Saturday, January 29, 2011

Closer to Weaning

This weekend I felt like I ran a full marathon with Raphaela; she refused to nap for most of Saturday and by the time we got to 5:30 in the afternoon yesterday, I was so tired I could barely stand or speak, and was bumping into furniture.  I was actually afraid that I would drop Raphaela while holding her, and once I tucked her into bed, I went to sleep soon after.

On Friday night we had dinner with a couple who have a daughter about the same age as Raphaela.  The mother told me that she had stopped nursing less than two weeks ago, and we discussed how hard it was for her, and her child.  I expressed my fear that when I decide to completely wean Raphaela, it will become a battle of wills, as she makes her wishes known already, and for a child who is well mannered, I am expecting lots of pulling up my shirt and tantrums.

By way of illustration, every morning when Raphaela gets dressed for Gan, a complete vetting of the outfits takes place, with my daughter the fashion maiven approving one in five outfits.  And she is not yet one and a half years old...

I must find a Weaning Consultant, who can teach me how to say "No" when I do not wish to nurse; who can advise me how to avoid health complications until the milk ceases; and how to deal with the consequences until Raphaela understands that it is OK to move onto the next stage of maturity and development.

Then, once I stop breast feeding, I can return to my running, and that last bit of pregnancy flab in my stomach will go away.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Family Support

A woman my age, whom I had had the pleasure of mentoring at the start of her quest to become a JSMBC, sent me the following SMS this morning:  "Mazal Tov the Brit Milah of our son and grandson will be on..." The message was signed by the woman herself, and her parents.

It gives me no greater joy than to see a woman become a mother, and have the love and support of her family.  That can only bode well for the future of this boy.

Mazal Tov!

Monday, January 24, 2011

The Israeli Instinct

Two days ago, Raphaela figured out where I keep the Cheerios, climbed up and into the cabinet and pulled the box down, and managed to get it open all by herself. As a reward, I gave her a bag of the cereal to take to nursery.

When we got to her classroom, I put the Cheerios in a bowl, and immediately three of the other children came over and helped themselves to a good portion of the snack intended for Raphaela.  On the one hand, I was glad that my daughter seems to have no problem sharing (the American in me), and then I started thinking that I wished she had fought back a little, gotten a little selfish and not shared quite as much as she did (the Israeli in me).  There is a fine line between kindness and generosity, and being taken advantage, and I don't want my daughter to become a victim in that sense.

Of course I did not intervene, preferring to stand back and simply watch the proceedings.  I feel that I need to give Raphaela a clear and fair picture of the world, one in which there is giving, and taking.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Hormonal All the Same

This morning I felt a desperate need for coffee, and after I dropped Raphaela off at Gan, I went to my favorite local bakery and ordered a large hafuch ("strong, please") and a pastry.  I also took the opportunity to read the newspaper and found an article about a 15 month old child who died yesterday, his parents donated his organs.  The article spoke about the parents' decision, and how this toddler had already saved two lives.

I had to stop reading and close the paper, I had started crying and could not control myself.

At the table next to me sat a father his four year old daughter, they were sharing a breakfast and playing a memory game.  This little girl was friendly and clever and verbal, and I smiled watching them interact.  Of course then I started thinking about what Raphaela would be like at that age, and felt the tears coming on as well.

I am not pregnant, and am not expecting my period, but I feel emotional and hormonal all the same.  It seems that once you go through childbirth and become a mother, scenes and stories like this get you, every time.

Fertility in the News

Haaretz reported today that Israeli women between the age of 30-41 will now have the option of freezing up to 20 of their unfertilized eggs in public hospitals, "in cases where they wish to postpone pregnancy for personal reasons."

When I considered this option several years ago, I was told by my gynecologist that the survival rate of the eggs was a mere 3%, and apparently due to advances in the technology the current success rate stands at 28-30%;  some hospitals even report a success rate of 32-35%.   According to the new guidelines, the eggs can be fertilized and implanted up to the age of 54.

All this for the cost of 5,900 new Israel shequel, with no word from the HMOs that they are willing to subsidize this service.

A part of me regrets that I have passed the age limit that would allow me to take advantage of this opportunity, and a part of me believes and hopes that if I am meant to have more children, with a husband, it will happen in any case.

Monday, January 17, 2011

The Boy Who Wasn't Smiling (Update)

Yesterday, while picking up Raphaela from Gan, I spoke to the mother of the boy who seemed to be unhappy and non-verbal within the nursery setting.  She told me that he has greatly improved, and his mood seemed to be a side-effect of a sub-clinical virus.  Because he felt sick, but not ill enough to stay home, he exhibited symptoms of sadness instead.

That Virus of the Month Club does a good business.

I asked her if she was planning on sending him back to this Gan next year, and she told me that she had several reservations, including that fact that the Chanukah party was geared mostly toward the oldest group of children, and the lack of an English speaking staff member.  It is true that many of the children, even those with two Israeli parents, speak some level of English in the home, and it would be nice to have one day each week when Raphaela heard English at home and at school, but that is not the negotiating point for me.

I take issue with the entrance to the Gan, it is covered with rocks that make it almost impossible to push a stroller, and the area around it has been neglected by the owners of the building complex.  It is a shame that a Gan which is so airy and modern and clean on the inside, feels like a tenament on the outside, but I do think that is easily solved.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

(I'm Speechless...)

