So You Say You're Reading The Old Testament? IV

Jacob and Rachel, via

I have been thinking a lot about infertility.

Brandon and I started our "Summer Project" in June of 2008. Oh, we had high hopes. And then somehow Summer turned to Fall, and then to Winter, and by early Spring I was ready to crawl into a hole and die.

There is a certain kind of sting in the failure of the body to perform what for most species is its most basic function. While it has never bothered me that I can't really do long division, or that I don't know how to sail, or that I can't do the splits, this failure to conceive somehow made me doubt myself so much. It completely broke my heart.

I consulted friends and loved ones for advice and always heard the same thing: Relax. Don't stress out. Go on vacation. Try some red wine. Lay off the caffeine. Try this doctor. Eat more avocados. Just stop trying! Trust the Lord's timing!

But every night as I prayed I heard something else: Keep Looking.

I saw doctor after doctor after doctor. Two OB/GYNs, one naturopath, one highly specialized and highly expensive Reproductive Specialist, they all told me the same thing. Your body is healthy. There is nothing wrong with you. Everything works. Just wait it out. Try to be patient.

Still I received the same prompting, the same feeling. Keep Looking, it said. Over and over I heard it. Keep Looking.

The prominent women of the book of Genesis are as follows: Eve, Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel. Of these prominent women in the book of Genesis, there is only one who does not suffer from infertility: Eve.

Eve was the cursed one, isn't that right?

Genesis is full of God's chosen women suffering from a want of children. In each case, she is a woman whom God directed a prophet to find and marry. She is a woman who was promised that her seed would bear rulers and kings. She is a woman who was loved by God.

When I started the book of Genesis in January I was reading with the eyes of the infertile, and I hated these stories. I hated these women for their struggle, and I hated them for their success. As I wrote about the stories I purposefully avoided the topic. I didn't care and I didn't want to care. I wanted to be over it.

But let's just go there, shall we? Okay then.

First there is Sarah. Sarah is the wife of Abraham, the eventual mother of Isaac. Sarah is easily the most severe of the Infertile Myrtles. At the age of 90 she has yet to conceive and is menopausal (Gen 18:10). As Abraham prays considering an eventual heir, God tells him that Sarah will conceive. And every time, Abraham and Sarah laugh. Ha-ha-ha. 
Genesis 17:16-17 I will bless her, and give thee a son also of her: yea I will bless her, and she will be a mother of nations, kings of people shall be of her. Then Abraham fell upon his face and laughed, and said in his heart, Shall a child be born unto him that is an hundred years old? and shall Sarah, that is ninety years old, bear?

Genesis 18:10 . . . and lo, Sarah thy wife shall have a son. And Sarah heard it in the tent door, which was behind him. Now Abraham and Sarah were old and well stricken in age, and it ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women. Therefore Sarah laughed within herself.
In Genesis 18:14, the Lord's messengers rebuke Sarah, saying, "Is anything too hard for the Lord?"

This was the question which kept me up at night for months and months and months. Surely nothing is too hard for the Lord. But how much can I expect from Him when I pray? Could I ask for a miracle, and would I receive? Could I ask for guidance, specific and direct, like a road map? Should I just ask for comfort? Is that the "faithful" thing to do?

I thought a lot of my cyberfriend Courtney, and the specific counsel she received when she inquired. I started to feel that I could ask, and that maybe I too would receive . . . something.

So, I asked. I was told to Keep Looking.

I had to look for a really long time.

When Rebekah, wife of Isaac and eventual mother of Esau and Jacob (twins!), was experiencing infertility, Isaac went to the Lord and demanded answers on her behalf. Rebekah had been blessed to be the mother of thousands of millions, so why was nothing happening?
Genesis 25:21 And Isaac intreated the Lord for his wife, becasue she was barren, and the Lord was intreated of him, and Rebekah his wife conceived.
Like Rebekah, I had been blessed to know that my life's calling would be found in motherhood (although at the time I remember feeling entirely disgusted about it). So what was the hold up?

As I prayed I felt inspired to ask my husband for a blessing.
I was blessed with patience.
I was blessed that I would learn to love others more than I loved myself.
He was blessed that I didn't smack him right there on the spot. That was so not what I was going for, but thanks anyway.

