I cannot believe my baby brother is 19 today. Does that mean I am not 19? Time is flying and I can't catch it. The past is going by so fast, sometimes it seems like it never happened. Or maybe happened to someone else. Like I'm watching it from a distance.
My baby brother is 19 and he's in Israel, in Shana Bet. Wasn't that just me? How did so many years pass. How did I get this old? I have blocked out much of the past but I do remember waiting for him to come into this world. It is an event that definitely influenced who I was and who I would become.
The story starts when I was about 6 years old (first grade) and I had been begging my parents for another sibling. That's the year I learned about Pergonal. From what I've learned over the years while mentioning that name to doctors, this is no longer legal or done to women. Anyways, after years of test and drugs and doctors, my mother finally became pregnant with twins. And boy was I excited. Every day at circle time, each kid would have to say something going on in their lives, and it was known that I would say "My mommy is going to have twins!!" That year, my mom spent most of her time on the couch on bed rest. She didn't come to any of my school events and most traumatically for my six (or maybe 7) year old brain, she didn't come to my siddur party. One day, my dad came to school to pick me up (which was weird in itself because I always took the bus) and said we are going to visit her in the hospital. This memory is so vivid. He stops in the hallway of the hospital, in front of two double doors (I swear if I went to that hospital now, I could find that exact spot) and he bends down and sits me on his knee and tells me that my mother lost the babies, that they are not alive and that we will go in to see her but she wont look like herself. She will be very pale and have wires coming out of her like a spider. So we go in and I look all around the room and I can't find my mother. I see maybe 7 Arab women and a white woman but no mother. And I walked out.
Fast forward to the next fertility treatment IVF. Which was the next 3 years of my life. And my mother is finally pregnant. After years and years of waiting, blood tests, shots, you name it, she went through it. Or better yet, we went through it. The year was 1993 and its was decided that she would spend most of the pregnancy hospitalized. So most of second grade, I lived this crazy life with no mother. Each day after school I went to a different classmate. My father worked night shift that year and I had a baby sitter who would sleep on the couch. I remember a mixture if feeling very neglected and very free. I came and went as I pleased. I ate real dinner at different friends houses and I had the time of my life. But I felt very detached from my parents, I especially resented my mother. I wondered why I wasn't good enough. Why wasn't I enough? Why couldn't they be happy with having only me as a child. Why spend so much time and money and create this sick mother just to have another kid. Why was this non existent kid taking my parents away from me and he wasn't even here yet.
That summer, my father and I flew to the US for a few weeks to visit my grandparents. Then he went back to Israel and I stayed in New York to go to day camp and so my parents wouldn't have to worry about me. I slept by my (dead) grandmother's friend. And I went to day camp with all the American kids. I stood out like a sore thumb. I was that Israeli girl. It was a very hard and painful summer, away from my parents, my friends, my home, and my comforts. I cried every night as I couldn't sleep. The airplanes zooming past my window every few minutes. I was so grateful to go home. There was this man on the flight sitting next to me who was supposed to keep an eye out for me and when I dozed off on his shoulder, he told me "I'm not your father." At the airport, I waited in lost and found until my father finally showed up. We went straight to the hospital to see my mother. (I remember seeing a man without a nose.)
In October, my mother gave birth to a really cute baby boy. I remember being in the playground at school. It was finally my turn at the jump rope and of course my name gets called over the loudspeaker. I go to the office and the secretary hands me the phone. My father is taking and I don't really hear him. What? I have a new brother? What does that mean? Girls are standing around and cheering, they are all so happy for me. But all I wanted was to go back to jumping rope.
I got over my anger very quickly. I loved babies and now I had my very own live doll. He slept in my room and I woke up with him during the night. I diapered him. I was the happiest 8 year old. And then the Bris came, all these friends and family came in. It was a big event, a huge simcha. I was so jealous. I went from being the only child, to second place. I no longer mattered. I was there to help, to keep him happy. And I did it. I lost my parents. The only time I didn't feel lonely was when I was holding him.
19 years ago. So much has happened since. We've moved countries. We've survived sicknesses. We've watched our mother go in and out of the hospital. We welcomed our sister. And we've all fought to he in the spotlight, to be our father's favorite.