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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

When to Call the Mohel

When is the best time to call a mohel to book his services?
[Calling to interview or to inquire about techniques, in other words, to do your research before your baby is born is a different story. That is called being smart.]

Simply put - call to book the mohel as soon as possible after the baby is born. If you have parents, call them first to tell them about their new grandson. Then call the mohel.

There is one father for whom I have done brisses on two of his sons - after his wife gives birth he calls me before he calls his parents. And definitely before he calls his wife's parents. :)

The reason you can call after the baby is born is because we are accustomed to working on a short term basis - that is the nature of this line of work. As one colleague put it, "I never really know more than a week at a time if I will ever work again."

Old Wives Tales

The sonogram put all the old-wives tales of "how to tell what gender the baby is" out of business:

* the way the mother is carrying

* which foot she steps with first

* if she turns to the left

* if she has an aversion to chicken

Here are some links: # One # Two # Three

I need not bore you with more. Google it for yourself.

Mistake #1

One excited father saw me once in the supermarket. Let's say it was November. He said to me, "Rabbi Billet! Be prepared! We may have a bris coming up."

Not knowing until then that his wife was pregnant, I said, "O wow! Great! I hope you have a healthy baby. When is your wife due?"

"Middle of June!"

This is too early.

And they had a girl.

Mistake #2

The phone rings. I pick up. "Hello?"

"Hi Rabbi. This is ____. My wife and I just came back from the sonogram. Yup yup yup! It's a boy!"

"O that's great! The baby is well? All signs are good?"

"Yes," says Dad to Be. "So the baby is expected around four months from now. Will you be around?"

I usually don't know what I'm doing next week, let alone four months from now.

"I really wish you and your wife the best of luck. I think I may be around, but let's try this. When the baby comes, give me a call and I think I'll be able to give you more definite plans."

Still too early.

Mistake #3

"Hi Rabbi. I'm calling because I have a scheduled c-section on ____ 23rd. Are you available a week later."
Hmmmm. That is over a month away.

"Well," I answer, "No one seems to have called me yet for that date, so there is a chance..."

"Pencil it in your calendar, will ya?"

"What if you go into labor before then?" I postulate.

"Then we'll switch it."

Now why didn't I think of that?

"OK. Great! Best of luck with the delivery, c-section, surgery, recovery. I hope your baby is well and healthy. Please call me after the baby is born to remind me!"

Still a little early.

More Like It

"Hi Rabbi! Mazal Tov! It's a boy!"

"Who is this?"

"This is your unmarried sister."

It really is my sister.

"Very funny."

Oy does that girl have a sense of humor.

More to the point

"Hi Rabbi! Mazal Tov! It's a boy!"

"Who is this?"

"This is ____. I got your name from [pick one:] your ad / my brother-in-law / my sister-in-law / my in-laws / my rabbi / my friend / my great aunt and uncle / word on the street / your mohel colleague who is unavailable that day."

"Wonderful. How are you? [Or how is your wife?]"

"We are well. Mother and baby are well. Baby was born at _____ and we're looking to have the bris next week."

Book it.

The One Major Concern and Reason to Avoid Pre-Booking

"Hi Rabbi. My wife just gave birth... She's doing well, but there's a problem with the baby."

or, a few days after the birth,

"Something came up and the baby is in the NICU."

All kinds of things can happen that can cause a bris to be delayed. They are less common than your run of the mill healthy delivery and normal baby, but not so out of sight that everyone is immune. They can happen to anyone and any baby.


As soon as possible after your baby is born is the right time to call.

Sometimes a heads up, particularly if you've interviewed the mohel or have been in contact or have a personal relationship, "We're heading to the hospital / birthing center" is helpful in case there is a drawn out labor.

Babies more often come when they want than when we may want. So - chin up! The bris will be when it will be, and you don't have to worry about making the call until you are done with the difficult part of labor and delivery.

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