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September 21, 2014 / 26 Elul, 5774
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From The Greatest Heights (Part V)

The doctor had warned us that even if we did everything right and followed the protocol after the follicle was of the right size, there was no guarantee of success. Fertilization still had to occur, and just like couples do not necessarily become pregnant every month, we had no way to know if we were actually expecting for two full weeks.

I am, by nature, a very skeptical person, and I had to wonder, aloud, how it was possible that follicle size could be measured and determined to be viable but there was no way to determine if that follicle was fertilized. Be that as it may, we had no real choice. We could come in for blood work two weeks later; there was nothing we could do until then.

I’m a huge sports fan. Most sports fans have no problem watching a taped game if they do not know the outcome. I have never been able to do that. To me, the best part of sports, the tension and drama, occurs while the events are unfolding, and even if I have no idea what happened, I do not experience any sense of drama when the results have already been determined.

While some people may see that two weeks of waiting as a time of great hope and possibility, it was torturous for me. Even the most passionate sports fans realize that their life isn’t linked to the outcome, but the overwhelming sense for me was that my future and my life were on hold until we knew for sure. Tension may be great for sports fans, but it is very difficult to handle in real life. To say it another way, I can deal (or find a way to deal) with reality, even if it is a painful reality, but not knowing drives me absolutely crazy.

I don’t remember much about those two weeks. My wife and I agreed not to talk about it, even if it was at the forefront of both of our minds, and I can’t recall specific events as much as the feeling that those two weeks dragged on forever.

After what felt like an eternity, those two weeks came to an end, and we went in for the all important blood test. For reasons I will never understand, the pregnancy blood test was not ordered as a “STAT” test that would produce results in less than an hour (subsequent blood tests to track the health of the early pregnancy were all designated as “STAT”). We took the blood test, left and had to wait a day or two for them to call with the results.

Caller-ID was still a rarity and we had no way of knowing what news may lay behind every ring of the phone. There was this moment of intense anticipation each time my wife answered the phone. Each time I was home when the phone rang, I stared at her for some hint if that was the call that contained that most vital information.

At the time, I didn’t work most Fridays, so I was home when the phone rang. After the ubiquitous “hello” I will never forget the short, emotion laden, “yes?” my wife then said. I was staring intently at her as she gave me the one-second motion. Fifteen seconds that felt like an eternity passed until my wife exclaimed, first in disbelief and then in excitement, “I am? I am!”

I ran up to her and gave her a big hug. We were so excited that we were literally jumping up and down (I assume she thanked the nurse and hung up the phone, but I have no memory of that). At long last, the moment we dared not dream was finally here. We had done it. We were expecting at last.

We had both read about miscarriages and we knew that pregnancies, especially those induced through fertility treatments, were somewhat tenuous at best through the first trimester, but we were on top of it. My wife would be going in for regular blood tests and ultrasounds to chart the progress and make sure things were progressing nicely.

My in-laws lived down the block from us. They hosted us for Shabbos meals each week and they knew all about our treatments. My wife and I quickly agreed that while we were not going to tell anyone else, it would be impossible to withhold that information from them when we were eating together a few hours later.

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 chaimshapiro@aol.com or on his website: http://chaimshapiro.com/


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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.

I have a background in counseling, and I can say that the biggest mistake that I ever made was refusing psychological help after we lost the twins. I was trying to keep my tough-guy facade going, and convinced myself that I could deal with the pain.

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.

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