Over the past few weeks, there were numerous times I thought I was in labor. But I was not.

The pain was real. My womb was contracting. And yet it stopped and another day would pass, and birth had not yet arrived.

There were moments when I told myself (as I would tell other women so many times as their doula): “When it happens, you’ll know.” But I, myself, began to doubt!

I thought of all the pains we have had as a nation. The troubles, sorrows and blows. Each time we pray, “Moshiach is coming.” “He’s on his way.” Or “He is here.” And we wake up and another trying time passes, and we doubt, “Is it? Is it not? Will it really be? Will we even know?”

Thursday the contractions came once again, and this time I said to myself, “They are different. They are more intense. I have to stop and breathe through them.” I cooked for Shabbat while listening to a beautiful class on gratitude. The class changed my perspective, and instead of complaining, questioning or demanding, I reframed to see things from a different angle.

G‑d,” I prayed, “THANK YOU! You’ve given me healthy births and healthy babies in the past. Can You please do this for me again? I am thankful to You, and therefore, I come to ask for more.”

I made my challah dough, and the contractions continued all through the day and evening. It was late at night when I told my husband, “Prepare everything. Get the Shabbat candles ready because tomorrow morning we probably won’t be here.” And then, in the middle of the night … the contraction stopped.

Friday morning, I awoke with nothing to do. Shabbat had already been prepared. I accepted that the baby was still inside me, and we were not yet on the labor journey. I joked to my husband that I was glad I wasn’t my own client. I stretched, listened to a class and dozed off. The children came home from school, and the contractions started once again.

The weather turned to rain. The contractions came and went. I lit candles and received Shabbat. My husband and sons came home from shul and we started our Shabbat meal. I told my children about the change in my thoughts and prayers, and about the gratitude class that I had heard. I shared stories with them. And then the contractions got slightly more intense. We ended our meal.

Like the birth pangs of the Redemption, the pain came and went. I tried to lie down and rest, but when the contraction came, I couldn’t. With each one as I rocked and swayed on all fours, I prayed and they continued. And then they stopped, once again. Another tease? Or the rest and recharge that brings us closer?

I dozed off, but not for long. They started up again. For a few hours, I continued lying between contractions, rolling onto fours and singing my song as I heard the rain pouring. Everyone was sleeping. It was quiet and dark. At 3:30 a.m., I told my husband, “I think this is it.” We went into the lit kitchen. I prayed for all the people on my list. I prayed for peace in the world, that Moshiach should come, that everyone should be blessed and healed.

The contractions were too intense to stay put. This was real. At 5 a.m., we called the taxi and waited in the entrance. The rain poured down. The contractions became quicker and more intense. I kept bending and swaying to my tune in our building’s lobby. A few men were on their way to pray the earliest morning prayers. The taxi had yet to come. By 5:40, we called the ambulance as I could no longer wait for the taxi.

We arrived at the hospital at 6 a.m. It was calm and quiet, and the staff whisked me into a delivery room. Liora was my midwife. Thank G‑d, she was patient and calm. She rubbed my back while other midwives asked me questions, pricked me with an IV, took my blood … it’s amazing how you can be present and fully there, and yet still not be there, as I continued to sing and breathe through the contractions.

As the baby descended, I felt fear. The fear stopped me. It’s such an incredible fear. The fear of birth. The fear of bringing a new life into this world. The fear of I don’t know what, but a sensation that makes you cry out, “G‑d, help me.” It was so hard, this last stage. A part of me just wanted to run away!

And I knew the time had not yet come. Something held me back, and as much as I wanted it over, I also didn’t feel the need to rush. To rush this precious moment, to have it end, the waiting, the longing, the dreaming … I needed more time to pray and sing my song.

Liora left me when her shift ended at 7 a.m., but she left me in good hands with another calm, patient midwife, Ayalah. I went from Liora, whose name means, “my light,” to Ayalah, whose name means “a gazelle/doe/deer.” But Ayalah also refers to ayalat hashachar, the “doe of the dawn,” as we say in the Psalm (Chapter 22). The Malbim explains it is related to the breaking of the dawn—to the darkest moment in the night before the sun begins to show its rays.

The Midrash explains that at night, it is not completely dark because the light of the moon and stars shines. When is it really dark? At the crack of dawn because then the moon and stars disappear, and the sun has yet to come. The last moments of exile are likened to the darkest moments before the dawn of the era of Redemption.

It was Ayalah who patiently waited with me as I prayed to G‑d to give me the strength to bring this child into the world. I went from kneeling to half squatting. I focused inward, and in silence, I told myself that G‑d would give me the strength. At last, my little one came out into this world at 7:35 a.m., and I resumed my song “G‑d, thank You! Hodu lashem ki tov … Give thanks to G‑d because He is good! A miracle, a kindness. Awesome. Incredible.”

A boy! A Shabbat baby miracle.

A half-hour went by, and the placenta would not come out. Ayalah told me, “I’m going to get the doctor. Now is the time to pray. If it doesn’t come out, we have to take you to the operating room.”

“G‑d, You are so good and kind to me,” I prayed. “In the past, you made the placenta come out naturally. Can You please do it again?”

I cried out to my husband, who was saying Psalms behind the curtain, “Pray!”

The doctor came, and the placenta came right out.

G‑d’s kindness. Mazel tov! The dawn of day.