May 18, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

The Proof Is in the Picture

Just for You: The PUAHCare Article Series. From the files of a PUAH rabbinic counselor.

Because your fertility journey is so much more than a medical experience.

(Courtesy of PUAH) Have you ever been told that something you want very badly is “impossible?”

Not “unlikely.” Not even “highly improbable.” But no-chance-in-the-world, you’d-have-better-luck-building-a-snowman-in-the-Sahara impossible.

I still remember the way I felt when my doctor said that word to me; it was a punch in the gut so hard I could barely breathe. But let me start at the beginning.

We were a regular young married couple, with no prior indications that we should have any difficulty with childbearing. Yet, when we were married already a year with no pregnancy in sight, I began to worry. I went to my doctor for a checkup, and he sent us for some tests.

Those tests generated more tests, and I found myself a frequent visitor at my local hospital. I went from test to test, from doctor to doctor, getting increasingly concerned and bewildered. I was so sure the test results would lead to a simple diagnosis, to a definitive declaration that this is the problem, and here is how we’re going to fix it. Instead, as I moved up the hierarchy of specialists, I began to realize that, whatever the problem was, there was no easy fix.

And then came the day when my husband and I met with the chief fertility specialist at the hospital. He looked at us with as somber an expression as I’ve ever seen and said, “I’m sorry, but you’re not going to have children.”

He said it just like that. I couldn’t breathe, let alone speak, but my husband gasped out, “What do you mean? There must be something we can do!”

The doctor shook his head. “There’s nothing we can do for your condition. It’s medically impossible for you to have a baby.”

I finally found my voice. “You mean—we should just give up? I’m 24 years old! How can it be that I’ll never be a mother?”

I was on the verge of breaking down, but I didn’t care.

He looked at us sympathetically. “There’s always adoption.” And that was that. He had nothing more to say, and we left his office in a daze.

We didn’t say anything to our families; we decided to keep the terrible news just between ourselves for the time being. But it was hard to pretend that everything was okay when I felt that my world had just collapsed. Still, I refused to accept his verdict as final, and insisted on further procedures. I was willing to try anything and everything, no matter how painful, no matter how remote a chance at success, if it gave me even the slightest hope of having a baby.

But after a long period of these procedures, we once again came to the end of the line. This time it was a different doctor who delivered the same painful news: “I’m sorry, Dorit, but there’s nothing more we can do for you.”

I can’t begin to describe our state of mind during that time. I sank into a deep depression, while my husband, brokenhearted, confessed one day, “Every time I see a pregnant cat in the street, I get jealous. Of a cat!”

Then, one day during this period, I attended a professional seminar, and at this conference, Rav Mordechai Eliyahu spoke. Of course, I jumped at the opportunity and went over to the rav for a bracha.

He said to me, “Go speak to Rav Menachem Burstein, and do whatever he tells you!”

I contacted Rav Menachem that very evening, and from that first conversation, I felt like I’d met an angel. He assured me that there was still hope – and that he would stay by our side throughout the entire process.

He kept his word on both counts.

First, he referred us to a different specialist, who tried another round of procedures—with no success. When this didn’t work, Rav Menachem recommended we try a new procedure, using micromanipulation. This cutting-edge procedure, in which only a single cell of reproductive material is needed, is particularly helpful for couples like us, whose reproductive cell count is very low. PUAH helped us get the necessary appointments with the specialist who performed this procedure.

With renewed hope, I underwent the IVF… and then, two weeks later, I began to bleed. “No! Not again!” I cried.

I didn’t even want to go for a checkup, didn’t want to be told that my very last hope of becoming pregnant was dashed. But of course, I went.

Two days later, the doctor called. “Dorit,” he said, and there was something strange in his voice, “How would you like a birthday present?”

Like an idiot, not quite getting where he was heading, I responded, “But it’s not my birthday.”

He laughed. “Well, happy birthday anyway. You’re pregnant with twins!”

I wanted to shriek, wanted to sob, to dance, to sing… but I couldn’t get out a sound, I was trembling so much. All I could do was clutch that phone in my hand, and hear the wondrous, miraculous words echo a thousand times over again in my head. At last, when I’d calmed down enough to process the news, I realized that now I had to tell my husband. But how? How do you communicate such a bombshell?

I called him at work. “Daniel, I found a wallet with a lot of money and I don’t know what to do with it. Can you come meet me right away?”

He was understandably confused. “Why can’t this wait? How much money are we talking? A thousand? Two?”

“More!”

“Five thousand? Nu, what’s the big emergency?”

“Daniel, I need to meet with you now! I’m coming to the café next to your office!”

He looked thoroughly befuddled by the time I got there and said, “Okay, let’s see this golden wallet.”

I handed it to him and he opened it. “Two dollars?” He looked at me quizzically.

“Read the note!” My throat was all constricted from excitement.

He unfolded the piece of paper and read the words: Mazel tov, Abba!

He stared at the note, then at me, then at the note again – and then we both burst out crying.

“I’m going to be an abba,” he said, again and again.

Rav Burstein was by our side throughout the pregnancy, which, Baruch Hashem, went smoothly—something I certainly don’t take for granted after our very rough ride getting here. When our beautiful twin girls were born, the first thing I did after thanking Hashem was to call Rav Menachem and thank him for being the shaliach that brought us our miracle babies.

There will be times in your lives when someone will tell you that a dream of yours is impossible. When that happens, think about a picture of two smiling baby girls that adorn the wall in Rav Menachem’s PUAH office—and remember that nothing is impossible.

The PUAH CareLine is a dedicated hotline staffed by our team of fertility experts to answer all your fertility concerns, great and small. We understand your journey, and we are there to help, every step of the way. Reach us at [email protected] or 718-336-0603. 

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