An Epiphany

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

surround 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

is pregnant

Janice DeRuiter©1990


About Winding Stream Press

Janice DeRuiter Eskridge, M.F.A. is a poet who worked for over a decade as a poet-teacher for California Poets in the Schools. Helen Shoemaker, Ph.D. L.M.F.T. is a university professor who teaches in the areas of child development and counseling. She is also a therapist in private practice.
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