What Nadav Taught Me: I Am Superwoman

5 Mar

The lessons so far…

Since I was a teenager, I have been terrified of giving birth. I can’t really explain why. Just the pain of it. The massive undertaking that it always seemed to me. It scared the bejeezus out of me. It’s ironic that for the longest time I was actually convinced that I would never ever want to get pregnant because of this.

The fear of giving birth has followed me into my journey toward motherhood. The way I comforted myself was by thinking that it’s common for a woman, by the time she hits the end of the third trimester, to be so eager to meet her baby that labor just doesn’t seem like a big deal anymore. The prize at the end is too big. Too precious for the pain to matter.

Plus, there’s the epidural. I always knew I’d most likely go for an epidural.

And then, in a hospital, having understood that my son was gone, I now had to face yet another one of my biggest fears. Without the precious prize. Without nurses or midwives cheering me on. Without the smiling husband and the eager family. Just Shmerson and I, in a small room in the middle of the night, going through a world of pain.

At 6:30pm on February 21st I was induced. I really wanted the option of just being knocked out, but the hospital that I was in didn’t have that option. I would have to go through labor, wide awake.

I asked to not be put in labor and delivery. I knew I wouldn’t be able to survive going through this while there. I was put in a small private room at the end of the hall in the women’s ward of the hospital.

But since I was away from L&D (and I think for some other reasons that I can’t really remember), an epidural was not an option. And nobody bothered to tell me that. All I had was an IV drip that made me kind of stoned, but didn’t help the pain in the slightest.

Contractions started at 9pm. They gradually got worse, and by 10pm they were unbearable. We called the nurse and they started the IV drip, while I was hoping for some relief from the pain. None came.

All that the IV gave me was the inability to concentrate, and the urge to sleep between contractions.

The on-call doctor was an a-hole, and the poor night nurse meant well, but I don’t think she had really been through anything like this before, so she was pretty helpless. Up until that point the staff at the hospital had been amazing, helpful, and compassionate toward us. At the moment that we needed it the most, we were surrounded by helplessness and incompetence.

For three and a half hours, I drifted between sleep and pain (under these circumstances I am grateful that it only took that long. The doctors had said that induction and labor could take as long as 48 hours).

For three and a half hours we were alone.

Nobody gave me any instructions. Nobody was there to cheer us on.

All Shmerson could do was hold my hand while I screamed and cried.

Yet somehow, through the drug-induced haze and through the emotional and unbearable physical pain of it, I managed to pull up the little that I did know about giving birth.

Like to push whenever I felt the urge to. And only during the contractions, not in-between, as tempting as it was.

So I slept, and I screamed, and finally, I pushed.

I had the sense to understand when he was about to come out and to not look down, and to tell Shmerson to run out of the room and yell for the nurse to take Nadav’s body away.

And just like that, 7 hours after I was induced, it was over.

They started a pitocin drip, and I fell fast asleep within minutes.

At 5:30am I was woken up by a doctor so he could examine me and see whether I needed a D&C. By 6am, they rolled me into an operating room. Up until that moment, I had always hated and feared general anesthesia. This time, anesthesia was nothing.

When I woke up from the procedure, the strangest thing happened. I felt empowered. I had lost my son less than 24 hours earlier, yet somehow I felt invincible.

I had gone through labor. Without an epidural. Without getting my baby at the end of it. With minimal medical support.

I had gone through labor and I had survived.

If I could do that, I can do anything.

About a week ago I shared with you my new insight about fear. How useless it is. How anxiety paralyzes you. Even though at the end of the day, if your worst fears come to light, you find they weren’t nearly as terrible as you had imagined. You find that you can survive.

Things may be hard. Even impossible. But you survive.

Today, I went back to teaching my regular 10th grade class. 7 girls, some from poor backgrounds. One of the other teachers had already told them about Nadav last week, but this was the first time they had seen me.

Not wanting an elephant in the room, I started out the class by letting the girls ask me anything they wanted to know about our loss.

With all of us crying, I recounted our story, as honestly as I could. Then one of the girls asked me: “How can you still be here after all of that pain? How did you survive this?”

The girl who asked me that question grew up with an alcoholic, abusive father and a drug addicted mother. Both of her parents died of AIDS when she was ten. She lives in near poverty, with an aunt and uncle who don’t treat her well. This girl is bright, funny, and has one of the most infectious smiles I’ve ever seen.

This girl saw my pain and found it unbearable, while I see hers and feel the same way. Yet somehow, we both got through it.

So I answered her: “In the worst moments, you can sometimes find strength that you never knew that you had.”

Then the girl gave me a hug. Later she took me aside and said: “I think you are so brave.”

The feeling is mutual, kiddo.

I found strength and bravery on the night I delivered Nadav.

Whatever else there is to come: bring it on.

Thank you, Nadav, for showing me that even in the greatest moments of pain and loss, I can overcome. I can be Superwoman.

