Women’s Stories

Our lives and bodies go through very profound changes. One of the ways that we can give power and affirmation to those transitions is by telling our stories. Telling a story and having someone read it can be a cathartic and healing experience.

The stories below are just a few of many, representing the variety of experiences that we go through as women.

Thank you for the class last night. Your dedication and generosity are just incredible! The first session was so full of knowledge and wisdom. Discovering so much about my body and womanhood was truly a revelation.  It was so empowering to meet other women of different ages and backgrounds, coming together for a common goal.

Sigal 

Yesterday’s workshop was so enriching; it broadened my horizons in such an empowered way… Every woman deserves access to this amazing workshop, regardless of whether they are choosing a natural contraceptive or not. It should be mandatory learning for all.

Reut, 29, Savyon

Thank you so much for such an exciting and instructive workshop! I enjoyed every minute and was so happy to meet others looking for natural solutions like me. This learning process is unfolding day by day.I thoroughly enjoyed the way you presented the material; My heartfelt thanks for your dedication and vision! 

Ayala, 35, Shuva

I have no words to describe the feeling I came away with yesterday after the workshop. You have opened up a whole new world that I am ashamed to say I knew nothing about – and it’s not just any “world”! Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your commitment, enthusiasm, and warmth. The atmosphere you created in the group was amazing, especially when it comes to intimate topics that are not easy to talk about openly. I so enjoyed your passion and only wish that more and more people are exposed to this vital information. See you in another month!

Limor, 27, Tel Aviv

The workshop was so meaningful and important for me.  I am 37 years old and so much of what I learned from you was completely new and unknown to me!  It’s amazing how little I knew about my body and cycles. I grew up in a family and culture where issues of menstruation and fertility were never discussed. I didn’t even have the language to ask the questions… I cannot thank you enough!

Orit, Jerusalem

Thank you for your generosity in sharing your vast knowledge and experience in the workshop.  I do not take this for granted. The sessions were so informative, enriching, fun, and empowering. Your availability in offering follow-up and guidance is the most precious gift I have given myself lately. I am so happy to be on this path of cycle charting – a vital tool for many years to come. 

Maya S., 36, Tel Aviv

Thank you for opening the door into the wisdom of my body… This knowledge strengthens my self-confidence and sharpens my sense of responsibility. Thank you for your dedication. I am thrilled to be on the path of body awareness, empowerment, and womb healing.

Malaya, Jerusalem

Thank you for such an eye-opening and informative workshop. The learning has left me excited and curious to learn and explore my body and femininity after years of disconnect. I am charting regularly and enjoy knowing what my body is telling me day by day. Up until now, everything about my body and cycle felt random and unconscious. This is sacred work, and I hope it reaches as many women in the world as possible…  

Sivan, Rishon Lezion

I want to thank you for an amazing workshop! I learned so much and this is just the beginning. I enjoyed your enthusiasm and the way you presented the material and engaged the group. I’m already experiencing a change in my relationship with my body, and I’m so curious to continue this process and move forward. I am recommending the workshop to all my friends. 

Gili, Tel Aviv

When we introduced ourselves at the beginning of the workshop, I said I was religious and single and that I wanted to learn about my body and fertility before getting married. The reactions were so encouraging, especially from the married women in the group. They all said how lucky I was to be able to acquire this self-knowledge at such a young age, before actually needing a method of birth control.

It took me more than a year to realize that I don’t need to be married in order to learn about my body! And what a relief it is knowing that I will never have to take artificial hormones (which I am against) because I have a healthier alternative…  Learning about the menstrual cycle and my fertility potential has been an amazing discovery. This new connection with my body gives me confidence in being a woman and in the amazing secrets that the Creator has endowed in my femininity… 

I recommend the workshop to my married and unmarried friends. It is so much more than a workshop, it’s a roadmap that leads you to discover the ultimate relationship – with yourself and with your body. 

G.H. Jerusalem

Thank you for the workshop! It was so right for me. Many pieces of the puzzle came together. It is truly amazing to realize how we spend so many years of our lives with certain beliefs and limited knowledge, only to discover that there is a greater truth, wisdom, and even genius in understanding how everything works, naturally.

Dorit M.

There needs to be more public awareness about natural solutions to fertility. I think it’s unfortunate that so many women choose hormonal birth control as the default solution when there are safer alternatives that don’t come with side effects and risks.

