Melissa Rauch is pregnant — and opening up about her emotional journey toward becoming a mum.
The Big Bang Theory star, who plays microbiologist and new mum Bernadette Rostenkowski-Wolowitz on the hit CBS comedy, wrote an essay for Glamour.com detailing how she and husband Winston are expecting a baby this fall, after experiencing a miscarriage previously.
“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,’ ” Rauch begins in the piece.
”‘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,’” adds the actress, 37.
Rauch writes that she battled conflicted feelings during her own road toward conception.
“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,” she admits. “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 — one might call this ‘the circle of strife.’ (A song I imagine is somewhere deep in the extended director’s cut of The Lion King.),” she jokes. “I’ve always been one to keep my eyes on my own paper, but when it came to having a baby, that proved to be a challenge.”
“So when I thought about having to share the news about expecting this baby, all I could think about was another woman mourning over her loss as I did, worried she would never get pregnant again, and reading about my little bundle on the way. It felt a bit disingenuous to not also share the struggle it took for me to get here,” Rauch adds of her inspiration behind writing about her experience.
Rauch recounts the moment she found out she had lost her baby, calling it “one of the most profound sorrows I have ever felt in my life” that “kickstarted a primal depression that lingered” in her.
“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,” she shares. “I kept waiting for the sadness to lift … but it didn’t.”
“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?),” Rauch adds.
“What I realised, 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,” she explains. “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.”
Rauch shares that she struggled with a ton of guilt at the beginning, and that she believes the term “miscarriage” is “one of the worst, most blame-inducing medical terms ever,” implying that the loss was the woman’s fault.
Eventually, though, she understood that there was nothing she could have done, and that she needed to move forward — and she is advising women who have experienced miscarriage to “be kind to” themselves and allow the grief to manifest and run its course, however that may happen.
“As much as I wanted to ‘move on’ and gain some sense of control over what happened by beating myself up, I came to understand that thoughts like that have no productive place in grief,” she writes. “Our pain is something to be worked through until it isn’t anymore. So on my better days, rather than being a big jerk to myself, I just started saying: It is okay to not be okay right now.”
The Bronze star clarifies that her choice to share what she went through doesn’t mean everyone who has been a similar situation should feel compelled to do so, writing, “I personally just wanted to express what I’ve experienced in the hopes that it could — in some small way — help someone going through a similar pain.”
“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.”
For Rauch personally, “the unknown is a scary place” — and she’s only truly certain about one thing. “All I really know for sure is that this experience has changed me forever,” she shares.
“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,” the star continues. “Although I can’t categorize these lessons of humble appreciation and gratitude as ‘reasons for this happening,’ I will consider them a silver lining.”
This article originally appeared on PEOPLE.