How many kids do you have?

Any parent who has lost a child knows how painful this seemingly benign question can be.

To most people doing the asking, it’s just a way to make small talk.  Just getting to know you a little bit more.  They have no idea about the internalized chain reaction of thoughts and decisions they set off by asking this.

Do I want to get into the whole story?

Do I just give the easy answer?

Am I going to upset this person?

Do they have time to hear?

Is it worth it?

In a split second (because, really, how silly does it seem if you look like you have to do some math before you answer that? Even if your last name is Duggar.) we calculate not the numbers, but the level of comfort we feel sharing the story of our little winged ones with this person.

In the days following Brigid’s death, I went to a nail salon to get a pedicure.  I needed to get out of the house, and this was a tiny bit of pampering that I thought might make me feel better.  Feel something.  Plus, I’d planned to wear open-toed shoes to her funeral the next day.  I selected a shade of pale pink, sat in the chair, and just sort of stared.  A young girl, about eight years old, was seated a few chairs to my right, getting a pedicure while her mother had her nails done.  In an effort to make small talk, the lady doing my pedicure asked me, “Do you have a daughter?”  Because I was still in shock, I barely flinched.  “No.  I have three boys.”  There I was getting my toenails painted pink for my daughter’s funeral and I didn’t even acknowledge her existence.  Honestly, I hardly felt sad giving the answer, because I was still so numb.  A few weeks later, I felt like I’d betrayed her. “Oh, you are so lucky,” the lady had gone on, “girls are so difficult.  Always wanting things and complaining about stuff.”  On and on she went, telling me how lucky I was not to have a girl when I was pretty sure I’d have cut off both of the feet she was massaging in a heartbeat to have my baby girl back.  To give her whatever she wanted and listen to her complain.  In all her seven weeks in the NICU, poked, prodded, tested, x-rayed, stuck with needles and IVs, operated on, intubated and fed through a tube, she never complained.  Not once.

A few weeks later, we took the boys to a nearby lake to swim.  Our summer had been tainted by loss, but we still wanted to keep some sense of normal for them, even though I think I’d have been content to just curl up in a ball and stay in bed.  As so many people who have seen us with three boys have asked before, a lady walked past our crew as we were packing up to leave and said with a smile, “Three boys, huh?  Are you going to try for that girl?”  Hearing that question always annoyed me, as if we were unhappy with our boys and only had three of them because we kept trying to get a girl, but it never hurt before.  I know she just thought she was being friendly and funny.  She was literally walking by as she asked the question, in jest, not even waiting for the answer.   She couldn’t have known that it felt like a drive-by shooting.   “Ha,” I replied limply, with a halfhearted smile.   The scar on my belly still hurt a little bit from the baby girls I had just delivered.  But I couldn’t tell her that.  She didn’t even stop.  I got to the car and cried.

In the weeks and months after, our second son would mention the girls’ death to everyone we saw.  Everyone.  People in Target would be walking past us and he would say, “Hi. We used to have baby sisters, but then they died.”  The person would look at me, slightly horrified, and inwardly, I would cringe.   Walks in the park, trips to the grocery store, it didn’t matter where we were or if he even had a segue – he just blurted it out.   I needed to get new glasses and brought him with me.  I let him bring a few toy trains with him, and to make conversation, the optician said, “My little boy likes those trains, too.”  “Did he die?” PJ asked.  The look on the lady’s face was one of disgust as she quickly looked to me for an explanation.  I knew that he just needed to say it out loud to validate the experience.   To make it true.  To help him to process it and heal.  But I was shocked at the way he would just say it, so matter-of-factly, to anyone, without even having to think about their feelings or how they would respond, because he was a child, and that didn’t matter, and he didn’t realize that people didn’t just talk about that sort of thing.  I think I envied him that ignorance a little.  I became wary of taking him places, but I also just wanted to hug and hold him as he tried to make sense of what had happened to him – to us.  It broke my heart that death was part of their everyday vocabulary at such a young age.

So many times, over and over, people have made comments about our boys or inquired about the size of our family, and although I’d had a miscarriage before our third son was born, I never had a hard time answering that question until the twins died.

Now it was like a trick question.  No matter how I answered, someone would be upset.

I’ve been trying harder to be honest when I give my answer, though I still find it difficult to include the babies I’ve miscarried.  They were no less my babies than the twins were, but I still feel like I need to keep them a secret for some reason.  When I was pregnant with my new baby girl, a few people asked me if she was my first when I was out somewhere alone.  It felt easy to say, “Nope, my sixth.”  Easy because they didn’t count three little boys and look at me funny.  I was proud, even.

But then, when she was born and we were attending a birthday party with some other family members, someone who didn’t know us asked, “Is she your first girl?”  Without skipping a beat, one of my family members answered for us – but not in the way that I thought she would.  “Yup – she’s their first girl!”   Ouch.  No, she is not, I thought.  We had two other girls.  That question was phrased in a way that I never would have answered in the affirmative, and I was shocked.  But there is was.   I know she didn’t mean to upset anyone – in fact, her reply was probably consciously intended not to upset someone – but that someone was not me.  And that hurt.

You see, after having lost a baby, there is a part of me that still even feels like maybe it didn’t actually happen.  It seems like it wasn’t real.  Like I couldn’t have possibly lived through that horror and be on the other side of it now.  She was with me for such a short time – I don’t have many memories with her, not like I have with my other children.  First words, first steps.  I didn’t see her do any of those things.  So please, family and friends, please let me know that you still remember that she existed.  They existed. It means so much.  More than you could ever imagine, actually.

I love their names.   I love the way they sound, the way they look written.  But now, I don’t get to hear them or see them or use them nearly enough.   The few items that I have with their names on them are treasured possessions – even the inexpensive, handmade ornament craft that came from the bereavement department of the hospital where Brigid died.  It only says Brigid’s name – her twin, Fiona was stillborn at another hospital, so they don’t know that she existed.   But someone thought of her and of us and sent that to us the Christmas after she died, and that was nice.  I always put it up high so the kids don’t pull the glued-on letters off.  As if I couldn’t recreate it for 50 cents or less.  But the value is in her name.  Having her name on it makes it a treasure.

I read this blog post recently about gifts for bereaved parents and thought it was perfect.  I have many of those very things and love them so much.

Which is why I do what I do.  Having a sketch of your baby or babies to look at makes them real.  Reminds you that they did exist, that you did come through that horrific experience, and that you are strong.  It provides an easier way to share them with other people who might come to your home and not know what happened.  It gives you something to kiss, to touch, to look at when the memories in your mind are growing fuzzy and you feel like they’re slipping from your grasp.

I might not be able to bring up all of my babies to everyone who casually asks me the question, “How many kids do you have?”  But right here, in this safe place, I can say that I had two boys, then a miscarriage at ten weeks, then a third boy, then identical twin girls (it’s such a special thing to have identical twins, isn’t it?  I had them!) – one of whom was stillborn and one who died at seven weeks of age, then another miscarriage, then a baby girl.

It feels good to say that here, in this place where people understand and want to know the whole story.

I have eight children.

But you can only see half of them.

DSCN2360

How many kids do you have?

169 thoughts on “How many kids do you have?

  1. Thank you for sharing Eileen. I have nine children, but only three were born. Not even my husband counts the six who I miscarried. It feels like nobody else understands sometimes. I’m sorry for your pain. Sending you love and hugs.

