Waiting 22 Years for Baby Rivka

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On the 10th of Shvat, this past January 24th, Ora Belaish gave birth to her first child after 22 years of marriage, two weeks short of her 43rd birthday. Here are some inspiring highlights from my interview with Ora last week about her unbelievable journey of profound faith and personal redemption:

Can you tell me a bit about yourself?
I was born in Ireland, and moved to Israel with my family when I was 9 years old. When I was serving in the Israeli army, I spent some time with a Lubavitch family and afterward I decided to study at Machon Alte, a Lubavitch women’s seminary in Tsfat. I married my husband, Aaron, when I was 21 years old and he was 26. Every since then, we’ve been living in Tsfat where I work as a secretary at a school and teach brides the family purity laws.

When did you realize there was a problem?

Less then a year after our wedding, I started doing tests to find out why I wasn’t getting pregnant. And soon after that I started doing treatments.

Can you tell me about those 22 years of waiting?

I had a lot of bad experiences over the years. I went through many hospitalizations and many operations. For 21 years, I lived on a non-stop roller coaster, between the hope and promise of every new treatment and the terrible disappointment of the negative result to the pregnancy test that always followed it.

In the later years, my husband would tell me to simply not call the clinic to find out what the results were after I had done a treatment. Because he knew how disappointed I would be if I found out that once again I wasn’t pregnant. But, at one point, you have to call to find out.

But we received many blessings from the Lubavitcher Rebbe before Gimmel Tamuz, and afterwards through the Igrot Kodesh, that we should continue with the conventional treatments, and that we should always seek out the top doctors. And I knew that the Rebbe always said that we need to create a Kli B’Derech HaTeva, a natural vessel for the blessing for which we are praying.

My mashpia (personal spiritual advisor) was also very encouraging. She would tell me: “You know what G-d wants from you. G-d wants you to continue making your best effort to have a child and to continue with these treatments, and that knowledge is a huge thing! Not so many people know exactly what G-d wants from them like you do.” So I knew that this was my shlichut, my G-d-given mission in life, to continue with these treatments, whether or not I ever became pregnant from them or not.

When I would be coping with yet another disappointment, I would ask my husband “OK, when is this finally going to happen? When am I finally going to have a baby?” And my husband would smile and say, “Very soon! Very soon it will happen. You’ll see.”

After about 19 years of waiting, I finally gave up all hope. I decided that I simple wasn’t worthy of the blessing that the Rebbe had given me to have a child. But I still continued with the treatments, because I knew that continuing the treatments was what G-d and the Rebbe wanted from me.

How did you cope on an emotional level for those 21 years?

In Chabad, there is strong idea of giving back to the world. If you know the letter aleph, then you should teach it to another Jew who doesn’t know the letter aleph yet.

So, throughout the years I always told my husband how thankful I was that we were always helping others. I teach brides the laws of family purity, and my husband teaches young people. That is our shlichut, our mission in life. We never felt that we were alone or that there was a lack in our lives, because we were always giving to others, so we weren’t focused on our own difficulties. We were never alone on Shabbat, because we always had guests. Giving to others really fills up your life, because that is what life is about, to help others.

Were there doctors who helped you along the way?

My husband and I went to one doctor for 12 years with whom we developed a close relationship. But at one point the doctor told us, “I’ve done everything I can do.” The Rebbe once taught that doctors have permission to heal people, but never to make them despair. So my husband said that if our doctor had given up hope, then it was time to go to a new doctor. We switched over to Dr. Yehoshua Dor, who is a wonderful person and an excellent doctor. It was at his clinic that I received the treatment that resulted in my pregnancy.

Getting Pregnant at age 42

Right after I did that final fertility treatment, there was a farbrengen, a Chassidic gathering for women, in honor of the Rebbe’s birthday on the 11th of Nissan. At the farbrengen, my friend turned to me and said, “Ora, you must believe you will become a mother! If you believe it, it will happen!” And I decided that she was right, that it was about time that I really started seriously believing that I would have a child.

In accordance with the Rebbe’s teachings, I accepted upon myself a hachlata tova, a resolution, that I would start studying the Shaar Habitachon of the book Chovot Halevavot, with the commentary “Lev Tov,” and that in general I would work on strengthening my faith and belief.

A month later, I found out I was pregnant with our daughter Rivka.

What was it like to find out you were pregnant after all those years?

First of all, when I got that positive result, I was skeptical because of all my previous experiences. But then I went to that first ultrasound, and when we saw that it was a healthy pregnancy, the ultrasound technician from Dr. Dor’s clinic and I were so excited that we just hugged each other.

At the school campus where I work, I was worried that my coworkers would pass out if I told them straight out that I was pregnant after all those years. So when I reached my fifth month, I bought a bottle of grape juice, and some cups and chocolates, and I came into the office and I closed the door behind me, which is very unusual. The secretaries and my boss looked up at me confused. And I told them, “I want to tell you all something. I’ve haven’t been putting on weight recently because it hasn’t been going well with my new diet. I’m putting on weight for other reasons.”

Everybody was in disbelief, we all began crying together. They brought me into the principal’s office, and we all made a big lechaim together.

Within hours, the whole staff in the whole school campus knew, and in all of Tsfat too.

When I called to tell my mother, I asked her, “Eema, are you sitting down?” She was in Heaven when she found out, really. Everybody was so happy for me. Nobody could believe it.

Giving Birth

I gave birth on the 10th of Shevat, which was the day the Rebbe became the Rebbe, which I feel is a big merit. My husband is very connected with the Tanya, so we named our daughter after the Alter Rebbe’s mother, whose name was Rivka.

I feel like I switched professions after all these years, and I’m enjoying every single minute of it. I don’t mind waking up in the middle of the night, and all that. Not at all. Being with Rivka is like watching a movie, I just look at her and it’s constant entertainment.

They say that the Redemption and Moshiach will arrive in the blink of an eye, and that the exile will feel like a dream. Sometimes it’s hard for me to believe that it’s here, and that this baby I prayed for and waited for so many years has finally arrived.

To tell you the truth, I still feel as though everyone’s talking about someone else having a baby after 22 years of marriage. I can’t believe they’re finally actually talking about me.

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12 comments

  1. brought me the tears reading this.

  2. Maurice Herman

    What a wonderful interview which reflects the situation and the personalities involved so well.
    Speaking as the Uncle we had stopped asking Ora and her mother.
    All is well that ends well

    Maurice

  3. yehudis chana

    What a message of faith! To endure and never despair, despite so many obstacles and the emotional torture of constant disappointment–amazing…a true hero…

  4. cousin rachel

    I am also in tears reading this, it’s an amazing story!x

  5. enjoy every minute of her & congratulations

  6. MAZAL TOV to Ora and family on this AMAZING simcha! The story brought chills to my skin and tears of joy to my eyes! I LOVE hearing such stories and will pass it along, there’s so many women that need to hear such a story!

  7. really amazing!
    obviously i can’t hold back the tears and can only wish you loads and loads of nachas from your little treasure.
    thank you so much for sharing this with us.

  8. Mazel Tov, mazel tov! Hashem should bless you and your family with continued revealed good. It moved me to tears to read of your open miracle. May you have much chassidishe nachas from your Rivka.

  9. I’m sure the neshoma you brought down must be a holy and special one!

  10. mazal tov! od besorot tovot toch shana b”sd.

  11. what a very moving story with a wonderful ending mazel tov

  12. Ora, I am your age now, and I am crying. we are still trying for our first…… mazal tov to you!

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