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Elul and Transformation

Western wall in Jerusalem at night
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Every High Holiday, I prayed fervently for the same thing.  I approach each Rosh Hashana with fresh expectation that perhaps this will be the year.  Perhaps the previous year, I was not ready.  Maybe now I am closer to being ready to receive that ultimate blessing.  It’s not for me to speculate.  I must have total bitachon (trust) in Hashem.

Struggling with infertility makes me depend more and more on Hashem.  I have dealt with anger and frustration with Hashem for being in the Orthodox Jewish world without a stroller to proudly push to shul.   I have dealt with feeling so invisible because women with kids thought it more important to trade stories about their children, the Torah Day School, or oooh and ahhh over each others’ child than getting to know me.   I have dealt with various well meaning but insensitive comments that have ranged from ” what if Hashem does not want you to have a child,” to ” just relax and have fun with your husband,” to “maybe you should consider natural anti-depressants,” to “perhaps you had lots of children in a previous life”, etc.

I have a coping strategy that involves managing my social activities.   I have frequently engaged in a process of giving in and saying “Hashem You are the only One in control.  Any sense of control I may feel is merely an illusion.”  In addition,  my husband and I are studying the “Garden of Gratitude” – everything from Hashem is for the best, and to be grateful for His blessings and the suffering we go through.  Tall order for something so intensely painful.   The month of Elul is a month of transformation.  I can only hope that I am being refined like silver, purified seventy times seven until Hashem sees His reflection in me.  This thought brings tremendous comfort in a sadly painful world that  most of the frum world is totally oblivious to (a topic for discussion in another post)


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Cover of "Mother"

Cover of Mother

After weeks and weeks of trying to get a hold of my fertility clinic,  I was disappointed to learn that for 2 weeks they will be closed.  Doing fertility treatment is difficult enough but when it is across the state it is doubly difficult, especially with planning and making travel arrangements.  I like the clinic and the staff there.  Yet there are all these logistical hurdles to cross.

Today I experienced  sheer joy when I got a definitive date to do the transfer of the frozen embryo, but there are timing factors and several issues that are too complicated to get into.  Added to this, are my feelings of being so scared and hopeful at the same time.  I want so much to have a child, to experience pregnancy, to day dream about my future child, and to one day hold my and my husband’s baby and give unconditional love.  My heart holds a lot of love for my unborn haby.  Despite these numerous lapses in my faith, I believe deep down inside the recesses of my neshama that I WILL BE A MOTHER with G-D’s help.  Do you think for one moment G-D would be so cruel as to have created me within me this strong heartfelt desire to have children since the age of 14.   How many 14 year olds dream of getting married and having children?

Life has unexpected twists and turns.  I am very very grateful to have my husband whom I love deeply.  We have had our fair share of challenges, and are ready for good things to happen.  This journey through infertility has been sheer hell.  I would not wish this on anyone.  I do not want this for myself and other couples.  As much as I love my husband, I wish we could have children to complete our family.  I would love to raise Jewish children, to teach our 3 year old daughter to light Shabbos candles.  I would love to see her hug my husband, and hear her say, “Tatti I love you.” I would love to see my husband teach our son how to recite Birchas HaMazon.  I dream of seeing our son walking to shul with my husband.  I dream of making challah with my babies and watching them get flour all over themselves.  I dream of buying frilly socks and black patent leather shoes for my baby girl.  I dream of  hearing baby laughs.  I dream of having a noisy house full of the chatter of children, and a peaceful evening with my husband.  I dream of seeing my husband look with fascination at our baby and not somebody else’s baby.    As you can see, dear readers,  I have a list of dreams that are endless.

With sheer determination and tenacity, I want to pursue my dream with Hashem’s help.  Ultimately, He is the Decider.  Dear Hashem as I write this, please, please, please have mercy on Rivka Rochel Bas Sarah.  Please, please, please when I do the transfer, cause this embryo to implant unto my uterus. May it hang on for dear life, and even divide to form two blastocysts.

Hashem, I have not been a good girl spiritually.  Lately, I have not davened or studied Torah, or said many tehillim.   Please, please, please have chesed and end this trial.  I will be truly grateful to you and I promise, I will do everything to create a loving home full of Hashems’ Presence and to raise our children to be kind, decent, caring Jews who love You and who want to perform mitzvoth. I promise to do everything to model what it means to be a good Jew.”

