It took me over 20 years to write about my two miscarriages. The poem is below. It is an example of how imagination can transform and reframe an experience. Recently, these moments in my life re-surfaced when a young woman I know experienced this same life-changing event. I don’t think you realize in the moments in and around it what a miscarriage will mean. For me, I focused on keeping my head above water to care for my two toddler sons. It was only when the doctor called to tell me that the second trimester fetus was a perfect little girl that I gave into weeping. The second time it was the same story—a perfect little girl.
It only dawned on me when thinking about blogging on this how those loses were transformed. After the miscarriages, I carried to term a very determined little boy. I knew from the first punch in my gut when I had the absolute nerve to eat a big hamburger that this was a boy and a vigorous one at that. I kept dreaming he was born talking. I was almost right. Determination is a mild word when describing this miraculous third son.
Today doing the dishes, I suddenly realized (Dish epiphanies are not to be confused with a mountain top and light.) that thanks to the birth of this son I had vicariously experienced those little girls. His first child was a very determined and curious girl. As I held her and watched her take in the whole room, my son suggested that this was the girl I had always wanted. I didn’t want this tiny redhead to mean that somehow I wasn’t happy with my boys. So instinctively I said no and what I always say, “What’s important is a baby being born alive and healthy.”
It is my private belief that it was best in the whole scheme of things that I not mother a girl child. I would only turn her into a tomboy like I was. Like my Mother before me, I would be forced to hang those few dresses she actually wore in the closet and remember the one or two times I managed to get them on a girl who much preferred cowboy boots and jeans.
But I did get to watch a girl grow and develop. I remember at her baptism being overwhelmed with the thought of what a responsibility it would be to raise a strong woman in today’s rapidly changing world. But it was done. (But I couldn’t resist. I paid for horse riding lessons and so came the cowboy boots and jeans.)
And I got 5 grandsons to enjoy and chase after. I could tell their mother’s, “Don’t worry with sons you never have to worry about being bored. What you do have to worry about is them being bored.”
If life throws a miscarriage or worse at you, try your best to rejoice in what you have and know that somehow, someway you will experience healing and joy. Carry pictures of your joys with you so that when misery clouds your day, you can remember what is here, what is now.
Requiem for Two Voices
Journal, August 6 1968: Lost #2
clouds of sorrow rise
numbness rides the elevator with me
weeks in bed reading, knitting, waiting
my daughter, how can I decide, two days two days
reading girls who swim in cold water dive to lose what I want
transplant another mother’s sorrow
I sit in a wheelchair a white paper waits
consent form: incomplete abortion
your life bound to a hospital
sign and live, sign and the baby dies, sign
as we once were joined
for the two at home
the only guarantee is death now, in a few years, now
don’t and the red tide flows
years, now a few years we are in the womb of loss
my signature is wobbly I hear a baby cry
birth is death push, push us down
home flat stomach empty arms, home
the unfinished blanket shoved behind some books
our arms will be a living cradle for your hours
we will memorize you
the whole world is pregnant