Wednesday, October 31


Madness, the last two days. Plain madness. The shortened version (which is not easy for me) is we have a cat. And, I think we still have a mouse. Post last Blog, my Gardener came and I explained my whole sad mouse story to him. In Israel you cannot buy poison in a hardware store, it is illegal. The only people who can buy it are people who have special permits, ie my Gardener. So, he said he could help and would get me some poison and bring it around later that day, that was Monday. He did, I smeared five plastic plates with peanut butter, and said Gardener sprinkled these little black sprinkles on top. According to him, the mice/mouse would die almost immediately, this was seriously strong sheeeeet, so along with the five plates, the 10 glue traps and two cage traps, and 5 super-sonic-noise thingies, me and mine set out to conquer Mighty Mouse.

I was on my own little mission that afternoon, Adam at Judo, Noam and I went searching for a picture of the Rabbi who was going to miraculously bring and end to my rodent issue. So we sped off to the only Judaica store that I know of in the nearby town Yehud (where Uri's parents live), I very confidently walked into the shop and had to interrupt a praying, bowing woman, lips working over-time on the 'Shma' or whatever she was reading. So I confidently tell her I have come for the picture of the Rav Shayale Krestia, and according to my friend one friend, also know as the "Rat Rabbi". There was a flicker of recognition in the woman's eyes, she said she had heard of this Rav, but did NOT have his picture and could NOT get it for me. Her only words of advice were to go to the Chabbad Store. So off we went, me still super-confident, I mean these are the religious people, they would believe in the power of a picture of a Rabbi, why not the "Rat Rabbi". The little Chabad man looked at me with such distaste, and said that they (Chabad) don't believe in 'that sort of thing', and then laughing, said I should try 'poison' or a 'cat'. Like they are the first people to suggest either one of those solutions. Well somehow it all just fell into place, it was time to get a cat! Thank you Chabbad. I left knowing they had done their job.

So by the following day I had 'slept on it', and my game plan was as follows: 1. go to pet shop 2. get cat paraphernalia, 3. catch 2 homeless kittens at children's school. Sounds easy right. Well the first two were, no.3 was Mission Impossible. I had seen these two kittens running around the school and thought that ofcourse they were homeless, destitute, and in need of me to make their little lives. This was not to be, I ran around after them ducking and diving into gutters and under pre-fab buildings, all to no avail, they were quite happy living, and to continue living, their homeless and destitute lives. I tried for around an hour to try and catch them, and in my sweaty state a father of another child approached me and said he could help me right then and there with a ready little cat family. He was feeding a whole lot of street cats at his house on the Moshav. Before I could check out his little brood, I needed to go past my friend Staceys' house as she had told me that she too had kittens and that they were living under and around her house, so I headed off to her, once there, there was no sign of them, I looked everywhere and they were absolutely no-where to be found. Me, being big on signs decided that they obviously were not the kittens for me, and I should go back to the Moshav and check out the other lot. Clearly the ones that I thought were in need of 'saving' did not want to be saved.

So with cat cage in hand, I went to catch a cat. I say 'cat' and not 'kitten' because they were not kittens, they were all a good few months old. I thought this through and decided this really was the best solution for a few reasons. Firstly, what was a kitten or kittens going to do faced with a deranged mouse? Secondly, a really teeny-weeny baby kitten would wreck my house. Thirdly, I needed a cat that was just a bit tame. Oh, and lastly, if I got kittens I would have to get two so they could keep each other company, I didn't have to worry about this if I got a cat which had already got its' attitude. So I chose my cat, there were a few ginger ones and one beautiful grey one with a stunning bushy tail, that is the one I chose. I guess technically it is still a kitten, it is a few months old, and 'it' because I have no idea if it is male or female. The first night I kept him (Adam has decided it is a 'boy') in the cat basket for a few hours, and then closed him in the children's bathroom when we all went off to sleep. He was fine other than diarrhea stink in the morning, it is amazing that with no show-and-tell needed they just instinctively know how to use cat-sand. Second night, being last night, he roamed the house letting his presence be known, when I went to sleep and turned off all the lights he was lying sprawled out Garfeild-style (should I be heeding the warning signs) on my brand new black leather couch.

In the short time he has been here he has not been outside, he has seen Rupert a few times through the window and let out a cat-shriek and sped off. This morning I think he and Rupert came to some sort of understanding. They were trying to stare each other down through the window, nose to nose, I am not sure who won in the end, but there was no shriek. He has no interest in going outside, I have left the door open a few times and made encouraging Pssssss sounds, he is not interested. Adam wants to call him Tom, and Noam for some odd reason wants to call him Yo-yo??? I don't want to call him anything yet, he needs to prove to me that he is going to live first, I am not having a cat with a name, and then a dead cat with a name. So I have set him a time limit, he doesn't know it yet, but Sunday is the day, if he is still alive on Sunday he will get a name and I will take him to the vet for all the necessary vaccinations and checks etc. The children are both so happy with him they play with him, poor thing gets tossed and tickled, kissed and caressed. He doesn't seem to mind. From an unwanted street cat to being fed, loved, cared for and the focus of two children's little lives. Quite a jump socially. Ok, point being, seems like the mouse/mice have moved on to greener pastures. Apparently mice can smell cats, so this little phenomenon is working in my favour. It is possible that the super-sonic-noise-making thingy is actually working, the manual did say it takes a few weeks to be effective. Either way, I have swapped a mouse for a cat, I'm thinking it is a trade-up!

Next, yesterday Adams class of 29 went on a school trip, they had asked mothers/fathers to volunteer to come along to help. I am SUCH a Red-Crosser waiting to happen. So I went, all of us on a bus, two other mothers came along. All the children sang and screamed with excitement most of the way, which was only about 20 minutes. The idea of the trip was a Mini-Olympics activity day together with all the other classes of the same age at the other schools in our region. All in all there must have been about 25 schools represented, it was great and fun and chaos. Endless head counts, what a responsibility, and you feel even more so when you notice the soldiers protecting you. I will definitely go again, it was fun, I danced and sang and screamed and urged my team on. Adams class should have about 3/4 trips this school year, I will be having a delayed Israeli upbringing. Due to my having grown up in a Christian home, there are many Jewish things that I 'missed' out on, eg. I never had the chance to find the Afikomen at Pesach, so now I need to make up for all those lost years, and I join in with the children every year. So same thing with the school trips. I had such a pounding head-ache when I got home, more cat diarrhea poop to clean up first then off to bed. When I got the children at 4.30 yesterday we came straight home, I asked Adam not to make any arrangements yesterday, I just wanted to be with only my children. We built puzzles and played cards, not much can beat the simple beauty of that.

