Thursday, May 29, 2008

Stretch Marks and Cheesecake

I've been thinking a lot about cheesecakes these days. With Shavuot just around the corner, there is a lot of cheesecake baking I want to do! Pidgeon and I are on different diets these days, and so I think I'll be baking him a 5% fat cheesecake and an apple pie for myself. I also decided that, since we're going out for Shavuot dinner, I'd like to host Shavuot lunch in the apartment. We're still thinking about the invite list, but chances are we'll  keep it pretty mellow. The menu will be dairy and I'll probably fry up some tuna croquettes and make some sort of fun pasta dish. I like entertaining, and since we can't afford to entertain all the time, this could be fun for both of us!

These past few days have been pretty uneventful. Some days I have a ton of energy and so I tackle cleaning up the apartment with tremendous gusto. Other days, I can barely push myself out of bed. My sleeping has been really difficult too, I'm still not getting a full night's sleep and this morning we were awoken by the screams of tiny children who were starting their Yom Yerushalayim celebrations a few days early. I told Pidgeon that I was "feeling violent towards the community center in our neighborhood" since they started playing Zionistic music on the microphone at 8:15 a.m. And, since I didn't really get to sleep before 3:30 a.m., that was a bit too early for me. But then I heard the kids laughing and clapping and having fun and it made me all weepy thinking that P"G our baby could be a part of that one day. 

Pregnancy hormones people, it's a powerful thing. 

I've been stressed beyond stressed these past few days too. Money issues is a terrible problem to have, and I honestly don't know how people living in Israel make ends meet. Food prices are just ridiculously expensive, coupled with gas costs (thank g-d we only have one car!), cable, electric, water and the misc. expense that crops up unexpectedly and you have to be making at least 6,000 shekel a month to just make it. And that's before I factor in baby costs like furniture, strollers, diapers, food, clothing, etc. So, I've been nervous about money with the baby coming. Since Pidgeon and I are still both students - me, at least until I hand in my thesis in October and Pidgeon until March 2009 when he presents his final project - we're starting to feel the pinch.

Our parents have been very, very helpful but still, we're both in our 30's and asking for handouts are extremely difficult (we do have egos). I also am used to being financially independent, as I got a job when I was 20, moved out of the house before my 21st birthday, and have been paying most of my bills myself for a decade already (my parents always "helped" but it was here and there, for a new pair of shoes or some makeup, not rent or food bills). Pidgeon is in the same boat. We're just two people who decided, in our early 30's, to make career changes. Now, I still plan to do PR, but I'm getting my Masters in Creative Writing so I have other options. Do I think that, in Israel, I'll be able to get a teaching job in Creative Writing? Absolutely not. I've been seeding the market and checking out the competition and a writer/marketing expert/blogger/PR exec in this Country is a dime a dozen! Talk about oversaturating the market!  I definitely have to figure out what else I can do so that I can become attractive to prospective employers when I'm ready to get a job in this Country. 

Again, I don't know how Israeli's live in this Country. I'm not even talking about lavish lifestyles, just every day bill payment. Anyone out there want to enlighten me? I'd love a seasoned Olah/Oleh's opinion on the topic! How can people afford to raise children here?

So, we went to Shaarei Tzedek this week to tour the maternity ward. It was very overwhelming for me and I did freak out a bit at one point when I saw a woman in the delivery area looking like she was in some serious pain. The nurses though were extremely nice when we asked to see into the nursery area. I was happy to see increased security, and even happier to know that Mother's can go into the nursery whenever they want to take the baby to their rooms. We decided to register at the hospital for the birth, and the registration process was really easy. The woman at admissions was extremely kind, and when she told us that the government was going to give us money for the baby, we were both so surprised. I never knew the Country gives you monetary compensation for having children. I wonder how much we'll be getting? Either way, it's money that will help us keep our baby P"G in clean diapers! 

Well, I'm off to work on one of my thesis stories. I'm writing my Cousin Neil story, and it's looking like it should be a good one! 

Yom Tov from Baka!

Monday, May 26, 2008

Sushi and Alcohol

I'm started to have cravings. Actually, to be more precise, I've always had cravings but now happens to be the first time I can't indulge my cravings. You see, all I want these days is a well chilled Extra Dirty Ketel One martini. With lots of dirty and at least 4 giant olives. Unfortunately, pregnancy means no alcohol what so ever. Even worse, I've yet to find a bartender in Israel who knows what I'm talking about when I ask for a dirty martini. It's all really sad, which is why my freezer is stocked with 3 bottles of Ketel One and I have some nice vermouth in our liquor cabinet. Never been opened. I'm waiting until the baby comes, when I will P"G make myself the drink I've been craving to toast our little one. Now I just need to do some research on breastfeeding and alcohol.

Meanwhile, I'd love to chase my extra dirty Ketel One martini with a sushi boat from Sushi Bar Rechavia. That would just be the perfect accompaniment to my alcohol. I miss sushi so much! We used to eat it at least once a week in our house, which really hurt our pocket but was so tasty and worthwhile. We had the same order each week. We started with the seaweed salad and then split a boat between us. I always ordered an extra spicy tuna sandwich and sometimes I would get some extra sashimi for Pidgeon since he prefers sashimi to rolls. We polished this off, between us, every week. I'm from the school that you need to eat as much sushi to fill yourself up, as opposed to trying to be dainty and just stick to 2 rolls that we all know does little to satiate the stomach. Shavuot will be very hard for me, as Pidgeon's family (in acknowledgment of their Japanese heritage) always has sushi for dinner. Last year, it was incredible! I stuffed myself silly on all sorts of yummy sushi! Sadly, this year I'm going to have to stick to the cooked fish and spinach/sesame salad (Pidgeon's Aunt's recipe for this is delicious!) and try not to shoot daggers of jealousy at the family indulging in the evening's make-your-own-sushi Shavuot ritual. If Pidgeon can bring me some sushi to the delivery room, I'm all for it! First, we have to figure out where we're going to deliver :)

This week has not been a good week for my tushy. The above photo is not an exaggeration. I had that size needle jabbed into my upper tushy yesterday, and was icing for 2 hours just so I could sit on it. But I digress. 

