Week 28: Pregnancy Superstitions & Madonna Bracelets – Kveller
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Week 28: Pregnancy Superstitions & Madonna Bracelets

My red string bracelet is much more comforting than the one the hospital gave me.

I’m a fairly superstitious person. I don’t walk under ladders and I never put shoes on a table. During pregnancy, my husband and I don’t announce we’re expecting until after 12 weeks and we don’t tell ANYONE the names we’ve chosen for our children until they are born. One of my favorite memories of the birth of our son was after he was placed on my chest, amidst our incredible joy and tears; my husband said his name out loud for the very first time. It was magical.

After a difficult third trimester with my firstborn and a subsequent first trimester miscarriage, I went into this pregnancy with a lot of fear. I felt like the second trimester was my only safe place, the only time where I could breathe and hope. I needed to redirect my mind to the possibility that everything would be okay. I wanted to focus on bringing a new life into this world one day at a time and not wish the months away until 36 weeks when I am in the clear. I decided that for this pregnancy I would wear a red string as a symbol of protection.

I bought an authentic Red String guaranteed to have been wound on the Tomb of Rachel while appropriate Hebrew prayers and psalms have been chanted. As soon as I tied it around my wrist I knew it was the right choice. Despite my husband teasing me that I was just trying to be like Madonna, it has brought me great peace and comfort. Each time I look down at the string, or when my son tucks his tiny fingers underneath it and says, “Mama’s bay-set!” I am reminded that my worry does nothing to change my circumstances, it only burdens my heart.

Things have been going well so far (knock on wood, because I’m superstitious, remember) and I’m finally in the third trimester. I’ve had some Braxton Hicks but for the most part a little rest and a few glasses of water seem to calm them. My doctor said to call if I ever have more than four in an hour. Monday I had a particularly busy day scrubbing toilets and chasing my toddler. Around 8:30 p.m. I began having four to five contractions per hour. I knew I had been pretty active so I laid down and drank some water. By 11 p.m. I was having seven to nine contractions per hour and decided it was time to call the doctor.

Since this is the window where I had cervical changes with my son, they asked that I come in. The doctor was less than thrilled with my plan to drive myself, so my husband and I woke our toddler and headed to the hospital. After signing a bazillion papers (one of which was consent to have my newborn’s picture taken. AT 28 WEEKS?! NO! And how is this essential paperwork?), I was headed back to observation. My husband and pajama-clad toddler were asked to remain in the waiting area. By the time everything was set up, I had peed on my hand in a few cups and answered the same questions about my age, birth date, due date, and allergies for no less than three people–it was 1:30 a.m. and my contractions had stopped. Baby boy was jumping around knocking the tocometer which was carefully monitoring his heartbeat and my now-calm uterus. A resident performed a rather uncomfortable exam, declaring that part of my cervix was open but she didn’t feel any “baby parts” pushing down so that was a good sign. Um, thanks? At 3 a.m. I met my tired family back in the waiting area and we headed home.

Being alone in a room hooked up to the contraction monitor brought back lots of scary memories. There was nothing familiar in the entire room, except a magazine with Mayim Bialik on the cover (ironic?) I prayed a little and glanced down at my wrist to see the red string between my allergy tag and hospital bracelet. I think superstitions are typically regarded as nonsense, but this string, whether or not it was ACTUALLY wound around Rachel’s tomb or I ACTUALLY believe it has protective powers, has served a greater purpose in bringing me comfort and reminding me that these 10 months are a blip in time, while children are forever. In the scriptures, Rachel had a pretty tragic life but through it all she remained faithful to God and to her children. I can do this.

Tell me, has pregnancy made you superstitious?

Get the low down on traditional Jewish superstitions and then check out why one grandma still believes in shtetl superstitions.

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