After becoming religious a year later I was married and I was immediately blessed with six beautiful children one after the other.
My oldest was not quite seven when my youngest was born. I was on bed rest for all the pregnancies and hospitalized for the last four. Each pregnancy I had to be away from my children for longer periods of time. My last one I had to spend six months away from my little ones and was rarely able to come home not even for Shabbos.
I had a rare condition that caused my liver to stop working properly. This caused uncontrollable vomiting and constant contractions.
As you can imagine I was terribly homesick and missed my little ones. Baruch Hashem for new inventions, I was one of the lucky women who over twenty years ago had a cellphone donated to me from a neighbor for the duration of my hospital stays. I micro-managed from my hospital bed and was able to organize help for my husband, from food to babysitters to Shabbos meals and more.
All that was left to do was get my lively little ones to gan and to bed at night. Not an easy feat for anyone but he bravely tried to juggle his learning with the mommying jobs these cutting into his already hectic schedule.
My kids were confused and sad.
“Where are you, Mommy? Come home. I want you to come to my siddur party,” my oldest of six cried.
With a broken heart, I answered softly, “I am sorry, sweetie. Mommy just can’t, but your babysitter Rochie is coming, ok doll? And she will take a lot of pictures.
“Ok,” she sadly answered, sounding way beyond her six years, “I understand. Come home soon, Mommy, we miss you.”
“I will try, my sweetie. If I can’t come home, I will try to get someone to bring you all to see me.”
“Ok, Mommy. Bye.”
We hung up and the next day was very hard for me. I cried and cried. I was not there for this milestone in my firstborn’s life and it hurt. Even though I knew there was no choice I still felt miserable. I saw so many of my friends just glow during pregnancy, they breezed through them with barely a hiccup.
As I lay there feeling sorry for myself, it hit me that I needed to change my attitude then and there. I was lucky to be able to have children and I needed to focus on my blessings.
Believe me this was no easy feat at all. Many days I threw up from morning till night. This left me incredibly weak and I could barely get out of bed.
My intravenous lines kept crashing and I had over 30 IV’s during this pregnancy. It was very challenging to focus on the positives in my life but I tried. It definitely helped me feel less miserable and I felt a sense of accomplishment every time I was able to genuinely smile.
After six long months I finally gave birth to my beautiful daughter. The birth was long and hard and I was so anemic they wanted to do a C-section, but I refused and with the help of my private doctor and a fantastic midwife I gave birth naturally.
I had to receive two blood transfusions and I remember my mother, zt”l, exclaiming when she came to visit, “You are so white, are you ok?”
I smiled and answered, “This is good, Mom. You should have seen me right after birth.”
“Maybe it’s better I didn’t,” she chuckled, “They might have had to pick me off the floor.”
Now came the hard part. I came home still very debilitated and not well enough to get out of bed. The challenge of coming home to a house full of little kids and being barely able to function threatened to overwhelm me.
I also had to face the fact that I would not be able to have any more children. We had asked a rabbi and along with the medical advice we had been given it was agreed upon by all that this was to be my last child. It was just too dangerous for me to get pregnant again.
How will I ever manage to grapple with all this? I was confused, exhausted and feeling incapable of getting myself together. I really wanted a big family and now I could never have more babies. Yet I can’t even manage what I have. Oh what’s wrong with me why can’t I be grateful for all I have?
I was allowing my weakness to obliterate my natural optimism. I was weltering in my sadness. My mind knew what to say to myself but my heart was just crying.
I found myself vacillating between feeling like an ingrate and useless. Why couldn’t I get moving. Yes I was still ill, but I was home.
And then after a week at home it hit me I was going about this all wrong. I forgot the first rule I lived by: I don’t run the world nor do I want too. I found myself singing the children’s song “Hashem is here. Hashem is there, Hashem is truly everywhere.”
I felt myself relaxing I just needed to accept that he is in charge not me. If I let myself trust in him I will get through my challenges.
This became my mantra as I slowly recovered and began to get stronger. It took a while but I was able to accept that I was meant to have six beautiful neshamas to raise and that was my journey. I stopped worrying about why this happened and began to see the blessing in my life.
Today when I look back on this period of my life I clearly see how lucky I am and how I needed these challenges to get a proper perspective to really understand how truly blessed I am.