Sunday, February 28, 2010

Post-Purim Success

The final stats: 27 adults, 18 children, 10 pounds of turkey, 7 pounds of london broil, 7 pounds of meatballs, 40 muffins, countless bottles of wine and scotch, 3 tables, 1 housekeeper, 1 babysitter and lots of fun!
We did it! And it was really beautiful. True, there was a lot of food and alcohol, but more importantly lots of singing and divrei torah. It was really the way I had hoped it to be. Thanks to my husband for running the meal so well and making sure we covered all the important things. Now that Purim has passed, we have to get working on Pessach (Passover). Never a dull moment here...

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Where am I headed?

There is a great hasidic story about a Rabbi in the 19th century who was walking in the street when he ran into the local non-Jewish mayor. The man asked the rabbi where he was going and the Rabbi responded, that he did not know where he was headed. The mayor thought the Rabbi was mocking him and so he had him arrested and thrown in jail for contempt. After the mayor calmed down a bit, he had the Rabbi brought to him and asked him what his answer meant. Surely the Rabbi must have known where he was headed.
The Rabbi responded:"Your honor, don't you see. I did not know where I was going. I thought I was headed to the local studyhouse to learn Torah and instead I ended up in jail!"
This story comes to mind when thinking of the events of the last few days. I had one agenda and yet G'd clearly had quite another for me.
For example. Yesterday, my husband and I woke up at 5 am to take Y to the hospital for his dual procedure. He was scheduled for 7 30 and at 7 15, we were informed by the anesthesiologist that Y was not fit for surgery because his cough was too strong. This after days of back and forth with the pediatrician whether or not we should postpone the surgery. I guess it should not have come as a complete surprise considering his non-stop runny nose, but I was really annoyed because it disrupted my plans for the whole day and I was cranky due to waking up at 5 for no reason. Did I mention I am not a morning person.
Today I thought I was spending my morning going for an annual exam and baking chocolate mousse pies (more on that later). Instead I had to keep Y home from school because he had a fever and beg my pediatrician to call in a prescription for me and not make me come in yet again. In the last month I have been in the doctor's office an average of twice a week. The secretaries think I'm nuts and/or a hysterical mother, but I tell them I can think of better things to do with my time and my multiple 25 dollar co-pays. A manicure-pedicure comes to mind.
I try to keep perspective when annoying or crazy things happen that completely disrupt my routine but it's not always easy . Part of my faith is the belief that everything happens for a reason even if I don't understand it. I am not in control. Even though I really would like to be in control of everything, I need to let go and go with the flow a bit.
Particularly when it comes to Sunday. This coming Sunday is Purim, one of the funnest, yet holiest days of the Jewish year. I have 32 adults and 24 children coming for the holiday meal. While I am definitely trying to stay on top of things by cooking in advance (I did make my chocolate mousse pies in the end) and making lots of list, I also am trying to remind myself that I am not in charge. I will do my best and it will still be insanity. There will be lots of drinking, singing and a huge mess. I hope I will remember to enjoy myself, even when things don't go exactly according to plan.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

