Monday, December 31, 2007
All I could do was laugh...
Have a happy new year & wishing all of those who are waiting to 'grow a bump' that 2008 is your year.
Thursday, December 27, 2007
Ohad & I have been busy working (him on his doctorate, me on trying to earn some money) and basically have no time to breathe. In the meantime, something weird was going on with Nomi's eyes. At first we thought it was an infection, but as time went on and there wasn't any pus and the antibiotic cream wasn't helping, I became more and more convinced that it was an allergy - which only left figuring out to what.
It wasn't too difficult, since she'd just recently started eating kiwi (which I seem to remember her eating last year with no problem). We cut the kiwi and her eyes went back to normal within 36 hours. Another thing we get to add to the list.
I did go back and check her RAST tests (blood tests for allergies) and they did show that she was allergic to kiwi, but since she hadn't had a reaction, we thought it was OK (this was our doctor's advice - anything she doesn't have a reaction to is OK).
It is amazing how many allergies one little girl can have.
Monday, December 24, 2007
As I mentioned in a previous post, I spent last month reading journal articles about eSET - elective Single Embryo Transfer - when couples have more than one good embryo available, but choose to transfer only one. It's fairly obvious that this is the trend of the future, since pregnancies with multiples are far riskier than singleton pregnancies. It also isn't surprising that deciding on eSET is really hard*, especially for women. Not only is there a sense that the pregnancy rate is lower (per cycle, it is, but if you transfer one embryo one cycle and then thaw and transfer another the following cycle, the pregnancy rates are similar- at least according to one team of researchers**) but it pretty much eliminates the chance of having twins. A survey done among IVF mothers who had already conceived found that mothers with twins perferred twins, but also that 62% of mothers with singletons would have preferred to have twins.***
I'm sure I've said this before, but even after knowing all the risks (which I didn't when I chose to transfer 4 embryos) I still think I would have found myself in the group that was unable to make the decision to transfer a single embryo - if you're going to finally achieve pregnancy, a pregnancy that might be your only one, it almost makes sense to 'try for' twins...
Funding is a partial solution - couples who know they'll be able to have treatment toward an additional pregnancy are more likely to agree to transfer a single embryo. This, apparently, is a good economic choice, since pregnancy with multiples and then multiples are prone to increased health risks, which are a burden to the health system - meaning that long-term it will be cheaper to finance additional IVF cycles than let the current twin rate of 20-25% continue. I believe Finland is one of the first countries to make this decision, but other countries have begun or are at least talking about it. In Finland, the multiple pregnancy rates dropped from 25% to 7.5% between 1997 and 2001 (when eSET increased from about 11 to 56%)**** The overall pregnancy rate per oocyte retrieval was almost unchanged.
One last (and totally subjective) thing I'll mention is that from reading many infertility blogs, it seems that the successful freeze-thaw rate in the US is terrible. It appears that relatively few embryos are frozen and that not enough survive the thaw. Having had lousy embryos frozen and thawed in 1995, when there were only 4 excess embryos, all were frozen and all survived the thaw, I wonder if improving the methods used in the US (or perhaps just being less strict about what embryos clinics freeze) might result in higher FET pregnancy rates. (My FET resulted in my 11-1/2 year old twins.)
*Blennborn et al. (2005)
**Thurin et al. (2004)
*** Pinborg et al. (2003)
****Tiitinen et al (2003)
Ah, and to all those celebrating, Merry Christmas & a Happy New Year :-)
Need some tips on surviving the holidays? (Not an ad, just an article I posted in the past.)
Saturday, December 22, 2007
I truly hope and believe that this is the beginning of something wonderful.
Good luck tomorrow (just for a start)!!!
Thursday, December 20, 2007
One might wonder (as I do) why I'm in some form of denial. The baby was planned and is very much wanted. I'm really looking forward to the excitement around the birth, the birth itself and taking care of a new baby... and then the first year-and-a-half are pretty awesome in terms of what the baby learns how to do, with every day leaving me surprised and amazed... And, of course, there's the interaction with the other kids which is interesting, entertaining & probably one of the things that brings us the most happiness... (at around 18 months I find myself ready to turn my baby over to day care and return to some form of adult life).
What I'm not terribly excited about is the pregnancy itself. I feel like I concentrate poorly, can get fewer things done, am strangely shaped and heavy... I also know that once UI makes an appearance, my life will change - a lot of things will get more difficult - like picking the little girls up from their daycare (I have a mental image of holding Abigail's hand, Nomi in the stroller & UI in the Baby Bjorn) or just going to drop off a package at the post office - things that have become pretty simple since Nomi started daycare 3 months ago. I'm worried about having even less time for the older kids (& believe me, it's already really difficult to find time and have patience for a severely-learning-disabled child who is learning to read a second language when she is still several years behind on her first language or to spend time listening to a child who likes to go on and on about every interaction that went on during school that day).
So, although having another baby is what I really want, I'm enjoying the 'simple' time now and trying not to think too much about what will happen in another 2-2-1/2 months (we're due Feb 23) and trying to get as many things done now as I can (finishing the court case with my ex, moving forward with my seminar paper, getting Hadas through the testing for the school she wants to go to, touching up the paint in the house, etc.) - all this while trying to make enough money so I won't be pressured to work during the first few months after the baby is born...
Does the denial make more sense now?
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
My research went a bit kerflooey as it had to do with elective single embryo transfer (eSET) and because I'm studying in Israel, I have to do my research here. Apparently, not only are women not the main ones making the decision here about how many embryos to transfer, but the doctors almost always recommend transferring 2 embryos (hence about 25% of IVF pregnancies yield twins). So, I'm back to the drawing board... Reading all of the articles has been really fascinating and now that it won't effect my research, I think I have some interesting things to share... but not today, which reminds me of one of my favorite lines from Shrek 2 - "Someday I will repay you. Unless, of course, I can't find you or if I forget."
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Just last week someone asked about flipping a breech baby. My mom taught childbirth classes for many years and I remember that she used to teach women to flip babies by being in a certain position. I went to check what the research says & the results showed no difference between those who did and those who didn't try it, so I guess that's not really something to count on either.
And, by the way, I found another advantage to the metric system (aside from things dividing into very neat 10's & 100's) - hitting any round number on the scale is troubling when you're gaining weight, but fortunately I've been just short of 70 kilo for quite a while... See, if my scale were in pounds, I would have seen 150 recently, but since I didn't, I'm just thinking how glad I am that I'm not gaining weight too quickly - especially since I seem to have absolutely no control over the quantity of food that I eat...
