Mazal Tov to Author of “My 3 Kids and 6 Miscarriages”
Hey JewishMOM, possibly you remember that last October I posted the article below written by Sara Chana bas Yehudis called “My 3 Kids and 6 Miscarriages.” At the time, Sara Chana’s chances of having another healthy baby looked pretty bleak. And then, b”H, I received an Email this morning that this past Friday night, just a few hours after Rosh Hashana, she gave birth to a healthy, beautiful baby girl! Remember this story next time you think a situation is hopeless. Because it’s not! Hashem can do anything! Mazal tov to Sara Chana and her entire family!
My first pregnancy ended at 5 weeks. I was devastated, but thank G-d, the disappointment was short-lived since I became pregnant 3 weeks after that and 9 months later our oldest daughter was born. Everything went according to the books, she was even born on her due date.
When our daughter was 5 months old, we laughed with joy when we discovered that I was pregnant once again. We loved sharing the news with everyone and watching the shocked looks on their faces. We thought about naming her Hodea, meaning praise or thanks, since we constantly received nasty comments like, “Well, that’s what happens when you’re not on birth control!” or “Were you shocked?? You must’ve been so upset!” We wanted to show the world that, yes, sometimes people WANT children close together. We ended up naming her Leah in the end, since Leah was the first person in the world to give Hodea to G-d for her children. And in our circles, Hodea would’ve been way too strange a name!
When my second daughter was around 18-months old, I found myself pregnant again. We were so excited! By that point we had moved to a smaller community and not spacing the births of children was very uncommon. We imagined ourselves walking down the street with 3 young‘uns, telling the world that we loved having kids and just kept going.
But when I was 9 weeks pregnant, I woke up with a wet feeling. When I stood up, blood poured out of me. We freaked out and called an ambulance. I was rushed to the hospital for an emergency D&C. I spent the entire day in the hospital, with nurses at my side, so I had the whole day to feel what was happening and think about it and that made it easier for me to handle that miscarriage. It was much harder for my husband, though, who was at home taking care of our young girls. It took him a long time to get over that trauma.
The next pregnancy didn’t come for over a year. My husband and I had different views about that. Since I was home all day with two young children, I kept saying that we needed to just learn to be happy with what we have. Taking care of the girls was hard, neither of them was old enough to go to school yet. I was grateful to have only two children and not to have to think about another child too. My husband had a hard time focusing on that and kept wondering when we would have another child.
We were asked to be the kvatters for our nephew’s bris, which is a segulah usually given to women who are having trouble getting pregnant. When I saw my husband carrying that little infant boy, my heart just gave up the most pure prayer I think I’ve ever had. I knew how much my husband wanted a boy, and seeing him carrying that little male neshama made me stop and ask Hashem to let my husband have that experience again, with a son of our own.
9 months later our son was born! He was a tzaddik from the moment he was born – well at least my doula said so! She said there was this feeling of holiness when he came into the world and in truth, his birth was the only one that I could say I really felt calm and happy about.
That was 3 years ago.
I got pregnant again when my son was pretty young. We laughed about my fertility – I seemed to always get pregnant when I was nursing around the clock, no bottles. But I lost that baby at 11 weeks. That miscarriage was hard on both of us, because that was when we started to notice a pattern. These miscarriages weren’t just random flukes, they were starting to occur way too often for our comfort.
When my son turned 2, I decided to go to work for the first time. The day after I took my job as a preschool assistant, I found out I was pregnant. That pregnancy was hard. I went through 14 weeks of constant nausea and felt incredible relief when I finally was done with the first trimester. I stopped keeping the pregnancy a secret and started wearing maternity clothes.
But at a routine check-up at 14 weeks, there was no heartbeat. An ultrasound confirmed that the baby’s heart had stopped. I texted almost everybody I knew, so that it wouldn’t be awkward when they saw me again. This miscarriage affected me more than the others, maybe because everybody knew. But again, we picked ourselves up and moved on. The doctors told us that since we had 3 wonderful, healthy children, there was no reason to do any more tests. The 3 children, they said, were proof that there was nothing wrong with me.
So we kept going. About 6 weeks before the end of the school year, I found myself pregnant again. This time, from the very beginning I braced myself for the worst. When I went to see my midwife, she was all excited to see me again. I just said, “Well, maybe this one’ll work, or maybe not.” It was hard to get excited.
When the blood technician took my blood, she said, “Oh I see we’re going for a spring baby.” I answered, “Maybe. But maybe not.” I just couldn’t accept that we might actually have a baby, I had been disappointed too many times. I started to feel like I was just an open door for God’s special neshamos. I had learned that when a fetus miscarries, it’s because that baby is a special high soul that doesn’t need to actually come into this world to fulfill his or her mission in life. This means that instead of being a tragedy, in fact the mother of a miscarried fetus has a great privilege to carry one of those holy souls.
We were sent for an early ultrasound at 6 weeks to see how things were going. While looking at my womb, the technician asked about our other pregnancies. We shared all our woes with her. Then she looked at the screen and said, “Well, G-d has blessed you.” We perked up. “You have two fetuses in there, “ she said.
