Becoming Real

grass-1515341-640x480

 

The rabbit sighed. He thought it would be a long time before this magic called Real happened to him. He long to become Real, to know what it felt like: and yet the idea of growing shabby and losing his eyes and whiskers was rather sad. He wished that he could become it without these uncomfortable things happening to him.

-The Velveteen Rabbit

***

My Dad inflates a green latex glove, tapes a smiley face and eyes onto it, then stands it upright on my bedside table with a plastic clip. The smiley glove-doll wobbles beneath the vase of colored roses that my mom has brought for me. I have just left the recovery ward following my emergency surgery. My family is with me. They are standing by me in the midst of this wild grief storm.

Before the surgery itself, a woman came by with a clipboard and asked if I had a living will or a power of attorney document. No. I didn’t. But I knew why she was asking: in case I died or got stuck in an unresponsive state. A little later, the surgeon commented that my heart rate was pretty fast–you could hear it bleeping frantically on the monitor. Of course it was fast. I’d just realized there was a chance I could die. I ask the medical staff to leave and then I cling on to James’ hand and weep as I apologize for how I don’t appreciate him enough. He’s a tender, attentive husband and I take him for granted. We say we love each other. Then I go into the surgery.

We’d arrived at the hospital at 4am earlier that day. I’d been bleeding for almost ten hours, hoping I wouldn’t have to resort to anything further, but then I get light-headed and I know my blood-loss has surpassed safe levels. Right before the nurses get me into bed, I am screaming that I’m on the verge of passing out. Deja vu. I’ve been here before. The ER doctor tells me that my miscarriage has caused me to bleed too much and they need to perform an emergency D&C to stop the blood loss.

In the depths of my sorrow, I’m tempted to mark this year, 2015, as the year that two of my babies died. A year of pain and waiting and broken hopes. But I don’t want to remember it that way. This grief will not become my master-label.

2015 was the year I turned my birthday party into a Broadway musical sing-a-long. It was the year my baby boy became a toddler. It was the year I watched with pride as my sister graduated from university. It was the year I pushed myself to write something larger and more difficult than I’d ever written, while still taking care of my son full-time. It was the year that I identified mama-hood and writing as two huge priorities in my life. It will be the year that I release my third novel. 2015 is not a year worth burying in a deep hole. But, nevertheless it is a year cut through with deep shafts of sadness.

I wrote the following meditation, based on a pslam, before the bleeding began. I wrote it in the lobby as I waited for the ultrasound that would confirm that my baby no longer had a heartbeat.

 

Jesus is taking me on the road laid out for me

He won’t withhold anything that I need

He presses my head to a cool pillow for rest from my sobbing

He holds my hand and shows me the gentle babble of the water, tinged by sunrise gold

He touches my heart and fills the wound-gaps

He takes me to these healing places because he is good

As the darkness swallows my hope, Jesus lays out new blessings for me

Even though I walk with broken spirit through the gravestones of my babies,

It’s not a sign that I’m unloved

Jesus is with me, weeping, and supporting me from a collapse

He will continue being faithful, good, and merciful to me for as long as I live

And I’ll be his beloved daughter and part of his family. Always.

 

I don’t pretend to understand how this new death fits into a greater plan for good. I know God promises to use all things that happen to his children for a good purpose, and some part of me believes that. My biggest struggle is to not choke on the lies and fears that swirl through my head, doubting I’ll ever have another living baby. They’re lies.

I believe we’ll conceive again and have a healthy birth. My son is a testament that it is completely possible.

For now, I am trying to heal physically and emotionally, attempting existence one day at a time. As always, the love of my friends, family, and community have been my lifeline. I’m always astonished when love reaches a new level. My pastor rewrote his sermon for this last Sunday in order to deliver a message of hope and life to my family. I wept nearly non-stop through the entire church service.

I am loved.

My heart is broken but it will slowly come back together. My husband isn’t going anywhere. My son is smarter and more fun to play with each and every day. My friends are bringing me meals and offering to watch my Guppy so that James and I can have time to ourselves to process this.

The web of love tightens around me, making sure I don’t fall. At first I was numb and filled with dark thoughts. Then a ray of light slipped through and I trembled because I am weak and frightened but I’m not alone. Now I feel the army of friends who are standing around me, being strong on my behalf, looking ahead of me and promising that my future is not steeped in black.

