Monthly Archives: December 2008

Swirling

My mind is swirling. There is so much going on and I just do not have the time or energy to keep up with it all.

I have been looking into some of the foundations of Epidemiology and the assumptions that have been made. I have not got all my ideas into a coherent structure yet – it is fascinating to see how certain assumptions are made. Modern Medicine has by no means thrown off the shackles of assumption and belief.

And of course there is the pressing situation in Gaza right now as I write. This has my head swirling in a BIG way. I do not think “Hamas bad – need to kill them” but neither do I think “Israel bad – need to kill them”. I just find that I do not know enough.

For me it is enough that there are mothers and children who are being used as pawns and who suffer. On both sides of the border. It breaks my heart that *any* child has to listen to war planes bombing.

And yet the context is so much broader than that. But I do not feel I have the tools to understand that context.

One the one hand you have rockets being fired into a civilian population for 8 years almost every day. Not many people have been killed or injured (relatively) – but that is 8 years of mothers and children suffering – whole families suffering.

And then you have a whole population deprived of basic commodities and now being bombed with civilian casualties. This population shares a land border with Israel and Egypt and has a coast line. I do not see much pressure on Egypt to assist. Why are women and children not being smuggled out? I do not have all the history and facts at my fingertips… but I am sure the answer is not an easy one as to why Egypt is keeping the border firmly closed.

And Hamas itself. I do not profess to understand Hamas. I am struck by the extreme position with regard to never making peace with Israel and driving the Jewish People out of Palestine in it’s entirety. This is not feasible or realistic. Does each person living in Gaza wish for the destruction of Israel? After the last 40 years I am sure there are many who do. But at the expense of their own lives? I can understand very religious people and  people of strong conviction perhaps making this case – but what about the mother wanting to feed her family and protect her children? Does this mother dream of the destruction of Israel or a peace that she can live in and enjoy with her family?

I know I am not highly committed to the destruction of Hamas. I want a peaceful country to raise my family. But I guess that is not enough. If the Israeli politicians are right, I will never have that peace until Hamas changes their approach to Israel and accepts that Israel is here to stay. And likewise I guess the mother living in Gaza would probably tell me that until Israel allows her country to be autonomous, there will never be peace.

Now we just need the Nelson Mandela of the Middle East.

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Come again?

I have mentioned here that I am in the process of acquiring Israeli Citizenship. Something that I didn’t actually realise was that important to me until the clerk who told me almost a year ago that at our next meeing I take out citizenship, suddenly changed her story and postponed the meeting.

I am highly suspicious of why. I know that the state of Israel is not wild about me being here. I guess I was getting excited about voting in February and now it looks like I won’t be able to. I realise that my vote would not excite pretty much 80+% of the Israeli population, in fact that I am allowed to vote and will not be voting along religious lines will probably infuriate certain people.

Anyway, I went into quite a slump as I got my head around ‘not being there yet’. I just want to scream from the rooftops that I don’t need any bloody favours. I can quite happily take myself and my family to anywhere in Europe or Northern America with the passports I have – I do not need to be here. Except that I met and married an Israeli man, and have build my life here. And this is where I am for now.

I guess I am still ambivalent about being here. I feel awful that my DH is able to exercise his right to marry a non Israeli/non Jewish person and that Israeli Arabs who would marry a non Israeli/non Jewish person are allowed to, they just are not allowed to live with them in Israel. This is justified as being a security requirement as Israel cannot risk having Palestinians coming into Israel through maraige. And so, Israeli Arabs and Palestiinians have a different set of ‘rules’ from Jewish Israeli’s.

And this does touch my life. I do not feel comfortable getting ‘preferential’ treatment. Although it is hardly a red carpet treatment. That is reserved for Halachically Jewish people who chose to make Aliyah (Assention – or immigration is other countries) to the Land of Israel and exercise their right to vote the second they put their foot on the tarmac at Ben Gurioin International Airport. So, yeah I am angry that I am mixed up in this mess. I have no answers for the deeply complex issues that are entwined in the history of this land and the modern conflict that is so pressing.

I think most Israeli’s around me prefere not to think about it. I am welcomed as a stranger who made a huge effort to be part of Israeli Society and as such I am accepted. That I am fluent in Hebrew and fairly well read on Israel (although this is in comparison to people who know *nothing*. My knowledge is still very limited) gains me access to friendships and conversations. But, I keep my personal pain of being repeatedly ‘told’ by the state of Israel that I am not equal, to myself. I do not think Israeli’s can understand just how painful this is. I am reassured that it’s not that bad. That we had to consult lawyers and invest a lot of time and money to get my name on our property when we bought our house is kind of forgotten. And I got my name on the property, so what’s wrong?

Yes, there is a law in Israel that when ownership of land is being processed, if you are not Jewish, the board processing the request can deny the request if there is any opposition to the ownership going through. This did not happen to me in the end. I have to assume because I do not have an Arabic name and my husband is Jewish. But I did go through a tough time trying to decide if I can live in a country that for whatever reasons (some of them very valid) is so catergorically racist? In the end I could not find enough of a reason to ask my DH to leave this country and we are still here.

