I am not the typical Beyonce fan. I became a fan much later in her career, specifically with the release of her first audio-visual album in 2013. It wasn’t simply her boldness and artistry that captured me, but moreso the knowledge that her growth had come out of her own trials and tribulations. I connected to her from the perspective of a Black midwife witnessing another Black woman step into her power after the birth of her daughter. It wasn’t until her second pregnancy and the recent albums released by both her and her husband that I was moved to cathartic tears. She has been blessed with not just one but two rainbow babies; for many of us who have had miscarriages, the birth of a rainbow baby can come with a lot of emotions ranging from fear to gratitude to triumph. Watching the healing and glory that exudes from her music and photographs is deeply inspiring to someone like me, waiting for their own rainbow baby.
I became curious about Beyonce’s reproductive journey when I heard the song “Heaven”, a haunting song describing the loss of a loved one. Though I am not sure it was about miscarriage, when I did research for the first article I wrote about her, I came across her documentary in which she spoke about her pregnancy loss. I could hear the pain in her voice and in her eyes. It was a familiar pain I have witnessed in my mother and many other women who have confided in me when they had a loss. I vividly remember my mother once going to a church service for the child that never had the chance to be my older sibling and her sadness was palpable. There is no amount of time that can erase experiencing a miscarriage with a fellow midwife when I was studying at the birth center in Texas. Losing a pregnancy, even when there are rational biological reasons for it, is so difficult. So difficult that I’ve avoided writing this essay for about a week. So difficult that I cannot write this without being choked up with tears.
Grace was conceived the last full week of February. I felt it almost as soon as it happened. I pay close attention to my body, particularly my reproductive system, so when I began spotting in a way that was unusual for me, I knew something was up. I remember it was the first day of March when I quietly went to work and stopped at Walgreens to buy a pregnancy test. I went to my office, put my bags down and made a beeline for the bathroom. The line was faint but it was there. I took two tests. I then asked a trusted coworker to get me a pregnancy test as privately as possible. Another line, albeit faint. All I could feel was an incredible amount of joy and happiness, with the normal fear of losing this new creation before giving birth to it. Telling my partner was wonderful and the time we shared basking in the excitement is something I will always hold dear to my heart.
I woke up on the tenth day of March and noticed my previously tender and swollen breasts were a little less full. While I was laying on my back getting ready to start my day, I felt a trickle of liquid come out of my vagina. Immediately, I put my hand to my vulva to see what it was. There was the unmistakable sight of blood on my fingers. I ran to the bathroom and sat on the toilet to then feel a stream of blood come out of my body. “No, no, no! Oh please God, no!”, I cried between sobs as the inevitable continued to happen. My partner was there with me, trying to comfort me and tell me it would be okay. Unfortunately that was not the case. I kept bleeding that morning, and crying profusely. When I think about that moment in my life, what haunts me most is how I pleaded with God and begged it to please don’t do this to me. I don’t remember sobbing and crying the way I did that whole day. The last time I felt that desperate escapes my memory.
I wanted so much to be pregnant. For so many years, I have struggled with my reproductive system. It has taken and takes a lot of work to undo the belief that my body is broken in some way because I have polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). PCOS has many side effects; it has manifested in me as irregular periods and periods of anovulation (lack of ovulation). Being pregnant for 10 days before the miscarriage felt victorious. It felt like confirmation that my body was completely functional and that I would be able to carry and sustain another life. Having a miscarriage shattered that victory. In retrospect, I’m not fully sure why I went to work that day. The bleeding stopped by the time I was showered and dressed, so I prayed the whole time on the way to work that it was just a threatened loss. When I got to work, there was more blood. I began to sob in my office.