Friday was a wonderful day! My friend came in from Tel Aviv and we went to see the Orphaned Art of the Holocaust exhibit at the Israel Museum. It was truly incredible. There were two pieces in particular that really, really stood out for me. This one Egon Schiele painting of the ghetto, and the Money painting called Snow at Sunset, which were both really fantastic. It was an extremely well done exhibit and left us both wondering how no one in the Rothchild family has claimed four paintings of their ancestors? The paintings were stunning, naturally, but seemed very out of place as orphaned art. 

After the exhibit, we went to Caffit on Emek for some lunch. As usual, the service was horrendous,  but while we ate a friend of ours walked by the window and invited us for dinner. Since I hadn't even started cooking, I decided to buzz the Pidgeon and we accepted. The meal was really, really interesting. We hadn't been to an all singles meal in quite a while, and the conversation at least on our side of the table was intelligent and stimulating. I was very pleased where we were sitting, especially once I caught some snatches of conversation from the other side. Pidgeon had a good time and we excused ourselves early so we could come home for my shot. That's the hardest part of this daily stomach shot, I need to do is roughly around the same time each day. Since I picked 11:00 p.m. as my shot time, dinner on Friday nights out of the apartment is getting increasingly difficult. We might have to stop accepting invitations for Friday night from now on. We got home only 10 minutes late and, since I had done a ton of walking on Friday, passed our fairly easily. 

I woke on Saturday with pain shooting up from my left foot. It's not new pain, unfortunately, and I was cursing the decision to wear new shoes for the walk on Friday night. My left foot is very sensitive and I get inflammation of the joint at the ball of my foot. It makes it hard to walk on it and, the only cure for the problem is to stay off the foot until the inflammation has time to go away. 

Well, we had a hike ahead of us to get to Pidgeon's parents for lunch, and so I strapped on my New Balances and said a little prayer that the problem shouldn't become exacerbated. The walk was hard, it was hot and up "death hill". They live in Talbiah and, since Pidgeon was davening at Chovevei's 9:30 a.m. minyan, I knew that we had no choice but to trek up Chovevei street. Which, when coming from the Inbal hotel, is "death hill". It's really, really steep. I was wheezing halfways through the bottom half, and there was plenty ahead of me. Finally, we managed to make it to shul, and I took Pidgeon's house keys and went the rest of the way to his folks house. I managed to pour myself some more water before collapsing on one of the beds. I didn't get to sleep, but was able to relax and cool down. I don't know how much longer we're going to be able to do that walk. Although, I do think if I end up going overdue, that I'm going to make Pidgeon walk with me up that hill. It should certainly put me into labor!

We decided to walk home after lunch since I really wanted my bed, and my foot was sore but not too bad so we took it slow. We ended up getting lost in Baka - don't ask - and took a roundabout route home. The good thing is that we discovered a very nice, clean, beautiful park with lots of activities for kids. The bad thing is that it added 10 more minutes to an already long walk. 

Fortunately, I had plenty of time to nap before Shabbos ended, and it was fitful but restful. I spent the night waking up every hour going to the bathroom though, I guess from all the fruit and water I'd been consuming, and so I woke up yesterday at 7:00 a.m. really, really tired. 

Which brings me to the situation at hand. Yesterday, I was feeling really lousy. I was nauseated and tired and my foot was throbbing something awful. Plus, I had the worst headache that didn't go away no matter how much I ate. For some reason, I decided to whip up a bath of Riches Whip from my freezer to go with a strawberry slices snack. About 30 minutes later, the puking began. It was terribly painful. And it was stopping! I went into the kitchen and discovered that the Riches Whip expired in March! That's when I started to panic. Fortunately, this happened towards the end of the day, and Pidgeon came home from work in time to help me out. We called the Medical Center to talk to the Dr. on call and he told us to immediate come in to see him. I ran to puke again while Pidgeon got things ready. My headache was worse and I just couldn't believe what I had done to myself.

We waited a short time before the Dr. saw us and he took my blood pressure, which was B"H normal, but I had a very elevated heart rate. He didn't like the way I looked but didn't want to give me an IV if he didn't have to. He decided, instead, to shoot me with a drug that would take away the nausea so I could rehydrate myself. He left to get the shot and then came back, with the shot concealed. He told me the needle was too big to go anywhere but in my ass. Oy!

I turned around, closed my eyes and clenched Pidgeon's hand. The Dr. said he would count to three and then jab. Unfortunately, he only counted to 1 before jabbing and boy did it hurt! I yelled Jesus C#$^T! and then it was over. Since I take Clexane though, I bleed more than normal people, so he had to put pressure on it to make it stop. That was about as pleasant as the shot itself. He asked us to stay for 20 minutes so he could make sure I didn't have a bad reaction and I took my time sipping a glass of water. 

Pidgeon brought me home and I was a wreck! My parents were calling to see what was going on and so I had to fill them in, while Pidgeon attacked the kitchen to make himself some dinner and cook me some rice. Fortunately, I was able to keep a few spoonfuls down. Within no time, I had to give myself another shot, and I just almost couldn't do it. I'm getting real sick of needles people, and two in one night is just too much for me. But, with Pidgeon's help and support, I was able to do the 11:00 p.m. shot and crawl into bed. Sleep, B"H, was much easier last night. Being dehydrated, while it's very dangerous, at least afforded me a full night's sleep without getting up to use the bathroom.

And so, on this Memorial Day in the US (which I celebrate here in Israel too), I am spending it trying to hydrate and relax. Tomorrow is school and, at this point, I don't think I'm going to make it. Here's hoping that today is a much, much better day than yesterday!

