Tag Archives: babies

Changes – not mine….

My kids’ lives are about to change. My youngest will no longer perceive himself as the baby of the family, yet he always will be my baby. My oldest will soon be the oldest of five, not four – but not in my house.  See, the boys’ father and stepmother are eagerly awaiting the birth of their first child together.

It’s taken me a long time to be able to sit down and type this post – and even after so many months many of my emotions still make no sense to me.

Months ago, my ex called me to let me know they were expecting, and that he was going to be calling the boys later that day to tell them. He wanted to give me a heads up.  I so appreciated hearing it from him – even though I was totally knocked for a loop. I managed to wish them both well before ending the conversation.

I went up to the KoD’s office to tell him, and I burst into tears. Actually, I sobbed my heart out. As KoD held me, and mopped my tears, he asked why I was so upset, and even to this day, I cannot verbalize it. My ex and I have moved on with our lives. While we may not exactly be friends, we are civil and friendly and I was happy for them. But still – my children were going to have a new sibling that would have absolutely no biological tie to me whatsoever. This baby will be their brother (or sister – I hadn’t considered that!) yet have no connection to me. That sounds so tremendously selfish.

But the tears were for more than that – and I am still not sure why it hit me so hard. I guess part of me didn’t consider the possibility that they would have a baby – it just didn’t occur to me. Not that it would have been my business either way. Was it a type of jealousy? I don’t think so – My baby making days are over, and I am beyond blessed with the children that I have. I love the independence that the KoD and I have these days with the kids being older and becoming more self-sufficient as time progresses.

Maybe part of me felt insulted that our 4 boys were not enough for him? (As I write that I know it isn’t true. He loves his boys more than anything – but feelings don’t always make sense).

Even as I write this I know that the real reason for the tears is just not explainable. My reaction was a purely visceral one – as if I had been punched in the stomach. And after months of soul searching I still don’t get it.

Now months later I am excited for them. The boys talk about the baby a lot. And I encourage this chatter. I have half siblings myself, and I know that there could be a great bond formed if all the parents are on the same page. But I wonder. When he calls to tell me the good news, how will I take it? Will I be able to wish him congratulations with a full heart, or will it reopen this old wound? I want to just be happy for them.

Have you been in a similar situation? Can you identify with anything I am feeling?


Babies – How do you know when you are ready??

Me with one of my babies...

Over the years I have had similar talks with many newlyweds – about when they will know they are ready to have kids. Some of these new brides are on birth control – together with their husband, they have decided to wait a year, or two, or an indefinite amount of time, until they make the big step of deciding to have a family.

I gave birth to my first child 14 months after we were married. It took me 5 months to get pregnant, and every month that I was not pregnant I was disappointed. I had been ready, in my mind anyway, to have a baby since I was 12 years old. I dreamed of babies. I desperately wanted kids of my own. I knew in my soul I was ready. (Was I ready to have 3 kids in two and half years? Nooooo! But hey, I love them all to pieces).

So for me, it was a no brainer. I have since come to understand that most people are not like me, and need time to come to the decision to have kids. In our religious circle, most women fall pregnant or try to within the first year of marriage. We all know of many women who have given birth 9 months after their marriage. Judaism encourages us to have many children.

When I was having the first child, we worried about money – but we knew we would be ok. God would provide. Yes, it sounds very twee, but He did. For each child. BH our kids never went hungry and were always clothed (except when they decided not to be). They were and are surrounded with so much love – and that along with a few basics is all they need.

Many want to wait until they are financially stable. I hear that. But when do you draw that line? When you can afford a house? How many bedrooms? What about tuition? What does financially stable really mean? If you wait until you can afford it all – who knows how easy it will be to get pregnant then? The younger you are the easier it is. But if you don’t have two pennies to rub together, is it responsible to bring a child into this world?

I don’t believe there is a sign from one day to the next saying “you are now ready to be a parent”. For those who want to wait for a while after marriage, I guess it’s a discussion they have to have together about when they want to take that next step.

Let me add this – when you finally hold that little bundle in your arms (whether it’s a biological child or an adoptive one), ready or not, the responsibility hits you – and even though you thought you were ready, the reality of holding a real baby in your arms is like nothing you have ever felt before. This baby will need you, body and soul, for a very long time. It’s an awe-inspiring feeling, and by then it’s too late to change your mind (not that I believe many want to). It’s also the most miraculous feeling I personally have ever had. Knowing that we created this child together, out of love, and we now had the full time job of raising and caring for him – that filled me with such joy. I was on a high for weeks after giving birth the first time. The other three times I was definitely elated, but way too busy to be on a high.

