Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Almost a month

She'll be a month old tomorrow. How is that possible?!

Things here are good. Busy, but good. Yesterday and today I managed to not only cook real dinners but get everyone sitting at the table for them at the same time (remember how I used to complain how hard it was to feed everyone dinner, and that was without a newborn?!) The baby (yes yes yes she will have a name soon) is a lot like Barak was at this age--fortunately I'm not like I was at that age. You won't let me put you down for more than sixty seconds at a time? Okay, I can deal with that. With Barak, another I-will-die-if-you-don't-pick-me-up-now baby, most of the sleep deprivation came from my own inability to sleep anywhere but lying down in a bed. Now I can pretty much sleep anywhere, anytime, and I can sleep with a baby in bed with me--it's not like sleeping under lots of blankets by myself, but it's a heck of a lot better than getting out of bed fifty times a night trying to resettle a baby in a crib (and failing). I can even sleep pretty well in a rocking chair with a baby tucked into a Boppy. I usually try to get her to sleep in her bassinet/bouncy seat once or twice at the beginning of the night, and then I take her into bed with me and we both fall asleep. Pretty predictable really. She has all day to catch up on missed sleep, and I don't. She wins.

I'm also much better at carrying a baby in a sling than I used to be, and more comfortable with doing more things with said baby in said sling. There are still limits though. I can't (won't) cook with a baby in a sling--it just feels too dangerous to me and I'm not going there. No hot stuff, no sharp blades, so that really complicates, oh, dinner preparations. It's also hard to do things like change diapers on recalcitrant toddlers, wrangle children into snowpants, etc. But--BUT--one can knit with a baby in a sling, which discovery has improved my mental state enormously.

I still have Asnat here for three hours in the morning, which is a huge huge help--I usually manage to get a nap in while she's here. I also arranged for Iyyar to spend 20 minutes every day in afternoon playgroup, which is all the time I need for my husband to come home for lunch and me to run get him (or for my husband to go get him if I am sound asleep when he arrives, which has happened lately too)--and this means I don't have to wake up Avtalyon if he's still asleep at 12:45, which he usually is. AND my friend's son, who rides the bus with Barak, is walking Barak home from the bus stop--this means I don't have to wake up any nappers, wrangle three children into winter clothes, and go out to wait for the bus every afternoon. Another very big help.

Anyway, so, things are finding their new normal around here. The boys are generally doing OK--Barak actually seems more relaxed than he has been in a while (which still isn't very, but that's Barak), Iyyar really likes the baby, and Avtalyon, well, Avtalyon is working very hard to be sure that he is not neglected in all the bustle, and generally succeeding. I kind of wish he hadn't thrown all those black beans on the floor, but Iyyar picked them all up for me so no harm done. It's 9:30 PM though and I still haven't managed to clean up from dinner, pack lunches, or put the laundry away, so I'd better get going.

Name post soon. Really. Sometime within the next month for sure. Bli neder.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Three weeks

The baby (yes, she will have a blog name, but that should be its own post, so you'll just have to live in suspense a while longer) is three weeks old today, and marked the occasion by coming down with an impressively awful cold complete with horrible cough and icky goopy congestion. At around 4 this afternoon she woke up with a coughing fit that actually turned her purple, at which point I called the doctor, asked them to squeeze us in (which they did), and called my husband to come home (which he did). Verdict: bad cold, yes, but her breathing is fine, and while we were there the nurse weighed her and hallelujah! birthweight plus an ounce, even though she hadn't eaten in a while (hard to nurse when you're that stuffed up). Eight ounces in seven days, so all that nursing is doing something. Doctor says keep an eye to be sure her breathing isn't too fast and she is at least eating something; right now she is contentedly snoozing in her bouncy seat and I am putting my first free moments not holding a baby to good use blogging. And I knitted a little bit, too.

Last night she didn't settle until around 4, even in bed with me, and I woke up at 7:40, which is way too late for the mother of a kindergartner with an 8 am departure time; somehow Barak got ready and out the door, I stumbled around in a haze getting Iyyar and Avtalyon dressed and breakfasted, and once Avtalyon was napping, went back to sleep with the baby at 10:30. Not setting an alarm, because it was 10:30 and there was no way the baby wouldn't wake me up by 1, when it would be time to pick up Iyyar. Right? Wrong. I was woken up at 1:30 by my husband, who had come home for lunch to discover (apparently) nobody home and messages on his voice mail saying "Um, is anyone going to pick up your son?" I'd slept right through all the ringing, of my own phone and my cell, as well as my husband coming home at lunch, walking through the house looking for me, and seeing no one here, going to get Iyyar himself, wondering if perhaps I had taken the baby to the hospital. I had been in my room with the light off and somehow he hadn't noticed us sleeping there.

Think I might have been tired?

Anyway, the three-hour nap was awesome and I feel much more human; not only that, but a friend of mine sent us a (fabulous) dinner of takeout, the plumber, who is a friend of ours, fixed our bathtub and sinks today and LEFT WITHOUT CHARGING US (he just walked out the door--I thought he was getting a part but he never came back); and the dishwasher guy came and fixed my dishwasher (okay, he did charge us, but it's worth it--my dishwasher is working again!) Oh, and another friend took my toaster oven racks to tovel, so now I have a functional toaster oven again. Yay!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Two weeks and a day

I took the baby in for her first pediatrician visit today. I know, I know, I should have brought her in last week, but like I think I said earlier, couldn't deal, and I thought she was doing great. I was a little surprised therefore to discover that she was nowhere near her birth weight. She was born at 7 lb 15, discharged at 7 lb 5, and according to the scale at the doctor's office was 7 lb 8.5 today. Hmm. She had, it is true, just had a massive dirty diaper and hadn't eaten for a couple of hours at that point but... still. It seemed weird to me because she's nursing all the time and where are all those wet/dirty diapers coming from if she's not eating enough? So when the doctor was done I fed her and then asked the nurse to try again on another scale. That one said 7 lb 13, although she was at that point in a clean diaper and undershirt. Because I am neurotic, I came home and weighed a clean diaper and similar undershirt to find out that that added 2 oz. So I could call her 7 lb 11 oz, which is not as bad, but also indicates that she only got 2.5 oz during what seemed to me to be a pretty long feed. Which means that I need to be paying more attention to how much she's getting, because it seems to be less than I thought.

Other stats: 20.5 inches, 23rd percentile for height. 56th for weight.

Random cute kid conversation of the day:

Iyyar was getting ready for bed, wearing his Justice League t-shirt. I asked him to turn off the light and he objected. "Now I can't see very well!" I told him that Daredevil can't see at all but still manages.

"He can see in the dark?"

"No, he can't see at all. But he has radar sense."

Pause.

"He has a flashlight?"

"No, he has radar sense."

"Green Lantern has a flashlight."

"Right, Green Lantern does."

"Also the Flash. Also the Flash has a flashlight."

"I'm not sure about that one. We should ask Abba."

A lichtige Chanuka to you too.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Two weeks

Two weeks today. Baby B"H seems fine; pediatrician visit tomorrow, which I put off a few days because I was bleeding so much the taxi trip/carseat installation just didn't seem like a good idea. Kids generally adjusting well, although Avtalyon is driving me kind of nuts with the competitive attention-getting and the innocent grabbing at changing pad on top of dresser while newborn baby sister is ON IT. (I was right there with my hand on her, but still--bad idea.)

Mostly I am dealing OK. Just, um, hungry. The baby is not fussy but wants to be held ALL THE TIME, day and night, and is nursing almost nonstop right now; this really does preclude cooking. Generally speaking when someone has a baby in this community people send meals for the first two weeks, but that hasn't really happened this time, for a variety of reasons. So... yeah. We did get Shabbos twice, and weekday meals I think three times. But I think that's all over with now and today at around 5 pm I started feeling dizzy and realized that the only thing I'd eaten all day was... um... never mind. Not adequate, let's put it that way. A friend just offered to pick up a few things at Trader Joe's for me and I'm thinking I'll ask her for some boxed soups and granola bars. The kosher grocery does deliver so I could at least get cheese and I do have crackers. MHH went to the produce store yesterday and got a ton of bananas, although none of them are ripe yet.

And YES, I know it is kind of stupid and petty of me to be grumpy about not getting meals when I make a point of making them for other people whenever asked, especially since I specifically didn't want to ask anyone. Yes. Stupid. And petty. But I'm still hungry. I got the kids red peppers and hummous and made some frozen corn and gave them that with crackers and they seem OK with it--there was just an awful lot of screaming today, and I'm not quite up for it yet.

So, in a nutshell: I am tired. The baby is cute. The kids are as kids with a new baby sibling are wont to be. And I am tired. Oh, and my kitchen is... uh... never mind.

ETA: after I wrote this, a friend of ours turned up with dinner AND the offer to make a Target run for me, which was gratefully accepted. So we had dinner after all and now I even have diapers and granola bars and paper plates and so forth. Today Ada came in the afternoon so I had fifteen minutes to cook dinner. One day at a time...

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Six days


I feel this bodes well. Don't you?

(oh--and does it remind you of anyone?)

Saturday, December 05, 2009

If I were Julie, I would probably start this post as an IM conversation, or maybe a series of text messages, between me and my uterus. It would go something like this:

10/24
Uterus: u r in labor
Uberimma: no way. i have shingles.

10/31
Uterus: u r in labor
Uberimma: no way. kids are going to get chickenpox any day now.

11/9
Uterus: u r in labor
Uberimma: no way. not till 37 weeks. besides, no labor till pediatrician back from vacation.

11/10-11/29 (repeated daily)
Uterus: u r in labor
Uberimma: ok
Uterus: just kidding hahaha

11/30
Uterus: u r in labor
Uberimma: This is getting really annoying. Stop.
Uterus: No really. You're in labor.
Uberimma: Fat chance. You're like the uterus that cried wolf already.
Uterus: You don't believe me?
Uberimma: No.
Uterus: Okay, fine. But don't say I didn't warn you.

* * *

There's just only so long you can go to bed every night wondering if your water will break. There's only so long you can walk around having contractions before you start thinking, eh, it'll never happen. Even though logically you know that every passing day of this makes it more, not less, likely that you are in fact in labor... I dunno. That's not how my brain works, I guess.

So when I woke up at Monday morning with what felt like an upset stomach, I assumed it was, in fact, an upset stomach, because, you know, it'd been an upset stomach or just aimlessly meandering contractions for the last MONTH and I wasn't going to go paging my midwife or rushing off to the hospital for any of that. For some reason I'd overslept and my husband hadn't woken me up; it was 8:04 am, four minutes past the time I should have been out the door with Barak for the bus. This wasn't in itself a problem, though, since I'd been to check on Barak in the night and he'd had a fever. I went in to see how he was doing and he was still in bed, half awake; I checked his temp and he had 100.2 under his arm. OK, fine, you would've stayed home anyway. I gave him a kiss, told him to go back to sleep, and he just looked at me blearily and pulled the covers up a little higher.