The frozen embryo represents hope of a bright future filled with so much possibilities, of dreams fulfilled.  I want my husband to experience the joys of being a father.  I so want us to be a beautiful Jewish family with a lot of love and kindness to extend to each other and those in need.

Hashem, please let us all experience the words in your tehillim – “Weeping may endure for the night, but joy is coming in the morning.”  May we all merit to hear good news soon, and may you answer every tefila speedily.  May we never cease to dream, and may each dream come true.

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My Heart is Broken….

Shabbat Candles
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My heart is broken into a million pieces four days before Rosh HaShana.  Shabbos morning went to shul to daven because this is the last Shabbos of 5770.  I davened with a lot of kavana and felt very close to Hashem.    Despite the strollers and recurrent pain, I was in a better frame of mind.   I talked to a few people, and then a friend who is around my age comes to me and says that she is pregnant and it was unexpected.  Baruch Hashem I said that I was happy for her.  Baruch Hashem that I meant it.  She told me she was davening for me and I said thanks, that just this past summer I lost 3 embryos….. The conversation continued for a little bit.  When she left to talk to someone else, I turned to my husband who was talking to my friend’s husband.  He asked my husband if he heard the news.  I didn’t hear the rest of the conversation because the color had left my face and my strength was slowly ebbing away, and I had to rush out the door.    The weather was gorgeous and I was relatively alone.   I did not care if someone would see me.  I started to cry.  Looking at the blue sky, I spoke to Hashem.  I cannot remember what I said to Him.  I only remember feeling so left out.  I felt that perhaps Hashem did not bless me with a pregnancy because of my bad middos.  My husband and another friend told me that I do not have bad middos, and that I am sad because I too want to be pregnant.

My husband was sad too.  He felt weak and depressed.  Our last Shabbos in 5770 ended in sadness and tears.  I quoted one of the lines from Tehillim to my husband, “Weeping may endure for a night but joy is coming in the morning…”  Another line I quoted, ‘You will sow in tears and reap in joy.”

Hashem please help me to learn what I supposed to learn.  If You think that I am not ready for the ultimate bracha, please help me be ready.

I would give anything to have an unexpected pregnancy.  And you know, it is all up to Hashem.  I cried. I ate some ice cream.  I polished off a bar of chocolate (thank God I did not eat meat on Shabbos), I said Tehillim, and I talked to Hashem.  I am soo afraid, what if I never get pregnant.  But you know,  it is not up to me.  I pray for Hashem’s mercy and that it is His will that I have a child, if not twins.  Please Hashem You are in the field.  Please do not forget little Rivky.

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Confronting My Pain

A picture of "The Shul on the Beach"
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Through the encouragement of the Puah Counselor with whom I talk to every week, I went to shul last Shabbos to be around little children and mothers with babies.   Her rationale was to prepare me for the upcoming High Holidays when I will be going to shul.  Keep in mind that our shul is in a house with very small space so during kiddush the place is packed with people from wall to wall.  During the times when my emotions become overwhelming there is nowhere to escape to unless I walk out the door.

Last Shabbos it was pretty hot.  I braved the 1 mile walk in the heat and was truly grateful for the shade.  I thought that there would not be too many women with small kids in shul due to the heat.  When I got to shul, I was in for a surprise.  Not only was the shul packed, there were lots of small kids, including two babies.  I had to confront my pain….  I told Hashem, “You sure are testing me!”

I had flashbacks to the three embryos that did not implant and I felt a twinge of sadness.  I had to tell myself that there will be a second chance for a new set of embryo transfer.  With my self-talk, I was able to carry on a conversation with a couple of women.  I could not bring myself to talk to the mothers with their blessed bundles of joy.  The pain was still raw yet I felt that Hashem was transforming me in that moment.    Had my Puah counselor not pushed me, I would not have gone to shul.

I got an invitation for Shabbos lunch with friends of ours.  They have three children, and the youngest is a cute 2 (perhaps 3) year old.    I should ask how old she is.  We had an enjoyable lunch.  The walk back to our apartment however was not so enjoyable.