Monday, December 17, 2007
Fertility experts will meet in Arusha, Tanzania, this weekend under the auspices of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology to discuss the challenges of infertility in Africa at the first conference on infertility in developing countries. Their goal is to develop a low-cost version of IVF, making in vitro fertilization available to couples worldwide - including those in developing countries, where infertility is often so strong a stigma that it often results in social isolation & sometimes even in suicide. Perhaps this research will help make IVF more affordable and safer everywhere.
A 48-year-old Minnesota woman is pregnant after using an egg that was frozen, thawed and fertilized before being transferred to her uterus. Dr. Jacques Stassart of Reproductive Medicine and Infertility Associates in Woodbury, Minnesota said that the technique is still experimental but that his clinic will offer it on a case-to-case basis. There have been other cases like this, but not too many. I think egg freezing is an amazing option, but that care needs to be used in choosing the women to be treated. Someone needs to be looking out for the future children as well - those who may be born to women at practically any age.
A change in Victorian law will now allow access to IVF treatment for single moms and lesbian couples. It seems to make more sense to allow them access to insemination - why go straight to IVF if there are no fertility issues?
And last, but definitely not least, I really enjoyed Bea's posts about the value we place on being parents (she actually asked how many years of our lives we would be willing to give up to successfully become parents). I chose the odd-woman-out answer (as I often do) but I really enjoyed reading all of the other answers as well. In many ways, this reminds me of how frustrated I felt reading Stumbling on Happiness (by Daniel Gilbert) in which he presents research showing that we're actually less happy once we have children, but doesn't compare it to the alternative of not being able to have children.
P.S. Tomorrow's our growth scan. This will be the first in over 10 weeks(!) I 'get' to do it a week early because despite having done two 100-gram-GTT's this pregnancy, I am still at risk for gestational diabetes.
Thursday, December 13, 2007
On another topic, Malky wrote yesterday about my being open with my kids about having gone through fertility treatments to have them. I never thought not to share it with them... and they probably do know more about IVF than the average adult. Easier to talk about than sex, no? :-)
What will you tell your child(ren)?
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
Victorian law says that a woman can be a surrogate only if she is medically
infertile, a ruling that has been widely described as bizarre.
Even after reading that it was 'described as bizarre', I still thought there must be some mistake in the sentence. Perhaps only couples who were medically infertile were eligible to choose surrogacy? The surrogate mother??? So I went to look it up...
Surrogacy laws in Israel are complicated too - for religious reasons. As far as I know, only gestational surrogacy is allowed. Then, a surrogate must be an unmarried woman (if a married woman were to carry a child created with the sperm of a man who is not her husband, the child would be considered a mamzer - not a good thing...) In addition, she must be the mother of at least one child of her own (though I have heard that this is standard in other countries too). I don't know how many babies are born by surrogacy each year in Israel, but the numbers are still very small.
Apparently, as it says in the articles - "the law has not kept up with science". I hope legislation will help those couples whose best chance to have a child is via surrogacy, while protecting all sides - the surrogate, the intended parents and especially the baby.
interesting search of the day: early symptoms of pregnancy in the father.
None that I know of. Perhaps finding multiple pee-stick wrappers lying around? Hearing barfing noises? Got any other ideas?
Second, Family Court Judge Ellen Greenberg (New York) ruled that a man who acted as a sperm donor many years ago is responsible for child support. It's not clear to me why the mother waited until the child was almost 18 to claim this... Mostly, this supports my feeling that whenever a third party is involved, you're better off having a legal agreement.
Last - a search query: missed IUI but got pregnant. I hope this is what happened to the person who searched :-) If so, congratulations!
Tuesday, December 04, 2007
In other news, I read an interesting article about the use of IVF in HIV-discordant couples - particularly where the husband is HIV positive and the wife is HIV negative. Apparently, with the use of ICSI, they can guaranteed that the baby will not have AIDS.
Sunday, December 02, 2007
I'm not talking about the cases in which you have good betas (say 150 on 14 dpo - days past ovulation), but rather the time when you get an iffy 24, when it should be well over 50. So - should you be happy? Is it time to announce it? Not really. The first thing that happens is that you're asked to repeat it 2 days later. And then what happens when you get a 32? It's going up, but it's not doubling. Another repeat... 2 days later. 59. Almost doubled, right? And it can go on and on. Sometimes it's just a 'chemical pregnancy' and sometimes it isn't, but the low, non-doubling beta is rarely a sign of a healthy pregnancy.
Back in November 2001, I had a pregnancy like this. 14dpt - days post transfer - I had 29. 2 days later, it was 34. Then it continued to almost double, to double, etc. And eventually, an embryo appeared on the ultrasound screen - exactly the size it should be, with a beating heart. It kept growing and slowly I started to think that I might end up with a baby after all. (Strangely, I never really looked at the other hormone tests I did, all of which had values that were not normal for pregnancy.) The pregnancy was a mess. I had a big hematoma (blood clot) in my uterus and had periodic bleeding, but the fetus continued to grow. Around 11 weeks, I had the nuchal translucency test & it was fine. About a week later, I was put on complete bed rest because of heavy bleeding that continued to get worse. The doctor said it was just the hematoma finally draining itself. He was wrong. I started to cramp badly and the pregnancy ended right around 13 weeks.
The signs had been there all along - the low beta, the non-doubling beta, bad hormone tests, heavy bleeding, the hematoma (which never got smaller than the fetus)... After all the bleeding and the uncertainty, I must admit that there was a sense of relief that it was finally over.
Frequently when I read other people's miscarriage stories I find myself forgetting that it ever even happened to me. The times when I do remember are actually when I read about the low, non-doubling betas. And then I feel like I don't know what to say. Should I tell the truth? Should I keep my fingers in mittens? Sometimes I want to say - just pray that if it's going to end, that it end quickly - that you don't have to go through 11 weeks of uncertainty & losing blood only to also lose the baby in the end...
Looking at the queries I get for FertilityStories, a lot of women are wondering what happens when the beta is low or doesn't double...
How low was the lowest beta with which you successfully went on to carry a baby? How many days past ovulation / transfer were you? If you ever had a low or non-doubling beta - what would you have wanted to be told?
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
And I also wanted to wish good, great, amazing, fantastic luck to:
- Kirby - starting what will hopefully be her first REAL cycle tomorrow!!!
- Watson - tomorrow's the c-section. She made it past 38 weeks with twins :-)
- Julie - whose HPTs are showing two lines!
- NakedOvary - there are no words... :-) (Thanks, mom, for pointing this out!)
I love happy news...
