Beautiful, Beautiful Baby Day

Beautiful, Beautiful Baby Day

April 11, 2006 - two days before Passover. I loaded my grocery cart with Matzoh, wine, grape juice, ground walnuts, romaine lettuce, eggs, Kosher salt - the essentials. I had to get home and start covering surfaces. The house was clean, but the kitchen remained Chometz (lit. leavened, in this case, not yet cleaned for Passover).I was so nervous about managing my first Passover, since beginning Teshuva (return to observance), that I had saved the kitchen until last, terrified to mess it up. I had to go home, unload the groceries and cover everything in tinfoil and duct tape.

My contractions were five minutes apart.

When my due date had come and gone the previous day, I was not fazed. Having been born seventeen days late, myself, I was quite sure that my baby would not be born until after Passover. Have you ever heard that phrase about G-d laughing? He had a hearty chortle that day.

My contractions, although close together, were light and painless. Keeping busy made it easier not to get restless. I smiled as I felt each tightening, excited because I knew soon my life would change forever; elevated from one plane to another, as the Jews had been elevated when they were taken out of Egypt. 

After my walk home from the grocery store, my contractions were closer together and I decided that tin foil was not in my immediate future.  I called my husband at work, he came home and we went to the hospital. Suddenly, it felt real - it was baby day – and what a beautiful day it was. 

When I arrived at the hospital, they found that I was not yet sufficiently dilated and sent us out to take a long walk. For an hour and a half, my husband, Eli, and I walked in the sunshine and cool breeze. I felt as though HaShem were smiling at us as we walked. I was reminded of a story a dear friend once told me that every step you take on Shabbos creates an angel. I imagined angels and the Righteous walking alongside us. I asked them to bless us and bless this birth.  My contractions strengthened and I smiled through them.

We returned to the labor/delivery unit and I took out my copy of Tehillim (Psalms).  While I was in the throes of nesting, I had earmarked the pages of certain chapters that bring down special blessings for birth, and recited them through my ever-strengthening contractions.  An attendant would ask me a question and as a contraction approached I held up a hand and turned my attention to the holy words.

Birth is one of very few events in which we are so directly and openly involved with HaShem.  No angel, no mediator; we are partners in creation.  “It was I and not an angel,” I recalled from the Hagaddah (book read at the Passover seder telling the story of the Redemption from Egypt).  I felt His approach.   I changed my clothes and was shown to a private room.  Now I said Tehillim with urgency, reciting the words, asking in my heart that HaShem join me now in welcoming this child into the world, guide me through this birth and deliver me into motherhood. 

The cadence of contractions hit a climax and it was time to push.  Now, it was Eli’s turn to say Tehillim.  Now, I knew HaShem was here.  No longer was I laboring and toiling.  Now, each contraction was an opportunity.  I was “Girded with Strength,” the words of Eishes Chayil (A Woman of Valor)  flooded my mind as I was connected to the strength of my foremothers.  I knew I was not alone.  This power was not my own.  I pushed with their strength as the thread that connects our eternal souls was pulled taut with each contraction.  Finally, I fell back, crying.

“Mazel Tov!  It’s a boy!  It’s a hairy, hairy baby boy!”

Little, purple and squirming my son was placed on my chest looking awfully surprised. He had his father’s fingers and a halo of thick, dirty blonde hair. “We have a little boy!” I cried to my husband. Together we laughed joyfully, I think that was the second time HaShem laughed with me that day.

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