I got Avtalyon out of his crib and dressed, got Iyyar his clothes and directed him to the bathroom while I got him Cheerios. And made a few bathroom trips myself. Ow, upset stomach. Got Iyyar dressed, got him more Cheerios. Ow. Husband must have overslept too; he's davening in the office. At around 8:45 I thought, you know, it's been a week since I saw the midwife, I should probably call her. And she'll probably want me to come in, so I might as well see if I can come in this morning, since I'm not planning on attempting any work and it's easier to go when Asnat is here. So I called midwife, at two minutes to 9, and got the answering service instead of the office. The person asked me if I wanted to page the midwife and without really thinking it through first I said yes.

My husband came out of my office at 9 and I asked him if he could take Iyyar to school, even though I knew that this would make him late to work; my stomach was really really upset at that point and I didn't want to go too far from a bathroom. He left with Iyyar, forgetting Iyyar's lunch, which I handed him through the door on his way out. Then I went to the bathroom again. Then I thought, huh. Maybe I should just... go into the office and get checked. I picked up the phone to call a cab, put it down, picked it up, put it down, and looked at it for a minute. Then I picked it up again and dialed. I asked for a cab to my midwife's office, which is across the street from the hospital.

Then I had a few more contractions and thought... huh. I wonder if... nah. Between contractions I thought it was probably nothing, and then I had one more that made me think that I might really be in labor. Then it stopped and I kind of dismissed the possibility again. The midwife still hadn't called me back, so I called again and had her paged again.

MHH came back and I told him I was going to the office to get checked. He asked me if I wanted him to come with me and I said, if you want, but I'm leaving when Asnat gets here. Asnat rang the doorbell at around 9:20; I opened it, she made a look of shock ("You're still here!") and I said, mid-contraction, yes but I am leaving NOW and then the phone rang and I saw that it was the cab company telling me that my cab had arrived. I got my bag and went in and kissed Barak and said, "I'm going to the hospital to have the baby and I'll see you in a few days." He just looked at me--I think he had sort of despaired of ever seeing the long-promised new baby too.

I put my coat on and was on my way out the door when my husband said something about needing to go get something; I didn't even slow down but called over my shoulder, "OK, but I'm not waiting for you." I saw the cab down the street and waved at him; he pulled up and I climbed in and I saw MHH running out the door after me. Good thing too, as it turned out.

In the car I texted Cecilia and told her I was going to the hospital; I just looked at my phone and that was 9:37 AM. I called a couple of people to see if they could come look after the kids that afternoon but didn't get through to anyone; then my midwife called back, and told me she'd never gotten the first page. How far apart were the contractions? 3-5 minutes, I said. Had my water broken? No. Any other signs of labor? I hesitated and said, "I'm in the cab." There are certain things you really just don't want to say in hearing of a cab driver when you are 9 months pregnant, you know? She said, OK, I'm leaving now and I'll meet you there. That was when I told the driver that actually I wanted to go to the hospital, women's hospital entrance. He said OK. I remember passing a certain intersection and having a contraction so intense I couldn't sit still, and thinking, yes, this is definitely it, but even then I had no feeling it was going to be anytime soon soon. It wasn't really all that bad.

(Don't worry. I did not have the baby in the cab.)

We got to the hospital, we got out of the cab, I remember having left my purple bag on the seat and my husband reaching back in to grab it. We walked in to L & D and I was for some reason walking a little bit ahead of him--he was talking about the statue of the extremely skinny woman cum baby in the lobby and I told him my midwife referred to it as the French au pair. We walked in to L & D and I remember the heavy double doors opening electronically; I went up to the registration desk, told the lady my name and the name of my midwife, and then had a contraction and a flash of very unpleasant memories and said to her, "Can we just skip this part? Can we just go straight to the baby?" She laughed or gave me a sympathetic look, I don't really remember, and said she wished it could be that easy. I asked for a room with a tub and she said she'd given me one; the nurse walked us both back there and started checking my vitals and the rest of it.

I know we got there at 9:58 and there were certainly a few minutes spent registering and getting into the room; I walked around, looked at the tub, put my bag down, and then told the nurse that this time I wanted drugs. I wanted an epidural. As soon as possible please. She said OK but I have to get you registered first, and I went to the bathroom and came out and looked at the tub again and asked if I could get in the tub and she told me it took a while to fill. She checked the baby's heartbeat and said something about if you want drugs you have to be on monitors and I didn't think I could sit still for that. So I went to the bathroom again. And then told my husband to move the bags on the floor away from where I was going to trip on them and thought dark thoughts toward my husband, who always catches the brunt of it when I am not feeling, ah, up to par. At this point I was really really in pain and thinking, "I cannot do this. I cannot possibly do this again," and my midwife came in and I told her I wanted an epidural, I'd done it naturally twice and I was NOT doing that again. She said, okay, but let me just check you first. Then I went to the bathroom again and she stood outside telling me she really needed to check me and that was when I called out through the door to my husband that he could leave now.

"Um. Okay. Is there anything specific you want me to be doing?"

"Just leave."

"Okay."

Then I got walloped with one of those contractions that made me remember just exactly how awful having a baby is, and my midwife told me she couldn't do anything about that one contraction so I'd have to just wait till it was over, and I said I couldn't and she had to make it stop. (I know, very rational, etc.) Then the next thing I knew I was on the bed and she was saying to me, okay, you're ten centimeters and ready to push. I think I screamed once with the next contraction and she told me, very sternly, "No screaming. Just push. With this next contraction you're going to push your baby out."

And I did.

It was 10:16.

So she handed me the baby, and she was fine and gorgeous, and after they got me a little cleaned up my husband came back and they told him it was a girl and after about sixty seconds of being surprised he looked at me and said, "You totally knew, didn't you," and I 'fessed up. I was bleeding too much so they gave me pitocin; my midwife said I had a first-degree tear but didn't force the issue with stitches; I cuddled the baby and I nursed her a little bit and she thought that was great.

At some point we went up to my room and stopped at the nursery first for the baby to get checked. She had a lot of little red spots on her face which were probably from how fast she was born but because of the antigen E issue the nurse in the nursery paged my doctor to see if he wanted to get her platelet count, which he did (it turned out to be fine). She was talking with one of the other nurses about it and as they were discussing it and saying she, her, her, she, I was honestly and genuinely confused--as in, whose baby are they talking about that is she and her and she?

And then I realized. Oh yes. She's mine.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

I can hardly believe it myself


Not only am I no longer pregnant...

Not only is the baby not jaundiced...

Not only was it the quickest labor imaginable...

But IT'S A GIRL!!!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

What I did today

Besides the usual child-wrangling, that is: did mammoth stock-up shops at Trader Joe's and Target (with Iyyar in tow), put away mammoth stock-up shops, folded and put away huge pile of laundry, cleaned out office for umpteenth time, read The Fire Engine Book to Avtalyon another couple dozen times, made a double batch of bagels, sorted and put away a bunch of toys in the appropriate boxes, and spent an hour or so hunting down MHH's keys (he found them himself in the end). Last night, I took it into my head to scrub down the walls, doorframes, and floor molding in the kitchen, and scrape the grime out from between the squares of adhesive vinyl flooring with a sharp-cornered piece of Lego and a lot of bleach.

I'd say this was nesting, and a sure sign of impending-ness, except that I could have written almost the same post a month ago--only then I decided to scrub all the electric switchplates in the house and reorganize all the shelves in my kitchen.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Questionable mothering

Barak just went to bed. At 10:49 PM. I told him he could come out of bed to play little Lego in my office but had to be in bed by 9. That was the initial plan. But, well, he started feeding the Lego horse some Lego fish and I told him horses didn't eat fish so he started feeding the horse apples, and then he decided that the horse needed an apple tree so he built the horse an apple tree, and then he thought the pirates were probably hungry so he built them a gefilte fish tree and then he made a chrain bush and... well, he was being so cute and so happy I just couldn't make him go to bed.

At around 10:30 he got hungry himself and asked for some Chex and milk. And then he said,

"Imma, know what Imma?"

"What?"

"I want to go to bed now."

"Okay. Good night."

"Good night. I love you Imma."

"I love you too."

I hope I don't regret it in the morning, but right now I don't regret it at all.

(Oh, and in case you didn't notice... yes, I'm still here. Last weekend sometime I complained to one of my, ahem, less sympathetic friends about how walking around at 5 cm is not the most fun ever. She cheerfully regaled me with tales about a mutual friend who walked around at 5 cm for 10 days. Which point I will pass, um, tomorrow. Assuming I am still pregnant. Which, let's face it, I probably will be.)

Friday, November 27, 2009

We interrupt this blog to bring you

bubkes.

Still here.

So is Barak. The memo about busing that came home on Wednesday was, it transpires, wrong; we were out there at the time it said but no bus. After around ten minutes of increasingly suspicious shivering I saw one of the other mothers run out of her house to tell us that another note had been sent home on Thursday changing the times. Bus had come at 8:15, not 8:45 as expected, and my choices were a) walk Barak a mile to school each way or b) keep him home again. He's sitting on the floor of my office playing little Lego right now. So much for that nap I had in mind.

Due date is Monday. I can't believe I might actually have to work on Monday. We usually have brisn before my due date! And that's with jaundice!

This is so weird.

OK. Off to figure out Shabbos. Again. Because, you know, I'm still here and all.

Shabbat shalom everyone. Further bulletins, as always, as events warrant. Or as they don't.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

It's been twenty years and I am starting to lose confidence.

Anyone else think this is starting to be a bit much?

A few weeks (years?) ago, when I passed the 37 week mark, my midwife and I joked about how I'd go to 41 weeks and she'd have to induce me. We both laughed. It is beginning to seem distinctly less funny now.

Monday night I felt so awful I called my midwife literally in tears. She sympathized and we agreed that yes this was miserable but no I was not in labor. Yesterday, she told me that since I was still pregnant I should come in--holiday weekend and I shouldn't go over a week without being seen, plus "If you're walking around at seven centimeters, that's dangerous, because you might not make it to the hospital in time." Fair enough, since best case it would take me 40 minutes to get there and that's if I'm not home alone with the kids, which I am most of the time. So I called MHH to come home and I took a cab there last night to find out that I have dilated NOT AT ALL since Friday. All these contractions? Doing NOTHING. I took the train and the bus home. In the dark. And the rain. (While texting Cecilia in Australia. Have I mentioned lately that I am beginning to see the appeal of text messaging? Definitely makes the commute more fun.)

She (midwife, not Cecilia) asked me if I wanted to move things along and reluctantly I said no--because really, there's no good reason to do it. The baby B"H seems fine and I am not even at my due date yet. Just because I feel two weeks late is not a reason. Tomorrow and Friday are holidays so I don't have to work and my husband will be home in the afternoons, so very easy days for me; then it's the weekend; then Monday is my due date so if I want to go off work then I can, even if I haven't had the baby yet. Which, at this point... it's getting hard for me to even imagine going into labor at all. I've been feeling exactly the same since the end of October. I'm having what feels for all the world like a real honest-to-goodness early labor contraction--starts in the back, moves forward, lasts half a minute or so--right now.

And yet, we are STILL HERE.

Stay tuned. By Chanuka, right? Pesach for sure.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Lest you think there is news

There isn't. Still here. Getting increasingly cranky. My mood was not helped this afternoon by what I at first thought was the accidental disembarkation of one of Barak's classmates at his bus stop this afternoon. I didn't recognize him and thought he was friends with one of the other kids. Then I thought he'd gotten off at the wrong stop by mistake. But he didn't seem at all upset. One of the other mothers and I looked at him, then at each other. "They look pretty happy," she commented.

