Saturday, May 29, 2010

Symptoms

It's not that I'm complaining, but I really haven't had symptoms of pregnancy. I didn't get morning sickness, I never felt drained of energy, I had only one small food aversion (almonds, for a few weeks), and I have had no cravings. I have continued to eat as normal, though for the first four months I had at least one extra meal per day. I have continued to exercise, though I did cut out the running and am only doing yoga and swimming. I do go to sleep earlier, but I can't tell if I'm just using this as an excuse to actually go to bed.

I mostly feel appreciative that I have had such an easy time so far, but I also feel like I'm sort of missing out on joining the "pregnancy sucks" club. Maybe I'll join that club in the third trimester?

In the last two weeks, I have been irregularly interested in soursop. This is a fruit that I didn't even know about before I moved here, and I first tried it in Thailand (as in soursop juice). I have always liked it, but recently I have thought about it a lot and eaten it almost everyday. As I was just making my list of what to get at the market, I realised that this might be a craving? And I got excited...Can you have a craving that you don't need IMMEDIATELY, but you just sort of want it all the time? If so, then I'm joining the club of bizarre symptoms!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Becoming an Adult

In 1998 and 1999 I studied in Israel. I was a tad bored with the regular Hebrew U curriculum and looked elsewhere for more. I also wanted to take the opportunity to learn at yeshiva and get to know Jewish text better. There were very few places that would take a part time 20 year old, and I found one that was a horrible fit for me. I learned a lot, and mostly that I didn't want to become like them.

They were worried about my sandals not being modest enough and that my long skirt wasn't long enough. I had to walk there from the central bus station, and it was about a fifteen minute walk, in a hot country, so yeah, covering my body wasn't my first priority. When I went out downtown in Jerusalem, I sort of lived in fear of running into one of the rabbis.

One day, after classes, I was feeling particularly grossed out with super religious Judaism, and I popped into a shop and got my belly button pierced. This wasn't something I had always wanted. I don't think I had really thought about it too much at all. I don't even really remember what was going through my head (it's really not ME, you know?), but I did it.

Since then, not too many people knew it was there, but it was a nice little reminder of my (mostly lack of) rebelliousness. I thought it was cute (and so did Matt). The most recent one came from Chiang Mai, Thailand on a trip two and a half years ago with my brother.

One of the things that I didn't realise about getting pregnant is that you can't really keep in a normal belly button ring. In order to keep it in, you have to make a serious effort by getting a flexible one and putting that in until the pregnancy is over. I'm way too lazy for that, and I don't think I care about having the ring enough. I'm about 22 weeks into this thing, and it looked like it was going to pop out of my belly. My doctor warned me that 24 weeks was the limit.

So, this morning, I have bid adieu to the belly button ring. I feel like I am a responsible adult now (with a weird looking belly button).

If only I didn't still have that nose ring...

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Flory

She, Matt and I met only two and a half years ago.
He, Matt met in 1995.

She doesn't have many words to share.
He is funny as hell.

She doesn't say thank you.
He has great manners (other than nose picking and scratching).

She runs away at the smallest opportunity for adventure.
He travels all over the place and invites us to join him.

She plays boring games that require no thinking.
He challenges the best at Euchre and Settlers.

Yet...two years ago when he came to visit, he didn't make it onto the blog - instead there was a headline article about her.

He had every right to be upset that he didn't feature here, on this page.
And now he does.

So, here's my dedication to Flory.
Flory:

You are the Jack of spades, when spades is trump.

You are the ore, when it's an eight, and it's surrounded by three cities and an eight is rolled.

You are the last tile pulled in Bananagrams, and it's an "s," and you can just stick it onto the end of a word.

You are a 90 yard run for a touchdown at Michigan stadium.

You.

You are Jenkins.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

That Shabbat and Holiday Feeling

My life since 1996 involved weekly questions of "what am I doing for shabbat dinner?" Where will I be for Rosh Hashana, Sukkot, Shavuot? My social life very much revolved around shabbat meals and holiday meals, and I loved it (other than when I HAD to do it when I worked at GW Hillel - loved the students, but hated not having the choice...). Even when I was less religious, when I lived in New York, we still hosted tons of meals - at least a couple a month - and we/I always had invitations for holidays and shabbats.

Since we moved to Singapore, this part of my life simply doesn't exist. We went to one observant shabbat dinner my first month in Singapore, and a couple of shabbat dinners hosted in someone's home that were a bit more of what I grew up with, but since then, our schedule and social life certainly does not centre around shabbat or holidays. Sometimes I don't even know when it's a holiday.