Bravely I look further than I see
Knowing things I know I cannot be, not now
I’m so aware of where I am, but I don’t know where that is
And there’s something right in front of me and ITouch the fingers of my hand
And I wonder if it’s me
Holding on and on to theories of prosperity
Someone who can promise me
I believe in meTomorrow I was nothing, yesterday I’ll be
Time has fooled me into thinking it’s a part of me
Nothing in this room but empty space
No me, no world, no mind, no faceTouch the fingers of my hand and tell me if it’s me
Holding on and on to Love, what else is real
A religion that appeals to me, oh
I believe in me

Can you turn me off for just a second, please
Turn me into something faceless, weightless, mindless, homeless 
Vacuum state of peace

On and on and on and on and on and on and on and on
I believe in me
On and on and on and on and on and on and on and on
I believe in me

Wait for me, I’m nothing on my own
I’m willing to go on, but not alone, not now
I’m so aware of everything, but nothing seems for real and
As long as you’re in front of me then I’ll

Watch the fingers of our hands
And I’m grateful that it’s me
Holding on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on
I believe in me

I’m willing to go on but not alone, not now
I’m so aware of everything

37 Responses to “What Nadav Taught Me: I Am Superwoman”

  1. Cristy March 5, 2012 at 02:25 #

    You most certainly are superwoman. Brave, strong and beautiful.

  2. missohkay March 5, 2012 at 02:35 #

    I love you ❤ This post is amazing.

  3. Theresa March 5, 2012 at 02:59 #

    You are absolutely right.

  4. A Field of Dreams March 5, 2012 at 03:24 #

    You are brave. All of us who have experienced loss and trauma, are brave. I believe your strength comes from your heart and what a beautiful and mighty heart you have.

  5. Slackie O. March 5, 2012 at 03:27 #

    You continue to floor me. And good for you being honest and up front with your students.

  6. Hemlock March 5, 2012 at 03:32 #

    I don’t know why, but I’m finding a bit of healing for myself in your recent posts. To know that you’ve gone through this, and made it through… makes me fear the possibility less. Thanks Mo.

  7. Jay March 5, 2012 at 04:37 #

    You are absolutely amazing. And its true, when we are handed our own burden, no matter what its size is, we find a way to shoulder it, but the thought of handling what somebody else is is dealing with still daunts us.

    I’m glad you went through that painful (but healing) conversation with your students. Your posts are still making me cry, and I thank you for all of them.

  8. K.Smitty March 5, 2012 at 04:52 #

    I absolutely love this. I had dinner with a friend this weekend and my own strength came into question because I have survived some rather tragic deaths in my family as well and she commended me for my bravery and asked how I did it. I told her that, even before things were at their worst, I always somehow knew I would physically survive, and I always knew I wanted to be someone who, when people knew about my story, would comment on my strength instead of pity me in my weakness. And I made the choice to heal. It sounds like you have too. I also love how you shared this with your students. Especially if they come from rough backgrounds, you have shown them that strength is not only commendable, but possible. You are definitely an amazingly strong woman to have lost four angels, and by experiencing natural childbirth! I applaud you for that and have endless respect for you. I am so glad to hear you are healing and I’ve been praying and will continue to pray that your healing continues. You are nothing short of amazing.

  9. TheStorkWhisperer March 5, 2012 at 05:00 #

    You truly amaze me! Your words are so touching and you are a role model for every one of us.

  10. mrs. brightside March 5, 2012 at 05:07 #

    You are a fucking superwoman, but I can’t help but be a little pissed at your hospital for putting you through that. You should be proud and amazed by your own strength, the grace with which you stand here today. I agree with Hemlock above that you’re helping me heal a little bit along the way, too. From that moment I heard the news about you, a part of me just let it go, let it all go – the fear, the worry, the willing-it-to-be. We control what we can, but too much of it we can’t, and somehow we will survive whatever comes our way. You and Nadav have taught me that.

  11. Daryl March 5, 2012 at 06:51 #

    Another beautiful post. You are amazing!

  12. Izzy March 5, 2012 at 06:53 #

    Nadav has taught you some amazing lessons, but he’s teaching your students and your readers too. Your courage and strength through the last couple weeks is unbelievable and gives us all so much hope that we might be able to be strong too if faced with the same fait. Thank you, xoxo.

  13. jjiraffe March 5, 2012 at 08:36 #

    Nadav has showed me that you are brave and dazzling and tough as nails and that you are my hero for being able to write these words, describing in such poetic and empathetic detail how difficult it is to go through this hellish experience that is so mired in secrecy and cloaked in fear. And that you could come out the other side, alive. And that, once on the other side, you could become a greater hero by not just surviving, but teaching others that you understand their pain, that you endured too.

    I will never forget Nadav. Or this post.

  14. Sunny March 5, 2012 at 14:04 #

    Mo, I just posted this sad silly rant about my life. Only to read ur post and realise that I cannot even fathom the depth of ur pain.

    If u can find the silver lining, then so can I.

    Thank You Superwoman!!!

