Thursday, February 21, 2013


Last winter, my lovely chevruta L.L. and I sat in my living room, studying a parenting book together. Afterwards, she headed out into the wet day, wearing her baby in an Ergo carrier. I own a rain cover for the Ergo, so I suggested she borrow it. She was hesitant; perhaps I would need it again soon?

"So bless me that I will have a baby by the next rainy season," I said.

It seemed very remote to me, even funny. My baby B.A. was two and a half, too heavy to ride on my back. I wanted another child, but I'd passed through 21 months of disappointment by then. I just knew I wouldn't be wearing a baby again so soon.

But L.L. blessed me, and went off with the rain cover.

* * *
Every year at Purim, my friend N. organizes a women's Megila reading. Last year, I decided I wanted to learn to chant the Megila so I could participate this year. After Purim, I asked N. to teach me.
"We'll start after Chanuka," she said.

"No, if I wait until Chanuka, it will never happen," I told her. "I want to start after Pesach."

But after Pesach, I had a surprise. In the midst of doing preliminary tests for an IVF cycle, I found myself unexpectedly pregnant.

* * *

So here we are, with Purim approaching again. T.S. was born six weeks ago in the middle of a wild winter storm. L.L. sent back the rain cover, along with an infant insert for the carrier, her blessing fulfilled. I never learned to chant Megilat Esther. I guess that's not the plan this year.

* * *

The experience of carrying T.S. inside me was intense and powerful. I had a variety of physical symptoms that I didn't encounter in the first two pregnancies. I was depressed in the beginning of the pregnancy--I expected that from the first two times. But then I reached my second trimester, the time that I expected to cheer up and be infused with vitality, like I had in the past. Instead, I settled into a crippling gloom. I could barely function until the blessed third trimester rolled around. Then I felt much better.

I planned a home birth and threw my renewed energy into preparing for that. But T.S. flipped into a breech presentation as my due date approached. Suddenly, I had to research hospitals and contemplate a cesarean or a breech birth. I burned herbs near my pinky toes and swallowed remedies and tried to flip the baby by assuming all sorts of awkward poses.

I considered taking the bus two hours to have the baby flipped around by the national expert.

"This is not a reasonable effort," said my husband. "This is desperation."

I went to the neighborhood hospital instead. The doctor grabbed my belly and turned the baby head-down with ease. I waited in a hospital bed and felt the baby moving . . . moving . . . after an hour, an ultrasound confirmed that T.S. had flipped right back into breech. I laughed, feeling joy and acceptance of my powerlessness and the baby's determination. I went home.

* * *

T.S. settled head-down in her own good time. My due date came and went.

Perhaps you have heard of a good way to bring on birth. I assure you, I tried it. I tried everything. Everything. After the second session of acupuncture, I surrendered again. I decided to let my body do what it wanted. I knew my midwife couldn't legally deliver me past 42 weeks, but I was just sure I would go into labor by then.

But I didn't. 42 weeks arrived. I went for post-date monitoring at the clinic. The on-call doctor, a person I'd never met before, tried to scare me out of having a normal birth, encouraged me to have a cesarean. I assured him that I had done my research and made my decision.

"If you have a bad outcome," he said, "you will think you should have listened to the doctor."

"I will not ever think that," I told him. And I laughed to myself. Because that doctor seemed like the physical embodiment of the part of me that thinks outcomes can be planned and controlled. The part of me that thinks I am in control.

I am not in control. I have no idea what lies in store for me. Over and over again, I get so invested in carrying out my vision. And then things don't go according to my beautiful plans, and I am reminded of Who is actually writing the story of my life.

* * *

I left the clinic and bought castor oil on my way home. My beautiful T.S. was born at home early the next morning. We are hearty and whole. One of her names means "serenity." The serenity to know that we are loved and cared for, even when life doesn't unfold as planned.


From the Trenches said...

My son also was born just before I was about to start IVF! My experiences with my pregnancies and deliveries were similar, in that I got the strong sense that my babies, not me, were controlling the process. Accepting that while pregnant was the first step on the road to dealing with the powerlessness of parenthood. Glad you and TS are well. Thanks for this beautiful post.

Espresso Aroch said...

Thanks. A fitting contemplation for Purim.

Shabbat Shalom & Purim Sameach to you all!

Elana said...

Did you ever try a breast pump to bring on labor? It's awesome. I'm also a two-week-late veteran.

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Anonymous said...

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