Many thoughts about the world, meditation, parenting, Judaism, pregnancy, teaching, cancer survivorship, moving from West Coast to East and more.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Why A Midwife?

Back in Due Date Today I mentioned I was feeling sick. Well, it's gotten much worse. I have done almost nothing today but nurse it, sleep, and feel sorry for myself. Runny nose, deep deep painful chest cough. I called my doctor who put me on Amoxicillin. She's not convinced I have a bacterial infection but agrees that I don't want to take any chances right now of not treating something that I can. I DO NOT want this happening when I go into labor.

Meanwhile, I've had several conversations with friends and others who ask if and when I'll induce labor. But my midwife and I had a long conversation yesterday about that. "Due date" does not mean "deadline." Most pregnancies can safely go all the way to 43 weeks. So doctors in their great wisdom usually prevent them from continuing at 42 weeks even though they are often still safe. And since a baby can be "at term" as early as 38 weeks, the "due date" is simply based on a day halfway between the 38 and the 42... leaving it at 40 weeks. So there's no reason to rush things. Besides that, one of the reasons I'm with a midwife is in order to have a "natural" birth. By that I do not automatically mean wearing hippie clothes and refusing all comfort (medical) and playing new age music (although I am going to do the music), but it means doing things as true to what our bodies were made to, with as few interventions as possible. We'll be monitoring with ultrasound starting next week to see if it's safe to just continue the pregnancy until labor starts naturally.

But this brings me to a topic I've wanted to address for some time:

Why I chose a midwife and not a doctor.

1. Guidance

One doctor I met and liked would have worked for me. (I switched because I didn't want to be left in the hands of anyone else at the practice, and because I wanted a midwife if I could find one.) But I remember being oddly nervous when she said I could have any kind of birth I wanted. I really appreciated that, but having never given birth before, I didn't know what my options were. I wanted someone who would hear my questions and preferences, but who could make decisions for me that were consistent with natural child birth.

2. An open ear

I wanted someone who would listen to me and not just to the machines monitoring my body. Especially at the beginning of my pregnancy I felt terribly abandoned by the medical world. "Yay, you're pregnant. Congratulations. Come back next month." There was nothing in place to address the major life change of NOW and to guide me towards how to welcome it into my life. My current midwife will talk to me for as long as I want and lets me call her anytime I need. And it's not just that she's physically there. She sits. She looks me in the eye. She LISTENS.

3. Pregnancy is not a pathology

I learned quickly that in the medical world, unless there was a problem, doctors had nothing to teach me about what was happening in me. They almost seemed surprised that I would ask questions. Also, I'm so upset when I hear the sort of common outlook on pregnancy of constantly asking how bad it is. People in this part of the world seem to be much more willing to complain about discomfort and take any measures to make them end than to experience and work through them as part of a blessing. That goes for everything from back aches to actual labor. I know that some of my friends think I'm crazy for wanting to go natural and back it up by saying that I have no idea how painful it will be. I don't deny that it will be more painful than I imagine, but I also believe in my body's and spirit's ability to work through it.

4. It's MY birth experience

I don't want this birth to be about the doctor, and his/her schedule and convenience. I want it to be the major life experience it's meant to be.

There are many more reasons, but I don't want to write much more. I will add that I asked a doula at one point how I'll be able to cope with the challenge of labor given how much I hate my every day back pains and hate being sick etc. She said that it was a normal question and explained that they are completely different. I guess I interpret labor as being like an intense sweat lodge that leads you to heightened awareness both because of and despite physical pain, while the other little pains are just annoyances.

Maybe at another time I'll address alternative words for and views about pain.

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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

40 Weeks and 1 Day

I've been hearing my fill of other people's stories lately of how they went into labor, what "caused" it etc. I've also been told so many times, when I'm saying I'm not sure how to tell when it's started, "Oh, you'll know!!" This is always said with great emphasis.

The truth is, it's not so simple, and all of the stories I am hearing are starting to confuse me.

