Although she's a very private person who rarely grants interviews, Beyoncé has been uncharacteristically candid about miscarrying before giving birth to her oldest child, daughter Blue Ivy, in 2012. But apparently it happened again, and JAY-Z's apology for Beyoncé's miscarriages in 4:44 is particularly tragic, because it sounds like he blames himself for his wife's lost pregnancies. Beyoncé opened up about her first miscarriage in her 2013 HBO documentary Life Is But a Dream, saying it was "the saddest thing I've ever been through," according to Rolling Stone. "Literally the week before I went to the doctor, everything was fine, but there was no heartbeat," the singer explained, and it prompted her to write "the saddest song I've ever written in my life."
And so things get really sad on 4:44, during which her husband raps, "I apologize for all the stillborns/ 'Cause I wasn't present, your body wouldn't accept it." It's important to understand that up to 20 percent of pregnancies end in miscarriage, and according to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, it's most often caused by fetal chromosomal abnormalities or congenital uterine disorders. According to the Mayo Clinic, there's little evidence to support the common misconception that stress can cause a miscarriage. Translation: it's not your fault, JAY-Z.
This isn't the first time JAY-Z has mentioned miscarriage; he referenced it in "Glory," a track he released to honor Blue Ivy's birth: "Last time the miscarriage was so tragic/ We was afraid you'd disappear/ But nah baby you magic." Beyoncé also alluded to it on the Lemonade track "Apathy," when she described herself as the mother of JAY-Z's children, "both living and dead." During a 2013 interview with Oprah Winfrey, the singer said that her miscarriage was "one of the reasons I did not share I was pregnant the second time," referring to her pregnancy with Blue Ivy.
Based on the lyrics to 4:44, Beyoncé also had multiple pregnancy losses after Blue Ivy was born; the phrase "all the stillborns" surely means more than one, and it's an unlikely way to refer to two. It's unclear if JAY-Z was literally referring to stillbirth, which is defined as a pregnancy lost after 20 weeks. Stillbirth only occurs in 1 percent of pregnancies, according to the Centers for Disease Control, but like miscarriage, it's most often caused by genetic problems or health conditions in the mother.
Happily, Beyoncé did go on to have another successful pregnancy, and the couple have reportedly just brought home their twins this week. Hopefully JAY-Z will get the support he needs to come to terms with the family's losses, and realize that he's not to blame.
If you're struggling with grief after a lost pregnancy, please call First Candle's 24-hour support hotline at 1-800-221-7437, or see this list of resources from Hope After Loss.