After a Miscarriage: Pain and Power Ballads

Kyle at Fort Columbia State Park, WA (just over the river from Astoria, OR)

Finally home, although we already miss Portland. After two and a half weeks on the road we are finally home. The boys are up in bed. Dave is in the kitchen looking at all the mail and I am watching a recorded episode of, “So You Think You Can Dance.” I love that show! And maybe it is because I am finally home, or because I am finally alone, or maybe it is because I am extra super tired, but just now when I heard the first few bars of, “I will always love you,” tears started rolling, simple, slow and quietly down my face. I sucked a deep breath in and of course I thought of Whitney and yes, I wondered why she did not have someone watching her in that bathtub.

I watched the beautiful dance and then I listened. I think it is the words and I think it is because in this moment I see that I will not have another child. I get it and then I realize I am not breathing. I concentrate and tell myself, “breathe, Beth, breath,” and then I let the tears fall. I let them stream. Those words, as cheesy as they are, were reaching, reaching me and I am glad. Before tonight, whenever or wherever I heard those words sung, say in a dressing room, my car, or sung by at least one contestant every single year on American Idol, I blurted them out loudly and sung them with my best power-ballad-styled conviction. Didn’t we all?

Cathedral Tree/Column Trail Astoria, OR

Dave, while on a LDS Mission in Caracas, Venezuela, had a mission companion who incessantly played the Bodyguard Soundtrack, which of course includes the song, “I will always love you.” This guy played the Bodyguard soundtrack so often that one day Dave could not take it any more and in an instant he threatened to toss that damn Bodyguard Soundtrack cassette tape out the window. “Use your headphones!” Dave demanded! “If I hear that music played out loud one more time, the tape is gone! I will throw it out the window!”

Not soon after Dave uttered those words, his companion must have either doubted Dave’s threats or simply could not resist his sweet, sweet Bodyguard Soundtrack and had to play the “and I, yi, yi, yi I will always love you, ew, ew’s,” one more time. Upon hearing those first bars, Dave walked over, stopped the cassette player, pulled out the threatened cassette tape, walked over to the window, opened it and threw that damn Bodyguard Cassette out the window, where it fell to its untimely or timely (depending on how you see it) death; no sooner to be run over by a car below.

Dolly Parton wrote the song in 1973 after a break-up with her partner and mentor, Porter Wagoner. Tonight I listened to the Whitney version, and as I heard those very first bars, “If I should stay, I would only be in your way,” I let go, gave in and was somehow able to disconnect from the gooey, overly sentimental and overplayed aspects of that song and just listen. It was like our child was singing to me. Crazy, right? It was as if my broken hopes were saying, “hey Beth, I get it. I know you wanted another child for years. I know when you found out about me you were mad. I know you wanted to carry me, to feel me grow. I know you were scared. I know you didn’t want me. I know you did. I was here, but I had to go. I know you felt me leave. I know. I get it and somehow you will be ok.” Now how weird is that? How weird is it that a reality dancing show playing an overplayed Whitney Houston song brought me to soul-gripping tears? I thought it was a little weird too, yet it did.

As the song ended (I rewound and played the dance through twice), well, as the song ended a second time, there were no long drawn out power-ballad crescendos from me. Instead I just heard myself saying,

And I will always love you. I will. Then I held my breath again.

At the top of the Column Astoria, OR

A question I have been asked a lot about the last few days besides, “are you ok?” is, “was it painful?” or better, “you really don’t mention the pain at all?”

The answer, if I can give you one: it was horrific! It was horror movie bloody, gory and I felt searing, gut-wrenching pain. I felt pain before the hospital. I felt pain the night before, at lunch, at Ruby Jewel and once there, if it were not for Liz, the amazing Ultrasound tech, I believe I would have passed out from the intensity, literally! Finally, as the blood continued to gush like some insane river, Liz yelled at my nurse, “Do not listen to her. She needs something for the pain!” The nurse tried to have a business-meeting styled conversation with me and began dissecting every single word as he asked me what I wanted or if I even needed pain medicine. I tried to rationally answer him in between tears, terror and my constant questions, “What is happening to me? Why is there so much blood? I can feel it rushing over your hand. Liz, the blood. It will not stop!”

Dave and Liz both piped in. “Do not listen to her. Get her something now!” Grateful. I am so grateful! It hurt, but I wanted to feel that hurt. My stupid nurse played right in. I think he wanted me to hurt to. I felt like he was thinking, “well, she isn’t having a baby so how could it possibly hurt that badly?”

I wanted to bleed through my nightmare and get through. I wanted to feel this moment. I needed to feel this moment so deeply that I will never forget these last seconds that I was pregnant. I kept thinking of the last moments I nursed Eli. It was May 2003. I looked at his sweet little face and said to myself, “This is it. Do not forget! Look at him and remember this moment. It may not happen again.” Did I jinx myself? I don’t think so. I am grateful I remember. I am grateful I remember what it is like to hold a baby in your arms and nurse. I remember how it feels to fell so close. I want these moments seared into the involuntary spaces of my soul. There is no other way to say it. I wanted to feel this pain so I never forget. They were contractions. I finally realized. Another friend asked about them. When she was miscarrying she told me she had really horrible contractions.

