At many points during my fertility journey I felt like everyone—and sometimes
everything—around me was pregnant. I was the only exception. I went to synagogue,
and all the women of child-bearing age seemed to be pregnant. I went to the grocery
store and the person in line in front of me always seemed to be pregnant. I went to the
zoo with my husband, and even the monkeys were pregnant. I was constantly
reminded that pregnancy was out there in abundance, it was everywhere. And each
time I ran into someone pregnant, I was reminded how far that reality felt from me and
how desperately alone I felt after trying to get to pregnant for years with no success.
But if that was not enough, I then learned the term “shana me’uberet.” This is the
term used to describe a Jewish leap year, which consists of not just one extra day like
February, but a whole extra month (Adar 1 followed by Adar 2). That is all fine and well,
but if you translate “shana me’uberet” literally it does not mean leap year—it means
pregnant year. You mean to tell me that even the year is pregnant and I am not?!
Many people see this phrase “pregnant year” as beautiful and a much richer term
than leap year. The year may be pregnant with hope, opportunity, love, and blessing.
But, for someone struggling to grow their family, a pregnant year is just one more
reminder of pregnancy, one more point of pain, loss, and isolation.
This year is a Jewish leap year. We just welcomed in the first of the two months
of Adar. Adar is a time when people say “mi’shenichnas Adar ma’rbim
b’simcha”—when Adar comes we increase our joy. It is not easy to feel joy when one is
struggling and it is not easy to feel joy when one is reminded of that struggle
everywhere one goes. So this year, perhaps we should consider not using the term
“shana me’uberet” and going with “leap year” “extra month” “2 Adars” or pretty much
anything that does not reference pregnancy. Perhaps if as a community we hold
ourselves back from using this seemingly innocuous term, we will allow those struggling
to conceive to feel a bit more joy on Adar and have one less reminder of what currently
feels painfully out of reach.
May the new month of Adar 1 bring only good things and opportunities to build greater
sensitivity and compassion within our community.