You look nothing like your mother. You look everything like your mother. – Warsan Shire
I called my mother first in tears. My mind immediately reminded me that she has experience with this very same pain. She urged me to go to the clinic, in an attempt to save this creation that I was quickly losing. I remember struggling to tell the doctor what was happening through my tears. She did her best to be compassionate and reassure me that this was normal and that it didn’t mean I could never have children. In that moment of grief and the months that followed, all the midwifery training and the rational evidence-based knowledge I knew about miscarriage flew out the window. I didn’t want to hear that I could have a baby in the future. I had to stop short of yelling at my mother for her prescriptive advice and comforting that cited this personal tragedy as God’s will. At the time, it did not feel like God’s will but rather a punishment for all the myriad of reasons that raced through my mind in the first few weeks. The grief brought up past sexual trauma and insecurities that I had to painfully work through. I was now part of the sisterhood of loss – a silent mass of countless women who silently grieved the loss of their dearly beloved children who never got to reach full gestation. I found an article about coping with miscarriage during that time and the first thing it mentioned was this notion of embarrassment. I got teary eyed when I read that. I hadn’t had the words to describe the feeling of embarrassment. It’s hard to pinpoint. It feels like embarrassed because maybe I should have known better than to tell anyone so early. Embarrassed because I feel like it was a lie. Embarrassed that I got people excited for nothing. Just embarrassed.
March 15th –
It’s been a couple of days without you. 5 days to be exact. I spoke to your father yesterday about this nostalgia I feel, like I’m missing something. Missing you. You’ve been a part of me for years now. I met you when I got the strong urge to be a mother 9 years ago. I remember all the dreams I had of all the children I’d mother. I was hoping to finally meet one of you this November. I was already planning how I’d spend my first holiday season as a new Mami with a newborn. I began to wonder if you’d share a birthday with any of my favorite Scorpios born around your due date, or if you’d come on the day your great grandfather passed, or even on Thanksgiving!
I feel like my body betrayed me. There are many thoughts I’m having about this, varying from thanking God that they took you from me early so I wouldn’t suffer having to birth a bigger mass of tissue, angry that I lost you, numb because I don’t know how to feel, relieved knowing you would have been born sick or ill, embarrassed that I made plans about and for you, and sad that it didn’t happen. There is an underlying feeling of knowing that everything happens for a reason starting to creep in. I am not devastated the way I was Friday. Those emotions are slowly becoming a distant memory. You, however, are a clear and present one.
It has been one of the most painful experiences of my life. It has also been one of the most healing. My partner and I grew closer through this experience. It was the first major tragedy we had to go through together. In my pain, I released a lot of sadness and anger that I had harbored for years. I mourned the years I had spent doubting my body and spirit, as well as the spiritual miscarriages I had with the man who violated. I mourned the promised children in that relationship who never were conceived. It gave me an opportunity to confront the shame I’ve live with in regards to having an irregular cycle and feeling that I had been punished by God for being molested at age 6. I lived the storm of my life and have become better for it. I still feel sad when I think about it too long. My spirit baby’s name is Grace. The concept of grace, which in Christianity refers to the free and unmerited favor of God, as manifested in the salvation of sinners and the bestowal of blessings and also means to honor another person with one’s presence, got me through the darkness times of my grief. I have long viewed God as a punitive tyrannical entity and to view the healing and blessing that it truly was to have this being in my body for a little over 10 days as being graced by God supported me so much. It finally has given me the opportunity to shed the belief that I was in some way undeserving or tainted in the eyes of the Christian God that governed much of my childhood and adolescence.
I cried when I saw Beyonce perform at the Grammys earlier this year. Those tears were out of happiness for her, knowing that she knew the pain of miscarriage and was being blessed with not just one but two babies. I cried the first time I heard the title track 4:44 from her husband because I got another glimpse of the excruciating pain and loss she had to live through. It made her pregnancy even that much more powerful and triumphant for me. And of course, I cried when I saw her recent photo of her with her twin boys. It brought it full circle for me. I had received a lesson and blessing through my own miscarriage a few months ago. Beyonce’s picture was a reminder that healing can be glorious. It was a reminder that I too can look forward to such glory in my own body. Most of all, through my journey I stopped marking the health and value of my reproductive system by its ability to carry and sustain life. I would love to give birth to my own children. There is no denying that fact. Yet, this experience has taught me how to give birth to myself in a deeper and fuller way. I think about Grace nearly every day. And I thank her for changing my life by losing her.