Thursday, September 29, 2011

Clutter: A Straight Exchange

Before having DD I was almost clutter free. I had moved apartments a few years earlier and thrown out five bin-bags full of clutter before the move. When I unpacked here, things that had a place in the old apartment suddenly seemed superfluous and literally 'out of place'. I filled two more bin-bags to throw out as I was unpacking.

Some people equate their clutter with feeling surrounded by their memories. Clutter as a cosy cushion of familiarity. A safety-blanket. An extension of themselves even. For me the exact opposite is true. I feel distincly uncomfortable as the clutter starts to build up and threatens to overtake the sleek calmness of an uncluttered home. Clutter weighs me down. I used to cheer myself up by throwing things out or giving them away. There are many 'second homes' in Jerusalem and sometimes after visiting such an apartment, I am envious of the clean lines and feeling of space in even a smallish apartment. I have to remind myself that this is a holiday home - they don't actually live there with all their stuff.

Don't get me wrong, I am no modern minimalist. I love old furniture, comfy sofas, rugs, photographs in frames on the sideboard and a selection of ornaments. But I also love space and uncluttered surfaces and floors. Partly it is practical as an Aladin's cave cum Gypsy caravan effect is murder to keep dusted and clean. But it is also pshychological. I can't work until I've tidied up. I hate it that I have a pile of papers that gets shunted from surface to surface because it has no assigned home. It had a home once but that home is now filled with toys and puzzles. And therein lies the problem.

A friend once told me how you bring home a little tiny bundle of baby and a whole household's worth of equipment comes with it. Well over the past year and a half we  have got rid of a lot of the equipment. The cot, the changer, the swinging chair, the activity playmat, the highchair, the baby bath, the baby carrier, the stacks of nappies... all of these are now obsolete and have been passed on to their next homes (except the nappies which stay in the shop). The toys, on the other hand, are everywhere.

I can actually tidy away the toys quite satisfactorally, but they don't stay tidied away. DD likes to play with them, and not unreasonably as they are her toys. I could describe it but it's easier if you just look at the picture (yes you have seen this shot before). After I cleared this particular mess up I went to do something in another room for five minutes. While I was gone DD had all the cushions from the sofa scattered around the floor. "What a mess!" I exclaimed. She looked at me as if I were a moron and explained, "No mess, building a house." So you see, it's a losing battle.

When I lived an uncluttered life, pre-motherhood, I had a very full social life. I entertained regularly, went out with friends, had subscriptions to an art-house cinema and a concert orchestra. I went for walks, ate in cafes, went away for the weekend, went on  holidays. My life has shrunk over the past three years. I stay in after dark, I never entertain, the subscriptions have gone, holidays are not holidays, I eat supper at 5.30pm sitting on a footstool at the coffee-table. It's as if a curious osmosis has drawn clutter into my home to compenate for my lack of ... well... a life.

I hate clutter and I don't enjoy this chaos, however necessary. As I write this I can hear the clinking of glasses next door - my neighbour is hosting a dinner party. I don't wish I were there with them. I accept that my adult life is on hold for a bit while I concentrate on DDs needs. I enjoy going to the park and choosing a lolly on the way home, I like cheesey mashed potatoes for supper, and I love stories in bed at 7pm. I just wish we could do it all with less mess. 

This post was written for the Friday Carnival at Notes from Home. Click on through for more posts about the cluttered or uncluttered home.

Monday, September 26, 2011

An Extra Chromosome...Or Two.

So why Does Nadge wear number 47?
It's no secret that I am a Manchester United supporter. My father was a United supporter of course, and my grandfathers, and Unc. It was Unc who played United v City with us in the garden, who tutored us in the folklore, who related to us the tragedy of the Munich air disaster, and who regaled us with stories of Duncan Edwards, Georgie Best, and The King (the original king of Old Trafford), Dennis Law. I remember the excitement of watching the teleprinter chatter out the results as they came in, waiting with baited breath as first the time appeared, and then the teams, and then the score, all magically rushing across the screen as the funny bobble thingy bobbled up and down in fits and starts. In turn, I have fulfilled my fatherly duty and passed this unconditional love and support and devotion to my children from the moment I knew that a fetus had been created. Some babies are serenaded with Mozart in the womb – mine were treated to "Glory Glory Man United" as they swam happily in their amniotic fluid, digesting pure red sound waves. 

