But then one pregnant woman after another arrived at the party. I think about half the group was expecting, and all I wanted to do was run and hide. It was a miserable evening. I took a huge nose-dive into self-pity and stayed there. [As we shared our highlights for the year,] every other couple mentioned the gift of the baby on the way. When it was my turn to share, I said something about our care group, but internally I was thinking, “I have nothing to be encouraged about! God is not blessing me! He has forgotten about me!”That night became a turning point for me. You see, we had been trying to get pregnant for about a year at that point, and the suffering of a good desire denied had begun to get very intense. As a result of the anguish I felt at that party, I began to fight back against the sin that infertility was beginning to expose in my heart. The fight has lasted much longer than I expected. A year after that night, we returned to another church Christmas party, now with a couple failed IUIs under our belt. The party was populated with babies instead of pregnant women (although I'm sure there were a few of those, too, knowing our church). It was still a challenging evening but by God's grace not nearly as difficult as the year before.
On the way home from the party, Aaron asked how I was doing and I told him truthfully. I was completely overwhelmed. I knew I was sinning in a thousand ways – pride, unbelief, jealousy, self-pity, impatience, lack of contentment, etc. – but I felt absolutely stuck. I felt like the pain of not being able to conceive was leaving me no other options. There was too much pressure, too many temptations, and I didn’t know where to begin to fight against it all. I was ready to throw my hands up in despair (entry from 6.23.2006).
Now here we are in December 2007, at the end of our third unsuccessful year of trying to conceive. With two failed IVFs and with questions about whether we'll be able to attempt IVF again, we are in some ways farther away than ever from the chance of having a child. And yet, I am content. As we sat at this year's Christmas party, I was able to honestly share how encouraged I am at how God has filled me with such gratitude for the gospel that I feel joy and peace even in the face of my still-unfulfilled longing. Yes, being in the company of another cluster of pregnant women - some of the same who had been expecting at the 2005 party - gave me twinges of resignation, but what a change God has wrought in my heart! These Christmas parties mark off the years of my physical barrenness, but they also give me a chance to measure the harvest of spiritual fruit.