"Now and then it's good to pause in our pursuit of happiness and just be happy. "

23 September 2010

Yad Shniyah

K is a close friend of mine. I found her on this fertility journey when I searched for someone in my area to help me put together a holistic health plan for myself, outside of the western medicine arena.  I googled a few things and her center came up on the top of the list. Turns out there was a woman, right under my nose who not only is an 'infertility survivor' herself, but also a counselor, a writer and an activist in the infertility, or as she likes to call it, subfertility world. In fact, the support group that I organize was conceived and born in her mind.

K has not only been a guide to me along this path but has become a dear friend. She's given me comfort when I needed to cry. She's helped me realize things deep in my soul that have, I'm sure, affected my fertility. She's never been judgemental in the path that I choose to follow through this, and mostly, she's a beautiful, emotional, loving and nuturing soul in my life that continues to encourage me and lift me up. She's one of my treasured bright spots in this whole frustrating journey.  I only hope that I have been able to give her back a friendship and support in a similar manner.

The other day, K and I met for coffee. She had emailed me a few days before saying there was a surprise she wanted to share with me. I was so moved by this surprise when she shared it with me, as was she when she first received it. I knew instantly that I needed to share it with all of you.  It's not perfectly happy, but it is amazingly real and I believe shows how deeply this disease can affect ones soul and how differently people choose to approach this and cope.

So here it is:  K received a package in the mail from a couple that she had met, only once, who themselves have journeyed down the infertility road. The package contained a letter and the item in the picture below. The letter reads as follows:

To family and friends – 

For the past 10 years we have been trying to have a baby.  Our lives have been full of hopes and prayers, doctors and appointments, tests and treatments, lots of talking and lots of silence, promises and disappointments.  We have paid with our time, our money, our sense of self, and our relationship.  Three years ago, our last doctor told us that our pursuit of a biological child had ended.    

As artists and collaborators, we have redirected our obsession from producing a child to making art.  This piece, Yad Shniyah, is our fourth piece directly related to our fertility frustrations.  For the past 3 years, we have been working on this piece as we process the verdict from the medical profession and figure out who we will be since we will not become parents.  

Yad Shniyah in Hebrew means ‘second-hand’.  Over the last 3 years we have been building this piece from second-hand clothes.  One of the cultural practices in Israel is for people to leave discarded clothing, usually in neat little stacks, washed, folded, and bagged, out on the street for anyone to take.

We would take the clothes, cut off the buttons, and remove the seams to get cloth.  We made a pattern, marked and cut, sewed, stuffed, and joined each doll.  We diapered and pinned each doll by hand.  

We made 1,111 dollies.  We are each keeping one.  We are sending one to each of our nine immediate family members; 100 go to other relatives, friends, and medical providers.  1,000 will be distributed randomly around the city of Jerusalem for strangers to find and keep.

You are getting this letter and dolly because you are a part of this process.  Some of you have been involved quite intimately, some of you were medical service providers.  Some of you we sought out and asked for your involvement and others of you showed up.  Some of you kept us in your thoughts and prayers, others of you may not have known what to do or say.  Some of you were supportive and encouraging, some of you offered unsolicited advice.  Some of you we think of as part of our extended surrogate family, some of you were not aware of what we were going through.  

All of you are people we would have shared our child or children with.  You would have been grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends.  You would have come to birthdays, holidays, weddings.  We would have told you about our children and would have told our children about you.  You would have been there for our successes.  You would have had a picture of our child on your desk, refrigerator, or ‘brag wall’.  Maybe it was a passing remark, a heart-to-heart, a professional appointment somewhere in the journey.  Maybe you gave us marital advice, medical advice, mental health advice.  

You may be reading this letter on the internet as one of the 1,000 who came upon one of our dollies.  You may have met our child at some point – at the playground, a school friend, a teacher, a shopkeeper, a scout leader, a college roommate, employer.  You would have had an influence on our child.  Maybe giving parenting advice to us, sharing in the anticipation of the pregnancy and birth, all of the ‘firsts’, maybe babysat, been a confidante, a friend.  Maybe they would have just heard about you as we regaled them with our stories.

We are sending these dollies out into the world just as we would have sent our child.

Rachel & Joseph

Gordon & Gordon Art 

Here's the picture of the doll in the package

So, what do you think??

You can read more about their art project here.


  1. What an incredibly beautiful project and gesture. These are people who will leave a mark and be remembered forever even if they are never blessed with a family.

    ~ICLW #18

  2. Wow. What an incredible letter and project!

  3. Thank you Kathleen, for, sharing this, and for offering your own beautiful and heartfelt story as a further gift to the millions of us on this journey. Double healing across the planet. Wow.

  4. I am so moved I am tearing up. It is an incredible project and I would have felt honored to receive one. Wow.

  5. What a lovely gesture. I was very moved by the letter.

    Happy ICLW ~#42

  6. I am in tears after reading that beautiful heartfelt letter, what an amazing couple! Thank you for sharing & so glad you have a real life friend that helps to sustain you on this journey.
    Happy ICLW #22

  7. Absolutely amazing, Kathleen! What a beautiful thing this couple is doing....thanks so much for sharing. :-)

  8. I think it is a very creative outlet for all of their years of struggle and grief. It is a wonderful way to share their journey with others.

  9. Thanks for stopping by my blog and saying hello!

  10. This is such a wonderful expression of their journey. I think it is really necessary to acknowledge infertility and the impact that it has. This is kinda my thought when I wrote I'm sorry. It took me years to even realize that it impacted more than just me.