Hagit B.

I participated in your workshop last summer. I continued charting for almost nine months of breastfeeding without noticing a change in my secretions. When my baby was a year and three months old, I decided to stop breastfeeding at night because I was open to getting pregnant again. What happened next was amazing. Within two weeks, I saw fertile secretions and understood what my body was telling me, just as you taught me… I am now pregnant, at the end of the first trimester, and look forward to the refresher sessions after I give birth.

Michaela

The journey to true healing 

I am married and the mother of four amazing children. I am telling my story in the hope that it can help others and spare them the suffering and frustrations that I experienced.

I was 10 years old when I got my first period. I suffered from menstrual cramps, bled for nearly ten days, every 24 days. I grew up without really understanding anything about my cycle. My mother took me to a gynecologist and from the age of 14, I started taking hormonal contraception (I was given the highest and strongest dose because weaker doses did not help). So while my period became more “regular,” the pain I experienced only got worse. I spent a few days each month in bed, praying for the suffering to end. I took Pills, different kinds, until age 25, and suffered from unbearable headaches and migraines. 

I went off the hormones to get pregnant and between each birth, I used the hormonal patch, until the age of 34, when my gynecologist informed me that I had a uterine cyst and that it was time to stop using hormonal birth control. I was of course scared because of a family history of cancer (my mother and two aunts had cancer; my mother and sister died of cancer). After discovering FAM and Michal, my life started to change. I learned to connect with my cycles and natural rhythms and the support and strength I received from Michal was immeasurable. 

I managed my fertility naturally and had the most amazing journey of self-discovery. I listened to my body and knew what was happening on a daily basis. The only problem was that the menstrual cramps persisted, I bled for up to 10 days and my short cycle of 24 days returned. 

Within a few years, I became more religiously observant and decided to practice family purity laws (counting 7 clean days after my period before immersing in the mikveh, a ritual bath for purification). But because of my long periods, I was only able to get to the mikveh on the eighteenth day, sometimes on the twentieth day, and my period would come 3-4 days later! This created tremendous stress for me and my partner. So I consulted with Michal, who referred me to an herbalist, but the remedies I took did not help. 

A religious friend referred me to a rabbi who specializes in family purity laws and niddah (ritual impurity due to irregular uterine bleeding). He recommended birth control pills, which was not an option for me. So the stress continued for another year. 

Then, I got pregnant with my youngest and I had 9 months of quiet. My husband pressured me during this time to tie my tubes (tubal ligation) after the birth, meaning I could not have more children but finish once and for all with my bleeding saga. Against my desire and out of confusion about how my bleeding issues were ruining my marriage, I broke down and agreed to do a cesarean birth in which my tubes would be tied at the same time. After the birth, I continued to bleed and bleed. No one knew what to do. I was referred for hysteroscopy. Nothing changed and I bled for three months in a row. I became weak and iron- deficient and was barely able to function. A gynecologist told me I needed to get an injection that would stop the bleeding and then take birth control pills yet again, to control it. Out of desperation, I took them for a week and stopped. It did help lessen the heavy bleeding but I still bled off and on for another month. 

I was referred to a rabbi who specializes in fertility and halacha (Jewish law). After a number of consultations, I was told that I had no choice but to burn the uterine lining, which will be of no consequence because in any case your tubes are tied and you won’t need your uterus for pregnancy. I cried for an entire hour. I could not believe there was no one who could help me and that the only way to “solve” my problem was by mutilating my uterus. I felt completely broken and alone. 

This past summer, our family experienced a number of challenges: we had a few car accidents and my eldest son was injured. A good friend of mine, a healer, offered to work with me so I could sort out my health, my bleeding saga and my life. The signs could no longer be ignored. 

I can only thank G-d for the process I began with the healer. We did a lot of inner work; I dug into my past and a lot of repressed and difficult feelings I had never discussed with anyone, all related to fears about my mother. I had to work through my parents’ divorce and my experience of sexual abuse at the age of nine. I kept all these feelings and memories inside. Within a few months, this inner work and healing started to affect my periods, which completely transformed. The color and scent of my blood changed; the random bleeding ended. The bleeding became lighter and easier. I ask my body every cycle to clear the difficult emotions, the anger, the pain, and the sadness. My menstrual cramps are completely gone and I am happy to say that I finally have a 28-day cycle, which is a miracle. 

