Friday, October 10, 2008

The Gates are Closed

It's 10:00 a.m. the morning after Yom Kippur and, as my chicken defrosts in the sink so that I can cook for Shabbos, I figured I'd update the blog about my Yom Kippur experience.

According to the Jerusalem Post, 120 women went into labor yesterday and B"H I was not one of them. Erev Yom Kippur, Pidgeon and I had a whirlwind of a day getting ready. He woke up at 6:30 a.m. and I didn't see him again until 2:30 p.m.! In between, Pidgeon went to minyan, the mikvah, the cemetary, the makolet and then to micha. Meanwhile, I waited at home with breakfast on the table until he called to say he wasn't going to make breakfast. Then, I made him lunch, but by the time he came home there wasn't time to eat lunch. So, that was wrapped and put back into the fridge. We had an hour to get dressed, showered, packed and ready to go to his parents for Seudat Hamafseket.

His parents house was a zoo, as his brother is in town from London with the very pregnant wife and 4 children! There were 6 kids practically running, crying and screaming all over the house from the moment we arrived until the time we left for Kol Nidrei. I managed to quickly scarf down my meal and then went downstairs to brush my teeth, drink another bottle of water and try to get into the right frame of mind for the Yom Tov.

It's so different being married then it was when I was single and living at home with my parents. My parents run their lives practically on military time, there would never be an instance before Yom Kippur where we would be hectic. Everything was planned precisely, between what time we ate the last meal, how long that meal lasted, and getting dressed and ready to get to shul. I've never, in my entire life, missed any parts of Kol Nidrei.

Until this year. Fortunately, I didn't miss that much, so I wasn't too upset. But, I did get there in the middle of the first recitation of Kol Nidrei and I was so hot and sweaty from the long sleeve sweater I was wearing and the hike up the stairs to the top floor of the minyan. It was very uncomfortable for me in shul, as it was very crowded and the AC just wasn't working well. That, and with a full bladder and the baby resting on the bladder, I was running to the bathroom every few minutes. Of course, during one of my bathroom runs, I got caught in the back by everyone davening shmonei esrei, so I just took a seat and waited for the crowd to thin so I could get back to my seat.

The minyan ended fairly early and I was looking at about 5 hours until shot time. Everyone in the house was exhausted and that included Pidgeon. So, I shipped him down to bed and told him I would wake him for the shot, and I fought the exhaustion and stayed up as long as I could. By 10:00 p.m. I couldn't take it anymore, so I woke Pidgeon up and did the shot as quickly as I could! I was asleep by 11:00 p.m., which was really great since the AC was on a shabbos clock and it went off at 12:30 p.m. and that's when I got all hot again.

Unlike Tisha B'av, where I was besieged with thirst all through the night, I didn't feel parched at all. I did make the decision not to go to shul during the day though, especially since I was so uncomfortable during Kol Nidrei, I knew had I gone to shul during the day I wouldn't make it through the fast.

I slept in and then got dressed and davened in the living room. It only took about 2 hours to daven everything, and that included reading through the Torah readings, and still no one returned from shul. So, I went downstairs, changed back into PJ's, and just laid down. I was already getting anxious about not making it through the fast, so I kept repeating to myself that I was a strong woman who could make it through the fast!

Pidgeon got home around 12:20 and we napped until it was time for mincha. I decided to daven mincha at home and then walked to shul for neilah. I couldn't manage the steps back to the upstairs minyan, and so I found a seat in the main shul and just stood during neilah when I could and sat when I couldn't. By the time we got to avenu malkainu, I was an emotional wreck. That's what Yom Kippur does to me, it's just 24 hours of tension. 

Wondering if my sins are forgiving, wondering what Hashem has in store for me for this year, praying that the baby will be healthy, that Pidgeon and I will be able to support ourselves and the baby during this coming year, that our families will be healthy and be able to support themselves this year too, that our single family and friends will find their basherts and get married this year, etc. 