Yom Tov from Baka!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Three chairs and my big ol' butt

I went back to school on Tuesday and was really looking forward to flexing my literary muscles once again. The schelp to school, however, did not really help and for the first time in a while I realized just how hard it is to do the trip. The part getting to Bar Ilan is really not so hard, I get dropped off by Pidgeon a few blocks away from the Tachanah and the walk to the bus is almost downhill for me. The ride itself tends to be relaxing, especially if I get a window seat and can zone out until our stop. Once I get off the bus, however, that's when the real hard work begins. The new bus stop for the 400 from Jerusalem is at the base of this huge ramp which takes walkers over the highway, down a flight of steps, and a few meters away from the Geha gate. This ramp is torture! It is extremely steep, very long and really hard for me to get up. I was huffing and puffing by the time I got to the top and had to hold onto the railing on the steps down to make sure I didn't fall. Once through the gates, I have about a 10 minutes walk to my "classroom" (I use quotes because I'm in one of those dilapidated caravans that literally has holes in the floor and the ceiling is caving in). Even though I missed the 8:20 a.m. bus, the 8:40 a.m. got me in 10 minutes before class. I was able to hit the john, buy two waters and get to class before it started. Class itself was really interesting, we read some more Frederick Douglass autobiography and geared up for the shift to Abraham Cahan's Yekl next week. As the 90 minute class drew to a close, I realized that I needed to go to the bathroom again. And this time, it was extremely urgent. I silent wished that Professor Kramer would wrap it up, but then someone asked a question that he needed to answer in two parts, and there was no way that my bladder would hold.

I turned to my friend and said that I was going to sneak out of the room. I was hoping to be a stealth as possible. I put my notebook into my knapsack and planned to grab my bag and two water bottles as soon as I stood up. I was all ready to make my little escape when I stood, and the entire row of chairs came with me. I hadn't realized that I was stuck inside my chair. I blame it more on the heat and sweating than on my ass actually being too large for the chair. But, I was in one of those rows of chairs that's connected by a bar below, and since no one was sitting next to me, all the chairs lifted with me. And then, gravity took hold, and with the loud CRASH all three chairs fell back to the ground. My water bottles went flying, and rolled across the room. I was mortified. Professor Kramer told me that it was a smooth move and I was in such pain and was so ashamed that, looking down at the ground, I gathered my stuff up as best as I could and apologized a million times before running for the closest bathroom.

I learned many a lessons in that little moment. 

#1) Time to start doing some exercise so that I don't end up with a large butt than belly.
#2) Pregnant women should never, ever, hold it in. It's just not smart
#3) Always sit in a row of seats with someone else. This way, their weight should keep the chairs on the ground the next time I need to stand up

Well, I shelped myself home and was so exhausted from all the walking that I ended up passing out on the couch in the afternoon. I was feeling really lousy from the heat and exercise that we went to bed pretty early.

Yesterday, I spent majority of the day doing some homework for school and just relaxing. I try not to leave the house during the heat of the day, but we did take a really nice long walk at night. We also ended up at Tarantino's on Emek Refaim for dinner. It was pretty good, I got the entrecote salad and some fries. I was so full from dinner, for the first time in weeks, I didn't need a snack before going to bed! Unfortunately, that meant a 5:00 a.m. wake up from starving, rumbling stomach.

I should have just grabbed a cracker and gone back to bed, but I'm really trying not to snack so early in the morning. I decided to log onto the computer and IM with my friends still awake in the States. Most were really shocked by the outcome of this year's American Idol, and since Pidgeon and I have been watching the show, I couldn't help but find out the winner. I then woke Pidgeon up and asked him if he wanted to know who won, but he was adamant that he didn't want to know. I let him go back to sleep since he has to work today, and instead read some articles about the "shocking" finale.

By 7:00 a.m., the hunger pains were just too much for me to deal with and so I grabbed a nectarine and some mini rice cakes. It was perfect! Within minutes of finishing my snacks, I was passed out. I don't even remember Pidgeon leaving for work, that's how fast asleep I was! I managed to grab some shut eye until 11:30 a.m. and, with a renewed energy, was able to tackle the mess that is this apartment. I can't stand clutter, it really gets me anxious. I like a nice, clean, apartment. And, since our cleaning lady only comes every two weeks, I needed to make some order out of this chaos. I managed to wash all the dishes in both sinks, ball the watermellon into two large containers, straighten up the living room, clean up our bedroom and put up the wash before feeling a bit fatigued. Regardless though, I'm insisting that we go for a walk tonight. I need to make sure that next week, when I sit into the chair at school, I don't wedge myself in so much so that I can't get out of it!

Well, I'm off to fold the laundry. Yom Tov from Baka!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Electrocution No More!

I've been bad about blogging lately, but that's because I've just been absolutely exhausted. Shabbos was really nice and relaxing. We woke up early and decided to go to Shir Chadash, which is in a school on Yehuda HaLevi street. We really like the Rabbi, but the Kehillah is not necessarily our speed. Hmm, this whole shul search is frustrating. We've been to so many different shul's and have yet to find the one that's perfect for us. We, did, however find one that we both like which is really close to our apartment. I think we're going to have to give up the shul search for now and just try to make a go of it with the Kehillah in our neighborhood. Besides, my walking is already starting to get a bit limited, so it's nice to know that there is something 2 blocks away that we like.

Meanwhile, the biggest news in my life is that, after 1 year and 9 months living in this Country, I finally have a solution to my Mac problem. Before I moved here in August 2006, I asked the Mac people whether or not my computer would have a voltage issue. They insisted it wouldn't and I bought 2 packages of the international travel plugs so I could plug the computer into the outlets here in Israel. So, I moved here, and even with the new plugs, my computer would shock me. Literally, I had sores up and down the insides of my arms from repeated shocking. I tried to ignore it by always wearing shoes while working on the computer, but after a while it really started to bother me. Then I met Pidgeon, and he would share my computer and would really had the shocking. Once I got pregnant, Pidgeon said that it could go on no longer. We tracked down the phone number for the Mac people here in Israel and Pidgeon finally got them on the phone to discuss the problem. They told him that there's an extremely easy solution! All we needed was a special three-pronged plug. 80 shekel later, I am now the happy owner of this fantastic plug which works with both my MacBook Pro AND my Powerbook G4! It's soo nice to sit at my computer without getting little shocks running throughout my body. And, on the plus side, the sores on my arms are finally healing. This has taught me to never let something really important go, and to try to find the necessary solutions ASAP!

