Thursday, July 31, 2014

Water Play- the summer savior!

It's a constant request of EG's to play out in the water.  Since finding Alondra park, she's asked to go to the water park almost as much as she asks to go to the beach (aka daily!)

Thank goodness we have our water table and those buckets.  When I made it, I didn't do anything fancy, but give the girl a bucket and some water and she's totally engaged for hours.

As you can see, EG doesn't even need the water table part, just a bucket, a shovel and some water will do.  She can spend literally an hour or more just enjoying the water, and thank goodness, since it's been so hot this summer.

When she kept asking to play with the water I got a little nervous, because I kept thinking that I wasn't a very creative mom.   I tried to make sure that we visited a few parks, museum, etc. but whenever I asked what she wanted to do, she wanted to play with water.

 I can't imagine what our water bill has looked like these past few months.  At least we're not UCLA....

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Gifts at the Hospital

One of the things that everyone recommended was bringing a gift for EG to the hospital, something we could give her that we could say was being given to her by the baby.

Honestly, if I hadn't heard about the idea from so many people I wouldn't have done it.  It seems sort of dishonest to say that Ocho could be giving a present to EG, but at the same time, it certainly did wonders to quell the growing gifts that Ocho was recieving.

Luckily for us, EG had just had her birthday.  I'm one of those mean mommies who doesn't give EG all of her presents right away- I put some of them aside for rainy days, and other times.  This was one of those great moments when I was able to add some of her birthday presents to the pile, and not go out and spend too much on another gift for her.

When putting together the gift I had a few considerations:

1. Nothing to extravagant.  I didn't want it to overshadow the arrival of the baby, and I didn't want it to be something so expensive, especially with all the extra costs we have right now with Ocho coming.  Double diapers are expensive!

2. Useable right away.  When I first thought about the gift, my mom had given EG playdough for her birthday.  I thought that was perfect.  But then my sister-in-law mentioned that playdough wouldn't exactly be easy to use in the hospital.  We wanted the gift to be something that she could interact with right away, sitting in the hospital bed with me.  This also knocked out bubbles, and anything else that needs to be an outside toy.

3. Long life span.  I wanted to make sure she had something that she could associate with her sister in a more permanent way.  She's good at making connections for her birthday presents, and I wanted to reinforce that these were gifts from Ocho, not just items for her.

So, what did I put in it?

I got EG a new t-shirt, which I thought was really really cute.  Something to say to the world that she's the big sister.  I also thought she could wear it to school the next day to announce the baby to her school.

I went out and bought the snowy tails book. Interactive, with lots of things to touch and playwith- I thought it was a great book because Ocho could play with it too.

Then I stole 'The Foot Book' from one of her birthday presents.  I thought the gift needed something else, and it turns our I was right, because this book was definitely her favorite!

I'm really glad we went with the gift.  She carried the bag around all week, and has told me on more than one occasion that Ocho gave this to her.  It definitely made things a bit sweeter.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The birth story of Ocho

When EG was born, I was in labor for 27 hours.  It started slow, we went to the hospital way to early, and then at 17 hours I had an epidural.  You know all about the aftermath, but the labor itself was long and exhausting.

When we were planning our 'strategy' for what was important for us delivering Ocho, we concentrated on the final phase of labor, the pushing, a lot.  We thought about when to go to the hospital, and made plans to get there much later than last time.

So here's the story of Ocho:

Contractions started around 4am on Sunday night/Monday morning.  I had been having trouble sleeping all night, waking up about every hour or so from 11pm until 3am.  Around 4am was when I realized what was waking me up wasn't having to go pee, but rather contractions that were becoming too much to sleep through.

I had read somewhere that having a glass of wine and a bath or shower could slow contractions, so I opened a bottle and got in the shower.  I was hopeful to be able to get back in bed, at least until the sun rose. The heat helped, but the wine definitely didn't make the contractions go away.  I took a few contractions in the shower, then thought I would lay on the couch to rest and still be awake enough to breathe through them.  I texted our doula Holly, and my cousin Ellen who would be taking care of EG in the morning.

Around 6am I turned on the TV and was started watching a new show that looked interesting, I thought I would keep myself occupied.  Through this whole time I hadn't woken up Working Dad yet.  I wanted him to get as much sleep as possible, anticipating that we would have a long day of labor ahead of us, and that maybe Ocho would be born sometime in the Monday/Tuesday early morning.  I ate some cheerios, thinking that I needed to keep my strength up.

Around 6:30am the contractions started to get heavier and more painful, so I got back in the shower.  Working Dad's alarm goes off on a typical Monday morning around 7am, so around 6:45am in the shower I started banging on the wall to call him into the bathroom.  He was so dazzed and confused.  It was sort of adorable if I hadn't been in a lot of pain.  He turns off the water, thinking that I need help getting out of the shower.  I yell at him and try to explain that I'm in labor, that the water's helping and that I want him to apply counter pressure to my back. We stay in the shower through one more contraction, but then I'm totally done with that.  We start sort of wandering the house- I'd stop through the contractions.  We watched 'The Lottery' together, and I just sort of struggled through the contractions.

I got back into the shower- the heat had seemed to help, and I love the shower.  At that point Working Dad had texted Holly who had responded that she would be at the house around 10am.  At this point it's somewhere between 7-8am, and I tell him that he needs to call her, that 10am isn't early enough, and that I'm not sure that I can make it through natural childbirth if it's going to be like this for the whole day.

