I notice suddenly that we’re the only couple in the store without a baby
etzalel opens the door to our basement apartment just as the oven signals that supper is ready. I grin. My timing is great. I pull the pan of chicken and rice out of the oven, shut off the timer and oven, and rest the pan on the stovetop.
“Hiiii! How was yeshivah?”
“Great! And supper smells yum! Thanks, Chavy! How was work?”
“Same old.” I smile back. “Boring office day. The manager was out so everyone just klutzed around. I’m still feeling a drop unproductive, to be honest.”
Betzalel tips his head back. “So how about we go out and do something fun before supper?”
I laugh aloud. “You’re serious? Like what?”
“Um, I don’t know. Sprinkles maybe? Dessert first?”
I laugh again, then turn and pull my crossbody off the doorknob of the pantry door.
“Deal. Best idea ever.”
It’s a summer night, and the sun is still shining brightly at seven. In the ice cream shop, we order, then sit down with a cone and a razzle.
“I would have never thought of this, Betzalel. But it’s really nice.”
The ice cream shop buzzes around us; women walk in pushing strollers, kids ponder over the various options at the ordering counter. I notice suddenly that we’re the only couple in the store without a baby.
“Betzalel?” I ask. “Should we ask the rav our questions?”
Betzalel takes a long sip of his razzle and squints. “The medical question we had a few weeks ago?”
Betzalel squints again. “I guess so. I’ll ask him tonight after Maariv.”
We finish our ice creams, but my heart isn’t in it anymore. Fear has wormed its way into my chest, and later, I find myself davening Maariv, too. Unusual for me, but I’m scared, and davening always helps.
Later that night, the door finally bangs open again. This time, I’m uneasy.
“Hi.” I smile, a little wobbly.
I wait. Betzalel doesn’t say anything.
“Did you speak to him?”
“Yup, I did.” Betzalel sits down and stretches his legs on one side of our two-seater recliner.
He looks at me. “He said our concerns are takke concerns, and we should be in touch with Bonei Olam. He already called a counselor he knows there, and he gave me the number. They’re expecting our call tonight.”
My head pulses. “Whaa-a-a-a-t???? Are you serious? But we’re only married a year and a half!”
Betzalel flaps his hand at me dismissively. “Chill out, Chavy. Don’t worry. It’s nothing major. It will be fine!”
I want to believe him. I think I believe him. But in a corner of my heart, I’m panicking.
This just can’t be us.
I refuse to speak on the line with the Bonei Olam counselor. Betzalel explains the situation over speaker phone, and I cringe inwardly as he speaks.
The counselor takes down all the information smoothly, reassures us a bit, then explains some next steps and procedures. He gives us the name and number of a clinic to call, warmly reminds us to feel free to call anytime, and hangs up.
In one evening, our life has gone from basically-still-shanah-rishonah-couple to nebach, infertility.
In my bed that night, I stare at the ceiling for a long time before falling asleep. This isn’t real. Pretty soon they’ll figure out it’s all a big mistake.
Three weeks later, we’re sitting through our initial consultation with the fertility clinic. I feel a million miles away from the small consultation room with the kind doctor and Betzalel. I’m in complete denial that we have a problem. We are really going to laugh when we find out we’re expecting in a few weeks. We won’t believe we wasted our time with this.
Armed with a battery of requisitions of all sorts of tests for both of us, Betzalel and I head straight from the appointment to Chemed for blood tests. I hope the wait won’t be long. I need to get back to the office.
In the waiting room, I meet Bluma, my high school friend. Her maternity top gives away her news, and as I take in the scene in the test center, I notice that most women waiting are here for the same reason.
“Hi, Chavy! So cute to meet you here!” She smiles broadly and winks.
I smile back weakly, then dissolve into a fit of giggles with Betzalel once she is called back.
“She thinks,” I heave, “that she is the first in on the news!” We erupt again. Bluma comes back to the front, sees us giggling, and smiles and waves, sending us into peals of laughter yet again.
One month later, I squint at my boss as he gives me instructions and try to focus. My mind is elsewhere.
Does he know?
Rochi, my coworker, bustles into the room to leave some papers on my boss’s desk, and I squint at her, too.
Does she know?
Would any of them guess that I spent the morning at a follow-up appointment at the fertility clinic?
Waiting couples are sad. We are happy, the sun kiss of shanah rishonah still sparkling in our eyes and in the spontaneity of our evening plans.
Waiting couples are nebachdig. We are anything but.
This just can’t be us.
At today’s follow-up consultation, our new reproductive endocrinologist gently explained to us that we have a problem on our hands. He showed us how the results of the tests we took since last appointment indicate several real issues. He spoke about treatment protocols and percentages of success.
And suddenly, we, the cute shanah rishonah couple — we are them.
And nobody knows.
To be continued…
(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 860)
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