Wednesday, July 31, 2013


For a good amount of this pregnancy, I was just hoping to keep the baby inside until 28 weeks. Then things were looking up, so we aimed for 34 weeks. Then things seemed pretty normal (which no one could believe) so we aimed for full term. I had always been sure I would give birth in June or July...and tomorrow will be August, and I'm still pregnant! Now I'm ready.

I needed to wait until Monday, since I was scheduled for a haircut with a great lady who was out of town for all of July and my mom was arriving on Monday night. I made it to Monday and was super thankful...until my new(ish) helper forgot to pick up Samara at school. That night I asked her what had happened, and she said she's distracted because her mother is sick back at home. She decided she wanted to go home. As soon as possible.

So Alma is leaving, after four short months, and we are about to have a baby. We have a bunch of mohels on standby for the bris. We have potential locations. We have grandparents waiting to buy airplane tickets. We are receiving amazing hand-me-down clothing nearly daily, washing, and folding. We have a packet of newborn diapers and a tiny bed waiting to be filled. Now all we need is the baby.

I don't remember what it was like to have a newborn. I remember struggling for sure, but I also remember thinking that it wasn't as hard as I expected after hearing from others. I think Samara was (and is) a particularly easy baby and child, other than the eating thing...and who knows what this one will be like. I keep telling him he has to at least be a good sleeper, but I can't tell if he hears me. I can't picture what our life will be like in a few weeks - no helper, new baby...I can't predict how Samara will respond to having a baby around plus losing a lot of my attention...we just need it to happen so we can all move forward.

So now, we are just waiting. And waiting. I am walking as much as possible - it's pretty funny how I am more active now than I was able to be for the last six months. When I went off bed rest, I PUSHED myself to get some strength back. I wasn't allowed to push too hard at first, but once I got to 34 weeks I was allowed to do almost anything (no exercise, etc., but everything else...), and I knew I needed to get strong to give birth and also to take care of a baby and 2 year old. I am now walking all over the place, making sure I get up to get myself water or a snack or whatever, and just stay as active as possible. Hopefully that will eventually put me into labor!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Coffee Shops

I have had a long and complicated relationship with coffee. It started as an offshoot of my mom's relationship with coffee - which is an intense one. She couldn't really talk before her coffee. That didn't seem appealing to me. I wasn't interested to try.

Freshman year of college, Shana, my roommate drank coffee which I thought smelled awful, and I was still very not interested. My sophomore year I took an Arabic Literature in Translation class which required external stimulation, and my buddy in that class (Dan Messinger) suggested a mocha each Tuesday and Thursday before class. It made it WAY more interesting and I loved it (the drink and the class!). Soon mochas were too expensive to have twice a week and I moved reluctantly to coffee. Then I realized if Arabic Literature in Translation was interesting...perhaps life could just be more interesting with alas, I became a daily drinker.

I have tried to go off coffee a few times, and I was even successful sometimes, perhaps for weeks at a time, but once INSEAD started, there was no hope without coffee. Then I had a job which required sitting at a computer nearly all required. I had tried to go off when I was pregnant with Samara, but my colleagues told me I yawned too loudly. With this pregnancy too, I tried to not drink coffee for a week in New Zealand when I found out I was pregnant...but I just wasn't a happy or nice person. Forget it. The research says one or two cups a day is ok, and I value relationships (and again, I'm just not that nice without coffee).

I love the local coffee here in Singapore, though the butter (or whatever they do to make it taste so good) combined with the sweetened condensed milk didn't make my body feel too good.

When Samara was born, my mom found Ben and his yummy coffee. I stuck with that for a while, until I really thought it wasn't good for my body. We also inherited a gorgeous espresso machine from Ari when he left town. I started making my own lattes, and as a super treat, I would get a latte at the Spinelli coffee shop at work (it's actually good enough coffee) and on the weekend I would sometimes treat myself to a great coffee at the cafe across the park, right behind our building.

During this pregnancy, I realized I was making lattes with really dark, and a lot of, espresso, and I had no idea how much caffeine they had. I had remembered that Ari said it's something like four shots per filled cup...and I thought I might be damaging the baby and decided to put the machine away until the baby is out and I am more comfortable having loads of caffeine.

Recently, the coffee shop behind our house (which lacked in atmosphere, but the coffee was EXCELLENT) closed. I had advised them to please open before 10am and perhaps to even advertise or have a sign on their shop...but alas, they disagreed and didn't make it past two years. I needed to find a new local coffee shop that could make me happy, especially once the baby is born and I need adventures to get out of the house and things to look forward to when I'm super tired (and as much as I want this baby, it's going to be a hard few months!).

A few weekends ago Matt and I went for a walk on a Friday night and we checked out some new boutique hotels near us (remember, all parents are coming for the upcoming bris...) and saw that a bunch of new coffee shops and restaurants had also opened in our "turning hip" neighborhood. Saturday morning we had to get Sam out of the house (she was still in her AWFUL stage of not wanting to do anything or do nothing, which is thankfully over), so we checked out one of them, the Coffee Stop or Coffee Shop or something...on Lavendar Rd. Atmosphere had potential if there were actually people there. Menu was super limited. Coffee was good, but they didn't have skim or low-fat milk AND it was $6 for a coffee. We tried it and rested in the air con by the window. Eh.