  15. Teejay March 5, 2012 at 14:51 #

    You really are Superwoman. This post brought tears to my eyes. It really is amazing that we find the strength to go on when we think we have nothing more to give of ourselves. I hate that you are going through this but I’m so glad that your son has given you the strength to carry on. Hugs to you, my friend.

  16. marwil March 5, 2012 at 16:42 #

    These lessons are beautiful. You are strong and we can all survive more than we ever thought we would. That is powerful.

  17. someday-soon March 5, 2012 at 17:48 #

    You are superwoman, there is no doubt!

  18. Coco March 5, 2012 at 19:34 #

    Amazing. You are simply amazing. Thank you so much for sharing these sacred moments and feelings with us. You are teaching us, and your students. The moment with your student especially seemed meaningful. She will have many more difficulties, and I am just positive that she will remember you and draw from the strength you gave her that day. And yes, yes I am more than a little pissed at the hospital for leaving you like that.

  19. Belle March 5, 2012 at 19:41 #

    Oh my gosh, Mo. I have to stop reading your posts at work. From now on I will only read them in the privacy of my home office with a box of tissues and a kitty to hug 🙂

    I want to thank you for sharing these posts with us, especially so soon after your loss. These REALLY make me step back and examine my situation. You make me less scared for the future no matter what difficult times may be ahead.

  20. Emily @ablanket2keep March 5, 2012 at 20:17 #

    Like Belle said, reading your beautiful words does make me less scared and reminds me that I can handle whatever happens.

  21. Marie March 5, 2012 at 20:32 #

    I love you.

  22. Cookie with Milk March 5, 2012 at 20:40 #

    It’s amazing how deep the human heart is, and how far into it we can reach to pull out love, strength, hope, compassion and a host of other emotions, as needed. You are indeed superwoman.

  23. RelaxedNoMore March 5, 2012 at 21:49 #

    Superwoman, indeed! You are absolutely amazing. I’m shocked at your hospital, though.

  24. beruriah March 5, 2012 at 22:22 #

    I think not delivering in L&D was absolutely the right choice.

    I delivered my son, Natan, without an epidural (took one for my subsequent living son’s birth) because I wasn’t in a physical state to tolerate one. The pain made it so real, and helped me come to terms with the fact that something really happened there. I really did give birth. I think that was immeasurably helpful for coping later, because I had this sadness that otherwise might not have made sense. At least for me.

    What an amazing experience with your students. You are a teacher in all ways.

  25. Rebecca Pallack (@RPallack) March 5, 2012 at 23:02 #

    I find the fact that you were able to share with the students in the classroom your grief and find not only understanding and compassion from them but knowledge that they find what you suffered through with your loss heartening. Because of how they reacted to you and your situation I have a bit more faith in humanity but none towards the medical staff at the hospital you had to deliver at. Sorry but I have to say the way in which you were treated just sucks!

  26. Living Our Life in Cycles March 5, 2012 at 23:27 #

    I continued to be amazed at the way you are able to write out, so clearly, your emotions and lessons learned. I hope that this is therapeutic for you to do because it’s so beautifully written. Again, tears sting the corners of my eyes as I feel the deep pain this must bring you, yet I admire your strength and the fact that you’ve come out as Superwoman. ❤

  27. Trisha March 6, 2012 at 02:16 #

    You are superwoman, without a doubt. You are an amazing woman and this is an amazing post.

  28. Christina March 6, 2012 at 03:14 #

    Another beautiful, heart-wrenching and moving post. I ❤ you, SuperMo.

  29. Sunny March 6, 2012 at 05:39 #

    Tears are in my eyes after reading this post. Thank you for sharing. You truly are amazing. An inspiration.

  30. Alissa March 6, 2012 at 06:30 #

    You are inspiring me dear Mo. I think I will write a ‘what my twins taught me’ post in honor of you and Nadav. Thank you for your honesty and bravery.
    You are a superwoman.

  31. St. Elsewhere March 6, 2012 at 09:40 #

    Nadav taught you well.


  32. unaffected March 6, 2012 at 16:22 #

    You are amazing. And amazing doesn’t even begin to touch what I’m really trying to say, but better words escape me.

    I admire you. Your strength, your frankness, your ability to just be.

    And thank you for your lovely comments on my blog the other day. They really resonated with me, and I very much appreciate it.

  33. Single Mom BB (@singlemombb) March 6, 2012 at 18:24 #

    That’s a beautiful story. Thank you for sharing.

  34. chon March 7, 2012 at 00:34 #

    You rock my world, always.

  35. lis March 8, 2012 at 02:01 #

    sending you nothing but love, my sweet friend. our babies teach us so much don’t they? thinking of you lots lately sweetie. I love to see the positivity you are sharing in this most traumatic of times. it shows me you are a fighter. Nadav is a lucky boy to have a mama like you.

  36. Kristen March 8, 2012 at 05:23 #

    You ARE superwoman! Oh my goodness, I just can’t believe what you’ve gone through and how strong you are. Sending lots and lots of love…

  37. mrsrochester March 9, 2012 at 03:08 #

    Wow. This is so… true. This makes me so much more at peace about the future – that you can still say “bring it on”.

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