As a child, Purim meant something major to me: queen for a day. Every year as I prepared my Queen Esther costume, my grandmother and I went through her drawers until we found her fancy pink sweater with metallic threading (which I wore as a dress). She let me choose accessories and lipstick, too. To some people I might not have looked noble, but my grandmother told me I looked like a beautiful queen and I was happy to believe her. The rest of Purim with my grandmother involved avoiding her hamantashen, which were not cookies of any sort, but rather tasteless bread dough stuffed with homemade jam so thick it could have clogged a drain.
For the most part, I forgot about Purim until I became a mother. The year my oldest son was two was the first year I had a costume for him – a Thomas the Tank Engine Engineer’s costume. I was eight months pregnant with my second son at that time, and as I dressed my son in his Thomas costume and prepared him for his morning at nursery school, I began to feel as if I was going into labor. Mike was out of town, so I called my mother-in-law to take my son to school. I called Mike and told him to come home. I went to the hospital.
As it became clear to me that I was going to give birth a full month early, I started to worry about having a premature newborn. Would he be okay? Was he really ready to come out? And then I started to feel guilty. I was terribly uncomfortable and must have wished a hundred times a day for a speedy pregnancy. And worse than uncomfortable, I’d also been diagnosed with gestational diabetes and had started using insulin. I hated it. I wanted the pregnancy to be over and I wanted diabetes to go away. Deep down inside I don’t think I believed diabetes was really going to go away forever, but at the time, the possibility that it might was giving me strength. As my labor began, I was secretly celebrating -on and off – the fact that I was getting out of a month’s worth of injections. Then my good sense would reclaim me and I’d focus again on the fear of having a premature baby. But the thought of diabetes going away was so spectacular, it was hard to push it aside completely.
I ended up having a c-section. My son was born just over six pounds, and after one night in an incubator he was fine. My recovery took a little longer, but my blood sugar levels seemed fairly normal. I’d begun the Purim celebrations as a pregnant diabetic. When the holiday was over, it was as if I’d been masquerading as both.