Sisterhood of the travelling talisman - Part 1

"Ceremony is ingrained in the Jewish faith, and Judaism is rife with symbolism. When someone dies, a community comes together to mourn, both publicly and privately, and there are rituals they follow. Growing up, I was exposed to ceremony through this lens, yet my version of ceremony didn’t come into my life until I had to make the most difficult decision of my life."
Myriam Steinberg
Catalogue Baby

Introduction

When I first met Myriam, she was in the midst of a long and difficult fertility struggle. She’d made the decision to become a single parent because she felt called to motherhood. Yet, that decision wasn’t easy and her journey wasn’t simple. As many of us know, the call to motherhood is never a straight line, yet we develop a capacity for love we never knew possible in all of the twists and turns. 

Meanwhile, Marina is a friend from high school. While we lost touch for a few years, our paths have been inextricably connected since we first met. Recently, we bonded over our individual experiences with loss and our desire to help lift others up. Marina has been struggling with fertility for years, and she has suffered a tremendous loss along the way. Yet, she’s determined to live a life full of magic no matter what comes her way. When I told Myriam about Marina, she knew that this was the next chapter of this beautiful talisman story.

Connecting Myriam and Marina, and seeing the care and compassion they hold for each other despite never having met, has reminded me why we started Seeking Ceremony to begin with. We wanted to find a way to connect people through the power of ceremony and story. As this story proves, we're well on our way. 

Megan Sheldon

Myriam’s Story

Ceremony is ingrained in the Jewish faith, and Judaism is rife with symbolism. When someone dies, a community comes together to mourn, both publicly and privately, and there are rituals they follow. Growing up I was exposed to ceremony through this lens, yet my version of ceremony didn’t come into my life until I had to make the most difficult decision of my life.

I’d been trying to get pregnant for years, and after multiple failed inseminations and a miscarriage, I finally had a viable pregnancy. Just as I was entering the second trimester, I found out my baby had chromosomal abnormalities. After a few weeks of waiting, I had to make the devastating decision to terminate the pregnancy. I didn’t make my decision lightly - I researched every aspect, every possibility - and I realized this was what I had to do. I wrote a letter to my friends and family explaining everything to them, and sharing how devastated I was. 

I didn’t know how to grieve this complicated loss - I was losing a baby I so desperately wanted and a future I had started to fall in love with. I knew I needed ceremony, but there was no guidebook for this type of loss.

Ceremony is ingrained in the Jewish faith, and Judaism is rife with symbolism. When someone dies, a community comes together to mourn, both publicly and privately, and there are rituals they follow. Growing up I was exposed to ceremony through this lens, yet my version of ceremony didn’t come into my life until I had to make the most difficult decision of my life.

I’d been trying to get pregnant for years, and after multiple failed inseminations and a miscarriage, I finally had a viable pregnancy. Just as I was entering the second trimester, I found out my baby had chromosomal abnormalities. After a few weeks of waiting, I had to make the devastating decision to terminate the pregnancy. I didn’t make my decision lightly - I researched every aspect, every possibility - and I realized this was what I had to do. I wrote a letter to my friends and family explaining everything to them, and sharing how devastated I was. 

I didn’t know how to grieve this complicated loss - I was losing a baby I so desperately wanted and a future I had started to fall in love with. I knew I needed ceremony, but there was no guidebook for this type of loss.

My due date was supposed to be January 5th, and when that date came around, I knew I had to do something to honour my baby on that day. Yet, I didn’t know where to start. A friend who miscarried at 5 months suggested I write a letter to my baby, and so I did. When that day arrived, I walked to a lake near my home with a friend. 

When we got there, it was dark out and the lake was completely frozen. I walked out to the middle of the lake and realized that someone had stamped out a labyrinth in the ice. I proceeded to walk the labyrinth, surrounded by stars in the sky, and I lit my candle when I reached the centre. I read my letter out loud and then safely burned the words meant only for my son. Now every year, on January 5th, I go to that lake. I realized that this ceremony was a way to say goodbye to all of the babies I lost. 

A friend was following my story online and she reached out. She’d experienced several miscarriages and on her journey she found a jade stone in the shape of an egg. She wore it as a necklace, and whenever she needed hope she’d rub that stone and find comfort. Eventually, she had a successful pregnancy and felt like she wanted to pass the stone on. It had become a talisman. She sent it to Germany to a friend who was also having fertility struggles, and when that friend got pregnant and safely birthed her twins, the stone found its way to me.

A friend was following my story online and she reached out. She’d experienced several miscarriages and on her journey she found a jade stone in the shape of an egg. She wore it as a necklace, and whenever she needed hope she’d rub that stone and find comfort. Eventually, she had a successful pregnancy and felt like she wanted to pass the stone on. It had become a talisman. She sent it to Germany to a friend who was also having fertility struggles, and when that friend got pregnant and safely birthed her twins, the stone found its way to me.

Last year, I became pregnant with my twins, Abegail and Isaac, yet my journey wasn’t over. My water broke when I was only 18 weeks pregnant, and so I had to spend several months on hospital bed rest to replenish my fluids and keep them in me as long as possible. When I finally delivered them via C Section, they then had to spend a few months in the NICU. Each day in the hospital I held onto that jade stone with everything I had. Even during the C Section, I never let it go.

I’ve since learned that jade helps release anger, fear, and negativity, and that it protects the mother and the fetus during pregnancy. I’ve never been very woo-woo, or believed in the power of crystals and feathers, but for me, that rock held magical properties. It kept my babies alive, and it helped me become a mother.

Last year, I became pregnant with my twins, Abegail and Isaac, yet my journey wasn’t over. My water broke when I was only 18 weeks pregnant, and so I had to spend several months on hospital bed rest to replenish my fluids and keep them in me as long as possible. When I finally delivered them via C Section, they then had to spend a few months in the NICU. Each day in the hospital I held onto that jade stone with everything I had. Even during the C Section, I never let it go.

I’ve since learned that jade helps release anger, fear, and negativity, and that it protects the mother and the fetus during pregnancy. I’ve never been very woo-woo, or believed in the power of crystals and feathers, but for me, that rock held magical properties. It kept my babies alive, and it helped me become a mother.

My hope for the stone is that it continues to find women who have had challenges around fertility or experienced loss. When Megan told me about her friend Marina in Toronto, I knew the stone was meant for her next.

We’ll be sharing Marina’s story later this week. 

About Myriam Steinberg

Myriam Steinberg lives a life soaked in culture. She has spent years making art and organizing festivals. She is now entering the world of graphic novels. The craziness of her last several years of trying to conceive a child have inspired her to share her story with the world in the hopes that it will help others. Follow along on her journey with Catalogue Baby, a graphic novel.