We start hearing this chirping noise- it's the fire alarm making a low battery or signal.  I make Working Dad deal with it, because it's driving me crazy.  Unfortunately all he manages to accomplish is making all the alarms in the house go off.  Which panic's EG, who was just resting in her bed waiting for Daddy to come get her. Working Dad was planning to take EG to school, but at this point I'm sort of freaking out.  I tell him that he can't leave me alone, so he talks to Ellen, who agrees to come over and be with me.  Around this point I've been in the shower, and am having serious doubts about what's happening.

Ellen comes, but Working Dad decides he's not leaving me. He gets EG ready, and Ellen takes her to school in our car.  Then Working Dad gets a message from Holly, who suggests that we walk, and that I circle my hips, and that I stay upright.  We sort of dance through the house, and I have him put on some music for us to listen to.  We sort of find our groove, but at least once a contraction gets away from me and I burst into tears telling him that I'm going to die.

I get really hot so I go into our air conditioned bedroom and lie on the floor.  He's on the phone to Holly and I'm telling them both that I can't do this, and that I want to die, and that it's horrible.  Somehow he gets me off the floor, and we're back to circling my hips.  Ellen comes back, and Working Dad goes to talk to her.  I'm stating emphatically that we need to go to the hospital.  Working Dad wants to wait for Holly.

Ellen comes in, and I'm in a towel, and she says I think you should go to the hospital.  Working Dad really wants to wait, but I am insistent this time.  I tell him that we're going to the hospital, I'm getting some drugs, and that I'm really sorry insisted on hiring a doula and trying to have a natural childbirth.

We're trying to get to the car, and I throw on my negligee.  Working Dad is getting stuff, locking up, etc.  and I am focused on stupid things- EG's present, the air conditioner, etc. I have at least 3 contractions on the way to the car, grabbing onto Ellen and breathing hard, concentrating on my breathing.  Working Dad puts down a puddle pad on the seat and says should I go fast, or smoothly.  I say just go!  We start to go, and it's the most horrific car ride of my life.  It's around 9:17am when we get in the car, and I remember a crazy contraction that seems to last until after 9:22am.  Working Dad calls Holly and tells her we're in route to the hospital, so she turns around to join us.

I call my sister in law (the natural childbirth guru!) and tell her that this is insane, I'm going to the hospital to get drugs and that I can't do it.  She tells me it's okay, that I'm awesome.  I tell Working Dad that I'm sorry we paid for a doula. That I'm making a choice for drugs, and that it's okay- I won't blame him.  I complain that I wish this was my sisters birth, since her baby was born at 10am, and this one likely won't come for hours.

We get to the hospital, I step out of the car, and I think I pee down my leg.  It's my water breaking.  I have no recollection of my water breaking with EG, so I have no idea what this really means. I get wheel chaired up to the maternity wing, and they put me in triage.  Working Dad is there, and there's an issue with the paperwork...  A midwife comes in to check me, and I initially say no, I need a doctor.  But I change my mind, she checks me and it turns out that I'm 8 centimeters dilated. 

8 CENTIMETERS dilated!  WHAT!  WHAT!  I've only been in labor for 5 hours, I can't be 8 CENTIMETERS dilated! HOLY WHAT!

This whole time Working Dad has been dealing with the paperwork, and trying to get Holly upstairs.  Turns out that he left our birth plan in his other bag, so the midwife asks me what's important.  I tell her that the placenta needs to deliver on it's own- that she can't pull on the cord and that this is the most critical thing.  We get moved immediately to a labor and delivery room. They try to put the monitors on me, but I refuse to get back on the bed, so they tape them to me.  I'm standing there and Holly arrives, and Working Dad leaves to go and get all of our stuff.

I have about 4-5 contractions with Holly.  She's amazing, helping me through the contractions.  Working Dad gets back up to the room and they are trying to put an IV in me.  I don't need antibiotics, but they still want a hep-lock. I am determined to get back in the shower.  We head that way, Working Dad gets in his bathing suit and I wait on the toilet for the water to get warm.

I'm sitting on the toilet and something changes.  Something pops.  I'm in the shower, and I'm totally starting to push, and I tell them that the baby is coming.  That it's time to push.

I hear them state that they are preparing for a delivery in the shower.  Working Dad says, heck no, and physically lifts me up to get me to the bed.  There is a nurse there with a gown for me, and I shove her away.  I feel so bad, I apologize profusely, she says it's okay, just get on the bed, it's okay.  I'm totally naked and fine with that. Holly is there, the Midwife is there, and she's letting me push however I want.  I roll over onto my right side and we start to push.  The contractions are really far apart now, but not as painful.  I just let my body do what it does, I don't really push at all.

Then the head starts to come out.  We're all working together for me to push out the baby without tearing or having any problems.  We're going really slow, and all of a sudden I'm screaming my head off.  The ring of fire.  It seems to last forever- how slowly her head is coming out.  Holly keeps asking if I want to touch it, but I just want to lie there, and have it be over. It takes another 3 contractions, then her head is out.  No tearing, no episiotomy.  Even though I'm screaming, it's oddly relaxing, and calm.  It's totally different than birthing EG.

Then the shoulders pass, and we find out it's a girl.  She's up on my chest, and we're letting the cord pulsate.  The midwife (Esther) is amazing. She's been so wonderful, working with me, keeping it all together.  Being totally available to whatever works for me.

Ocho is born at 10:32am.  Just about an hour after we've arrived at the hospital.  I don't think we could have cut it much closer.

We wait until just about 10:45am, then they cut the cord.  They wait until just before 11am when the placenta delivers.  It's HUGE.  I can't believe how big it is, and how healthy it looks.  It's totally complete, and that's a big relief.

