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Aug 12 2013

My Eating Disorder Brain vs. My Pregnant Body

By at 3:18 pm

zipping up dressI love my body.

I still am amazed that I can write those words and mean them.

Like many of us, I worried about my weight. However, my normal worry slowly turned into an unhealthy obsession. When I went to college, my goal didn’t involve doing well in my classes or making friends–my goal was to not gain the “Freshman 15.”  I was proud if I could get through the day eating less than I did the day before. I felt a huge sense of accomplishment when I was able to resist the cake my friends enjoyed at Hillel’s Shabbat dinner. When I came home, I heard people’s worried comments of, “You’re getting too thin!!” as compliments.

My friends helped me realize I had a problem during my sophomore year and I began the treatment program that saved my life. Read the rest of this entry →

Aug 5 2013

Why I Chose a Jewish Gestational Surrogate

By at 10:00 am

gestational-surrogacyI’ve been a type 1 diabetic since I was 3 years old. I’m now 31. I can’t pinpoint a time when anyone told me that having diabetes would affect my ability to carry a pregnancy, but I’ve always known that it would.

Even as a first-year college student, with boys on the brain and marriage barely on the periphery, I started researching other ways to have children. At 20, I wondered if I should freeze my eggs, but didn’t pursue it. I thought about adoption and struggled to confess to myself that I wasn’t sure I could truly bond to an adoptive child. Though it shamed me–and still shames me–that I don’t see myself as a candidate for adoptive motherhood, I was still looking for ways to be a parent. One day, several years ago, I encountered an article in the New York Times magazine about a woman and her husband who’d had a child via a gestational surrogate. Finding my life partner, my husband, was still far off, but I read the article several times. I suspected I’d found the right option. Read the rest of this entry →

Jul 25 2013

My Ectopic Pregnancy & Why I’m Determined to Talk About It

By at 1:48 pm

emergency room signWhen I was eagerly pregnant with my first, I devoured a library copy of What to Expect When You’re Expecting with an open and trusting mind. Every twinge they described I felt keenly and every rare complication was one I considered. At some point, I found myself walking out into the living room and asking my husband, “Ari, could I have an ectopic pregnancy?”

I’m pretty sure his sigh and accompanying eye-roll were the most patronizing imaginable. He said I was too far along, and we’d “for sure” know if I had an ectopic pregnancy.

At the time, Ari was right, but this winter, his certainty was misplaced.

Three years later, as we found ourselves trying to conceive baby #2, my first cycle of trying came and went. I was not concerned–it had taken eight months to conceive our eldest–and I looked forward to going to the mikvah and my next chance. Read the rest of this entry →

Jul 16 2013

I’m Totally Guilty of New Mom TMI

By at 2:15 pm

placenta, fetus, tmiPrior to becoming pregnant, life was certainly different: I got more sleep. I ate whatever I wanted. I had some wine with dinner… and if “some” wine turned into a bottle of wine, it was just a sillier night. I got more sleep. I went on a vacation on a whim. I wasn’t legally responsible for the life of another human being (yes, I am legally bound to my husband… but I don’t think I could be put in jail for not feeding him. I cook for him of my own free will… and he’d better like it!) And yes, I got more sleep.

But in addition to the expected changes, there was another big transformation. From the moment I found out I was pregnant, it was as if a button were pressed in my brain where not only was it accepted, but it was expected that I discuss all of my personal business.

I have become no holds barred in divulging TMI to any and everyone. When I was just about four months pregnant, I was put on bed rest for six weeks due to a low-lying placenta. PBJ (no, not peanut butter and jelly, PreBaby-Jessica) would have been perfectly content to just tell everyone that I was put on bed rest for medical reasons. And yet, there I was, telling everyone from my parents to my middle-aged, childless male coworkers that I had a low-lying placenta. It’s like I would look for reasons to get the word placenta into conversation.  ”What a nice summer breeze. It reminds me of my low-lying placenta.” Read the rest of this entry →

Jul 5 2013

Notes From a 9 Months Pregnant CEO

By at 11:00 am

pregwbriefcaseI had only just met this woman, and our conversation, as I heard it, went like this:

Her: What do you do?

Me: I’m a rabbi. I direct a national Jewish human rights organization that. . .

Her: No, no—when are you due?

Me: Oh. Beginning of July.

Her: That’s so wonderful! Do you know what you’re having? Is it your first? How are you feeling?

And so on.

