Category Archives: Pregnancy

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

It’s happened! My little Hobbit has joined the world! And by Hobbit I mean baby, human, child (with normal, hairless feet).

She actually joined the world about a month and a half ago, and as such I’ve had zero time to write about it. One one hand, the birth was an incredible experience, and like everything else in my life, there’s a story behind it, and as such I feel a compulsion to share it. On the other hand, it’s a bit personal, and maybe shouldn’t be out there leaving its digital mark forever on the pages of the vast interwebs. And on yet another hand (no, I’m not Vishnu, just a woman with the newly discovered superpowers that come with being a mother), some people may find discussion of the topic of birth off-putting, distasteful, or even disgusting. But still… it’s a story, and stories must be told, just be forewarned – I don’t think there’s anything gruesome (I left those bits out), but if you’d rather not risk it, don’t read it.

You’ve read the posts I’ve written about the pregnancy. It wasn’t an easy one, and the way I saw it, labor couldn’t come soon enough. At my 32nd week visit to the doctor, I was told that I may have to be induced at 38 weeks due to some circumstances beyond my control. I spent the next few weeks bracing myself for the fact that at 38 weeks I may have a little baby in my arms. Then, at my 37 week appointment, the doctor told me that all was fine and no induction was necessary. Week 38 came and went and I didn’t have my baby in my arms. Psychologically I was prepared for it. Practically too. (I promise, you’ve never met a more together pregnant woman than me. I was completely done with any nesting thing I could think of by week 38.) My actual due date no longer felt like my due date, and each day past 38 weeks felt like another overdue day. Since I couldn’t fathom the baby coming still after my official due date, I was on the verge of mental instability when my actual due date came and went and the baby was still in me.

A few days after my due date, my doctor had me submit to fetal monitoring to make sure that everything was still alright. Thankfully all was fine, but the doctor highly recommended that I be induced anyway given the earlier concerns from week 32. So there I was on a Sunday afternoon, heading in to the hospital for a labor induction. Of course, since it wasn’t an emergency induction, they told me I’d have to wait my turn, possibly for another few days, and that in the meantime I’d have to stay in the hospital. By the time they decided all of this it was late in the evening, so I went to the room I’d be staying in overnight during my wait. And by “room” I mean “hallway.” Yes, you heard me… hallway. The rooms were all full, so I got a bed in the hall of a recovery ward. Between the lights being on, the lack of privacy, the people walking around and the cries of newborn babies, I didn’t sleep one wink. Sometime around 4:30 in the morning, another woman went into labor, thus opening up bed in one of the rooms. Unfortunately, by the time I was moved in and got comfortable, the hospital was already coming to life for the day, so I continued to get no sleep.

That first night I spent in the hospital probably sounds quite uneventful to you. In truth, it was quite the opposite. You see, while not getting any sleep and while waiting for my turn to be induced, I went into labor naturally. It was still a very early stage of labor, and had I not been in the hospital already, I probably would have stayed at home a while longer. But I was there, so I made the most of it over the course of the day. (Well, the second half of the day at least. The first half of the day was spent trying to figure out if this was real labor or just more Braxton-Hicks.) “Making the most of it” was pretty much restricted to walking up and down many flights of stairs (because hospitals have lots of stairs).

The contractions got progressively more intense with each passing hour and by nighttime I was sure it was time to go to the delivery room. But after roughly 21.5 hours of regular contractions, I had nothing to show for it. That’s right… 0 centimeters. Naturally I began despairing, and apparently despairing was the key. Two hours later I was 3 cm dilated and fully effaced. Go figure. At 11:45 pm I was finally moved to the delivery room.