Yes, I had them. They came on hard and they came on fast. I thought I was going to die. Seriously I was like, “what the hell is happening to me? Really? What?” Because there was no baby, I had a difficult time connecting to the fact that they pain I was feeling was indeed labor. Because there was no baby, I felt like I deserved this pain. Seriously. That is how it was. I already knew I had failed and because this was the end, albeit a surprise ending, it was the end of a very long road. And because it was the end, I needed to feel the pain.

The bridge between Oregon and Washington at Astoria


Earlier today I had my blood drawn. I am assuming my hCG is going doing and that my Hemoglobin is where it needs to be. Cross your fingers that my products of conception have flown the coop and that I am on my way. Yes, Thom and Adam, to be continued. I will give you the word as soon as I hear from my doctor.

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12 thoughts on “After a Miscarriage: Pain and Power Ballads

  1. Not to take away from this heart wrenching beautifully written experience, but I have to ask. What did Dave do when you kept rewinding and listening to “I will always love you”?

  2. Feeling so much love for you. I wish I could hug you right now. Hoping with all my heart that all is well physically so that you can continue your journey to healing. xo

  3. Beth, I have read all your postings and have thought and thought about what to say to you. I am sorry seems so very simple, although I am deeply sorry. I wanted to share something with you, not sure it will help, not sure anything really does. And I realize that this will be seen by those who read your story but although it is very personal I wanted to tell you that you are not alone. A long time ago, my senior year in high school, which would make it about 1970, I thought I was in love, and to make a long story short became pregnant. At that time, or really at any time, telling Grandma and Poppy was not an option, so I turned to Ted. He was kind and agreed that all I could really do, if that was my true decision, was to have an abortion. I know being an adopted child, of the incredible opportunity that could have been, but I knew for me I could never see the disappointed look in my Daddy’s eyes, nor could I ever feel a baby inside me move and then give it up. Ted arranged for my airfare, I had to fly to New York (only place at the time you could had this done), paid for the procedure and I did this all on my own in a day at the ripe old age of 17. I carried the weight of whether I did the right thing all of my life, still do in part. When I later married Wayne and was more than ready to start a family, although he was reticent at best, I started the process of getting off the pill, and preparing myself to start the wonderful world of parenthood. One day I woke up bleeding, thought it was just a period and that my cramping was bad because I was no longer covered by the benefits of the pill. The pain got worse, the bleeding got worse, and yet I chose not to say anything to anyone. I remember laying on the couch and Grandma stopped by and noticed something was wrong, I told her what was going on and she immediately rushed me to her doctor and after a quick examination, one that I tried to not have since I was embarrassed about the bleeding, he looked at me and said I was miscarrying. I looked at him and said “miscarrying what?” Never knew I was pregnant. Anyway I was told to go directly to the hospital, but I insisted that I needed to go home, I had a 5 year old step son to make arrangements for and I needed to pack a few things. With much trepidation, he said ok making sure that Grandma would not leave my side and that I would indeed check into the hospital. I think, now that I look back, since I wanted to be pregnant so much that they were afraid I would just stay home, trying to will the miscarriage away. Anyway I did check in the hospital, had a D&C and felt like a total failure. I was also convinced that I was being punished by God for the abortion that I had when I was 17. I took a life that I did not want, and now that I wanted one, it was being taken. I tell you all of this only because I think God works in mysterious ways, and I am an avid pro choice person, because I think that every woman deserves to make the decision that works for them, and I don’t believe in an unmerciful God. I can totally understand your need to be happy and yet “unhappy” about that pregnancy. I just don’t want you to carry the burden that being “unhappy” was any kind of punishment. You know better than most that some pregnancies go on and some go away. I don’t know if any of this makes sense or if I have gotten my thoughts across to you in the way I intended. I am sorry for what you have gone through, I am sorry for the pain you suffered, I am sorry for the ordeal for your family, and I am sorry you even had to question if you were going to die. I am happy you made it through, I am happy you have the love of family and friends, and for yourself. I pray for you to heal physically and mentally and wrap yourself in the love that surrounds you. I love you

  4. Beth, what powerful words: “There is no other way to say it. I wanted to feel this pain so I never forget.” And don’t think it’s crazy that this overplayed ballad is what helped you grieve/process this loss. Everything happens for a reason. More hugs from Chicago!

    Aunt Sue…I admire your bravery for sharing your story. I don’t believe in an unmerciful God either.

