Africa Israel Residences, part of the Africa Israel Investments Group led by international businessman Lev Leviev, will present 7 leading projects on the The Israel Real Estate Exhibition in New York on Sep 14-15, 2014.
As a child and a young adult, I always liked going to Shalom Zachors on Friday night. I loved the sense of joy and anticipation for what is the greatest gift imaginable. I was convinced that my real motivation was to gain a greater perspective on the thoughts and opinions of the members of the community, although there is no question that the good food was a major motivating factor.
I didn’t think about it in any concrete way at the time, but I always saw myself sitting in the seat of the proud Daddy, greeting the well wishers and celebrating one life’s finest moments. At the time, the concept of infertility was foreign to me. While I did have some nagging doubts as to whether I would ever actually find my bashert when I decided to venture into the world of shidduchim, I always saw marriage as working hand-in-hand with raising a family.
I almost never attend a Shalom Zachor now, realizing that my one opportunity to play the part of the doting Daddy was snatched away from me. I go when I have to, but it is always an emotionally devastating experience that ruins the rest of my Shabbos.
Most of the conversations between my wife and myself during our engagement and in the early months of our marriage centered on how many children we would like to have and how we would prefer to space them if possible. My wife and I didn’t discuss the “I” word (infertility) during our first months of marriage. We were just too busy with life after our initial plans to live in Chicago fell through, and we moved cross country to Los Angeles with no money and no job prospects.
Enjoying the year as a newlywed, I always made sure to celebrate our wedding anniversary, every month on the 7th. While I was acutely aware of the passage of time, month after month, I never associated that with fertility.
I would find out years later that while I was able to live blissfully unaware, my wife was going through her own constant torment—with coworkers and friends staring at and even rubbing her stomach on an almost daily basis. While I respect and honor the tradition of not disclosing pregnancies until after the first trimester, it does provide ample opportunity for yentas and busybodies to look for any sign. Simple things like the stomach flu or the purchase of a new blouse were seen as evidence of an impending announcement.
My wife cannot count the times she was asked when everyone could start sewing baby blankets or if she was hiding something. Those were questions and thoughts none of the men shared with me in shul, and I really didn’t give it much thought.
Several months after we moved to LA, a friend asked me to become involved in a community project. Being new to the area, I thought it was a great way to start building some relationships and contacts, so I readily agreed. On the way to the meeting, I was introduced to a fellow volunteer who inquired into my marital status and then how many children I had.
I will never forget his response. When I told him that I didn’t have any children and that I was only married for nine months, he replied: “That’s all it takes, you know.” He was right, of course, but I had never really thought in those terms. That conversation was a turning point, transforming me from a husband celebrating his first year of marriage to a prospective father that needs to explain why he is behind in the game.
I don’t believe I mentioned that story to my wife, but it did get me thinking about the issue for the first time. While I was obviously aware that we were not expecting, I was so involved in the mundane parts of life and the struggles to establish a new life in a new community that I didn’t give it much thought.
Soon after, I lost my new job, and my primary focus was on finding new employment. I didn’t give fertility much thought. I don’t know why it was during that second year of marriage, after I had secured a new job, that I suddenly became so cognizant of the fact that something was wrong.
Given the laws of Taharat Hasmishpacha, I was obviously aware that each passing month did not bring a pregnancy. Perhaps it was seeing friends holding their children in shul, sharing their talis with their children during Birkas Kohanim or dancing with their children on their shoulders on Simchat Torah that I first felt the longing for a child.
Being much more aware, my wife began looking into fertility treatments. I wasn’t really sure I wanted to go that route, but I had no objections to her trying. I will never forget my wife calling me on my very long train ride home from my new job telling me that she had set up an appointment with a fertility specialist. I agreed to come along for that first meeting.
Many people do not understand how expensive fertility treatments can be. We were barely making ends meet, so expensive treatments were really out of the question. We were fortunate that fertility treatments and medications were covered by our insurance with a very low co-pay (years later I would joke that our HMO had a dartboard with our faces on them).
I was more than a bit surprised when we arrived at the clinic to find that the windows were tinted. I understand that this was done to protect the privacy of the patients, but all medical procedures should be private. I had to wonder if the message was that there was really something for which we should be ashamed.
I was very uncomfortable in the waiting room, peering nervously at the other patients and for the first time feeling a real sense of empathy for what they must be going through. I did notice that I was the only husband in the room (while my job was far away, I had some flexibility in terms of the hours I worked).