Today was an early day, it is Thursday and I had to do the Progesterone and Estradiol blood tests today. IVF patients get priority over every-body else at the National Health Offices, I had to be there at 7.30 this morning and I walked straight through, no fighting, no arguing. One of the first awful experiences that I had here at Kupat Cholim (National Health) was waiting for a doctor to see me, there are no cute little polite secretaries calling out your name for your appointment, you just have to barge your way through the doctor's door. His door opens and it is eat-or-be-eaten, you push your way through, shouting and arguing, pushing and fighting. This has been a hard lesson for me here, the fact that life in general is sooooo hard here, that everything is a fight and an uphill battle here, that you have to ALSO fight at the doctors rooms just doesn't seem fair. So back to the first awful experience, I tried to push my way Israeli-style into the doctors rooms, I had a throat infection, probably a temperature, and some old lady shoved and then shouted at me. I was so taken back I just couldn't believe that anybody could be so rude. Even the old people are hard here, no little "Driving Miss Daisy" types here, no way! We are taught from an early age to respect your elders, and all I wanted to do to this specific elder was to slap her through the face, stupid cow. I unfortunately just didn't have the energy, I couldn't take it anymore, it was during my last IVF, dealing with all those hormones, moving into a new house, stress, blah blah blah, I sat down and cried. Everything came pouring out with those tears. Funny thing is, that in that packed waiting room, not one person offered me a tissue, a shoulder, an "are you ok?", nothing. I sat all alone sobbing and no-one cared. I have figured it out now, all part of the obvious growing pains of moving to a new country and getting your ducks in a row. It is simple, if you cry, you are weak. And you cannot show your weakness here, eat or be eaten, that's it. Crow vs Kitten.

So I just love going for my bloods, I have super-elite-IVF-blood and I take preference over every single grumpy old lady! It is the best, I am ushered through immediately, and my hot almost-still-pumping blood is rushed off by the courier to the laboratory. I am still waiting for the results. A great thing here in this country of contradictions, is that they don't have secretaries at a doctors office, but you can get your blood test results on line. How brilliant! So I log in with my code and get all I need, and with a history on all my tests ever done. So I need to check soon, and then this evening I have to go through to my Professor-mans rooms and have another ultrasound, to see that I am cyst free. The problem with the Gonal-f (Follicle Stimulating Hormone) is that along with enlarging and growing your follicles it can do the same to any cyst, so they have to rule out any presence and then only give the green light for the Gonal. I have a history of ovarian cysts; 1 laparoscopy, and 1 laparotomy. A laparoscopy is a really minor anaesthetised procedure, 3 minor incisions in your stomach, CO2 pumped into your stomach cavity to enable easier access and visuals. Procedure done and you can be on your horse, 3 days of discomfort and in some instances, chronic reflected pain from small pockets of CO2 left in your body under your rib cage and shoulder. Not the greatest, but bearable. And then the 1 Laparotomy - agony. Your stomach is cut open from side to side, in my case my caesar scar was opened, and more. One of the worst experiences of my life. Recovery taking weeks, pain and darkness. I have a wonderful Mother whose world literally comes to a stand-still if I need her. She is always there for me, she is more than a mother, she is my best friend. Thank you for everything Mommy.

Oi, tears wiped away, I totally got off the topic there, so tonight I have the ultrasound, vaginal, yet again. I used to be so picky, woman gynaecologist only. Now, I just don't care, it could be Frankensteins ugly cousin, if he is a gynaecologist, and he can help me have another child, he can look up my vagina all he wants. So tonight i will know what I have to inject tomorrow or not.

Ok major spanner in the works.

Just got a phone call from the Professor to say that they received directly my blood tests results from early this morning, problem is my progesterone levels are way too high. I don't like things not going according to 'plan'. So instead of started the Gonal-F tomorrow I have been advised to carry on with the Decapeptyl until Monday, and early Monday morning to go again for a Progesterone, Estrogen (Estradiol) AND Pregnancy test. I am totally confused, I haven't had a chance yet to 'google' all of this, so I haven't got this right in my head yet. I am just confused. Could I be pregnant? I really really doubt it, one thing I actually noted of late is that my boobs are totally deflated. And I don't FEEL pregnant. I don't really know what to think.

Monday, October 29

In Control

So before I blinked the weekend was over. They call it the 'weekend', but it so isn't. The first day of the week is Sunday here, as in the bible, :....and on the first day G-d created.....", G-d worked on the first day of the week and so therefore, so will the Chosen People of Israel. Some people don't work on Fridays', but there is still school, so there is still the schlepping to and from, no rest for the Mommies! School ends at 1-ish, and then it is home, afternoon sleep, and then Shabbat dinner, which for us, generally is at Uri's parents. Shabbat is over before it even starts, and then we jump into another week. The weeks are really long here.

I am having a personal dilemma, I am living in Israel, surrounded by 6 million Jews, yet somehow I don't feel Jewish. Being a convert, I studied long and hard for two full years, and committed myself to being a good Jewess, raising my children Jewish and maintaining a Jewish home and all that entails. I felt more Jewish in the Diaspora, the struggle to keep a kosher home, finding kosher products, sending my children to a Jewish Day-school, attending Shul and of course keeping the laws of 'Taharat Hamishpacha'. Here, in the Holy Land, most products ARE kosher, you don't have to scrutinise every packaged item for that sometimes all elusive Hechsher, all the Schools ARE Jewish, there are a million Shuls and of course a million Mikveh's. I just don't FEEL Jewish here.

In South Africa, we were all a part of this Exclusive Club, we were Jewish. We were special, because we were the minority; here 'we' are the majority. Anyway on this note, I am feeling an ever increasing need to do more. To save my little Jewish soul before it is totally sucked up into this vacuum of Israel. I am toying with the idea of trying to observe Shabbat a bit more, it is just something that has to be taken on wholly, no grey areas. If you commit to doing 'it' it has to be a full commitment. And, ofcourse I have a husband who might not be so happy with this little brainwave of mine. When he is not here on Shabbat, the tv does not go on, but when he is here, it may just be a bit unfair of me to impose my issues on him. As the mother and cook, I have always kept a kosher kitchen, that has always been the easy part for me. Its' just my soul I am worried about. My conversion teacher told me that as a Jewish person you always need to be trying to improve yourself, either through 'learning' or 'doing'. I just have to figure out exactly which area of my life I am willing to change.

