Monday, March 19, 2012

Of Questionable Sanity

After going through HG, thoughts of having another child - let alone several more, as we were (and still are) hoping seemed crazy and basically sent me into a panic.  Which is why I find myself questioning my sanity since I know have baby fever.

It's amazing how resilient both the human body and the psyche can be.  Or maybe how forgetful.  Do I not remember the pain and misery?  Do I not remember how I couldn't even get out of bed?  How am I supposed to do all of that with a toddler underfoot, and in the future more than one older child?

Of course I know the answer already.  Yes, I do remember, and that is why I have spent the past year making preparations of mind, body, and house in order to make things go more smoothly.  I have a document on my computer of lists of things to do beforehand and during to try to keep things good.  I speak with many people about various ideas and options, doctor recommendations, etc.

I still feel pretty insane to be considering this again.  Kids must really be something special for a mother to be willing to risk her life (pretty literally, in this case) in order to bring more into the world.  I guess I just take the commandment of "be fruitful and multiply" very seriously.

I'll do everything I possibly can to survive.  The rest is up to G-d.

Pesach (Passover) with HG

This post is inspired by K., who is currently suffering from hyperemesis and recently got in touch with me to ask questions about how I handled Pesach while pregnant.  To those of you who are not religious Jews this may seem like gibberish.  I'm just hoping that some poor woman who doesn't know what to do with herself for the week-long holiday will find this post and feel just a teeny tiny bit better.

Unless you are Sephardic, and even depending what kind of Sephardic you are, chances are that you don't eat kitniyot (legumes and more) on Pesach in addition to the restrictions that everyone has on chametz (leavened bread).  If you are suffering from HG and your food intake is already severely limited, these additional restrictions can seem stifling and even problematic from a health perspective.

K. mentioned to me that she knows she could get a rabbi to give her a heter (permission) to eat kitniyot foods on Pesach, but that it just didn't feel right.  If it was medically necessary then she could understand it, but since she has improved a bit she didn't feel that it was really as medically necessary.

I think that women with HG have a skewed sense of health and sickness.  If you have gone a week without an IV or if you can now eat 800 calories a day then you're doing great, right?  Well yes, but only in comparison to how poorly you were doing before.  Try to look at yourself from an outside perspective, from a 'normal' perspective, before saying that you're well enough that you don't need to get permission to eat normally 'forbidden' foods (although these foods are only half-forbidden, in a way).

My point is, if you are suffering from hyperemesis around Pesach time - even if you aren't in your first trimester, even if you are doing miles better than you were - get the heter from the rabbi for kitniyot.  What's more, don't let even the slightest bit of guilt enter into your conscience.  Even if you feel pretty good your body is still not itself and you have to worry about the little one growing inside.  During an HG pregnancy there are so few foods that you can eat to begin with that you don't want to limit yourself unnecessarily.

If you are living in America, getting the heter might not actually provide a huge amount of relief simply because you can't find so many kitniyot items that are labeled as Kosher for Pesach.  In Israel, however, you'll find everything labeled as kitniyot, from cream cheese to chocolate to coffee to more obvious things like rice and beans and the like.  Buy them.  Have them in your house.  Even if you wind up not using them, at least you know that you have the option.

This is not a time to tell yourself that you're better just to avoid doing something that is outside your comfort zone religiously speaking.  Health comes above all else.  Take care of yourself and your little peanut.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Life is Good

It seems that I am perpetually stressed out, and yet I find that I am also very happy with life.  I have a wonderful husband, a beautiful daughter who can be trying at times but gets forgiven whenever she smothers me with kisses (a few times a day), and a job that keeps me very busy and doesn't pay a lot, but I love.

N. and I are financially a bit iffy at the moment, but we are planning a move in July to a cheaper place and then he will start working as well, so our situation should get much better.  I just like having a plan in place.  Even though the move is months off and we don't have a place yet, I've still been planning tons of little details surrounding everything.  At first it seemed like such a daunting and difficult task, but as I make a plan in my head I find that things seem a bit easier.

Of course it's always nice that I am valued so highly at work, and they consistently pile on more than I am scheduled for (hence the stress).  But I know that they wouldn't give me so much if they didn't have so much confidence in me.  I am highly motivated to keep this job for so many reasons, not least of which is that I actually like it.  It is very satisfying work and I love seeing my improvement even week to week, sometimes.  I am really stretching myself in terms of skills and gaining new ones all the time.  When I first applied for the job they said that there was room for advancement in the company and they weren't kidding.

Not really sure what my point here is, except that despite the stress and hardships of life sometimes, it's still good.  With so many things to love and be happy about, how can it not be good?

Sunday, March 4, 2012

The Broken Shofar Blast

A friend of mine suddenly passed away as a senior in high school, seven years ago last month.  My high school arranged school buses to take us to the funeral and had counselors on hand for us to talk to.  But only one thing sticks out in my memory: the sound her father made, standing over her grave, watching as each person took her turn shoveling on dirt.  The following is a short piece that I wrote a couple years later.

I remember the sound he made as his eldest daughter was lowered into the ground.  It was the most heart-wrenching sound I had ever heard.  It was like a broken shofar blast, a prayer and a cry to G-d that was so full of pain that no words could begin to express it.

I remember how he gathered his next daughter to his chest, trying desperately to hold on to her, keep her safe; how he was surrounded by all five of his surviving children as they all looked on, dazed.

I remember how his wife was stoic as could be, not shedding a tear that we could see.  She spoke the eulogy calmly and cleanly, outwardly accepting her eldest child’s death, inwardly torn to tiny little pieces.

But most of all I remember the sound.  The pure, inarticulate cry of unallayed grief that only one who has lost a child can possibly comprehend.  It is the sound of a soul, devoid of words to say and filled only with intense feeling, calling out to G-d.

We all miss you, Tanielle.  A"H.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

The Changing Face of Leisure

I find it amazing how my definition of leisure seems to be in a semi-constant state of flux.  At the beginning of our marriage it might have been watching a movie together with a hot cup of cocoa or sharing a quiet dinner together without food flying through the air.  When I was pregnant leisure was a day that I felt nominally healthy and could pretend to be a normal person; it was a day that I didn't have to go see any doctors, fill a prescription, or get fluids.

Now, though, leisure is totally different.  With a toddler running around the house, leisure has turned into 30 seconds to pee alone without someone banging on the door.  Leisure is sneaking in a shower while the babe is distracted.  Leisure is eating with both hands or going to the grocery store alone.  Leisure is reading a book that is longer than 10 pages, doesn't have pictures, and doesn't rhyme.

And you know what?  It's so worth it.