Sunday, January 18, 2015

It was a snowy weekend

I wanted to write a bit about the more practical aspects surrounding Israel’s birth. Circumstances worked out in such a way that in the last months of my pregnancy we spent very little time at home. There were certain things that needed to be fixed in order to make our house habitable, and though it was all supposed to be arranged in good time, stuff like that has a tendency to take longer than was initially planned.

We ended up staying with my mom right up until the day I went into labor, which wasn’t easy. In the last few days, I was overwhelmed by a powerful nesting instinct that made me tell my husband I want to go home right now so that I can begin fixing things up - though it would have been totally pointless, as the work wasn’t done yet and everything was still in too much of a disarray for me to attempt anything. Looking back, I should have known it was a sign I’m about to go into labor. I really felt deprived because I couldn’t scrub floors, arrange closets and stock the freezer at the very end of my pregnancy!

Well, as we came home from the hospital with our new baby, everything was just as I dreaded – things all over the place, tools lying around, the furniture haphazardly piled in the middle of the living room and covered with nylon sheets. Strangely, though, I didn’t seem to mind so much anymore (perhaps because I had such a sweet distraction in my arms!). Our bedroom was more or less in order, and so I retired there with the baby while my husband tidied up. Over the next few days, bit by bit, we put the house in order (a process that is still ongoing).

Another worry I had was that of having a January baby. We’ve been through that with Shira, and though the electricity bill was staggering, at least back then we lived in a place where electricity was reliable. This time, I wasn’t sure we’d have an adequate heat source at all. Everything worked out just fine, though.

The weekend after we came home was the coldest of the year. On Friday afternoon it began to snow, and the snow continued throughout the night. As we looked out of the window and saw everything covered in a white blanket, I was overcome with a profound sense of peace. We got a gas heater just in case electricity would cave in, and the warmth radiating from it was lovely. We had plenty of good food to heat up in the course of Shabbat. The girls were delighted with the snow, and when morning came I bundled them up and they got out to play and toss snowballs. It was, truly, a magical night and day. I like to close my eyes and re-live it, time and time again.

All of this was an important lesson for me. My husband kept saying, “it will all work out, trust me” – and I did, outwardly, but I should have paid deeper attention to the bigger voice saying “trust Me”. I spent literally months worrying myself silly over things which were, in the long run, inconsequential – and in the end, it all worked out beautifully. 

Thursday, January 15, 2015

We did it, again!

I had waited for this a long, long time, but when rubber hit the road, I felt as though there's absolutely no way I can come through it alive. 

On the up side, I did it, as of course I had no choice but to. 

I recall that when I posted about my first birth experience, six long years ago, I was accused of glossing over things and understating the extent of pain, etc. Well, just to reinforce my reputation as a truthful person, I will honestly say that this time around, things were a lot more intense than the first two times - which makes sense, since the entire active labor was comprised in a much shorter time frame. 

I was admitted for monitoring at 2 PM, and the attending nurse was totally unimpressed with the duration and spacing of my contractions, and was about to declare I'm not really in labor, when my waters broke. When I mentioned that last time, the baby came out about half an hour after rupture of membranes, I was finally taken seriously. A few minutes after 4 PM, just before the lighting of the Shabbat candles, I already held our new baby in my arms. 

In between, and not that I want to dampen the spirit of anyone who's planning to do this without pain meds, I lived through hellish pain. As big a fan of natural birth as I am, if there had been a way to know in advance how painful it would be this time, I would have opted to have medical pain relief. As things were, however, there was nothing to do but go through with it (as the midwife, who was a real champ, reminded me).

The midwife who attended me was one big positive point throughout the whole experience. Things were quiet in the L&D, so she was able to be with me through it all. She helped me manage the birth so that not only I didn't tear at all, there was hardly even any soreness afterwards. As soon as our son was born, she placed him on my chest and I had some precious time admiring, snuggling and nursing him before anything else was done, even cord clamping. Only later the midwife proceeded to cut the cord and the baby was weighed, wrapped and handed to my husband, while I was getting cleaned up. 

Two hours later, I was already able to get up, put on my own clothes, and go on business as usual. It was amazing - after all the pain, I was feeling great, barely as though I had given birth at all! The nurses couldn't believe their eyes when they saw me up and about as though I hadn't just delivered a baby. The vengeance came later, when the baby started nursing and the afterpains kicked in. I've heard they get worse with each birth, but it really was beyond any expectation. Thankfully, they subsided about five days later. 

Time doesn't allow me to put into detail everything else that has been going on here, but I just wanted to say thank you for all the notes of friendship and support that had been sent our way. I couldn't reply to each one in person yet, as I've now taken time off pretty much everything in order to enjoy some complete peace and quiet with my husband, our daughters Shira and Tehilla and our new baby boy, Israel. 

