By: Avigayil Schreiber New York, NY
The holidays are always a stressful time when you and your husband are from different places. Both sets of parents want you to visit. Grandparents want to see you and catch up on what you are doing in life. Friends are visiting and you want to reminisce about the good old days. What no one thinks about, are all the couples going through infertility and how much harder these times are for them.
Suddenly when you go to visit your family, your sister in law is shoving her new baby in your face. She doesn’t realize that you are about to start your first round of IVF and are more nervous than you were on your first day of college. The family friend in shul who asks why you haven’t had kids yet, thinks he is just joking around with you – really you just lost another $20,000 to medications, surgical procedures, and ultrasounds. One Chag you cannot go away because you might have a transfer on the first day of the holiday. You don’t go to shul for the first two days because you had just gotten a phone call that none of your eggs fertilized less than 12 hours before candle-lighting. When you pull yourself out of bed and make it to shul on the third day someone says, “wow it must be nice to not have kids and be able to sleep in everyday!”
No one is trying to be malicious. No one is trying to throw it in your face that you have no kids. But so many of our holidays are centered around families and children. On Pesach right at the beginning of the Seder with the MaNishtana, on Simchat Torah with Kol Hanearim, even Yom Kippur when it is customary for parents to say a special prayer for their children, we are left empty handed.
The most special feeling is when that amazing miracle of a child is finally given to you, and suddenly you are able to take part in all of these customs. This past year watching my husband hold our daughter as he was honored with the Aliyah of Kol Hanearim right before which the Rabbi said the prayer for couples struggling with infertility, brought everything full circle. We were finally able to enjoy watching all the bright little faces as they got their Aliyah all together. But it is hard to not think about the future, and for us to build our family we will have to do it all again. For now, we try to live in the moment. Try not to read into the comments and the actions. But it is hard. Tears are very frequently shed. Feelings are hurt. No one is perfect. But hopefully we will able to push through this journey, and be able to share in these traditions together.