Thursday, May 31, 2012


Mama Birth has a great post about the things she will and will not miss about the intense time of parenting four young children. I can totally relate. You can read it here.

I also wanted to share an article that was published last week but got lost in the shuffle before Shavuos. The New York Times published a profile on the pioneer midwife Ina May Gaskin and homebirth. She is one person  I would really like to meet one day.

Lastly, check out this cutie at Central Park Zoo. We had a fun school trip on Wednesday and even ran into Y who was there with his class too.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

On Childcare

I have emerged from the kitchen and my pile of laundry just in time for summer school 2 to 6 30 pm Monday through Thursday.
I had a lot of anxiety about arranging childcare. Just ask my husband who had to hear me obsess about it daily.
In the end, I was very fortunate that two former babysitters are available to watch the kids, 2 days each. They are two very capable young women who know my kids very well and whom my kids adore.
That was a huge relief for me. Still, I do feel kind of guilty not to be there when they get off the bus from school. And part of me still believes that I can take better care of them than anyone else because I am their mother. Even if that is true, though, that does not mean that someone else cannot take good care of them too.
Today was kind of a practice round. I freaked out when I saw how much material we need to know and when she gave us an assignment in the lab with very little instruction and said "go".  I have not been near a microscope in about 10 years. Clearly I have a lot of work ahead of me.
The professor did let us leave early so I was home before 5, just in time for dinner and everything was under control. We will see what happens tomorrow when I walk in the door at 6 30. The fun has officially begun.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Getting Beyond the Kitchen

There are many Jewish holidays on the calendar and they require different types of preparations and introspection. Recently, however, I have found that preparing for holidays for me involves only one thing and that is food.
Sure if there is no "kemach" (flour ie food) there is no Torah. The physical enables us to focus on the spiritual, etc etc. It's all very nice and good but it still does not change the fact that this past week I have been preparing for the re-acceptance of the Torah in the kitchen.
Sometimes I try to listen to classes online while I cook or fold laundry. For some reason, I have not been very successful this past week. I started a shiur by Yemima Mizrachi four times and only managed to hear about 10 minutes or so each time before being interrupted. If you asked me what she spoke about, I would not be able to tell you.
My only comfort is that I have a portion in the Torah that my husband is learning and disseminating. I also rely on him for my prayers these days as I have not been successful at carving out time for formal Tfilla. Lucky for me he is a Rabbi and will be teaching Torah all night so I am riding on pretty good coat tails.
Maybe it is just a matter of priorities. Maybe if I tried a little harder, I could find some time to go to a shiur or two, to daven a shmone- esrei every once in a while. I have seen that if something is truly important to me, I find a way to squeeze it into my schedule.
Perhaps the goal is to find that time, to reinvigorate and inspire myself a bit more, so that when the next holiday comes around, I may still be in the kitchen, but also will have found a different way to connect to the yomtov (yontev? yontif? how do you spell that in English anyway!!) on a deeper level.
I will be busy eating cheesecake for the next few days. Will not be posting till Monday night or possibly later in the week. Chag Sameach to all!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Doctor's Rounds

After AY was born and with everything else going on, I kind of fell behind on my doctor's appointments. I still did the well-visits with the pediatrician but some of the other stuff got put on the back burner.
After Pessach, I decided to work on my ever growing list and  started scheduling appointments at the rate of about one a week. I also scheduled myself for some way overdue visits.
So far I took M. and A. to the dentist, then Y to the dentist on a separate trip, myself to an internist for a physical and today, Y went to see the ENT. Next week AY has a well-visit and then Y is due for one at the end of June when he turns 7 (!!).  In addition, I scheduled a dental cleaning for myself and also want to see an ophthalmologist and dermatologist.
It feels a bit overwhelming.  Most visits take the whole morning and by the time I am done, it is already time to pick M up from pre-school. It definitely cuts into my free time and the time I use for errands and other stuff that needs to get done. But I am trying to just do one appointment at a time.
 I figure by the time I am done with all the visits, it may be time to schedule new ones :) I am especially trying to prioritize  my own doctor's appointments. Taking care of four little ones takes a lot out of you and in order to care for them effectively, I need to be functioning well. That is also why I finally started taking the multi-vitamin I was supposed to have been taking for months.Slowly, slowly, we are making progress.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

