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Make a Meal for a New Mom!

Editors note: this post stirred such a big (and emotional) discussion on the forum, that we decided it was worthwhile to share with the public. It was a inspired by this thread, “Why Are Men Not Expected to Cook?“. We hope by publishing this, there is greater awareness to help post-partum women – by both women and men. 

The past two months have been a whirlwind of hospital visits, doctors appointments, specialists consultations, and lab drop-ins. Between my husband breaking his foot and subsequently developing (and discovering and treating thank G-d) blood clots, a severe allergic reaction resulting in the prescription of an epi-pen for my one year old son (as well as a dozen other minor reactions), some persistent abdominal pain (and treatment) for me, and a long string of coughs and colds for my three year old daughter, we have been very busy! Oh, and did I mention all of this occurring during the High Holidays? And I forgot one small detail, we’re moving cities to a new house. The closing details, renovations, packing, schlepping, unpacking, and more renovations have kept us on our toes.

I am lucky, or rather blessed, to be surrounded by dear family and friends. My mother was there to step in and help with driving my husband to his daily blood-work and injections appointments, my father joined me in putting back the blinds, light fixtures, and outlets following the painting of our new place, my younger brother babysat my children so my husband and I could go to some very important consultations, and my older brother assured us that he would be there with his pickup truck in tow to help with our move when we were ready (and he certainly kept his word). Our dear friends stepped in to fill in the gaps where I was struggling. My husband’s coworkers assisted in chauffeuring him to work, my friends were there to listen to me talk (and cry) about my struggles over the phone (sometimes over and over), and my children’s friends (and their parents) were readily available for my children to drop by for a play date.

But then when our move was postponed from August 1st to October 1st due to four hospital visits (and subsequent daily treatment), we were in a bit of a pickle. My parents had departed on a long ago planned three week vacation. And I couldn’t figure out how we would move from one community to the next with two kids three and under. But that’s where the word community came in. Our community was there for us. My dear pal cajoled me into organizing a meal train where our friends (and acquaintances) stepped in and signed up for 12 days of meals (you’ll find out why it took some convincing). On a daily basis, we received a variety of sumptuous piping hot meals including spaghetti and meatballs, marinated tofu salad and quinoa, creamy lasagna and spinach salad, chicken and rice. And of course desserts galore; cookies, cakes and bars.

This was especially helpful because everything from our kitchen was packed up in boxes (that unfortunately weren’t thoroughly labeled) at our new house, yet the stove and oven at our new house were not ready to be kashered (I don’t know if they ever will be, but that’s another story). Furthermore, our new house was laden with dozens of boxes, some piled four levels high. It was in no condition to bring active curious little explorers. And yet, we could only work on unpacking our house so fast. I am with the kids at home and the park, and the grocery store, and the library all day while my husband works, and after we would put the kids to sleep, we’d take turns heading to the new place to schlepp over more boxes or begin the daunting task of unpacking. We kept 8pm – 2am hours at Project New House for two weeks. I don’t know how we made it through. But here I am on the other side (albeit sitting on a box as a I type) to tell the story.

Around this time last year, my outlook on making meals for families in need (particularly post partum moms) changed dramatically. I had a wonderful pregnancy and labour thank G-d. Yet, at the very last second, it was discovered that I would need an emergency c-section, which resulted in my newborn son’s admittance in the NICU on nearly every machine possible, and an extended stay for me in the maternity ward for two weeks with two blood transfusions. This all happened around Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and Succos time, so things were a tad hectic (definitely more hectic than our holidays this year, but I am not looking for any competition next year).

For two weeks, my husband stayed with dear friends of ours who live a 10 minute walk from the Children’s Hospital. They received a call from my husband Friday at 8am that went something like this, “Umm, can I come for Shabbos with my three year old for ummm I don’t know how long, because ummm Ettie is in the hospital with our son who’s umm in very critical condition.” With a miracle from the Almighty, we were joyously discharged Erev Yom Kippur and had an amazing end to the Yomin Tovim. However the challenges didn’t end there, things were really tough, on all of us.

From the day we came home from the hospital, literally, it was me and my two beautiful children. There I was with a super low iron level, borderline anemic, a newborn with a tongue tie that needed to be fixed and nursing was slow to come, and a very active, independent, and vivacious toddler to keep track of (sadly, she’s didn’t get much attention those first few months, and we all really felt it, but there was just nothing I could do). Meals were especially difficult. Although I am “Queen of Frozen Meals” and am best friends with my chest freezer, it was a very painful period; physically, mentally, and emotionally.