About ten minutes in, and just as we were finishing our drinks and Sam needed to get out, a friend of Matt's from grad school walked by, saw us and came in. We asked where he was going - and he said he was going to check out a great coffee shop he had read about in this neighborhood. Done. We tagged along, saw it was in an old hardware shop (definitely no sign that it's a coffee shop unless you go inside!), opposite a Nepalese temple where Sam and I often go to visit Buddha, about seven minutes walk from our house. It looked super cool. It's Chye Seng Huat Hardware, and it has the atmosphere of an Australian coffee shop, GREAT coffee, and it turns out they have great french toast too, since we went back the next day for breakfast. I have now been three times, and I love it more each time. Though they open at 9, and I believe you have to get there before 10 - when I tried to just get a quick take-away coffee at 11 last weekend there were about 20 people in the queue!

Other coffee that makes me happy in Singapore includes the Tiong Bahru Bakery. Sadly, I haven't been to their actual shop in Tiong Bahru, but they have an outlet at Raffles City Mall, and they have EXCELLENT coffee and also excellent treats. As I walked there this morning, I passed lots of people at Deli France, Cedele and Starbucks in the same mall, and I wanted to tell them that they didn't know what they are missing (though it is's worth it for me!). Their only fault is that they don't do decaf, which is hard if you have already had your allotment for the day.

When we moved here it was hard to find good western coffee and I frequented Starbucks. Now that more of these exist, or at least now that I have found them, I am so happy to support them and I hope to utilize my maternity leave and Samara's school time to find more.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Celebrating Pregnancy with Henna!

As I have mentioned, this pregnancy has been a wee bit stressful. I have had mostly smooth sailing since 24 weeks, but it was with nearly a promise that problems would come back and risks of lots of scary potential incidents. Problems did not come back, and I don't know if that's because everything healed or if it's because I very much took it easy. Overall, though, while I have been very thankful to be pregnant, I have not celebrated this pregnancy.

My good friend Susie wanted to help me celebrate, and I didn't want to do anything until we had a healthy baby. I want/ed no baby showers, no fancy dinners, nothing...but then we were at the doctor's office, and on the screen that shows photos of the doc's patients, Matt saw a belly covered with henna. He said, "Whoa! That's so cool!" I said, "That's Susie's belly." He couldn't believe it. I showed him more photos and he said, "you are for sure doing that." Eh. I'm not such an accessorizer. I'm definitely not into tattoos. I'm also not really into celebrating my body, and I feel like a huge I fought it. Between Matt and Susie, though, they decided it was happening, and we got an appointment at just about 37 weeks.

Fathima, an Indian, Muslim Singaporean came over on Saturday morning, along with Susie. Matt got to choose the pattern, and Fathima went to work. She was unbelievable - she sat on the floor and just drew all around my belly. It looked so perfect, and though my perspective was a bit skewed, I could tell it was cool.

It was fun to spend a few hours intensely with my belly - and share the experience with my closest friend in Singapore, my husband and my daughter (though she was surprisingly not so interested). The baby was moving a LOT during the process (could he smell it?!), so he was a part of it too. Now when I look down (see photo), it's so fun! I have this beautiful design moving around with a little baby inside. Apparently it will last for a few weeks, too. Soon I will be celebrating losing the belly and gaining a new baby boy!
Right now

Fathima in process

Me and Susie (my bed rest, henna and working mom inspiration)

Finished product

Family shot. Matt got one too. Sam didn't want. They're usually topless. I'm not.

In other news, Samara's best friend, Nathan, left about a month ago, and that's been rough. The other girl she idolized from our condo, Amalia, also moved, so motivating her to go to school and the playground is challenging. She had a really rough transition back to school after missing for two weeks due to her illness. Though she previously loved school with all of her heart and NEVER gave us trouble to go, she kept saying she wanted to stay home. Today was the first day (she's been back a week and a half) that she was happy to go. She is still on a pizza-only preferred diet. We're working on that one.

In yet other news, we were "that guy" who ruined a surprise party on Saturday. I mean, we could have ruined it weeks, days or hours before the luckily we only ruined it about 15 seconds before...but still. We showed up a half hour after the birthday boy was supposed to get there, and though we still tried to go in the back entrance, we weren't sure which door, and we couldn't access my email to get the details. We kinda were just figuring it out near his front door, and he walked down the hall. When I saw him I smoothly turned around and walked into a stairway. Nah - he won't recognize me. A Jew in Singapore with super curly hair, nine months pregnant...Matt was even more clever and walked into a doorway and turned around, as if he would blend in with the wall. He then said, "you don't see me. You don't see me." Oops. Now that I feel like more of a surprise party-seasoned friend, I would not show up less than 1.5 hours late.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

It's a Boy!!

Don't worry, it's (or should I say "he's") not born yet.

