Why Pregnant Shawn Johnson East Felt Her Miscarriage Was 'Payback' for Gymnastics Career
Shawn Johnson East is about to welcome her first child any day now, but she won’t forget her previous loss — or the guilt she had surrounding it.
On Friday’s episode of Jamie Otis and Doug Hehner‘s Hot Marriage. Cool Parents podcast, the former Olympic gymnast, 27, opens up about losing her first pregnancy two years ago and how she blamed herself at first even though the doctor told her right out the gate that the miscarriage was not her fault.
“I felt so sad and guilty that I had done something wrong to lose this child,” says the mother-to-be, adding of her doctor’s comments, “I remember that just bringing me to tears because I was like, ‘How can you say that? ‘Cause I must’ve done something wrong.”
“And [the doctor] just kept saying, ‘It wasn’t about being around a smoker or eating the wrong thing or accidentally having a glass of wine because you didn’t know you were pregnant,’ ” she recalls. ” ‘There is nothing you did that was wrong.’ ”
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Shawn Johnson East in 2008
And the guilt went even further than just short-term actions Johnson East thought could’ve caused the loss. In her mind, the blame went as far back as her gymnastics years, when she competed as a child and teenager before retiring from the sport in 2012, at the age of 20.
“That was always my fear — that I had put my body through so much and done so many extreme diets and delayed puberty and all of these things, that it would cause me to have trouble getting pregnant,” she reveals.
However, “I had had testing done and blood work done and [doctors] said everything was good, which was a good reassurance. But again, at that time of miscarriage, I couldn’t help but think I did enough damage to my body at a young age that it was almost, like, payback.”
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“I had these guilty feelings of if, ‘I can’t even take care of child for a week in my stomach, I can’t raise a child on my own,’ ” Johnson East said later, in an interview published in June 2018. “I felt guilty to Andrew that I had lost his child, and I felt guilty to God that I lost his child.”
The couple cited both the support they received from those around them as well as their personal faith as paramount in helping them through their feelings of loss.
“No matter what you go through, you will always come out of it,” said Johnson East. “And I think if you believe in Him and have faith in Him, you’ll come out stronger than you were before.”