I spent the day in and out of bed yesterday, I was just so exhausted. I would get up, go to the kitchen and wash the meat dishes, then crawl back into bed. An hour later, I would crawl out of bed and wash the dairy dishes and then get back into bed. I did this for various other household tasks throughout the day, and tried to also do some school work reading. I am really proud that I'm getting ahead of my school work and have finished 3 books I needed to read for my two courses. I have about 6 more to go, but I'm hoping it really won't take that long if I'm diligent!

Today, I managed to go back to sleep after Pidgeon left for work. He started a new job yesterday and B"AH he is really liking it. I slept in and woke up feeling really energetic, so much so that I was able to clean the room, fold the laundry, shower, get dressed and make myself a decent breakfast. I was even feeling good enough to clean the toilet and sweep the living room floor. That's pretty impressive given my really low energy levels lately. We have an ultrasound appointment this afternoon that I'm really nervous about. This is the ultrasound where they check for disabilities in the baby. Apparently, they're able to tell with a picture of the baby's neck and then a blood test. Phew, another blood test is not necessarily something I'm thrilled about! My bruise from last week's blood work is actually still healing in the inside of my arm! Well, I'm hoping that the women at the Agrippas HQ of Maccabi are better at finding the vein and drawing some blood. 

It's a beautiful and hot day today! The sky is practically cloudless and with all the windows open in the apartment, we have a very comfortable breeze going. It's nice, especially since I'm sitting at home waiting for Pidgeon to pick me up for the appointment. Well, since I have some energy left, I'm off to put away my Shabbos dishes. 

Yom Tov from Baka!!

Let Them Eat Muffins!

Well, I honestly don't know where the energy came from, but I manage to bake some whole wheat muffins today. And, surprisingly, they were really good! I went with Shoshana's list and used whole wheat pastry flour, demerera sugar instead of white sugar and the rest of the ingredients were all approved on the list. The outcome was pretty delicious, and not as dense as I would have expected. That being said, I did use a cup of applesauce, so that probably helped with the consistency!

I was a complete insomniac last night, it was pretty awful. I was on the phone with folks in the States until 3:30 a.m. and then I just booted up the computer and served the net until I fell asleep for an hour at 7:30 a.m. I'm hoping tonight will be a bit better in the sleep department. 

We were up early this morning because our new beds arrived! Hallelujah! For some reason, before we got married, we decided to borrow Pidgeon's brother's beds as they left the Country on Shlichut. Well, no one told me that the mattresses were more than 12 years old and the box spring was close to 30 years old! Needless to say, the beds were a bit rough on my back. At first, I didn't complain and was thankful for the loan, but as time went on I realized that I just couldn't continue sleeping on them. So, we decided to go looking for the magical beds whose boxspring doubles as a storage unit. They finally came this morning around 9ish and I immediately went to work filling the storage with all of our sheets, blankets, towels and tablecloths. It took us about 2 hours worth of work to just get everything in and then make the beds, but I'm confident that it will be all worth it after a good nights sleep. Plus, it was getting hard for me to push myself up out of bed for my multiple late night nature calls. I'm hoping it will be easier to just "hop" down. 

After my hours of baking and bed making, I did another massive load of laundry and somehow manage to get some reading done for school. I'm looking forward to the start of my last semester next week. I'll be even happier once my program is finished, my exam taken, my papers in and my thesis defended. I'm really hoping to get my Masters done before the baby. That being said, writing isn't going very well, so I have to buckle down and get to work if I want to achieve my goal.

Well, it's close to 1:00 a.m. already and I'm wiped. Here's hoping for a wonderful night's sleep in our new beds!

Layla Tov from Jerusalem!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Meeting a Legend

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of meeting a Legend. Mrs. Shoshana Shteif herself, the woman whose reputation has infiltrated into every single sect and religious group in Jerusalem and beyond! I had first heard of her a few months into dating Pidgeon, when his Aunt told us how this woman saved her skin. Her homeopathic techniques, I later found out, were also what cured Pidgeon's best friend's horrible acne condition. A few months went on, and I heard that Pidgeon's cousin from London flew in to see Mrs. Shteif in order to help with her terrible skin itchiness.  Personally, I never thought I would ever meet this woman. But, that was before I got pregnant.

When Pidgeon and I got back from the States, the morning (or all day long) sickness was really getting too much to handle. I looked awful, and last Friday night it all came to a head. We were at his parents for dinner and I just broke down, I couldn't handle feeling so lousy anymore! I needed some relief from the constant nausea, the terrible taste in my mouth and the exhaustion. Pidgeon's Mom offered to take me to see Shoshana Shteif and I jumped at the chance. At this point, I'm willing to try anything.

Pidgeon's Mom called me yesterday morning and told me to make sure I dressed Tzniut for the appointment. I made sure to have my knees and elbows covered, and took an extra long shmata just in case. She picked me up at 10:00 a.m. for our 10:30 a.m. appointment and we drove towards the Belz neighborhood of Jerusalem. Literally, the office is 2 blocks away from the Blez Beis Medrash which was built to model the Beis Hamikdash. The up close view was pretty incredible.

I had been warned that the place is usually a complete zoo and that our wait might be long, so I brought along a book. MIL had her own and so I was ready to settle in and wait. Fortunately, there was no one in the waiting room and I was ushered back into one of the "exam" rooms. Mrs. Shteif's assistant then hooked me up to this machine and handed me a metal pipe to hold in one hand, while she used a rod like contraption to test my energies with the other hand. We switched hands and then she hooked me up to the machine a number of different ways. I went along, even though I had no clue what was going on. At first, I honestly thought she was just still testing me. Later, my MIL told me that it was actually detoxifying and purifying "cycles" that were going on. The weirdest thing included my bare feet on 2 slabs of metal that were hooked into the machine, which was hooked into a pad that rested on my stomach, which was hooked into this pipe shaped porcelin object that I held up against my cheek. I did this to both sides of my face for 10 minutes. Again, I had no idea what was going on, but so many people swear by her that I just went along with it.

