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 3 of 5)

He repeated himself.

“The baby,” he said. “There is no heartbeat. The baby’s gone.”

He said this several more times, because I did not respond.

I remember sitting up and walking out. I remember calling my sister on the way home. I remember my family and friends at home, their shock and grief, how they reached out to me, their lips moving, their words soothing, but I never heard a sound.

I remember the stunned shock. Because I could not make the sorrow come. I did not know how to fight the force of relief that swept through my entire being when I heard that the baby was gone.

I didn’t want to feel this way. I wanted to be devastated. I wanted the sorrow to tear through me, to make me wail and cry for my lost child. But it didn’t. My heart had betrayed my programmed mind. The ideology I believed in was crushed by a reality that was forbidden, a woman who did not want another and another child. I was a traitor; the things I felt did not match the things they said I should feel. I was a damaged vessel.

The day after the doctor visit, I gave birth to a stillborn fetus. Heavily medicated, I remember little of what happened. It was only two days later that I sat on my bed at home and wept, as the milk dried up in my breasts and the guilt wrapped around me in a deadly embrace.

The doctor said that I should be on birth control for six months. After five months, though, my rabbi told me that it was enough, and I was so scared that God would punish me, leave me barren forever after what I’d done, that I immediately agreed, begging the heavens for another child.

Within two months, I was expecting. I remember the relief, following by panic, and how I collapsed on the bathroom floor. I remember speaking about it to Rivky, the friend I met years ago at the bungalow colony. We sat in her kitchen, watching our children run around and play. She told me that she also had those feelings, but that her rabbi had reassured her that there was no need to worry: It was postpartum, too, the kind that sometimes comes months before birth instead of after it. It was nothing to think about. It would go away in time to have another baby.


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!
  • “You will stomp us into the dirt,” is how her mother responded to Anya Ulinich’s new tragicomic graphic novel. Paul Berger has a more open view of ‘Lena Finkle’s Magic Barrel." What do you think?
  • PHOTOS: Hundreds of protesters marched through lower Manhattan yesterday demanding an end to American support for Israel’s operation in #Gaza.
  • Does #Hamas have to lose for there to be peace? Read the latest analysis by J.J. Goldberg.
  • This is what the rockets over Israel and Gaza look like from space:
  • "Israel should not let captives languish or corpses rot. It should do everything in its power to recover people and bodies. Jewish law places a premium on pidyon shvuyim, “the redemption of captives,” and proper burial. But not when the price will lead to more death and more kidnappings." Do you agree?
  • Slate.com's Allison Benedikt wrote that Taglit-Birthright Israel is partly to blame for the death of American IDF volunteer Max Steinberg. This is why she's wrong:
  • Israeli soldiers want you to buy them socks. And snacks. And backpacks. And underwear. And pizza. So claim dozens of fundraising campaigns launched by American Jewish and Israeli charities since the start of the current wave of crisis and conflict in Israel and Gaza.
  • The sign reads: “Dogs are allowed in this establishment but Zionists are not under any circumstances.”
  • Is Twitter Israel's new worst enemy?
  • More than 50 former Israeli soldiers have refused to serve in the current ground operation in #Gaza.
  • "My wife and I are both half-Jewish. Both of us very much felt and feel American first and Jewish second. We are currently debating whether we should send our daughter to a Jewish pre-K and kindergarten program or to a public one. Pros? Give her a Jewish community and identity that she could build on throughout her life. Cons? Costs a lot of money; She will enter school with the idea that being Jewish makes her different somehow instead of something that you do after or in addition to regular school. Maybe a Shabbat sing-along would be enough?"
  • Undeterred by the conflict, 24 Jews participated in the first ever Jewish National Fund— JDate singles trip to Israel. Translation: Jews age 30 to 45 travelled to Israel to get it on in the sun, with a side of hummus.
  • "It pains and shocks me to say this, but here goes: My father was right all along. He always told me, as I spouted liberal talking points at the Shabbos table and challenged his hawkish views on Israel and the Palestinians to his unending chagrin, that I would one day change my tune." Have you had a similar experience?
  • "'What’s this, mommy?' she asked, while pulling at the purple sleeve to unwrap this mysterious little gift mom keeps hidden in the inside pocket of her bag. Oh boy, how do I answer?"
  • "I fear that we are witnessing the end of politics in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I see no possibility for resolution right now. I look into the future and see only a void." What do you think?
  • 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.