Sunday, November 25, 2007
There are some things I can't complain about - I have no trouble sleeping. I get into my bed and fall asleep within 2 minutes and I sleep well most of the night and - aside from the edema - I am not having any trouble walking, which I've had in the past.
Since I started showing so late (~16 weeks) and haven't gained too much weight, I thought I might be off the hook with the swelling as well. I guess not.
Of course I do feel incredibly lucky. I know Akeeyu is struggling on a daily basis. Gemini Girl hung on through long weeks of hospital bed rest and her tiny daughters are still having a tough time. Es is on modified bed rest, which I know (from experience) to be very un-fun. (Watson, on the other hand, seems to have disappeared...)
In any case, as lucky as I know I am, this edema thing that will probably stick with me for the next few months, is definitely an annoyance.
Thursday, November 22, 2007
8 passions in my life:
- My kids
- Music, especially singing to my kids
- Thinking of new ideas (especially ways to surprise Ohad)
- Rearranging furniture / organizing things
- Reading research
- Bargain hunting
8 things to do before I die:
- Grow old with Ohad
- Travel (with Ohad)
- See my children appreciate each other
- See my children become independent
- Renovate, furnish & decorate a big house to be just what we want it to be
- Write a novel (or two)
- Finish my degree (hey, it’s only been 22 years since I started)
- See all my RL & blogger friends have all the children they want
8 things I often say:
- I’m so proud of you.
- You’re such a good girl.
- Can you please stop fighting?
- I don’t know. Whatever. Ask Ohad.
- Please pick up your shoes and take them to your room now.
- Do you want me to count to three?
- Oh no. (In response to the phone ringing when I’m busy or any time after 10pm.)
- It’s your father. (That’s why we got caller ID.)
Eight Books I read recently (fortunately, trilcat claims that kid’s books count, otherwise I might have to go back quite a while…) You get my ratings too, on a scale of 1-5.
- The Bretheren - John Grisham (still reading, it's only been about 2 months)
- Fool Me Once - Fern Michaels (2)
- Blink - Malcolm Gladwell (4)
- Hop on Pop - Dr. Seuss (4)
- Green Eggs & Ham – Dr. Seuss (5)
- I Just Forgot – Mercer Mayer (4)
- The Little Engine That Could – Watty Piper (4)
- Guess How Much I Love You – Sam McBratney (5)
8 songs that mean something to me (with links to youtube):
1. I’ve Finally Found Someone – Barbra Streisand & Bryan Adams
2. Poems, Prayers & Promises – John Denver
3. Delilah Blue – Joshua Kadison (complicated)
4. Shanghai Breezes – John Denver (we hear a lot of John Denver at home)
5. The whole Yentl soundtrack
6. The whole Beaches soundtrack (if you like Bette Midler, you must watch this :-))
7. Modeh Ani – Meir Ariel (the first song we played for Abigail after she was born)
8. Somewhere Out There – Linda Rondstadt & James Ingram
8 Qualities I look for in a friend:
2. Has interests & ideas
3. A great sense of humor
5. Has time to talk
7. Doesn’t mind voicing (or hearing) an unpopular opinion
8. Speaks without too many grammatical errors
8 people I am tagging
I am not sure I know anyone who hasn’t been tagged and actually has the time for this… In case I’m wrong, consider yourself tagged.
And the bonus...
8 things my mother taught me about socks
- Always wash socks together so both white socks can absorb the same amount of the bright red dye running off your sister's brand new t-shirt. (Unfortunately, usually one sock still ends up turning pink while the other remains a bleachy-clean white.)
- If you put two socks into the laundry and only one came out: the washer ate it.
- If you took two socks out of the washer and only one came out of the dryer: the dryer ate it. (Basically, both the washer and the dryer are bottomless pits, full of socks.)
- If a sock needs to be darned, you either need a new pair or the dryer ate it.
- Always buy more than one of the same pair of socks, that way, when the washer eats one from one pair and the dryer one from the other, you've still got a whole pair left.
- A sock-sack is a place where pairless socks can wait until everyone has outgrown them anyway.
- Socks can be made into hand-puppets, but never will be.
- Would you mind just wearing sandals???
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
Today Hadas (14) was sitting next to Abigail (2 & 8 months) and trying to talk to her when Abigail turned and said, "Hadas, I'm not in a good mood. Leave me alone."
She is too much...
Monday, November 19, 2007
Congratulations to Kristy Atkins & Francis Tettey who became parents to Michael last month! Kristy was diagnosed with Turner's Syndrome when she was 8 and was led to believe she would never be a mom. I can't imagine how surprised she was when she saw those 2 pink lines!
Yesterday, I added a page on FertilityStories with an index of the infertility success stories posted on the site. Miracle babies is one of the categories :-)
I enjoyed reading this article by Samira Ahmed on the dangers of multiple births. I think her closing paragraph was the most significant part:
How can we avoid saying how cute the little quintuplets are? But then again, gosh... all the risks & all the care that goes into them. Is that really what we want?
The question isn't whether the NHS should help such families but whether, when we get pictures of five little babies and their delighted, grateful parents, we are in danger of ignoring the man-made dangers and pain that, all too often, go with pushing the frontiers of fertility.
And for anyone who's interested in the results of the poll from a few days ago (for some reason I can't get it to work) - here they are:
The next exciting thing to happen was that I got to the post office to mail a few packages (of the famous OPKs I sell for peanuts) only to discover that I had forgotten to address one of the envelopes. Now, due to being a country that's known quite a few terror attacks, our mailbox openings are tiny. You can barely put a letter in them, much less a small package - so each time you want to mail a package, it means making your way to one of the 3 post offices that we have in the city (fortunately, one really isn't too far away, it's just down a one-way street, in the opposite direction, of course). A second "oh well".
This morning Einav Galili (who I like watching) wasn't on the morning show & her replacement showed a newspaper article about a 57-year-old woman who just had a baby. And she went on to say how happy that makes her. I really wonder how fair it is to a child to have a mom who's going to be in her 70's before s/he starts high school, especially a single mom. I can understand really, REALLY, REALLY wanting to be a mom, but it seems like there's got to be a point at which you give up. I'm feeling old to be a mom now. I look in the mirror and see my growing belly and think, "I am too old for this." and I am nearly 20 years away from 57...
What do you think? Is there a right age to stop at? Is there an age that's too old to become a mom?
Thursday, November 15, 2007
Having had gestational diabetes with my last pregnancy (discovered in week 39) I had at least a 60% chance of having it recur. I also have most of the risk factors (family history, age, pregnancy #, etc.) but, surprisingly, all 4 of my numbers came back mid-range - definitely no diabetes. Cool... Now all I have to do is finish the 4th Snickers bar so that Ohad won't know I ate any... (since I bought another 4).
