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Archive for the ‘Struggling with Infertility’ Category

My dearest child who is yet to be born,

I write this to you, a neshama who has not yet found a home in a Jewish woman’s womb.  It is my heartfelt prayer that you are reserved for me, that somehow Hashem in His compassion set you aside for me,  Rivka Rochel.  I have stood by the sidelines watching everyone else experience the joy of bringing into this world a beautiful neshamale.  I hope to no longer be an outsider. That I too will have my neshamale to welcome into this world.

Waiting for you has been a long and arduous journey for your father and I.  We hold in our hearts an overabundance of love.  You are the pure Jewish soul, we eagerly awaited all these years through a river of tears. We went through all kinds of medical procedures for this miraculous day – your birth.

In this journey, my connection with Hashem has had its ups and downs.  Yet I know Hashem is real and He knows us intimately. You see as undeserving as I am for a miracle, Hashem knew that I am the right mother for you, because you need the love that has been stored in my heart all these years.  A love that He created.  Just as He created you, He created in me this strong yearning for a child.

I want to instill in your heart a strong love for Hashem and a deep connection to Him.  I want you to be the kind of Jew that I am striving to be – a simple, loving, and caring person.  I am very far from that goal, since there is so much I am currently dealing with.  In time I hope to be like refined silver, purified seventy times seven.

I want you to witness the devotion with which I light Shabbos candles.  If you are a girl, I will teach you how to light your own candles at age 3.   It is with joy that I will gaze at your total awe and amazement over the flickering candle lights.  If you are a boy, you will accompany your father to sing Lecha Dodi at age 3.  He will be your example of how to pray with utmost concentration.

There are so many adventures to be had.  Your father will teach you how to ride a bike, and I will teach you how to write a poem.  You will learn how to read a map from your father because I am hopeless when it comes to directions.  I will introduce you to the wonderful world of making challah and a huge floury mess.   We will go hiking.  We will go on car trips.  We will ensure that you get a well rounded Jewish and secular education.  We will teach you your English and Hebrew alphabets.  We will teach you how to do negel vasser, the morning prayers, birchas ha mazon, and a host of brachoth.

Since you are not here yet,  I need to daven more, read tehillim, and internalize being grateful to Hashem for not giving you to me yet.  To everything under the sun there is a time and a season.

Right now you are a dream in my heart.  Soon with Hashem’s help, you will be a reality in my arms.

With love

Ima

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The Matengai of Kuniga Coast in Nishinosima (O...

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Sometimes I feel as if I am standing on the edge of a cliff – the infertility cliff.  There is a huge chasm that separates the other side from where I am on.  The other side of the cliff represents the fertile world that most frum women are fortunate to be in.  I am at a point where I need Hashem’s break through.  You see I do everything I can to not feel so intensely about having a baby.  It is very difficult to do because in the frum world, women between 20 and 50 are immersed in their children.   Even the holidays have a child centric orientation as well – with the exception of Yom Kippur and Tisha B’Av.

To add to my challenge, we belong to a small shul with 20 or less families attending regularly.  The shul is in a house and the kiddush hall is is a small living room.  When there are 40 people, it is like being crammed in like sardines.  Add to that the strollers that stand near the doorway, the little kids running around, and the pregnant women.  To a woman in my situation, it is like adding salt to the wound.  Unfortunately I am the type of person who wears my heart on my sleeve.

Since we moved to our new community a year and a half ago, within the shul there have already been 2 births.  There are currently 2 pregnancies which in the grand scheme of things is not a lot.  Relative to the smallness of the shul it is.  For the most part, I have dealt with it through limiting my shul attendance.

This past week-end at a kollel retreat I had a horrible time.   I went in with a positive attitude.  Candle lighting was difficult especially since mothers were lighting with their children.  I still lit my candles and did a short cut version of my usual davening.  Then  I went to Kabbalos Shabbos.   I noticed that physically I was not feeling well – PMS combined with a nasty headache.  I still davened with kavana, and immersed myself in the cantor’s voice singing to Carlebach melody.  I visualized our prayers ascending the throne of heaven, emanating a sweet fragrance.  Then came the evening experience with tons and tons of kids running around the hotel halls and dining area.  I started to feel drained.

We women understand very well the impact hormones can have on our emotions and mind.  I did not have the energy to be positive.  Plus I was focusing on the pain of what I do not have, coupled with the total absorption of others in their own worlds to even reach out to my husband and I.

