When you are in the world of infertility or suffer from a pregnancy loss the insensitive hurtful comments are going to come. It can be incredibly awkward when someone has good news that they want to share. On the one hand it hurts and needs to be handled in a delicate manner. On the other hand people might think you are not capable of being happy for someone else, inspite of the pain. The topics of sensitivity and understanding have already been covered by many, so my focus shall be to focus on the ability to be happy.
I recently had the opportunity to share in the celebration with friends as they adopted a little girl after 14 years of marriage. We had battled infertility together with different outcomes. When my Channah was born we pulled away from them a little bit as not to rub our joy in their faces. The wife had figured out I was visiting from out of town and extended an invitation without telling her husband, even then they didn’t think I was going to come. The joy on the husband’s face when he saw that I came to join their celebrations was incredible. Not only was I glad that I could attend but it was a highlight of my trip.
My Gabi was the miracle baby we thought we could never have. At 32 weeks and 2 days into the pregnancy it turned out we couldn’t. The pain of the loss sent my wife Rachel’s live into a massive depression that she would never recover from. On December 30th, 2012 she went to sleep and didn’t wake up again.
My Gabi did inspire another couple to go back into fertility treatment. They were successful and Rachel believed that the embryo transfer took place on the day Gabi died. I thought I would have negative feeling towards the child. I feel no differently towards her than I do her older siblings. In fact I really enjoy watching her play with Channah.
At at Brit Milah (ritual circumcision) there are certain honours that are given out. One of them is Kvatter where they carry the baby into the ceremony. This is often reserved for an infertile as it is considered a segulah (remedy) for infertility. I have personal reservations about the merits of this practise. Aside from that, the last time I did it, I was left with the impression that the person wanted me there. It became clear that I was there for the sole purpose of ‘being helped’. As that was my role they felt like they could treat me like a servant and metaphorically spat in my face. I was determined that I would never do it again. When we conceived Channah I thought I would never be asked again.
After Gabi’s death and desperate attempts to try to get pregnant a friend offered me the roll of Kvatter. He did it with such tact, kindness and generosity that it took me about 10 minutes to remember this was something I never want to do again. I can’t remember if I was able to bring myself to attend the Brit but I was happy for my friends.
When we lost Gabi, people were trying to figure out how they could help. One couple had the husband getting ready to have a vasectomy. What could only be described as an act of true kindness, they seriously considered the possibility of conceiving one more time for the purpose of having us adopt the baby. In the end, some technical and logistical issues caused them to not go through with the idea. The fact that a couple would have such a sense of generosity to even contemplate the idea will be something I will never forget.
Sometimes life demands us to be happy even when we are feeling down. Life also demands us to remember during our greatest joy that there is still sadness around us. There is a piece of my heart that will always be sad for Rachel and Gabi. My heart is big enough to be happy for myself, Channah and the important people in our lives.