We got a letter from the children's' school yesterday, just a standard update letter, one of the things that they have initiated on Fridays before the Shabbat ring, is they read a Bible story. I had complained at the parent-teacher meeting that I felt there should be more 'Jewish identity' impressed on the children. The other mothers looked at me like I was from another Solar System, the people here on the Moshav are all very average Israelis, probably don't care about Kashrut or even Jewish identity for that matter. They are Israeli, Jewish, fact. Nothing to really fight for, just a fact. I am not sure where I will find my balance here, one that still makes me feel my special Jewishness.

Friday nights at Uri's parents generally follow the same procedure, same food, same people, same rushing to watch tv after dinner, same quieting the children for making too much noise. Don't get me wrong, I love the people - Uri's elder brother and two sisters along with their families. Family, that is what Shabbat is all about, and now we have it. We never had it before, in Johannesburg it was friends every Friday night. Wonderful, wonderful memories of massive Friday night dinners', with loads of noise, children screaming and running around. Just chaos. I miss that so much. The food, lots of it and varied. The people, friends, the mad, unpredictable, crazy and special friends. Ofcourse, always some stray Israeli needing to be with other Jews for a Friday night. A common ground. The children, fighting, laughing, screaming, crying, no-one quieting any of them. Conversation, lots of it, shouting, fist-waving. Wonderful passionate Friday nights. I have tried here a few times, to find my little niche. Because there is no Sunday to invite friends over, and most people spend Friday nights with family, you have to try and find other options. So Friday lunch braai's seemed to have worked really well, lots of friends and good times. No tv and children being children.

So this past Shabbat, in the morning we went to a birthday party for a child from Noam's class, it was on the Moshav, so we could walk. It was one of my first parties from her class, I wasn't quite sure what to expect as I don't really know any of the other Mothers from her class. Reason being she does not have arrangements yet, and I don't encourage it, I do not have the energy for the friends her age, ie 3 yrs old. Adam's age, 4 and a half is so much easier, they just get on with it mostly, they play, they run, they ride bikes, they don't need me to entertain them. Noam's' age is much harder work. I need to entertain, and distract when they start crying for "Imaaaaa...". Not for me! So this is the main reason that I am not really on first-name-terms with these Moms. So the party was sweet, spoke to quite a few people, figured out who was who, quite surprised that there is quite a little "Kugel' element among some of them. Too much Hebrew. I met one or two really nice mothers, very relaxed, warm, casual. I am definitely steering away from any 'kugel' element. No thank you. So party over with, back home, children slept, and then in the evening I braaied for the three of us, again. Somewhere between braaing and eating, I was just all of a sudden totally and utterly overcome by this feeling of absolute loneliness. No-one to call and just talk shit to, no-one 5 minutes away to go for a quick coffee with, no five thousand phone calls to my mother every day, or to my friends just to say 'hi' because you can. No husband. Just no-one. It is a horrible feeling, I generally maintain this upbeat positive fool-myself outlook. "I am getting by, therefore I am fine" kind-of feeling. But I know I am not fine, and it is hard to acknowledge it, I let this self-pity take over for all of however long, and then it is back to smiley-faces and giggles and tickles. I cannot let my children see that I am not in control. They need to think that Mommy has it 'all figured out'. But I don't. There is a difference between "sitting at a outdoor cafe' with your newspaper having breakfast-for-one" because you want to; and between having no choice. Everybody works here, there are no quick Fego-Freezochino's on a whim, or last-minute lunches at Tasha's. They work. With each new person I meet, usually comes the question "So what do you do", Um ..... nothing, I guess. or "When are you going to start working", Um ..... never, hopefully. Here everyone works, families need those two incomes. Living is expensive, Land is expensive.

Fortunately I don't have to work, and my life is good. Today I took the children to school and came home and gardened for a few hours, it was so fulfilling, in my pre-Israel life I was the Co-ordinator, now I am the Do-er. I ripped up some bean-creeper-thing that had taken on an entire fence, and was winning. It lost against me! And then I planted a whole lot of flowers, my first in Israel. Taking each seedling out of its little tray, roots bursting to get out and root themselves, I saw me mirrored in them, I am also bursting to get out. Let me also root! Let me root in this land with these people.

Adam says good bye to Uri and just gets on with the business of being Adam, he has the maddest social life I have ever seen. He has arrangements with friends almost every day, not one, but sometimes, two or three. He makes the arrangements himself, either he is at friends or they are here. He has this new-found confidence here, he will walk up to a child's' mother who he does not know, and just say 'Can I come and play at your house today?' And they are varied friends, which I just love, not one 'best' friend, but a whole lot, and different ones all the time. His Hebrew is at exactly the same level as the other children, he helps me with words I don't understand. He is even dreaming in Hebrew now, last night he had a 2 minute conversation with someone, all in his sleep, and in Hebrew. The rule is at home, and with Mommy, we speak English, not negotiable. Adam needs a bit of reminding sometimes as he often reverts to Hebrew when he is talking to Noam. Noam needs a bit more attention, her speech is still very delayed, this happens with fully bi-lingual children, I need to help and encourage her constantly with her English. Another problem with her is that she has started wetting her pants mostly at school. I want to believe that she is just having so much fun that she does not get to the loo in time, but I am not convinced and it is bothering me, I am calling her Teacher this evening about it. It just doesn't make sense, I think this has only manifested itself since we moved onto the Moshav, she has been using the toilet since before she was 2 and she sleeps with no nappy. Maybe everything affected her more than we thought, the move, the robbery, new house, new school, new friends, new teacher, no Aba? I don't know. She has the hardest time without Uri, any bump, bruise or spat with Adam always sends her crying 'Aba, Aba, Abaaaaaa', so depending on how bad it is, we will call Aba, just for a comforting word, it always helps. Also a hand held helps. For the second time, this morning on the way to school, she is crying inconsolably 'Aba, Abaaaaa, Abaaaaaaaaaaa'. Any Mother will tell you that distraction and trial-and-error play a large part in trying to diffuse situations, so because I was driving, I asked Adam to hold her hand while she was crying for Uri, and it worked. She stopped, still snivelling, but happier in the knowledge that her big brother was there for her.