Just before the millenium, Mrs Nadge became pregnant again and her tummy was treated to my full repertoire of United songs. Thankfully, we had not had any trouble with any of the previous pregnancies and there was no reason to suggest that number 5 would be any different. As Mrs Nadge had reached the grand old age of 35 she was advised to do an amniocentesis in the fourth month, a routine if slightly risky test whereby a sample of the amniotic fluid is drawn off to be tested for any fetal abnormalities, one of the most common being Down's Syndrome. Three weeks later the phone call came from the hospital, telling us that there were "memtza'im" – a Hebrew word meaning "findings" or "results" and when could we come in. They wouldn't say anything else on the phone. Just "findings". A word saying everything yet nothing at the same time. I remember Mrs Nadge being shell-shocked. She slid down the wall of our narrow hall, and ended up on the floor leaning against the wall for support. We didn't know what to say. All sorts of horrible thoughts come to you, all the worst-case scenarios.  

A few days later we kept our appointment with the genetics department at the hospital. Mrs Nadge has a background in the sciences, with a degree in physics. I, on the other hand, managed to navigate the English grammar school and university system, ending up with a BSc, whilst never having passed a science exam in my life. Up until the moment I walked into the doctor’s office I’d barely even heard of chromosomes, and I certainly didn’t know what they were or how many make up a human body. Well, every cell in our bodies has 23 pairs of chromosomes, 1 pair of sex chromosomes and the other 22 pairs containing the rest of our genetic hereditary information. That makes 46 chromosomes in total. When there is a problem with our genetic make-up, this is typically manifested by abnormalities in our chromosomes – too many, too few, deletions, insertions, inversions and translocations. 

So, whilst trying to assimilate all this general information with which we were being bombarded, we had also to take in the fact that our baby boy had a structural abnormality in one of the chromosomes. There was a marker, an extra bit, chromosome number 47. “So what does it mean?” we immediately asked. They couldn’t say. “How risky is it?” They couldn’t say. “What should we do?” They couldn’t say. WikiGenetics puts it most succinctly – “With marker chromosomes there is a risk for fetal abnormality, which ranges from a very low risk to a risk of 100%.” Well, that narrows it down, doesn’t it? I seem to remember them saying that there was maybe a 2% chance that everything was fine. So, more tests then. They said it would take about two weeks or so for some complicated and expensive tests to be completed, tests that would have to be sent off to Jerusalem. Meanwhile, they would do a blood test on each of us to see if they could discover anything that way. 

It’s common in times of stress and misfortune to make vows to ourselves. You know what I mean. If only such and such will (or won’t) happen then I’ll never swear again, or I’ll give a million pounds to charity or some other such nonsense. In this instance, I promised myself that if all being well, everything turns out for the best, I’ll put the number 47 on my next Manchester United shirt. Something viable and simple, something meaningful to me that will always act as a reminder of trying times. 

Millenium Nadge still waiting for his 47
I’m pleased to report that I love chromosome number 47. Shortly afterwards, the blood test showed that yours truly also has an extra chromosome – and it’s not affected me has it!? They recommended us to do blood tests for the rest of our kids too, a boy and 3 girls. It turned out that number 1 child – the boy – also has 47 chromosomes, and he also proudly wears the number on the back of his Manchester United shirt. 

Number 6, the baby of the family, duly came along. We were less worried this time when the call came from the hospital saying that there were “memtza’im”. Except in this case I made a promise to put the number 48 on the back of my next United shirt. Yup, two markers showed up this time, really unusual. Everyone expected it to be a boy in light of the three males in our family. Our baby is now 8 and she still loves it when I put on her shirt.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Dipping Apple In Honey

One week from today we celebrate the Jewish New Year (Rosh Hashana). As usual, along with seasonal greetings for a good and sweet year (Shana Tova Umetuka), we pass round some amusing or entertaining animation or youtube clip that has taken our (collective) fancy. One of this year's offerings has particularly captured the imagination and has had over half a million hits so far. So of course, as I hum the tune whilst walking along the road, cleaning the kitchen, etc... I can't just enjoy it as a bit of amusing frippery, I have to analyse exactly why I love this video so much - and it's not just the lively music, though that does have a lot to do with it.

Rosh Hashana, like all religious occasions, is laden with symbolism. Not only is it the New Year but also a New Start, a New Leaf, almost a New Beginning. We are supposed to use this time  to reflect on our deeds of the past year and repent for any misdoings. We have to ask forgiveness from those we may have offended or hurt, even accidently or unknowingly. We blow, or at least listen to the shofar (a ram's horn) as a reminder to us and to God that he can and does listen to our prayers (i.e. he listened to Abraham's pleas and didn't require him to slaughter his son Isaac - instead giving him a ram to sacrifice.) Actually I just made that explanation up but the shofar certainly sounds impressive and makes you sit up and behave. We wear white to symbolise our working towards a pure soul and we pray that, at the end of the holiday period - in about three weeks time, God will inscribe us in the book of life (i.e. no death this year please). There are also pomegranates and fish - both symbols of fertility (why not?). And of course we all reunite with family and friends for big celebratory meals - obviously.

Dipping the apple in the honey? For a sweet life! I mean, if you're going to survive the year, you want to enjoy it - right?

So The Fountainheads from Ein Prat (click here for background information) recorded this Rosh Hashana message which includes all of the above symbolism - and something else. For me it's another step out of the shtetl. Although we tend to idealise shtetl life and like to think that all our great-great-grandfathers were Tevye the milkman from Fiddler On The Roof, there is a danger in trying to live a modern life simultaneously with an ancient religion. It can pull you back and make you wary of progress. It can alienate people who are looking for relevence in today's society and with today's sensitivities. Dip Your Apple In The Honey is a young, modern, refreshing interpretation of the significance of Rosh Hashana. It makes you want to be a part of it. To share this future with these people. Enjoy!

Monday, September 19, 2011

No Child Is Born To Die: The 100 Word Challenge

As part of its No Child Is Born To Die project, Save The Children UK will present 60,000 signatures to David Cameron on Tuesday. That's if we have 60,000 people who support sending more healthworkers to East Africa. Save the children has declared that a shortage of healthworkers is impeding their efforts to save 750,000 children who are on the brink of death.

Please read about the campaign and sign the petition - before Tuesday.

Please tweet this post using the #healthworkers hashtag

If you have a blog, please join the 100 word challenge set by Gemma at HelloitsGemma and Michelle from Mummy from the Heart. 100 words about a healthworker who has touched your life. The challenge is to reach 100 entries by Tuesday. My entry is below followed by the blog-hop through which you can read the others.

The doctor entered the room and gently asked me, "do you understand what has happened?"  I nodded.

"We would like your permission to perform an autopsy."

I nodded again and the gentle doctor continued... "we want to gain as much information as possible so that next time we can be best prepared."

You hear what you want to hear in any given situation. When you have just miscarried twin girls at almost 22 weeks, hearing the magic words, "next time," was like a lifeline. Hope is a wonderful thing. It brings you back from the brink to fulfill your destiny. 

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Vegetarian Cholent

As we approach another winter menus start evolving away from fresh salads towards soups and heartier dishes. Cholent is a Jewish Shabbat (Sabbath) casserole traditionally served for lunch on Saturday. As there is no cooking from sundown on Friday the cholent is put together and cooked just before the cut-off time and placed on a hotplate (or in a very low oven) until the next day.

