Tuesday, September 29, 2009

A Whole New Level of Beurocracy

I should have known that it was going to be a very long morning, when I got on the bus to go into town, to have an ultra-sound and fetal monitoring, and the bus made an entire tour of the city, due to the construction downtown; the bus' final stop was the Central Bus Station, and I was forced to walk another 15 minutes back towards the Mahane Yehuda market, to get to the medical center.

Hadassah Hospital, where I conducted my fertility treatments and follow up appointments, seemed much more organized than my HMO. First of all, I had five different stations today: Monitoring, Ultra-Sound, Urine testing, blood pressure and a doctor's consultation. At no time was there an order assigned, and so at each location, tense fighting broke out among the women mulling around; "I was here first." "I have a scheduled appointment." "I am in my 41rst week and considered an emergency." (That would be me!) "I am due in three weeks but am considered a high risk pregnancy, because I have twins."

I didn't need that stress.

While sitting on the extremely comfortable easy chair during the fetal monitoring, the baby slept, happy after the walk and exercise I did to get to the clinic. To wake her up, they gave me these disgustingly healthy (even for me) sesame cookies, which certainly caused movement but also gave me nausea. If I have to go back, I will bring grapes and water from home, maybe a whole picnic, as I ended up spending most of the morning there.

In my consultation with the doctor, he requested that I come back for the same round of testing on Thursday, assuming I have not yet gone into labour. He plans on doing stripping, which he has already warned, is painful. (I bought Castor Oil today, and will only use it instead of the stripping on Thursday. I prefer diarrhea to invasive vaginal and pelvic pain.)

And he told me that when my water breaks, I am to rush immediately to the hospital, as there is an increased concern regarding infection with overdue (Week 41-42) women. My doula disagrees, and has said that if the water breaks and it is clear, there is every reason to labour in the comforts of home, until the contractions are approximately four minutes apart.

If nothing happens over the weekend as a result of various minor interventions, they will send me to the hospital to be induced medically next week. Meanwhile, I am meant to "walk a lot" (hasn't worked) and engage in "lots of loving."

To top off the morning, I received a call from a particularly obnoxious patient, who spent five minutes yelling at me because I hadn't kept her informed of my progress or lack thereof, and who spent much time telling me that it is my "fault" that the baby has not yet checked out of Hotel Uterus.

So glad I stopped working before Rosh Hashana, any inner strength I have left must get me through this next week.

My major emotional hurdle right now involves realizing and remembering my faith, that G-d and this baby will decide when it is time; and trying not to be angry on some irrational level at the baby for staying inside. It comes from love and wanting to meet her (95%), and I will admit, impatience (5%, but that's a powerful 5%).

On a whole other level, even though it is of a much lesser concern right now, my parents have plane tickets for next week, Chol Hamoed Succot. Booked on the assumption that the baby will have already been born, and I will have had time to recover in the Baby Hotel, I can't imagine how much more tense it will be with three family members waiting for her arrival, instead of one.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Operation Starve Out the Baby

In the end, I decided not to eat anything at all during Yom Kippur, and with my limited and halachically based drinking, maybe had a total of two glasses of liquid all day.

Despite my heroic efforts, the fast is now officially ended and there is no sign of consistent contractions or the briefest glint of labour. As of tomorrow morning, I must start doing intense monitoring via ultra-sound and Doppler, so that the general Israeli medical professionals can decide if I am truly overdue and in need of inducing.

I think on the way home, after the monitoring, I will stop by the pharmacy and pick up some Castor Oil. (This very strong-willed child has already resisted Acupuncture, three Chiropractic treatments in the last week and pressure points. I am getting desperate.)

Saturday, September 26, 2009

No News...

is no news. I suspect and hope that my fasting (with drinking and eating in the halachic way) will kick start what one of my friends called yesterday, "the final launch."

Gmar Chatima Tovah to you and your families, may we all be blessed and inscribed with a wonderful year.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Four Different Due Dates

Depending on the source, apparently I have many different due dates, summarized in the handy chart below:

Event: Projected Due Date (Week 40)

My last period: 27 September 2009 (Yom Kippur)
Actual IUI: 29 September 2009
12 Week Ultra-Sound: 24 September 2009
22 Week Ultra-Sound: 20 September 2009 (Rosh Hashana)

So Sunday of Rosh Hashana came and went, with me thinking that I was past my due date.
Today came and went, with me thinking that this was the actual accurate due date, as I had been told that the ultra-sound is most diagnostic.
Now, having just returned from my gynecologist, he seems unconcerned as he thinks I am due right before Yom Kippur. He informed me that should I not give birth by the fast day, starting Tuesday of next week I must get a specific monitoring and ultra-sound, every two days, until they find the "smallest excuse" to send me to the hospital and induce.