Ok, now mouse, I have lost all hope of every catching it. No matter what I do, no matter how many traps, nothing works! My father-in-law closed all the possible holes it could be getting in through yesterday. So I layed my traps again, caged ones and glued ones. The mouse has taken to eating the closed doors of Noam and Adams bedrooms, so I layed out the traps right where it gnaws away, and what does he do, he moves them. Each night I have prayed and hoped that this will be the end of it, and I will catch him, all to no avail. I have a new friend (the artist one I am painting with), she gave me the maddest suggestion from her very religious sister. Apparently there is a Rabbi from yonks ago that has this power. Weird, I know. According to the sister, I have to get a picture of this long-dead Rabbi, and put it in the house, and the mouse will miraculously re-locate. Needless to say, when Adam is at Judo today, Noam and I are going on a Rabbi picture hunt.

You may be wondering, 'why doesn't she just get a cat?', quick solution to the whole messy debacle. That will be my absolute last resort. See, I don't want another responsibility, I already have two children, a house, a dog, and a husband (sometimes), I am not sure I could cope with a cat as well. Also I have had two very very bad cat drama's in Israel over the years. Story one: years ago when I was living with Uri at his parents house, one morning I heard this continuous heartbreaking meow of a kitten, it just went on and on, like it was suffering, or hungry, anyway I just couldn't take it any more, and me the little-kitty-Rescuer, went to find said meow-er. I found it in a bush, filthy, tiny and both eyes shut with gooey gungy stuff. Really awful, but I am strong, I can handle this stuff, took kitten off to the vet, got special cream, cleaned up his puss-filled eyes and loved him. One week later it is Shavuot (relevance of this to follow), kitten is happy, clean, fed, taken care of. My father-in-law decides to mow their lawn, and the kitten vanishes. End of story. Obviously me heartbroken. Story two: when we got to Israel this year, just before Shavuot (only made the connection after the event), same old familiar heartbroken kitty meow, this time in Uri's parents roof. We find a kitten who could only have been about two weeks old, same story eyes all gooed up, so me the saviour goes and does my thing. Let it be known that the whole time, there is this voice loud in my head saying "Don't do it Lianne, don't do it again". I do 'it' again, I try and save the world. Kitten to the vet, eye cream. Been there, done that! And another horrible end to another kitty-story, a Crow pecked it to death. Awful awful awful. I still can't think about it. It was ghastly. So what can we learn from this? Don't get a kitten at Shavuot? Don't mow your lawn? Or don't get a cat full stop? I don't know, but I am having a sneaking feeling that the 'cat' factor may be the only effective long lasting mouse repellent I could need.

So I am on day nine of Decapeptyl injections (Pituitary suppressant), still to come is a scan and Estradiol and Progesterone Blood tests (more Emla) on Thursday and then hopefully the go-ahead to start injecting the Follicle Stimulating Hormones (FSH), in my case Gonal-F. Both previous cycles I had the same daily dosage and managed to harvest around 9/10 eggs, unfortunately after the first IVF, from fertilisation to day 5 there were no embryos left alive to freeze, and only one embryo frozen last IVF. Mr Prof. man is upping my Gonal-f injection considerably this time in the hope of being able to successfully freeze more embryos. This would change the IVF process for any subsequent cycles, Frozen Embryo Transfer (FET) is a different Protocol entirely. So I will know on Thursday if I get the go-ahead to start. For now as far as I am concerned, the only major difference in my being is that I am totally and utterly sex-less, there are no hormones generating any feelings or desires. A naked and muscled Brad Pitt/Bobby Skinstad/Uri Shlomo could gyrate in front of me and it would do absolutely NOTHING for me. Contra-indications for Decapeptyl (my drug of choice) are among others, 1. weight gain, 2. loss of libido, and 3. emotional irrationality. So that is me, fat, emotional, Old Maid! BRING IT ON!

At this stage of this whole long long process, there are no major issues, you inject in the morning and then your day carries on as normal. The emotions and feelings, and all the other emotions that come with this game, slowly starts to escalate as your numerous follicles start to grow. A normal fertile woman produces and matures, one, maybe two follicles every cycle. It is not normal to produce and grow 10, 15 , 20 follicles, it creates immense pressure in your abdomen, consider that each one grows to around 14-20 mm each, that is a LOT of extra space being taken up. I don't care, each ache and pain of all of this makes me feel like a woman, like I am doing something, like I am trying.

The reason for this Blog site was for me to off-load about my whole quest-for-another-soul issue, I spend an awful lot of Blog space off-loading about other stuff. I didn't know it was going to be like this, but this is what it is. And in some weird way by having this written conversation with myself, I feel more in control of my sometimes out-of-control life.

Friday, October 26

Another day

Ok, so this ain't dorky little Mickey Mouse, this is Mighty Mouse! Woke up, sent obedient Adam and Noam to check all the traps, I wrote yesterday how I was giving him the choice of sticky-gooey-gruesome death and the cage trap which would then have him released back into the wild. Well, all the traps were found as they were left, empty. Bar, exactly one. Kitchen cupboard, rhs sink. He went for the Bamba (a lone chip placed right in the middle of the glue), obviously realising he had got semi-caught, stuck in the glue, he then proceeded to EAT half the polystyrene container and glue. This is one hungry dude, If he can do that to a plate, what is he going to do to me? (reason I lock me and mine in my bedroom every night). And now he is just getting more pissed by the day at the constant barrage of traps being placed in his way. Oh, and to celebrate his glue-extraction feat, he also had another nibble at the 'black-cheese-candle', then he went on to Adams room and had another little gnaw at the door.

