Nettles update: seven months

Oh Nettles, Nettles, Nettles.

You are a special soul, truly: only you – but only you – can be home with me all day while I attempt to get work done, roar at me on constant, and when I try to help, you laugh in my face – and get away with it.

It’s fascinating me to watch your experience as a child born into a loud, existing home. You don’t know life without much taller people walking around (and over) you. You only know a world where anyone, at any time, can walk up to you, throw their arms around your neck, and sing VERY LOUDLY IN YOUR EAR (‘she’s not a toy, Bebe!’).

It really shows on you. You are watching everything. You are getting faster about catching up. We look up and you’re halfway across the room, shoving bits of leftover craft paper in your mouth.

Also, FOOD!!!1!1!!

This is a relief – you’re one of us in the food department. My heart couldn’t take it otherwise.

You are getting into everything. I warned your brother and sister but they will not be stolen from without a fight. Which is mostly coming to tell me “Nettles hit me! Nettles pulled my hair! Nettles broke my toy!”

I wasn’t a youngest, Nettles, but I’ve known one very well. Take it from me: keep at it. Keep at it as long as you can. 

Except maybe the tiny model sukkah we built. Please don’t eat the tiny model sukkah we built.

And as your first summer has ended, I’d like to add that you’ve been to the beach more in your short lifetime than your siblings were in the first three years of theirs.

Maybe that’s part of what keeps you so chill.

Nettles update: six months

At the beginning of this month, on the way back from our visit to the States, while your sister slept and her breakfast cooled off on her tray, I watched you watch me as you stuck your hand out, every so slowly, inching, inching towards it.

A few days ago you saw your pacifier had been tossed a foot away from your reach… and I watched you military crawl to get at it. Over and over.

Even when you’re uncomfortable, desperate to let me know you need some care urgently – food, sleep – you smile. You smile with a look of, ‘hey, it’s you, I love you! You’re so great! Oh and please, please, please help me…’

Go out there and get what you want. And if you (do what comes natural to you and) keep the smile going while you do it, you’ll be way better off.

Nettles update: five months

It would happen eventually, Nettles.

Your first wartime.

So we did that and then picked up when it seemed like the end was close (I think one of the faux cease fires was during our flight?).

The America trip.

You’ve been smiling your way through it all – new family members, passing strangers, my childhood friends. My childhood friends’ babies.

And in following the footsteps of your brother and sister – and let’s face it, your mom, and at least a couple of your uncles – you were pumped at the idea of food.

Also, see ya. You’ve been moving clockwise for a while, but your movement has evolved into probably what the first fish with feet tried doing to get out of the water.

That, and a lot of skydiving…

At five months, you’re one of the gang. It’s no secret there’s plenty you’ll get to do before they did. And in most ways, that’s more about me than it is about you. But based on who you’ve been so far, I’m more than confident that you’re going to do a great job keeping up

The time’s moving so fast. You’re moving so fast. Next month I’m starting to work full time, your siblings will be back in gan, and you’ll be on your own in a surrogate family for the days.

Don’t forget to write, Nettles.

Israeli children and artistic expression: A war story in pictures

Note: We did not ask our five-year-old to draw anything. We didn’t know what he had been up to when at around 7 this morning he came up to us holding a picture he drew.

Turns out, it’s not a story about a disabled boy who has divorced parents.

“Why are there two houses?”
“One is our house, and one is the miklat.”
“And which one is he going to?”
“The miklat. There is sirens.”
“Why is the sky black?”
“It’s night.”
“Who is this? Is it you?”
“I don’t know yet.”

“You see this? <points to yellow in the sky> I wanted so this will be a star because it’s night.”
“Oh yeah?”
“But now it’s a rocket.”


“This is me and you on a boat in the sea, and that’s <muffled, sounds like Abba> cracking open the sky.”

“That’s what? Abba?”

“No, labba.”

“What’s  labba?”

“Labba is טילים (missiles).”


“Hey, what’s that?”


“That symbol you drew.”

“I dunno.”

“Where’d you see it?”

“On Bebe’s shirt.”

“It means shalom – peace.”

“I’m drawing an x on it.”


“Because I want.”

Nettles update: four months

Oh dear Nettles.

I had so much to say about this month. It’s been a time suck.

At the worst of times, I was at least able to hold you, kiss you, nuzzle you, see you. A luxury not everyone’s had with their loved ones in the last few weeks.

Another luxury I don’t take for granted is how focused you’ve become on your brother and sister. You perk up when you hear them; no matter how ‘busy’ they just were, you’re able to lock eyes and fully capture them. You turn them into mush; you make me understand why so many ‘third’ children come away the way they do.

We’ve taken a new turn, me and you: you manage to work your way around a carpet like a clock and I went back to working in an office after three years at home…

…all this, the same week our country found itself at semi-war. I left you with our trusted metapelet but felt an unhealthy cocktail of unease and guilt and doubt the first few mornings while rockets still threatened Jerusalem and Tzur Hadassah. Somehow, those first few days, the weather cooperated with my mood, creating an ominous backdrop of clouds shading disputed territory on my way into the most challenging city in the world.

But as I self-talked through my doubt during those labored car rides, I remembered why I’m doing this. I want to be my best version of me for you. I feel a responsibility to show you what an empowered, capable, productive woman looks like. What she sounds like. How she feels and loves.

So I’m out there, taking it in, day-by-day, bite-size.

Coming home to your smile and your laughing eyes makes it so much more digestible.

Nettles update: three months

Nettles – welcome to the end of the ‘fourth trimester’. Congrats and you may pick up your diploma at the front desk.

Here’s how you got there:

I could have three babies… thirteen babies… thirty babies… and one thing will never ever get old: The first giggle.