Ocho is breastfeeding already- she latches on like she's a champ.  They clean everything up, and we just sit there, reveling in the fact that we did it. Working Dad gets some time, he holds her and bonds with her.  It's amazing how enchanted he is.  He spends 2 minutes with her and knows that she's his.

 They finally weigh her, and I can't believe that I naturally delivered a 9lb 5oz baby.  So many crazy things happening today. 

But we did it.  I never had any drugs, not even some post delivery pitocin.  Just me, my body, my husband, our doula, the midwife.  Amazing.


Sunday, July 27, 2014

Changing of the wardrobe

One of the things that drives me crazy about pregnancy is the constant changing of clothes.  You find out you're pregnant, and then it's a continuous shuffle of clothing in and out of the closet.  What fits, what doesn't?   What looks good today, which may be terrible tomorrow.  Thankfully I'm done with all of that- now it's time to start moving in the nursing wear.

In the last few weeks of being pregnant I started putting away a percentage of my non-nursing wear.  It's so hard to keep everything organized once you have the new baby, so I recommend that you get a jump start on changing out the clothes, so it's one less thing you have to work on/worry about when you bring baby home.

The first few days of nursing are always rough- so my recommendation is the less clothes the better.  In fact, I've spent much of the past 3 days at home in PJ bottoms and a bra.  Once you start to sort of get the hang of it, it's time to start exploring the world, and getting out of the house. In order to get out of the house, you need some clothes.

My favorite brands of nursing wear:


This is actually very similar to the dress that I wore to the hospital while in labor.  I love the line because it's items transfer smoothly from being pregnancy wear to nursing wear.  With so much going on, it's hard to cycle the clothes you can't wear anymore. This way, you know it fits your still sort of pouchy belly, and will accommodate your new babies eating habits.

Bun Maternity Nursing.

I love this line of clothes- in fact I sent a t-shirt to both my sister and my sister-in-law to celebrate them reaching 40 weeks and the coming of their two new additions.  They look like regular wifebeaters, and they are simple to use and look great.  I also LOVE that they are made in the USA, and are actually a local company here in LA.

I also have some good luck finding items at Old Navy and Target that are nursing wear.  But the good thing about nursing wear is that it's possible to find things in regular stores that will totally work for nursing.  One of my favorite items to buy is a t-shirt dress- totally works for nursing:

A great place to get a ton of clothes online, shipped directly to you is ModCloth. They have a flat rate shipping, free returns (though it is 30 days only, so you have to be quick.)  I've gotten a bunch of great dresses there, like this one:

It's a simple t-shirt dress, which makes access totally easy.

What brands do you like for nursing wear? Have you found a good 'regular' store that carries a lot of good options?

Friday, July 25, 2014

Welcome Baby!

My sister-in-law has also welcomed their first son into the world- welcome IE.

I think I've decided that we should have a band for the two new additions here in SoCal- Ocho and the Niner...

Congratulations to Aunt K, Uncle S, and the five beautiful big sisters.  I know that we are truly blessed to have another family member in the world.

He's in the NICU right now, but he's doing well.  I think that he and Ocho have similar noses... so exciting.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Simchat Bat

Since we've delivered a baby girl, we've had to start thinking about her baby naming.  Unlike a bris, a girls baby naming doesn't really have a specific tradition. 

For EG we waited until she was a year old, and had her Simchat Bat at her birthday party.  It made for a very, very long day, but it was quite an enjoyable experience, and definitely made it a special occasion for us and the family.  We waited partly because we weren't ready, and partly because once we thought we were ready, both Grandma and my Aunt were dying, and it didn't seem right to be hosting a big celebration knowing they weren't going to be able to celebrate. 

This time, we have lots of options.  Typically there seem to be a few different options that are common:

1. On the 8th day.  This is echoing the circumcision of a newborn boy, and really plays to the covenant aspect of having a Jewish child.  Why wait if you can do it?

2. First Shabbat after Baby is born.  This seems to be the most standard, and depending on the temple is either the Friday night service, or less commonly at the Saturday service.  The family is called up to the bimah, and celebrated at the occasion.

3. Rosh Chodesh.  Since this is a holiday focusing on women and girls, it seems to be a popular choice for a baby naming ceremony.  It also gives a little more time to celebrate, but depending on where it falls might make for a mid-week celebration.

4.  Any other time you want to.   Since it's not a halacha ritual event, when you host it really means very little.  There's something nice about establishing your own family traditions....

We haven't figured out what we're going to do.  There's no chance of us doing it on Friday, since that would be tomorrow and we're totally not ready.

I'm personally leaning towards either doing it at about a month, or doing it when she turns 1 year old, like we did with EG.

Did you have a Simchat Bat for your daughter?

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Welcome Ocho!

Sorry to have been MIA- you may have guessed that it's because B2 has decided to enter the world.  Without further ado- I humbly introduce OCHO:

It was a worldwind delivery (6 hours from wake-up in bed, to delivery of baby!) and a wonderful natural birth.  I'll tell the whole story later this week.

She was delivered at 9lbs, 5oz, so a large little girl.  Both of us are totally healthy, happy, and recovering at home. 

Exuberant Girl seems to be loving Little Ocho so far, and all is well with the family at home.  EG has been going to school regularly, and we've been holed up in the house since returning yesterday afternoon.

Sorry I'm not writing much, but Ocho is crying in the background, so it seems it's time to eat.