Perhaps the earliest prototype of the slow cooker, the Shtetl wives would take their cholents to the local baker's and put the pots in his oven, which he wasn't using over Shabbat. The meat, bones, potatoes, beans, carrots and onions would simmer overnight, the liquid absorbed and thickened to a rich, dark stew. The pots would be collected and the cholent served, still warm, for lunch.

North African and Middle Eastern Jews have their own version called Hamin and every family has their own special recipe. So what's a girl to do when she wants to serve the traditional fare that we all know and love, but she won't cook meat? Cholent aint cholent without a certain chewiness and a thick meaty sauce. So you adapt and experiment and eventually you come up with vegetarian cholent. This recipe feeds 4 with plenty left over for unexpected guests or lunch on Sunday. N.B. You need a big cooking pot!


4 small potatoes (left whole)
a handful of barley
some big mushrooms
2 carrots peeled and cut into large chunks
2 courgettes cut into large chunks
1 large sweet potato
1/2 small aubergine cut into cubes
a large onion
4 tomatoes peeled and chopped
1 block of tofu
4 eggs (wash the shells)
fresh coriander and parsley
oil for frying
water to cover
dried seaweed (optional)
2Tsp tomato puree, soy sauce, 1tsp Marmite (optional), 1tsp onion soup powder, salt, pepper.

Slice and fry the onion until golden and add the mushrooms and aubergine. Throw in the barley (uncooked), coriander and parsley and continue frying for a couple of minutes. Leave to one side.

Put the potatoes, carrots, courgettes, sweet potato, and tomatoes into a large pot. Add the fried onion, mushroom, aubergine, barley mixture and pour water over to cover. Add all the seasonings (including the seaweed if using). Place large slices of tofu and the eggs on the top. Heat until the liquid is boiling, cover the pot and simmer for at least an hour. Then put the pot on a hotplate for up to 20 hours. Peel the eggs before serving.

The cholent is the main dish. Don't go mad with all sorts of other things. A good bread to mop up the sauce and one salad for a bit of crunch to the meal is all you need - coleslaw goes well. Pickles are also good.

This post was submitted to Recipeshed at Chronicles of a Reluctant Housedad. Follow the link for more vegetarian joy.

Monday, September 12, 2011

We Ladies Who Lu...mpect

My good friend, DancingInTheRain, is a career woman, a mother, a wife, a sister, a daughter, a friend to many, a writer, and a dancer. This is her story:

Sometime during the transition from 1 in 9 to 1 in 8, when I wasn’t really paying attention, I too became a statistic. 

Almost up till that point I had been the ultimate career woman, if not in a meeting then behind a car wheel, behind a computer screen or behind a podium, with never time for family or friends apart from emergencies when I morphed into a super-dependable Mary Poppins or Marge Proops. 

Indeed it was while recovering from a sudden bad back (me?!?), during which I despondently lurched around the house Hunchback of Notre Dame style, that my GP disapprovingly reminded me I’d missed my last 3 mammograms (note: workaholics have no 'me' time). In fact she kept reminding me because the computer flashed every time she entered my name since I was on the high risk list for breast cancer. 

After three months of bed-rest, traction, physiotherapy, heat therapy and an excruciating steroid spinal injection (not all at once) I was finally able to stand straight enough to undergo the torturous mammogram scan - a necessary endurance but certainly not for the fainthearted. And it was a surprisingly short journey from there to an ultrasound and an on-the-spot, without-a-warning, biopsy.

Sporting what’s known in the trade as lumpy breasts, whereby harmless little cysts make up the breast tissue, I was unconcerned. Still dealing with strengthening the old backbone, getting rid of the limp and looking forward to a revitalised lifestyle full of healthy exercise, it was somewhat of a shock to hear that the biopsy was 'Positive'. This term is a misnomer. In this context, 'Positive' is negative, bad, not what you want at all.

