Hello! It’s sprint here and I’ve got lots of new things happening in my garden. I’d love to show you around…!
Chodesh Tov! It’s the Rosh Chodesh of Av and I’m pumped to get into this month and delve deep!
My goals for Av are to really be IN the 9 days and feel all the feelings and connect with Am Israel in this way. Also to explore my personal chasm between my body & neshama.
My other goal is to prioritise showing my husband a bit of extra love this month with some small acts of kindness and appreciation. 🙂
Looking for Rosh Chodesh info? Check out these resources below:
At The Well’s moon manuals: https://www.atthewellproject.com/moon-manuals-all
Shimona Tzukernik on Chabad.org: https://www.chabad.org/multimedia/media_cdo/aid/2091685/jewish/What-Is-Rosh-Chodesh.htm
Emails from Mindy Ribner: http://kabbalahoftheheart.com/index.htm (email her to get on the list)
So, I am officially 14 weeks pregnant.
Basically all of my pregnancy symptoms have gone now, and while I thought I had a very easy first trimester (and really, it was very easy), I’m realising as I start to feel better just how generally “meh” I felt the last few months. I do seem to get tired easier than before, and I can feel when I bend certain ways, or lift something heavy that there are twinges in my muscles – the relaxin hormone doing it’s job already. I’m also breathing quite heavily all the time. Partly pregnancy and partly my asthma which has flared up the last two weeks. Unfortunately I don’t think the heavily breathing is going away any time soon, and we’re going into Winter, so most likely the asthma will flare up a few more times before the season is over!
I am not a fan of these next few weeks, when everything feels normal, and you don’t feel pregnant at all, and there are no little baby movement and kicks to reassure you. It’s a tumultuous time. I’m finding it particularly difficult after the missed miscarriage I had last pregnancy. Realising that the baby could pass and there be no symptoms with me, and my body just continue with the pregnancy makes it even more nerve wrecking.
I suppose it’s made worse by the pregnancy induced anxiety I’m experiencing. It’s not extreme, but similar to what my regular anxiety is like when it has flared up. Things like having to get out of bed in the middle of the night after something’s woken me up and going in to check the children are breathing, or worrying any time Luke drives anywhere. Even worrying about the kids when they’re at school. These are all very unfounded fears, and things I that don’t usually bother me, so it’s tiring to have them again. In writing this down I’m realising that this heightened anxiety is probably what’s lead to my higher stress levels (that and a badly behaved 3 year old!). I’m trying to actively “nourish” my mind (my word for the year!) with meditation and calming things like cups of chai.
I still have a bit of disbelief about the pregnancy still. I mean, telling people has helped, as has seeing the ultrasound (seriously FELL IN LOVE with the baby at that ultrasound!), but still, I felt so out of baby-land that this feels like a crazy dream!
Last week (13+2) I met with Mary – my midwife. I am so excited she is available to be with me again for this baby. She was with me with Ahava, and was one of the midwives I had during my anti-natal appointments with Eli. I love her philosophy and approach to midwifery, pregnancy and birth, and she is a dear friend. Very accepting and kind, and strong as well!
This week I also had my 12 week ultrasound (13w0d), which went well. I will have to go back to my GP to get the results, but I imagine she’d call me if there was anything abnormal. The technician walked me though it and said that everything looked great. They’re specifically checking the fluid behind the neck, and the nose bone cavity for signs of Downs Syndrome or other chromosomal abnormalities. I’m a very low risk anyway, as I’m only 31 (I realised just this week that I have been telling every medical person I spoke to up until this point that I’m 30, but I am actually 31! Oops!), and have no biological family history of any of these things, nor does Luke as far as either of us know.
I’ve started dreaming a bit about the birth, and have started with my pregnancy meditation from the hypnobirthing book. I still have it ripped to my computer for Eli’s pregnancy! I don’t except I’ll read the book again (or maybe I will if I can find it in the library), but feel like the meditations to listen to daily (or thereabouts) are sufficient seeing as I’ve birthed in this style twice before.