      • Thank you for sharing your stories. They def make me feel less alone. I have two children. One Miscarriage at 9 weeks and one of my son Micah, a loss due to severe birth defects at 19 weeks. I have no living children but pray for that to change in the future…

  2. I have a lump in my throat.. This is how many of us mommy’s feel. We lost our twin boys to twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome 3 years ago and I think about them everyday. I’ve wanted to have them sketched and it looks like I’ve found the place ♥
    Btw, I have 4 boys…

  3. Hi Eileen. I lost identical twin boys in my first pregnancy. They were stillborn at 24 weeks. I now have a son and daughter, but still struggle to answer that question when people ask… Thank you for sharing.

  4. I am sorry for your losses. Your story touched me deeply. I was that way at first too, and it was my older children who talked of them and asked me not to forget to mention their brothers. Because they felt it important to always acknowledge them, I do too. I now don’t even bat an eye. When asked, I say 9 with #10 on the way. 3 girls followed by 6 boys. They always look shocked and start counting. When they look confused I just say, “Matthew died 2 hours after birth because the doctor didn’t help him and Simon died halfway through the pregnancy.” Then it’s up to them if they want to ask for more info or not. I no longer have to feel guilty for not mentioning them and I also let go of the fact that yes, it could make them uncomfortable to hear that, but I’m living the losses, and I’m not comfortable with their deaths. I also found mentioning them so healing to our life. And our rainbow baby who just turned 2 is a life saver as well. He was born with a major heart defect that required open heart surgery at 4 days old. So we have that amazing little story to tell as well. I also get the “are you hoping for a girl” comment. To that I reply, “I’m hoping for alive and healthy”.

      • Wow, thank you so much for this… I still think of the first baby I lost every single day… He would be five now. I have six children… three with me and three praying for me. God bless you.

  5. Yes! I have 5 children; 3 beautiful healthy children upstairs trying to fall asleep and 2 precious babies in heaven who I can’t wait to meet! Naming the miscarried babies helped some. I want to get a mama necklace made with ALL their initials.

    • I love that idea, Rochelle. We named one of our miscarried babies, but not the other for some reason. I think it would be so nice to have all their initials on a necklace. xx I’m so sorry for the loss of your little ones.

  6. So beautifully written, thank you for sharing. I have one child. A beautiful little boy. But I only know his beauty from a 3D scan we had done at 15 weeks gestation, Exactly one week before he was born on June 21, 2013. We named him Malak Renee Morrison, Malak meaning angel and Renee meaning reborn. We never held him in our arms, and we never heard him cry, but we have always loved him, and he lives on forever in our hearts. ♥

  7. Thank you for this. I love it. It puts so many emotions and questions in my head, into a real space. I have 3 children after 6 years of trying and fertility treatments and finally IVF. Twin daughters that died in the NICU, and a son on the way.

    While maternity shopping I was asked, “Is this your first?” “No.” “The others at home?” “No.” I quickly turned and continued to shop. I know I confused her, but I also knew if I continued, I wouldn’t be able to hold myself together.

    Again, thank you for your words. It makes my internal turmoil fell more real.

  8. What an amazing bunch of people you are! I just don’t know how I could ever handle it. I was the first daughter of my parents to live. My older sister would have been a year older than I. My parents had one boy and four more girls. My brother was born first, before my sister. All of us girls came after. My sister was born with severe defects and would never have lived, but her legacy does live on. She would have been 66 last month. My parents are gone, but we remember our sister who is buried next to them at the cemetary. We all mention her on her birthday even though none of us were there for her birth day. Keeping her alive in our lives was so important for my Mom – we were only told that she would have been very sick had she lived. I love my sister. She is a part of our family, now and forever. I was born a little less than a year after her and was given her name. I feel special to hold that title for her. Keep all your children alive in the hearts and thoughts of your family. It is important for you and for them.

    • Janet, thank you so very much for that perspective! When we were naming our “rainbow” daughter, born one year ago this month, we tossed around including her sisters’ names as her middle name. I didn’t know if that would be a heavy weight for her to carry around or if it would be something she enjoyed. We wound up using the name Bronagh, which is its own unique name, but to my husband and I, we recognize the sound of Brigid and Fiona in there and feel happy that we could include them in that way. ❤ Thank you again for sharing your story with me! Much love to you!

      • Eileen, Bronagh is truly a beautiful name. My mother used to tell me that she gave me my sister’s name – not to replace her but to be able to remember her through me – Mom was truly special, and so was my sister Janet!

  9. I have three babies. Triplets! Identical girls and a little man. One or my girls is watching over us from Heaven. Miss that sweet girl every second. Love talking about my babes. Thanks for this post.

    • I too have a little girl triplet in heaven who will be five in July. She is survived through her brother and sister and big brother. I make a point of always acknowledging her. She is part of my life still. She has to be!

      • Jodie,
        I’m so sorry for your loss as well. Maybe our little girls are friends:) there is an amazing triplet loss support group on Facebook of your interested

  10. Hello,
    Thank you for your kind story. I go through this daily. I gave birth last year to our triplets at 35 weeks when one of our identical daughter’s lost her heartbeat. All 3 babies were over 6 lbs and the doctors told me they let me go too long. I am a nurse and ten times a day my patients will ask “So how many kids do you have ?” I like to lie sometimes and say “3, they are triplets.” I love their reaction and just keep it at that, knowing I will never see them again. When people see me with my two survivors and say “Hey are they twins, can you imagine triplets or quads?” I lose it and end up leaving the store crying. Thank you for your beautifully raw story and its so nice to meet someone else living this daily hell of how to answer this simple but gut wrenching question. Hugs, Emily

  11. So beautifully put. Having not yet had kids myself I cannot sympathize with you. However, I can understand the heart wrenching pain of the idea not all your babies are still with you. Thank you for sharing, I am sure that this will help others feel they are less alone with what they might be going through x

  12. Can so relate to so many things in your story . I remember my best friend having a baby just as I lost my precious baby boy and just being a mum was having a little moan about lack of sleep I rember saying I had a lucky escape then I always regret saying it I didnt mean it but was just so envious that she had her baby and mine was in heaven .i would of given anything for a sleepless night . I have 7 children 6 very much living and my baby angel kye . God bless all you mummies and daddies it’s so hard 12 years and still so so hard Xxxx

  13. Then there are those miscarriages where you did not know the sex of the baby. But you know it was alive and growing inside you…..you may have met them by seeing their little developing bodies and their beating heart on the ultrasound screen. They held your hopes and dreams……
    I have 12 children, each one of them precious! I have 2 girls and 2 boys that have joined me for a journey together on this earth……and I am so grateful for them.

    • I have some of those early miscarriages, too, Carolyn, and I know it can be hard to figure out how they fit in. My boys wanted to name one of them when they learned about the loss, so we named the baby Frances/Francis. The other we didn’t name, because we couldn’t think of a name with a similar sound like that, though they wanted to go with Frances 2. 🙂 Some day we hope to find out their names. ❤ Thinking of all 12 of your precious little ones.

  14. This is a question that hurts every time it is asked. This description of the internal struggle that comes with this question is so perfect. There is always a delay in my answer as I fight to decide how much to share. The other person starts to get a funny look on their face because they think it should be a quick and easy answer so why the delay? I usually end up saying, “Well, I have 2 here with me, but 4 in heaven.” I leave it up to them if they want to hear more, but if they do, I always pull out my cell phone and share my Brielle’s picture. Sometimes, my honesty helps open doors for others to share about their losses…. something they probably never talked about, but something I feel should be talked about. If you hide them, you hide a piece of yourself as well as a deny a piece of your other children’s identity. I love all my children… all 6 of them.
    Emmaline Rose 9/27/07 alive and well
    Brielle Theresa, 6/9/10-6/25/10, Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia- CHOP NICU
    Michael Joseph 3/7/12 my rainbow baby
    Baby Grace miscarried at 5 weeks 3/16/13
    Baby Hope miscarried at 5 weeks 5/13/13
    Baby Sorrow miscarried at 12 weeks 9/5/13

  15. Thank you for putting my thoughts into words. I have a seven year little girl, followed by 3 miscarriages, and my daughter was stillborn last year at 30 weeks. It is so hard when people ask questions, I never know what answer to give.