So - why do I think this deserves a medal? I had to do the 100g GTT in 2004 and 2005, the 75g one in 2006 & the 100g one twice more in 2007. That's in addition to all the fasting blood sugar tests that I've done, which I consider a piece of cake - with icing.
Sunday, November 11, 2007
I woke up this morning to the news that they've been bought by AOL. I started using Yedda's Q&A widget in August 2006 (turns out I was their first partner!) and have answered hundreds of questions so far, almost all about infertility, many from my experience & others that I spent time reading journal articles or doing other types of research in order to answer. Some of the questions have given me inspiration for articles or blog posts I wrote. And, of course Yedda also sent me to BlogHer 2007, which was my first time in the US in 13 years... (OK, that may not be related, but it was one of the most exciting things that happened to me this past year.)
Now all I have to do is figure out how to get AOL to buy my website... ;-)
Tuesday, November 06, 2007
I have never had a yeast infection, so I don't know what it's like, what the symptoms are, how dangerous it is, etc. Well, yesterday, I started to feel a little itch and a quick look revealed that something was definitely wrong. I could have called my sister, who might have known more than me, but she has a baby who has decided that sleep is overrated (and my sister might say that sleep is underrated) and it was after 11, so I consulted with Dr. Google. This is what Dr. Google should have said:
- Stop freaking out!
- Whatever it is, it doesn't endanger the pregnancy.
- You can wait until the morning to see your doctor.
- Stop freaking out and don't call every pharmacy in the city to see if one of them is open.
- Don't self-diagnose.
- The fact that there is no discharge doesn't mean that it's gotta be MORE serious than a yeast infection. [BTW, none of the websites mentioned such a situation.]
- For goodness' sake, stop * freaking * out!
- It's really not going to hurt your baby and most importantly...
- Be nice to your husband who doesn't really get why you're freaking out.
I got most of that information (not the husband part) and was actually able to calm down until I got a totally miraculous doctor's appointment this morning (not with my obgyn, but with one I've seen before). He said I have a mild case, that it's really common in pregnancy & that I was just lucky to never have experienced it before. Mild. He also said that within a few days it will be completely gone, that the treatment is safe during pregnancy & that it does not harm the baby or endanger the pregnancy. Whew!
The only weird thing was running into my dad just as I got to the clinic... The good thing is that at my age it no longer embarrasses me.
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
This time, Ohad & I really enjoyed having a secret (we didn't even really feel any need to tell when we did)... we knew I was pregnant when Yedda offered to send me to BlogHer & we knew when I ordered the tickets to take Lilach to Croatia. I was careful when I tore through the airport in Atlanta trying to catch my flight (I did) and I avoided riding a gondola in Venice because I get seasick easily even when I'm not pregnant... I was also careful not to volunteer for anything at the school...
Sunday, October 28, 2007
See some articles here and here.
I find this so exciting, as it's a real opportunity for women whose risk of OHSS is too high for them to go through standard IVF cycles.
Congratulations to the new parents & babies!
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Infertility usually means at least a year of unsuccessful attemts to conceive before turning to a medical professional for help. After this, it's a process of many months or even years before a baby becomes a reality. During this time, having a baby often becomes a woman's goal in life (I'm deliberately leaving out the father here, because I want to refer to my thoughts on what might contribute to the incidence of PPD specifically in women), often taking a toll on her education, career, marriage, friendships, etc. Having a baby is the goal & the baby can become idealized, frequently as a warm, cuddly creature dressed in pastel colors, who coos on cue and smiles lovingly at her mommy...
I think it's rare for a woman to be prepared for the reality of motherhood (not exactly the description above, at least not all the time). Although I have a sister who is 9 years younger than I (and therefore I should have known something about having a baby), when I first brought Hadas home from the hospital, all I could think was, "OK, so what do I do with her now?" When she cried and I didn't know how to calm her, I was practically in tears. She was a fairly good sleeper - at night - but during the day, she demanded pretty much constant attention - 16 hours a day. She was alert, interested in everything, a good eater and mostly happy, but it was tiring - day after day, every day. I didn't have many people to interact with or places to take her, so aside from walks, we were mostly at home. My whole life changed when she was born but, of course, having her had been my choice, something I'd waited for for over 3 years (3 years of TTC + 9 months until she was born). How could I possibly complain about having a beautiful, healthy baby?
Fortunately, I have no personal experience with PPD, but I'm guessing that's how it is - there are the perfectly normal hardships and then the depression that sets in. On top of that, is the guilt for feeling the way you do - or for completely losing control of your emotions.
Having the "baby blues" is normal, but baby blues are very different from Postpartum Depression. Here are some brief descriptions adapted from emedicinehealth (in purple):
The "baby blues" are a passing state of heightened emotions that occurs in about half of women who have recently given birth. It peaks 3-5 days after delivery and lasts up to 2 weeks, during which time the woman may cry more easily than usual and may have trouble sleeping or feel irritable, sad, and "on edge" emotionally. Baby blues don't interfere with a woman's ability to care for her baby.
Postpartum depression is depression that occurs soon after having a baby. Some health professionals call it postpartum nonpsychotic depression. It occurs in about 10-20% of women, usually within a few months of delivery. Symptoms include depressed mood, tearfulness, inability to enjoy pleasurable activities, trouble sleeping, fatigue, appetite problems, suicidal thoughts, feelings of inadequacy as a parent, and impaired concentration.
A woman who experiences postpartum depression may worry about the baby's health and well-being. She may have negative thoughts about the baby and fears about harming the infant.
Postpartum depression interferes with a woman's ability to care for her baby. It can also lead to suicidal and homicidal thoughts.
Having PPD, from what I learned is a serious problem, but what is really important is to know that it's treatable. Treating PPD is the best thing a woman can do both for herself and for her baby. Women with PPD may have difficulty taking the first step, or even acknowledging that there is a problem. If you're a woman with PPD - tell someone. Let them help you get help. If you have a friend with PPD, find out more about getting help for your friend. If the first professional doesn't help, persist until you find someone who does.
Getting help means giving yourself an excellent chance of going on to having a healthy, rewarding experience as a mommy.
Special thanks to Katherine Stone who took the time to speak to me at BlogHer 2007 and who, as a survivor, devotes incredible amounts of time and energy to increasing awareness about postpartum mood disorders.
Recent research performed by Karin Hammarberg (link to doctoral thesis), who also published an article entitled "Assisted conception is a risk factor for postnatal mood disturbance and early parenting difficulties" in Fertility & Sterility (link to abstract) has indeed shown a higher incidence of postpartum mood disorders among women who conceived with the help of ART.