Further reflection and prayer on my part led me to know what I always knew. That I was to Keep Looking. Keep Asking. Sometimes we are blessed with miracles. That wasn't my path.

I think Rachel, wife of Jacob and eventual mother of Joseph, is the woman in Genesis I relate to the most. If you remember, Rachel is the daughter of a proud and sneaky man, who tells Jacob he can marry her after seven years hard labor, and then pulls a trick by slipping Leah in at the wedding instead. Rachel is who Jacob loves, and for Rachel he continues to work for his father-in-law. When Leah has children easily and Rachel cannot . . .
Genesis 30:1 And when Rachel saw that she bare Jacob no children, Rachel envied her sister; and said unto Jacob, Give me children, or else I die.
It was in my second November of wanting that I started to feel like Rachel. Give me children, or else I die. It was also around November that I decided to throw myself into fertility charting. After just two cycles I knew exactly my problem: My Luteal Phase was precisely one day too short. One day. I showed my doctor the results and by the end of the appointment I held a tiny little pill that promised to sort me all out.

I asked Brandon if he would give me another blessing.
This time I was blessed to know that I would get pregnant soon.
That my body would be able to receive a spirit child of God's.
That I would have a healthy pregnancy.

That month the pregnancy test blinked a word at me that was so foreign it nearly took me off my feet and I needed a minute before I could even tell if it was in English.

People keep telling me that these things are all on the Lord's schedule. When I told an older lady in the ward I was "finally" expecting, she screwed up her mouth at me and said, "Now, don't go insulting the Lord, this was his timing after all." I believe her, of course, but also I don't. There has to be so much more to it.

The thing is, I've talked with Him, pleaded with Him, listened for Him for far too long to really think I was a just passive participant faithfully awaiting my time. Those long months when I poured my soul out in prayer, the Lord whispered back that this was in my hands, that with faith and obedience He would lead me to my baby, but that I would have to do the work. It was such a teeny tiny small thing, how could I have found that on my own? We figured it out together. That was my path to this baby. I believe the Lord wanted me know that I had power with Him, that He heard my prayers, and that together we would make it work. Alone I would be left to struggle. Perhaps I needed to learn this now in order to properly mother this person that I am growing. I am so very much closer to my Heavenly Father as a result of these years of endless fasting and prayer. I think He had that in mind for me, too.


I never gave up.
I never stopped trying.
Going on vacation never did nothing,
And not once did I ever relax.

(Just wanted to put that out there.)

What I take from Genesis is thus: If you work with God, God will work with you. It is like a crazy cheat sheet. We can be co-creators with our God. We can create our lives with Him, if we let Him show us the path he means for us to blaze. All we have to do is ask.

Genesis 30:22 And God remembered Rachel.

Thanks to my new favorite blog
for helping me make better sense
of all of these thoughts in my head.


  1. I just loved this post. Beautiful.

  2. Nat, you know I love everything you write. But, personal bias aside, that really was the most beautiful piece of writing. Considered, personal, and just wonderful. You brought tears to my eyes (again!). Thank you.

  3. I loved this post. The best one I've read yet, maybe even the best one you've written.

  4. My husband and I started our "quest" in August of 2008. Your story is so similar to ours. I hope our time will come soon as well. I'm so happy for you.

  5. Woo Hoo! Great job! (Are we supposed to say great job for this or just 'Congratulations'?)

    But you did "endure it well"! I always tell my kids, if you keep dancing long enough, eventually your song will come up!

    I'm looking forward to the "drama of gestation" blog posts, now!

  6. Nat, i quoted your blog on my blog...hope you don't mind.

    Thanks for always being so open and honest about your feelings and what you are going through. I am on a totally different path from you, yet i find myself learning from you in a way that is unexpected.

    Thank you.

  7. "Yay verily the Lord saw to it that she indeed became knocked up and lo it was good"....

  8. Beautiful--I love it! I never thought of Racheal and Sarah and the other women of the old testament that way. Thank you for the enlightenment...and the funnies.

