Health

Faith, Hope, and Infertility

By Lindsey Racz

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Just under three years ago, I wrote a very personal post on a different blog about my behind the scenes struggle with infertility. At that point, I hadn’t yet shared the struggle with many at all. Writing that post and publicly declaring our infertile status provided more healing than I knew it would. So many people’s comments—both friends and strangers—poured in to say, "us too." Suddenly, although still hurting deeply, I didn’t feel so alone.

Today, 8 months pregnant with our SECOND child since that post was written, I share the original post along with HOPE. To my friends struggling with infertility, I say this: miracles are possible. I don’t know what your story will look like, but here’s where ours began.

Our Behind the Scenes Struggle with Infertility (published 09-2016)

Many of our friends know our story and have been rooting for us. Matt and I love the Lord with all of our hearts and desire to serve Him with our lives. We were both foolish in our youth and squandered blessings in different ways. Each of us survived the shattered dream of a divorce and lived as single parents for a season. And then, in a beautiful swoop of restoration, the Lord introduced us to one another. By this time, we had each grown in our faith and we knew that if we were going to do life together, it was going to be God’s way.  We had a beautiful courtship; one full of purity and hope. Yes, folks, we did save sex for marriage. Gasp. I remember one friend who said “Why are you waiting? I mean, you each have a child already so the cat’s kind of out of the bag!”  But we knew the Lord could restore our purity if we walked in obedience with Him, and again, this whole marriage thing was going to happen His way if it was going to happen at all.  We had a beautiful wedding complete with burlap and white lights strung from high hopes.

We each had a dream on our heart to grow our family. I brought a girl to our marriage. Matt brought a boy. But honestly, I pictured us having at least 2-3 more children together as being a mom is the greatest joy of my life. I came from a broken family and believe I’ve lived most of my life trying to put a family back together—right or wrong, this was our hope.  We were so excited and began trying from month one! Six months went by with no pregnancy. Each month I had a reason to think I was pregnant and in this time frame, I probably went through at least a hundred pregnancy tests. I had a growing sense that something was wrong, but I was calmly assured that these things take time.

After a year of deep hope for that little pink plus sign to show up but instead of ending in a puddle of tears, we decided to seek medical help.  We saw a primary care physician who ran an analysis. We waited to hear back hoping this would give us a clue to what we needed to do next. But the doctor called me a week later—in the middle of my work day—and spoke very matter-of-factly: “You two will probably not have children together. Have you thought about adoption?”

…. “what?”

This is not the kind of news you deliver to a woman at 3 PM on a Tuesday afternoon when she’s getting ready to sit down with her next client. But, there it was.  I responded in some robotic way and set the phone down and shut my office door and sobbed harder than I ever have.

I asked God if this was punishment for being divorced. If this was because of all the mistakes I’ve made. If He was testing me. I cried out to Him.  He was silent.

I went home to tell Matt the news (that the doctor should have called us into his office to share with both of us). I tried to maintain composure, but it was not a pretty night.  For several months after that, I cried daily and tried to imagine never having a child with my husband. Not a big deal, right? We both have a child. So what if we don’t have one together. We share these children with ex-spouses, which wasn’t exactly the original plan, but they are healthy and we are raising them together. It’s fine.

Except for that, it’s not. I can’t let this dream go. My heart aches to grow a family with my husband. To experience him holding my hand in childbirth. To see his gentle-giant hands pick up a tiny life that we’ve created together. To have this bond with one another that is part of God’s purpose for marriage.

We began looking for a second opinion. We met with a fertility specialist who put us on supplements. We tested again three months later, but the outlook was even bleaker. I cried some more. I read a 300-page book on conception and changed each of our diets in drastic ways for six months.

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Twenty-one. That’s the number of months we’ve been married– which isn’t long at all unless you’ve been hoping and praying and trying and crying out to God every month for 21 months to please have mercy on you and bless you with a life you know you don’t deserve.  In that case, 21 months feels like an eternity. We recently went to another specialist who gave a little more hope but stated a surgery would be necessary. Thankfully, this specialist found a problem area that others weren’t able to locate. And here we are. After much prayer, our surgery is scheduled for tomorrow. Neither of us knows the outcome. Matt has been brave and strong as an oak (he’s the one who has to go under the knife!) while I’ve just been an emotional wreck.

