When James Van Der Beek announced on Oct. 7 that he and wife Kimberly were expecting their sixth child, the Dancing with the Stars frontrunner also used the opportunity to call attention to another deeply personal experience.
“[Kimberly] and I have been through three of those first appointments to discover no heartbeat, or no baby … ” he wrote on Instagram at the time. “Miscarriage … is something people rarely talk about … But there needs to be zero shame around it.”
Now, the couple are opening up about the three pregnancy losses they suffered over the course of creating their family: Gwendolyn, 16 months, Emilia, 3½, Annabel Leah, 5½, Joshua, 7½, and Olivia, 9. (Baby No. 6 is due in April.)
“It’s so hard, but it’s important to talk about,” Kimberly, 37, tells PEOPLE. “We wait so long to tell people that we are pregnant so the possibility of miscarriage has decreased. But in the meantime, you’re tired, you need help and you’re going through one of the wildest times of your life.”
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James Van Der Beek and Wife Kimberly on Expecting Baby No. 6: It Often Requires an “Explanation”
For James, who wed Kimberly in 2010, “even the way the word gets placed in a sentence” is wrong.
” ‘She miscarried’ puts not even subtle blame on the mother, but in all but the most extreme cases, there is nothing the mother did or didn’t do,” says the star.
And mourning the loss, he feels, should be part of the recovery process. “It’s a natural reaction to reason your way out of pain,” says James. “Especially for guys. But I want to encourage people to give themselves space to grieve the loss of that expectation, of that dream. You can support each other.”
“And by talking with friends, you’re not being secretive, and the people closest to you can help you through this thing, which is a major life event,” he adds.
James Van Der Beek Opens Up About Expecting Sixth Child After Heartbreaking Miscarriages
Now, the actor is more grateful than ever for the opportunity to expand his family once again.
“We have watched our lives change with each kid,” says James. “We’ve watched opportunities grow, and we’ve seen the positive effect it’s had on our other kids. And the added love brought into the house lights everybody up in a way that is kind of undeniable.”
For more from James and Kimberly Van Der Beek, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday.
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