I woke up at 2 AM with very strong cramping and I KNEW labor was starting. I had a temporary burst of nesting as I got up to clean the kitchen and whatnot. I finally went to bed around 4 and felt the cramping start again. I couldn't wait until morning.

When I called my midwife around 7:30 she said it sounded much more like pre-labor than early labor. We went in for an early appointment and confirmed... labor had not started. She said it could happen later today. It could also happen in a week. We don't know anything more yet.

We talked for awhile about how normal and safe it is for the baby to come later than now. That you only really ought to push it when it becomes unsafe for the baby to not be born yet... like when the placenta starts to deteriorate. But for now, I'll just continue to wait and learn from that whatever I need to.

Incidentally, when I got up in the middle of the night I pulled from my "cards." My devil card said "pain" and my angel said "joy." I thought for sure that was a sign, but I guess not as immediate as I thought.

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Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood

One of the things I'm working on today is sifting through the holiday season barrage of requests for donations. One organization I particularly want to support is not very well known, so I want to just pitch it really quickly.

As you can guess by the title, it's called Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood. It's so tempting to get caught up in the commercial world of stuff for kids including such wonders of "Baby Einstein" videos etc. People think they're cool because, after all, they're made for kids. I'm suspicious of all that. The letter I got from this organization reminds that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends against any screen time for kids below age 2, even if it is "made for kids."

The letter I received from them this year also boasts having prevented Pussy Cat Dolls dolls from hitting the market. I think that rocks. Consumer power is a huge tool that we should exercise more.

Don't let people trick you into selling you stuff you don't need! Especially for your kids!

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Due Date Today

So today's the due date, but I'm not sure that really means anything... just that I've been pregnant for 40 weeks now.

I don't want to go into labor today if I can help it. I have a nasty sore throat and cold which started Sunday. (Sadly enough... one of the highlights of that day was stopping at Ben & Jerry's, demanding something "very very chocolatey with cookie in it" and thereupon discovering the ecstasy of the flavor called "chocolate therapy." I think, unfortunately, that the sugar and dairy combination suppressed my immune system once again in the process.) So yesterday I was in bed much of the day and will probably do the same today. Maybe tomorrow's a good way to go.

Last night I went to the mikveh. I'm not going to go into detail as it was a very personal experience, but one of my goals in this blog is to be open about ritual in my life as an example of things that my dear readers (if I were saying that out loud, I would do it in a sarcastic/shy voice) can do in their lives too, or recommend to others. So I just want to tell that I did it at all. I went without saying a brocha, but davened for plenty. (I'm intentionally not translating, because it isn't terribly relevant if you don't already know what I'm talking about.) What was really nice was that the mikveh lady was able to schedule me back-to-back with a woman who has been having difficulty getting pregnant. It's a segulah for her to go in after me, so we took each other's Hebrew names. She's going to daven for me for an easy labor. She also wanted to pay my way, but I said no. I was just trying to be polite by refusing, but I think I offended her. So I told her to please give tzedakah elsewhere on my behalf but that I wanted to pay for this myself.

In any case, it's time to go into my currently empty day now and see what little things I choose to do as I wait and wait and wait some more...

One last thought on that note though... I am LOVING being on a leave during which my mind is not on anything outside of my own home and immediate life. I have been keeping concerns about school so far away in my mind that I almost forgot that yesterday was a school day at all.

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Monday, November 27, 2006

Speaking The Same Language

A friend of mine is traveling soon and says she's eager to know when the baby comes. I said one hint might be that I DON'T blog that day. So now I'm kind of obligated to continue my daily entries.

I just had the most awesome conversation. There's a kid who I tutored over the summer that I just adore. And I feel totally at ease with her mom. I just called to say hi because I saw the mom at school awhile ago and didn't have a chance to talk. Also, I had intended to check in during the school year to see how the child was doing, but her teachers said she was doing really well, so I hadn't wanted to seem I was pressuring to do more tutoring. Well, as I say, I just called. We talked about the girl and how she's doing and the possibility that I might be able to work with her again further down the line although (or because) she's doing so well right now.

