On Michael's thirty-sixth birthday I lost our baby and I don't think I'll ever be the same. To be honest, I don't remember much when we arrived at the ER. I remember answering a ton of yes and no questions and then being told what I feared the most: my baby was gone. In fact, my baby died a little before the wedding and I continued to go about my life like everything was fine. When the doctor explained to me how a miscarriage works, I tried to fully comprehend it, but I couldn't for some reason. My family has never had any history of any miscarriages. Michael's side of the family had only lost Brandon on the day of birth. I knew nothing of miscarriages except that it was few and far between. I never knew anyone who dealt with it themselves. The most I probably ever knew about a miscarriage was that a woman bled and that's how she knew something was wrong. I had no idea that the pain I had been feeling was my baby losing its' life. And when they were finally gone, my body was in such a great deal of pain because it was beginning to get rid of this dead "foreign" object inside. And the discharge prior to the blood was the beginning of flushing my baby out of my system.
Michael was in just as much disbelief as I was. He tried to listen for me. He understood what the doctor was saying better than I did because the daze I was in was too strong. I knew why I lost my baby. I knew exactly why, but couldn't God had just sent me a sign to slow down? The panic attack was it, I'm sure... But then came the wedding and then Dee Dee, which I guess was a sign that my baby had already been gone and my body decided to get "it" out.
Michael was helpful. More than he had ever been. Sure, he cried with me. He sympathized with me. He was hurt for me. Hurt with me. Heartbroken. For a moment that day, we didn't speak on it. But the days following, we opened up. He couldn't understand why everything bad was happening to him when all he did was good for the world. He couldn't understand why God wouldn't grant him this child when he knew how badly Michael wanted children. It was interesting hearing his reasons for being heartbroken, but I listened anyway. As selfish as they sounded, I listened. And after I listened to his selfish tirade, he blamed himself for not paying attention to me. For being so focused on trying to prove a point to a world that clearly didn't give a fuck about him anymore. He blamed himself for why our baby died. Here I am blaming myself and he was doing the same. I believe we both had a fault in this. I wasn't listening to my body and he wasn't listening to me.
He's been there though. I expected nothing less. I couldn't even imagine having to weather this storm alone. I don't think I've ever been depressed. I can't say in my life that I've had nothing to be depressed about, but there was never anything so dire in my life that it ever had me as down as I am now. I can't even wake up without feeling like I want to die. I can't get out of bed without it feeling like a chore. I can't eat without feeling the need to regurgitate. What's the point in being out in the sun when I feel so cold and dead inside?
I wondered if we were having a boy or a girl. Would she have had Michael's eyes? Would he have had my nose? I thought about the many times I would have kissed their ten little toes. Obsessing over how beautiful a child Michael and I made together. I would have told them over and over and over again how much I loved them and how I had been waiting for their arrival. How Daddy and I waited eleven years to have this special little one in our lives. How we couldn't wait to give them siblings to play with...
The names Michael and I played around with: Michael, Joseph, Prince, Brandi, Giselle, Olivia...Only for none of them to be used. And now every year my husband's birthday comes around, would it even be a day of celebration or would it be a day of mourning? I apologized. I apologized to Michael for even letting this happen. He couldn't accept my apology because it wasn't my fault. He wouldn't accept my apology because it wasn't something I could control. He didn't accept my apology because there was nothing for me to apologize to him for, even though I really felt like I had to because for some reason I couldn't bring myself to apologize to myself. So, I sought to apologize to him where I would be offered some kind of forgiveness that I knew I wouldn't even be able to give myself.
The few times in my life that I've had my heartbroken was when Michael and I lost contact, when Michael didn't see his error in keeping Tatiana around and when I lost Roland. But this... This tops them all.
This one tops them all. The pain I have been feeling in my heart for the past week has been the most excruciating pain I've ever felt in my life. I wouldn't wish this pain on anybody, not even my worst enemy. I couldn't bring myself to do it. No one in this entire world deserves to feel how I feel. No one. I blame myself more than anything. I do. And no one can tell me otherwise. My body was made to bear the blessing of having children. I failed. I was supposed to keep my baby safe. I was supposed to feed them all the right foods. Keep my stress levels down. Maintain a healthy lifestyle and produce beautiful offspring. My body was made for this and I couldn't even do that? It's such a simple task! Something my mother and sister-in-law did five times. Something my mother in law did nine times. And I couldn't even do it once?!
