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Learning to Live Without Another Baby

Learning to Live Without Another Baby

My Struggle with High-Risk Pregnancies


Three years ago, I veered off the career fast-lane and onto the mommy track. By choosing to do free-lance work at home, I could set my hours and focus on raising my family. I had two children at that time, and had learned the hard way about the difficulties of commuting while pregnant: praying to arrive at my destination before throwing up; and nursing: I couldn't wait for you to arrive, I had to give him a bottle. He was crying!

I took the plunge, trading status for time Chronically sleep-deprived and utterly depleted from walking the tight-rope between managing and falling, it seemed like I had no time for the things that mattered. So I took the plunge, trading status for time. I lost billable hours and gained freedom. I made new friends and reconnected with old ones. When I quickly became pregnant with our third child, I took it as the ultimate confirmation that I had made the right decision, the decision that would allow for the unhindered expansion of our family.

Then I miscarried at six months. It seemed like a temporary, although heart-breaking, delay in an otherwise working model. The doctors assured me it didn't mean I wouldn't carry to term and deliver a healthy baby in the future. For awhile, I bided my time. I went to the gym, and met friends for coffee. I enjoyed these months without bottles and diapers because I knew that the next load waited just around the corner. Until a series of miscarriages convinced me that the time and space I had allotted for our family was no longer necessary.

My doctor sat me down and explained that I was experiencing clotting problems that created umbilical cord tangles, a phenomenon known as hypercoiling. Further pregnancies would be a roll of the dice, the fertility version of Russian roulette. There was a significant risk of a child with birth defects.

Rather than the medication-free nature girl pregnancies that had nurtured my older children, I could now expect daily injections, invasive monitoring, and bed rest from a future pregnancy. Even so, there was with no guarantee that these interventions would sustain a developing baby.

The space I had carved out was no longer necessary Of course there had never been any guarantees. Yet now, I was officially living in limbo. Life had thrown me the ultimate curveball. I had studied and worked through my twenties, and had integrated the births of my first two children into what I otherwise thought of as "my life."

Now that I was in my thirties, my focus had shifted to my family. I expected life and career to accommodate my family rather than vice versa. Yet the sacred space I had carved out was no longer needed. My older children had started school, and their wished-for siblings failed to materialize.

Suddenly, I had too much time, and was uncertain how to fill it.

I wish I could say that the future has resolved itself in one gleaming revelation of gold ribbon. Yet I have had no such prophecy, and I struggle daily with the question of how to assign new priorities in the face of such uncertainty.

How do I define reasonable risk? How do I separate medical doom-saying from accurate predictions? How do I decide how much energy to devote to another high-risk pregnancy, versus how much energy I should invest in the development of another life dream? How do I simultaneously pursue what I desire and appreciate what I have?

It's a tightrope, and it often seems like the more energy I invest in pursuing the dream of another baby, the less satisfied I become with the life I actually lead.

The choice becomes to savor each day I like to think that I have learned something from this journey, something that speaks of humility and gratitude. Certainly my present state of limbo has taught me that coping skills are often more important than goal setting, because in practice the life we lead is often very different than the one we design.

Yet mostly, it has taught me about the importance of living in the moment, and appreciating what we have even more than we focus on what we don't have. The clouds of my miscarriages that hung over our house for months have given way to a new lightness.

It is not a lightness that is created from having a clear sense of purpose and vision. I awake each morning to questions that seemingly have no answer, and I often feel that they are not meant to be answered at all. Yet this lightness that I have found is born of the acceptance that comes from knowing that this life is my real one, and that choosing to pretend otherwise won't actually change anything.

Rather the choice becomes to savor each day, and celebrate the family that I have.

Robyn Cuspin is a therapist living in Israel.
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Anonymous Jerusalem September 30, 2014

The pontificators below I am fed up with pontificators who answer any post about miscarriage and infertility with " why not adopt"

I have just had my third miscarriage. Baruch HaShem I have two children but I want more. I'm terribly scared that if I were to adopt I wouldn't feel the same way about the child as those who are my own flesh and blood. Yes if a child was left to me because of a disaster I could probably do it but I'm not sure I could choose to do it . I would be scared the child would pick up on the difference and feel it or I would over compensate by being too spoiling. Adoption is not a straightforward thing . Please avoid devaluations and platitudes. Reply

shana NY February 5, 2013

prayer chain I know this is from 2009 but perhaps you can still use the prayers. I know I can so please add me to your prayers Shanalinda. I know there is adoption and if we could afford it I would. I am still praying everyday that hashem will bless me with 1 more. Reply

Anonymous Chicago, IL January 7, 2012

Adoption I am an adoptive single mother, with two beautiful daughters. A religious woman (but not Jewish, though my mother was), I decided that G-d is in charge of the universe, including how children were to come into my life.

I expected to have children with my husband, but he decided he didn't want any. So I left him, and adopted from Russia on my own. I was very afraid, but decided to trust G-d.

My two gorgeous daughters actually resemble my family more than any biological child I could have had. My oldest takes after all the math/science people in my family, and is very gifted. My youngest is lovely to behold, and also does very well in school. I am very glad I decided to trust G-d, and encourage any woman to adopt children is she is infertile. Follow your heart. Reply

Anonymous Washington, DC October 23, 2009

Jewish Adoption Resources Dear Friends:

I heartily concur with those advising adoption and/or foster parenting. Here are two Jewish websites with information, including information on Orthodox law in these matters --

The Stars of David, International, a Jewish adoption support network

and a book by Rabbi Michael Gold, "And Hannah Wept," which discusses both Orthodox and non-Orthodox Jewish thinking on adoption and Orthodox requirements for an adopted child to be considered Jewish.