When I look at the big picture, I understand that all the answers and solutions I needed were inside me, but I was blinded by the belief that only outside experts, doctors and rabbis, could “solve” them. I know now that no one can hurt me or my body. I have healed by learning to connect the parts, by listening and being attentive to my body-mind. I now stand firmly on my own two feet and know intuitively what is good and right for me. I cannot end this story without thanking two amazing women, Michal Schonbrun for her guidance and support and my dear friend Hagit who helped me with all the inner work and cleansing which has healed and restored my health and spirit. 

Thank you from the bottom of my heart. 

 Vivian, 38


I started studying FAM a month and a half ago and decided to tell my story so that more women would hear and understand how serious/important it is.

I’m 24 years old, and I’ve never been one of those people who are physically self-aware.  I never connected between what I ate and what came out, I did not understand why pimples would surface on my face at certain times of the month; or what might cause sudden pain in my hand. I never thought too much about the connection between symptoms and my own behavior. 

I started taking birth control pills at age 17.  I had no problem remembering to take them, and it was very convenient and easy to use them.  At the age of 21, I started working very intensively around the clock. I got a lot of headaches and I got to the point where I was taking at least 2 painkillers almost every day. In May of that year, I had a car accident for no apparent reason. My mind just wasn’t on the road and I had a kind of “blacking out.” Nothing happened to me, just damage to the vehicle. I was hospitalized for a few days because they wanted to check what caused the blacking out and I was left with no answers – even after doing the most expensive brain and heart scans. I told the doctors over and over that, I had a lot of headaches but they said it was probably from the stress at work. 

I was sent to a gynecologist and she did not understand at all what I wanted, why I wasted her time, and why I thought there might be a problem with the pills. So I continued on, as usual, reducing some stress in my life. But life doesn’t always give us control on demand.  So whenever there was stress, the migraines would come back. Until I got really tired. I started hearing about other women who stopped taking pills. I decided to make the move and my husband was very supportive. 

I started the FAM workshop around the same time that I stopped taking the pills.  After seven years of continuous use, I learned how three of them took such a heavy toll on my life and ability to function.  Now, in retrospect, I am another person; I know now that migraines can be a sign of blood clotting in the blood vessels, which while not super common, can be a very serious health risk. I understand today that I was lucky. I chart and use FAM and am so happy with the method. I feel like a woman (re-born) and am even happy when a zit appears on my face because it reveals to me that my body and hormones are at work, naturally… I have sexual relations from a place of knowledge and connection. I am present and empowered…  I have confidence – because I know my body, and that is the greatest gift I received! 

Omer, 24 years old.

Getting pregnant with PCOS

My name is R.K. I am 27 and a mother of three children, from central Israel.

 I want to share my personal journey on the way to the birth of my children, using the Fertility Awareness Method (FAM).  For as long as I can remember, I have had a unique, unexplained pattern of very long menstrual cycles, typically 50 days or so. It was only after I got married that I realized that this issue could present an obstacle to conceiving easily.  Gynecologists would always say to me, “Everything is fine and you don’t have to panic.” I wasn’t stressed, but this situation, where on the one hand there is no pregnancy or future of pregnancy, and on the other hand there is no solution or process for solving it, did not help me stay calm. The opposite.   

Story of Pregnancy 1:  

As time went on, inquiries to my gynecologist became more frequent. I wanted and expected her to tell me what the problem is and how to solve it, either conventionally (medicine) or naturally. At some point, the doctor gave me a phone number of “someone who could possibly help” (the number was Michal Schonbrun’s).  Now, in retrospect, I understand the doctor’s perspective – that because of my young age, she was in no hurry to start me on hormone therapy (towards IVF) and I thank her for that with all my heart. This is how I learned about FAM, a method for charting the cycle (and fertility signs). 

While charting, and because of the charting, I learned that I had a mild case of PCO (Poly-cystic ovaries). Ultrasound monitoring showed that I had small follicles in my ovaries. With the fertility charts that Michal gave me, I was able to see that I had “incomplete” ovulation, which would not enable me to get pregnant. I truly believed that the power of the body flows with the power of nature, and with my husband’s encouragement, I decided to move forward without hormonal medications. 