  16. Thanks for sharing your story. It really hits home. I had a stillborn at 20 weeks. People always ask if my 6 year old living daughter is my only child. I know it is to make small talk but it just makes me so mad that people bring it up. I am pregnant again now and people are asking is it a boy or girl? I started showing early and I dont feel like answering questions. Even if I knew I would tell them. I just feel like people have no concern about other people anymore. I dont ask any women about children or talk about their prengancies when I see pregnant women. I know what i have been through and wouldnt want them to have to talk about difficult things. I had a woman come up to me at my daughters dance class yesterday and point at my belly and ask “Is that a bump?” I told her “No I just ate too much” sarcastically. She said Oh congrats!!! So excitedly. I still feel numb and like I am going to lose this child too so I just say thanks and walk away. She doesnt know Im taking shots everyday to keep my blood thin so that it doesnt clot and so that I dont lose this baby.She doesnt know all the scary thoughts that go through my mind everyday. I cant go through this prengnancy naive and just expecting everything to go well and start buying things once I find out the sex. It sucks. Sorry to write a story. I just like to hear stories from other moms who feel the same as me.

    • My daughter Penelope was diagnosed with a fatal heart defect when I was 18 weeks pregnant. I started showing – very much so – and strangers would always comment. IMO they had no right to comment on my body. It was painful every time. Penelope lived for four days, and passed away on October 25 of this year.

      I hope this pregnancy goes perfectly. You’re in my heart. Best of luck handling all those nosy people who just want to satisfy their own curious impulses, xoxo

  17. Hmm, its tricky. I guess I say 6 pregnancies and 3 children, or do I? Actually I don’t know. My older children are 23 years old and 22 years old, and my little boy is 4 years old, but many people see me around with the wee guy and assume he is the only one. Frankly people look so shocked when they hear the age gap I am already on the defensive about my little one being planned and NOT being a ‘shock’ or a ‘happy accident’. I think saying oh yes and we have had 2 early loses and we also lost a baby girl Ellie-Rose half way through my pregnancy, in 2012 may be too much for most people. To be honest, when family members don’t really want to discuss it (not my husband, he is fantastic), well, that kind of sets the p residence. I agree its wrong though.
    Valerie
    xxx

  18. I have 6 children, but I only get hug and raise 4 of them. We lost a twin at 10 weeks with our first pregnancy. Sydney was born healthy. And we lost a sweet son at 16 weeks, Christian Wayne. I always have a hard time answering this question. I feel dishonest and hurt to say 4.

  19. Thank you for writing this. After losing a child you have all these thoughts and feelings, and you feel like they are irrational. Like no one else understands. Then you hear how other grieving parents feel and suddenly you feel less alone.

    I have 6 children. My first was a miscarriage, my second and third are two very healthy boys, my fourth was a girl stillborn at 38 weeks(Sydney), my fifth was a miscarriage, and I am pregnant with my sixth another little boy.

    • We’re just 2 days shy of the 1 yr anniversary of my son Hayden’s death at the age of 6 years and 342 days. He is a fraternal quadruplet. We are asked how many children or are they twins or triplets all the time of the other 3 (2 girls & 1 boy). My children answer, “no we’re quadruplets.” Since most people don’t know the difference they just focus on the multipleness and ask if they are identical. Occasionally, they will count though and ask if the other is at home. That when I have to explain that he died recently. When another random person suggested they are now triplets. We had to explain that no they were quadruplets in utero, at birth and thru the 1st grade physically, but still have a loving relationship with their brother even though he is not physically present and he is still an undeniable bonded presence in their lives as they move on.

  20. Thank you for shaing this. This is exactly how I feel when I’m asked “Do you have any children?” Although, I don’t always answer the question. The truth is…Yes I have children! I have a son who was stillborn and then a miscarriage at 7 weeks. Sending love and hugs to you.

  21. Wow, what a beautiful family you have. I could have written your post myself! So many similarities between us! I too have 3 boys. I had 2 miscarriages then lost my first daughter when I was 22 weeks pregnant with her. My whole world shattered in an instant. I was heartbroken for me, my husband, but the pain of seeing how heartbroken my boys were when they came to say hello and goodbye to their baby sister will forever haunt me. I never wanted them to enter this world of grief and loss at such a young age. I too struggle with the question of how many children I have. I too have another daughter now as you do, and I get the similar comments you do about my family. Others will never know the pain we have been through to get the family we have… Thanks so much for sharing and I’m so sorry for your losses…x

  22. Thank you so much for sharing this. I have five children. A son, who passed away when he was two days old. Then, an early miscarriage. A daughter, who is now 3.5; then another miscarriage at 8 weeks; And finally, another daughter, who is 16 months.

  23. I have a son, an early miscarriage, a daughter who’s twin we lost at 11 weeks and 5 days pregnant, another son and two more girls.

    They are my ex husbands children.

    I am 17 months in to TTC My 6th (8th) my fiancés first. The fertility issues are his. We will get there.

  24. Thank you for writing this article. This is such a sensitive topic for me and I think it always will be. I have 6 children. Two of them I never got to meet. August is a very rough month for me because I lost my “sugar” in 2007 and then in 2009 I lost #5. After I lost sugar I could no longer give my babies nicknames while still in my womb. It was too hard. I Never talk about them to anyone except my husband and that is only when he sees me crying. So when people ask me how many I have I tell them 4, but in my heart I know it is 6. And I love them as much as my children who are here with me on earth. Also, I am so sorry for your losses.

  25. I have four children. A beautiful 4 year old daughter, a delightful rambunctious 2 year old son, my second son who died inside of me and the baby I am carrying now, another girl. I have four children two girls and two boys.

  26. Thank you for sharing this. I lost my little girl, Kiwi Leap, at 14 weeks, 5 days. She was our first baby and unplanned, but so adored. I went into labor at midnight and by 1:30am, my tiny little girl presented herself. It’s been a mere four weeks since she left my body and I struggle every single day knowing I won’t know her. I have found support through others such as yourself that chose to share their stories. It surprises me how little we talk about this tragedy. Thank you for opening yourself up. Thank you for sharing your story. I am interested in getting a sketch of my baby girl.

  27. It is good that you put this out for others to read. So many do not know how to act around those of us who have lost a child and they forget when we never will about their names and what they looked like. I am always asked the same question and I only tell them 6, truth is it is 13. I have given birth to the twins, Mackenzie and Makayla, and to my youngest Chloe and they survived. Madison Marie and Corinna Mae were both stillborn and there were 8 miscarriages. Then there is the son that I adopted, Caleb. All of the kids know about their sisters and tell everyone who asks them about how many kids I have. So far they are not old enough to understand fully about miscarriages so they don’t talk about those. Neither side of the family mentions the girls and they never say their names and that hurts me more than anything.

