Tuesday, December 29, 2009

you're so lucky

This story is the anti-thesis of a previous post, regarding people's intrusive comments.
We were just coming back from the children's museum around 5 pm. Y. and A. ran ahead to the elevator, with me following with M. in the Ergo . There was an elderly couple waiting for the elevator, who were very friendly and said hello to the kids. As we were going up, the woman asked me if the children were all mine. I smiled and said "yes," bracing myself for "one of those" comments. But instead she said. "Wow, how wonderful. You are so lucky." My mouth almost fell open, but instead I just said "thank you". This comment literally made my day and made me think that I would do well counting my blessings and realizing that I truly am lucky to have such a cute, messy, and wacky family.

Monday, December 28, 2009

a sad day for jewish day school education

Today was a sad day for the Upper West Side Jewish community. Today, I, along with 3 other parents of special needs children, was informed that our children are not welcome in the communal Jewish day school.
The powers that be had spoken to nameless "professionals" and lay leaders and made a policy decision that they cannot accomodate children with down syndrome or other disabilities in their school. They do not have the facilities or necessary skill set (ie open mindedness) to help "children like that." Never mind the fact that we all know that there is a 10 year old boy with a chromosomal abnormality in their program who is THRIVING and doing well.
The school is confident that this is the right decision, despite the fact that they have not met my child or any of the other children in question. They have also not read any of the reports and evaluations, spoken to therapists or other professionals who know our children well.
The Jewish community can only turn away for so long. The prevalence of special needs in the Jewish community is growing, along with the neeed for a Jewish education for all our children.
I cannot say that I am surprised. But I will say that I am still deeply disappointed.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Of Potties and Schools

So A is still doing fabulously well with the whole toileting thing. She goes by herself and needs vey few reminders. We have fallen off the bandwagon with Y. He needs to be taken every 15 minutes and I kept forgetting. We had company over for shabbos lunch so I was a little distracted. He went through all the underwear he had over shabbos. At 4pm I threw in the towel and put him in a pull-up. We are determined to try again tomorrow.
Am officially kicking off my new project this week- it's called "Find Y a school" and it's a wonderful game we play every year. (Can you hear the sarcams coming through?) It involves visiting many schools and speaking to many teachers and professionals who all have different opinions, of course, and then trying to muddle through and make an educated decision that you hope will be good for your child. The last step of course is getting the Board of Ed to pay for it, which may or may not require the services of a lawyer.
These are the times I wish G'd would just send me a little note saying "This is what Y needs- this school and these therapies, etc. He'll do great." Alas it's up to my husband and me...did I mention that I am 26 and do not have a degree in special ed :)

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Toilet Traing Two- Day 1

Disclaimer: May contain TMI abt my childrens' bodily functions. If you do not have kids, you may want to skip this post :)
So day 1 of our little adventure went surprisingly well. Y had a few accidents in the morning but once I started being more vigilant, he was okay for most of the day. He definitely needs a lot of reminders. A held everything in till about 1 pm when she finally realized she was just going to have to do it..and she did. Once she got the hang of it, she was great. She is being a little overly careful, going to the bathroom very 5-10 minutes but I prefer this to the alternative.
We stayed close to home (and the toilet) for most of the day but visited the children's museum in the afternoon and managed to get there and back without any accidents.
Don't want to jinx myself. Hope our good luck continues tomorrow and beyond. Like my friend said- it's so much better on the "other side". Am hoping to get there soon.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Birth at its best

Monday night at 12 15 I got a call from my client that her contractions were picking up in intensity. I left soon after that and was back home in bed by 4 am :)
She had a smooth and fast beautiful birth and I feel so privileged to have been able to be there and to help her through it. It's hard to describe but she was just so internally focused and calm. I held her as we breathed and OMed (like in yoga) through the contractions. We alternated between sitting and standing, but the breathing stayed the same throughout and was amazingly effective. We got to the hospital by 1 30 and the baby (a boy) was born at 2:38. My client pushed him out in abt 3 pushes...the doctors were surprised at how fast everything went.
My client was ecstatic and felt so empowered by her experience, not to mention how overjoyed they were to finally be meeting their new member of the family.
It is births like these that make me feel like I am in the right field. It is so gratifying to be able to be part of this wondeful process...ok, ok, will stop gushing now.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Billing Insurance for Doula Services