My friend who my husband was staying with made a ‘meal train’ invitation to nearly twenty women, and not one replied. When I had one particularly difficult day and previous night, I called my elementary school teacher nearly in tears saying that there was no way any of us were going to be eating that evening. She sent over a delicious meal our way (in addition to many while we were in the hospital, including the pre-fast Yom Kippur meal), and I have a feeling that she raised her eyebrows when I called thanking her profusely (and I mean profusely) the next day (and the day after that).

Several women had sent over meals to my good friend while I was stilled admitted in the hospital so that she would have what to feed two unexpected guests over Rosh Hashanah. Being the gracious friend that she was, she sent over some of the meals my way (as well as her Yom Tov meals) so that I wouldn’t have to eat hospital food over Rosh Hashanah and two Shabbosim, and she froze the rest so that my husband could bring it home once we were discharged. I made it through a three day Succos with that food; it was such a relief. I also had frozen challah, dips, and side dishes as well, so there was no shortage of food over Yom Tov. But I was so bleary eyed for the days and weeks to come. While in the hospital, my doctor also brought honey cakes and piping hot meals; besides being a knowledgeable and skilled obstetrician, what unbelievable bedside manner he had!

While it was difficult, I learned a very important lesson from that period in my life. I learned to never make assumptions. I live this close to my mother so maybe people thought she was helping. But my parents were on a long ago planned three week cruise and even missed my little guy’s bris (it seems all their vacations are planned just when I could use their assistance. What a coincidence, Mama. Just joking, sort of. My mother-in-law flew five hours just in time for the bris, but she arrived one hour before it began and had to leave two days later. So possibly people thought she was staying? Or perhaps people assumed that my husband who is the most amazing man on the planet was ‘stepping up to the plate.’ Putting my toddler in a playgroup or preschool or daycare wasn’t an option for several reasons. We are a 45 minute drive to the city so it would involve more schlepping than it was worth (three hours of daily driving, no thanks, especially since I was instructed by my doctor not to drive for the first six weeks). My daughter was too young for the preschool and the cost of the daycare was $700 per month (yeah, that’s doable for a stay at home mom and single-earning family. Cough cough.)

Speaking of my husband, he had taken a full two weeks off work to take care of our toddler while I was admitted in the hospital.  And then he would be taking another week between for all the Yomin Tovim. My husband is amazing in the kitchen, in fact he is a much better cook and baker than me. Literally, he could open his own restaurant or café, hands down. But he was working 9-5. He would roll in at 5:45 pm to a scene of chaos. The house was a wreck from keeping my kids busy, active, and happy throughout the day (as the catchphrase goes, cleaning while the kids are home is like shoveling the side walk while it is still snowing). The kids were hungry. I was exhausted. So he wasn’t able to only start making meals when he came home.

And my husband couldn’t do any prep in the morning because he would be taking care of the kids so I could at least get a bit of uninterrupted sleep from 6am-7:30am. He was unable to work on the meals in the evening. Being that he was a full-time graduate student, he had his studies, as well as some work projects he had missed in the three weeks he was off that needed some attending to. And he would often spend 8pm to midnight holding my newborn son so I (who had just had a c-section) could sit a bit with my feet up and sleep a bit, because given our difficult nursing situation, sleep was something I was not getting much of.

I had several ready to go trays in our freezer, and we were sure to freeze any leftovers from the Bris which we had catered, Baruch Hashem to our energy level, not our wallet though. But I could never think clearly enough to ask my husband to defrost the meals the night before, and it was too deep of a bend for me to do on my own that morning. And the truth is, I was a bit embarrassed to ask him to go in the freezer, given its scrambled condition. But he persisted and found meals between the frozen chicken polkas and tubs of cottage cheese.

I didn’t expect to have such a difficult recovery period. Following my daughter’s birth, I was at the playground with her a couple days after we were discharged and whipping up meals the day we came home from the hospital was no problem at all. In fact, we had streams of visitors who wanted to meet our precious baby girl after our long awaited journey to her birth just a few months before we celebrated our five year anniversary. I served coffee, tea, desserts, and snacks effortlessly. We had Friday night and Shabbos day guests the Shabbos immediately following our discharge. Thank G-d, I have been blessed with an extra measure of energy, and thus I would have never thought I would have needed to prepare several weeks of meals in advance (now I know for next time, better be prepared than sorry).