  28. Complete understanding…. such a simple thing, but soooooo hard to find. Only someone who has lost a child would understand. I also have struggled with that question. Finally, I have comes to terms with myself, and let it be ok for me to do as I feel at that given moment. Sometimes, I answer 3. I have a daughter Courtney in heaven. We lost her at 16 weeks. I also have a son Dominic in heaven. He was stillborn at 20 weeks. Now I have a 8 year old daughter Hope through adoption. She is my hope, therefore her name.
    Sometimes though, if I am feeling moody, or upset, or whatever I have learned that it is ok to say whatever gets me through at that moment in time. Sometimes, I feel like I don’t want to share that, it is mine. Other times, yes, I want you to know they existed.
    I have ornaments on the tree for all of my children. I also have a mothers ring with all of the birthstones. I think whatever makes you feel ok, or peaceful, just is……Okay. Just remember for all the people that don’t understand, there is a large group of us that do.
    Take care of yourself and your family. I am so sorry for your loss. I think twins rock! My Mom was an identical twin. 🙂
    Celebrating can have a special soothing-ness to it.
    Joy

  29. I answer differently depending on who is asking…so if someone really wants to know I will say I had 4 boys, but lost one, and 2 girls. I never mention my miscarriages unless it is about being pregnant. Here I would say I have been pregnant 8 times, but only had 6 children, one little boy died when he was 4 months and 4 days of a heart defect. I do feel bad if asked how many boys, and do not say 4. I stop the so sorry, by saying it is better this way, or it was a long time ago, I am not good on pity. Glad I am not the only one who feels funny when someone asks me how many children, or why such a gap in ages.

  30. I have 8 kids too. MY SON Robert moved in the heaven when hes 16 years old .When people ask me i say i have 8 children bacause i belived us children in the heaven.Us children is a Angel and have a everlasthing life.I unedrstand your life and your heart s 1000% not just 100 %YOU AND YOUR FAMILY IS SPECIAL IN GOD HANDS. JUST LIKE WE ARE . GOD MAKE A PLAN WITH US.My heart is running with you .Sorry for all the pain .I pray for you and your family to make you God strong and. Faithfull. Please tell me how is now your family ? Can i help ennything? How is the boys now?please send me the messiges.God is with you and with your family. AMEN

  31. This touched me as well. I have 2 kids, twins too, a boy and a girl, both of them are in heaven. I have thought about this lately as I have recently started a new job and found myself telling the story time and time again. It makes me so sad when people try to change the subject after I tell them. I love talking about my kids as much as anyone does even though they died. I want to tell people their names, and how big they were, and how our son looked just like his dad even at only 20 weeks gestation, but unliving babies are a much less popular conversation topic. So grateful for the online community sharing their stories of precious children no longer with us!

    • Amanda – I am sorry that your little twins are in heaven. I was lucky and never lost a baby so I can never really know your pain – but reading the comments left here shows how hard it is for all of us – those who have lost babies and those who have not. Some mummies here like yourself would LOVE to talk about their angel babies – whilst others find it far too painful and almost rude if others ask about them being pregnant again etc … when really all those people are doing is trying to be polite and happy for them. I know that we all have a ‘problem’ with talking about death and loss. We don’t know what to say, or how to say it …. or if Mrs Brown even WANTS to have us say “Sorry to hear your mother died last week’ or whether even saying that will upset her further. It really is a case of never being able to be ‘right’ !

      My mother never knew she was 5 months pregnant – she’d still had her periods – and only found out when she lost her baby boy. He was my brother and would have been the first child, I am now that first child [and 59yrs old!] with a younger sister. Mum told us quite early on about him… she didn’t have a name though for him, but it still hurt her when she recalled what happened. She died from an agressive form of breast cancer on New Years Day 2007 – at just 74yrs old. She knew she was fading and leaving us .. and I told her that she could now be with her family, mother, father and brother that she lost in the war … and that her son would be waiting for her. I believe that he was. She never said she had ‘3 children’ she only said she had two girls – but she would talk about him.

      NOW … tell me …. what are your twins names, how big were they and which was born first ?? I for one would LOVE to know. I am glad you named them … made them ‘real’ as it were … you have them in your heart now forever.

  32. I have 2 surviving triplets and a baby boy on the way. My girls too were identical like my mother and her sister and I felt surely they were Heaven sent as having identical girls was a dream I never really thought possible. Sadly we lost our Lydia at age 2 to a complex heart and esophagus defect. I always wanted twins yet when my surviving boy and girl are called that, especially by family members, it is as stinging as getting asked how many children I have. Thanks for sharing your story.

  33. I have 4 babies, but no children. It’s hard enough when my friends are all having kids, and I’m visibly not: I can only imagine what you must go through, with all the assumptions made already like that.

  34. This made me tear up. I struggle with this too…every day. I have been pregnant 6 times. I have a boy, a girl, an angel (lost at about 8 weeks), identical twin girls (born at 26wks due to TTTS, one lived for 21 days, the other 34 minutes), another girl, and a new boy. Most days, I don’t mention the miscarriage..which makes me feel guilty. But not mentioning my girls makes me feel that I didnt love them enough. Some days I just don’t want the pitying looks or questions.

  35. Thank you for addressing this issue. Having lost my first child almost a year ago, I am in such a difficult situation when someone asks if I have any kids. If I say no, I feel terrible and grieve for a long time, but I don’t feel the need to go through everything with aquaintances. It’s hard to feel like a mother when you don’t have a child to hold 😦

  36. The same went for my dad… My dad always said he had 2 boys and 3 girls… That the other 2 girls died after birth… Come to find out from other family members, that it was a miscarriage. Being the youngest, and always asked, how many brothers and sisters do you have, I posed the question, “living, passed, or both?” They have a look on their face but then they give me what they want to hear. I tell them the truth.

  37. We have 4 children! 2 boys here on Earth- Andrew & Landry. 1 son in Heaven (miscarried at 9 wks)- Peyton. And a daughter here~ Elizabeth. We also have several nieces & nephews in heaven miscarried early. We have our nephew Parker in Heaven~ born at 40wks 2 days~

  38. We lost a son at the age of 26 two years ago. It’s perhaps easier for me to tell how many children I have, because I say six (including our son who passed on), & then I start telling where each one lives and what they do, and by the time I get to the fifth child, my listener has lost track (and probably lost interest). 🙂 But of course it hurts; it will always hurt, but not the same way it did in the beginning, back in the days when I was like your little son, telling everyone I met – or so it seemed – with no reason for the telling except that I simply couldn’t keep it all inside. God bless you and lighten your burden.

  39. I have 3 beautiful children. My precious Meghan, stillborn at 41w 5d, who I long to hold again someday. My beautiful Natalie, who keeps me going each day, and my amazing little one (yet to be named) who should make an arrival in 4 months time. Thank you for your post – you put words to my shame over the times I have answered ‘no’, or ‘I have 1 child’, and then have gone home and cried and cried, feeling as if I have abandoned my darling firstborn. Bless you, and your eight children. {{hugs}}

  40. I couldn’t stop crying after reading your story my deepest condolences to you and your family…. I just lost my daughter 7 1/2 months ago and it still feels like yesterday my heart hurt everyday from the pain I have 7 children 5boys with a set of identical twin boys and 2girls including my daughter Kayleah whom past away I always tell ppl 7kids because it’s hard not to include her I know she only lived a short period of time 7 months to be exact but she will forever be apart of me and my family and I will forever speak her name KAYLEAH! Which is pronounced (KA-LEAH) thanks for sharing your story it truly touch my heart ❤ please email me I have a whole Wall dedicated to my princess Kayleah and I would like to get her sketched portrait done. Thanks! And again I'm so sorry to hear about your lost.

