From a young age, little girls are taught that when they grow up they will become mommies. They play with baby dolls and strollers. They have dollhouses with cribs in them, and in some cases, they have mothers who may say to them, “One day you should have a child just like you!”
Sometimes this is a good thing and sometimes not so much. But it is always implied that one day that little girl will become a mommy. Without going into a biology lesson, girls are taught that because certain things happen to them every month, one day they will be able to have babies. It becomes a fact of life.
Sometimes, years later, when that young woman decides that she does want to become a mommy, she finds out that it is not always so easy. Unfortunately, there is no guarantee. Months can go by without a positive pregnancy test.
It is painful, frustrating, and isolating. And in the Orthodox Jewish community it can be especially painful because it seems that everyone around them always is having a baby or two or three or more. Though the topic of infertility has become less taboo over the years, it still doesn’t often come up in regular conversation. Many women suffer alone.
Once an adult does decide to talk to an expert, or to other people in similar situations, however, it can be fairly easy to find a therapist or a peer.
But what if you are the child of these parents? The only child. You wonder why all your friends have brothers and sisters and you do not; you wonder why Mommy and Daddy have to go to a lot of doctors’ appointments; you wonder why Mommy sometimes looks really sad.
Melissa Papir Kolb of Teaneck, by way of Staten Island, is a brave young woman who decided to go public about her fertility struggles in a unique way. She has written a children’s book, “From Me to You,” dealing with the subject of infertility.
It was actually her husband’s idea to write about what she calls her “journey to parenthood.” Her husband of almost 10 years, Yakov Kolb, is a Teaneck native. “It has been a real roller-coaster ride of trying to have children,” Ms. Papir Kolb said.
“My husband and I deal with infertility. We had had my daughter Sofie through IVF in 2019 after years of struggling and this year experiencing two miscarriages from IVF pregnancies,” she continued. She discovered that she has the prothrombin mutation, “a gene mutation that increases my risk for blood clots and is the reason behind my miscarriages.” Treatment for this condition includes baby aspirin and injections of a medication called Lovenox.
“My book talks about the love a parent has for their child through the lens of infertility, and the journey one takes to have children isn’t always easy and simple,” she said. “However, the journey is a special one and is worth it once looking at your child and remembering all the work you put in to have them.” Her goal with her book “is to open dialogue about infertility in a gentle way between parent and child or between adults as well.”
After graduating from Queens College and earning a master’s degree in nutrition, Ms. Papir Kolb worked as a registered dietitian in a long-term-care facility in Washington Heights. But she always loved to write. “When my daughter started out in daycare, I would write her short love poems for her teachers to read to her during her lunch,” she said. She sometimes writes about nutrition, but her goal was always to write a children’s book.
Although covid forced the idea of writing onto a back burner, it came up again when she was talking to a coworker in 2022. That was the impetus she needed to get in touch with Amazon and begin the process of publishing her book. Amazon took care of the illustrations, editing, and bringing it to market.
“The whole process took about five to six months — a labor of love!,” Ms. Papir Kolb said.
“I believe that nobody going through infertility has to suffer in silence,” she continued. “I have been closed off about it to most until now, but I realized there is no shame in my story.
“I can be proud of how far I have come and the strength and resilience I have built along the way in my journey to parenthood and trying to build my family even further.”
According to Ms. Papir Kolb, the book is mainly for young children, although it seems that it would be helpful to anyone who wants to start a conversation about the struggle to have a family.
The book is available on Amazon.