Monday, December 27, 2010

Another amazing milestone

A couple of weeks ago I posted this blog commemorating the birth of my daughter Revital and my personal promotion to the rank of Abba (Daddy).

However, looking back on that blog, I realize that it may be very misleading – especially to those not yet blessed with children. As special as the birth of a first born is, I hope that in no way did anybody get the impression that subsequent births are any less special, meaningful or powerful.

Last week, we celebrated the 6th birthday of Limor, our younger daughter – like Revital, born right around Chanukah (6 days after as opposed to Revital’s 2 days before), and like Revital, she really is as bright as a candle in our lives.

Unlike Revital, Sharon’s labor with Limor was very quick – it was almost over before we realized it had begun.

Good friends (one of the crowd from my college days that I’ve mentioned before) had just moved to Israel, to our city of Modi’in, no less, and we were invited to their house for dinner on a Sunday night. What made it extra special is that they had good friends visiting them from the States that week, the woman had been one of my “kids” years ago in youth group and we had been very close. So, dinner it was.

As it turned out Revital, who had just turned 3, was a little bit sick that evening, but with 3 of the 4 grandparents already here for the any-day-now celebration (and the fourth one due a couple of days later), finding good babysitting that night was not such a challenge. We also knew that we couldn’t be out too late since Sharon (and our respective / respectable mothers) had to finish making the cake and other paraphernalia for Revital’s birthday party in her nursery school the following morning.

So we went to dinner, had a lovely time, and life was good. We got back home, and Sharon finished up the cake for the following morning with her mother and mother playing very strong supporting roles, and me, knowing my place and the strength of all I had to contribute, went to bed and promptly fell asleep.

At about 12:30am my wake-up call came and Sharon was ready to go to the hospital. So her mother and I loaded her into the car, and drove to Hadassah Mount Scopus hospital in Jerusalem. We left Sharon’s father in the apartment with Revital and my mother was staying with good friends in the apartment upstairs, so we were pretty well covered.

We got to the hospital around 1:00 and pretty quickly were in the delivery area. After a couple of hours of the various exercises, showers, screaming in pain, and blaming me for everything, Sharon was ready to have a baby.

Now picture this – it all happened so fast, that by the time Sharon was ready for an epidural, it was too late to give her one, so were “on our own”, as it were. At 4:15am we were in the delivery room, me standing right next to Sharon with her using one arm to rip my shoulder out of its socket, and the other arm bruising the hell out of my back. My mother-in-law was standing next to me joining me in the words of encouragement to Sharon about how wonderfully she was doing.

Right when the doctor had told Sharon it was time for the final push – right as our child was coming into the world, my cell phone rang. How’s this for the “perfect moment”? The time was 4:18am, just about dawn – the ringtone that I had at the time on my phone was “(The Dawning of the) Age of Aquarius” from the musical “Hair”. And all I could think to say was “Who the hell is calling me right now??”

But I quickly pushed that question aside because Voila! We were parents for the second time.

I learned not long after, that the call was from my father-in-law – staying at home with Revital. He wanted to let us know that Revital had gotten out of bed and climbed into our (empty) bed, and gone back to sleep – not worried that we weren’t there, just being in our bed. But how bizarre is it that she did this at the exact moment her sister was being born???

Now, Limor’s first act as a person – i.e. being born – was also an example of the many good deeds to come with this little girl. She was born after only about 3 hours of labor, keeping her mother’s suffering to a minimum (especially significant because we were not able to go the epidural route). Equally important, she came out early enough in the morning that I after getting Sharon until settled into her room, I was able to get home, get Revital up and dressed for nursery school and be there with her for the birthday party she was having that day. If Limor had been born even 2 hours later, Revital would have had her party only with her 2 grandparents (whom she loves very much, but it’s still hard to do something like that without at least one parent to share it!).

But no, Limor burst onto the world scene with such an act of selflessness that her sister was also able to have her shining moment at her gan.

As I mentioned in the blog about Revital’s birth, one idea which I like very much is that the naming of a child is a form of prophecy left in the world. The names we give reflect traits and meanings that we wish upon our children.

The name Limor means “Myrrh to me” – Myrrh was one of the spices used in the service of the Holy Temple and it is said to be a very “unifying” spice – that is to say that other spices, whose scents may not be among the more pleasing smells, when combined with myrrh are much more pleasant. Myrrh has the power to bring out the best in otherwise drab scents.

Limor too, has that power. She has such a genuine sweetness to her, a love of everything she does and everyone with whom she does it. Her kindergarten teacher last year told us that whenever there was a child in the gan that was shy, or playing alone, or sad, she could always ask Limor if she would invite that child to play with her, and Limor would always agree to – and the child in question would almost always accept the invitation. She is the myrrh that allows others around her to shine.

Her middle name is significant as well, but it was less a “prophetic” name and more a reflection on the moment of her birth. When a child is being born right at the dawn, and at that same moment my cell phone starts playing “Age of Aquarius”, what other name could we choose besides Shachar (Dawn)?

But the name Shachar has a deeper meaning for us personally.

A year and a half after Revital’s birth, Sharon suffered a very difficult and relatively late-stage miscarriage. Besides the physical pain, emotionally we were both devastated.

However, as painful as that experience was, and for all that we can sit around and play the “what if” game, if we had not suffered that miscarriage, we never would have had Limor Shachar a year and a half later. Yes, we would have had a different child, and yes, we would have loved that child with all of our hearts, and yes, the child would have been wonderful.

But that child would not have been this particular one. He or she would not have been Limor Shachar, with all of the traits and highly individual personality that this particular little girl has.

And now that she has been such a part of our lives for 6 years, I cannot begin to imagine what my life would be like with my Limor.

After the pain and the loss that we did go through, Limor truly did, and continues to represent, a new beginning – the dawn of this next stage of our life as a family. She is the myrrh to us that brings us together and she is the one who heralds the new dawn.

She is in every sense – Limor Shachar.

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