I felt so isolated during the period following my son’s birth.  One of my good friends was away for Succos but she called and emailed me to check in. She even offered to make a meal for me once she returned, but I couldn’t bring myself to accept a meal four weeks post partum (granted, it was only two weeks after being discharged). My other good friend who my husband and toddler stayed by offered to make some calls to ask (or rather nudge) some friends to help out with meals. I politely declined, she already sent our an invitation to a meal train. She tried to persuade me, saying that our friends probably missed her email during the Yomin Tovim or they couldn’t figure out how they would get the meal to my city, being that I am a 45 minute drive away. But I wasn’t going to beg. We both knew that emails don’t get lost, the world wide web is awake 24 hours a day. And a friend from my city offered to bring the meals to her house on her way home from the children’s elementary school.

I know it may sound dramatic but those were among the most difficult three months of my life. I feel bad thinking of the time my newborn was born as one of the hardest stages of my life and a time filled with tremendous pain. But at least I have grown from it. Or rather, I have chosen to grow from it. I could have been hurt, upset, insulted, angry, and frustrated. Or I could have used it as an opportunity to learn and grow. I chose the latter. I have learned many lessons from the post partum period following my son’s birth and I have used the experience as fuel for my passion of helping others, especially those in a vulnerable position. Anytime I hear someone had a baby, whether a close friend or not, I bring over a meal, offer to babysit, or volunteer to help around the house. And if I am too tired to make a meal, I encourage my husband to make doubles of whatever he is making for dinner that night. I make a little care package for the mom and try to call or email to see how things are going periodically.

I have also learned the importance of not just asking for helping, but also accepting it when others offer. During our recent two months of crisis, I normally would have smiled and said “no thank you” when asked if there was anything someone could do to help. But this time around, when a friend of mine offered to take my daughter for the afternoon, or another friend offered to pick up some snacks for me when she saw my depleted cabinet at my old house where we were still staying (and sleeping on the floor as all our furniture had already been moved), or when my husband’s friends offered to reassemble our furniture, we readily agreed. We didn’t need to be convinced. We couldn’t say “yes please” and “thank you” fast enough. Receiving help doesn’t make someone weak. Rather, it exudes strength as we recognize that we are not invincible by ourselves, and how we appreciate and recognize our friend’s roles in our lives.

I would hate for anyone to go through what I went through following my son’s birth. I no longer wait for a friend to call me in tears as she suffers through post partum depression.  Instead, I proactively offer to take her children to the park so she can rest. Instead of waiting for a friend’s child to look longingly at my daughter’s snack, I offer to bring home groceries for my friend, after all, I’m going shopping anyways, what’s a few extra bags?  I have the space in my trunk. Rather than waiting for my friend to vent to me at our toddler’s playgroup that she has no idea why she even came with her three year old and three week old, I offer to bring her three year old together with mine to the program so that she could stay and bond at home with her newborn. I’m going to the program regardless, so what’s an extra child?

During our recent move, being on the receiving end of endless kindness has emphasized the importance of being on the giving end. I have had the opportunity to compare and contrast two very challenging experiences in my life, the period following my son’s birth and our month of hospital emergencies and coinciding move. The meals that we received from our friends were delicious and nutritious (otherwise, we would have been rotating between cheese and salami sandwiches for three weeks, thank G-d we only did it for one week). But the biggest blessing in those warm delicious packages were the care, warmth, and friendship. The “I’m thinking of you,” the “I hear ya,” the “it must be tough,” the “you’re strong, you can get through this.” While the meals were digested within a couple hours, the love has stayed with me until now, and will probably stay with me forever.

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Mikvah Struggle

I would like to share an inner struggle I recently went through.

Friday night was my Mikvah night. It was a long day, taking care of my baby, getting ready for Shabbos and the regular preparations for the Mikvah. All I remember of that day was one big daze.

