Monthly Archives: November 2012


Hair… It’s an interesting thing really.

According to a survey that Tresemme supposedly conducted a number of years ago, the average woman spends roughly $50,000 on her hair in her lifetime. All this time people make such a big deal over having “healthy” hair, except hair is actually dead the minute it leaves the follicle.

When I got engaged to my husband a number of years ago, we did a “victory lap” to America to meet the relatives. There he noticed a magnet on my parents’ fridge of a picture of me from when I was 5 years old, taken at a local summer day camp. After one look at the picture, he asked me which of my two brothers it was. Fine, my hair was short. I mean, really short. But to confuse me with a boy?!

I’ve never fussed over my hair the way other women do, but I still like to have it.

For most of my life my hair’s been wavy/curly, frizzy and impossible to manage. Since I almost always wore my hair up, and since I couldn’t be bothered to find a good hairdresser in Israel, I got in the habit of letting my friends/roommates cut it. Halfway through college, I discovered that a classmate and good friend of mine was a professional hair cutter and stylist, so I let her cut my hair instead. Somehow she understood my hair better than the hair stylists in New York, and for the first time in my life I found that I was able to wear my hair down and keep it wavy/curly and nice for a short period of time. I was able to enjoy my hair like this for about a year – just long enough to snag myself a husband. Then I got married and began covering my hair in accordance with Jewish law.

For many women, covering their hair when getting married is a huge deal. They feel like they’re losing a part of themselves, a part of their identity. Me? I couldn’t have been happier. I finally had an excuse not to fuss for hours in front of the mirror for a result that would only look good for about an hour.

Since getting married three and a half years ago, I’ve only had my hair cut twice. The first time was a couple of months after my wedding. My hair was longer than I wanted, so I asked my husband to trim it. It could have been a bigger disaster than it was. By the end, after he had evened it out, it was a good couple of inches shorter than I had asked for, but I was still just able to put it up in a ponytail, so no irrevocable harm done. A year later, however, I returned to my college friend for a professional haircut. Since then, I haven’t gotten my hair cut for about two years. Factor in the fact that I’m pregnant and pregnant women’s hair tends to grow faster than regular, my hair got to be pretty long (down to my lower back).

I decided a number of months ago to get it cut, but I wanted to do something special with it. I figured it was long enough to donate to a good cause. The only thing holding me back was that if I did cut off that much hair, I’d be left with hair so short that I couldn’t make a ponytail of it, thus requiring me to change the styles in which I cover it (and shopping for more head coverings… ugh). But eventually I gave in (and by “eventually” I mean two days ago). I braided a long braid, went to pay a visit to my college friend, and had her chop it off.

Ladies, gentlemen, meet my hair…

Later that day I dropped it off at Zichron Menachem, an organization that will make sure it gets made into a wig for a cancerous child.

In the meantime, it’s taking some getting used to my new hairstyle, and I’m still not entirely sure how I want to cover it.

The important thing is that I won’t be mistaken for a 5 year old boy this time.


What to Expect When You’re Expecting

Recently a title for a Hollywood film, What to Expect When You’re Expecting  was originally the title of a well known guide book for mothers-to-be. This book takes its readers on a month-by-month trip down pregnancy lane, familiarizing you with the fetus’s growth each month, what pregnancy symptoms to expect each month, some tips on how to deal with said symptoms, and how best to prepare for labor and having a baby.

One thing I’ve learned from talking to people is that each woman has a different experience, and each pregnancy for each woman is different than the last. Some women feel like superwoman for all 9 months, never feeling a minute of nausea at all. And on the other extreme, some women spend most of their 9 months being hospitalized. A mere 4 days after finding out that I was pregnant, I ended up getting emergency medical care (an IV) because I couldn’t eat or drink or keep down anything that I’d try to ingest. 4 days! Not quite what I’d call “starting off on the right foot.” And sure enough, there I was vomiting roughly once a day (occasionally more, not too often less) for the next few months. But even with the terribly misnamed “morning sickness” (which can and will attack at any time of day or night), each woman who experiences it will experience it differently. I spoke to one woman whose daughter-in-law had morning sickness as a constant companion in the first trimester. Fortunately for her, it manifested itself similar to a baby spitting up. (This woman told me that her daughter-in-law would be walking down the street, talking to a friend, when all of a sudden she’d be overcome by a need to vomit, turn to the bush behind her, vomit, excuse herself and continue talking as if nothing out of the ordinary had just happened.) I, unfortunately, was not so lucky. I’d get nauseous for a few hours leading up to vomiting, and then post-vomiting I’d be so exhausted that the next few hours would be shot for doing anything productive. None of the tricks that people recommended worked (ie: smelling a lemon, eating a lemon, ginger tea, nibbling on pretzels, drinking lots of water, pressure-point wrist bands, etc.). After a couple of weeks, I didn’t know how I’d make it through a couple of months like this. So I devised a game:

How to Cope with Morning Sickness When Nothing Makes it Go Away: The Game
Hurricanes are given names according to the ABCs, so that they can be called something catchy as they destroy everything in their wake. Why not name your vomiting escapades in a similar fashion as they wrack your body and leave you feeling weak for hours? It’s a guaranteed way to provide minimal entertainment when the world seems so dismal, you feel like you can’t go on.
*For the advanced player: Try to come up with the most hideous name for each letter.
If you go through the entire alphabet (as I did), the second time around try using only names of characters from popular literature or media (I used A Song of Ice and Fire, as they have some pretty arcane names, but another good idea could be names of rappers).

On top of the morning sickness I had extreme fatigue, meaning that when I wasn’t going to the bathroom, I was lying in bed. Moreover, due to the nausea I found that I couldn’t read books, watch TV or movies, or even look at a computer screen. So, what do you do when you’re home alone, bedridden for two months with absolutely nothing fun to do to pass the time?

Anna’s Activity Suggestion for When You’re Bedridden for Two Months and Have Absolutely Nothing Fun to do to Pass the time:
Supplies needed: bed next to a window overlooking a wall, a tree or best of all, a courtyard.
Inevitably you will be constantly looking at the time, watching it drag by ever so slowly, day after day, just waiting for life to pass. To spice things up, each time you check your watch or a clock, look out the window to see where the sun is casting its shadows. After a couple of weeks, you should be able to tell the time by the position of the shadows being cast. It’s a talent that’s completely useless unless an EMP shuts down any time-telling device in your bedroom during the same time of year during which you learned this talent. But it’s a talent nonetheless!

And yet somehow the first trimester passed, and I survived. All that means is that the nausea’s gone. The second trimester brought on a whole flurry of other symptoms instead, and not all are happy:

  • You know that glow that pregnant women are supposed to have? Yeah, that’s oil. Usually followed closely by acne.
  • Little known fact about pregnant women (and for this I shall quote the book, What to Expect When You’re Expecting): “Are you passing gas like a college frat boy (make that more than a college frat boy)? Sorry, guys, but nobody does gas like a pregnant woman.”
  • Changing body shape, which requires more frequent clothes shopping, and for someone who hates clothes shopping (::cough:: me), that can be hell. (I just grew out of a maternity skirt I bought. I didn’t even know that was possible.)
  • Possible pregnancy induced food intolerance to every food under the sun. I may not be vomiting after each meal, but rolling around clutching my stomach isn’t a whole lot better.
  • Being a walking furnace. (Apparently pregnant women are always hot.) Especially during an insanely hot Israeli summer.
  • Food cravings. I’ve heard that the cravings that pregnant women have are their body’s way of telling them what nutrients they need. If that’s the case, then why am I often craving Duncan Hines brownie batter or chocolate mousse when I’m not allowed to have raw eggs?! Honestly, body – get with the program!
  • Mood swings. Expect a whole separate post dedicated to this.
  • Fetal movements. They’re sweet and adorable at first. Even later on. Unless you are pregnant with a ninja.

Anyway, I could go on forever, but I’d rather not scare any potential prospective mothers (otherwise known as the female race) away.

Bottom line: You can’t expect anything when you’re expecting. Every person is different. Every pregnancy is different. Every pregnancy symptom manifests itself differently in each woman in each pregnancy, and what works as a cure for one woman may not work as a cure for the next. So don’t expect anything, take everything as it comes, and most importantly, learn to make the best out of every crappy situation (see Morning Sickness: The Game above).

And don’t forget… it’s only 9 months! (Note my heavy, heavy use of sarcasm.)