My only advice is this – have a baby because it’s the right thing for you and your spouse. Because you want a family together. Not because of societal pressure. Not because of family nagging.  If you decide you don’t want to have children – so long as you are both ok with that decision – it’s nobody’s business but your own.

Let me open this up to you, my readers. How did you know you were ready? Or did you just leave it up to God (or biology)? What has been your experience? Are you sorry you waited or didn’t wait? Do you think 9 months after marriage is too soon to be having a baby? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

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Bracing for the Bris

I received an email from a reader asking me my advice. She is currently towards the end of her pregnancy with a baby boy, and is preparing herself for his bris (circumcision). Seeing as she knows I have been through a bris four times, she wanted to know my “tips” (I know, groan) to help her son heal from his welcome into the faith. Her whole family is populated with girls, so she welcomes any and all advice to help her chart this unfamiliar territory.

I emailed her back with my advice, which basically boils down to “Polysporin is your friend” and some of my experience. I wanted to open the subject to you my readers, so we can help her emotionally and physically on this important day.

We all know that our baby boys must be circumcised. It’s a rite of passage for every Jewish baby boy. But even though we know this has to happen it’s tough for the mommies who have just given birth. The baby will have to go through some pain, and as a mother that really hurts, it brings fear to our hearts. It does get easier with each subsequent boy, I will say that. With the first I was loathe to give him over to the men to carry into the shul. I wouldn’t let him go. I huddled with a girlfriend in the back of the library in the shul during the bris so that I wouldn’t have to hear anything. I think I cried the whole time. (Before I get bashed for not saying that it hurts the fathers too, I am not a man, cannot see the whole thing through a male perspective). By the time the fourth bris rolled around, I was as close as I could be to the action. I won’t say his cries didn’t bother me, but I knew he would be ok as his brothers had been. I dosed each one of my babies up with Tylenol beforehand, so that the pain would be minimized, and we chose experienced mohels who knew what they were doing.

It is indeed a very emotional moment. Welcoming your child into your religion, into your community, into your family. Seeing him become one of us in front of all the community. Having the members of the family and the rabbis bless him and heap good wishes onto him and all the family. For me, the most awesome moment, indeed very spiritual for me, was Kriat Shem, the calling of the name. When the actual bris itself is over one of the community/family members is given the honour of calling out the new baby’s name. There have been so many stories about a couple deciding on the boy’s name, and when it came for the father to whisper it to the honoree, something different came out. Not a name they had thought of, but one that fit perfectly. A name is a holy label. Much thought needs to go into it. Many have the tradition not to mention the name they have chosen for their son until he is circumcised. All of our sons were named after family members who had passed on. Both grandfathers’ names were given; one was name for my favourite man in the whole world – my Saba, my grandfather, the baby’s great-grandfather; and one was named for a great-grandfather and a dear friend.

The recovery time depends, in my experience, on whether or not a clamp was used during the procedure or not. I had 3 sons circumcised using a clamp, the last was not. Some rabbis permit it, some don’t. I really do not understand all the issues involved, but I know my own experience. The 3 boys who were circumcised using a clamp healed faster and bled less. The other one seemed to bleed a lot more, and take a lot longer to heal. I will say, however, that other than sleeping more than they had been used to, they didn’t seem to be too much in pain. I kept giving the Tylenol every 4 hours for the first 24 hours, but they didn’t seem to need it after that. They just needed warmth and snuggles and to be fed and changed regularly, like any newborn.

So, parents of boys, can you give my friend any suggestions how to handle the emotional and physical sides of the bris?

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Help Me Help a Friend

I have a friend over the pond in London UK who is currently expecting her first child and would like it to be born NOW. Her tweet of this morning was that eating Chinese food didn’t work. It’s been long known that eating Chinese food is supposed to send women into labour. It worked with me every single time, but hasn’t worked for her.

Can we give K some tried tested and true tips on how to encourage that baby to come out and meet his / her folks?


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Fitting in

No matter how non conformist we feel we are, there is always some amount of pressure on a person to fit in to their community in some way. Whether it’s dressing a certain way for work, wearing the same designer sneakers at school, donning a sheitel instead of a headscarf etc.