When it was my turn to go and as I entered my room, I realized that I couldn’t remember if I did a bedikah that day. I could recall holding the bedikah cloth but couldn’t remember doing a bedikah. I went over the scene again and again in my mind. I was sure I did it, I wanted to have done it; I tried to convince myself that I must have. How aggravating would it be to go back home Niddah, yet again for one more night. So I continued to get ready and entered the Mikvah room, telling myself, it’s not such a big deal, and that Hashem will understand.


Just as I was about to show my nice clean nails to the mikvah attendant, I began to cry. Tears of fear and frustration. What if I become pregnant from this one time? How will this affect the sanctity of my marriage? The health of my children? I began to explain myself to the sweet woman standing by the Mikvah, and with the gentlest smile she told me, “This is something you will have to remember if you did or not, and decide for yourself.”

Then she asked, “How will your husband react?” Thank G-d, I knew that my husband would support me if I did the right thing, but he will be understandably disappointed. I decided right then to not take a chance on a potentially big sin and go home. It felt right.

I came home and told my husband. I will never forget the expression on his face; pure respect and admiration. Totally worth it!

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My Journey to Freedom

It started five years ago, when I married my now ex-husband. Well, that’s when it officially started. But you see, it never just starts with a bad marriage. There is usually a history leading up to that poor decision. In my case, I had been abused previously. True, it was a different kind of abuse. But essentially, it’s all the same. It has the same devastating effects and takes the same sort of energy to shake out of your system.

It started when I was 7 years old. Thankfully, it’s over. But the journey has not yet ended. I am in a healthier place now than I have ever been in, but there is always work to be done.

Sparing you the horrific details, I was sexually abused for many years as a young child. I then went on to marry an abusive man. He put me down, shamed me, beat me, raped me and ultimately, succeeded in making me feel worthless and like I was nothing more than an empty shell. He did a ‘fine’ job of finishing off my rapist’s mission.

Throughout my years, I subconsciously took over the role of my abusers in treating myself like I do not have a voice, and doubting the small little voice that would attempt to speak up every now and then.

Now that small little voice has gotten stronger and louder and more assertive. But every so often, the condescending voices of my abusers pipe up and try to dissuade me from pursuing my dreams. But now, it is their voices that are hushed and quiet, the muttering that I am now able to ignore and prove wrong.

Because I am strong. Stronger than the weak men who needed to put me down in order to build themselves up. Stronger than the naysayers who thought I could never break free. Stronger than myself, because every day I am getting stronger than I was yesterday.

Here are some of the ways that I was able to nurture and bring forth my inner strength. For those of you who have battled with similar struggles, I hope this can help you break free too.

Live your life for you! You are the most important person in your world. Your own mental health should be top priority. What everyone else thinks is just background noise. Ultimately, they are not living with your decisions – you are. This does not mean to totally disregard wisdom and advice from those wiser and more experienced than ourselves, but rather, to take it into consideration when you look at the grander picture that only you have access to. Remember: you can never please everyone.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with being selfish. If something or someone makes you feel bad or gives you negative vibes, remove them from your life. You do not have to care for the world. You have to care for you. Take time to do the things that make you happy, that give you positive energy, and only surround yourself with those who do that for you.

Set boundaries  Very clear and strong boundaries  When interacting with you, other’s should know what you will put up with. And the only way for them to know what your boundaries are, is if you tell them. Be firm. Be your own advocate.

♥ Independence. For every individual, this can mean something else. For some, it may mean getting a job and paying their own bills. For others, it can be taking college courses. And yet for others, it can be as simple as going pottery painting in the evening after the kids are asleep. Whatever it takes for you to feel like your own person, do it.

Which brings me to my final point: Date yourself. This one may be more difficult for the extroverts out there, but it may prove to be even more beneficial. It entails doing exactly what it sounds like. Take the time out to be alone and do what you enjoy doing. Allow yourself the quiet and solitude to think deeply. Let your mind wander. Get to know yourself. Keep a journal of the thoughts you have. You would be surprised at how much you discover about yourself. It can only lead to good things.

Now as Pesach approaches, I am aware that I was bound by shackles of abuse, similar to that of the slaves in Egypt. But I, like them, am no longer a victim, rather I am a survivor.


I survived the deepest hell and came out stronger. Like the Torah tells us, the slavery in Egypt was compared to an iron furnace. It refined us to be able to receive the Torah. One of my favorite expressions sums this up perfectly “Stars can’t shine without darkness.” I am a shining star, as is each and everyone one of us. We all have struggles and those struggles shape us to be better, stronger and kinder people.