We started searching for natural approaches and I discovered an older, Yemenite woman, a massage therapist, who was known as a “miracle worker.” She told me my situation was critical and that I had “ovaries as hard as stone.” I started doing abdominal massage treatment with her, one hour per day, until my period started to come earlier. This encouraged me to continue and exactly 30 days later, I got my second period. And lo and behold, my fertility chart started to look more normal.  We agreed that I would continue the treatment until I got pregnant. The massage therapist showed me her secret weapon- suction cups- which I used over a number of days… Within a few weeks, I learned that I was pregnant!!! A completely natural pregnancy. No pills, no meds.  During the pregnancy I told the doctors my story but none of them believed it was possible. I gave birth to my first, wonderful daughter, whom I breastfed for about a year (BS”D- with the help of heaven). 

Story of Pregnancy 2 

After a year of nursing, my period resumed, as did my long cycles. I had patience this time, and euphoria, because I assumed a natural approach could work.  Apparently not. At first I used herbs and changed my diet. After a period of perseverance, the cycle shortened, but a pregnancy did not occur.  A year passed, then another. It was time to check in with the gynecologist, who recommended a pill called Primolut-N, with the goal of regulating my bleeding time.  Not only didn’t it work, but it made things worse.  So I went back to intensive, physical exercise, a lot of walking and swimming. It was interesting to see how in the end my cycles shortened to 32 days. I also went back to abdominal massage but the financial burden and emotional difficulty took the wind out of my sails… I certainly appreciated the huge effort and sacrifice I made the first time around, but it just became too much. When year three (post-partum) arrived, I decided to go back to the doctor and this time consider conventional treatment combined with serious physical exercise.  The gynecologist was impressed by my determination to pursue natural approaches and recommended taking just half of a clomid pill for 5 days. So I took it after my next period and discovered I was pregnant just a few weeks later.  My second daughter was born and I breastfed her for 11 months. 

Story of 3rd pregnancy

After 11 months of nursing my second daughter, I was already expecting that my period would not come. This turned out to be partially true because I started having continuous staining.  So I decided to adhere to a different natural approach and turned to a reflexologist, and after two treatments, my period came, but it lasted nearly 50 days. I sought out a more experienced, specialized reflexologist in another city. This took tremendous effort but it was worth it because after only a few treatments I discovered I was pregnant. It happened on day 37 of my cycle which I was able to know precisely, because of FAM and charting my fertility signs.. The pregnancy hormone levels on the blood test were low and the doctors of course used the opportunity to raise my fears, telling me “the pregnancy isn’t normal,” but I (had faith) and within a month everything was just fine.

 My ears were still ringing from the doctors telling me that “without medications you will not be able to conceive,” and here I was pregnant, thanks to my faith and determination not to give up. Without having the fertility awareness tool I would never have known how to interpret the signs that my body was communicating nor would I have the ability to make the decisions that I did.  I gave birth to my healthy son, in the 38th week. 

I want all women like me to know, and also those who don’t have fertility challenges to know- that you should take nothing for granted. Take charge, know your body and investigate yourselves- your health and fertility issues, and your body-mind capacity to forge ahead. Your knowledge, awareness and connection to your body will give you the strength to meet the challenges you face, without having to interrupt your natural hormonal system and guard your health. 

Michal is an inspirational and thoughtful teacher. She walked with me on this path, with care and dedication, and thanks to her, I received the gift of knowing my body and being able to bring three healthy and adorable children into the world. The body knowledge and awareness I acquired has contributed greatly to the person I am, to the partner I am and to so many other facets of my life. Thank you, Michal, with hope that you will bring your inspiration and passion to help others. With love, R.K. 

In the middle of the night, a company of soldiers conquered my stomach. They were divided into three squads. The first squad flanked my uterus to the right and placed an ambush near the fallopian tube. The second squad turned toward the small intestine and in careful quiet steps, with a black-and-red flag fluttering from above, penetrated into its core, while the third squad placed a barrier at the opening of the cervix. A military patrol vehicle drove back and forth and declared a total curfew and a move to an emergency procedure. “All those occupied in the abdomen should stay still, conserve energy and turn out the lights,” he declared. During a very restless night’s sleep, it seemed that I too had heard a siren.

It did not really hurt when it arrived, only the air became more compressed and humid and the breathing became heavy and slow, not as deep and full as it usually does. 

As the night progressed, I felt the soldiers slowly positioning themselves. At first, they were still hesitant, hardly moving and they did not dare touch anything, afraid to desecrate me. But as the hours passed they seemed to have forgotten that this was an operational maneuver and they began to feel at home. 

