Well. It's been quite a week. Thanks for all of your mazel tovs and comments. I can't promise regularly scheduled blogging, but I do have this; so, without further ado, I will now regale you with the tale of How Punja Came Into the World.
In Which I Am Told in No Uncertain Terms I Am Definitely NOT in Labor
Sunday, May 16, marked my official overdue date. Mazel tov! No more doctor visits, no more nurses - I was under the jurisdiction of Merkaz Briut HaIsha (hereafter known as MBH). So I went for my appointment in the afternoon. Ultrasound, fetal monitor, talk to the doctor. She informed me that I was a little dilated but I was definitely NOT having contractions and definitely NOT in labor and I should NOT go to the hospital. She told me to make an appointment for Tuesday (erev Shavuot) and we would get to do this all over again.
In Which I Drive My Parents Crazy
Meanwhile, my parents were scheduled to be on a flight in a few hours. I called them and told them to reschedule their trip; no point in coming now when I am definitely NOT having contractions and am definitely NOT in labor. They agreed that coming and watching me be pregnant would not be so helpful, so they managed to get tickets for the following Monday.
In Which I am DEFINITELY in Labor
I picked up the kiddies, did the dinner-bath-bedtime dance, and awaited Donny’s return to the homestead. During dinner, I started to feel not so great. I convinced myself that these couldn’t possibly be real contractions. After all, I had just told my parents not to come, so I refused to believe I was actually in labor. Well, two painful hours later, I called my mom. It was 11:00 PM in Israel.
“Hi,” I said. Silence.
“You’re in labor, aren’t you?”
Mothers just have a way of knowing these things. She of course got to work on re-re-scheduling their tickets. (In the end, they were able to get on a flight on Monday, one day after their original flight, and they arrived erev Shavuot. Phew!)
In the meantime, I woke up Donny and texted my friend whose husband, Cyril, was on-call for coming over in the middle of the night. I finished packing the bag, and attempted to give Cyril last minute instructions for the kiddies. His response? “We’ll be fine. Please go to the hospital before you have this baby on the floor.”
In Which I Think About My Loyal Readers
When we arrived at the hospital (Tel Hashomer), we had to go past the guard booth. I was having some kind of fun by this point! The guards stopped the car. My contractions were of no concern to them. They moseyed on over and asked us where we were coming from. They nodded sagely. They asked us where we were headed. Mmmm-hmmm. Then they slo-o-o-o-o-w-l-y jotted down the license plate number. Finally we were allowed to enter the parking lot. In between contractions, I said, “I have got to remember this for the blog.” During no other visit to the hospital did they spend this much time letting us in. Must be something they reserve for laboring women.
In Which I am Given No Drugs; or, A Drug-Free Birth by Accident
We enter the hospital. After we rustled up some nurses, who had all decided to go on coffee break at the same time, they took me into the delivery room. Donny’s first request: “We need an epidural. NOW” I have had a very simple birth plan since the beginning. Get drugs. The sooner, the better. In fact, when I was born, after admiring my ten tiny fingers and ten tiny toes, the nurses said, “Ooh, and look! She has ‘epidural’ stamped on her forehead! How cute!” Now don’t get me wrong. Donny and I took a Lamaze when we were pregnant with Ariella. We dutifully took deep cleansing breaths and learned how to huff and puff. And when I got to the hospital, I got my epidural and never needed to huff. Or puff. In fact, when a friend said, “Oh you don’t need an epidural, this is your third!” I replied, “It’s precisely because I know there’s an epidural waiting for me that I am willing to have a third.”
However, the nurse had a different story. She told me I was already 8 centimeters. She offered the epidural – IF I waited until the entire bag of saline they inserted in my arm was finished, and IF by that point I hadn’t gotten to 10 centimeters and IF the doctor was available and not busy with another lucky, lucky woman. Well, there were a few too many IFs for my liking. Plus that saline bag was dripping waaaaaay too slowly. “Forget it,” I said, “I’m not waiting for that. Let’s just get started.” Donny managed to pick up his jaw from the floor, and they sent in a midwife. Approximately an hour and a half later (Real Feel Time: 13 years, 6 months, 5 days), Baby Boy Rose entered the world. It was not easy or fun for either of us, but we pulled through. At various points during the labor, I tried calmly explaining to the midwife that this child was clearly not going to ever come out, and she should just call in a professional to come and get him. She didn’t believe this, however. She told me I could do it. In the end, she was right.
For the record, I could have been used as a case study for actresses playing Screaming Woman in Labor. I was totally TV-worthy. Though, also for the record, I did not curse out my husband. He was pretty brave, considering he was expecting Calm, Drugged-out Wife and was instead presented with Crazy Screaming Wife.
As we sat there with BBR, we made the requisite phone calls to parents. They then whisked BBR away and I got put in a room with 4 other inmates. I mean patients. Around 4 AM, Donny left me to return home and printed 2 pictures of the baby for the kids to take to school with them. The teachers were me’od impressed with this impressive display of technology.
Baby Boy and I hung out for most of Monday. Unlike in America, where your meals are brought to you, there were designated food times in the little cafeteria, and you need to get up and go eat there during those times, or, No Food For You! As I sat there eating an institutionalized breakfast in a room with long tables, with other women all wearing the same uniform, I once again wondered: Hospital, or jail?
In Which the Kiddies Come Visit; Or, “Mommy, How Come Your Tummy is STILL Fat?”
Donny picked up Ariella and Yaakov and came to visit me around 4:30 that afternoon. We all had to sit on my bed, because that was all my “room” (aka curtained off section) included. The meeting went well, the kiddies had a good time holding and kissing their new brother, and Donny brought me food from one of the restaurants (which Yaakov helped me eat. Whadda guy!) He brought me two sandwiches, one of which I put, clearly labeled, in the designated fridge. So of course when I went to eat it the next day, it was gone.
Luckily, Donny had also brought oatmeal packets, fruit, and a bottle of water (I did not know that water was not provided for you, and thus spent the first day hoarding little cups of water near my bed), so I did not starve.
Also, improvement came that second night in the form of a move. To a much nicer room. With only one roommate. And – wait for it – a chair! Donny came Tuesday afternoon, with the kiddies, to pick me up because I was being discharged at 4:00. Which meant, of course, that I was finally discharged at 5:30, and told, “Oh, and, by the way, you need to come back tomorrow because his bilirubin is high. He’ll need to get checked.”
Anyway, we made it home in time for chag, with two kids and a yellow baby. Our very wonderful friends brought us tons of food, so at least we ate well.
In Which Everyone is Sick
Quick rundown of the first week at home:
Baby: We had to return to the hospital three times in the first five days to get his bilirubin level checked. So much fun! Just what you want to be doing 24 hours after giving birth! By Saturday night, the number had started to go down, and a quick visit to our pediatrician Sunday morning told us that all was fine and the bris could go on as scheduled.
Yaakov: Got sick Shavuot night, took him to doctor Thursday morning. She said it probably wasn’t strep. I started him on antibiotics anyway. And? It was strep. At least someone got some drugs this week.
Ariella: Got sick Thursday afternoon, started her on medicine right away, but it took until Sunday night till she finally felt better. (Which meant that Monday, the day of the bris, turned out to be the most relaxing day of that first week, because finally both kids were back at school!)
In Which Punja becomes "Nadav Yam"
You can read the speech below. Bris was successful; bagels were consumed.
So that’s the story. Of course I have many other random thoughts and stories, but they will have to wait for another time.