The normal anticipation and excitement as I approached my due date was different this time.

During my ninth month, as I prayed constantly for a safe and easy delivery and a healthy baby, tears stung my eyes as I thought of Eyal, Naftali, and Gilad, the three kidnapped boys, and their mothers, families, and friends. I thought of how these mothers carried their precious boys for nine months, birthed them, and raised them with energy and love. Together with thousands of others, I prayed for the boys’ safe return.

Tears stung my eyes as I thought of Eyal, Naftali, and Gilad

Then came the devastating news: the prayers, mitzvot, and solidarity among Jews worldwide culminated in the shocking loss of three holy martyrs. I couldn’t stop thinking of these boys whose faces became etched in my mind. The unshakeable faith of their mothers touched me deeply and their unfathomable grief broke my heart.

Just ten days before my due date, Operation Protective Edge began. I live in the Talpiyot neighborhood of Jerusalem, and I remember the first siren that went off. It was 10 PM, and our five children were sound asleep in their beds. Thank G‑d my husband was home, because with my bulging belly, I could barely lift the youngest of our clan. My husband worked quickly to carry all of the children to our bedroom, which is more protected.

There is a chilling feeling of fear, even panic, when the siren sounds. People are caught in the streets, in the shower, and in other vulnerable places, knowing that within a minute and a half (in the south it’s 15 seconds), the “booms” will be heard.

Being so close to giving birth, I couldn’t help wondering: what if the siren goes off while we’re on the way to the hospital, or during the birth? After that first alarm, we had two more sirens in Jerusalem, the last one just a few hours before our baby was born.

One woman told me her experience of being in the maternity ward of Shaarei Tzedek Hospital in Jerusalem during that first siren. She described the chaos and panic as dozens of women who had just given birth rushed to the nursery, desperately searching for their babies to bring them to the protected room in the hospital.

Shortly after Shabbat ended on July 12th, day five of Operation Protective Edge, my husband and I headed to the Bikur Cholim hospital in central Jerusalem, excited to welcome this new addition to our family.

We have a special tradition of taking a long walk outside the hospital before checking in. We concentrated on saying Psalms as we walked together, my husband reciting by heart, and I repeating after him. Peace in the land of Israel was included in our prayers. After close to an hour, my waters broke and we knew it was time to check in.

During those last hours of intense contractions and searing pain, I thought again of the mothers of Gilad, Naftali, and Eyal, and the throbbing pain that they must be experiencing constantly. I thought of the heartache and anguish of those who are under constant rocket fire. I thought of the pain and sacrifice of our soldiers and their anxiety-ridden families and friends.

Thank G‑d, my pain had a rewarding and positive outcome: a little girl, Shaina Batsheva, named after both of our grandmothers, was born at 12:40 AM on the 15th of Tammuz.

During the two days I was at the hospital, I was amazed by the insulated atmosphere of the maternity wards. The joy and celebration of new life was untouched by the war and anxiety so palpable outside the hospital walls. I felt proud to be a part of this nation that celebrates life. I basked in the oasis of light and goodness amidst the thickening clouds of evil and darkness.

I spent the Shabbat after I gave birth at a mommy and baby retreat to rest and recuperate. It was day 10 of Operation Protective Edge, the first day of the ground invasion. Candle-lighting time was heralded by beautiful Shabbat songs, and the sound of a shofar, which came over loudspeakers throughout the religious neighborhood of Telstone, just outside Jerusalem.

Hundreds of Jewish mothers joined me in the cafeteria andHundreds of Jewish mothers joined me as we lit Shabbat candles together we lit our Shabbat candles, each woman adding a new light for the new precious soul added to her family. Tears flowed freely, as the diverse crowd of women stood fixated, mesmerized by the flickering flames, focused in prayer and unity. Many women lingered with books of Psalms, praying for our soldiers and the safety of our sacred land.

G‑d, I prayed silently, how can you refuse us? See our unity, feel our longing and pain and hear our collective prayers, begging for peace and redemption for our people.

May we experience the “birth” at the end of this excruciating labor experience, and may we see the light at the end of these tunnels, with true peace in our holy land and the coming of Moshiach.