It is an experience so intense that it is virtually impossible to recollect. It is unlike anything else I have ever felt. It is all-consuming in a disabling yet powerful way. It is something that only others who have undergone this journey can understand. It is the birthing of a child.

My water broke around midnight. It was my third birth and the first in which my water broke before labor had even started. My first two labors were extremely difficult and completely natural. Yet I feared that I didn't have the strength, either mental or physical, to make it through this one.

Every time there is a siren you freeze

I dreaded that it would be like my first, with a 24-hour labor culminating in five hours of contractions with two-minute peaks, sixty seconds apart.

My second birth was intense and painful as well, but fortunately, much shorter. I was thrilled that I had made it through two natural births, producing two beautiful little girls.

But this time, I could tell, would be different. My water had already broken yet I felt no pain. I knew it was just a matter of time, that soon I would be overwhelmed. We arranged for our babysitter to come and for my labor coach to meet us at the hospital, hailed a cab and were on our way.

As we began to ride we heard the sirens. First one, quickly followed by another, then another, until their wailing filled the streets and pierced the skies. I then had a real contraction. As each ambulance passed, my contractions grew more intense. Living in Jerusalem, we were accustomed to this sound. Every time there is a siren you freeze. You freeze and pray that it won't be followed by more. But all too often it is. And then you wait for the dreaded news of an attack. You wait to hear where it was and then panic until you locate everyone you know who could have been there. But you never really relax, because even though you escaped this one, how can you be sure you will escape the next?

We arrived at the hospital along with the victims. I could barely walk, paralyzed by a combination of fear and pain. I tried not to look at the bloody faces, the missing limbs. But there was no escaping the heart-wrenching screams, the pleas for help, the wails of horror.

I couldn't even think straight. I forgot how to breathe, I forgot the positions I had been taught, I forgot all the techniques. All I could do was let the pain run through my body. I was immediately admitted and put in a birthing room. My labor coach helped me change into a hospital robe and get onto the bed. I sat back, closed my eyes and tried to focus.

I was not aware of anybody or anything else. I just allowed myself to feel every contraction as it spread throughout my body, climaxing each time in the most intense peak I had ever experienced. I thought about my pain, how much it My pain had a purpose. A beautiful purpose. My pain also had an ending hurt, how it literally took my breath away, but how, if I wanted, I could request anesthesia and make it go away. Then I thought about all the people suffering in every other ward of the hospital. I thought about their agony, what had happened to their bodies, and how they had no way of making it disappear. If only they had an epidural, Demerol, or some other form of pain relief as an answer to their suffering.

But my pain had a purpose. A beautiful purpose. My pain also had an ending. And the ending was the greatest gift of all. I knew my contractions wouldn't last forever and that its culmination would be a new life. Furthermore, I realized that my pain was really a blessing. As much as it may have hurt, it was specifically what hurt that prepared my body for the birth. How much more traumatic would a birth be if the body wasn't ready, if it hadn't made room for the baby to safely pass through and emerge.

Instead of dreading the pain and wishing it were over, I found myself being grateful and thankful for each and every contraction. I felt blessed that I was fortunate enough to be birthing a baby and that my body was naturally preparing itself to bring this life into the world. As my contractions intensified I thought about all those others in pain, much more severe pain than this, coupled with trauma and heartbreak, and how their pain had no apparent meaning or purpose. Their suffering seemed needless and unjust. Their suffering had no immediate end and certainly brought no joy.

I prayed that the pain I was experiencing be the only pain that anyone should ever know. I used to listen to my friends talk about how they could never have a natural birth. They would declare that if they couldn't have an epidural, they would never have another baby. Then I thought about my friends who still hadn’t been able to conceive and how they would give anything for the very pain that others are so quick to make disappear. And I wondered how many of those victims of the bombing would have thought they could have endured and lived through so much suffering. How quickly they would have traded places with me, traded their pain for the pain of childbirth.

I don't think I could have appreciated the birth had it not been for the intense process of labor. I prayed the whole time that this baby be born healthy, that there be no complications. I tried not to think of what hurt me but of how I was helping in the miracle of bringing forth life. I didn't want, even for a split second, to wish it away, but rather to give meaning and I don't think I could have appreciated the birth had it not been for the intense process of labor purpose to every moment. And I realized that the very sound of a baby crying, that usually disturbed the peaceful quiet or would awaken me from a deep sleep, was now the very sound I longed to hear. I wanted to hear my baby shriek, to announce to the world that he had arrived, that he was healthy, that he was strong. His cry would mean that he was alive.

And as I waited and pushed and felt my baby descend, I thought of how fortunate I was. And I thought of those who were not able to carry a baby, or those whose babies did not let out that beautiful cry when they were born. And I thought of all those suffering throughout the world. Of all those who were hungry, or poor, or disabled. Of those who had been abused or neglected or abandoned. And I hoped that I would never forget the beauty of my pain and the lessons it had taught me.

As my baby began to enter this world, I let out a scream that I didn't know I was capable of. I cried so hard. I cried for my happiness and for the love within me that was bursting out. And I cried for all those who were not so happy, with the hope and prayer that soon they would be, too. And I cried for the victims who were suffering, and for the lives of those that had been taken away that day and the future generations that would therefore never be.

And as I cried I heard the most beautiful cry of all. My baby boy had just ended one journey and was about to begin another. He gulped his first breath of air and he cried. Suddenly all the pain disappeared. Immediately, I was filled with joy. But I made a promise to myself and to him that we would never forget our experience. And that we would remember the difference between the pain of suffering and the pain of joy. For if we cannot feel one, we can never appreciate the other.

We named our baby boy Netanel, meaning "gift from G‑d," a living, breathing, growing miracle.