Meanwhile, I am peeing almost continuously. When I went to the Jerusalem Botanical Gardens yesterday to feed the ducks, I went to the bathroom, flushed the toilet and as I was washing my hands - hadn't even left the room - had to pee again. I would take longer walks if I weren't so afraid of needing a relatively clean toilet.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Revenge of the Hormones

In the last week, hints of the nausea I suffered through in the first four months have returned. My skin has become quite sensitive, combined with my usual Fall allergies.

More than that, and perhaps aided by my recent sense of boredom and lack of structure, I got into bed last night and was suddenly overcome with an inexplicable and overwhelming sadness; and a whole series of unfounded concerns about the baby, wondering if she is OK in there; and a feeling for myself that I don't know how I could emotionally get through the next two weeks, if the young lady decides to arrive late, as the official due date has arrived today.

I sat in bed and cried, and when I was done, I could not tell you why I was crying or why suddenly I was playing out worst-case-scenarios in my head.

I have not cried that way during most of the pregnancy, with the exception of several stressful events, and have not succumbed to the stereotype of the irrational and hysterical pregnant woman, though I suppose all this could be blamed on hormones.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Filling Time

It has become my goal to find at least one errand or activity that gets me out of the house, each day. It was easier over Rosh Hashana, because there were meals and holiday schedules. Now, in my second official week of pre-birth vacation/maternity leave, the challenge grows.

Yesterday, I rented a movie and after returning it, went to the supermarket. In the evening, I received a Chiropractic treatment and took the very long route home, in order to force myself to walk the local hills of Jerusalem.

Today, I have a facial scheduled for the early afternoon, and am hoping to meet a friend for lunch, as the area of Emek Rephaim has some wonderful cafes, and people keep telling me that once the baby comes, it won't be so easy to simply meet friends outside the house.

On Thursday I have a doctor's appointment, should I not be in labour.

The rest of the time is filled with naps, phone calls and small jobs around the house. As I am not the type to enjoy totally unstructured free time, I welcome the challenges that will come when this baby arrives.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Still Hanging In There

Sometime last week, I remember thinking that it would be nice to give birth after the first rain of the season. I love that fresh smell in the air after the rain has fallen; Fall in general is my favorite season. Then I decided against the idea, because normally the first rains come to Israel during the holiday of Succot, which is approximately three weeks away.

Lo and behold, it rained both days of Rosh Hashana, and I thought, "Aha, a sign from G-d that I could give birth, any moment now." Especially since my official due date falls anywhere between today (Sunday) and Thursday of this week, depending on whether you go by my last period, the actual insemination, or the ultra-sound results.

Alas, Sunday is almost over and other than the usual Braxton Hicks contractions, I am not feeling any signs of active labour. I have also been told (way too often) that first children normally arrive late, no matter how excited I feel for the big event. Maybe tonight she will decide that with the start of the Jewish New Year, it is a good time to meet and greet her fans.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Better Sleep Through Boredom

Until I stopped working, for approximately the last month and a half, my sleep patterns had degraded to a large degree; partially due to physical discomfort but mostly due to too much thinking, a crime of which I have been accused often. Miraculously, last patient leaves the office on Monday evening, and that night I notice a marked difference in my sleep.

I am dreaming again. As a lucid dreamer since childhood - I have always had 3-4 dreams per night and remembered them all in detail upon awakening - I had not been dreaming with the sleep disruption, because I never had one complete cycle. In the last few nights, even with interruptions from my body and the cat, I have experienced enough of a "normal" sleep cycle to have and remember 2-3 dreams, and I can feel the difference.

This of course, can be counter-balanced by the sense of boredom I have felt in the last two days, without the assumed structure of my work as a Chiropractor. I started maternity leave early less because my body could not handle the strain, but more because in any service and people related industry, your energy goes out toward your clients; particularly as a Doctor I get paid to hear people kvetch and help them feel better. I had arrived at the point where I knew that this energy needed to be directed inward, toward me and baby, toward preparations for the birth.

My Chiropractor implied that I would not give birth before Rosh Hashana, more likely to be next week. I am ready. (In fact, I am ready today...) I would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a Shana Tova UMetukah, and may the next year bring sweet and wonderful events for all of us.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Are We There Yet?

Yesterday, I felt so happy to be on official pre-birth maternity leave, that I was singing. Today, by 10 am, the thrill had passed and I found myself bored, wondering how to fill the time. Amazing how the removal of work as the focus of my single life creates a gap so large that I don't know what to do with myself.

So I napped, watched TV (a million channels and nothing worthwhile), received a Chiropractic appointment, as well as a standard visit with my doctor. According to my gynecologist, there is no real sign that I will give birth before Rosh Hashana, though after the Chiropractic appointment, there is always the possibility of labor within a few days, as I have seen in my own practice. My gyn also gave me a guess-timate weight for the baby, somewhere around three kilo, which is the weight at which I was born.

