The news that high-tech fertility treatment was our only option came as a terrible shock. That was the verdict of the very first doctor we consulted, a year after we were married. Such drastic intervention, with powerful hormonal drugs and surgery, seemed more than distasteful: it seemed to go against the very essence of how we lived and approached life; trying to be so careful with what we ate and drank, consciously avoiding additives and known carcinogens.

We saw more doctors and underwent more invasive testsDismayed, we pushed off the additional testing that the doctor recommended. When I had bursts of willingness to seek other medical opinions, we saw more doctors and underwent more invasive tests, all with the same conclusion: IVF was our only option. But surely, I reasoned, G‑d, who parted the Red Sea, could perform a miracle for us?

Yet each anniversary marked another year without children. I was wary of tampering with my body, afraid of exposure to hormonal drugs and their potential side effects. How could I willingly expose myself to these chemical hormones to which no one could predict how I personally would react physically and emotionally? And a positive outcome wasn't even guaranteed!

How easily I remembered my vulnerability, seven years earlier, before undergoing the operation that had caused our problem. A team of physicians had entered my room on the 17th floor of Sloan Kettering Memorial Hospital, overlooking the East River. They had come to give me more details about the exploratory laparotomy that I would endure the next morning.

"Also, we will have a gynecological surgeon participate in the repositioning of your ovaries," explained one nurse.

"What?" I cried in alarm. "What are you talking about?"

"It is an important part of the procedure. Didn't anyone tell you?"

"No, nobody told me anything about it!" I sobbed, wanting to wake up and escape from this nightmare.

"In case we discover cancer cells in your abdomen, you will need radiation therapy on the lower half of your body. By moving your ovaries away from the lymph glands that would be exposed to treatment, we will be able to protect your ovaries from sterilization," she calmly explained.

I did not feel calm at all. The whole operation seemed unnecessary to me. Intuitively, I sensed that this highly treatable cancer had not spread beyond the lump in my neck, and a tiny, almost imperceptible bump under my arm. But in the world of medicine, my intuitive feelings were not established facts that an oncologist could rely on to determine a course of treatment.

The next morning, half an hour before the operation, when I was already drowsy from a pre-op dose of Demerol, the gynecologic surgeon came to meet me.

"I heard that you were upset yesterday, about the transposition of your ovaries," he began in a kind voice.

I was only eighteenI was only eighteen. Marriage and family were not uppermost in my immediate life plans. Survival was first. I answered slowly, "I'm all right, I understand."

"So you are aware that tampering with your ovaries involves a risk? There is a chance that they may not work at all, but it is a chance we have to take, lest the radiation destroy them completely."

Shocked anew, I could not speak. There was no time to protest. For some mysterious reason, this whole experience was to be part of my life.

Looking back, I am grateful that I combined holistic/alternative approaches to healing with conventional radiation and surgery. I am sure that my wonderful oncologist was afraid that I was going to refuse treatment altogether. He had reassured me at the time that I would not have a problem becoming pregnant.

But that reassurance was given years ago, and now I was married and time was ticking by, with our hearts yearning and our arms empty.

A friend was foster parenting an infant whose fate was being decided in court. I became completely intrigued with the idea that we could become her parents. When my husband and I held her, we discovered how easily we could love her. We thought she was beautiful. One day my friend allowed us to help care for the baby. We changed her diapers, made her bottles, fed, held, burped and soothed her. We cuddled and talked to her. The very next day, we called the adoption agency handling her case and inquired about how to proceed in officially adopting her. They, of course, were obligated to inform us that there was already a six-year waiting list!

We were heartbroken by this news, but decided to continue the adoption process, attend meetings, and await "our turn."

Meanwhile, another year went by, silently enduring monthly disappointments.

One way of coping with the quiet in our lives was to have Shabbat guests. Living in a thriving Jewish community near a college campus, we could easily welcome over a dozen students a week who had never experienced a taste of Shabbat in their entire lives. It was a privilege to be involved in answering their questions; and it gave us something to look forward to each week. It became an opportunity to share our values in a meaningful and life-promoting way. "He who teaches Torah to his friend's son, it is as though he gave birth to him" (Pirkei Avot).

It was vital for me not to feel aloneEventually I was persuaded by a friend to join a small fertility support group. There I met other women dealing with the same issues. In a community that was totally child focused, it was vital for me not to feel alone. One woman shared with me the practice of saying "Chana's Prayer" (a prayer women say when struggling with fertility) after candle lighting. "Ribbono shel Olam (Master of the Universe), everything that you have created in a woman, You have not created anything for naught. Eyes to see, ears to hear, a nose to smell, a mouth to speak, hands to do work, legs to walk, breasts for nursing. Praised are You for putting breasts on my heart! Why should I not nurse with them? Give me a son, and I will nurse with them!" (Brachot 31b)

Identifying with Chana's yearning, as well as our Four Mothers: Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, and Leah, gave me a connection to a historical process that many women had endured, survived, and eventually triumphed. Surely G‑d would answer our prayers.

