22 true things about you, at one month

Hey there tiny one. Yes, I’m talking to you, in fact, I’m looking directly at you. No one else is around. I know that’s quite an accomplishment. You were born into a preexisting zoo. It’ll be ok. It’s going to give you a lot of super powers, you wait and see.

Not only am I solely thinking about you right now, but I have a list of true things I can already say.

22 true things about you, one month in:

  1. You haven’t been given your blog name yet. It’ll come.
  2. You have been alarmingly alert since you were born. Are you here on a mission? Or just trying to survive like the rest of us?
  3. You look a little bit like a Pokemon character when you get really really mad.
  4. We had your name picked out long before we knew you. And it still fit after we met.
  5. You’re eyes are still blue.
  6. You’ve taken a lot of crap so far. You’re taking it well.
  7. You’ve also given a lot of crap so far. Damn, girl.
  8. You’ve proven that just because two previous babies took a pacifier with ease, doesn’t mean the next one will. Ok, we get it. Can you just take it now?
  9. You might be the least sweaty person that’s ever slept on me.
  10. You’re so… portable.
  11. You know what you want.
  12. You survived matza season without too much drama.
  13. You hiccup A LOT. Don’t try and tell me newborns aren’t bothered by it.
  14. You freaked me the hell out; I really wasn’t expecting a girl. I may have had a mini panic attack at some point in the last month.
  15. You’ve had more stickers stuck on you than my fifth grade sticker album.
  16. It seems you’re growing out of all these tiny preemie/newborn clothes faster than your older siblings.
  17. You have a delicious nose for Eskimo kisses.
  18. We can see the smiles behind your eyes. For a while now.
  19. I think you might be the first newborn one of your uncles ever held.
  20. You are loved.
  21. You have a lot to say.
  22. You’ll have our attention when you’re ready to say it.

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.

IMG_20140325_103955

 

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.

 

Baking ‘hamantaschen’ with your Israeli children.

Ears of a guy we’re meant to love to hate. Jews: still rocking weird drama since 3338.

First time making hamantaschen with my kids. Or as an adult. FYI: as you and the diaspora-born father of your kids keep talking about ‘hamentashen,’ your Israeli-born kids are bound to, at some point, look at you oddly.

“Oh. Right. Oznei Haman… it’s, uh, Yiddish to say ‘hamantaschen.’ Haman + taschen.”

Stares.

I had this thing baking hamantaschen. It wasn’t as bad as I thought… Here’s the recipe we used, nothing fancy. Obviously we traded fruit jam for chocolate.

Homemade Purim costumes. No pricey. No sexy.

This is the first year we had strong Purim costume requests… from two kids.

‘Hello Kitty’ I got pretty quick.

Once I figured out what צב צבי נינג’ה meant, I spent a few days hinting at other ideas because after a quick look at Pinterest I decided this would be too hard.

But I won’t lie: I derived a lot of pleasure from my son requesting to be a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle… in 2014.

I left Pinterest out of this and I’m pretty proud of what we came up with. Cheap and easy and something Koala actually helped with.

Costume ingredients for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle:

  • Green sweatpants and long sleeve shirt
  • Blue (or turtle hero color of your choice) light craft fabric for mask, arm and leg bands
  • Two round foil pans for back shell and front plate
  • Green and yellow paint
  • Green ribbon for the shell straps
  • Safety pins
  • Green face paint
  • Weaponry of choice, if that’s your thing

I had enough of it at home where the whole thing cost me around 55 shekel (12 bucks?). Not bad!

The shell is the biggest task: the back shell was painted by Koala in green, and the front plate in yellow. I trimmed the ‘walls’ of the pan and folded them in to make it flat. I used a whole puncher to create wholes to tie the green ribbon through four corners to make a ‘backpack’ sort of strap situation, but later realized safety pins work better since the foil pan is flimsy.

It was a huge hit with Koala, who wanted to try it on every day leading up to his class Purim party. It was a huge hit with me, who peeked at the price of a manufactured costume in the store and saw it was over 200 NIS.

As far as Hello Kitty… I was also a little intimidated by that one. How could I make her look like Hello KItty as opposed to a regular costume cat?

But Bebe is nearly three years old, let’s not forget, and has/will proudly tell everyone what she is… constantly. So She wore her favorite ‘nice dress’, I did the classic gold/yellow nose and black whiskers, bought a cat headband for ten shekel, and pinned a big red bow to it.

Two happy non-sexy or exaggerated Purim costumed kids. Two happy parents with cash left in the wallets.

Happy Purim!

(And you bet I posted this to Pinterest.)

A letter for two.

Koala and Bebe,

You know, I have this memory from when my second brother (your local uncle) was born. I was six months younger than you, Koala. I don’t remember much about my mama being pregnant – I’m sure you will though – but I do remember the mixed feelings at having my grandparents over, my mom far away, the fact that it was a boy and I had wanted a girl…

The story goes like this: your uncle and I decided we would – in true Staten Island parlance – ‘take care of’ this baby when my parents would come home from the hospital. We were dressed in our ninja/warrior gear. I remember us hiding in the den, pacing along the top of the couch, waiting. Finally our grandmother called to us that mom and dad and baby were home, come see! I remember reluctantly jumping off the couch to greet them.

Needless to say, your younger uncle is still around and it’s definitely been worth nearly three decades of holding off on the weaponry.

Koala. When we first got pregnant this time, before we told anyone, you had this thing where you started feeling my belly and became more affectionate in general… After four years of squirming out of hugs or defining cuddles as, here, I sat in your arms for a sec, now let me go! it seemed like you couldn’t get enough.

It was weird and mysterious… like somehow you knew there was something up. Maybe you just wanted to have a baby like a lot of your friends. Maybe it was some feature of your age. Maybe kids really have a sixth sense about these things.

You’ve been an amazing big brother to Bebe – just the right mix of protective and annoying. You’re a teacher and a student to your sister. A comedian and a paramedic. A roommate and a conspirer. So when the new baby comes along, I know you’ll wiggle over and make room. Lovingly. Protectively. Curiously. And… unarmed (this week’s Purim costume-aside).

Bebe. You’ve grown a lot in the nine months I’ve had to consider how much you’re going to seem so grown the moment you become a big sister. In the days after you were born, you shared with me a habit of yours which I’ve assumed predates your birth. As you snuggled up on me that first day, you’d take your tiny fingers and lightly pinch my neck. It’s something you still do – to yourself, to me, to people with whom you feel safe.

We laugh about it a lot… but there’s just something so touching in the way you show your physical affection. You take my hand suddenly. Put your arm around my shoulder. Pat my belly and whisper to the baby.

Morning bed cuddles are your coffee. You’re generous with your kisses. You’ve always been armed with affection. It might get a little bit rough, B, but you’re going to grow into a wonderful big sister. You’ve had it in you since you were born.

It’s been a gift watching two siblings grow together, laugh together, love together. You guys have been, in some ways, a natural, inherent unit.

I’m happy we were able to give you this time together.

I’m happy that now we all get to start something new.

Koala’s loves.

This morning, up early and ready to go, Koala came to the side of my bed and reported that he had packed his ‘abba shel shabbat’ show ‘n tell box (his turn this week) with the things he loves:

“There’s the police car, the guys, my wolf, and a picture of Bebe in her Hello Kitty dress.”