My Jewish community here is extremely different than the last many Jewish communities I was a part of (NYC, Jerusalem, DC, Ann Arbor). I had floated in a more observant crowd, and I really don't have those people in my life here. While we have shabbat services and dinners with the Jewish community here, the service is NOTHING that I'm used to (or really comfortable with, to be honest), and the dinners are not kosher and don't feel especially shabbat-y, and sometimes we even go out after. Conversation at dinner never revolves around Jewish learning or halacha, as it would at my other shabbat tables. (Don't get me wrong - I love them, but they're just different than I'm used to).

I go back and forth struggling with whether or not I miss this. Certainly there are parts that I miss (a lot). The community, always knowing that there will be shabbat at the end of the week, making plans with friends and knowing that we will have a few hours to just talk (and sing - I definitely miss that part). I miss all of that. I really appreciate, though, that I feel that our social life is much more diverse now (as well as the conversations - at least some of the time), and Matt and I don't have to fight about going out on Friday nights.

Now that we're starting a family, though, I think about this a lot more, and I really regret that I don't feel that we have a Jewish home. Certainly we don't have the Jewish home that I thought I would have at this point in my life. We don't have a mezuza on the door. We don't have a kosher kitchen (though it's vegetarian) - I don't even think about checking for heksher anymore. We don't have a tradition of shabbat or holiday meals together. Luckily we have been able to host shabbat dinners since we moved downtownish, but it still feels really different to me. It never really feels like shabbat in our apartment.

Last night I went to a couple's house for Shavuot dinner (which is another holiday I would have ignored if they hadn't invited me). Matt is traveling, so I went alone. It was such an unfamiliar familiar feeling and got me thinking non-stop. They are living in Singapore (actually just about on our street), and they are able to have an observant Jewish life and a Jewish home. They also both work and have a baby and are expecting another one (YES! A role model of working ex-pat mom!). I don't think that Matt and my home together will ever be really observant, but I do hope that we incorporate pieces of Judaism that are missing now. I know he's happy with that as well. It's hard to figure it out when we constantly feel so temporary. For example, our kosher kitchen is sitting in our parents' houses in Michigan. One day we'll have to just decide that we live here and carry on with living how we want to live/have always talked about living. I think babies make you do that sort of thing. We'll see.

In other news, Kitty has had an eye infection since Sunday, and I can't believe we're still friends. I have to catch her twice a day and put these drops in her eyes and shove antibiotics (in water) down her throat. I keep thinking she will stop loving me, but she seems to actually forget quite quickly, and she's definitely doing much better. Both eyes are opening almost as normal, and her behaviour of running around the house like a crazy lady is back. Yiippeee!!

In yet other news, my balance must be off, since I fell on my knees and legs last night (on my way home from that super nice dinner) and then again first thing this morning at 6:30 right outside the MRT on the way to yoga. Now I have skinned knees, and I feel super dorky. Hopefully I will learn this balance thing, because this could be dangerous (for me AND the fetus!).

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Would you like to Upgrade that?

I'm not talking about a hamburger meal. I'm talking about a birthing experience.

Yesterday, Matt and I went to the hospital where we plan to give birth, and we took a tour. I was expecting to see a room with one bed, a room with two beds, a room with four beds, a nursery, maybe a surgery theatre, a waiting room? Who knows, but whatever I expected, I didn't see it.

We were on a tour with about 15 other couples, and it was one of the most interesting tours ever (Cheong Fatt Tse's house in Penang was cooler, as were the tunnels in the Old City in Jerusalem, the orangutan jungle...okay it wasn't THAT cool, but it was really interesting!). We saw different room/suite options. As Singaporeans tend to relate many things to food, the comparison was kueh lapis. Click on that, and you will see my favorite kueh lapis in Singapore (it's actually more "fun to eat" than "good," but I like it). Apparently they used to offer different layers of an experience - 4 bed room, 2 bed room, 1 bed room, suite. She said then they added yeast, thickened up the layers and added many more layers, and now they have about sixteen different options (all at different prices). To continue with the food thing...some charge like a buffet (all is included) and some charge a la carte (depending on what you use in the room). The fancier you go, you move into a la carte.

We started off in a room with a tub. This is a labour tub (not a birthing tub), and the room was stuffy, but nice. Then we hit the premium deluxe room which had a flat screen tv, pretty nice comforter, private bathroom, separate section for dad (with a bed/couch). Then we moved on to one of the three fanciest suites. It was way nicer and bigger than our apartment. Table with seating for four, big beds, internet, webcam to talk to the nurses. You know - the normal stuff that EVERYONE needs to give birth. Obviously. She told us that if you take one of the fanciest suites then the first night in the hospital they give you a candlelight dinner for two. All we saw were different birthing room options.

Basically, you have to "reserve" one of these types of rooms, and then all of the pricing is based on that. If you have a c-section, it's more expensive in a suite than a four bed room. If you get an epidural, same thing. Forceps, vacuum, everything - the price depends on which type of room you're in. Apparently the nurses are more attentive at the top, so that's really what you're paying for (well, and the facilities).

