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Dear Emuna: Infertility Struggles
Dear Emuna

Dear Emuna: Infertility Struggles

Everywhere I turn there are young couples with babies. I just want it to be our turn.


Dear Emuna,

My husband and I have been married for a few years and have been struggling to have children. The community we live in is full of young couples and each already has a few children. I always try to remain happy and positive but it's getting to the point where I just want it to be our turn. Do you have any practical advice for us?

Sad and Without Kids

Dear Sad,

Although you ask for practical advice, I assume you are not requesting that I recommend infertility specialists and clinics. I also assume that you know that we believe that, while the Almighty controls the outcome, we need to make our efforts and that you are availing yourselves of all the current technological and medical breakthroughs.

I have a friend who got married later in life and was struggling to have a family. She described entering the waiting room of the specialist in the field and seeing it full of pregnant women. “Didn’t that depress you?” asked another friend. “On the contrary,” she responded. “It gave me hope. If all these women could overcome their infertility issues, then so could I.”

She did in fact give birth and her daughter is now a teenager. But I remember the story because it showed me the attitude we should strive to adopt towards life’s challenges.

It's a gift to see in other people’s joy an opportunity to share their joy and an opportunity for personal hope. Even if it isn’t our instinctive reaction, it’s an attitude we can cultivate.

We need to remind ourselves over and over and over again that 1) The Almighty runs the world, 2) The good fortune of someone else does not take away from us, 3) The good fortune of someone else is actually a cause for rejoicing and 4)Because the Almighty runs the world, He can do anything!

We need to try to make the most of this moment now and not focus on what we’d like to have in the future. The future is unknowable and possibly unattainable. All we have are the choices we make today, right now.

I don’t know if this is practical advice. I don’t know if it’s advice you can follow. I don’t know if it’s advice I can follow. But I do know it’s the right perspective. May we all strive to live with this awareness.

– Emuna

Related Article: Infertility and a Crisis of Faith

Dear Emuna,

You recently dealt with a married woman who doesn’t like to cook. I am the mother of a large family and I just hate going to the park. It’s stressful and strenuous, chasing them all over and trying to keep an eye on everyone. And I find pushing them on the swings just plain boring. But I’m afraid to admit this to anyone and I feel like a bad mother if we don’t go. Do you have any advice?

Closet Parkophobe

Dear Indoor Mom,

I certainly believe that you will all have a better time if you focus on activities that everyone can enjoy – reading books, doing projects, cooking together, even perhaps running errands…On the other hand, kids enjoy outdoor activities and it’s certainly helpful to everyone if they can run off some of their boundless energy!

A few practical suggestions:

1) If possible, install some playground equipment (it doesn’t have to be fancy, just sturdy and safe) in your backyard. That’s much easier than schlepping to the park, and, if your yard is fenced in, at some point you won’t have to provide constant supervision.

2) Invite other families to the park with you. If it doesn’t become quite the adult social experience you imagined, perhaps you can at least divide up the age groups so every mother isn’t torn in a million directions.

3) Find the small parks hidden away in little neighborhoods. They are frequently less crowded which makes it much easier to watch your children and gives them better and more frequent access to the equipment.

It doesn’t have to be an everyday activity but it is important to be realistic and accept that every job has a little drudgery in it. This is yours.

– Emuna

Dear Emuna,

I understand that schools have an interest in their students eating healthy lunches. It helps keep them more alert and focused on learning. I understand the sensitivities behind the no-peanut rule and I support removing the soda machine from the campus. But recently teachers at my daughter’s school have gotten more intrusive. They seem to inspect the lunches and then send home notes insisting on sandwiches, carrot sticks, fruit slices…I think they are overstepping their bounds. Should I speak up?

Independent Mom

Dear Independent Mom,

I completely empathize with you and I don’t think the teachers should be so invasive or impose their food philosophies on you. If your child is having a particular problem i.e. trouble concentrating or acting out and the teacher wants to explore if there is a connection to her diet, she should call you directly to discuss the issue. But if your child is well-behaved and focused, then I think you should – politely and respectfully of course – tell the teacher that you have already supervised (perhaps even prepared) and signed off on your daughter’s lunch and that while you appreciate her concern, you would prefer no more notes.

– Emuna

March 20, 2011

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Visitor Comments: 23

(19) Anonymous, June 20, 2016 7:45 AM

I'm not sure if Mrs Braveman really understand what it's like to be living in a community with a lot of young families when you don't have children. It's not just an issue of "being happy for others". Many young mothers are understandably so overwhelmed and excited about their new life that they often inadvertedly shun the women without children. A woman in her position can want the best for everyone but can still be extremely lonely. Plus women who didn't struggle to get pregnant do not understand what she is going through and will often make hurtful comments. I would like someone to discuss how to deal with that part of the challenge. Just saying " be happy for others" is quite a supeficial response with no real understanding of what is going on (you wouldn't tell a cancer sufferer to just be happy for healthy people, would you?). Unfortunately it's common that people just don't get it because in our communities children are the norm and we are not asked to try and push ourselves to relate to those who are lacking this very important blessing (even though it features prominently in the Torah). But I do feel like we should try and push ourselves anyway.

(18) Molly, October 9, 2013 3:44 AM

The playground problem

To the mother who finds the playground stressful: I can relate! I am NOT an outdoors girl! The most important thing to me has been getting them to obey my directions. When we arrive at the park, I stop and look at all my little ones, right down at their level. I remind them of our two house rules. First, "Always be a good friend". Second, "Obey right away, all the way, in a happy way, every day." I remind them not to play roughly with other kids like they do at home with their brothers, and when we get out, I show the littlest ones exactly where they may play and where they may NOT play. They know if they break a rule, I will remind them - once! After that they sit on a bench with me, long enough to really regret ignoring my directions. When you get to a season in life where your kids are almost always obedient, life is far more fun. If a problem is coming, call the child over for a quiet conversation. If you have to chase after a three year old who runs away when you call him, that nonsense should end with a potch on the tush, for his own safety as well as your sanity! You won't need a repeat! My kids all happily come running when I call them, since they know I try to be fair and kind, and rarely punish them. But they had better not make me chase them, and they know it.

(17) jeanette, May 21, 2011 2:44 AM

No Children

I understand your pain, Iv'e been married 25 years and we dont have any kids. And we tried It's hard on holyidays, mostly on mothers day.But the Great Creator knows what is best for us.

(16) Jana Erb, March 27, 2011 10:44 PM

Low Glycemic Index Diet for Increased Fertility

Something to try for increased fertility if you're so inclined is a low glycemic index diet. I don't know of any studies done on this, it was my personal experience, but you might think it's worth a try. I had had irregular cycles, and had also been on low fat diets high in carbs and sugars for years. I tried the Atkins diet with unlimited green vegetables and was surprised to start getting regular healthy cycles. I also learned at that time I'm sensitive to gluten, so maybe that had something to do with it. I hope and pray you're family is blessed.

Molly, October 9, 2013 3:46 AM

Yes, I agree

Yes, I have also had success with eating more protein and fat, and less carbs and sugar. I believe fertility depends on having plenty of both in your diet.

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