Hashem’s magnificent brachos often unfold by squeezing and stretching us beyond our perceived limits, like that olive that has to be crushed to release its golden oil. First comes the sweat, the doubt, the struggle to hold on to bitachon, to see and grasp the elusive stream of light that seems all but obscured by fog.

It was a Sunday evening, mild, as February often is in Seattle. I pulled into the circular drive in front of the hospital. We looked at each other in the heavy silence. Elie managed a weak smile. I watched them walk in towards the front door. Just another young couple, the woman slowed by the bulk of late pregnancy, the husband carefully wheeling her suitcase and doting over her.

They walked stoically, bravely, resigned to their fate. A bit hunched over. I felt so helpless, sitting and watching them disappear into the lobby. After a few moments I inched the minivan back into traffic and slowly drove back to their home, a bleakness sitting on my heart.

Monday morning came too soon. I anxiously headed back to the hospital to join them. After two agonizing months of waiting, it was time.
I’d been coached for my job in this saga by Malky, a Chai Lifeline malach. I took careful notes during our surreal conversations, where she guided me, with compassion, Torah insight, and common sense, in how to support Chaya and Elie in enjoying their baby for the very short time the prevailing medical opinion said they would have with this neshamale. Minutes? Hours?

I was a weathered veteran of myriad mommy jobs, reasonably proficient at diapers, temper tantrums, LEGOs, adolescents, shidduchim, and bubbying. But not this.
We quietly chatted. The induction was underway. After several hours, the team of specialists was gathered. They stood in the back of the room, gloved and subdued, waiting for the birth.

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