The thing about love/hate relationships is that eventually you come back to the hate.

It’s triggered by anything. Items on the news. The news reporters themselves. People on the street. Commercials on the radio. Things your friends say. Things your neighbors do.

So, if you haven’t guessed, I’m in the hate phase. Which is ok, because in a couple days I’m on the way over the ocean to New York for a few weeks.

Bibi and Biden can kiss my ass, and I’ll choose to temporarily ignore Ynet’s ridiculous ‘reporting’ on charedi affairs. I’ll keep  my non-Israeli passport close to me so it doesn’t get hijacked. I’ll turn the other way so I don’t have to see stupid spiked arse hair on my street or solo toddlers dashing across busy main streets in Beitar.

And most of all, I can shop at H&M in the States and not get trampled on, thankyouverymuch.

What's been going on.

The past week and a half has been intense, painful, busy, impatient,  energetic, emotional, nerve-wracking and exciting. And it’s not only for the reason you’re probably assuming. I haven’t  been able to get all my thoughts out in an organized manner, so instead I’ll spew them in bullet form.

  • People will ask what gender your baby is and not believe you when you tell them you don’t know.
  • It’s ok to support the mentality of the Gaza incursion while feeling guilty and sad about deaths of innocent.
  • When it rains, it pours… No family visits for almost a year and then everyone comes at once. And then it (actually) rains that whole time.
  • It’s ok to feel like four years is a long time when you’re surrounded by people who have been living here for ten.
  • People will assume everything you are feeling has to do with being pregnant; you’re hungry/tired/energetic because you’re pregnant, not because you’re human.
  • There’s a big difference between charedim in Israel and charedim in the diaspora.
  • There’s a big difference between living on ‘this’ side of Israel and living on the side of Israel that is getting pounded daily.
  • ‘Friendly’ fire… what a strange name for a painful concept.
  • Some people will offer really good perspectives and advice on pregnancy, birth and becoming a parent, no matter what their core beliefs.
  • It’s ok to pick and choose with whom you are willing to discuss the Gaza war. There are certain friends and enemies for whom you are just not willing to convert conversation into debate.
  • Sometimes after you’ve accepted the fundamental differences between you and loved ones, you discover that maybe they are not so fundamental after all.
  • Not feeling festive, even though it’s a holiday time, is perfectly fine when your country is in a state of war. That also goes for Inauguration Day partying.
  • Amidst everything else, you can find a kind of comfort in the movement in your belly, which no one else can give you. You can be intense, impatient, energetic, emotional, and excited about soon meeting someone. You can sorely miss someone you’ve never met. You can confide in them when everything around you is just too complex.

Falling in love.

How do you fall in love with a picture?

Back in week 15-16 we had the first of two major ultrasounds done. Going into it, we had already seen the ‘kid’ twice: once as a chulent bean in the beginning and once a few weeks back as something that might have come from a veterinary text book for all we knew. 

But this major ultrasound – we had no idea what we were going in for, just that we’d ‘see’ (hear?) the size and shape of the fetus and make sure it has some of its vital parts. 

Well, I got on the bed and jellied up (gross) and then we saw this creature: sleeping inside my body. Upside down. I stared mostly while the doctor remarked over and over how it was in a bad position for the check up. He couldn’t access all parts. He needed it to flip over, which apparently translated into literally pushing around my belly to try to get it to flip. 

After about fifteen  minutes of my child-to-be displaying incredibly stubborn tendencies (who does s/he get that from?) or just enjoying a really deep sleep (we know where it gets that from), the doctor ordered that I go take a 30 minute walk around the block and eat some sweets – in very non-medical terms, jump-start the flipping. 

I ate some candy and we walked up and down the block and came back. Baby-creature was still on its stomach, curled up and looking more comfortable than I’ve felt in months (thanks a lot). We all kind of chuckled as the doctor worked to flip it over again but to no avail. After twenty minutes of nudging, he sent us off again to eat sweets, take walks, and drink coffee. Not my idea of nine o’clock on a week night, but hey, that’s the budding of maternal sacrifice. 

After 40 minutes we returned to his office and I again laid down, waiting to see it, face up or face down. It was… face down. Still. Kid, I hope you sleep that well in 5 months is all I can say. 

Worried that we’d never get the check up done (what exactly was s/he trying to hide, anyway?) the doctor again nudged and pleaded with the ultrasound feeler thing jabbing my stomach. After five minutes of that (and my own radiating brainwaves of Jewish maternal guilt sent towards the little one, which is what I think did it) the fetus flipped and settled – seemingly comfortabley – on its back.

I don’t know if it was this back-and-forth experience – the sort of silent communication with my unborn child – or it was watching as the doctor measured legs and arms, counted ten fingers, ten toes (remember when you had to wait to find that out?), highlighted the heart beat, blood flow, stomach, brain… Or maybe it was just a combination, but watching all that – not a fetus, but my little tiny unborn child – on this screen in front of me, knowing it was all there, inside my body…

Well, I fell in love right then. It was unlike anything, ever. Falling in love for real, knowing it at that moment it happened, love at first sonogram. All at once, I understand what love can be, more than I ever thought – bizarrely unconditional, completely overtaking… I guess in the past that first happened at the actual birth, but modern technology is what it is, and now I can pinpoint the moment I fell in love with my child, in picture form. 

So the answer I have to my original question is: you fall in love with a picture by it being your unborn child, up there portrayed in front of you, simultaneously in your body and in front of your eyes, breathing, beating, living off/with/inside you.

And as soon as I was ‘disconnected’ from the machine, I missed it terribley.