I don’t really remember what happened next. It was another sleepless night, and frankly 2 sleepless nights in a row left me quite delirious. It was a 32 hour labor, start to finish, with no pain medication. I’m no hero. Like I said, I was delirious. I remember spending some time in the bathroom, some time standing up, some time on my knees, but frankly I was in a half-asleep state the entire time except during the actual contractions. For part of the time I listened to my relaxing music playlist, made up mostly of movie soundtracks from movies such as Braveheart and Lord of the Rings. One of the few things I do remember clearly was listening to a specific track from the Braveheart soundtrack, and then in perfect timing with the background music yelling out, “FREEDOOOOOOOM!” just like in the movie. Of course no one else in the room (husband, doula, midwife) was listening to the music and they probably found my behavior quite odd, especially as I wasn’t free of anything – the baby was still inside me. Oh well.

Anyway, from what I gathered, it would seem that once I began dilating, things moved at a decent pace. Before I knew it, they told me I was 9.5 cm dilated. Unfortunately, I felt a very strong need to begin pushing at that point, but they wouldn’t let me as one is not supposed to push before a complete 10 cm dilation has been reached. After a few minutes, however, I couldn’t help it and had to push anyway. I’m not sure how much time passed exactly – maybe half an hour – but as far as I knew I was still only 9.5 cm dilated and pushing futilely, when out of nowhere the midwife asked me if I wanted to feel the tip of my child’s head that was already partly out. Wait… what?! When did that happen?!

At that point things pretty much moved right along. (Actually, things moved quite slowly. My contractions all but stopped and baby was stuck in that partially-out position for about 15 minutes, causing her to be born with a funny looking ring around her head – Don’t worry, it’s since vanished.) Before I knew it, I had a wriggling little baby girl in my arms.

The next few days passed in a blur. Before I knew it, it was getting-released-from-the-hospital day. I woke up that morning and went to the cafeteria to get breakfast, only to freeze in my tracks (almost quite literally) at the sight of feet of snow accumulated outside the windows. Apparently Israel was in the midst of a storm, the likes of which it hadn’t seen in 25 years. And I was stuck inside, unable to play in the vast accumulations of snow (they’re probably laughing at me back in New York for calling this “vast”). Anyway, it became clear right away that no one was going to be going anywhere. In case you don’t know, Israel is very poorly equipped to deal with snow, with only a handful of snow-plows. Just the prospect of a few flurries is usually enough to shut down schools for the day. Sure enough, after questioning a nurse I found out that the only vehicles on the roads were emergency vehicles. I was not excited about spending more time in the hospital, especially after being there a couple of days early waiting for an induction that never came. It would seem the hospital wasn’t happy for me to stay there either. They were over-stuffed with patients needing recovery rooms. By late-morning they told me they were going to send me home in an ambulance, just to free up another bed. It would have been quite awesome, but unfortunately they were unable to get the ambulance until late afternoon, by which time the sun had melted most of the snow and my husband was able to brave the roads to bring us home.

And now to come full-circle with the baby-having experience… I wrote a post about pregnancy hormones (here), and let me tell you – post-pregnancy hormones are just as strange. On our way out of the hospital we stopped in the pharmacy in the hospital’s mall to pick up a birth-gift we were told they give new mothers. They asked me for my child’s mispar zehut (I.D. number) in order to receive the gift. Now you have to understand, I had to leave my home, my family and friends and move to a far away country and deal with tons of bureaucratic nonsense in order to receive my mispar zehut, a sign of Israeli citizenship. And yet there it was – my daughter’s I.D. number written on her birth certificate. All she had to do was be born and she’s already an Israeli citizen. Naturally, I burst into tears at the cashier when I realized this.

So here it is, a toast! To many more crazy adventures (and to the stories that come with them) – adventures as a new mother, adventures of a little baby discovering the world around her, and the adventures that accompany many a sleepless night!


Two (Wo)men and a Baby?

Due date is here. Baby is not. I’ve done EVERYTHING that friends and internet have advised I do before baby comes. I am waiting, and I am bored.

I’ve already regaled you with stories of my pregnancy – the good, the bad, and the good that can be found in the bad. So now what?

