I am a very proud Jewish woman.
I am not, however, deeply religious. In my opinion, and I don’t think I’m alone, the two do not have to go hand-in-hand. My Judaism is a big part of my identity–how I was raised, who I am today, who I want to become. But I do not attend synagogue regularly, we do not keep kosher, we do not observe Shabbat (though we would like to do more Friday night Shabbat dinners), and I have often questioned my belief in G-d.
With all that said, I am very spiritual. I may not believe in G-d in a traditional way, but I strongly believe that there is some sort of greater power and extra dimension of being. I like to believe that at our very essence we are souls who continue on even when our physical bodies have failed. I am comforted that those who I have lost in my life are somewhere, always in my presence, looking over me and my loved ones. I am at my most peaceful and calm state when I meditate and force my constant thoughts to rest even for a moment. I believe, in some way, that our lives are made up of people and moments that were given to us by fate. That belief in fate is what guides my spirituality.
On the flip side, I am completely in awe of, and grateful for, science and medicine. Eamonn’s life and my experiences over the past couple of years are dependent on continued advancement of research and knowledge to move science forward. For example, a few generations ago, someone with CF wasn’t expected to live beyond childhood. Now the life expectancy is 37 years and continues to rise. Without this kind of progress, I wouldn’t have my husband, nor the ability to make a family with him through IVF.
If we take out the emotional side, in vitro fertilization is fascinating. As we were starting the egg retrieval process, and we were given a tutorial of how it works, I sat there with my jaw wide open as the nurse explained to me in detail the many steps and directions. There is so much science and knowledge behind all of it, that for one of the injections, what they call the trigger shot, I was told the exact time to the minute that I had to take it. While many women trying to get pregnant think about their menstrual cycle and when the best time is to try to conceive, the timing is even more precise for IVF patients. The manipulation of our bodies to increase the chance of a pregnancy is beyond belief, and yet very real. So if science is controlling my ability to get pregnant, then where does my spirituality fit in the picture?
I do believe that both science and fate play simultaneous roles, though having been through now almost 10 months of trying to get pregnant, I tend to place more faith in science. There is a lot to balance while doing IVF– the drugs, the emotions, letting go of all control while trying to remain calm and sane. And with all of that, I struggle most with trying to find my right balance of being realistic based on the data, facts, and what science is telling me; with optimism, faith, and belief that what is supposed to happen will happen. With every failed cycle, my spirituality is dwindling and I struggle to maintain the hope that we so badly need through all of this.
I have to admit that one of the reasons I chose to share my story publicly was purely selfish. While my faith and spirituality is struggling right now, I’m counting on those around us to internally maintain their belief that the process will ultimately work for us. I don’t know what that looks like. For some it may come in the form of prayers, or hopes, or wishes, or yoga intentions or “good vibes”, but we need all the positive juju we can get! While you’re all working on that for us, I will make a promise to try to hold onto my optimism and faith as best as I can.