Why Ocho you ask?  She's granddaughter number 8 on my husband's side, and it seems a bit better than to continue calling her B2.  Until we know a little more about her and can settle on a better blog name for her.

Friday, July 18, 2014

The truth about Pregnancy 40+ weeks

Let's be honest, there isn't anything that wonderful about being 40+ weeks pregnant.  It's not the end of the world, but it's also not the best.  Here are some of the realities:

1. EG can literally stand underneath my belly and I can't see her at all.  I realize that if you've been pregnant, you stopped seeing your feet sometime around week 30-35, but there's something particularly extra special about loosing your child when she's standing right in front of you.

2. Every single different pain or movement by the baby makes you think you might be in labor.  This kid loves to move, and with it's head down where it's supposed to be, sometime those movements reverberate through my hip bones and around my back- not labor, but don't I wish it was.

3. Sleeping is a thing of the past.  Yes, this happens around week 37 or so for every pregnant woman, but typically you're only dealing with this for about 2-3 weeks.  Now that I'm past 40 weeks, it's been almost a month of not sleeping.  Of course, once the baby comes I might be wishing I had the sleep I used to....

4. Everyone keeps asking.  I'm so so so so so so so so tired of people asking if I'm still pregnant.  Making commentary.  Saying things.  Just leave it alone. Don't you think I'm already tired enough?

5. Everyday feels like it's the one, and then when it isn't it's so disappointing.  It's sort of crushing that you might imagine that something is finally happening, and then it's not.  Each day you wake with a 'is it today' feeling, but then it's not...

6. At least the baby is doing well.  At the end of the day that's the most important thing.

Here's a sneak peak of the photo shoot we did with our AMAZING photographer Laura Layera.  She's absolutely amazing (she's typically a wedding photographer, but she's done three sessions for us so far, and I know we'll be doing a 6-month session with B2.  I stole the photos from our viewing session, so they aren't the best quality, but I couldn't help but share.

All of these photos are copyright by Laura, but I did want to share their beauty- it makes it better to be 40 weeks pregnant when you realize that it's okay, and you look fine, and then you remember that the baby will come, in it's own time.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Minor Projects

I've been busy working on lots of little things around the house- you know what I'm talking about, those little projects that you've had on the list for a while, but never seem to get quite done.  Since I've been basically just sitting on the couch daily (between groin pain and indegestion, it's been a rough week 41) so these little projects have really helped me through it.

The first project I'm going to show you is actually a wall calendar I made for everyone for Christmas/Chanukah.  I made one for my mom, sister, mother-in-law and sister-in-law.  It's a really easy and fun project, and can include any kind of celebration you'd like.  I really like that it's interactive, so it's so much easier than looking through a book to remember important dates.

There are really only two components.  The first is the plaque sign, which I've decorated with the word CELEBRATE.  For my SIL I made it blue and white, for my mom it's white and black.  My MIL got one that was more natural colored.  You can do anything you want- some people just put Birthdays- but my plan is to add anniversaries at some point...

 You can buy the piece at Michaels or Jo-Anns, and it's not that expensive.

Then there are the circles- I bought a TON of them on Amazon. These are about 1.5" wide, which I found to be perfect.  With them there's enough space to write the names, and the date, and still have it look really good.

Then you need these little metal rings to connect the discs together.  These are really easy to get, and pretty cheap.

I drilled a small hole in the top and bottom of each disc, so I could attach them together.

Here's the final product:

The other thing that I've been working on is a small spot to put my jewelry in the bathroom.  I don't know about you, but I take my jewelry off before I take a shower.  Even if I don't take a shower, I almost always get undressed in the bathroom, that's where the laundry basket is, isn't it? 

So I took an old shelf that I've had since college and added a few open rings for the necklaces to hang off of.  It looks great for the hanging section- and I'm totally happier with the space I've gain back on the counter-top.

I think I need to add a little bowl or some type of small item on the top of the shelf for rings, and earrings, but it's been working really well so far!  easy peasy project!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Converting a child

I was doing my weekly reading on a variety of sites this morning and came across this interesting article about the challenges of converting a child to Judasim.  I couldn't help but be overwhelmed by the author's concerns and felt like while some may be true, others are totally off base in my opinion.

Let me be clear that EG is not a converted child.  I am a Jewish mother, therefore EG is born as a Jewish child.  However, I have experience in being a converted child myself, since my Mother wasn't born Jewish and converted after I was born.  So, technically I'm a Jew by choice myself.  A choice my parents made for me when I was just around 5-7 years old.

I remember my conversion in great detail. I remember going to ttemple that day to have my mom talk to the Bet Dien. I remember going to the beach to go into the water- my mother, my sister and I.  My dad came in with us, to support and encourage us.  I remember being the first one to dive in, with the Rabbi on the beach. 

When I was in college I was considering moving to Israel, but was concerened that I wouldn't be able to get married, that my conversion may not have been considered halachically valid, so I contacted the Rabbi who oversaw our conversions (Rabbi Artson, now at the AJU) and chatted with him more about what the process was like, and how it was validated.  I know that there are some both here and abroad that will never recognize our Conversative Converstion- despite the Torah teaching that those who convert are to be treated the same, but generally, I feel good about my religious identity.

When I read the article about  converting your children, I can't help but be saddened by some of her experiences.  Her first point about converting a child with their own religion is spot on.  Nothing to be said about that.  It's definitely possible as a child to take an interest and to claim a religion outside of your parents, and converting a child against their will won't end up being the right thing, nor, I believe, halachically valid.  