OK you think, 1 in 9, or 1 in 8 as you now learn, or whatever, it has to be someone. Well we all know someone, don’t we? Or even sometwo or somethree. Treatable breast cancer (that might return after treatment), we all know the procedure: operation, radiation or chemotherapy (or both), and tablets, followed by checkups for the rest of your (hopefully long) life. We think we know the procedure - until it starts.

First, a next-day 8am appointment with the breast surgeon, magically arranged by the family GP (could easily get used to this VIP treatment). A lovely patient man and a 10 minute turned 50 minute consultation, during which he explained that a lumpectomy would suffice to remove the offending lump. At least not a mastectomy you think, although the rough sketch he performed with the incision line going straight through the nipple (ouch!) was worrying. After several nightmares I finally plucked up the courage to ask if this was indeed the case and was reassured that it was meant to be a 3D sketch – he actually meant BEHIND the nipple. From that moment on, I decided to ask straight out about anything I didn’t quite understand (like almost everything…).

Strangely, no-one was able to actually feel a lump, but the mammogram CD with the little white dots was there to prove it.  So this is what cancer looks like? And then, not only are they telling me that I have cancer in my left boob – but some of it happens to be invasive – and it might now be already travelling happily throughout the rest of my body. Apparently the rest of it is in-situ, meaning that it’s not going anywhere – it really loves that left breast – but since it's ‘high grade' it might change its mind and decide to move on after all. Bottom line, it all has to be whipped out asap. 

But first it's necessary to check that it hasn’t already moved on and in.  Tests, tests and more tests: Stomach CTs, chest CTs, bone scans, blood tests. Tests which involve fasting, drinking iodine, injections, infusions and lying immobile (seemingly forever) within a cacophonic cylinder. One technician warned I would feel uncomfortably warm in the nether regions as the test progressed, "but don't you dare move".  In fact, the feeling was such that I indeed thought I had inadvertently wet myself. Lucky he warned me so delicately in advance. Honestly, everything is bearable, just seemingly never-ending. And you still have to await the results. By now you know you need a 'Negative'.

Time to choose a well-recommended surgeon. Not knowing where to start you ask friends, family and acquaintances. This is when you realize the significance of the 1 in 8 ratio; nearly everyone you ask has either had a lumpectomy or is close to someone who has had one. Although the ladies who lumpect (LWL) club is not one you would choose to join, once a member, you find yourself, without quite knowing how, surrounded by supportive, knowledgeable, caring women. You really don’t know what you would do without them. 

Ending up with too-long a list of surgeons, some LWL advised that it's actually the oncologist who is the most important long-term doctor and they're basically right. However, while waiting for a life-saving operation that will also change how you look and feel about yourself, it doesn’t seem that way. It’s hard to make a decision. And you don’t want to upset those who went to so much trouble to advise you. I still feel guilty for not choosing the surgeon recommended by two family  members!  Also, whenever something, however tiny, doesn’t go according to plan, niggling doubts about your choice of surgeon are quick to appear. Best to ignore them for peace of mind’s sake, and it’s too late anyway; the lump has been lumpected. And in my case, relumpected.

The results determining the next stage are due any day. Another lumpectomy, a full mastectomy, radiation or chemotherapy - anything goes. Family and friends are jumpy, eager for answers. But as we move through the various stages of discussion, diagnosis, decision and eventually treatment after treatment, we ladies who lumpect have learnt to wait (almost) patiently with 'step by step' as our daily mantra.  


Thursday, September 8, 2011

Five Things I Want You To Know About Your Father

The Friday Club Parenting Carnival is back at Notes from Home. This week's theme is: Five things I want you to know about your father. An interesting enough theme for most people (read the other entries here). For us it has a different context. I don't know DD's father personally, he was/is an anonymous donor. Nevertheless, here are five things I want DD to know about her father:

1. Your father and I have never met. I don't know his name and he doesn't know my name or your name. Probably he doesn't even know that you were born. What he does know is that once he gave a very special gift - he gave some of his seed to the hospital to help someone have a baby.