I haven’t been myself for at least the last year and a half. This is why. Struggling with infertility was never part of my formula. It took me by surprise and came at a time when I thought I was leaving the worst of my heartache behind. Matt and I are a stronger couple for it. In our first two years of marriage, we’ve survived the dynamics of a blended family along with this monthly roller coaster of emotion. We hit our knees in prayer each night and take it one day at a time. It’s hard to count it all as joy, and yet I’m thankful for a new understanding of what it feels like to face infertility. It gives me another “specialty area” in my counseling ministry; compassion that is only birthed from experience. But most of all, when and if God decides to give us another child, the glory will be all the more to Him because HE IS ABLE even when doctors say “not possible.”  That is the God we serve.

And although I know what I desperately want, I will continually declare that thy will be done.


Held in the Unsearchable: Embracing Postpartum Weakness

By Mollie Talbot

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I called it! Seven weeks ago my husband and I welcomed our second baby BOY into the world. Huxley Knox was on a mission when he made his entrance with facial bruising as a result of flying into the world within 6 minutes of pushing. He’s perfect, truly.

Except for the colic, the still undiagnosed GI issues, and the reflux. Did I mention that I can’t have dairy or soy and that I’ve lived the past 30 years as a cheesitarian? Maybe here is where I should say that these issues have him waking up every two hours at night for feedings so we aren’t sleeping…and that he doesn’t go back down after 4am. Okay, now is for sure where I throw in that my cat of 9 years, the one that was at my side before my husband came along and weathered my addiction with me disappeared two weeks after Huxley’s birth.

So it makes sense that at my 6 week postpartum visit with my favorite OB in the world, after filling her in on everything she said: “Something isn’t right Mollie, you’re not yourself.” Tears I’ve unknowingly held back for the last 6 weeks fell as she wrapped her arms around me saying, “It’s okay, this is too much.”

But, I’m pragmatic. I knew all of this was a lot for even the strongest of humans, which I’m not, but I kept at it. I stayed yoked with my husband, keeping him posted on how I was feeling. I’d cry late at night when I really missed my cat, or thought I heard him, or passed the laundry room where his litter box used to be, or the crib where he slept in the weeks leading up to Huxley’s birth. I was letting myself feel it. I’m a social worker by trade and I wound up fighting an alcohol addiction as a result of poor coping so it’s safe to say I stay on top of my feelings and communicate through them to avoid being overtaken (or relapsing.)

I reasoned through Huxley’s lack of sleep and colic, reading articles, trying new things, eliminating others, and making sure I remembered that this had nothing to do with me or who I am as a mother. I tried to reason my way through my grief over my cat. So I applied logic there too; I recognized I needed to feel this loss but that I didn’t know how. I shared with close friends that I felt isolated in my grief because it’s a cat and that it made me feel crazy to share the depth of my grief. As for comfort, what can you say? You can’t apply the typical platitudes of “He’s in a better place” because let's face it, a coyote likely ate him and I’m pretty sure the saying is “all DOGS go to heaven.”

In the midst of all of this, we discussed my stepson’s visit over Christmas. I tried to consciously prepare myself for how an already difficult relationship would look with the added 600 emotional pounds I’m lugging around. I then went into social work mode again. I set up boundaries with my husband by saying I’ll need more space and alone time to process while he’s here. It felt extra heavy to know that this boy deserves my best and that I am far from it.

So, when my doctor spoke the words, “You’re not yourself,” the scaffolding of logic and research I’ve built around my recent chaos just…collapsed. In a way, so did I. The weight of my back-burner emotions crushed the steel beams of my research, preparation and logic.

I feel like things had to get worse for a couple of days before getting better. I was even more irrational and irritable than normal. I was devastated every time Huxley would cry out in obvious pain and I was again, without a solution. And sweet Banks—his toddler curiosity and joy were probably the only things that got me out of bed.

Then, as I sat in bed one morning with Huxley, feeling the weight of it all, my husband checked on me and said: “I’ll be there in 5 minutes, I’m almost done reading my bible.” He has no idea but hearing that flipped a switch in me. When he said he was reading his bible, I realized that in the last 6 weeks I’d only gone to my Father when I was crying out in defeat; chalking the spiritual drought up to “newborn season.” So right there in bed, I pulled up my bible app while holding my sweet, fussy son and was met with the verse of the day.

Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and UNSEARCHABLE things you do not know.
— Jeremiah 3:33

I read this and read it again when an ethereal peace hit me in the chest. I felt a kind of warmth begin to radiate outward. My heart rate slowed, my shoulders released, and my breaths deepened. A white flag seemed to rise above my head, taking with it the burden of ‘fighting’ or ‘figuring out’ how I’m supposed to navigate this season.

God was saying to me:

Stop the research. Stop with your logic. Come to me, CALL to me. What I have for you right now won't be found in articles or collecting information to encase yourself away from the pain. Feel that pain knowing I will show you how to take your next step. I’m a light for your path where the ‘solving’ puts chains on your feet. Unsearchable Mollie, that is my love for you.