Many blessings for healing. Reply

Alice Minersville, PA October 22, 2009

Alternatives If a biological child is not possible, please consider adoption or foster parenting. There are so many children out there who need loving, nurturing homes. It is a mitzvah to take one or more of them into your home and love them. Reply

Anonymous Phoenix, AZ October 22, 2009

To Robyn Why not adopt? Certainly there are children in Israel who need loving homes. These children will be yours even if they are not born to you. Reply

Lily Morelia October 20, 2009

Dear Robyn Im related to what you just wrote. I´ve been married 12 years and came to the phase where nobody else asks us when a baby will come. I miscarried march this year and my baby would have been due for these high holydays. I dont have any other blessings (children-wise) to count on, but I did get a breeze of hope when I read about you celebrating what you do have. I also agree with Liora, maybe we can create a prayer chain. I´ll put you all guys in mine. Reply

Anonymous Washington, DC October 20, 2009

Maybe There Is Another Road Dear Friends:

No one except G-d can console someone who has lost a child or children. The loss is incalculable.

But there may be another road.

Many years ago I knew that I would not have children. But I now find myself, the adult child of an intermarriage, working with other children of intermarriage, and many of them want to live as Jews.

When I die, I will not leave any biological children behind me, but the people I have assisted in finding their Jewish roots are partly my 'children' and many of them have biological 'children' and also spiritual 'children' of their own.

Somewhere a Jewish or soon-to-be Jewish child or teen may be waiting for you in adoption, foster care, a study-for-conversion program, a teen in an under-funded Israeli Orthodox program for troubled frum teens, a hospital, mental health center or a prison.

They may be waiting for Shabbos dinner with you or simply a kind letter. You are searching for a child; they need a parent.

Many blessings Reply

Carmen Palmer, AK October 20, 2009

Thank you Thank you, Liora, for your wonderful and understanding words.
I all for a prayer chain... Reply

Liora Pier Severy, KS October 20, 2009

Dear Robyn, Thanks for sharing your story. I have been married 15 years now. I have been infertile primarily but have miscarried 4 times. I recently have changed from full-time work outside the home to a home based business. I have hoped that the difference pace, and a new emphasis on getting pregnant would help. I relate a lot to you and repeat what an earlier writer commented: enjoy the children you have, or even adopt. I am glad to know that there are other women who share my challenges and that I am not alone. Maybe we can create a prayer chain, and pray for each other, that Hashem's will be done in building our families. I will begin to pray for you, Soro, Emma, Rivkasima, Linda and Carmen. Perhaps knowing the power of prayer and community, will lift us all up into the wings of faith, trusting Hashem through our pain. Reply

Carmen B Palmer, AK October 19, 2009

Dear Learning to Live I have had two losses in the last 2 years. My first was born with multiple birth anomalies and passed away 2 weeks after he was born. My second I miscarried at 5 months and that was just recently. Unfortunately I don't have the loved children in my life to count blessings on. I frequently wonder if I ever will. My heart is forever broken and breaks even more when I hear of stories like yours. Love those children that were given to you and always remember the ones that aren't able to hold a baby and love them. You are a brave woman and I could use some of that bravery. Take care. Reply

Linda Rouvet N Charleston, SC October 19, 2009

Losing a child Thank you for sharing your personal pain and loss, but even more so, for lifting me up with your insight gained! My son, my only child, was killed last year while driving home from work by an illegal alien who left him as "road-kill". My baby! I prayed to G-d for the words and understanding at/since the scene. He unveils the words and our truth as we journey to healing though I don't know 'recovery' is possible. At least not yet... Being in menopause, I am barren now with no hope of future children or grands! Hard to fathom being your own ancestor that you'll never have descendents again. So blessings to you my sister/mother for helping me glean understanding from your perspective of what lies ahead. Reply

rivkasima NY, NY October 19, 2009

thank you Dear Robyn,

Thank you for your timely article.

II too have been struggling with wanting to be blessed with more children. Personally speaking, focusing on wants and unfulfilled prayers has been very depressing--particularly when it seems these prayers may never be filled.

Baruch Hashem, Thank G-d, I have been blessed with one amazing and healthy child .

I appreciate your inspiration "to savor each day, and celebrate the family that I have.

Blessings to you and yours Reply

Emma Sass Efrat October 19, 2009

Thank you.... This is something I'm struggling with now. I have been blessed with the most miraculous child,but, since having him, (and it was a very stressful pregnancy at that) my blood tests and treatments have produced doom and gloom. Why do I want another? Why do I need another? Is it really for him, my husband, or just because "that's what everyone around here is doing." We don't know what will be tomorrow and if I'm truly focused on doing what's best for my son, my beautiful, perfect son, then I will focus on strengthening my marriage and the home I provide for him. Everything else will - or won't - come directly from G-d, not rounds of fertility treatments. Reply

Katherine Lipkin Copley, OH October 19, 2009

With all respect,.... I know so many people who are not able to have any children at all, or have one child and cannot have a second. And couples, unable to have any children, who go to the ends of the world to adopt a child, sometimes with an outcome that dashes their dreams. And women who have health problems who go off their medication, with much suffering ,during pregnancy in order to have a healthy child. Single women who can't find a partner with whom to have even one baby.
The author is three times blessed. Many, many, many women would envy her situation. Reply

soro manchester, uk October 18, 2009

the last few paragraphs illucidate how i felt after a recent miscarriage. instead of trudging along taking having kids for granted' looking forward to the next baby, it produced a deep apreciation of the many blessings that i already have, to really 'live' with my children now Reply

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