Friday, October 17, 2014

Up for another rollercoaser ride?

I have been plagued with the type of exhaustion that gets into all your muscles and bones and stays there for a long time. That last blog post about crashing hasn't really ended. I can't stop feeling exhausted, and I don't know why.

Yesterday things got a little crazy. We almost went to the hospital, but it wasn't quite at that stage. I had a fever, and I had cellulitis symptoms exactly like the cellulitis I had three months ago when I was hospitalized for four days. It wasn't full-blown yet, and I decided to stay home (against my husband's and some of my friend's recommendations). My sister-in-law, who is a homeopath and reflexologist, suggested that I dose myself with Echinacea & Propolis every half hour. We followed directions, and I slept, still feeling fevery. It was a fitful night sleep, but in the early morning I woke up in a sweat. My body did it without "real" antibiotics- sweated out a fever. The next day (the day in which Simchat Torah would start in the evening), I was feeling much better, cellulitis symptoms much less. *No hospital, no IV antibiotics*. In the evening (chag, the holiday of Simchat Torah), fever went up a bit, but not as high as it had been the previous night. Keeping on with the Echinacea & Propolis, I slept well and felt much better the next day. I even went to shul for a few hours, just in time for hearing the reading of the Torah- my favorite reading of the whole year- when the last portion of the Torah is read, going right back into the beginning once again... the cycle of life ending and beginning, seamlessly. I LOVE hearing the first portion of the Torah- "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the Earth..." Gives me goosebumps each time. I was also in shul for a very intense, deeply inspiring prayer that we say once a year. This is the prayer that beseeches God to give us the rains at their right times. We don't have much rain in Israel, and the prayer for rain is real. The way the "cantor" (not really a cantor, rather, someone in our shul who was leading that service, who happens to have a wonderful singing voice) delivered the prayer also gave me goosebumps. It was strong, and right from his heart. The tune is heard only once a year, when this prayer is recited, and it is so visceral, it's hard for me to find the right words to convey how it effected me. Right to my bones.... kind of how the cold feels in winters here with the houses heated as an after-thought. Heating wasn't built into Israeli houses, we install separate units where they are needed. The Israeli winters make my bones chill for a few months straight, even though it is "only" rain and not snow. It's hard to get warm and stay warm. Anyway, that sort of deep-to-the-bone feeling is how the prayer effected me as well.

I felt great all day! No traces that I had a close call with cellulitis just a day and a half beforehand!! Well, not exactly no traces at all- I still have some soreness where the swelling and redness occur in the effected, prone areas, but not at all what I'd call real pain, and no trace of fever at all. I am so glad I didn't go to the hospital that first night. Robert & I both felt that it was not quite full blown, but it had potential to get worse. I took it easy immediately, took care of myself, and it ran away. :)
(I have a lymphatic draining massage session on Sunday which hopefully will clear up the remaining traces of swelling).

In fact, I felt so good, that when my friend wrote me an SMS, last night, that she was in the delivery room in labor with her baby, I grabbed my doula bag and went straight to her!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I helped a mommy birth her fifth baby (...fifth boy!) last night. Oh, what a pleasure and gift that was for me. Everything went as smoothly as it could possibly go. This woman was strong, very much within her own body experiences- didn't want to hear anyone talking. Just the quiet jazz piano music I chose (playing from my phone- I used to bring a portable CD player and disks- those days are gone!). I did a lot of massaging, all her pain was in her back. I'd massage with the contractions, and put a hot-water bottle on her lower back between contractions. It was a good formula for her, and her labor progressed beautifully. Out of her five children, this is the third one I helped her birth, and only those three were natural. I feel so happy that I can make a difference in her life! I remembered positions, suggestions, tips & tricks. I felt like I slipped into my doula life seamlessly, as if I still do it all the time. The truth is that the last birth I assisted was exactly a year ago. That was the one where I "accidentally" left on my cell phone over Shabbat, and my friend called as a last-ditch-effort to get someone to come be with her- she was all alone in Soroka in labor. When I looked at the screen of my ringing phone that late Shabbat night, and saw my pregnant friend's name, knowing that she must be at the end of her pregnancy, I answered immediately. She wouldn't call if it wasn't an emergency. I came to her in the middle of the night, and her labor was also beautiful and natural.... and so powerful. That was a year ago (Shabbat Succot- almost exactly a year ago!).

Although I'd love to do more than one birth a year (an understatement for sure!), having the close call with the fever and cellulitis was an unpleasant reminder that I cannot commit to people. A doula must commit, and I have to worry about if I will be healthy when her labor starts. I almost couldn't be at this one. When I did walk through the door to her birthing room last night (she didn't expect me- her phone was off when I tried to call- I went because of the message she sent), she said it was like an angel swooping in unexpectedly. I can do it that way- the "if I can... if the stars are all in alignment when you go into labor..." A working doula, obviously, has to know that her health is pretty reliable.

I think I wrote a few months ago- after my last hospitalization in July with cellulitis- that I have been given an awakening of sorts that now I am prone to this happening more. The  lymphoedema started then, very acutely, and that is the way it will be for the rest of my life. The last cellulitis was the trigger for the harsh lymphoedema. Now I just saw it again a few days ago, just three months after the last one. I have to wear my compression bandage every day, all day now, no choice. In fact, I think that one of the reasons I almost got a relapse this time was because of my choice not to wear it that night. I had my reasons. But, that choice is not mine anymore. No matter how hot and uncomfortable it is, I have no choice. Things have shifted since that hospitalization last July, and this is my "new" reality. So, no, I can't work steadily with any sort of commitment to anyone. I gotta take care of myself, and my family. That *is* my work. And if I get a birth every now & then by luck, then, well, icing on the cake! I am grateful for what I can do.

Some pictures of her 5th baby's birth last night, and her second baby's birth of 8+1/2 years ago. Unfortunately I don't seem to have pictures from the birth before this one which I assisted her with because it went fast. After the birth, we were dealing with the fact that the baby was a Down's syndrome baby, so pictures weren't appropriate.

15 minutes after birth

little guy a few minutes after birth

enjoying the baby... mommy bliss
eight and a half years ago, me checking baby's position
Same place she needed massaging all last night!

I was doing the same thing last night... exactly! But not outside, in the hospital.

eight and a half years ago, on a labor walk around the neighborhood

We walked lots during that labor. I don't know who took this picture, actually!

Gotta go- Shabbat is in a half hour.
What a roller coaster, right?!
Shabbat Shalom from Israel!


  1. What a beautiful post! Yasher Koach on so many fronts.... seizing opportunities when they presented themselves and rediscovering another love in your life (doula) while recognizing your limitations WITHOUT resentment, your deep intensity in prayer, taking care of yourself. Planning to be warm this winter, and accepting your daily bandage.... I hear acceptance and joy. What a beautiful post. You lifted me high! Thank you.

  2. Thanks so much for the great support and vote of confidence, Dev!! Thanks, also, for allowing yourself to be lifted high through my experiences- that is your gift for me. :)
    Lots of love to you!!