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'The dream was gone': Kate Snow opens up about her heartbreak after miscarriages

"Our little family is stronger for what we’ve been through. And for whatever reason — having a third child just wasn’t meant to be."

“I’m sorry Kate, there’s no heartbeat.”

It was one of the most devastating sentences I’d ever heard. I felt deeply, intensely sad. I was alone even though my husband Chris was clutching my hand. As tears streamed down my face, it felt like all the hope that I’d had of having a third child was evaporating as I looked at the stillness of a sonogram on the screen.

Related: See Kate Snow's series on pregnancy loss, #MiscarriageMatters

It was 2010 and I was a new correspondent at NBC News. I had not told anyone I was pregnant. Not my bosses. Not my friends. Not even my in-laws. We had planned to tell them the following weekend in person. Now I would be calling them in tears.

We hadn’t planned to have another child exactly. I had no idea I was expecting until I took one of those drugstore tests.

Kate Snow and her family
NBC News correspondent Kate Snow and her family in 2010.Kate Snow

We already had two beautiful children — Zack and Abby. We had the perfect family, everyone said. A boy and girl set. And yet I’d always wanted a third. So when it happened, I was thrilled. We adjusted to a new reality. And then — just as fast as it appeared — the dream was gone.

When I lost that pregnancy, I vowed not to try again. I was already 41 years old. Who was I kidding? I was too old to have a third child. Besides, I reasoned, we’re good. I spent a week recovering and purged our house of every baby item we owned. I packed up plastic bins full of baby clothes, toys, the Exersaucer, the crib ... all of it. We took it all to Goodwill.

Then two years later, in 2012, I took another test and got another shock. I was pregnant again, against all odds.

This time we told people right away. No more secrecy. If I were to suffer another loss, I thought, I’d rather have people to lean on.

But this pregnancy would be far more difficult.

At the end of the first trimester we learned that the fetus had Down syndrome. After another ultrasound we learned that like many babies with Down syndrome, ours had a heart defect. The heart tissue hadn’t come together correctly, leaving a hole in the center of his heart. Yes his. It was a boy. We decided to name him Max.

We waited two weeks for another test that would reveal the severity of the heart defect. I felt a constant knot in my stomach. I was already 20 weeks pregnant — showing and wearing maternity clothes at work. We were reading everything we could about raising a child with special needs, imagining our new life. We knew the next appointment would be a turning point.

That’s when I heard that sentence for the second time in my life.

“I’m sorry Kate, there’s no heartbeat.”

It was like being run over by a truck all over again.

There are really no words to describe the hurt. I felt as if I already knew Max. We’d already mapped out our lives as a family of five. Now it would never happen.

At the same time, I felt guilty for being so sad. Why could I not appreciate the two gorgeous children who were right in front of me? Why weren’t they enough?

It’s taken me years to be able to say all of this out loud. And with distance, comes wisdom.

My sister Barb, who's a social worker asked me yesterday that I should ask myself: Why am I sharing? My motivations are simple. I’m hoping that I might help someone else see that they’re not alone.

I learned in reporting stories for Nightly News and TODAY that as many as 25% of pregnancies end in miscarriage. It’s so common. And yet we rarely talk about it.

Hopefully that’s changing.

Here is what I know. Our little family is stronger for what we’ve been through. And for whatever reason — having a third child just wasn’t meant to be. It wasn’t easy to accept. But eventually, slowly, we adjusted. We learned to celebrate all we have and spent less time mourning what we’d lost.

Chris, Kate, Abby and Zack. Our family of four. We are good.