Dear Chaya // Eleven Months

Dear Chaya,

You are eleven months old, and a very loved member of our family.

Just a few days after I wrote you last letter you started standing up on your own! Everyone is so excited for you. And it’s very exciting to see you take these next steps (literally and figuratively!), especially after all the work we’ve had to do getting you to reach your earlier milestones. But seriously, this was like over 20 seconds that you just stood there for, and we could hardly believe it. You’ve continued to do lots of standing over the next four weeks.

By the time I write this eleven month old letter though, you are not only just standing for a few seconds, but legit taking steps around the place!! It is beyond exciting to watch you do this, and you LOVE the attention when you take some steps.

You got your second tooth – right next to the first one. This tooth was another surprise attack, as I’ve been eyeing off your two top eye teeth thinking they should come through soon (they’re very bulgy), and I didn’t even feel any gum bumps where these first two teeth have come up!

We had Rosh Hashanah this month, and this is when you took 3 or 4 big steps on your own! You’ve been continuing to practice these every day since. Also on Rosh Hashanah you got chicken pox. Lior had them first a few weeks ago, and now you, Eli and Ahava have all got it at the same time. Thankfully you don’t seem too uncomfortable – just annoyed at all the creams and weedy pesto I try to smother over your spots to help you heal quicker. The itching only seems to bother you at night, and makes you wake up and moan and cry. The up side is that I realised that you sleep so well normally! We’d just fallen into good sleep with little to no wake up so naturally that I didn’t even think much of it (with the others it’s kind of a big deal, with me forcing them to stop feeding in the night or things like this). So Baruch HaShem, you sleep so well. This chicken pox sleep schedule is just a hiccup. Other than having spots on you and getting cranky at night when you should be sleeping, you don’t seem drowsy or “sick” at all. Though you have had some long day sleeps after all these restless nights…

We started you in cloth nappies this month, which is very exciting. Better late than never, right?! I gave you a break from them while you had the pox, because I didn’t want you to get any nappy rash or infections from moisture on the pox. We’re getting into a little groove with it all, but probably need to increase our stash a bit, as a fair few of the second hand ones we were given are newborn size.

Personality wise, you are definitely showing your strength these days CC. You pull things back from people if they’re taking something you’re holding, and you are very opinionated, even if it is mostly in grunts!

Your favourite game is pulling things off people’s heads, and you love to laugh when people rub their head into your belly and tickle you. You are also my potting up buddy, and love to get dirty! You hate baths, and don’t mind showers. You like to babel and explain things to people with your tongue sticking out and your noises not making sense. You love to be with Imma all the time, 24/7. You do not like to be put down on the ground anymore, and you wish you could watch the world from your little perch on my hip! You love screens. You’re not allowed to watch on them of course, but you still love to kit the keys on the keyboard and touch the phone or iPad and see things change. You make your presence known, and it seems the lasting effect of the chicken pox is in making your squeal more frequently (not ideal!). Hopefully that one wears off…!

CC, my chooch, my baby doll, my precious one. Oh how I love you. Oh how I to hold your hand at night, and cuddle next to you when we sleep. Oh how I love your laugh and your smile, and even your crying face. I love every part of you, and hold onto every part of you. I love you Sunshine.

Love Imma.

A Gratitude List // September 2020

  • A sleepy baby girl sitting at my feet on the couch
  • A long morning nap this Shabbat
  • Finishing putting together all my 2019 photos, so that I can keep going on the photobook
  • A big home with lots of room and space to move and breath
  • Bird song all day every day
  • A growing garden
  • Making delicious things in the dehydrator lately
  • Rabbi Mendel & Esty – great friends!
  • All our friends that has stuck by us for so long, through quite a lot. It was Katie’s birthday this week and I worked out we have been friends for 15 years! What?!
  • My (bigger) kids are so excited about Father’s Day tomorrow, and that makes me so proud
  • Deep breaths. Like, REALLY deep breaths.
  • See my doctor on Monday. I’m excited to get my test results back and hopefully get something to help my problems!
  • My beautiful plant wall

Dear Chaya // Ten Months

Dear Chaya,

My sweet girl, what joy you bring. It’s been so interesting to watch you develop this last month, and change from being happy to hug anyone, to just sticking to the people you know. Even Grandma and Pa doesn’t get an automatic hug! I guess it’s just part of your development and being aware of the big wide world all around you. What’s been most interesting is to see the two sides of CC – the way you act and play when you’re at home with me, and the way you act and play when there are other people around.