However, point number two I have more trouble with.  I resent the idea that the children will never be accepted by their Jewish peers.  There are so many people with so many different backgrounds in my Jewish life.  There are many who come from blended families, some who are Jewish on both sides, and I don't think for a moment that any of them think less of us because of our families background. 

I don't think that I've felt 'like an outsider.'  Many of the things she complains about are also true of people who move across the country.  I was born on the East coast, but moved here to CA when I was in kindergarten. So no, I couldn't have been the great-granddaughter of a member of this temple.  And no, I couldn't have known the other Jewish kids since birth.  Does that matter?  People move all the time, and not fitting in likely would have less to do with your religious background, and more to do with your personal history in the area.  Did I fit in fabulously with my class?  No, but I think that was more because this religious school was more advanced than mine, and I skipped all of 5th grade so I could bat mitzvah on time.  Do we always fit in everywhere?  No.

I feel sad that she thinks this is a primary problem- fitting in.  There are Israeli's I know at school who don't understand some of the yiddish references, or the Americanisms.  Does their child 'not fit in'?  She's my daughter's best friend!

Point three is an interesting one, and one that I really struggled with getting Working Dad to understand.  That there is a fundamental difference in being the minority in a majority Christian country.  That by marrying me, having children with me, he was creating a world where people who liked him the day before our wedding, would dislike him the day after.  That there would be people who would literally hate our children just for being born.  That I was asking him to take that on as part of our marriage.  And that was hard.  But I also think she misses the point.  Every Jewish family might have to deal with moments of stereotyping, discrimination, etc.  But so does my sister-in-law, who gets flack for having 6 kids.  So does my sister for being interracial.  We all have to stand-up to idiots and bullies. 

Point number four makes me sad for her.   And it's a fear I have for our own little EG.  I don't think there is someone in our family in particular, but I worry about her each Easter, when some insists that she eat pie or chocolate with corn syrup.  I worry about someone from our extended family wanting to save her soul.  But the truth is that this wouldn't have any effect on our being a Jewish family- we'd be right where we are regardless.

I hope the author has grown to feel loved, accepted, and happy in her judaism.  If she's writing for Kveller, then it seems she has.  But I also want to make sure that her perspective hasn't turned away another family from converting.  If it's the right thing for you, then it's the right thing for you.

 Dear EG running up and down the aisles of synagogue, much like I did when I was young.  However, we don't know that we'll be going to this synagogue forever.  We might move when she's five or six or ten.  Then all of the things the author worries about will be true- she'll be the new kid on the block...

Here she is with one of the Rabbi's sons.  Playing,enjoying together.  Never has she or I felt like we didn't belong, like we couldn't engage or interact with those of different levels of religious identity. 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Surviving a 'Non-Stress Test'

It seems that they are ironically titled 'non-stress' tests, since they can actually cause a lot of stress for a pregnant woman.  However, in medical terminology, it's called a 'non-stress' test because they want you to be at rest, and are monitoring the baby when it isn't stressed, unlike during contractions when it will be 'stressed.'

If you've gotten to the point of NST's in your pregnancy you are likely either past term, or having some sort of complications that they'd like to monitor more frequently. 

What happens during an NST?
They will check the fluid around the baby to make sure that it has enough aminotic fluid with an ultrasound.  Likely they will measure at least 4-5 different spots around the babies body.  They will take your blood pressure to check for pre-eclampsia.  Then they will hook you up to two different monitoring belts, one for the babies heart rate, the other to monitor babies movements, or for any contractions.

Why do they do NSTs?
An NST is scheduled to get a more invasive look at the baby than what would happen at your usual doctors appointment. Since the test is longer, they can check how often the baby is moving (they typcially want it to average ten times in 2 hours) and how your body is doing after your due date has passed.

How often are they scheduled?
This can really vary by hospitals, but typically the results of an NST are 'valid' for between 3-5 days.  It is my opinion that every 4 days is often enough, especially if you don't experience any other kinds of changes or negative symptoms related to your impending delivery.

So, now that we know what an NST is, what can you do to be better prepared for it?

1. Bring the following: Water, a book, and a blanket.  At this stage in the pregnancy game you likely have your water bottle with you all the time, but I think it's especially critical to have it during these 'tests.'  It can ease your nerves to take a sip, so make sure you have it with you.  As the test can run anywhere from 30minutes to an hour, a book is a nice thing to have. You may just decide to rest and sleep a bit, but I think a book is a good option as well.  The most critical thing, however, is the blanket.  These rooms are cold- partly to help make the baby move, and partly because it's a hospital space like all the others.  A blanket can totally mean the difference between an enjoyable experience, and misery shivering.

2.  Eat something the baby likes before you get there.  They want to know that the baby is moving, and while they have things that they can do at the hospital to encourage movement (eating ice, noises next to the baby, etc.) it's easiest on you if the baby is cooperating.  Maybe have that nice chocolate snack that makes the baby kick, or schedule your appointment when the baby is active. 

3. Remember that it's just about data.  This isn't a definitive test- and it's non-invasive, meaning that it's just recording something happening.  The nurse has certain data that she is trying to collect, and all you need to do is relax to provide it. 

4. Shower before you go.  This seems odd, but it can be possible that they may decide not to let you leave the hospital.  The most likely reason for that would be low amniotic fluid, which can be serious.  However, regardless, showering before you go will ensure that you get to shower, just in case you end up staying.  This sort of goes hand-in-hand with bringing your hospital bag, which I don't advise.  Personally, I think you leave the bag at home.  If they make you stay you'll need to call in the troops anyways, and I also think that it's nicer to come home, get your stuff, then go back the hospital if possible.  If they discover something in the NST that means you need to stay, it's most likely not so serious that a quick trip home to pick-up supplies is out of the question. 