  41. I have 2 children of my own. BUT I also have a brother! My mother miscarried at 4mths with her first child, they never told her if it was a boy or a girl. Growing up I always knew that there had been a baby before me, and I remember being about 5 when my mom said something about the other baby, and I said “you mean my brother?” I just always knew in my soul that that first child had been a boy, my big brother! I am 33 and still think of him every now and then, this made me think of him again. I lost my mom this year to a heart attack (she was only 56) and it is nice to think that she finally gets to meet that first baby (and see that I WAS right, it was a boy, LOL)

  42. thanks for posting this. I went through the same thing when I was pregnant with my son. I was so sick of answering the question, is this your first. perplexed about how to answer yet when I did open up I found people who were genuinely thoughtful and kind about hearing me, and this was healing to say it, to share my memory and my son with someone, even if it is the lady at the manicure salon or the lady in line getting a bagel. and i found sometimes they had similar stories. keep sharing your children with the world it can be so healing for you. xo

  43. Oh my heart echoes your words. I am always trapped by this question. I feel like a caged animal when I get asked it. I have gotten to the point where I answer with, “I am a mom of seven, and four of them live with Jesus.” My story parallels yours in many ways. First son miscarried at 15 weeks, second son born healthy and then killed when he was 12 years old, third son now 16, daughter now 14, son miscarried at 16 weeks, and the last set was twin girls (only one died in utero) and the other is now 9.

    We really struggle with family portraits because they never seem complete, but the last one we did the photographer had old movie theatre seats in a field. She left open seats for the ones missing. It was beautiful.

  44. We were expecting #6 on the 29th of December, but for some reason he was taken around 18 weeks. I have never experienced such pain in all my life. My father-in-law died the 24th of November, and our baby boy was listed as proceeded in death. That made it more real. I was depressed so much until after his due date. We wrote letters, tied to balloons and let them go in a certain place. After that, I have felt better. Knowing that #7 is growing in my womb has helped a lot. But I still miss my Elisha. I don’t usually include Elisha in the numbers when people ask, but I love one of the above statements, so he will be included from here on out. I have 2 girls, 4 boys, and not sure what the new one is yet. Children are such gifts from God! Thank-you, Lord!

  45. I come from a family with 3 girls, I’m the middle child. My parents had my brother before I was born so only my older sister remembers him. Joey was 2 1/2 months when he passed away from SIDS. My sisters and I have always talked about him as though we knew him and as if it just happened yesterday. He has been a part of my life even though I never had the chance to meet him. I have numerous people that have asked me “how many siblings do you have?” And I have run into the same question “how do I answer that?” I’ve learned that its okay for me to answer it with 2 sisters and a brother that passed away. It comforts me to know that others know. Mostly because I too want people to know he was here and that he is still loved. Joey is my big brother that just happens to be in heaven.

    I just always remind myself.. God needed him more. And now I have a guardian angel watching over me always!

    God bless you and your family!

  46. Thanx for this…deeply. Thank you. For a very long time, when people would ask, my lips would say “two” to make it easier on every one else, but my heart would shout, “FOUR!!” and I would have my hand behind my back, showing four fingers. Having reminders of my stillborn twins in every room of the house and blogging annually on their birthday are important ways that they are acknowledged now two decades later….and of course, reading this is one more opportunity to remember that they are my boys…and for that, deep appreciation.

  47. I have conceived 13, but only 7 are living. I, for some reason, feel especially obligated to explain how I had six miscarriages between number six and number seven because of the amount of years between them. I would never want anyone to suppose that my youngest was an “uh-oh”! While she was a complete surprise, my heart longed for her every day until she arrived. I had quieted my spirit to be thankful for the six living that I had, and it was. But since having my Adah, I’ve been able to thank The Lord for those that aren’t living, and see their short lives as blessings as well. We buried twins that did not develop far at all. But the other miscarriages that were blighted ovums, which I never got to see on an ultrasound screen, were actually harder emotionally for me. Thank you for sharing this very tender and vulnerable part of your heart. May God bless you!

  48. Thanks you so much for writing this. It always tears me apart to answer this question. Those millions of questions just run through your mind all in that split second like you said. I technically have 4 children, only two you can see. If I do want to go into it with people, I say I have 3 children. I usually don’t count my miscarriage for some reason. See my baby wouldn’t have been here if I didn’t have my miscarriage as we got pregnant with him the month after we had the miscarriage. Mine are my oldest son, my daughter who was stillborn, my miscarriage, and now my baby son. So if people ask this question, I usually respond with “I have two boys.” If they ask about trying for a girl, I just tell them that we already have one of those too, only she is waiting for us in heaven.

    One of my very best friends got me an ornament this year for Christmas. It has all my children’s names on it, plus my husbands and my name and it says “The XXXXX family”. She told me I could not cry when I opened it, but I did. To have someone remember not only my stillborn daughter, but my miscarried baby too, it meant the world. They were tears of joy because she took the time out of this busy season and remembered. I love it so much and has a special place high up on our tree front and center. I am just happy to have someone acknowledge ALL my children. Not even some of our family acknowledges our children in heaven. Some did not come to my daughter’s funeral and still have yet to visit her grave (and this is some of the immediate family not extended). That hurts. But to know that someone does care, that makes a world of difference.

  49. I have 13 children. 6 miscarriages, one was with twins, a still born at 20 weeks, our little Zachary, 3 living boys, one of which had a twin pass at 10 weeks, and our daughter. While life can be difficult with such loss I am going to have one heck of a homecoming when I get to heaven!! I am thankful God saw fit to let me raise 4 of my children on earth, and I am thankful for each and every day that I get with them.

  50. This was an incredibly touching story, thank you for sharing. It is interesting the ties that bind us together. I lost a daughter through miscarriage at 12 weeks in Dec 2012. Such an incredibly painful experience. I just learned today, that my current pregnancy is not viable. I have two beautiful living children — both daughters, Kelsea 18 & Ashleigh 11. We don’t know the sex of this baby, so we’ll likely choose a gender neutral name. We named the daughter we lost in Dec 2012, Andolyn Skye. I am actually the mother of 6 children, 4 biological, 2 of whom are living and 2 step-children whom I love as my own. We are hoping for one more, but a bit hesitant to get too excited given the past 2 losses.

    Blessings to all who have lost children. It is a difficult road for any of your children to pass away before you do. Blessings, also to those of you who long to hold a baby in your arms, may God grant the desires of your heart, whether it be by natural birth, adoption, or some other means.

    Sincerely,

    Kendra

  51. I had not mentioned my son once. When asked how many kids I have. I was at the mall and my daughter was with me. My son was born 10 months before her but was bornstill. The lady asked is this your only child? I said yes. And the gut wretch I felt afterwards was awful. From that day forward I always responded with now 3 kids. He is my son I wanted. My son I had dreams for. When I was planning his funeral the florist and the place where his final resting place is both asked me if he was my first. Does it really matter. It would hurt all the same in my opinion. His name is Zachary and I can’t wait to meet him one day. I was 37 weeks pregnant. The best pregnancy you could ever ask for. The day I found out his heart had stopped beating was the first time I walked into the doctors office and rubbed my belly and said to Zach I better hear your heart beat.

  52. It is so comforting to hear your story as it belongs to many of us as well. We never get a break from the heartache and devastation that is left by child/pregnancy loss, it’s good to know that we are not alone. It’s the only way we can walk this earth without our sweet winged ones. Thank you.

  53. I am so sorry for your losses. I find this question difficult to answer too. I have 4 kids. A boy, a girl and twins. Although one of my twins died at 18 weeks and I continued to carry him until I delivered his sister at 38 weeks. He would be 4 months and every time I look at his sister, I remember him and the milestones he would be hitting with her. Thank you for sharing your story.

  54. Thank you so much for this. I have been dealing with exact thing for 27 years. We had 3 miscarriages all at 12 weeks, then a stillborn at 22 weeks. We then had our living son, Ryan followed 16 months later by our living daughter, Meghan. When our daughter was 18 months, we had another miscarriage at 12 weeks. Two living boys, Jonathan and Patrick. We have 9 kids, buy we only get to hug 4. What a party we will have when we meet them all in Heaven! Thank you for your beautiful account. You’ve been a blessing to me.