We willingly investigated suggestions of Jewish customs or alternative practitioners that sounded reasonably respectable. For example, a visit to a well-known Rebbetzin gave me a stronger connection to reciting Psalms. She also emphasized to have special concentration during the blessing of "Matir Assurim" in the prayer of the Shemona Esrei. "May G‑d release you from the constraints of your situation!"

What was I waiting for? I still felt too fearful of IVF to seriously consider doing it, but really, deep inside, perhaps... I wondered if I was worried about the implications of actually becoming a mother?? How long should I wait? We were given only one medical option... when would I be willing to take the plunge? I wondered what was I afraid of. I prayed for clarity.

A good friend who was aware of our situation invited me to accompany her to the birth of her fifth child. A month after witnessing this profoundly moving event, I told my husband that I felt emotionally ready to visit the IVF clinic, not for a consultation, but to actually begin treatment. We could apply our knowledge of holistic methods to the IVF procedure. I reread up on guided imagery, which I had used while coping with the cancer that was long gone, thank G‑d, but which had directly contributed to our current dilemma.

We felt surrounded by a supportive network of prayerWe hoped that our years of prayer for G‑d's compassion, carrying newborn boys at their circumcision (an honor bestowed to couples who are trying to have children of their own) and numerous other Jewish customs we had done, as well as the collective prayers of many people on our behalf, would perhaps have added up to tip the scales in our favor. We contacted rabbis, both for the necessary guidance in Jewish law through the maze of fertility questions, and for their blessings for success. We asked specific people, particularly our parents, to pray for us. We felt surrounded by a supportive network of prayer.

I recalled the trip to Israel we had made one summer. We had visited the Children's Memorial at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum. In the dark, amidst the reflections of a million tiny lights, as the names of one child after another were called out in the eerie stillness, I pleaded with G‑d to send us just one neshama, just one soul.

When treatment began, I prayerfully visualized each step of the procedure, imaging what was happening within my body: the follicles slowly developing into ripe eggs, and my ovaries protected from over stimulation by soothing cool waters, the eggs joyously being fertilized, and a heavenly light guiding and assisting the embryos as they deeply implanted into the welcoming tissue of my womb. I pictured everything in as much detail as possible: the tiny little capillaries connecting and supplying our babies with all the necessary, essential nutrients to help them grow into strong, vital human beings, the lining of my uterus thickening with a fervent exuberance to shelter her new charges, and G‑d's constant Presence supervising all functions.

There were four embryos at first. Even though a multiple pregnancy would be difficult, and possibly fraught with complications, how could I pray for only one baby, and not express concern for the other three potential lives? G‑d, whatever You decide is good, but You should know that I am willing to host everyone!

The days between blood tests were agonizingly slow. I tried to remain calm and optimistic, keeping my mind and body as relaxed and tension-free as possible.

At last—the crucial beta-HCG blood test tentatively came back positive. Two days later, a repeat test of this vital beta-HCG confirmed that the numbers had increased. I was definitely pregnant! An ultrasound showed one embryo had implanted. Our joy was immense!

But we still had months to go, with the fear of miscarriage uppermost in my mind.

I saw us sitting beneath a pomegranate tree that drooped with the weight of full, ripe fruitIn an attempt to retain some autonomy, we decided to learn to do the daily progesterone shots at home for the following three months. With an entire team of doctors, nurses, technicians, surgeons, anesthesiologists and assistants participating in the intimate details of our lives, I felt like a piece of public property. Now, instead of having to rush in and out of the a clinic nurse's office, by doing the shots myself, I could rest at home in privacy, using that time in particular to relax and visualize myself and my husband in a flower filled field of the Galilee, beside a crystal clear running river. In my mind's eye, I saw us sitting beneath a pomegranate tree that drooped with the weight of full, ripe fruit. In this Edenic setting, we prayed for healthy children. A soft beam of light surrounded us, and when it receded back to the Heavens, we were surrounded by beautiful, cherubic babes.

I turned inward, becoming very private as I focused all my energy on maintaining this precious pregnancy for the full nine months.

I quit work. I rested. I ate nutritious meals and avoided anything deemed harmful or unhealthy. I drank raspberry and nettle herbal teas to strengthen my system. I worried and tried not to worry. I cried and prayed and prayed and cried. I continued my prayerful imagery, picturing the changes taking place within my body, the baby nurtured and growing well. When the forty weeks were complete, on my due date, my waters broke. With the assistance of a competent midwife, many hours later, our beautiful, healthy baby was born at home into our extremely grateful, welcoming arms.