Bebe update: Three years

Bebe, I present to you, on this your third birthday, as you leave ‘toddler’ life behind and stand in the doorway of girldom, a contract I will sign, in the hopes I can help you continue growing without… totally screwing it up.

Article 1: On being ‘a girl’ 

Dolls. Nail polish. Dresses. Giggling. Princesses. Beauty. Poise. Complexes.

What an awfully powerful mix of associations to face right out the gate, amiright? It seemed when my generation was little we got to play with pretend makeup and dress our Barbies and no one bothered us much. Were our mothers, fresh off the 70s, overthinking it too?

I think we can do this, Bebe. You’re welcome to request some experimental nailpolish. I cordially invite you to play dress up in my closet. Explore what makes you giddy. What makes you giggle. And take it further, laugh deeply. Laugh hard. Enjoy it. I’m going to try very hard to remember that when I was a little girl, I did the same. And I came out ok.

Made a tutu for my daughter cuz I wanted to.

Made a tutu for my daughter cuz I wanted to.

Article 2: On ‘girl power’

Here’s another thing I will have to not get caught up in: girl power. Is girl power the amazing super strength nature gave us to make, grow, and give life to babies? That’s an awesome super power your brother is surely secretly jealous of (he’s told me so).

Is it the power of empathy? Of affection? Of proving yourself? Of overcoming self-doubt? Of becoming something awesome?

I’m thinking all of that deep down is plain old power… And you have it already. Let’s work on not letting either of us get boxed in by a notion of and the pressure for ‘girl power.’

Whatever's comfortable for you, really.

Whatever’s comfortable for you, really.

Article 3: On the fact that you are a girl

You’re a girl. You have a vagina. You’ve said so. You’re also waiting to grow your penis so you can become a big boy like your brother. I hate to break it to you. But we’ll get it through to you soon. I think watching me grow your little sister and now feed her has maybe tipped the scales on that a little.

Maybe I should have waited a lil longer to teach my kids about c-section birth.

Maybe I should have waited a lil longer to teach my kids about c-section birth.

Article 4: On the fact that you are, actually, above all else, Bebe

You’re Bebe. And here’s the part I gotta initial and stamp and sign every day. You are your own glorious person. I’ve been learning from you, and I hope you’re – for better or worse – learning from me. It’s going to stay that way forever. So as much as I have to hold down contempt for the way the world around us treats girls, women, people who are different, I’m going to keep my own crap at a minimum as now you explore it all.

We’re here and we’re going to face it together. And you’re going to do that as you, and I’m going to do it as me. And sometimes we’ll be wearing nailpolish. Or dresses. Or jeans with holes in the knees. Or mud under our fingernails.

Sometimes between heroics SuperGirl checks her email.

Sometimes between heroics SuperGirl checks her email.

Signed with a decent amount of time behind me, admittedly a little self-doubt, plenty of curiosity, a sense of adventure and a whole lotta love,

Your mama.


Meditation, procrastination, a hot cup of coffee: the birth of my third child

<The background on why we went to hospital instead of another home birth>

For me, the key to labor, much like – spoiler alert – the key to early parenting, is to take each minute at a time. That is probably my number one piece of unsolicited advice to all procreational people.

So I had assumed that last Friday and Saturday, in my 39th week of pregnancy, would be a lovely time as any to give birth since I’ve managed to do just that during the weekends of my last two 39th weeks. And I actually felt like things were moving, all throughout those two days – even though it would stop, and I’d sigh, and consider how frustrating it would be to have to face my obgyn for a post-term check.

By Saturday night nothing was doing so I waved my huz and potential babysitter brother goodbye as they left for drop-off at the train station. And not 15 minutes later, as Murphy would have it, I realized… oh. I called them back, we ate a pizza, I took a shower and figured I’d attempt a nap since I probably had a few hours.

Except I didn’t have a few hours, because after the shower it got quick. And my gut told me we should go before the contractions got worse – the horrendous car ride is one very clear memory I had of my first birth in a hospital. We gathered our stuff and headed to the car.

One thing I had prepared differently, in anticipation of a hectic hospital birth, was meditation material. A week or so before labor, I had expressed my concern and received advice related to hypnobirthing and mindful birthing. I read a lot about both and practiced my own little exercise, mainly breathing and clearing my mind, based on a color meditation I found online. So when we got in the car with a 20+ minute ride ahead of us and contractions 5 minutes apart, I took out the earphones and started “breathing in the color red.”

It helped. I wouldn’t say it was easy (extra pain radiating down your thighs because you’re sitting upright instead of moving, anyone?), but I felt focused and the pain was managed as we made our way down the windy Jerusalem hills.

As soon as we parked, I jumped out the car to be able to stand for the next one. And the next one, and next one on the way to elevator. We ran into a midwife coming back from a coffee run so she took us into the maternity reception area.

“How are you feeling?” they always ask you. I guess I didn’t seem that bad; I answered her. Next thing I know she’s looking up at me wide-eyed.

