12 steps to guarantee a traumatic first birth (or what not do next time)

1. Choose an all-natural route such as Genesis Clinic which does not offer epidurals (they are available, but they are not offered primarily due to the birth route the clinic supports) because you are terrified of episiotimies and doctors and the smell of a hospital room makes you tremor.

2. Decide not to do ante-natal classes because everything you have heard about them is not useful and you have no time anyways so undergo no mental preparation for your birth or coping skills for a natural birth

3. Instead, read everything you can and think you know what labour is about

4. Find three different doulas, but remain so indecisive that you finally choose your doula when you are 40 weeks and due to give birth any second

5. Meet your doula properly for the first time at 1am when she meets at the clinic when you are in labour and ensure you have created no relationship with her and she knows nothing of your wishes or background.

6. Go into a natural labour with no epidural planned completely psychologically unprepared with no pain coping tools or no knowledge

7. Make sure the midwife breaks your waters (or even worse induces you) because labour is not progressing.

8. Be ignorant despite all the reading that any unnatural intervention (even breaking your waters) causes labour to progress almost immediately to an intensity of pain levels and closeness of contractions you very likely cannot deal with.

9. When you are 7cm dilated and want to faint from pain, ask for an epidural. Of course you are about 4 hours too late

10. Believe someone will find you lying dead on the floor because you will die from pain and then push a 3.3kg baby girl out of your body.

11. Be assured of how bad it was when your family comes to visit in the hospital and tells you you like you have been a fight (the swollen lip might have been their clue)

12. Vow to warn any female of child-bearing age that natural birth is the most horrendous and torturous thing you can ever do and you should never entertain the thought of not having an epidural at the first hint of labour

IMG_0551IMG_0549 POSTSCRIPT: Any sane person with BABY NUMBER 2 would never go back to Genesis again, would schedule a cesarean-section or at the very least. demand an epidural at the first sign of labour. Apart from not being sane, I also realized that I needed to heal from my first birth  experience. With divine grace, I found the most incredible birthing class and doula. Luckily I did learn something… my second birth was one of the most incredible experiences of my life, and I want to have another baby again just to be in that moment (and I am not the Ina-May-natural-birth-I-love-pain type. I am the give-my-myprodol-the-second-after-birth-just-because-I-can type). Birth DOES NOT HAVE TO BE traumatic. It is the hardest thing you will ever do, but there are lots of things you CAN do to make sure you are supported and held every step of the way. I am now a rather loud spokesman for helping people who had bad births to find ways to do it differently. Here’s more about I did it all again at Genesis, and how it was not traumatic at all Birth Story Part 1 Birth Story Part 2

Watch this space coming up: Everything you wanted to know about giving birth at Genesis Clinic – nothing but the truth

Why our children are our enemies and other options

“I want new silver ballet shoes (she already has more shoes than I have). I want a new blue bike with a trailer. I want to watch Fireman Sam on You tube. I want a new school bag with wheels I can pull like Esti. I want to go to Genesis park after school.

Enough, I want to scream. Enough. You can’t have everything. Always wanting, needing, demanding. When will it end. I have to put a stop to it. She’s becoming a brat. Spoiled. How can I say no. Should I say no.

Until I went to a parenting workshop with my daughter’s principal/teacher which offered a different possibility. Here’s my summary:

There are two ways of looking at our kids:

1. They are obstacles/ enemies/ things to be managed, controlled and tamed. We are scared of them. It’s us against them. Trying to get them to bath without a tantrum to eat their vegetables to brush their teeth more than once a month to not physically harm their siblings to speak with respect to do their homework. The list is endless.

2.  They are little human beings with a soul. Each has their own unique personality and depth and are just waiting to be connected to and explored and known.

Option 1 results in how I feel a lot of the time. Yet with option 2, each encounter is not a mini-battle. It’s an opportunity to engage connect and get to know these precious little beings G-d has entrusted us to raise. Enter their world. See it as a moment of potential connection. Not a war.

Sounds nice? Idealistic? Unattainable? Give me a break I thought – this can never work. Until a a few days later, an image came to my head, and I got a glimmer of what she was talking about.

Imagine. You are walking with your husband/mother/sister in the shopping center. A sign for a 5 star cruise to South America is advertised. You are overworked and busy and been so stressed.

“Oh honey, look at that – let’s book for that, I have always wanted to go there”, you say whimsically. “Don’t be ridiculous, you know we cant afford it. School fees have just been increased by 30% and I just had to replace your car”, your husband grunts.

At best, the conversation ends. At worst, you feel unseen unheard and un-validated. The truth is you didn’t really plan on booking the cruise.. You were expressing a wish. A desire. A fantasy for a fancy holiday and white beaches. Nothing more.

Imagine. Imagine if your husband didn’t feel threatened/ inadequate/ pressured from your request. Imagine if he simply turned to you and said, “Oh , how awesome that would be. What do you want to do on the cruise? ” And the conversation goes on like that. You return to reality and no cruise is booked. But as John Gottman says, you have turned towards each other.