Let us use this upcoming holiday to reflect within and find our deepest strengths.
Wishing you all a happy, healthy, Kosher and liberating Pesach!

Photograph by Rivka Bauman Photography

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Our Story – Sexual Abuse

Clarification: the person in this photo is not the author of this article. 

Abuse, lies, threats and a cover up exposed.

I call it my story, but it is not really my story to tell. But it has become a part of me, it is part of my life; in fact it is taking over my life.

My husband was raped.

I can say it over and over again. Yet each time it almost doesn’t even sink in.

Thirteen years ago, when my husband was 14 years old, he was raped. He was a young Chassidish boy, who came from a family that never quite fit in however hard they tried. His parents divorced when he was 2, and he suffered for years as a result of that. At the age of 9, a judge made him decide. Mommy or daddy? Yes I repeat, mommy or daddy, “who do you want to live with?” the judge sweetly asked him.

My husband chose daddy, because mommy was no longer frum, stable, nor lived in the community, and daddy said he could still see mommy and he would let her come and visit. Mommy promised she would. But she never did.

After those events, it is safe to say that my husband was emotionally scarred for life. His behaviour or lack of, and education suffered tremendously. His lack of cooperation and willingness to be a part of his new family, with daddy, Ima and his half brothers and sisters tore the family apart. And at the grand age of 12 years old, it was decided that my husband would leave school and officially, he would be home-schooled, but primarily he would get a job to keep busy.

A young and innocent Chasidish boy, with his bekesher and long payos, and who davened in the local Chasidish shtieble each week, was about to embark on a journey that would not let him return.

I recently watched his Bar Mitzvah video and I had to hold back the tears. He gave a beautiful Dvar Torah and thanked all those that needed the relevant Hakoras Hatov. Only watching it in hindsight, it was just so apparent to see the innocence that was about to be ripped away from him in the coming years.

And so it came to be.

He was 14, he had a job in a local shop and got rather close with the owner. Until one day he got a little too friendly and raped him.

I would say I have spared you the details, but in all honesty, I have been spared the details so I am unable to relay them to you. I am not sure whether I am lucky, or whether that means I will never truly understand what my husband went through.

My husband knew something was wrong. Something bad had happened. Being the technological savvy teenager he was, he managed to actually obtain the cd of the CCTV camera that had recorded them.

He decided he would go to speak to their Rabbi about what had happened. Surely his saintly chassidish Rabbi, who everyone in the community flocked to for advice, would be able to help him.

And so there he found himself, seated in his Rabbi’s house, telling him his story. From beginning to end.

Once he had said his piece, he looked up at his Rabbi, with his tear stained face and asked him “what shall I do? What shall you do?” and brace yourself for this response:
“You won’t do anything, you must not tell anyone about this or about this conversation, don’t tell your father, don’t tell your friends, or everyone will know what a bad person and boy you are, you will be shamed, you will be nothing. Now go and never speak of this again to anyone.”

And so he went.

Years past. And there were lots of changes.

Yiddishkeit, Torah, Mitzvos, they soon became memories of the past. And his father, well he surely must have been evil, if he knew about such things happening to boys and then not being allowed to speak about it.

After the numerous meetings daddy had with the Rabbi, surely the Rabbi must have told him why he suspected that daddy’s son had tried to commit suicide a few times, and why he did not want to be Frum anymore.

Relationships broke apart, a father and son, Hashem and his child.

Being involved in the youth program for the ‘off the derech’ teens is where things all started to change. They did not force Frumkeit, they just helped to educate and facilitate. It was there that new strong bonds were created, and my husband got to learn about evil things that people normally get sent to jail for. He spoke about what happened, got therapy, and was offered someone to accompany him in all his meetings with police and lawyers. But for my husband, it was not something that he wanted to do.

He did not blame the man that raped him. He blamed the Rabbi for covering it up.

When I met my husband at some point in our relationship prior to marriage, I was told about all of this. He confided in me, and I promised to keep his secret and support him no matter what.

The glass was smashed, Siman Tov uMazel Tov was sung, and Sheva Brochos were over.
Now it was time for real life to begin.

We found our happy medium in Judaism. We kept some Chasidish traditions, but on the outside, we look like your standard Orthodox Jews.