Did I pass the test?  I certainly hope that in Hashem’s eyes I did.  Often transformation comes with a lot of effort to step into a zone that does not feel comfortable.   Being at home on Shabbos is comfortable.  I do not have to confront my pain.  At shul on the other hand, I have to deal with the painful reality that presently I am not pregnant and that furthermore a viable pregnancy means I need medical intervention with no guarantees of success.  This is a situation where I have no control.  I depend on Hashem’s compassion and mercy.  May He answer my heartfelt prayer and the tefilos of every Jewish woman who is presently childless.

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Image by Lauren Treece via Flickr

The weather is hot.  My new apartment is full of stuff that I have yet to put away.  I just finished drafting a contract related to a potential opportunity to help Mercaz Beth Israel with their United States fund raising.  Could this be an answered prayer for a home based profession with the possibility to transfer the position to Israel.

So much to keep me busy yet I am going crazy with the uncertainty of the future. Will I become a mother?  Will my going to shul for Kiddush work out as I attempt to be in harmony with the babies and toddlers that will be present.  Elul is the month and Hashem is in the field.  I need to reach out to Him given the easy access.  Today I feel proud I read the daily readings from Chofetz Chaim and Tehillim.

Tomorrow is almost Shabbos.  To think that someone is davening for my husband and I at the Kotel.  Plus we had Pidyon Ha Nefesh where a Tzaddik sent up his prayer to one of the open gates of shamayim. How was this accomplished I asked my husband.  To which he answered, “If I knew, I would be a Tzaddik.”  Next plan of action a letter to the Lubavicher Rebbe’s Ohel.  For now, I will bravely face my fears.

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Doing A-O.K Today

A shofar made from a ram's horn is traditional...
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I am doing A- O.K today.  The fact that I spent time on FaceBook and actually posted something is a dramatic improvement (LOL just kidding).  Also got my shaitel  styled so feeling pretty glamorous!   I feel that I am slowly but surely getting back on the saddle.  Soon I will have another opportunity to try IVF again.  In the meantime I have a lot of things I need to accomplish such as losing weight, eating more healthy, exercising, working on my new business, and most important of all preparing for the High Holidays.

I just put in a 40 day prayer request at the Kotel during the entire month of Elul through Rosh Hashana!  May HaShem answer all of our heartfelt prayers!

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Last Shabbos I went to shul because of a lunch invitation my husband and I had received. I was apprehensive about seeing the line of strollers outside the shul.  When I did not see any, I thought I was home free so I strolled into shul feeling happy and carefree.  Lo and behold the strollers were inside!!!  Of course they were because it was the hottest day of the month at 104 +degrees fahrenheit.  Seeing the babies was overwhelming to say the least.  I wanted to scream.  I felt so much like an outsider.  I told myself that it was a test from HaShem so I acted gracefully and smiled.  Talked to a couple of people. There was a point where I was visibly upset.  When asked if I was O.K. I claimed I was not feeling well.

Our gracious host gathered all his guests and my heart sank.  Two of the couples were the ones with the babies and strollers.  “HaShem,” I thought, ” You have a sense of humor but I am not amused.”  Rather than running home, I thought I would proceed to our guest’s lovely home.

I tried to judge my hosts favorably.   When they compiled their guest list, they had no idea that childless couples have difficulty being around other couples with babies.  This validated my perception that there is a need for compassionate education.  Unless I communicate openly how will people know?  Once I get past my own emotions, I will be ready to embark on my mission to educate.  In the meantime I have my work cut out for me.  I am in the season of being refined.

My counselor (yes I am getting counseling, although in my previous post I had concluded that I am not insane!!!) recommended that I go to the mall to seek out strollers with babies.  Upon spying a stroller,  I should walk up to the mother and say, ”  What a cute and adorable baby you have!!!”  Since I love babies so much, this exercise should enable  me to admire the shul babies without going into avoidance mode.  ” Attention attention incoming strolller!  Must evacuate the building immediately!!!”

So this week I will recruit one of my friends and head on over to the nearest mall to go baby hunting.  G-D willing one day I will go stroller shopping to trade in my symbolic stroller with tefillos and tears for an empty one soon to be filled with a baby (or two or three) of my own!!!

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