There you have it, my dilemma deepens, so I took the children to school, went for my daily little routine, newspaper in hand, to Cafe neto for my usual breakfast of Iced Coffee and Bahgdadi Tortilla, (injected myself in the restaurants toilets, what a druggie) then off to the Shuk in Rosh Haayin, bit of retail therapy would do me good. The most amazing massive market which is only open on Fridays, full of attitude-filled, sweaty, smoking Israeli's, all vying to buy the most of everything and at the cheapest prices. So, 'when in Rome' I put on my Israeli attitude, and did my thing, I bargained, I haggled, and I sweated. Didn't smoke. There is quite a bit to learn from this sometimes crass Nation, I really did well! Necklaces, rings, belts, clothes, toys, etc all for the most unbeleivable prices. I am adding this place to my list of "Places to take Foreign Visitors to", this list is not that long yet, but I am working on it. I am really not the most willing of Israeli Citizens, my whole immigration story was hardly one filled with stories of me singing 'Evenu Shalom Aleychem' on landing and then kissing the ground on disembarkation. It is unfortunate that it didn't start like that, but it is up to me to make it end differently. Everyone new I meet will usually end up asking me the same question: "Tov lach poh ba Aretz?" which is a question asking me if life for me is better here in Israel, it is always asked in such a way that the assumption is obviously life is better for me here. I always try to be polite in answering. There are parts of my new life that are better here, and parts not, it will take a long time for the scales to tip in full-favour of being here.

I loved South Africa and I loved Johannesburg. I loved the whole South African vibe, the people, the dancing, the spirit, the jokes, the restaurants, winter weather in Jhb, my life, my home, my friends, absolutely everything. But I didn't love the escalating crime. It was just a cruel (yet statistically inevitable) twist of fate that made us leave sixteen days after our armed robbery. After stories mounting by the minute of another robbery/rape/murder/child-rape/hijacking, after two of our closest friends had armed robberies, and after us releasing within a heartbeat that we are a four-member family we would really like to grow old together, it was time to move on. Thankfully we could. Israel was the obvious choice; Israeli spouse, Jewish family. So we left on the 14 th March 2007, me with a very heavy heart and an unbearable sadness that I don't think will ever go away. Like a wife whose husband has an affair, you feel cheated, you know you have to leave, but you still love him. Same thing, it is just sad, sad, sad.

It is now seven long months later, and like any relationship gone bad, you sometimes draw out the agony, I went back to South Africa twice, to a beautiful Johannesburg Winter. To my unbelievable friends who permanently make me feel so special and needed and wanted, and now missed. To the wonderful food, ahhh, the restaurants, South African beef, and even better, South African lamb! And to everything that made every single beautiful Johannesburg memory from the last few years of my life. I went to Cape Town with Adam and Noam to see my beloved family, bittersweet, as it was the 'last good-bye'. Deep-down sad, but really great.

So the sadness has now begun to be tinged by a sense of bitterness. I am really angry with 'them', the 'baddies'. Not 'our' 'baddies' particularly, but all of them. All the people who wake up every day and choose, by their criminal actions to ruin peoples lives, give children nightmares and to rip families and friends apart. People who have no moral content whatsoever! Morality has disappeared, it is ok to rape women and children, it is okay to mutilate for muti, okay to kill someone for his R500 cell-phone. Perpetrators are not caught, there is no retribution. Police simply advise victims to go out '...and buy a gun' or tell you "You are lucky you weren't raped" What is going on? These people are ruining an entire country. I got on that El Al plane to leave 'screaming and kicking' inside. I didn't want to leave, I just had no choice. I have a family and I have a choice. And it just makes me sad, and bitter, because 'they' ruined my life, 'they' forced me to leave the people and place that I loved. Smokers know they may die, so too do South Africans , it is all about luck or fate, however you look at it. Is it your day today? Will 'they' be waiting for me today when I reverse out my driveway? Will 'they' come for me when I am asleep tonight? Will 'they' follow me home from Pick n' Pay today? Will they pretend to be Telkom technicians?, and when 'they' do get me, will 'they' kill me or just rape me? Will they bite my fingers to get off my rings? Will they irreparably traumatise my children? Or in our case will they just simply bend open our front massive gate and walk straight into our home. We were so lucky, we got real professionals, no sarcasm intended. They fortunately did not want to kill anybody, or G-d forbid rape anyone. They just wanted the 'goods' and that is what they got. We were lucky, we cut our losses and left. Some people just don't have that privilege. So now I find myself changing channels on TV when there is any African dancing/singing, I skip the newspaper articles about anything South African. But I watched the World Cup. What a victory. What a wonderful moment in history. A moment that I would love to believe could change a whole lot of 'baddies' into 'goodies', but that won't be the case. It takes a whole lot more.

So, to say the least, I was a reluctant Olah Chadasha (New Immigrant). Summer here is harsh, and the people are harsh. Here is me - polite South African girl, two young children, trying to carve my way. It is all about fighting, and sometimes about technique. You have to literally fight for everything here and somehow in the process you become indifferent. You fight for your place in line, in traffic, you fight simply for your right to exist. A brief history, Israel has been a part of my life for the past 14 years, I came initially here as a naive and virginal 21 year old, tossed like Daniel into the Lions' Den; I returned to South Africa permanently a few years later, non-virginal, a whole lot wiser and with gorgeous, tall, dark and very handsome boyfriend (now husband) in tow. My love affair with Israel has been on-and-off throughout the years; with my love for my life in South Africa growing, my love for Israel seemed to lessen. So now, back in the Lions Den, everyday is a new lesson for me. I have to be strong, like that song by Desree,"You gotta be strong, you gotta be fast, you gotta be bad, you gotta bold..." that is me (kind of), I still do a double-take when I see people spitting in the street, or stare at a black head of hair with 10cm grey roots, or people wearing slippers to the super-market, or my absolute worst, the obsession with tooth-picking they all have. Toothpicks rule here. You can't go to a restaurant and have a coke without the waitress offering you a toothpick???. They all pick their teeth, the fancier, the not-so-fancy, the Savyon locals and the Bat Yam locals, they all do it.

Also, there are so many things here that at their sheer chutzpah, can just blow you away. The line at the Post Office, it is always long. You enter, join the line, stand in said line for two and a half hours, dehydrated and exhausted just as you are about to get your turn someone will push in front of you and say that it is their turn they were just sitting on the side. What happens, they come into the Post Office, check out the line, see plus/minus who is last in line, then leave, and go have their hair blow dried, do a grocery shop, I don't know or care, and then all of a sudden, miraculously return to take their rightful place. So what do you do, you seethe, you rage, you shout and complain, you do what any other Israeli would do, and then in the end shrug and say "kacha ze ba Aretz" "That's how it is in Israel", and then just laugh and laugh. That is the standard line of response to a lot of things here. This is a country of opposite extremes, on the one hand, fists waving, tempers flaring Mediterranean passions, hooting, shouting, loud talking, loud laughing, teeth-picking crassness and then on the other, total indifference. Indifference and shrugging and acceptance and "kacha ze ba Aretz".