On another, related note, we don't have medical insurance that covers maternity and birth (as most people don't in Singapore, unless they're on an ex-pat package, which we're not). The whole birthing experience in the hospital, according to what we want to do, should cost about S$5,000 at the most (USD3,600) unless something goes terribly wrong. My 20 week scan the other day cost about USD120. While having no insurance sounds scary, prices here are so reasonable that we don't even mind paying them. I suppose that's all related to our expectations.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

And Another One Bites the Dust

Expat life in general is great (in Singapore at least). We travel to great places, we benefit from tax breaks, we have pools, we have professional opportunities, we have no obligations. We basically can do what we want with our time.

The two things that stink are (in order of importance):
1) Being so so so so far from friends and family - particularly when there are kids, weddings, holidays, etc. involved.
2) Having friends leave. All the time.

I remember when I lived in DC I called it a transient place. People came for two to three years and then left. There was sort of a core group of people who were committed to staying, and then others came for opportunities in their 20s and then left. That's sort of what it's like here, but there are a few differences. Here, we don't have any other support network to fall back on, while in DC we could still rely on our support network that was permanent in DC as well as family that was close-ish, or at least a short flight away. While our social life might have changed often, our support network didn't change as much. Also, now we're talking about families and people in their 30s who are "meant to settle down."

Since I work during the days, I generally talk to friends and family at home on the weekends. Sometimes I can scam a no-yoga morning (Tuesday and Thursday) and call a friend, and some evenings I can talk to my mom (since she doesn't work), but mostly, contact with my US support network over the phone is quite limited (much more limited than I would like it to be). Even if I don't want to, I have to rely on a support network in Singapore. The US/Canada/Israel is just too far away in a lot of ways.

The thing that sucks about having a network here is that it leaves. It took me a really long time (for me a long time, at least) to find a couple of people here that I trusted, liked and wanted to hang out with. I got a good year or two with them, and now they have all started to leave, one by one. My closest friend here left in December. Many of our other friends have left since the fall, and many more are planning to leave. Part of our Jewy community is leaving the first week in July, and two other couples whom we love are leaving in December. There was a point that I reached a few months ago where I just stopped wanting to hang out with people. When I met someone at a party who said they were here on short assignment or leaving soon, I stopped listening. I bet I even inadvertently walked away. There's only so much you can take of getting attached to people...and then they leave.

Especially now (with the fetus) I think that I will really need a support network. I need people I can call for advice, and I need people who can help in a pinch (since both of us will be working full time). I need to talk to other people, because it will be hard for me, and that's what I do when things are hard - I talk to people.

Well - I just found out that one of my closest friends here is leaving. BOOO!!!!

The challenge is that I do have to build this network (at least more than I have now - but that's not to say that I'm alone here), but I'm also a little hardened and having a difficult time opening myself to new people - because somewhere in me I know they will leave too. I think I just need to be less attached, but that's not really how I work.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Everyone's Got an Opinion

Everyone has an opinion, and I'm only about 20 weeks. Our house agents (we decided not to buy in the end) looked at me, ran their hands up my hips and sides and decided it's a boy. They even asked the agents of the opposing team what they thought! They all thought it was a boy. "If you still have curves, it's a boy."

Someone on my floor at work asked how I was feeling. I'm feeling great - I have had no problems at all. "Still doing yoga?" Yup - really no problems at all beyond uncontrollable hunger. "If you feel good, it's a boy."

Yesterday was a bad one, though. She didn't even see my belly, and she said, "you have a pimply face. It's a boy. If you have pimples, it's a boy."

Um...I have had narsty skin since I went off the pill, and it actually looks better now than they did before I was pregnant. Maybe that means I'm having a girl?

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Practice

When I showed up at soccer practice, someone asked, "how's practice going?" Soccer practice? Looks fine. Oooh, you mean practice for being a mom?

This weekend we were meant to have some practice being parents. I hope this is not indicative of what is to come, because basically it was just me. No worries, because the three children are amazing, and I love them, but there wasn't much help from Matt.

Meeting for a taxi at 6:15 on Friday became him showing up at about ten, after dinner, wii, and the kids were already asleep. Matt took Jake to baseball on Saturday, and then worked straight until dinner - though he was literally on the phone throughout dinner - and then we got a good two hours (and two games of Catan with him) before he headed home. Today our picking the kids up from Hebrew school, taking them to lunch and then doing something fun with them in the afternoon turned into...well, I did all of that, and Matt worked. I did have a small anxiety attack that this is what it will be like with our kids, but I'm hoping not.