I grew up in South Africa and was born to a father who left South Africa as a youth, not prepared to serve in the army and support the racist regeime. Only when I was 5 and when he was assured he would not have to serve in the army did we return to South Africa. I know about racism. It has been personal before.

I just do not know yet how to reconsile my life here in Israel. I feel like I am condoning things that I do not agree with just be living me life here. However, my life is more than the politics around me. My IL’s are all here, my DH has never called another city home, let alone another country. We, in our personal lives, have a good life (a VERY good life). But that does not quiet my longing for making sense of this country that I live in, and finding a way that I can explain to myself why this is the country that I should be living in.

So, G*d knows when and how I will get this citizenship. Perhaps I require some more soul searching before accepting this opportunity. And yet, I honeslty feel that only as a citizen and a voting citizen, can I have any hope of contributing to what I want to see develop here in the Holy Land.

Happy Holidays

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My Boy

He is 10 months tomorrow and he has grown and changed so much. 10 months ago I was sipping on Beyerskloof Pinotage on my birthing ball with contractions about 1 every 15 minutes.

My heart totally swells up with love when I look on my boy, my child, the person who made me a mother.

Just when I thought I could never love him more, I rediscover a new element, a new reason. My heart literally beats faster for him.

Today I observed him learning to sit down from standing. He has been standing and creeping for some time now, but has been stuck when he needs to get back down to the floor. I was blown away watching him make sense of how to keep holding onto the sofa/table/bench/chair and bend his knees until he was safe to let go and be sitting on his bottom. He was so careful about where to put his hands and how to keep his balance.

Gone are the days where he was on me 24/7 (or on DH). He is so happy to crawl around the house and be with the dog (although DS would *love* to be with the cat, our cat is consistently out of his reach with an enticingly swishing tail) or just play with blocks, or practice standing, creeping and occasionally munch on some food. He is becoming such a person in his own right and my heart just bursts with the awe of being there with him and witnessing the unfolding of this miracle.

I would not miss this for the world.

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Preventative Medicine

This has been on my mind somewhat and I am hoping to make a bit of sense now as I think things through.

I am very much at the beginning of my path into understanding how to create and protect the health of my family, with a lot of focus on DS. So far I have had a very strong sense that vaccinations are not the simple preventative medicine that they are presented as being. The more I look into it, the more I am learning that it is definitely not as simple as getting the vaccine and now I can rest assured my child will be free of disease and essentially healthy. There are a myriad of issues surrounding this complex issue.

While I have so far chosen not to vaccinate DS, I have not decided that I will never vaccinate him. I am looking into this carefully and have asked my DH to give me time as I try and unravel what role I want vaccination to play in our lives. It is such a personal decision.

Largely what got me thinking again about all of this was offering information to a friend who was trying to decide whether to offer her 1 month old the HepB vaccination after having declined at the birth. I ended up giving her information I had read about and she based her decision on my information. I do not feel comfortable with that. I fact checked myself and found my information to be true, but not up to date and the up to date information to have many problems with it’s validity. Anyway, the moral of the story is that each family has to choose for themselves. While I am sad that so many babies are being vaccinated without a second thought – it really is none of my business.

Back to vaccinations and the issues that I am trying to get my head around.

My attention was caught when I found out that there have never been any double blind placebo controlled studies done on the safety of vaccinations. No one actually knows what the long term affects are and from what I am understanding, trials are measuring one vaccine against the other – not against a placebo. Now, there are very good reasons for this. It is not ethical to give a child a placebo instead of a vaccine and possibly risk that child contracting a preventable disease for the sake a science. So, the scientists have their hands tied so to speak. Except that there is a growing population who choose not to vaccinate or to partially vaccinate or to delay vaccinating. But then it is not double blind….. It’s a bit of a mess. However, I am concerned enough to not rush into vaccinating my DS with a list of extra materials found in the vaccines such as aluminum, mercury, formaldehyde, bovine serum, gelatin, etc etc the list is quite scary. Of course the question arises as to what is a safe dose of these materials. Can it be determined what is a safe dose of aluminum for a newborn (who I understand metabolize aluminum differently from adults and older children – although I am still looking into this)? for a 2, 4 and 6 month old?

Anyway, the safety of vaccines is something that is by no means established – as far as I have found so far.

Another issue that I have been looking into is the efficacy of the vaccines. No vaccine has 100% efficacy. But some are more effective than others. And not all vaccines contribute to herd immunity for the disease they are vaccinating against.

Another issue is the diseases themselves. Are they the killer diseases that we are told they are? Perhaps the doctor who saw DS days after he was born and the other doctor who saw him 2 months after he was born really do beleive that my DS was sure to die without the vaccines. This is what they told me in very clear and scary terms. I have to assume this is what they beleive if this is what they told me so passionately. From the very little that I have managed to read, I am not convinced that the diseases that are vaccinated against are all the death sentence that they are made out to be. Nasty and sometimes very dangerous. But not a death threat or necessarily the threat of permanent disability that I was led to beleive. And something that I am only starting to look into… but what are the circumstances around children developing complications with childhood diseases? I cannot beleive that it is a matter of purely luck as to whether one child develops a serious complication and the other does not…. as yet I do not have any answers that fully satisfy my curiosity – for now I breastfeed DS, keep to an organic diet most of the time, use environmentally safe cleaning products, avoid white flour and processed sugar. These guidelines seem to cover my bases and the more I read, the more these guidelines are justified.

