I was shocked by my emotions. It was my mikvah night, a night I usually looked forward to. But this time, I didn’t want to go.
Only days earlier I had learned from my doctor that we would likely need IVF to conceive. I was shaken to the core. Although I had always sensed that I would need fertility treatments to conceive, I never imagined doing something as drastic as IVF. In the wake of this news, the mikvah seemed like a cruel joke. How could I go in the depths of those waters, face the God Whom I was so angry at that I could barely speak to Him, and celebrate the monthly shifting of my cycle? How could I go back to those marble rooms I had left with such high hopes a month before, hoping to return over ten months later? How could I?
I spoke to friends who had also walked this road, and listened to their assurances. Surely, it was going to work out. It would be sooner rather than later. God had a reason for this pain, like all pain. Someday I would understand why. I would appreciate motherhood so much more because of this. God wanted my prayers, He put me through this difficulty because He longed to hear me cry out to Him.
I heard, but I was not convinced. Why me? Why my prayers? I wondered. I preferred to do what my friends had done: conceive quickly, months later announce it joyfully, and send out excited text messages hours after their births, longing for prayers notwithstanding.
With a leaden heart, I showed up at the mikvah. My favorite preparation room was available and I cheered at the peace and quiet that awaited me there. An hour in a bathtub might be just what I need right now, I thought to myself. I carefully prepared my body for immersion, as meticulous as when I was a bride. Everything was clean, but my heart? Not quite open, but getting there.
It takes courage to ask God the same question once more, month after month, and really believe it is possible.
I walked into the warm waters of the mikvah and then it hit me – the sudden clarity that this act was the foundation of courage. It takes courage to walk into the life waters of the mikvah and believe, despite ultrasounds and statistics and despair, that life can really grow within you. It takes courage to ask God the same question once more, month after month. It takes courage to really believe it is possible.
Did I have that courage? I decided that yes, I did. I wanted to be a mother who loved fearlessly and courageously, and I could be a woman like that today.
When I submerged my hair under the waters, I prayed that just like the mikvah was a womb, a place of rebirth, life would take hold within me. I prayed for the miracle I knew only He could bestow. Because those of us who have struggled with infertility have seen the world uncovered. We know that there is no drug, no procedure, that can create life – it is really only God. He gave children to the barren matriarchs, and He can do the same thing to women at IVF clinics in modern New York City.
It only takes the courage to ask.