Monday, April 4, 2011

Why is there no shiva for a child lost before her time?  I was talking to a long time mentor and he suggested that perhaps it is one of those ways in which Halachah has not kept up with modern science.  When Chazal wrote it, losing a pregnancy was more the norm than the exception.  People might not have gotten as attached to a fetus in utero as they do today.   I know in my case, the minute I got that positive test, I was in love.  I would do anything for that tiny seed inside me- and I did.

For 8 months I went through hell to keep that baby safe.  If was a high risk pregnancy to begin with, but anything my doctor told me to do I did.  Stick your butt in a chair and keep it there until week 36- no problem.  Eat only celery, techina and string cheese for the next few months, and oh yeah, don't forget to come in so we can stab you with things a million times a week?  No problem.  I was completely and totally dedicated to this tiny person that I had no even met.

The truth is, I think he was right, but I think it goes further than that.

I had so many ultrasounds I thought I saw more of her than my older daughter!  From the time the fetus was 8 weeks old I could see it.  By 14 weeks I knew it was a little girl and could dream of all the things we would do together.  By 25 weeks I could see her profile had my brother's nose and my daughters long fingers.  She was not just a parasite inside me, from day 1 she was a person- my daughter.

My Rebetzin talks about how it is not good to get attached to the unborn- but when you wait so long and pray so hard how can you not?  It seems like a slap in the face to God to say "you have given me this amazing bracha and ness to cherish, and I am going to pretend it is not there".

I can honestly say that please God there will be a next time (soon I beg) and even if I wanted to I would not be able to stay "unattached".  Even knowing the pain that I know now I doubt that I would treat the fetus any differently.  I would watch him/her grow from a tiny seed to someone recognizable.  I would have names running through my head (in fact, that has already started and there is not a thing I can do about it.  God is master of my thoughts and if he does not want them there he can take them away).

My relationship with my daughter, no matter how short and how painful in the end is not something I would give up.  My dreams for her will live in my head forever, and I know she will spend eternity watching over my shoulder.  Speaking for me in Gods ear and praying on my behalf when I am to sad or broken to do so myself.  I know she will be at every simcha, every celebration, every birthday I celebrate and every shabbat at candlelighting.  I also know that in 120 years I will be reunited with my Gabbi and however short my relationship with her seemed in this world, it will last an eternity in the next one.


  1. i had an idea that the grief would be less if i could stay "unattached." i do not think it is possible. we might try to protect ourselves from loss by anticipating it. i remember when the realization finally dawned on me that i was trying to protect myself from future pain by holding myself aloof. and yet another part of me was clinging and desperately attached, just secretly. and i realized that the grief of loss is brutal and awful and full of anguish, and i don't think it's made worse if you are "attached." how does a women remain detached when her baby moves inside her, when she sees him or her every week on u/s?

    in a subsequent pregnancy i carried the words of yaakov avinu in my heart: "v'kaasher shacholti, shachalti." if i am bereaved, then i am bereaved. there is risk. i am in love. i am attached. if i have to cope with it, i will remember the courage of yaakov avinu after he lost yosef and now might lose binyamin.

  2. I like that thought thank you. It is something from which I can actually draw strength rather than so many of these platitudes I get.

    I don't think there is any way for a mother coping with infertility to not get attached. At the first Atime shabbaton some Rabbi got up to speak. He spoke of how Shmuel earned the death penalty by speaking out against Eli, the Cohen Gadol. Channah was upset and cried for his life and Eli turned to her and said, "why are you so upset? I will just daven for you to have another child" and she answered "because I do not want ANOTHER child, THIS is thechild I prayed for, I cried for, and agonized over. I want THIS child.

    I think there is no way to hold ourselves aloof from a child who is so prayed for and so agonized over that it is almost as if we are one with them from the start. People who conceive/bear children easily do not seem to understand the difference.