5. Wear something easy to move in.  You will be lying in a bed, and will have to have your belly exposed (hence the blanket).  I recommend that you wear something easy, like a tank-top, and wear a zip-up too, since you can have that covering your arms after your blood pressure reading. 

These are my tips and tricks for NST's.  Here I am, just before mine got started.  My next one is scheduled for Thursday.  Anyone out there also having NSTs?

Monday, July 14, 2014

Love in the little things

We've been married now for 4 years, and yet I'm still astonished by how much the little things matter.  Now that EG is two, it's amazing how perceptive she can be, and how much little actions can make huge impacts on all of us.

It's that when I come to bed he's pulled back the covers for me, gotten a towel for my wet hair, and made the room nice and cozy.

It's that when I tell her I'm tired, she brings me to my bed, tucks me in, says 'night night mommy- I close door now.'

It's that when she accidently steps on my toes, and I say ouch she asks if I need ice or a blanket.

It's when I'm totally exhausted he takes her to the grocery store, so I can sit, relax and rest just a little bit longer.

It's his planning his parents to babysit, choosing the movie he knows I'll like, despite the fact that it's his birthday and the day should be about him, not me.

That each time he goes to Trader Joe's with her the two of them pick out flowers for mommy- beautiful arrangements that adorn my kitchen over the week.

With all the people we know we are getting married, getting engaged, and having babies all I can say is that it's the little things that count.  Never forget that.

Saturday, July 12, 2014


Over Shabbat this weekend, I became an Aunt again.  Welcome to the world little LB!

We are so excited, so blessed to have you join the world, the right time, loved and supported.

I know your older brother J couldn't be more excited or happier to have you, and thank G-d that you, and Mommy are were both safely and soundly delivered into the world.

I can't wait to meet you.  EG is so sad that we're not jumping in the car immediately to see you and your brother.  In her mind you are J's baby.  She sang you the happy birthday song.

She's right- HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

7/12/2014.  7lbs 12oz.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

B’sha’ah tovah

Updated and modified from Derekb cc
Yes, I'm still pregnant.  And as any woman who is waiting for the natural delivery of her child knows, these last few weeks when you are near your due date can be amongst the most stressful.  Not only are you trying to ensure that you are really ready for said child to arrive, but you are also constantly facing a barrage of well intentioned but stressful inquiries about whether the baby has arrived.

So, I say we all take back the Jewish tradition of B’sha’ah tovah.  At a good hour.  May the baby come at the time that is right- for G-d, for you, for the world.  Not because you've called me for the 6th time.  Not because 9 months ago some ultrasound technician claimed it would be today.

Because it's the right hour...

As I wrote in my post yesterday, being at the end of pregnancy is a scary place to be anywhere, with each twinge of the baby a possible sign of something.  The constant pressure we get from friends and family about what's happening often adds to the stress.

But where does B’sha’ah tovah. come from?  It's not in the torah proper, but rather found in the misdrash commentary on the book of Ecclesiastes.  It's taken from the verses in Ecclesiastes (which you probably all know), as a commentary on the fact that only G-d knows the right hour: 

"A time to be born, a time to die" as it says, and as many a famous song has been written.  

And honestly, I'm pleased with the idea.  As I've discussed with EG's birth, it was stressful and scary and I'm not sure that I'm really ready for this baby to come.  I have a deep seated fear that maybe this time we won't catch how much blood I've lost by 9am.  Maybe this time, despite being in America with good healthcare at the hospital, they might miss something.  Giving birth isn't a walk in the park- it's serious business.

At the same time, I try to remind myself that my body was made for this.  That G-d made the world, and in his wisdom and creation of it he gave women a position that men don't have: the creation of human life.  That for the last nine months I've been blessed to have been creating eyes, and lungs and ears and a teeny tiny nose.  And that when the baby is ready, and G-d is ready that this living being will enter the world.

Ecclesiastes is actually a great portion to read before going into labor.  A bit of an oddity with both signs of great wisdom and interesting contradictions, there are many pearls of wisdom.

So today, I also say to sisters B and K these G-dly words of wisdom:

Ecclesiastes Chapter 2:1-2:2

Everything has an appointed season, and there is a time for every matter under the heaven.
A time to give birth and a time to die; a time to plant and a time to uproot that which is planted. 

Chapter 2:11
He has made everything beautiful in its time; also the world He put into their hearts, save that man should not find the deed which G-d did, from beginning to end.

**I realize that these verses are often referred to as Ecclesiastes 3:1 in the New International version.  I've taken these notations from a Jewish source, rather than the King James sources**

Special thanks to this Grandma- for knowing the time will come...

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Israel Today

This isn't a political blog.  I don't always chat about what's going on from the 'Jewish' perspective, because this is more a blog about my life- the life of a Jewish mother.

I didn't write about the boys who were kidnapped a few weeks ago.  I didn't write about the search for them, or the horrible ending that they suffered.  But today, I am writing about the violence and the tragedy that's occurring right now in Israel.

Right now there are rockets being launched at targets across Israel.  I sit in my home, certainly a week or so if not days away from going to deliver a baby, and I can't help but think about the other women who are having babies around the world.  Women in the same circumstance as me.  Who, rather than worrying about whether the babies bedroom is cute enough, and if they have packed enough snacks for their husband at the hospital, are worrying about whether they will need to be in a bomb shelter when they should be on the way to the doctor.