The young guys at the checkpoint threw stones into my uterus and competed with each other over who could hit the left uterine wall. Everything around them was desolate, with no living soul to be seen, and they were forced to stay awake. 

In the small intestine, the soldiers advanced and I was able to identify a few fragments of jokes they told about the colon. They were not very careful and left peanut shells on the floor of the occupied intestine. In the ambushed fallopian tube the situation was the worst. These were the oldest soldiers, the ones who will soon be discharged, and are no longer visible. I felt the fear creeping inside me, and I could not go on sleeping. I got up to drink a glass of water but was unable to drink even a drop.

 At 04:00, they caught her, the first egg. She was small and alone, just released from the ovary, and they were at least ten (soldiers). She had no chance. I felt a dull sting when they caught her, I shouted and got angry, but it only made them laugh even more. They did not let her escape. They tied her eyes with a dirty flannel cloth and held guard over her. She was terribly thirsty and one soldier who took pity on her gave her a few sips of cola. But I knew it was lost, that it would not survive and reach the fallopian tube; all the harmony that had been in my body to this day would go out of balance and control. Even if she manages to escape, I suddenly realized, there is a barrier in the cervix, and the blood will get stuck there and block everything. I felt how despair envelops me and how I lost my bearings. I tried to do some breathing exercises, but my diaphragm was contracted, afraid to move. I felt stuck. I thought of calling an ambulance but did not dare pick up the phone.

At six in the morning, another squad of soldiers showed up for guard duty. The guys at the checkpoint were already impatient and wanted to go to sleep. When replaced by the new soldiers, they spread their stale sleeping bags and faded blankets along my pelvis, and sank within minutes into a deep sleep. Most of them were positioned on the left side of the pelvis, and I felt their weight on each side of my body. I walked around the apartment helplessly, The dawn brought the first rays of light penetrated through the kitchen window. I felt stuck. Everything is stuck. Breathing does not flow. It is absent. The blood and fluid accumulate in my stomach. Stuck. 

No one explained to me why this war broke out, what was its goal and when it would all end. No one bothered to ask me for permission (to invade); They (soldiers of pain) just landed in my stomach in the middle of the night and made it their own.

Three months and two days have passed since that last cursed night. The number of checkpoints has doubled and even tripled. Next to each fallopian tube are two more ambushes at different radii, ready to attack. The barrier in the ‘cervix’ has widened and its authority increased: they not only prevent the blood from flowing out freely once every few weeks, but also make proactive raids into the uterus and ovaries even in broad daylight. Five eggs were wiped out before they could even move the short distance from the ovary to the fallopian tube. Not to mention the dozens of eggs whose lives were plucked before maturing, and were brutally torn from the ovary. The uterus was filled to the brim with blood vessels and mucus, new on old, but the soldiers at the checkpoint frowned, not hesitating to open live fire if only they thought something was approaching. I had already felt a contraction in the uterus several times as if the soldiers fell asleep on guard and the blood had forced its way out to release the pressure in the already swollen abdomen.

I dream of the days to come when the army will retreat, lay down its weapons and return to the base from which it came, leaving my body to myself. The thought of the future fills me with sadness mixed with hope. On the one hand, I feared that the war would last forever, but I still believe that peace is possible and will prevail.

Noa

Chronicle of a miscarriage

Not often talked about, birth and death often go hand in hand. Beyond the dry medical terms, there is tremendous power in a woman’s body and endless wisdom in each and every one of us. I want to support and strengthen every woman who has experienced a miscarriage, as other women have strengthened me, and encourage them to connect to the healing powers that reside within themselves, in these very moments. 

The dry facts: I am 32 years old, happily married for almost two years. It was my first pregnancy — planned, wanted, and blessed; it happened easily and naturally and it ended the same way at nearly 12 weeks. 

At the beginning of week 12, a light bleed and menstrual cramps began; my heart sank. I went online to look for bits of information. Light bleeds are (normal) but fear got the best of me. After all, they don’t really talk about it – the fear of losing a pregnancy, especially within the first trimester, until week 14 comes and you can breathe a little easier… But maybe everything is fine – after all, at the 7-week ultrasound, we saw the fetal heartbeat.