In the last month you have attended a Bar Mitzvah, started going to playgroup with me and Ahava, worked hard on pushing some teeth through (though they’re not through yet!), slept well some nights and not well the others! Oh, and you’re started to try and stand on your own a bit too!

Earlier this month your sleep was absolutely bonkers. We were waking up more than 6 times in a night, and it was a complete mystery as to what was wrong! We worked out that part of it was teeth – oh how they bothered you, and having some nurofen on really bad nights helped, and just bonjela on the other nights. There were some very big bulges of teeth, and some other tell tail signs of teething in your nappy…

But still, this didn’t explain everything with the bad sleep. You would squirm and wiggle and seem to be in pain, but you didn’t have gas. I wondered if this was still the formula bothering you, and being a bit hard to digest so I started adding some probiotics to each bottle. It took a few days, but it did the trick and you started more or less sleeping through, even on nights when we were sure you were still teething. Halleyuliah (but also not, because formula is expensive enough without having to buy a bottle of probiotics to go with it!).

I even tried at one point in the month to start expressing again, to add to your formula to make it easier to digest, but this wasn’t possible. I mean, physically I was making progress, but it would take a very big commitment to do that properly and get back tony decent level, and I just didn’t have that in me anymore. So probiotics it is and that seems to have done the trick!

Sleep wise you are also not so reliant on the dummy anymore during the night. You still like it to go to sleep, but even then, if it was bedtime and we were in the dark bedroom I wouldn’t feel completely hopeless about getting you to sleep!

My Uncle died this month and we were to his funeral. Not so important to you I guess, but it’s one of those things to record in your first year.

You like to play with Yacov Yoseph, who is about your age. He’s probably the only other baby you really see! You also love to try and climb up things! This month you learnt how to climb safely off the couch by sliding onto your tummy and then pushing yourself back. Clever girl! You’ve started having some little tantrums where starfish all over the ground and cry and cry. I hate to tell you, but it’s a bit cute. But you also make your point down there! I see a little bit of drama queen in you. You like to scream at the top of your lungs when anything touches or brushes past you in a way you don’t like!

You are so keen to give smiles, and even giggle. This month you have really loved looking and interacting with Eli. He is so gentle and kind with you, but doesn’t try to touch you too much or carry you around, and I think that’s why you’re so appreciative of him at the moment!

You are the sweetest girl, and I am loving spending my days with you on my hip, pottering around the house or visiting friends. You’re my little buddy, and I love you Chaya.

Love, Imma

Dear Chaya // Nine Months

Dear Chaya,

Hello my little choochala! My happy, smiley, friendly, snuggly girl.

What a month! Since we put you on the bottle we’ve noticed you have more energy and “life” about you. You’ve also gained a ton of weight, and started making some big progress towards your milestones. It’s been a funny thing – putting you on the bottle – it’s been so emotional and hard, and we’ve just had to fumble out way through it, but I can’t deny that there have been benefits – like you suddenly growing more! I wish things were different for us, so badly, but it’s not the way of it .

We saw the allergist this month and it turns out that the allergies you had when you were younger are just intolerances. You were so brave for the skin prick test – you watched the doctor do it without any tears! He said you can be having all food to a certain degree, but my gut instinct is no. Even so, I started giving you more and more gluten because it’s easy and he said it would be fine. But guess what, it wasn’t fine. I realised now that he didn’t even actually test gluten on your skin prick test for some reason, which is unfortunate. You were sleeping horribly. Like seriously, SO horribly. We were just at a total loss as to what to do with you or how to make it better. Nurofen wasn’t helping, teething gel wasn’t helping… it didn’t matter if I fed you just before you went to sleep, or an hour before. Tummy presses kinda helped, and you did get some farts out that way, so I had a realisation that the thing I’d changed recently was adding in gluten! So we took that out again completely and within a few days you had dramatically improved! It’s probably not an allergy, but your gut is obviously sensitive, and it isn’t handling gluten well. Things aren’t perfect, but they are better!