Well, awhile ago I posted on here about how much I'd love to teach meditation to kids someday. The biggest piece that is missing is that I haven't known which parents to approach or how to do it. But I took the plunge today and brought it up.

The mother said she wasn't sure if here daughter would be interested or not (it's possible), but asked if I'd work with adults. I told her I don't feel as qualified with teaching adults, but that I have my own experience to draw from and would love to share it with her. She started getting really excited, talking about what sorts of internal things she wants to work on, and I was able to tell her that I have techniques I would use if I were in her position.

I'm THRILLED. Maybe I'll actually get to do a little of this work at some point when my life levels out again. I was happy to hear how happy she was to discuss it.

But best of all, she really told me to focus on myself right now and she used just the kinds of language I love to remind me that this time is too important to focus on anything outside of myself and this birth right now. It's such a delight to find someone who speaks my language.

Oh, and I bet we could get her daughter interested, but it would have to be on the daughter's terms. :)

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Sunday, November 26, 2006

So...

So angel cards don't state times and dates when to expect things to happen. As you might guess by now, today I'm well-rested, calm and still have a baby only inside me.

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Saturday, November 25, 2006

A Sign?

One of my fun little idiosyncracies is that I love angel cards. These are little cards that have one simple word on them such as "simplicity," "faith," or "inspiration" written on them. You use them in whatever way works best for you. I guess I sort of use mine as a way of looking for synchronicity in my life. Usually by the end of the day if I look to see what I picked that morning, I can tie in my card with some event from my day and use it to build meaning. It's not like fortune-telling really, but every now and then I'll get some really amazing picks.

See, I also have other cards. First are my Devil Cards with things like "vanity," "depression," and "pride." I often can find that devilish trait within myself and either try to use it for the good or take the message from the angel card to counteract the devil-ness. I have several times received "dishonesty" from my devil cards at the same time as I pick "honesty" from angel pack etc.

I also have a Pasuk Pack which a friend of mine invented. From that I get one verse of tehillim (psalms). I haven't been able to USE those necessarily, but sometimes have had some funny experiences. For example, I once went to just the same kind of new agey story in Vancouver where I buy things like this and mostly had a good time. However, there was a bookshelf low to the ground and I wanted to kneel down to look at it the books there. But to do so, I would have to kneel down in front of this very idol-looking statue, and I wasn't willing to do that. That afternoon when I came home I happened to pick a card from the Pasuk Pack and got "They have eyes but they see not, they have ears but they hear not..."

Finally, I have a set of Arwen Cards which I made for a friend's birthday and have since given to other friends as presents. They contain advice for the day such as "Trust your intuition," and "Sing." There are some others that are particularly helpful to me, but I don't want to make this too much longer.

In any case, on weekdays I take a card from each of the four packs and arrange them in a certain way. Sometimes I keep them out throughout the week to see how my week has progressed. It's a nice tool for reflection.

But it's good to do things differently, more simply, on Shabbat. So after I light candles I just choose an angel card. The next morning, after I meditate, I take a second one. And I take a third card sometime during Shabbat afternoon.

Last night I got "trust." I didn't know what that was about. But today we had a lovely lunch up the street with some friends and everyone kept sort of saying ways I could induce the pregnancy or whatever. And I found myself thinking, "G-d, I trust you to make this baby come at the right time."

This morning I got "patience." I suppose this is about being patient waiting for the baby. Patient with the aches in my body. Patient as I learn, once again, to just take it easy. I'm now looking forward to a few more days of just lying around a bit and watching videos or getting little things done around the apartment without big expectations on myself.

After lunch we came home and I trekked up to our 5th floor apartment with Braxton-Hicks contractions all the way. With less than an hour left of Shabbos I took some deep breaths, hoping now that labor was not starting, and settling down to read a little. Suddenly I remembered I needed to take another card. What did I get?

"Birth."

