For my entire life the mikveh has been this thing, this event, that has loomed over my head. I first learned about a mikveh when my mother told me how she had converted to Judaism. I knew how important her immersion into the mikveh was to that process, what the water felt like, how the rebbes sang brachas to her from the other side of the wall, and how she felt when she came out. In my young mind, the mikveh was akin to the magical portals I read about in books. My mother had stepped in as a non-Jew and emerged as a Jewish woman. It was magic. Divine, eternal, beautiful magic. I didn’t understand this divinity until last month when I finally visited the mikveh for myself.

 Leading up to my wedding three years ago, all my mother, grandmother, and Rabbi could talk about was when I was going to visit the mikveh. Two weeks prior to my wedding, I found myself praying to start my cycle so that I could visit the mikveh. Unfortunately, I suffer from polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) which greatly impacts my cycles. If I’m stressed, eat too much sugar, don’t walk enough, or slip into a slight depression, my cycle stretches on and on. When I didn’t start my cycle in those two weeks before, I was devastated. I knew it meant no mikveh for me – though my husband got to go!

 Three years later and I’ve still never been. But I’ve also had no children and no pregnancies. In fact, all I have to show for three years of marriage is a whole lot of doctor’s appointments – IVF clinics, endocrinologists, hand surgeons – you name it, I saw them. All of this stress and sadness about not fulfilling the one thing I’ve wanted my entire life (to be a mother), led me to start to daven again. In my davening, I began asking Hashem why this was happening to us. Why other people are able to get pregnant and have children and yet so many of us are dealing with unexplained infertility? While I ask these questions, my mind wanders and suddenly I’m led back to the concept of the mikveh. The synchronicities stack up and the mikveh is all around me.

 First, my best friend sends me an article about a pair of friends who started visiting the mikveh when going through infertility, and how comforting the process was to them. It prompted my best friend to attend the mikveh in her town. When she finished that first night, she called me and explained the whole process, how it felt, and what it meant to her. If I’m honest, I was hit with a sudden pang of jealousy. Why haven’t I gone? What am I missing out on?

 A few months later, my husband and I were visiting my family in New England and during one conversation, we started talking about what the mikveh is and my mom’s experience converting. Again, I was filled with this desire to enter the mikveh myself. But is it too late? I wondered.

I kept davening. I kept connecting. I kept wondering. I prayed for community. I prayed for guidance. And one day, I received it. I was standing in the only grocery store with kosher food in my small town in Central Florida when I met an Orthodox woman. We started talking about the lack of kosher grocery stores near us, and this turned into chatting about our religious journeys. I asked where she attends shul, and she explained that there’s a great Chabad right by my house. We exchanged numbers and a few weeks later I found myself walking into that Chabad by myself one Shabbos.

 In that one interaction, my whole relationship with Hashem, the world, and myself changed. I saw first-hand how connecting with Hashem guided me to a new community – one I’d been craving. I decided to lean into that understanding. I pushed aside the confusion and fear of never having been to the mikveh and made my first appointment.

There is only one mikveh here and the moment the Rebbetzin saw that I’d scheduled my appointment for five minutes past sundown on Tisha B’av, she called me to discuss her concern that I would not have enough time to prepare for the mikveh. What was supposed to be a quick chat turned into an hours-long discussion about taharat mishpacha. Normally, when I’m overwhelmed with information, I shut down for a time until I can make sense of it. But not this. With the mikveh, I jumped in headfirst (no pun intended).

Once we decided when my actual appointment should be, after starting the checks that night, the Rebbetzin reached out to the Rebbetzin at my Chabad to have her study more with me. My Rebbetzin taught me how to prepare for the mikveh, how to embrace this mitzvah, and why I was being led to it.

My first experience in the mikveh was beautiful. Yes, it took me several times to get three kosher immersions. Yes, I couldn’t read the bracha without glasses and had to repeat after the mikveh attendant. But also, I’ve never felt so connected to my soul and Hashem. I’ve never felt so perfectly Jewish. Attending the mikveh wasn’t a spiritual awakening, but more like a spiritual completion. This is where I am supposed to be. I understand why this mitzvah is so important. I understand that it is never too late to start. I understand that Judaism is about the details. It’s about what we can do, not what we don’t do. We are holy. Hashem has made us holy and immersing in the mikveh is a way for us to connect to divinity that is Hashem.