I had a second light bulb moment to realise that the only other big change I’d made to your diet recently was removing all the breastmilk. Previously this was about 75% of your diet, and I just weaned you off that in less than a week. So I’ve started using some of the stored donated breastmilk to each bottle just to try and start the digestion process (apparently that’s a thing with breastmilk and formula mixes. Who knew?!). It’s going well so far, though I have to give you a little break because you might remember that there are things this mama ate that you don’t like so much (probably gluten!), so it’s good for a few days, then we need to take a break. I need a bit of a better plan!

You are crawling everywhere! At first it was getting up on those hands and knees, but it quickly turned into proper crawling. Mazel Tov! How exciting for you! And I am not in the least bit sad about it, because I feel like this probably should have happened ages ago, and that you WANTED it to happen ages ago, and were ready for it, but your low muscle tone just got in the way. So after all that effort and exercise and whatnot you can do it! It’s almost as much of a congratulations to me for the work I put in as it is for you! What a great team we make Chaya. 🙂

We moved house this month. Away from your house and city of birth and back to, well, mine. Ha! It’s been a super emotional time for all of us, and sad to say goodbye to our home of 3 years, but we’re moving forward and following the green man.

At nine months you are smiley, friendly, inquisitive, and cuddly. I love getting your cuddles each night and for naps in the day. You are a precious soul Chaya Sefira, and I love you.


Dear Chaya // Eight Months

Dear Chaya, what a ride.

The biggest thing that happened this month is that we stopped breastfeeding. Easily the most heartbreaking and difficult thing I have ever had to do in any setting, but especially as a mother. I can hardly even go into the details here now, because it’s still so raw. The short story is that the structural problems in your mouth, combined with the low muscle tone are too great, and the fact of the matter is you are physically not able to breastfeed. Of course this is heartbreaking for me because I LOVE breastfeeding, and I know all the benefits of breastmilk. I can honestly say that I have worked tirelessly to make this work, and that if someone such as myself has given up on this, then it must be serious.

You have been army crawling around like a wild thing – really making progress this month so that you’re getting all the way through a room, and also loving pulling yourself up on things!

We had Shavuot this month and celebrated at home because of COVID.

This month you had lots of appointments with various people – chiro, lactation consultant, dentist… before you had your last breastfeed on the 13th of June. I still had some breastmilk stored in the fridge, so you had some of that for a few more days after that in the bottle.

You and I are getting used to have our 3 days a week just us at home again, now that all the big kids are back at school/kindy. It’s nice to relax a bit and do some one on one things with you! You love to play games, and we realised you liked bashing the jenga blocks together, so we got the duple out for you. I also bought you a little piano like Lior had when he was a baby, and you love to give that a little hit and play some music for us.

You are laughing a lot more this month, and sleeping well (only while being held of course!). Your favourite thing is to pull anything you can off people’s heads, which in our family is fairly problematic because I’ve got a tichel on, and the boys all have kipper on. Only Ahava is safe in theory, but in reality, you just give her hair a big tug!

I love you to the moon and back Chaya. You are my sunshine, and my rain. Sometimes I think about what our family would like if we didn’t have you in it, and I can honestly say it wouldn’t be as good. You have added so much love and kindness to our family, and we are all completely in love with you!

Love Mama

Self Care // Health

I’ve been feeling unhealthy of late. Nothing so major, just a tired-ness that’s come over me. My thyroid isn’t up to scratch (though the test results are looking fine), and I’m slowing gaining back the weight I lost during pregnancy and early postpartum. I’m keen to get back to this sort of prime health state I was in during the fourth trimester! Weeks 3-7 of postpartum were some of the most stressful times of my life (my new baby wasn’t growing – at all – and there was a real concern for her life), but my body and mind handled it amazingly well. My midwives kept noting when they saw me every few days! I put this down a lot to how well I was being looked after. Anyway, I was thinking on this, and wondering why I was feeling so healthy in the first 3 months or so after birth, and I realised it came down to something super simple – my body was functioning well because I was looking after it.