I’ve decided to take you back to a pre-pregnancy time a number of years ago. My husband and I were married for 3-4 months by then, and we decided to visit family and friends in America for a few weeks. As all my married friends know, the minute you get married, everyone thinks you’re pregnant. For instance, a month after I got married, I was sick for two weeks. The first week, everyone kept suggesting maybe I was pregnant. The second week, everyone was convinced I had contracted Swine Flu (this was around the time it became a big thing). Ladies and gentlemen, I was neither pregnant nor sick with the Swine Flu. I simply had a virus, an ordinary head cold. But anyway, the point is, people jump at any excuse to ask you if you’re pregnant from the moment you get married. (Single friends, just picture how annoying it is when people bombard you with questions about your dating life.) So anyway, there we were, in America, not pregnant, but knowing that everyone was dying to ask us, or make some comment that might force us to admit to something.

As every non-pregnant couple should do while visiting America, we decided one day to go to Six Flags amusement park. Nothing quite like the adrenaline rush of a good roller-coaster. Now most people who are going to feel sick after a ride will feel sick right away, as soon as they get off the ride. Thankfully, both my husband and I felt fine the entire day and thoroughly enjoyed the park. The next morning, however, my husband woke up feeling nauseous. After a number of hours, he finally vomited, and subsequently felt better. The next morning, however, the nausea returned. Thankfully, he didn’t have to vomit again, and after a few hours it went away on its own, but every morning for the rest of our vacation, my husband would wake up feeling sick. Finally, he went to a doctor. The doctor diagnosed him with morning sickness.

Now remember, through this whole ordeal I was feeling completely fine. But the minute people found out my husband was having morning sickness, they all reared their nasty little nosy heads in my direction and asked with sly grins, “Sympathy morning sickness?”

Ugh, people.

A Real Nail Biter

Everybody has some bad habit that they’ve been trying to break forever and just can’t manage to kick. For me, it’s been nail-biting.

I’ve been doing it ever since I was a kid, and I’ve actually tried everything to get myself to stop. Some things I even tried twice or more times throughout the years, but nothing stuck. Half the time I wasn’t even aware that I was biting my nails – it was just something I did subconsciously. Here’s a pretty comprehensive list of things I tried to get myself to stop:

  • Getting a manicure. Someone thought that if my nails looked so pretty, I wouldn’t bite them. Problem was that my nails didn’t look pretty. They were still ugly and short, only colored now.
  • Applying fake nails. Someone thought that if my fingers looked pretty, I wouldn’t bite them. Also, fake nails are made of plastic. Didn’t matter though. Half the time I wouldn’t look at my nails when I bit them. As for the plastic… well, that didn’t stop me either.
  • Keeping an emery board on hand always. It didn’t matter. Biting off a bit of nail was still more efficient that fishing around in my pocket for the file.
  • Wearing gloves 24/7. I actually bit a hole in the tip of one of my glove’s fingers trying to gain access to my fingernail.
  • Applying bitter-tasting nail polish to my nails. All it succeeded in doing was giving me a permanently nasty taste in my mouth.
  • Getting therapy on the grounds that maybe it was a nervous habit, and that if I solved all my problems, I’d have nothing to be nervous about. After two pointless sessions, I concluded that it wasn’t a nervous habit and no therapist was going to cure me of my nail-biting ways.
  • Asking my friends to point out when I’m biting my nails. It just got annoying to hear, and I’d bite my nails anyway.
  • Self-hypnosis. My teacher recommended that I talk to myself for five minutes every morning right after I wake up and for five minutes every night right before I go to sleep, repeating over and over again that I am in control, I am a strong woman, and that I will not bite my nails. I did this for about a week. Then I realized that I was talking to myself on a daily basis. Feeling like a crazy person, I stopped the hypnosis.
  • Chewing gum, the theory being if I had gum in my mouth, my fingers couldn’t be in there as well. Naturally, though, I couldn’t chew gum 24/7, so my fingers just waited until there was a vacancy in my mouth.
  • Flicking my wrists with rubber bands any time I caught myself biting my nails or thinking about biting my nails. This method actually worked for two weeks, at which point my wrists were so swollen, I just couldn’t bear continuing with the method.
  • Putting five cents in a jar every time I caught myself biting my nails or thinking about biting my nails – the money accumulated to later be donated to a cause which I oppose. Unfortunately, the only organization I could think of that would be enough of a deterrent for me to stop biting my nails was the PLO, and I wasn’t about to put the fate of the Jewish people in my nails.
  • Summoning enough will power to just stop. Needless to say I tried this method many a time. The closest it came to working was right before my wedding. I was determined to have beautiful nails for the close-up picture of my husband placing the ring on my finger. It actually worked for the most part – my nails grew more than they ever had. Of course I then had to go and bite just one fingernail, and of course it was the finger receiving the ring. I’ve got a nice blown up picture of that fiasco in my wedding album.

