THE PARENTS: Naomi Lerman, 34, and Adam Lerman, 35, of Plymouth Meeting
THE KIDS: Eden Ora, 3½; Lenna Faye, born Sept. 15, 2018
QUIRKY KEEPSAKE: For their wedding shower, Adam printed out and illustrated the children’s story he’d written for their engagement, using Photoshop and cartoon drawings to bring their imagined childhood to life.
Adam pretended to rattle the board. But just before sitting down to play Boggle with his parents, his brother, and Naomi, he’d slipped into the other room and carefully arranged the 16 letters to spell a message if you read them vertically.
It took the entire round until his brother noticed: “N-A-O-M-I-I-S-P-R-E-G…”
“My mother thought I shook the board and it just landed like that,” Adam recalls. “She couldn’t believe it. She said, ‘Wait. So, she is?’ ”
She was — the test stick was unequivocal — though they’d been trying for only a month. Adam remembers his double-take on the day Naomi came home from a Jewish professionals’ event, gulped some water, and ducked into the bathroom: “Wait, that really means … oh, my gosh. A little shock, a little excitement.”
The timing may have startled them, but the idea of parenthood was a deep certainty. Naomi, who is a twin and has younger twin sisters, had babysat and worked as a nanny. Adam imagined a chance to reprise childhood silliness and replicate the closeness both he and Naomi felt with their families.
They met at a Jewish singles’ event, a spontaneous “hey-let’s-go-across-the-street-and-continue-the-party” moment. Naomi was tipsy after a chocolate martini; Adam thought she was bubbly and outgoing. Their first date was a walk through Fairmount Park — a stroll that lasted until after nightfall — then dinner at a Chinese restaurant followed by a few rounds of Bananagrams.
They both liked board games and hiking. Naomi played the guitar and sang. Adam was caring and goofy and, though he was less religiously observant than Naomi, open to having a Jewish home, building a sukkah each fall and blessing their hypothetical children on Shabbat evenings.
A trip to Israel after eight months of dating, followed by three months of globe-spanning Skype dates while Naomi remained to study Hebrew and do community service, clinched what both had been thinking before the trip.
Adam proposed on Jan. 1, 2012, his grandparents’ wedding anniversary, at Naomi’s parents’ home in West Virginia. He’d composed a children’s story, a melding of fact and fiction about their childhoods, using their nicknames for each another, Charlie and Shmoo.
“The book ended with, ‘So, on New Year’s Day, Charlie took Shmoo into the bedroom and read her this very story. Shmoo, I’ve loved you my whole life.’ Then the character and I both proposed,” Adam says.
They married on Sept. 2, 2012, the second anniversary of their meeting. Adam remembers the indelible moment — before the ketubah-signing, before the ceremony — when he stood in a hallway, his back turned, and Naomi tapped him on the shoulder. “I turned around to see her. I was in such awe.”
Naomi recalls their first dance, a half-slow, half-fast improvisation to the Turtles’ “Happy Together,” a song they always sang on drives to her parents’ home.
Once pregnant, Naomi hoped for twins. But the ultrasound showed just one, a girl, and the pregnancy, aside from nagging nausea and exhaustion, was uneventful. They finished setting up the nursery — with furniture Adam’s mom had stored for decades and Eden’s name, which means “delightful light,” in Hebrew letters on a framed chalkboard — on a Wednesday in October. Early Friday morning, Naomi went into labor, fierce contractions she managed by spending the next six hours in the bathtub, with Adam racing to pack a bag, then returning to the bathroom to splash warm water on her back.
At Einstein Medical Center Montgomery, a security guard helped them locate the entrance and push a wheelchair up to triage. Forty-five minutes later, Naomi began pushing, and two hours after that, Eden emerged in what felt like one life-jolting motion: Suddenly, there was a human being on Naomi’s chest.
“I was shocked, overwhelmed, surprised, and relieved,” she says.
Eden nursed readily and slept easily. Almost immediately, Naomi began talking about trying again. “I said, ‘Let’s give her a year or two, then we’ll discuss it,’ ” Adam says. “I had always imagined having another kid, but I was really content with Eden. She was so amazing. I thought, ‘Should we take a chance and have another one?’ ”
They did, though conception took longer this time — about six months, with Naomi taking naturopathic supplements to balance her hormones and deciding, finally, to wean Eden. A month later, she was pregnant.
Eden accompanied her mother to so many prenatal appointments, so many times of midwives moving a Doppler to locate the softly galloping sound, that she was convinced people’s hearts beat inside their bellies. “Every morning, toward the end, she’d come in to kiss my belly and talk to her sister,” Naomi says.
Labor began at 4 in the morning, with a couple of ho-hum contractions; Naomi’s water broke around lunchtime, but she still wasn’t in pain. Then, at 4 p.m., she says, “all hell broke loose.” Her contractions were suddenly textbook get-to-the-hospital: 30 seconds apart, lasting a minute each.
“My body started pushing while I was in the car,” Naomi says. And once at Einstein, “it was happening so quickly. They were trying to get me in a hospital gown. The midwife said, ‘Oh, there’s the head.’ Lenna was born 10 minutes and a couple of pushes after getting to the hospital.”
Naomi’s mother, who had yearned to see a grandchild’s birth, made it in time for a front-and-center view. They named this daughter Lenna, which means “lion-strength,” with a middle name for Naomi’s grandmother, who died just before Eden’s birth.
It’s harder with two to balance everyone’s needs, Naomi says. At the same time, there are daily invitations to astonishment: the budding relationship between the girls; the bursting vocabulary — “Cheese sticks! Elbow!” — from Eden; the excited babble from Lenna.