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Aug 22 2014

My Island Family Surprised Me With a Simchat Bat

By at 1:44 pm

bagels

Lately, being Jewish on North Haven–the small island in Maine where we live–has felt like a non-issue, though I still tend to think of myself as the only one. Which made it all the more surprising when, as I was getting ready to leave the seasonal bakery I run and go pick up 3-month-old Penrose, my friend Rosa, one of the nearly 1,000 summer visitors we get out on the island, stopped me.

“The girls and Mark and I were talking and we wanted to organize a naming ceremony for Penrose if you’d like,” she said. “I bet it will be the first one ever on North Haven!”

I paused, momentarily stunned. I had considered a simchat bat ceremony for her, but real life took over, and between recovery, my husband’s return to work, and opening the bakery, we never got it together. I had also never been to one, and other than the bagel and lox spread at the end, I didn’t know what it would entail. To have someone else run it for us would be amazing. Read the rest of this entry →

Aug 19 2014

How Can I Be a Happy Mother During the More Difficult Times?

By at 11:03 am

SrulikB&W

There are two sentences that have impacted my parenting philosophy more than anything else I’ve read about raising children. In “The Art of Loving” by psychologist and philosopher Erich Fromm, he writes, “The Promised Land is described as ‘flowing with milk and honey.’ Milk is the symbol of the first aspect of love, that of care and affirmation. Honey symbolizes the sweetness of life, the love for it and the happiness in being alive. Most mothers are capable of giving ‘milk,’ but only a minority of giving ‘honey,’ too. In order to be able to give honey, a mother must not only be a ‘good mother,’ but a happy person.”

I didn’t have children when I read those words for the first time, and yet, I made a promise to myself that when I did, I would make an effort to be happy, no matter what life threw my way.

A few short weeks after I encountered Fromm’s writing, my then-boyfriend brought up the idea of starting a family, and before we realized the enormity of our decision, there was a wonderful baby boy in our lives. Read the rest of this entry →

Aug 14 2014

As an Oncology Nurse, My Heart Breaks For My Patients Every Day

By at 4:01 pm

nurse

“He needs some TLC and gentle handling,” says the assistant head nurse as she hands me the chart of a new patient. “He’s young, he’s a career soldier, and his wife just gave birth to their first child two weeks ago.”

I look at his chart. All that goes through my head is that he is seven years younger than me and has Stage 3 colon cancer. Yet again, I find myself standing there and wishing there was no cancer in this world, even if that meant, as an oncology nurse, that I would need to find a new career. I go look for my new patient in the waiting room. Read the rest of this entry →

Aug 12 2014

Welcome to the World, Dafna Penina!

By at 1:41 pm

dafna-3

We would like to take a minute to wish a hearty Mazel Tov to Kveller contributors Tamar Fox and Jesse Bacon on the arrival of a beautiful 1-month-old baby girl.

Tamar has written on Kveller about her and Jesse’s plans to become foster parents, and on Friday, August 1, they got the long-awaited phone call. The family is not sharing baby’s English name for privacy reasons, but her Hebrew name is Dafna Penina.  Little Dafna spent her first month in the NICU, but now she is happy and healthy (she even slept seven hours through her second night with her new parents).

Stay tuned to get the full story once things calm down a little.

Read the rest of this entry →

Aug 11 2014

Welcome to the World, Elijah Wilder!

By at 3:29 pm

Alicia-Welcome-Elija

We are thrilled to announce that our resident Torah MOMentator Alicia Jo Rabins gave birth to a baby boy last week (much to the delight of big sister Sylvie). Elijah Wilder Hartman was born at 8:05 a.m. on Thursday, August 7, weighing 7.7 pounds and 2 ounces.

Says the proud mom, “We are all healthy and grateful and in love.” Read the rest of this entry →

Aug 6 2014

Why Was Breastfeeding So Much Harder the Third Time Around?

By at 12:06 pm

breastfeeding-third

Readers beware: This post has a little TMI regarding nipples. There, you’ve been warned. 

I successfully nursed two baby boys. They each got one year of the good stuff before they weaned to whole milk. I regularly got calls from friends, and friends of friends, who were having nursing problems. I was the resident expert–always proud and happy to help.

While pregnant with my third child, a girl, nursing issues were never on my radar. After all, I had two solid years under my belt. I worried about balancing three kids while recovering from a C-section. But not once did I consider that my biggest obstacle would be the painful, frustrating, and exhausting mission of nursing this baby. Read the rest of this entry →

Aug 5 2014

Why is There No Ritual For the Completion of a Family?

By at 10:23 am

Roey

“Are you sure?” my OB asked at my very first appointment. “Yes,” I replied without hesitation. “Absolutely.”

Joking about my husband, the rabbi, she scheduled my third C-section for December 24th because “of course, the rabbi’s kid should be born on Christmas eve.” I laughed and then immediately requested that my tubes be removed during the surgery.

I was 37, it was our third child, and I knew we were done. My husband and I had discussed it already and had both agreed. Read the rest of this entry →

Aug 4 2014

Welcome to the World, Annabelle Ileana!

By at 2:16 pm

melissa-annabelle

The Matzah Ball soup* is served!

We are thrilled to announce the arrival of Kveller contributer Melissa Langsam Braunstein’s second daughter, Annabelle Ileana Braunstein. Annabelle was born on July 26 at 12:34 p.m., weighing 7 pounds, 8 ounces, and measuring 20 inches long. She is healthy and the Braunstein clan say they are all smitten with her–especially proud big sister Lila.

Mazel Tov!

Annabelle

*As many of you know, Annabelle’s nickname in utero was “Matzah Ball,” courtesy of her creative big sister.

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Aug 1 2014

My Family is About to Get Bigger

By at 1:18 pm

starry-night

This post is part of our Torah commentary series. This Shabbat we read Parashat D’varim. To read a summary of the portion and learn more, click here.

It’s officially my due date with baby #2, and I can feel the days of Sylvie’s only-child status slipping away.

Among all the nesting and projects (and the unexpected drama of my husband’s acute appendicitis last week–thank goodness he’s healing well, and thank goodness we had family in town waiting for the birth who could help out!) I am noticing how this time feels different from the first.

My own experience is different: This time I know how to change a diaper, and in addition to the general anticipation of birth, there’s the specific hope and uncertainty of trying for a VBAC at home. But even more, I’m noticing how this time around I’m not just thinking about me. This baby’s arrival will be a big change for Sylvie too. I’m excited for her to have a sibling, I’m nervous about balancing two kids, and of course I’m wondering how she’ll deal with suddenly having a younger brother. Read the rest of this entry →

Jul 29 2014

How Becoming a Mom Forced Me to Face My Fear of Snakes (And So Much More)

By at 10:49 am

garter-snake

Like a lot of primates, I really don’t like snakes. In Maine, we only have non-venomous, ecologically beneficial, pest-eating garter snakes and rat snakes, but the unexpected sight of one gliding eerily past my feet in the garden gives me major willies.

This wasn’t always true. I remember happily holding a little red-bellied snake that a preschool classmate brought in for show and tell. I was 3 or 4 years old. Shortly thereafter, I was playing outside when my Birkenstock-clad mother nearly stepped on a snake on the way to the mailbox. She reacted like many people would–an operatic shriek and a leap backwards. And from that moment on, I reacted the same way.

As outlined in this article from Parenting Science, some fears have to be taught. And some are learned very quickly, whether by baby humans or baby monkeys.  Read the rest of this entry →

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