“Real isn't how you are made,' said the Skin Horse. 'It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.'
'Does it hurt?' asked the Rabbit.
'Sometimes,' said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. 'When you are Real you don't mind being hurt.'
'Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,' he asked, 'or bit by bit?'
'It doesn't happen all at once,' said the Skin Horse. 'You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand.” ― Margery Williams, The Velveteen Rabbit
Being pregnant tends to make me think and feel "more". I wake up at night and have all of these thoughts swirling through my head.
After we lost Rip, and I got pregnant with Gracie, people would say some variation of "You have no idea what's coming!" in a, having a new baby is SO hard, kind of way. You know what? They were right. I was totally unprepared for the late nights and utter exhaustion and how hard breastfeeding was going to be. You can't prepare for that.
But, I knew what is was like NOT to have all of that. And that was harder, much harder. So the comments stung a little.
Now that I am pregnant with Sam, people like to tell me how much harder life will be with two. This time, I KNOW they are right. The thought of taking two children in and out of car seats every.single.time. I want to go somewhere scares the bejesus out of me.
But, I already have two kids. And not having one of them seems a lot harder than anything else we will face.
I feel myself start to have a weird panicky feeling when friends say they may try for three kids. I can't quite figure out why...Yes, I always wanted three. Two boys and a girl, in fact...exactly what I got. Of course this isn't really what I wanted, but I know almost every single person who has dealt with loss of any kind, or infertility, would tell you that "you can't always get what you want". In truth, I feel extremely lucky to be as blessed as I am.
Which brings me to being "real". In real life, especially by the time you reach your thirties, almost everyone has been through something... an all caps SOMETHING. Some seemingly more that their fair share. Everybody has experienced something that has made them a little shabby, a little more real.
Rip is my SOMETHING. He is something that changed me in infinite ways.
Rip is real. I sat in a hospital bed for six weeks, have a scar on my belly, and can feel the weight of him in my arms. Rip is real and he made me real.
So its hard not to feel something (another something) when I don't feel his presence acknowledged. But the truth of the matter is, I know I don't pay nearly enough attention to anyone else's SOMETHINGS.
The same people who may give me advice on one, two, or three children may be the same ones who suffered through years or infertility or miscarriages while I laugh about how easily I get pregnant. Or the ones who lost a parent when I talk about how glad I am to have mine. Everyone has something that stings. And we can't all go around tiptoeing over everything that comes out of our mouths.
So I guess the part I work on, and struggle with, is how to be "real" without the anger, or resentment, or hurt feelings. The real me learned most of what I know to be true, and important, from a little boy who is no longer living on this earth. That little boy has nothing to do with negative emotions, there is nothing ugly about him. I don't want there to be anything ugly about me either.
But how do I do that? I guess it does take time. This becoming real is hard work. Taking your SOMETHING and turning it into the right thing, its really hard. But in the end- if we can do it- all of us, with our sagging joints and loved off hair, turn into something so real that we can't be ugly anymore.