Since I’ve become visibly pregnant with my second child, I’ve often felt that others perceive me not as a capable CEO and religious leader, but instead as a walking, talking uterus. Read the rest of this entry →

Jul 1 2013

The Three Golden Rules for Dealing With Pregnant Women

By at 10:04 am

preggoI would not have thought such a guide was necessary. Certain things seem self-evident to me. But now, on my fifth pregnancy, I see that the world apparently needs some guidelines spelled out. There are really just three simple rules to dealing with pregnant women. If there are more, please let me know.

1. NEVER, EVER ask a woman, “Are you pregnant?”

This is the Golden Rule of what should be self-evident etiquette. There are NO EXCEPTIONS. No, no, never, never, no. I don’t care if you are sitting in the waiting area for the labor and delivery room at the hospital. If you’re right and she is pregnant and talking about her pregnancy, a few sentences of polite conversation will reveal it. If you’re wrong, you have accomplished nothing other than making a grown woman cry inside. Read the rest of this entry →

Jun 26 2013

A Letter to My Future Niece

By at 10:11 am

toes in sandDear Future Niece,

When your mom and I were little, we went to the beach one summer with your Nana and PawPaw and even though it was vacation, and we didn’t have to, we decided to wake up before sunrise one morning and go fishing. We got all our equipment ready and made the short walk from the house to the beach, set up our fishing rods, and settled in for what would be a very unsuccessful fishing trip.

But I will never forget that day. We were young teenagers with most of high school still in front of us, and all of our lives after that. We sat in the sand talking about our dreams and wishes we had for our lives that were best spoken in the fading darkness and rising light of a summer sunrise. We talked about our weddings and the color of bridesmaids dresses we would never have. We confided in one another what we wanted in husbands and we talked about you. I was sure I was never going to have children so your cousins were never mentioned, but your mother smiled when she talked about you, even then.  Read the rest of this entry →

Jun 18 2013

Finally Opening Up About My Medical Termination

By at 9:40 am

doctor doing ultrasound pregnantThe courage of the anonymous writer who recently told her story about medical termination on Kveller, and the positive feedback she received from grateful readers, emboldened me to now share my own story, which few people know about beyond my family and close friends.

My second pregnancy seemed fairly uneventful; in hindsight, my lack of nausea was a clue I completely missed and for which, after serious morning sickness during my first pregnancy, I felt immensely thankful for.

At the 12-week mark, it was time for the sonogram. Read the rest of this entry →

Jun 6 2013

Coming to Terms with Medical Termination

By at 2:12 pm

doctors officeSince Kveller’s conception, we’ve held to a pretty strict policy against anonymous posts (the one previous exception, about being a Tay-Sachs carrier, can be found here). We’ve always felt that attaching real names to posts–especially those personal in nature–makes them even more powerful, and better allows for us to establish a real community and connection between our writers and readers. However, recently we were approached by a woman who wanted to share her experience with medical termination but did not feel comfortable attaching her name to it. We think this is an incredibly important and often overlooked topic, and decided to break our own rules and share it anonymously with you below. 

This summer I was supposed to be welcoming my second baby home. I’ve always kept this kind of information quiet, but when I went to my 12 week appointment and everything looked good I started to spread the news to close friends and family, put myself on the day care waiting list, and started gathering maternity clothes.

I had taken the day off of work and was happily working out on the elliptical machine when the music cut out with a call coming in from my midwife’s office. “Do you have a few minutes to talk?” she asked. I jumped off the machine and ran to an empty room down the hall. “Your first trimester screen came back abnormal,” she told me, “and your odds of having a baby with Down Syndrome is 1 in 36.” She paused to let me take in the news. “Obviously that’s not the direction we wanted it to go.” Read the rest of this entry →

Jun 4 2013

What Makes a Baby Jewish? Not a Donor Egg

By at 11:52 am

single donor eggWhat makes a Jewish mother?

Jokes aside, a Jewish mother is a Jewish woman who mothers a Jew. This seems simple. Apparently, it isn’t.

What if, Caren Chesler posited not-so-hypothetically in today’s New York Times, a Jewish couple tries to have a baby through a donor egg–and the donor of the egg isn’t Jewish? This was Chesler’s situation. Since the 1990s, Chesler writes, Jewish authorities have agreed that the bearing mother, not the woman providing the gametes, is to be considered as the mother in this situation. But there are now rabbis in Israel voicing the idea that if the egg donor is not Jewish, then neither is the child until the child is converted, regardless of the mother’s religion. Read the rest of this entry →


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