Great news. Doulas have become accepted as care providers under Health Insurance plans. That means that clients can get reimbursed for some of their costs by their insurance. Because this program is new, it is still unclear how much insurance will cover and if all health plans do this. I think this is amazing because it means that doula care can become more accessible and affordable. I just applied for a provider number. Somehow it makes the whole doula-business feel more official/legitimate. Not that we need the insurance companies to validate our work, but the fact that they do acknowledge this kind of care is meaningful.
More information can be found on the DONA website.

Sunday, December 20, 2009


Well it wasn't quite the 12 inches they predicted but we definitely got some snow.
We thought it would be fun to take the kids out to play in it. It was fun for about 5 minutes but then everyone's feet and hands got really cold...I think we were not bundled up enough. Lacking snowpants and warmer gloves. Our supposed adventure quickly disintegrated into crying children...at least we tried. Did get some great pics though.
The kids are off from school starting Thursday. I am not sure how I will entertain them for the next 10 days. Suggestions welcome. Our potty project also starts on Thursday. I am using the vacation to toilet train not one, but two children. Yes I know I'm nuts but I am also desperate to get at least some of my three children out of diapers. Just think of all the money I'll save.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

you've got your hands full

This seems to be everyone's favorite thing to say to me. Listen, I'm really flattered y'all think I'm so busy. And a lot of the time I am. But sometimes I am not.
Like right now when all my kids are blissfully asleep, my apartment is cleaned up and I am sitting here, blogging and just relaxing. I am also trying not to think about the 2 loads of laundry that need to be folded and the 2 cakes I want to bake tonight in preparation for our channukah party. Oh and if you are reading this, dear husband- there are abt 13 boxes of books still waiting to be unpacked before our guests come tomorrow at 8 15 :) Sorry, I am digressing.
Anyway- yesterday I was trying to leave the building with all 3 kiddos in tow and Y was not cooperating. He has become obsessed with the wonderful tree in the lobby of our building and keeps trying to grab the ornaments because he thinks they are balls. So I grabbed him, maneuvered the stroller down the steps and as the doorman is holding the door open for me, he says "it's hard for you, no?" Thanks, I really needed to hear that right now.
Today, we had an appointment at the pediatrician for flu shots. The new ped in the practice vaccinates my baby, then Y. and then A. and she is like:" These are all yours? How old are they?" So I dutifully tell her 4.5, 3 and 11 months. So she asks- are you planning on having more? because I think you have enough on your plate for right now.
I am trying to figure out why comments such as these bother me. Aside from the fact that this is an area that is none of their business, there is another aspect.
Maybe it's the fact that they make me feel insecure about my mothering. If I had it all together, maybe they wouldn't say "you have your hands full" because I would make it look easy. The fact that someone notices us and decides to comment on my crew, sometime can feel like they are implying that I cannot possibly manage my children.
I know that that is not true. We are busy, noisy and messy but everyone is clothed, fed, happy and loved. The things that need to get done, get done and I even manage to write, knit and get some sleep. I also am learning to get the help that I need.
I am not superwoman (not even close) but I do get through the day, sometimes for better and sometimes for worse.
So I guess I do have my hands full...but I wouldn't really want it any other way.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Different clients, different needs

