Baruch Hashem I am a regular mikvah go-er since I was married and it’s something that I have always enjoyed and loo
ked forward to. I always loved going to the mikvah — the ritual aspect of it and the feeling that I was infusing my marriage with kedusha every month. I have always connected to Taharat hamishpacha as one of the three special mitzvot for women, (the other two being lighting nerot and hafrashat challah), and as with all three of these mitzvot, mikvah is something that I have always tried to do with love and kavana.
BH I recently had my first child – she is now 6 months old – and I remember feeling in the beginning of my pregnancy, basically until I started to showing/felt kicking in the second trimester, that I was missing something in my marriage. I remember speaking to my husband about this and telling him that in a strange and ironic way it felt like the kedusha was missing because I was no longer obligated to mikvah. It took me a little time to adjust and to understand that I didn’t need to bring that holiness to my marriage monthly, as I was carrying a child everyday, which, as I constantly reminded myself, is one of the holiest things a woman can do.
Fast-forward to the end of my pregnancy and my traumatic birth experience: I was in labor for four days and then my water broke, but my uterus wasn’t contracting as it should be so I had to be induced. After 21 hours in the hospital, my daughter was in distress, her heartbeat was dipping dangerously with my contractions, and she was presenting “sunny side up.” Then she passed meconium in-utero and the doctors had to vacuum assist for her to be delivered. Immediately after she was born she wasn’t breathing, the room was very crowded and chaotic, and the doctors worked to remove all the fluid and meconium from her lungs. BH my beautiful daughter ba”h was okay in the end, but I could not hold her for about 30 minutes after she was born because she needed to be monitored. It was a jolting experience and I was so scared and confused.
Following my labor experience, combined with all the emotions, challenges, and ups-and-downs of being a new mom brought me into a new reality (of course). I struggled to find time to daven, I often forgot to bentch, and gone were the days of early lighting and challah making. The sense of kedusha that I had from all of those things was missing. So when I returned to the mikvah finally after 7 weeks, I felt renewed and centered. I felt like I finally had some familiarity and it helped to bring everything into perspective for me. I was a mother, of course, but I was also a wife and that still needed to be important. Going back to the mikvah felt like I was closing the circle on the most intense time in my life (pregnancy, childbirth, being a new first time mom) and it helped me move forward into my new role, with a little less anxiety.