My Baby Went Back to the Stars – A personal account of miscarriage
by Marion Badenoch Rose
Twelve weeks into my second pregnancy, I breathed a sigh of relief. Winter Solstice came, the shortest day of the year. On the night of the full moon, I awoke from a dream filled with grief and sobbing. Later that day, I noticed a faint pink spot after going to the toilet. My heart sank as I called out to my husband.
I’d done everything I could think of to care for myself and the baby, including eating organic food, taking supplements, chlorine-free showers, acupuncture, homoeopathy, and Ayurvedic principles. I had a ‘conscious conception’, frequent relaxation sessions, Reiki, and craniosacral therapy. I never thought I’d have a miscarriage.
As that Thursday wore on, the spotting increased, and a dull ache appeared in my lower back, similar to the sensation during a period.
I lay down for hours as my husband played with our three year old daughter. I felt very worried but as I tuned into the baby and talked to him, I received the message that he needed me to be peaceful. So I focussed on relaxing, listened to a calmbirth CD over and over again, and kept connecting with the baby.
I talked to two midwives on the phone, both of whom I was due to have a preliminary visit with only a few days later. I phoned my acupuncturist, Simone, and she made an extra appointment for me that evening. Just before I set off, at about 8.30pm, the blood flow became heavy. By now I was very anxious and upset.
I am so grateful for that acupuncture treatment. I came away with a sense of trust, with the song, “Everything’s gonna be alright” ringing in my head.
My daughter was asleep in our family bed and I joined her, although not to sleep. About an hour later, I felt something falling away inside me, and I knew I had lost the baby. I called to my husband to bring a bowl, and for the next few hours I sat on the toilet, with blood emptying into the bowl. We phoned one of the midwives again. I shall never forget her words of empathy and empowerment. My husband sat opposite me and held my hands and looked into my eyes as my beloved baby began his exit from my body. I cried and wailed, we talked, and even laughed over a couple of jokes (thank goodness I knew that laughter heals fear!) I felt grateful too, that it had happened relatively quickly rather than waiting for days in the fear of not knowing. I even felt a strange sense of relief that although something so dreaded had happened, I was still somehow “okay”. About three hours later I could feel something big passing through, and I felt faint. Michael helped our little baby’s body out and I lay down in the shower and sobbed.
We both sensed it was time to go to bed, although I got no sleep that night. I talked to the little one, and used my relaxation practice to keep the sensations in my womb comfortable. The inner dialogue gave me some answers to my heartfelt questions. I felt grateful for the short time this little being and I had been together. During the pregnancy I’d felt an inner peace, and an ability to choose gratitude rather than blame. I’d had more intimacy with my husband and had found joy and contentment in being present in my daily activities.
For a while that night I felt a sense of bliss, as I entered an image of floating amongst the stars with this little one. Despite the grief, I had a sense of being part of Something much bigger than my earthly personality, and a renewed sense of trust in that mystery.
The next morning, after my daughter had been awake for a while, we told her that her little brother or sister had chosen to go back and live in the stars. That day, she started a new healing game – each time she is a baby in my tummy and decides whether to be born as a baby or go back and fly in the stars. She has played this game over and over with my husband and me.
My friend Nathalie had recently taught me to “muscle test” to find understanding from my Bodymind. Muscle testing become very important to me over the next few days as I sought answers to my questions, to everything from, “When shall we hold the ritual?” (On Sunday), to, “Did the baby die because I did too much exercise that morning?” (No).
I received more acupuncture and herbs to ensure that everything was expelled. I was glad we waited to do the ritual, because on Friday night I passed the placenta – like a perfect flower, and on Saturday night the umbilical cord. On Friday night my husband Michael took the blue bowl out of the fridge and showed me our baby’s body. I was scared to look, and when I did, a new wave of grief hit me and I cried. I felt so much pain as I thought how I would never hold this little one in my arms. Yet I’m so glad I did look, as I could see that he had stopped developing some time previously, and it helped me trust that there was a reason for him leaving.
Over those two days I went through every shade of feeling, challenging what I thought someone “should” feel after a miscarriage. Sadness and grief came as I expected, but not the surprise of appreciating my daughter climbing over my body without worry of the baby, or enjoying being able to fit into my trousers again. The jealousy and thoughts of, “It’s not fair” arrived a few days later as I saw women with their pregnant tummies or families with more than one child.
On Sunday morning we made our way up to Koonyum range, Michael with his didgeridoo, me with the blue bowl, and Lana walking with a stick she had found on the way.
We reached the ritual site. Wearing my red dress, I read aloud;
“Do not stand at my grave and weep;
I am not there. I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow,
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry;
I am not there. I did not die.”
Michael spoke the words of Mirabai,
“Where did you go, Holy One, after you left my body?
Your flame jumped to the wick, and then you disappeared
and left the lamp alone.
You put the boat into the surf, and then walked inland,
leaving the boat in the ocean of parting,
Mira says: Tell me when you will come to meet me.”
Lana recited each word after us.
I left there a step lighter.
That evening I went to watch a Flamenco performance. In the darkened auditorium I sat in the front row as the black-clad musicians and the brightly dressed dancers entered. The passionate laments of the singer and the intimate connections between the musicians and dancers drew me in and matched my mourning and bittersweet celebration of life.
On Monday I had a healing session with Jayne, a healer and midwife. I went on an enlightening inner journey. At the end, I picked some very apt cards, including “Everything operates according to the Universal Laws of Divine Timing”, and “This is the time for you to fill your heart with a warm feeling of gratitude.” When I returned home that rainy day, my daughter chose a CD and pressed the play button. On came the Eurythmics, singing, “It’s alright, baby’s coming back, and I won’t turn him around this time!”
One of the first things I’d wanted to do after losing my baby was to reread a magazine article account of miscarriage that I had remembered. I felt a hunger to hear more women’s stories. Over the following days I talked to others who had lost a baby. Women who had never shared their experience with me before told me what they had been through. I saw an image of women through the ages talking about babies lost. I felt deeply touched when one friend, still pregnant, told me about a miscarriage she had been through. Just as a friend had done for her, she offered to let me hold her baby once he was born.
I had not realised that miscarriage was so common and was curious about why it was not talked about more. I felt called to write this piece in the hope that it may help others who have had a miscarriage, as Susan Stark’s story did for me.
It is now three months since my baby left my body. Sometimes I still think of how pregnant I would have been, especially when I see a woman with her beautiful baby bump. Sometimes a wave of sadness jumps up at me.
I hope to conceive again. I wonder whether next time I will be more anxious, worrying that I might have a miscarriage again. Or less worried, knowing I’ve already been through it? One thing I’ve learnt is that the future is not certain, and plans don’t always go the way we want them to. I hope I’ve gained more trust in the mystery of life.
“The greatest gift anyone can give grieving parents is the gift of understanding. And there is another great gift: the gift of acknowledgement. The acknowledgment that we had a child who died and we have lost the potential of a life that, for us, held the promise of something quite extraordinary. The acknowledgment that our lives will never be the same again.” (Ryan, p.11).
Anonymous, Do not stand at my grave and weep. In, (1996) The Nation’s Favourite Poems. BBC Books, London.
Mirabai, Where did you go? In, Bly, Robert. (ed.) (1995) The Soul is Here for its Own Joy. Sacred poems from many cultures. The Ecco Press, New Jersey.
Ryan, Adrienne, (2000). A Silent Love. Personal stories of coming to terms with miscarriage. Penguin Books, Australia.