Melissa Rauch, who plays Bernadine on The Big Bang Theory, recently announced her pregnancy. In doing so, she also opted to open up about her miscarriage, sharing her experience through an essay for Glamour.
“During the time when I was grieving over my pregnancy loss or struggling with fertility issues, every joyful, expectant baby announcement felt like a tiny stab in the heart. It’s not that I wasn’t happy for these people, but I would think, “Why are these shiny, carefree, fertile women so easily able to do what I cannot?” And then I’d immediately feel guilt and shame for harboring that jealousy”
Although I have never suffered through the pain of a miscarriage (or stillbirth), as an infertility warrior I can’t help but hold immense empathy for those that have to endure such an experience. I’ve never been one of those infertiles who stated or proclaimed “well at least you know you can get pregnant!” I knew those words would be hurtful and insensitive, and I had no place to comment on a journey I had no experience in. That being said, if I’m truly being honest with myself and you reading this, I certainly felt that way at times. Feeling that way came from a place of hurt and darkness from my experiences of 5 years of never seeing a second line. It wasn’t fair for me to direct my pain that way though, and I knew it, so it was an emotional reaction I bottled up and kept to myself.
Over the years as I opened up about my fertility journey more and more, I learned about my fellow infertility warriors’ struggles, and gained much needed insight into their experiences with miscarriages. I can’t understand that pain, but I do try and imagine so I can empathize, support, and show compassion. We are all mothers without a child to hold, after all. We’re fighting the same fight, just perhaps in different ways.
Like Melissa Rauch, I too had difficulty sharing our positive news publicly. Although I’m no TV star, I still worried about the audience who would be hearing this news. I wondered who would be silently pained by our announcement and so for me, as an individual who had been so pained in the past, I chose to share our news while illuminating the difficult road we had navigated to get there. I also, like Melissa, held such fear throughout my pregnancy (and still do), because in the past my body had failed me. I had no concrete reason (such as a miscarriage) to warrant such paranoia… but it was there. The fear was real and it was strong. I had to learn to be gentle on myself and allow myself to feel however I felt through the process without judgement. Some days that would be hard when others would comment to “not stress, it’s not good for the baby,” or “you should be enjoying this time, you’ll never get it back,” both of which were guilt and shame inducing. As a result, I stopped openly sharing my fear, instead coping with it day in and day out privately until as weeks passed I felt better and better. People so often want to share in your joys, but they rarely want to sit with you in your pain unfortunately.
This essay by Melissa Rauch is a really important read. Sure celebrities have opened up about their journeys to a degree (“yes this is an IVF/surrogacy baby” or whatever minimal statement they may share), but for her to take the time to so eloquently describe her experience in an effort to break down stigmas and make others struggling feel less alone, is truly commendable. Being so open and vulnerable isn’t for everyone, and there is certainly no judgement if someone isn’t ready or able to do so, but it’s a great thing when someone does step forward and raise awareness so I’m very grateful for her courage!
On a separate note, VEGAS BABY is now on Netflix. For anyone who has struggled, gone through IVF, or wants to gain insight into the process an infertile goes through to conceive, I highly, HIGHLY recommend watching this documentary. Fair warning though; it is heavy, and you’ll likely cry! But it’s so wonderful to see such a raw, accurate portrayal of the difficult journey of infertility and IVF.