By Malkie Gordon Hirsch
I’ve always had planned births.
There was none of that waking up in the middle of the night amid a pool of amniotic fluid and making a mad dash to the hospital for the arrival of a baby.
No, sir. It was way more civilized. Way more painful but none of the element of surprise that comes with going into labor in a hotel at your nephew’s bar mitzvah weekend.
Now, I don’t know this for certain, but I’m starting to think that there’s some correlation between the name Chani and the dramatic birthing stories I’ve heard in the past.
There was my sister-in-law Chani, who had a baby boy 20 minutes after her father’s levayah. I had written about it previously because the nature of the story was so bittersweet. It was beautiful because my father-in-law received a name so shortly after his passing, and the manner in which it happened was heartbreaking and then hopeful. It was exactly what the family needed at that time.
And then there’s my other sister-in-law Chani, who’s making a habit of having babies while away at hotels for the weekend.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t wish a huge mazal tov to Chani and Yochanan Gordon on their newest addition, a sweet baby girl named Sarah Rosa, who was born as we were waking up a few hours after my son Nison’s bar mitzvah.
Nison and Sarah Rosa were my paternal grandparents, and it just occurred to me that all these little things happen for reasons unknown, but to me, it’s G-d’s way of saying, “Hey! It’s Me. Just wanted to let you know I’m here.”
Now, back to unplanned birthing. I’ve never been faced with the dilemma of missing a simcha due to an impending baby’s arrival, but if you know my sister-in-law at all, that’s just simply not an issue.
She’s having her cake and eating it, too. Or rather, she’s attending my son’s bar mitzvah with her family and having her baby early, too.
Analogies vary due to life circumstances.
She’s a pro at this, after all, and had a dress rehearsal of sorts when she was due with her son Eli over Pesach of 2012. As my parents had been doing for years at that point, they invited us kids and our children for the first half of Pesach in a hotel. And as all women who have delivered babies know, sometimes (most of the time) things don’t go as planned.
It’s a good life lesson and certainly one that’s incorporated in life once you’re in a Pesach program and go into labor and have the baby on chol ha’moed.
Need to make a shalom zachor? The hotel will supply Pesach crackers and herring, don’t worry!
So, when my sister-in-law asked me if it would be OK for her to bring her brother Eli to look after the kids just in case she might have to go into the hospital over Shabbos, I lauded her for her forethought, for her organizational skills, and for her empathy in understanding that we did not want to babysit at the hotel.
Shabbos came and went, but Chani’s heels did not get shorter. I recall taking mine off during the night and asking a friend to get flats from her car to relieve my achy feet, but Chani, who had likely been in labor the entire Shabbos, balanced expertly in her shoes for the duration of the weekend.
I do assume she took them off to give birth to her daughter, but that’s only speculation.
At some point during the busy night, I spotted Chani’s mother in the crowd. She approached me and we hugged and maybe for a fleeting moment I wondered what she was doing there, but in the busyness of the simcha, my mind assumed that she was somewhere in the vicinity of Glen Cove, Long Island (even though she lives in Monsey) and that she wanted to wish us a mazal tov.
But of course, in retrospect, the pieces all come together. Chani’s mother was there because her daughter was preparing. She was planning, and she knew her mother would be the proper support to pull off getting five kids who’ve got busy schedules back home and back to their schools, their extracurricular activities, and to the birthday-party carpool they were part of.
And it all went off in a way that would have you wonder how women do it. How they think of every possible scenario and come up with the proper help to ensure that the conclusion will be as good as it can be.
I’m in awe of women in general and the ability they’ve got to multitask no less than one million things on a daily basis and do it gracefully. I’m in complete awe of how my sister-in-law managed to wear a sweater dress a few hours before delivering her sixth baby.
But moreover, I’m impressed with how she put her pieces all out on the table of life and gingerly placed them together, resulting in a picture that came together perfectly. It doesn’t always, and if anyone knows that, it’s us, humans.
But when it does, boy, does it feel good. Mazal tov to my parents on their latest grandchild, to Yochanan and Chani on their newest addition, and to their children on their sweet newborn baby sister.
Malkie Gordon Hirsch is a native of the Five Towns community, a mom of 5, a writer, a social media influencer, veteran real estate agent, and runs a patisserie in Woodmere.