That throws patience out the window a little. Maybe the baby will come tonight! I don't know if I need the patience because I'm waiting long again now or not. But I do have trust that if it's supposed to be tonight... even though I"m not finished with a couple of last minute things I want to do, well...

Like I said, trust.

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Friday, November 24, 2006

Great Adventures in Grocery Shopping

Any of you who knows me knows I do not do well with sitting still.

At the same time, some chores are quite difficult right now. I just went grocery shopping and my hips and butt are incredibly sore. I had to lean on the cart the whole time so that I could bend over a little to alleviate some of the pain.

Thankfully, I ran into a friend from shul who was shopping with her kids. It so happens that her son is one of my students too, so he had the opportunity to do the mitzvah of helping me by emptying my grocery cart. (By the way, I think this is one of the nicest things you can do for someone without having to prepare too much. Once or twice pre-pregnancy I've tried to help elderly people with the same thing.)

I also accepted help from the bagging guy to get my stuff into the car. He sorted everything for me into perishable and non so that U. can bring in the non-perishables when I get home. The rest I brought in with a cart instead of carrying the bags on my arms the way I used to.

I'm not even going to put groceries away now until I've had some lunch. Then afterwards, I'm lying down a bit before I make our Shabbos lentil soup in honor of this week's parsha about Esau giving up his birth-right for a bowl of soup. (That's ALL I'm cooking, and proud of it.)

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Thursday, November 23, 2006

A New Jersey Thanksgiving

Just got home from our Thanksgiving dinner. Last year we went into the city to celebrate. This year we went out with the same friend, but with just 5 days until my due date, there was no way I was going to cross the George Washington Bridge for any length of time. So we ate at Noah's Ark in Teaneck instead. (Don't be startled by the plane if you click on that link.)

It was a good dinner. U. and I are feeling stuffed now, but happy for it. I was amazed I was able to eat so much. I've been hungry often lately, but usually can't fit that much food around the baby's space. But it wasn't bad and I had an excellent chocolate cream pie for dessert.

So now I'm passed every special date that I'd hoped to, even though I was prepared to welcome a baby even before then. I got through conferences, my last day of work (which was yesterday), and now Thanksgiving dinner. All along I've been thinking it could happen at any minute. Now I'm starting to realize that I could be waiting for the next 2 1/2 weeks. I think I'm okay with that although a little nervous about getting bored.

Who am I fooling... if I do get bored, great! When's the next time I'll be able to be bored? And now that I feel like I have a lot of time, it might turn out that I really don't.

Oh yeah. We got to a movie. We saw Borat. I could say quite a bit, but don't really want to because I'm tired, and I guess it didn't mean enough to me to want to say very much. In short, we laughed a lot, but that doesn't mean we enjoyed it. It certainly was uncomfortable. I'm not very interested in the question of how the movie deals with (or could provoke) anti-Semitism. I feel like there were many more issues in the movie. At times I wondered who the audience was really meant to be. Other times I didn't know if I was laughing at Borat or at his straight men, the "average Americans" he targeted. I really don't recommend the movie unless you're willing and ready to explore those issues reasonably.

In any case, I got to sit in a movie theater. That's cool. Might not be able to again for awhile. (Or maybe I will.)

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Tuesday, November 21, 2006

This Whole Due Date Thing

So I felt sick on Thursday-Saturday with flu symptoms. Stayed home from work and felt guilty for it as I wrote to you there. Yesterday I was back and amazed at how many people were surprised I was there. A lot of them figured I was just DONE. (My last day of work is this Wednesday which, thankfully, is a pre-Thanksgiving halfday.) It was a relief seeing them so glad to see me instead of spitting on the floor, turning up their noses and saying, "Well at least you're here now! Not like last week when you abandoned your post." (Not sure why I would have expected that.) This makes it easier for me to think about leaving in the midst of all the ACTION that seems to be constantly happening there.

