I couldn’t believe it. Not again. There I was, eight weeks pregnant, and I was spotting. It was light, but it was definitely blood, and it was the last thing I wanted to see.

I called my husband and told him I needed to go to the emergency room for an ultrasound. It was late at night but I just didn’t want to wait until the morning. We managed to find a babysitter and once again headed to the familiar corridor at the Bikur Cholim hospital in Jerusalem. The very same corridor where I had been told previously on two occasions that my pregnancies hadn’t made it.

So there I was, again. This time however, I had two healthy children at home which gave me the strength of knowing that maybe, just maybe, there would be good news.

I saw her straining her eyes to determine what she was seeing, or worse, maybe what she wasn’t seeing

After what seemed like an unbearably long wait, the nurse called me in and did the routine questioning. She wrote down my dates, my history, took my weight, everything. As it was so early in the pregnancy, I hadn’t yet been to my doctor, but with my history, and especially with the spotting, I knew it couldn’t wait.

The nurse did an ultrasound and kept moving the instrument over and over my stomach. I saw her straining her eyes, trying to determine what it was she was seeing, or worse, maybe what she wasn’t seeing. She then turned to me and explained that she couldn’t find the baby on the monitor. She saw the pregnancy sac but not the baby.

Having had this happen before, I knew what this meant, but she continued to explain that the ultrasound machines in the hospital weren’t the greatest resolution and since it was so early in the pregnancy that I really needed to go to my doctor and let him do an ultrasound on a better machine. I wasn’t sure if she was telling me this to make me feel better or because she really believed it, but I had no choice but to return home, unsure as to whether or not I was still pregnant.

The next morning I made an immediate appointment and came in to see the doctor. Again, I answered all the questions and it was determined that I should have been seven or eight weeks pregnant. According to my dates, the baby should have been quite visible at that point, with a strong heartbeat.

Once again, we attempted the ultrasound. Once again, there was nothing to be found. I stared alongside the doctor at the empty screen. A pregnancy sac with all the pregnancy symptoms, with no baby to be found. This time I knew it wasn’t the resolution of the monitor. Though, once again, the doctor suggested that if it would make me feel better, I could wait another week and try again. I asked if there was any point in this. If there was any chance that in a week anything would be different. He admitted that nothing would change, but that it might, just might, give me more time to come to terms with the situation.

I am not one to put off dealing with things, so to me, another week was even more difficult if not cruel. If my pregnancy was truly over, I wanted it over. I wanted to be able to mourn and move on. Dragging out the inevitable accomplished nothing other than stretching my pain.

I wanted to mourn and move on

The doctor gave me the form I needed to take to the hospital but warned me that most likely they wouldn't be able to admit me for a few days because of the holiday. It was then that I realized that the next day was Purim. And not only was Purim supposed to be a joyous occasion, but, at the time, my husband and I were running a program for post high-school students, and I was supposed to be cooking the celebratory meal for thirty-plus girls for our huge annual Purim party.

Although I had wanted to take care of this right away, I certainly had no interest in spending Purim in the hospital. I figured I would go home, get through the holiday, somehow put a smile on my face, and then deal with my loss afterwards.

When my husband asked me if I had any plans on dressing up as I had in the past, I told him I was dressed up. I was walking around laughing, smiling, friendly, happy. That wasn’t me. That wasn’t how I felt. That was my Purim mask. That upbeat attitude was masking how inside I was mourning the loss of my baby. My joy was my costume.

There is the concept that when we enter the Jewish month of Adar, we are to be marbim b’simcha, we are to increase in our joy. This is the month in which we celebrate the holiday of Purim, a time where we were witness to revealed miracles. And yet, I never knew until this incident that an obligation to be happy is not always so easy. I had always found it strange that we are commanded to be joyous. Until that year. It took all of my strength to try and find joy, it took all of my strength to try and see the positive.

