Meaning and Pain, Part 1

This post will be personal, in a way perhaps that many blog posts I write won’t be. It’s also going to be a little raw, and less structured than I normally write. It’s more like a blog post crossed with a diary. Forgive me. It is hard to write about a painful subject when you’re actively going through it.

I want to tell you a story about a recent experience, the pain it has caused me and my wife, and why I think we ought to take life far more seriously, in all its suffering, joy, mirth, and despair, than we do.

“Is there meaning in life? That’s a stupid question… that’s not a question you ever ask yourself if you’re in pain. Because if you’re in pain you know that life has a meaning. And it’s the pain. And you can’t argue yourself out of that. And so when we’re asking about whether life has meaning, that’s not what we mean. What we mean is “in the face of life’s pain and suffering, does life have any POSITIVE meaning”

Jordan Peterson (emphasis mine)

My wife and I were married 10 years ago, roughly, and we both wanted children. It was baked into the cake, us being Card Carrying Christians and all. We wanted a family. But she had studies to attend to, and so for practical reasons we put off having kids for a while. To be honest this wasn’t such a big deal to me. I’ve never been much of a “kid person”. Or, in fact, a “person person”. I wanted a family, but there was no urgency, really, in my mind. It could wait.

In her final year before she graduated (#1 in her class at the University of Washington, btw, she’s soooper smart), we started trying to have our first kid. It was time, and we knew we wanted multiple. Basically as soon as we started trying, we were pregnant with our first, little Liam. My life would never be the same. Maybe I wasn’t a kid person, but I was a MY kid person.

Soon thereafter, we had a second child. This one took longer. Months went by. We were starting to wonder if something was wrong: Do we need fertility treatment? This was hard. What’s different this time? Does God want this for us? What is He trying to teach us? We didn’t expereience, really, a sense of loss, just one of delay. Why is God putting us through this?

But ultimately without treatment, and not really that long of a time (9 months of trying), we received yet another gift: little Teddy.

Words can’t express how much joy these two little boys give us. I never thought I’d want more than 2 kids until I had them. Now I wanted 3 for sure. Maybe more.

At this point you might be suspecting that what is, so far, a happy story has a dark turn. And you’re right. This post does have the title “Pain” in it, and not for nothing. We started trying for kid number three. And once again, just like our first, we were pregnant pretty much immediately. Whew! Teddy’s delay with just an anomaly. Getting pregnant was easy. And so, a few months later, we went into our first doctor’s appointment. This was supposed to be the first time we’d see our little one. We were happily talking about whether we wanted another boy, or a girl? Is this going to be the last kid for us? Do we want a fourth?

We were chatting away about these things as the ultrasound began…

….something isn’t quite right…

…this baby definitely isn’t that far along…

And then we were told the pregnancy wasn’t viable. Our baby would never be born. Within seconds, we went from joy to… well… that hollow feeling you get when something horrible has just happened, and you’re struggling to believe what you just heard.

It’s hard to describe the emotions we felt, and I’m not one to be good at such a description even if it were easy. But a soul, our child, was both here and not here. We’d not see his or her face. No hugs or bedtime stories. Just a canceled due date, and a procedure in a cold hospital room the next week to finish off what we were so eagerly anticipating.

Continued in Part 2