Even though engaging in self-pity is not healthy, somethings it is good to just let it all out and move forward.  Our lives is a journey where, like it or not, we have to move forward.  Time marches forward.  We have an opportunity to make a difference to others, and to contribute something phenomenal.   I am working on what that means in my life.

B’ezrat Hashem, our next treatment will be successful.  My prayer for all of us going through this journey is that the pain of infertility  will be over soon.  Hashem will test us in other ways.  I believe this present pain will enable us to deal with the other tests more effectively.

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Mother and child

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There are times I doubt that my dream of raising frum from birth Jewish children will ever become a reality.  Sometimes it is a conscious doubt, and at other times subconscious.  My subconscious doubt  manifests itself when I become deeply depressed due to being around a pregnant Jewish woman,  or women with babies and small children.  I often find myself asking the question does my doubt mean that I lack emunah?

As with any spiritual endeavor, there are successes and there are failures.  Take for example, the spiritual goal of not speaking lashon hara.  You may have days of successfully avoiding the temptation to speak badly about someone.  Then one day a lapse occurs.  A friend did something inadvertently that hurt you, and at the soonest possible moment,  out came a negative statement.  That failure does not nullify your endeavor to be a Jew who refrains from lashon hara.   All it takes is teshuva and a resolution to be cautious about what comes out of your mouth going forward.

I view my momentary doubt in the same light.   Perhaps my doubt led me into depression.  That does not mean the absence of emunah.  Even in that moment of doubt, emunah is still there.  Why?  I got up the following morning and I prayed to Hashem.  By virtue of davening, I  have emunah that G-D exists and He hears my prayers.

Everything is from Hashem, even my strong desire to raise Jewish children.  My present pain is from Hashem, custom-tailored to draw me closer to Him.  He yearns for my prayers yet I hardly offer Hashem my utter devotion.  Still He bestowed on me the gift of emunah.  With that gift, the stinging pain is minimized and I find myself drawing closer and closer to Hashem.  I am completely dependent on Him.  As Rabbi Lazer Brody said in  one of his blogs, “The closer we get to Hashem, the happier we are.  As such emunah is the key to happiness.”

Any momentary doubt is just a temporary phase designed only to strengthen our emunah and trust in Hashem.

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A contemporary mikveh at Temple Beth-El in Bir...

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As we are in the midst of Parshah Toldot, all sorts of thoughts flood through my mind, especially since this Parshah is about my namesake and her fertility struggle.   Toldot means “offsprings” and “generations.”  As the Torah relates, Rivka Imanu was childless for 20 years.   Yitzhak davened to Hashem opposite his wife, and G-D accepted his prayers and Rivka conceived.   Also, her pregnancy was tumultuous since two nations were tussling inside her womb.

I am a day-dreamer.  Often I imagine feeling the sensations of pregnancy, my womb stretching to make room for my babies.  I dream of carrying twins.    I would love to replicate Rivka Imanu’s experience, Im Yirtzeh Hashem,  except for having an Esau and a tumultuous pregnancy.   I just want the simplicity of two very pure and holy neshamoth within my womb, basking in the full knowledge of the Torah.  Ah, the truest form of being a Jewish woman.

My struggle is intense.  As a frum Jewish woman, I feel like I am looking through a glass window at my heart’s desire being manifested in other Jewish women’s lives.   Although I am happy for them, I do not want to be left out.    I find myself asking, ‘What is the purpose of my G-D given life?”  There has to be a very special purpose to my life, given my background.  I was not destined to be born FFB (frum from birth).  I was born in an atheist background, a Jewish neshama that Hashem delivered into this world through two very non-Jewish and judgemental parents.  Growing up I felt I did not belong.  From the time, I could conceptualize my thoughts, I began my very complicated spiritual journey which led to my gerus.  Somewhere along the journey, I gave birth to an intense longing to have children to raise up to lead very Godly lives.  When I had my Orthodox gerus, I thought that Hashem would open up the gates of shamayim and dispense very special Jewish neshamoth to my husband and I.   Yet here I am struggling with this intense pain and dealing with some very unsavory emotions.  Yet all that Hashem does is perfect.

