Amy Braier

When I struggled to start a family, I stopped going to shul

The Chief Rabbi's guidance for communal leaders to be sensitive to those who have experienced baby loss is very welcome


Sir Ephraim Yitzchak Mirvis KBE, Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth. Byline John Nguyen/JNVisuals 02/01/2022

September 22, 2023 14:29

I had my daughter in 2014 and in 2016, we got pregnant again. I had what is known as a missed miscarriage at 10 weeks.

There were no symptoms, but when we went for a scan we found out that something was wrong. We were upset, but we knew that miscarriage was common amongst couples in their mid 30s and hoped it was just bad luck.

We got pregnant again a few months later and went for an early reassurance scan. We were told that it probably wouldn’t be a viable pregnancy and, two weeks later, we lost the baby.

This was a huge shock and it was an awful time. I had counselling from Chana, which was really helpful, but we struggled to get pregnant for over a year. We were about to start IVF when I got pregnant again, but I miscarried ten days later.

By some miracle, we got pregnant again two months later and that baby was our son, who is now four.

During those two and a half difficult years, I suffered from huge anxiety and it was extra hard being part of a really young congregation. I stopped going to shul because it was just too painful to see pregnant women and children with siblings when I was desperate for that myself.

In a culture that values children and families so much, it’s easy for people who don’t have children or who are struggling to have a family to feel lonely or excluded. That’s why I’m so pleased that the Chief Rabbi and other United Synagogue rabbis have taken the time to explore this issue.

One in four pregnancies ends in miscarriage, and one in seven couples experiences infertility, so it is happening in every community. But it is a hidden pain.

This guide will help shift the culture so that people going through this experience feel seen and understood.

I hope it will help rabbis and rebbetzins respond sensitively to the range of experiences of couples struggling with infertility and pregnancy loss and signpost them to sources of support.

Amy Braier is chair of the Miscarriage Association

September 22, 2023 14:29

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