  9. Love this post! I suffered through 6 years of infertility, and did not, could not, passively sit by and wait for the Lord's timing. You're so right, it takes work on your part and together with the Lord, great things will happen.

    and going on vacation and relaxing NEVER helps! :)

  10. Congratulations. I'm so happy for you.

  11. Thank you Nat for posting such beautiful thoughts. I'm so happy for your and the holbs. :)

    I love love love that you said never once did you relax, or take a vacation. I just about explode when people say those things to me.

  12. That was beautiful! Thank you for sharing.

  13. I loved this - for so many reasons. For your faithfulness. For your listening. For your writing.

    Remember our twitter talk, when I mentioned the whole - infertility/pregnancy thing that I don't like to talk about? Because people might not understand?

    This same thing happened to me, more or less. Five years of infertility and miscarriages and heartbreak. I finally got my patriartichal (or however you spell it) blessing. I'd never gotten it - never felt it was the right time. The partriarch didn't know me from Adam. But the blessing said my husband should give me a blessing. That we would be blessed. And ten months later, we were.

    I don't talk about it, because I don't want my other dear, loved, infertile friends to be hurt by the story. Because they are vastly more faithful than I am. I don't know why God answered that prayer for me. I only know that he did. And it is what keeps me faithful when I have no faith left.

    Thanks for sharing this my friend. XOXO

  14. This is beautiful...and hilarious....sweet and thoughtful. One sentence I keep going back to and that fills my eyes with tears and my heart with joy: "That month the pregnancy test blinked a word at me that was so foreign it nearly took me off my feet and I needed a minute before I could even tell if it was in English."

    You are marvelous.

  15. Great post and congrats again on the pregnancy:-) The Lord truly does answer our prayers and listens to us in our time of need. Thanks for your thoughts, I need to read the Old Testament more!

  16. You are great! I quoted you on my blog, too. Hope that's ok. You're an encouragement and I LOVE your Old Testament translations. :)

  17. Today's post brought tears to my eyes. You are an amazing writer and an amazing woman. Thank you.

  18. Did you ever try putting your legs up against the wall for 20 mins after the deed? That was suggested to me by several different people. And yes, I tried it.

    This was a great post. Thanks for sharing.

    Do you think you could feel this confident and peaceful had you never been able to get pregnant?

    I wonder this too.

  19. i love this. and i love you. our journey began in june 2006 and we were finally blessed with pregnancy in jan of this year. as hard as it was and as much as i never want to go through it again, i'm glad i did. i'm not sure why it happend now, and in the manner in which it did (we were told ivf was our only option, but they didn't know that miracles happen. aparently). i think sometimes it has to do more with the timing of when our baby needs to come to earth, it might have to do with his/her journey that it's birth was put off for a time. we may never know. but we do know that we are stronger women having had gone through infertility.
    thanks for sharing your journey.

  20. Reading about the women of the old testament somehow made things seem more bearable for me while we were going through our infertile period. For some reason, I thought blessings were being withheld because I was somehow unworthy of them. Knowing that these amazing women were going through the same thing I was helped me through some really rough times.

  21. I agree that timing is of the Lord, but I also believe you have to meet him halfway. And it sounds like that's exactly what you did. You are blessed! :)

  22. I enjoyed this post very much. The one true Sue shared it in google reader, and I'm glad she did.

  23. Have you ever read "The Red Tent"? It is a beautiful novel about the women in your post and probably the best book I have ever read. It is by Anita Diamante. I wish you the best with your baby and I can tell that it will be loved as much as anyone has ever been loved. I have not suffered from infertility but I have suffered from miscarriage. It is heartbreaking to want a baby and not be given one any way that happens. There is a plan though. Of that I am sure.


    This is what happens when I go on a self-imposed hiatus.

    I miss the pregnancy announcement.

    Oh dear.

    Well, CONGRATULATIONSSS!!! Even in a bit late. :)

  25. This was wonderful to read. Our "project" began in August of 2007. It's been a rollercoaster, but I know our time will's just not always as fast as we would like.

  26. Great post, I loved it! :)

  27. This was really beautiful. I am SO glad that what I wrote on my blog helped somehow. I am constantly amazed at how the lives of these women who lived hundred and hundreds of years ago are still so applicable to our modern lives. I LOVED how you acknowledged that God requires us to do our part.