  55. I just found your blog. Even after six years, this question trips me up. Mostly the question I get from random people: “Is he your only child?” Most of the time I just vaguely answer: “Right now.” Others ask if we’re going to have more. My answer: “We’ll see.” I really have to trust someone really start telling them about my older son, who would be six now. I just can’t, to protect myself, tell someone in passing about the ghost child in my mind’s eye that should be playing with his little brother. He died at three months old, having never left the hospital (heart and lung defects). And I’ve had at least two miscarriages (I suspect another couple of really early ones) that I know of. If the first had been a successful pregnancy, I would have never had my living son. My more recent miscarriage in Sept . . . I don’t know yet. I am not yet pregnant yet again. I had nicknamed this one Piglet days before I started miscarrying. I have been pregnant four times (for sure), and have one child alive.

  56. You have described perfectly what I have experienced every time I have been asked that question. Our first daughter spent 3 months in the NICU and then passed away a few days before we were supposed to bring her home. Our second daughter was born very early and took 2 breaths before she died in my hands. We now have 2 more daughters and a son, but I dread whenever someone asks me that question. I don’t think anyone can understand how such a simple question can be so hard to answer unless you have lost a child. Thank you for your post!

  57. I am so moved by your story and have also struggled when asked the same question. Even after 21years this April 27th. Our 1st daughter Courtney was born at 24 weeks gestation and fought her battle for 19 days. I am so great flu to have had her those 19 days to know her strength & fight and hold her close. On her 18th birthday I put the only tattoo I have on my wrist in dainty cursive and now so often since I am asked about it and I tell her story. It has been so healing to talk of her more openly with friends and acquaintances. I have gone on to have 2 wonderful boys. Thank you for sharing your story, you are inspirational.

  58. Thank you for helping me understand the heart of the mom who has lost babies one hasn’t even seen. Though I never lost a baby before birth, about two years ago, our daughter miscarried our second grandchild, and it was hard to grieve because we hadn’t known about the baby until its short life was already over.

    This was heart-felt, tender and compassionate.

  59. This was so nice to read. I have 3 children, only my first is living. She is 4 and the highlight of my life. Next month marks 1 year since my second miscarriage and I have struggled with this question. I usually tell people I only have 1 child because I want to avoid pity at all costs. There are only a handful of people who even know the miscarriages happened. I don’t talk about them….period, and tears stream down my face when I think about them and the milestones we would have celebrated the past year and a half. There aren’t many people who understand how it feels. But when I answer that I only have 1 child, I get the question “don’t you guys want to have anymore?” which hurts just as much, maybe more. It’s nice to know I’m not the only one who struggles with this.

  60. Thank you so much for this post. I have two babies in heaven and two on earth. We lost our little Andrew at 16 weeks almost 7 years ago. It still feels like a really bad dream. That same year a foster to adopt became a foster only situation. Needless to say, it was a devastating year…one I’m still not quite over. Sometimes I tell people about our heaven babies and sometimes I don’t. My son sometimes does it for me. 🙂 He’s 5 and LOVES that he has a brother but sad he never knew him. He always says “one day I’ll meet him in heaven”. 🙂

  61. I had my daughter and nine years later, my husband and I wanted another baby. Within three years, I had four miscarriages. I wanted to name them all, I wanted to have some sort of ceremony for them, if for anything, for closure. Every one I talked to said I was sick to name them or to have a ceremony. They wouldn’t even let me keep any items I bought for each of them. I have nothing but memories and sorrow. My husband doesn’t even let me talk about them. Every one just says…well, at least you have a daughter. Be thankful. I am VERY thankful for my daughter! I call her our miracle baby…even though she is almost 25 years old now. I still have the ultrasound pictures of two of my babies and the baby book from my first baby I miscarried. I hide them so no one can throw them out. I get them out when no one is here so I can mourn them in peace. I wish you could do pictures of them all. I wish I had even an hour to hold them or even just to see them for one minute. I wasn’t so lucky.

    • I am sure that your husband ‘doesn’t let you talk about them’ because either it hurts him so much .. or he feels that you talking about them hurts you!!! This is so common… it’s sad. I am glad you have those treasures ie the scans and books . You weren’t sick to want to name them … perhaps you have named them secretly in your heart and why not. My friend lost three too … and has never had a baby in her arms … she has now named her angel babies and although she still struggles sometimes with the pain .. she has found naming them to be helpful.

      Much love X

  62. I am currently pregnant with my 11th baby. I have 5 earth side. It is awful to have so many angels. And my last was the worst. I am so grateful for this little life but it is hard to say that she is my 6th. She isn’t. She is my 11th. My last was the hardest because they called it a blighted ovum where you are pregnant but the baby either didn’t form or it began to form and then was absorbed due to defects. Either way I was heartbroken at 8 wks to find there was no baby and still carried for another week before miscarrying the pregnancy. I believe that life begins at conception so this was really hard. But in my heart he or she was my baby not a sac. A hoped for, prayed for, tried for baby. I bought a necklace with all my babies birthstones. I used special little stones in the months I lost all my angels. I am sorry for your losses. My heart grieves for you. God bless you and the work you do!

  63. Many Hugs Momma!! I never had Twins but I too have 8 Babies….5 Angels, 2 living babies and a Rainbow in my Belly due in August!!! This has always been a hard question to answer but like your Son my 2 Living Babies are both very open about these Big Brother and 4 Baby Siblings in Heaven!! Some days I’m Thankful they openly answer for me!! =) An the next time a Family member answers the question for you nicely say “She is my 3rd Daughter” hopefully the Family Member will get the Poinynt and Shuddup!!! 😉

  64. Thank you so much for your post. It gives me some comfort that I am not alone. I have three chuldren, two angels (a miscarriage at 12 weeks and a stillborn at 23 weeks) And a two year old daughter.

  65. I recently wrote a blog post on this very subject. It is a tough question I have struggled with for four years! Depending on the day, my mood, and the person my answer will vary-and yes, I often times pause for what seems a lifetime before answering. I have found often times I can simply say 5 without going into explanation mode, but sometimes the look and I was thinking you had three or four will come out and then the explaining begins. So many times I think I am alone in my feelings and thoughts but as I stumble upon blogs or people bring blogs to me it is comforting to know I am not alone.
    http://www.liliahnaraynephotography.com/blog/2013/8/any-question-but-that-one

  66. How every mother of lost little ones feels. I have 3 girls. Twins (one who died in the womb and the other who is now 7) and a 5 year old. I have struggled with telling them they have a sister in heaven because I myself have not fully allowed myself to deal with the loss. Your strength is inspirational.

  67. Wow. I cannot even imagine the pain you and these other women have been through! I have two precious daughters who are 8 and 6. Getting preggo and staying preggo was definitely not an issue for me. However, it was an issue for my mom. I have an angel sister named Heather Lynn. My Mom has an incompetent cervix, but didn’t know it until she had Heather. Mom started having contractions and going into labor at 6 months. Heather lived 2 (or 3) days (can’t remember). The docs said she would never live and if she did, she would have lots of health issues. Heather was born in August 1978, just 3 years before me. I often think about what she would look like. Would she have me and my sister’s curly hair? Would she have been artsy like me or more left-brained like my younger sister? Would we have been the best of friends? Funny thing is that I have zero first child traits, but all of the middle child ones. If she were alive, I’d be the middle child. Sometimes I bring Heather up in conversation, but usually it’s when we’re talking about pregnancies and complications. The death of a sibling affects everyone. I look forward to seeing my angel big sis in Heaven one day!

