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Jul 31 2012

Why Even Bother With a Birth Plan?

By at 2:06 pm
birthing ball

Do I need a birthing ball?

On Friday I went to my OB for my regular check up.

Unlike my first birth, where my husband anxiously held my hand each month in the waiting room and smiled excitedly when the thumping of the baby’s heartbeat came over the sonogram speakers, eight months into this birth and he has attended only a smattering of check-ups. The reason? I usually don’t tell him about them. Why have him leave work and trek across town to witness a 10-minute check of my vitals and weight gain?

So maybe I shouldn’t have been surprised when my doctor chastised me for failing to book a tour of the new hospital the practice had recently moved to. Or realizing that at 32 weeks, it was now time I see her twice a month. Her actual words: “You are in denial that this baby is coming.” Read the rest of this entry →

Jul 23 2012

Epidural or Not, Giving Birth is the Easy Part

By at 11:56 am

labor & delivery roomI loved Jordana’s piece on epidurals so much that I wish I had written it! As a matter of fact, my son said he kept checking the byline because it sounded so much like me! I am with you, Jordana!

I was luckier than Jordana was, though, because my epidurals worked perfectly for my four deliveries. I was able to push out my babies, felt fine afterwards, and my kids suffered no ill effects (which would surely have shown up by now, decades later.) Like Jordana, I, too, dislike being “mildly uncomfortable.” I even dislike sweating. Read the rest of this entry →

Jul 18 2012

Father’s Special Maternity Ward Pass

By at 3:35 pm

father's special pass maternity ward

Remember the good old days when new fathers needed a special pass to get into the maternity ward? Someone on Etsy is selling this vintage pass from 1955, given out at the Jewish Hospital of Brooklyn. Oh, nostalgia.

Jul 12 2012

In Praise of the Epidural

By at 2:43 pm

epidural needleHow do I feel about epidurals? I feel about epidurals the same way I feel about chocolate, sunshine, sex, and Judy Blume books. Sign. Me. Up.

Back when I took that one birthing class at the hospital a billion years ago, we were asked to envision the ideal births of our first children and share our visions with the class. My classmates conjured up beautiful pictures of giving birth in water accompanied by the dulcet tones of mixed-tape soundtracks and sweet murmurings of husbands lovingly wiping the sweat from their brows. When it was my turn, I said, “I would like enough medication to subdue a wild horse.” My statement was greeted with condescending head shakes and muttering by my fellow group members. For the record, I was the only one in that room who didn’t have to have a c-section, but that’s neither here nor there. Read the rest of this entry →

Jun 21 2012

Check Out My Birth Photos

By at 2:10 pm

tamara birth storyThe NY Times–a little late to the game–has identified the birth photography trend. Apparently, this is breaking news, yet I’ve seen pictures posted on Facebook of almost every little family I know expanding. No blood. No vaginas. No nudity. In actuality, I think the only news worthy part is that “birth photography” has become yet another thing for vendors to capitalize on as expectant parents are already stone-faced looking through the endless aisles of a certain baby super store. Read the rest of this entry →

Mar 12 2012

Dude Week: Why Should Dads Cut the Cord?

By at 12:44 pm

ribbon cutting ceremonyMy second child, a daughter, was born two months ago. As my wife prepared to deliver the baby and the doctor readied the room, there was only one thing for me to do: remind everyone, once again, that I would not be cutting the umbilical cord.

I have no idea when the practice of paternal cord cutting was introduced, but it seems pretty obvious that it’s an attempt to give the father a role in the birthing process.

And herein lies my aversion to the practice. Read the rest of this entry →

Feb 21 2012

What’s the Deal with Push Presents?

By at 9:56 am

diamond earringsI find the idea of push presents very confusing. I first learned about them several years ago while channel surfing and stopping on TLC’s “A Baby Story.” As some woman worked to deliver her second child and her husband passed out, she said something to the effect of, “I’d better get a good push present–sparkly, like diamond earrings, big ones.”

Um. What? Read the rest of this entry →

Jan 10 2012

How to Officially Convert Beyonce’s Baby to Judaism

By at 1:29 pm

beyonce is pregnantIt’s really hard for me not to talk about Babyonce right now. I mean, it’s clearly hard for the entire world not to talk about Beyonce and Jay-Z’s baby right now. But, since this is a site with a noted Jewish twist, it sort of doesn’t make sense to talk about Babyonce. Except, of course, if this baby could possibly be considered relatively Jewish in any way. What’s that, you say? You want to hear all of the reasons that this baby could possibly be considered relatively Jewish in any way? Well alright:

1. Her name is Blue Ivy. Blue, like the color of the Israeli flag. Totally Jewish!

2. The baby was born at Lenox Hill Hospital, on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. A lot of Jews live there. Very much Jewish!