2. The hospital gave him some money for giving his seed but he didn't have to do it. There are plenty of other ways to make money. This was a very generous and selfless thing that your father did, and I thank him for it everyday.

3. Your father is Jewish and Israeli of North African/Middle Eastern descent. I chose that your father should be Sephardi because I am Ashkenazi (of European descent) and I wanted a mix of genes. Children of mixed genes are often very beautiful, as you are, and strong and healthy. I also have olive skin and I wanted you to have more chance of looking like me. And, darker skin is much easier to care for, especially if we are living in Israel.

4. Your father has a profession and I'll tell you what it is. His profession required him to study for a degree and also to have good English. So he is educated and employed, as I am. I hope you will inherit his study and work ethic with encouragement, support and example from me.

5. After more than a year of trying to become pregnant, and nothing was happening, the doctor suggested I stop using your father's seed and try another donor. But I chose not to. I had become very fond of your father. He was family already. We had started this journey together and, eventually, I got you. So you see it was absolutely the right choice to stick with him.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Expat Wish Lists

This week's X-pat Blog Hop from Tales from Windmill Fields came with very specific instructions. Two lists:
A. What they don't have in this country that I wish they did, and
B. What they do have that I wish they didn't.

1. Proper department stores like John Lewis. The sort of place I enter in London and whisper under my breath, 'everything please.' Of course I can hardly afford to buy anything, but I love walking around, looking, and dreaming...

2. Hard cheeses that don't require taking out an extra mortgage. I once bought a small brick of real cheddar from a local deli. The sort of quantity that would cost about 3.50 in the UK (less in a supermarket with special offers). I paid my 60 shekels without thinking and then almost had a fit on the way home when I realised that I'd handed over more than 10 pounds! All the cheese here is expensive and the sort we call 'yellow cheese' that you slice into a sandwich or grill, is actually semi-hard - like a soft gouda. And even that costs more than 2 shekels a slice (about 35p) in the cheapest packets!

Impressive Eucalyptus
3. The English countryside. Remember learning about Mediterranean scrub in geography lessons? Well a whole country of Med scrub has it's charms with dusky olive trees on the rocky mountains, but it's just not green enough. And even though we have impressively tall Eucalyptus trees (imported from Australia in the 1900s to drain the swamps), I miss the giant oak trees, weeping willows, and cedars of Lebanon (ironically). The sort of trees that Jane Austen might have sat under (although probably not in Harrow) and Robin Hood could have hidden in (ditto about Harrow). Obvioulsy olive trees have their own romance and Jesus himself, Kings David and Solomon, and even the Queen of Sheba probably did sit under some of the olive trees in my neighbourhood. But we each have our own sense of romance...

4. Four distinct seasons. I miss the Autumn and Spring which last for about two weeks each here. Winter in Jerusalem is harsh, not because it's so cold outside, but the houses are not built to withstand the cold and are freezing inside. Also they are not set up for rain and there's not enough drainage. We need rain and we love it, especailly after a relentlessly hot and dry Summer, but it's hard to get around when the roads turn into rivers.

1. The Hebrew language. I can speak it, though not particularly well, and this limits my life. I certainly cannot blog in it. All the promotions and freebies that my British blogger friends enjoy are not applicable to a resident blogging in a foreign language. And my local readership is limited to people who are comfortable reading in English. In 1990 English almost became the third official language in Israel. All phone options offered Hebrew, Arabic, or English, and English media was becoming more popular. Then the iron curtain was drawn and over a million Russians arrived. Now the third option is Russian and the media money goes to maintain whole TV channels in Russian.

2. Hostile neighbours. In many ways Israel is an island. I've heard that Lebanon and Northern Syria are greener but they are not places we can visit. Actually I would prefer to be able to jump on a train and go to Europe. And other disadvantages and dangers....

3. Bad press. I felt this especially when I was seen by an Arab doctor in an Israeli hospital and sharing a hospital room with an Arab lady in the next bed (we looked out for each other). Meanwhile I was reading about Israeli Apartheid in the foreign papers.