So in the interest of getting back into that state, I want to note down all the things that I didi for my health etc., during that time. These include:

  • Drank bone broth regularly
  • Ate three meals a day
  • STRICTLY avoided all foods I am intolerant to (gluten, dairy, eggs)
  • Rested frequently
  • Other people (either Luke or my mum) did my chores for me including my most stress-y jobs like getting the kids ready for school in the morning and picking them up
  • Drank a lot of water
  • Kept on top of all my supplements (primarily magnesium, iron, Vit D, and a pre-natal which includes zinc and selenium), and medicinal herbs (primarily I Am Gaia, and Reishi)
  • Didn’t have to worry about any household concerns

Obviously only some of these things am I able to re-create in a day to day sense now. Unfortunately I do not have a live in housekeeper or nanny! Ha! BUT, that’s okay. There is still plenty more to focus on just with everything else, because I realise in going through this list that MOST, if not all of things things on this list I don’t do anymore.

For example, most days I only eat one meal a day – dinner. It is all I have time for. Not because I’m so busy, but because my baby is clingy, and I’m often tired because I didn’t eat properly at the previous meal. I sometimes eat a packet of chips or something all together unhealthy of “lunch”. I love salads, but just don’t have time to make them with grabby hands trying to “help” me cut things when she’s in the ergo, or a soundtrack of wailing if I put her down! I don’t drink enough water, and I’m in no way on top of my supplements. Anyway, you get the drift! I want to try and get back to this, so I’m setting myself some small goals.

  1. Fill up water bottle each day and take it everywhere. Refill at least once in the day, bonus points for more than once (maybe I should literally give myself points for these things and I can get a prize at the end of the month?!).
    Just do this and continue on with next point immediately.
  2. Commit to not consuming allergens at all. It’s not hard, you’ve done it before. CC will also be better off if you do this. THINK OF THE BABY. Maybe prepare a few small snacks (like bliss balls) to have on hand for snacks to avoid temptation.
    Just do this and continue on with next point immediately.
  3. Write up a supplement schedule, make sure they’re all topped up, and maybe even buy one of those pill containers just to make it easy! Do this consistently for 1 week before moving on.
  4. Make some batches of bone broth and have for lunch each day (best to freeze in single servings so that it can be easily microwaved). This will help increase my bone broth intake, help me eat lunch each day, and also help me stay strong and not sneak any dairy in the day due to the 6 hour wait time after eating meat.
    Do this consistently for 2 weeks before moving on.
  5. Batch cook some lunches to freeze or store in the fridge ready to eat (move bone broth consumption to breakfast time!). Ideals include rice bowls, roast veggies salad, soup…
    Do this consistently for 2 weeks before moving on.
  6. TBA.

Breastfeeding Dayenu

Breastfeeding Chaya has been a rollercoaster ride. So many ups and downs, so many things have happened I never expected. Chaya is my fourth baby. I have breastfed her siblings for 16, 23, and 36 months each with only minor difficulties. I never expected to have any trouble the fourth time around! But trouble we have had. I have given up and and thrown the towel in more times than I can recall, but somehow when the next feed is due, I’m there, giving more than I thought I had.

It has reminded me of a song we sing at Passover called Dayenu, meaning “it would have been enough”. The song is very positive – listing all these miracles Hashem has showered on us and saying “If Hashem had just done this miracle, it would have been enough!” but still Hashem blessed us with more!

The piece I wrote was originally written in the opposite way – if I’d just had this one set back, it would have been enough! (Please! ENOUGH already!). But then it evolved and I realised, that at each set back I thought it was over, and it wasn’t. Each set back (though admittedly very painful and hard), was a chance to grow, and stretch further than I realised I could.

This isn’t necessarily a success story. I don’t know how long we’ll last. I do hope we will manage to wean off the supply line and breastfeed normally, but today I’m not confident. Who knows how I’ll feel tomorrow though. 😉

Breastfeeding Dayenu, by Talia Carbis

When she wasn’t gaining weight I thought it was over. 

When she preferred the bottle over the boob I thought it was over. 

When her list of food intolerances were completely overwhelming I thought it was over. 

When I first had to use formula I thought it was over. 

When I could only pump 20ml in 2 hours I thought it was over. 

When we didn’t see the LC till she was 3 months old I thought it was over. 

When we discovered the extent of her mouth problems I thought it was over. 

When I broke down crying (again) (and again) I thought it was over. 

When I was so angry I screamed I thought it was over. 

When I was so desperate I begged my baby to feed normally I thought it was over. 

When my breast pump died (two of them!) I thought it was over. 

When I was sick and had to go to the hospital I thought it was over. 

When we went for weeks on the bottle with no breastfeeding I thought it was over. 