Bottom line: I tried it all. By this time last year I decided I needed a break from trying to stop – the whole thing was stressing me out too much.

Well, it’s amazing what a terrible first trimester of pregnancy can do for a woman. For three whole months I couldn’t put anything in my mouth. Usually this is just limited to food, drink and prenatal pills, but in my case it meant my nails too. By the time my second trimester started, my nails were stronger and more beautiful than they’d ever been in my life. Concerned that I might revert to my old ways once I could eat food again, I began applying the bitter nail polish that didn’t work for me many times before. Well, it’s been eight full months since I last bit my nails. I’ve never clipped or filed my nails so many times. I even got my first decent-looking professional manicure a couple of weeks ago for my sister-in-law’s wedding!

Who knew? Morning sickness was good for something after all!

National Security 2

In a previous post, National Security, I wrote about my adventures with the TSA full-body scan that they’ve implemented in American airports. At the time the I wrote that post, they were still fairly new. Now, a few years later, people have gotten used to them. The public may still be unhappy with them overall, but the uproar has died down a lot.

So, what more could I have to say about them (and airport security in general)? Well, flying while eight and a half months pregnant sort of changes things.

Firstly, it’s not recommended for pregnant women to go through these full-body scanners. They work similarly to x-ray machines, and if getting your jaw x-rayed at the dentist while you’re pregnant is problematic, then this should also be (although extensive research has never been done – pregnant women tend not to like being guinea pigs). When my turn came and they asked me to step up to the machine, I simply pointed out my belly and let them know that I’m not going through it. After about five minutes of trying to understand what the TSA officer (who had a stutter on top of his really thick foreign accent) was saying, they finally put me through a regular metal detector. (I didn’t even get the full-body pat down that’s the regular alternative for the body scanner!)

As I was putting my shoes back on, I overheard one TSA officer telling another officer that earlier that night a pregnant woman went through the machine. The officer had wanted to say something to her – that it’s not recommended for pregnant women to go through it – but since she hadn’t blatantly said she was pregnant, the officer didn’t want to risk insulting her by calling her “fat.” Who knew? TSA officers can be gentlemen too.

Anyway, after I passed the scanner, my carry-on bag had to be scanned too. I was a bit confused when they asked me if I had anything in my bag that they should know about. After all, I don’t make it a habit of traveling with machetes. Then I realized they were probably talking about my water bottle. In case you’re not aware, pregnant women are supposed to drink… a lot. For the last eight months I haven’t gone anywhere without my water bottle. Naturally, I was not looking forward to parting with it over the silly rule that you can’t bring liquids with you onto the plane. The following is roughly the conversation that ensued:

TSA Officer: Excuse me Ma’am, is there anything in your personal bag that you’d like to tell us about?

Me: (confused, lengthy pause) Oh! My water bottle!

TSA Officer: (Taking my water bottle out of my bag) Ma’am, you are aware that liquids are not allowed on the plane.

Me: Yes, yes, of course, but can’t I hold onto it up until boarding?

TSA Officer: You can drink it now, if you’d like. You’re allowed to take an empty bottle with you past this point.

