Seth and I sponsored kiddush this week at shul.* We sponsored kiddush to thank the community for all the help that they've given us for the triplets over the last nine months. This was the first opportunity we've had to do a kiddush, because we couldn't bring the triplets out into public until after April, but once that wasn't a factor, Seth was still in aveilus**. So, at last, we held our kiddush in honor of the triplets, and they made their first official appearance in shul.
It was really nice to see everyone and to feel a part of my community once again. I've felt quite isolated from the community for a long time, because, well... when you live in an Orthodox Jewish community with a lot of young couples, all anyone does (or so it seems) is have babies. All the time. And I just couldn't be around that for a long time, so I never went to shul, even with J (I'd have Seth take him). Then last year I was on bed rest for the whole summer and couldn't go even at the times I normally would have gone (Pesach, Shavuous, random kiddushes here and there) and then I was on hospital bed rest over Rosh Hashana so I didn't even make it to shul then, and then I delivered the babies and was in the hospital still on Yom Kippur and then on Succos I was in the NICU with the babies... so all the things that normally would have brought me to shul regardless of how uncomfortable I felt... well, I haven't been there in a tremendously long time. And I really did feel isolated, even though the community is VERY supportive of us and I'm on the shul board and I have really NO reason to feel at ALL like I'm not part of the community, since they've been so incredibly amazing to us.
But that's not the point of this post.
The point is, it was nice to be back, and in a positive, meaningful way, celebrating the expansion of our family. And it was almost tarnished when a woman who I don't really know (I don't even know her name, and we're in a VERY small shul, so it says a lot that I don't even know her name) came up to me... she's older, I'd say in her 70s or so, and she said, "Oh my best friend had triplets, and she was on fertility, you know, I was wondering, were you on fertility?"
Oh my blood started to boil. And I never, ever, ever make any sort of snappy remark when people ask me that, though I *always* wish that I had. Normally I just say, "We had some help, but thank God we have three healthy babies, so it doesn't really matter how they came to us."
Today I just could not do that. It would have left me bitching and moaning about her for a long time, because THAT is what I would have remembered from today, instead of all the lovely thoughts and "mazel tovs" and "hellos" and "welcome backs" that I heard.
So I took a deep breath and I smiled a sweet smile. And I said, "You know, I really don't like to discuss it, because it's really irrelevant. We have three healthy babies, and that's all I could ask for right now."
She didn't get it; she said, "oh well, it doesn't matter, but my friend, she was on fertility, and she..." She didn't get what I was trying to tell her, and I didn't expect her to. But I got an important lesson today. I finally learned that I can stop and actually tell people to mind their own business when it comes to my reproductive history. And while I feel badly for being rude to this woman, I'm unbelievably proud of myself for finally, finally, allowing myself a little bit of privacy on a matter which is no one's business.***
And you know what? The next time some random stranger asks me "do you mind if I ask if your triplets are natural?" I'm going to say, "You know, I really do mind. That's a matter that's really between me and my husband." Because now I know that I *can* say that without turning into a pillar of salt. Go me.
* Er, yeah. I realize that I do this to you guys a lot... I throw out these words with no explanation and about half of you just know what I'm talking about, a dozen or so of you go and look it up, and the rest of you sit there wondering what kind of smoke I'm cracking. So, "shul" is just another word for synagogue. "Kiddush" is like a little mini luncheon after services Shabbos morning. Um. "Shabbos" is the Sabbath (Friday night through Saturday night). Any questions?
**There I go again. "Aveilus" is mourning. Jews have several stages of mourning. There's the 7-day shiva period which you may remember me writing about when his father died last summer when I was pregnant. Then there's 30 days (inclusive of the 7 days of shiva) when the restrictions are lighter than those of shiva, but still quite abundant. And then, (inclusive of those first 30 days) there are 11 months of mourning in which the mourner says kaddish (the mourner's prayer) for the deceased at prayer services three times per day, and has several other restrictions placed upon him, such as, no buying new clothes (if possible), no attending celebratory gatherings, no um, well, other stuff. What do I know? Thank God, I've never been in mourning, so my knowledge here is, thankfully, limited. Anyway, so Seth wouldn't have been able to attend had we had a kiddush earlier, is my whole point.
***This is a particularly laughable point, because anyone who actually *knows* me knows that we had some, um, "help" in the reproductive department. I'm very open about it, even though I'm somewhat uncomfortable with the entire world knowing my business, because I think it's important for people to understand that this isn't a scarlet letter to be worn with shame. I don't walk around (or shouldn't walk around) feeling ashamed of my infertility. It's not a red letter I. It's a
red pomegranate badge of courage. This is one of the reasons that I don't [normally] snap at people for asking me if I had fertility treatment... because I believe that people need to learn that this isn't something shameful. But I still believe that random strangers need to learn that not everyone is as willing to go down that road. It's really none of anyone's business, unless I *make* it your business.
EDITED TO ADD:
1. Credit must be given to my friend Corrine for the title line. She's far wittier than I.
2. I forgot that I also set someone straight about the "natural" thing. I said, "I don't like the term 'natural' because ALL children are natural. I prefer the term 'spontaneous'..." That particular woman was very sweet (and about my age) and said, "oh that's a much better term!"