Finally, after 2 hours of being hooked up to the machine with various contraptions and for different cycles of time, Mrs. Shteif came in to see me. She did a brief "exam" of my mouth, eyes and skin. She immediately told me that I am very "sensitive" from my skin to what I eat. I agreed that it was true. Then, she asked me who in my family has diabetes. Well, as far as I know the other person in my family who was borderline diabetic was my Zaydie. I told her this, and she said that while I do no have diabetes, I am genetically inclined to it. (side note, but Lord did my folks pass on the Lions share of genetic issues to me! I'm hoping we aren't doing the same to our baby!)

Then, Mrs. Shteif spent 30 minutes testing me for food allergies. Here's how it worked. I held that metal pipe again in one hand, and she used the rod to test my energy levels with the other hand while placing small vials of different food into the machine. I had no idea how it worked people, but I can tell you that with certain foods the machine really, really beeped. Only, it wasn't a beep but sounded more like the whir of a dying motor sound. I didn't know what was going on, but that dying whirring sound was pretty frequent.

Finally, after going through three huge boxes of vials, Mrs. Shteif told me that I have "quite a list". She then wrote down all the foods I can no longer eat, now that I'm pregnant. They include:

Charif (spicy), all kinds
Tomatoes and ketchup
Wine (which, I knew I was allergic to going into the meeting)
Yellow cheese
Oranges, clementines and orange juice (although lemon and pomello are ok)
Green pepper
Peanuts, bamba and peanut butter
White flour and anything made with white flour (although whole wheat flour is ok)
Eggs - although something made with cooked eggs like a kugel is okay
Milk and all milk products - although, I can have goats milk if I boil it first, cool it down and then boil it again. Soy milk is ok
Milk chocolate (which I knew I was allergic to going into the meeting) - although dark chocolate is okay
Fried foods
White sugar and everything made with white sugar - although, demerara sugar is okay

Then, she handed me a survival list for women who are nauseous and throwing up in the first trimester. Most of what was on it was pretty self explanatory, but somethings really were interesting. In particular, that you shouldn't combine eating and drinking and actually should wait an entire hour between the two. I thanked her for everything, made a follow up appointment for Friday, and then went home. 

This woman has now left with absolutely nothing I can eat. Let me explain that the only things I've been eating each day are eggs, yellow cheese sandwiches and peanut butter on rice crackers. I now could basically eat absolutely no protein. It was really, really frustrating. I also managed to somehow get myself good and dehydrated yesterday because each time I was hungry, I ate which meant I had to wait an hour until I could drink. It was rough. By the time we went out for dinner with Pidgeon's family, I was exhausted and starving.

Fortunately, we went to the epitome of protein places at El Gaucho. I could hardly find anything on the menu I could stomach, and the pasta was out because it was made with white flour and cooked in a tomato sauce. So, I decided to try a steak and see what happened. The salad arrived and I devoured my plate! Finally, my extremely well done steak came and I tucked in tentatively at first. After a few bites and no nausea, I managed to clean my plate. It was pretty amazing, especially since I haven't been able to eat meat in quite some time. We got home and I had some watermellon before we went to sleep.

This morning, I woke up really, really hungry and thirsty and a bit nauseous. According to the paper, I should eat right away if I feel nauseous. Unfortunately, there wasn't much in the house I could eat. I opted to drink instead and had a bottle of water. A few hours later, I made myself a sandwich on whole wheat bread and cut up some approved vegetables. Sadly, I have a vegetable bin full of tomatoes that I can no longer eat, and a huge chunk of cheddar cheese. It was expensive to buy, so I think I might just package up all the foods I can no longer eat and give them to Pidgeon's family. At least that way I'm not being wasteful.

Today has been a very productive day, even though I haven't left the house. I managed to finish all the laundry and tidy up the house before tomorrow's bed delivery. I'm really, really excited about the new beds and hope they are everything I was hoping they'd be! If anything else, I need the firm new mattress to help with my back which has already started to ache. Tonight, we're going to the supermarket so we can stock up on food. It took me an hour to write my shopping list as everything I wanted to make had some sort of offensive ingredient in it. Sigh. I really hope eating this way will help, although my biggest concern is that I basically eliminated all calcium options and I don't think that's really healthy. Hopefully, once I feel better, I'll be able to slowly add it back into my diet.

Well, I'm off to finish up my errands and get ready for out outing tonight. President Bush is coming to town tomorrow to completely mess up this City for the next 3 days. It should be really, really annoying. More to come!

Yom Tov from Baka!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Happy 60th BBQ!!

Chag Sameach everyone! It's Israel's 60th birthday and that means the air today will be filled with the smokey scents of BBQed beef. It already began last night, and I managed to make it to Pidgeon's car before I blew my chunks. It was nasty, but at least I was able to keep down 1/2 an entrecote skewer. I'm just so thankful I left a bag in the car, otherwise it would have been a bit messy.

So, I'm all messed up from the jetlag. I went to bed at 2:00 a.m. and was wide awake by 4:00 a.m. I laid in bed for a bit, went to the bathroom to read my What to expect while you're expecting book, came back to bed and woke Pidgeon to ask him what he thought of a baby name, and then gave in and just booted up my laptop. I made the big mistake yesterday of waking up at 6:00 and then sleeping basically on and off the rest of the day. I didn't get out of bed until 5:00 p.m., so no wonder I only slept 2 hours last night! I already made Pidgeon promise to not let me crawl into bed until tonight. I'm going to just fight through the exhaustion until I get my body back on Israel time!

Last night, we went to Pidgeon's family's big BBQ and it was a doozy! His folks had a lot of their friends over, and Pidgeon's Aunt's, Uncle's and cousins were also there. Since most of the family knows I'm pregnant, I fielded a lot of questions about how I'm feeling. I was very honest, and then suddenly someone is clinking a glass of champagne and making a toast about all of the Simchas in the room. Next thing I know, they're announcing that we are B"H expecting. Pidgeon got worried that I would freak out, but at that point in the evening I was feeling so nauseous and queazy that I couldn't care less. Granted, I'm only 11 weeks and most people wait until the end of their first trimester to tell people, but I'm really showing! I'd rather people know the truth then think that I overindulged in the States and just packed on the poundage. Hmm, does that make me vain?