I have also started to receive telephone calls from friends and patients, essentially asking if I have given birth yet. Like finishing work yesterday means that this baby and G-d and the Greater Universe will attune itself to my schedule and state of readiness...I would love to have the baby Thursday in sync with my Dad's birthday, and yet I know that I don't control the timing at all.

I accept the greater plan, and pray that the baby take as much time as she needs.

Monday, September 14, 2009

The Difference One Year Makes

Today is my last official day of working, I need the time for myself, before the birth and before the Jewish holidays take over the country of Israel. I bumped into a friend of my father's from college, a man known to be an excellent pediatrician in Israel. He said that he would be happy to take us on as clients once the baby is born, and then pointed out, almost too casually, "You know you have another two weeks to go..."

I don't want to hear that, as I am not sleeping, have started heartburn in the last few days, and am actively experiencing Braxton Hicks contractions. I would like to think that the size of my belly is deceptive, even to the professionals, that it is easier to assume that a small stomach means that the baby will arrive late. My father, for whatever his instinct tells him long-distance, feels that I will give birth this Thursday, on the day that also happens to fall on his birthday and happily before the major holidays. I am happy to give him that birthday present!

I also had an acupuncture appointment this morning, different than the usual, in that she worked on pathways to the uterus, places which she had previously avoided. Acupuncture can take affect anywhere between 12 hours and three days, and I am looking forward to seeing the results.

I end today on a sad note, commemorating the life of Pilot Asaf Ramon, son of the Israeli pilot and NASA astronaut, Ilan Ramon. The 21 year old Israeli Air Force pilot was killed yesterday in his F-16, and all of Israel mourns for him, and for his family. It makes me think about the importance of family, of the connection between children and their parents, and it makes me want to meet my child even more.

Last year, on Yom Kippur, I had just experienced a severely painful miscarriage, and reacted in kind, both emotionally and physically. Beyond angry at G-d, the Greater Universe, and my body, all I did was fast, and refused to open myself to a word of prayer or understanding. How wonderful it can be one year later, as I await to meet my daughter, who will be born in this time of introspection.

Friday, September 11, 2009

My Husband's Boyfriend (NOT What you think...)

I went to the pool and gym today, one of the first times I was able to do so this week. I always find it strange that I can easily exercise on the treadmill for 25-30 minutes, I love the way the movement feels; and yet getting from my apartment to my parked car, or getting from the car to the gym seems like an eternity. Running feels great, normal errands only emphasize the weight of my stomach, and my reduced ability to walk at anything but a snail's pace.

I am hoping to continue to exercise carefully for at least some of the time before I give birth, though as with everything else, I take it day-to-day. Regardless of my desire to not feel like a blob, I gave up my locker at the gym today: I don't know how much longer I will be attending the gym, and even if I don't give birth for another two weeks, with all the Jewish holidays in between I won't be going daily. And I don't know how long I will be home after the birth itself, before I return to regular exercise outside the house, nor am I pushing myself before my body will give the signal that it is ready.

On the way out from the gym today, I bumped into my pool "spouse" with her boyfriend, Daniel; our "relationship" began several years ago for the purpose of getting a cheaper membership, and now we are friends. She introduced me to him, telling me that he knew the whole story and that she was quite proud to be the father of this child; and that I am the only woman she knows who got more fit and lost weight during pregnancy.

The closer I get to this birth, the more grateful I am to my friends, the warmth and support they have shown me throughout this process, especially because I don't have any real family in Israel, other than distant cousins. I wish for my child this love and friendship as well.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Like a Ripened Peach

Amazing how every person has an opinion about the pregnancy and the birth, whether solicited or not. While standing on line at the supermarket today, a random Israeli man told me that I was "definitely" having a boy, based upon the shape of my stomach. The ultra-sounds would suggest otherwise.

A patient this morning said that I was not yet ready to give birth because my face did not resemble that of a "ripened peach." I argued that since I am consistently losing weight - except in my stomach - it is likely that I will not get bloated before I give birth.

Another patient said that I was not yet ready to give birth because my belly hadn't dropped, and I pointed out that my mother did not drop for any of her children, and perhaps genetics is coming into play here.

A friend encouraged me that I could still give birth any time, despite the fact that the baby is quite active when I am not having Braxton Hicks contractions. "My baby was active until several hours before the birth."