3. It was widely believed that the baby was supposed to be born at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital, on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. A lot of Jews live there, too. Pretty, pretty Jewish!

4. Jay-Z grew up in Brooklyn. Jews live there, too. Automatically Jewish!

5. A parody was made of Beyonce’s hit “Single Ladies” called “Jewish Single Ladies“. That makes Beyonce Jewish by osmosis, or something. Definitely Jewish!

So now that we’ve very scientifically proved Blue Ivy’s Jewish heritage, can we talk about how the new parents rented out the entire maternity ward to deliver their baby (or maybe they didn’t?) Or how Jay-Z already has a hit song all about baby Blue? Or about how Suri Cruise is really mad about this baby? Or how former Destiny’s Child member Michelle Williams refuses to congratulate Beyonce on Twitter? So much Babyonce, I’m going to explode!

Oct 11 2011

Do You Believe in Jewish Birthmarks?

By at 2:08 pm

Both my daughters were born with birthmarks. It’s so common, in fact, for babies to come out with similar marks that the nurses at the hospital use the popular folk names: “angel kisses” for reddened eyelids and “stork bites” for a pink smattering on the back of the neck. Most fade within a few weeks.

As you might imagine, Jewish folklore has its own explanation for a certain “mark” we all have: the philtrum, more poetically called “the flume” on the TV show Ally McBeal. It’s the little divot of skin above your upper lip, the thing you tap when you’re thinking and that you press against the bottom of your nose when you think no one is looking.

According to the Talmud (Niddah 30b, a passage that whiplashes me between “aww!” with its description of an embryo as resembling folded writing tablets and “arrgh!” with its discussion of “uncleanliness), babies are told all the secrets of the Torah while they’re in the womb. While they’re there, their eyes are closed and their bellybuttons are open, receiving food from Mom. But as soon as the baby “sees the light,” everything reverses: her eyes open and her bellybutton closes. And just as that happens, an angel approaches and puts a finger on the baby’s lips, shushing her so she won’t tell the secrets of the Torah. She forgets everything, and spends her life trying to rediscover those secrets. Ah, it’s a beautiful story, full of the aching and longing for that perfect peace of the womb.

Penelope was a preemie, born ten weeks early. Did she get the whole Torah? Did she not get adequately shushed? Might she remember more than she was supposed to, because the angel didn’t get there in time? Maybe so! After all, just when she finally came home from her six-week stay in the NICU, she developed a hemangioma (or a Chuck Mangione, as we called it) that swelled her upper lip into a little beak before receding to the faint whisper of pink on her upper lip that it is today.

“Someday, the man that’ll be her husband will look at baby pictures of her, and then tell her he can still see it, and kiss her right here,” I told my husband once.

He glared at me. “Sure, right after he gets out of traction,” he growled, overprotectively. Ah. No wonder they’re such daddy’s girls. Read the rest of this entry →

Sep 26 2011

Jewish, Yogi, Doula

By at 11:16 am

I grew up in a fairly complicated and very secular latchkey home with Hanukkah bushes, Chinese take-out, and a sick mama.

My mom passed away a couple of months before the Twin Towers fell, when I was 23. Around this time I started practicing vinyasa yoga in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn. I got dumped just days before both of my roommates moved out to live with their boyfriends. Yoga helped me feel calmer and healthier, and allowed me to sit with my various sadnesses. It was different from anything I grew up with.

As I continued my search for meaning, I figured I should check my own Jewish background. Though familiar, I didn’t know an Aleinu from an Aleph. I also thought something about Israelis reminded me of what I found edgy and compelling in 90s era hip hop, so I decided to learn a little Hebrew and went on Birthright (a free trip to Israel for 18 to 26-year-olds). I said the Mourner’s Kaddish for my mom the year after she passed, and it served as a mantra that brought change in my life.

I was working in music marketing when I met my husband Jonah on Jdate. When he showed up I thought, “this guy is wearing a kippah, he’s way too religious for me, he’s moving to DC in a few months, and he really doesn’t seem like one-night-stand material.”

And then I got past all that and was present. We both loved hip hop, and comedy, and spirituality (admittedly in a sort of distance-learning way).

People ask if I got more religious because of my husband.  I think we wouldn’t have connected if I wasn’t already interested. Read the rest of this entry →


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