Deposit in Emotional Bank Account. Check.

This makes sense. As adults we get this. We don’t always do it, but we get it. Yet with our kids I had no clue that it could be the same. Until I witnessed a true life example of what was possible.


The Scene: Josh is sitting on the floor after supper. He find a toy cataloge of every single Bob the Builder lego set available. His eyes go big and wide. Mom, I wish we could have all of these, he says.

Reaction 1 – Our kids, the enemies

Moms feel: Irritated, annoyed, guilty, pressured, tense

Mom thinks: Oh, he’s so spoiled. Look how many toys he already has. Nothing he has is good enough for him.

OR I am such a bad mother, I can’t afford to get him everything he wants. If he has a tantrum it will be my fault. I have to just make a plan to get him all of them.

OR Will it never end. wanting, wanting, wanting. All these children just want and want. They are always asking things of me. When will I get a break.

Mom responds with subtle (or not-so-subtle) annoyance or tension: That’s a nice idea, but you already have so many toys and you don’t need anymore. Maybe some other time.

Encounter ends. Connection with your child: None/ Negative

Reaction 2 – Opportunity for connection with precious being

Mom sits down with little Josh and looks at this catalog with the most wonderful selection of toys: Sweetie, she said with genuine excitement, wouldn’t it be just amazing if we could have each of these in our home? Imagine what fun we could have and how many things we could build.

Josh: His eyes twinkle and he nods enthusiastically. Yes we could build the bridge and then we could play the game when the builder fixes the pipes. He talks away sharing all his plans for what he fantasises about.

Mom feels connected, calm and present. No internal stuff clouding her. She just accepts his fantasy, and enters into it with him. A moment of real connection with her son. She enters his world and connects with him there. He felt heard and validated.

Connection Score: High. Feel good factor – High. Increase relationship – check.

Here’s Leah’s formula for no-battle parenting for connection:

1. Hear the request

2. Notice your own resistance and put it aside (eg guilt, irritation, tension)

3. See it as a moment of possible connection

4. Enter into your child’s world. “Oh wow, you wish you could go to the park. What is your best game at the park.” Or “Wouldn’t it be fun if we could eat all the chocolate for breakfast lunch and supper”. Or my own personal challenge with a daughter who has a shoe obsession. “That would be so nice to have silver shiny ballet shoes. They are so pretty. You would feel so fancy and look like your friend Avigail”.

5. Set boundaries if appropriate. “It’s supper and bath time, so we will go the park tomorrow”.

Behind the Scenes – Diary of a TS Wannabe

(Background: I am very involved in the More to Life program, which teaches transformational personal growth and evolution towards each of our best selves. It has been an invaluable part of my journey to who I am today, and was one of the greatest blessings I ever received. This coming training weekend I have volunteered to lead the the volunteer team in making it happen… a gigantic step into the unknown. I am sharing how I arrived at this point, and my invitation to every and any More to Lifer to join our team. And if you are interested in doing the weekend, I would be very happy to share more information about it – this is the only one this year not over shabbat)

I always wondered, how do you become TS (Training Supervisor) of a More to Life weekend. So, before I invite you to join our team, I want to share with you what went on for me behind the scenes…….

Wednesday afternoon 3.07pm.


Amichai:  “Eliana………..!!” (Amichai’s exuberance booms through my phone and the cacophony of my toddler’s tantrum)


Me: “Um hi, Ami….what’s up?”


Amichai: “I hear you are TS for April!”


Me: “I am?” (Nervous chuckle, stomach drops…)


Amichai: “Yes! Come on why not…?’


Me: “I never said anything about being TS…we’ll see… I have commitments; my life is so busy at the moment”



But the seed was planted.


My mindtalk (one’s inner script, often unchecked and untrue) goes wild, shooting objections at the speed of light.

You are too young (I am almost 30)

You are too busy (I work and have 2 small delightful and demanding children)

TS is for real More to Life people

TS is for the big league


But I can’t say no yet.


A few days later, bumping into a friend from More to Life:

Friend: “So, I hear you are TS, Ami told me”

Me: “No, I havent agreed”.. Nervous laughter & confusion…(Mindtalk; I am going to kill Amichai)


Later that same day, Whatsapp conversation between me and Amichai.


Eliana: Ami, I havent agreed to be TS, you know

Amichai: What’s going on?

Eliana: I need to figure my intention

Amichai: No need, just breathe and go where your full breath takes you


I listen to his advice. I breathe and breathe some more. And with each breath I sink deeper into fear and excitement and fear and unknown and anticipation. But mostly I breathe into a YES I WANT THIS FOR MYSELF.


Phone call with Franki:

“I am up for TS…” (I feel nauseous at the sound of my words. Is this possible? Can I really do it? Can I make it work? It’s such a big commitment. Yet deeper than the mind’s nattering is a primal YES pulsating through my veins. YES. YES. YES. I can. I will)




And this is how I found myself writing an invitation to being on team as TS. I did the More to Life weekend 5 years ago. And slowly it changed me, and still changes the paradigm I see life through. As I step forward, I am terrified, beyond excited and wildly curious as to what is possible. And to make anything possible, we need a team of dreamers and doers and thinkers and planners and talkers and writers and organizers and walkers and runners and carriers.


