My Only Work Now Is You

Brandy Zdan on grieving a miscarriage, becoming a mother in isolation, and learning to trust her artistic instincts.

Falcon is my story of the last two years: a story of miscarriage, loss, grief, pregnancy, motherhood, trauma, isolation, depression, hope, and love. I gave birth in a pandemic, became a mother in isolation, pressed pause on my career, battled postpartum depression, and faced some of the darkest moments of life. Grand plans of big producers and fancy studios fell away and I had to figure out a way of telling my story.

If I’m ever wondering how long the pandemic has been going on, I look at my daughter’s age and I have my answer. 17 months. My daughter, Lucky Rose, was born on March 20, 2020 at 3:13 am. I was hoping for a blissful natural delivery, but what I got was a traumatic emergency c-section. I was hoping for friends and family to surround us with love, help, and support but what I got was a brand new family in insolation. A mama healing from major surgery, a newborn, a world in lockdown, and a husband — who, to his credit, never let on one ounce of fear. 

The days and months that followed are much of a blur. True survival mode, as I call it. Any new parent knows it. Eat, sleep, and protect your young. Somehow every sense is sharpened, your instincts heightened, while being completely sleep deprived. Hard doesn’t even begin to cut it. I do have some memories of magical days when I just gave in and let gratitude take over. I’d try my hardest to stay present, listening to my baby’s breath and feeling the warmth of the sunshine through the bedroom window. 

we live in bed
listening to the birds
the silence of the night
my only work now is you

The postpartum depression hit me as I came upon the one year anniversary of a miscarriage. I miscarried at nine weeks with my first pregnancy. An ultrasound with no heartbeat. A missed miscarriage. A Misoprostol script — the medication prescribed to expel the fetus when your body has not done so naturally. I remember that pain so clearly, hunched over on my bathroom floor, crying in a way I had never done so before, the emptiness in my heart. I’ll never forget those contractions. I’ll never forget that little spirit that existed inside for just a short time. That love and grief is forever present. 

you were carried away on a falcon’s wing
high above the hills
I didn’t even catch a glimpse
I was lost in the tears

When I learned just how common this was, I was angry. One in four women have experienced a loss? Why did I not know this? How is this not common knowledge? Why are we told to be silent in our grief? Why is there so much shame around this tragic event? It felt like I was grieving not only for that little spirit, but for all women. That’s when I decided I needed to use my voice. 

it’s the worst thing
but do not tell a soul
it’s the worst thing
maintain your self control

The shame and guilt around postpartum depression is just as real.  How do you explain to someone you are having thoughts of death, hopelessness, and despair while you hold this beautiful bundle of light in your arms? How do you tell someone you are constantly playing out the worst case scenario scenes in your head, and your own thoughts are scaring you? It’s a lot for any new mother, but tack on a pandemic, it felt like I might not make it through. 

After months of steady therapy and grief processing, I was finally seeing a tiny little light at the end of the tunnel. I thought, If I can get through this, I can do anything.  

I had been writing songs for my next album throughout my whole pregnancy, and they continued to flow postpartum, informed by this tumultuous time. They had a different quality than my previous work. I had been blown open, more vulnerable than ever before, and more fearless. With the pandemic raging and with my previous recording plans long gone, and no false music biz or ego based drivers leading me, there was a freeing nothing to lose feeling. I needed to see if I could do this for myself. It was my way through to the other side.

I had been making records my whole adult life and I had always wanted to engineer, to be in charge of shaping all the sounds, but the endless years on the road and the boys club that exists behind the board had kept me from diving in. After many questions and much self doubt, I decided to listen to the Universe and use the tools it was giving me as a way through. I threw away all the made up narratives we are told as women in music — actually, we can do everything, and I was about to try. 

I had just enough money to purchase the bare minimum gear that I would need. I studied audio engineering at night and recorded in my tiny laundry room in the two hour windows when my baby napped during the day. It’s one thing to have written these songs, but making my own sounds, a female musician in my mid 30s engineering for the first time, is a whole other level of vulnerability. Was I brave enough to go there? To truly be seen in my writing and in my choices?

I leaned in and had no idea if it would work, so I trusted my ears and trusted my intuition, which is what I had been doing all along in this journey as a new mother.

It’s easy to create when the circumstances are right, so isn’t it about what you make when the circumstances are all wrong? This album is my victory in overcoming almost every obstacle that can be thrown at a woman, mother, and musician and coming out on the other side, and better for it.  

(Photo Credit: Alysse Gafkjen)

Brandy Zdan is a Nashville-based rock singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and producer. Her album Falcon is out October 29, 2021.

(Photo Credit: Alysse Gafkjen)