    Also, would you be willing to share this story? I am working with some other LDS women to put together a book about LDS women's spiritual experiences and insights in pregnancy and birth. We've been collecting stories from lots of different LDS women. I've been working on the infertility section and I think that this piece you've written-- slightly adapted-- would be an incredible addition. If you are interested would you email it to We are hoping to have the final selections made in the next month or so.

    Again Thanks of the beautiful thoughts and the added traffic on my site ;) I look forward to getting to be blogging buddies!

  28. Congrats girl. I read this post in the wee hours of the morning while up feeding my brand new baby. I shed tears for you. You will be a wonderful mother. It is worth the wait, I promise. I waited almost 6 years for my first, and another 6 years for my second...

  29. as always... very nicely said!

  30. I'm a lurker in the blogosphere but was so rocked to the core by your post. I, too, struggle with infertility. As we tried and struggled and waited my friend told me to read the story of Rachel and Leah. I identified so much with Rachel. In fact, our beautiful daughter adopted in 2006 is named Leah (because same friend stole the name Rachel right out from under my waiting-for-baby nose...but that's another story). You're in my prayers Nat. Thanks for sharing your deep insight.

  31. I like Kalli Ko's comment. And just think no more fasting for some time now. Avocados you say? Seriously? That would have justified Mikey's at least weekly.

  32. This was so beautifully and movingly written, I was reading it on the train and nearly went past my stop! When I got to the final sentence, I really felt like all was right with the world.

    Congratulations on both the baby and the writing talent you have for sharing your experiences with us.

  33. That was absolutely beautiful and beautifully perfect. Thank you.

  34. How beautiful and perfect and heartwarming :-) I am so happy for you and your husband that all of your dreams are now being fulfilled. I wish you all the best of luck with everything life throws your way!

    Also, I have nominated you for an award on my blog! Congrats!

  35. Nat, you always write funny posts. I appreciate your heart in this one. Before getting prego with my 3 year old, we struggled through infertility for exactly 2 years. I had the meds, the iui's, the many many tests and nothing ever happened. I got prego the month before taking my clomid. 1 year and 11 months of fighting against the Lord and finally my heart was content in the understanding that if we got pregnant, "praise the Lord" and if we never had a child, then "praise the Lord". Up until that point, I couldn't say that...and at 2 years we were pregnant. Now, for the past 3 years, we struggle again. Today, I opened a scrapbook I attempted to make a couple of years ago and read a quote "for this child I prayed". I prayed. I prayed. I prayed! I learned so much from those first couple of years. I never thought I'd go through it again and have to re-learn or re-live those emotional days. Quite frankly...infertility stinks! It hurts. Taking NOTHING away from those women who "pop" babies out, it is so hard to see your friends, in a sense, pass you by with baby # 2 and 3. Infertility is a lonely place, and yes, many women think of it and miscarriages as taboo when both are far from that. To be honest, Nat, we differ on our view of God. But I believe without a doubt that his whispers to your heart were meant for you and him, just has his whispers are meant for me. I am super happy for you and the Holbs! and...I love that he played a part in the "blessing"-that is an intimate moment you will always remember. You are already a great mommy! Congratulations

  36. Nat, once again you blog about something that draws me out of lurkerdom. The story of Jacob and Rachel is one I relate to as well, not because of a struggle with infertility, but a struggle to be with the person I love. Your entry inspired me to re-read that story. Best of luck to you and the Holbs.


  37. I have only been reading your blog for a few weeks, but I was so happy for you when I read that you were pregnant. From one woman who has had to deal with infertility to another, my heart skipped a beat for you. We tried for 5 years before we were blessed with our little miracle, who is 3 years old now, so I know how exciting and unbelievable it is when it finally happens. Congratulations.

  38. What a great reminder of our Heavenly Fathers love for us. I totally needed this today, it brought me to tears. Maybe I'll start my next few days out reading this post as a good reminder to myself that blessings don't always just fall into our is most often required!

  39. Right on! I'm so glad you posted this.

    Now you know, I had to laugh at Holbsy's first blessing for you. It reminded me of Isaac's blessing for Esau. I've always pictured poor Esau staring up at his blind father in dumbfounded shock during that blessing and then walking out thinking "He's blessed that I didn't smack him just now!"