Here is a copy of a text, word for word, of an ad placed in the Jerusalem Post two weeks ago.  I feel I must respond to this misguided woman, and am formulating my thoughts, but I present this for your consideration and response.

So there's no real great way to write this so I'll just start plainly and say the following.

I've just turned 40 and I'm a Jewish Orthodox woman.  I'm warm, fun and loving and very committed to Judaism and Zionism.  I'm told that I'm pretty and I choose to believe that ;-) I don't want to give out too much information but I've got some really great and cool family members.

Bottom line is I'm not married and I really would like to have children and BH still can - I was recently tested.  So here's the story, I'm looking for a partner to become a joint-parent with me.  If you are frum (I assume you know what this means...) and doven and are a Zionist. If you've got a stable job and are normal (by my standards..which are pretty lenient..) then please free free to contact me at [her gmail address].

Of course we'd have to meet and discuss details such as where to live, send kids to school, mutual visitation rights etc. and everything would have to be written and signed in a contract.

But think about it - you get to have kids with a wonderful Mom and you're free!!  Sounds like a good deal to me.

If you're interested, drop me a note.

Yours, Me

So her criteria for a good contractual sperm donor is frum (whatever that means in real life), that he talk to G-d every once in a while and he is normal, sort of, maybe. Or was she planning on sleeping with him? 
A woman who wants to teach a child that a "normal" family means that the mother does not love the father, and that the only reason he is involved in the child's life is because he signed a contract.
A woman who thinks that any man who would agree to such a thing would be "free!!" knowing that he has responsiblity for a child.  A baby changes a parent's life forever, and no parent is ever "free" in the bachelor sense again.
The only man who would fulfill this criteria would be a gay Orthodox Zionist, not at all attracted to women but wants to be a father.  But how would this "frum" woman explain the father's preferences for intimacy?

I've said it before, I will repeat myself now:  there should be as rigorous (if not more of ) a screening process for parents as there is for driving licenses.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Where Have all the Sitters Gone?

This past Monday, I was supposed to go out with friends, for the first time since Raphaela was born I was going to have night out with grown ups, and even stay out late.  Couldn't find a baby sitter, though I went through my enitre A-list.  Instead I stayed home and stared at the floor, and went to bed early.

Yesterday, when I collected Raphaela from Gan, they told me in a cheery voice, "Your baby is sick."  After she had woken up from her afternoon nap, she had a mild fever and was generally miserable.  "That's not our Raphaela," they all said, as she sat on the floor, nose running and crying.  Immediately when I got home, I started calling around to my regular sitters, to arrange for coverage for work the next day.  I went through my A-list and my B-list; I posted on facebook and on-line, and you could hear the crickets chirping.

I did finally get a committment from one woman who has never actually worked with Raphaela, but whom I interviewed several months ago.  Not my first and ideal choice, but since she will be watching her in my home, I am less concerned as I am on-site and readily available.

I wanted this work week to be particularly full and efficient, as it seems that next week they may be resuming the construction underneath my apartment, and I will have to rearrange my entire life during the period involving heavy and noisy labour.

As well, I now must cancel our weekend plans (again!) with Savta Shira.  I was eagerly anticipating a Shabbat with family, 36 hours where I did not have to think about cooking, surrounded by people who love both of us and would want to entertain Raphaela.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Gan, Next Year

It's that time of the year when parents have to decide where their child will attend Gan in September of 2011, a time of signing contracts and writing out pre-dated checks.  In principle, I am quite happy with Raphaela's Gan, with the progress she has made there socially, and with their approach toward the early childhood educational experience.

The only reason I could see not attending this Gan is if we move to a completely different neighborhood or city, and then, obviously, the commute makes no sense, no matter how good the nursery school.

They have joined with me in encouraging Raphaela to start walking, the next Herculean task for Raphaela's physical development.  She can stand with stability, and cruises no end, but does not seem to want to walk.  As one of her care takers said to me the other day, she tends to take the "easy way out," ie crawling, which she does well and speedily. 

I actually asked my mother when I started walking, and she replied that I was a late bloomer at a year and a half.  I know that some aspect of Raphaela's walking is genetic, and I am trying my best not to pressure her, but it would nice if I did not have to carry her everywhere.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Big Trouble in River City?

Yesterday, when I dropped Raphaela off at Gan in the morning, another parent of a sweet boy  - slightly older than Raphaela- asked me an odd question, "Does she smile and laugh in Gan?"  I answered that she does indeed, as her smile almost represents Raphaela's core personality, and then I wondered why this mother seemed to be concerned.

Apparently this mother had been told by all the staff that her son, who is happy and verbal at home, keeps a serious and wary face all day, and that he doesn't even respond to tickling or affection.  While there was a problematic child in the beginning of the year (the violent three year old who mauled Raphaela), there have been no problems since then.  Furthermore, this boy's parents could not understand why he would be scared or sad, since they have seen him develop so much in the last several months.

I thought about this story all day, it distracted me at work, not because I think there  is something wrong with the Gan, but because it makes me sad to think that a child who is barely one and a half years old has reason to be unhappy.  I can also sympathize with his parents' concerns, we all want what is best for our babies.