Former ESPN reporter Sara Walsh endured three lost pregnancies, including one that occurred while she was on air.
In an emotional Instagram post on Sunday, former ESPN reporter Sara Walsh chronicled her “road down a dark path” trying to get pregnant. The most heartbreaking part of her long journey? When she miscarried on live TV.
The ex–SportsCenter anchor opened up about what it was like to lose her first pregnancy while hosting a live sports event near the end of her first trimester. “The juxtaposition of college kids going nuts behind our set, while I was losing a baby on it, was surreal,” she writes in her post. “I was scared, nobody knew I was pregnant, so I did the show while having a miscarriage. On television.”
By definition, a miscarriage occurs when a pregnancy is lost before the 20th week. As many women sadly know firsthand, they are not uncommon. About 10% to 20% of all known pregnancies end in miscarriage.
But while most women who miscarry can be physically close to their partner and experience their immediate support in the moment, Walsh was thousands of miles from her husband at the time. She could only text him about the loss during commercial breaks, when she wasn’t on air.
My mother bought them these onesies because she thought they were funny. For us, they're especially poignant. Finding a good egg didn't come easy for me, and I suspect there are many people out there facing the same struggle. The road down a dark path began while hosting Sportscenter on the road from Alabama. I arrived in Tuscaloosa almost three months pregnant. I wouldn't return the same way. The juxtaposition of college kids going nuts behind our set, while I was losing a baby on it, was surreal. I was scared, nobody knew I was pregnant, so I did the show while having a miscarriage. On television. My husband had to watch this unfold from more than a thousand miles away, texting me hospital options during commercial breaks. It would get worse. Two more failed pregnancies. More than once, I'd have surgery one day and be on SportsCenter the next so as not to draw attention to my situation. We then went down the IVF road of endless shots and procedures. After several rounds, we could only salvage two eggs. I refused to even use them for a long time, because I couldn't bear the idea of all hope being gone. I blew off pregnancy tests, scared to know if it worked. It had. Times two. It was exciting news, but we knew better than to celebrate. So I spent a third straight football season pregnant, strategically picking out clothes and standing at certain angles, using scripts to hide my stomach. There would be no baby announcement, no shower, we didn't buy a single thing in preparation for the babies, because I wasn't sure they'd show up. We told very few people we were pregnant, and almost no one there were two. For those that thought I was weirdly quiet about my pregnancy, now you know why. For as long as I can remember I hosted Sportscenter on Mother's Day, and the last couple years doing that have been personally brutal. An hours-long reminder of everything that had gone wrong. I wasn't on tv today, and I'm not sure when I will be again, but instead I got to hang with these two good eggs. My ONLY good eggs. And I know how lucky I really am. #twins #ivf
Her on-air miscarriage was just the beginning of her difficult journey toward motherhood. Walsh lost two more pregnancies in the next two years. She and her husband decided to give IVF a try, enduring months of hormone shots and procedures. “More than once, I’d have surgery one day and be on SportsCenter the next so as not to draw attention to my situation,” she writes.
After multiple rounds of IVF, Walsh produced two eggs, both of which soon became two embryos. But instead of being exuberant because she was now pregnant with twins, Walsh was careful. “It was exciting news, but we knew better than to celebrate," she says.
By now Walsh was accustomed to being pregnant during football season. In case it didn't work out again, she wore clothes that hid her bump and held scripts in front of her stomach while on air. “There would be no baby announcement, no shower, we didn’t buy a single thing in preparation for the babies, because I wasn’t sure they’d show up,” she explains.
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But as the happy photo in her post reveals, they certainly did—a boy and girl named Hutton and Brees. They came into the world just days before Super Bowl Sunday 2017, appropriately enough. On Mother's Day, Walsh was able to enjoy the holiday the way she’d always hoped she would: off-screen and with her babies.
“I wasn’t on tv today, and I’m not sure when I will be again, but instead I got to hang with these two good eggs. My ONLY good eggs. And I know how lucky I really am.”