Lights in the Distance

Observations and musings regarding new mommyhood and life in general.

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Babies and Zionism...

Well, here I am, less than two weeks away from my due date, which I suppose means that I can give birth anytime between now and four weeks from now. Lots of things swirling around my head these days as I try to take care of all the errands that need to be done before heading to the hospital and doing my best to meet the office work deadlines before the big biological deadline hits. Given that none of the deadlines are written in stone (which is more likely to happen at the designated time - a software release or a birth due date? Frankly, I'm at a loss for an answer...), I'm sure you can imagine how focused I am on global current events these days. So, to those of you who were hoping to read another scintillating entry about my take on what's happening in our little neighborhood of the Middle East, I hope that you won't be too disappointed. I may touch on the situation at some point, depending on what direction my wandering mind takes as I'm writing, but it would be irresponsible of me to make promises that I may not be able to keep today.

As you all know by now, I was born in the US. My husband was born in Iran and came to Israel at the age of three. The Shah was still many years away from being overthrown, and Iran and Israel were on pretty good terms. As opposed to a number of his cousins who had to flee Iran by escaping through the mountains and other secret, dangerous routes, my husband and his immediate family were not only able to fly here on a direct flight from Tehran with all of their belongings (even bringing a television, before there were any television stations here), but several years later, his mother even flew back to Iran on another direct flight with my youngest brother-in-law for a visit. So, while my husband is essentially very Israeli, it also means that our child will be a first-generation sabra, which tickles the Zionist in me to no end.

When we first began the baby journey, I had lovely Zionist ideas about giving birth at one of the Hadassah Hospitals in Jerusalem, as their histories are so interwined with the founding of the State of Israel. It seemed fitting to me that the first Israeli-born child of two immigrants from very different cultures be brought into the world in a hospital founded by an organization committed to serving Israel.

Well, to make a long story short, life has a way of kicking you in the ass, and the dream didn't work out. Fast-forward to today, and the current plan of action is to give birth at the hospital located ten minutes from our home - nowhere near Jerusalem. While the main focus, of course, is to bring home a healthy child with all parts intact, when I'm wearing my Zionist hat, I think about the hospital itself, located relatively close to a big chunk of the Israeli Arab population, in a town with a diverse mix of veteran Israelis and immigrants. The hospital is a microcosm of Israeli society, and a successful experiment in cooperation. Despite the problems outside the walls, it gives me hope (and a bit of a thrill) to see the way that personal biases and national identities are put aside for the greater good of healing and saving lives. In some small way, I feel that I am doing my part for coexistence by exposing my soon-to-be-born child to such a positive environment at the very earliest stages of his life, in the hope that perhaps something, somehow will rub off on him straight away. Silly, I know, but idealism does that to a person. I'm sure that every new parent ponders these outside influences, wondering what they have to do to lay the groundwork for the values that they wish to instill, while at the same time realizing that in the end, they have very little control over the outcome and can only trust in their own instincts and hope for the best.

They say that babies can become familiar with different voices and sounds while still inside the womb, and that they will show a degree of recognition when hearing these sounds once they are born. I'm going on the assumption that there's at least some truth to this concept, and have been acting accordingly. With any luck, our little one should enter the world with extensive musical knowledge, with an ability to identify most of the greatest hits from the 1940s through the '80s, with particular emphasis on the Israeli hits of the '70s, the classic one-hit wonders of the '80s and the Grateful Dead - one of Mommy's favorites when she just needs to chill.
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