9w0d: Dayenu

April 14, 2009

We’re in the midst of Passover. Well, more accurately, I guess you could say everyone else is in the midst of Passover. After being extremely observant of the holiday over the past 11 years of marriage (cooking up a storm for seders that we’ve hosted every year, keeping separate plates and silver just for Passover, refraining from all chametz — grains — and even many years without kitniyot — pseudo-grains like beans and peanuts, which turns out to be extremely difficult for a vegetarian), we made the decision to skip Passover this year. I had to work on the evening of the first seder; DH is out of town half of the week; I can’t stand up long enough to cook a single dish, much less 8 or 10; the Passover diet leads to notorious constipation, which would be one more symptom on top of the others already rendering me useless for most of each day; I am struggling to maintain my recommended nutritional intake even with the full complement of grain options. In so many ways, observing Passover this year just didn’t make sense.

In many ways, it’s not a big loss. I’ve acquired a taste for certain Passover foods (in particular, I make a fine charoset), but few are good enough for me to make them outside of Passover. I do miss my special Passover plates, but I don’t miss the trouble involved in switching out all of the regular dishes for the special ones. (Plus, this year for the first time, I have enough pottery made to be eating off of my own dishes instead of store-bought dishes the rest of the year.) I do miss the seder, but we didn’t have anyone indispensable lined up for this year’s guest list anyway.

One thing I definitely miss is Dayenu. It’s a traditional poem/song that’s part of the standard seder, but some families pay it more attention than others. One of our guests years ago, a dear Christian friend full of spirituality and grace (and one of the three IRL friends I’ve told about this pregnancy so far), was really taken with the idea. For weeks after our seder, she’d keep bringing it up to me, saying how much it resonated with her. Now many years later, she still brings it up almost every year around Passover.

“Dayenu” means “it would have been enough.” The song lists many blessings that came to the Israelites, saying that each on its own would have sufficed, but that taken all together, G-d’s blessings are overwhelming and incredible.

Because I didn’t grow up Jewish, I learned the song from my husband who, for all of his amazing qualities, is not very musical. In fact, he can’t really carry a tune. As a result, I learned a completely wrong melody. In case you’d like to hear the real tune (and see someone’s adorable baby dancing)

As my only form of Passover observance this year, I’d like to give you my own version of Dayenu. Infertility is a period of wanting, of emptiness, but it’s good sometimes to remember all that we do have.

  • If I had my health without education or a career, it would have been enough, dayenu.
  • If I had the gifts of education and career but no husband, dayenu.
  • If I had the best husband in the world but no means or will for children, dayenu.
  • If I had the means and will for children but no ability to seek help to create them, dayenu.
  • If I’d had the means to pay for years of infertility treatments but no one to discuss them with, dayenu.
  • If I had an entire blogosphere to talk to but nowhere else to go, dayenu.
  • If I had the ability to travel around the world but no treatments to come home to, dayenu.
  • If my first IVF initially worked but resulted in another miscarriage, suggesting ways to improve future IVF cycles, dayenu.
  • If I’d secured New Job which provided health insurance that paid for my post-miscarriage hysteroscopy, dayenu.
  • If while waiting between the hysteroscopy and the next IVF cycle I started attending an infertility support group but got nothing tangible out of it, dayenu.
  • If through my support group I learned about the Trick Up My Sleeve (which I will explain to you soon, really I will) enabling insurance to pay for future IVF cycles, but I still had to fail one more IUI before IVF would be covered, dayenu.
  • If New Job insurance would pay for that one more perfunctory IUI cycle before getting the Trick Up My Sleeve to pay for IVF, dayenu.
  • If Perfunctory IUI actually worked before getting around to the covered IVF cycle, dayenu.
  • If Perfunctory IUI resulted in not one but two embryos implanting, dayenu.
  • If those two embryos have now graduated to fetuses, dayenu!

Another mini-Dayenu that I keep forgetting to mention:

  • If my sister-in-law with whom I have been in a race to have children trusted my husband’s counsel above all others and listened to his advice to postpone her wedding (which is objectively the correct advice, my ulterior motives aside), dayenu.
  • If, rather than getting lapped by her, there’s now a real possibility that I may have two babies to dress up and bring to her wedding, dayenu!

Even in the face of plenty of bad things, the good things keep coming too. I am well aware that many of the blessings I’ve received are not available to many of my bloggy friends, and I am very grateful for all that I’ve had. As I’ve struggled through various treatments, I’ve been cognizant that there are bloggers who go through many more than 11 treatment cycles before seeing a heartbeat; bloggers waiting years to save up enough money for their first IVF; bloggers for whom treatments will forever be out of reach, et al. Passover is a nice opportunity to think about the ways in which the glass is half-full (or, sometimes, 3/4 full and getting fuller).

The conclusion of each seder is, “Next year in Jerusalem!” Every year when we’ve said that, we’ve really meant it — Israel is always at the top of our list of places to go, but each year for different reasons it never quite happens. We actually had tentative plans to go this summer, probably whether or not IVF #3 worked. My international wanderlust has been quashed by the limitations on safely flying past mid-summer, and so our trip to Israel is postponed yet again. Maybe next year I’ll finally make it to Israel, accompanied by my babies.

Next year in Jerusalem!

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