So with my sadness and bitterness of what is behind me, comes hope that I will get back to that place of joy that I had in South Africa. My children are happy, therefore I am happy, my family is safe, therefore I am okay. No more peeking through the curtains at every peep, no more jumping at every sound, no more fear. And with these tooth-pickers comes a real tranquility and a simplifying of my life. I am surrounded by vegetables, fruits and herbs. There is no Sandton City 10 minutes away, I have to drive to the nearby town for petrol, tractors drive up and down the roads, manure permeates the air and mice invade my life. And I am a better mother here, this was a hard realisation for me, but I know it is true. Katherine and Rachel are not standing in the wings, serving on me with every beck and call. If Adam is sick, my arrangements are cancelled and I stay home with my sick child. If I need to go to the super-market at 4pm, Adam and Noam come with me, moaning and groaning. If Adam has Judo, or Noam Ballet, the other child schleps along. I bath both children every night. If I have to collect Adam or Noam from a friend the other child comes along. There is no ready baby-sitter twice a week.

I don't want to say that my life is either better or worse here, it simply is different. And just fine for now! Each new friend is great, each new experience - wonderful. I find myself asking myself "Is this the new Claudia, Mazal, Samantha, Kelly, Adi?" But I won't find them, they aren't here.

So what will happen to me? Will I become a tooth-picker?, Will I spit publicly?. I don't know, but that is long-term. For now I can only try a bit harder each day to accept these sometimes hard and angry; sometimes kind and lovely people. And hopefully grow to love them. I started with one gorgeous, tall, dark and very handsome Israeli, and he hasn't let me down yet.

Thursday, October 25

It's a good life.

Another day another injection. It is still taking a while of psyching up, to actually do it, but compared to the first day and almost a half hour of heavy breathing, position/room changing, I am really quite impressed with my progress. Today I think it took around 5 minutes all in all. Stabbing motion sorted, still not feeling a thing, thanks to Emla, the most unpleasant part being the burning sensation of the liquid being squirted into you.

So my mouse obsession continues. I think I am actually finding this all therapeutic, if I wasnt obsessing over my mouse situation, it would be the IVF. I know myself I would be constantly having mental conversations with myself: Will it work? Won't it work? How many embryo's will take? baby names, twin, triplets sextuplets? early symptoms, funny feelings, was that a nausea feeling? are my boobs swollen? is my tummy swollen? am I? aren't I?, it really is all too much, so hey I will take any distraction that comes my way. So as far as distractions go, this one is working for me just fine. So Operation kill the Bugger/Buggers is in full force, I have even enlisted the help of my children. Armed with about twenty glue traps, I placed them with land-mine-like precision in an around the house, two per room. The packaging of these stupid traps come with a cute little picture of the sweetest little Tom-and-Jerry looking mouse biting into a big chunk of yellow cheese, this did NOT deter me! I remained strong! Funny thing is I couldn't get to sleep last night, I tossed and turned for hours, Adam and Noam LOCKED into my bedroom with me. Yes, locked, that is coming from me an ex-South African from Johannesburg, one of the crime-capitals of the world. The thought of armed gunmen/rapists/robbers did not evoke as much fear in me as these mice. I could cope with the humans but I just cannot cope with the thought of mice pooping on me while I sleep. AND they have teeth, yesterday I found serious teeth bite marks in a big black candle in the kitchen, are they colour-blind? What are they thinking? Black cheese? Ok so I can't sleep last night, I am mouse obsessing, with every peep, squeek, visions of a battalion of mouse conscripts coming to martyr themselves in vengance for all their brothers in arms that I will be murdering with my glue traps, finally, I must have fallen asleep amidst all these horrors invading my mind. So, upon waking up this morning, I did what any self-respecting mother would have done, I sent my children into the battle ground to check on the glue-trap status. Guess what....nothing, not one, zero, zilch! But I think they now know that I have transformed from hippy-mouse-lover to mouse-Terminator because I know they/it was in both Noam and Adams rooms last night, both doors had been locked but the door frame in each room has been nibbled with door-dust on the floor, so maybe they have just packed their little bags and left. I can hope. I spoke to an extermination company this morning, called Dr Cocroach, lovely, they suggested to put poison down, if I know exactly where they are getting in, which I dont, and I have a dog, so that is not an option. Doc Roach also suggested just hanging in for a few more days and putting some kind of yummy mouse-snack in the glue to get them in. So I have another terror-filled night ahead, can't wait!

So on to more serious issues, the gunky gooey brown stuff post-pipelle seems to have stopped, and the horror of that experience is now but a distant memory, as are most fertility experiences. You do it all because you have to, you want what you want, and by doing all these awful things, you hope you will get what you want. The pursuit of that soul. As I mentioned I have two souls already, with Secondary Infertility there is unfortunately a sense that you are not allowed to feel sad, desperate, longing because you are unable to have number 2,3 or even 4. I do feel sorry for women who have no children. But hey this is about me and my life, and i am entitled to feel my sense of desperation at not being able to conceive again. With each failed cycle, comes a growing sense of "Maybe this is it?", "Maybe this is ALL G-d intended for me?" and only time will be able to answer those questions for me. The 'it' is my two-child family, which is the best thing that ever happened to me. My children bring me joy, laughter and an unbeleivable inner warmth that I could never have imagined. If I never succeeded at this wonderful medical invention of IVF, as this is the last possible resort for me, I will then know that there were no more souls looking for me. In the meantime, I believe that they are looking for me. A friend asked me a while back, "When will you stop?", she didn't mean it in a horrible way, it was a great question actually, and I needed to answer it. Answer is, I don't think I will stop, I am at the IVF level of the 'fertility ladder', you can't get much higher. This is it. So I will just have to carry on trying, and I hope it will happen. Sure there are loads of women out there who have been trying for way, way longer than me, and probrably with less chances than me, etc. etc. but this is me and my life, and I don't make excuses for it. Look, I would not moan to a childless woman, I am not that thick. There is more sympathy for childless couples than there is for people like me, and that is ok, it is right. But I still deserve my feelings when another month goes by. Today I bought a ring, yes another one, which has the words (in English) 'Courage', 'Love' and 'Hope' engraved on it. 'Hope' is facing up at me.