I had a prenatal visit with my client a few days ago. After marveling that time flies and she is already at 37 weeks, we got right down to business. This is my client's third child and she was very clear on what she wanted/did not want for her labor. This clarity was partially because she has been reading up a lot and practicing pre-natal yoga with a wonderful instructor but mostly because she already has two children. While every birth can be different, it does give a woman a starting point to have been there before.
It made me think about my role as doula and how varied it is based on the client. For a first-time mother, a doula is really a guide. She is someone who can help the couple process new information, new feelings and navigate them through these new experiences. For a mother who has been there before, a doula is more of a sounding board, affirming and supporting her in the knowledge she already has. Obviously it's not that black and white, especially if a mother's previous birthing experience was unsatisfactory in some way. That's why it is so important to just listen to your client. Only through truly hearing her, can you support her in the way that is unique to her.
On a lighter note- Happy Channukah to everyone! My husband decided to have a Channukah party this week and guess who is the the official party planner/cook? Yours truly. We made a deal that if he finally unpacks his 20 book boxes before wednesday, I will make fresh latkas. 5lb bag of potatos, here I come.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

A Birth

I had the wonderful experience of being at a birth yesterday. This was my first time attending a birth on shabbos and while it took some getting used to, i really feel like I was needed there. That is why our rabbis have allowed shabbat-observant doulas to work on shabbos. Because we make a huge difference in the emotional health of the birthing mother and sometimes even affect the medical outcomes.
I don't want to post too many details because it would be violating my client's privacy. She delivered at St Vincent's with Village Obstetrics (Dr. Musali and Worth) and I was really impressed with the doctors and medical staff. They were very friendly and non-interventionist. it was nice to see the doctors tell someone she is not on any clock and can labor without time restraints.
My next client is due 1/1. Will be interesting to see if this will actually be a New-Year's Baby.
If anyone is interested in finding out more about my doula services, feel free to comment or send me a message through the blog!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

on the other side

We made it. Our movers were super nice, the service ppl in our new building not as nice but we are now officially living in our new apartment- yay! My mom is here and has been amazing amazingly helpful.
I have made great progress unpacking and am trying to decide if i should procrastinate or tackle a few more boxes tonight. Am hoping to be done with the boxes by tomorrow which means that all that will be left is for my dear husband to take care of the 30 or so boxes of books that are currently taking up our entry-way.
All things considered it went pretty smoothly but I don't really want to move again anytime soon...unless of course to Israel in which case I'll start packing again tomorrow.
My big dilemma is what to do with all the moving boxes- recycle, give away or sell?
Am also relieved because my client I am on call for, was nice enough not to have her baby on my moving day. So C, if you're reading this- I am all ready for you now :)

Sunday, November 29, 2009

boxes, boxes everywhere

Today was part 1 of the move- PACKING! Thank goodness we decided to splurge and have people pack for us. I got tired just watching them. And overwhelmed at the sheer amount of stuff that we have. This is AFTER I sorted through, organized, gave away, threw out and sold (I love craigslist!) tons of things. I should really post a picture of this glorious mess but my camera is packed...
So now the apartment is just a jumble of boxes waiting to be moved tomorrow. Which my children think is fun to climb on and jump off. Wonderful. Part 2 of this adventure happens tomorrow- getting everything into the new apartment. then of course unpacking. It is going to be a fun few days.
Today when the packers were almost all done, I got a little choked up checking out all the empty closets and bookshelves. It is always a bit sad to move on. I am really excited for our new apartment and having more space. But you are always leaving something behind- our super nice neighbors, the doormen who love my kids, most importantly this space that has been a home to us for over three years as our family has grown and changed. I have this weird line in my head that sums it all up perfectly- 5 dollars for anyone who knows this song: "Closing time- you dont have to go home but you cant stay here."

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The wonders of special education

I spent my morning at a workshop about "turning 5". Why does one need to attend a workshop about one's child turning five? Well you don't if your child is "typical" the new politically correct way for saying "normal". If your child however has developmental delays, turning 5 is a whole saga of evaluations, meetings, educational placements etc. that actually starts pretty soon after your child turns 4. Confused yet?
I was too but thanks to some really nice people at Resources for Children with Special Needs and a folder full of hand-outs, I now know what to expect. Which is for the Board of Ed to be annoying and mess up and forget to call me. I then will grit my teeth and call them over and over again and resubmit my paperwork until they approve what I want for my child. This ongoing saga starts soon and goes till June 15th when we get our final placement. Stay tuned

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Doula philosophy?

