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My Mikvah Baby

My Mikvah Baby

A Spiritual Pregnancy

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I am a Jew, but I am not religious.
I light candles Friday night, but don't keep Shabbat.
I don't eat pork, but I mix dairy and meat.
I don't know the Hebrew prayers, but I speak to G‑d.
But there is one area of my life where I am as Jewish as I can be-my approach to being a mother.

Coming from Russia, where the social norm is one or two children, I could never have foreseen the motherly part of me taking over to the degree it has. Now, comfortably enjoying life in warm and sunny California, it makes no sense to most people why in the world this young and ambitious doctor would choose to have four kids and "ruin" her life!?

I am not thinking about it. I simply know Two out of four of my pregnancies caught us by total surprise and at the most inconvenient times, but deep inside I was thrilled--I was pregnant, waking up in the morning with my heart singing in ecstasy.

To me, pregnancy is the proof that G‑d is real. I don't need to look any further; with each and every baby's kick and twist, I know I am experiencing a miracle in progress. As miserably exhausted and extremely uncomfortable as I am, I never feel more alive and happy than when I am pregnant - I know it doesn't make sense, so I don't even try to explain.

So last year, when my mom caught me drooling over someone else's baby at the park, she almost screamed, trying to bring me to my senses: "Don't even think about it! You are completing your Ph.D. and your husband is not a rabbi!"

But I am not thinking about it. I simply know that I am ready for another baby. Is it logical or practical? No,not at all, but I am possessed by this baby-energy coming so strongly, from inside of me. I feel honored and privileged to be chosen to brighten this world with another Jewish soul.

At the same time, I face an inner turmoil of self-doubt: Am I doing the right thing by considering entering another new pregnancy--rollercoaster ride- and dragging my whole family with me? Can I stand up for what I believe in, when my logical mind and so many relatives are screaming "NO!?"

My spirit is wrapped in such peace Pulled by my mind and my soul in two opposite directions, on the way home from the park, I decide to stop by our local Chabad House to get some clarity from my friend Bassie, the Rebbetzin. She looks at me with a smile when I tell her about my desire for another child and how illogical even I think it is.

Then she tells me about the teachings of the Lubavitcher Rebbe and what a mikvah is. As I listen to her, my spirit is wrapped in such peace and comfort. I can almost taste the sweet breath of my future baby and I love him beyond words already!

One hour later, I come home where my precious, innocent husband is working on the computer, so focused and intent. He isn't yet interested in spiritual pursuits, yet he is the best Jewish husband, always supportive of his awakening wife. And I tell him that while I can't explain it, I long for another child.

I read about mikvah and it speaks to me on such a deep level, bringing tears to my eyes. I explain to my husband the importance of keeping the laws of family purity, and despite never even knowing about this, he agrees and supports me all the way through.

I will never forget getting ready for the mikvah: counting the days, praying, waiting with great anticipation- even though I am petrified of water, a fear I have had since childhood.

I remember when I finally heard Bassie yelling: "Kosher" (meaning that I had immersed myself the right way, going completely under the water). She felt such excitement, as if it was she who had just been cured from a water phobia. I experienced this strange, new feeling over me, as if the mystical waters of the mikvah were washing off the sticky coat of doubt and fear, connecting me to my roots, from which I could absorb the strength and wisdom of Sarah, Rivkah, Rachel and Leah...becoming like them-a proud Jewish woman.

Back in Russia, I was raised to hide, and be ashamed of, my Judaism. But as I emerged from the mikvah waters I felt that I was able to fully claim what has been always mine-my Jewish soul.

Driving home, laughing through the tears of joy, I kept praying to G‑d to be with me, to quench my inner thirst for this baby... Ten days later there it was: a faint red plus on a pregnancy test.

I welcomed my baby into my heart and into my life. I also welcomed our Creator into my pregnancy, for the first time acknowledging His invisible presence, somewhere behind the Heavenly curtain, making it all possible.

Ever since then, I am learning to develop my relationship with G‑d.

I find myself praying and talking to Him like never before, finding the great relief of putting all my fears in His hands. I want the birth of this baby to highlight my journey to know myself and G‑d's presence in me. I want it to be a spiritual experience. I am waiting now, till the cry of my baby turns me inside out, transforming my entire self into the person I really am-a Jewish mother.

I sit here now in my ninth month, soon to be blessed, G‑d Willing, with my fifth child. I have never been so excited and so nervous at the same time. I am so unsure if I will have enough love and wisdom in me for all my kids, and yet I know that G‑d's guidance and support is just a prayer away. This pregnancy is different, more conscious and spiritual. This is my first mikvah baby.

Postscript: Katherine's baby was born on a Shabbat morning and his Hebrew name is Menachem Mendel, after the Lubavitcher Rebbe.