Then I realized that he was clearly friends with my kid and thought he was coming home with us. Um. What? I found out his name, borrowed a school directory from other mother, and called his house, thinking, well, I'll have to leave a message because of course his mother will be at the bus stop waiting for him. Nope--she was there, which struck me as a little strange, but maybe she's got an older sibling waiting for him at the stop.

I told her that her son had gotten off at the wrong stop and that I was going to bring him to our house, because they lived four blocks away and I was not going to stand there for as long as it would take her to walk/drive four blocks. I sort of had in mind that she'd arrive to get him at about the time it would take us to get inside. I know that if Barak had missed his stop and a mother had called me from the next stop down the line to say she had my kid, I would have been there as fast as I could get there. Normal response. Right?

Wrong.

She said, "My husband will come get him but it'll be a few minutes." Okay. A few minutes. His father arrived FORTY MINUTES later, during which period of time I had decided that this kid is NEVER EVER EVER coming over to play. It wasn't that he specifically was doing so much wrong, although he was; it was more that he and Barak together were the worst combination imaginable. Barak was doing stuff that he simply would never think to do on his own, and the other kid was just ignoring me completely and wandering around the house looking for things that interested him. All I wanted to do was what I've wanted to do all day, which was not move a muscle; this was totally impossible when, for example, the two of them were attacking Iyyar with the top of a very large Rubbermaid bin such that Iyyar was literally screaming in fear. At that point I exiled other child to living room, told Barak to stay in his room, and brought Iyyar into the kitchen; not a minute later said child merrily returned to Barak's room for the making of further terror. It had at this point been half an hour and I called his house again. "I was just wondering if you're having trouble finding the house..." "Oh, my husband just left. He should be there in a few minutes." Um, okay. I'll just leave them alone while they throw toys and scream about poop. Until you get here. Gotcha.

I mean, I could have just left him at the bus stop and not taken responsibility. But that would've been, you know, irresponsible.

His father did turn up about ten minutes later and I said, in what I hope was not too tight-lipped a manner, that I didn't think he had gotten off by accident and that I had spoken to Barak about it and perhaps he should discuss with his son the importance of only getting off where he was supposed to. He said OK. Not sure what happened there, if anything. He did not give his son any indication, at least that I perceived, that he had done anything that was in any way problematic. "Come on tzadikl, let's go. It's time to leave."

Yikes.

To totally give benefit of the doubt: maybe the mother could not leave the house for whatever reason. Maybe she had to call husband, who had the only car, home from work to come get him. Or something along those lines. Still--they only live four blocks away. Okay, technically six, because they're two short blocks over, but the short blocks around here are very very short. We're talking a 10-minute walk at the outside. And even if she could not possible have managed to leave the house for whatever reason--oh, maybe she's nine months pregnant and having really strong contractions and can't walk without leaning on a stroller and has two younger kids she'd have to shlep along and... oh wait. Hold on. That's me.

Oh, never mind. Barak was clearly not blameless here either.

I think I'll go have some ice cream.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Friday, November 20, 2009

Seriously?

I've been walking around at five centimeters?

Um. Okay.

Stay tuned, I guess.

Shabbat shalom.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Speaking of irrational

So, let us remind ourselves here that I am not even due yet. Okay, yes, I thought I'd have the baby a couple of weeks ago, but my actual due date isn't for another week and a half.

Nevertheless.

I've kind of gotten into this weird mindset of "Oh, so I'm just going to be pregnant forever. Okay. Got it." So now, even though I'm hobbling around because my legs are no longer attached to my hip sockets, and I can barely get up off the floor, and I can't stay out of the bathroom for more than fifteen minutes at a time, I've somehow convinced myself that this is just, you know, normal.

Probably because few things are more crazy-making than going to bed every night timing contractions and expecting your water to break and waking up in the morning to find that you are not only still pregnant, you don't even appear to be in active labor yet.

Anyway. 38 weeks and three days. I can't believe it, but I actually went shopping for Shabbos this morning and it does appear that I will spend the evening cooking. I've been going about my normal routine, albeit at half speed; yesterday, in the pouring rain, I took Barak to the bus, went to the bakery and the produce store with Iyyar and Avtalyon, worked all morning, did the pickup rounds in the afternoon, took Iyyar and Avtalyon over to Yehudis's to play, came back to get Barak, made pizza for dinner, cleaned up, put kids to bed, dealt with some insurance stuff and then fielded a screaming Avtalyon for two hours. I have no idea what was up with him but it started out with having ENTIRELY THE WRONG PLUGGIE and then he just got so worked up he couldn't calm down, and then he woke up Iyyar who screamed for a while. The incredible thing is that through all of this Barak never even stirred. He stayed completely asleep through stereo screaming that went on for a really, really long time. I guess it's a survival skill when you share your room with two little brothers. As for me, I resettled Iyyar in my bed (turned out he was screaming because he'd banged his foot and gotten worked up about that--three band-aids later, he was calm) and finally calmed down Avtalyon I'm not sure how.

Back to work. Completely ignoring contractions now, because I'm tired of timing them and I don't believe in them anymore anyway. Anyone else think I'm bucking to have this baby on the bathroom floor?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

In which I am still here

38 weeks and two days.

La la la.

We're in a pattern now where I have contractions, they step up, I start getting that feeling of impending-ness, I get my childcare arrangements settled, and then everything stops. This has now happened three times. It's nice to be predictable, don't you think?

Monday, November 16, 2009

In which I continue to twiddle my thumbs

38 weeks tomorrow. If I'm still not in labor it'll be the latest I've ever gone. Not that I'm complaining. Full term is great. I'm enjoying the extra sleep. It's just... different.

One of the kids said something cute yesterday that I wanted to blog about and now I can't remember what it was. Hmm.

Avtalyon is really into firetrucks right now ("Gie guck! Whoo!") but that wasn't it. Iyyar found a picture of Darth Vader on a 7-11 cup and told me he was a bad guy "but then he did tshuva." Also cute, but that wasn't it either. Umm. (Think think think.)

Oh, I don't remember. But motzai Shabbos I let Barak come out of bed and play little Lego in my office while I worked and while he was playing I heard him singsonging, "kapusta! kapusta!" Which, as you may know, is the Yiddish word for "cabbage." No idea where that one came from, although I agree that it is a really fun word to say.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

I don't think that one is in the parsha song

I think it is an attribute common to 3yos that they are focused on a very black-and-white concept of right/wrong, wrongdoing/consequence. Din is big at that age. Lately, Iyyar has been talking a lot about how "Hashem gonna punish you!" Not me, per se, but whoever does something wrong.

Friday night, when Abba was at shul, I had the bigger two set up at the kitchen table with little Lego and Avtalyon in his high chair with a box of little animals. They were playing and I was reading their parsha sheets--Barak does noticeably better on the questions when he is happily playing and relaxed. I did his first (he got all of them right but one). Then I did Iyyar's. Iyyar goes to the same chareidi playgroup that Barak went to, where they do a lot of Yiddish. So the first question, naturally, is "Voss iz die nehmen fun die parsha?" What's the name of the parsha? Correct answer, as he knows from the song, being Chayyei Sarah ("Sarah lived for one hundred twenty-seven years...")

"Iyyar, voss iz die nehmen fun die parsha?"

"Bereishis Noach Lech l'cha!"

"No, we did those already. What's next?" [Singing] "Bereishis, Noach, Lech L'cha, Vayeira...?"

"Hashem gonna punish you!"

"I don't think that's actually the parsha this week, sweetie." [Thinking: although that's applicable to what, a quarter of them at least?]

Barak's latest thing with the little Lego is hands. One of the items in the Glorious Bin of Lego I bought from a friend at work's garage sale was a dragon--it was missing its tail initially but Barak solved this problem most resourcefully with the addition of a tail plundered from an unsuspecting crocodile. What does this dragon eat? Why, it eats hands. Naturally. Right now, none of the Lego menschies have hands. All the hands are in a clear plastic box on the back of a sort of cart that Barak has rigged up, together with a chain that attaches it to the dragon so he can drag his supply of hands, treasure, and weaponry anywhere he goes. Barak was explaining this to me the other day and I will confess to having expressed some degree of, well, disgust.

"Barak, that's gross. A boxful of hands is just gross."

Barak gave me a look that was half amused, half sympathetic. "Imma! It's okay!" Eye roll. "It's just little Lego, Imma."

Saturday, November 14, 2009

37/4

No baby yet. Went to midwife yesterday and she said between 2 and 3 cm, 90% effaced. Baby is low ("Well, there's his head,") but I wasn't in early labor or anything like that. Having contractions but nothing that really appears to be heading anywhere. Of course, as she said, "Just remember that it's not that bad until it is." Um. Right. I'll bear that in mind.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Bad day

"Imma, I had a bad day today."

"Why did you have a bad day?"

"I don't know."

"Did it start out as a bad day or did it get bad later?"

"It got bad later."

"When did it get bad?"

"When I got in trouble."

Yeah, when you got in trouble for pitching a full-on tantrum on the floor.

I am so. Tired.

I chaperoned a class trip today for Barak's kindergarten, which was fun, even though it involved a couple of miles of walking and of course I had Iyyar and Avtalyon with me in the double stroller. That part was fun; Avtalyon slept through the whole thing and Iyyar had a blast. It was the rest of the afternoon that was... challenging. Without getting into all the details, by 6 pm I looked Barak in the eye and told him I was so angry at him that he was going to have to go into a different room, right now, and stay there for a while. I know. Mother of the Year, right here.

It was all okay in the end; Abba finally came home and wrangled them for a while, and then after he left I went in to the kids' room to find Barak still awake. I let him come into Abba's bed and we talked in the dark for a while and sort of talked things through; he was feeling better by the time I left and so was I.

But, yeah. Tired. Not the best day. Tomorrow should be better. As I said to Barak, "You know the best thing about bad days? When you go to bed, they're over! They're just over, and you can make tomorrow be a good day. Right?"

Irrational

Over on my hundred-things sidebar there, it says something like (I can't see it right now) "I buy yarn in inverse proportion to the time I have available to knit."

This is especially true at the very tail end of pregnancy.

I SO want to buy yarn right now. Specifically, I want to buy gorgeous hand-dyed sock yarn, with which to knit lacey shawls. Do I already have such yarn? Yes. Do I have other yarn? Yes. Do I have time to knit it? Not much, and IY"H I'm about to have a lot less.

Doesn't matter. I still have this terrible urge to buy yarn. Which I simply absolutely cannot do, because not only do I a) have yarn already but b) I can't spend any money right now. I'm about to take 12 weeks off and most of it will be unpaid; there is no way we will get through this without digging into our savings; ergo, I would be taking money out of savings to buy yarn I really don't need and there is no fathomable excuse for such behavior.

Doesn't mean I'm not spending time trawling etsy and ravelry, though. And today I stopped in to the yarn store by work and almost bought a Zauberball. I didn't. But it was close.

Seriously, what is wrong with me? Do you know how much yarn I have? And how little time I have? Why do I feel like I need more yarn?

DSM-V, anyone?

Anyway...

