As a new kallah, one of my mentors reminded me and my chattan that the wedding day was just a few hours long and advised us not to get hung up on the details of this one day to the point that it stressed us out and distracted us from the bigger picture: that we are beginning our marriage. The marriage is the most important aspect. A wedding day should be a happy day, a celebration of a new beginning, but we cannot control everything. These proved to be wise words for us.
When my husband and I learned this summer that I was pregnant, we were thrilled. And scared. And humbled. And excited. And anxious.
And as we counted ahead nine months, we also realized we could be having a Passover baby.
Of course Hashem’s humor was in full gear, and we soon enough realized that our estimated due date falls out on Shabbat HaGadol, the Shabbat preceding the Passover seder (and in our case, two days before).
Talk about a Big Shabbat.
We decided not to announce the exciting news until after the first trimester, which gave us plenty of time to work ourselves into a panic that we couldn’t simply sell everything in our apartment and move out for a week, which we did last year. Both sets of our parents live in different states, so we would be staying home this year and making Passover ourselves.
In some ways we couldn’t decide what gave us more anxiety: preparing for a baby, for which we were clueless—or preparing for Passover, for which we were clueless. Lehavdil, lehavdil—yes, I know. Not exactly the same experiences and preparations.
We decided not to learn the gender of our child. Yes, we don’t want to count our eggs before they hatch, but my husband is also concerned that should I learn we are having a boy, I would get myself worked up about preparing for a brit milah during the only eight days of the year that bagels are forbidden to be consumed. He knows me well. There is still a 50/50 chance that we’re having a girl.
And then I remembered the advice from my mentor when we were engaged and reapplied it to my new situation in life. Pregnancy and preparing for Passover are temporary moments in my life: strengthening my marriage and preparing for my new role as a mother is the priority. Doing what I can to give birth to a healthy baby is the priority.
And my attitude can shape the whole labor experience: don’t go into it expecting terror, this is a day to celebrate the birth of our baby! Certainly we can’t control everything, but this special day marks the beginning of a bigger picture: we become a family.
Thankfully, since we’ve been able to speak openly about our upcoming excitement, we have been able to breathe more easily. The passing months have allowed reality to sink in and we have treasured the gift of time to educate ourselves about pregnancy, parenthood and beyond.
We realize we still have no clue what we’re in for but we’re in this together, and we plan to keep laughing.
One day, in an attempt to humor myself, I pondered the similarities between Passover preparations and preparing for a new baby. Although it might feel like Passover prep begins earlier and earlier each year, it’s not a nine-month endeavor (nor should it be).
- There is a due date—except with Passover, it’s not estimated: come the 14th of Nisan, the holiday is here. At least I know that Passover always falls out on the same date every year. Despite my doctor’s best calculations, this baby is going to arrive whenever it wishes.
- Both categories have boundless resources (books, websites, articles, newsletters) educating on the Jewish laws governing these events and their practical applications.
- Professionals, rabbanim, friends, family and even random individuals may be consulted (or offer their opinions freely) on aspects of tradition, health, observance, recipes and creativity to make these moments special.
- New tools are required. Passover may require new utensils and cooking gear, in addition to items used during the seder. Babies require… a lot. (The stuff for the baby takes up more room than the baby!)
- Money will need to be spent and a budget needs to be figured out (preferably beforehand, not simply justified afterward).
- Dare I suggest that both come with their respective ‘labor pains?’ I should point out that there’s no option to pay a yeshiva bachur to give birth to my baby, even though I could hire one to clean out my fridge.
- Both are a celebration of freedom—the birth of my child, and the freedom of slavery in Egypt. Some might counter that point is the beginning of the bondage of parenthood. No more spontaneous outings.
- And even when the big day arrives, the work will have just begun: the seders may keep me up late; I hear the first few days (or weeks, or months) of parenthood will simply keep me up.
Come any momentous occasion, a bit of restlessness may accompany the countdown, yet overall, there is great excitement in anticipation to greet the new holiday (or person). And I know it’s worth it.
Certainly, the more we give of ourselves, and invest in the experience, knowing that we are doing Hashem’s will by participating in something so much greater than ourselves, the closer the connection we will have to our Creator.
The clock is ticking and the excitement is mounting, but we’re going to do our best to keep our eyes on our priorities and not get caught up in the hype—for Passover, and for our baby.