James and Kimberly Van Der Beek on How They're Coping After Pregnancy Losses: 'Grief Comes in Waves'
Less than a year after Kimberly Van Der Beek nearly lost her life during back-to-back pregnancy losses at 17½ weeks, she and husband James Van Der Beek are opening up about their ordeal — and a lifesaving new partnership with the American Red Cross.
"My life was on the line," says Kimberly, 39, who suffered her fourth pregnancy loss in November 2019 and her fifth in June 2020. "What saved my life was blood transfusions, people who donated blood. Without them, I probably would not be here."
Kimberly and James — who are parents to Olivia, 10, Joshua, 9, Annabel, 7, Emilia, 5, and Gwendolyn, 2 — have partnered with the American Red Cross to spread the word about the crucial need for blood donations.
"It's one of those donations that is most direct," says James, 44. "It doesn't cost any money and it's literally lifesaving. It's an amazing way to help out humanity in general."
Adds Kimberly, "Everybody has spent a year inside at home not thinking about donating blood, and that results in a shortage of blood available. Summer comes with plenty of reasons for blood transfusions. We support the Red Cross and this mission of giving blood."
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The couple, wed since 2010, are also coping with the sorrow of losing their unborn children.
"There's a lot of shock, absolute dread, disbelief and then helplessness accompanied by fear," says James of witnessing his wife's struggles. "But you go through it and you take it breath by breath. You have to let it unfold at a pace that works for you."
These days "the grief comes in waves," says Kimberly. "You can have in one moment complete and utter joy, and in another moment grief wants to wash over you. It can rear its head unexpectedly. And it does."
The parents of five have also been candid with their children. "All of our kids saw me pregnant," says Kimberly. "Then they saw me rushed out the door by a bunch of people, and they have to process that. Everything should be authentic and honest."
Luckily, a move last October from Los Angeles to a sprawling ranch in Austin has proved to be therapeutic.
"It's the deepest breath," says Kimberly, "and the kids love Texas. Moving here helps spread them out and become self-sufficient because nature becomes their play toy."
Adds the actor, "We're really happy here. It's very healing."
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