Barak's conferences were... okay. Nothing terribly negative, although both his moros and his rebbe commented that he seemed anxious and stressed. No kidding. He's five years old and has a school day longer than what I had as a senior in high school. Of course, if they're commenting that he's stressed he's obviously more stressed than the other kids. Which I can believe, because Barak, as I have mentioned here before, really, really needs his processing time. He needs time by himself, playing on the floor with his Lego or his trucks or what have you. If he doesn't get it, he can't deal, and what's his average school day like? He gets up at 7, eats breakfast, is out the door at 8, on the bus by 8:10, off the bus at 4, in the door at 4:10, is assailed by little brothers, has dinner half an hour later, and is hustled along through dinner/bathroom/bath/teeth/bed by 6:30 or 7. If he's not in bed by then, he doesn't wake up in time in the morning and ends up with a bag of Rice Chex for breakfast. Which is not a good start to the day.

This morning he woke up saying he didn't want to go to school. And I said fine. He stayed home and played little Lego and hung out with Asnat, and came with me to drop off and pick up Iyyar, and had a nice day generally. And still was in meltdown by the end of the day, although part of that I think was that Iyyar took an afternoon nap and wasn't ready to go to bed at the usual time, so they both went to bed later than they should have (around 7:45--yeah, tomorrow's going to be fantastic.)

His moros commented that he plays by himself a lot, not because he doesn't get along with the other boys but because he prefers to. Yeah, I know. He mentioned it to me. "I just want to play by myself but my morah won't let me. She says I should play with the other boys." His rebbe mentioned that he was socially immature because he did not a) play ball, preferring to dig in the dirt instead and b) engaged in parallel rather than interactive play with his best friend. I don't know. I mean, if he sees a problem I feel that I should take it seriously, but truly I think that this is more his personality--he needs space--than a maturity issue per se. And MHH is 37 and is still not mature enough to prefer ball play to... anything, actually, that I can think of. Maybe root canal. No, probably not.

Anyway. It's hard to know how concerned to be. Neither the moros nor the rebbe seemed hugely concerned and I've talked to both of them before without their mentioning issues. His rebbe said he would have called a couple of weeks ago instead of bringing it up during the hugely inadequate five minutes (!!!) allotted per child for conferences, but his wife just had a baby so clearly time has been tight in the evenings (not complaining, I understand this completely). Mostly it was said in the context of "things to be aware of and keep an eye on." Yeah, I am aware that Barak is intense, I'm aware that he gets overstimulated and overwhelmed, and I'm really very aware that he needs more down time than he's getting. I'm not sure what exactly I can do about any of it though, other than offer him the option of a day off when I feel he needs it. I talked to him today about the concept of a personal day, and how I thought everyone needed that option. I guess it's just a question of how often he chooses to avail himself of it, and whether I'm going to find myself in the position of drawing a line.

37 weeks and a day. Absolutely nothing is happening. Not a single contraction all day. Further bulletins, &c.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

37 weeks, 37 minutes

37 weeks in another 29 minutes. Yay! Officially not having a premature baby!

So, remember how when Avtalyon was born, I posted something like, "The labor in brief: I am never doing this without drugs ever again"? I meant it, too. I did it without drugs twice. I am officially woman, hear me roar, yes, very nice, NOW GIVE ME THE GOOD DRUGS.

Unfortunately, it's not that easy.

Some of you know I had an incredibly awful experience with Barak. Part of the awfulness was five--count 'em, FIVE--failed epidurals. They slipped, they fell out, they never worked, and one time the lidocaine ran out but the alarm didn't go off and... yeah. Anyway. Epidurals and I do not have a good track record together. Part of the the problem appeared to be that I have scoliosis. I had a back brace for several years and while the curvature has mostly been corrected, some amount of spinal rotation is still there, and this of course presents a problem when someone is trying to, say, insert a needle into your spine in just exactly the right spot.

When I was in L & D a couple of weeks ago with the shingles, I started having a little bit of, ah, post-traumatic stress. As in, I said "I'm getting tense just being here" and, er, started to cry. My midwife, the next time I saw her, suggested I call the anesthesia department and get a consult. I did talk to someone, and it was a good, informative, open talk from a very nice anesthesiologist who told me openly that he couldn't give me an answer on whether an epidural would work for me until he tried. I tried to give him only the bare bones of what had happened and it made me feel better that he sounded completely horrified. He promised me that I would not get a resident (part of the problem last time) and also said he would only try once. "I would say that it should work but I can't make any promises, especially given what happened last time. I think you should talk about other options for pain control." So I did, on Friday, and you know... there aren't many and they aren't that great. Demerol, yeah, but it doesn't work that well and like any other drug the baby gets some of it if you have it in you for long enough. And hello, it's labor--things happen unexpectedly. My labor with Avtalyon really was ok until the last 37 minutes. I remember this, because I looked at the clock when I said I needed to push and he was born 37 minutes later and it was the intervening period of time that even I can't quite summon up the words to describe.

My midwife, when I said this to her, tried to make it positive. "I know it's awful, but even with Avtalyon it was only 37 minutes. You can get through it." Which... well, it sounded good at the time, but, sorry, no. As I said to my husband that evening while relaying the conversation, "It's like someone saying to you, I'm going to start hacking you apart with an ice pick now. But don't worry! I'll only do it for 37 minutes, and then I'll stop and it'll be all over!" Not so reassuring really.

There's nothing I can do really but just see how it goes. I'd like to try to get through it without attempting an epidural. Part of what was so hard about having Barak was that I had tried so hard not to have an epidural and when I finally agreed to one I already felt like I couldn't take it anymore, I was throwing in the towel and I needed it to just. stop. hurting. And then having it not work, multiple times, was more than I could stand--harder almost than not even trying. IV drugs, well... yeah. Also not an ideal option. But getting hacked apart with an ice pick isn't so awesome either. Even if it's only for 37 minutes.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Counting down

37 weeks tomorrow. For the record, I had Avtalyon at 37 weeks 1 day--he was born early in the morning, too.

I started having contractions on Shabbos that, by motzai Shabbos, were an ominous 6 minutes apart. Even though I was, as I insisted, NOT HAVING THE BABY. I drank a lot of water, took a hot shower, went determinedly to bed, and woke up the next morning to nothing. They've been starting and stopping ever since, sometimes getting stronger and, so far, always petering out. They are petering out because, as I think I just mentioned, I am NOT HAVING A BABY yet. Because I can't until tomorrow at the earliest, because that is when the pediatrician who has promised not to discharge a jaundiced baby comes back from vacation.

Got that, baby? Yes? Good. Glad you can read Blogger from in there.

Oh, and a poll--what are your favorite (Jewish) girl names? We have boy names settled (I think) but girl names are eluding us. You'd think by now we'd have a backlog stashed but no. With Iyyar I knew I was having a boy so never picked a girl's name; the name I had in mind when Barak was born I don't really like anymore. So... yeah. Open to suggestions here. MHH doesn't like feminizations of male names and I don't like the standard Bais Yaakov ChanaChayaBrachaRinaMiriamChavaSoraRivkaTovaShifraEstherMalka. And I'm hoping to figure out a name that won't instantly peg the bearer's position religiously in Israel. This is turning out to be a taller order than anticipated. Name your kid Yocheved? She can never leave Bnai Brak. Modern Israeli name? Ah, chiloni. There aren't a lot of names in between that aren't, well, ChanaChaya &c., and many of them we had to ding for other reasons (already got one, too similar to a sibling's name, etc.)

Now that's out of the way...

What else is new?

Avtalyon has a funny bump on his heel--it looks like a big callous, it's peeling very slightly, and I think it hurts a bit but not enough to cause major problems. I can't imagine what it could be--how does a baby get a callous an inch in diameter? Could it be a plantar wart? He told me about it yesterday by coming up to me and informing me, "Gock. Ow." What? Sock ow? Your sock... oh... oh your foot hurts!

Clever, isn't he? Saying "my foot hurts" without knowing any of the necessary words? He'll do well with foreign languages. His favorite thing lately is calling family roll from his high chair. "Imma! Abba? Abba? Aya? Eddie? Aya Eddie Imma Abba? Meow!" Then you try to get him to say his name. "Baby! Imma Abba Aya Eddie baby!" When you try really hard to get him to say his own name, he just giggles. Other cute Avtalyonisms include the comical look of shock (mouth open in a round O of surprise, hand pressed to check, then to top of head for variety) and telling you what sound an aleph makes (wide open mouth, nothing coming out--he got that one from Barak).

Barak is doing better with aleph-beis and his morah mentioned to me that he really knows his English letters well, which is great, although truth be told Iyyar knows them better at this point. Grandma E sent us a couple of fabulous board books--Mig the Pig and Pug the Bug--in which you turn each page and combine a different first letter with the same second and third letter to make new words (P-IG, D-IG, F-IG, J-IG etc.) It was great--I saw some light bulbs going on. There's no question that Barak is more motivated to learn to read English than Hebrew right now, which isn't surprising. I'm steeling myself for the parent conferences tonight. Remember last year's? These shouldn't be so much of a surprise, since I've talked to his morah and his rebbe a couple of times already, but I'm still expecting... something unexpected.

I let Barak stay up insanely late playing little Lego on Shabbos, this week and last week. I feel a little guilty letting my 5 yo stay up until the last adult falls, but he needs the processing/play time more than he needs the sleep. So I left the light on in my office over Shabbos and let him just play in there for hours--from when Iyyar went to bed at around 6:30 until... well. At 10 I was on my way to bed, and I told him he could play Lego until Abba started falling asleep and then he had to go to bed; half an hour later I came back there and saw Abba completely passed out with a sefer and Barak trying to make himself as small and quiet as possible. So I waited up a little more. What can I say? He gets home at 4. It's already almost dark. He walks in the door and is accosted by little brothers, then it's dinnertime, then bath and bed and he doesn't ever get any time to play by himself. He needs that, so we have to find the time somewhere.

Iyyar is still fine on the tummy front (tfu tfu), and although he is definitely three and a half I don't find him as challenging behavior-wise as I remember Barak being at this point. Maybe I've mellowed, maybe he's easier, most likely it's a combination. Wonder how he'll react when the baby comes. Even though school is only till 1 for him it's still a lot at his age and by the end of the week he's had it. This past weekend we never even left the house, despite the gorgeous weather. Nobody wanted to. They just wanted to hunker down and play, which was OK with me.

Oh, and I finished the shawl I made my midwife. Picture is rotten, shawl is lovely. Trust me on this one. Note attached i-cord, please.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

PoxWatch 2009

Avtalyon's got a fever--haven't checked his temp but he's good and hot--and is miserable.

Stay tuned, as always, to this exciting channel.

NaBloPlonyMo

I was reading someone's blog on Sunday and thought, hey, November! Isn't that the "blog every day" month I never bothered with? I should try that.

Well, here it is the fourth already and... I... yeah. Oh well. So much for that. I can still try, though, right?

It's been a good week so far. Barak had a rough Monday--he got pushed on the playground and came home devastated by the discovery that there are people in the world who think it is fun to hurt other people. We spent a lot of time talking on Monday night and into Tuesday and then I talked to his morah. Things seem better now--she assured me that it did not seem part of a pattern and that Barak was not being bullied, and that from her perception (although definitely not from Barak's) it had been an accident. I'm not convinced she's right on that one, but she said he was fitting in well, making friends, playing with the other boys, etc., which is the important thing. However, from Barak's point of view, he could not possibly go back to school where there were mean people who thought it was fun to hurt other people. Which was the first thing to deal with, whether it had been an accident or no.

