A woman’s struggle with infertility, whether or not she is undergoing treatment, is closely associated with her menstrual cycle and going to the Mikvah. As such, she may view the Mikvah as a hopeful experience, a painful experience, or as a chore. The Mikvah Attendant is part of that experience. It may be hopeful because she is starting a new treatment. Going to the Mikvah is an opportunity for her to pray and to make a medical process more spiritual and meaningful. It could be hopeful because she has been tracking her ovulation and knows that the timing of her Mikvah appointment has fallen on a favorable night.
The experience may be painful because going to the Mikvah may be an unwelcome reminder that she is not pregnant. She may have thought she was pregnant before her cycle began and so going to the Mikvah becomes even more devastating. Or, perhaps is she coming to the Mikvah for the first time after losing a pregnancy, in which case, her emotions are very raw and she is grieving. Finally, going to the Mikvah may feel like a chore to a woman who is at a point in her struggle where she is feeling hopeless and just going through motions that have little meaning to her after years of unanswered prayers.
Any of these cases, or other scenarios not mentioned may be the reality of someone you know who was recently married or someone who you know has one or two children. It may be someone you are close with who has never shared these struggles with you. It may be someone you are seeing for the first time and know nothing about. The demeanor and sensitivity of a Mikvah attendant may not make a difference in this woman’s experience, but it could. It could have a positive or negative effect. While the Mikvah attendant may be focused on the schedule for the night and other practical responsibilities, each woman enters the Mikvah with a story and an association to the mitzvah she is about to perform. One wonderful way an attendant can contribute in this situation and others she is aware of is to tell the patron “May your prayers be answered”, or “May you receive many blessings”, or just pray to herself that each immersing woman’s prayers are answered.There may also be issues with the timing of mikvah occurring after a woman’s most fertile time. She may need to have bedikah cloths checked by a halachic authority. This can be extremely embarrassing for some. There is a new app www.tahorapp.com for checking bedikah cloths, which will be much more anonymous and private.