Now I'm actually feeling sick again as of last night. I guess I pushed a bit hard on Sunday and Monday having not yet recovered. So I need to try and take it easy today and I'm grateful tomorrow is such a short day.

I do NOT want to be sick during labor. I was already sick on my wedding day. I've been trying to appreciate my body for choosing illness as a way of communicating to me wisely that I need to pull back from work. So now that I'm leaving anyway, I need it to be healthy.

This morning I checked in at Babes In Blogland which is keeping track of people's birth situations. I noticed that nobody with my due date or later has had early babies. So I take that, reliable or not, as a sign that I still have a little time.

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Sunday, November 19, 2006

Prayers Needed

(I'm blogging a lot this morning.)

This is urgent.

A friend of mine from college (Alan Hoffer, if you know him) married about two years ago. They had a baby this year, and shortly after the birth discovered that the wife had cancer. As I understand it, the cancer has spread really quickly and badly throughout her body and there were some unfortunate delays starting her treatment because they couldn't tell where the cancer was coming from and therefore, what kind of cancer it is.

I don't want to say anymore in case I make a mistake, but, regardless, the situation is quite serious.

Please add her name to your prayers: Rachel bat Marsha.

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Did Something Right

A few weeks ago I was parking in Shop Rite and I got spacey and cocky and thought I could make it into a spot without hitting the car next to me.

I wasn't so lucky. I scraped up the car and was really tempted to walk away, but my conscience got the best of me and I left a note on his windshield.

For the first time ever, the guy actually called back and asked to be reimbursed for the repairs. I was not happy about it, but I didn't complain. We took care of it right away and the deal is done.

Yesterday we got a letter in the mail from the guy:

"I want to thank you for your honesty and living up to the meaning of personal responsibility. Your actions and quick handling of the unfortunate parking incident is one that is an example of personal integrity. You are a truly decent person and though I never met you, I have the highest respect and regard for who you are."

I guess it paid off.

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Photos at 38 1/2



Yes, 38 weeks and 5 days, actually. Some people do lots and lots of photos of themselves during pregnancy. I admit I've taken a few of myself with my computer camera. (I can hold the mouse and click it even if I'm standing away from the computer.) But they're not great quality and I don't really feel right about showing off that much.

However, I wanted SOME good pictures of the very end (or as close as I am to the end) just to prove that I really did look rather different. So U. took these last night. (I was annoying and bossy telling him how to do it. Glad it's done.)

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Friday, November 17, 2006

Planning

Planning is so strange these days.

This Sunday we might work on cleaning up the bedroom and have the option to get to a movie. (I think we might try for Stranger Than Fiction.) I'd also like to get a nice walk in and touch up my substitute plans for school.

OR

We'll be in the hospital with me giving birth.

One or the other. We'll see.

It's like this everyday.

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Today I'm Setting A Good Example

Summary of the week:

Monday - Conferences until 10 PM

Tuesday - For the first time in a long while I felt like I was just having a BAD DAY. Lots of little things going wrong and, uncharacteristically, I couldn't keep my cool. I felt irritable and short-tempered. School nurse checked my blood pressure which was slightly low and I had a juice box. After that everything was great.

Wednesday - My assistant stayed home sick. I'm very glad she did for her sake. It was the right thing to do. Everything in class went okay although of course was a little harder with me on my own. Then right when school ended I felt just as bad as on Tuesday. Spacey, unable to focus, famished. I ate a turkey sandwich and just sat for 1/2 an hour. That kept me going long enough to get some things done during a work period after school, then go tutor. By the time I got to a chiropractor appointment I was feeling really weak again.

Thursday - Totally exhausted in the morning. First I woke up early, but then crawled back into bed. Went to midwife appointment and while there felt faint. Decided to stay home. When I called in everyone assumed I was in labor. I had to explain that it had nothing to do with the pregnancy. (Midwife agrees with this.) By evening I was pretty sure it was the flu.

