On Memorial Day, IDF Widow Recounts Childbirth Without Her Husband – ‘I Showed our Baby a Picture of His Father’
The widow of an IDF soldier who was killed during last summer’s war with Hamas – Operation Protective Edge – recounted her experience of being pregnant and giving birth to her first child after the loss of her husband, in an article for Israel’s Channel 2 news on Tuesday.
Sivan Bar-Or wrote that she discovered her first pregnancy during Israel’s previous Operation Pillar of Defense, and was overwhelmed with joy. “I debated whether to call Tzafrir,” her husband, “and tell him, or to wait until the next day, and then I planned on going to the his base and spending Shabbat with him.”
The next day, Sivan went to Tzafrir’s base and told him he was soon to be a father. “I told him to close his eyes, and then I pulled up my shirt to reveal my stomach. Earlier, I’d written the words, ‘Hi Daddy,’ with a small heart next to it. I then asked him to open his eyes.” Tzafrir was in disbelief but overwhelmed with joy.
Their daughter, Lian, was born in June 2013. Soon after, Tzafrir told his wife, “Honey, I’m ready for another one.”
Sivan learned that she was pregnant for a second time just as Israel launched Operation Protective Edge. Sivan said it amused her that “during every pregnancy, [the government] throws together an Operation.”
The family had been planning a vacation to the Red Sea resort of Eilat with their daughter, but Sivan’s husband was called to reserve duty instead. “Before he left, Tzafrir told me not to cancel the trip,” she said.
But Sivan ignored Tzafrir and canceled her Eilat vacation. She said she would have been happy if that was where the disruptions to her life would have ended.
“But it didn’t end with that. After that everything was fast. They went down to Gaza, like in Operation Pillar of Defense. Then the soldiers entered the Gaza Strip for the ground operation.” Tzafrir was asking for pictures of their daughter, Lian. “Suddenly, I notice that the messages aren’t coming. Tzafrir wasn’t there. I knew that there were only two reasons that he wouldn’t be there: he didn’t have more battery charge, or he’s in Gaza.”
“He’s there,” she wrote. And then all of the news of the wounded and killed soldiers started coming in. Sivan began to worry. She began hoping that her husband was only injured.
“Instead, they told me he was dead,” she said. At the time she received the news, she was “looking at little Lian who was sitting next to me and I was touching my stomach. I didn’t understand what happened. What did it mean that he was killed? Can I talk to him for a moment? He’s my husband…give me just a moment with him and stop with all of this mess.”
In some ways, Sivan said, she still has not accepted Tzafrir’s death. “I look at the door and wait for him to come back.”
At the funeral, she was still in disbelief: “I followed his coffin, draped in the flag I love, embracing the man I love, and I said: But we wanted five children. I love you. Come back home my love.”
Sivan’s pregnancy continued as normal, and she went through all of the routine check-ups as necessary, but it was a constant reminder of her loss. She wanted to share the baby’s progress with her husband, to send him pictures, “but there was no one to send them to.”
As she came closer to her delivery date, the mundane details of delivering her child overwhelmed her. She ended up giving birth during the Sukkot holiday, with her in-laws and husband’s family with her to take care of her. They “did everything to lighten the mood, and I simply let them go ahead with the funny imitations of people we knew, jokes about birth, parenting, and memories of Tzafrir. They made me laugh and cared for me. They let me cry when I wanted to and then gave me his pictures, our pictures.”
One of the soldiers formerly under her husband’s command was also there with her. And when her son was born and was placed in her arms, “I was overcome with immense happiness. I showed him a picture of his father and then I said hello to my handsome prince. I am your mother. And this is your father, meet him.”
Sivan said, “he won’t get to know him. His father won’t hug him, and I need to make sure that this does not prevent him from being a happy child.”
She named her son Harel after an infantry unit originally commanded by former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin because she “wanted a connection to the land of Israel, and to Tzafrir.”