An additional article I read, entitled "Impact of a multiple, IVF birth on post-partum mental health: a composite analysis", published in Human Reproduction (link to abstract, full pdf available from that page), suggests that the higher incidence of multiples in IVF births is a factor that raises the risk of PPD after ART.
Feel free to ask for explanations :-) This post is just getting too long...
Monday, October 22, 2007
I also immediately knew it was coming from the tap under the sink (where we have the dishwasher, the fridge and the water purifier connected, in addition to the sink).
Ohad was downstairs in about 1-1/2 seconds and he turned off the water as we both started to squeegee the water out of the house. The phone rang again & it turned out that the overflow of water somehow ran down into the parking lot, so now our neighbor (who speaks Russian very well, but absolutely no Hebrew or English) is trying to help us fix it (he actually came in with a briefcase that gave me the instant reference of "Dr. Sink").
In any case, no one can say my floor's not clean...
Special thanks to Abigail & Nomi who just woke up now (at 7) and let us get the whole floor clean by then and to the weather, for being so warm that we still haven't put the carpet back in the living room. Fortunately, we have no damage.
Sunday, October 21, 2007
Today, when I crossed the street, I'm sure she couldn't miss the fact that I am expecting again. I thought about how looking at me with Abigail must remind her of the fact that we would have had children who were the same age (even though hers would have been Nomi's age). I thought about how hard it must be for her because I'm only one of the women she sees all the time who's gone on to have more children while she hasn't been successful (and when you have 2 kids in school, you run into these women often).
I also wonder if, after already having 2 children and then losing a long-awaited pregnancy so late, you wouldn't just give up at some point & think, "I can't do this to myself anymore."
Mostly, I felt guilty for how seeing me might have made her feel.
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
A pilot study (see article) led by David Greening, of Sydney IVF tested 42 men whose sperm showed significant DNA damage and found that daily ejaculation reduced this damage by 12%. These results were presented at the American Society for Reproductive Medicine conference in Washington yesterday.
Abstaining from sex increases the number of sperm cells that are ejaculated - leading to the recommendation for couples who are trying to conceive to only have sex every two to three days - but the article says that beyond this time period, although the quantity may rise, its quality declines; a trade-off.
I wonder if such DNA damage is tested in a normal sperm analysis, if so, what parameters show it and how common is such damage? If it makes an important difference (knowing whether there is or isn't DNA damage), it seems like information couples should have - and may even make it sensible to have two sperm analyses day-after-day to check if the sperm quality improves.
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Here (in Israel), and I'm sure in most places, they show you the baby and the bracelets on him or her before ever leaving your sight. They also use stickers that include additional identifying information - and the mom, dad & baby stickers are all a part of the same numbered set, so that mix-ups like this can't happen.
The amusing part of the article, in my opinion, was the husband going for DNA testing because he suspected he wasn't the father (he wasn't) and the mother doing the same (she wasn't the mother either...)
Currently (as I read in another article) both moms are refusing to give up the babies they raised.
Monday, October 15, 2007
Karyotype Preliminary AF - 0 (that's the digit 0) *see edit below
A quick search in Google revealed that this reporting system is used only by my health insurance company in Israel (2 results, both in Hebrew forums) & is completely meaningless to anyone but perhaps a gyn who's already encountered it in the past.
As soon as I finished my search (one answer from a doctor said it's fine, another doctor said he had no idea what the woman was talking about) I checked my email & there was the notification that the new result was in. What is the point of giving me these results directly, especially at 9:30pm? I don't even know who to complain to...
edit: my doctor said that the digit 0 actually has no meaning other than that they don't give the results over the internet. ARGGGHHHH!
and... in Hebrew, for my Israeli searchers - אין כל משמעות לספרה 0 - לא מפרסמים את התוצאה באינטרנט!
Sunday, October 14, 2007
The doctor claimed that if anything were wrong with our amnio we would have been called within 2 weeks. I finally got through to the clinic today and it seemed as if the nurse had the results in front of her but wasn't yet allowed to tell me (she said something like, "I should be getting them any minute," which sounded strange). She said that we'd have the answer by Wednesday.
Since the last time I was weighed, just a few weeks ago, I gained 5 pounds(!). I don't even have much of an appetite (unlike Bea).
Congratulations to Karen on being able to bring her babies home!!! And thank you to Suz for sharing her terrible scare with Savannah. I hope everyone will take her advice and go for an infant CPR class. I did & I hope I never have to use what I learned...
Saturday, October 13, 2007
Katherine Stone from Postpartum Progress (who I was fortunate enough to hear speak & actually got a chance to chat with at BlogHer 2007) posted all the relevant information. - Here's a tiny excerpt from Postpartum Progress just to clarify:
"What is the MOTHERS Act? The Moms Opportunity to Access Help, Education, Research and Support for Postpartum Depression Act, or MOTHERS Act (S. 3529), will ensure that new mothers and their families are educated about postpartum depression, screened for symptoms and provided with essential services. In addition, it will increase research into the causes, diagnoses and treatments for postpartum depression. The bill is sponsored by Senators Menendez and Durbin."
I will be blogging about postpartum depression on this day, with an emphasis on PPD in women who conceived using ART. If you have any information or insight on this topic, please feel free to share it.
I have also added a button to my sidebar, where you can click for more information.
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
Anyway, today went OK. It wasn't what I thought it was going to be. She is trying to mediate so that we can settle the issues out of court. I was kind of at a loss, since I didn't know what the issues are... but I proposed 3 different issues to discuss. And then it was his turn. He went on and on about 'the children's best interest' and about 'doing what's best for the children' and blah blah blah, until finally she shut him up and told him to actually say something and not just keep throwing slogans around. The bottom line is that this whole thing is about money. And not even a lot of money. And not even money that he claims to have paid. It's about the fact that he thinks that I am evil for going to the court to claim the money that he owes. For some odd reason, the social worker almost bought this at first, saying that claiming the money that he owes caused conflict & I should have avoided conflict at all costs. If this is true, then why do you need agreements in the first place - are they meant only for people who would follow them even if they didn't exist? How can it be that she doesn't see it as HIS obligation to pay the child support and that if I had to go to the court in order to get it that something is wrong on HIS side? Anyway, he sat there smugly saying that he didn't pay, with no explanation as to why he thinks that's OK... Finally, she did catch on, but she still thought that we should settle it in her office.
