The Tony winner opens up about how her previous loss has impacted her pregnancy
Laura Benanti 2016 Tony Awards

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Tony winner Laura Benanti and her husband Patrick Brown recently told the world they are expecting their first child — a baby girl, due this winter.

It was happy news for the couple, who married in November 2015 and suffered a miscarriage almost a year ago.

“I was so worried and also really scared during the first trimester,” the 37-year-old Supergirl actress tells PEOPLE of getting pregnant after her loss. “I was really scared, all the time.”

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Benanti’s fears were also met with a severe form of morning sickness, which plagued her throughout her first trimester.

“I don’t know what man named it morning sickness,” she jokes. “It’s the most ridiculous term I have ever heard. It should be called just ’24/7, Never Get a Break’ sickness.

“It was really rough,” she continues. “I was throwing up multiple times a day, and really dehydrated. I was barely functioning as a human.”

At the time, Benanti was busier than ever and working nights when the nausea was at its worst. She was leading the Broadway revival of She Loves Me, for which she received a Tony nomination. Also starring Zachary Levi and Jane Krakowski, the limited-run production was wrapping up its last few months, culminating in a live-streamed performance for the whole world to see.

She was also making headlines with her Melania Trump impression on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.

Laura Benanti Drama Desks

Scott Kowalchyk/CBS

Benanti’s doctor quickly told her she needed to rest, which she obliged by dropping down to six shows a week from the usual eight.

“When my doctor was like, ‘This is nuts — you need to take care of yourself,’ I wasn’t like, ‘Well, the show must go on!’ ” the actress and singer explains. “I was like, ‘No, I’m a human being, and I had a miscarriage and I don’t want another one.’ So I really made my pregnancy a priority.”

“I’m really grateful for where we are now,” she adds. “Everything’s great and looks healthy. But still — still in the back of my mind, I’m like, ‘Oh gosh, please let everything be okay.’ ”

After Benanti suffered her miscarriage last year, she felt helpless and alone. But when she started talking to close friends about what had happened, she was surprised to learn they too had experienced the loss. That news frustrated Benanti.

She confesses, “It started to make me feel angry that there’s some deep-seated misogyny in our culture where women are not allowed to mourn the loss of their pregnancy. I felt like the only thing that would make me feel a tiny bit less crazy about losing my pregnancy was feeling like perhaps I could help other women not feel alone because I felt so alone.”

So Benanti penned an op-ed about the miscarriage in The Huffington Post. The piece became widely read online, and was even translated into other languages for a global audience to read.

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Many praised Benanti for being honest about her dark time.

“I was overwhelmed by the response,” she says. “I didn’t know who would read it, and I am so grateful to be part of that conversation. I hope me being pregnant after can be inspirational for a woman who perhaps had just gone through a miscarriage and wonders if she’ll ever get pregnant.”

Looking back on it, Benanti feels the tough time better prepared her to be a mother.

“It was for sure the worst thing to ever happen to me — and I’ve had some pretty s—– things happen to me,” she says, laughing. “But sometimes I think of it as like tenderizing meat: If you get banged up enough, it makes you soft.”

Benanti continues, “I do think it makes me more empathetic to other people and what they might be going through. I feel like we have a choice to either allow life to break us down and make it hard, or we can try to gather ourselves and be kind to other people.”

Laura Benanti pregnant expecting first child

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Though she’s taking some time off, Benanti will still be plenty busy. She has a string of concert engagements coming up across the country, including dates during her third trimester at the D.C.’s Kennedy Center in December. (“They’re going to have to get a crane to lift me onto the stage,” she jokes.)

She’s also hard at work on her first book of essays: I Stole Your Boyfriend, and Other Monster Acts on My Way to Becoming a Human Woman, out sometime next year.

As for the “24/7, Never Get a Break” sickness, Benanti says that’s gotten better — though she still hasn’t been craving anything. Well, other than pizza.

“I always want to eat that,” she says. “Certain smells just send me into a tailspin — just any food smell other than pizza. Basically, anything that’s not pizza makes me want to barf.”

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The food aversions have been a roller coaster for Brown, whom Benanti calls “calm, even-keeled, kind, supportive and genuinely the best person.”

“I’ll ask him, ‘Can you get me blah blah blah?’ And he’ll go get it and bring it back and I’ll be like, ‘Get that out of my face, I hate you, what’s wrong with you?’ So there’s that,” she jokes.

— Dave Quinn