I hope to have a birth similar to Ahava’s – in ease, efficiency, and timing. I find imagining where I want to give birth, and different positions, time frames and situations, helps with mentally sorting through what I do and don’t want to happen, and how to deal with various scenarios. Basically it helps me feel prepared. I don’t imagine it would be helpful for everyone, but this kind of daydreaming really helps me a lot.
At 12w2d I had my booking in appointment with the hospital. I elected for shared care. The hospital only really caters for shared care with the GP, but I will be doing it with my midwife – Mary. I will still need to see my GP semi-regularly (every 6-8 weeks) for thyroid checks and medication changes if necessary. I did this system with Ahava, and it worked well. I don’t need to see the hospital now until 36 weeks or something like that, which is great. I don’t fancy going back any more regularly than that.
Wow, I’ve just finished breastfeeding my youngest (about 3 months ago by the time I’m actually sharing this video – my bad!), and because it’s so close to my eldest’s birthday, it very neatly fits into 7 years. I was 24 when I started breastfeeding, and now I’m 31. I’ve learnt a hell of a lot, and have gotten through with sheer will and determination sometimes!
I’m sharing this video because it’s something I would love to watch, and I hope that it could be helpful to another mama who might be struggling with breastfeeding.
I have many friends who have either through choice or necessity breastfed, bottle fed, mix fed, and also done all those things for huge variations in time. As you will see from my video, even my own experiences and lengths of time breastfeeding each child were really different and unique. I am super supportive of mothers feeding their babies however they choose – choice is a powerful thing! I hope that everyone who watches this can be supportive of me and my journey with breastfeeding as well. 🙂
Q:When are you most creative?
A: Usually in the middle of the day. If I’m not too tired then love to get creative in the evening as well, but usually the middle of the day is best for me!
Q: Fav youtube channels you subscribe to?
A: The Modest Bohemian, Lulastic HippyShake, Little Kosher Lunch, Mayim Bialik.
Q: Feel free to ignore this if you’d rather keep it private, but you’d mentioned about some health concerns. What are they and how are they going?
A: Hashimotos, Hypothy, IBS and food intolerances which lead to various vitamin deficiencies etc., like Vit D, mag, zinc, selenium and maybe more I don’t know of! I also have menstrual problems which we’re in the process of solving.
Q: Why did you decide to covert to Judaism?
Q: Why did you decide to convert Orthodox & not reform or conservative?
A: It’s hard to explain if you haven’t felt it before, but basically our souls were just drawn to it. Every little ritual, tradition, and piece of wisdom just felt so right for us.
There are lots of pretty practical reasons why we’d covert – the values of Judaism align well with us, we were previously Christians, so had experience with the Bible, and the Torah – though our understanding and interpretation of it at the time was severely limited. Now we feel much more free and like a light bulb has gone off in our head to see the truth!
Q: How do you stop yourself getting overwhelmed by the conversion process?
A: I’m not very good at this!! On a practical, everyday sense, I have been practicing regular Jewish meditation, and that’s been very calming and helping to not being overwhelmed in general, and therefore with conversion stuff as well. I’ve had a few conversations with friendly lately and when explaining the changes we’re going through they liken it to doing a University degree. I whole heartedly agree with this connection, because firstly it’s quite an intellectual experience – lots of learning, memorising, learning a new language, critical thinking skills, problem solving etc., and then also because of the amount of time it takes. Really, I need to devote time to “study” every day, and take classes, etc. The reason this has helped me is because I know it’s not just ME who’s feeling overwhelmed with this, it’s actually like that for most people (or at least most people with a job – even if that’s homemaking, a spouse, kids, and a life…), and it is also a great reminder for me that there is an END in sight! One day this won’t all be new things that I’m constantly learning, these things will be habits, and natural, and my way of thinking and being will be transformed. And that’s a comfort to me when I’m feeling overwhelmed. G-D willing it won’t take as long as a University degree though!!
Q: What’s the toughest part of converting?