When I was newly married the first time around, there was nothing I wanted more than to be just like everyone else around me. I had just moved to Montreal from London UK.  I didn’t want to stand out in the crowd. I wanted to be one of “them”. Oh how I have changed! But at that time the way to fit in 100%, or so I thought, was to have a baby. Everyone bonds over a cute baby and of course my babies were going to be cute. Without a doubt. Thankfully they all were – blonde blue eyed gorgeous bundles of deliciousness.

Now, I don’t want you to think I had a baby JUST to fit in. I didn’t. I had always wanted children, a lot of children. But honestly? I don’t know that I was emotionally ready to handle being a mom at that point. New marriage, new city – new life. I should probably have waited a year or two.

I was a different person back then. Much quieter and a lot more afraid of my own shadow. It has taken me a while to grow into the self assured woman not scared of her own opinions that I sometimes feel I am these days. I so wanted to be part of the crowd. I wanted to belong somewhere. And I saw very early on that the only way to really belong in this neighborhood was to have a baby as an accessory.

Look, let’s be totally honest here, you other mothers in the religious community – you know I am right. You might have nothing in common with the person living next to you other than religion, but add babies to the mix and you have something to talk about that you can both relate to. It elevates your status in the community. You have procreated. We had been married for 15 months before our first son was born. I know of many women who gave birth 9 months after their marriage.

When he was born, yes, he was the cutest baby in the world. He was adorable and yummy and oh-so-colicky. I used to sit up at nights crying with him. I was 22 and overwhelmed. I was so young. Within 4 months I was pregnant again. Before I knew what had hit me I had 4 kids. Pretty close together. (The first 3 were born within two and half years of each other). I was busy busy busy with diapers and feedings and potty training. Who had time for fitting in?

Let me tell you a secret though. I didn’t fit in any better after giving birth than before. Yes, we mothers had more to talk about. But I was still different. I raised my children differently, with modern notions and I treated them as if they were people not little tiny cutesy wutesy kids… I spoke to them in a grown up voice and put them on a schedule even as young babies. I respected them as individuals. I had opinions about the best way to raise a child that sometimes seemed at odds with people around me. I was still perceived as odd and British. But somehow it didn’t bother me as much to be different, because I had my kids and was busy with their lives.

I have a few friends who are newly married and feel tremendous societal pressure to have children. In this community if you are married a year and have not yet worn maternity, people think there is something wrong with you. To these women I say – wait. Wait until you are personally ready for a child to change your life and your relationship with your husband. Wait until you feel you are emotionally ready to handle everything that being a parent throws at you – no sleep, no life for a while. If finances are an issue – wait until you feel more comfortable financially so you can provide for your child without stressing too much over it. Do not give in to societal pressure to go forth and multiply. Do what is right for yourself and for your marriage. Not your in-laws. Not your parents. Not your friends.

I will never regret having my kids at such a young age. I am still young and it is awesome to be able to be a full part of my boys’ lives. It is incredible to be in my mid thirties and have a son that is taller than me, talks like a man and needs to start shaving. (ack!) But as a new bride of 21 I was convinced that motherhood was the cure to all my social ills. Motherhood brought me so much, it IS indeed the gift that keeps on giving, but it isn’t to be taken lightly. One has to be prepared to watch one’s heart walking around outside of one’s body. To feel pain when they hurt, to feel such joy at their smallest triumph. The love one feels for a child is so huge, so encompassing. It truly is life-changing. And you need to be as ready as you can be for that.

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I got my baby fix this last weekend. Family and friends with babies came in for my friend’s wedding, and stayed for Shabbat. I got to hold babies, snuggle with them, have them fall asleep on me (which even the crankiest of babies does) and feel my arms go numb. I loved every second of it.

There is nothing in this world yummier than snuggling with a little baby. Of course the fact that if it cries or has a dirty diaper you can give it back, well that’s a good thing too. My youngest is seven. He still comes for morning snuggles and cuddles, but he’s all long legs and arms, and a hug last 2.5 seconds at best. It isn’t the same. That little downy head wedged into your neck, that soft rounded cheek resting on your silk-clad shoulder, drooling through their dreams. The deep rhythmic breathing of a sleeping baby is so relaxing.

I got my baby fix. I am good for the next couple of months.

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