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13. Transference

Fall of 2022 was a hard time. I had a miscarriage seven weeks into pregnancy. I will have turned forty-three by the time I turn in this thesis. As I write this I am currently forty-two and was forty-two when I became pregnant the first and only time in my life, then had a miscarriage, also the first and only time in my life. At first when my husband Thor and I learned about our pregnancy we were surprised, delighted, scared, then we got into the rhythm of not partying, going to bed early, getting up for the bathroom twice at night (me), and taking prenatal vitamins (also me). I told my mother, my brother, and my small work team. I told my work team because I figured they would be affected either way, my pregnancy going successfully or unsuccessfully. Now that I’ve used these terms - successful and unsuccessful - I wonder if there are better words to describe miscarriages than “unsuccessful pregnancies.” If the focus is on continuing pregnancy up to term period, then miscarriages are unsuccessful, but miscarriages happen for a number of reasons and so now I think they are just what they are, neither success nor failure.


I’m glad I told my team at work because my miscarriage happened there, at work. I was spotting for the past two days and was nervous about it. My colleague got me a tin of nice herbal tea named “Chill Out” to crack a smile out of me. We were getting ready for an event the following day and the executive assistant of the host arrived with material for set-up. I felt something in my abdomen and I could feel the liner pad on my underwear starting to soak. I excused myself and nervously confided to my colleague who got me the “Chill Out” tea that I was bleeding too much. I texted Thor to let him know, replaced the flimsy liner with a regular pad and drove home. During the thirty minute drive from downtown SF to our home in the Outer Sunset I had soaked through the pad, my underwear and pants, and the bunched up yoga clothes I sat on so I wouldn’t bleed on the car seat. I bled through it all leaving a permanent stain. Thor came home and sat on the bed as I laid there uncomfortable and unable to do anything. My feet felt heavy and had veins popping up. The pressure in my uterus wasn’t painful but very uncomfortable. I cried and accepted what was happening and told Thor, “It feels like somewhere between a heavy period and labor,” even though I didn’t know what labor really felt like, I still don’t know and may never know. At one point I cry-laughed because I couldn’t tell if I had to go to the bathroom for number two or if it was still just the pressure on my uterus. Thor drew me a bath and I bled some more in the tub but it was warm and soothing. 

We both took time off from work for the next several days. My body calmed down but my mind was all over the place. I would be feeling OK then all of a sudden I would get just so damn sad. I played with all the if/then/but scenarios in which I sometimes blamed myself even though I knew I shouldn’t blame myself. One day I was feeling stronger so we went to Sausalito and sat on the grass near the marina. We got lunch from Mollie Stone’s and ate and read. I was reading Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking, which is about grief, about the process of grief and also the process of grieving itself through the process of writing. I figured I too needed to process this miscarriage through the process of making music. 


I conceptualized the lasting experience of my miscarriage, the emotional swirl without resolution, how it happened quickly but it felt like forever. I wrote a piece without a traditionally satisfying conclusion, both thematically and structurally. While I was spotting before the miscarriage I had gone to the doctor’s office and got a blood test to check my hCG hormone levels, which showed I was still pregnant. I went back to the doctor’s office after the miscarriage and the hormone levels had gone back down to pre-pregnancy numbers. I used these numbers from before and after the miscarriage to generate chords and melodies to entertain all the possibilities, all the if/ then/ buts, and instead of having “successful” vs. “unsuccessful” scenarios, I decided to let them be. There is no tidy wrapping up of thematic materials at the end because I learned that sometimes things happen without explanation and my miscarriage was just that. 

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