As soon as the shofar blew, I was a crying mess. Fortunately, the women's section cleared out for maariv and since I couldn't compose myself, I decided to stay and daven with the men. I sat in the corner and just tried to contain the tears but it was very difficult to do. Suddenly, I felt an arm around my shoulder and looked up to see this woman trying to comfort me. She asked me if I was okay, if I was alone and needed some help. I just smiled through the tears and said I was there with my family and was okay.

Crying after Yom Kippur is a family tradition for me. I don't know why, but my Grandmother, mother and sisters all cry after the shofar is blown. It's just this tremendous relief that it's over and we made it. For me this year, it was a combination of many things. 

First, I miss my family terribly especially during the holidays. And, Yom Kippur now is just so different. Gone are the days when the 6 of us would return home from shul in Kew Gardens Hills for the mussaf break, take off our Keds and pull out the cookbooks to plan our Succot menu. It was the best thing we could do so we would avoid speaking Lashon Harah and we were very productive! I miss my Mom's shul bag, the one with the box of tissues and the clear plastic bag for the dirty ones. The room for our glasses cases, and the folded shawls and sweaters for when shul gets cold. I miss the comfortable seats!! It sure beats sitting for hours on wooden folded chairs that just hurts each time you shift. I miss being able to look over the Mechizah and watch my Dad help my Grandfather with his tallit, or observe Daneel and Uncle Seymour leaning up against the pole, and of course my brother towering over all the other men in one of his many designer suits. I don't think that feeling of nostalgia will ever go away - I hope it never does - I just hope as the years go by it will hurt a bit less.

Second, I was so relieved that I didn't have to break my fast. B"H, I actually fasted pretty well. After Neilah, I was very dizzy and needed to get some drink and food into me ASAP, but I made it. And, it was such a source of tension for me the entire day, that the relief was tangible to the point that I needed to just cry to let it all out. 

Third, I spent most of the day thinking about the baby. We have such hopes for this little one. Our prayer that the baby is P"G healthy is first and foremost. That we are good parents is second. That we can support the baby, and care for the baby and do what's right. That the birth should be an easy one without danger for both myself and the baby. That we'll be able to make the baby a very happy home. 

With all this on my head, you can imagine the emotions! Plus, the hormones are still raging, which makes me a very emotional preggo indeed!

We had a great break fast, I think I ate like 3 pieces of cake, some eggs, some pasta with marinara sauce, some pita with cottage cheese and drank an entire bottle of apple juice myself. I had just barely enough energy to pack and get us out of the apartment. By the time we got home, I was so tired I couldn't think about anything. My eyes were closing from all the sugar coursing through my veins and every single muscle in my body hurt. 

I actually do worse after a fast than I do during a fast, and this time was no different. Fortunately, Pidgeon has been through this with me before, and he made sure I was drinking water and relaxing. We went to sleep at Midnight and, with the lovely Jerusalem breeze cooling off the entire apartment, I was able to sleep. I woke up like a million times during the night to use the bathroom, but always managed to fall back to sleep fairly quickly.

Fortunately for me, we are eating out tonight, so I only have to cook lunch. I'm going very, very simple. Some chicken, a vegetable stir fry, a salad and green beans and onions saute. We're trying to stay off of carbs since I weighed myself the other day and I was NOT happy! Although, I did manage to lose 4 pounds over Yom Kippur, so maybe I can contain the weight gain for the rest of the pregnancy. I did however eat a piece of tofu cheesecake this morning, so maybe now's not a good day to start the new "diet".

We'll see.

I'm off to do some research of etrog preparation. I read that a woman in her 9th month of pregnancy should eat an etrog as a segulah for an easy birth. I'm going to either make etrog jam or etrog liquor, I just haven't decided which one yet. I think whatever is easiest is going to be what I end up doing!

Wishing everyone a Shabbat Shalom from Baka!

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