This Blog is taking me forever to write, major newsflash, I just made EYE CONTACT with the mouse (or one of them). My father in law just came over to oversee my mouse-catching endeavour, he was here for about ten minutes and had removed everything from the cupboard under my sink, there are three big plug holes at the back of the cupboard, so he calls me into the kitchen, he is sitting on the floor staring at the open, now empty cupboard, and the mouses cute little head is popping out every now and again. My tough Israeli father-in-law thinks I am such a joke, he totally despairs in me, how can I kill it now that I have looked into his little eyes. So we compromised we have given him two choices, I have put traps in the cupboard and closed the door, one is the gooey-sticky-you-are-destined-to-die type and the other is the cage-be released back into -the-wild-one. So we will see in the morning.

The Prof-mans' rooms just called to ask me if I would like to join an IVF support group that they are starting up, I said I would be happy to join. I will be at a slight disadvantage because it will be in Hebrew, but hey, let that be my biggest worry! Also another great part of today, I spent the morning painting. I have a friend here on the Moshav who has a painting group, and I joined. Well it was great, a mess, but fun awakening the creative-Goddess within. I know she is there somewhere. Also I got Adam and Noam early from school and we planted herbs in our garden, now we are about to have a braai. Its' a good life!

Wednesday, October 24


Ok that was really NOT fun!

I should have taken more note of the secretarys' silence If it was possible to lather ones endometrial lining with Emla, I would have lathered away.

So I got to the Prof-mans' rooms on time, and ofcourse still had to wait, nevermind, this is Israel and the first word any new immigrant learns here is 'Savlanoot' meaning patience. So there I sat all patient and new immigrant-ish, waiting my turn, finally I was called to go through to a room with a stirrup chair (the modern kind, where you just put your feet on a raised platform), I was told to change and wait. As per usual no gown or cover, this, I have come to NEVER expect here, just me clutching my cell phone, knuckles slowly turning white in anticipation. Finally Mr Prof-man comes in, a word on him, he is around fifty or so, and he has the kindest loveliest eyes. The only problem is that he has a terrible, terrible facial twitch. A twitch which makes his whole face 'hiccup' every few seconds, full-on blinking, eyes bulging and then twisting of his mouth area. My last IVF with him I remember being really concerrned about the embryo transfer, which, if done incorrectly, ie placed in the wrong spot, can ruin all the work, trauma, injections, emotions of the 5 weeks or so prior, but I watched him, me legs spread, and he concentrating like hell to put my two little perfect 3-day old embryos in exactly the right spot, and he never twitched once. So, my conclusion, he is twitch-free when it counts, and that is all that matters!

So pleasantries (which is never much with Israelis) done with, we get down to the business of Pipelle-ing me. Step one, insert speculum, really uncomfortable cactus up vagina feeling. Due to my inhumanly low pain threshold I am now still clutching my phone with one hand and clinging to the bed rail with the other, face completely contorted, and using labour breathing techniques. And he hasn't even started with the serious stuff yet! I shame myself at times!

Then it started, I can only describe the sensation as someone sticking a rake up you and raking your insides. You feel it in the back of your throat. Really really horrible, painful period-from-hell feeling. He had to do this three times, with pauses inbetween for me to compose myself. I must have looked really bad because he asked me at different times throughout the procedure if I needed to vomit, or if I was going to faint. The procedure probrably lasted 5 minutes in all, all the time Mr Prof-man telling me to "relax..." Ya right! Sure, relax like I am lying at the pool in a Mauritius hotel, or relax like my insides are being keel-hauled relax? Dentists and Doctors they are all a bit dim at times. So, when it was over, me still trying to pull myself together, we had an almost normal conversation about the pros and cons of my new Nokia N95. He had obviously noticed my white-knuckled grip during the procedure, he managed to pry it out of my hands and say all the right things about my new 'baby'. Then, with the colour slowly returning to my cheeks, I quizzed him about what exactly he had done. Something I hadn't known was that the procedure also sucks out goo from your endometrium as well as scraping it. I felt the need to see my goo, which he indicated as the clump of gunk in the 'hazardous waste material' bin. Great!

I paid and went on my way, glad not be driving myself home. I have wonderful inlaws, mom-in-law was babysitting, and dad-in-law was chauffering me. You may be wondering about the 'husband', he travels a lot, by a lot I mean a lot, he arrived in israel from 10 days in China this past Friday and left for SA on Sunday. He has to plan all his trips away around his 'donation' day, so he should be back within the next two weeks. Exhausting work.

Did I mention I live in a rural area, in Israel they are called Moshavim, they are big farms, but not communal like a kibbuutz. Needless to say I have a mouse-issue. It started a few weeks back, mouse poop in the pantry, mouse poop in the kitchen, and of recent, it has escalated to mouse poop in my childrens rooms and of late in my bed. Wonderful. So initially, me being the universe/animal-loving freak that I am, the plan was to 'flush' them out 'naturally', I went to the hardware store and got these great little plugs which you plug all over your house and they emit some kind of super-sonic-mouse-repellant noise, enabling the mice to just re-locate. This did not happen. The mouse/mice were here to stay. Plan B, I layed traps with cheese all over the house (in conjunction with super-sonic-mouse-repellant-noise-machine thing), the traps are designed to not hurt them ofcourse, I was going to catch them and then have a little ceremony releasing them back into the wild, returning them to nature, undomesticating them! Well it didn't quite go like that, the little hair-balls nibbled on the cheese, laughed in my face, and ran back to their hiding places and the traps never closed. So I have reverted to Operation Kill the Buggers! I really didn't want to do this, but they have left me NO choice, I tried to play Mrs Nice-guy, but it is just not working for me. So this morning I went back to the hardware store, demanded a refund for the stupid non-effective traps, and bought glue traps. They are as awful as they sound. It is a polystyrene plate with some yummy-mouse-attracting smelly glue stuff on the bottom, and apparently this should do the trick. What have I become? A murderer of little cute mice. Yes! I have put one plate in my daughters room and closed the door, and I am waiting for the mouse screams to start. I am not sure how I am going to cope if I actually catch one, maybe I just have to face my fears with this issue as well. Like the injections, I am uber-stronger now.

