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Dec 10 2013

I’ve Been Talking to My Son About Death Since the Day He Was Born

By at 10:13 am

shutterstock_71941057

I kneeled by my mom’s side as she lay at home in her bed under the care of hospice. “Bittersweet,” she said as she smiled through tears and put one hand on my small belly. That moment together would be one of our last. She died just two days later. I was eight weeks pregnant.

Prior to the very end of the year in which my mother battled cancer and then battled the side effects of the chemotherapy intended to attack that cancer, she was an active and involved nana to my niece and nephew–the kind of nana who got down on the floor to play, who sang and danced the hokey pokey, who listened on the phone with endless delight to impromptu cello rehearsals, and who worried, like any good Jewish grandmother, whether or not they brought a sweater.

My son has no other grandmothers. My husband’s mother has been quite ill for many years. Even if she was told she has grandchildren, we are not sure she would understand or remember. My husband’s stepmother, a lovely woman, has seen our son only twice.

As a child psychologist, I’ve spent time thinking about how to talk to children about death. I’ve read the literature. I’ve talked to my young clients about death and dying. I’ve advised parents. When and how do you tell them? How much do you share? What age is too young? Read the rest of this entry →

Oct 29 2013

Welcome to the World, Aliza Madeline!

By at 1:18 pm

welcome to the world aliza madeline

We here at Kveller are over the moon to report the birth of contributing editor Jordana Horn’s fifth child, a healthy baby girl named Aliza Madeline. Mom and baby are doing great (though one of them might be kind of tired).

If it seems like Jordana was just giving birth this time last year, well, she was, which means she’s now the proud mom of three kids under three. You can bet we’ll be hearing about that.

We also have to give props to Nina Badzin, who is now two for two on her “Name the Next Kveller Baby” quest.

Join us in sending lots of love to Jordana and her growing family. Mazel tov!

Oct 24 2013

Preparing for a Newborn With or Without a Superstorm

By at 12:45 pm

superstorm sandy boys

It was, as they say, a dark and stormy night. The power had gone out hours ago, and we’d put the kids to bed on the early side with flashlights and tiny battery-powered votive candles. That was when it was just a heavy rain.

But just a few hours later, the noise outside was cacophonous. Rain slapped the windows with a fury. Trees snapped like twigs, as gusts of wind pounded our old house and sent broken telephone poles like toothpicks scattered into the street. The dark sky lit up over and over with jagged lines of lightning, and an odd green luminosity that we later learned was produced by exploding electrical generators.

Among the many miracles of that Superstorm Sandy night a year ago: our old house remained standing and intact, and our children, including our week and a half old baby, O, slept through the night unperturbed. I, on the other hand, huddled under my husband’s arm as though he could protect me if a tree fell into our house. Submerged in exhaustion, fear and postpartum stress, I cried. Read the rest of this entry →

Oct 7 2013

How the Maccabeats Helped Me Breastfeed

By at 5:02 pm
the maccabeats

Via Flickr/NewYorkBrass

 

Like so many of us, my love for The Maccabeats started innocently enough with their “Candlelight” YouTube hit.

But now my passing admiration has blossomed into a much deeper and holistic appreciation of their music and purpose.

Coming from the deep southwest, we simply don’t have many (any?) Jewish musical groups to speak of. The whole concept of a Jewish boy band or a cappella group was entirely foreign to me until I heard The Maccabeats sing in their matching white shirts and yarmulkes.

My non-Jewish husband was so entertained by their Hanukkah video; he went so far as to purchase their album and surprised me with it. When he blasted it out, I remember hot tears of joy streaming down my cheeks. I had never heard Lekhah Dodi sound so beautiful. Read the rest of this entry →

Sep 30 2013

How to Answer All Your Kids’ Crazy Questions About Sex

By at 2:23 pm

what makes a baby

Back in May, I interviewed Cory Silverberg, a sexuality educator and author of What Makes a Baby, a picture book “about where babies come from.” Below, Cory has taken the time to answer some more questions, this time from Kveller parents and readers. 

“How do you talk to your 3-year-old about where and when it’s ok to touch her vagina? And what’s the best way to explain why she can’t just touch it all day long?”

This is a great question! I know that we all have different relationships with our bodies but I hope most of us can appreciate that it’s perfectly reasonable for a 3-year-old to not only want to touch her vagina, but to do so all day. It’s not tenable, of course, but I think starting from a place of understanding instead of outrage or embarrassment goes a long way.

You may be feeling stuck because you are imagining one conversation to deal with this. But this needs much more than one conversation. You need to share with your 3-year-old your ideas about privacy, about bodies and touch, and about pleasure. I can’t tell you what to say because I’m not sure how you feel about any of these things, but I’ll offer you an example of how some parents I know talk about it. Read the rest of this entry →

Sep 25 2013

Torah MOMentary: Was God in Labor?

By at 1:38 pm

creation

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

Yes, There is a Such Thing as a Non-Painful Birth

By at 3:45 pm

lilbabies copy

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

You Are Your Own Birth Advocate

By at 10:05 am

newborn baby with identification bracelet“Are laboring and birthing women treated abusively in the hospital?”

Wait…what?

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

How I Missed My Own Son’s Birth

By at 5:04 pm

c-section operating tableWhen 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

Interview with Interesting Jews: Author & Sexuality Educator Cory Silverberg

By at 3:15 pm

what makes a baby cory silverbergWhat 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 →

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