How many kids do you have?

How many kids do you have?

Alive, dead, or both?

When I was pregnant with Porter and I was asked this question my answer was, “I have four girls and I am pregnant with my 5th.” I had already included him in my count. Answering this question fresh after losing Porter bothers me. 

Why does this question bother me?

This question is hard because grieving a loss is hard. There are a lot of feelings to navigate just inside myself. People don’t know they are asking a question that is ‘triggering. (No, I am not saying no one can ask how many kids people have!) But in the moments of grief, it is hard to regulate my emotions. Sometimes this question spirals me to a dark place because I miss Porter so much. Sometimes I have guilt that I am ok in the moment but not strong enough to acknowledge him to people. Sometimes I am scared that others will not see him as my child since it was “only a miscarriage.” This question broke me all over again. I was so sad and enraged that my baby died. I was so confused at how to answer without being in full on hysterical tears or being angry at them for asking just an innocent but traumatizing question.

Here are a few ways I have gone about answering this question: 

Question: How many kids do you have?

Answer: I have four girls. 

Headspace: I am not emotionally stable at the moment to explain my 5th child I lose. I am too fragile to explain my story. They are not people I want to be vulnerable with right now about my loss. I do not have time to explain what has happened to my child. 

Acceptable Response: Wow that must be so fun!

Unacceptable Response: Wow that’s a lot of kids! I bet you’re done! Are you sad you don’t have a boy?

Feedback: When I tell someone I have four girls, I am not telling them for pity. I am not telling them to get the advise that we should be “done.” You never know meeting someone for the first time if they have lost a child. Please do not make light of how many children they have. Also asking if someone is sad about having all boys or all girls not only is annoying to parents but think of the siblings if they are close by. They may over hear and wonder why that adult thinks they should be sad to have all girls or all boys. 

Question: How many kids do you have?

Answer: I have five kids. 

Headspace: I am emotionally strong in the moment. If questioned, I am ready to tell my story. Porter is on my mind a lot and I feel guilty not including him. 

Acceptable Response: Wow that must be so fun!

Unacceptable Response: Wow that’s a lot of kids! I bet you’re done!

Feedback: Again the commentary on the number of kids is uncalled for. You may not even know how many of those children are living. I know plenty of moms that have had multiple miscarriages or stillbirths. 

Question: How many kids do you have?

Answer: I have many kids. 

Headspace: I am emotionally raw at the moment. I am trying to distract from my devastation by adding humor. If you ask me for clarification, I will probably say I have four kid and try to end the conversation. I am not ok to talk about my loss. 

Acceptable Response: Haha, aw I am sure it is so fun!

Unacceptable Response: Haha, you know how that happens right?

Feedback: The negative response is insesnsitive. You do not know the story behind someone’s children. You do not know how many are living or dead. You do not know how they got there; naturally conceived, IUI, IVF, adoption, foster. 

Question: How many kids do you have?

Answer: I have four girls and one boy in heaven. 

Headspace: I am emotionally at a place where my story is a bit more accepted in my reality. I know that I am ready to explain my story if asked. My baby is my baby and he is apart of our family. 

Acceptable Response: I am so sorry for your loss. What was his name?

Unacceptable Response: How lucky you are to have four living children though.

Feedback: If someone is willing to straight up tell you that they lost a child, ACKNOWLEDGE THAT! Ask them what their baby’s name was. Saying “I am sorry for you loss” makes all the difference. You are validating their story and their baby. It means the world to them. I promise.

So where does this leave you when you know this question is coming after a loss?

How do you prepare and survive this question after a loss?

Short and sweet answer: Accept that there is no right and easy way to prepare for this question after a loss.

Listen to your heart and evaluate where you are in your grief each day. Somedays you will feel strong and accepting in your grief. You will feel love for your baby and will be able to share your baby and include them without crumbling. Somedays when listening to your heart, you will feel that you are not ready to share the raw emotions of losing your baby. You may feel fragile and that anything may trigger you do crumbling in tears. You may feel that no one will understand your sadness so it would be better to box it up and put it away for now. And some days, the anger might boil. You may hate everything everyone says. Maybe you twist words said because it hurts that no one is hurting like you are. 

That’s all okay. 

Grief will come in waves. You may be able to answer how many kids do you have easily or Tuesday and then not at all on Friday. 

Just Remember: How you answer this question does not change how much you love and miss your baby. You will always love and miss them. <3