Two days pass. The light bleeding and cramping continue. I call the doctor and schedule an ultrasound appointment. Had I said it was light bleeding they would send me to the ER and I did not want to get into a panic and lose control of the situation. 

5:30  PM Ultrasound – I see the doctor’s face change, and drop, and it comes like a punch in the gut. “No heartbeat,” she says. and sends me to the emergency room with 2 options – a pill or a D & C. A pill was no longer safe because I was in week 12, but because the fetus seemed dead for several weeks, they may agree to the pill. Not a word is said about a miscarriage – at home – without medical intervention. Even when I asked – they sent me to one place – the ER.

First of all, let’s acknowledge the situation -it was like an electric shock, with grief, disbelief, and a flood of fears. The fetus is inside me without a heartbeat for some time now, but the pregnancy hormones are flooding my body. What now? I do not want to undergo a procedure (D & C) and what about all the people who already know? My head is spinning. I am not alone, my wonderful partner is there with me, sad and confused like I am. We make our way to the ER.

7   PM There’s a long queue, and when it’s finally my turn, I thank God it’s a woman doctor. She sees the referral and the ultrasound result – and determines that I need an appointment for a D & C. I explain to her that I do not want to do that, and if I do anything, then a pill, please (This is the place to say – that there is a lot of information on the Internet about these two methods – each has advantages and disadvantages, but neither option allows the body to do what it knows how to do on its own). There is nothing to talk about regarding a natural miscarriage. She checks my cervix – it’s still closed – I have an appointment for a pill (pharmaceutical abortion) in another 6 days and they make me swear that if the bleeding gets worse, I will run back to the ER.

11:30  PM Exhausted and sad we return home, On the way Uriya says that tomorrow we will find out about having a natural miscarriage at home. What did women do once upon a time? What, the body doesn’t know how to deal with it naturally, by itself? I lost my strength. We live about an hour and a half from the hospital; the pain intensifies now that consciousness strikes and I just want to go home – to a safe place and get into bed.

3 AM This is the night we switch the clocks to summertime. I wake up in a panic with pains I have never felt before. Twisting and moaning in bed, I feel like I am dripping blood. Uriah wakes up, tries to communicate with me, but I’m deep in pain. He turns on the computer and starts looking for information. The medical system told us nothing – and here something is happening and it is the middle of the night. We do not have a car and we live 90 km from the hospital… and we also do not want to go back there – because that means an immediate D & C. That’s what the doctor said. He turns on a small light and explains to me authoritatively – we are having a miscarriage, and describes to me what is expected to happen, based on what he reads about women’s stories online. We saw light in the darkness that night, that guided and strengthened us. . We realized that the body was waiting to feel safe at home and now it was happening. We knew what we were facing and we were gearing up (to get through it). 

4  AM  I kneel on the bed and, under me are towels absorbed in blood.  I have contractions and fetal material is coming out of my body. The fetus is small, but the placenta is already at week 12. Uriya is with me and we are going through this together. By candlelight, he takes a warm washcloth which warms my tummy and thighs. He massages my lower back, and the soul of a baby is hovering above us. Tears, laughter, sighs, and singing – together we let the pregnancy go, parting sadly with acceptance. We collect the pieces of the placenta and what comes out and place them in a small box.

It takes about 4-5 hours, the pain and the bleeding. The dawn is breaking, we are tired but connected in the experience, confident in whatever happens and not afraid. At dawn, I feel the soul is leaving us and we separate with a sense of sadness and thanksgiving – “God has given, God has taken, May his holy one be blessed…”

8 or 9  AM The bleeding is still strong and the towels are absorbed (with blood). I feel weak and Uriah calls the doctor – who tells him to get me to the ER immediately – “If not, she will bleed to death!!” Again, the doctors apply pressure. We consult with each other, feel safe at home, and decide to wait another hour.

Uriah takes me to the bath, I kneel down and let the warm water relax my body – a good and strong body that knows everything with great wisdom. A big chunk of the placenta comes out all at once, and I feel immense relief. The bleeding is lessening. I feel grateful for everything… for me and Uriah together – and that’s what matters. When I get out of the bathtub, I collapse. I raise up my legs so I don’t faint. The blood continues to flow.