Today - Still home. Feeling guilty as always. Weak weak weak and telling myself that if I went in I would really only be "on" for an hour and a quarter. My assistant took over for me yesterday and today and she's still sick. So that sucks. And my plans for her yesterday were incomplete. (Believe me, they are VERY THOROUGH today because I felt so bad about it.)

BUT... besides the fact that I might be contagious and that I couldn't teach now anyway, I HAVE to get well and strong for this birth which still can happen any moment. No pushing myself allowed. It's not easy. I wish I saw more examples of people taking off when they need to. They're probably there, but I only notice the die-hard workaholics.

I just wish the school had a better way of handling absence so my assistant wasn't stuck with being my substitute. But I guess that's not my fault. And it is one of the realities of teaching.

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Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Why this pressure?

Today is my last full Wednesday at work before I go on leave, regardless of what happens. (We have a half day off before Thanksgiving.)

I have only said I'd be gone from work for 6 weeks and am second-guessing myself on that now. Why 6 weeks? I guess that's standard these days, based on how much (how little) disability new mothers get. (I'll be receiving 60% of salary through disability and that's IT.) Why have I let myself agree to only being gone this time? I suppose because I've also made the concession of working part-time this year. But still, that's 5 hours of work at school, at least 30 minutes each day of transportation. It really comes out to a 6-hour day that our kid will be in daycare.

I just read a recent Babyfruit entry that made me revisit the subject yet again. (I only worry about it about three-fouths of constantly.) My midwife advises that I make the decision about two weeks after my baby is born of whether I can stick to the 6 weeks or should ask for more. Sometimes I worry about it for my own sake, sometimes for the baby's and sometimes because of the downright injustice of it all.

That latter category has, throughout my life, been my most inflamed as well as the one that causes me the most trouble ultimately, so I need to be careful.

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Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Conferences... phew!

I can relax now.

Yesterday were parent-teacher conferences. I was at school until 10:15 PM.

No, it's more than that. Go back a minute.

Last week one of the parents in my class who is also a colleague predicted I would give birth this weekend. "I better not yet," I said, "I've got conferences to do, including yours."

I spent the entire day on Sunday preparing. I got out of the house exactly once through all of Saturday and Sunday.

Then Sunday night, exhausted, I tried to get to bed early for the big day ahead.

Couldn't do it. Printer needed my attention.

And then I started to feel like maybe I was in labor, so I took a warm bath as directed and got to bed late.

And as with any night when you really really really need a good night's sleep, I woke up at 2:30 for about two hours for no good reason.

And my assistant is coming down with something so also didn't know if she would make it through the day.

But guess, what... we did it. As of today I'm at the beginning of my 38th week. "Due dates" are really just the middle day during the best time to have a baby which starts on the 38th week and is too long by the 42nd.

So I can be ready now... anytime.

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Sunday, November 12, 2006

Organ Donation Non-follow-up

In response to my Organ Donation post, Yoel Natan asked to know what I hear from HODS. Unfortunately, nothing yet.

I should add that I feel like a total hypocrite because as excited as I am about doing something useful with the topic, I'm not signing up until I know more which means I'm not signed up at all. Unfortunately, I'm not even sure if I can sign up with the cancer history, but I won't know until someone writes back to me.

Here's the good news... even if I don't know more yet, my shul rabbi is working on it. I didn't go to shul yesterday. Legs hurt to much from standing still in shul now. But U. says the rabbi spoke about halakhic definition of death. He also said that, since there are several options available for halakhic donation, he does not yet know the answer of which he should take and is asking his own rabbis for guidance there. I'll keep you posted on what HE says, regardless of whether my email to HODS is answered or not.

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Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Wheelchairs

Strange thought hit me this morning.

When I arrive at the ER for labor, they'll probably make me ride in a wheelchair to my room. I suppose I might be grateful for this at the time so I can get to my room quicker, but I really have an aversion to wheelchairs.

When I had cancer I used to go for long hikes the day before a chemo. It made me feel powerful. Then, by the end of the chemo I could barely walk and I would need the wheelchair. (Once home, I had to hold onto furniture or to U. to get around for that first evening back.)