  68. I have 2 children. My son is an angel and my daughter is still with me. I lost my son August 25 2013 in a motorcycle accident. If that makes people uncomfortable in my saying my son is an angel too bad. It makes me uncomfortable to deny my son that God had blessed me with for a short time. You also never know if that other person is struggling with a death. We have to learn to reach out and say what is inside our spirits. There is no greater loss then losing a child. Prayers and blessings to all.

  69. No one will understand the void you have in your heart like another mom who has lost a child.
    I gave birth to the most precious triplets ever at 31 weeks: 2 girls and a boy. Lana passed away 5 days later.
    Not a day goes by that I don’t think about her. It’s been 6 years now, but it does not get any easier.

  70. I have 6 babies in total. 4 are my angel babies and grew their wings at 8 weeks, 6 weeks, 4 weeks and 9 weeks. I also have my 2 year old daughter another baby girl in my belly due to grace us with her presence on April 16th. It is definitely hard figuring out how to answer that question and I don’t always tell people about my babies who were taken too soon.

  71. I have 6 babies. 1 Stepson, 4 Biological Boys and 1 Miscarriage at 8 weeks. 2 of my biological boys were identical twins and after emergency surgery, my Hudson and Abel did not survive at 22 weeks. Hunter is 3 now and Ryder is 1 and my stepson Tyler is 7. I have three babies to meet in heaven! And I still want to try for more. I feel that I have three babies in heaven and would love to have just as many bio babies here on earth. God thank you for caring for my three babies until I can help when I get there.

  72. Thank you for sharing this story. I lost my son at 24 weeks he was stillborn. No one aknoleges that he exists, I didn’t get a birth certificate or a death certificate. I held him for only a few hours before I had to leave him I visit his grave often and I find it hard to answer that question as well. He passed January 15th 2012 and I miss him everyday

  73. I have 7; 4 I am blessed to be raising. Thank you for this; for being honest about pain and for sharing it.
    My lost three were all miscarriages. It seems to me there isn’t as much public permission to grieve for such loss; almost as though they don’t ‘count’ since no one even knew we were expecting until after the fact. But they did live, even if they never breathed air.

  74. Thank you for sharing your story! It is similar in circumstances to my own and brings those memories back so sharply. I’m a proud Mommy to twin girls, but most people think I have only one child. They were born at 27 weeks to save my life. We had nine weeks with both our girls, and sadly Hannah left us and is now waiting for us in heaven. We told her it was ok to leave us, and with a sudden tightening of her hand on my finger….she was gone. I’m forever grateful our other daughter survived and has blessed our lives along the way. She has some special needs, and has just recently been told about her sister. It’s heartbreaking all over again to realize what she’s missed out on. We have struggled too that it’s too risky health wise for me to ever try pregnancy again. God bless you and your family. Sometimes it is very lonely to experience what we have and not burden others with our pain. I pray God’s healing on you and your family.

  75. I have 7; 4 I am blessed to raise. Thank you for the honesty about the pain and for sharing it publicly.
    The three I’ve lost were miscarriages. It’s never seemed to me there is much permission to grieve those losses; almost as though they didn’t ‘count’ since no one even knew we were expecting until after the fact. But they still lived, even if they never breathed.
    You’ve inspired me to re-post my thoughts after our first loss, Nina. 🙂

  76. This so hit how I feel. I have four kids three boys and Alexia my daughter. We lost her at 5 months almost two years ago to Trisomy 18.

  77. Thank you for sharing such a topic that too little of people talk about or openly express their deepest feelings. I feel as what you wrote were my exact thoughts. We have three girls, and had three miscarriages. I still get that question of “Wow! Three girls! That is so hard…how about trying for a boy?”. It hurts, but it is comforting to know that I am not alone, and someone like you is willing to share such a difficult topic. May God continue to bless you and your family in ways you can never imagine.

  78. I can’t see well through tears so apologies for typos. I have 2 boys, 2 unknowns that miscarried before sec could be determined and one baby girl that just turned 6 in heaven. Bonniella Rose was diagnosed with a Diaphragmatic Hernia when I was 6 months along. She was born larger than expected for her condition and I carried her through to term which was another surprise. All the doctors expected her to make it through surgery. It would be a rough road, she would need heart surgery as a toddler and possibly again by puberty, but they were optimistic. A day before her surgery she contracted MRSA from the hospital. Her surgery was canceled. I watched as her body swelled from adema and her eyes couldn’t even open. We waited and hoped, but three lung collapses and 2 resuscitations later, I had to make the choice to take her off life support. She was 28 days old. My oldest and only son at the time still breaks down now and again. He can’t even watch certain movies. Bridge to Tarabithia was played at school this year and he was inconsolable. He’s 11 now. I don’t know how long it will be till he can speak of her without tears. After she passed I had her cremated. I couldn’t bare to have her seen anymore. She was unrecognisable after all the swelling. Some of her ashes were placed in silver bear necklaces for myself and my mother whom she was named after (Bonnie). For the family I went to Build a Bear and made BonnyBears, we dressed them in onsies that had been purchased for her and had prayers sewn in the bears. A few years later I had a moment that broke me. My great uncle was special needs. I remember him playing ball with me as a child. He was a sweet man and had a mental handicap that prevented him from aging in the mind. He was much like a child his entire life. As he lay on his death bed I held his hand and he smiled. He promised me everything was going to be ok Bc he was going to heaven soon. I cried as he squeezed my hand and said “I’m gonna teach her how to play catch when I get there.” I can talk about her easier now. When ppl ask, I tell them Uncle David brought a ball.

  79. I have five children, but two of them are in heaven. 🙂 two miscarriages: my first baby (Hope Leigh) was miscarried at 12 weeks and my third baby (Haven) was miscarried at 7 weeks.
    My second baby, my son, was born with Down Syndrome and is a HUGE blessing to us. My fourth and fifth children were both girls and were born 13 months apart.

    Thanks for sharing your story!

  80. I have five children, 4 with us and one stillborn this summer at 35 weeks. We got her permanent grave marker put in the cemetery this last weekend. Timely for me to read and remember that others have gone through this too. Thank you.

  81. My precious girl died when she was 6, a year ago. My 4 year old son is here with me. I always tell people I have two children. It up to them if the decide to be sad about the information I share, but I will never tire in talking about my daughter. She touched so many lives in her 6 short years here and I am proud of that. Thank you for sharing. God Bless

  82. I have two babies. I lost the first at 10 weeks. I went in for my first ultrasound excited to hear the heartbeat. The tech looked for about an hour and never found one. I went into a stunned daze until 5 months later I found out I was pregnant again. Two days after I lost my second child at 8 weeks. My husband and I have been trying (including fertility treatments) for 2 years with no success. Every time someone asks me I proudly tell them I have 2 children and both of them are angels looking down on me. I can’t wait for the day I get to heaven and get to hold my babies!

  83. Thanks for your heartfelt post. We have 7 living, 6 miscarriages and 1 little girl who died at 13 hours old. I have trouble answering the how many kids do you have or the kicker for me is; “I see you kept going till you got a boy”. I want to reply: “Looks can be deceiving! We lost a girl AFTER we had our little boy!”

  84. I have NO children because God never blessed my husband and I with even one pregnancy… I do not even have ONE single baby to hold, love, and be a parent to. It is extremely hard for me to fell sorry for any of you. You all have some children that are alive and healthy. Focus on them and THANK the LORD above you that you have them. Some of us never even get to have ONE SINGLE child ever, our arms ache and long for just ONE and we never even get that. Yes I hurt and I am so heartbroken each and every day.

  85. I have two children, my son in heaven, who should be almost 3, and my daughter on earth, who is 1 and a half. I have been struggling with this lately too. How do I say we have two children to a complete stranger? But how can I not acknowledge that little person who grew inside of me?