Our home is the perfect home to raise children. To give birth to children in. We flirted with the idea of having a home birth. How Michael would have had someone record the birth. How he would have held my hand. Whether it would have been in our bedroom, the bathtub, a birth pool. It would have been in the privacy and the comfort of our own home.
And Michael... He's always been so empathic, but this... This brought forth a different kind of empathy in him. I love him so much. I love him more than I ever have because while I'm in this dark place, he hasn't left me alone here. It's interesting how tragedy can bring two people closer together.
Telling our families was the worst thing because everyone was so excited after we waited so long. Daddy didn't know what to say. It hurt him to hear that I had gone through something so traumatic, but he didn't have much to say. I don't know if it was because it was such a shock to him or if he just couldn't find the words to say. If anyone was more excited than Michael and I were, it was my mother. So, imagine how hard it was to tell her that I lost the baby. The baby that she had prayed for me to have since I first got married. She cried with me and I wanted nothing more than to cry in my mother's arms. To have her comfort me, because it's one thing for your husband to comfort you, but it's another when your mother hugs you, kisses you and dries your tears. Over time, I've learned that parents hate to see their child hurt. The pain they see their child in, they wish they could take that pain instead so their child wouldn't have to have it... In a way, like God. God hates to see his children hurt and it's why he tells us to cast his cares upon him so he can bear that pain for us. God is like a parent. Parents are like God in that way. Mom hated so much to hear that I lost the baby, not because she's wanted me to have children for so long, but because no woman should ever have to lose a child. And to hear that her child lost a child, hurt her to the core. As much as I've wanted to go be with her, I couldn't muster up the energy to do so. When I feel this pain is over, then I'll go see her and my father, but as of right now? I just can't.
I lost my baby for a multitude of reasons. We went through a lot last year and the beginning of this year when we were fighting an allegation against Michael. We fought so hard to be proven innocent and for people to see the truth. In the end, people believed what they wanted to believe, and that family got what they wanted all along. We left the limelight for a while, still dealing with the stress of everything that had occurred, but never fully dealing with it. I got pregnant and Michael immediately went into press mode. He became "Michael Jackson" again and he wanted to show the world who we really were as a couple. The photoshoots, the small interviews, the traveling... It was beginning to become too much, but I dealt with it because it was what Michael wanted and "needed" to repair his image. I neglected my body. We planned a wedding, executed that and then Dee Dee passed. Granted, my child was gone well before the wedding and Dee Dee, but I include that because in my mind that just had to be the final straw. And it was.
They say time heals all wounds, but God, for some reason I don't think time will be able to heal this one.
"Sonja just made dinner. Do you want something to eat?" Michael came into the library and knelt down before me as I sat in the loveseat.
"No." I bit the inner part of my lip. I literally have not left the ranch in days. If I wasn't in our bedroom, I was upstairs. If I wasn't upstairs, I just sat in the library. If I wasn't in the library. I chose to take a walk. If I didn't want to take a walk. I cried on the bed inside the movie theatre. If I wasn't crying on the bed in the theatre, I was yelling at God on the top of Mount Katherine. If I wasn't yelling at God, I was blaming myself. And today, in the library, I was blaming myself.
He sighed and hung his head low. "You haven't eaten in days."
"I'm not hungry."
"You have to eat."
I shook my head. "No. I don't. I'm not hungry, Michael."
"Baby, I can't let you do this to yourself."
I finally made eye contact with him. "Michael, I have no appetite." My voice shook. "How can I eat if I have no appetite?"
The sadness in his eyes brought tears to my own. He hated to see me this way. This isn't the woman he married. "Come on," he stood up and held his hand out for me to take.
"Where are we going?" I asked him before I took his hand.
"You have to get out of this room. You've been in here all day trying to busy yourself or just sitting in that chair. It's not healthy." I sighed and took his hand. He was right. I tried busying myself by reading the books we had in here only to stop because I was crying out of nowhere again. And when I couldn't cry anymore, I just sat in the loveseat. He led me to the dining room and pulled out a chair for me to sit in. After he placed a plate in front of me and sat down, he couldn't help but stare. "We have to talk."
"About what?" My eyes met his.
"Shayla, you're depressed."
"We've got to get you some help right now. It's physically hurting me to see you like this every day."
"Our baby died last Monday, Michael." I reminded him. "Am I supposed to get over this in a week?"
"No." He shook his head. "That's not what I'm saying. I'm not over it. How am I to expect you to be over it and I'm not?" I shrugged. "The MTV Video Music Awards are in three days. I want you to be there. I want us to be there. We've been cooped up in this house for a week. We'll go to New York for the day and be right back here in no time."
