The big boy with Tatty!

The big boy with Tatty!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Bittersweet Weaning

My goal has and will always remain to nurse for a full two years. It seems no matter what my breastfeeding goals are something else happens. I was thank God blessed both times with my children that despite dangerously low milk supplies that I was able to garner a full supply. For my first, MM loved nursing, he loved it so much he still asks me if I can nurse him, because he misses it. Instead I hold him closely and tell him stories of when he was a baby and kiss his forehead and cuddle him. My second on the other hand…it’s always been about food and sometimes about comfort. Unfortunately, after 12 months, when it’s like that, the supply dwindles. I would love to say that I would do it again, to nurse him to the second year, to start pumping and taking fenugreek, but if he won’t nurse for comfort, and barely nurses, it’s not really going to stimulate supply and I’m fighting a losing battle.
            Last night, I tried nursing YY and he became livid when there was nothing there. Instead we gave him some water and thank God he drank and was happy. He drank an entire sippee cup and then off back to bed. I told my husband this isn’t the first time it’s happened and it’s almost unfair, why should he have to go into a fit because there isn’t anything there?
            So I did it…today I did not nurse him. Last night was the last time, and I’m heartbroken. Since two months after I was married I’ve been pregnant, nursing or both. This will be the first time that I am just me!! What am I supposed to do with just me?? I feel naked, awkward…strange, when did it become me?
            Thank God though, I think even though it feels odd I am going to enjoy it just being me. It’s interesting, I’m very glad that I made it to sixteen months, almost, minus a few days but really now I am dreading Yom Kippur much less. God willing I will do much better this time when it comes to fasting.

            My little guy is much more snuggly now and less apt to scream in frustration. It’s wondrous how often we have our own plans and how Hashem makes other plans.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Knowing When To Give Up

I love arguing. It has to be part of my upbringing crossed with my Jewish Neshama. The sages in the Talmud and the gemora love a good argument, anything L’shaim shemayim and those are perhaps my most beloved arguments. If/when I say something outlandish in the defense of Torah I want people to realize why I am saying it. I think I came to the realization recently that life as a ger and life as a baal teshuva are two different things. The paths you travel are almost backwards. A BT can take as long as they want to reach whatever their goals, whereas someone who converts, the goals are placed before them before they can finally take the dip literally and dive into Judaism.       
            More and more recently, I’ve realized that it’s not about knowing when to argue, but when to just walk away. This is not a strong trait for me, but I’m starting to realize sometimes you just can’t win. You can’t change the world in one fell swoop sometimes it has to be step by step. And sometimes fighting for things isn’t really what is necessary. It’s happened in a great many things recently, whether it’s friendships, where I look back fondly and actively miss the time all a the same time, but I cannot fight to make someone speak to me. Likewise, I realized I cannot fight to my inlaws like me.
            It finally happened, the bomb was dropped this weekend, it went something like this, “I think DL is stupid. I have 2 masters degrees, I’m smarter than she is…”In front of my kids and my husband and thank God not in front of me. I’ve been asking myself recently, what can I do to make this situation easier, and honestly wanting to blow up on people in Milwaukee, because somehow they just don’t get that no! It’s not my fault. But I’ve simply realized, it’s time to walk away from this too.

            The hardest part about being a frum Jew, is dealing with non-frum realitives who are combative to everything you do. How can you explain to them what is important, when they see it as trivial, how can you ask them to put glasses on and see your reality when they are so encompassed in their own? Finally, how can you make them see that a person worth is not wrapped into the paper they have on the wall? I already gave up two years ago, but now I am really giving up, they can hate me for the rest of their lives if they want to…but it’s time to walk away and say that I did a good job trying to deal with them. Sometimes it’s just by not even trying. Giving up sure does feel good.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Crushes, Duggars and Jewish Dating

