In the fall of 2017, Melissa Rauch and her husband, Winston, will have their first child. Here is Melissa’s emotional and heartfelt story of the long road to becoming a parent, told in her own words.
Here’s the only thing you can say about my pregnancy that doesn’t make me feel like a total liar: “Melissa is going to have her first baby. She is very happy, but if she’s being honest, she’s pretty scared right now that it will happen again because she had a miscarriage the last time she was pregnant.
She doesn’t know why she’s telling anyone and would rather wait until her child goes to college. However, she thinks she should probably tell someone before someone sees her waddling around with her stomach sticking out and tells everyone else.
When I was sad about my miscarriage or having trouble getting pregnant, every happy news about an upcoming baby felt like a small stab in the heart. I wasn’t sad for them, but I would think, Why can these beautiful, carefree, fertile women do so easily what I can’t? Then I would feel guilty and ashamed for being jealous. This could be called “the circle of strife.” (I think there’s a song somewhere deep in The Lion King’s longer director’s cut.)
I’ve always been the type to keep my eyes on my work, but that was hard to do when I had a baby. So, when I thought about having to tell people that I was going to have a baby, all I could think about was another woman who had just lost a baby and was worried that she would never be able to get pregnant again. She would read about my baby and think that she would never have a baby again. I felt like I wasn’t being honest if I didn’t also talk about how hard it was for me to get here.
(Just to be clear, I’m not saying that everyone who shares good news should also talk about the bad things they had to go through to get there. I just wanted to talk about what I’ve been through in the hopes that it might help someone else who is going through the same kind of pain.
Hopefully, the more we talk about this issue, the less stigma there will be around it, which will make those of us who are struggling with loss and infertility feel less alone. Maybe if more people were aware of how hard these situations are for women, well-meaning people wouldn’t make them feel like they were getting sucker-punched in the uterus.)
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Grief, Guilt, Hormones, And Sobbing Hard While Watching HGTV
The miscarriage I went through was one of the saddest things I’ve ever been through. It set off a deep depression in me that lasted for a long time. The image of our baby on the ultrasound monitor, who was still and didn’t have a heartbeat even though we had seen the same heart beating normally and flickering just two weeks before, completely shocked us and still haunts me. I kept hoping that the sadness would go away, but it never did. I had some good times, and life went on, but heartbreak was always around the corner.
Like a heavy cloud, reminders like the due date that hadn’t been met kept coming up. Once, I looked forward to a certain day on my calendar. Now, it reminds me of a dream that didn’t come true. I always wanted the feeling of being so desperately alone in my own body to go away. I wasn’t helping myself by telling myself things like, “You should be over this by now” and “People go through a lot worse, you miserable sad sack!”
(Can you tell that I’m great at being kind to myself?) I realized, though, that because this kind of loss isn’t talked about as openly as it should be, there isn’t a set way to deal with these feelings. You might not be going to a funeral or taking time off from work to mourn, but that doesn’t change the fact that you’ve lost something important.
And then there’s guilt. As a Jewish mother-to-be, I thought I would know how to do this by instinct. But I was supposed to use this power to make my future child feel bad, not to make myself feel bad. I knew in my heart that there was nothing I could have done to stop what happened, but that didn’t stop me from going over every day of the pregnancy up to that point in my head over and over again, trying to figure out if there was anything I did that could have caused the miscarriage.
Miscarriage should be considered one of the worst and most blame-inducing medical terms ever. It immediately makes me think that the woman did something wrong like she “messed up” the process of carrying the baby. Right in its patriarchal nut sack, eff that so hard. It’s not that if it had a better name, it would be easier to deal with. But after a while, my husband and I just started saying to each other that the baby “bailed” instead. We didn’t say this in a mean way, of course, and the baby didn’t hear us.
It was hard for me not to play the blame game when even the stupid medical term seemed like an endorsement of it. If you’re doing that to yourself, please think about these words, which I also told myself over and over again: Nothing you did was wrong. There are a lot of dangerous places where babies are born. If the pregnancy was healthy, it would have made it. Miscarriages are thought to happen in anywhere from 15 to 20% of known pregnancies for reasons no one can control.
You couldn’t have done anything to change what was going on. Most importantly, please treat yourself well. Even though I wanted to beat myself up to “move on” and feel like I had some control over what happened, I came to realize that those kinds of thoughts don’t help when you’re sad. We have to work through our pain until it’s no longer there. So, on good days, instead of being mean to myself, I started telling myself, “It’s OK to not be OK right now.”
During this time, I was constantly surprised by how strong my emotions were and how different I felt from myself. I wasn’t at all ready for the drop in hormones, which came on top of the very strong grief. I wish I had known that this is a very common and real physiological response to pregnancy loss.
In hindsight, it would have helped me to know that many women, even without a baby to show for it, go through a form of postpartum depression after a miscarriage. If nothing else, knowing this might have given me a better idea of what was going on during some of my darker “what the hell is going on” moments.
I remember that about three weeks after my miscarriage, I watched House Hunters International one night. I started what I can only call “projectile crying” out of the blue. I felt like tears were coming out of my eyes and shooting at the TV, and they wouldn’t stop. It started for no particular reason.
I wasn’t crying about whether or not the young couple who had moved to Lisbon from another country would find an apartment close enough to the city center. Just something going on with her hormones. I didn’t know it at the time, but I’ve since learned that your doctor can give you small doses of estrogen, progesterone, or herbs that can help.
Acupuncture might also be able to counteract these changes in hormones. The sadness is hard enough on its own. The least we can do for ourselves is talk to our doctors about ways to help with the drop in hormones that happens after a pregnancy loss.
Great Baby Inquisition
Sadness lets you think while staring at a wall. We talk about baby-making randomly. I’ve asked women about reproduction before (as most of us unintentionally have at some point or another). It’s good-hearted. I hope that if we become more aware of how prevalent reproductive issues are, we won’t be so quick to interrogate women about their baby agenda. Other than procreating, ladies can be asked about fashion. I kid!
Childless women of a certain age are regularly asked, “Are you pregnant?” “How soon?” “You’re getting up there, you worthless old empty baby dispenser…isn’t it time you breed?” Although the last one is rare, the sentiment is there. Friends with kids say it doesn’t end there. “When is Lyla getting a sibling?” My friend’s kids are all called Lyla.
We would never ask a male, “When are ye going to shoot a virile load up in someone and generate human life?” Before asking a woman about having a baby, let’s think: We don’t know her situation, body, or desires. If a lady wants to share her childlessness, she will.
Bottom line: Unless I witness a newborn infant coming from its uterine birthplace and its mother is shouting “Over here!” Behold! I’m giving birth in my 2007 Saturn!” Avoid asking her about reproduction. If you observe a 2007 Saturn birthing a baby, congrats!
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