Today is a big day for me. I pulled out my Little Yellow Notepad to make a list.
My little yellow notepad that is my right hand man, my guide to my day, my trusty counterpart – has never been neglected for this long.
Filled with joy, for the first time in over a month, I made a list.
I didn’t plan to neglect my notepad for so long; I was just going to the hospital on Chol Hamoed Pesach to give birth and planned to be home a day or so later and get back to list writing soon after.
Well, let’s just say that things didn’t go as planned.
It’s just five weeks ago that I opened my eyes and was coherent for the first time in 5 days. Trying to make sense out of where I was. A hospital room?! Tubes, wires and machines all around me, screens and blinking lights, purple and blue streaks and marks decorating my arms and legs .
They’re asking me questions. I can’t figure out what’s going on.
They show me a picture of a baby girl.
“Do you know who this is?” They ask me.
“No,” I reply.
“It’s Mushka, your new baby.”
“No it’s not,” I answer in confusion. “I didn’t have a baby, I wasn’t event pregnant.” In my foggy mind, I can’t figure out why they think I had a baby.
“Where am I anyway,” I ask, starting to whimper. “I’m just so confused, please tell me what happened.”
Calmly they show me a picture of the Rebbe, taped to my bed rail.
“Do you know who this is?”
I do a double take.
“The Rebbe,” I whisper through tears.
Yes it is, they say.
I’m surrounded by nurses. In a hospital room. My mind snaps to focus. There’s no way they could have that picture here unless I brought it.
This is real. But my mind is foggy.
My husband walks into the room.
I smile and say hi. He nearly faints from shock. I can’t figure out why he’s so surprised.
Slowly and gently my husband tries to fill me in on what’s been going on.
“You missed 5 days,” my husband tells me.
“Yes,” he tells me. “Pesach is over. You’ve been out of it for five days.”
I look at him confused. “When did Pesach start?”
My mind is blank. My memory is a fog.
And why am I in the hospital anyway?
He tells me of the five days of complete fear and terror that he went through. The multiple operations and transfusions, tests and scans that I had been through. The life saving doctors who Hashem gave the power to to perform miracles.
I’m not comprehending. Because I’m not the type of person to have such a story!
“The whole world is davening for you,” he tells me softly.
“What? For me??”
I’m still on a big list of medications, my mind isn’t totally clear and comprehending.
And this is too big to understand.
The whole world is saying tehillim for little me?
I can’t grasp it. Slowly he’s telling me the acts of kindness people have done for our family. The gifts pouring in for our kids, the dinners being delivered, our community rallying in support; praying, offering to do carpool, taking the kids to the park, coming over just to play board games with the kids.
My husband leaves to go pickup my newborn and bring her to me. My precious baby girl that I’m not remembering giving birth to.
I am too weak to hold her. I don’t remember giving birth, but my mind is clear enough to know she is mine. I don’t remember coming to the hospital. I can’t sit up, I can’t even turn my body. I don’t recognize my fingers, they have no grasp and they are three times the size.
They offer me some grapes; I am thrilled to have some food. I reach to take one, and discover it’s a far harder task than I ever thought. After many futile attempts, I agree to accept help and have a grape put into my mouth for me. Oh the cold and sweet juicy taste!! After being intubated and extubated multiple times over the five days, even though I had no memory of it – apparently my body did, and it craved the cold, the juice, the sweetness. The most delicious grapes I ever tasted.
And all I want is an ice cold drink.
And I can’t stop drinking; apple juice with loads of ice feels like a heavenly beverage-about 10 cartons in a row.
The day passes in a blur, I’m trying to piece together my story.
And it’s too big for me to grasp.
The next day the memory just pops into my head; coming to the hospital, giving birth! I am overjoyed, I remember it!!
But Pesach…the memories are coming back slowly. I vaguely remember the first Seder, a bit of the second. Slowly I go through my pictures on my phone – which feels like the weight of a brick- of two week before, before I went to the hospital to give birth- and my memories slowly come alive; pesach prepping, Seder set up, Chol Hamoed trip. I’m remembering.
My big goal of the day is to get out of bed.