When we realised she also had a tongue tie I thought it was over.

When she started getting distracted in the breast I thought it was over. 

When I couldn’t get the hang of the bloody supply line I thought it was over. 

When I realised how much washing up was involved in feeding this baby I thought it was over. 

When my supply dipped I thought it was over. 

When she got a hectic cold that lasted two weeks I thought it was over. 

When her low muscle tone was still so low, after all the work I thought it was over.

When I was 1 month in to my days revolving around pumping, supply line, washing up, repeat I thought it was over. 

When I was 2 months in to my days revolving around pumping, supply line, washing up, repeat I thought it was over. 

When I was 3 months in to my days revolving around pumping, supply line, washing up, repeat I thought it was over. 

When I lost a part of the supply line I thought it was over. 

When I lost the tape I thought it was over. 

When COVID hit I thought it was over.

When I found out I now had to homeschool 3 children on top of it all I thought it was over. 

When she got all tight again and I couldn’t get in to see the chiro I thought it was over.

Wen she was underfed and constipated I thought it was over.

When I realised she wouldn’t even close her mouth without the supply line starting to drip in I thought it was over.

Today I thought it was over. But it’s not.

Dear Chaya // Seven Months

Dear CC,

Hello my little pumpkin! Oh how I love you. You seriously light up my life, and I am so so so happy to have you as my daughter. Abba and the boys and A are also so happy to have you in our family. We are so lucky. Thank you for bring us so much joy.

Communication: Chaya, at 7 months old you understand your name when called (most of the time). You love to act shy when talking to new people, and play a funny shy face game with us where you busy your head into your chest. It is adorable.

Eating: At 6 months it was 1 packet of food, now that you’re 7 months old we’re up to 2 packets + BLW a day. You love apple, sweet potato, pumpkin, cucumber slices, rice crackers, and, well, pretty much anything!

As far as milk goes, it’s mostly breastmilk these days, with hardly any formula. Even if I do need to give you a bottle I have enough of a stash that I it can mostly be breastmilk and only a little formula. The formula you have is still the allergy one.

We did have a situation a few weeks ago, where you were quite constipated and really restless and just… not happy in the day. It finally clicked to me that even though you had plenty of wet nappies, that you were possibly being under fed, milk wise. You see, this month you’ve been making good headway with the supply line – we’ve had the air tube completely cut off for all your feeds, so that you were sucking more from the breast, and less from the tube. I realised that in doing this you were getting tired easier, and falling asleep at the breast, and therefore not finishing the feed. Because breastfeeding has been super unenjoyable for me this month I just sort of let that be the end of the feed, thinking you had sucked quite a lot from the breast, and that why there was milk left in the bottle.

BUT it finally clicked that probably all these things were meaning (duh – seems obvious in hindsight, and when I spell it out like this!) that you were being under-fed! So I supplemented you a lot with bottles (for a week it was two extra bottles a day), until the last few days, when you’ve really gained the strength you need in your cheeks (such beautiful full cheeks these days!) to feed well. As of now we’re still supplementing with 1 bottle each evening before bed.

Despite all this I’m making really good headway with my milk supply, and have a bit of a stash in the fridge now! I’m off the medication I was taking to increase my supply, and I feel so much better.

Chiro: We had a good report from Jemima the chiro this month, and she said we didn’t need to come back for another month which is great!

Crawling/Moving: You are getting great at the army crawl. None of the other kids did this, and I suspect it’s part of having the low muscle tone. I’ve been encouraging you to crawl properly by holding up your stomach, so that you get used to having the pressure on your arms. The chiro also recommended an exercise we could do to help with strength in this area. With crawling comes the separation anxiety! You’ve been quite the mummy’s girl this month.

Games etc.: Chaya, you love to play the “ah wah wa” game with Daddy when he taps your mouth. You also play peek a boo either on her own (with someone watching) or with others who do the up and down of the scarf. Today we play round and round the garden, and itsy bitsy spider.

Sleep: Your sleep has been mostly good, at least once I worked out the food issue. You still have off days, but mostly a great sleeper. Some night you don’t really wake at all (maybe once), and other nights you wake a terrible lot, but none of us really “wake up” because we just put the dummy back in and continue on. I definitely wish you didn’t need the dummy, because I know it’s not good for you from a breastfeeding perspective or a reliance perspective, but it’s keeping me sane when the feeding issues are pulling me in the other direction.