To everyone who’s already heard this news, thank you for your prayers, thoughts, messages, and kind words. To anyone learning of this for the first time, I appreciate all prayers and thoughts you want to send my way.

 

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.

Psalm 34:18

About Elise

Elise Stephens began her career in writing at age six, illustrating her own story books and concocting wild adventures. Stephens counts authors Neil Gaiman, C.S. Lewis, and Margaret Atwood among her literary mentors, and has studied under Orson Scott Card. She dreams often of finding new ways to weave timeless truths into her stories. Her novels include Moonlight and Oranges (2011), Forecast (2013), and Guardian of the Gold Breathers (2015), a finalist for the INDIEFAB Book of the Year. She lives in Seattle with her family. Follow her on Twitter @elisestephens and Author Elise Stephens on Facebook.

Comments

Becoming Real — 14 Comments

  1. Oh dear Elise, thank you for sharing your grief with us, so that we all may become real too. You are loved. Your family is loved, both here and above. Peace~!

    • Oh if sharing this helps others, then so be it! It’s always hard for me to know if it’s helpful at all, but I feel compelled to honesty so I share. I sometimes feel it’s way way too long before I get to see the rest of my family. May God give me patience and peace.

  2. Dear Elise, I am one of those who is just hearing this for the first time. I read your post first in dread then horror and then grief. It touches a fresh pain because I have a niece who lost her first baby girl at 22 weeks. I’m so sad that you’ve lost two! I applaud your effort to remember to good of 2015 and your hope for children in the future. My niece, Katy just gave birth to her second (yet first live) child. A little boy. Such a joy! I will pray for you and believe God for more children for you and James. Love you,

  3. Dear Elise- I am so sorry for your loss. It is so hard, I lost two babies as well. One when Suzie was a year old in China. Another in Kazakhstan where I also needed an emergency D&C. I will be praying for your recovery and the hope of another child realized at the right time. Love, Julie

    • Oh Julie, I can’t believe how many women have lost babies in order to get babies. It seems too unfair and too painful. Thank you for sharing this with me. It makes me feel stronger, knowing other women have gone before me and grieved this same thing. Love to you.

  4. Dearest Elise. What a beautiful, albeit difficult, post. I could hear your hearts cry. My heart feels for you….I understand your emotions; your ponderings; your questions. Loss of our babies, is a tragedy…..I have lost four, to get my beautiful three. I look forward to the day, when I shall meet them in my Daddy’s house!
    Yes! You are loved….and He does use each and every situation….you are in my prayers. May He overwhelm you with His presence, deep peace, love & joy. May you just rest, in the shadow of His wings…where He will heal and restore you. Give thanks in all things-you have a thankful heart….that’s an important part of recovery & healing too. Bless you, sweet Elise xxx
    Liliane (Australia)

    • Liliane, thank you so much for sharing this! I had no idea. It seems, because we often do not know each other’s secret losses, that there must be something unusually wrong with me. Then I see that it is common and frequent, but no less tragic. Thank you for your prayers and your encouragement. I hope thankfulness will help me bear this, too. Sending you my love!

  5. Elise, I’m also just reading this for the first time. Oh I am so so sorry!! I am holding you and your sweet family in prayer and love. I’m here 20 years later to say that miracles happen. I too lost twins in miscarriage at 16 weeks before Cameron & McKayla and had a traumatic episode a week later hemorrhaging uncontrollably having to call 911 — same situation as you, blood pressure in the boots, near syncope and having to be rushed for emergency surgery 1 week following loss of babies. Cameron & McKayla are living miracles that even on a quarter of one ovary, life begins again and again. Lean into sleep, lean into rest, lean into all the Love embracing you beautiful lady. Sink your body into the Arms of the Everlasting who loves us more than any one of us is able to fathom. I’ll be praying for you each day from now on dear Elise. xo

    • Thank you so much, Heather! It astounds me how life continues to spring from these scary places, and then I just keeping thinking that babies and life are so much more of a miracle than we’re led to believe! Thank you for sharing this story. Thank you for your prayers.

  6. Dear friend, thank you for sharing your pain in such a raw, light-filled, beautiful way. This is art. I’m so sorry, words cannot describe, that it came through such terrible loss. Thinking of you with love, Lainie

    • Thank you, my dear. I wish I could immediately see the good that comes from things like this, but that’s probably just my impatience talking! Thank you for seeing beauty in the pain. I think I need someone else to see this on my behalf, at the moment.

Leave a Reply