The “Oh No, Please God No!” Pregnancy Test

The “Oh No, Please God No!” Pregnancy Test

“I went to my gynecologist to get an IUD, and I found out I was already pregnant.”

My friend had given birth three months before, and now she was already a month pregnant. “I can forget about losing the 50 pounds I gained during my last pregnancy any time soon…” She looked so down, so tired, so “enough already” that I truly felt sorry for her.

It just seemed, well, so unfair.

A few months later my friend gave birth to a healthy baby girl whom she named Bracha.

And then, a few years passed by…

This past Shabbat, I was sitting at the playground with that same friend when one of her daughters came over to her and stood beside her. “Bracha, sweety, could you please pass me a wipe for the baby…”

Ah…this was Bracha. A first grader already. A pretty girl with such a kind, deep look.

I couldn’t help but remember the pained, distressed look with which Bracha’s mother had told me about Bracha’s impending arrival and contrast it with the quiet, nachas-filled joy with which she looked at her 7-year-old daughter this past Shabbat.

And I thought about how shortsighted we mothers can be when it comes to childbearing. How often an “Oh no, please God no!” pregnancy test and a “This is a neverending nightmare” pregnancy transforms into the greatest blessing of a woman’s life.
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A few years ago, my friend Hagit had just had another baby, her third in four years.

Hagit was Nachlaot’s superwoman: an amazing mother, a chesed dynamo, whose apartment shined and stove worked overtime churning out Moroccan delicacies for her family and multitude of friends…

But still, three babies in four years was a lot to handle, even for Hagit. One day I stopped by to visit Hagit and I saw that she was feeling run down, tired, like she had finally had enough.

“But Jenny, what can you do?” Hagit asked me rhetorically. “Hashem sends babies, and we have to greet them with open arms. But it’s hard, it’s soooo hard.”

“Hagit, listen to me, Hashem also created birth control…You don’t have to have a baby every year. Speak with your rabbi! You need a break!”

From Hagit’s surprised reaction I could tell that the idea of using birth control had never even occurred to her. And I will never know if she took my advice or not.

But today, about 8 years later, I feel differently about the whole story.

I’m not saying I regret the advice I gave Hagit, it was sensible advice. And faced with a similar situation, I’m sure I would give the same sensible advice yet again.

But today, with my 20/20 hindsight I see Hagit’s crowded and challenging pregnancies in an entirely different light…

Because today, my dear friend Hagit bat Leah is no longer among the living. Last spring, Hagit passed away after a two year battle with cancer, leaving behind a broken husband and 5 bereaved orphans ages 3 to 11.

And when I look into the faces of Hagit’s beautiful, bright, shining-neshama children I see Hagit’s face.

And I know that they are all that’s left of her.

Every time I see them I am reminded of that conversation with Hagit so many years ago, and I am reminded, yet again, of how shortsighted we mothers can be when it comes to childbearing. How often an “Oh no, please God no!” pregnancy test and a “This is a neverending nightmare” pregnancy transforms into the greatest blessing of a woman’s life.

Click here to make a donation to the Hagit bat Leah z”l Orphans Fund. This struggling family desperately needs assistance to provide their basic needs such as rent, utilities, food, clothing.

Watch this inspirational interview below with Hagit bat Leah z”l, conducted during her ninth month of pregnancy with her fifth child. A few months later she found out that she had cancer.
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10 comments

  1. Baruch Dayan Haemes. I am so sorry for the poor children left without a mother and thank you for giving us a way to help them, at least financially.

    When I read the beginning of the post, I was thinking that the oh no on the test was about the test being negative. So many women want children and cannot have, or have such difficulty conceiving or maintaining a pregnancy. My two words to the women out there who are blessed with large families, smile at your Mazal and smile at your simchas and smile at the little miracles that Hashem has entrusted you with.

    • So true. Just as there are women out there struggling to manage “yet another baby”, there are women out there yearning for more children and envying the first type of women, who seem to be blessed so easily and frequently. Each has it’s challenges. 3 children under 4 is hard, and so is praying for a younger sibling for your already school aged child.

  2. That video was so inspiring. My children were really getting me down lately, so my husband said, “go to JewishMom, read some stuff and you’ll be inspired” and here you had this post, it was perfect.

    It’s wonderful that Chagit can still inspire people even when she’s not alive anymore.

  3. Anonymous

    Yesterday, I thought I might be pregnant at less than a few days to my 47th bday. I have a 16 month old, and a few grandchildren thank Gd. So I was having those “oh no” days. This am I found out that I’m not, but this article came at the perfect time. So true.

  4. Beautiful interview – beautiful person – thank you for sharing this. She said some things I will keep with me.

  5. Anonymous

    Interesting, how some of Hashem’s greatest brachot can be so difficult at times – Eretz Yisrael, parenting, etc.

  6. Naomi Cohen

    sigh

    you write “I couldn’t help but remember the pained, distressed look with which Bracha’s mother had told me about Bracha’s impending arrival and contrast it with the quiet, nachas-filled joy with which she looked at her 7-year-old daughter this past Shabbat.”

    my experience was just the opposite

    I had a quiet, nachas-filled pregnancy and the childhood was filled with joy – but then came the pain and distress, as my child’s mental illness only became apparent in his teens and worsened in his 20s.

    if this comment is too much of a “downer” for the young moms reading this, Chana Jenny, feel free to take it off the site. I will understand. despite the reality that I see (which is that pregnancy and babyhood are the easy times compared to later), we still need to trust in Hashem and HAVE BABIES!

    • I just want to give you some hope – I personally know someone diagnosed with a serious mental illness in his 20s. Now in his 30s he is thank G-d completely healthy (on a maintenance dose of medication), married, with a job and a beautiful family. Have babies, and trust that Hashem provides the cure before the illness. This is a rough road, but there is a smooth one following G-d wiling.

  7. Married?
    Job?
    Family?
    Halevye.
    My son won’t take showers or buy himself new shoes. He walks around Jerusalem smelling bad, and with holes in his shoes.
    If you see him, please be kind.
    And please don’t mutter, “Where are his parents?”
    They are trying their very best. I know. I am one of them.

  8. Esther G

    Thank you, Chana/Jenny for reminding us that little me ain’t G-d, and that our view is limited to what is in our immediate vicinity at this moment. During my childbearing years, I would never consider birth control (unless there was a serious medical concern), but now that my children are married, I have been too quick to drop hints to them to ask for a heter. Thank you for reminding me to trust in Hashem.

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