November 1, 2009

The Waiting Is The Hardest Part

Tom Petty was right.  Damned right!  Another weekend has come and gone and still no baby.  Sara has been having contractions, but they are still spread out to the point where they don't count as labor.  They are more frequent than 4 weeks ago, but not by much.

As of yesterday, we finished week 38 and are no working on 39.  She has become noticeably more sluggish and tired, feeling the weight of this massive basketball under her skin.

As I typed the last paragraph, Sara had two contractions 9 minutes apart that lasted for over a minute each, so we may be coming up on it, just to prove me wrong.

In any event, we've been talking more and more about our respective religious and cultural backgrounds in regards to this baby.  A priest and a rabbi both advised us not to have children unless we were going to pick one religion are raise the child with that.  We are clearly not listening to them.  Sara feels very strongly about having the child baptized, which I know is going to cause my family to cringe.  In the same vein, if it's a boy, my desire to have him circumcised will no doubt make select members of her family cringe.

I have never been religious, although I do identify with and take comfort in the cultural aspects of Judaism.  There is something nice about knowing that what you are doing has been done by your family for thousands of years.  My mother and I both feel the same way about this.  She is a self-professed atheist and I'm a self-professed indifferent, but we both very much enjoy the feeling of being a part of a something that is part of our family.

Sara used to be a very devout Catholic.  She was actually the first female altar server at her church in Indiana.  She was a member of a spiritual sign language club in high school.  Over the past several years, I think that she has felt less and less attached to the church and has moved, in my opinion, away from being religious and more towards being spiritual.  She likes the rituals of Catholicism, but doesn't always believe in their teachings.  I don't really want to talk much about this because it would be better for her to do so.

In any event, I sent an e-mail to a rabbi about 6 weeks ago because I wanted to make sure that, should we have a son, I would be able to get him circumcised.  The response I received was typical of my research.  It was evasive about whether or not he knew of anyone who could do it, but was very clear that my child will NOT be Jewish under the Hebrew laws because Sara is not.

Judaism, like male-pattern baldness, is passed on by the mother.

This is a very pressing matter because, according to Jewish law, the boy must be circumcised 8 days after birth.  I know that I will be a bit busy during that time and, not being a practicing Jew, I don't have a Rabbi to make sure it gets done.  The hospital will want to know if we're going to do it and if I can't get a mohel to say he will, then I may have the hospital do it.  I would prefer not to have to exercise this option.  I would feel...cheated out of something important.

I've been thinking frequently about my grandfather.  I visited his grave before I asked Sara to marry me.  I spoke to him about how much I love her and how he would have as well.  The fact that he never got a chance to meet her brings me a great deal of sadness.  I try (and often fail) to live my life in a way that I think he would be proud of.  We are naming his great-grandchild, the first child of his first grandchild, after him.  I plan to tell this baby tons of stories about him, explaining who he was and why he was so important to me.  If I were to get this child circumcised in the hospital, I would feel like I was cheating my grandfather as well.  I know that my family will be very supportive of anything I do, provided this child never comes home praising the ever lasting glory of Christ, but these are the things I think about.

I cannot even express how much I miss him.  He truly was the patriarch of our family.  He was loving, kind, and generous.  He always watched out for me and I want to do everything I can to honor his memory.

In any event, as I have been typing this, Sara's contractions have been coming about every 10-15 minutes.  It sure is rude of her to be doing this on a Sunday night.  I'm going to have to take "personal days" from work and make up some excuse about an emergency play, or celebrity sighting.  I haven't been at this job long enough to qualify for FLMA, so I can use my 3 sick days and then they will start to dock my pay...  Family values...

According to the guide, these are still pre-labor contractions, so nothing is happening yet.

On a completely unrelated note, a good friend of our is a photographer and has a "baby package" as part of her repertoire. (Insert your favorite penis joke here.)  She takes pregnancy pictures, and then again at 3, 6, 9, and 12 months, putting them together in a time-lapse book.  The first of the pictures are posted here for anyone who is interested in checking them out.

This laptop is starting to burn my crotch and this sitting position is starting to cause me to lose circulation in my legs.  All-in-all, my lower body is done with this post.  I did want to thank everyone who has been reading and commenting, either on here or sending me messages privately.  I'm glad you're enjoying the posts and hope you continue to do so.

This baby should be born......NOW!

Didn't work...  I guess we're still waiting.


Sarah Gomberg said...

Hey Justin and Sara,

I love your blog! You guys look great and I can't wait to see pictures of your soon to be Bundle of Joy!

I never felt a single contraction with either of my two children. I had other complications, but you don't want to hear about it...believe me!

Enjoy your last free moments of walking out the door just the two of you. Soon you will have to walk out the door with the two of you, your baby and half of your house just to take care of the baby while you are out.

Take care,
Sarah Gomberg

Exploding Penguin said...

Hey guys, it's Nicole! I am just now catching up on all of the entries :)

I think this blog is a wonderful idea and I hope you guys continue to update as your child grows - it's wonderful to read about the preparations you have both been making and is refreshing to see the honesty used when describing both of your concerns as well as happy expectations about the addition to your family!

Also - the pics are great! Sara, you look beautiful as always :)

Anonymous said...

Hi Justin. Jules and I looked at the pictures. They're wonderful.

As for the circumcision, check with Vivian about a mohel. If there is one who would do it, she would know. If you were planning to raise the baby strictly Jewish the Reconstructionist movement would accept him/her as Jewish. If you can't find a mohel because you're planning to do both, I think you should still have a son circumcised for 2 reasons. 1) He'll feel better looking like Daddy. (I'm making an assumption here.) 2) If he does have to officially convert when he's older, the process will be much less painful - they just have to draw a drop of blood. That's still cringe-worthy but not as bad as circumcision.

We saw a movie a day while we waited for Hannah. We figured they would be the last we'd see for a while. At least nowadays they induce labor if you go a week late. Thirty years ago they let us wait it out.

Good luck! - Ruth

leah said...

Hey Justin

A limited amount of research has turned up Dr Fred Teichman in Lewisberg. That seems kinda far, but maybe mohels make the trip when their services are needed. I found him on the website of the Reform association of mohelim. It says on the website: "Reform mohalim serve many families which orthodox moyels would refuse to serve. is a mixed marriage in which the father is Jewish and the mother is not...the Berit Mila program recognizes that families of all types are committed to Jewish life and living."

Not sure what that means about this guy in particular. But: Fred Teichman, MD (ob/gyn), 570-524-1120,

A brit will of course not resolve the Jewish question. I think I've even heard of ortho mohels doing a brit but saying the baby will not be jewish unless converted. But it's info for your current situation.

Justin said...

I'm glad that everyone has been enjoying this blog. Even though I haven't been responding to all of the comments, I have certainly been reading all of them.

Leah, Thank you very much for the info. I talked with a Rabbi in Pittsburgh who would be happy to perform the ceremony. He said the same thing, that the child wouldn't be Jewish but this would be the first step in the conversion process. It's also tricky because we don't know the gender, but he said not to worry about, just give him a call when the baby is born and we'll figure something out.

Anonymous said...

Just want you to know that only the Orthodox and Conservatives believe the child won't be Jewish if the mother isn't Jewish. Reform, Reconstructionist and Jewish Renewal all believe the child is Jewish if either parent is Jewish. I spoke to Joel Schoulson, who performed your brother's brit mila (yours was performed by his father, Rabbi Schoulson) and he expressed his outrage that mohels would refuse and said he would have been happy to help but he's leaving the country.



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