This is a big question I am often asked. What is my birthing philosophy.
I have tried to articulate it before but it never quite came out right so I am going to try again. I strongly believe that a doula's role is to support her client in labor without judging or telling her what to do. I will gladly share any information/techniques I know and give advice, but at the end of the day it is not my birth. I believe in a woman's power/ability to give birth pretty much anyway she wants to (within reason of course). I also understand that every woman knows herself best. She knows her pain threshold, how she reacts to stress or unexpected events, what she can handle and what will overwhelm her. All these factors are important for formulating a birth plan that is unique and perfect for her, whether it involves pain medication, birthing pools, home births or otherwise.
The other thing I think is important to keep in mind is that there is a tremendous mind-body connection. While labor is definitely very physical, where you are in your mind can have a huge effect on how your labor progresses. A large part of a doula's job is to help a woman feel safe and comfortable.It does not mean that there will not be any pain. But if the energy in the room is good, the woman feels that her wishes are being respected and that she is coping well with the contractions, it makes her feel more relaxed and helps her progress in her labor.
What do you guys think? I am starting to feel like I am talking to myself again-any and all comments are welcome.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


We are officially moving 2 weeks from today. The countdown is on. We are just moving diagonally across the street which means it's not too monumental but we still need to get all our stuff from Point A to Point B.
Am busy decluttering the apartment and getting rid of stuff/organizing so the move will go smoother. Although right now I am procrastinating at the computer and my big to-do list is not getting done. I feel like it will go pretty smoothly- I have a plan and an excel spreadsheet :) And my mom is coming in to help (thanks, Ma!)
But I also have all the other regular stuff to deal with that doesn't go away just bec we're moving- cooking, laundry, therapy sessions for Y, finding schools for next year, etc. And of course 2 births coming up later in December which I am very excited about. It's been slow recently so I am glad that I am becoming more busy on the doula front. Still trying to see how that puzzle piece will fit into the rest of my life but so far it always has.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

One of those days...otherwise known as life with 3 kids

It all starts when I am woken up at 5 30 by my 10 month old baby who decides that this is the perfect time to nurse and start the day! After letting him cry for a bit, I stumble out of bed to feed him and then dump him on the floor with some toys, hoping he'll be okay. Half asleep I start to hear my other children stirring but decide to just ignore them. How bad could it be? Soon my 3 year old is coming in the room announcing that Y. my 4 year old is spilling food all over the place. After a few more minutes of procrastination I walk into the kitchen to be greeted by the sight of yogurt and lasagna all over the floor. Meanwhile my baby is happily licking the food off the floor and his pyjamas. While I am busy cleaning up the mess, my son Y decided he isn't done yet and promptly clears off two bookshelves of books.
When I tell him to go play in his room he hapily waltzes off and spills 2 boxes of toys on the floor. I guess the them of the day is throwing/dumping.
I make a cup of coffee and decide to muddle through till drop off. Then I remember my kids are off from school today because it's Veteran's day. And my babysitter who was supposed to come at 9 30 so I can run some errands never arrives.
That's when I know it is going to be one of those days....Suffice it to say that everyone was sleeping by 6 30 and I (barely) lived to tell the tale.
But I will say this- they are incredibly cute when they are sleeping and sometimes even when they are awake :)