    Sidenote: Rebeccah has always been the Genesis woman I most identify with because she wrongfully manipulated situations to get the right outcome. I've learned with God's help to guard against that tendency in my heart (most of the time, anyway).

    I'm so glad you kept looking, and "And God remembered Rachel" was the perfect ending for this post.

  40. So... I've never commented on your blog as of yet, I had been a sneaky and all too intrigued follower, but I figured now was as good a time as any to break that barrier!

    Truth be told, my husband and I are going through our own struggle with infertility. I've been diagnosed with PCOS, and Insulin Resistance...
    I too felt broken and utterly lost. Sometimes I still feel that way. And yet, God continues to promise that He has a plan... and that He is holding my right hand, and is going to bless us with children... and that He hasn't forgotten

    Reading your post today brought tears to my eyes... It was another confirmation that somehow, someday God will keep and deliver those promises....

  41. I adore this post! And at the end, the words singing in my heard were - Preach it, Sister Nat! Thank you for sharing your heart with us, and doing so eloquently.


  42. Thank you so much for sharing this post. Oh wow.

    I agree with you so much that there is power in working with God. It is good pray for help, for miracles, for answers, and for a sign, but when you are done praying, you've got to get off your duff and do your part to find those answers. it's teamwork!

    Beautiful, beautiful post.

  43. This is probably one of the best posts that I've read from you. :) It was very encouraging. Even though I said this when you first announced it, I'm going to say it again. Congratulations on the baby!

  44. i love this post. here i am reading it, again. i was thinking a lot about eve yesterday. here's what i have come to realize; she and adam were commanded to bear children when they were placed in the garden of eden, yet the couldnt because they didnt know how. i wonder how long that lasted, was it years before they partook of the fruit? they wanted to fulfil gods commandments, but they couldnt fulfil the one to multiply and replenish the earth, interesting, isnt it?

    i know ive left comments here and they, but i do love reading. my husband and i tried for almost 4 years. drs told us it would never happen. in january we found ourselves pregnant, without medical intervention.
    this is a good year, for you and for me!

  45. Wonderful. Thank you!

  46. Thank you for sharing. This post has helped me ;) Sincerely, thank you!

  47. I just discovered your blog. I think we are twinners.
    I ate exactly one hundred million avacados & started to lobby for the sale of bulk pregnancy tests at costco. When I finally saw that second line I dropped to my knees and said thank you-a sight I'd never seen before-TWO lines-was the most beautiful pair of geometric figures I'd ever seen. AH. Thank you for sharing.

  48. I know this is an older post, but I just wanted to say that I found it to be extremely beautiful. :)

  49. I just found this blog, recently, and I love this post. Thank you for being so real and honest.

  50. Oh this is such a wonderful post. I wish I'd been reading your blog back when you wrote it, because I was going through the same thing (albeit secondary infertility, so I had one child already) and the same thought process at the time. I started Genesis in January of 2010 and I cried with those infertile women and wondered when God would remember me. And then I got pregnant, in mid-April, when you wrote this post. And now my beautiful, beautiful baby girl is two months old. Hooray for prayers answered!

    (Your Huckleberry is beautiful too.)

  51. You don't know me. My sis-in-law sent me your link in hopes that your words would encourage/inspire me, and they did. I also suffer from secondary infertilty. I have a beautiful little girl who is almost six years old. We have been trying for a second for over 4 years. I have tried to keep a positive outlook on everything. Hey, I've been blessed with one, right? But there are days when I see everyone pregnant around me, and I look up to the sky and want to scream.

    I know without a doubt the Lord has a plan for me. But I feel like we have done everything in our power to get a child here. Testings, Clomid, AI, surgeries. Our next step is invitro, and I'm at peace with that. It doesn't mean I don't pray every day and night for the Lord to bless us with a baby naturally. And it doesn't mean there aren't nights I cry myself to sleep. But I have faith........

    And reading your blog has helped me put things into perspective again. So thank you for sharing.

  52. I needed this today. I heard the Lord say twins, twin boys, then I had a girl. And I still heard twin boys, and I heard get off the birth control, and I got pregnant again.....and now I don't want everyone to think I am crazy....but I blogged about it at

  53. Wow. That was so powerful! I LOVED that you quoted scriptures of women we can relate to! I NEVER noticed how many women in the scriptures struggled with infertility. Thank you for sharing...

