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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Goodbye SpongeBob

And this is how we start to heal . . .

Easy E

It was late in the afternoon last Friday. I was tired, and tired of being in bed. I had passed more blood than I thought one person should pass. I was crampy, hazy and getting tired of the nothing that was on television. I was sick of sleeping and my head hurt too much to read, so I did what any person might do, I started organizing the stored shows on my TIVO (DVR). As I scrolled down, I realized that we would never ever finish watching Nick Nolte in the fabulous 1979 hit, North Dallas Forty, and it was time to say goodbye. I scrolled to the right spot, pressed “enter,” and when I was asked if I really wanted to “delete this selection,” I selected “yes,” and with one click, the movie was gone. I continued scrolling through our many randomly saved shows until I noticed a recording from several months back. It was a Coldplay performance on Austin City Limits. With Chris Martin and Fix You fresh on my brain, I decided I must take a look. I listened for a few seconds and then began fast-forwarding through their set until I saw Michael Stipe. I couldn’t remember what he and Chris Martin were singing together from the last time I watched. Obviously, I had to know, so I stopped fast-forwarding. Immediately, as I pushed “play,” I recognized the song. It is one of my favorites: Joseph Arthur’s In the Sun.

. . . Don’t know anymore
What it’s for
I’m not even sure
If there is anyone who is in the sun
Will you help me to understand
Cause I been caught in between all I wish for and all I need
Maybe you’re not even sure what it’s for
Any more than me

May god’s love be with you
May god’s love be with you . . .

If you haven’t noticed, and what I too am learning about myself, is that I seem to be somewhat of a lyrical healer. I don’t quite understand why, but words in a song often squeeze their way right into the locked-down places of my heart. It is weird.

So this Michael Stipe and Chris Martin rendition of In the Sun has been playing in my head all week long. I keep hearing, “May God’s love be with you always, always . . .” It probably goes without saying, but whether you believe in God or think I am a nut for believing in something so intangible really isn’t the point. You see, as I listen to these words, I keep thinking how nice it is to feel like there is something out there greater than myself; maybe even something or someone, who actually knows my heart and knows my pain. Religion and politics aside, these healing thoughts are a tiny bit of what is helping me through.

Tangent done and back on my bed: I kept fast-forwarding through Coldplay’s set and land on their song, Fix You. Of course I listen. I listened and then I pushed “pause.” I hadn’t spent any time with the boys all day. My mom was doing a fantastic job of keeping them occupied and preventing them from jumping on my jumbled up uterus. I was missing them terribly.

Another Tangent: What I did not mention the other day is that when Eli grows up he wants to be a rock-star scientist. (Do you think he is trying to channel Buckaroo Banzai?) To help him achieve at least half of his career goals and when I just can’t handle listening to another kid’s CD, I will switch on some Mommy Music. Not so oddly enough, the boys have taken a liking to bands like Coldplay. Often when Fix You comes on Eli says,

“Now Mom, you are the drummer. I am the Katar (guitar) player and Kyle, you are the singer.”

We take our respective rock-star-buckled-safely-into-our-seats positions and usually end up singing our guts out. Literally my favorite part of our driving-rock-star-band is watching Eli from my rear-view mirror. I watch him as he intently listens for the guitar parts and strums along at just the right moment on his Electric Air Guitar. Nothing makes me happier then playing my Air Drums and singing my heart out in Eli’s rock and roll band, (even when both boys remind me to “stop singing” because I am the drummer and Kyle is actually the singer).

Back to Friday afternoon. Because I was missing the boys and because I knew they would recognize Fix You as soon as they heard the very first chord, I asked them to come see me. As Kyle walked into my room, he turned his head toward the television, looked up at the screen and giggled.

“Why is Daddy on the t.v.?”

We couldn’t stop laughing as Kyle realized that the man on the television set wasn’t actually Daddy, but a man who as Kyle said, “just looks like Daddy” (Chris Martin). (Oh, if I only looked like Gwyneth!)

I pushed “play,” and the boys both jumped on my bed, onto their feet and into their very best ROCK-STAR positions. The music starts and we all sing as we play our Air Instruments. This moment was absolutely, without question, the best part of the day; the day I had a miscarriage . . .

My week has been the craziest Roller Coaster ride of emotions. I think my personal emotional roller coaster ride is something akin to the Incredible Hulk. I have had great moments of hope and terrible hours of sadness. I am always surprised by the moments I cry and have been blown away by the support I have received here. I have sought solace in your words and am incredibly grateful for you. My friend Trace (who I met over the internet, by the way), just wrote about how the internet has become her social network and I am beginning to agree.

What I am learning is that miscarriage is kind of a black hole. So many women have them and even my own doctor says there has not been adequate research in finding out why. Because there are so many miscarriages that should happen (because of genetic problems, etc.), there is not enough research into the ones that should not happen. I am honestly not sure whether my miscarriage fits in the should or in the should not have happened category.

I am still so sad and confused, but just yesterday I was reading an article about miscarriage. I was reminded that before I move on, I need to see this little baby as a child that I was not able to have. I need to not only grieve my failed pregnancy, but I need to grieve this baby. Because miscarriage can be so abstract I have had a hard time seeing this for what it is: We lost a child, maybe a child that was not supposed to live, nevertheless, we lost him or her.

And then it occurred to me. With every pregnancy, we have given each baby a code-name (Dave is from the software industry, after all). Kyle’s was Seymour (I can’t even remember why we came up with Seymour, except that it was a funny name and people actually thought we were going to name Kyle Seymour), Eli’s was Elmo (to help Kyle connect with his new little brother — He was into Elmo at the time) and just last week Dave said,

“I think this baby is ready for his code-name. Kyle and Eli had one. I think we should call him SpongeBob,” (after Kyle and Eli’s favorite show, cartoon character, etc).

And so it was. Jut a few days before we found out about losing the pregnancy we started calling our baby SpongeBob.

So yesterday after reading the article about miscarriage, I decided I needed to really acknowledge not what I lost, but who I lost. I thought about it for a long time, took a deep breath and finally said out loud,

“Goodbye SpongeBob. Even though we really didn’t have a lot of time to get to know you, we would have loved having you in our family. Hey, and every time we look at pictures from our trip to Capitol Reef, we will always remember that you were there with us. We are still so sad that you couldn’t continue to be a part of our family. Eli tearfully told me how sad he is that he isn’t going to be a big brother and then Kyle joined in and told me how sad he is that he isn’t going to be a double big brother. We will all will miss you. We will always have the picture our friend took on the 4th of July. You can actually see my pregnant belly. When I look at that picture, I will always think of you. Goodbye little buddy. You will always be our SpongeBob.”

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