Speaking of vanity: It took me 2 hours to get ready to go out last night, I just ripped through my wardrobe and tried to find stuff that still fit and was warm enough for the chilly Jerusalem evening. I settled on a pair of maternity pants (the only pair I bought, mind you, since I keep forgetting Jerusalem gets cool at night and I'm already in emergency-Israel-is-freaking-hot-make-sure-you-wear-clothing-that-ventilates mode) and a sweater set. I used a ton of under eye concealer to try to hide my bags and then broke out one of my new silk shmata's to tie around my head. Pidgeon said that I looked nice, but I felt a bit out of sorts. It's weird to be back, and to have to socialize with Pidgeon's entire family right away was a bit overwhelming. I guess things are still so new that, when I'm away, it just takes a bit longer to warm up again. I'm sure by the time Pidgeon's sister has her baby, I'll be back into the swing of things.

So, I'm absolutely starving right now but trying not to raid the fridge since it's only 5:50 a.m. Again, I'm trying to get myself on a schedule and middle of the night eating is really not something I want to get into the habit of doing. I'm going to try to hold out until at least 7:00ish/8:00ish before making myself a sandwich of some sort. Easier said than done, as a fierce headache is what woke me up to begin with. I definitely think it's a hunger headache, since I didn't eat much yesterday and didn't really keep much of dinner down. Yuck. I'm really, really looking forward to P"G the days when the nausea and this g-d awful taste in my mouth goes away. It's metallic sometimes, fruity the other, and just all around nasty. And my lord, but no one told me that I would be a saliva making machine!!!! Sometimes, I just want to grab a spittoon, cop a squat, and just spit all day long. Nasty image, no? Sorry about that!

Well, I think I'm going to head into the living room and tidy things up. Might as well be productive if I'm awake :)

Chag Sameach and Yom Huledet Sameach Israel from Jerusalem!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Yom Hazikaron

It's Yom Hazikaron in Israel, and since it's 7:20 a.m., the Country has 12 hours left to mourn. Last night was very sad, Pidgeon and I held off dinner until after the siren. We stood together in front of our TV in silence, and I cried. I blame it on the jet lag and the pregnancy hormones-gone-wild. The TV is full of stories of lost soldiers, and the families left behind to mourn their hero children. It's difficult to watch, especially since now I'm B"H going to be a Mother myself too. I can't fathem this type of pain. Pidgeon has to meet with his Professor for a few hours today in Shoresh, and I'm going to be staying close to home. We hope to go to shul tonight for Yom HaAtzmaut tefillah and then a BBQ at his parents home. It's not easy for me to go from super sad to jubilant in a matter of minutes. I don't know how Israeli's do it year in and year out. That's really one thing about Israeli culture I hope to adapt to, the immediate and acceptable shift from Yom Hazikaron to Yom HaAtzmaut.

Yesterday was surreal, I walked around under the jet lag haze and tried to do what needed to be done but failed pretty miserably. Pidgeon's car battery died and no amount of boosting could resurrect it. So, with 25 minutes to go until our Dr. appointment, we made the decision to hitch a ride to the Dr. and deal with the car battery when we returned. Our wait at the Dr.'s office wasn't too long, and when he finally took us in I told him just how lousy I've been feeling lately. He smiled for the first time in the 6 months since I've been his patient and then recommend acupuncture as a known remedy for morning sickness. One needle a day is enough for me (explanation to follow) so I decided to pass and just pray that this nausea will subside on its own in a few days. We went into the examination room and he decided to do a belly ultrasound, which I was thrilled about since I'm not a fan of the internal ones. Pidgeon came into the room with us and suddenly, there was our baby! We watched as the baby played with its feet and both of us just kept saying: Oh my G-d, Oh my G-d, Oh my G-d!

I'm keeping a scrapbook of all our ultrasound pictures, and you can really get a better sense of what the baby looks like at this stage of my pregnancy. It's so amazing sometimes to think that this little baby is growing and alive inside of me! I called my Mom when we got home and told her the news. She decided to dub the baby Tater Tot because I had the stronger urge for Tater Tots when I was home and almost ate an entire bag myself. Which is a pretty good indication as to why I put on 7 pounds in 3 weeks! That's not a healthy number and so I have to figure out some sort of eating plan that doesn't include Entenmenn's, potato chips and Tater Tots. I ate some watermelon and cherry's for breakfast but boy did that just bring on the morning sickness! I'm hoping to be able to keep my eating more in check once the nausea subsides. Otherwise, I'm just going to have to eat a bag of chips a day and pray the weight doesn't pile on!

Meanwhile, now that we're back, I've been so overwhelmed with planning for the baby. I was so wiped from the Dr., I napped for 5 hours in the afternoon and picked up enough energy to unpack all four of our suitcases. I left the shoes for Pidgeon to put away before it's painful to bend down sometimes, but I was proud of what I accomplished. I even managed to make a nutritious dinner for us (peas, Lentil pilaf and chicken cachatorie) before giving in to the exhaustion and sinking into the couch that I didn't leave until after my shot. During those hours, I numblessly watched TV and thought about all the questions you have to think about at this stage of pregnancy.

How do I want to deliver? Who do I want to deliver me? Where do I want to have this baby? What about all of my health issues? Does it pay to go private? What about a midwife or a doulah?

Fortunately, my MIL is a doulah and I plan on asking her to be mine as well. With the language barrier for me, I really want someone in that room who has a bit more invested interest in my health and our babies, who knows how to navigate "the system" and will really just help me out. When I mentioned to my friend Shulamit that I was going to ask my MIL to be my doulah, she was shocked and tried to talk me out of it. Believe me folks, if I was having this baby up at Einstein where I'm surrounding by English speaking Dr.'s, my American gynocologist and with my American neurologist a phone call away, I might make a different choice of doulah's. But this is Israel. My Hebrew is deplorable. I don't understand necessarily how birthing works here, I don't always understand what people are saying to me. Besides Pidgeon, I will have no one from my family here to support me. You bet your ass I'm having my MIL in that room helping me out when she has the experience with these situations. Granted, having her see me in that type of situation is not necessarily something I'm gung-ho about. But sometimes, you just have to suck it up and make difficult choices. This is not an easy choice for me, but I honestly do think it's the right one.