10  AM After a conversation with an amazing, local doula, we are invigorated and decide to call an ambulance. It seems that the miscarriage is behind us, the soul has left, and now it’s just me, myself, again – I feel it clearly. We will go to the hospital to make sure everything is alright – but we are going from a place of power in our own hands. In the ambulance, I am given an infusion and there is still a lot of bleeding. But we have full confidence and trust in the universe, the body, in life, and in each other.

12  PM The hospital does another ultrasound and the doctor removes the pregnancy sac that was already at the edge of the cervix, almost outside my body. The doctor wants me to take a pill anyway – just in case. Uriah and I insist on waiting another day or two to let the body do its thing. In the meantime, she sends me to rest. I am exhausted, having lost a lot of blood, but there is a sense of peace and strength within me. About an hour later, the doctor sees that the bleeding has decreased and agrees that we do not need to take the pills. We make our way home…

5 PM It is almost Shabbat. Uriah takes the box with the (pregnancy) contents that came out of me, and under the fig tree in the yard, he says a prayer and returns the body to the earth.

We are exhausted. The next day brings a huge collapse- the pregnancy hormones drop and leave the body; I feel sad and empty. Although it is hard to say goodbye, I am so thankful for the experience. It restored and strengthened trust in my body and the power of my womanhood that emanated from me during those long hours. It connected Uriya and me in the most powerful way. We got through this together, in the intimacy of our home and with renewed faith. We rest for a few days; we pray, we mourn, we comfort ourselves, we light a candle, and gather our strength. The close friends who knew – came and comforted us. 

Slowly we will return to our lives, we will embrace our fears and when the right moment arrives, we will welcome a new pregnancy, a new life.

Amen.

Epilogue

The healing process of the body and mind took several more weeks after the miscarriage. It took the body 3-4 weeks to get back on track; there were fatigue and dizziness, and my basal temperatures were erratic. I lost my libido. I felt sadness and loneliness, a disconnection from the world, and a need to retreat inside myself. I had to find the meaning in the pregnancy and the lessons of that long night that remain within me, together with a flood of questions and a process of separation that cannot be rushed through. 

…And there was also power, a lot of power in this silence, a reconnection with myself, to my body which I reclaimed again as my own. The more I allowed the process to unfold, the better I felt. Of course, I had to deal again with the health system which was so insensitive and alienating. A blood test revealed that the pregnancy hormone (HCG) levels were quickly dropping. I decided not to do more blood tests (the doctor said to do it every two days) but I felt no point in doing this. Instead, I talked to women, a lot of women, who shared their stories with me, each one had a story that strengthened me very, very much. And I talked a lot with Mother Earth.

I slowly came back to life. 32 days later, menstrual bleeding appeared. It was a joy. The process was now complete. The soul that came to me, for this short time, did not come to hurt me and run away; it came and gave me a wonderful opportunity for learning and for healing.

Thank you, thank you, thank you – for everything that is and for everything that is not.

Yaara 

 I initially learned fertility awareness to prevent pregnancy without using hormones… I wanted to chart so I would know when I was and was not fertile. Many months after the birth of my first daughter, I knew when I was fertile again, and ready to have another baby. 

 I charted because I liked knowing what my body and cycle were doing. I saved my charts and over time, they helped me determine my baby’s gestational age and pinpoint my due date. When I realized I was pregnant, I knew my conception date by looking at the charts and I shared this information with my midwife. At that point, it wasn’t so critical, but as I’ll explain soon- it was important once I went into labor.

I was in my 35th week when I went on a summer trip with my family. We had spent all day out on the Sea of Galilee. As I was relaxing on the beach, I started to experience an unusually large number of strong contractions. I assumed that they were the usual “Braxton Hicks” contractions, but I started to think, “I don’t remember these Braxton Hicks being so strong before.” They certainly didn’t feel as strong as labor contractions so I didn’t think much about it.

The next day we drove home from the North. In the car ride home my contractions became stronger and very close together. Soon, it was clear that this was not normal and I went to the clinic to get checked. They did an ultrasound, checked the fetus’ heart rate and movements, and then I was seen by the doctor. Consensus – yep, you’re dilating and you’re having this baby today! What?! I wasn’t ready for that. The doctor who examined me took his measuring tape, measured my belly, and said “You have nothing to worry about because this baby isn’t early. According to my measurements, the baby is 38 weeks old, not 35. He’s not early.” Well, I had many different opinions about my due date. I had the ultrasound’s estimation (which varied each time), I had my conception date from my charts and now I had this very recent estimation at 38 weeks. Actually, both the ultrasound and my midwife had told me that I had a lot of water in the womb and that actually the baby was still quite small.

