The Day Before My Son’s Bris

The Day Before My Son’s Bris

Seven days; my baby boy was born seven days ago and I have to find an outfit for him for his bris, a Jewish ceremony done before a circumcision. I had never been to a bris; even though I grew up in a Jewish home I seemed to have missed this “lifecycle” event.  I trusted my husband with all the details:  the mohel (the person who performs the bris, this rite of passage shall we say), the ceremony logistics, prayers, etc. My job was to watch and then follow the pre- and post-bris procedures given to us by our pediatrician and mohel. The mohel, the stranger that was going to cut into my son’s body while I watched…Ahhhem, I digress.

My other job was to get an outfit for the bris. Stumped. What does an eight-day-old boy wear when he is the sole focus of a ceremony where his foreskin gets cut? Jesus! I had no idea and I certainly could NOT ask Jesus. BUT, I could ask my friend Sasha who came (to save me) the day before this bris and took me on my first outing with a seven-day-old baby and a 21-month-old daughter to Target. For an outfit. For a bris.

How much more preparation could I have done? I asked myself over and over again, What do I put in the diaper bag? I followed all the lists I received from our pediatrician. I followed advice from my friends who had babies. I checked off the lists I received from the mommy groups in which I participated when my first child was born. Done, done and done. All in:

  • Change of clothes
  • Diapers
  • Breastfeeding cover wrap
  • Hats
  • Wine (NO)
  • Sox
  • Tiny mittens so the baby won’t eat his fingernails
  • Burp clothes
  • Plastic bags
  • Wine (NO)
  • Kleenex
  • Toys for 21-month-old
  • Change of clothes for 21-month-old
  • Bottle for 21-month-old
  • Burp cloth for 21-month-old
  • Wine (NO)

I proclaimed I was never leaving the house again and I was sweating so much it looked as if I basically just exited the shower as my buddy, who was a New Yorker and hated driving, took my keys and said “Let’s go, we’ve got this.”

With both the seven-day-old and 21-month-old securely in their car seats and car seat bases (we heard the click and they were just FINE!) we were off to Target, for an outfit, for a bris.  Sasha and I looked at each other with a mutual feeling of success; although I looked as if I just came out of a pool we both looked like Thelma and Louise ready to vacation.

My seven-day-old proceeded to cry all the way to Target, through every aisle, on the bathroom floor as I stripped down to pants only, through checkout and all the way home. I remember yelling as loud as I could on Target’s bathroom floor, “My baby won’t stop crying!” Honestly, I forgot much of what happened after, though I know at some point I fell asleep to the sound of Sasha playing a game with the 21-month-old and my seven-day-old and I met each other somewhere between REM and who knows where.

The next day I met the mohel.  He told me what would happen and what I was to do after the procedure. I greeted people I loved, people I knew loved me; I watched the ceremony and followed the mohel upstairs after all was said and done. He gave me instructions again, looked things over, he went downstairs.

I looked at the pacifier we took home from the hospital. I looked away. I looked again at that beautiful, greenish translucent pacifier. My 21-month-old somehow, one night, found her thumb. She did it all on her own, her idea; end of story. “Oh, that’s good” people would say, “a pacifier will ruin your baby’s teeth, their ability to self soothe, etc…” I looked at my exhausted baby, I looked at myself in the mirror and I looked back at the pacifier.


In the pacifier went and mommy and post-bris baby fell asleep for maybe a few days (four hours, but who is counting?)


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