So Barak and I talked on Monday night (with lots of cuddles) about how everyone has a bad day sometimes, every bad day is over when you go to bed, and let's figure out how to make tomorrow into a good day. Barak thought this over and decided that a treat in his lunchbox would definitely help. I said OK. Then we thought that getting up a little earlier to sit and all have breakfast together would help, and even more if breakfast were, say, oatmeal, with maple syrup. I agreed to that one too. But really, he said (with a sad sigh) school was too much for him and he shouldn't go. Which I agree with the first part of--a day that starts with an 8:00 bus stop time and ends with getting home at 4 pm just as it's about to get dark is CRAZY for a 5yo. It IS too much. He needs more time to play.

"Well, if you want, I can come get you at lunchtime and you can come home. Should I do that?"

"No you can't!" he said, with conviction. "The kids aren't allowed to. You aren't allowed to go ANYWHERE when you're at school. You just have to stay until the bus comes."

"Barak, if your Imma comes to get you, and says, Barak is coming home with me now, they have to let you go."

His eyes got wide. "Really?"

"Absolutely. I can come get you anytime you want. And if you don't want to stay in the afternoon, you don't have to. You can tell me in the morning and I can come get you after lunch."

Now, I will point out here that I am pretty convinced that generally speaking, Barak loves school, and I think if I were to show up at lunchtime to take him home, he wouldn't want to go. Otherwise I wouldn't have made the offer, frankly. But the look on his face was something else. I think just knowing that he COULD go home if he wanted to was a pretty big deal for him. Hey, no, I'm NOT being held hostage! Neat!

I found out later, when talking to the school secretary--more on this tomorrow maybe--that there are parents who come sometimes to take their younger children to lunch. This would NEVER have gone over in my public school and frankly simply never occurred to me to do, but it seems that given the crazy long school day and families with many children, sometimes parents who feel that their kids need some 1:1 parent time will come during the day and take said kid out to lunch at the pizza place down the block. It gets harder when the kids are older, of course, but this seems to be an accepted, and acceptable, thing to do; just call me in the morning, she said, if you're going to come and get him, and she told me exactly what time lunch starts.

Now that's a good thing to know I can do. Even if I don't know if he'd actually want to do it, I think just the idea that we could do such a thing would really make him happy. Anyway--things to think about.

OK. Back to work. More tomorrow, maybe.

Monday, November 02, 2009

36

36 weeks tomorrow. Nothing seems to be moving at all--which is just how I want it right now, of course.

With daylight savings time over, the kids conked out earlier last night but then of course woke up earlier this morning. At around 6:30, I heard suspicious sounds of garbage-can-dragging in the hall. "Iyyar, what are you doing?" "I can't turn onna light inna hall! I can't reach it!" Oh dear. "Iyyar, do you want to come cuddle with Abba and Imma? Go get your blankie and you can come in bed with us. " This suggestion was from Abba, not Imma--I would have just gotten up, but fine.

Iyyar was quite delighted with this suggestion ("Yeah!"), ran to get his blankie and climbed, naturally, into my side of the bed, arranging himself cozily with his knee perilously close to my stomach. He did not, of course, have any interest in sleeping. "Where Abba go?" he asked me. (Abba has this totally inexplicable habit of sleeping completely under the blanket, head and all. How he breathes is beyond me.) "Abba's under the blanket. He's in there." "Dass his house?" "I guess--is he in there like a turtle? Is he hiding?" Iyyar liked this idea and we talked for a while about turtles and their houses, whether they had furniture and toys and yarn in there (probably not, no room), whether they could make bagels (no, they don't have hands, just four feet) and whether it was cozy in there (yes, probably). Abba had gone right back to sleep and for a while Iyyar and I just hung out under the blankets and schmoozed. We talked about turning lights on and off, who can do this, who can't (Avtalyon can't reach but he can do it if I hold him), various things he'd be able to do when he was bigger, especially if he ate lots of vegetables and got VERY big, etc. When Abba's alarm went off, and Abba's head emerged, Iyyar thought this was the funniest. thing. ever. "Dere's Abba! He came out! Like a turtle!"

Shabbos was nice--I never actually got dressed and nobody but Abba left the house, but sometimes that's kind of a good thing. For a few days last week I was having what felt like really terrible contractions that started every time I moved, but that's all completely stopped now--we're back to the occasional Braxton-Hicks and the occasional real one but nothing that gives any indication of imminency. Good in itself, plus I'm feeling much better now. It makes such a huge difference not only in my mood but in my mothering--if I can get up easily, I don't resent the five thousand times a day someone needs something RIGHT THIS SECOND.

Getting up is one thing; clambering under furniture, however, is another. So when, on Shabbos, Avtalyon dropped his very last pacifier behind his crib at the beginning of naptime, I was not entirely thrilled. No way could I go down on my stomach and crawl underneath the crib, of course, so I started trying to push it away from the wall, which was complicated by the presence of diaper-filled Rubbermaid drawers under the crib and two more drawers (one for blankies and spare wipes, the other one a holding tank for ironing) right next to it. It really wasn't working. And then inspiration hit. "Barak? Barak, can you come here and help me?" Barak, to his immense credit, dropped whatever he was doing and came running. "Barak, can you go under Avtalyon's crib and find his pluggies? They all fell down there." And he did, cheerfully scooting under the crib and retrieving not one, not two, but THREE pluggies for Avtalyon. Avtalyon grinned, I cheered, and I gave Barak a big kiss. "Barak, I wish you still had mitzvah notes in school! I'd write you such a mitzvah note."

And Barak STARTED TO CRY.

???!!!

Between the tears I heard something about rebbe and stickers and his name and mitzvah notes and the end of the year and a prize and OH NO I suddenly realized that even though I had never heard a word to this effect, clearly I was still supposed to be writing him mitzvah notes every day. And it sounded like there was an actual MITZVAH NOTE CHART at school. And that he, Barak, had not a single sticker on his chart and would get no prize because he had NEVER had a single mitzvah note.

Worst. Mother. Ever.

I felt awful, apologized profusely, and last night wrote Barak a veritable mitzva letter--one entire side of a sheet of printer paper, written on fairly small--wherein I fulsomely described the many mitzvos of the weekend, beginning with the pacifier episode and finishing up with his lovely sh'ma Sunday night. Underneath, I wrote a note to his rebbe explaining that I hadn't realized that Barak was supposed to have mitzva notes and please could he draw any other acts of maternal negligence to my attention. Thank you. Barak seemed quite happy about this this morning--we'll see what he says after school. I'm not sure where it's coming from but Barak has developed a couple of facial tics lately--eyebrow-wiggling mostly but also some funny throat noises. Google reassures me that this is nothing but I'm wondering if he's stressed about something. My feeling is that he's tired--the school day is long and he doesn't get enough time to play by himself. I could be wrong, though, and it's hard to extract that kind of information from him directly.

Oh, and funny Avtalyon story of the week: in our front hall we have doorbell chimes which the kids are not supposed to touch (they're only attached by a hook and can come off). Yesterday, Avtalyon realized he was tall enough to just tap them, just enough to make them chime. He was delighted by this, and immediately realized that he was, in fact, ringing the doorbell! After a few rings, some pieces clicked together in his head. Doorbell! Ringing! Means Asnat is here! So he rang the doorbell, gasped in mock surprise and opened his mouth into a round theatrical O, ran to the front door, and crowed, "Anee!" I honestly don't think he could make her appear by the magic trick of ringing the doorbell--I think he was being deliberately funny. And succeeding.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Wow

Barak and Abba were drawing pictures at the kitchen table while I was dishing out supper. Barak got a big piece of Abba's bristol board and drew a big bus for the Torah Team. Then I saw him frowning and scowling a lot.

"I'm trying to write 'stop' but I don't know how."

"I can tell you the letters, OK? First write an S."

[frowning and scowling]

"Then a T, like tree. Then an O. Then a P."

A minute later, he held it up. "Is that stop?"

And it was! The S was backward, but otherwise, he'd written STOP.

First written word!

Wow.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Unlisted

Thirty-five weeks today. After a few weeks of quiet gloating that I hadn't even had the first whisper of a contraction, I got walloped with a huge one on Sunday; they've been sort of on and off ever since. Not strong, but definitely noticeable, and they were quite clear on the fetal monitoring tape on Sunday night.

Hang on, you say. Why were you on a fetal monitor on Sunday?

Oh yes. Well. That. Very compressed version of events: a week of mild flu symptoms with no fever, followed by a freaky-looking rash that appeared on Friday morning and by Sunday was so itchy, painful, and generally distressing that I called my midwife. Who told me to come in to the ER. Which I didn't want to do, because our local ER is awful. But she was in L& D delivering a baby, so she said, come in here and I'll look at you. Which she did. As did the on-call OB. Who both said that the baby looked fine, but that I had, um, shingles.

Shingles?!

Seriously???

Yep.

So, now I am on antivirals, the kids had to get varicella shots because even though they're going to get chickenpox or not no matter what at this point, the shots should make it milder and make it less likely that I will come home with a newborn baby to a houseful of poxy children.

To say that I am wildly uncomfortable at this point would be an understatement. The shingles rash doesn't just hurt, it itches; the rash on my legs itches; I'm still, after seven months, congested and coughing at night; I'm having contractions, and, you know, I'm eight months pregnant, so I'm huge, slow, and I have to go to the bathroom every thirty seconds. But as much as I'd like this part to be over, I don't want it to be over for at least another two weeks and much preferably another three, so that nobody will be contagious anymore by the time IY"H the baby comes. We'll see how that one works out.

Kid updates:

Avtalyon's new thing is putting on his big brothers' underwear--one pair per leg, usually. He pulls them on, stands up, and they fall off. Then he tries again. Sometimes he takes underwear out of their drawer and brings it to me to put on over his clothes. Which, obligingly, I do. I'm happy to report that neither of his brothers really seem to mind this much, as long as he doesn't do anything like nab Iyyar's most bestest Super Grover underwear. He's very into fire trucks, especially the fire truck pages of one particular truck board book; he imitates Iyyar imitating firetrucks, and it can all get very loud. Phrase of the week: "Oh no!", accompanied by theatrical pressing of palm to cheek and, occasionally, dramatic intake of breath.

Iyyar is getting really good at the alphabet. He can identify most of the letters and today, out of nowhere, drew the letter R. Then he showed it to me. "Look! It's a R!" And it was. He is having a really hard time sitting still--I remember this from when Barak was in the same playgroup, that he'd come home and just want to wander/run around the house all afternoon. I don't mind this at all in principle but it's hard when I'm trying to feed him dinner or something like that. He still wants me to tuck him in at night and occasionally wakes up at night crying that he's not tucked in. Absolutely nary a whisper of any kind of tummy issues, which is still just so amazing to me. He goes to the bathroom on his own and doesn't even need reminding; no constipation, no diarrhea, just normal, quick, bathroom trips without commentary. He had his first hamburger tonight; after the shots, we all went to the "hot dog store" for a post-trauma treat, and he asked for a hamburger instead of a hot dog. Fine with me. But when he saw it, he started to cry: I want a hot dog! Then he took the top off the roll the better to explain his dissatisfaction and his expression changed. "Oh! It's churkey!" No, it's not actually turkey, but if it makes you happy to think it is, great. Half a gallon of ketchup and many bars of the Happy Food Song later, it was almost gone. He had French fries, too.

