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CELEBRITY REAL LIFE
TORI'S JOY AFTER HER MISCARRIAGE HEARTBREAK
Tori Amos has sold more than 15 million albums and this year made Rolling Stone magazine's top five greatest live artists of all time. But life hasn't always been so good. Between 1996 and 1999, Tori, 40, suffered three miscarriages and believed that she'd never be able to have a child. However, in September 2000, she gave birth to a healthy daughter. The American singer-songwriter now lives in Cornwall with her husband of five years, English recording engineer Mark Hawley, and Natashya, 3. Here she tells her story, from tragedy to joy, in her own words.
I had my last miscarriage on November 11, 1999. I'd just finished a tour of the US with Alanis Morissette and I was very excited, because I thought everything was going to be OK with the pregnancy. I was eating really well and taking all my vitamins. But I started having problems at the end of the first three months.
I did a show at the Royal Festival Hall in London and afterwards I just didn't feel right. So in the early hours of the morning, I went to Westminster Abbey, where I lit a candle and prayed for the health of my baby - but within a few days I started to bleed and just didn't stop.
I cancelled all my other work commitments. I talked, played the piano and carried on as normal, but inside I was so numb. I was walking around in a body that I didn't feel could hold life.
FINDING INNER STRENGTH
I kept very quiet about my third miscarriage. My closest friends knew, but I didn't want people's pity. I wasn't new to this, I'd had all the conversations and reassurances that anyone could give me and I didn't want to walk into rooms where everybody just suddenly shut up.
I had my first miscarriage in December 1996. I already had a name for the baby - Phoebe. I remember having a scan and the nurse was in tears. She said, "I'm very, very sorry." This was three months into my pregnancy and I had suspected that something wasn't right. It finally hit home that I couldn't continue carrying the baby.
When I miscarried Phoebe, I went to the outer reaches of anything that I know, I suffered so much grief. I'd dream about searching for her so that I could bring her back - I was willing to cut any deal with God, but I know that God doesn't cut deals.
I suffered my second miscarriage the following May, I don't think the pregnancy had ever really established itself, because of my endometriosis and the fact that I hadn't got over the grief of losing my first baby. I hemorrhaged constantly for 27 days and I lost the baby just weeks after conceiving. That pregnancy was never as hopeful as the others.
After the second miscarriage Mark proposed and we decided to keep trying. I had my third miscarriage 18 months later, which was really devastating. I had such high hopes. I saw some of the best doctors in America, but none of them could see a reason why I couldn't stay pregnant. I was totally disheartened.
Many causes for the miscarriages ran through my head. A good friend said - and it wasn't meant in an unkind way - that perhaps I ought to come to terms with the fact that I may never be able to have children. There could have been another factor: I was raped in my 20s (Tori was attacked at gunpoint by a fan in her car, after she offered him a lift home from one of her gigs). I thought maybe that had something to do with me not being able to carry a baby. Sometimes you don't know how these things affect you.
My older sister, Marie, is a doctor at George Washington Hospital in Washington DC, and she said to me, "You know, people don't know what's going on with women's bodies half the time". I think her comment helped me, because then, at least physically, I felt what happened to me was beyond my control.
Yet, psychologically, I did start to think that perhaps these miscarriages were my trade-off in life, that perhaps I couldn't sell 15 million records and also have babies. I met women who'd given up their careers, who were financially dependent but who had children. They saw that I could pay for my own place, have a good career and a glamorous life. They would turn to me and say, "Hey, there's a trade-off here. I didn't go to Paris and have lunch with my friends and go shopping and dance until 3am. I had three kids!" And the implication is that, actually, you can't have it all. I began to feel greedy.
Having three miscarriages had been just too painful, so Mark and I made the difficult decision that I would go on the Pill. Yet my sister talked me into trying one last time, and put me in contact with a specialist in miscarriages. I went to see him just three weeks after I had lost the last baby.
After the usual physical tests, the specialist suggested that I stop touring, because it might help if I changed my stress pattern. I said "But this is part of who I am, this is what I do," but he talked me into giving it a go.
He put me on a baby aspirin once a day, because he suspected I might be prone to blood clots and aspirin thins the blood. He told me to apply a progesterone cream if I thought I was pregnant (progesterone is a hormone, secreted by the ovaries, that prepares the womb for pregnancy).
We struck a deal. He said, "Let's just give this six months." I said, "No, four." So we shook on it - if I didn't get pregnant after four months, we'd give up.
Then he asked what Mark and I liked to do. I said, "Well, we love boats and water." So he told us to get away and enjoy ourselves. And that's exactly what we did.
We went to my beach house in Florida, rented a speedboat and went out on the water every day, and it took our minds off things. We returned to Cornwall for Christmas and got festive, but it was a hard time. I'd had high hopes for my pregnancy. I gave away the Christmas presents I'd bought for the baby, so that I could let go of the memory.
In mid-January, I started to get a bad stomach. When food was cooking it smelt awful to me and wine always smelt off. One night we had people over for dinner and I was convinced the wine was corked, even though it wasn't. I called my sister and she told me to get a pregnancy test. I bought four - and they were all positive. Mark and I were filled with joy, but my fear was, "How am going to keep this creature alive?"
Three months into the pregnancy, we went back to the US to see the specialist in Washington again. I had an ultrasound scan. As Mark and I held hands, I saw the baby - there were two jumping, dancing legs. We were given the thumbs up. During the pregnancy I knew things would be different. I felt a sense of calm I'd never experienced before. I felt my baby's spirit and I knew she'd be strong.
At first, I listened to everyone who thought they were a baby expert, but then sense set in. I was 36 and this was my fourth pregnancy. I decided not to read every pregnancy book from here to LA and back. My sister said, "Just welcome this. Your responsibility is to make sure that you're not putting either of you under too much stress." My sister is as tough as old boots, but she deals with women walking into her surgery and leaving knowing they have terminal cancer. She lives on a different side of warm and fuzzy.
I wanted to be calm. I stopped taking calls that were stressful. I'd written a track, Carnival, for the soundtrack to Mission Impossible II and, when I was four months pregnant, I was asked to fly to LA to work on it. I told those involved I'd done the track to the best of my ability and that if they could use it, great, and if not, well, I'd done the best I could. (The song did make it onto the soundtrack.)
MY BEAUTIFUL BABY
When I was eight months pregnant, the specialist discovered that I was indeed prone to blood clots - I had protein S and protein C deficiency, and that could be the reason why I'd miscarried in the past. This had never been spotted before, because the levels can vary and for every other test my levels had been fine at that time. I had to inject a drug, heparin, in my legs twice a day for the last two months, so I had bruises all down my thighs.
In September 2000, I gave birth to Natashya. It's hard to explain but, as soon as I saw her, I knew her. I felt that she pushed away the ghosts of the other three babies I never had. Now, when I look at her, I see the reason for being here.
It's strange, but a friend of mine told me that I became a better friend after my miscarriages. She said that I'd always been there physically for her but now I really listened. Maybe you have to go through tragedy to become a better person.
But I'm not going to try for any more children. I know when to walk away, when to run. I thank the gods every day for the opportunity to be a mother, and I think if I can be just a halfway good one I'll be happy. But of course, I won't know if I am until I ask Natashya 20 years from now. And who knows what she'll say?
Tales of a Librarian: A Tori Amos Collection is released on Eastwest Records on November 17.
[transcribed by Louise Logan]
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