When I look to the Torah which documents the lives of my ancestors, I derive a certain level of comfort.  I am Bas Avraham v’ Sara.  Hashem took Avraham and said ” I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and the sand on the seashore.”  In my mind’s eyes, I can see a celestial tapestry of Avraham Avinu’s descendents, and sewn into this tapestry, my husband’s lineage, a stream of Torah abiding Jews who are my and my husband’s pride and joy.

My day-dreaming ends, and I am faced with my present reality.  Today I did not behave very well emotionally.  I had an outburst that ended up in a chocolate and cheese binge.   I know intellectually that Hashem has given me everything that I need:  my husband, my health, my talents, my intellect, my friends, my home, my Jewish community, etc.  Where I am at today is perfect.  My heart screams, “No!!!!”  Sometimes the pain is so excruciating that it brings up the dregs that clog up my neshama, and I fail to see the beauty of the Jewish neshama that Hashem endowed me with the moment I stepped into the mikveh and took on the yoke of His Torah and mitzvoth.

I have been privileged to use the mikveh for more than just conversion.  When I prepare myself to immerse in the mikveh, I feel so beautiful and so holy.  Prior to entering the state of being pure again,  I hand my robe to the mikveh attendent.  I am conscious of her averting her eyes to protect my modesty.  And as I immerse underwater, my body curled up like a fetus, I am aware that I am experiencing something holy beyond anything that words can express.  As the gates of Shamayim burst open, I whisper my heartfelt prayer to be a partner in Hashem’s creation.  I too want to join the other frum Jewish women as they carry holy neshamoth and give birth to precious Jewish babies.  My heart aches for myself and other Jewish women who experience challenges of bringing the dream of motherhood to reality.

In the meantime, as I await my miracle, I take a step back to assess the purpose of my life.  Hashem has given me so many talents.  I am a writer and I have an artistic flair which I express in photography.  So much is in my heart that I want to put on paper.  I also have the makings of a serial entrepreneur.  So many business ideas twirl in my head.    I want to launch a successful home business, and help others to do the same.  I also want to teach the Jewish people about the struggles that couples go through when they cannot conceive.  Just as painful is the struggle that single Jews older than 30 go through.  I will not rest until we as a community are sensitized to others.  I also want to laugh a lot and bring laughter to others.

May Hashem grant us all the desires of our hearts.  May Moshiach come soon so that we can be in Yerushalayim basking in the glory of Hashem’s revealed Presence.

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The waterfall of my dreams

I have mentioned in prior blogs that the hardest part of infertility is being in the Orthodox Jewish world.  While it is wonderful that we are thwarting Hitler through the birth of every Jewish baby, being left out is the toughest emotional challenge.   No matter how small or large the shul is,  even with the passage of time, the pain is still there.  There is no escaping pregnant women or birth announcements.  Recently I heard the announcement of the birth of a baby boy.  I feel crappy for myself although I am happy for the family.  I cried out to Hashem that the pain is becoming very unbearable.  The burden and guilt associated with being the one with the fertility issue hurts to the very core of my neshama.  Yet what can I do?  I am powerless, at the mercy of Hashem’s compassion and loving kindness.

I do not know what words of encouragement that I can offer to myself and others as I go through this pain which is a natural part of the process.  I am learning a lot about myself through this very unpleasant journey across the valley of infertility.   There are certain negative characteristics that have been instilled in me through my very super critical parents.  As a child, I was compared to others.  I also heard tons of negative comments about other people.  As a result, it has been ingrained to view myself in the context of other people.  As Rabbi Arush would say, we each have our individual soul correction to go through.  I am having a tough time accepting the fact that infertility is part of my soul correction.  The fact that other women have babies, or are pregnant, has no bearing on my present circumstance.   The challenge is to accept my suffering with love and  enuma, with the knowledge that soon this present situation will be over.

I have also heard that if we all were to lay down our packages, representing the very tests that Hashem has given us, and offered a choice of selecting a package that we could live with, we would pick the original package that was given to us.

As for the waiting and waiting until I get to travel to see my doctor for the next round of treatments, I must be patient and use this time to the best of my G-D given ability to grow.  May the tears of pain that I weep today turn into tears of joy over the unfolding of Hashem’s greatest miracle.

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Having just emerged from Simhat Torah, the High Holidays are finally over.  Overall,  I enjoyed the High Holidays which were very good and refreshing despite the occasional twinges associated with seeing children on their tatti’s shoulders during Hakafos.  I kept whispering to Hashem, “Please let it be this year!”  This is a new year with a fresh opportunity to draw closer to Hashem and grow from this test.   I am feeling extra sensitive, and hope to direct it toward being sensitive to other Jews and their pain.