“WHAT?!” We were both in shock. That sentence – “G-d has blessed you” – has stayed with me till this day. It was the most momentous sentence that anyone has ever said to me.
The technician showed us the two fetuses and we just could not get over our shock. I asked if my chance of having a miscarriage was less with twins, and she said that the chances of miscarriage actually went up especially because my twins shared one placenta. Since my pregnancy was considered high-risk I had to switch from my midwife to a special medical office that specialized in multiple babies in high-risk pregnancies.
We immediately called our rabbi to share the news with him. He told us that we could tell our parents, but not to tell anyone else. Thus began the most exciting time of our lives.
I had weekly ultrasound appointments. The babies were growing fine and I got to see them move every week. Seeing their heartbeats made me cry every time from sheer relief and happiness. We would Google “twins” almost nightly and look at pictures of growing bellies and read information. Morning sickness is double with twins, so that was something I had to deal with once again.
Of course, our fear that something would go wrong was huge. I took on a lot of different segulas. I made challah for the first time in my life–every week. I said certain chapters of psalms every day. I hung a ruby necklace in my room and I gave my name to lots of prayer lists. My stomach was already pretty big at 12 weeks, so everybody could see I was pregnant. The twins part was an exciting secret though.
At 14 weeks, I went in for the big extended ultra-sound. The technician laid me down and said, “This is going to be fun, we’re going to be able to see these guys and watch them.” As usual, I said, “Maybe fun for you. Can you please just tell me if you see a heartbeat in the first five seconds?” She turned on the machine, paused and said, “Oh no.” My heart plummeted. We waited while she seemed to do a lot of searching. My husband asked, “Is it both of them?” She said, “I’m very sorry, I can’t find any heartbeats.”
I think each time I went through this traumatic experience, it affected me more and more. And this last time with the twins hurt the most, because it forced us to realize that possibly we’re never going to carry a healthy pregnancy every again.
After that, the doctors agreed to do a lot of tests but all of them came out negative. There was nothing wrong with me or the babies. The doctors say that these miscarriages are still happening “by chance” with no medical basis for them.
I hate complaining because I know that I am so incredibly blessed to have 3 healthy beautiful children. My youngest is three and still has this innocent and pure neshama. And I don’t feel like I’m missing holding a baby yet. My son’s delayed speech probably helps a lot with that! I chose to stay home with him this year because it is a big comfort for me to see, kiss and be near him all day long. It brings me such joy to be around him all the time.
My mother tells me that my husband and I are such strong people to have gone through and to be going through this.
People all around us feel horrible and want to yell at G-d for doing this to us. We do try to have a good attitude about our reality, but it’s not like we have much choice!
We need to be emotionally healthy for each other, for our children, and for everybody else who is so mad for us. We need to show them that if we are not mad, than they shouldn’t be either.
My children know about all the pregnancies we’ve had. They love to tell people that when Moshiach comes, they will have 6 more brothers and sisters, G-d willing.
Going through these experiences really helps us to appreciate the children that we have. When I am around mothers with 5 or 6 little kids, I appreciate the space and quiet that we have compared to them. When I see mothers running after their runaway, crying two-year-olds, I appreciate that my youngest is 3 and doesn’t do that anymore.
I think I still have hope that there will be healthy pregnancies in our future. I still take pregnancy tests with excitement and hope and have to constantly talk to myself to remind myself that when I’m not pregnant, that is good too. It’s good not to be living with morning sickness and it’s good to enjoy the children I have with the energy that I have thanks to the fact that I’m not pregnant or nursing.
It’s hard though when people who are always pregnant laugh about it, saying “I don’t know, I am just always pregnant or nursing, what can I do?” It’s hard because when I got married, I thought that would be me.
We think we know what we want, but ultimately only Hashem knows what is good for us.
Epilogue: Almost exactly a year after this was posted, Sara Chana bas Yehudis gave birth to a healthy baby girl…This morning, Sara Chana wrote to tell me:
We named our baby Penina.
Penina means a pearl. Life is a precious gift, a jewel.
A pearl is also hidden. There is a verse that says: “Kol kevudah bas melech p’nima” – the beauty of a princess is hidden, it’s tznius.
Hashem’s ways are also hidden.
Sometimes it may look like Hashem is hiding from us, but this isn’t true, He is always there, even though we may not understand it. Hashem is always running the world.
The verse that goes with the name Penina (begins with a “pay” and ends with a “hay” is: “Pischu li shaarei tzedek avu vam odekah” –open for me the gates of righteousness, I will come in and praise You”. We too want to thank Hashem, for the precious gift of life.
On Rosh Hashona we read the story of Penina and Chana. Penina admonished her sister wife Chana for not davening for children. Even though it looks as though Penina is boasting, her intentions were pure. She was trying to help Chana to see Hashem even though times seemed desolate and lost. This brought out prayer in Chana to daven and she therefore was able to be given a child.
May our daughter Penina always be someone who will help people see the good intentions of Hashem, even when they seem hidden.