This week we’re immersed in the sounds and memories of this last year. For our children we make a soundtrack to commemorate the first year. Finn and Granger each have a song on their soundtrack that is their own, but honestly, the experience of the first year is absolutely so shared that it’s hard for them to have many of their own songs at this point.
Tommy is posting every day on Facebook about what the songs mean and revealing them one at a time.
I get a big ole lump in my throat just thinking about the songs, so I don’t think I could drag it out like that.
One big reason why is because of a miscarriage that I had back in 2011. That was a really hard year. Tommy was working at a school in a really toxic environment. I liken the working conditions to emotional abuse. It was right before he would have had tenure. However, there really was no choice but to resign. He would of course finish the school year out, and have the remainder of the year to finish teaching and search for a new job.
However, later that month I found out I was pregnant. This had not been our plan. Tommy and I squeezed each other’s hands a lot during that time. To say that a pregnancy at that time put extra stress is quite an understatement. I immediately called my midwife and told her to pencil me in for December 5th. She was very excited and could tell that I hadn’t quite gotten there yet.
Right around that time, Tommy had put together a mix of his favorite songs from one of his favorite artists, Jeffrey Foucault. One of the songs just spoke to us so much about where we were, “One for Sorrow”. It’s all about a couple so in love and going through life together. I played it every time I got in the car on repeat and would tear up every time as I sang along to the line “We’re gonna have a hundred babies, a little house outside of town.”
It’s going to be fine. That’s what I told myself over and over. But I was scared and worried, and wanted to control the process. Let’s get real…I ALWAYS want to control the process. I started looking into options for being able to take on more hours at work (I had started working part time in January). I also applied for several other part time jobs. Tommy was looking for all kinds of teaching openings. I was also studying for my lactation consultant exam, and caring for our one and three year olds.
In May, I was ten weeks along and we went to St Louis for some friends’ wedding. I had just announced at work. That weekend we announced to Tommy’s sister and her wife. They were also expecting, and we were staying with them for the weekend. All of a sudden that weekend my appetite was back, and I thought maybe I was through the nausea.
At the wedding, I just wanted to sit down. This is not like me at all. Normally Tommy and I dance the night away at weddings…no matter if I’m pregnant, or carrying a baby in my arms, or carrier, or twirling a toddler. It’s just what we do. However, every time I tried to dance I felt a twinge of cramping in my abdomen. I figured I’d just rest.
That night I laid in bed at my sister-in-law’s house wide awake. Tommy’s heavy breathing let me know he was already asleep. I cradled my belly as I felt a few cramps. It wasn’t particularly painful, it just called my attention.
On the drive home the next day, Tommy and I were talking about the upcoming week. All of a sudden I became aware that a job that he had planned to apply for had closed. I asked it he had gotten his application in. No.
This conversation spiraled into a tailspin of an argument, and if memory serves me right we pulled off the road…although I’m not sure about that part. I can’t remember what either of us said (although I can imagine it a bit…me: guilting him about responsibility and security. Him: saying how it must be nice to be so perfect to never forget something), but what I do remember is that I yelled so hard that my throat hurt. It kind of scared me to yell that hard.
I don’t remember anything else about that day.
That night, I woke in the middle of the night. I was cramping really hard. I called my midwife. She suggested a bath and hydrating, just in case there was anything we could do. I apologized to the baby. I let the baby know that we really did want him or her, that our family was a wonderful and welcoming place. I was sorry I’d yelled, and been freaked out. It didn’t do any good. By six AM I was bleeding.
I kept my midwife appointment for the following weekend. I went by myself. On the drive, I listened to “One for Sorrow” on repeat. The chorus now had a new meaning for me.
“One for sorrow, two for joy they say.”
I was still holding onto hope that maybe I hadn’t actually miscarried, or that maybe somehow the baby was still okay. My jeans were fitting better though, and I had no symptoms, so I doubted it. My symptoms were gone, and the doppler picked up no heartbeat.