Barak is all about the Lego these days. I think I mentioned that we recently acquired a huge Rubbermaid bin of little Lego from a work friend's garage sale; it is the lifetime Lego collection of her two adult sons and I have no plans to ever purchase Lego in a store again. Barak had not been showing much interest in, or inclination to learn, aleph-bais; so I made him a chart, some flash cards, and told him that if he could fill in half the chart--meaning, he knew the letters cold on sight every time, and also the sounds they made--he could fill a plastic cup with Lego from the box. This was quite a powerful motivator and on Sunday he got all the way up to nun sofis. Reward: a dragon, a cannon, a bunch of storm troopers, and whatever else he could fit in there. He loves school and especially his rebbe, who I think is amazing. He currently prefers red grapes to green, and likes cutting his grapes in half with a plastic knife. He's started eating red peppers occasionally, but cucumbers are still the vegetable of choice; he loves grating cheese, so I buy it in blocks now whenever I can.

I think that's it. Knitting isn't happening nearly as much as I wish it could, but that's life. I have a lot of speeches to write and a lot of stuff to get done in the next few weeks (I hope it's that many...) It still hasn't really sunk in that there may soon be a new child around here. I'm kind of at that point of pregnancy where you feel like you've been pregnant forever and you always will be, and the baby idea seems just very very remote. Even though said baby idea is kicking me in the bladder right now. And on that note...

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Overheard

The scene: Barak and friend are in the kitchen on Shabbos afternoon, playing little Lego and talking. I am in the living room with Avtalyon, listening in. I realize that the topic of conversation is how sneaky they are and how they can trick their imma/mommy. I am not sure I like this and pay closer attention. Then I hear, from Barak's friend, who is the son of a friend of mine from grad school:

"I'm so sneaky. I can trick my mommy. Sometimes she asks me if I brushed my teeth and I say I don't know. Even though I do know, I trick her and I say I don't know. Really I know that I didn't brush my teeth." Pause. "But then I tell her. Because I also don't like cavities."

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Listerine

1. I should be posting more. I say this not out of any sense of bloggerly guilt but because I know I will want the reminders later--having recently spent time reading through all my old posts from before Iyyar and Avtalyon were born. For the record, I am 34 weeks today, and nary a contraction yet, except for the completely odd one here and there and an occasional Braxton-Hicks. Nothing that makes me think that things are even thinking about moving. Baby is kicking away; I am huge; Iyyar is asking me every few days how, exactly, the baby is going to come out. I tell him Hashem will take care of that and that seems to satisfy him. I suppose it should satisfy me as well, but it's hard not to worry about it. I had Avtalyon at 37 weeks, so I should probably be prepared for the possibility that there could be a baby in as few as three weeks. It doesn't really seem real yet, though.

2. I've been on a huge cleaning kick lately. A few weeks ago I seriously cleaned out my office, dealing with ALL the piles, and it still looks pretty good now (every time my husband dumps something back here, I turn right around and dump it in his closet. It's getting kind of hard to close his closet, but the office still looks snazzy.) I've washed a ton of sweaters, defrosted the basement freezer, cleaned and organized the kitchen shelves, cleaned the fridge/freezer in the kitchen to Pesach levels, gone through the toys, and cleaned and organized the armoire in my room, including the huge teetering pile of stuff on top. I still need to do my own closet but that's not such a big deal; I tried to do the storage closet in the basement but just couldn't. Too much heavy lifting. Another time.

3. Knitting! I am not knitting enough. I want to be knitting more or less all the time, but, well, there are speeches to be written and children to be looked after and laundry to be folded and so on. I have been doing some baby sweaters out of sock yarn--pretty much exclusively that lately. I've done three boy sweaters and three girl sweaters, and three of my friends have had boys in the last few months (actually, a fourth yesterday) so all I have left is baby girl sweaters. I guess I'll just have to have a girl.

4. Food. Guess what both Iyyar and Avtalyon have decided they love? Rice and beans. Seriously. As in, brown rice cooked in the rice cooker, a can of drained black beans, and some salsa, all mixed together. With some cheese for Avtalyon. They LOVE this and will empty bowlsful of it. And it takes almost no time. Barak will not touch it (salsa contamination, of course) but will eat rice and cheese and some cut-up red peppers (oh, that's a new one--have I mentioned that? That he eats peppers now?), which is not that far off nutritionally. I tried making everyone burritos one night a couple of weeks ago and while nobody wanted the wraps (nutritionally destitute anyway) everyone liked some combination of the fillings. So, there's one more meal they'll all eat in some form. We're up to two now.

5. I found out at my last midwife appointment that I am antigen E positive. I wasn't before, so this is new since Avtalyon. My midwife said that this is so unusual she's never seen it before, even though she's been delivering babies for something like 30 years. Apparently it means closer monitoring and if the baby seems to be having trouble they might need to deliver me early, but she said she really didn't know and was going to have to talk to the blood guy and get back to me.
I looked online and saw a few medical articles, which aren't very informative, and a few Q & As, which don't seem to match what she told me. Anybody know anything more about this?

6. The sink sprayer in the kitchen is broken. This makes cleaning high chair trays a pain. Someone's supposed to be coming to fix it any... minute... now...

7. Avtalyon is doing the bottomless baby thing that Iyyar did at this age. He eats and eats and EATS. Last week I went to Trader Joe's and did a massive stockup of everything that could be stored in a pantry or frozen. As in, about 20 boxes of cereal, as many boxes of Iyyar-friendly rice milk as they had, tons of peanut butter and jelly and oatmeal and crackers and raisins and granola bars and just about everything else. (Think I'm nesting? Yeah, me too.) We hadn't had granola in the house in ages and suddenly we had granola AND yogurt all at the same time. I gave some to Avtalyon and he ate a whole big bowl of it. Then he asked for more, and I gave him half a bowl, and he kept asking for more until I finally drew the line at the equivalent of THREE bowls. It was full-fat yogurt, too.

8. Did I mention I'd really rather be knitting right now?

9. One of the other apartments in our building (there are four) is being foreclosed on. At least, the condo association got notice of this last week--apparently they have not paid their mortgage in six months. This is the family that had a second family move in with them in the spring, and has not been paying their assessments either, even though the water bills have suddenly gone through the roof because a) they have 10 people in there at least and b) apparently they have some leaking plumbing that they are not dealing with because, well, they're not paying the water bill, so why should they care about the leak?

This will, of, course, mean that we will have a foreclosure/for sale sign in front of our building at some point, which will make it a lot harder for us to sell this place if we decide to. I'm trying to just accept that if and when we sell we will simply not see any money from the sale. And reminding myself that there are worse ways to lose, oh, $70k or so. Medical bills, for example, would be worse. Years of unsuccessful fertility treatments? Fleeing the country from religious persecution and having one's assets nationalized by Nazis? Running through all our savings because of unemployment? That'd be worse too--at least we both have good resumes to show for our hard work, if not a lot of money. And we've been living in an apartment that we like, with extra-large-capacity washing machines AND a dishwasher. Worth thirty or forty thousand right there, surely.

Oh well. It's only money, right? And we have enough of it every month to live and be well on. Gam tzu l'tova.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Negotiation: A Play in One Act

SCENE: the kids' room.
TIME: bedtime.

BARAK and ABBA are on their way to a simchas bais ha'shoeva. AVTALYON is in his crib, basking in pluggies and blankies, and IYYAR, in train pajamas, is sitting on his train bed, banging AVTALYON's light-up Spiderman shoes on the side of same. IMMA is sitting in glider rocker, attempting a normal bedtime with only 2/3 the usual contingent of children.

IMMA: Iyyar, should we say shma now?

AVTALYON: Maaaaa! Yellll!

IYYAR: Not yet.

IMMA: Let's say sh'ma and then you can listen to a CD. Which CD do you want to listen to?

IYYAR: Let's listen to the CD first.

IMMA: We can't listen to the CD first. If we put on a CD we can't say sh'ma. Which CD do you want to listen to after we say sh'ma? Do you want the pirate one?

IYYAR: No.

IMMA: Okay, so which one do you want?

IYYAR: I want a shark one.

IMMA [flummoxed]: We don't have a shark one.

IYYAR: C'I have a shark one anyway?

IMMA: Well, no, because we don't have a shark CD.

IYYAR: C'we buy it? C'we buy a shark CD in the store?

IMMA: I don't think so, sweetie.

IYYAR: Why not?

IMMA: I don't think there are any shark CDs in the store.

IYYAR [with conviction]: Ackshully there is. There is a shark CD.

IMMA: I don't think so. I'm pretty sure there isn't.

IYYAR: Why not?

IMMA: Sharks can't really sing.

IYYAR: Oh. Then I want a Dr. Doomshtein one.

IMMA: Okay.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

I guess someone likes school


"Imma! Imma, can I run! Can I run, Imma?!"

I love watching three-year-olds run--they do it with all of their limbs at once.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

One of these days there will be a post about just one thing

But this isn't it.

1. Flags. Every time Iyyar sees an American flag, he points it out. "Look! It's an American flag!" And then, if it is not windy, "It's not flagging." I love it too much to correct him.

2. If Avtalyon likes what he is eating, which is pretty much all the time, he tells me. "Mmm! Mummy!"

3. Just this morning, Avtalyon started experimenting with hitting. He didn't like what Iyyar was doing so whaled him one, with a hard plastic dog. It must have hurt. Iyyar was so surprised he just stared for half a minute before crying; I went right to Avtalyon and very firmly told him NO! several times. Avtalyon looked outraged and then flung himself on the floor and threw a tantrum. I laughed. Then Iyyar laughed too. Then Avtalyon was insulted and stomped off down the hall to find Abba.

4. One of Avtalyon's favorite things to eat right now is red pepper, cut into slices and preferably accompanied by a bowl of hummus. He can't quite say "pepper" though. It comes out, "Ah poo!" and if you didn't know better you'd be sure he was saying "apple!"

5. We're getting three pounds of raw honey next week, from the same local buying co-op we already use to get real eggs (six dozen every two weeks, and yes, we go through them all). So excited.

6. I am really really enjoying my knitting lately. I'm not doing anything that novel but I've been getting a lot done in the little bits and pieces of time I have available--waiting for the bus with Barak, sometimes sitting on the floor with the kids playing, and occasionally at night. I've stopped working extra hours if I can possibly avoid it--the money is not enough to be worth it right now. I'd rather be getting stuff done at home.

7. I haven't done any yom tov cooking and I'm not even worrying about it. It's only two days, and for the first days we've been invited out for lunch on Shabbos so really it's just one extra meal over Shabbos. And I can cook on yom tov if I need to. Current plan is to make a billion carrot muffins for the kids (give or take a few hundred million), stock up on Shabbos yogurts, some deli, and fruit and the vegetables they like raw, bake some salmon for MHH and some bagels and cake for the rest of us. Everyone will be perfectly happy and I will stay sane.