(Disclaimer for Matt - it's totally not his fault - there are just things that have to get done at work, but as the wife, I selfishly am just talking about it from my perspective. It stinks WAY more for him, since he had no weekend...).

Other than Matt not being around, though, the weekend was great. The kids were my friend Pam's kids whom I got to hang out with about two years ago as well. Though then there were only two, and now all three of them are two years older. They were super fun, and I love being with them. We got to play wii, Settlers, we watched a movie, made mother's day crafts, ate fun Japanese food (they know their way around Japanese food way better than I do), and generally hung out. As I wrote about two years ago, this is not exactly hard for me, since the helper makes all of the food and gets the kids ready to go wherever they're going. I just sort of played with them. It's a bit like a vacation, but there are someone else's kids there.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Working from Home

Since the plane home from Bali I have felt quite ill. I went to work on Monday, but Tuesday I was a disaster, Wednesday I left work in the afternoon, and today I worked from home.

I think I didn't go to work for a day at Moody's, because I pulled a muscle in my back and couldn't move, but I can't remember if that was a workday or weekend. But, other than that (which I can't even remember...) these are my first sick days in Singapore. Singapore has an interesting (some might even say immature, distrusting, and stupid) rule that if you don't go to work, you have to provide an "MC." That's a medical certificate. This means that if you don't go to work, you have to give your boss a note from the doctor that said you're too sick to go to work. Let me explain this. I have a cold - it's a bad cold, but it's a cold. I feel super stuffy in the head, weak, no energy, not sleeping, etc. I KNOW that I will feel better soon - I just need to relax. I also know that I will NOT take medications (they seem to think that everything is fine during pregnancy, but google and I are not always in agreement). On Tuesday, this meant that I got up, showered, got dressed, and walked 10 minutes to the doctor. While walking 10 minutes to the doctor in NYC or Michigan might not be a big deal, at 10 am in Singapore, it could kill you. It's DAMN hot. The doctor gave me my little note, and then I had to take a taxi home (seriously - it wiped me out to get there!). I literally felt worse after going to the doctor.

This morning, I woke up (at 4:30...) and felt terrible. I thought it would be better for my health, though, to work all day from home rather than trek to the doctor in the hot weather to get another stupid doctor's note (the first was only for two days, obviously). So I did. And I was quite productive, I might say (the Kitty was only mildly distracting - but she did come out of the bedroom every few hours with lots of meows saying "what are YOU doing home!?").

video

Monday, May 3, 2010

Bali #5

I seriously feel like the luckiest person in the world. I think that's the sentence that I say the most to Matt. "I feel so lucky." Generally I feel lucky that we both have jobs that we love and will probably get us somewhere, I have the greatest friends in the world, I really like my family, I love my husband and our relationship, we generally do things we love to do, and we have found things that we love to do. And...we get to travel to the most beautiful places. A lot.

So, this past weekend, we took off Friday and met Flory and Becky in Bali for a long weekend. We got in super late on Thursday night and had all day Friday and Saturday and Sunday until 3. In that time, we sat on the beach, ate a lot of good food, relaxed in rice fields, went on a tour where we visited a Balinese coffee plantation, saw a big volcano (Batur) and biked (with about seven total minutes of mountain biking - the part that I loved, Matt hated and our fetus flipped over six times...) and hiked through rice fields. It was a bit more biking - or at least a bit more downhill - than any of us was expecting, so that part wasn't spectacular, but the tour in general was cool. We also played a lot of euchre, and we learned that Flory and I are WAY better than Matt and Becky and Matt talks a lot of shit. Generally it was a relaxing long weekend that felt like a week-long holiday.

All was perfect other than two small details - we were supposed to get picked up in Ubud with our bags at 2pm to go straight to the airport. We got picked up closer to 2:45pm in Ubud...without our bags, so we had to go back to our hotel (in a wood carving village about 15 minutes away from Ubud) and then head to the airport...and our driver didn't know how to get to the airport. We ultimately had to jump out and hail a taxi. We made it in fine time, but getting to the airport is generally not my jolliest time. When it goes wrong, I'm a little less jolly. The other thing that stinks is that on the plane on the way home I started feeling snotty, and now I have a full blown cold, and maybe even flu. Yuck. This is the worst I have felt since I got pregnant...and it doesn't even have to do with being pregnant!

Some photo highlights are posted here, and you can click here to see the album on facebook.






In the meantime, since I haven't written too much about Kitty lately, I will let you know that she has become a total food snob, and we can't find rhyme or reason to it. Right now she has three dishes of food - one of her normal dry food that she ate for the first two and a half years of her life, one of wet food that she usually loves, and after her meowing aggressively (well, aggressively for Kitty, but still politely) at me for the last half hour, she also has a dish of emergency dry food we bought when she wouldn't eat her normal food a few weeks ago. What does she want? Can't she just TELL us?