  54. Thank you so much for writing this post. I have prayed and begged God for a baby, and it is not His timing. Its so hard when so many of my friends are pregnant, and asking me when I am having one, and I am not sure what to say. Thank you for this encouragement.

  55. I love this post. My husband-to-be and I want to start trying as soon as we're married, but I already know I have PCOS. I'm so worried that it's going to be a long, hard battle to conceive. But this post has reminded me that there are things I can do myself to try and help, and to have faith. I love the idea of instead of asking God for a miracle, to ask him to work with me and just help me instead. Thank you :)

  56. This comment has been removed by the author.

  57. My friend sent me the link to this post the other day and it was so fantastic of her. Thank you for writing this post so many months ago. Honestly, so much of what you wrote about infertility is what I'm feeling right now. I remember making my first appointment with my doctor to talk about infertility and I remember that pain that came with admitting that my body couldn't do what everyone always told me was the the most awesome thing a body could do. I can't even tell you how many times I've thought about Rachel because I feel like I might die sometimes if I don't get pregnant soon. Maybe not actually die, but I know you know what I mean. And, relax? Whoever made up that, "just relax and you'll get pregnant" saying was obviously not infertile. Anyway, really, thank you for that lovely post. I've been having an especially hard time with my infertility as of late and this post helped. For some reason it's always wonderful to know that there are many more people out there who understand you. Thanks for being so open about it and sharing. I think that one day I'll do that too, because I want to help other people get through it, just like you've helped me this week.

  58. This comment has been removed by the author.

  59. I know this is two years too late, but thanks. I have desperately needed to be reminded that God hasn't forgotten me. Your words were inspired, thanks sweet sister in the Gospel.

  60. I quoted a couple of paragraphs of this on myblog today, I hope you don't mind? (If you do please let me know and I'll remove it ASAP) I gave you all the credit and linked you blog and this post though.
    Thanks for sharing this with all of us.

  61. I've been reading you for not so long... commented in March (see me up there) when I first read this. But it was like reading it for the first time tonight. Beautifully written and lived and shared.

  62. I recently found your blog through my sister-in-law. I loved this post! It was beautifully written and I can definitely relate to the emotions you described. I have also struggled with infertility. When you mentioned that your Luteal Phase was too short, a light bulb went off in my head and I wondered if this could be my problem as well. I've been studying my cycles and will meet with my doctor this week. I was wondering if you would share what the medication was that your doctor prescribed for you? Thank you so much! --Lisa

  63. I just read this post because I love love LOVE your blog and saw that on the side of the page, this was one of your favorites. I am so glad that I read it. What a wonderful experience you had with drawing closer to our Heavenly Father. After many years of being inactive in the LDS church, I came back into full activity about two years ago and I am so grateful for you and your posts. They are so real and they truly help to strengthen my testimony. You are such a wonderful girl and a fabulous example to me. Thank you so much for being so honest and open in your posts, they have strengthened me more than you know. -Talia

  64. This is a great post. I was just thinking of women in the OT after reading your latest post on depression/infertility. They certainly seem to be a chosen lot (other than the infertility part ... ), don't they? I'm now understanding why you'd thought you'd get pregnant again soon -- you'd solved the problem! How frustrating!

  65. I am currently reading thru Genesis (with BSF) and have been continually amazed at how applicable it is to my life today! Most recently I've been hit with the truth that I actually have to *ask* for what I want/need and then to have faithful patience that He will answer.

  66. that was beautiful and just what I needed to read today. thank you natalie

  67. this is beautiful and touched me deeply. thank you.

  68. Beautiful. I recently lost my baby girl; she was stillborn when I was almost 6 months pregnant. I'm just aching to have a baby to hold and relate with the feelings of Rachel.

    I could use that blessing of patience right now while I wait to be physically and emotionally ready to find out if babies are in my future. The waiting is hard, isn't it?

  69. Thank you for this post - I had no idea there were so many infertiles in the bible..good to know we are not alone.


Comments are moderated because mama ain't no fool.