The former Grey’s star, who portrayed Dr. April Kepner for nine seasons on the beloved Shonda Rhimes show, opened up to PEOPLE about how that raw scene in season 11, in which April gave birth to her stillborn baby Samuel, affected her real-life pregnancy.
“That one episode was called ‘All I Could Do Was Cry,’ ” the 39-year-old actress, who is starring in the upcoming Lifetime holiday movie Twinkle All The Way, told PEOPLE at the It’s a Wonderful Lifetime Holiday Movie Press Junket on Tuesday.
“That episode, the one where April delivered the baby and the baby died, Samuel died in her arms, I was pregnant with my daughter, Hannah, and I actually went into premature labor 10 hours after shooting that scene. She was born a month early and was in the NICU for two weeks,” she said.
While Drew said Hannah, who is now 4 years old, is “totally fine,” the actress admitted it was a surreal moment.
“I will never forget that,” she said. “I’ll never forget that experience. If you allow yourself to really open up to what that moment is and don’t shut down from it, which you could do, I guess … I didn’t. I just opened up to it and became very porous in it. Your emotions are right there. There’s no faking anything. It’s just so real, but it also does a number on you and you have to recover from scenes like that, for sure.”
After nine years on the ABC drama, Drew — along with former costar Jessica Capshaw — departed from Grey’s in season 14, leaving fans shocked.
“The thing that was amazing in the midst of the heartache of that ending was the response that came out of it,” she said. “It was just like there was so much love, not only from the fans, which was just enormous, but also from the crew and from the cast. We got to have all these really beautiful goodbyes that we wouldn’t have gotten to have if we all parted ways at the same time with everyone else. So, there was something extraordinary, really, about that season. As sad as it was, it was pretty extraordinary, too.”
Though Drew said she’s not up to date with the current season, she believes there’s still a lot of story to tell.
“It still holds up and still has, from the beginning has so many compelling characters and compelling storylines,” she said.
As to where April’s life would be now?
“I imagine her life is very full,” said Drew.
Twinkle All The Way premieres Nov. 23 on Lifetime as part of the channel’s “It’s a Wonderful Lifetime” programming.