Monthly Archives: March 2013

Whirlwind trip preparations to US

At about 2am Sunday morning, we got a call from the US that our oldest daughter had been taken to the emergency room on Shabbos by ambulance.  At 7:30 Sunday morning, we got a call from the hospital that I needed to come to be with her as soon as possible (with Yirmiyahu, of course).

I hardly had time to wrap my head around that before I was dressing Yirmiyahu, ds3 and ds5 and heading out to the office of the Ministry of the Interior to get a passport for Yirmiyahu.  I was feeling a lot of pressure because I already had a pretty full morning scheduled – two ENT appointments for ds3 and ds5 and then an appointment with dd16’s school advisor, to discuss possible Israeli seminary options for her.  So when I walked out of the house needing to get to the bus, travel to the main shopping center, take passport photos, get a passport – all within an hour in order to be on time for my appointments with the ENT, I was working hard to not get uptight.

I hardly had to wait to get the photos done, but by the time we paid less than ten minutes later, the store was full of people waiting.  G0d was smoothing out the timing for us!  Then I went to the Ministry of the Interior; I had been there just a few days before and got the same clerk, who smiled in recognition when he saw me and immediately agreed to process the passport on the spot for us when I told him the situation.  I walked out of the office with the passport in hand within thirty five minutes of walking in and got to my appointment just five minutes late – this particular specialist very recently moved her office to the same building as the Ministry of the Interior.  Sometimes you don’t have to work hard to see miracles in your day to day life.

After I got back from the appointment with the high school advisor, I got busy on the phone to get in touch with the US embassy to get an emergency appointment for the following morning, then I headed out to take Yirmiyahu to physical therapy.  When I got home, I probably should have immediately started packing and preparing for the trip, gone grocery shopping to stock up or something practical like that.  But knowing I would be away for a couple of weeks, I wanted to spend time with the littles instead, so we went fruit picking at the home of a friend instead.  Not logical but it felt right.

I stayed up until 2 am getting things together, then woke up at 4 am so we could leave on the first bus to Akko, then from there we took the first train to Tel Aviv, then took a taxi to the US embassy.  We were told to get there before they opened and actually made it despite the distance from our home, amazingly enough.  When we left the house, I took a bag for the flight with me, though I didn’t yet have a flight.  (Someone in the US was organizing it for me but wanted to be sure we could get an Israeli passport before she made the ticket and then with the seven hour time difference, it made it trickier.)

We got a three month temporary US passport for Yirmiyahu while we waited.  This was made much easier by the fact I had been in touch with someone at the embassy the day before, who sent an email to the Tel Aviv office to tell them we would be coming and explaining the situation.  (If you’re ever in this situation, do this – they have emergency contact information on the embassy website, and others who came without appointments were told to come back a different day after being sharply spoken to.)  Initially they told me to come back in two weeks, then told me to come back in a few hours, but finally agreed to take care of it while we waited.  We left the embassy and headed across the street to a cafe with wifi, so I could check my emails what was happening with my ticket.

At that point I got a message with basic information (ie times but not airline or flight numbers) for a flight leaving that evening before midnight but further details would have to wait until 9am US time, so the agent could access his system.   That meant waiting until 4 pm Israel time to get information, but I assumed that I would be traveling.  I contacted a friend in Ranaana, who had offered to let me stay there if there was a lot of time between the embassy and my flight, and figured out bus details to get to her.  I got there at 1:30, put Yirmiyahu down for a long nap, ate lunch and got a nap myself – very needed, since I had slept only two hours the night before.

I checked my emails at 4 pm, still no flight details.  At 5, I sent a message that I needed to leave to the airport in less than two hours and needed to know that my flight was confirmed!  She sent me the confirmation info and I was able to print out the flight information, then got busy figuring out what buses and trains I needed to take to be at the airport on time.

It was a very busy day but I got where I needed to be when I needed to be there, and was able to board my flight with baby and passports in hand, something I had been very worried about.  I was very relieved and grateful to be on my way…


Eighteen month aliyah update – recognizing that rebuilding social network takes time

A while ago I was speaking to someone who had moved from the US to Israel, and asked her what she found difficult about the transition.  One of her points was something I had never consciously thought of.  She said that Israelis all have a huge support network that they take for granted because they don’t know what it’s like to live without it.  They don’t know how much help they get from their network, how even the repairman showing up at their home when he says he will is often about connections.

