After my daughter actually made good on her threat to "scream in shul" (which makes me gulp since she also threatened to treyf my kitchen and eat toilet paper this week when I wouldn't give her jelly beans), Josh took them into the hallway and I was left during the Torah service with my Etz Hayim. Just me and a Tanakh. And a body gearing up to ovulate. And I did it.
I flipped over to the barren chickies in the beginning of the book.
The first time we were going through treatments, I spent every Saturday in shul not reading the portion we were actually learning and instead rereading the stories of Sarah, Rebecca, and Rachel. It's sort of like reading blogs that are never updated. Sarah laughing over finally getting a BFP. Rebecca worrying about miscarriage with her twins. The strain on Rachel's marriage as she lashes out in desperation. I've read their stories so many times, went over the meager information about their stats so many times, wondered if I could get through decades of infertility like Sarah all the while knowing that as much as I would hate myself for it, I would have run off fertile Hagar as well.
The first time through treatments, I was so focused on having a child that I never noticed the structure of the family or the number of pregnancies. I thought once motherhood was obtained, many of those feelings about infertility would fly out the window. Turned out, like many other things in life such as the aesthetics my 8th grade hairstyle or the sanity of my grad school boyfriend, that I was wrong.
Sarah, the first woman in the troika, had one pregnancy and one child. Rebecca, the second woman, had one pregnancy but fraternal twin boys. Rachel, the one I related to the most of the three women, had two pregnancies. Etz Hayim points out her desire to have children was so strong that after going through one of the most painful sensations in existence, she immediately wanted to go through it again for another child.
What does all of this mean? I'm not sure. I thought it was interesting that I only noticed it now. I thought it was interesting that each woman has a different family structure once childlessness was resolved (and to take this a step further, the other Emaot--or mothers--of Infertility in the Torah, each have a different family structure too. Hannah finally has a child, but the child leaves her home. And Michal never gives birth, but instead adopts her sister's five children when her sister dies therefore becoming a mother to five in one fell swoop). I thought it was interesting that I hadn't turned back to those pages until today.
My daughter returned to the sanctuary after I moved seats to get away from the two annoying men who were carrying on a long conversation about their golf game. There was a space next to the window and she danced wildly to the entire spoken Amidah, punching the air with every "Baruch ata Adonoi..." She threw her head back and spun around, clapping her hands as if the Shabbat spirit had entered her body and she was looking for a few snakes to pick up and prove it. It made me wonder about Sarah, whether she tried again so she could live through the wild-dancing-in-shul years one more time but was ultimately unsuccessful. It made me wonder about Rebecca and whether she always felt like she missed out on something by building her family all at once. It made me understand Rachel and why she needed to try again.