A: This leads on well from the last topic. I think a lot of people think that learning kashrut, or incorporating masses of daily prayers into your life, or dressing differently might be some of the toughest parts, but that’s not what we’ve found. Don’t get me wrong, there are struggles with all those things, but I think it’s the spiritual, emotional, and habitual changes you’re making that are the toughest part. It’s the constant stretching of yourself and what you believe. It’s not the physical way you interact with the world that’s hard, it’s changing your mindset about WHY you’re doing it. kashrut isn’t just a diet preference, it’s understanding G-D’s heart, and desiring him, and committing that way. And then dealing with transgressions you make along the way. A lot of that internal stuff it’s so explicitly taught either, so this is your own personal work you have to do on top of the practical parts.
The other difficult part for me is aligning my other values with Judaism. Usually it’s fine, but sometimes there are cultural differences (not halacic) within Orthodox Judaism that grate against my other values like environmentalism etc.
Wow, what a year! Rosh Hashanah last year we had just started going to synagogue a few months ago after a big move to the city from our simple coast life. I was homeschooling Lior, and we were all missing our friends and the beach, but still in the bubble of excitement that comes with moving and doing new things.
I thought the previous year had been hard – making the decision the leave our family and friends in the pursuit of G-D, not entirely sure where that would leave. And it was. It was actually really hard, but the year on the whole was beautiful and fun. Enter 5778.
This was truly a more challenging year. If I thought it was a big deal to make those decisions, I had no idea how hard it would be to live them out. So many things went wrong this year and it has easily been the most difficult year of my life.
Death in our extended family, my own health hit rock bottom, various difficulties with each kid resulting in endless worries and anxiety. Depression, stress, loneliness – they all reared their ugly heads this year and stayed for most of it. Confusion of our direction, and my own beliefs and understanding, and a general feeling of… stretching.
Now, I don’t want you to think that the whole year was bad. We did after all make many happy decisions and experience a LOT of joy. Several holidays, most notable was our whole Rodgers family trip to Tangalooma, and two overseas trips. Lior thrived at school – learning more than ever before, and just truly enjoying all aspects of school life. It was hard to make the decision to take Eli out of Kindy, but one I am proud we could make, and that Luke and I could be united on.
We made the official decision to convert to Judaism, and start lessons. Those lessons have been a big part of our stretching (learning Hebrew is… difficult!!), but also a huge part of our joy. We’ve seen our children grow in size, confidence, and spirituality. We’ve settled into a lovely house we enjoy, with wonderful neighbours on all sides. A house I am free to garden in, and one that’s easy to clean! We’ve also been fortunate to afford luxuries which easy both Luke and my stresses (in different ways) like a cleaner once a week, and someone to wash our dog, Pepper.
This past month – Elul, I have felt more stretched than ever before (but that’s kinda the point of the month, right?!), and I to be honest I have had many angry words with G-D along the lines of “Why am I here?!” and “Why am I living this life?!” and “WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME. MAKE IT STOP NOW!”, and I’m not exactly proud of those moments, but they are what they are. Just days before Rosh Hashanah I could finally see that this whole process of that of refining – my own exit from Mitzrayim and cleansing before entering Israel.
Tehillim 66:8-12 says
“O peoples, bless our G-D,
celebrate His praises;
who has granted us life,
and has not let our feet slip.
You have tried us, O G-D,
refining us, as one refines silver.
You have caught us in a net,
caught us in trammels.
You have let men ride over us;
we have endured fire and water,
and You have brought us through to prosperity.”
The whole chapter is about G-D refining Israel for his glory. And honestly, if I am going through the process of joining the Jewish People – then I should have probably expected more of this (and more to come!). I am seeing this through a new lens that shows me that this is a refining process – getting rid of my old habits, old ways, old life, and being reborn into a new observant life. It’s hard, yeah, but worth it.
My hopes for 5779 are that I continue to grow. Even though many times this year I’ve desperately wanted to give up, I am glad to stick with it, and hope that maybe this coming year is a little less hard, but still full of lots of growth!