Speaking of which, my technique is going great, I worked on my stabbing-motion today and got the whole needle in first attempt. You go girl! Before you know it I will be bathing the children, making supper, folding washing, getting rid of glued-up mice and injecting myself ALL at the same time. Brilliant. Also post-Pipelle, there is a bit of browny-redish goo today, apparently it shouldn't last long.

So that is me on my little journey today so far.

Tuesday, October 23

Happy first Blog-day!

Happy first Blog-day!

Where to begin?

So today in the life of me is 23 October 2007. A very special friend told me the other day that 'the right soul is looking for you', what a way to put it! And ofcourse I am doing everything within my power to help that/those specific souls find ME.

I, thankfully, already have two souls. I have two beautiful children, Adam and Noam, both conceived naturally a year and a half apart. Due to numerous problems which have arisen since the birth of my second child I cannot have more children, naturally at least. Following several operations, procedures, medications, different diagnoses I am now, today, on day 3 of my third IVF. The first IVF was done in Johannesburg, South Africa, it was successful but resulted in an early miscarriage in April this year. The second IVF was done in Israel in September 2007 and was unsuccessful. So now, full-speed ahead for number 3.

I feel quite empowered this time, reason being I am injecting MYSELF. Quick history, I am neurotic as hell, I lather my body with EMLA (anaethetising cream) for an hour before any hint of any injection. I am just not good with pain, never have been. Pregnant with my first child, I had this really romantic illusion that I was going to give birth totally naturally in a birthing pool. That's right, birthing pool. I had the whole little vision of candles, incense, soothing music, oh! and Doula on the sidelines whispering calming thoughts and me breathing deeply and being totally in control of the situation. Well nothing went according to plan and I had to be induced. The thought now is just so ludicrous, when I look back, I couldn't even cope with the pessary to induce labour, I was practicing my breathing meant for labour. What a joke! So back to the injections, it is just so time-consuming getting someone else to do it. Either you have to ellicit the help of a usually unwilling friend or relative, or you have to stand in queues at the local National Health Office, and here in Israel, that involves fighting your way into the nurses office. So I decided to take the bull by the horns, and grow up. I have been fantasizing for the last month about exactly HOW I am going to do this. A subcutaneous injection (or ANY injection for that matter) may seem like a walk in the park for some, but for people like me it involves more serious heavy breathing, psyching ones-self up, tubes and tubes of Emla, and all for one split second of the nothing, thanks to the Emla. My psychotic fear of injections stems from experiences with self-designated Super-Injectornators trying to "find a vein". Always a losing battle with me, the problem, bad veins, I am sure inherited from my mother. So hence my absolute fear of injections, and pain for that matter. Which makes my absolutely amazing abillity to inject myself yesterday and today really unbeleivable. My first day of this IVF cycle was on Sunday, I prepped myself, as usual, I sat for about an hour trying different positions, standing, sitting, changing rooms, all to no avail, it was just not happening. I could NOT do it. This specific injection has to be done in your stomach (fatty part on either side of your belly button) or in your leg. So if you do it in your stomach, you can pinch a fat roll (very attractive), my new technique, that of yesterday and today, is to squeeze that fat roll so hard that I wont be thinking of the 1 cm needle going into me. And hey it worked, sort of. You have to take the injection, and as if you were holding a pen/pencil, stab, literally stab, it into the area, then holding the tip with one hand, the other hand injects the fluid, which for me now is Decapeptyl. Ok so back to that 'stabbing motion', I think I have change my current technique and go full-throttle at the 'stabbing motion' moment. Today whilst looking away, face all scringed-up, fat roll being pinched so hard the blood was being cut off, I did my 'stabbing motion', then looking down at the injection site, only to find that about a third of the needle was actually in, so I had to still push the rest in, I think I have good old resilliant fat, because once the needle was nearly fully inserted it made like a popping sensation. Pop! Through the fat wall, that is subcutaneous, under the fat. Brilliant. So, to explain the feeling of accomplishment after having done this to myself yesterday, it was just the best, I did it! Me! Nothing compares to facing and conquering your fears, nothing. I feel like I could do absolutely anything now. I actually injected myself!

So I have to master this whole injection scenario, because for now it is only one per day but through the course of the approximately 6 week IVF programme there are stages where you are taking up to 3 or more injections per day. Not a fun thought, but hey, by then I am going to be such a pro! This morning I answered the phone mid-injection, really. I am either a 'black' or 'white' person, there is no 'grey' area with me, all or nothing, smoker or non-smoker!

So back to more serious issues, I am off this evening for a procedure called "PIPELLE". Rewind to my pain issues, the secretary called last night to confirm the appointment for today and I asked her if it would be painful, her silence said it all, so I am going fully loaded / drugged-up, whichever you prefer. So this procedure basically involves stimulating the endometrial lining, it is not understood why, but a study here in Israel revealed that it could improve your chances for implantation. This study stems from research done on women that were incredibly fertile post D & C procedures. Me, being the Google Goddess, found out about this and suggested it to my Doctor, who is actually a Professor, anyway he said that it is usually only done on patients after 4 failed IVF's, but I guess he could see my A-type personality sneaking through and he agreed to do it.

So today is day 23 of my cycle, and day 3 of Decapeptyl, big word, and it does such an amazing thing, it surpresses your Pituritary Gland, that is the gland that makes all your hormones do their thing at different times during your monthly cyle. So this drug totally surpresses this gland to enable the Fertility Doctors to be totally in control of your hormones, surges, dips and all. Then throughout the whole IVF programme, based on blood test and ultrasound results, the doctors guage when and what to do, ie when and what to inject/insert/swallow.

So forward I march, here I come Mr Professor.


"Q: In which cases does removal of the fallopian tubes improve the outcome?
A: In recent years, impressive evidence has shown that hydrosalpinx (swollen fallopian tubes, filled with fluid) can reduce chances of implantation. It seems that the reason for this is that the fluid in the fallopian tubes contains inflammatory products that leak into the abdominal cavity and damage the embryo trying to implant itself in the endometrium. In cases of recurrent failure of IVF therapy, the condition of the fallopian tubes should always be assessed using a hysterosalpingogram and ultrasound scan. If the state of the fallopian tubes is very poorly, and might affect the implantation of the embryos, the benefit of their removal should be considered. The removal of oneor both fallopian tubes is performed by laparoscopy, where a laparoscope (a fine telescope) is inserted through an umbilical incision."