I've been trying to settle these issues for over 5 years now. He's refused anything but my completely letting him off the hook. Why should I compromise on the amount now, so far into the process? Wouldn't that just show him that in the future he can do whatever he pleases? I think the pressure she's putting on me is unfair...
Overall, it really was OK & now, since the GPS was programmed better, I actually even know where I was :-) I was even able to stop on the way home and get some special paper that Hadas can use for paper folding (I got her a fancy paper folding book for her birthday which is next Monday - she's going to be 14!!!)
Still waiting for the results of the amnio. 15 days and counting. They said it's usually around 2-1/2 weeks. That's soon.
Tuesday, October 09, 2007
Tomorrow I get to meet with a social worker (a new one, from another city) and my ex, to try to find a way to communicate. Now, in theory, that might be a nice plan. In practice, the #$(!@#* I was once married to (for 13-way-too-long-years) is an extremely irrational, terrifying creature who lacks self-control & doesn't hold himself accountable for things that he says or does. Most of our phone conversations end with me deciding I'm not going to listen to any more of his maniacal shouting and hanging up. The truth is, not communicating with him ever again about anything sounds pretty good to me.
At least the settings on my GPSare better than last time, so it should take me on faster roads. Hey, that's something to look forward to, right?
In other news, I posted a new page about early pregnancy. It still needs to be expanded (a lot), but I think it's a good direction, especially seeing that so many of the blogs I follow have gotten two pink lines in the past few months (and I hope many more will in the coming months!). Comments, as always, are welcome :-)
Sunday, October 07, 2007
I don't check my email that often, only about 47 frazillion times a day, and in my inbox I discovered that I have a new lab result. But, um, I don't recall having had any tests... It turns out that it's a result from my amnio (not THE result). Apparently they test the AFP in the amniotic fluid & the result is 7.9. Yeah, that helps a lot. The MoM is 0.9, which, from previous experience (with AFP) I understand to mean normal. In any case, I don't find that result to be particularly informative or helpful in any way. So, I just thought I'd thank the goofballs for giving me partial, non-informative results in a place I never expected to see them. Does this mean we'll get the amnio results soon?
Tuesday, October 02, 2007
Abigail (now 2-1/2) knows to say that the baby grows in the uterus. Today at dinner she told us that she has a little uterus and so when she has a little baby she will be able to put it there. I wanted to tell her that I hope she won't have to go through that :-)
I am pretty much back to doing everything I did before, though I've yet to wash the floor. You really don't want to see my floor when it hasn't been washed for 2 weeks. Maybe tomorrow. My doctor told me to keep things low key for a whole week.
For anyone who's interested, I fixed up the download page for the free IVF guide. I think it actually makes it possible to understand where you're supposed to click.
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
The doc was a bit of a joker, first telling Ohad it would take 30 minutes (yeah, right) and then telling me that they needed to use 2 needles - one to make sure they were in the right place and the other to extract the fluid. This might be helpful for someone who has never had amnio before, is stupid, or is so terrified that she'll believe anything. For me, it was somewhat annoying, because I wondered what other things he might find humorous... It was over in about 5 minutes and they took me to sit on a recliner for 20 minutes and fed me cookies. The doctor claimed that sugar helps prevent contractions. Sounded weird, but I took a cookie anyway... After about 1/2 an hour, we made sure to leave instructions to omit the gender from the report and then drove home, stopping on the way in Jaffa to get sandwiches (the test was in Tel Aviv). My parents surprised me by dropping by and bringing a chocolate mousse cake and flowers :-)
I spent most of the afternoon & evening on my back trying to be comfortable, but I'm used to laying on my side and my whole body started to ache, so I finally gave up and just lay on my side. It was much more comfortable.
This morning I feel fine. 3 weeks until we get the results.
Monday, September 24, 2007
A good mom should be motivated, right? But I guess there's a limit to the amount of abuse I want to subject myself to, even if (theoretically) it is 'for the good of the children'. I think registered letters, for example, is a much better form of communication. He really is one of the few people I find I just can't communicate with. Fortunately, his current mental state is so bad that he can't keep himself together for any period of time, so other people are able to see why. I hope this happens quickly - otherwise, it will mean a lot of driving and a lot of wasted days.
So, although no custody suit is looming over me anymore, I'm still really angry that the social worker chose to knowingly lie about things. Even the fact that the judge didn't buy it (she totally didn't) doesn't make me feel any better about it. And I have another question for the social worker: even if the fact that my kids were born through IVF is relevant (I don't know why it would be, but let's say it is), how did you, Ms. Social Worker, decide that the problem was with me and that my ex 'stood by me' (hence giving him bonus points for dedication)???
In other news, Ohad and I were never able to really reach a decision about the amnio. The default was that we have an appointment tomorrow morning at 10. Since we didn't cancel it, we're going. I can't say I'm looking forward to it, but I feel just as calm as I did last time, though this time I'm not really worried about the results either...
Ohad has promised to spoil me for 2 days (and when he says it, he means it). So it's not all bad :-)
I will update later, unless I faint there on the floor, hit my head & need to be hospitalized. In such case, I'll try to get someone else to update.
Update: I survived. The social worker's report was good enough that the judge got the point that the kids are fine. Psycho-ex, despite his wishes, was convinced to change the suit from custody to visitation. He also went psycho in the court, screaming and crying. There weren't any emotional issues going on, so it was completely out of the blue and very out of place. He even yelled, very loudly, that the entire custody suit doesn't interest him and he doesn't even want custody. The judge made sure that got into the protocol.
It isn't over, but it's looking better. For now, I just forbade the kids to wear clothes that their father gives them to school (he has majorly bad taste, including sending them in things that are too small). I can't afford any more run-in's with the school.
Sunday, September 23, 2007
On the phone, she said that, at most, she'd recommend that I be a bit more flexible about the visitation in the future. Considering the grouch (aka psycho-ex) rarely picks up the kids on time anyway, I didn't really get the point, but whatever. My lawyer will be there at 10 or so and he said he'd call to let me know how it (the social worker's report) is. I don't expect it to be honest or fair. She has always said that I just need to communicate better... I tried to explain that it's difficult to communicate with someone who was consistently abusive toward me throughout my 13-year marriage and can't get through more than 20 seconds on the phone without screaming at the top of his lungs, but she just doesn't get it.
My lawyer said that the case has a better than 50% chance of getting thrown out of court tomorrow (the grouch originally filed for divorce in the Rabbinic court and the divorce agreement clearly states that any disputes in the future must be resolved there - but when he filed the custody suit, he filed it in a Family court that doesn't have the jurisdiction).
