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Lights at the End of the Tunnel: My Struggles with Infertility

by Dr. Lisa Aiken

  

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By the time I reached my early thirties, I felt my biological clock pounding away as I searched for a suitable husband.

I was so relieved to get married at the age of 36, and assumed that I would get pregnant almost immediately. After all, my doctor had assured me that I was very fertile. As month after month passed without my getting pregnant, I began to feel panicked.

Finally, I got pregnant more than a year after we got married. We were elated that our prayers had finally been answered with a resounding "Yes, now it's time for you to have a child." No lottery winner could have felt more grateful than us when we saw the fetal heartbeat on the sonogram at eight weeks. 

We had never considered the possibility that when I went back to the doctor the following week, we would see no heartbeat. The fetus died, and so did a small part of me when I heard the terrible news. My husband was inconsolable.

We began consulting fertility specialists who assured us that all was fine, but that a little assistance would help speed things along. We dutifully sought interventions every month, some of which required us to turn our lives upside down. One month, we needed to walk four miles each way to a hospital on the Sabbath.

Another month, the doctor inserted an assortment of instruments into my reproductive system, left the room, and forgot to return for 45 minutes. No one heard my screams in this back-room office while telephone calls and a lunch break distracted her. Another month, we were recommended to a fertility specialist whose recommendations we faithfully followed.

We found out later that his exorbitant fees were exceeded only by his willingness to subject women to procedures that had been scientifically proven to be ineffective. Finally, we went to one of the top fertility specialists at a well-known hospital where we were put at the end of a one-and-a-half yearlong waiting list.

A year after my miscarriage, I got pregnant again during a trip to Israel. I attributed it to my endless prayers at the graves of saints and at the Western Wall. My husband and I were delightfully astounded, and awaited the birth of this child with great anticipation. A few weeks later, I gave a lecture at a community Sabbath lunch. The topic was, "Why Bad Things Happen To Good People."

One of my patients, who had suffered tremendously, insisted that a good friend of hers come to listen to me. The friend was trying to come to terms with a host of tribulations and challenges that she was facing, and my patient assured her that my words would help her find her way. Two minutes before I was to start speaking, I felt the familiar sensations of a miscarriage.

I felt as if a messenger had come to tell me that I was not the rightful winner of the lottery whose prize I had already mentally banked. It had all been a mistake.

I gave my talk, with its uplifting message that nothing happens by accident. Everything we undergo is a divinely engineered circumstance that is tailored to help our soul develop its maximal beauty and connection to its Source. When I finished, my patient's friend came over to tell me how deeply my words had touched her.

When the crowd left, I sadly walked back to the rabbi's house where I was staying. In private, I sobbed, feeling physical pain that reflected the emotional torment of my tragedy, even as my intellect told me that G-d was embracing me, and it was all for an ultimately good purpose.

Three months later, I got a telephone call from the hospital's fertility center. The nurse told me that she had found a way to get me into treatment in only six months instead of 18. I jumped at the opportunity. I underwent yet another fertility workup from scratch, the fifth in two years.

This time, though, the news was not encouraging. I was nearly 39 years old, and the tests showed that I might have reached the end of my fertile years. I would have to get monthly blood tests to determine in any given month if I would be fertile that cycle. If I was not for three or four months in a row, there would be no point in subjecting me to any more fertility interventions.


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Absolutely Beautiful

Posted by: Anonymous on Apr 09, 2008

I was taken by this article. Reading about such beautiful miracles is always a reassurance of faith, even though faith should never be based on them, but our relationship with HaShem. I now know the importance of the Ketubah and will make sure that when I get married, I am knowledgeable about its spiritual details. May the writer of this article and her husband have much hatzlacha in their future persuits and live a life together that is fully dependent on HaKadosh Baruch Hu (perhaps more children to come!).

RELATED CATEGORIES

Life Cycle » Marriage » Family Purity » Inspirational Tales

Shabbat
(pl: Shabbatot). Hebrew word meaning "rest." It is a Biblical commandment to sanctify and rest on Saturday, the seventh day of the week. This commemorates the fact that after creating the world in six days, G-d rested on the seventh.
Torah
Torah is G–d’s teaching to man. In general terms, we refer to the Five Books of Moses as “The Torah.” But in truth, all Jewish beliefs and laws are part of the Torah.
Shavuot
Early summer festival marking the day when the Jews received the Torah at Mount Sinai in the year 2448 (1312 BCE).
Western Wall
The western wall of the Temple Mount compound in Jerusalem. "The Divine Presence never left the Western Wall," and to this day, the Wall remains a holy shrine and a place for prayer.
Jerusalem
Established by King David to be the eternal capital of Israel. Both Temples were built there, and the third Temple will be situated there when the Messiah comes.
Psalms
The Book of Psalms. One of the 24 books of the Bible. Compiled by King David; mostly comprised of poetic praise for G-d. A large part of our prayers are culled from this book.
Shema
The most fundamental Jewish prayer, recited twice daily. This prayer, of Biblical origin, professes the belief in G-d's absolute unity.
Ketubah
The wedding contract which features the husband’s various obligations to his wife. The focal point of the document is the financial compensation due to the wife in the event of the marriage’s dissolution through divorce or widowhood.
G-d
It is forbidden to erase or deface the name of G-d. It is therefore customary to insert a dash in middle of G-d's name, allowing us to erase or discard the paper it is written on if necessary.