It started a couple weeks ago… the silent laugh. Your brother was a star at it, too. That silent laugh says so much – I’m watching you, I’m hearing you, I like it. 

Like your intense gaze, your constant eye contact, your silent laugh is so telling.

And then you giggled. Like your sister did. A geee here. A gooo there. And then you burst out, full chuckle. That’s how I know we’re going to have some serious fun, Nettles.

And it’s not all laughs… it’s also the smiles, which you are extremely generous with these days – and thankfully, since your big sister is finally getting the affection from you she’s craved after all her hugs, kisses, pats, whispers.

We had a bit of a scare back there, when we thought there was a good chance you’d be diagnosed with hip dysplasia after your first postnatal ultrasound (not every baby is that lucky, right!). After a month of waiting, it looks like you might be in the clear. Go hips!

I’ve also been running around to job interviews. I wonder if any of this professional woman energy will transfer through the breast milk. Reach for the stars, Nettles! Well, even if it doesn’t, you’ve been an excellent sport for the babysitters, so thank you,

On to… boys.

There’s something about you and the boys. Specifically five- to nine-year-old boys. There’s also something so very special about five- to nine-year-old boys. I can count on at least one hand the number of boys who have asked to hold you, have taken care of you, have melted into mush while looking at you in the last month or so.

You’re good for the boys.

Now that’s a life skill, Nettles.

‘Who leaves their baby in a car?!’ Me.

Summer’s officially here. My news feed is filled with barbecues, splashy pools, sandy hair… sunscreen warnings, drowning warnings, leaving-babies-in-cars warnings.

It’s all scary. It’s all out there. And, as far as the last one goes, it’s all judgy. It’s all ‘how the hell does that happen?’ It’s all ‘I would never do that.’

But it happens.

I did it. I left my baby in a car.

So now I can tell you how the hell someone leaves their baby in a car.

I think if you know me you’d say I can get overwhelmed at times, I can be hectic, but on the whole I’m pretty organized. They’ll tell you the wrench that gets thrown in is really the change in routine. That’s what the articles have all said. What parents will admit. One change on an otherwise normal day, and you can get totally thrown off.

In my case, it was a day I was leaving my baby with a sitter to go on a job interview. I’d left her to go on my own a couple times before, so it wasn’t my very first time making a long trek to Jerusalem without her in the back. And when I have done it, I’ve managed to think twice at some point in the ride – is she here? Is she supposed to be? Ok. A lot of the time, she cries at some point on a ride – she doesn’t love the carseat. None of my kids have. So her cries are something I’m just used to. And though I’ve driven without her here and there, those silent drives are still jarring for me.

When she is in the car, I tend to stick my arm back to reassuringly pat her head… feel her soft hair in my fingers and remind myself where I am, where I’m going, and where she’ll be when I do that.

But for some reason, a few weeks ago, I had dropped her off, taken a silent drive into town, done my interview, kicked its ass, taken the silent drive to pick her up, and we went home together.

A few hours later, I loaded her, sleeping peacefully, back in the car for sibling pickup. Made the 4-minute drive to the first gan. Was so pumped on a great interview experience, and there was no wailing from the back – I jumped out of the car, slammed the door, greeted friends on the way in, and didn’t look back.

When I spotted my older daughter in the yard, she ran to me and I picked her up and hugged her. It felt so good! I was cuddling her when one of her ganenot started chatting with me… but I have no idea what she said. A thought had suddenly occurred to me:

Why isn’t it that I always pick her up for a hug?

My stomach completely dropped as I made the slow painful realization.

I’m usually holding a baby. 

I nodded at the ganenet to end the conversation and bent down to my older daughter: ‘I need to run and get your sister from the car; stay here, I’ll be right back.’

I dashed out from the gan and got to the parked car, where baby was sleeping as soundly as… a baby. Which is incredible because she usually doesn’t last more than a minute in the car seat when not moving.

I unlocked the car, swooped in, and took her out. It was a sunny day, a beautiful June day, a seasonable day but not anything special.

My heart was hurting.

It had been no more than 3 or 4 minutes. But I looked at my sleeping baby in my arms, and looked back at the car. It could have easily been a hotter day. It could have easily been a distraction found in one of my friends. It could have easily been a longer conversation with the teacher.

And that is how people end up leaving their babies in cars.

Nettles update: Two months

Good morning Nettles! I can see your big blue eyes so much better now that you’re staring at us all the time. We’ve gone from coaxing smiles out of you to being proactively greeted with them when we come to snuggle.

And, much to your disapproval, we are working on that goddamn tummy time. We have Tipat Chalav in three days and lots of catching up to do… Over the last month I’ve calmed down from the initial shock of having another girl to guide through this life. You could say, I’m breathing through it. Who am I not to take on the incredible role of girlhood sherpa? I made it through relatively ok, right?

And if the way you punch at those hanging stars is any indication, you’ll be just fine too.

Also, here’s a milestone even your older brother and sister haven’t made yet – you aced your first job interview! And when I say job interview, I mean you came with me to one of mine, and when I say aced, I mean you didn’t cry or fuss the whole time! So good for you. Maybe you’re ready to go out there and contribute to this family, huh sister?!

I do have a pang of naturally-allotted mother guilt that you are already with us two months and I feel you haven’t gotten your fair share of attention. I know, I know. It’s just the way it is. Bla bla. That’s what other parents will tell me. But it’s not enough.

I guess when we gave the gift of another sibling to your brother and sister, we were also giving you something incredible, too – coming into a booming, blossoming, active, hilarious household. An experience your older siblings either didn’t know, or only had in muted tones.

So let’s look on the bright side, Nettles. The party started and you arrived at a high. We brought you into a house that already laughs and lives and loves. You’ve brought us another reason to laugh and live and love.