A case in point. Almost 6 months ago I had a meeting with the Developmental doctor who asked me if I was giving DS his vit D and iron – to which I honestly replied no. I was then told that I have to give iron as if DS becomes anemic, it has a long term irreversable  impact on his overall development. Scary, right? What kind of an awful mother would I be to wish to permanently impair my child by not doing what the doctor told me to do?

Anyway, I read a bit and found out that babies at risk for anemia in the first year are premature babies, babies under 3kg birth weight and formula fed babies (from what I can remember). DS does not fall into any of those catergories. I read some more and I found out that supplementing iron actually impairs the absorbtion of the iron in the breastmilk, and makes iron available to bugs in the intestines – while breast milk chelates the iron in such a way that it is only bio available to the infant and not to any bugs. Brillaint!

Back to the good doctor. She obviously had no clue what she as talking about, and yet for the last 6 months I have been fearful that perhaps DS is anemic and I caused it if he is. Well, he is not. His Hb is 11.9 and he is doing just fine without any of the precribed iron supplements. Her preventative medicine was not what my DS needed in our circumstnaces.

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Filed under Baby care, Health, Rant

Being Heard

How important and essential is this experience to each and every human being. To be heard, to be understood and to be ackowledged as a worthwhile person.

Perhaps because this is missing from such large areas of my life I spend that extra time thinking about it. And how essential it is. And how the ‘not being heard/acknowedged’ is so central to conflict and suffering.

When I think of my DS and my hopes for his future, I sincerely hope that he has a foundation of being heard and acknowledged for the beautiful sides and for the uglier sides of life. I think this perhaps has some thing to do with how I am choosing to parent my family. To create a foundation of acceptance and listening.

This would fit in with Attachment Parenting philosophy – creating an intense attachment between parent and child and meeting the child’s needs as completely as is possible. I feel this was not really allowed in the way I was brought up. In the community where I was raised it was independence and creativity and idealism that were valued. Meeting a child’s emotional needs was unnecessary and got in the way of the important work of being individuals with vision… or something that was not meeting my needs.

I thought that I would bring my family up with similar values. I after all turned out pretty much OK (social anxiety and not trusting groups aside). In todays world parents are messing their kids up by not feeling like they can say ‘no’ and kids need boundaries. I thought children could only blossom with boundaries from day one. It was essential to not be manipulated by your child. (I cannot believe I actually thought like that). Of course I wanted to have organic food and use environmentally friendly cleaning products and do lots of funky stuff. But I never thought twice about the emotional reality I wanted to create for my children. Until I held my son in my arms.

From the first night where he cried and was not soothed by my lullaby as I rocked his cosleeper and only wanted my breast – I undertook a profound journey that took me very far away from what I thought I knew. It just is not like my parents thought it was – or the nurse or the doctor or the IL’s. My son was telling me he needed me and as a responsible caring adult I could not ignore that.

When my son cries, I listen. I want him to know that his cry is important. Not because I read it somewhere and not because someone told me. But because that is what feels right and for now it is working.

Being a mother has ‘forced’ me to tune into my intuition and act on what my gut is telling me – not what I am reading or hearing. Although hearing things and reading things still can freak me out – I am still new at this. I hope it will get easier.

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A walk in the fields

A walk in the fields

I love wearing DS, and most times he loves being worn. It sure beats being in a stroller. DH has something to say about the number of slings that we own, but each one has it’s time and place where just that sling is the one that I need

DH with his son

DH with his son

Even DH got into my ‘hippy sling’, instead of the Baby Bjorn

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Baby Led Weaning

Gosh! This is amazing.

DS was firmly refusing to eat anything mushed (other than for about a month he ate apple puree) and I was starting to worry, as a new mother does.

Until I found baby led weaning on MDC (mothering discussion boards). Now DS is eating avocado, pasta, banana, sweet potatoe, carrot, cucumbers… wow, all the things he wouldn’t eat with a spoon go in and get swallowed when they are in ‘stick’ form and he can feed them to himself.

Admittedly it’s a bit scary when he gags if he pushes too much food in at once – but he does seem to be getting the hang of it! I am just so excited by the possibilities. He chooses to eat and it is not some battle of the wills and and and! I am so excited by this. I have been very nervous about what type of food to give DS (organic, whether to give grains, veggies, fruits) and also very anxious that he has a positive relationship with food – not that it is something shoved down his throat or that he feels he ‘has to’ as everyone looks on expectantly. Brilliant.  Baby Led Weaning is definitly a great find for me and just makes so much sense. I am going to be looking into this a whole lot more.

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