As every young couple starts their new marriage, one of the most exciting aspects is the physical side, the intimacy. In our relationship, we had it before we were married, although we had firmly kept to our self-made rule of anything but sex before marriage.

I first realised something was wrong when I would cry myself to sleep at night, feeling so rejected when my husband once again told me “I’m not in the mood tonight, I just want to cuddle.”

We had sex, but it was not as often as I would have liked or wanted. But after countless arguments, we just came to the conclusion that we were different from each other and we had different sex drives. And the good outweighed the bad, so we tried not to make it a big deal out of it.

After all who wouldn’t want a husband that loved to cuddle? To him, sex did not equal love.

We had our first child almost two years after marriage. We were so happy.

But that was when the flashbacks started for my husband. Every time he looked at our daughter, all he could feel was fear, and images of what had happened played in his mind over and over again. All he saw were images of himself being raped. He feared for our daughter’s safety, and he fell into a deep depression.

I begged him to go to therapy. “Please go”, I would say over and over again. But it was and still is too painful and it had never helped him in the past.

He did not want to talk. He wanted to forget.

Up until six months ago, we were at breaking point. We spoke to our Rav, who really helped and guided us, and I got myself into therapy, which taught me how to understand the abuse my husband had endured and how to be there for him and cope with the repercussions it had had on him.

And then it happened.

Our community exploded.

Headlines read as follows: “Hariedi Rabbi Exposed in Rape Sex Scandal”, “Prominent Marriage Counsellor Inappropriate with Married Women.” The list can go on and on. And then the big one: “Rabbi Resigns from All Positions”

During the course of these past few months, we have watched the biggest cover-up in our community unfurl. Finally, this Rabbi is being exposed for the heinous crimes he has committed. Not only did he cover up for rapists and pedophiles, but he was a molester himself.

But as always, there will always be the poor misguided souls that will follow their leader to whichever depths of the lowest places they will go. There were those that fought back, and the fights are still taking place. It is far from over.

But finally, my husband is beginning to heal.

Justice has started to take place.

More victims are speaking out.

More abusers are being named and shamed.

The only hard part to deal with is the somewhat like ‘Stockholm syndrome’ that my husband continues to suffer from. For those that are not familiar with the term, it is when a bond is made between captor and captive, or in this case, abuser and victim.

I would not say my husband empathises with or understands the man that raped him. But to this day, he is not willing to press charges against him or speak to the police. Therefore, there is a pedophile roaming the streets of our community and has gotten away scot free.

And that is the hardest part for me. I need this man to be punished. I feel like he has ruined my husband’s life and my own.

I do not think that my husband realises what our sex life could be like if he had not been raped, or maybe he does realize but he does not want to dwell on it, because the harsh reality is that the lack of sex, has led to the lack of a pregnancy. We have been desperate for a second child for over a year; but until now, we have not been able to make that happen because of the lack of intercourse.

I stand by my husband and I am patient for him because I love him. I love him unconditionally, partly because I know he is my soul mate and partly, I make the extra effort because I know he has no one else in the world that can love him unconditionally.

He will never be able to forgive his father for exposing him to the Rabbi that covered this up. And he will never forgive him for not realising that there was something severely wrong with his son all these years.

I urge all victims of abuse to speak out.

This story started thirteen years ago, and the end has only just begun for us now.

I have given you a glimpse into my world, the world of a wife of a victim of abuse.

I have learnt not to cry myself to sleep at night because my husband does not desire me; but instead, I hold him tight and I keep him close and try to protect him from the world that has caused him so much pain.

All I can do is try to understand and encourage people to speak out. Staying silent is easy, but bottling it up is the hardest thing to do.  Whatever a victim does will be painful, and we need to show them support no matter what.

I wish I could end my story with a happy ending, but unfortunately I cannot. Right now, there is no happy ending. My happy ending will be when we live in a community where we do not allow any Rabbis to cover up crimes of abuse of any kind, and when all victims of abuse feel safe enough to speak up.

Please, I urge you, if you know someone who has suffered at the hands of any abuser, be it emotional, physical, mental or sexual abuse, help them to speak up and act now.


Photograph by Rivka Bauman Photography

Clarification: the person in this photo is not the author of this article. 

