Olympic medal winner and world champion Nancy Kerrigan is famous for her career in figure skating and perhaps, most notably, her triumphant comeback from a devastating attack in 1994.
But on Monday’s episode of Dancing With The Stars, we learned how she used that same strength, tenacity and courage to get through the grief and loss of six pregnancies that all resulted in miscarriages.
And I, like so many others, can relate. Before I became pregnant for the second time, having a miscarriage was not even on my radar. I had no idea how common they were. Until it happened to me.
It was early in the pregnancy and my husband and I had yet to even tell anyone. The grief and feelings of loss that we experienced were only shared with a few key people at the time. I convinced myself that it was for the best. That it was my body’s way of saying, “It just wasn’t right.” I grieved silently. Since then I have discovered that we were far from alone. I was shocked to find out just how many other women have struggled with pregnancy loss.
According to a national study on public perceptions of miscarriage, published in June 2015, the majority of 1,000 men and women surveyed erroneously believed that miscarriage occurs in less than 5% of pregnancies. In reality, 20 – 25% of pregnancies end in miscarriage. Dr. Zev Williams and his colleagues also concluded that, “Those who had experienced a miscarriage frequently felt guilty, isolated, and alone.”
Nancy’s revelation of her difficult journey to becoming a mother of three will hopefully help others who have also struggled, or are currently struggling, with the isolation and grief of miscarriage. In an age which puts such a heavy emphasis on communication, it is difficult to understand how this is still so rarely talked about.
Since she was 10 years old, Nancy had a vision of having three kids by the time she was 30. Shortly after marrying her husband, Jerry Solomon, she became pregnant and her son Matthew was born in 1996. She was on her way to making her dream a reality.
It would be 8 long years before they had another child.
In an emotional video clip on Dancing With The Stars, Kerrigan gets real about the grief, guilt and shame that often accompanies miscarriage. “I had a miscarriage. It was pretty awful. You feel guilty and, like, what did you do wrong? It makes you feel like a failure.”
Cue the tears.
She goes on to tearfully reveal, “I had six miscarriages in 8 years. So it was really hard actually. I mean, it was like, I almost felt shameful, I think. Like, because I couldn’t do it on my own.”
At that point, Nancy and Jerry chose to undergo in vitro fertilization. They welcomed their second son, Brian, in 2005.
Still determined to fulfill her dream of three kids, they turned to in vitro one more time. She tells People Magazine, “There were two eggs left and they said, ‘Do you want both?’ And we were, like, ‘Oh.’ Sometimes people get twins and that would have been okay before Brian, but we already had two now so we said no,” she says. “They said, ‘This one looks strong!’ But then it wasn’t strong and they said it didn’t work. Then they said ‘There’s only this weak one left,’ which is funny because our daughter Nicole is the complete opposite of weak.”
She welcomed her daughter in 2008.
In sharing her story, Nancy hopes to send a message. “Never give up. Keep trying. If you have hope in your heart, you can persevere. I know it’s hard sometimes to have it, but it’s important.”
There is life and hope after a miscarriage. I should know. My twins are a testament to that.
— People (@people) April 10, 2017