I appreciate the intention behind all the helpful advice, and am trying to filter as much as possible, to maintain my excitement for labour. Not that I am a masochist, but I get to hold my healthy beautiful child after the discomfort, G-d Willing, and that makes all this worthwhile.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Michal and Yael, Their Newest Addition

I just returned from the Brit Milah of Michal (and Yael's) baby boy, welcome to the world Daniel Chaim! It was a typical and wonderful religious Sephardic affair, with plenty of food and moving customs, some of them more long-winded than others.

Michal's mother was glowing, her father was the Sandak (Godfather) of this beautiful little boy with the most intense and alert gaze I have ever seen. Michal's grandmother, who was supportive of her throughout the fertility and pregnancy process even when others in the family were not, held her great-grandson with obvious pride.

I felt badly for Yael, who is going to legitimately be the other parent of this baby. Because the family remains in complete denial regarding Michal's sexual orientation, Yael was not "allowed" to be wished a Mazal Tov, she was pushed to the back of the room so she could not watch the circumcision, and was ignored, despite the fact that she cried just as hard as Michal when the baby was welcomed into the Jewish community.

I am not a lesbian, and without addressing the issues of "alternative lifestyles," I still felt that Yael deserved better.

I cried as well, out of joy of course, for Michal and all that we two have been through on this journey to motherhood, for Michal and Yael who have become parents to Daniel, and for myself, in anticipation of my initiation into this club.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep

The bassinet has been assembled, the sheets have been laundered, and the car seat with its base have been installed in my car. I know that as ready as I feel, although I have a few more errands I would like to get done before the birth, I cannot truly anticipate the experience and transition into motherhood. But I feel like now that the baby has a place to sleep, she can come home, happy and healthy.

In order to take your baby, all you need is to show evidence of a car seat. If you are homeless and living on the street (G-d Forbid) but you produce a car seat, you may sign yourself and your new child out of the hospital. I believe this to be the law in most countries on the planet, and do think that there should be some investigation into the fitness of the parents and their environment, before you leave a child to the mercy of a random life.

I don't think I will read the Israeli weekend paper, because there seem to be all sorts of articles about single parents living in poverty and misery, or about the number of families who need financial assistance just to put food on the table, or celebrate the upcoming Jewish holidays. Without trying to remain naive and idealistic - I know that birth will involve some pain, and that raising a child is far from simple - I don't want or need to hear horror stories at the moment.

I am too excited, and grinning from ear to ear.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Trust Issues

Growing up, it was difficult for me to ask for help or express my needs. As an adult and outside the context of my immediate family, I have learned how to do that, and try to make myself clear at the moment, rather than bottling it up inside.

As I look towards the future of parenting this child, I have practiced this more and more, and along the way have been comforted by the many people who have extended themselves verbally to me, saying that they will be there for me and this child, that I can always ask for help, no matter what time of day.

Well, actions speak louder than words.

Several of the key people upon whom I have been relying as the birth gets closer have not only not been helping, but have made me feel that they cannot and will not make the time for me. There are only so many times when I can ask for assistance -and we are not talking about major projects here - and be ignored, or be told that it is simply not convenient for them.

Yes, I know that people have their own families and their own lives, but if you cannot follow through, don't offer in the first place.

Then there are my parents, who have very readily fallen into the role of potential guests in my house. They are meant to be coming to help me after the birth, but because I have spent my whole life being the psychologist and facilitator, the grown up in the house even as a child, they have left all the arrangements in my lap. I am contacting the travel agent and arranging for their lodging. I am sending them the list of their friends here in Israel, while they talk about what a wonderful vacation they will have when they come.

Here I thought that the breastfeeding, exhausted pregnant woman and their new grandchild would be the focus of this trip. But as my friend and acupuncturist reminded me today, I will only be disappointed if I have any expectations.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Let the Shopping Begin

I was speaking to a friend of mine yesterday, telling him that with less than three weeks left before my technical due date - I could even give birth before - I am working almost every day, though with slightly less intensity than I have in the past. After expressing concern for my physical well being, he said to me, "What are you doing with all that money?"

And the answer is this: I am spending it faster than I am making it.

In the last week, I have completed the down payment on the baby furniture package, so it can be delivered to the house at a moments notice. I have bought all sorts of little items that will be needed to make the baby's initial stay comfortable, until I figure out what I will really need on a day-to-day basis. I can now say with confidence that should a newborn's diaper need to be changed in my house, I have the supplies.

I don't resent the money spent on this child, and if in fact she were a teenager right now her eyes would be glowing with happiness at the amount and attention being spent on her.

My "To Do" list has significantly shrunk as well, with only several more key errands to run before I will feel like I am ready for this baby to arrive. But of course, as this pregnancy has taught me more than any other lesson in life, I do not control when she comes, and can only hope that she decides to be a good sleeper and a healthy eater. There are only two beings in the Universe who know her birth day, G-d and the child still growing inside me, and neither has sent me a telegram with specifics.