His plan of Love for me is tailored to penetrate what I perceive to be my strengths, my gifts… my armor. Because sometimes my armor tells me to keep moving, to not ask for help, and to figure things out alone when the reality is those are my strengths but HE, not my studying, are what gave them to me. Furthermore, what if in this season I’m meant to be a bit weak. To sit in this moment and dwell on the peace I felt when I read the word ‘Unsearchable.’

What word is He holding for you in your current season? The one that will pierce your armor and reunite your purpose with His?

If you’re looking for me, I’ll be here riding a rollercoaster of joy and grief thankful that His ‘unsearchable’ love has me tightly buckled.


Embracing Your Mom Bod

By Lindsey Racz

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Confession: I am a recovering perfectionist. Sadly, there have been seasons of my life through which no one and nothing was safe from my raging perfectionistic tendencies—including my body. For many years, I mercilessly and meticulously scrutinized every part of this body I’ve been given. Every. single. inch. Not a one was safe. And because I now work as a therapist specializing in women’s issues, I know I’m not alone.

We, as women, are so very harsh on our bodies. And why wouldn’t we be? We are bombarded with images of perfection. We checkout at the grocery store next to sleek and shimmering bodies on countless magazine covers. We turn on the TV and suddenly our living rooms are paraded by 15-year-old Victoria Secret models. Come on! We think to ourselves. These “women” haven’t even hit puberty. This just isn’t fair! We glance through our Insta-feeds and even the older generation of women we once looked up to are now posting perfectly lit and angled body-selfies. “Wow” we secretly, if not sub-consciously, say to ourselves. “She looks good for her age; I better up my game!” And so, we stand in front of the mirror a little longer in the morning. We try on a few more outfits, hoping to find something that makes us look a bit slimmer. We commit to a Keto diet, a stricter interval training routine, a little more hot yoga, and hope for the best. But it seems the harder we strive, the more behind we feel.

Why is this a losing battle? Because our bodies weren’t created to secure our hearts. Our deepest longings cannot be filled by toned abs or a number on a scale.  1 Corinthians 6: 19-20 says this about our bodies:

Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.

It’s clear that we are to care for our temples. I’m pro-exercise and pro putting good foods into our bodies; however, the current culture twists these things into a form of idolatry. Look again at 1 Corinthians 6—"your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you.”

Yes, mamas, these bodies are simply shells! Lest we forget why we have them, let us all be reminded. Look down at the body you are sitting in right at this very moment. This seemingly mundane thing (yes, including those thighs that might just have a few stretch marks) is breathing, reading, processing, and beating. It houses the most precious gift we could ever receive—the Holy Spirit. It was not made for criticism or to be used as a tool of seduction. It was not made to get us attention or wear clothing that detracts from our integrity. It was not made to be objectified or beaten down or forced into a size it is not. It was not made for promiscuity. It was not made for starvation. This body you see? It’s a gift, a tool, and a house for the Holy One living in it.

I remember looking into the mirror in horror shortly after arriving home from the hospital following the birth of my second baby girl. The pregnancy was emotionally traumatic as she faced health issues; I had so many things to focus on besides my body. And yet, there I stood. Feeling simultaneously swollen and deflated, hormonal and sad. A pit in my stomach began to form and I wondered if I would ever look or feel like myself again.

But then, God. 

Yes, God. He has a way of teaching us in the smallest, quietest moments. He was there with me in that moment full of self-criticism and He gave me an ever-so-gentle word of truth that I’ll never forget.

Do not worry about feeling like ‘yourself’ again, precious daughter. You are more yourself now than ever—you have just been broken and poured out to create a life, just as I was poured out on the cross for you. I was beaten, hung, bloody and unrecognizable, all so that you could live.

Let us use up every ounce of our youth on God’s purposes instead of desperately clinging to it.

As mamas (biological or adoptive), we pour out our bodies each and every day to take care of our littles. Our hearts break for them in prayer.  We are tugged on, stretched out and run ragged by emptying ourselves into the gifts that have been entrusted to us. Let us thank GOD for these bodies that allow us to do these mama-warrior tasks! Let us care deeply but not obsessively for these soul-houses of ours. Let us use up every ounce of our youth on God’s purposes instead of desperately clinging to it. Let us stop comparing and start sharing the light of the One who lives within.

Cheers to our ever-changing, gravity-succumbing, Holy Spirit-dwelling mom bods, fellow mamas. We truly wouldn’t be here without them; they are a gift to be cherished and embraced for as long as we all shall live.