Clear As Mud

everyone has a story

This week is Infertility Awareness Week, which has me thinking of my personal infertility journey. It has definitely been a wild ride (actually continues to be a wild ride 😊)

Where should I start?… I guess, at the beginning. 

My husband and I were married in March of 2006, imbued with our innocent hopes and dreams of exactly how we wanted – and thought – our life was going to play out.  

I grew up in a large family thank G-d and honestly loved every minute of it. I am the oldest, so I considered myself the second “mommy”, despite the protest of my siblings. They would constantly tell me “you are not the boss of me” and my response would be “yes I am”; anyway, I digress. Ever since I was a young child, I would dream about all the children I would have and my dreams of a big family followed me right into marriage. 

Eager to start my married life with my husband, we had an expectation that we would just get pregnant right away. I think in religious circles it’s common to have that unspoken expectation that couples will just conceive right away.  That wasn’t the reality in our situation, and months just continued going by… we weren’t really alarmed yet, but decided to slowly start seeing some specialists and figure out what was going on. 

Here is where I think our story takes a unique turn. Once we started seeing specialists, things escalated pretty quickly. We basically were down to one procedure that would make it or break it, as to whether we would be able to have biological children or not. The surgery was scheduled for June of 2008, and as the saying goes we literally had “all our eggs in one basket”. 

I remember it like it was yesterday, the doctor coming in to speak to us after the procedure. He did not have the best bedside manner to say the least as he told us the few words that would change our lives forever: “the procedure was unsuccessful, and you are not going to have biological children”. I was 23 my husband 26, we were just starting our lives together; It felt like the world as we knew it just exploded in our faces. I remember feeling dazed and like I was observing my life from outside of myself, thinking this can’t be real, this is someone else’s life. 

Grief is a thing, and one thing I have learned is that it definitely isn’t linear. Meaning you can be doing well and then you are just not. It is up and down and all around. It doesn’t follow a system and you can’t wish it away. The more I sat with my reality, the more I was sure that I wasn’t going to live my life without a family. How that was going to happen, I had no idea! but it was going to happen. 

After researching all available options, we settled on adoption. It was a whole new scary world to navigate and we didn’t know anybody in our circles who had done it. So, it really felt like entering a different universe. It is such an intense experience and the roller coaster of emotions is hard to describe. The scrutiny and legalities and paperwork you are put through to become legal adoptive parents is exhausting, emotionally and physically. I always joke that if biological parents were put through the same process to have a child, the world would be a very different place. To make a long story short, after so much pain, hope, hopelessness, and everything in between, on November 10th, 2009 we adopted our daughter Chaya! (it’s quite an amazing story that I’ll save for a future post) 

My life isn’t at all what I imagined it would be. I do firmly believe that I was meant to be an adoptive mother and that never would’ve happened without experiencing the struggles of infertility. I don’t know what it’s like to be a biological mother, but I do know what it’s like to be an adoptive one, and its fabulous. It constantly challenges me to do better, to be better. I have learned so much from my children and their unique experiences and challenges, I wouldn’t change it for the world. Do I ever yearn to experience carrying a child inside of me and giving birth?! Absolutely! Do I feel some pangs of jealousy when my sisters and sisters in law are pregnant (and there is at least one in any given moment)? You bet! I have learned that its ok to have those feelings, and it doesn’t take away from the intense love I feel for my children. We as humans are complicated beings and can hold many different emotions at the same time.

Every story, every journey, is unique and belongs to someone. Let’s be there for each other with open hearts. Let’s not get distracted by comparative suffering. It’s so easy to fall into that, its human. 

The one thing that has touched me the most by being open about my journey is the realization that everyone has a story, everyone has their challenge. When we share some of ourselves, it invites people to feel safe enough to share a part of them. I can’t think of anything more beautiful then showing up for each other.

May G-d shower everyone with blessings and all our prayers should be answered for the good!


I Feel…

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Noah has cooked in a variety of kitchens and has studied many different cuisines, but his favorite meals to prepare are the ones that make his guests smile. Be it Thai, Italian, Caribbean or Latin, there is always a fun surprise waiting for you at meal time. Noah welcomes special requests and guests in his kitchen! Just stop by and say hi.

Yocheved Sidof is a social entrepreneur, psycho-mystical depth work facilitator, writer, educator, speaker, and activist. After a decade as a filmmaker and photographer, she founded Lamplighters Yeshivah, a grassroots, internationally acclaimed, progressive Chassidic Montessori school. Yocheved builds communities with healing at the center. Most recently, she founded Ohm’ek, an intentional collective focusing on meditation, embodied mysticism, and micro-retreats.

A lifelong learner, she’s completed extensive training in adaptive leadership, therapeutic coaching, and systemic change. She is currently in a two-year intensive training with Thomas Hubl, studying psycho-somatic-mystical models of healing personal, collective, and ancestral trauma. She also writes, consults, works 1:1 with clients, facilitates group transformational work, and regularly teaches Jewish spiritual studies.

Yocheved sits on boards supporting innovations in mental health awareness and self-transformation. She has studied Jewish mysticism and meditation extensively, including with Rav Katz since 2018, completing Elevation Teacher Training and sitting on his advisory board for over a year.

Yocheved, her husband, and five children live in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. Come say “Hi!” if you’re in the neighborhood.