On The Big Bang Theory, Melissa Rauch plays Bernadette, who is married to Howard. In real life, Melissa is married to Winston Rauch. The couple recently announced that Melissa is pregnant, which is very exciting news. Unfortunately, it is also terrifying news to Melissa because her last pregnancy ended in miscarriage. Melissa wrote a very thoughtful essay for Glamour discussing all of her heartache surrounding her miscarriage and how it has not only affected her feelings about this pregnancy but also how she sees pregnancy announcements and baby questions in general. The essay is quite long, gut-wrenching and tender with moments of humor. It’s worth reading in it’s entirety but I have excepted a few parts below:
Here is the only statement regarding my pregnancy that doesn’t make me feel like a complete fraud: “Melissa is expecting her first child. She is extremely overjoyed, but if she’s being honest, due to the fact that she had a miscarriage the last time she was pregnant, she’s pretty much terrified at the moment that it will happen again. She feels weird even announcing this at all, and would rather wait until her child heads off to college to tell anyone, but she figures she should probably share this news before someone sees her waddling around with her mid-section protruding and announces it first.”
The miscarriage I experienced was one of the most profound sorrows I have ever felt in my life. It kickstarted a primal depression that lingered in me. The image of our baby on the ultrasound monitor—without movement, without a heartbeat—after we had seen that same little heart healthy and flickering just two weeks prior completely blindsided us and haunts me to this day. I kept waiting for the sadness to lift…but it didn’t. Sure, I had happy moments and life went on, but the heartbreak was always lurking. Inescapable reminders, like the unfulfilled due date, came around like a heavy cloud. A day I had once marked on my calendar with such excitement was now a memorial of a crushed dream. I was constantly wishing that the feeling of being desperately lonely in my own body would dissipate. It didn’t help that I was also fighting against these feelings with thoughts like, “You should be over this by now,” and “People go through a heck of a lot worse, you miserable sad-sack!” (Can you tell that I am awesome at self-compassion?) What I realized, though, is that because this kind of loss is not openly talked about nearly as much as it should be, there really is no template for how to process these emotions. You’re not necessarily going to a funeral or taking time off from work to mourn, but that doesn’t change the fact that something precious has been unexpectedly taken from your life.
“Miscarriage” by the way, deserves to be ranked as one of the worst, most blame-inducing medical terms ever. To me, it immediately conjures up an implication that it was the woman’s fault, like she somehow “mishandled the carrying of this baby.” F that so hard, right in its patriarchal nut-sack. It’s not that a better name would make it less awful to go through. But for a while, my husband and I just started saying to each other—without any judgment or acrimony to the baby, of course—that the baby “bailed” instead.
One of the perks to sadness is the time it gives you to think when you’re somberly staring at a wall. Something that kept coming to mind is how arbitrarily we all talk about baby-making. I know I’ve asked women about their reproducing situation in the past (as most of us unintentionally have at some point or another). It comes from a well-meaning, good place. My hope is that if we as a society become more aware of how common fertility struggles are, perhaps we won’t be so cavalier in questioning females about what’s on their baby agenda. There are so many other things to ask women about other than procreating…ya know, like what we’re wearing. I kid!
Many times in my life I’ve been able to get through difficult situations by reminding myself of the classic adage: “Everything happens for a reason.” But as it turns out—for me, anyway—miscarriage was more of a “this straight-up f*cking sucks” situation. Some things just are. The simple acceptance of this reality actually proved to be the most helpful course of action for me. This was a below sea-level moment amongst the proverbial peaks and valleys of life. There was something very healing about simply acknowledging where I was, rather than trying to completely make sense of it or wrap my head around some cookie-cutter rationale. We all process grief differently. If you are dealing with prenatal loss, I hope you find something, anything, to bring you comfort (whether it’s planting a tree, having a small ceremony, or giving a big double middle finger to the universe). The unknown is a scary place, but it’s also where hope and possibility live. I’m trying as much as I can to embrace the reality of that uncertainty.
I cannot stress enough that I’m doing the essay a disservice but only pulling portions of it. If you are a person who has experienced the pain of a miscarriage, Melissa really does walk through every emotion. They may not be the same that you or someone you know felt, but she hits all the stages. In addition, I think she does a good job illustrating how asking after a person’s “baby-making agenda” could be not just annoying to the couple, but devastating if they are having fertility issues.
I’ve mentioned that I miscarried between my two live births. Melissa’s essay brought up many emotions for me. Because I got pregnant soon after I lost the other baby, there was overlap – as in, I was carrying my daughter during what would have been the third trimester of my lost child. It took passing the due date of the one we lost to overcome the gripping fear that I would lose my daughter as well. Even though we all process differently, there is a comfort in numbers. I think Melissa ends her essay beautifully by saying, “So, to all the women out there who are dealing with fertility issues, have gone through a miscarriage or are going through the pain of it currently, allow me to leave you with this message: You are not alone. And, it is perfectly OK to not be OK right now.” Congratulations to Melissa and Winton. I wish them nothing but the best on this new chapter.
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