Me: (Looking warily at the full bottle in front of me) I won’t be able to finish the entire bottle right here and now. Can I drink half of it and save the rest?

TSA Officer: I’m sorry Ma’am, but you can only take the bottle with you past this point if it’s completely empty. You can either drink the whole thing now and go back through the scanner (???!!!) or we can confiscate it.

Lengthy silent pause, during which time I look imploringly at the officer, clearly letting my troubles show on my face. Finally, after an exceedingly long and uncomfortable silence…

TSA Officer: (Dropping the tough guy act) Well, can you think of a medical reason why you’d need to take it with you?

Me: I’m almost nine months pregnant?

Officer smiles and nods, then takes my bottle in hand and walks away, returning a minute or two later and returns the bottle to my bag.

TSA Officer: We checked the contents of your bottle. You’re free to take it with you onto the plane. Have a nice flight!

And that is how I manipulated airport security. (For the second time that night, actually. The first time was when I managed to persuade the manager of the airline to let me take the stroller we’d purchased in America on the plane for free rather than have it counted as an extra piece of luggage that would cost more, as is airline policy regarding strollers when you aren’t traveling with a kid. All I had to do was offer to let her put her hands on my pregnant belly to feel the baby kicking, which she thankfully declined. Ah, the things we do to save some money.)

Tail Spin

Pregnant women are known to have frequent mood swings. Me? I turn into a crazy woman.

I thought it was as bad as it would get when, after watching Titanic, I called my husband at work and crying into the phone made him promise me not to drown in the Arctic after hitting an iceberg, or after watching Pearl Harbor, made him promise me not to die after surviving a plane crash only to get shot down by enemies (or, I hate to say it, after watching Zoolander, made him promise me not to die in a freak gasoline fight accident).

And while I did have plenty of crazy lady moments (still do?), I think none illustrates how bad I got better than this story:

I woke up late one morning towards the end of my first trimester and found that I needed to go to the bathroom. As I put my feet down on the floor, a little lizard shot out between my feet from under the bed and froze in place a few inches away. I knew I had to act fast if I was going to catch it. Looking around, the only thing I could find to trap it in was an opaque bedside garbage bucket. Using my lightning fast reflexes I trapped the little lizard under the bucket and breathed a sigh of relief. Not wanting to over exert myself in my delicate state, I decided I’d leave the bucket there for my husband to deal with when he came home from work. But then I realized that it would be hours before he’d be home, and the poor, little lizard (PLL) would probably suffocate and die from heat before then.

And so I began the trek from the far side of the bedroom towards the front door. Normally, I’d try to slip a piece of paper underneath and lift the trapped animal – as one would do with a spider or other insect. But a bucket’s too big and a lizard too heavy, so suffice to simply slide the upside-down bucket along the floor. I made it all the way to the bedroom door when a strange thing happened. I noticed something dark and thin sticking out from under the back edge of the bucket’s lip. I didn’t know what it was, so I continued pushing the bucket another inch. And that’s when it happened. This little black string started flopping around on the floor, disconnected from anything else.

It took me a second to realize what it was. You see, lizards, as a defense mechanism, will drop their tails when being chased by a predator. The tail, similar to a chicken with its head cut off, will continue moving without the rest of the lizard’s body, so as to distract the predator while the lizard escapes to safety. (And like starfish, the lizard’s tail will regenerate over time.)

I felt terrible that I had scared PLL into dropping his tail, but the sight of said tail flopping around and twitching on its own creeped me out so much that I ran back into bed and hid there, despite still needing to go to the bathroom, for the next half hour – 45 minutes until the tail stopped twitching entirely. Finally, I left the bed again and tiptoed over to the bedroom door, scared that I would reawaken the tail, and escaped to the bathroom.

