The following was written seven years ago. It is being reprinted with gratitude to Hashem for all His chesed and beracha in the past and with a tefillah for continued chesed and beracha in the future.
Part of the challenge of living in this world is never knowing when our paths will change, and when our ‘divine Waze’ will recalculate. As our Rav, Rabbi Chaim Schabes, told us years ago, our mission in this world is to follow the Divine Clouds wherever they may lead us, just as our forefathers did in the desert after leaving Egypt.
In fact, next to my desk at home, I hung up a printed copy of the pasuk that my rebbe quoted to us: “Hashem went before them during the day in a pillar of cloud to guide them along the way, and at night in a pillar of fire to be a light for them, so they could travel during the day and night” (Shemos 13:21).
The last few months have been a time of challenge for us, but throughout we have felt Hashem’s guidance. We often had to remind ourselves that the Divine Clouds were directing us, and that our mission was to follow faithfully, in the best way we could.
When my wife and I found out that she was expecting twins, it came as a complete shock. The twins were identical, which means that having them had no basis on family history. Medically, identical twins are a fluke that can happen to anyone. Of course, as Torah Jews we believe otherwise, though we have no idea why this blessing was bestowed upon us. Our Waze was recalculating, and we prepared to adjust.
When we found out that the twins had a serious condition called TTTS (Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome) our Waze was again recalculating. [In oversimplified terms, TTTS is a condition where the babies share an attached placenta causing them not to receive equal amounts of nourishment from the mother. One receives too much, causing the other to receive too little. If left untreated, it can be extremely dangerous for both twins, r”l.]
Due to the condition, my wife had to switch to Columbia Hospital in Manhattan, where they have the most specialized treatments and doctors to monitor and treat her. After making the agonizing decision to proceed with the suggested laser treatment to correct the TTTS, my wife underwent the arduous procedure. On the day prior to the treatment, I went to daven at the kevarim of tzadikim buried in Monsey, and I asked my brother and sister in Yerushalayim to daven at the kever of our zaidy on Har Tamir (next to Har Menuchos) and at the nearby kever of Rav Shimshon Pincus, zt”l.
The treatment was followed with weeks of highly stressful waiting before we could know if it was successful. There were numerous bumps in the road, when our doctor was concerned. More than once he conveyed to us that he’s just not sure why something had occurred, but that they would have to monitor it closely. Each time, in the end, after a tense waiting period, the situation stabilized. The doctor again conveyed that he wasn’t sure why it occurred. We attributed it to tefillos and tzedakah.
For the remainder of the pregnancy, she had to go for weekly, and often bi-weekly, appointments. Each included lengthy sonograms to monitor the babies.
Every appointment every week was anxiety provoking. It was like having Yom Kippur constantly. We learned to daven and say Tehillim in a manner we never knew. There were arrangements to be made for our other children, and our parents/in-laws were an invaluable help.
Throughout, the doctor told us that prematurity was our greatest enemy. Our goal was to get to 28 weeks. At that point, if there were any issues, the babies could be delivered and dealt with in a safer manner outside than inside. But 28 weeks became 30 weeks, and then 32 weeks, and then 34 weeks.
When she was 36 weeks, the doctor informed us that he was pleased with how things had progressed and, for the safety of the babies, they should deliver the babies in the near future.
We held our breath in the hope that all would be okay. Although the labor was prolonged and tense, the actual delivery was incredibly quick, and ironically easier than any of her prior deliveries. They were born erev Shabbos in the afternoon – 1:09 p.m. and 1:10 p.m. respectively.
I arrived home a mere two hours before Shabbos and with the help of our parents, and special neighbors and friends arranged the shalom zachor in our home. On Sunday afternoon my wife and both babies arrived home!
The road of this pregnancy has been challenging to say the least. And yet we have also seen so many lights along the way. We still have much to daven for, but the lessons of emunah that we have learned from others, and ourselves, are invaluable.
Hashem has implanted within every one of us a natural, or perhaps supernatural, navigation system. Our goal is to follow the destination, despite the fact that the route is often recalculating. At times the road becomes lengthier and more circuitous, at other times shorter and more pleasant. At times we are directed into traffic without understanding why, at times the traffic is suddenly lifted.
Our responsibility is to remain on the road and never divert our attention from our destination. May Hashem help and guide every one of us to always do so, to fulfill His Will.