The Interrupted Life

As a mother, the most precious commodity can sometimes be time. Time to sleep, time to read, go on errands and sometimes even just time to do dishes and laundry without having to stop every ten seconds.
Kids have needs. They have a lot of needs. Food, drinks, diapers, hugs, kisses for boo boos, games they cannot reach, clothes that need to be put on, books that need to be read. And all of it now, now, now.
As children get older, their needs become less immediate. My kids have learned that things do not happen instantly. If they want a drink and I am busy with something, they may have to wait a minute or two.
This obviously does not work well with babies. Their needs are immediate, as in feed me, hold me, change me NOW. It has been a big adjustment for me to get back into the mode of dropping what I am doing because AY needs me, but most of the time I can deal with it.
Every once in a while, though, I do not want to be interrupted. I want to finish writing an email, fold my laundry, cook shabbos on auto-pilot in an hour and a half. I want to study for my final without rocking or holding a baby. I want to sleep uninterrupted for three, maybe even four hours. It does not seem that this is in the cards for me anytime soon, but I did get a little window of time this past week.
Wednesday I was feeling particularly burned out and tired and I decided to go to yoga. Other than 1-2 times of mommy and me yoga I have not been at all in the past six months. I put the older ones to bed, left my husband in charge of the baby and went to class. It was amazing. 90 minutes of uninterrupted time. Watching the sun set and the sky getting dark through the big windows overlooking Broadway. Stretching, moving, breathing in ways at once familiar but also challenging. I left reinvigorated and relaxed with the intention of finding a way to come to yoga more often. Ready to go back to my busy, interrupted life. 

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

School update

First of all, a big Mazel Tov to my sister who had a little baby girl last week. Can't wait to see pics (hint, hint)
Today was the last day of class for me. I have my final next week and then I am free...until the following week when I start summer school.
When I originally considered taking classes, I had falsely assumed that I can take the courses in the morning, when the older ones are at school, thereby minimizing stress for everyone. Unfortunately, the college I am attending is very small, so there are only limited choices for the classes I need to take. It seems that most science classes are given in the afternoons.
Which is why, for the month of June, I will be taking Anatomy and Physiology I from 2 30 to 6, Monday through Thursday. I was not thrilled when I found out about the timing but I need this course and the times in the fall were just as bad.
I will admit to having some anxiety as to how this is going to work. From 4 to 6 is the busiest time at home- homework, dinner and baths. But I am telling myself that it is only for a month so how bad could it be? And I am assuaging my mommy guilt with the thought that the kids will be seeing much less of me in June, but we will be hanging out all day every day in July and August.
It really is a bit of a paradigm shift to not be around for all the important things. It does make me feel slightly guilty and sad. But I guess this is good practice for when I will be in school full time in about a year and a half, assuming I manage to finish my pre-requisites and get accepted into a program.
And I will try to focus on all the time I do get to spend with them, like today when I went on a class trip with A. and then picked Y up from school later. It's the little things.

Sunday, May 13, 2012


Almost a year ago I posted about an article in the NY Times about introversion. The author, Susan Cain, argued that introversion and shyness is often viewed as negative or even a pathology in American culture, and there is vert litte focus on all the positives introverts bring to the table.
 Cain has expanded her research into a whole book, one that I am thoroughly enjoying. In "Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that can't stop talking," Cain makes a lot of great points. Originally I was going to wait until I finished the book to write about it, but there were just so many things I related to, I felt I had to share some of it.
My husband is making fun of me for being so excited about the book, but it is very rare to come across something that really explains so many things about you and truly resonates. I told him if he really want to "get" me, he should read it too. For example:
-Introverts are often more comfortable expressing themselves in writing rather than face-to-face. That is also why an introvert may not like to share a lot of his feelings in real life, but can be very open through social media such a blogs, facebook, etc. I wonder who that could be referring to :)
- Studies have shown that introverts are something that is called "highly-reactive", which means that their bodies respond to stimulation more intensely. Practically, what happens is that they can be easily over-stimulated and overwhelmed in certain situations.
-Introverts are often creative and work well on their own rather than in groups. They may be attracted to professions such as writing which are solitary pursuits and do not require interactions with others.
-Introversion and shyness are not the same thing although they sometimes do go together. And it is false to say that introverts do not like people  (something that I have actually been accused of on occasion) rather they like to interact with people on a smaller scale, meaning one-to one, rather than at a cocktail party.
I still have more to read but I am learning a lot and also feeling validated about things I have felt or known about myself for a very long time.If you are an introvert, are related to one or often interact with them, I highly recommend this book.
Also, Happy Mother's Day to all. Rather than sharing my thoughts, I will direct you to some of my favorite bloggers- Amber of Crappy Pictures on how to show appreciation and Mama Birth  on why she wants her children to give her something on Mother's Day. Enjoy!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Links of the Week

Here is an eloquent response to R Shmuley Boteach's article about Special Needs I posted last week.
I think my opinion is somewhere in the middle. While I do not think having a child with special needs is suffering, I do think that it is harder than a typical child and those who claim that their child is just like everyone else in every realm are fooling themselves.
Yes our kids are bright, they have feelings, they can lead to full lives but they have to work really HARD at it and so do the parents.

On the topic of attachment parenting, this TIME cover photo of a woman breastfeeding her three year old is  making news. Some feel it is just sensationalist, others think the article is too critical of attachment parenting but it definitely had the effect of stirring up some controversy.

Have you read anything interesting this week?

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Knitting pic

This is what I do when my husband is away-stay up too late finishing knitting projects I have been procrastinating.
This cardigan is meant as a light spring layer for baby AY but truthfully he may have outgrown it already. any nephews or nieces want to claim it?

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Yachad Re-Cap

We have been back from the Yachad Weekend since Sunday but it took me some time to recover. While it is really meant to be a bit of a retreat and relaxing weekend, for a family with little children, it is just not the case.
They have a great  day camp, which the kids enjoyed very much, but there was a lot of unstructured down time with the boys running loose all over a big hotel .
We spoke to the people involved about finding ways to make it easier for families with very young children. We will see if they change anything for next year, although I think it might just make sense for us to wait a few years till the kids are older.
In terms of sessions, there were a lot of interesting things, among them:
- A session on sexuality and talking to our kids about their bodies- self-care, privacy, exploitation prevention, relationships.
-A session on changing kid's behaviors which started with the premise that you can really change behavior :) His approach to behavior modification was very interesting and he asked us to reevaluate what behaviors really need changing and if some behaviors are annoying but maybe are not as problematic as we think. He also spoke a lot about changing the environment. We do that already for Y with all the safety issues but there is only so much safeguarding you can do. You cannot think of every last thing
-A session on religion and spirituality. The speaker was making the argument that when we offer people with cpecial needs the opportunity to participate in the community in this way, we are not doing a chessed but we are actually adding value to our schools and shuls. It was a refreshing way to look at things.
I could go on and on about the things I learned. I always come away with a new perspective after these weekends. Which is why we keep coming back even if it is a bit tiring.
The other nice thing is meeting other families and connecting with them. We met a family whose oldest son has Down syndrome and had kids all the same ages as our kids, as well as some other nice families. I would like to try and keep in touch.
We transitioned straight from the weekend to my husband being away at a conference for the next three days. I really dislike being alone, but so far I am hanging in there. Visitors and phone calls welcome!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Homebirth revisited

As part of my psychology course, we had to write a paper on the topic of our presentations for class. Since I presented on birth, this left me with a lot of good options. I was considering writing about VBAC but in the end, decided to focus on home birth safety.
I started researching and realized there were a lot of articles on the issue and got very involved contrasting and comparing different studies. Finally, I realized this was taking up too much of my time. The paper was only supposed to be 3 to 5 pages and I was getting carried away.
So I forced myself to focus only on two articles, including the infamous "Wax" study. After obsessing about my bibliography for way too long, I finally handed it in today. Now all I have left is my final and I will have successfully completed my first pre-requisite. 
The paper is too long to post but I will share some excerpts here. If you are interested, you can comment here or email me and I will send you the whole thing. Without further ado:

...The results showed that the rate of perinatal death per 1000 births was similarly low in all three groups.  It was .35 for planned home births, .57 for planned hospital births attended by a midwife, and .64 for planned hospital births attended by a doctor.
78.8% of the women who planned to give birth actually did, the other 21.2% were transferred to the hospital. The rate of interventions, including fetal monitoring, episiotomy and cesarean section, was significantly lower for the women who had planned to birth at home. Additionally, adverse maternal outcomes such as postpartum hemorrhage or third degree perineal tears were less common at home. The same goes for adverse outcomes for the newborn, such as birth trauma, required resuscitation at birth, meconium aspiration and others (Janssen et al., 2009, p. 379). The full charts comparing birth outcomes as well as level of intervention can be found on page 381 of the article....

In summary, Janssen et al.’s (2009) study showed that planned homebirth with a registered midwife is associated with “very low and comparable rates of perinatal death and reduced rates of obstetric interventions and adverse maternal outcomes compared with planned hospital birth attended by a midwife or physican” (p. 383)....
In conclusion, Wax et al. (2010) repeat that there is significantly less maternal and newborn intervention and morbidity in homebirths, especially if they are attended by highly trained and regulated midwives who are integrated into the healthcare system. Unfortunately, this is not always the case in the United States because midwifery is not regulated the same way in every state (p. 243.e7).
This rate of low intervention makes sense because women who chose homebirth do so in part to avoid the many interventions they may be subjected to in a hospital setting. Women who birth at home are considered to have low obstetric risk and so are more prone to having more favorable outcomes. Additionally, midwives have a different model of care than obstetricians, which has been shown to consistently lead to less medical interventions and improved perinatal outcomes (Wax et al., 2010, p. 243.e7)....
Giving birth is a very important milestone in the lives of all women. There are many physical, emotional and psychological aspects that need to be taken into account when choosing a care provider and a place of birth.  Most women feel that their needs will be best met in a hospital setting. Both articles state that there is an aspect of self-selection present in homebirth. Women who choose homebirth are looking for a different model of care and for a lower level of medical intervention that not all pregnant women are comfortable with.

While homebirth is not the right decision for all women and the United States will not be encouraging the midwifery model of care like other European countries, an analysis of the available data does indicate that planned homebirth with a highly trained and certified midwife is a safe and viable option for the women who chose it.