Rob Lowe’s Heartbreaking Reaction to Learning Melissa Gilbert Was Pregnant

Not too long after Rob Lowe proposed to Melissa Gilbert, she found out she was pregnant. When she told him the news, he didn’t give her the reaction she expected or wanted.

Rob Lowe and Melissa Gilbert at the opening exhibit for photographer Gregg Gorman
Rob Lowe and Melissa Gilbert | Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

How Melissa Gilbert learned she was pregnant

In the midst of planning her and Lowe’s wedding, Gilbert felt “run-down, tired, cranky, and just plain blah.” All of a sudden, she realized her period was late. So she went out and bout a pregnancy test.

“My heart raced and my hands shook uncontrollably. I laughed and cried at the same time,” Gilbert wrote in her memoir, Prairie Tale. She was pregnant. The actor quickly made an appointment with her doctor who confirmed the at-home test and sent her on her way with a bag of prenatal vitamins.

“My life was about to change in ways I couldn’t begin to imagine,” she wrote. “It was going to be exactly the way I had dreamed. I was beyond happy. I wanted to tell Rob the news in person, so I left the next day for the Hamptons [where he was working].”

What happened when Melissa Gilbert told Rob Lowe she was pregnant

As soon as Gilbert arrived in the Hamptons, she ran into Lowe’s arms, thinking: “This is the man I love, the man I am going to marry, the man I am about to tell a secret that will make our lives perfect.” As they embraced he expressed “how happy he was that I had come back to be with him, how badly he had missed me, and how much he loved me.” So she told him right then and there. And he didn’t say a word.

Rob Lowe and Melissa Gilbert
Rob Lowe and Melissa Gilbert | Time Life Pictures/DMI/The LIFE Picture Collection via Getty Images

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“He walked away from me and sat down on a patio chair across the room,” wrote Gilbert. “I sat in the chair opposite him and said something along the lines of, ‘I know. It’s a lot. and not something we planned. But we have time to prepare. How difficult can it be? People have been having babies forever.'”

How Rob Lowe reacted to learning his fiancé was pregnant

Gilbert watched Lowe’s “face change from shocked to positively panic-stricken.” He still hadn’t said anything.

“It was like I had stepped into a bottomless pit,” she wrote. “I felt the terror of falling and no one to catch me.”

Finally, he spoke.

“I can’t be a father,” Gilbert remembers him saying, his voice trembling.

Rob Lowe and Melissa Gilbert during Memorial Service for Ricky Nelson
Rob Lowe and Melissa Gilbert | Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

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“I can’t be a husband,” he continued, according to Gilbert. “Melissa, I can’t be a boyfriend right now either. I am so sorry. I’m so sorry. I just can’t do it. I can’t do any of it. It’s over.”

They held each other and cried.

“Both of us knew this time it really was over,” she wrote. “Done. Finished.”

Gilbert flew back to Los Angeles the next day and, with the help of her mother and girlfriends, moved out of Lowe’s house. Not too long later, she had a miscarriage.

“Now I was completely, totally alone, and it hurt like hell,” she wrote.