Sep 25 2013
This is the first post in our new Torah commentary series. This week we read Parashat Bereshit. To learn more, click here.
The Torah begins at the beginning, with the creation of the world.
We often think of creation as making something out of nothing. An artist takes a blank canvas, marks it up with colors, and voila: a painting. A builder takes an empty plot of land, builds on it: a house. A baby is born, and there’s a tiny human where before was just…air?
But wait. Something was there before the baby…I can almost remember…oh yeah, it was what I called “my life”! Read the rest of this entry →
Sep 24 2013
I stood in the hallway of the hearing clinic, waiting in line for my son’s appointment. I overheard another mother telling her birth story to a 19-year-old girl.
The young girl was slim and trim; her belly skin was so tight that her navel practically kissed her back. The girl responded with something between a scrinch and a smile–it was clear she was trying not to appear grossed out by the gory details, though the contour of her lips said it all. The mom continued to talk animatedly about her painful experience of pushing for 12 hours. She spared no details, explaining how her insides felt as if they had popped out of her like a jack-in-the-box on speed. Read the rest of this entry →
Aug 22 2013
“Are laboring and birthing women treated abusively in the hospital?”
My first thought on reading that sentence was, “That doesn’t even make sense.” I’m familiar with abusive relationships, as well as with labor and birthing. This sentence, from an abstract of an article in the Journal of Perinatal Education entitled “Abuse in Hospital-Based Birth Settings?” piqued my curiosity with its deliberate use of a red-flag word.
I’m not sure if the word “abusive” is warranted for the doctor-patient dynamic in the L&D setting (certainly it hasn’t been within my experiences)–but I do feel, inappropriately enough, that the word “paternalistic” often is. Read the rest of this entry →
Jul 22 2013
When I was in my mid-20s, a friend of my parents commented that I was “the kind of person who life just works out for.” And he was right–I had a supportive family, many close friends, and a deeply fulfilling job. I had recently married the man whom I had loved since high school, and received a full scholarship for graduate school. I was a very blessed young woman.
And so, several years later, when my husband and I set out to start building our family, I–perhaps a bit brazenly–assumed that life would continue to work out. And in the beginning it seemed that it would. I immediately got pregnant, even as I watched others close to me struggle with infertility. I had easy first and second trimesters that included a month living in Israel as a last adventurous hurrah before we were to become a family of three.
It wasn’t until a month into my third trimester that I began to not feel well. I had no appetite but was constantly thirsty, my abdomen was tender, and I was “out of it.” I chalked it up to the fact that I was getting larger. I figured I’d had it so easy that I could tolerate a couple of months of being uncomfortable. Read the rest of this entry →
May 22 2013
What Makes a Baby, a picture book “about where babies come from,” is written and illustrated in a way that is sensitive to children and parents who found one another via the traditional route (i.e. sex!), or those families which came to be via reproductive technologies, surrogacy, or adoption. The pictures and language are gender neutral and the message is one of inclusivity and openness.
I got a chance to catch up with author Cory Silverberg, who is also a sexuality educator, over email recently, and asked him a few of our–ahem–burning questions.
OK. So what, exactly, does your work as a sexuality educator entail?
I write about sexuality each week for About.com. Part of my time is spent teaching and leading workshops, mostly for professionals and sometimes for regular people who want to know more about some aspect of their sexuality. Read the rest of this entry →
Apr 4 2013
Rachel Zaslow is a midwife and Executive Director of Mother Health International, an NGO that supports high volume midwifery model of care centers in areas of extreme need. We talked with her about MHI, how a rabbi’s daughter ended up delivering babies in Uganda, and how midwifery has impacted her own child-rearing. Below the interview, learn how you can help MHI fund a new ambulance for their Uganda clinic.
1. How did a girl from Brooklyn end up delivering babies in Uganda?
It’s a long and twisty narrative, but the short version is that I was invited to come to Northern Uganda almost seven years ago to volunteer in a government-funded hospital, just as the war was ending. What I witnessed there was devastating. The hospital was functioning at what the WHO estimated to be over 10 times its capacity. Formerly abducted women were turned away in labor or sent to walk home minutes after giving birth, with a great likelihood of bleeding to death on the road home. Because the hospital was so busy, women who were admitted to the labor ward were often treated violently by the staff midwives for not pushing fast enough or failing to bring their own piece of plastic to give birth on. These conditions made for a traumatic and dangerous place to give birth in an area that has been ravaged by war. I founded the birth center in Uganda with a group of 30 traditional midwives and my partner midwife, Olivia Kimball, the next year. Read the rest of this entry →
Mar 28 2013
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When I was pregnant with my first child I also happened to be nearly half way through earning my graduate degree in Acupuncture. At school, I met a mom in her 40s who asked me which stroller I was planning to buy and if I planned to eat my placenta? One of these questions was not like the other.
While this mom hadn’t eaten her placenta, she wished she had. She told me it would keep my hair shiny and my nails strong. She suggested that after my baby was born I cook up a placenta stew. To which I said, ewwww. Read the rest of this entry →
Mar 7 2013
Once a month when I was kid, I would watch my mother remove her nail polish, gather her small bag, and head out from home in our station wagon after dinner. We always knew where she was going.
Even though the ritual immersion (mikveh) traditional Jewish women do monthly is done at night and is considered a private affair, my brothers and I were pretty nosy, we lived in a small house, and my parents were very open. That and coming home from an appointment with wet hair at 9 or 10 p.m. was certain to elicit questions from little children. She always spoke about this time in the ritual bath so beautifully–the warm waters, the time alone, the space to think and feel whatever she did without the voice of my dad, her co-workers, or her children in her head. Read the rest of this entry →
Dec 26 2012
Last week, Julie Satow expressed her disappointing experience with doulas during her first two births. This week, Avital offers a different perspective.
When I was six months pregnant with my son, my husband and I ended up moving to another state. We moved for a variety of reasons, and despite looking forward to our new location, it meant that we were now further away from both sets of parents as well as countless friends.
Our move shook up my plans for a homebirth. We didn’t have a support network in the area built up yet, and I couldn’t imagine we would get there in the three months left before my son was to be born. I wasn’t sure if we could pull one off without one. In retrospect, I had a very uneventful labor and birth that would have been perfectly suited for a homebirth, but ah… hindsight. Read the rest of this entry →
Nov 13 2012
It is with the BIGGEST smiles on our faces that we congratulate Kveller Editor-in-Chief Deborah Kolben on the birth of her second daughter, Romi! Romi was born yesterday, and both mom and baby are doing great.
We haven’t gotten the full birth story yet, but we have been promised it involves James Bond and the Holiday Inn, so you better believe we’re looking forward to that one.
Please join us in sending our sincerest congrats to Deborah and her family on their new beautiful baby girl. Mazel tov!