An older woman boards the bus and sits down one row ahead of me on the other side of the aisle. She glances lovingly at the baby swaddled on the young woman sitting across from her and then smilingly leans forward to ask her something. There is too much noise for me to hear the question, but I have a pretty good guess what it is from the glow on the young mother’s face as she proudly holds up three fingers in response.

“HowMy heart freezes many months old is your baby?” Or, more likely, “How many months old is your beautiful baby?”

My heart freezes.

I want a beautiful baby.

Even a regular baby would do.

I have no children, and my heart freezes because I can never experience the joy of others delighting in my offspring. I can never experience the glow of pride when discussing my precious infant. There is absolutely nothing that can compare to the purity and innocence of babies—and I don’t have any of my own.

Unquestionably, young babies can also cause groans and eye rolls, as many an airplane passenger who has sat near screeching babies will be quick to inform.

Yet for the most part, babies cause a light to shine in the eyes of passersby. There is nothing the mother has to do besides display her baby, and immediately, she spreads feelings of warmth, connection and love to those nearby.

With no baby, I can never have that effect.

After my recent miscarriage, I concluded that my experience will not be defined merely as loss of life, but as the birth of a new mission: to carry a torch of faith, illuminating my surroundings, leading others through their own personal painful darkness to find G‑d.

I started spreading awareness and giving lectures on faith in my community, and a wonderful thing happened. Through the strength and guidance I gave others, I found comfort for myself.

I was slowly empowered and no longer shattered.

Still, all my strength melts when I see the glow of maternal pride on the face of the young mother who holds her baby close.

Broken, I sit huddled on my corner seat of the bus and tears fill my eyes.

No more is my heart frozen; now it sears with pain. My whole body starts to hurt because I, too, want to carry along with me a bundle of innocence—one who has so recently been in the Divine cocoon of Heaven—and watch unknown folk walk with a lighter step because they’ve been touched by the goodly aura of this baby.

I try to act like a good Jew.

II don’t feel like a good woman try to connect to G‑d, and I try to help others connect to G‑d.

I feel like a good Jew. But I don’t feel like a good woman.

I have not done what women do: bear children.

I have not brought a single soul into the world.

Wherein lies my womanhood?

My rabbi says all answers can be found in the Torah.

I look in the Torah and learn about the first woman created. Commonly known as Eve, her proper biblical name is Chava. The Torah explains that she was called so because she was em kol chai, “the mother of all life.”

Talk about adding insult to injury!

The Torah itself confirms that “woman equals mother.”

I feel crushed.

A woman is meant to be the mother of life; there seems to be no recognition for infertile women like myself.

The words “mother of all life” rumble through my brain again and again.

Through my pain and shame, something gnaws at me. The description of the first woman is not “mother of life,” but “mother of all life.”

What does that even mean?

Granted, the first woman was the mother of all life because from her have eventually come all living beings, but where does that leave the rest of us?

No other woman since then can claim that title because even the most fertile of women only brings life to a limited number of children.

Maybe then I am not such a misfit, as I first assumed.

Maybe the Torah does have a place for me.

Maybe being a woman is about bringing whatever life is possible, even though our ability is finite.

Maybe I need to start focusing on whatever life I can bring and stop focusing on whatever life I cannot.

I can be a “mother of life” just like all other finite, fertile women.

Of course, I would like to bring physical life into this world, but until that happens, I can at least bring the spirit of life to whatever I do.

I can infuse my mitzvot with joy and energy, and inspire my friends to do the same. I can use humor and healing to bring life to others; I can revive broken spirits and rejuvenate apathetic souls. I can provide funds to nourish those in need, and I can produce love and harmony where there was once discord. And even without the brightness of children, I can make my home a center of life by inviting guests, hosting events and making sure that even mundane moments sparkle with Divine glitter.

ThoughI can create a legacy that will be eternal physical children don’t last forever and don’t always lead a life that truly reflects their bearer, using the individual gifts that G‑d has granted me, I can create a life and legacy that will be eternal and always true to me.

And while I may not have a pregnancy glow, I think I’ll have a peaceful glow, born from the knowledge that I am as fertile as the best of them.

I’m no longer infertile, but in-fertile. I’m in fertile mode!

I think even G‑d agrees because every once in a while He arranges a visit for me to the I.V.F. (I’m Very Fertile) clinic.

There I sit among a crowd of beautiful women dedicated to the same cause as I am: to become a mother, to become a life-giver, to become the ultimate woman. Our quest itself is an indication of fertility; our desire to nurture is the first stage of giving life.

We women all give life in different ways.

I’ll know that I have succeeded in becoming a true “mother of life” when my interactions will be so full of holiness, happiness and purity, that even strangers will be aroused to feel goodness and warmth, and I’ll see soft, loving lights flicker in the eyes of passersby.