Labor and Delivery / by Susie Lubell

Playgound

Flying to Israel is a lot like birthing a baby. It's 24 hours of emotional and physical pain. Moments of intense stress. Moments of complete exhaustion. Moments of terror. And at some point you just surrender to the absolute hell of your predicament, the one you chose for yourself. You want to put gum in your sister's hair while sitting under the seats during landing? Go for it. And then you land and you think it's all over and you're overjoyed and empowered by how you handled the whole ordeal (without the help of an epidural), except now you have to go through passport control and customs and the hour car ride to your in-laws. But you're generally happy because you love this place and these people. But then the jetlag kicks in and the real terror and exhaustion and pain begins.

And then two years later you forget how bad it all was and you sign up for more. We're on our fourth trip to Israel with kids and thankfully, like with childbirth, it gets easier each time. This trip was manageable. We flew from San Francisco to London and the kids slept a good six hours of the ten. And the rest of time they watched their videos, did their coloring books, pretended to call their preschool teachers on the hand-held phone/remote control devices at each chair. They even ate the plane food, though we had enough of our own food to feed everyone in the event of a water landing in the Atlantic. We had a three hour layover in London which, believe it or not, was just enough time to get to our departing gate. And then another five hours to Israel, the first three of which our daughter slept, the next two our son slept. It was very considerate of them to split it up like that. And then we arrived. Easy.

And here we are, day two (three? it's hard to know what day it is), happy to be back in a place that still feels like home - a big working class city in the south, covered in a layer of dust and rust but beautiful in a gritty, sun scorched kind of way - having survived labor and delivery. And, just like newly minted parents, we are a little disoriented, a little overwhelmed, a little tired but bursting with love.