Friday, August 24, 2012

Oh boy, it's a boy!

[continued from Tales of a teenaged mother] ...and in the month immediately following Teneya's first birthday, my cycle failed to make an appearance.

This second pregnancy was a breeze.  No morning sickness, high energy, a bit of experience under my belt already.  Teneya was always clingy and started walking late, so I carried her in a side sling halfway into my third trimester.

I planned for another home birth, and that's what I had.  Still did all the regular tests at the clinic to monitor iron levels, rule out diabetes in me or abnormalities in my baby's growing organs, etc.  Contractions started on a Thursday, a mere 3 days after my due date, but were rather irregular.

Towards sundown the midwife came.  A neighbor's teenaged daughter was interested in future career as a midwife and asked if she could attend the birth for more experience.  I had no objections, but there was a strong personality clash between her and my midwife.  Had to send her home in the middle of the night when my labor abruptly stopped, probably at least in part because of the negative "vibes." The midwife left in the early morning after several hours of inactivity, but had to come back before lunchtime.

It was a chilly day but clear and sunny, mid-February, between Tu B'Shvat and Purim.  We lived on a dusty hilltop facing the Judean Desert, in a run-down caravan like our seven neighbors, with majestic views in all directions.  The surrounding hills were still tinted green by the winter shrubbery and a sliver of the Dead Sea sparkled in the distance.  I slipped on shoes and a light coat before heading out the door and walked in circles around out little village on the rough, rocky road.  Stopped inside frequently for the a snack or the bathroom, not fully realizing what precious freedom of movement I had until birth #3.

A few hours before Shabbat, a dear friend brought us food and ended up staying for the rest of the birth--which came about an hour before candlelighting.  She held the baby before I even did, as the midwife quickly passed him off to stop the heavy bleeding that was causing me to shake and fade out of conciousness.  Orange slices helped bring me back to reality.  This little one weighed in at 3.9 kg.

It took us until the next Thursday to decide on a name for our son.  During the Hebrew month of Shvat, Moshe gave his farewell speech to people of Israel.  Therein came the command to divide the land they were about to enter by lots once it was conquered, according to tribe and family.  Today, most Jews aren't 100% sure of which tribe they come from and the ancestral inheritance is more of a collective sense of belonging to this land that G-d made a covenant over with our father Avraham.

The name Puriel means G-d is my lot, and I added a second name: Tuvya, G-d is good.  There have been so many struggles over this tiny strip of earth, its size growing and shrinking throughout both ancient and modern history.  In all the changes, exiles and returns, there has been only one constant: that G-d is watching out for us, keeping us together as a people even without a land at times.  Puriel Tuvya, in essence, means my lot is good and he is a content and easy-going kid with the biggest heart I've ever seen.

So I had my girl and my boy, two babies under two years and both in cloth diapers.  Their need for my attention was an incredible challenge and my heart hurt whenever they would both cry at once, forcing me to choose who to run to first.

We lived a simple, old-fashioned life out there and managed to feed, clothe, house, etc. our family of four on NIS 1500-2000 per month.  Bought bulk, organic raw food materials and grew a large garden.  Bartered raisins and rice for milk and yogurt from one neighbor's cow.  Traded kale leaves and calendula flowers for another neighbor's cucumbers.  Harvested wild mustard and milk thistle for spring salads, baked all of our bread from scratch, sewed clothes from second-hand bed linens, reused and recycled everything possible.

I had multiplied.  Maybe that was enough.

But a few years later, the baby itch got to me again...