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The most beautiful birth story I've ever read

Being just a few days before my due date, I'm of course busy with things like washing tiny clothes and packing my hospital bag, but if you ask what I've been doing most of all in the past month and a half, the answer would be, fretting and worrying about the upcoming birth. 

All sorts of crazy thoughts are swirling in my brain:

How on earth do babies come out of there? It doesn't make any sense! (Never mind that I've had two babies come out just that way, with no complications, very straightforward. I think I can have ten babies and never fully grasp the sheer miracle of it.)

Whatever made me think I can do this? I'm sure I can't. It will kill me. My body will fall apart. (Again, never mind I've already done this and was up and about the next day). 

I don't want to be there. It's not the pain I'm afraid of, it's the enormity of the act itself, it's just freaking scary. I don't want to be aware of what is happening to me. Someone please put me under general anesthesia and wake me up when the baby has arrived. 

I've been suffering from insomnia. I haven't been able to really focus on anything productive. I've been having heart palpitations and shortness of breath and panicky thoughts that can amount roughly to, SOMEONE STOP THIS TRAIN NOW, I WANT OFF!

My husband reminded me that I've had the same fears before, and that when I actually got into the last few days before labor, I experienced a feeling of calm, relaxation, faith and confidence. He's right - I guess it's part of the hormonal alchemy that indicates my readiness to go into labor. 

Last night, I came across the most beautiful, amazing, encouraging and peaceful birth story I've ever read. It was just incredible how something clicked into place once I've read it. For the first time in many weeks, I was able to go to sleep at night peacefully, without sitting up in bed for a long time, gasping for air and moaning, "I can't do this! I can't! Perhaps it's not too late to schedule a C-section?"

I invite you, too, to read and be inspired

Monday, December 22, 2014

Nine candles will shine tomorrow night

My soul had been sated with troubles,
my strength has been consumed with grief.
They had embittered my life with hardship,
with the calf-like kingdom's bondage.
But with His great power
He brought forth the treasured ones,
Pharaoh's army and all his offspring
Went down like a stone into the deep.


Just popping in for a little hello... to reassure that I'm still here. ;o) 

Happy Hanukkah! 

Sunday, December 14, 2014

And some more yarn

To be precise, a lot of cuteness in exchange for very little yarn. :o)

I made these following the pattern for Bev's Very Easy Booties, and now I've tried it, I don't think I'll ever want another bootie pattern again... it's so simple! I whipped them up in a total of about one hour or so.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Small projects

There's not much time left for big projects... but little ones - for little people - can be just as satisfying.

After completing this wee pair of booties, I'm now making another, in dark red, following a very easy pattern I found here. I'm enchanted with its simplicity - the bootie is made entirely in one piece, which is so convenient. Perfect for times when you're on the go, or when your brain is getting into this snail-paced, inner-focused, ninth-month of pregnancy mode.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Coconut cream for smooth skin

I got my hands on a nearly-discarded bar of coconut oil in my Mom's refrigerator. At first I thought it's some ancient soap, but when I asked and was casually told that "it should probably be thrown out, it has been here for years", I took it for myself.

The internet is full of wonderful recipes for homemade creams, lotions, butters, balms and scrubs using coconut oil, and the simplest of them is this: just take some coconut oil (in solid consistency - cool it if you need to) and whip it with an electric beater until you get a smooth, airy consistency, akin to whipped cream. I tried to do that, but the coconut oil itself was too thick to whip up well. I had to add a glug of almond oil - don't ask me for quantities, but I think it was about 1 tbsp. of almond oil to 1/2 cup of coconut oil.

By the way, I used almond oil because that's what I had on hand, but I daresay it's also possible to use olive, wheat germ or grape seed oil, or whatever you prefer.

When what I had in the bowl resembled whipped cream so much that my daughters begged to lick the beaters, I stopped whipping and scooped what I got into a small wide-mouthed jar, which I refrigerated for an hour or so before transferring it to room temperature. Then I tried the body butter. It has a lovely creamy consistency and feels very pleasant on dry hands. And it cost practically nothing! A very welcome acquisition, just as I've nearly ran out of the body butter my husband got me as a gift last time. 

In various recipes, I saw that people suggest adding a few drops of essential oils to your skin product. While I imagine a hint of lemon, orange or lemongrass wouldn't go amiss if I had them on hand, I must say I simply love the pure natural smell of coconut, which is both gentle and delicious. 

Result: easy-to-make, very affordable, 100% natural concoction that I wouldn't hesitate to use even on small children or babies.