8. I was looking over my work to-do list and figuring out exactly how much time I probably have left. Being conservative, I put a goal date for finishing everything that needs to get done before I go on leave for the beginning of my ninth month, since Avtalyon was born at 37 weeks and each baby has been several days earlier than the last. Then I realized that this goal date was a mere five weeks away. Holy cats. Think I should go through the baby clothes one of these days? Clean out the bassinet and infant carseat? Maybe?

9. Yesterday I had a brief triumph. The very nice Mexican woman whom I cannot quite bring myself to refer to as my cleaning lady was here and I had done a lot of tidying before she came. I did more after she left and when I went to bed my living room, office, kitchen, both bathrooms and the kids' room were all clean AND tidy. It felt great.

When I got out of bed, there were toys all over the living room floor and down the hall, the kitchen had magically re-sprouted its usual mess, and the floor of the kids' room was covered in laundry. I was the last one up this morning by less than half an hour (Avtalyon, for reasons I cannot identify, was up until 2 last night, and I didn't get a lot of sleep). I know I can't actually give up, but it is kind of disheartening.

10. Miraculously, a friend from work has offered to be on call to watch the kids in case I have to go to the hospital in the middle of the night. She can stay until Asnat gets here at 9:15. So now I only need to figure out who's going to take care of Avtalyon in the afternoon, collect Barak and Iyyar in the afternoon, and... um... yeah. Yehudis has offered her assistance as backup but I need a Plan A; Yehudis's house would require someone to be watching Avtalyon every second, and with eight kids in the house that wouldn't be so practical. I guess absolute worst case I have had a baby without my husband there before, but it's not something I would want to plan on doing for lack of childcare.

11. MHH is scheduled for a colonoscopy on Friday. I am trying hard not to worry about this even though health concerns for him send me over the edge even more than they do with the kids. Rationally I know it is unlikely they will find anything seriously bad; the issues that he's having it for have been chronic for literally decades, and, as he was told a few years ago, "If it was cancer you'd be dead by now." I understand why it was recommended and agree that it's a good idea. Still, a colonoscopy is neither fun nor without risks.

12. And since I don't want to end with that... hmm... oh yes. Destashing! Because we have no idea where we will be next year, and chances are won't have any indication until March at the earliest, and we are hoping very much to be moving, I have been trying as much as possible to do all moving-related tasks that aren't moving-specific beforehand. As in, organizing, tidying, and downsizing. Part of this is trying to get rid of stuff that we do not need, for example, yarn that I will probably never knit. Which I am in the midst of photographing (badly) and am soon to post on ravelry. Stay tuned. Because you totally want a sweater's worth of hunter green brushed mohair, don't you? Don't you??

Monday, September 28, 2009

Listless

Just kidding. Here's a list.

1. I bribed the kids with Twizzlers to get them to behave on Yom Kippur. I'm not saying I'm proud of this, but it's true. And it worked really well.

2. Avtalyon's current preoccupation is with putting on clothes--any clothes that belong to someone older and bigger than him. Last week he struggled mightily to get on a pair of Barak's polarfleece pants; a few days ago, he spent half an hour trying to get two pairs of Iyyar's underpants on (one on each leg). He'd get them on, crow with delight, stand up, and look dismayed when they slid back off. Lather, rinse, repeat.

3. The other thing Avtalyon is very into these days are the matchbox cars (aka Columbus trucks) that live in a box in the bathroom. The original reason they took up residence there, lo a couple of years or so, was so that when Barak was engaged in one of his endless potty trips, he'd have a reason to stay in there. There they remained, since the bathroom, as an off-limits-to-babies locale, is a relatively good place to keep a choking-hazard toy. These days, however, Avtalyon wants nothing more than to hustle in there and rummage through the box, exclaiming, "Wooooow!" Then he'll plop down on the tile and drive them around, with the accompanying "vrroooooms" and "beep beeps!"

4. So far, Barak loves school. I think the long day is hard on him--he melts down pretty frequently after he gets home--but he gets on the bus without a backward glance and off the bus with a huge smile on his face. And when he talks about his rebbe, it's with an attitude that can only be described as adoring.

5. One of Iyyar and Barak's historic favorite Shabbos cereals are Puffins. For a long time I was buying peanut butter ones, but I switched to the plain ones when we started with the peanut-free classrooms--I was worried that someone would successfully lobby for them for breakfast, or they'd find their way into a schoolbag. This past Shabbos, though, Barak found an unopened box of the peanut butter ones and they were both breakfast and afternoon snack. Shabbos afternoon, Iyyar didn't seem so happy; that night, he woke up constantly for more than two hours, crying and going back and forth to the bathroom. At around 2 am, it suddenly occurred to me: I went into the kitchen and read the label. The regular Puffins are soy- and dairy-free; the peanut butter ones, which I guess I haven't given them since early August, not only contain soy but are processed on equipment that also handles dairy. Argh.

6. I'm 31 weeks tomorrow. Besides the itchiness and the puffiness and the usual third-trimester stuff, I feel fine. This is around when things started moving with Iyyar, though, and it wasn't much later with Avtalyon. Stay tuned.

7. My husband is a very great fan of the Rambam (otherwise known as Maimonides). "The Rambam says..." is a pretty common phrase around here. Last week, as I walked Barak home from the bus stop, Barak wanted to tell me something, some piece of utter and incontestable truth, that he'd learned at school. He started out with, "The Rambam says..." and then stopped. "I mean, the Torah says..."

8. Abba tells good bedtime stories. I read books but have no knack for the make-it-up-as-you-go-along serial. Lately, he has been much more in demand at bedtime than I have, and this is because the current serial is about--wait for it--the Torah Team. I would tell you the characters, which are fabulous, but I keep pushing Abba to write his own frum comic books (in his spare time, which is even more boundless than mine) so I won't. But they're fabulous. Really. Come over sometime at bedtime and listen.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Food again

Lunches for the big boys: same as yesterday, except I didn't have strawberries. Iyyar got a plum and raisins instead, Barak got an apple and cinnamon cereal (he gets raisins at school for snack).

Lunch for Abba was instant oatmeal and an Odwalla almond protein drinkat school. He doesn't get a lunch break on Wednesdays--he does a lunch and learn.

Lunch for Avtalyon was what I made for Abba's dinner (onions and mushrooms with soy crumble and brown rice). I also made some pesto with the basil I had in the fridge. He ate that after Iyyar came home and Iyyar thought he wanted some too, but didn't eat it.

This afternoon was pretty mellow. Barak came home in a really good mood and there wasn't too much screaming. For dinner, I put out the leftover hummous, sliced red peppers, and cucumbers while I made noodles and finished warming up two pieces of barbecue chicken I had in the freezer. Avtalyon ate the vegetables while I was cooking, Iyyar and Avtalyon ate the chicken while Barak was having his vegetables, and then everyone was offered noodles with rice milk cheese and pesto; Barak turned down the noodles on the grounds that they were contaminated with pesto and asked for an apple instead, which request was granted. Then he asked for a plum. He's never had a plum before so I had no problem with this; he tried it and surprise! liked it! After that he really got my hopes up by tasting the noodles, but no dice there.

So everyone except Iyyar had vegetables (unless you're counting the pesto, which I'm not), and everyone except Barak had some form of protein. But Iyyar had a ton of fruit already today and Barak has had plenty of dairy, so that's OK. In retrospect I didn't really need the chicken, but I expected everyone to turn their noses up at the pesto. Nice surprise there.

Abba came home and ate the mushroom/soy crumble/rice stuff. He was nice about it, but it was kind of eh.

You know, I think I've figured out part of why other women with babies manage to cook real dinners every night and I have found it next to impossible. It's because other women with babies have baby nap time. I usually don't, because Avtalyon naps while I'm working. However, now that Asnat leaves at 12 and I don't have to go pick up Iyyar until 12:55, suddenly this has changed; she's been putting him down for his nap at 11 and I get anywhere from half an hour to 50 minutes of time to do stuff without either chasing him or imprisoning him in the high chair. You can get an awful lot done in that amount of time.

Cooking for yom tov, however--not so much. I haven't really done anything. But we're not having guests, we've been asked out for Shabbos lunch, and it's only two days, so really it's just one extra meal over Shabbos. I can do that tomorrow, right? Right? Right.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Food

See, here's the thing.

Nobody in this house is insanely picky. Nobody has only four foods that they can or will eat. But everyone has several things that they can't eat, or just won't touch. And they're all different things. So it just doesn't seem fair to me to say to anyone "Sorry, even though the only thing you don't like/can't eat is X, you're getting it because it's what everyone else wants." It doesn't sit well with me. I mean, the only things I don't like are green peppers, kasha, oatmeal and tongue. And I REALLY wouldn't appreciate it if someone handed me a plate of green peppers, kasha, oatmeal and tongue and said, "Sorry, I know you don't like it, but that's dinner."

But I also don't want anyone to be malnourished or made sick by the wrong food. And I want my kids to eat a variety of foods so that they grow up healthy and with a reasonably varied palate. And the problem with offering alternatives every night is that Barak, for one, will ALWAYS eat Cheerios if offered Cheerios. They need to be eating other things.

Last night, I ran out to the Other Produce Market (with the tastier produce and the narrow aisles) and bought a heavy backpack full of good tomatoes, fresh basil, apples, plums, red peppers, strawberries and mushrooms. I came home and packed lunches, consisting of:

Barak: sun nut butter sandwich, a cheese stick, strawberries, an apple, a small bag of soy crackers

Iyyar: sun nut butter sandwich, strawberries, a plum, a small bag of cinnamon cereal (he is out of school at 1, so although he eats the same quantities as Barak, he needs a smaller lunch bag)

Everyone had Cheerios and cow/rice milk for breakfast.

Dropped off Barak. Dropped off Iyyar. Came home to work. Midmorning, I took a break, chopped a couple of onions and put them in a pot on very low heat. When I was done working, but while Avtalyon was still napping, I washed and sliced some mushrooms and put those in there too, along with the cold baked sweet potato I had from yesterday (peeled, of course). Put up brown rice in the rice cooker. Halved an eggplant and a red pepper and put them in the oven to roast. Cleaned up from breakfast, and right before it was time to go get Iyyar, added some ginger, salt, pepper and soy milk to the pot and pureed the whole thing in the immersion blender.

At one, I woke up Avtalyon and went and got Iyyar. Abba called at around 1:30 to say he was coming home for lunch; I gave him a bowl of mushroom/sweet potato soup concoction and brown rice, and a bowl of the same to Avtalyon. Both were very happy. Iyyar wanted a snack too, so he had a plum. While they were eating, I scooped out the insides of the eggplant and pepper and mashed those with some olive oil, garlic, and fresh basil and put that back in the fridge; I also found a can of chickpeas and turned that into hummous. Iyyar squeezed the lemon for me.

At this point everyone was a mess so Iyyar and Avtalyon went into the bathroom for a nice long splashing session, even though I'd heard Asnat give Avtalyon a bath that morning. We played for a while, read a couple of books, cut everyone's fingernails and toenails and then at 3:45 it was time to go get Barak at the bus stop. We retrieved him without incident and came home, spotting the FedEx truck in front of our house with the replacement gaskets for my Bosch bread bowl. Aha! In the house, Barak and Iyyar sat down at the table with crayons to draw, Avtalyon went back in the high chair with some toys (much to his resentment) and I put the Bosch bowl together and quickly mixed an inauthentic but nevertheless delicious baguette dough. By the time this was done with it was around 5 PM; while the dough rose I cleaned up a little, pulled out the leftover soup from lunch and added some pureed carrots I had left from yesterday's soup. With the rice, it was enough for Abba. Sliced some red peppers and tomatoes and put those on the table with a bowl of hummous. Warmed up Abba's soup. Abba came home and about ten minutes later the bread was baked.