unexpected doula questions

I haven't gone missing, I just had a busy week. The kids were home from school yet again for President's WEEK and my parents were visiting, which was really nice. I have to admit I got a bit spoiled. Every morning, my parents would ring the doorbell at 8 am armed with lattes, muffins and croissants. I kept having to remind myself that this will only last a week and then I will be back to instant coffee and cheerios. Which is exactly what happened.
Anyway, a few nights ago, when I was speaking to a potential client, I was asked an unusual question. Most of the time, when speaking to pregnant women searching for a doula, I am asked very similar questions- my experience level, my philosophy, my services, etc. This woman, though, asked me if I thought that being an orthodox Jew makes me a better doula. I have to admit the question threw me for a loop. At the time, I didn't really have much to say on the topic. But having thought about it some more, I do think that my religious values help me be a better doula.
First of all, it helps me work with other orthodox women because I understand their values and the specific laws that apply during childbirth. In general though, Judaism is a very childfriendly religion and I think that attitude carries over into my doula work. That every child is a blessing and we were put on this earth to give of ourselves to the next generation.
Additionally, the idea of doing "chessed" is a very important concept in Judaism. Chessed is doing acts of kindness for others in need, such as cooking for someone who is ill, visiting the sick or helping someone after they have given birth.
While it is true that I am being paid for my work, when I am at a birth there are so many acts of kindness and giving that I do for the laboring woman: massaging her back, bringing ice chips, raising/lowering the bed, suggesting a different position . Some people translate the greek word doula to mean "servant" and the idea is really to serve the laboring woman and take care of all of her needs- physical, emotional, pain management, etc so that you she can feel comfortable and secure enough to give birth.
This is a longwinded way of saying that some of the attributes that help me as a doula- i.e love of children and comfort in the role of caregiver, really originate in the orthodox Jewish values that I have grown up with and am continuously working on.
Am curious to hear if others agree or have anything to add. Feedback always welcome. Shavua tov!

Monday, February 15, 2010

The search continues

I haven't posted about this in a while but the search for a school for Y continues. We saw a program that we liked but he would have to take a bus there and it would probably take over an hour. We have managed to take lots of options off our list, which is good except there are not that many options left. Last week I spoke to another Jewish school in the neighborhood (which shall remain nameless) and was very politely informed that they are not equipped to deal with such a "situation." I felt like politely informing them that we are not talking about a "situation", rather my CHILD who deserves a Jewish education just like any other child. The attitude is like- sure, your child should get a Jewish education, just not HERE.
We are checking out another program this week, as well as a secular school the following week. I'm feeling crunched for time because it's February and many schools are at the end of their application process. I don't want to miss any deadlines.
At the root of the matter is still the whole mainstream vs self contained classroom issue that my husband and I struggle with. We would like him to be with his typical peers but not at the expense of him aquiring the skills he needs.
Sometimes I look at him and wonder if he knows how he is the subject of so much worry, discussion, research, phonecalls, etc. Of course he doesn't and it is definitely better that way.
To be continued..

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Monday Night Knitting Club

I think I have mentioned previously that I have been knitting for the past year and a half. I find it incredibly relaxing as well as satisfying to actually produce something that does not get undone within a span of a few minutes likes all my other daily activities ie laundry, dishes, food.
Our synagogue started a charity knitting club right around the time that I began to knit and so I am an active and enthusiastic member. We meet once a month to knit and chat. We discuss future projects and divvy up yarn.
Mostly we knit hats for IDF soldiers in Israel as well as baby blankets and afghans for the families of the former Gush Katif. I am working on a cute baby blanket with my friend S and it is almost done. I have to admit that I been a bit lax on the knitting for charity front because I have been busy knitting for myself- a fabulous hat in purple and a light blue hooded sweater that is almost done. But I'm digressing.
Last night the ladies convened at our apartment. It was an interesting group of women who span all age groups and different stages of life, from singles to grandmothers. We had chocolate chip cookies and melon and a fun time was had by all. It is really nice to just sit around and talk to people without distractions. If we are honest with ourselves, how often do we really do that? Sit still for longer than 10 minutes at a time and carry on a real conversation? Most of us, including me, could stand to do that more often.
Oh and just for fun- honorable mention to whoever figures out the literary reference in the title of my post.
PS: I am really skeptical about this whole snow storm thing? Usually when there is all this hype and hysteria, nothing happens. I guess we'll see.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Yearning to go home

This video is a few years old but it still makes me cry every time I watch it. Sometimes I watch it just to torture myself...well really just to remind myself what the goal is, where I am heading. Hopefully sooner rather than later.

