I Tragically Lost My Husband While Pregnant With Our Daughter

Widowed & pregnant: One woman's story of survival.

Widowed woman who is pregnant, survival freemixer | Canva

This is the story of a typical 36-year-old woman with two young children and one on the way. She loved her life, family, and career, and thought she had it all figured out ... except for the deep, burning feeling that she wasn't running her own race. She was busy, but she knew she should stop to breathe. She knew she should slow down because nothing else really mattered except love, connection, and living each moment in the present. Her spirit tried to warn her. She saw signs everywhere, but she ignored them. She was too afraid of what she would feel if she slowed down long enough to deal with her emotions. 


She kept running ... until November 11, 2008. On that day, she was told that her strong, young, athletic husband had been killed by an accidental injection of anesthesia during a routine shoulder-block procedure. She watched herself cower down into a deep, dark hole where she could hide from vulnerability. She hated feeling disconnected in rooms full of people she knew loved her. Then, she began to see her life as a movie, and all she had to do was trust and love herself enough to star in it.

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I'm Jodie Rodenbaugh and this is my story. It's a story that only I direct. This is my story of feeling stripped of everything I once knew. My experience left me naked and vulnerable, but through that pain, I found strength from a power much greater than myself. 


For months after Thor died, I just wanted to run. I wanted to put my tennis shoes on and run so I could feel free and strong again, but I felt trapped in my own body. I was four months pregnant, but I still needed to grieve. I felt judged, captive, and afraid. However, I knew that I had to grow, so I made three promises to my husband: I promise to live, which means breaking free from anything that stops me from growing and being happy. I will stay a step ahead of our children, remain strong, and bring our baby into this world with love, and I will love as I have never loved before, expressing and receiving love with utter abandon.

Making these promises gave me courage. I made it through those first six months with a tremendous amount of love and connection. I prepared for the birth of our third baby and held on to my vision of one day being free from grief. I went through 19 hours of natural labor and I felt no pain for 18 of them. It wasn't until I let self-doubt and worry creep into my thoughts that I started experiencing pain. I feared what might happen to my child as I raised her without my husband. I caught myself saying "I can't." 

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Working through the labor stages was no different than the process of grief. For the first 18 hours, I breathed through the pain and trusted the cycle of every contraction. I pictured myself — like I had done so many times in working through my grief — riding the wave. I was a storm, but I was still in control. Love and peace calmed the waves. But when the storm riled up and the waves continued to crash, leaving me very little time to take the next breath, doubt crept in. I wondered how much more of this I could take. I needed someone to tell me that it would all be over soon.

My doula brought me back as much as she could. "Breathe. You're doing awesome! It won't be much longer now. You can do this! You are doing it." I did it and I learned so much about myself in the process. I loved and cared for our child and in return, she kept me in the moment. I learned what it was like to know joy, peace, and passion. I reconnected with Thor. So, I stayed in the moment. I rode the waves. Soon I put my tennis shoes back on and I started training for my life's race. I looked forward to turning 40. I kept telling myself, "I get to be here! I get to see my kids grow and I will stay ahead of them for as long as I get to be here."

Widowed & Pregnant: One Woman's Story Of Survival Pexels / Nathan Cowley


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Sometimes I'd catch myself hiding, tired of feeling vulnerable. I would disconnect from the world. I knew I was being deceptive to my promises and to my life.  But I knew I wanted to be free. 

So I moved past that and got back into the zone. Running and weight training put me in a meditative zone that I had never experienced before. This taste of freedom kept me wanting more. After more than 15 years in education, I made another conscious decision to resign and head back to school to obtain certifications in both personal training and life coaching. I was scared, but I knew if I didn't, I would never know what I was missing.

Now I am 40 and in the best shape of my life in every way — mind, body, and spirit. I now know those promises I made to him were actually to myself.  Now when I go into that dark, disconnected place that I first went to on November 11, 2009, it is not as dark, but it's still lonely. I go there when I'm afraid of shining, being happy, loving, and living a full amazing life. I go there when I feel like I can't go anymore. The difference now is that I know that I must reach out to the people who love me for help.


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Jodie Rodenbaugh is a personal development coach. Her unique adverse life experiences, background in education, and expertise in self-development, relationships, and well-being provide her with a triangulated advantage to helping her clients succeed in every aspect of their lives.