By Dave Andrusko
To put it mildly, I am not on top of popular culture, even the most popular of popular culture such as the hit CBS television show The Big Bang Theory. That’s my excuse for not knowing about an incredible essay one of the stars of the show, Melissa Rauch, wrote about her pregnancy and the hitherto unknown miscarriage she had suffered previously.
The Glamour essay eloquently reminds us of undiscussed truths. How common miscarriages are–as many as one out of every four pregnancies; of how a woman should never think it is her “fault”; and of how “many women essentially go through a form of postpartum depression after a miscarriage, without a baby to show for it,” as Ms. Rauch writes.
Let me make just three points about the Glamour essay (which ran back in July) and a PSA that Ms. Rauch helped put together. (According to Entertainment Weekly, the women you see joining Rauch to talk about their miscarriages are Kiele Sanchez, Vanna White, June Diane Raphael, and Nancy Kerrigan.)
First, the unintended, unwanted, and very much undesired loss of an unborn baby throws into relief the incredible but often overlooked truth that fetal development is a marvel. There are so many junctures at which what French geneticist Jerome Lejeune called the “Symphony of the Preborn Child” could go wrong and the baby is lost. Virtually all of us have first-hand knowledge of a miscarriage suffered by a relative or friend.
Second, women (and men to a far, far lesser extent) can be rocked to their essence by this loss. Rauch writes, “The miscarriage I experienced was one of the most profound sorrows I have ever felt in my life.”
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.
Third, given this and so, so much more, should it surprise anyone that many women suffer various traumas after an abortion? There is no “You did nothing wrong” backstop. She took the life of her unborn child, often because of the pressure of others (or their non-support), but the ultimate decision was hers. The pain, grief, and sorrow must be almost unfathomable.
Let me conclude with Rauch’s final paragraph. Think not just of women who’ve miscarried when you read the first sentence, but those millions who have aborted:
All I really know for sure is that this experience has changed me forever. I know it’s made me grateful for every moment of my current pregnancy, and I hope it will make me a better mother in some capacity when I can finally hold the child that has been in my heart in my arms. Although I can’t categorize these lessons of humble appreciation and gratitude as “reasons for this happening,” I will consider them a silver lining. (But to be honest, I would’ve much preferred to learn said lessons from either a fortune cookie or by watching a few heartfelt reruns of Full House.) 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.