Pregnancy

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.


Pregnant with Expectation

by Brittany Rust

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A Gift from the Lord

Don’t you see that children are God’s best gift? the fruit of the womb his generous legacy? Like a warrior’s fistful of arrows are the children of a vigorous youth. Oh, how blessed are you parents, with your quivers full of children!
— Psalm 127:3-5 (MSG)

Children are without a doubt a blessing from the Lord. It’s amazing how new additions to the family awaken, rejuvenate, and sometimes even bring healing. I’ve watched babies bring a tidal wave of joy to a family and increase the love tank exponentially.

If you’re reading this, you’re likely expecting your own bundle of joy! You’re probably experiencing a flood of emotions: excitement, anticipation, anxiousness, fear, and much more. All are completely normal!

First and foremost, your child was planned to be on the earth at this very moment by God before time even began. even now, God is knitting your baby together in your womb very carefully and purposefully. The Father has a special plan designed for your little one and with your prayers and guidance, there are no limits to how he or she will be used.

Pregnancy can be hard but in those moments, remember the gift that your child is. Celebrate his or her presence and purpose on this earth!

When Emotions are a Rollercoaster

Better to be patient than powerful; better to have self-control than to conquer a city.
— Proverbs 16:32 (NLT)

Pregnancy takes us all on an emotional rollercoaster; even the husbands! As our hormones change and fluctuate, how we feel can change moment to moment.

I remember one time I got little sleep and woke really sore. As I began making breakfast and my dog sat at my feet, I instantly got annoyed with her and yelled at her to skedaddle. Then my husband came down and as we ate scrambled eggs, he asked me about something we had already talked about multiple times that week and I snapped at him. I mean, how could he not remember?! I immediately felt bad and knew he didn’t deserve the bad end of my morning grumpiness.

The emotions you experience throughout pregnancy can seem intense and early on, a bit unfamiliar. It’s completely normal to go through these changes and in some ways, the expression of emotions can be healthy.

However, you must be careful to not let grumpiness, anger, or dissatisfaction lead your actions. It’s wise for you to learn to control your emotions and rule your feelings instead of the other way around.

Anxiousness

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.
— Philippians 4:6-7 (ESV)

When pregnancy and the reality of caring for another human being has set in, you might experience a host of anxieties. It’s natural for both parents to experience this at different points throughout the pregnancy but it’s also important to learn how to navigate the emotion.

Some areas you might become anxious in, if you haven’t already, is in parenting itself. There’s no doubt you want to steward this gift well but perhaps you’re not sure if you will because your own example wasn’t great. You might also be anxious about the delivery of your baby, their future, and the finances to make it all happen. There’s no shortage of anxieties for a parent!

Philippians 4 encourages us all in many situations but I believe it’s a particularly helpful verse for parents because let’s be honest, anxiety comes with the territory. However, it doesn’t mean we’re suppose to live there.

If you find yourself becoming anxious about any of the above, or perhaps something else, turn to this verse. Find direction here to turn to prayer and thanksgiving as a refuge from your anxieties. Find peace here, in the presence of God and away from the worries, to carry you through these moments. Anxiety might be an easy place to go as a parent but don’t allow it to take your focus off of the Father.

Fear

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
— Isaiah 41:10 (ESV)

Anxiety, if left unchecked, can snowball into fear, which is a dark place to live. It can be especially draining in a season that should be filled with wonder and excitement.

I get it though. Sometimes when you feel a cramp, or don’t feel the baby move for a few hours, or think about how you’re going to afford childcare, fear can set in. I’ve had moments on my own 40 week journey and as a parent, there’s a whole new level of concern for another that enters your life.

I would encourage you not to live in fear. You might experience small moments or glimpses of it but don’t let the fear overwhelm you. Don’t let it steal your joy.

Remember, God is your strength and He will uphold you. God is on your side and has the best for you in His heart. Lean into His strength and peace when worry and fear starts to creep in. That is your safe place and your refuge.

When Weariness Sets In

But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
— 2 Corinthians 12:9 (ESV)

You’re going to experience a level of weariness you’ve probably never experienced before. Days you’re so tired you have to take an afternoon nap. This happens in the first and third trimester, girls! Moments you feel so nauseous that the only place you want to be is lying on a bed in the dark. Evenings when your feet are so sore, ankles so swollen, and back so achy that labor can’t come soon enough.

What I’m trying to say is we all experience weariness at some level. And the emotions we talked about don’t help either. There will be days when you feel like you’re hanging on by a thread and honestly, that’s completely normal so don’t beat yourself up. Give yourself grace each day because you know what, you're growing a human inside of you!

2 Corinthians 12:9 is a verse I lean on often, not just in pregnancy. There’s so much comfort and peace in knowing that God’s strength is made perfect in our weakness. On those days when you’re tired and in pain--when you’re operating out of weakness--ask God for strength.

Confide in Him that you don’t know if you have the energy to extend kindness to people, or to get through a day of work, or to be patient with your spouse. If you can admit those things to Him and ask for His help, He’ll extend a supernatural strength to you that will carry you through your weariness.

Keeping a Priority on Your Marriage

Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.
— Hebrews 13:4 (ESV)

If you’re married, you’re experiencing one of the greatest gifts in the world. I do want to be sensitive to those who may not be though, and to you I say I have incredible respect for you. Pregnancy is hard and parenting significantly more even with a spouse; with someone there to lean on. To those beautiful ladies making the journey alone, I honor you. You’re a superhero in my book!

To this ladies who are married, don’t take it for granted. Your days can be long and hard sometimes but a husband can be such great support in this journey.

Don’t be afraid to share your emotions and struggles with your spouse. There were times I wouldn’t share something with my husband because I was embarrassed or didn’t want to burden him, or I would hold something in and snap at him. My husband would then so graciously just ask me to share those things with him. He wanted to know and share in what I was experiencing (and he certainly didn’t like being snapped at!).

Communication is key in marriage and that becomes even more important as your family expands. If this has been a struggle for your marriage, or you’re noticing it could be improved, now is a great time to grow in this area. It can also be a great catalyst for bonding, leading you and your spouse into a time when you’ve never felt closer.

I encourage you to remember that marriage is a gift and after your relationship with God, is the most important relationship in your life. Even when your little one comes, keeping your marriage a priority is one of the most important things you can do.

Your Baby’s Future

And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
— Philippians 1:6 (ESV)

What an incredible gift God has given you to lead, nurture, steward, and care for another human. This opportunity will provide you some of the sweetest and most cherished moments in your life! You can start carrying this blessing now with your prayers and care for your little one.

Prayer is and will continue to be one of the most important things you can do for your child. Prayer changes things. Prayer sets the table. Furthermore, your posture of prayer will stand out to your child one day.

Here are a few things you can be praying for; be sure to add your own!

  1. Healthy pregnancy, delivery, and above all, child.

  2. That their purpose on this earth would be clear to them and ordained for God’s Kingdom.

  3. They would pursue godliness above all else.

Be confident in Philippians 1:6 and know that God will start a good work in your child and bring it to completion one day. That everything that will happen in your child’s life will have purpose; the good and the bad. God has designed your child to have great value and purpose in this world. Be a good, loving example of following God, serving others, and how to be a kind human. God will take care of the rest!