Dr. Katherine (Rivka) Agranovich was born in Belarus, FSU, and now lives in Orange County, California, with her husband and five children. She is a doctor of natural health and the founder of a holistic health clinic. Katherine is passionate about studying Judaism, and enjoys writing. She is the published author of Tales of My Large, Loud, Spiritual Family.
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Shoshanna Pa-17110 July 15, 2015

Wow... Wow..that was so touching... Reply

Anonymous Montreal February 14, 2015

thank you Kol Hakavod to you! May G-d bless you many fold to have much nachas and joy from your family. May you continue to be inspiration to women to leave control of this issue to G-d. Many thanks for sharing this article with the public. Reply

Rachel S NY, NY August 30, 2014

Thank you so much for your story. It was very touching. It's a wonderful thing to have the instincts inside us to know what's right for us, even when the external factors go against what we know is right. Continue to have faith and believe in yourself and G-d's good grace. May your story help others follow there hearts. Reply

Anonymous New York, NY September 6, 2012

Mikvah Baby This article nearly brought me to tears. It is beautiful written and truly inspirational. I pray that all Jewish women will be blessed as you have been and that G-D should continue to give you guidance and clarity. Reply

Mrs. Gwendolyn Agran July 18, 2012

What a wonderful article! It truly stirred the soul. I am a Newlywedd, and under the kind help and supervison, my lovely Rebbetzin has introduced me to the magical world of Mikvah.. One day to I will be a Mother and I believe to that another special jewish soul will be born. Mikvah is one thing that is always for me. Regardless of what aspects of Judaism I do or don't keep it is always there for me. We also seemingly share the same last name. Ours was infact shortened when family had arrived from Belarus. G-d bless Reply

R.B. ny, ny May 5, 2012

Beautifull I just wanted to say that i identify fully with your description of your feelings regarding pregnancy and motherhood. It is a breath of fresh air to hear someone else that feels the same nowadays... May you and your family be blessed. Reply

Cyndi R Lawrence, NY/USA May 2, 2012

Thanks Your article is so beautiful and emotionally charged. Please keep writing. You are so inspiring! Reply

Chanah Leah Bekerman May 1, 2012

Thank you so much for writing this article and posting it publicly. I feel the same way about being pregnant and being and Jewish mother. You've inspired I'm sure many including myself. May you be blessed to continue to have strength, patience in educating your dear children and may you continue to grow in Torah and Mitzvahs with many blessings together with your husband and dear family.

Mazal tov on your new baby!!! Reply

Anonymous London , England May 1, 2012

Mikvah Mikvah is done on a monthly bases 7 days after your period, however Mikvah is also used for women who convert to Judaism that is the last step of acceptance.
Hope that answers your question. Reply

Sandra Johnson highland, Please Select May 1, 2012

Mikvah Baby This is one of the most beautiful mother stories I have ever read. There is hope for the Jewish people as long as there are women like this. Reply

Sarah Ohana ny, ny March 15, 2012

you made me cry as i was looking out for a deeper meaning in my life on chabad.org.
This is the firstarticle i opened and already got the message i wanted. I was looking for a deeper feeling toward mikvah and pregnancy and you gave me one.
Thank you Reply

Katherine Rivka Agranovich SJC, USA September 24, 2011

Responce to Anglea, Alaska Dear Anglea,
I would like to respond to you by quoting the Rebbe:
"There is always hope.
Even when you mess up, you have not wrestled control from Him. After all the dust has settled, where you are and how you are is exactly as He had planned at the outset of Creation.
And so, there is always hope."
May your heart be at peace,
Sicerely, Rivka Reply

Anglea Palmer, Alaska September 20, 2011

Tears of gratitude flow down my face... I am a young, single, first time mother to be. Many fears knock at my / our door these days... your writing has truly inspired the inner strength and faith in the Creator that I need more then ever before. I am so blessed and my soul is greatly comforted! Thank you (: Reply

Anonymous Rome, Italy June 11, 2011

Dr Rivka's Agranovich letter. Very nice letter and very deep feelings and emotions, The whole letter make sense.
Yossi Reply

Katherine Agranovich SCJ, CA June 7, 2011

Great question! It all depends on your age, spiritual longings and commitments. The best way is to find out what would be the best path for you is to talk to your rebbetzin (Rabbi wife). She will give you plenty of information to establish the right way for you, which could be different for each person. Follow the passions of your heart and I am wishing you the most amazingly transformative and enlightening Mikvah experience! Reply

Anonymous Prescott, AR June 2, 2011

Mikvah I too am curious as Baytown, TX is.
Is this mikvah a monthly bathing, or a one time bathing of conversion/re-dedication? Reply

Laura Baltimore, MD May 6, 2011

Mazel Tov! The author is certainly religious, she just may not be as observant as she wishes to be! Clearly, she is extremely spiritual and connected to HaShem, but she never had the experiences that let her become observant until now! Mazel Tov on the beginning of an awesome journey for yourself, your husband, and your beautiful jewish children! Reply

Anonymous Baytown, Tx January 19, 2011

Mikvah Help me to understand this Mikvah. Do you do it once? I want to be Kosher but I know so little. Please help me or point me in the right direction. This article brought tears to my eyes and made me a little jealous of the writer. She is so blessed. Reply

Diane Kisela Cape Town, South Africa December 1, 2010

Fantastic! I am on a journey of conversion and I must tell you, I cannot wait until I am also able to perform mikvah. When I am able to perform my mitzvah as a Jewish woman and get married and bring a family into this world.

Thank you, thank you for this inspiration! Reply

Sarah brooklyn, ny September 26, 2010

Beautiful! How beautiful!
The postscript is the best part of the article. Reply

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