I was thinking about how true this is.  Sometimes you don’t recognize what you have until you don’t have it anymore.  So many times since moving here that I’ve felt so frustrated and powerless to accomplish what I want to accomplish in the time frame that I want to do it in.  I’m used to being a pretty efficient person, knowing how to navigate life, and if I don’t know, I know who to ask who does know.  But all that changed when I moved, and it’s pretty unsettling.

For example, a month ago a friend has a special event that I wanted to give a gift for.  It’s been a month and I haven’t yet sent anything, because I don’t know where to buy greetings cards!  No, this shouldn’t be a big deal but there are lots of little things like this, not having the phone numbers that I need, not knowing who to call, not knowing how to work the system…Often I’ve felt lonely and sometimes I’ve felt downright desperate for someone to please help me!

This difference was really brought home to me when I was speaking with a couple of friends in the US.  Listening to how they are all pulling together and working together to find solutions to a tough situation underscored for me this difference – because this is so different from my reality.  My life here has been about trying to find solutions to everything I need on my own.  I value independence, but I’m forced to be much more independent than is ideal – interdependence is a higher level of functioning than independence – for lack of a network to call on for help.

Is this a depressing realization?  No, not really.  It takes time to build a network and to build personal resources.  I know about a lot more things now than I did when I arrived eighteen months ago, and in a few years I’ll know a lot more people and have a lot more connections! This is just one more example of a challenge to be aware of in advance of making a big move.  I have to remind myself to be patient and value the small steps that eventually lead to having a wider social network.


Intake appointment at Shalva

I first heard about Shalva, a support program in Jerusalem for children with all kinds of delays and disabilities, in the early days of Yirmiyahu’s life.  However, I was quite busy with all that I had going on and it wasn’t until he was six months old that my headspace cleared out enough to consider taking him there for therapies on a regular basis.

When I called to set up the intake appointment, we were given a date almost two months later, which was yesterday.  Part of what I wanted to determine was if it was even feasible for me to get there by the 9:30 am program starting time; the earliest bus leaving Karmiel headed for Jerusalem is 6 am and since it usually takes three hours to get to Jerusalem and then I need a connecting bus to the Har Nof neighborhood, I didn’t know if this was possible.  I’m happy to say that it only took me 3 hours and forty minutes to get there and I wasn’t rushing, so I’m reassured on this front.  It’s definitely a long day of traveling, but it will be worth it for Yirmiyahu to get support from providers with a lot of experience with babies with T21.  And it will be very nice for me to have a chance to speak to other parents of infants with T21, something I haven’t been able to do in person until yesterday (though I was just there for the intake and my time with other parents was limited, that was really, really nice for me).

The facility is really wonderful; the immediate feeling is warm and relaxing.  The staff are all very welcoming.  It was nice being in an environment that was so American; the staff members I met were mostly Americans but everyone who works there speaks English (and Hebrew, obviously).  (Just being in Jerusalem is really different since you hear so much English everywhere you go; no one thinks about it or notices it, but here in Karmiel it’s uncommon!)

A three member team did an assessment of Yirmiyahu and were extremely positive about him. I don’t have anyone to compare him to, and it’s interesting for me to hear feedback from those who work with children with T21.  Their responses were similar to those I got at his evaluation at the Feuerstein Institute – it’s unusual to see a baby with T21 like him.  Specifically they said his muscle tone is excellent, he has a sparkle in his eyes that they said they usually don’t see at this age, he is very active and communicative, and of course he’s exceedingly cute. :)

This makes me wonder a lot.  But I’m going to post separately about my thoughts on this rather than get off topic here.

After Pesach he’ll be able to begin at Shalva; they’re very full now so he will probably only be able to go once every other week rather than weekly to their ‘Me and my Mommy’ program.  When he’s there, he’ll be able to receive physical, occupational and speech therapy, and maybe also hydrotherapy though it seems this is available only to babies who attend weekly.  I asked when a slot opens up weekly for Yirmiyahu to receive it; hydrotherapy looks so fun!  They were concerned that it wouldn’t be realistic for me to come weekly because of the distance; I didn’t ask if anyone else comes from so far but from the reaction of all the staff and parents who heard where we were coming from, I assume it’s very unusual.  I don’t have anything comparable locally so the choice is for him not to get anything more than what he’s currently getting, which isn’t okay with me.

I’m not looking forward to the traveling, but I am looking forward to Yirmiyahu getting more help in such a warm and supportive environment!