In Israel, your OBGYN is not necessarily the person who delivers you. Unlike in the States, when the Dr. who has been following you your entire pregnancy is the one delivering your baby. That frightens the heck out of me, for many reasons.

Reason 1 - I have pseudotumor cerebri, which I pray is still in remission even with the massive weight gain, and therefore my Dr. needs to be aware of my condition and take that into account during delivery and throughout the pregnancy.

Reason 2 - As if the PTC wasn't enough, I was recently diagnosed with a blood clotting disorder. That means, every single day, I give myself a shot of Clexane (generic for Heparin) in the stomach. People. I shoot myself with a needle in the STOMACH every day. If I really, really thought about what I've been doing, I wouldn't be able to do it. Fortunately, we have it down to a good routine, and Pidgeon is absolutely amazing. Together, we ice the area with a bag of edemame that I promised I would cook up for him once the shots are over. Then, he brings over the shot (still sealed) and an alcohol swipe. I look around for an area of my stomach to pinch enough fat to cushion the shot. But first, I have to measure 4 fingers width away from my belly button. That's the no-shot zone. Once that's done, Pidgeon opens the alcohol wipe and I pull it out with sterile fingers. I swipe the pinched fat area (B"H, I've got plenty of belly fat, which really helps) with the alcohol and then Pidgeon helps me position the shot at a 90 degree angle. That's the most difficult to do, figuring out 90 degrees from the pinched fat portion of my stomach. Once we're set, I take a deep breath, and just insert the needle. Sometimes I draw blood, which really sucks because the bruising can be really painful. The worst part of the shot, though, is the medication itself. It burns like a mother@#%$%r. We then wait 10 seconds after the medication is in (the needle hole is TINY and so you have to wait 10 seconds after plunging to make sure that all the medication goes into the stomach) and then I pull it out, hand the used syringe over to Pidgeon, and try to ice the pain and bruising away. It's a 15-20 minute process, minimum, each and every day. It doesn't get easier. It doesn't get better. And knowing that I have to do this every day until 2 weeks before the baby and then 6 weeks after the baby is born, is not helpful. But I want a healthy baby so badly, that this is a small price to pay for P"G our future children. So, I need to make sure the Dr. delivering our baby is familiar with a blood clotting disorder and would be able to rush in if G-d forbid something when wrong with me.

Reason #3 - Seriously, reasons 1 and 2 should be more than enough. Bottom line is that, with all my medical issues, I don't want someone I never met before who isn't familiar with my conditions, to deliver our baby.

Oh, but did I mention that if I want my current OBGYN to deliver our baby it would cost us 10,000 shekel!!?!?!

Dude, that's just a lot of money.

We're looking into our options right now, but I never thought it would be something I'd have to look into. I'm just happy that at least I know about this now, otherwise, I would be in for a really big surprise when I P"G went into labor and my Dr. didn't show up when we called for him.

Anyway, the nausea is getting pretty bad right now so I'm going to go and forage in the fridge for something to keep the morning sickness at bay. I'm not holding my breath.

May today bring some comfort to all those in mourning as we spend these hours mourning with our fellow Countrymen.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Invasion of the Borsalino's

