James Van Der Beek and his wife, Kimberly, welcomed their fifth child to the world earlier this summer, but months before they celebrated that joyful occasion — just before they even learned that daughter Gwendolyn was on the way — they suffered a loss.
And it wasn't the first time.
"Wanted to say a thing or two about miscarriages ... of which we’ve had three over the years (including right before this little beauty)," the actor wrote alongside a photo of him and his wife cuddled close with their recent arrival. "First off — we need a new word for it. 'Mis-carriage,' in an insidious way, suggests fault for the mother — as if she dropped something, or failed to 'carry.' From what I’ve learned, in all but the most obvious, extreme cases, it has nothing to do with anything the mother did or didn’t do. So let’s wipe all blame off the table before we even start."
That's an especially important point given how often mothers-to-be and their partners are faced with such loss. One in four pregnancies end in miscarriage.
And Van Der Beek stresses that it's a pain that "will tear you open like nothing else."
"It’s painful and it’s heartbreaking on levels deeper than you may have ever experienced," he explained. "So don’t judge your grief, or try to rationalize your way around it. Let it flow in the waves in which it comes, and allow it its rightful space. And then ... once you’re able ... try to recognize the beauty in how you put yourself back together differently than you were before."
One of Van Der Beek's most vital messages is just that: Amid the suffering that comes with miscarriage, there can still be beauty and joy found in the healing process.
"Some changes we make proactively, some we make because the universe has smashed us, but either way, those changes can be gifts," he wrote. "Many couples become closer than ever before. Many parents realize a deeper desire for a child than ever before. And many, many, many couples go on to have happy, healthy, beautiful babies afterwards (and often very quickly afterwards — you’ve been warned)."
And as for those would-be infants who don't survive pregnancy, Van Der Beek pondered their brief but valuable role in their parents' lives.
"I’ve heard some amazing metaphysical explanations for them, mostly centering around the idea that these little souls volunteer for this short journey for the benefit of the parents," he continued. He then asked his fans and followers to "please share whatever may have given you peace or hope along the way ... Along with a new word for this experience."