Torah Musings: Miracle in a Cab


Miracle in a Cab

Sarah Pachter

The rumors are true – I gave birth in a cab on the way to the hospital. Ten years have passed, and it is still a favorite topic of conversation at every Shabbat meal I attend, as well as my fifth-grade son’s claim to fame among his friends.

I have been blessed to experience the miracle of childbirth four times, but it was my eldest son’s birth, which took place in a cab on the way to the hospital, that truly felt as miraculous as G-d splitting the Red Sea for the Jewish people.

It was a cold Shabbat afternoon in January. After waking up from a nap, my husband and I suddenly heard a “popping” sound. It was almost like the cork being pulled from a champagne bottle. Only no one was popping open any champagne just yet – my water had broken!!

Since this was my first child, I anticipated a long and arduous labor. But after I got up and took a few steps to get dressed for the hospital, I experienced an intense shot of pain. I quickly called my doctor, who told me to get to the hospital immediately, especially as I shouted into the phone in pain as the next contraction hit.

Little did I know, I was transitioning to active labor within seconds of our conversation.

While all this was taking place, my husband had called the car service company that we had prepaid for in advance, in case I had to go to the hospital on Shabbat.

I attempted to get dressed but could barely do so as each contraction left me doubled over in pain (at this point I was fully in active labor). I grabbed the first outfit that I could get my hands on and threw a coat on top. Nothing matched or even looked halfway normal, but I couldn’t care less. I began to put my stockings on, but realized midway it was futile. All I could think about was the intense pain I was in.

Meanwhile, our car, which we had shoveled the day before, was now snowed in once again. I prayed that the car service we had ordered would arrive quickly.

What was normally a two-minute walk from our apartment to the building entrance took me 20 minutes. There I was, in all my glory, crouched over my birthing ball (yes, I brought my birthing ball!) in the center of the apartment complex.

From where I was situated, doubled over on the ball, all I could see was my husband’s legs racing to and fro. With the car service nowhere in sight, my husband and I really began to panic, especially because I still had to maneuver myself over to the rotunda where the car service was supposed to pick us up.

Thankfully, the custodian of the property helped us. I slowly walked to the rotunda of the property, unsure of our next step.

At the exact moment that I arrived at the rotunda, a random car service pulled up and dropped someone else off. We had lived in our building for nine months, and never once had I seen a car service enter the apartment complex.

We hopped in and the driver said as clearly as he could in his broken English, “I am not the car service you called!”

“Just take us to the hospital!!!” my husband exclaimed.

I never saw the driver’s face, but I believe wholeheartedly he was an angel sent from G-d.

Sitting in tremendous pain in the backseat with my mother beside me, I remember asking her, “Do you think we will make it to the hospital?” She rubbed my back in a soothing manner and said, “Of course honey, we will definitely make it.”

Meanwhile, she mouthed to my husband, “This baby is coming NOW!!”

Traffic was heavy that Saturday evening. Yet the driver remained cool as a cucumber. As we got closer, my son started crowning. The baby emerged on 30th and 1st Street – it even states that on my son’s official birth certificate! – exactly one block away from the hospital. If the traffic had been worse or there had been an accident on the bridge, we could have been stuck in that car for hours. And let’s just say, it’s a good thing I couldn’t get my stockings on back in my apartment!

Moments after the baby was born, we pulled into the emergency driveway at NYU. My husband raced out to get a doctor and an entire entourage of about 30 people came out. Just as we pulled up, my own doctor arrived alongside us with perfect timing, ushering us inside to make sure everyone was safe and healthy. My mother gave the cab driver her number and offered to compensate him, but he never called her back – another sign that our mysterious driver was guided by Divine intervention.

My entire labor from start to finish lasted just one hour and thirteen minutes from the moment I had my first contraction to the time I was holding my baby in my arms.

Upon hearing my story, most people respond with something along the lines of, “Wow, what a horror story!” But although it was traumatic, I never actually viewed it as something horrific. Miraculous? Yes. Horrific? Hardly.

After experiencing subsequent births that included infants in the NICU, post-natal transfusions, and near-death experiences, I am even more aware that my first labor was nothing short of a miracle. So much could have potentially gone wrong and didn’t. For that I am eternally grateful. Every detail deserves notice, because each one was a miracle in and of itself.

When we hear the words pirsumei nissa, “publicizing the miracle,” we automatically think of Chanukah. However, pirsumei nissa is not just about displaying our Chanukah candles. It’s actually a general mitzvah that extends year-round. If a nes happens to someone, that person has the obligation to share their story with others. The Hebrew word nes means “miracle,” but it also implies a banner or a flag pole. We are meant to create a banner to publicize a miracle when it happens to us. Every time we advertise miracles that take place, we are honoring Hashem’s name and the role He plays in our life. Therefore, any time something miraculous happens, and you share that story (be it an unusual birth, the Maccabees’ victory, or any other life-saving moment), you are fulfilling the mitzvah of pirsumei nissa. It is for that reason that I share this story with you.

May we bring the concept of pirsumei nissa into our daily lives, spreading the light of the Chanukah candles long after the holiday has passed.