You are mostly good in the car now on long trips, though if we don’t time it well you can be a bit upset. This month Nana mimi died.

COVD restrictions have eased, and all the big kids are back at school/kindy. It’s just you and me again 3 days a week, and we like this time together. 🙂

Love you my little CC sugar puff. You have beautiful big cheeks now (lots of work from both of us to get them that big!!), and a smile to match! You are just darling.

Love you to the moon and back,


Chaya’s First Time At Synagogue

It feels like absolutely ages since I’ve been to Synagogue, and I guess it has been a while. Since Chaya was born really, which is which is 7 ½ months now. Before that I went for the high holidays and Sukkot, but wasn’t so regular in the last few months of pregnancy (for obvious, tired reasons!!)

At first it was just regular baby stuff keeping me, and then it was COVID. But with the restrictions easing, and the kids also allowed back at shule this week (for Shavuot and the Shabbat before it was just the minyan), I thought I would also go with CC.

Because it’s been so long since I’d been I was reminded of my very first time at this synagogue, just shy of 3 years ago. There is something so… holy and electric there. I feel the buzz. Our synagogue isn’t big or fancy or anything like that. But it’s beautiful, and welcoming, and it’s home. That’s really how I felt the first time we went there, like I was coming home. The “Amen”s just rolled off my tongue without much thought and with no prior knowledge on what or when to say things, as did the sitting and standing. And this was part of how I knew we were meant to convert.

I think there is something wonderful and holy about the sound of a baby babbling in a synagogue. Chaya crawled around much more than at home (carpets!), and fell asleep in the ergo towards the end so I was at least able to do the musaf Amidah. I loved to see her looking around, and taking in all the Hebrew, and the prayers, and the Torah. It gave me so much nachas to be with her, and to be there again.

As we walked home after shule this afternoon I said to Saadya how much I love going. And even though some Saturdays I would probably have to drag myself out of bed to get ready to go, it is always worth it.

Dear Chaya // Six Months

Dear Chaya,

You are six months old, and so lovely! You’ve been moving around lots this month. What started is scooting along on your back has morphed into dragging yourself on your tummy over to new places, and new things. You can see toys ahead of you and you move to get them.

You love to play “Peek a boo” – where you take a scarf or a blanket and you pull it over your head (all by yourself) and then quickly pull it off again and give a huge smile! You like it when I add my commentary of “Where’s CC?!” and then “There she is!”

You’ve been experimenting lots with food this month, and gone from tasting little bits here and there to chowing down on at least 1 full packet of food every day! You also love to chew on random pieces of food like cucumber and tomato slices, and sample some of our dinner or lunch. We have arguments most days about WHO gets to feed you. Lior, Eli and Ahava all want to take turns (though after a little while it falls back to Dad or I!). You also go totally crazy if you haven’t had solids yet that day and then I eat something while holding you!

This month the big kids have all been home because of COVID-`19. I think you’ve quite enjoyed having them all so close all the time, and they’ve all gotten really good at carrying you around and entertaining you!

We had Pesach (Passover) this month which was really lovely. I had hoped this would be your first time going to synagogue (we can carry things on a Yom Tov, so I would be able to carry you there, which we can’t usually do on Shabbat), but because of COVID… well, you know the drill by now!

Even without attending synagogue our Pesach was still beautiful, and we enjoyed teaching you the ropes!

You sat up this month! The 16th of April 2020 was the first day you sat up for any length of time. In the week after that you’ve gone full steam ahead and I can just sit you down places and let you play! You also have really strong legs that really love to stand up all the time!

We had a yummy gluten free and vegan lemon & poppyseed cake for your half birthday! You like to reach for people, and give beautiful cuddles.

Just before Pesach, when you started sitting up and standing, and moving around a whole heap more your jaws got really tight and couldn’t breastfeed with the supply line at all! It was super stressful, but I trusted my gut and gave you the bottle instead, thinking your tightness was from working these muscles hard learning new skills. By the time we went back to the chiro it was all back to normal and she agreed with my assumptions about why it had happened.

CC, I love you so much. You are such an easy going, and joyful companion to my days. Even the hard days are easier with you. I love you.

Love, Imma