I VERY strongly did not want to find out the gender of our first baby. Matt did. He thought it would be easier to plan, mostly because of the bris situation here in Singapore (more on that later). I tried to want to find out. I even gave in for a few minutes once...but then I burst into tears - perhaps more hormonal than logical - and ultimately we didn't find out. I was SURE Sam was a boy, for no good reason. Everyone told me she looked like a boy, and I think here people want boys more, so they just say that to make you feel "better." EVERYONE has an opinion. I wrote about this last time.

When Sam was born, it was a c-section, I didn't have my glasses, I had been in labor for 31 hours, I was SUPER out of it...and the doctor held her up right in e of my face, with her legs open. He never said, "it's a girl." And it looked pretty puffy there (I guess that's what happens with newborns). Matt finally said, "it's a girl." I wasn't so sure. Sam was rushed off to get her stomach pumped and Matt went with her. I was reunited with them a few hours later, and I asked Matt if he had checked again. "Did you change her diaper? Are you absolutely sure it's a girl?" I didn't believe it.

I think it probably had no impact on my relationship with her. She became very real when she was born. Though it took a few hours to sink in, and our girl name wasn't as sure as our boy name, we were good to go.

This time too, I very much did not want to find out. Especially given how difficult this pregnancy has been, I didn't want to get attached to the baby early on (call his therapist in about 15 years...). I didn't want to set my own, gendered expectations on the baby (even though I have a Masters in Social Work and work in Diversity, I admit that I have gendered expectations for children, which I very much hope to continue to be aware of). I didn't feel comfortable that it would have a name (in mine and Matt's heads anyway) before it was born. I didn't yet want to picture what our family would be like...I just wanted to wait until it was born.

But...we live in Singapore...and we're Jewish...and it's complicated. I also wrote about this last time, but ritual, Jewish circumcision in Singapore is not so easy. Matt wanted to know for sure if we needed to plan this. Our parents all said they want to come for a bris (the ceremony on the 8th day) if it's a boy. All grandparents descending at the same time, when we live in a small, 1100 sq ft apartment with space for 3 comfortably on the couch...and a lot of competing for Sam's time...this is stressful stuff. I finally agreed that we would find out the gender, but could we please wait until the end?

I understand that it might be harder to see later on, as the baby gets more squashed in there, so at 31 weeks, we asked the doctor to look and write it down in my file. He did. And he did it quite quickly, so I assumed it was a boy (or he is a super duper ultrasounder - which is also probably true). Little did I know that Matt then called the doctor that week and asked what it was. Matt didn't tell anyone, and he didn't tell me that he knew until I knew.

This past Saturday, around 35 weeks, we decided we would find out. We brought Sam for the first time to see the ultrasound (though the baby is in such a great birthing position - YEAH! - that we couldn't get a good picture of its face, so she wasn't impressed...). We said we want to find out, so he started scanning between the legs, and he said, "you see, here is one leg, and here is the other leg, and if you see, there is something in between." Sam said, "I don't want a baby brother. I want a baby sister." Ah...2 year olds.

As everyone says, we would absolutely be so happy with either. Given how hard we have worked to get to where we are, I really, genuinely feel that any healthy baby is such a blessing. I sort of wanted a boy because it seems kinda like a nice family to have one of each, and both Matt and I grew up with only brothers...I sort of wanted a girl because it would be more convenient with the bris situation and we wouldn't have to get new clothes, worry about the pink scooter, and we have been there done that...but honestly, I would be happy with either.

I did have a dream a few weeks ago that we had to get a second opinion on something medical with a doctor, and Matt had my file. He read the whole thing, and then at some point when we were waiting for the doctor he said, "I won't let you do that to our son." I said, "our son? You know it's a boy?" and he said, "Yes. We're having a boy." In my dream I remember thinking that I was so glad we were having a boy, that I always wanted a boy, and that I hadn't felt like I could express that until I knew it was a boy. Perhaps that was somewhere embedded in my brain, but not in my consciousness!

So, the bris mobilization began. Options include:

  • The same Chabad guy from Melbourne that I mentioned 3 years ago
  • Another Chabad guy now in Shenzhen (a "resident mohel in Asia")!!
  • A Chabad guy in Israel who many people here have used
  • A progressive guy in Melbourne who just started moyel-ing. He's a surgeon, and he hasn't yet done one out of Australia, but he seems to be somewhat open to it
  • A guy in Perth who seems to do a lot. We don't know yet if he's open to coming to Singapore. Matt emailed him.
  • A progressive guy from Connecticut who will be coming out to do a bris of someone else in our community. If the dates work (slim's her 6th, she expects to go very early, and she is due a week later than me...and we would have to give birth like 2 days apart for it to work...), then we would use this guy and split the cost with them
The challenge with these things is we have no idea when the baby will come, and all of these people have lives. So what will most likely happen is that we will get in touch with people when I go into labor and see who is potentially available. Then we would get in touch again on day three or four, when we can confirm that the baby is healthy (hopefully), and then we will book. It's a HUGE difference if we can book a flight from Shenzhen (prob about $400) vs from Israel (prob about $2,500). They all seem to charge/suggest a donation of about $1000 for the bris itself.

So...let the fun begin!!

And now I get to go through all of our baby clothes and find the 10% that will be applicable to a boy.

A son...