Trying to ignore the fact that I have to be in court tomorrow, Ohad and I sat here for the past hour or so trying to decide whether we should go for amnio on Tuesday or not. The only good part of it that I can see is that I'd get to be spoiled for 2 days. Maybe we can just skip the amnio and I'll lie in bed as if I've done it... How about that?
Tonight, I asked the older kids to help arrange the poles of our Sukkah. After a little while, I heard hammering - turns out they put the entire Sukkah together on their own(!) Just as they were finishing, it started to rain - the first rain of the season :-)
Saturday, September 22, 2007
Any ideas for a contest Google can announce regarding infertility?
And I'm sure YouNeverCall will hop in with an offer for the first mobile call made from the womb...
Friday, September 21, 2007
Helping the Stork: The Choices and Challenges of Donor Insemination
The Couple's Guide to In Vitro Fertilization: Everything You Need to Know to Maximize Your Chances of Success
FertilMARQ: A Male Fertility Sperm Test
Single Mothers by Choice
Mommies, Daddies, Donors, Surrogates: Answering Tough Questions and Building Strong Families
The only DVD ordered more than once was:
The Time Machine
Anything else you'd like to know?
And of course, no IF blog would be complete without wishing Thalia a huge congratulations on the arrival of Pob!
Lastly, for all of those observing Yom Kippur, have an easy fast and a Gmar Chatima Tova!
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
In some pages on FertilityStories I have links to Amazon, as a not-so-successful effort to try to, as they say, 'monetize the site'. However, once in a blue moon, people actually do click through and buy things (that I'm hoping/guessing they would have bought anyway). A few months ago, someone bought a TV/DVD combo. So I wanted to say thank you to anyone who has bought through the site (especially y'all with the TV/DVD, I hope you're enjoying it :-))
And now for the question... Keep in mind that the ONLY information I get about a purchase is the approximate date, what it was and how much the person paid. So here's the question:
I'll give it a few days & see what you think...
Things seem to be calming down around here. I hope. I got a good report from the social worker who was shocked to see real-live happy kids instead of Oliver Twist... She said that at most she would recommend greater flexibility with the visitation. I told her that I don't really mind, but that she should remember that he doesn't take advantage of the time he does have for visitation, so that giving him more seems a bit useless... At least this means there isn't going to be any sort of custody battle. I hope once we're able to tell the kids this whole thing is over (we will wait until after the judge's decision, hopefully next Monday) that they will feel much better.
Yesterday, when I was looking for good things to think about, I looked at my site stats and saw that in the past month FertilityStories.com has had over 21,500 unique visitors. Last year, in the same time period, there were 9300. Is there a doubling-time calculator for that ;-)?
I posted a message about the glucose challenge on a medical forum & the doctor there said he recommended repeating it at 28 weeks. I can live with that, although I admit that those last few sips really did make me want to vomit. I was lucky enough not to, because my guess is I would have had to start over. Mega-yuck!
We're still debating the amnio issue. My choice would probably be to skip it based on the three tests we did do - the NT which gave 1:975, the 16-week-scan that was normal, and the AFP which gave 1:1140. On the other hand, if it turns out that something is wrong, we have other children we need to care for. Basically, it seems that the risk of not doing the amnio is very small, but if we don't do amnio and there does turn out to be a very serious problem, it will have a significant impact on our entire family. It's confusing and it's time for us to make a decision. Our appointment is next Tuesday (the day after we go to court). I guess we can cancel it any time until Monday or so... Thoughts?
Oh and last, but probably most importantly GOOD LUCK to Karen whose c-section is scheduled for today!!!
Edit: I just wanted to mention that we did go for amnio with the last pregnancy (due to bad AFP results) and I documented the time in what I called my amnio blog - before I had a 'real' blog.
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
I'm only in week 18 now, so I am wondering whether I'll have to repeat the test, but for now that's good news - it means that I don't need to worry that too much sugar is getting to UI (short for Ubar Inbar - ubar in Hebrew means fetus). UI, by the way is what our (Ohad & my) field is often referred to - user interface...
The kids met with the social worker last night, but since they were at their dad's house both before & after (and while they're there, even when he's not home, their ability to talk on the phone intelligibly is severely limited) I don't know much about what went on there. (But I do know that I used 3 homonyms in the same sentence... Fortunately, I was always a good speller.)
I now understand that the social worker has serious problems expressing herself. What she meant to begin with was not that the children are neglected, but rather that we had neglected to seek professional help for them. It is hard to screw up this message in English, but even harder in Hebrew. I think she needs to see someone about this problem, especially if she's writing things for the court. If not, she's neglected. Ooops. I mean then she's neglected to get help for the problem she has. If I had been able to understand this last week, I would not have been nearly as stressed, especially considering the fact that even recently we took one of the kids to a professional (and told the social worker about it... I wonder if we should add amnesia to her list of problems).
BTW, I really did, as I told the social worker, lose 4 pounds over the long weekend that included 6 holiday meals. I started this pregnancy at 127. I now weigh 130 (I am, however, only 5'4").
In blogosphere news, I am keeping my fingers and toes crossed for Bea (AKA POF), who's having a less-than-optimal early pregnancy experience. I hope, pray and believe the next scan will bring a huge sigh of relief. Thalia is scheduled for a c-section on September 20th. I can't believe how excited I am for her! Karen (another woman with an unbelievably fabulous attitude) has made it to 32 weeks. She's in the hospital now, but everything's looking good. Even triplets has got to be easier than these past few months have been for her. Suz & Joe have now taken 3 of their quads home. Wow. And of course, good luck to Kirby who's having (what I consider to be) her first real appointment with an RE this week.
Now I really do feel better :-)
Monday, September 17, 2007
Right, she says - the counselor didn't say any of those things, but that's my interpretation of what she did say... Um. Saying a child came to school sad is DIFFERENT from saying that the child is 'emotionally neglected'. Or maybe not. I guess I'd have to go to social work school to find out...
Social worker calling again. I absolutely refuse to switch phone bills with her.
Sunday, September 16, 2007
It wasn't the fact that I got a notice on Wednesday afternoon that my AFP results were in and that I could "print them at the local clinic" (that was only going to be open on Sunday). It was actually the social worker who called me in on Monday to notify me that the school has reported that my children are 'neglected '(I won't elaborate, but some of the things were the exact complaints I'd reported to the social worker as issues I have with my ex, others were complete lies). She said the most recent report was in August (which I found strange, since vacation here is all of July & August). I came out of her office horrified. How on earth can I fight the school's lies? And if this is what the school thinks, why haven't I heard about it? The first thing I did (after I called my lawyer) was called the school counselor and made an appointment to meet with her. Of course the meeting was set for today (Sunday), which meant almost 6 days of intense stressing, including obsessive thoughts about how to try to explain to uncooperative people that some of the things they said are absolutely impossible... Every time I looked at the calendar (and it's on the front of the fridge) I felt sick to my stomach.