We're back in Israel and, as evidenced by the time of this post, I'm horribly jet lagged and have been up since 4:00 a.m. I tried to rouse the Pidgeon for some company, but he was having none of it and is softly snoring away next to me. I'm jealous.
As sad as I am to have left NYC and my family, it's nice to be back in Israel in our apartment. I missed our beds, which is ironic since we're getting new ones this week. It was just so great on the drive back from the airport - we took the 443 - that the view didn't lend itself to tears. Don't worry, they'll be coming!
The flight was an absolutely NIGHTMARE! I hate El Al. I wish I had Guydamak's phone number cause I would call him and beg him to buy the airline and make it user friendly. Our flight was delayed 5 hours!! We should have gotten to Israel at 1:00 p.m. and we didn't land until close to 7:00 p.m. That was pretty crappy.
Meanwhile, we were on the Yeshiva shuttle, and there were so many black hats on the plane that I could have sworn we were mistakenly at a Rosh Yeshiva's funeral and not boarding at JFK. And, with loads of black hats, comes loads of black hat boxes. Many even carried on board more than one. And they are so stupid about loading them up into the overhead compartments. I watched as 4 bocherim tried to get 4 hat boxes from Brooklyn to fit in one tiny compartment. Fortunately, the guy we sat next to wasn't anal about me sometimes sitting in the middle. Otherwise, I would have had to deal with one of those bocherim who freak out if a woman sits in between two men. Regardless of the stench - seriously, no excuse when you're coming from NYC people - I was pretty ill on the plane. I spent majority of the first 2 hours going through my barf bags, which wasn't pretty. I should never have eaten 2 day old spinach salad before the flight. I learned my lesson the hard way! I was stinky, exhausted, dehydrated and crabby when we landed which probably explains why I had a fight with the rudest F^&**g Yeshiva kid in the world.
So, given my puking situation, I had very little energy left when we got to the carousel. We went through the airport and boarder control very quickly (we have the cards and use the machine, which is the best ever!) and were parked at two empty spots before majority of our flight even got through boarder control. Well, all of a sudden, this fat, nasty, smelly jerk of a Yeshiva student, with sweat pouring down his brow and his black hat sitting back on his greasy hair, stepped in front of my cart and decided to wait for his luggage. Well, the obstructed my view. So, I asked him to nicely move away from my spot as I was here first. He ignored me. I asked him again nicely and explained I was there first and that I couldn't see. He told me that when he got here "no one was here and he was there first". Well, that just had me seeing red and I lit into him. I told him that I was already waiting there for 30 minutes, that my cart was literally right there, and who the hell does he think he is? He was having none of that from a head covering, pants wearing woman. Pidgeon came to my defence and also told him that was he was doing was rude. He was nasty back to the Pidgeon and I was just so shocked.
This is what they teach in Yeshiva? To be self-centered, chutzpadik and an complete asshole. He told me that, if I wanted that spot, I should be standing in front of the carousel and not behind the cart. I was floored. Who the hell was this tool?
I pointed to my stomach and said, I'm pregnant, I can't schlep off the conveyer belt.
Well, he said, then I have absolutely no business even standing there to begin with.
The Yeshiva bocher standing next to him then offered to help me with my bags, but Pidgeon interceded and said he was my husband.
I then unleashed a tirade on this black hatted boor. I told him that he should be ashamed of his behavior. I then asked him where he learned, and he said, why does that make a difference?.
And I said, because I wanted to call your Rosh Yeshiva and let him know what type of men learn at his Yeshiva. How they have absolutely no Derech Eretz. The black hatter once again turned his back to me.
I muttered nice to see my Yeshiva tzdaka dollars at work. I still wish I knew where he learned, I would honestly call to speak to the Rosh Yeshiva and tell him what deplorable behavior this guy exibited.
Fortunately, I didn't have to do my own revenge, the Lord was watching. So, Pidgeon and I finally get our bags and we're heading out through Customs to meet Pidgeon's father. Lo and behold, said Yeshiva bocher comes charging through with his bags, and the three of us are practically walking through Customs together. That's when we heard the call from the guards.
Adoni, Atzor!.
Pidgeon's heart drops to his knees. I keep walking, ignoring the men yelling. Finally, the Yeshiva bocher turns and asks if they are speaking to him. They say yes. He responds, in typical fashion,
Ok fine, you can look through my stuff but make it quick because I got to catch a Mincha minyan.
I hope they charged him through the nose.
So anyway, I've been trying to wait to write about the pregnancy, but I just can't anymore. It's such a big part of my life these days that I need to use this forum to just write about what's been going on with me. Fortunately, I told the two readers I'm related to over Chag (hi Daneel and Cousin Neil!) so I can write about it now without offending anyone who found out through the blog as opposed to through me.
We're so excited about this baby, but it has been a very difficult 11 weeks. We go to the Dr. today for a check up and, since I haven't seen him in 3 weeks, I'm hoping that everything is progressing as it should. I'm nervous, but hopeful that everything is okay. I've been feeling like absolutely garbage though for the past 6 weeks and I'm just praying that, with 2 weeks left in my first trimester, I'll start feeling better soon. I've been puking nonstop, felt nauseous more than comfortable, and have a million other pregnancy related symptoms. People tell me that I should be happy, the crappier you feel the better it is for the baby. Somehow, when I had my head down the nasty toilet on the plane yesterday, knowing that information just didn't make things better. I wish I knew what I could do for this awful taste in my mouth too. It's just unbearable.
And, my lord, but do I have a super sense of smell! I have such smell aversions, it's terrible. Last night, Pidgeon sprayed bathroom spray and it almost sent me gagging. He was shocked because I was the one who bought the spray, but I had no idea it smelled so strong and so bad! Last month, he opened a can of tuna two rooms away and I went nuts. I thought he opened like 15 cans, the smell was so bad!
And don't cook meat anywhere near me. I'm not looking forward to Yom Haatzmaut on Wednesday night/Thursday. The Country that BBQ's will have me fighting with the green for 24+hours and we have 2 parties to go to! I might just have to carry lemons with me, so I can break into them and sniff when it gets too bad. The saddest thing is that I usually LOVE meat. I LOVE BBQ! I was so upset that, in the States, I couldn't touch meat at all. One meal of meatloaf, sweet and sour meatballs and mashed potatoes had me puking for hours, so I'm now avoiding it with a ten foot poll. I miss chicken and meat and can't wait for the day when I go from food aversion to no aversion but just eating-everything-in-site. At least I'll get my carnivor instinct back. Well, here's hoping!
With all that aside, we cannot wait for November. P"G, we're having a Thanksgiving baby and I'm just completely overwhelmed. I filled with excitement, fear, self-doubt, you name it! I'm also totally crazy emotionally. Over Shabbos, my 6 year old nephew pointed to my hip and asked me why it looked the way it did (my scrubs that I wore to take a nap were falling down so some skin was showing). I asked him what he meant and he said that it looked like I had another tushy. It was so cute, that I started laughing and crying. And then I just couldn't stop crying. Pidgeon was in the other room and fortunately, he was able to rush over and try to console me. Oh yeah, the weirdest things send me into a complete crying fit.
Phew, I just suddenly got so tired. Maybe I can sleep a few hours before we have to get up and go to the Dr. More about our trip to come, so come back and write! Plus, if you've been where I am right now, please drop me a line! I could use all the support I can get :)
Yom Tov from Jerusalem.

Friday, May 2, 2008

It Must Be In The Water

I'm wiped from another exhausting day but I had to update quickly before tucking myself into my bed with the remote and the new episode of Grey's Anatomy. So, we've been spending a lot of time on Long Island during this trip, and yesterday and today were no exception. We walked up and down Central Avenue, going into shops and meeting friends and just enjoying the beautiful weather. What I did notice is that seemingly everyone is pregnant in the 5 Towns. 

I kid you not.

Everywhere I turned, there went another pregnant woman. And boy was she glamorous. With her no-less-than-3-carat diamond engagement ring sparkling, and a $5,000+  sheitel coiffed to perfection, clad in the latest designer maternity wear and of course sporting Tory Birch flats, women in different stages of labor walked past us. And there I was, with my 10+ Pesach weight bringing up the(my) rear and wearing my New Balance sneakers, a shmata on my head and the same pair of yoga pants I've been living in all week. When they say pregnant women glow, they must have been talking about the ladies of Central Avenue. It must be nice to spend every day, sipping non-caffinated beverages and eating spinach salads (for the iron, of course) at Central Perk, while catching up on gossip with your preggo gal-pal whose full-time job is also Mommyhood. 

So, for all the ladies out there who want to be pregnant, go out to the 5 Towns. It must be in the water. Who knows, you might come back pregnant and wearing the latest in Bellyssima fashion. Just don't forget the Spanx :)

The countdown to our return has begun, I'm absolutely miserable about leaving. More to come.

Erev Tov from the Shtetl in Queens.