I’d have happily stopped there, except I had caused PLL to suffer enough for a lifetime, and I didn’t want to shorted that lifetime by having him suffocate under the bucket, so I resumed my pushing. Halfway between the bedroom and the front door it occurred to me that a long time had passed and PLL might have escaped while I wasn’t looking. So I lifted up the opaque bucket to check on him. There he was. And sure enough, as soon as I lifted the bucket, he tried to make a run for it. Except unlike before, when he moved lightning fast, he was now moving slowly and oddly. I took a closer look a noticed that he was missing a front hand! The poor guy! Did I accidentally chop it off while moving the bucket? Did he bite it off to try to escape? Either way, I felt terrible. I ruined this poor lizard’s life single-handed, all in the name of saving its life.

But I couldn’t give up. Using the bucket as a guide, I nudged the lizard in the direction of the front door. Finally, I got him outside, and with a sigh of relief I climbed back into bed.

A few hours later I once again needed the bathroom. I tiptoed around the dropped tail in the bedroom doorway (I’d have my husband take care of that later), and made it a few steps into the next room and stopped short. There he was – PLL – no more than a foot in front of where I stood. Not only had I physically traumatized the poor guy, but I evidently caused some major brain damage as well, to cause him to return to the scene of his torture! I didn’t know what to do, so naturally, I lost it. I tossed the bucket back over him (my husband would be home in an hour, and I figured it would take longer than that for PLL to suffocate, and I couldn’t risk causing him more distress) and ran back to bed where I promptly began howling like a crazy woman.

I don’t remember much about how the next hour passed. I remember playing scenarios in my head where PLL was finally set free and he rejoined his other little lizard friends, only to have them mock him for his deformities and exclude him from group activities. PLL would forever be an outcast, forced to live alone, devoid of companionship. And it was all my fault. I was a monster.

Somehow the hour passed and my husband walked in the front door to find me wailing as if my favorite relative had just died. I was hysterical. I could barely form the words to tell him what had happened. Finally he calmed me down and extracted PLL to a nice grassy spot far away from our apartment, never to be seen again.

For the next week (or was it a month?) anytime someone mentioned a lizard, my lip would start quivering and my eyes would well up.

I’m a bit better now, although I still feel terrible for what I did to PLL. I hope he’s managed to move on, wherever he is.

And the moral of the story is: hormones are weird.

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.)

Angel in the Outfield

Dear Zayda,

It’s been almost half a year since you left your loved ones here and rejoined your Creator in heaven. Half a year and I haven’t mourned you properly. Half a year and I haven’t really processed what it means that you’re gone. You see Zayda, I’ve been a bit preoccupied lately.

Almost a week before you died, Mom called me to let me know that you were dying. The doctors didn’t know exactly how much time you had left, but they gave it a maximum of two weeks or so. I wanted to get on a plane and fly the 12 hours so I could see you one last time, but I also knew that there was a time coming up when my family would need me more, so I played a dangerous game – waiting for the doctors to give you a 48 hour window, so I could be there both to say goodbye to you and to comfort my mom and Bubby. That week was one of the most miserable weeks I’d ever experienced up until then. I’d never lost a relative before. I didn’t know what it would be like. I didn’t know if I would miss my chance to talk to you one last time face-to-face. I didn’t know if I could make it on time. The worrying made me feel sick. I filled my days memorizing flight schedules, always waiting with a packed suitcase so I could leave at a moment’s notice.

On Wednesday afternoon I got a phone call from Mom: The doctors give you a maximum of two days to live. This was it – the time I had been awaiting all week. I repacked my suitcase and went online to price out the cheapest ticket. The pressure from the last few days had built up to a nauseating climax. I felt sick to my stomach. I was losing my grandfather.

By the evening I was ready to go… minus the plane tickets. I had found the next flight I could make, plugged in my passport and personal information, and the computer was telling me that my booking was a click away from completion. All I had to do was submit my payment information. I couldn’t do it. I called Mom and tearfully told her why I wouldn’t be able to make it to say goodbye to you, attend your funeral, or support the family during shiva:

“Mommy, I’m pregnant.”