Our midwife asked if I was actually ready to let go of my baby. I burst into tears, and we sat in silence for a while. She told me that a strange thing had happened. Three women that she had worked with before had all called her around the same time to have her save a place for them in December as clients. All three of us had now miscarried those babies. And then she said something that she says often. “I wonder if we’ll ever know the meaning of that.”
To be clear, I don’t know the meaning of that to this day, but I feel it should be noted in the telling of this story.
Then she said something else. “I feel like this soul really wants to be part of your family…so, I think they’ll be back.” This jives perfectly well with my view of the universe. It made me feel a little better at the time, and then I went home to relax. I had a lot of guilt about the miscarriage. The self blame thing was probably one of the most difficult aspects.
Over the next few weeks, I watched the flowers that I received wilt. I packed up the blanket I had started knitting, I couldn’t bear to pull out the stitches. I laid around a lot….And then, sometime that I’m not remembering I stopped thinking about it all the time. It wasn’t a conscious decision. There were reminders. The 120th day passing (sikhs mark the 120th day of pregnancy as the time when the soul more firmly attaches to the baby, and permanently chooses the family), and I found the 3 inches of knitted blanket at the bottom of a forgotten tote bag.
But there were other things happening in our life as well. I took and passed my lactation consultant exam. Tommy found a new job. My sister Goodi moved out to California to attend school at Berkeley. I pulled out the blanket stitches, and started a pair of socks. And our beautiful niece was born to my sisters-in-law.
I didn’t listen to “One for Sorrow” anymore. I banned it from my playlist.
In October Tommy let me know that he was ready to have another baby…ya know, no pressure…just when I was ready. I was not. It was still fresh. The due date passed.
More time passed. I’m not a particularly strong believer in the old cliche that time heals all wounds. Although, I’m not sure what did. Although, one very cathartic exercise was the process of putting together a life soundtrack for myself. “One for Sorrow” did make the cut, and I could now smile as well as tear up when I heard it. I finished the socks.
Finally, about a year after my original due date, I said I was ready. I’m sure you all know that it is not a perfect science to plan a baby. One never knows exactly when or if it will happen, and for us, this time it wasn’t right away. However, we have never known firsthand the heartache of some of our friends and family who have tried to conceive for months or years on end, or lost their ability to have children much too soon. I certainly don’t take their pain lightly.
In spring 2013 I was pregnant. Again with a December due date. Gracie and Ava are 2 years apart in age. There would have been 2 years between Ava and the baby that we didn’t get to meet in 2011. And now there would be 4 years between Ava and the new “baby”.
One summer evening I was driving to knitting night…my normal Thursday routine, and the song “I will wait” by Mumford and Sons came on the radio. As I felt the tiny kicks of the life inside me, my midwife’s words washed over me again, and I burst into tears as I felt like the baby was singing right to me. As if this precious soul was waiting just for us. Waiting for us to be ready to welcome him into our family.
Of course this is the first song on the sound track.
We played it as a sort of anthem through the pregnancy. During the 40 days of baby moon, we started thinking about some of the other songs to go on the boys’ soundtrack, and we listened to “One for Sorrow” again. It just fit. Especially the lines “The Perseids were falling, on that hothouse August night, I saw two come down together, and thought it looked about right.”
I’m still not sure that I understand every aspect of this. Were the boys waiting for us? Was one of them? It doesn’t really even matter. I’m just so deliriously happy that they chose us. I know so many who know loss in the form of infertility, miscarriage, stillbirth, tragedy later on….
It isn’t fair. It will never ever be fair. I feel guilt even that I have found closure and meaning. I don’t know how to end this…Only to say that I honor you. I wish you peace on your path, and I wonder if we’ll ever find out what this all means.
If you are searching for help in having a home birth after previous birth trauma, I wrote this resource guide for you. Home Birth After Birth Trauma Resources
If you would please share your life’s great mysteries (answered and unanswered) below in the comments, I would be very grateful.