Postpartum

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.


It's Ok to Not Be Ok: A Postpartum Tale

By Lindsay Barnett

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After my daughter Natalie was born, which I can’t believe was almost 3 years ago, I jumped right back into living life as I normally did. Only I slept a little less and had to get all my work done during naps or with a baby attached to the hip. I had an easy pregnancy with no morning sickness, didn’t get any stretch marks, and my natural birth went exactly as planned. At my 6-week postpartum doctor visit I didn’t have to check a single box tasking if I was depressed or experiencing any type of baby blues. And I’ll admit, I didn’t understand how any mother could admit to being depressed when having a beautiful new baby to love. “Yeah, motherhood is hard, what did you expect? We’re all tired. Suck it up, wash your hair, and stop being 'lazy'," my internal voice would say. 

Fast forward to present day.  I’m 3 weeks postpartum with my second, sweet little Everly Quinn. This time around I didn’t particularly enjoy pregnancy and I definitely did not escape the beautiful tiger stripes all over my body. Despite all that, she’s perfect. She is the best little sleeper and nursing has been going great.  But out of NOWHERE, I was hit with a panic attack. 

Explaining a panic attack to anyone who has never had one is very difficult. It’s a physical, out of body experience, that makes you feel like you’re having a heart attack, or drowning, or riding the spinning tea cups at Disney on full speed. It’s terrifying and you feel like you’re going crazy. But this wasn’t my first attack. 

The first time, 9 years prior, I called 911. And then the second was 4 years ago while out on the town in Las Vegas for my sister’s bachelorette party. That episode only lasted a couple of hours and I knew I wasn’t having a heart attack, so I just retired early for the night. But this one was 14 hours. 

“Please God, when is it going to stop?” I was on my knees praying—no, pleading—for God to do something! The more I tried to tell myself to stop thinking, the more I was thinking about not thinking it and my mind just couldn’t calm down. I couldn’t take care of myself, let alone my girls. 

I’m so fortunate my husband was with me and stepped right in as super dad, but I know it was hard for him to understand what was wrong with me. I looked fine on the outside. And in the moment, I couldn’t find my voice to even explain anything other than I needed his help. All I could do was lay in bed and wait for it to end. In the meantime, I listened to worship music and read scripture.  I clung to Isaiah 41:10-13, 

Don’t panic. I am with you. There’s no need to fear for I am your God. I will give you strength. I will HELP you.  I, your God, have a firm grip on you and I am not letting go.

Like so many women, I don’t like asking for help. But why is there so much shame in admitting the need for help? So much shame in admitting that I am dealing with postpartum anxiety. If I hadn’t asked for help and trusted God to get me through the attack, I don’t want to think how my day could have ended.

I was pushing myself to get out of the house and portray to others I was a rock star mom, who could do it all with a newborn and a toddler.  I didn’t want to rest, because I thought people might think I was lazy. And I didn’t want to tell anyone about my attack because I didn’t want to be perceived as an unfit mother.  But I just had a baby! And no matter what type of delivery one has, birthing a child is trauma and stress.

I’m learning that any kind of stress in combination with hormonal imbalance is a recipe for disaster. And that, not only am I not crazy, but I’m in the majority of moms who has experienced some level of depression and/or anxiety postpartum. 

My hope in sharing my story is that other women who have experienced anything similar after having a baby will speak up. I would encourage you to reach out to new mommies and share your story without shame, as well. That might be what she needs to hear to have the courage to ask for help herself.  And above all, if this is you right now, turn to the Lord. Put all your trust in Him and know that He is not letting you go through this alone.