First Lady Jackie Kennedy’s Third Pregnancy Ended In Tragedy

56 years ago on August 7, 1963, Jackie Kennedy became the first U.S. First Lady to have a baby since former First Lady Frances Cleveland in the late 19th century. The birth of Patrick Bouvier Kennedy was indeed a miracle for the Kennedy family but it would end in tragedy.

Jacqueline Kennedy on a yacht, just before the premature birth of Patrick J. Kennedy.
© CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images
© CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images

Even before John F. Kennedy became president of the United States, his wife Jackie had a history of difficult pregnancies. It started two years into their marriage in 1955, when Jackie suffered her first miscarriage. The following year, she suffered another a month shy of her due date.

Relief came the following year when Jackie gave birth to a healthy baby girl named Caroline in 1957, which sparked within JFK a sense of responsibility to his family. He seemed to be more pleased on November 25, 1960 when Jackie gave birth to John F. Kennedy, Jr., despite the fact that the baby boy was born with respiratory problems. Two months later on January 20, 1961, JFK was sworn in as President of the United States, which officially made Jackie the First Lady.

She became pregnant again in early 1963 which put her First Lady duties aside as she prepared for the arrival of the third Kennedy child. Five weeks ahead of her scheduled due date, Jackie went into labor on August 7 and had to undergo an emergency Cesarean section at Otis Air Force Base near Cape Cod. The baby was named Patrick Bouvier Kennedy but sadly, his lungs were not fully developed and he was rushed to Boston Children’s Hospital where he succumbed to hyaline membrane disease two days later. While Jackie was still recovering at Otis, JFK was in Boston to be with the baby and was there when he died.

Of course, Jackie was gravely affected by Patrick’s death and entered a state of depression. Despite this, it did help her marriage with President Kennedy as they were brought closer together over their shared grief.