Monday, November 9, 2009

How I decided to become a doula

Why I decided to become a doula is actually a long story but I'll give you the semi-short version- when I was pregnant with my oldest, i took prenatal yoga and became fascinated w. the idea of natural, intervention free birth. The philosophy appealed to me. It just made sense to me that my body was meant to give birth so it obviously knows what it's doing. I read all I could abt it and was actually looking forward to the whole experience of birth.
Then came the news that the baby was breech. and a few weeks later still breech. Then at 37 weeks still breech. I tried all sorts of things- segulas, chiropractors, an external version which was unsuccessful and very traumatic but nothing doing. at 38.5 weeks I went into labor and arrived at the hospital only to be told the baby is sitll breech and I am having a c-section. I was devastated. After a pretty uneventful surgery and a quick peek at the baby I was sent to recovery. Where I was gently informed by my husband that our little baby boy bundle of joy has down syndrome. Did I mention I was devastated? What followed was shock, disbelief, mourning and yet amazing love for my little guy.
When I was pregnant with my daughter a short while later, i was determined to do it differently this time. With the help of my husband, doctor and two doulas (and of course G'd) I had a beautiful beautiful VBAC (vaginal birth after caesearen) and more importantly a wonderful, healthy daughter. This experience really showed me what birth really can be like.
Almost a yr later, when I decided I was ready to be more than just (very loaded word) a stay at home mom, i thought about what I really want to do and almost immediately came up with birth- I want to be around healthy, beautiful births and support women at this special time.
It has been a long, slow journey towards certification and experience but bh I am now certified and business is picking up. I love what I do and invite you to contact me if you are interested in hearing more about my work.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

What is a doula?

From the DONA (Doulas of North America) website:

The word "doula" comes from the ancient Greek meaning "a woman who serves" and is now used to refer to a trained and experienced professional who provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support to the mother before, during and just after birth; or who provides emotional and practical support during the postpartum period.

Studies have shown that when doulas attend birth, labors are shorter with fewer complications, babies are healthier and they breastfeed more easily.

A Birth Doula

-Recognizes birth as a key experience the mother will remember all her life
-Understands the physiology of birth and the emotional needs of a woman in labor
-Assists the woman in preparing for and carrying out her plans for birth
-Stays with the woman throughout the labor
-Provides emotional support, physical comfort measures and an objective viewpoint, as well as helping the woman get the information she needs to make informed decision
-Facilitates communication between the laboring woman, her partner and her clinical care providers
-Perceives her role as nurturing and protecting the woman's memory of the birth experience
-Allows the woman's partner to participate at his/her comfort level
A birth doula certified by DONA International is designated by the initials CD(DONA).

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

More about me...I started knitting about 8 months ago and have become a bit obsessed. I'm still a beginner or maybe intermediate but I find it very relaxing to knit at night after a long day of running after the kids. It's also nice to actually be creating something. So much of what I do gets undone within minutes- the food I cook is eaten, the clothes I washed get dirty again, etc. It's nice to have something with some permanence to it. My only issue is that once I start a project I want to finish it ASAP and I find myself knitting all the time, or thinking abt when I will have time to knit, calculating how long it will take to finish my project...a little OCD, I know. I'm like that with books too. Once I start one I have to finish it.
Right now I'm working on a baby blanket for my almost 3 year old daughter. Why does she need a blanket, you ask? She doesn't but I made one for her baby brother and she asked me if I can make her one too. Being that she is the middle child and we are always trying to give her more attention, I figured it might be nice for her to have something made special for her. Plus I had a pattern I wanted to try :) It's 25 squares plus 4 large panels around it. Once I finished sewing the squares together I gave it to her. Her reaction was totally worth the effort. She loves it and sleeps with it every night. Mission accomplished!

Monday, July 6, 2009


Can't believe I actually started my own blog. Not that anyone knows abt it so for now I'm talking to myself. Still, might as well introduce myself :)
I am a 25 year old stay-at home mom of 3 under 4, rebbetzen, doula, writer, knitter. My oldest has special needs- he is incredible and also incredibly frustrating at times :) I'm originally from Vienna, Austria but now live in NY. Spent 5 years in Israel and am dying to move back there ASAP, like yesterday. Just need to convince my wonderful husband who wants to stay in NYC to inspire people.
That's enough for now...