Maybe under normal circumstances I’d have known about it earlier in the week. Maybe I’d have seen the nausea for was it really was. Instead, I attributed it to the prospect of losing you. I had only taken a home-pregnancy test that very morning. I hadn’t yet done the blood tests to confirm, I hadn’t yet found a doctor I liked, and I certainly didn’t know the first thing about pregnancy. All I knew is that an hour earlier I had vomited for the first time this pregnancy, and feeling the way I was feeling, I could not fathom spending 12 hours trapped in an aluminum tin, hurtling through the air. Additionally, the last thing I wanted was to be a burden on my family during their time of mourning. If I flew in, I’d have to suck it up and support them, and I didn’t think myself capable of doing that. And so I tearfully closed the window. There would be no saying goodbye to you, seeing you one last time, thanking you for the wonderful memories and support you’ve shown me, or telling you that I love you.

A few hours later, you passed away. Mom didn’t have a chance to tell you that I was pregnant, but I like to think that you knew anyway – that once I spoke the words out loud, they traveled through space to your subconscious. And maybe that’s why you let go. You knew that there was going to be a Jewish continuation of your lineage, that life was continuing in this endless circle.

My first trimester was miserable, but I kept telling myself that you were up in heaven watching over me. That whatever G-d had in store for me, everything would turn out alright because you were being my advocate. That you would make sure nothing happened to this little fetus – your future great-grandchild. Even when I was in so much pain and discomfort and sure that something must be wrong, or when I was so miserable I just wanted all of this to end, I felt you there encouraging me on.


Gordon Meyerhoff

I miss you Zayda. People might not see it on the surface, but you influenced and shaped my life in so many ways that are precious to me. I credit you with bestowing in me a love for nature. You took me to The Island when I was 9 years old, and you invited me back each summer thereafter. Together we’d sit and watch the sunsets and the ocean waves for hours on end, never for a moment getting bored. As a therapist you always wanted to help people, but you always viewed yourself as a hidden artist. Your love for art may not have been passed on to me, but your artistic senses certainly did, in addition to your love of beauty and your need to capture it visually. You bought me my first 35mm camera when I was just a kid. A few years later you bought me a more advanced one. It became apparent that I loved photography, and you were always there to nurture that love. You bought me my first digital point-and-shoot camera when I first came to Israel, and then you bought me my dSLR when I registered for a photography course in college. Every time I showed you a photograph that I was particularly proud of, you’d respond with your lazy, “Hmmm… That’s pretty.” And every time I came to visit you in America, you’d ask me if I’d taken any more pretty pictures lately.

I miss the fun times we had together when I was younger. I miss going swimming with you and Bubby each time I came for a visit. I miss the Pesach seders that you “led.” I miss watching Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune with you at dinner-time. I miss the way you cheated at Scrabble (“Archichoke?” Really?). I miss your endless clutter (yeah, I inherited that gene too), and your countless pockets that were always overflowing with junk, which you had sewn into everything. I miss the lazy/casual way you’d say, “Hmmmm,” in response to anything. I miss the way you’d stand out everywhere you went because of your long, white beard, and how you’d always make such interesting friends because of it. I miss sitting on your lap as a little girl, braiding your beard like a troll doll’s (your beard took so much abuse from me).

I miss you, and I’m sorry that your great-grandchild won’t ever know you. I know you’d have had a great time together, especially because you loved kids so much. (Non-Jewish kids in your neighborhood always thought you were Santa because of your beard, and rather than let them down, you got in the habit of walking around with candy in your pockets to give out any time a kid ran over to you.)

I’m sorry I haven’t been more present in your life these last few years. It’s hard when you live halfway around the world.

I’m sorry I didn’t send you more artwork and photos of pretty things for you to “Hmmmm” at.

I’m sorry I didn’t have a chance to say goodbye.

Thank you for watching over us these last few months, helping us get through the worst of this pregnancy unscathed.

I love you Zayda, and I miss you terribly.

You will always be in my heart.

Anna (AKA: Kitty)