But — as she tearfully recounts in a video on Dancing with the Stars Monday night, of which PEOPLE has an exclusive preview — Kerrigan’s journey to becoming a mother of three would not be an easy one.
After she wed her agent Jerry Solomon in 1995, Kerrigan quickly became pregnant and welcomed her son Matthew in 1996.
“He went on tour with us for months and it was great,” says Kerrigan, who had transitioned to professional skating after her silver medal win at the 1994 Winter Olympics.
But as easy as her first pregnancy had been, it would be eight years before she would become a mom for the second time.
“The first time that you go in and they tell you, ‘Oh there’s no heartbeat,’ it’s devastating,” Kerrigan says of suffering “at least” six miscarriages in the years after giving birth to Matthew.
“I felt like a failure,” says Kerrigan, whose doctors were never able to determine why she kept miscarrying.
Making matters worse was having to tell Matthew that he would have to wait to become a big brother.
“Once, the pregnancy was far enough along that we actually told our son and he was so excited,” says Kerrigan. “How do you explain [a miscarriage] to a little kid? Having to tell them that it was now gone and they had to take it out? He asked why and we had to explain, ‘Because it’s dead. It’s not alive anymore.’ That was awful.”
Still, Kerrigan, who was raised with two older brothers, would not be deterred from having the family she’d always envisioned.
“Jerry asked me if I was sure I wanted to keep going. It was hard for him to see me hurting,” she says. “But I wasn’t ready to stop trying.”
After undergoing in vitro fertilization treatment (IVF), Kerrigan finally welcomed Brian in 2005.
“I think about it now and remember we couldn’t come up with a name for Brian,” says Kerrigan. “I wonder if we probably were afraid to come up with a name because that makes you close and we could lose him.”
But through the fear, Kerrigan began the IVF treatment again to have her third child.
“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.”
“Now we’re outnumbered,” laughs Kerrigan, who gave birth to Nicole in 2008.
Kerrigan has done commentary for televised figure skating competitions and occasionally works as a skate instructor, but “my job is being with my kids after school and asking them how their day was,” she says.
As the children grow up —Matthew is thriving as a costume designer, Brian is a competitive gymnast and Nicole is dedicated to ballet— however, Kerrigan is open to new adventures like DWTS.
“We’ve always watched DWTS as a family,” says Kerrigan. “So the kids are so excited to get to watch me on it now.”
|DAMIAN STROHMEYER /SPORTS ILLUSTRATED/GETTY|
Nancy Kerrigan Breaks Down Over Her Six ‘Devastating’ Miscarriages On ‘DWTS’
The Most Memorable Year week on “Dancing with the Stars” is pretty much a guaranteed sobfest, with each celebrity contestant honoring a particularly formative moment in his or her life.
Monday night, the stars opened up about former struggles ― including health issues and parenting trials ― to channel their pain and heartbreak through dance.
In a pre-show clip, former Olympian Nancy Kerrigan tearfully shared her long journey to becoming a mother of three, revealing that she suffered six miscarriages over the course of a few short years.
“Since I was 10 years old, I always wanted to have three kids by the time I was 30, sort of like what my mom had done,” Kerrigan told her dance partner, Artem Chigvintsev. “Not long after having Matthew, we thought we wanted to have more kids. So I got pregnant, but I had a miscarriage ... it makes you feel like a failure.”
“The first time that you go in and they tell you, ‘Oh there’s no heartbeat,’ it’s devastating,” she added. “It almost felt shameful, because I couldn’t do it on my own.”
Kerrigan and husband Jerry Solomon welcomed their first son, Matthew, in December 1997 shortly after their marriage. She said that raising her son’s expectations about having a sibling and then watching them crumble was one of the most difficult parts of the ordeal.
“Once, the pregnancy was far enough along that we actually told our son and he was so excited,” Kerrigan said, per People. “How do you explain [a miscarriage] to a little kid? Having to tell them that it was now gone and they had to take it out? He asked why and we had to explain, ‘Because it’s dead. It’s not alive anymore.’ That was awful.”
That’s when Kerrigan decided to pursue in vitro fertilization treatment. She eventually welcomed two more children, son Brian and daughter Nicole, in 2005 and 2008, respectively.
Nancy Kerrigan Tearfully Reveals She Had Six Miscarriages in Eight Years
The Olympic gold medalist, 47, broke down in tears while recalling the past to her pro partner, Artem Chigvintsev, and to the cameras.
"Since I was 10 years old I always wanted three kids before I was 30, sort of like what my mom had done," she said. "I had six miscarriages in eight years. It was really hard, actually. It almost felt shameful I think because I couldn't do it on my own."
Kerrigan and her agent husband, Jerry Solomon, had trouble getting pregnant after welcoming their first child, Matthew, now 19, in 1997.
"Not long after having Matthew we thought we wanted more kids, but 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," Kerrigan said. "We had a good life, but I had that vision in my head since I was such a small kid."
The couple, who tied the knot in 1995, turned to in vitro fertilization for help. They went on to have son Brian, 11, and daughter Nicole, 8.
"I think more than joy and love I think I was relieved," Kerrigan said of having Brian. "Like, he was OK."