My face scrunched up in a mixture of confusion, annoyance and slight anger. "After everything we just went through, you want to go to an award show?"
"Janet was nominated for several categories and I just want to show our support..."
I gave a very weak attempt at a laugh. "Ha. Right."
"I just want to be there for my sister. We just suffered two losses in the family. That doesn't mean that life has to stop."
"It's okay to mourn, Michael."
"I know that, but how long can we mourn before it turns unhealthy?"
"I guess I'm just taking it harder than you did because you didn't have a dead fetus just chilling in your body. You wouldn't know what that's like."
He shook his head. "It's not like that. I've been with you every step of the way, Shayla. My hurting doesn't stop because I have engagements planned. Pain is not a competition."
I sighed. "Okay. I'll go."
He nodded at my plate. "Are you even going to attempt to eat?" I shook my head no. He sighed. "They want to know if we want to keep the footage of the pregnancy in the video before it's released."
"No. They can take it out."
"Take it out?"
I glanced up at the ceiling to avoid any tears falling as they welled up in my eyes. "Yes," I groaned. "Take it out." Imagine that being released on the video where millions of people would buy it, see it, and wonder about the pregnancy. I'd rather save myself the embarrassment.
My gaze switched to my husband. "What do you mean 'why?'"
"Why should we take it out?"
"Um. Gee. I don't know. Because I'm not pregnant anymore?" I squinted.
"I understand that, but the world will at least be able to know that at one point we were with child. Things happen with us just like in any other marriage and-"
"Do you want to explain to the world how we lost the child on your birthday?"
"We don't have to get that detailed, but-"
"Seriously, Michael?" I raised my voice. "We're mourning. Scratch that, I'm mourning right now, and you want the world to have in their private home video collection footage of me being pregnant only for me not to be pregnant anymore? Do you not realize how embarrassing that would be? Did you not once think how embarrassed I would be? How the media would want to know what happened? That footage was shot in August when I was seven weeks pregnant. When that video is released next year, I should have been had the baby. You want the world to see a flicker of me being pregnant and I'm supposed to deal with the questions of what happened to that baby?"
"Shayla, I didn't think-"
"You're right. You don't think."
"First of all, lower your voice. It would just show how normal we are. People think we're strange, but we're not. We've gone through things like everyone else."
I sighed and finally lowered my voice. "If you want to keep the footage, we can keep it, but for the love of God, please don't allow that to be released to the public. Just like you don't want the world to know you're using a special cream to even out your skin and you've had more than two surgeries, I don't want the world to know about the miscarriage."
His face went blank. "Wow. It's come to that?"
"That's the only way you're going to understand it apparently."
He nodded. "Okay. I'll have them pull it."
"I'm beginning to feel like your sympathy had an expiration date on it."
"Seriously, because you're basically telling me I should hurry up and mourn so we can go to this award show."
"Shayla, you're acting like you're the only one who lost this child. That was my baby too. Am I not supposed to go to the awards to support my sister? We just lost our sister-in-law and our child in the same weekend. What you're telling me is that it's wrong to go out for one night to support the family."
I looked down at my plate. "I just feel like you're rushing me."
"I'm not. If I'm rushing you, I have to rush myself. I'm hurting too, Shayla. It's not just you. I've been there for you. And I'm going to always be there for you. But we have prior engagements that we planned to attend. Life doesn't stop because we've had tragedy after tragedy after tragedy try to stop us."
"That's it? Just an okay? Because to be honest, I feel insulted that you would even insinuate that my sympathy towards you had an expiration date on it. I've been blaming myself too, ya know? I feel like I'm the reason you even have to go through this. So, I'd be damned if my sympathy had an expiration date. I'm always going to be here for you. Period point blank. And that starts with you taking care of yourself. You need to eat, babe."
"No. If I do, I'm just going to throw it up."
"You're losing weight."
"Good. I kind of needed to anyway."
He sighed and closed his eyes for what seemed to be a very long time. "Fine. I'm going to have your stylist find you a dress for the awards."
"If you're going to have me out in the public, at least let me mourn in public."
"What do you mean?"
"I want to wear black."
He nodded. "I figured. I was going to do the same. I thought of doing something for the baby too."
For some reason, that made me perk up. "Like what?"