“You’re 9.5!”

First I heard 6.5 and then I heard… “What?!”

“You’re 9.5. Let’s go.”

So about 2.5+ hours after I called the huz back home, the two of us plus midwife were stunned as we rolled me into a labor room, seconds from pushing.

Yeah, too late for walking, so I was laying on a bed being wheeled into the next room. On the way out, another midwife called to us to stop.

“You forgot your coffee!”

My midwife called back that she couldn’t really take it right now. The very concerned coffee-holding midwife brought it over and looked from her colleague to my husband, who were both steering the bed.

Then she did something – that even then, in that moment, in my head, I was already laughing about – she looked at me.

And handed me a size-large, steaming, fresh cup of Hillel coffee.

And lord bless me, I’ve been here over nine years, and my first thought was: Only in Israel.

So I’m carrying my midwife’s coffee on the way to the labor room, distracted by a new meditation of ‘don’t start a contraction – don’t start a contraction…’ Maybe there’s a new childbirth method in this somewhere.

We get in and I shove the coffee back at the (now very decaffeinated) midwife as we begin the end.

Another midwife started fumbling to get the IV inside me – remember I needed antibiotics at least an hour before birth? – and cranked it on high drip.

Whatever it was, it wasn’t enough. They said I did get the whole unit. They said it might have been for a total of five minutes.

Whatever it was, minutes later, after a total of 3 hours in active labor, I gave birth to our daughter.

Just under 3 kilo, and 3 for 3 with a head full of dark black hair. Bless the midwife, who knew my deal, she put my newborn straight on my stomach, I wrapped my hands around her, and we locked eyes.

As the rest of the room whirred around to record details and whip out paperwork we hadn’t had time to deal with before (my bra hadn’t even been unhooked for feeding!), huz and I could not get over how quick it was. From when we left the house to when we met our daughter, in under an hour and a half.

In a way, each time I’ve done this, I’ve became more and more in awe of my body. In a way, you’re attached to it, and in another way, you’re two separate entities. Most of the time I think we hang back and watch it move, walk, talk… while we’re actually up here; thinking, feeling, being.

And then when it matters most, when everything else is brushed aside in the urgency of the moment, you are your body, and that’s how you know you’re made from something amazing.



Israel home birth crackdown: Why we ended up in hospital instead of at home

It’s amazing how many people have asked about this. Why I gave birth at a hospital, which I assume they are assuming based on photos. Here’s the background to my next update, about the birth itself. I didn’t want to downplay or fill with negativity the telling of the birth of my newest daughter. So here is the hospital vs home background.

Though I didn’t write about it much before, the fact is I spent quite a few months of my third pregnancy concerned, angry, nervous and resentful. I didn’t discuss it publicly because I get a strong sense it’s not something most people I’m around understand or empathize with, which is ok.

In the time between my last birth – 3 years ago – and now, some rules were changed concerning home births in Israel. As any local home birth midwife will tell you, they are really squeezing the opportunities for having a safe, secure, normal home birth here.

Two rules I’m aware of that came into effect: 1. you must now move to hospital if 12 hours have passed since water broke, and 2. no midwife (or medical professional, apparently) can insert an IV outside a hospital. That means that if you need antibiotics during labor, you will have to go to a hospital to get the dose.

I was angry because the second rule is ridiculous, and why it even came into effect has nothing to do with home births. It’s dangerous because many girls are ignoring the tests or ignoring the treatment. But there I was, faced with the fact that I could not have my baby quietly at home this time, and I would have to accept the distraction and intrusion that is transferring to hospital mid-labor.

In the end, I did not receive the timely dose of antibiotics required; the labor was too quick and by the time they got the IV in, I was pushing her out minutes later. So the irony here is my preferred home birth with administered IV an hour or more before would have been safer for baby and calmer for both of us than what ended up happening after taking time deliberating when to leave and then transferring to the hospital.

Ok, enough venting. We eventually accepted the fact we had to do it (though maybe I never really did, for a few minutes at the beginning of the way down to Hadassah Ein Kerem I was staring at the clock seething that I had to be there, and I’m still a little shitty about it).

Fast forward to the fun part.

Fifty-Two Frames: Balance

Caught this shot early on in the week, and then even went back to take a better version on a clearer day. I was debating whether it was actually photographic balance – the idea was the light in the top left would offset the character in the bottom right. Of course, bottom right is way heavier but I gave it a shot.

Week  12: Balance

Ready… steady.

We’ll have to teach her to knock first.

Nothing like making a life-beginning entrance in 3 hours. Baby girl came busting through just 25 minutes shy of midnight last night (March 22nd). Maybe she was hungry? Maybe she suddenly really had something to tell me? Was there something in my teeth?

She weighed in at 2.98 kilograms – still waiting to crack the 3-kilo mark – with a now-predictable, trademark full head of dark black hair, to rival her older siblings.