Nefesh B Nefesh is really an amazing organization. You can find more of their videos on youtube.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Tired and accomplished

It's Saturday night and I'm tired. Not just because Y and A had strep, which I seem to have caught, not to mention that M has an ear infection. It's because today was shabbos which is a very busy day in the life of a rabbi's wife (but really most Jewish women). Last night we had 9 guests at our table for a 4 course meal cooked by yours truly. It was a fun meal and they left at 9 45, leaving behind stacks of dirty dishes, glasses and lots of crumbs. Today we went to shul and then spent the afternoon at home trying to entertain three very bored children.
Once shabbos was over, I put on a DVD for my kids and got to work. I did 2 loads of dishes in the dishwasher and washed the rest of the stuff, that didn't fit, by hand. I picked up the books, newspapers and toys off the floor and swept the living and dining rooms. I wiped down my counters and took out all the trash and recycling. I forced antibiotics down three little throats (with some help from their dad) and then I put them to sleep (the kids, not the throats).
And now my apartment is clean again. And it's nice and quiet. I do feel accomplished, although my next step is to start making lists for Purim. Lest you think I am unique, I can assure you this goes on in many a Jewish household every Saturday night.
I always think about this dichotomy. On the one hand I feel like I do so much for my family. On the other hand I know that every other Jewish mother does pretty much the same, so my accomplishments seem like they are nothing special. Just doing my job after all. I am slowly starting to realize that one thing doesn't invalidate the other. While it is true that thousands of women spend hours preparing for shabbos every week- shopping, cooking, cleaning, serving, etc. - I do it for my family in my own unique way and that deserves some sort of acknowledgement/praise. My husband makes a point of thanking me at every meal (except for last night when he forgot-ahem...) which is nice. I think, though, that I also need to acknowledge to myself that all the little things I do- the meals, the clean up, the dishes, the 40 ppl descending upon our apartment next Friday night (did I mention that yet), they all add up to something greater. It all matters.
I know this sounds all spiritual/happy. Trust me, I am not always so happy and smiley when I am scrubbing my pots or cleaning chickens, but it is a greater perspective I try to keep at the back of my mind at least some of the time. I wonder if there is some sort of emoticon or internet shorthand for patting yourself on the back ;)

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The normalization of casearean sections

Check out this post on a blog called the unnecessarean.
It's a transcript of the Today Show's segment on cesareans that ran yesterday. Basically, a young couple that was having a scheduled cesarean invited The Today Show and all of America to take part in their c-section. To see the whole video, click here.
There was a running commentary explaining the procedure and why this woman needed to have a cesarean (unconvincing reasons, but not for me to judge). What's interesting is that the OB performing the surgery claimed the c-section rate is about 25-30% when at this specific hospital it is at 42 (!!)%.
I find this whole thing very sad, because this is just another example of the normalization of c-sections. It is being presented as an equal if not better option to vaginal birth. Cesareans are amazing, life saving procedures, but not when they are being performed 42% of the time.
There is a lot of misinformation in this segment, not to mention a glossing over of some of the very serious risks of cesareans. For example, did you know that the risk of maternal death is 4 times higher for c-sections than for vaginal births?
These risks are clearly documented yet most doctors do not share this information with their patients. I am not sure what the answer is, but I do know that this is not "normal" birth

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Taking care of myself so I can care for others

I have to admit that my eating habits need some work at the moment. While I love salads, fruit and other good stuff, both the mommy and doula lifestyle often necessitate a "eat and run" kind of diet. Or the "snack all day" diet. Neither of which are particularly healthy. And I am starting to feel the effects. I gained a few pounds. Last week I had a splitting headache that pretty much killed an entire day. I think I was dehydrated. Another day I had a stomach cramp probably due to an overdose of chocolate. My body is telling me to stop abusing it :)
I have decided to listen. Not just for my own sake but for others as well. The day that I was sick, I had to cancel Y's therapy sessions and find a last minute sitter so I could sleep.
I can't be the patient parent I want to be, unless I am well rested and well fed. The same thing goes for working as a doula. To be able to truly be there for a laboring woman, I also need to be feeling well and have energy. Not energy from a sugar rush but energy that comes from drinking water and eating all the good green stuff. So that's my resolution for February- drink more water and watch my food intake. I'll keep you posted.