image
 
image

 
image

             

One Extra Candle

Being Jewish, when I think of candles, I associate them with the rituals in which Jews light candles. Before the Sabbath, an unmarried Jewish woman traditionally lights one candle. After she's married, she lights two candles, and then as she gives birth to each child, she lights an additional candle.

A long-burning candle is lit as a memorial for a loved one who has died, both on the anniversary of his death and on specific days of festivals. So, to me, candles have come to symbolize souls. I see the flame reaching upward with endless determination and I imagine the soul pleading to stay safe from harm.

Children came to me neither quickly nor easily. It was a Friday when I discovered that my first attempt at in-vitro fertilization had yielded fertilized eggs. I felt happy, but helpless - they would not be implanted until Sunday. So that Friday evening, I decided on a symbolic gesture - I lit an extra candle. I lit an extra candle each week while I waited to see if implantation had taken place and went back to lighting just three when I found it hadn't.

The second IVF I did the same and when I found that I was pregnant with my first child, I continued lighting the third candle, each week... for almost 9 years now.

With each IVF I did the same, lighting an extra (fourth) candle for the tiny embryos. When, several treatments later, I discovered I was pregnant with twins, I added the fifth candle, for the second twin.

These past few weeks, I have been lighting a sixth candle, for a baby who may or may not be growing inside me. Somehow the extra candle makes me feel like the tiny embryo's soul is just a little bit safer.

Epilogue

This piece was written in November 2001. Just a few days later I found out that I was pregnant, but it appeared, due to the low beta hCG level to be a chemical pregnancy. As I waited to miscarry, the beta continued to rise. The ultrasound showed a large hematoma in my uterus and only during the 8th week were they able to identify an embryo, with a heartbeat. Amazingly, it was the hematoma and not a problem with the fetus that caused the pregnancy to end just as I finished the first trimester.

image
image
image
image