Earlier this year I went through a state of despair. When my oldest turned three, the terrible threes started. I already had my second son who was six months old at the time. Considering it was winter, and we were trapped in a tiny apartment, and I felt like I was losing my mind, I decided to start asking everyone the big question, “how in the world, do you manage having small kids?” Many of my friends have kids the same age as mine, and another one in between the ages of my two, and a few another right after totaling 4 kids under 4 years, or 3 under 3. I looked everywhere, the Bubbe’s who have been doing it for years, the mommies with older children and the phrase, “it gets easier when they are older,” just started adding to many confounding variables to my question…
            So I looked up America’s Largest family, I mean at one point Michelle Duggar probably had 5 under 5, or something like that. In fact I’m sure she had three under three in two pregnancies, and I started gleaning a lot of good information from her parenting standards. One of the great things, despite the fact that I don’t agree with their theology, is they are a family that is used to teaching and public speaking, so instead of not knowing how they have raised so many well adjusted kids, they can actually tell you.
            Meanwhile the world is losing their sanity, because the two older girls who were recently in courtships are either getting married soon, married and one is already pregnant with her first child and due in March. Okay, seriously it makes me laugh, if the world can’t handle the fact that they barely touch before marriage, I wonder what they think of us? I mean we don’t even touch at all, engaged or courting! Even more so we don’t touch in public, we would never dream of kissing our spouses in public, or holding hands, whenever we experience our first kiss or our first hugs, well that just happens in private…and even after all of that we still maintain strict modesty standards in public.
            All of this made me sit down at some point, really I was laying down putting my three year old to bed and my mind drifted back to all the guys I had crushes on in Middle school and High school. No one ever spoke to me the way a parent should to explain that looks aren’t everything and that I should watch how they treat people, how they treat their parents, their siblings, what they do in the world, do they love Hashem? Are they serious about Torah and Mitzvahs? (Okay I might not have been Jewish at the time but I did have a close relationship to God and I wanted someone who could raise my children with the values I believed in.) I went one by one, over the ones I remember the most, and I don’t remember anything, were the good people? Maybe…would they have made a good husband? I had no idea, in fact I was teased often for thinking of it like that, but I have to say something I wish all girls would think about before they so freely give their hearts to whoever they are dating.
            Thank God, I never really started dating until I entered the shidduch world. I always felt like I saved myself the most heart ache by not chasing after one guy or another. Oddly though, it nags at me, why was it so important for me to date? The answer usually is so you can figure out what you want…but if you don’t know what you want why are you dating anyway?
            Furthermore, why then is the world encouraging teenagers to go out and do the things they do without ever thinking of the long term ramifications of their choices?

            Not a day goes by that I honestly don’t thank Hashem that I never got caught up in that lifestyle. It wasn’t easy, but it meant thank God that I could go into my marriage, with a clear view of what I wanted, the wife I wanted to be and the way we would raise our children. It’s utter brilliance that TLC is airing a family with morals, my prayer is that more teenage girls will be inspired to hold onto what is precious, see themselves as beautiful, not because of how they look, but because of who they are and hopefully find fulfilling relationships when they are truly ready for them, without all the experimenting and heart ache that the world encourages them to have.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

When the Mind Races

I’m making a concerted effort to try to spend more time writing. I know I do better when I write, I know it’s how I express myself, it’s how I connect to the world, it’s how I live and breathe. But I don’t do it nearly as often as I used to. Part of it is the more religious I became the more I realized there was no place in this world for the fantasy fiction I was writing. It’s taken time, and a lot of thinking and slowly I have found new ways of writing, that are still thrilling, but do have a place here. I dream of stories when I sleep at night, and laugh when I try to put them on the proverbial paper, aka my computer. But then when I do that, other thoughts constantly run into my brain and as I drifted in and out of consciousness today, while cuddling with my three year old who is exhausted until he slept, the question came popping into my head? What was Chava’s sin? What did she so bad that the punishment has lasted for thousands of years, pain through birth, being dependent on our husbands.
            This thought started with a thought I had this morning as I was making breakfast for my boys. I was considering the differences in how my husband an I attach to God. I tend to question everything, which means I have moments where I think some of what we do is utterly stupid and a complete waste of time. I hate that the thoughts come in but they do, why do we have to be so strict, why can’t I watch a movie? (Actually I do from time to time) but it’s only when no else, particularly little eyes can see. I thrive on solid, tangible facts and logical reasoning, but as I read this weeks parshah and try to explain it to my son, I wonder so many why’s that I wonder why I even do what I do.
            Then I thought about my husband. He has it, he has the secret that tethers him closer to Hashem than me. He has Kabbalas Ol (literally the yoke of heaven, you just do it because you do.) The realization is stifling. And so I struggle.
            Then I began thinking as I dozed what that really meant to me and I thought about it in the only tangible way possible, the relationship between men and women. Women are either encouraged to be dainty little helpless princesses, or self reliant. There is hardly an in between. However if we are completely self reliant, than how can a man ever provide for us, and truly get to be a man? If we take up enough of self reliance, when will he show us what a gentleman he can be? Because being such has become cliché. So what did Chava do? She did what her husband asked her not to, and when she took from the Tree of Knowledge and her eyes were opened, what did she do? It wasn’t enough that she had made the mistake, now she insisted on her husband doing the same thing, I don’t know if any sage backs up my thoughts, but it’s almost as if she made the biggest mistake of all time, and then did what any woman would, drag someone else down with her, in effect controlling him…
            And that’s where I struggle. To constantly be in control, but I can’t tell God how to run His world and to only do it in a way that makes sense and is controllable to me, and I can’t control my husband. My avodah right now, is simply to be a wife and a mother and rely on Hashem for all the rest God willing. It’s said that we are supposed to correct Chava’s sin, and there are so many ways we do, my biggest struggle is being subservient to anyone and anything, husband or God and I’m realizing that if I don’t make a larger effort I am cutting myself off from a deeper connection to my husband and to Hashem.