Worrying whether there will be enough doctors to go around, since almost 60 people have died since the attacks began.  Worrying about whether the hospital is safe, the roads are safe and whether she knows enough routes to the hospital for when the time comes and a bomb or rocket has blocked some of them.  Maybe her husband is in the IDF (isn't everyone in the IDF?) and is prepared to get called back up again at a moments notice to defend the country.

We take it for granted that we are in a safe place.  We take it for granted that yesterday my daughter went to school, came home, played outside screaming her head off on her swing.  That I don't know, and neither does she, where the nearest bomb shelter is.  When she thinks about the most recent thing that scared her it was a scuba man at the Aquarium of the pacific and she hid behind Mommy's legs because "mommy is nice."

So this week, as hell breaks loose on the other side of the world, think about those people.  When you light your Shabbat candles, add in a little prayer for peace.

When you take your children home from school, add in a little thought about those kids who aren't going to school right now, since Hamas tends to favor rockets launched at schools and gathering places.

I stand here as an American Jew not quite knowing what to do.  How to help, and how to make any kind of impact at all.  Except to say that I think G-d listens, hears all of us, and hopefully will help the leaders on both sides find some amount of peace.

Naughton321 cc

Monday, July 7, 2014

All the bags are packed....

Of course, that doesn't mean anything to the baby!

I've gotten to the point where I'm packing my bag for the impending delivery.  Yes, this probably should have been done at least a week or so ago, but that's the way the cookie crumbles around here.

This time I have more than just myself to think about- EG will have to have a bag packed as well, since who knows when/how labor will start.

We've lined up my cousins around the corner to watch her initially, then depending upon circumstances she might stay with them and go to school, or get picked up by some of the grandparents.  Over and over I hear about how important it is to keep her routine, so I'm hoping that she gets to go to school with all her friends while we're in the hospital.

Here's what I'm packing for EG:

Diapers- obviously she'll need enough to get through a few days, and my cousin's don't normally stock those.  So, I'm thinking about 20 to start with.  They have keys to our house in case they need more, and daycare has them stashed there too.

Outfits- she'll need enough to get through 3-4 days, including PJs.  If she stays at my cousins they may bring her back here to sleep, or they may just keep her at their house in the Pack N Play.  I think 5 outfits, a jacket and 5 PJ's should be enough...

Blanket- she LOVES her blanket. I've already told you that she's my little Linus. There are two blankets that are at home, at school, her everything.  However, she's adaptable, and any blanket still does okay.  so I'll pack one of her smaller blankets to ensure we have one on hand, then hope we remember to send one when she leaves.

Bottle/sippy- she's still drinking from what she calls a Baba in the morning and the night time.  It's actually a straw sippy, and she can drink from any cup with a straw, but when your parents are missing I think the extra of a sippy is good.

Bib- she's still a 'fun' eater, as you can see from her birthday cupcake session.  While not entirely necessary, she feels better when she has a bib too.

We have three bags all packed and ready for the hospital.  I haven't quite decided whether I should pre-delivery EG's stuff to my cousins, or just wait until the right moment.  I'm leaning towards predelivery- what do you think?

I packed my own bag, and so did Working Dad- so it seems like we're all ready to go.  I worry about what he packed (he didn't have enough food or clothes last time) but I'm trying to let him do his own thing....

We finally bought a new outfit to bring B2 home from the hospital in, so I'll need to wash that and make sure it gets into the bag.  Plus some of those baby socks.  I haven't given much thought to anything B2 needs...

What did you pack for the hospital?  Anything stick out that I should make sure I have?

Friday, July 4, 2014

Unintended Consequences

There have been a myriad of unintended consequences of EG going to a Jewish Daycare- things I just never thought about as a part of our lives...

1. Hebrew words as part of a toddler's vocabulary:  Granted, this may be more a product of EG's best friend being from Israel, and her parents speaking to her solely in hebrew, but when we went out to dinner at Ruby's diner, I figured out what 'Chio' meant.  Apparently EG really loves hot dogs, but has been asking about them and talking about them using the hebrew word all this time.  I know that all children make up words (Puapa meant pen for the longest time), but now I have another thing to think about- is it a real word, just in Hebrew?

EG: Mommy- I have a kippah on my head (pointing to the bucket she's placed there)

2. Her favorite songs are Shabbat/Passover related:  Right now her favorite song is 'Yom Rishon Avodah'.  While that's wonderful, it's neither a song I know that well, nor a song that Grandma and Grandpa can sing along with.  If she's not singing that, it's Dayeinu, or the Hammer song from Passover.  Adorable, but also not so relatable for the cousins or the extended family.

EG: Bang bang bang.  I singing Mommy.
EG: Daddy go Avodah.  Avodah means work work work.

3. Lots of extra days off:  We get a week off for Passover, two days for Sukkot, and let's not even start the discussion about how many days off there are in the fall/autumn.  Between the regular days off (4th of July, Memorial Day) and the extra days for the Jewish holidays I think that EG's school calendar has a month and a half off each year.  Working for a university, the 'regular' days aren't too hard, but with all the extra days I'm going into labor without any vacation or sick leave left.  When I was pregnant with EG I had paid leave for 30 days before my disability payments kicked in.  Of course, it also has a wonderful side- more time for EG with her grandparents and us.  That can be a really nice extra benefit.