As a result, I really hate wheelchairs.

In Vancouver, I had a a few months on my hands until the government would let me work. I wanted to volunteer at an old age home. But when I went to the meeting for potential volunteers, I just started crying. What set me off was the wheelchairs.

I guess when the time comes, I'll just say, "I may be in a wheelchair, but I'm so powerful because I'm about to give birth!"

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Monday, November 06, 2006

Election Day

Election day tomorrow. I don't think we've ever received quite so many phone calls from our good friends Bill Clinton, Al Gore, Mayor Michael Wildes and even Joe Piscopo (whose name is really hard to spell). I wish they'd let us talk when they call but they just go on and on about who they want us to vote for. You'd think we were talking to a recording. After election day I'm sure they won't call or write again for MONTHS.

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Sunday, November 05, 2006

Event Planning

We had the last of the childbirth classes today. Today's class focused on postpartum.

It's weird. Much like a wedding, you spend so much time planning for THE BIG DAY. It's almost too much to think about the day after, and yet that's why you're having the big day in the first place. We have a whole lot of learning to do in the next few months, and most of it is pointless to do in classes. We'll really have to do it on the job.

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Saturday, November 04, 2006

Organ Donation

Robby Berman from the Halakhic Organ Donor Society spoke at our shul this Shabbos. Yes, there are halakhic issues with being an organ donor in any case not to do with life and death. However, as Mr. Berman pointed out, we are not only allowed, but are in fact required to eat pork on Yom Kippur if by doing so we will save someone's life. The same should go for organ donation. If someone's life is at stake and you can save it without putting yours at risk (eg. a single kidney donation) or if you have been declared brain-stem dead anyway, it would follow that you still have the obligation to save the other life. I actually met a woman at this event whose husband was killed in an accident and who chose to have his organs donated. Four lives were saved because of her choice to do this and, though plenty of rabbis and laypeople have found fault with her decision, it's clear to me that she did the right thing.

The most problematic thing about this issue is that Jews receive donations even if they won't give them.

Some stories around this that Mr. Berman shared:

A young girl was on a waiting list for lungs. Her family asked that she be moved to the top of the list. The doctors agreed to do this at the point only at the point that she had 10 days left to live. This delay, of course, is because of the enormous waiting list from lack of donors. However, a donor was found and at the very moment that the helicopter was landing on the hospital roof to deliver the lungs, the patient died. The hospital staff then came to the family, gave their condolences, then said they didn't have long to act. They could use her working organs for several other children in the hospital that were dying. The family declined, saying they were Jewish. They were not even religious in any way but entirely secular. They held to this one "halakhah" to the detriment of the other patients in the hospital, when they didn't follow any others. But they were willing to accept organs from someone else.

Another point... in America I think that 40% of the population have signed up for organ donor cards. In Israel, by comparison, only 6% have signed up. As a result:

1. Israel has been kicked out of the international organ donation network because it will receive but won't give.

2. Israelis have been caught using the black market in other countries to get organs, including places such as China. Apparently one of the sources for organs in China is from prisoners - not death-row prisoners, but people like car thieves - who are then murdered in order for their organs to be sold.

This is all sick and disturbing and I now am eager to take whatever steps necessary that I can save lives in the event of - G-d forbid - that I should need to at the time of my own death. (Not for 100 years please.) The biggest problem U. and I have been discussing is why we need a halakhic donation card and can't just sign up on our driver's licenses. I already emailed HODS to find out more about this, but I encourage you to think about this, to sign up if you can, and to talk about the issue in your communities. There is so much more to be said. But in short, people - mostly rabbis apparently - have loads of knee-jerk misconceptions about the law and the gravity of this issue.

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Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Met a doula

Had an interview with someone who I think will be a great doula for me.

I told her about all the work I need to get done for school and home in the next two-three weeks and how urgent it feels since I know I could give birth early. She says it's not likely with all the adrenaline in my system right now.

Adrenaline indeed!

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