I see my journey as a circle. It’s very big and very round, as a circle should be. It is filled with clarity and purpose and without a doubt, whole. It is representative not only of who I am, but my story. When this circle first began, it was just a dot. A dot that grew and took many shapes until it managed to connect with its beginning and complete itself. Within this circle there is peace.
Seven years ago, my circle began. As a new bride, living in South Africa, I was elated to find myself pregnant so quickly and felt happy and carefree. I was grateful for the blessing and naive to the possibility that something could wrong. At 30 weeks, my world shattered and my marriage and my faith were put to the ultimate test.
It was supposed to be a routine checkup. We were going to start speaking about the birth plan. I was excited and anxious, but mostly I was happy. If I could bottle that moment up, I would. I had no idea that it would be the last time I would feel carefree in a pregnancy ever again. I still remember the look on my doctor’s face as she struggled to find a heart beat on the monitor. I didn’t need her to say anything. The expression in her eyes was enough. My baby, my beautiful, precious, loved baby, had no heartbeat.
I have no words to accurately describe the following 24 hours. The calls to the Chevra Kadisha and family, local and overseas, were filled with tears and sorrow. The decision to proceed with a delivery and having to organise the burial, were a test of personal hardship. More so, the realization that this was out of my control, that it couldn’t be fixed and that the effects were permanent, left aches in my heart and soul. A lot of people offered advice and said things in hopes of being helpful. “How special I am to carry such a neshama”, was the most common phrase I heard. I didn’t care, I didn’t want to be special, I wanted to be a mommy, to a baby, that was alive and in my arms. But for now, G-d had said no and I would never be the same.
Just as a circle continues, so would I. Shortly after, we left South Africa and moved to Canada where we would start again, picking up the pieces and moving forward.
It is said that G-d gives a person only what they can handle. Nothing more, nothing less. That everything you experience and the way in which you experience it, is exactly how it should be. I internalized this message to the fullest. I began to live my life believing with everything I had, that whatever fertility path I would walk, was meant to be. So when I had my next miscarriage, just a few months after giving birth in South Africa, I found myself in a stronger place. Sad, but confident that G-d was with me, paving the way for something special. And one year and three months after my first loss, I was blessed with a healthy baby girl! Seventeen months later another daughter. I was in the clear. Or so I thought.
Over the next year and half, I would experience another two loses. I felt devastated and alone. I spent hours and hours of my time online, connecting to other women seeking and craving conversation and validation that the feelings and experiences I was going through were not unique. That I was not isolated in my journey and that there were others like me. Here I was in a community of hundreds of young mothers and yet I was online connecting to women globally for comfort and validation. If statistically speaking miscarriages were not uncommon, why were there no conversations amongst my peers? Why wasn’t anyone talking and sharing locally? Why did I have to sit at a computer connecting with strangers, when I could be sharing and healing with others locally?
So, I began to do what nobody was doing. I began to speak! To share my story and journey. My resources and emotions. I began to openly become the ‘face of pregnancy loss’, in order to help others have a place to go. Slowly, bit by bit, women, friends and strangers began to come forward and share their stories back. And gradually, a community of support for pregnancy loss formed.
In December, 2016, my husband, my three daughters and myself, relocated back to Cape Town. One of the hardest parts about leaving Canada and returning to Cape Town, was losing the community of support and resources that I had established overseas. I had spent the past few years involving myself in helping others with their pregnancy loss experiences and now I was returning to where it had all began for me. There are endless amounts of emotions I could have felt but I choose to see this as a true sign of Hashem’s ways and hear His message loud and clear! By returning to Cape Town, I felt as if Hashem was personally holding my hand and leading me to a complete healing. He had personally given me the past few years of experience in order for me to take that strength and insight and use it to be a voice of support in South Africa.
With this in mind, I immediately began my collaboration with The Malka Ella Fertility Fund, to form the Menucha division, in order to bring my circle to completion. Menucha will be a new branch in the Malka Ella family to help support couples who have suffered a miscarriage or a still birth. It is our hope that we can continue to break down barriers, create support and assist women and families with pregnancy loss.
To find out more about how Menucha can help you, please contact Alanna Garbman 074 050 4520 or [email protected]