4. Lack of consumer choice. Even Trinny and Susannah when they came, said that Israeli women are not bad dressers but there is hardly anything to buy. Truthfully, there is loads to buy but very little choice. That's the difference between a population of 7 million and one of 90 million. Also with other goods, you buy what there is. Added to this, everything is twice as expensive.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

FaceBook Death And Resurection

Last Thursday afternoon I tried to open my facebook account only to find a notice saying that it had been discontinued. They had reason to believe I was using a fake name. Duh. If I wanted to hide behind a fake name I wouldn't choose to call myself Midlife Singlemum and  publish my real name right next to it. When I joined FB in January there was no rule, written or implied, that one could not use a pen name. In my case I was using my blog name, openly, in order to publicise the blog. There was a link to click on in order to appeal, which I duly did and explained all the above in the window provided. I received the following reply:

The Facebook Team has received your inquiry.
In an effort to maintain a culture of authenticity on the site, Facebook requires users to provide their real first and last names. Impersonating anyone or anything is prohibited, and fake accounts are a violation of our Statement of Rights and Responsibilities.
Our systems indicated that your account may not be authentic based on a variety of factors.
Please note that the only way we will be able to verify ownership of this account is if you attached a scanned image or digital picture of your government-issued ID (e.g., driver’s license, passport, etc.). This identification must meet all of the following requirements:
- Must be government-issued (e.g. passport, driver's license)
- Must be in color
- Must clearly show your full name, date of birth, and photo
If you did not upload the requested image, please respond to this email with the proper file. If possible, please save this file in JPEG image format. In addition, please black out any personal information that is not needed to verify your identity (e.g., social security number). Rest assured that we will permanently delete your ID from our servers once we have used it to verify the authenticity of your account.
Also note that writing in and submitting your ID multiple times will not result in a faster response. We reply to each request on a first-come, first-served basis.
If you have already uploaded a picture of your government-issued ID, we apologize for any inconvenience you may experience in waiting to have your identity confirmed. We will get back to you as soon as we’ve processed your request.
In the meantime, we encourage you to review our Statement of Rights and Responsibilities for more information:
Thanks for your patience,
The Facebook Team

I absolutely was not going to launch my ID information or passport details into cyberspace (although I'm sure they are there already in some form) so I sent the following reply:

My account has my real name on my profile information, next to the blog name I was using. Can't I simply erase the blog name, if it is no longer allowed, and use my real name that already appears? Or I would prefer to open a new account under my real name rather than upload my ID card, etc...
I look forward to your answer,
Rachel Selby

Here is FB's answer to that suggestion:

Hi Midlife,
It is a violation of Facebook’s Statement of Rights and Responsibilities to maintain multiple accounts on the site. We will not be able to reactivate this account for any reason. This decision is final and cannot be appealed.
Thank you for your understanding,
User Operations

I must admit that at this point I didn't have any understanding so, after opening a new account in my real name, I sent the following missive. (Notice how, to show my anger, I omitted to say 'Hi.'):

I have now opened a new account using my real name. NB: I HAVE NEVER EVER HAD MORE THAN ONE ACCOUNT OPERATING - EVER. My new account is and will be exactly the same as my old account with all the same friends, information, etc... It would have been polite to have given  me the option of changing the name that is no longer allowed (especially as it was allowed before you changed the rules) and saving me the bother of re-entering everything. Accusing me of something dodgy and underhand when I was merely using my blog name, was insulting.
Rachel Selby

Meanwhile I got on with the task of re-friending all my friends and picking up some more along the way. Many friends were quick to 'friend' Rachel Selby, whereas they had ignored Midlife, or worse, reported her as spam. Truth be told. it was quite refreshing to start over. There are a few public figures who I haven't had the cheek to request that they be my friend again. And, I've forgotten the surname of the lovely Flora from South Wales so I can't find her (if anyone knows Flora from South Wales... Ta). Then today Tal got back to me:

Hi Rachel,
I'm so sorry for the inconvenience. If you need temporary access to this account, please let me know.
User Operations

Too little, too late. But I'd moved on and I did appreciate that finally a human being had exercised some common sense and shown some initiative. So I replied:

Dear Tal,
You have restored my faith in global online giants, thank you. It turns out that Rachel Selby has more friends than Midlife Singlemum so I am happy to continue with the new account.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Who's The Brave One?