The kids noshed on red peppers while I got the food out; we had sliced peppers and tomatoes, the hummous, the eggplant/basil/pepper dip, the leftover soup, and two hot baguettes.

I had an eggplant and tomato sandwich on bread.
Abba had leftover soup and rice.
Barak ate a ton of bread, a slice of tomato and a few slices of pepper.
Iyyar ate a ton of bread, a slice of pepper and some hummous.
Avtalyon ate a ton of bread, some peppers and some hummous.

And everybody was happy. We all sat down together to eat, which is practically unheard of on a Tuesday night, and everyone finished up well fed and in a good mood. I checked the lunch bags later; they were both empty.

Nobody ate anything complicated. Homemade bread you could charge with being excessive for a weeknight meal but seriously, if you have a good mixer that takes almost no prep time. It was pretty simple food. And it made everyone happy.

But it still took me every spare minute of the whole day to put it together, and more patience than Avtalyon really has.

There has to be a better way. I think much larger batches is going to be part of it. This is a pointless thing to wish for right now but I really wish our apartment had a better layout--one of the families we visited in Maale Adumim had this awesome setup where the living room and kitchen were divided by half-height walls--too high for the kids to reach over on the living room side, counter-height on the kitchen side, so that you could cook AND supervise the kids. That'd be amazing, but I don't have it right now. I can only cook while Avtalyon is napping or trapped in the high chair.

And part of keeping everyone happy with simple food is good ingredients--good tomatoes, for example. Barak usually won't touch them but the real tomatoes I get at Produce Market #2 he really likes. Since I started going there for produce, he's started eating red peppers, too. And fruit, which is in season now, but won't be for long. I need to get them started eating root vegetables, I guess.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Listing, continued

What did I say for 2, 3, and 4? Jaundice, bus, and itchy, right?

Okay, so, true to my word:

1. Jaundice

Anyone who's been reading this blog for a long time (anyone?) may remember that we have a chazaka around here of jaundiced newborns. Barak had jaundice, which was taken care of in the NICU with an IV, but which probably contributed to the feeding issues that lasted well into his first year. Iyyar had to go back to the hospital for another three days to go under bililights; although he never needed to be in the NICU, this was scarier in a way because the bilirubin level that would have indicated he needed to be readmitted was lost by the lab, erev Shabbos, and we came frighteningly close to not hearing about it until it was too late. Newborn jaundice tends to be thought of rather casually because it's very well understood and usually easy to treat--but if it isn't caught in time, it can lead to brain damage and death. B"H we never went even close to that, but even that brush with it was too close for me.

By Avtalyon, you'd think we'd all have been on the lookout, especially since he had every single risk factor on the list: he was orange, he'd had a difficult delivery, he was a boy, he'd had siblings with jaundice, and he was early. Oh, and by the time he was discharged, he had an elevated bilirubin and was starting to get listless. Two days later, his morning bilirubin--I was taking him in twice a day for blood levels, in addition to using the bililight blanket at home--was 16. He was readmitted. Like Iyyar, his bilirubin shot straight through the ceiling by day four, and his level when he was admitted--around 3 PM--was 26. Not. A. Joke.

Time from lab test to time arriving in hospital and getting him under lights was about eight hours. What if that level had been taken at night? And I'd been called at, say, 10 am? And the doctor had left the same totally uninformative message ("This is Plony. Call me back." Thud.) followed by another game of phone tag? It would have been very bad news. And as it was, I was back in the hospital with a very sick four-day-old baby, in a highly contagious floor full of flu and RSV, with everybody who came in the room telling me how we had to get him out of there as fast as possible before he picked something else up. They hardly even let me nurse. He ended up losing a full pound, forgetting how to nurse, and... yeah. It wasn't fun.

So, hello! Here I am, pregnant with baby #4! And I went to my pediatrician with a simple request. "Do you think this time, if I have a baby with an elevated bilirubin at two days, we could skip the two days at home/peds admission thing and just PUT THE BABY UNDER LIGHTS already in the mother-baby unit? Lower infection risk, lower screw-up risk, less stress?" No. No, no, and no; insurance would never approve it. I asked pediatrician #2. Nope. He got angry just at the suggestion that he should take it up with insurance.

Pediatrician #3 was the pediatrician I haven't seen for a while, since he was the one who dropped the ball with Iyyar's lab results. It wasn't just him, obviously, but I haven't felt comfortable with him since. But I hoped he at least remembered it, and scheduled Avtalyon's 18-month checkup with him for yesterday. I reminded him of Avtalyon's history. And Iyyar's. And Barak's. I may possibly have gotten slightly emotional--not on purpose, but when I get stressed my voice shakes (this is why I write the speeches! and do not deliver them!) and it probably helped. I made my request. Two-day bilirubin of, let's say, ten. Will you have them keep the baby under lights instead of sending him/her home for monitoring?

"Well, usually you wouldn't even consider that. But obviously there's something going on with your kids that isn't normal. I think that'd be very reasonable."

Really?

"Yeah, I think that would be appropriate. I can't promise the insurance company's reaction but I'd call it medically necessary."

Wow! Wasn't expecting that.

2. Bus

Barak takes the schoolbus to and from school, with (like) the big kids. Barak loves the schoolbus. I love the convenience of the schoolbus, but I find it scary. He is very little to be riding the bus alone; there is no monitor on the bus; the kids on the bus have been in school from 8-something till 3:45 and are uniformly off the wall. And adding to this is that there seems to be a different bus driver every day, who does not know the kids, doesn't pay attention to the kids, and just drives. Which is his job. But stopping is also his job. Stopping at the RIGHT STOP.

On Friday, when I saw a bus stop opposite from Barak's bus stop, I hardly paid attention to it; three privately chartered school buses come that way at the same time, and I assumed it was one of them. Until I saw the fourth-grade boy entrusted with making sure Barak is OK on the bus get off it. Without Barak.

"Where's Barak?" I shouted across the intersection.

"I didn't see him!" he shouted back.

Oh. No. I looked up and saw the bus rumble past. Is Barak on that bus? Or not? I hesitated for about a second and then went into a full sprint after the bus. I am, let us not forget, in my seventh month. I was wearing crocs. And carrying shopping bags, which for some crazy reason I did not drop. I raced to the corner, where the bus slowed down for the intersection but did not stop, while screaming "Wait! Wait! Wait!" as loudly as I could. I got closer. The bus pulled away again. I kept running, as fast as I possibly could, while screaming, until after another block and a half the bus stopped and I slowed down and trotted the rest of the way, gasping. The bus waited, door open.

"My... kindergartner... is... on... this... bus!" I gasped. "You stopped at the wrong corner!" The bus driver just kind of looked at me, waiting for someone to get off the bus. Every kid on the bus, it seemed, was piled into the front of the bus, standing on the seats or in the aisle. "What's his name?" they--not the driver--asked me. I told them and they took up the chorus, and a few moments later Barak, face blotchy with tears, was produced.

"The stop is at the northwest corner, not the northeast!"I told him. "Please, stop at the right stop next time!" The bus driver looked unconcerned. "He should have known his stop."

WHAT?!?!

"He is FIVE YEARS OLD! He's in kindergarten! He knows HIS stop. You are also supposed to know where the stop is and stop there. He's not going to know to get off at the wrong corner just because you've stopped there! He's too little to even see out the window to the other side of the street! He doesn't see me standing there, he's not going to get off!" Especially not since I have pounded this into his head. And, I did not point out--but should have--he couldn't even tell that the bus was stopping to let kids off, because there were so many kids jumping around in the aisle he couldn't see to the door.

The bus rolled off and I tried to calm Barak down, all the time thinking, seriously, what would have happened if I hadn't caught the bus? What would he have done? Gotten off at the next stop, after the bus had turned, over a few streets, where I wouldn't have seen him or known where he was? Gotten off at the stop after, or the stop after that, or a stop a mile away? Hoped for a kind adult? He knows his address, but not when he's that upset. What if the adult that found him wasn't kind? What if he tried to find his house by himself? What then? Best case, maybe he would have gone home with another kid--whose mother would have looked up his last name, called out house, and found no one home, because I would have been trailing after the bus searching for him. Or maybe stayed on the bus till the end, when the driver would have done... what, exactly?

This morning I called the principal, who, to his credit, took it seriously, apologized, gave me his cell phone number, and told me that he, personally, stayed in the office until the buses finished their routes. He made sure he got the whole story and wanted to know exactly where the bus was supposed to stop and where it had stopped. He said he would talk to the bus company about the stop and to the boy entrusted with Barak to be extra-sure that Barak gets off where he's supposed to--not that this should really be his responsibility, but I have heard it from every mother that you have to have an older kid looking out for the little ones, so he's been enlisted. About the kids jumping around on the buses, though, he seemed to have no solution--apparently this has been a problem since busing started, three years ago now.

Friday night, by the way, my husband had run into one of the mothers who witnessed my Olympic performance chasing Barak's bus. "She said she'd never seen anyone run that fast." Pause. "Definitely not while pregnant, anyway."

3. Itchy

When I was pregnant with Barak, lo these six years, I had a Most Unpleasant Rash. It started as a few itchy bumps around my ankles at around 16 weeks, and slowly spread up my calves, getting itchier and itchier. By around my fifth month patches had appeared on my arms, and by my third trimester it was almost everywhere. By my eighth month it was all over my legs, including the tops of my feet; my arms, down to the wrists; and my shoulders and entire torso--dense patches of red bumps that itched indescribably. It was HORRIBLE. My OB had no idea what it was and called it eczema, telling me to cover myself with moisturizer; I hate lotions at the best of times but trying to cover your entire body with cream when you can't reach half of it... yeah. And anyway the cream didn't help. By a couple of weeks before Barak was born it was a disaster. I couldn't sleep or think straight or do anything but try not to scratch; I was bruised and bleeding and beyond miserable. At one point I even woke my husband up at 5 am crying, not that I thought he could do anything about it, but... I was SO ITCHY! And it was Pesach, so I couldn't even do oatmeal baths. Awful.

By the time Barak was a week old, it was almost gone; I had scabs, but no new bumps came out. A week or two later it was like it had never happened. When I got pregnant with Iyyar, I waited nervously for the first bumps, but they never came. With Avtalyon, I had a few itchy spots but they never turned into anything. I thought I was off the hook.

Until a couple of months ago, when I noticed itchy spots on my ankles. And they started to spread. I mentioned it to Shanna, who recommended this soap. (Which, by the way, smells exactly like Wrigley's Spearmint Gum.) I bought three bars and a jar of the lotion; I think it's helped, but it hasn't yet wrought miracles. (See the woman in the "before" picture? That was me, except without any of those clear patches she's got.) Right now I'm at 29 weeks, and so far the itchiness is limited to my ankles and calves and one patch on my left arm. If it doesn't get any worse, I can deal. It had better not.