Guest post from the amazing and beautiful Estee Berkowitz
A while back Zalmy’s friend documented his wife’s birth of their son. At first I thought it was weird (I tried to imagine being in her shoes, having her husband snap away during painful contractions seemed annoying). But then I saw the post on his website and thought it was absolutely beautiful, like tears in my eyes beautiful, and asked Zalmy to do that for our next baby.
And so he did. With film developing and processing and all, it took over a year for me to finally see the photos (besides for the polaroids… no they’re not extinct). I didn’t mind the wait, shooting film and waiting a while to see the results has become second nature for me in this instant-everything world, and besides the fact that there are rolls of film, cameras, prints, polaroids, light meters lying all over the house, I’m grateful to wait. Capturing moments and wondering how they will come out and then forgetting about them and then a few months later actually seeing them is very rewarding. Anyway, I was kind of curious what the birth photos looked like, and what emotions they would conjure up for me.
For a stay-at-home-homeschooling-mom, I think social media is a great thing. I’m able to keep in touch with so many people from my past and present, somewhat keeping up with their lives, without having to go out to coffee with them. And people can see how my life is going and actually have a visual of my crazy family-unschooling-sourdoughing-Torah-observant-life. But it also makes me quite nervous, and this is the part of me that I’m pretty insecure about. I think people see my photos of my family and my life and get this image of what it’s like and it’s really not like that at all. And not just for me, I think it’s one of the biggest problems with social media. We only show a fraction, a glimpse of what our lives are like on the internet, (okay, maybe besides us and our naked or underwear modeling children) and yet who we really are, what’s really going on in our lives and in our hearts is left in a black cloud of unknown, undocumented air of silence. The parts of us that we wish we could share and the parts of us that are screaming for attention, but the parts that we hide underneath an everything-is-okay-smile.
Shlomo was probably the best thing that happened to me that year. And seeing these photos reminded me of that. It was a year I put up with a lot of flack for homeschooling and was constantly explaining why and what we were doing. A year I put up with a lot of criticism and pain from people who made me feel like a bug that needs to be squashed. A death of a loved one and an illness diagnosis of a family member that I’m still in denial about. A time that I felt so unbelievably lonely in my thoughts and feelings.
During Shlomo’s pregnancy I got a double ear infection that kept me bed ridden for over a month. I never had an ear infection in my life. After two rounds of antibiotics that didn’t work (and anyone who knows me knows I don’t do antibiotics)… a bunch of holistic stuff and almost a whole bottle of tylenol (okay, kick me out of the crunchy mom group) with the guidance of a wonderful friend I went to a chiropractor that does applied kineseology and got me on the right track to healing.
Mari, this above mentioned wonderful friend, also told me to connect to G-d. If I came to her with a complaint she told me talk to G-d about it. Here am this kosher keeping, sabbath keeping, Torah law following religious Jew and I needed to be punched in the chest, or in this case, my ears, to really truly connect with G-d. She told me that G-d has isolated me during the ear infection, it was time to really connect and pour my heart out to Him. And so heart pouring out, I did.
On our walks to shul I noticed there was a tomato plant growing in a crack of the concrete road. Every week, this tomato plant grew and my kids and I watched little green tomatoes form into orange and then red tomatoes. This tomato plant came out of nowhere; no one would plant a seed in a concrete road, let alone water it. But grow it did, against all odds, from the harsh concrete, life! I’m not so good at explaining analogies, but I guess i’m trying to say that from all that physical and emotional pain came a wonderful relationship with my Creator.
A few weeks before my due date my good friend Robin (who I love and miss) connected me with her friend Kat who was studying to be a doula and offered to be my doula for my birth. I was honored she’d want to help me, and she was honored to assist the birth of this mama’s fifth baby. She was wonderful and just like that tomato plant in the concrete, came completely out of nowhere. She helped me birth exactly the way I wanted to. When it came time to push the baby out (sorry if that’s too much information), there was this huge barrier and I couldn’t do it, my body was ready but my mind was crying I can’t. I shifted my position, took a deep breath and said in my mind: G-d, You do this. Out came another boy (against Chanaleh’s wishes, although don’t worry, he is still her little doll). And just like his name, this little boy has been nothing but a sweet, peaceful, and delightful little addition to our crew.
And a few polaroids.