Oct 24 2013
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
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
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
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 →