"I'll wear some form of pink and blue." The miscarriage awareness colors. That's one thing I remembered after visiting the ER. That "So You've Had A Miscarriage?" pamphlet with the pink and blue ribbon. I thought the title of the pamphlet was stupid and insensitive, but the information was valuable. I still don't understand who thought that the title was okay. Clearly someone who had never had a miscarriage before. "You mean the world to me, Shayla. I'm here for you every step of the way, but you have to let me be there for you. I've been helping. I've been trying to help more, but I feel like you're starting to shut me out."
"Sometimes I just want to be alone."
"Well, while you're dealing with this, you can't. You need me more than anything right now."
I nodded. "I know."
"We're going to try again. Apparently, it wasn't the right time." He's right. After everything we've been through, perhaps this was just the wrong time to have children in the first place. We have a ton of healing to do. How could we have brought a child into this world when we've still got our own stuff to deal with? Granted, we're financially stable and all that, but it takes more than financial stability. Love conquers all, but clearly, we need to get our shit together first.
September 8, 1994
The MTV Video Music Awards
Simple was an option, but not really. For some reason, I couldn't stand my dress. Maybe it was because I didn't really want to be here in the first place. Or maybe it was because the dress was too tight, and I didn't feel like being in tight clothes tonight. I don't know. The dress Michael and my stylist chose for me wasn't as simple as I thought it would be. My whole back is out. It's floor-length with a slit up to my midthigh. And it was entirely too tight with short sleeves. The dress was beautiful, but I didn't care to wear it. I didn't want to. But as I said, I didn't want to be here in the first place.
Hair and makeup took over like they had been waiting centuries to touch my face. My neck was adorned with a pearl necklace. The hairstylist for the evening pressed my hair bone straight and gave me a cute part in the middle. They got me out here trying to look young like that little Aaliyah girl that recently came out this year. Her hair was cute, and it was all the rage amongst younger black women. Actually, her whole style was all the rage amongst younger black women. Her album with R. Kelly was amazing and I look forward to hearing more music from her. She came out strong because I swear everyone wants to be Aaliyah right now. I look good, however. I can't disagree with that. It's just been a while since I've had my hair so silky like this. I hope they didn't give me heat damage...
Once they were done applying the red lipstick to my lips, I couldn't stop looking at myself. It feels like forever since I've been so dolled up. I'm saying that like Miko's wedding wasn't just two weeks ago. But given everything I've been going through; it certainly feels like forever.
"You look absolutely stunning, Mrs. Jackson. If you ever need me to do your makeup again, here's my card." Josef told me as he handed the card to me.
"Thank you. I'll be giving you a call for sure." I hugged him. On the outside, I looked like I was excited to be here, but on the inside, I just wanted to be home. Michael's right. This isn't healthy, but in order to get healthy, I feel like I should be at home so I can nurse myself back to health. All this hustle and bustle in New York is beginning to bother me. I guess those are the advantages of having acres of land to call your own and not be bothered by anybody.
"Wow! You are breathtakingly beautiful tonight, Shayla." Michael smiled once he saw me.
I smiled. I hadn't heard him say that in a while. "Thanks, baby." Michael always looked good, but what he wore tonight gave me comfort. Along with his signature pair of aviator sunglasses and black jeans with... What shoes does he have on that have these weird guards attached to his legs? You know what? I'm not even going to worry about it. It's only to play into this whole "Michael Jackson" persona. I'm not even going to question it. He wore the same black military jacket that he wore to Miko's wedding, but he changed the red armband to pink while the cufflinks were baby blue. His armbands always had a meaning to it and people normally figured out what it meant. Although I didn't want the miscarriage or the fact that I was pregnant anymore to be announced, the solidarity in even wearing the colors meant a lot to me. In accordance with him, I decided to wear the ribbon pinned to my dress as well. If people asked, who cares. This was something for him and me. Not for the whole world to catch onto.
"The show starts shortly. Do you need anything?"
"No, I'll be fine. Have you seen Janet around anywhere?"
"She's out in the audience. She saved our seats don't worry."
"Oh great, well let's go meet her."
"Actually, we're not going to go sit out there yet."
For a moment, he studied my face. I guess to figure out if whatever he was about to say was going to be okay with me. "I accepted an invitation to open the show."
My eyes widened in surprise. "What?"
"Yes. And I need you to go out there with me."
I looked him up and down. "How long have you known about this?"
"They told me a month ago." I sighed heavily and rolled my eyes. "Prior to everything happening, I figured you'd be okay with it. But since everything happened, I'm sure standing in front of all those people is the least of your concerns right now."
