“The Big Bang Theory” star shares her pregnancy news and the story of her prior miscarriage
Actress Melissa Rauch recently shared that she’s expecting her first child, and along with that announcement, she talked candidly about the pregnancy loss and fertility issues she experienced leading up to her happy news.
Rauch, best known for her role as Dr. Bernadette Rostenkowski-Wolowitz on “The Big Bang Theory,” wrote an essay for Glamour announcing her pregnancy — and the sad news of her prior miscarriage.
She opens by sharing what she calls “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.”
She lays bare what so many women feel when they become pregnant after suffering a miscarriage; the fear of it happening again is so overwhelming it makes enjoying a subsequent pregnancy difficult.
Rauch explains how a struggle with infertility and the long road to getting pregnant in the first place made every baby announcement feel like “a tiny stab in the heart.” She shares a sentiment that many women who have trouble conceiving share. “Why are these shiny, carefree, fertile women so easily able to do what I cannot?”
Which of course brought upon heaps of guilt for not being happy for friends and loved ones. Her jealousy and the urge to compare herself to women who had no trouble getting pregnant inspired her to share her own pregnancy news the way she did — by explaining the long road and the heartbreak involved in getting her happy ending. “It felt a bit disingenuous to not also share the struggle it took for me to get here,” she writes.
Rauch says she also shared her story to raise awareness of something many women don’t openly discuss. “Ideally, the more we talk about this issue, the more we can chip away at the unnecessary stigma around it, with the end result being that those of us struggling with loss and infertility will feel less alone.”
She describes her deep sadness after losing her baby and the depression and sorrow she was left with. “I kept waiting for the sadness to lift…but it didn’t,” she writes. Over time, she began to understand that her feelings and the amount of time it was taking to move on were totally normal. “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.”
Rauch says the grieving is made harder by the fact that there’s often no funeral or time off from work to mark such a tragic loss. Nothing outward and obvious to everyone else around you that signals what heartache you’re going through.
“Then, there’s the guilt.”
She echoes what so many women who’ve experience a miscarriage are thinking. “I knew in my heart there wasn’t anything I could have done to prevent what happened, but that didn’t stop me from the futile exercise of mentally replaying every day of the pregnancy up until that point over and over again, wondering if there was something I did that could’ve caused the miscarriage.”
Rauch also (rightly) takes issue with the term “miscarriage.” “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.” So instead, she and her husband started saying the baby “bailed,” without any hard feelings against the baby, of course.
She says the very term “miscarriage” with its implication of blame made it hard for her not to continue on the path of blaming herself. But in sharing her story, she wants to emphasize that no woman should do that. “You did nothing wrong,” she says.
As far as how she’s handling her current pregnancy, she’s found that simply accepting the fact that she’s still sad about her prior loss and feeling fearful for the future was the only way. “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.”
Rauch ends with a message for those going through fertility problems or the pain of a loss. “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.”