4. Wonderful Jewish friends: I suppose that anywhere we would have gone to school we would have had/made wonderful friends, but sending EG to a Jewish daycare definitely gives us a strong Jewish connection and lots of Jewish friends.  On all those random days off it's nice to know there are others we can connect with.  Celebrating Passover this year was incredible with all the littles we had in attendance.  With all the accidents I've been having people have been so supportive- running errands, volunteering to take EG to school and to pick up groceries for us, etc.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Do Jews Celebrate July 4th?

I can't believe how often I get this question, but I get it often enough that I feel the need to write something about it.  And yes, this is just one woman's opinion, but I'm proud to say that as a Jew, we celebrate the 4th of July.

Vintage 4th of July Postcard Via riptheskull cc
Yes, I am a Jew.  Yes, I am an American.  Yes, I'm proud to be both.

There are some people out there who believe and state that they think it's not possible to be a Jew and celebrate the 4th of July.  I think they are crazy.  There are lots of good thoughts about the 4th and Jews..

I do understand where they could be coming from.  Judaism is an interesting religion in that it's more than a religion.  Born a Jew, always a Jew.  At it's core it's a heritage, a cultural identity, a relationship with G-d, and a fact of your life.  It's something deeper than other religions, in that you are born a Jew, and conversion or no conversion, you can't change that.

At the same time, I was and am an American.  I'm proud to be an American, and happy to instill American ideals in my children.  Do I always feel like American ideals mesh with Jewish ones- no, but that's the same for everyone.

I believe in the freedom of our country, and in the American dream. I believe in life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  I also believe in bringing my daughter up as the Jew she is...

EG last year, happily sporting her pro-American wear!

This year I think we're finally old enough to join in the neighborhood 4th of July parade.  Last year it was just during naptime, but this year, I think we're ready.

What are you doing for the 4th?

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

New changing table-

My Mother-in-Law was the first to suggest that we move our changing table into the hallway for when B2 arrives.  Being in a basically one-story house we almost always take EG to her bedroom to change her.  I expect that once B2 is done pooping in the night, we'll do the same for them as well.  So when she suggested we would want the changing table always accessible, I knew it was a great idea.

Unfortunately the space that made the most sense- outside our guest/kids bathroom- is a really tiny space/hallway.  We'd had a dresser/secretaries desk there and that might have worked, but when we fold out the top it would be impossible to move, and I didn't want to constantly think about where to move the changing pad.

Months of searching later I found the perfect dresser- in our own bedroom!  I had gotten to my wits ends about this dresser, and then realized that the one we had would already work.  I wanted two top drawers (diapers for EG and diapers for B2) and then at least two other drawers (PJs for each kid).  I imagined that we would do bath time, take each kid into the hallway to diaper and dress for the nighttime, then we would head off to bed time routine.

Once I found the dresser I started really thinking about what it would look like.  I loved the look of these drawer pulls:

Pottery Barn drawer pulls
 They would be great to number each drawer and then I could tell EG which drawer and we could practice her numbers.  Wonderful and easy.  Except they are discontinued.

Back to the drawing board.... I saw these dinosaur drawer pulls:

This is from the Misadventures of the WolfPack, and they have an excellent tutorial on how to accomplish this look that they created for their little boys.   However, being pregnant myself and having put more than enough on Working Dad's plate, I just knew the foam would be too much for us.

Enter EG's Melissa and Doug puzzle:

I realized that these would be the most adorable drawer pulls- perfect for what we were going for.  And each animal has a distinct color, so we could practice animals and colors at the same time!

I knew that it would be the most adorable item- if I could pull it off.

When I went through the process of this dresser I took photos of just about every step that I made along the way.  However, when push came to assembly shove, it didn't work the way I expected it to.  So, I don't want to share with you in great detail what I did, because I would NEVER recommend it.

We started off with a plain brown dresser, and had to trim down the legs just a bit to make it the right height for our changing table. I love the look of white and wood, and I knew that would help the drawer pulls to 'pop' so I painted the drawers white.  I really like that look.

Then it came time to figure out the pulls themselves.  I know how regular pulls are- they have a metal nut or screw base inside, and get screwed into the drawer.  I thought that I wanted to be able to replace the pulls if I needed to, so I began heading that direction.

Basically I drilled out a hole the size of a nut, bought myself a specific type of screw that has a screw on one side, and a bolt end on the other.  I thought these would be perfect- use wood glue to keep in the nut, screw in the bolt end (with a spacer around it to make it pretty) and then screw into the wood.

What a disaster!  The particleboard the puzzle pieces are made out of weren't hard enough to hold the screw in.  Almost all of them totally broke apart.  I was able to fix them using epoxy, but if I were going to recommend how to do this, do it backwards.  Same hanger bolts, but screw into the puzzle directly, then bolt into the dresser.

No matter, the finished product is AMAZING! (or at least I think it is)... (ignore the stuff on the top, we're trying to get it all ready for B2- which is challenging when you only manage to get a day or two of good work done before you injure yourself again!)

I left the lion on the left, since that is where we normally went for EG's diapers in her bedroom changing table, and one of her first little things was an adorable roar/growl that her dad taught her.  I chose the other puzzle pieces based upon their look and their ease of use as a pull.

It took WAY to long to get this project done, but I'm thrilled.  Now all I have to do is get a new changing pad, and set-up the accessories we'll need in the area- aka creams, wipes, etc.  The top of this table isn't as large or wide as our old one, so I'm planning to hang those items on the wall.

Did you make any furniture yourself for the babies room?  We've been working on moving a LOT of stuff since we turned the guest bedroom into B2's room.

Later this week I'll share the progress (or lack thereof) on B2's room, as well as a few of the other house related projects we've been tackling lately.

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