"Look, all I'm going to say is, 'welcome to the MTV Video Music Awards' and that's it."
"That's it? Then what do you need me up there for?"
"Because we're a unit, Shayla. There's no me without you. You know that."
I sighed. "Okay fine. We walk up there. Smile. You introduce the show and that's it."
He nodded. "That's it."
"Okay. I can do that. That's fine."
"Yeah." I nodded. "When do we go on?"
"In ten minutes."
"Gee! You sure did give me enough notice."
"Mr. and Mrs. Jackson, you all will be on shortly. Follow me." One of the producers said as he led us to the backstage part of the stage.
"You'll be fine. I promise. You don't even have to say anything." Michael assured me as he took my shaking hand in his. I don't mind being in front of people. That's not my problem. This just got sprung on me, is all. And then not only was it sprung on me, but I'm also already dealing with enough, so my anxiety is through the roof. I already wanted to go home, but now I just need this night to be over with. Once we got behind the curtain, my heart began to race. The audience murmured as they got ready for the show to begin. I had been backstage with Michael at his shows many times before, but I've also never dealt with such trauma that it gave me anxiety to even be backstage. Michael turned around to kiss my forehead. "In and out. I promise."
"Please welcome Mr. and Mrs. Michael Jackson." The announcer said over the speaker, causing the curtains to rise. I had a tight grip on Michael's hand as we walked down the stage that seemed to be a runway in the middle of screaming fans. At the beginning of every concert during the Dangerous Tour, Michael would jump up from a catapult from underneath the floor on the stage and just stand there and relish in the praise his fans would give him. Right now, I felt like that was exactly what was happening. Once we got to the end of the runway, we just stood there. I knew Michael was relishing at the moment. This was his thing. Fifty seconds of relishing felt like an eternity. I've seen him do this many times, but I never did it with him. This isn't my thing and I can't wait for it to be over. Michael turned to look at me and smiled. I returned the smile and touched his arm. I swear I had a death grip on his hand though.
"Hello." He finally said, causing the audience to erupt into more applause. "Welcome to the MTV Video Music Awards." I took a deep breath and placed a hand on my stomach as I looked out at the excited audience. The crowd cheered at Michael's welcome and all I could do was smile to try to hide how nervous I truly was. He turned to look at me and smiled. "My wife and I are very happy to be here. And just think," he nodded towards me. "Nobody thought this was real." I don't know what the crowd thought about that, but I smiled to save face. It was a loud mixture of surprise and possibly disapproval? I don't know. Before I knew what was happening, Michael turned to face me and planted a kiss to my lips, wrapping an arm around my shoulders as the crowd went crazy. What is he doing? I brought my arms up to him just as he began to turn around to walk away. As we walked back down the runway, "Jam" started playing over the audiences' cheers. I took Michael's hand in mine and held it tightly. All I saw was red as we walked back. I didn't even care to look back at the audience. I'm pissed. After all I've been through. After everything, he's going to use me as some prop?! "Wasn't that amazing?" He smiled once we got backstage. I didn't even give myself a chance to think about what I was doing before I raised my hand to slap him clear across the face.
"I am not your prop!" I yelled as I pushed him. "I am your wife and I'll be damned if you use me as your prop again. Do you hear me?!"
Michael was stunned. He didn't know what to say as he held his face. "Baby, I-"
"No! You lied to me, Michael! You used me! What the fuck did you gain from that, huh?"
"I just thought that-"
"No! You didn't think!" I pushed him again. "You thought of nobody but yourself." I slapped his face again. "You're selfish! So fucking selfish!"
"Shayla, stop!" He tried to grab my hands as I repeatedly hit his face.
"You embarrassed me out there! You used me! I just lost your baby and you see why?! Because you pull stupid shit like this!"
"Stop!" He finally grabbed hold of my wrists.
"Let go of me!" I cried. "You embarrassed me, Michael! You lied to me. Everything is always a fucking publicity stunt with you. You never think of anybody else but yourself!" He looked at me like he didn't even know who I was. Like he thought I was crazy and needed severe help.
"Can someone please get security?" He asked as he continued to hold onto my wrists to prevent me from hitting him.
"Security?" I asked as I kicked him. "Security? That's how you do me?! You're such a piece of shit, Michael. You can't even face the fact that you did this?! You did all of this!" I cried as I felt someone put their arm around my waist and pull me away from my husband.
"I don't know what happened." I heard Michael say as security led me away from him. "I don't see why what I did was so wrong. People will be talking about that kiss for decades."
To Be Continued...