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Secondary Infertility


I’m pained, saddened, and heartbroken. I can’t stop crying. My face is soaked with tears, my heart is throbbing in pain, and my body is shaking from weakness. I keep on asking myself, “How did this sudden turnover from excitement to misery happen?” I wish I could’ve held on, I wish the fetus could’ve stuck to me healthily. At my sibling’s wedding, everyone wanted to know if I was pregnant, even had the audacity to approach me and ask me straight out, to which I abruptly responded, “I prefer to keep these matters private.”

My story goes way back to the delivery room of my first and only child. After an extremely longs stretch of days filled with excruciating labor, I was rushed in to the operating room due to the baby’s dropping heart rate. I was immediately gassed out and then given general anesthesia. The C-section took over two hours of pulling out my child. The first time I held him, he was over 12 hours old. I cried out of excitement, joy. Every day with him is a great gift from heaven that I have never taken for granted.

We tried for another as soon as we got the go-ahead from my OB. I was thrilled to find out that I was pregnant. I came in at 12 weeks for an ultrasound that showed a 7 week old fetus without a heartbeat. I was disappointed, but remained positive. I had a D&C at a Doctor’s office and felt better almost soon after.

I was told to keep trying. I got pregnant again almost immediately. This time, I didn’t want to get my hopes up. I decided that I’m not taking a home pregnancy test. Finally, 2 weeks passed my missed period; I took a home pregnancy test. It was clearly positive. That night, I woke up in excruciating pain; almost worse than the contractions I experienced at my son’s birth. My husband helped me breathe, and calmed me down that everything will be okay. I began light spotting the next morning, and then eventually passed the fetus.

It was horrifically traumatic. I felt as though the picture from the book of a forming fetus was getting flushed down the toilet. I felt as though I was a destroyer, not a creator. I was miserable. I fell into a deep hidden depression. On the outside I acted well; however, in the inside I was hurting. I gained a lot of weight and ate away to cover up my emotions. Then, I decided that I won’t give up…I’ll hold on tight, and try again.

This time I was pregnant. Everything was going well. I even made it in to the second trimester. Until my first ultra sound where there was no heartbeat. The baby measured a week less only at 15 weeks. I was sent to a special ultra sound where they confirmed it. I was scheduled for surgery Erev Succos morning. I was put under general anesthesia where they dilated my cervix and contracted my uterus to take out the fetus. My recovery was slow and steady.

This time it took me a year to begin thinking about trying again. On our first try, I was pregnant, but it only lasted two weeks. I bled everything out. All along I’ve been seeing a Reproductive Endocrinologist, Hematologist, Endocrinologist and my OB, and none had any solutions. The fetuses have been sent for genetic and viral testing, everything was negative.

The doctor said to keep on trying, so we listened. I got pregnant again almost immediately. All my numbers were good, the HCG and progesterone levels were just as expected. I let myself get excited and I began dreaming about holding my newborn just in time for the month of May. I pinned my favorite baby clothing and items that I dreamed of onto my private Pinterest board. I signed up to the baby magazine. I had my eyes set on the stroller that I dreamed of. I already planned spending time with my newborn in May, June, July, and August.

Until I received the phone call with my blood results. My heart sank. Those painful words were too familiar. “Oh, honey, it’s Nurse ________at Dr. __________ office calling. I have bad news…the HCG levels are dropping. You should expect cramping and bleeding very soon. If you soak through more than a pad an hour go to your local emergency room.” I began sobbing uncontrollably. This time, I kept all my thoughts positive, hoping everything would remain positive. I felt like G-d is slapping me in the face! Why? What is wrong with me? What am I doing wrong?

I have been diagnosed with unexplained secondary infertility. I often find myself crying. I cry from joy and appreciation of being so thankful for my beautiful, healthy child, while crying and praying for another healthy baby. For those of you suffering from infertility I feel your pain, I know your pain, and I cry from the same pain that you are experiencing. I hope and pray that very soon we all cry from the same feelings of happiness, as we hold our precious newborn in our arms.

Chanukah is a holiday of warmth and light. As we gather around family and we talk about the open miracle that G-D showed our ancestors, we speak of their triumph against the darkness. As they prevailed, may all of my sisters out there suffering from infertility see open miracles and overcome the pain and the struggles. As we all light the last candle, I am requesting that you bear us in mind and that your prayers reach the heavenly throne. May the Chanukah light continue to illuminate your home and your future.