So I personally ask you to hear this invitation. Hear the no’s. But let the YES talk louder. Say yes, even if there’s every reason to say NO. Say YES because we need you. We need your unique light, your passion & your energy.


Whether this is the first time or your twenty-first team,I will bet that there’s a little person in you saying “Pick me, pick me”. The weekend is a space to see and be seen. To grow and watch growth. To see the beauty of the human spirit in its rawest form. It’s a chance to come back to yourself.


So take a moment and ask yourself honestly, “Do I want to be on team, do I want to give of my best, to find out who is the best version me, and be part of transforming our universe?” And if your breath screams YES, it would be our honour to have you as a fellow passenger on this journey.

Why I am that freak and it’s okay

I was a freak. And I knew it. Throughout primary school, I was the odd-one out. All my friends would un-wrap their fluffy sandwiches on white fluffy bread. And I would un-wrap my whole-wheat sandwiches. Brown, grainy  and even with SEEDS.

It was before the days when organic and stone-ground and gluten-free was in vogue. But my parents tried their best to not give us obvious poison. Cereals were the plain kind. Rice crispies and bran flakes and *gasp* oats. Coco-pops were for Shabbas. Snacks were granola bars (which incidentally are sugar laden). Left over challa was toasted as a delicacy on Sunday morning. White toast slathered in butter equalled my idea of heaven.

Never mind the fact that brown-bakery bread is just as full of chemicals and preservatives and white bread. And Rice Crispies has almost the same amount of sugar as Bran-flakes. And that I subsisted for years on macaroni cheese for supper.

But still, I felt like a freak. In a weird way I was proud that my parents cared enough to try to give us healthier food, but I longed for a cupboard full of frosties and toasted cheese on flufy nutrition-less white bread.

And then in university I spent a year on a raw-food diet. It was awesome, unsustainable and I learned things I could never erase about nutrition. I married and I became less of a health freak but still health conscious. I never, ever deep fry, there’s no yellow cheese in my house and we eat a lot of fresh produce. Chocolate is its own very important food group.

And then my Ella was born. For the first year of her life I was convinced she had a growth problem and it was sole prerogative to stuff pretty much anything I could into her mouth. I would pour cream into her bottles and let her eat as many sugary-yogurts as she wanted.

Then I let go a little and she began eating a lot. It’s a story in itself, but now she is pretty good eater. She loves tomatoes and chicken and eggs and peaches and chocolate. I rarely buy junk food, besides for marie biscuits. And it worked. She was too young to know the difference. She ate what I gave her, and if I said no to something she was indifferent.

And then she got an opinion. She developed an addiction to carrot kugel. She would cram it down her throat as fast as humanly possible. So I made her carrot kugel with whole-wheat stone ground-flour.

When she started school, I sent her with the most gorgeous snacks. Fruit salad and cut up vegetables and boiled eggs and raisins. And I would see her begging the other kids for their chips or biscuits. So I bought chips, but only plain salted crisps with no MSG.

The only cereal I could locate with less sugar was wheat-bi so that is breakfast. Yogurt was double-cream Woolworths Bulgarian with fruit and honey.

And then I went to friend. Ella sat for ½ an hour and painstakingly devoured every milli-drop of two winnie-the-poo yogurts. The ones I always look at and think should I buy? After all, everyone gives their kids them. Wise, loving, conscious and committed moms I know give them to their kids. And oatees. She adores them and eats buckets at my mom’s house. How bad can it be? But I can’t do it. I read the yogurt label and see that every yogurt has two teaspoons o sugar in it. I imagine pouring two teaspoons of sugar into her bowl. I would never do it. I think I know too much. I know how sugar causes irritability and ADD and all sorts of things. And how awful I feel when I eat sugar. How the liver views it as a poison and cant digest it at all.

And then a friend who is a baker tells me about the bread. Even the whole-wheat health loaves which are saturated preservatives and margarine and sugar. So I baked my own bread with stone-ground unbleached flour. And I think, am I being ridiculous and weird. So many kids are just fine eating oatees and bakery bread and winne-the-poo yogurts.

And summer comes. Ice-lollies are great, but I can’t bring myself to buy the ones which are like eating pure sugar disguised in a colour. So I make my own. With juice and yogurt and fruit. And I think, am I making her into a freak. I don’t know. I don’t know if it will last. I buy chocolate for shabbas and when we are out she can eat whatever she wants

I realise that it’s my own fear of being a freak. She may or may not feel like “that child”. The one with home-made ice-lollies. I have no idea what she will remember or feel. But what I am sure is that I will not let my own childhood misnomers sway me from giving my daughter the best I can.

(I recently read the book “Inuitive Eating” – there is a life changing chapter at the end “How to raise intuitive eaters” which changed my entire outlook on feeding kidsa)