I had planned on giving birth at home. But, since I knew that the baby was quite early, I believed that he was 35 weeks, I went to the hospital to give birth. I had a completely natural birth, but he was small 2300 g and at the hospital, they declared he was clinically 35 weeks. He actually had to be in the NICU (Neonatal Internal Care Unit) for a few days. In this case, I am very glad I knew my baby’s gestational age. I had to make an important decision- if he was 38 weeks I would have had him at home. It’s crucial to know the gestational age in many other circumstances too. For example, doctors are becoming increasingly pushy about not allowing you to carry for too long. They are pushing mothers to deliver using artificial means such as Caesarian surgery and induced labor. The decision to use these interventions is often based on an incorrect due date. The result is an unnatural birth with all its accompanying complications and oftentimes an early birth. By being aware of your fertility you can determine your baby’s gestational age and have more control over your birth. Learning fertility awareness makes this possible! 

Gabriela

(this story was edited for length and clarity)



I feel like I was reborn while giving birth to Alma, my daughter. 

The birth began with very strange contractions that did not feel like typical uterine contractions but more like strong pressure on the cervix. It took me many hours to notice that it came and went at regular intervals and luckily, the penny dropped just in time… With joy and excitement, we drove to my mother’s house in Jerusalem, where I was planning to deliver. 

As for the due date, the birth was beginning just a few days after the estimated date the doctor gave me and one day after the date that I calculated based on my fertility chart. . I learned from the workshop that the birth should occur approximately 38 weeks from time of ovulation and conception (rather than 40 weeks from the date of the last menstrual period). Of course, there could be delays but I am happy that I am basically “on time.” 

My mother, the midwife, my husband, the almost newborn, and myself prepared to get through the contractions. This was the same team as my previous birth. I want to note that before we got into the car to drive to my mother’s house, I checked my cervix/os with two fingers and could feel that I was already 3 cm. The midwife taught me exactly what to feel for knowing when I reached 6 cm. At this time, you can actually feel the baby’s head touching the cervix! I recommend that all women have this experience. It is simple and miraculous to know your cervix and you can feel it lowering and opening. 

The early hours of contractions were painful but manageable. I realized that having a sense of control is actually the ability to let go. I prayed, we sang, I changed positions (to my delight, unlike previous births, I was almost always in upright/quasi-stand-up positions or I was resting on all fours). My husband and I did some voice work that really helped, and the use of a big bouncing ball was also put to use. My mom and the midwife sat in the living room and talked. They knew to give us privacy and to be on hand when I had a question. 

The birth took longer than last time (9 hours compared to 3). and I had to let go of my expectation that this time would be similar to last time. The important thing was that the birth was moving forward, without delay, even if it was going at a slower pace. It was amazing to feel the oxytocin beats with the contractions, when they would begin and end, like a wave, a peak, and then a relaxation. Connecting to this rhythm relaxed and calmed me. I also sat in a tub of water, which gave me another idea- that if I could go through this outdoors, while grounding with mother earth, then perhaps the flow of the contractions would have been better and more effective. 

While resting on all fours (hands and knees) while leaning on the ball, more intense contractions began. And of course, I knew that I should not push or pressure my body until it was ready and that the breaks between the contractions are important. While the placenta fills with blood, the body gathers strength and also maintains the pelvic floor. Working with the body, under insane adrenaline and concentration of forces, I felt like I was becoming an “animal”. Then there was silence, followed by the baby’s crying, and not only her’s. 

I brought her to my breast and started nursing. We waited for the umbilical cord to stop beating (I highly recommend touching; you can feel the miraculous pulse and when it stops beating, it turns white) and this enables the placenta to exit the body. The midwife did everything quietly and professionally. We all went to sleep.

It is difficult to describe these moments. Every woman who ever gave birth knows. There is a huge silence as after a big bang. Like after the creation of the world, an enormous abundance of divine light, of a new soul, arrives via the vessel, which is the body. You can feel the feminine divine presence and light at this moment. In this place of great light, we embody our power and strength while affirming our ability to trust ourselves as women. 

And this is the direct continuation of learning FAM, learning to pay attention to our bodies, read our body signs, and trust the body’s ability to communicate its miraculous wisdom while respecting the process.

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