Favorite kind of Friday.

It hasn’t rained enough in Israel this winter, but when it has rained – it’s really, really rained. Which is just perfect on a Friday when you’re home, cozy, coming off the baby furniture high from the day before, and your husband knows how to make homemade chai lattes. 

Of course, we’re always hoping for snow here in the Jerusalem hills where snow may be just a degree celsius away… But for now, we can boast thick hail:

And nothing goes better with a gray, rainy Friday morning than a crapload of pancakes for just two people: 

Acquiring possessions in baby steps.

While I still don’t know how/where I plan to give birth, I do know this: apparently I’m supposed to be shopping for this prima dona that hasn’t even arrived yet. 

Last night I dared venture into the black hole that is Babies R Us (.com) and the only thing stopping me from shrieking and waddling the other way was the incessant kicking of the belly tenant.

Ok, ok little one… You need stuff. I get it. Let’s take a closer look at what the options are for, say, strollers. 

Whoa. So on an American baby store website, there are 7 categories of strollers and then about 2,387 sub categories, not to mention dozens of brands and a myriad of options. I went straight for customer reviews and found no less than 15 qualities that the first handful of customers mentioned as important. 

And choosing a birthing place is hard?

Maybe in this case living in Israel with less choices is an advantage. Haven’t really walked into a Shilav yet though. 

Didn’t we evolve from monkeys? Don’t monkeys just swing along on their mothers’ backs? If I had a hairy back so my baby could cling to it, would I need all this stuff?

Ok, self, breathe. Isn’t this what all those Lamaze classes are for?

I’m going to take this one car seat/crib/changing table at a time.

The 'Gap' in Israeli fashion.

I’ve lived here over four years now, and as a rule, I don’t clothing-shop here. Maybe once a year I’ll buy the odd pair of loose ‘Israeli’ pants or a fun Jerusalem-hippie skirt, but I don’t find that this country’s fashion sense has much to offer me (and I can’t afford the high-end stuff which may be passable). 

So you could say there’s been a ‘gap’ between what Israel has to offer and what I do buy and wear… from the States when I go visit. I’m  not complaining; it works out well. For the same money you’ll pay in the States, you’ll get much better quality that lasts longer in my little European washing machine.

Anyway, for months I’ve been seeing articles here and there about a beacon of American everyday fashion: the Gap is coming to Israel. Some of girlfriends have squealed in delight – “finally! crew neck tees in 24375692437 colors!” – and some have shrugged their shoulders – “the price will be too high anyway.”

Gap has had its ups and downs – with the public, with its bank account and with me. I used to be a dedicated – yet alternative – Gap shopper until probably five or so years ago. So it doesn’t necessarily hurt that it’s coming but I don’t know that it will help.

Here are some of the facts I’ve gathered through articles I’ve seen: 

  • Gap is due to open in Israel in August.
  • One store in Tel Aviv, one in Jerusalem. 
  • Banana Republic is due to arrive in a year and a half from now.
  • The NIS prices of the Gap products will  be hiked up %20 from American prices.
  • The franchise is being operated by Elbit Imaging. 
  • They would bring Old Navy too if they could, but currently the Old Navy chain doesn’t go international. 
  • Gap is also branching out into Egypt and Jordan.

Here’s what I haven’t seen a newspaper article address: How exactly does Gap style fit into the Middle East? I never understood how it fits into European style, either.

As a friend said: it’ll be interesting to watch the women match up the pseudo-preppyness with spiked heels and the men buy the jeans 3 sizes too small.

Only classy chocolate for the little one.

Here’s what you get when your OB-GYN is a French-Israeli: 

“Basically, just make sure you’re feeling movements. Check when you are relaxed and at peace. Make sure you feel some in a half an hour’s time and if not, after an hour, give it some Brenner*… <insert us laughing here> No, really. Give it Brenner because you don’t want to give it the regular stuff, you don’t wanna ruin its taste for chocolate with that.”

So, there you have it: An OB-GYN for worrying about movements. A Frenchman for worrying about quality of chocolate. And an Israeli for suggesting Max Brenner, of all brands. 

 

*Max Brenner, that is, or ‘chocolate by the bald man.’ Max Brenner is an Israeli who has his own gourmet chocolate line and has opened up shops across the world.

Facing the streets.

I like this. Especially since reading the Israeli news lately has been painful (then again, when is it not?). Look at Barkat being all cultural and whatnot:

Jerusalem streets to put a face to name

Capital’s municipality to replace all street signs named after famous people with new signs featuring personality’s image, story

You’re driving through the city and you pass by all kinds of streets – Yitzhak Ben-Zvi, Henrietta Szold, Golda Meir, Yigal Alon. How many of you actually know who these people are and what they look like?

Well, a new Jerusalem initiative will enable passersby to get better acquainted with the personality behind the street name.

Israel’s cities are full of boulevards and streets named after various personalities, both Israeli and foreign. Sometimes you know exactly who the name behind the street is and what they looked like, in other cases you may just have a general idea, and there are times when you have no idea whatsoever who the street is referring to. 

This is why the Jerusalem Municipality has decided to embark on an operation, the first of its kind in Israel, that will allow residents to enrich their general knowledge on significant personalities. (ynet)

The article makes an interesting point at the end: How will the charedi community feel about seeing women’s faces on the streets of Jerusalem? Not like they don’t already with advertisements, but they often get ripped down or spray-painted over. Then again, Golda Meir’s mug is not exactly… womanly.

Homebirth in Israel.

UPDATE (April 2011): After this post was written, down the road, for my second child, we did a home birth in our apartment in Tzur Hadassah. I’ve got more info on the subject now from firsthand experience and am happy to share:

At this point, I’ve dipped my toes into the third trimester and thus far have read a lot of too much research, visited two Jerusalem hospitals and met with one home birth midwife.

Needless to say, the water’s cold.

I’m caught in this tiring cycle of not knowing whether I should do the home birth thing or not. I mean, I do know I should, but between all the reservations of the people around me and the looming status of ‘first pregnancy’, my birthing confidence is crushed.

I figure, maybe if I can hear from women who have done it/do it, as opposed to just midwives and people who are anti, I could feel better about making a confident decision. Because either way, I feel confidence is key and I need to find it in myself within the next 10-12 weeks.

So… if you’ve been there, done that, labored through it at home, feel free to chime in with a comment about the following (or you can email me if you’d rather):

  • Where did you do it? Where did you live? House, apartment?
  • Did you use a midwife and doula?
  • Was your husband/partner into it? What kind of a role did they play at home?
  • What did you do about pain relief?
  • Did you check into a hospital after?

I’d love to hear thoughts from women who have given birth in Jerusalem hospitals, too. I realize it’s a very realistic situation that I could end up choosing to be in a hospital or end up needing to be in a hospital. Talking to women who are satisfied with their experiences either way and are willing to share can really help me at this point. Unfortunately, there aren’t many Israeli birthing stories on the web, at least that I could find.

I guess the problem is right now I’m so open minded, I don’t have any direction.

    A lizrael update pregnant with… updates.

    Pregnancy is probably the ultimate example of time flying while also feeling like the slowest dimension, which I’m realizing is especially true for the third trimester.

    It’s a period filled with inner conflict: yalla, let’s do this already/whoa, what’s the rush, self?! At times I feel like a kid, constantly being asked, “how are you, little one?” and at times it’s clearer I’m about to have a kid, asking my belly, “how are you, little one?” 

    It’s also a conflict between what my expectations of pregnancy were before and what the actual experience has been up until now. I usually go into situations with little to no expectations; it’s a life policy that has done me well. But after all these years of television-watching, stereotype-absorbing and heresay-accepting – yes, I came into it thinking I’d be a helpless annoying woman of cravings and mood swings.

    Nay, it’s actually been quite pleasant. The pain is pain, but other than that I’m in better spirits than I am usually. I haven’t been consumed by extraneous consumption.  My moods are stable; if anything, I’ve been laughing more than I ever have (and often laugh harder when I think about how the poor baby is bouncing up and down in there while I laugh). And at the very least, I find that PMS is definitely worse, hormonally-speaking.

    So as normal as growing a new creature inside of an older creature can be, I feel pretty normal. Which is why I do feel bad when friends and family abroad want to hear funny stories, entertaining fadichot, major reflections. It just hasn’t been too much like that. I’m enjoying the time being. I’m not letting the pain get to me too hard. And I’m going with the flow of feeling accomplished yet freaking out. Life is good.

    Here are some of the other things I’ve been up to lately: 

    • Moving to the belly rhythm. We have a schedule, belly tenant and I. When I wake up, it’s there, making a darbuka out of my uterus. When I go to bed, it’s there, sticking it’s extremities wherever it wants. Throughout the day we hang out here and there, but I think I’m too unfocused to focus when I’m sitting up. We have more fun when we’re both lying down. 
    • Getting friendly with nurses visits. I’m at that point where I have to go to the nurses more often to get weighed and all that. Plus the doctor appointments after next week will become as frequent as my bladder breaks. 
    • Meeting with midwives. I’ve been working on meeting with Ilana Shemesh, the Israeli-American midwife who built two tzimmer-style birthing cabins in her backyard on a yishuv near Ramle. Not sure it’s a realistic option, but I thought I’d check it out. Also meeting with another Israeli-American midwife in my area who came highly recommended. Definitely more realistic. 
    • Not complaining. I’m trying very hard not to complain too much. I actually think people get freaked out when I don’t complain, but I’m not one to think complaining helps. Yes, my back is in near-constant pain. No, it’s not my lower back, so I sometimes lend a minute to worry about when the lower back pain does start and then I’ll have two kinds of back pain to work out. Yes, I have gall bladder issues it seems and I’m getting it checked out in a couple weeks, but no, there isn’t much I can do about it so I’m learning to embrace it like an old friend who keeps coming back after hurting me so. 
    • Considering a pregnant women’s circle. Found an advertisement in the Tzur Hadassah cultural bulletin for a ‘pregnant women’s circle’ they’re trying to start up. Wasn’t sure what that meant but I went to the orientation last night and it seems kinda cool. As my husband says, very ‘Israeli': sitting around with a group of hippy-ish preggos in dim lights with tea, discussing our changing bodies and minds while meditating and breathing and loving life. I might give it a shot; said-husband must be sick of hearing about it from me and I don’t blame him. 
    • Enjoying the hair. I don’t care if that sounds weird. I’ve missed my long, thick hair and for the next few months I get to enjoy the false reality that my old pre-aliyah hair has returned. We can rediscuss when it all falls out in May.