            And that’s what happens when I’m tired and lost in thoughts for the majority of the morning.  

Sunday, August 10, 2014

The Day You were Born

            A few weeks ago I was having yet another trying day with my oldest. I promise you, he is not a bad kid, but active, curious, inquisitive and sometimes, just like his parents assertive and independent, and no one is going to tell him what to do. I’ve been reading every book I can get my hands on, trying to find ways other than raising my voice, to get him to either comply, or simply just stop whatever it is he is doing, no matter how three year old like it might be. These are most of the time major things, like taking toys away from his brother, which means my 14 month old cries, and cries and at some point the crying grates on my nerves, or getting into thing and making messes, all day, and trust me I spend more time cleaning the messes than I do with him, which compounds the issue that he is telling me he wants more me time. I am attempting to cut back my screen time, I suck at it, but I’m trying to. And finally I decided to take a page out of Jennifer Kolari’s book and sit down, give him some blessed one on one time that included showing him just how special he was to me.
            We opened the computer and I looked up the pictures of the day he was born. My children were born in two completely different settings, Menachem Mendel in the Hospital and Yosef Yitzchak at home.
            I showed Menachem Mendel, pictures of him inside my tummy, which consequently were his favorites. I told him how special he was, because he was my first baby, he was the baby that made me a mommy, I was already his mommy when YY was born. Then he noticed things that weren’t around when I was laboring with his brother. He was there through most of my three day marathon with YY, he did not see any IV’s, he didn’t see doctors, he didn’t see hospital beds, and the question inevitably came up, in three year old fashion, why was little brother born at home and he wasn’t?
            I stumbled and just said, because he was born in the hospital.
            What are those? The Iv’s sticking out of mommy’s hands. I told him they had medicine that the doctors were putting in me.
            Why wasn’t YY born in the hospital.         
            And while we were enjoying our connection, I sat and had to think, how do I tell him I hated the day he was born? I hated the days that followed? I couldn’t stand my life, until we were home, and you could feel the calm wash away my worries and pain like a warm bath. I hated that I did what was expected of me, from induction, to the worlds most painful epidural that I still cringe and refuse to remember in detail, to the 27 hours of sheer hell and embarrassment, all to make everyone else feel safe and comfortable. I didn’t feel like I could love my son until we were home, and we were able to bond, and no one was waking us every four hours to make sure I was still breathing because they were too lazy to sit at my bedside like my midwife did after my second.
            I hated my husband for not standing up for me, I hated the woman that went with me, who promised she would advocate for me, and failed and did more to encourage interventions, and stupidly I went along with it, because hey? Why not? It’s what made everyone else feel good. I hated that they refused me food and drink, and that my heartburn was so bad I puked on the nurse (on purpose) for refusing to give me something to ease it.
            I hated that the whole time they humiliated me and made fun of my weight and refused to treat me like a person, didn’t let me speak to a Lactation Consultant and misread my charts. For two days I could barely stand because they didn’t give me iron. I was at risk for hemorrhaging, because I had to read my own charts and tell them that I was anemic, and the doctor had iron to start forty eight hours ago, and why did I have to spend those days barely able to walk to the bathroom?
            I hated that his birth led to a shoulder dystocia, the doctors never told me how bad it was, what it was and nearly broke his clavicle and could have caused long term physical harm and I wasn’t even given the option to know what was going on. I hate that it lead the Midwife Center, who are supposed to be natural birth minded, to abusing me, talking down to me, and acting like someone who is obese with no complications must have a C-section or else they will and did drop my care less than two months before my next baby was supposed to come.
            Of course I can’t tell my son those things. Maybe when he is going to be a father, and he asks me how he can best aid his wife, and what their options should be, will I come forward and explain why I hated his birth…but all I said was, “the doctors gave me medicine that made me very sick and I didn’t like it. So I decided to hire Valerie, and not get the medicine.”
            He knows nothing of the mechanics of birth. As far as he cares, Hashem puts the baby in my tummy, and then Valerie comes and takes the baby out. But it was a moment, that I realized how much I thank God for giving me the strength to make sure that the second time around, I made the right choices for myself and my family and that thank God I had the most empowering experience giving birth at home, giving birth with a midwife who respected my choices, spoke to me not down and at me, was my partner in helping to birth my baby, and who I trusted. We don’t have to do this to ourselves, birth should be beautiful, it should be sacred, it should be as peaceful as it can be, for everyone.

            I had the thought that after 5,000 years or more of birth, aren’t we done paying for Chava’s sin? Haven’t we experienced enough pain and humiliation in birth for the apple in the Garden of Eden? Hashem should send Mashiach so all women can know truly happy and peaceful births, with no more trauma, and no more pain.