Monday, October 28, 2013

Jewish Motherhood: Moving Past Miscarriage

Welcome to the first installment of The Jewish Motherhood Project! This project/series is geared toward helping all Jewish moms, mums, mommies, imas, emas, and the bajillion of other flavors of mommyhood to discuss the shared experience of pregnancy and birth anonymously or semi-anonymously.

To participate, just head on over to the Q&A, and be sure to tune in every week for another installment. For my comments on this Jewish motherhood story, read on through to the bottom.

For our first installment, we welcome a 28-year-old mother of one who, at the time of her daughter's birth, had been married for almost two years and was living in Jerusalem. She was not in school at the time, and both her and her husband were working very hard to make ends meet. The entire pregnancy process was quite the ordeal, so please keep reading.

Did you always want to be a mommy? Why or why not?
I always wanted to be a mom. I did not want to wait as long as we did, however, because of some medical circumstances and a miscarriage, we had our daughter around our second wedding anniversary. Ever since I saw my cousins being born and babies everywhere I couldn't wait to be a mom. I also wanted to do things very differently than how my own mother did so I could not wait.

What was your greatest fear when you found out you were pregnant? What was your greatest anticipation/excited feeling?
I was very excited when I found out I was pregnant. However, after suffering a miscarriage two months beforehand, I was nervous: I was scared to talk about the pregnancy, scared to be with my husband, and barely left my house until I passed the 12-week mark and was well into the second trimester. It was exciting to know that I was able to conceive again shortly after my miscarriage, and I was excited to know that a human was growing inside of me.

How did your husband and family react to you being preggo?
My husband was so excited. He loved every second of the pregnancy. My family also was very excited, especially the ones who did not and do not know the measures we went to in order to get pregnant safely the second time around.

What was your pregnancy like?
I had a miscarriage two months prior to conceiving my daughter. It was an early miscarriage, but it was the scariest thing in the world. At the time I was attached to the baby because I happened to have had an ultrasound already, but at the same time it was so small and almost microscopic still that it wasn't as bad to move on as I thought it would be.

When I got pregnant again, I was scared to do anything that could potentially hurt my baby. Each ultrasound and blood test was a huge relief and made me happier and more excited than before.

Something abnormal about this pregnancy? I was pregnant with triplets! The twins were in one sac and the third baby — my daughter — was in her own sac. The twins sharing a placenta and a sac were in severe danger, and I lost them at 14 weeks. On top of that, I had severe hyperemesis so I had to stay in the hospital for an IV at 11 weeks. On top of the emotions of dealing with possible triplets, the nausea was bad and every time I had an ultrasound everyone would come running to check out the babies.

In the end, true emunah saved both my and my daughter's life because those twins may have endangered her safety and health inside the womb. After I lost the twins I had to be very careful. I was on partial bed rest, and we told only our parents the situation. It was hard because on the outside everyone saw me as this cute pregnant girl but we were dealing with so much on the inside that it was very hard. It also took me a while to feel connected to the baby because I felt like I was walking on eggshells for so long. It wasn't until I entered into the third trimester that I started to relax.

How did you decide to start telling people you were preggo? Did you wait to reveal the gender?
We only told our family and very close friends about the pregnancy because of everything we have been through. I did not want to post any pictures of my belly on Facebook, so I emailed anything I had to share privately. When we actually gave birth and announced it, people were shocked because they had no idea I was pregnant. I liked it that way. I didn't want to shove my pregnancy in people's faces, giving them room to assume how easy it was, or typical, after everything we have been through.

How did the pregnancy affect your work, schooling, or family?
I had to take off a lot of days of work for my illnesses throughout the pregnancy, without revealing why. That was a bit difficult, but at the end of the day, it was worth it. I know some people in my work from outside the office, and I didn't want them knowing my business.

In the days and weeks leading up to the birth, what do you remember experiencing or feeling?
I remember sitting with my husband talking about how in a few weeks everything is going to change, and that here would be a baby around us 24/7. It was a weird feeling laying on the couch hanging out knowing that any day a person was going to change our life and things would be different. I was excited and nervous: I was going to meet my baby. I was anxious more about how and when I was going to go into labor than the actual labor itself. I was scared my water was going to break while I was in the store. In the end, the doctor broke it for me, so I am thankful for that.

How did you infuse your Jewishness into the pregnancy/labor experience?
I davened and talked to Gd a lot during the pregnancy, I did not read any specific book, and my labor was very painful. My epidurals did not work so I kind of "forgot" to do some davening while in the process. I did say some tehillim before I went in to deliver, and my husband and I said a special prayer from Tefilas Chanah upon being admitted to the hospital. There are also some special prayers for the husband to say in there, which mine did as we were waiting for admittance.

What would be your three top tips for a first-time mother?
  1. A lot of people are going to tell you different things about raising the baby. Always go with your gut instinct. Refer to books, but know there are so many opinions and ways to do things.
  2. Remember and treasure every moment. When I was cleaning out my bedroom a few years ago I found a calendar my mom made of all my milestones when I was a baby. I thought it was ridiculous, no one had looked at it in more than 20 years. But now, being a mom, I want to write everything my baby does down and remember it forever.
  3. Nap whenever you can. And make your husband help :)
Is there anything else you want to add?
If your mother-in-law is constantly telling you what to do or not do, just smile and nod, and in her presence do what will make her happy. At the end of the day it's worth it — not making her mad — and when she leaves, you can go right back to doing things your way.

Chavi's commentary: This is one seriously triumphant story. You're a strong woman for going through so much, and I can't imagine what a gift your little girl must be to you and your husband. May you both be blessed with as many children as HaShem has in store for you, may they all be healthy, happy, and full of the strength that you hold within! And I'm with you on the baby book thing. My mom kept one for my older brother and me, and that book is like a treasure trove of fascinating milestones like my first words, a piece of hair from my first cut, gifts I got when I was born, and more. Those are things that might not have been meaningful to 10-year-old or 15-year-old me, but at 30, I can tell you I love perusing those goodies.