That’s a project that involves a PT and some help from my angels called the nurses and a walker. They cheer me on. One step, I’m a hero! I’m a star here in the Trauma ICU!
Do I laugh or cry?! I am so grateful.
They start talking about me going to rehab. “But I’m not the type of person who goes to rehab!” I want to shout. “That’s for other people and older people, definitely not me! I’m not the type of person who needs a walker to walk 3 steps and gets a standing ovation!”
I’m the type of person who marathons through making my kids snacks and lunches and getting everyone ready for school, drives a 15 passenger, orders Instacart and stops for Target pickup and then Walmart pickup and then some Amazon orders all before 10am, moving onto lists and event planning.
As one nurse put it – no one wakes up in the morning and decides; today is a good day to go to rehab! Life takes us to unexpected places. And it’s up to us how we go about it.
My kids come to visit in the afternoon; it’s a wonderful moment that I hold onto and cherish every part of it.
Just five days later, I’m discharged and on the way to rehab, a place that was never on my bucket list.
I always thought I knew about juggling; I was tuned into my glass and rubber balls and constantly re-evaluating my priorities and making sure my family comes first and not to get caught up in the small stuff.
And there, in my week in rehab, I am juggling just one glass ball. Myself. And even that is a lot.
I can feel the embrace of all those words of Tehillim being said for me; it’s holding me together.
I spend a lot of time with my husband; there’s so much we need to talk about, so much I need to know. And my precious baby girl.
Baby. Girl. Pink!!
One week shy of my older daughter’s 16th birthday, she finally has a sister!! My 9 boys are great, I love them dearly! And now a baby girl.
The days in rehab are exhausting from OT and PT, which includes things that I could’ve done in five seconds just a few weeks before.
And I focus on my one juggling ball- made out of the most exquisite and delicate glass; not the Dollar Tree cheap and thick type.
I’m going to let my body guide me; there’s so much healing it needs to do, it’s been through a war.
I only have one glass ball. Myself.
My husband brings me a big bag of cards. Cards from so many people, some who I know well, some from people I’ve met once or twice and even some from people who I’ve never met before. Each filled with them telling me how much they are praying. My phone is full of hundreds of messages, texts and emails of support; short messages letting me know of prayers and thoughts and love sent my way. Each card and each message touches me so deeply; the love, the care and the prayers surround me. I know I will get through this.
Just one week after rehab, 18 days after innocently leaving to the hospital to give birth, I am finally home. I have so much to process, and that will take time. I’m not stuck in Pesach anymore. I’m walking, I’m feeling like myself, and I’m letting my body heal.
My bed feels like I’m sleeping on a cloud, my couches feel like a piece of heaven. I want to just hug the walls, the ceilings, the floors. I never want to forget these moments; where mess and toys don’t matter and just relishing in being home.
I sit on the couch and my kids come and go, busy with their stuff and stopping to show me things, sitting near me a few minutes and running off to something else. Fighting, playing, arguing, laughing – all the regular things.
And my role as a mother? It’s not the cooking or cleaning or laundry or constant moving around and doing doing doing.
It’s being. I’m just sitting. And I’m giving my kids what no one else can fill in for; I’m being.
It’s the most I can do and it’s what they need most. Always. And so easy to forget because we are so busy doing.
Each day I feel better and better Boruch Hashem; while I’m impatient to be back to my normal strength and be completely healed, back to my marathon days and regular complaints of running late and sticky messes-I know I need to be patient. I’ll get there, but it takes time. Hashem held me tight and brought me here, and will continue holding me the whole way through.
And as I take out my treasured yellow notepad and make a list of appointments I need to make, things I need to order for my kids, food we need for the house and open up InstaCart, I am flooded with gratefulness.
My phone is light again, I can think comprehensively, I can walk, move and get out of bed with ease – I am overwhemed with gratefulness.
And to write again!
So what does one do when one witnesses miracles? What does one do when they become a miracle? I don’t have the answers.
But I know that it’s not my miracle alone. It’s the tehillim and prayers from across the world and back that made my miracle happen. To all of you who prayed for me and brought me to where I am, I humbly say thank you. I hold you all close. You are carrying this with me.