Final Immersion

I fill up the tub with water, take out my earrings, wipe off my makeup and get ready for the bath

I make my preparations as I have done many times before

I sink my body into the warm water and I look at my toes peeking out as I submerge and soak

I try to think of other things, like what we’ll have for dinner and, what I have to take care of at work the next day, and if it will rain tomorrow

I add more water and watch the steam rise from the heat, I like it hot especially on this night as my insides freeze with fear

I start to scrub and continue with my preparations, watching the soap swirl in the moving water

I continue to think about other things to distract myself, such as wondering how the season of the TV shows I watch will end, when my next student loan payment is due, and what our Shabbos plans will be

And I think of how ridiculous it is to think of all that now, but it is all I can do to stop from becoming paralyzed

I comb out my hair and check my body for the stray hairs that always seem to cling, readying myself for the next step

I want to avoid looking in the mirror so that I stay composed, but I need to make sure I haven’t left traces of makeup on my face so I look but do not see

When I am ready, I take as deep a breath as possible and call the attendant

She calls me in and asks me all the questions while checking my hands and feet. I have always hated this part and I simultaneously wish it will end and that it will last forever

I stand up and close my eyes while I savor the moment, then gently open them, taking in the view of the mikvah through my myopic vision without glasses

I smell the chlorine as I enter, slowly taking it one step at a time

I prepare myself to glide into the water and hear the call of Kosher, over and over

I think of all the things I have prayed for over the 4 years of my marriage thus far, while l have toiveled, once, twice, three times, all the way to nine

Prayers for a peaceful loving marriage, prayers for friendship with one another, kindness, laughter, prayers for financial stability and most of all for healthy sweet children

In this moment I am grateful that my custom is nine times of tveila, to have the time, even though there will still not be enough time

I finally let some tears fall into the water as I stand and fall for each immersion

And all I want to do is scream, scream so loud that it shakes all the walls of this sacred space

But I cannot because it just isn’t done, I would scare all the other women, and mostly because if I start I will never stop

It has been a few weeks since I have been here, longer than the average time as my body heals to be ready for this moment

And the irony is not lost on me that the distance between the last time and now is about the same amount of time that a woman who gives birth has to wait to be in this sacred space again

But I will never be that woman

I will never feel the motion of pressure and kicking in my womb

I will never look at a sonogram screen and see my child within me or wonder at it’s sex

I will never hold a child within my body

I will never know what the pain and pressure of labor is or the intense indescribable love that comes at the end, as I meet the new soul that I labored to bring into this world

I will never know what it is like to nourish a child at my breast and to watch it grow

To see it gain recognition of my face, to laugh and smile, or call me Mama for the first time

I will never know what it feels like for my child to do all the things children do, as they develop into their own unique and fascinating individual beings

I will never stand with pride as my child hits a home run or runs a race, paints a picture, connects to the fire and passion of connecting to G-D, or discovers their life mission

I will never walk my child down the aisle or be blessed to see them bring new life into the world

And I also think of all the times I know are to come

I will hear from well meaning individuals who will tell me that at almost 40, I am still young enough to have children, and I will hear all the many other things people like to say when faced with my barrenness, and all I will be able to do is smile politely and carry my truth as it burns inside of me

It’s a funny little thing: that little small dot on my uterine lining, the stubborn blip that won’t go away

It should seem unimportant and too little to count, and yet it has the power to change everything and has used its power to take my womb away

So I scream and rage inside my head, of all that I have lost and will never have, of the lack of fairness, the sadness, the anger, the pain, the loss

The magnitude of pain- too infinite to fit into the finite nature of words

I stay in the warm cocoon, the womb of the water for as long as I can

And I finally take a breath, walk out of the water and leave my raging storm behind for the moment

I linger to watch the water settle and to see it for the last time

I get dressed and return home to our forever family of two and to start a new life again

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8 Comments

  1. Deborah June 14, 2018 at 2:05 pm

    There is little to say in the face of such pain; I fear any words I might choose would sound banal, insufficient… But I didn’t want to read this and not leave any words at all. No words could be enough, but… I’m so sorry. You are heard. And I hope that there will be peace and joy for you in your future in your beautiful family of two.

    Reply
    1. Anonymous June 25, 2018 at 9:05 am

      what a wonderful validation of this experience.

      Reply
  2. Anonymous June 17, 2018 at 2:26 pm

    I’m so, so sorry for your pain. Whilst part of what you wrote may be true – your own body may not be able to grow and nurture a baby – there is still hope for you to have the family you dream of!! There are options! Have you and your husband discussed adoption? Or is surrogacy maybe an option for you? Please don’t look at infertility as the end, today there are many organisations that specialise in infertility and may be able to help you.

    Reply
    1. Anonymous June 25, 2018 at 9:04 am

      while that might be an option at some point, that isn’t really the point at this time. It is a painful experience to have to go through and even with adoption and surrogacy (which can be wonderful options), it doesn’t take away the pain of this experience. I am sure you mean well, but that isn’t really the point.

      Reply
  3. Orit Elgavi June 18, 2018 at 3:11 am

    I am so sorry for your pain. The loss must feel tremendous. Please do not give up hope of filling your house with laughter of kids. Perhaps, later, when you are healed more, you and your husband can explore other avenues. The world is filled with children who need a home.

    Reply
    1. Rachel June 21, 2018 at 10:34 am

      Orit,
      I think the author is well-aware that there are other avenues to explore having children….yes, there are children who need a home. But this essay isn’t about that. It’s about grieving the loss of being able to conceive, nurture, and give birth to her own biological child. As someone myself who has been fortunate to conceive and give birth to three b”h healthy children, my heart breaks for this woman who won’t be able to experience that.

      Reply
    2. Anonymous June 21, 2018 at 10:47 am

      that is a lovely sentiment but when a person is in pain and grieving a painful experience and reality of their life, they just need people to listen and sit with them in it. Solutions aren’t really what they are looking for at that moment. And even if a person does decide to adopt or is able to use a surrogate, that still doesn’t take away the pain of not being able to carry a child in one’s own womb.

      Reply
  4. Anonymous July 24, 2018 at 5:27 pm

    So sorry for your pain. I can’t think of any words that would make you feel even a drop better.

    Reply

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