Cracks in a Holy Vessel

Pressure to Procreate Makes Miscarriage All the More Painful

Lisa Anchin

By Judy Brown (Eishes Chayil)

Published March 11, 2013, issue of March 15, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

(page 2 of 5)

In the summer bungalow colony I met Rivky, who had 13 siblings and who shared with me the brownies her older sister had baked. She said she wished she had a tiny family like mine — I must get everything I ever wanted. I offered to trade her one half of my gold earring set for her entire brownie. She agreed. I lay on the grass munching, my right earring hanging on Rivky’s left ear. Rivky told me that she planned to ask God to give her only six children exactly, but I said, “Nah, 13 is much more fun.”

A decade passed. I was 18 years old and engaged. For months I shopped, prayed and prepared for the family I would shortly bear. Walking down 13th Avenue, I’d gaze into the window of Mimi’s Maternity Shop, smiling blissfully at women pushing double carriages, a line of perfectly dressed children trooping behind. I strolled dreamily past Little Loungers and Mega Baby Furniture, my life laid out in front of me, certain and reassuring.

My first child came when I was 20 years old. I was on my way to becoming a holy vessel, every inch of me pregnant all the time. So I don’t know how it could have happened. God could not have meant it that way when he stopped my second pregnancy.

It was shortly after the shock of the first. By then, still recuperating from the wounds of childbirth, I knew that the joy of motherhood was there, even if I couldn’t feel it. The women around me said it was normal to be miserable and overwhelmed. It was merely postpartum depression, an ordinary part of the childbirth routine, something that would go away soon, just in time to have another child.

I waited for the shock to leave and for the joy to come. I did not allow myself to feel the dread seeping into my mind as my life closed in on me like a dark tunnel. I became pregnant a second time. My son was 8 months old.

Everyone congratulated me. I knew I was happy, because they told me I was. I was a vessel, a holy, pure vessel, and I gave life to souls.

But God must have known. It is impossible to hide such things from heaven, and perhaps it was because of this that He decided to test my faith.

I was in the seventh month of my second pregnancy, swollen and tired. I lay on the table in my doctor’s office for a routine checkup. I stared up at the sterile ceiling, teeth clenched, as the doctor moved the ultra-sound probe slowly over my abdomen. He was taking longer than usual, and I could not understand why.

I wanted him to stop already. Finally, he did. He stood up and looked down at me. He said something. I did not hear him at first.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Jon Stewart responds to his critics: “Look, obviously there are many strong opinions on this. But just merely mentioning Israel or questioning in any way the effectiveness or humanity of Israel’s policies is not the same thing as being pro-Hamas.”
  • "My bat mitzvah party took place in our living room. There were only a few Jewish kids there, and only one from my Sunday school class. She sat in the corner, wearing the right clothes, asking her mom when they could go." The latest in our Promised Lands series — what state should we visit next?
  • Former Israeli National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror: “A cease-fire will mean that anytime Hamas wants to fight it can. Occupation of Gaza will bring longer-term quiet, but the price will be very high.” What do you think?
  • Should couples sign a pre-pregnancy contract, outlining how caring for the infant will be equally divided between the two parties involved? Just think of it as a ketubah for expectant parents:
  • Many #Israelis can't make it to bomb shelters in time. One of them is Amos Oz.
  • According to Israeli professor Mordechai Kedar, “the only thing that can deter terrorists, like those who kidnapped the children and killed them, is the knowledge that their sister or their mother will be raped."
  • Why does ultra-Orthodox group Agudath Israel of America receive its largest donation from the majority owners of Walmart? Find out here: http://jd.fo/q4XfI
  • Woody Allen on the situation in #Gaza: It's “a terrible, tragic thing. Innocent lives are lost left and right, and it’s a horrible situation that eventually has to right itself.”
  • "Mark your calendars: It was on Sunday, July 20, that the momentum turned against Israel." J.J. Goldberg's latest analysis on Israel's ground operation in Gaza:
  • What do you think?
  • "To everyone who is reading this article and saying, “Yes, but… Hamas,” I would ask you to just stop with the “buts.” Take a single moment and allow yourself to feel this tremendous loss. Lay down your arms and grieve for the children of Gaza."
  • Professor Dan Markel, 41 years old, was found shot and killed in his Tallahassee home on Friday. Jay Michaelson can't explain the death, just grieve for it.
  • Employees complained that the food they received to end the daily fast during the holy month of Ramadan was not enough (no non-kosher food is allowed in the plant). The next day, they were dismissed.
  • Why are peace activists getting beat up in Tel Aviv? http://jd.fo/s4YsG
  • Backstreet's...not back.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.