This post was originally written as a guest post for Nicki Cawood at Curly & Candid back in July. As I am madly preparing lessons for a new job that starts on Sunday, this is a good time to post it on my own blog. Enjoy.

By far the most often heard comment about my decision to have a baby on my own has been, "you're very brave." From the time I started showing right up until today, with an almost three year old daughter, I have heard this comment time and time again: You're very brave.

During my pregnancies (there were three) I had no idea what it meant. With the hindsight of being a mother I understand it a bit more. However, being brave is the opposite of what I was. Bravery to me is facing old age without ever having been a mummy. Bravery is giving up on the love of your own baby and child. Not having the chance to bring up a child and help her (or him) to reach her best potential. Not to pass on all the things you have learned in life. Not to be part of the club that is motherhood.

A little background about me: I was the kid who always wanted to hold and play with the babies. I was the girl who was babysitting at the age of 12. As a teenager I was a leader in the local youth club and later ran it. I taught in Sunday school, I spent my gap year working in a children's house on a kibbutz and I became a primary school teacher myself. I was the single friend that married friends with children could feel comfortable asking to stay for the weekend and even, one time, if I would go on holiday with them. It was inconceivable (pardon the pun) that I would not have children of my own one day.
I was ready to have a baby at the age of 12. Obviously I wasn't mature enough or in any position to do so, but in my head my biggest ambition in life was to be a mummy. Whilst some of my friends wanted to be doctors, lawyers, or teachers, I honestly set my sights on being an executive wife, making dinner parties, and bringing up a large family. Man makes plans and God laughs – no kidding.
So there I was in my 40s and still no baby. How did this happen? I was extremely social as a young adult but somehow I never found Mr Right. I always said I would go ahead and have a baby on my own if I got to 38 and was still without a partner. But at 38 I was living in a rented apartment and I felt my life was too insecure to bring a baby into it. When I was 39 my parents (and the bank) helped me buy an apartment.
I now had a home but I was also dating someone. I hoped that we would simply get married and fit in a couple of kids before I was too old – not necessarily in that order and I did try a number of times to let nature take its course. (Btw, I blame the gossip magazines for featuring celebrities with their babies born at 40+ or even 45+ and failing to mention the intervention that was almost certainly required. They give older women a false sense of their fertility at an age when it is really very difficult to conceive.) Sadly the relationship didn't last.
Happily, my friend N, had twins with the help of IVF. All my hesitations flew out the window and I knew that it was now or never. Luckily for me and every Israeli woman who doesn't conceive naturally, Israel recognizes that many women need help in having children.  And I don't use the word 'need' lightly. Some women choose not to. Others never make a conscious decision but find different ways to make their lives full. However, many childless women carry a sadness with them all their lives. In Israel the Health Funds cover most of the cost of IVF for women up to the age of 45, and up to two children. There are no psychological tests or investigations. You can be married, single, with or without a partner.
I was determined to be a mother. Every disappointment along the way (and there were many) was a frustrating delay, but just that: a delay. I went from accepting the notion of donor sperm with IUI, to drug induced ovum stimulation, to IVF. There are many ways of upping the ante when you are definitely going to be a mother, from donor gametes all the way through to adoption. I think I would have gone the whole way had it been necessary.
I have single friends who started fertility treatment and it sadly didn't work. Others gave up after a couple of tries. Women just a few years older than me were not aware of the opportunity and it was not as widely accepted as it is now. I have friends who have thought about it and decided that single motherhood is not for them. So who is the brave one? Not me – I'm the lucky one.