I read a very encouraging story about a New Year with a New Mazal.  A couple in Yirushalayim had struggled with infertility for 19 years, and the fertility clinic had no hope to offer.  Yet they refused to give up and persisted with their davening.  Both were very diligent about their Torah observance. The husband, Moshe, was unusually careful about one particular mitzvah, Kiddush Levanah.  Every month he anticipated this wonderful mitzvah of blessing the new moon, and a new month.  One month due to the cloudy skies and rain, he could not view the moon so he proceeded to find a location where he could perform this mitzvah.  Finally, on the 14th of Teves, he and his friend drove to a place near Chevron for Kiddush Levanah.  After performing the mitzvah, they danced and sang and then proceeded to daven at the burial place of Rochel Imanu.  A group of Chassidim had been moved by the way Moshe had said Kiddush Levanah and the happiness with which he performed this mitzvah.  They approached him and requested that he share his story. After hearing Moshe’s story, they each requested Hashem for Moshe to be blessed with a child, and pleaded with Rochel Imamu to cry and daven for Moshe and his wife to have a baby.

A little over 9 months later, the couple were blessed with twin girls.

As the 11th of Chesvan approaches, the yartzeit of Rochel Imanu, I pray that we all will be blessed with our little miracles.  Please Rochel Imanu please please daven for Rivka Rochel Bas Sarah and Noach Shlomo Ben Chaya, and for every childless Jewish couple who have month after month and year after year cry out for children.

May this be the year of ultimate spiritual transformation and good news of  miracles after miracles after miracles.

Let us all draw closer to Hashem and perform each mitzvah as if our very lives depended on it!

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Rosh Hashana | Hebrew New Year's 2010
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I am encouraged to see that over 400 people have viewed my blog and I hope that in some way several of you are encouraged by my writings.  If so, I have a lot of joy, knowing that in someway I made a tiny difference.  I hope to see your comments.  I also welcome suggestions.

Rosh HaShana 5771.  We are in a New Year.  Am I excited?  Part of me says yes and the other part no.    Yes – because we are in a New Year, and therefore, a chance that my Decree from Shamayim will be sweet with good news of my pregnancy and birth!  No – because for several Rosh HaShana’s I hoped against hope that this would be the year that I became pregnant, and each year ended in painful disappointment.

I look back over the years to see if I learned anything.  Did I grow?  I think so.  I went from being a Conservative Non-Jew who went to a Conservative synagogue to becoming an Orthodox Jew.  My husband and I became more observant.  We  have grown closer to each other through our personal challenges.   We have taken on Hashem’s mitzvoth.  Most important of all, we are drawing closer to Hashem.

While davening at shul, for a split second, I actually felt awe and fear of Hashem’s judgment.  I am trying to internalize that whatever judgment Hashem has decreed for me is for my good.  It is hard because I am afraid what if it is the decree that I do not want.  I must activate my emunah, bitachon, and tikva (faith, trust, and hope).  Without these three attributes, all I have is darkness and sorrow.   My emunah tells me that Hashem is very much with me, and that this test will soon be over with positive results achieved; bitachon tells me that Hashem has my best interest in heart and that despite my deep pain, I do not have to despair, even though I feel that I am at the bottom of the deepest pit in total darkness; and tikva provides me the assurance that Hashem will answer my tefila and grant me the desires of my heart.

Right now I am feeling nothingness because I have not 100% internalized emunah, bitachon, and tikva.  Otherwise, I would be all smiles, and people at shul would flock to talk to me.   I seek Hashem’s forgiveness,  guidance, and help.   During Rosh Hashana not only did I acknowledge Hashem’s sovereignty and ask for  children, but also that I make His will mine, even if it meant that I might not get what I want.   That was very difficult.

Here we are at the beginning New Year.  In a few days, our decree will be sealed.  May we all have our heartfelt prayers answered.  May each and everyone of us who desires a child, be joyful and grateful mothers in 5771, grateful to Hashem for His miracles.  I ask Hashem’s help in not feeling jealousy or resentment toward the frum mothers who proudly push their strollers carrying their bundles of joy.  I feel so alone yet I must cling to Hashem for He is my rock and my salvation.  Shana tova.  G’mar chatima tova!

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