It was incomprehensible for me at the time, but for some strange reason a pediatric office shared the same waiting room as the infertility clinic (years later, after my daughter was born three months premature, I discovered that the waiting room was for the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) follow-up, and the doctor told me that they shared the waiting room because a large number of their patients began their journey in that very room).
All of the staff were very nice. They were closely in-tune with the fact that most of their patients were apprehensive and had no idea what to expect. They tried to be reassuring, and the doctor outlined the basics of the tests he wanted to order.
Suffice it to say, halachic considerations aside, the test protocol is much more invasive for a woman than for a man. On the way out, after he described what my wife would have to go through, I asked her if she was 100 percent sure she wanted to go through with this.
She had no doubts, and she was 100 percent determined. I had no objections, especially because there really wasn’t much for me to do aside from being supportive (that would become a theme in our long ordeals).
It didn’t dawn on me at the time, but when we left the doctor’s office, our lives had changed forever. We had gone from a happily married couple who just couldn’t seem to get pregnant to a couple suffering from infertility. It took me some time to truly understand what that meant and what kinds of ramifications it would have on our lives – which would truly never be the same.
About the Author: Chaim Shapiro, M.Ed is a freelance writer, public speaker and social media consultant. He is currently working on a book about his collegiate experience. He welcomes comments and feedback at email@example.com or on his website: http://chaimshapiro.com/
If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.
Comments are closed.
While we all go to restaurants for a good meal, it is dessert, that final taste that lingers in your mouth, that is the crown jewel of any dining experience and Six Thirteen’s offerings did not disappoint.
Today, fifty years and six million (!) people later, Israel is truly a different world.
There will always be items that don’t freeze well – salads and some rice- or potato-based dishes – so you need to leave time to prepare or cook them closer to Yom Tov and ensure there is enough room in the refrigerator to store them.
In Uzbekistan, in the early twentieth century, it was the women who wore the pants.
This is an important one in raising a mentsch (and maybe even in marrying off a mentsch! listening skills are on the top of the list when I do shidduch coaching).
While multitasking is not ideal, it is often necessary and unavoidable.
Maybe now that your kids are back in school, you should start cleaning for Pesach.
The interpreter was expected to be a talmid chacham himself and be able to also offer explanations and clarifications to the students.
“When Frank does something he does it well and you don’t have to worry about dotting the i’s or crossing the t’s.”
“On Sunday I was at the Kotel with the battalion and we said a prayer of thanks. In Gaza there were so many moments of death that I had to thank God that I’m alive. Only then did I realize how frightening it had been there.”
Neglect, indifference or criticism can break a person’s neshama.
Just a few months ago, I was having a difficult time getting a refund for a missing product processed via the customer service call center at a major retailer. After spending hours on hold and having my request denied, I sent a Tweet to the company’s Twitter account.
We had suffered through an experience I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. My wife had to go through labor and deliver our children to their deaths, and I was unable to save them or even give them a little warmth while they died.
Special Note: It is an unusual phenomenon that many bereaved parents share. We can almost see our age-adjusted children in our sukkah or running up to us during a family simcha. As quickly as they come, those visions seem to disappear as we go through the life cycle. They are hard moments made harder by the thoughts of not only what could have been, but what should have been.
I had to believe that things were going to be ok. They just had to be ok. We had gone through so much, had sacrificed so much and were doing everything the doctors told us to do. I remember speaking to a hesitant professor in my Ph.D. program about getting an incomplete in her class. The conversation stands out in my mind because, looking back, I can see how odd it must have seemed as I matter-of-factly told her I was too busy for coursework because my twins’ amniotic sack was bulging through my wife’s cervix.
On our first day in the antepartum unit, one of the nurses mentioned how critical every moment of pregnancy really was. “One minute in is worth two minutes out (in an incubator).” We weren’t really expecting a premature birth, but her comment put a fine point on the importance of the care my wife was receiving.
The best way to describe our emotions the morning of our major ultrasound was nervous excitement. We had survived a serious scare with a threatened miscarriage a few weeks prior. My wife was on bed rest at home, but we had no real reason to assume there would be any new problems.
It was only after we celebrated the great news that we were expecting twins that we saw the first sign of problems. First of all, my wife was losing, not gaining weight, even as the babies continued to grow normally. Soon after, routine blood work revealed that my wife was suffering from gestational diabetes.
Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/family/from-the-greatest-heights-chapter-ii/2013/02/21/
Scan this QR code to visit this page online: