Episode 119: Miscarriage Awareness: The Grief and Strength of a Late-Term Loss
Molly Ryman was nearing her due date with her second daughter, who she and her husband, Matt, had named Mabel, when suddenly, the baby stopped moving. An ultrasound revealed Mabel’s heart had stopped beating. Molly, Matt and their daughter were left to pick up the pieces.
October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month so this week, Molly sat down with her friend and our colleague, Lissa Kline, for a deeply personal conversation about pregnancy loss, grief, motherhood, strength, and the importance of connections.
Guest: Molly Ryman, Actress
Host: Lissa Kline, Progyny
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Here are some highlights from this episode:
A late-term miscarriage
4:01 – 9:18
Molly Ryman: Everything looked absolutely perfect. And then I remember one night, it was a Tuesday at the very end of my pregnancy, and I had not felt her move that day. So I got into bed and told my husband, Matt, but the next morning I had an ultrasound so I figured I would mention it then.
The next day, the technician wanted to check her out and make sure she was fine. I got in there and got hooked up – I still can’t believe this happened – but she just said, “I’m so sorry”. I could see that her heart wasn’t beating … and then I just started screaming.
I blacked out a little bit after that, but my husband came and the doctor talked us through next steps. What happened was, and this wasn’t confirmed until she was delivered, there is this jelly that coats the umbilical cord, and there just happened to be a spot on the cord that didn’t have that jelly and it just twisted and went around her neck. I still feel like I don’t understand and relive it quite a bit.
The aftermath of loss
12:06 – 19:37
Molly Ryman: In those first few weeks after we lost Mabel, our friends and family were always there and the gifts poured in. People were thinking of us and hurting with us, which was really valuable at the time. Surprisingly, though, some people did nothing or said nothing, and that really hurt. A lot of people are afraid of saying the wrong thing, so they don’t say anything at all when, in actuality, there is nothing to say when it comes to this, so an, “I’m sorry” or, “I don’t know what to say but am thinking of you,” goes a long way.
Matt and I started therapy immediately, which was really important. A lot of couples don’t make it through this type of loss, so we wanted to make sure that even though we sometimes grieved differently, we were on the same team.
Around month four or five, people started to move on with their lives and stop checking in as much, which made me feel like I was stuck. It became really lonely. I remember a couple months after she died, I started to panic, like, no one’s going to want to be friends with a woman whose baby died – it’s just too much. So I posted something stupid and forced to my Facebook non-related to my loss. I wanted everyone to think, everything is fine, I am normal. But obviously I wasn’t fine. I felt this pressure to be fine.
People started asking when we’re going to have another baby, and I’m just not there yet. It’s a very strange place to be.
Triggers after loss
38:33 – 41:05
Lissa Kline: You talked about seeing baby strollers, is there any other stuff that you found sort of stops you in your tracks as you go through this?
Molly Ryman: Yeah, so social media is dangerous, because you don’t know what you will see. For the most part, I’ve stayed off social media. There’s always news of a pregnancy announcement or a picture of a newborn, and it’s a terrible feeling because in any other circumstance you’d be elated for them, but it’s very triggering for you. So staying off social media has been very valuable. I do go on every once in a while, but I started unfollowing people who were pregnant because it was too much.
There are babies everywhere and for the most part I am okay, but I think a big part of that is because I have my other daughter.
My neighbor, a couple of doors down had a baby boy, a couple weeks after Mabel, and we were pregnant together and kind of thinking that our babies would be friends. And I remember, she would check in every once in a while. And I would thank her and just say that I’m not ready to see your baby. And I thought she understood that. But then she showed up one day with him. And I actually couldn’t believe it! I think her heart was in the absolute right place — she wanted to see how I was doing. But I don’t think she can understand, like, how triggering it is to see a newborn.
Lissa oversees the Patient Care Advocates and the Provider Relations Team. She worked at Columbia University Medical Center for several years in the division of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility. Involved in Patient Services and the Donor Egg Program, she loved working with patients while they underwent fertility treatment. Lissa graduated with a Master of Science in Social Work from Columbia University.
Molly Ryman is an actor and writer currently living in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She married her husband Matthew in 2017 and they wanted to start a family right away. Molly’s first two pregnancies resulted in miscarriages, but her 3rd pregnancy gave them a beautiful baby girl. In 2020 Molly got pregnant again with another baby girl. She and her family took all precautions to keep Molly and the baby safe through the pandemic. There were no concerns and all test results showed her baby girl was healthy and in perfect condition until she went in for her 39 week ultrasound and learned the umbilical cord had become tangled and her baby’s heart stopped. They named her Mabel Grace.