I thought of how this holiday was celebrating an unbelievable turn of events

I somehow made it through that Purim. My students had a blast. I busied myself with the details of the party and getting my kids dressed up. As we read the Megillah, I reminded myself that just as G‑d’s name doesn’t appear once in the whole story of Purim, and yet clearly G‑d is present in every moment, so too, even though I was suffering, it was clear that I wasn’t alone. I thought of how this holiday was celebrating an unbelievable turn of events from what could have been the most devastating massacre of the Jewish people into a day of celebration and freedom.

And I thought that maybe, just maybe, this related to my situation as well. A part of me berated myself for trying to think positively when there was nothing to think about. Two ultrasounds had already said the same thing. There was no baby. My pregnancy was over. And yet, the story of Purim also seemed closed and shut and then there was a miracle.

But when Purim was over, I figured I had no other choice but to register at the hospital. And yet, they wouldn’t let me. With all of the annoyances of Israeli bureaucracy, there was a time limit for the doctor’s slip, and the time had expired. I was told that in order to come to the hospital, I would once again need to go back to my doctor and get another slip from him. And no, he could not fax it. And no, it couldn’t be a different doctor.

I realized that by the time I could get to the doctor and then to the hospital it would be Thursday, and I absolutely didn't want to spend Shabbat in the hospital. I figured I would just go on Sunday to the doctor (Sunday is a work day in Israel) and then to the hospital that evening.

It was Saturday evening as I was arranging babysitting for the next day when I heard sirens. One after the other after the other. From all directions to all directions until their wail became deafening. I knew there had been an attack. And I knew that unfortunately there must have been many casualties.

I turned on the radio to discover that a bomber had detonated himself about ten minutes away from my apartment, in the neighborhood of Beit Yisrael, alongside a group of women who were standing with their baby carriages. I would soon learn that six young children were murdered in this attack, another four mothers were killed and over fifty women and children were seriously injured.

I sat in shock trying to comprehend this immense loss. Children, who just a day ago were running around in their Purim costumes, were now gone. How quickly the world could turn upside down.

I thought to myself that even though I had lost my baby, there was no comparison to the pain and loss that these families, their loved ones and the entire Jewish people had just experienced. There was no way I was going to try to go to the hospital. The hospitals needed all their resources to focus on the victims. Anything not critical would have to wait.

I waited another week, until the next Sunday, to finally return to the doctor for my new hospital admittance slip. I explained what I needed and he began to write and then, figuring I had nothing to lose, I asked if maybe, just maybe, since I was already in the office, he would be willing to do one more ultrasound.

He explained that my blood tests had shown that my hormone levels weren't high enough, and two ultrasounds had shown that there was no baby. Another ultrasound wasn't going to change anything.

I don’t know where it came from, as I am not one to publicly show emotion, but I started to cry and cry and cry. And this doctor had no idea what to do with me. As a way of offering comfort, he asked if an ultrasound would make me feel better. And while I didn’t really think it would, I was too overwhelmed to do anything other than shake my head “yes.”

“He asked if an ultrasound would make me feel better”

I didn’t even bother lying down on the table as I wanted to see my sac one more time, clearly, and then move on. The doctor sighed as he began to move the instrument over my stomach. And then, within seconds, I was sure I saw something.

The doctor almost dropped the instrument as I asked in amazement, “Is that my baby? Is that a heartbeat?” To which all he could do was nod his head.

Once again he asked my dates, which indicated that I should have been almost ten weeks pregnant. And yet, I wasn’t. According to the ultrasound, I was only six weeks pregnant. I was at the exact time when the baby is first able to be seen in an ultrasound. In the other two ultrasounds my baby wasn’t showing, not because he wasn’t there, but because he was too small to be seen.

"If you had done this ultrasound last week, we would not have been able to see the baby. What a miracle!" was all he could say. I left the office holding tightly in my hand the original form the doctor had given me for the D&C. That slip currently sits in my son’s baby book.

Our baby boy was born exactly eight months later to the very day. We named him Netanel, meaning “gift from G‑d.”