by Tamara Reese
This article originally appeared on kveller.com
I had hoped for a mikveh immersion at the end of my first pregnancy. I wanted the ritual waters to embrace me as a soon-to-be mother as openly as they had to Judaism and to marriage. I had dreamed of how I wanted every aspect of my pregnancy to be. In retrospect, I lovingly refer to it as granola-inspired naiveté–healthy eating, prenatal yoga, perineal massage, and an un-medicated birth culminating with me cradling my vernix-covered infant and then nursing on demand.
But all of those things slipped away as my pregnancy became complicated. Hospitalization and bed rest had me paralyzed with fear and feelings of inadequacy. And the mikveh? My doctor explained that with a prematurely dilated cervix, risking infection in a public bath was completely out of the question.
I was able to carry my son to the nine month point but my birth was more medicalized than I had hoped. Both my body and my spirit were weak and the post-partum period wasn’t easy on me. It was a defining time in my life. Motherhood cut like a knife, but being that vulnerable and lost was a blessing in disguise. I climbed out of that place where I didn’t know how to mother. Building myself back up took grit and determination I didn’t know I had. I can still close my eyes and summon that place deep inside where I carry the scars of how raw and exposed my soul felt.
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