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Lifelines: In Her Shoes

C. Saphir

“Ribbono Shel Olam,” I screamed, “just fix it! I don’t know how You’re going to do that, but fix it! My children need a mother! I need a wife!”

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

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I

 

t was several weeks before my younger sister’s wedding, and my wife, Tamar, and I had booked tickets to fly in from Eretz Yisrael with our three little boys, ages seven, five, and two.

We hadn’t left Eretz Yisrael in five years, and we were really excited to finally visit our relatives in America. In advance of our trip, Tamar, being the perfectionist that she is, had prepared meticulous lists of where we would go, whom we would visit, and what we would do. Everything had been planned perfectly, with no detail overlooked.

As part of our trip preparations, Tamar, who was three months pregnant at the time, went for a checkup and ultrasound. With three complicated births and a miscarriage behind her, she wanted to make sure everything was okay before she boarded the plane.

When she called me at work to tell me that the ultrasound technician was concerned about something and was sending her to the hospital for further testing, I told her I was coming right over.

“I’m fine, Aryeh,” she assured me. “You don’t have to leave work. I don’t think it’s anything serious.”

I’m the type of husband who’s there for his wife, though, and there was no way I was leaving her to deal with this by herself. “I’ll be there as soon as I can,” I said.

The first doctor we met with at the hospital told us very nonchalantly that Tamar had placenta previa, a condition that would necessitate a caesarean delivery. Having been through a caesarean before, Tamar didn’t think it was such a big deal.

“We’re supposed to fly to America next week for my sister-in-law’s wedding,” she told the doctor. “It’s okay for me to travel, right?”

The doctor looked at her strangely. “No,” she said. “You’re not going anywhere right now.”

That’s when we started to realize that something was very wrong. But we didn’t yet understand the full gravity of the situation.

“I guess you’ll have to cancel my ticket and take the kids yourself,” Tamar said glumly.

“Are you kidding?” I exclaimed. “I’m staying right here.”

“You can’t miss your sister’s wedding!” she protested.

But within a very short time, missing my sister’s wedding became the last thing on my mind.

After that meeting with the first doctor, we were sent to confer with two specialists in the department, who informed us that not only was the pregnancy at risk, Tamar’s life was actually in severe danger, because the pregnancy had invaded surrounding areas and compromised major blood vessels (a rare condition known as placenta percreta). They urged us to terminate the pregnancy, but added that even if we did, Tamar would probably not survive the procedure.

We immediately called our rav, who advised us to stay put and follow the instructions of the medical staff. “They know what they’re doing in that hospital,” he said.

That evening, I left Tamar in the hospital and went home to take care of our kids, who had spent the afternoon at the home of Tamar’s sister, who was due to give birth that week. When I finally got into bed at 1 a.m., I burst out crying for the first time in my adult life, and continued sobbing for an hour and a half. “Ribbono Shel Olam,” I screamed, “just fix it! I don’t know how You’re going to do that, but fix it! My children need a mother! I need a wife!”

With Tamar in the hospital and major medical decisions needing to be made, we desperately needed someone to support and guide us through the decision-making process and stabilize the environment for the kids. We needed a mother. I called up my mother and said, “Ma, I need to you come.” (Excerpted from Mishpacha, Issue 686)

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