Going public eased pain for WMUR meteorologist, others

By SHAWNE K. WICKHAM
New Hampshire Sunday News
March 19. 2017 11:17PM
WMUR-TV meteorologist Hayley LaPoint delivers the weather during a recent broadcast. (DAVID LANE/UNION LEADER)

MANCHESTER — Hayley LaPoint knew it was only a matter of time before she’d have to reveal that she was pregnant. As an on-air meteorologist for WMUR-TV, her growing belly was getting harder to hide — especially from the side view.

But LaPoint also made a more difficult decision. She revealed on air and online that she and her husband had had three miscarriages over the past two years, losing four babies.

It wasn’t easy, LaPoint said in a recent interview. Despite her public persona, she said, “I’m a private person.”

But in the months since, she said, women have reached out to her — in supermarkets, schools and emails — to share stories about their own losses. And she found that talking with others who have been through it has helped.

She’s been overwhelmed by messages of hope and support. And she hopes telling her story helps others feel less alone.

So often, miscarriage is a private grief.

In the spring of 2015, LaPoint and her husband learned through an ultrasound at nine weeks that their twin babies did not have heartbeats. She told no one, not even her mother.

But her mother, she said, “has amazing mom instincts and knew that something was wrong,” so she ended up telling her about the miscarriage.

They tried again, but lost another baby over Thanksgiving that year. Last winter, she was pregnant again, but lost the heartbeat at seven weeks. That time, LaPoint said, she needed more time to recover so she had to tell her boss.

LaPoint’s due date is April 12.

She waited until she was 20 weeks along before announcing her pregnancy publicly. That meant wearing blazers more often, politely diverting questions from curious viewers — and trying to avoid turning sideways. “I didn’t want to talk about it yet,” she said.

She’s still nervous, she admits. “It certainly has gotten easier, no doubt about it. But every day, all of a sudden, it will dawn on me: Why haven’t I felt the baby move in an hour?”

“Those are the reassurances I’m always looking for,” she said.
WMUR-TV meteorologist Hayley LaPoint poses in the studio before broadcasting the weather on Friday. She is expecting a baby in April. (DAVID LANE/UNION LEADER)

A passion for weather

LaPoint said weather has been her passion since she was a small child. She saw a book about tornados in kindergarten and “some switch just went off in my head, and from then on, I had to learn as much as I could about tornados.”

Growing up in Topsfield, Mass., there wasn’t much chance to experience a tornado. But she always knew what she wanted to do for a career.

Her parents have home movies of her standing in front of large maps. “I would do the forecast in front of them,” she said. “Television weather was literally the only thing I’ve ever wanted to do.”

LaPoint, who is 30, was one of just three women in her meteorology classes at Lyndon State College in Vermont; by the time she graduated, she was the only one. “It’s part of the whole issue with girls getting into STEM careers,” she said.

It’s not an easy field to pursue. She had to take four semesters of calculus, differential equations and calculus-based physics.

LaPoint uses that deep science background to interpret weather models and do her own forecasting. She worked in Plattsburgh, N.Y. and Fargo, N.D., before coming to Manchester 2-1/2 years ago.

Her husband, Jim, a former TV meteorologist, works for The Weather Company, an Andover, Mass., company that develops software for TV forecasters. The couple has a West Highland white terrier named Doppler.

Feeling blessed

LaPoint said she has gotten a few critical comments from viewers about her late-pregnancy appearance. One person complained that her belly-button was visible through her dress.

LaPoint sought advice from other female meteorologists who are moms (yes, there’s a Facebook group for that); she tried covering her belly button up with a Band-aid a few times.

“But I felt weird doing that,” she said. “I felt like I was trying to cover up my baby.”

Finally, she decided to ignore the criticism and embrace her new body. For her, it’s still a wonder that she’s in her final month of pregnancy. “There were times that I didn’t think I would ever see my body the way it is now,” she said.

What about the women who don’t get the happy ending?

LaPoint said she understands how seeing a pregnant woman is painful for someone who’s lost a baby, “because I was in that position not long ago.”

“Do I have a little guilt about it? Yeah, I sort of do,” she said. “Because I am very blessed.”

Her message is to keep pushing through the grief, she said: “One way or another, you will be a parent. It’s going to happen for you.”

So how long does she plan to keep working? “All the way,” she said. “I may have contractions while doing the weather.”

What if her water breaks?

“It would be very memorable,” she laughed. “If I awkwardly back off camera, that might be what has happened.”

swickham@unionleader.com


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