's not the death sentence it was.

I was reading about how it's such an epidemic in Africa, a place where men are reluctant to take protective measures. And I thought indignantly, "if they aren't willing to help themselves, why should the American taxpayer?"

And then I thought, "If people are behaving immorally, don't they deserve it?"

Then I was struck by a memory: A scared young woman in a clinic, waiting for her test results.

That was sobering.

Thursday, June 01, 2006
Kosher Vegan, Skip This Post:

I'm really anxious about this birth. I was fine until the midwife showed me those damn videos! None of the women looked like they were having the spiritual experience of their lives.

I have friends who've had quick and easy natural births. Not me. At every birth I've felt like I wanted to die.

A friend gave me an old N'shei Chabad article, a Jerusalem woman writing about her birth experience. While the cab was taking her to the hospital, ambulances were blaring all around - a bombing. So she gets to the hospital, and there are all the bombing victims. Bloodied faces, missing limbs, cries of pain. And she says to herself; I could have an epidural and not feel anything, but there's no epidural for them. My pain is a joyful one, because I'm having a baby. Their pain is completely senseless. That's how she soldiered on.

And look at those poor women in the Congo, may G-d have mercy on them. They've been violated beyond belief. I'm worried about labor? Look what they suffered through!

There's a part of me that's totally depressed about this. Is this the only way to be cheery about natural childbirth? To say; "Well, at least it's not a bombing. At least it's not vicious rape."

I've been paying my midwife all along, I'm locked in with her. I have to get through this. But I'll tell you what, I'm really starting to regret my choice. I love my midwife and I'd like to have a baby with her, but I feel like I just can't deal anymore. I mean, I've paid my dues. I had 3 babies naturally. I had back labor for 33 hours with Chaya, without drugs.

I'm telling you, I was fine until the videos.

My Photo Name: Fancy Schmancy Anxiety Maven
Location: Chutz l'aretz - Outside of Brooklyn

fancymaven at gmail dot com