  5. Beth, I am so incredibly sorry for what you have gone through….for all of your losses and for this most recent loss. What a horrific experience. So much of what you described is familiar to me, only fortunately I haven’t had to experience that amount of blood loss. I am so glad you are okay! That moment you described two posts ago, when you felt the tissue pass, it is engrained into my body. Even though the most poignant loss for me was almost 3 years ago now, I can remember it like it was yesterday. And as complicated as my emotions have been around my losses and now current pregnancy, I can only imagine what yours must have been like. I am just so sorry. And as much as I know those are the only words I wanted to hear throughout all of my losses, they still don’t feel enough when spoken to someone else. I hate that I am not the only woman in the world to know this pain. In reading your words, I am reminded again of everything I have gone through and feel so blessed to be entering my 3rd trimester in a (finally!) healthy pregnancy. Your experience with wanting to feel the pain is exactly how I feel with my impending birth. Although I wish yours had ended as I’m expecting mine to in a few short months, I completely understand wanting to feel the hurt after everything you’ve gone through. With the birth of this baby, I want to feel every ounce of pain that comes with labor because, for me, it will be the final moment in all of this journey where I can close the chapter of loss. To feel pain like that will be so cathartic, I welcome it. I think most of the people I tell this to think I’m crazy. But this journey has been hell, and I welcome the ending to it. Thankfully, my ending will be with my little girl in my arms…I know how blessed I am for that to be my reality. I’m sorry that yours is a different kind of ending, but a (seemingly) welcomed ending just the same. I’m so happy you have your boys to love and snuggle with during all of this. You, too, are blessed (not that I have to tell you that, it’s apparent you know this!). But this pain is a real one, and I’m sorry you are experiencing it one more time. Sending my love.

  6. Nino, I know you are and I know you get this! I wish you could give me a hug right now too because then that would mean that we were seeing each other in person. Thank you dear friend! <3

  7. Sue. Wow! What a journey you have been on. My mom speaks so highly with you. I know you say and share what you say probably for a little personal healing and also to help me not feel alone. I don’t and I thank you. We all heal and express as in our own way, and I appreciate that you shared your experiences from your perspective. I am going to think about your experience and process what you went through. I think and wish more women would share their miscarriage experiences because we are certainly not alone, but somehow women seem to feel less than when they cannot achieve a healthy pregnancy. I know I have struggled with those feelings.

    I think it is also funny because even I, in telling my story, was so delicate with details that I don’t know if it was super clear that I went way beyond miscarrying to full blown life or death hemorrhaging. I did not want to make it into a competition and I think I am still totally freaked out by the gravity of the situation. I mean, how do you define a lot of blood? A lot of blood is based on experience. We all have these tremendous journeys and I do think as people become more comfortable and more balanced sharing, that a lot more healing can go on. All of our roads are important.Thank you for takings steps to start this process (if that makes sense).

    All the best. <3

  8. Andrea, Seriously, once again I thank you! I am feeling those hugs and I agree. Things happen as they should. 🙂

  9. Courtney, First may I say your comment brought so many tears to my eyes that I had to turn off my phone and put in my pocket. At the time I was standing in the School Supply Aisle of Target as my boys shoved erasers, glue sticks and note pads in my face. Wow! Thank you for your lovely thoughts and thank you for understanding! I am really happy that you are having a successful pregnancy. I hope it continues as it should! I’ll be thinking of you!

    I know women who have miscarried do get that weighty feeling of tissue passing. Thank you for sharing how profound that moment is.I like that you say that you hate that you are not the only woman in the world to experience this pain. I feel very similarly. I fel selfish because I am so grateful for the kind empathy of others, but I would not wish this kind of unfinished loss on anyone.

    I do not think you are crazy for wanting to feel the pain and if you tell us later on that you ended up needing medication after a time, I will not think that is less than either. I am glad you understand the need to feel. I really do think feeling is key to healing. Thank you, Courtney! You are right! I am really blessed! Thank you for taking the time to share your experience with me. I totally needed it. xxoo

  10. Beth I am stunned that you can be so eloquent and write so poignantly about this when you are RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE of it. I don’t ever have the presence of mind to do that when things get hard. Sending you healing thoughts. And I am not surprised at all about your trying heparin, I’ve thought about it myself. I have spent time reading up on Reproductive Immunology, which some doctors think is a load of quack, but I just want something to believe in. We are wishing you the best here, and I am relieved to hear of the bittersweet peace you seem to be reaching, about not having more kids. More kids would be great… but keeping you around is more important. Hugs.

  11. Sweet Monika, thank you for your lovely words. I know you get it and I am likewise sad that you have to. I am still stunned. I know you would rise to the occasion as well. You already are. That’s what we do. As far as Heparin, I was not surprised either.Quackery or not, I wanted to give this baby every fighting chance. I know you understand. Bittersweet peace is correct. I don’t think we ever completely get over these losses or things we cannot control. And yes, there will always be a tiny little hole in my soul. I don’t know how to fill it. I am just learning how to love it and bring it along. Hugs back!

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