It’s over. Thank Gd.
And at the same time, I know it’s just begun.
It’s hard, with the fear of the birth looming over your head, to think about too much else. And so, I was hoping that when I got to the other side of that fear and that reality, that I’d have a few minutes to look back and reflect.
Last week was, to say the least, quite stressful. By the time I delivered “6” (his temporary name) yesterday, I was 10 days overdue and felt like a 100 days over. During the last two weeks, while I was definitely miserable and nervous, I was also able to appreciate some wonderful moments and some great experiences. Here are a few of these observations.
1. I felt, particularly once my due date arrived and passed, like the Sussman family was being held in a warm embrace by just about everyone we knew. Yes, by the time we actually delivered, we were tired of hearing people say, “NU???” (which means, “So? News?”) but I definitely felt that the entire community of Neve Daniel, our work environments, and our families were all holding their breaths and waiting for that exciting moment to arrive. I felt like they were in it with us, if you will, and that so many people were encouraging, hoping and counting the minutes to hear the good news. It felt very supportive and also reminded me just how much our children are not just part of our small families – but part of our larger families, our Neve Daniel family, and Am Israel. We were delivering a baby for ourselves and our family – but it was being welcomed into so many other communities that were beyond our immediate family.
2. Reflexology – Getting desperate for the baby’s arrival, I went to a friend in the yishuv on Friday for reflexology. Now, I’m not a big proponent of alternative medicine. I’m certainly not saying it doesn’t work – I’m just saying that I have no experience with it and don’t usually turn to alternative sources for help. I am, however, quite open to the possibilities of these methods working, and I was willing to give it a try to see if it would work. While the reflexologist was working on my feet, I was suddenly overcome by so much pressure in my uterus, that I thought my water would break on the spot. She had not been telling me what area of the foot she was working on, or what this area connected to – I was just feeling intense pain and pressure. After a few minutes of this incredible pressure, she said, “Do you feel that? I’m working on your uterus right now.” I could not believe it! She worked on many areas of my body during the 45 minute session – but the only thing that felt a dramatic change was my uterus. It was really an incredibly powerful experience and one that has given me more reason to explore alternative medicine of this sort.
3. Kever Rachel – Rachel Imanu is buried only about 15 minutes from our home, and I’ve never been to her kever. Rachel was unable to have children for many years and she prayed a great deal to Hashem to allow her to have children. For this reason, her kever is known as a place where people go to in order to pray to conceive, to have a healthy baby, etc. Josh suggested last week that, after going out to brunch on Friday, we take a trip to Kever Rachel. In my usual fashion, I really didn’t feel like going and I wasn’t feeling well….but Josh convinced me that it would be a great experience and a good opportunity. When we got there, I couldn’t believe that I hadn’t been before. It’s literally 15 minutes from our home. It was a very moving experience. As I was in Kever Rachel, praying for an easy birth and a healthy baby, I realized all of the connections that I had at that moment to this place. We are planning to name the baby for my Papa Jerry, who died 10 months ago. Papa’s Hebrew name was Yaakov Yosef. Here we were at Rachel’s Tomb, praying for a healthy baby. Rachel was praying to give birth to a healthy baby with her husband – Yaakov. And, of course, when she finally did have a baby it was….of course, Yosef. The irony of the moment and the significance of my prayers were not lost on me as I prayed there, tying together thousands of years of history.
As I prepared mentally for the birth and tried to deal with my fear (yes, even a sixth birth can illicit massive fear), I kept thinking about how often we have to move through something difficult to get to something wonderful. I understood (at least conceptually) that the pain of the birth would lead to a beautiful, amazing birth and to a baby. How true is that in life in general. We are often forced to deal with things that are uncomfortable, scary, and even debilitating, only to find joy and fulfillment once we move through that difficult stage.
And now that the difficulty of the birth is behind me, I look forward to the many, many years ahead with our beautiful new baby – who will, Gd willing, be brought into the covenant of his people, under the protection of his community and within his very own homeland.