Thank You, God, For Life and Babies

by Carrie Bornstein

Ima and EllieMy five-year old has been asking for a while if she can go swimming where I work. She loves Mayyim Hayyim, which is probably not entirely unrelated to the never-ending supply of animal crackers and pretzels. In the past few months her requests have gotten more frequent. So I engaged her in the conversation.

“It’s not really swimming, you know, like in the summer, just for fun. Usually there’s a reason that people come – like a big deal thing that’s going on in a person’s life that they want to mark in some way.”

“I know,” she said immediately. “I can go because we’re having a new baby!”

Well, look at that, I thought. She gets it. I let her know that, in fact, lots of people immerse when they’re expecting a baby, and that becoming a big sister for the second time, or a “double big sister” as we call it, is a really big deal.

The two of us visited a few weeks ago. On the ride there I explained a little more so she’d know what to expect. She knew she wouldn’t wear a bathing suit in the water – she’d take off any barrier between her body and the water. Just like before she was born, she’d be completely surrounded by the water. Nothing else getting in the way.

And then I remembered.

The pedicure she still had on from a friend’s birthday party. And the beloved Band-Aid still on her finger from the night before. We talked it through a little and she said she’d think about what she wanted to do.

Then I told her that sometimes when people go in the water, they want to say something about why they’re there, maybe a special blessing, maybe some other words about the reason for their visit. I started to think about how we might adapt the immersion ceremony for the ninth month of pregnancy, when she said,

“I know what I want to say.”


“Thank You, God, for life and babies.”

Ceremony? Who needs a ceremony?! Of course she knew what she wanted to say. It’s us adults who have trouble coming up with the words. Only five years old, and it was completely intuitive.

We got into the preparation room and Ellie picked out a special purple toothbrush and Burstin’ Bubblegum toothpaste. She took off her clothes… and surprise… there was the enormous Smurf tattoo on her belly that I’d forgotten she’d put on the day before. Who knew a five-year old would have so many things to remove from her body?

Ellie decided she wanted to remove her nail polish and Band-Aid. Papa Smurf and Vanity Smurf could come off. Smurfette had to stay.

I got into my bathing suit; she took a shower. We entered the warm water and she went under like a champ. And right there on cue, when she came up for air, she said, “Thank You, God, for life and babies. And Ema and Abba.” (Mom and Dad)

Ellie Guest Book

After immersing a few more times and reciting the Shehecheyanu for this new occasion, she eventually agreed to come out of the water. We dried off and got dressed, and through her beaming smile, Ellie got to enjoy a chocolate cupcake with chocolate icing.

The best.

Carrie Bornstein is Mayyim Hayyim’s Executive Director. She and her husband, Jamie, are the proud parents of Eliana (5), and Dovi (3). They look forward, with some trepidation, to welcoming mystery baby #3 into the family any day now.


About mayyimhayyim

Mayyim Hayyim is a 21st century creation, a mikveh rooted in ancient tradition, reinvented to serve the Jewish community of today
This entry was posted in Carrie Bornstein, Immersion, Parenting. Bookmark the permalink.

19 Responses to Thank You, God, For Life and Babies

  1. alizakline says:

    I love this. Brings back great memories of my own very serious little girls immersing for very important reasons. Thank you for sharing and inspiring with your personal story.

  2. Shira Garber Strosberg says:

    A beautiful piece!!

  3. Barbara Kline says:

    How beautiful. A keepsake for MH and your family. Thanks for sharing and all the best you as you welcome the newest member of your family

    Sent from my iPhone

  4. Cory Hermann says:

    So very beautiful and incredibly special for you to share this moment with her. B’sha’ah tovah!

  5. Audrey Marcus Berkman says:

    Gorgeous experience, and gorgeous piece, Carrie! I had serious goosebumps….so beautiful. Thank you for sharing. And thank you, God, for life and babies! Amen!

  6. What an amazing moment Carrie.

  7. Brenda Mommy says:

    Tears literlally rolling down my face. My 6 year old daughter has that same zest and zeal and perfect innocence to know and understand without having to have things explained. Simply beautiful – what a memory to cherish.

  8. Amy Chartock says:

    Beautiful…she can be in cohort 27

  9. Pingback: [Alumni Guest Post] Thank You, God, For Life and Babies | These and Those

  10. Susan Federspiel says:

    Lovely, Carrie! Wishing you all the best with the arrival of your new baby! Hoping to be able to be a more regular part of Mayyim Hayyim again soon! Best, Susan Federspiel

  11. Naomi Malka says:

    Your daughter is leading the next generation of Jewish girls growing up with positive Mikvah experiences! I love it!! Kol hakavod Carrie!

  12. Cheryl says:

    It’s experiences like this that leave indelible marks on a person…brought tears to my eyes, and made me realize , even more so, how precious our children are to us. And , in my case, what a wonderfully insightful and funny family I have!

  13. Sharon Solomon says:

    Carrie– Ellie’s prayer was so beautiful, so innocent, and yet so insightful. Thank you for sharing this wonderful experience.

  14. The prayer your daughter crafted was perfect. What a lovely experience. Thank you for sharing it with us.
    B’shaa tova.

  15. Julie Plaut Warwick says:

    Thank you! it is so true, out of the mouth of babes….. They know what to say instinctively, it is when we get older and have all of the societies expectations that we forget what it is all about.

  16. Kate Koester says:

    So beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

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