I don't easily decide that I like people, but I remembered that the last time I met the counselor I liked her, meaning she seemed like a reasonable person - making it even more difficult to understand how she would spread such lies. Ohad came with me to the meeting and there basically wasn't anything she said we didn't agree with. When we asked her about neglect issues and other specifics, she said she didn't recall any of them... Including the fact that there was no way she gave any report to social services in August because she was out of the country.
Back to the social worker. Oh. Oops. I read what your ex said and mistook it for information I got from the school... me (thinking): Oh. Oops, in the middle of a custody battle, it's not really that good to mix up an ex-husband's lies and reports from a school... Especially when you're the one reporting it to the mother and the court...
We may actually sleep tonight. Fortunately, I am so relieved that I don't even feel like killing her.
AFP results - by age 1:153. Test 1:1140(!) I could not have hoped for better.
Tomorrow is the 100gr glucose challenge (the 3-hour-test). I had gestational diabetes with my last pregnancy & so I have a 60% chance of having it again this time. I'd trade the stress Ohad and I had over the holiday with 5 sugar-free months anytime.
Sunday, September 09, 2007
Having family members read my blog is an advantage, since that means at least 3 people read it. On the other hand, it meant that I had to be a little careful about what I wrote so that I could keep the surprise factor for them.
I started my 17th week and went for the AFP test today. Based on the results, we'll decide whether to keep the amnio appointment we have for Sept 25th. So far, the NT scan and the early scan were both good.
We still haven't found time to tell the kids...
Thursday, August 30, 2007
At first, I thought that you can 'put infertility behind you' when you've had the magic number of children for you (and, obviously, for each couple this is a different number). After my twins were born (children 2 & 3) I was constantly "missing" #4. I couldn't get that 4th child out of my head no matter how hard I tried. I was truly longing for that baby, very nearly as much as I had longed for my first. True that I knew that my greatest fear of NEVER having a child was no longer relevant, but it didn't make it any easier to want that child so desperately and not be able to have it. So was 4 my magic number? Because of the changes I made in my life (divorce, remarriage) I will never know.
My current thought is that you can 'put infertility behind you' if you fulfil your 'fertility dreams'. Mine were particularly tricky 1)to just 'find out' I was pregnant (no two week wait) and 2) to wheel one baby in a stroller while being very pregnant with another. I am definitely one of the lucky ones, because I got both my wishes. And, of course, it worked, all the things that used to be hard for me aren't any more. I thank God for this often, very often.
What are your 'fertility dreams' and do you think fulfilling them will allow you to put infertility behind you?
Monday, August 20, 2007
The countryside in Croatia is green and lush and beautiful. Lots of high cliffs, incredible amounts of clear, turquoise water everywhere. The streets, on the other hand, are not so fun... very difficult to navigate with the help of street signs or memorization of maps. For some reason, they put far-away cities that are indicated as tiny on the map as the ending-points of roads, forgetting about big cities (e.g., Zagreb) in the middle. Strange. It was pretty hard to navigate on my own. Lilach barely reads English.
We drove to the Istrian Peninsula, miraculously getting on all the right roads, to the beautiful town of Rovinj (pronounced Ro'veen). It is considered the Croatian Venice. Having never been to Venice, I wasn't sure what this meant, but the town is very picturesque. Most of what we did the first day in Rovinj was to book a ferry to Venice for the following morning.
I called home from Rovinj and found out that the trip my mom wanted to take Hadas on filled up. She waited to tell her until it was a sure thing. Imagine being told that in a little over a week you're going to Beijing... (they left this morning, my mom is the accompanying tour guide)
Back in our zimmer (35 Euros a night) we made ourselves dinner (we brought all of our food from home, since we keep kosher) and awoke to a ridiculously loud thunderstorm. The thunder was so loud that it sounded the whole world was exploding. It was also pouring rain. In Israel, it doesn't rain all summer. You might get a drizzle in June, but thunderstorms in August? No way... I spent the rest of the night trying to figure out whether the ferry guys would give me my money back... Of course, in the morning we awoke to a bright day and the ferry to Venice left right on time.
The ferry ride was 2-1/2 hours, after which we took a short guided tour (about 1-1/2 hours) of Venice, ending up in St. Mark's Square.
Venice was amazing. We had a total of 6-1/2 hours there and we didn't stop walking the entire time. It was interesting and beautiful and different...
The next day we set out to Trieste, Italy, where we spent Friday and Shabbat. The synagogue there is the largest in Europe. It was surprising to see how large it is from the inside, and how decorated it is. We went there both Friday night and Shabbat morning. Unfortunately, the people there weren't particularly friendly and I was disappointed that none of the tunes were familiar (I've been to plenty of synagogues) but I did feel like I was doing the right thing by showing Lilach that we are Jews no matter where we travel... Shabbat afternoon we walked around Trieste, mostly in the rain. I really liked Italy :-)
On Sunday morning we set out to Bled, Slovenia. Bled reminded me a lot of Bear Mountain, NY. We walked around the lake (about 4 miles) and stopped in the middle to rent a rowboat and row out on the lake (the pictures of me rowing are so silly I haven't let anyone but Ohad see them).
Later that day, we drove past Postojna and stayed at the campground called Pivka Jama. (I believe Jama means 'cave' in Slovenian.) There's an incredible system of caves in that region and we took a tour of two of the caves. I really wanted to take the whole cave home with me, but wasn't sure what the guys at Customs would think about it... Ohad would have loved the cold, it was about 54 degrees inside.
Monday night we slept in Plitvicka, using my broken German to rent a zimmer (actually, a private apartment, 8km from Plitvicka Jezera National Park, 30Euros for the night). In the morning we went to the park - a string of 16 lakes, connected by waterfalls. (The pictures on the above site do the place justice far more than mine do. I did, however get a good shots of a moth/butterfly.)
That night, we drove up the coast to Senj and then continued north, to Kraljevica, where, again, the tiny bit of German I remember from nearly 30 years ago, helped us rent a room for the night. Lilach had been dying to go to the beach the whole time we were there and we finally got our chance. She didn't count on the water being cold, everything being rocky and there being crabs in the water. Oops.
I took this picture with my hand practically in the water - I couldn't see anything at all - and was really surprised something came out :-)
At the airport, Ohad, Matan, Abigail, Nomi & my mom were waiting for us. It seemed as if we had been away for much longer than just a week...