As I tried to contain the prego-waddle while shuffling toward the bridge, I saw the person I was meeting.
Today, I met with a young woman struggling with infertility.
Today, I met myself.
As we walked the lake a few times, it was like looking in a mirror. The questions she asked, the emotions she expressed, the tears she shed ... It was like stepping into my own past.
It hasn't been that long, and yet it has. As infertility consumes and defines you, so does pregnancy and motherhood. 25 weeks into my second successful pregnancy, and I am surprised at how infrequently I remember the infertility. Even with a miscarriage less than a year ago, I am much more "mother of toddler" and "pregnancy guru" than I am the "infertility voice" that I was.
And yet, it's all still there. All I had to do was hear this young woman ask me questions like:
Were you able to still enjoy life in the midst of trying to conceive?
How did you connect with your husband in the midst of the pain?
Were there days you were just sad?
Was there ever a time you just didn't think you could ever hope again?
Is there any way to not be consumed by it?
I remember. I remember the darkness. I remember the pain. I remember the desperation, the inability to pray, the discouraging moments when you realize you might not have any more capacity for the disappointment that follows high hopes. I remember the tears. I remember the bitterness. I remember the guilt, the desire to show excitement for friends, the horrifying days when you recognize your lack of trust in the Lord.
And as I told this young woman today, as we exchanged tissues and tears, I am so incredibly grateful that God has redeemed our pain. He has and continues to use our journey of infertility to minister to others. And not only does He use it now--He used it during the pain.
And that's my hope is that we can all realize that God doesn't wait for our pain to pass, for us to come up from under the darkness to use it all for good. If we allow Him to, He can and will start now.
So if you are in the midst of pain, as many of us are--in some way or another--ask God to use it, redeem it, work through it NOW. Don't wait for later, when it's over and in the past. Might as well start using it for good.
What an incredible gift those almost three years were--those years of crying, beseeching, shouting, stonewalling, learning, grieving, growing, hoping, stretching. And now, 25 weeks pregnant with Baby Boo, God allowed me the incredible honor of reaching back into my not so distant past to help encourage another woman, desperate to be a mother, and aching with the pain of unfulfilled hopes.
I hope I never forget. Ever. The pain of infertility continues to shape my path, and makes me who I am--and I am so grateful for it.