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.)

Homeward Bound

The story goes that one morning while my mom was trying to dress three-year-old me, I threw a tantrum and exclaimed, “Mommy! If you don’t let me dress myself, I won’t take you with me when I move to Israel!” That got my mom to stop. Mismatched clothing or not, there was no way she was going to risk me holding to my declaration. I don’t think I really knew what I was saying. My daycare was run by an Israeli, but I really knew nothing about Israel.

I went to Israel for the first time when I was nine years old for the occasion of my brother’s bar mitzvah. I was probably too young to really appreciate the significance of being in Israel, but the trip stood out in my mind as a fun and memorable vacation, during which time we toured the country top-to-bottom over a two-week period.

When I was ten years old, I spent my first summer in a religious Zionist sleep-away camp. I remember walking to my bunk one morning after an activity when all of a sudden I head a whispering voice from up above saying, “Make aliyah, make aliyah!” (“aliyah” being the Hebrew word for literally “going up,” or moving to Israel). I shrugged, thought to myself, “Ok, G-d,” and continued on my way. I didn’t find out until years later that I had been standing under a loudspeaker, and that some counselors in this camp got their kicks from “brainwashing” of that nature. Well, it worked for me. I didn’t know why I wanted to, but I was determined to move to Israel when I was older.

When I was fifteen, I was offered the opportunity to spend the summer living in Jerusalem with an Israeli friend of mine and her family. It was a unique experience – spending time with Israeli kids my age, doing whatever they do to pass the days of the hot, Israeli summer. It was my first exposure to really living in Israel, as opposed to just being a tourist there. That was the summer of the Sbarro pizzeria suicide bombing in Jerusalem. It was a ten minute bus ride from my friend’s house, and as most of her friends were home for the summer, we spent the entire afternoon calling friends, making sure that everyone we knew was ok.

The next summer would forever be the summer that changed my life. Up until then, I had visited Israel twice and openly declared my intentions to make aliyah some day, but I still didn’t have a reason why it was so important to me. When I was sixteen, I went on the five and a half week Bnei Akiva summer program known as Mach Hach Ba’Aretz. It was during those five and a half weeks that I developed an unquestionable love for the land, her people, her history and her existence. It was five and a half weeks of traveling around the country, going to museums, hiking through streams and deserts, interacting with Israelis, volunteering on an army base, learning Hebrew slang, eating Israeli food, and loving every second of my being here. Leaving Israel after those five and a half weeks was the hardest thing I’d ever faced up until that point in my life.

I didn’t return to Israel until I was eighteen. I graduated high school and decided to take a gap year in Israel to study in seminary before returning to America to continue with my college education. I had already applied and been accepted to my dream college, deferring for the one year. I had every intention of spending one year in Israel, returning to America to get my college degree, and only then making aliyah as soon as those four years were completed. As I stood in the airport with my mom before leaving for the year, I jokingly said to her, “If leaving Israel after five and a half weeks was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do, I don’t know how I’m going to come back after spending a whole year there.” I said this jokingly, but there was a large-sized grain of truth in it. Sure enough, a few weeks in to the program, I knew that I wouldn’t be able to leave. I sent an email to my parents asking their permission to stay. They said no. I spent the next three months researching the aliyah process, learning about the benefits I’d receive from both private organizations and the Israeli government. I researched the higher education institutions in Israel. I formed a well-informed plan of action, all the time keeping my parents updated on my research. I was driven. And finally, on the fourth night of Chanukah, my parents gave me the ok.

Exactly one year later, on the fourth night of Chanukah, I boarded a plane to take me home. I made aliyah on a Nefesh B’Nefesh group flight, along with well over two hundred new immigrants.

My mom came to see me off at the airport. She came with me up to the point where non-passengers can go no further. We said our heartfelt goodbyes, knowing full well that I’d be back half a year later in the summer to visit, and then we parted. Ten seconds later my mom came running after me crying, “I was a good mom! I let you choose your own clothes! You said you’d take me with you!” That broke me. We cried and hugged, and I reassured her that a large part of her was indeed making aliyah with me that day, and that I’d be waiting in Israel with open arms when she does finally make the move herself.

Before take-off, Nefesh B’Nefesh hosted a good-bye ceremony. As nightfall had come by then, we had a group Chanukah candle lighting in the airport. Together we sang the songs, lit the candles and recited the blessings:

“.ברוך אתה ה’ אלוקינו מלך העולם שעשה ניסים לאבותינו בימים ההם בזמן הזה”

“Blessed are you, Hashem, our G-d, King of the universe, Who performed miracles for our ancestors in those days at this time.”

And what a miracle being performed for me, in these days at this time – returning to my ancestral homeland, having an ancestral homeland to return to after two thousand years in exile.

And so, every year over Chanukah I have a little bit more to celebrate and a little bit more to be grateful for: To Hashem, for giving us a home to return to, and to my parents for letting me return to it.

Happy Chanukah!

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.


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.