  86. My uterus gave me three children here and four in heaven before it finally petered out after the birth of my last child and tried to take me with it. This post was so beautiful. I have lost one set of twins, another baby, and my oldest daughter’s twin. Sometimes the “could have beens” haunt me.

  87. Loss is so complex. Some days you feel completely normal, then a word or something you see or a song you hear just sets those emotions in motion. There is nothing that can be said or done to turn back the tide. I was at a garage sale by myself after having sustained a third miscarriage in a row. I had carried seven healthy babies to term, but now pregnancy seemed so distant. I don’t know if it was the toys or the little baby clothes or what. Tears just started flowing. I paid for my things and left. The mother never asked why I was crying, and I was glad. I don’t think I could have driven myself home after that. It is hard to see people who know nothing of your grief and just pretend it away. I had one older mom who saw me with my little “herd” and asked how many kids I had. My boys were on the other side of the store, and I asked if she meant here or altogether with a nervous laugh. She had a puzzled look, and I explained that I had had several losses. She smiled and said, “Count them, too!” I told her we had 11. She congratulated me on being such a patient mother. The story still chokes me up. She validated my babies that no one besides family and close friends ever knew existed. 🙂 What a blessing in my dark days. ❤ I am currently expecting #14! Eight are here and five are waiting for us in heaven.

  88. My dear friend I am pregnant with my tenth child right now. Ten months ago I gave birth to identical twin boys, Duke came out first and Doc was stillborn. I had one c-section with my daughter Katelen who died within a few minutes and then 1 1/2 years later my son Deven died at 2 1/2 years old. In all this I still praise my God and I know exactly how you feel. The looks, the comments, the pain. Thank you for sharing your heart. Love- Kari

  89. Wow….you absolutely nailed this article. We have had a miscarriage and a stillborn at 36 weeks. People have no idea what giving birth to a child you know isn’t going to live is like. Then holding them wanting them to wake up. We still miss our baby Kendall every day, and we know this loss will be with us forever. To compound this, I am in sales and every customer i visit asks this question to make small talk. I go through these exact questions every day. And every time i answer the easy way feeling like I deny her existence. And it hurts every time. So sorry for your losses 😦

  90. Very beautiful. I also have 8 children. 4 surviving. We lost a set of quads at 20 weeks, 15 years ago. They were all born alive which helps me know that they were ‘real’. I thank God for placing people in our lives who remember and support us!

  91. I have 5 children. Four handsome boys here in earth and beautiful daughter in heaven. After we had our last son in July 2012, we were both sure we were done. We wanted a daughter, but had accepted we were parents to crazy boys. 🙂 Then we decided to buy a house. 4 hours after putting in our offer, I took a pregnancy test. We were shocked! Then we went on to find out it was a girl! All 6 of us were thrilled! My oldest had wanted a sister since we were pregnant with our 3rd son. We all couldn’t wait for her to arrive. On Dec. 7th, at about 36 weeks, we rushed to the hospital. I was in extreme pain and bleeding. I had had a placental abruption. Emilia was born brain dead from lack of oxygen. I never got to hold her. They transported her to another hospital. My husband followed. She was on life support. They removed it and she hung on for 12 hours. My husband held her the whole time, kissing her and telling her how loved and wanted she was by him, me and her four big brothers. She lived for 21hrs. I had a similar experience in a nail salon after she died. My mil took me, my 5yo niece and sil to a nail salon while they were here for her memorial. The tech asked me the same question and I just said “4 boys.” “Oh no girls!?” I said “no” and felt so terrible saying it.

  92. I had almost the exact same experience at a nail salon shortly after Lily passed. I still feel bad I didn’t tell her that I had a daughter. Thank you for sharing your story! I hope one day we can live in a world where we proudly and truthfully say how many children we have had.

  93. I am a mom of six, four in heaven (miscarriages) and two beautiful boys I get to touch and see and smell everyday. They are just two years apart, best friends, and I treasure that. I searched forever to find proper jewelry to represent the losses, especially after having a ring engraved with three names only to lose another. I have settled on the stackable engraved rings on easy found here. https://www.etsy.com/listing/123564804/stackable-personalized-ring-sterling?ref=favs_view_12

  94. I should add, I don’t mind the how many kids question, but I seethe at the ob/gyn question of how many pregnancies and how many live births. I should only have to say it one time. One. And if you were my ob/gyn and lived it, I should never have to say it. Keep notes, refer to them. End of story.

  95. I can relate i have three children but the middle child died shortly after i gave birth. I have two boys and a girl my middle child is a boy.

  96. Thank you for your honesty.. so many people don’t understand the pain they can (unknowingly) cause just through a simple question. I don’t have any living children, but 2 precious babies in heaven. My husband and I are still “newly” weds.. just celebrated our 1 year anniversary. We had dreams of being parents right away and were pleasantly surprised when I got pregnant after only 5 months of marriage. That baby went to be with the Lord just after 6 weeks. I got pregnant again 2 months after, with no fear, just knowing the Lord would protect this precious life. I made it all the way to nine weeks and was so excited to go into the doctor’s office to hear the heart beat for the first time! The doctor looked puzzled and said the baby was only measuring 5 weeks and three days. I could see its tiny body but there was no heart beat. I miscarried that day. The question that makes me cringe everytime is “when are you all going to start trying to have children?” I want to say, we already have children, but they’re in Heaven.. but, like so many other mothers, I don’t want to make them feel uncomfortable. So, to answer your question as proudly as I can, I have 2 precious children, both enjoying the presence of their Savior. -Amber

  97. Thank you so much for sharing. I am a Mommy of three boys but only one is here with me! There is not a day that goes by that I do not think of Christian and Ryder! I often wonder if anyone else who is close to me ever thinks of them. It would mean the world to know that they do!! I too have stuff from the hospitals for my boys and they are treasured! Every time I see something with their names on it I buy it and put it in their special handmade box… which you can imagine they are overflowing. Its always hard when people ask oh your son is so cute is he your only one? I just want to blurt my whole story out about Christian and Ryder. But to some people I just say ya. And then it eats me alive that I say it. But then 90% of the time I say no he has two brothers in heaven! Well again thank you for letting me share now!

  98. I have three. But I normally only share that I have two. My daughter Katie has been in heaven since 1993, when she was 18 months old, and I normally worry about people’s feelings if I share that with them – I don’t want to upset them. But then I feel I have betrayed her by denying her existence, putting their feelings first. Thank you so much for sharing your story. I think my future answer will be “Three – one lives in Virginia, one lives here in Florida, and one is in heaven.”

  99. ❤ I have four children. ❤
    Two living in my home, one living in my heart, and one living across the ocean waiting to come home to us.

  100. As I read your story so many of your thoughts echo mine…
    I have three children-twin sons and a daughter…two living.
    One of my sons died in 1988 at 5 months, three days after a DPT vaccine….December 10th, 2013 marked the 25th anniversary of that day…
    You never get over it, you learn how to live with it.
    Thinking of you and your beautiful family…thank you for sharing your story with us.

  101. I’m 18 and pregnant. I was pregnant at 16 but I miscarried.at 6 weeks when there should have been a heart beat. When I found out I was pregnant again I freaked. I thought something was going to go wrong. When they did the sonagram and I heard the heart and the baby move I cried my eyes out.

  102. Wow mummy I have 7 children my 1st born is a boy and will be 13 tomorrow then I had a miscarriage then identical twin girl (yes amazing me I carried twins secretly for 19.6weeks even hospital didn’t pick it up) my smaller twin died in my arms after 27days in picu my bigger twin is almost 7, then I had another little girl she’s almost 5 then another miscarriage and last my youngest daughter who is 2 x

  103. I have 6, 3 miscarriages all around 12 weeks, a stillborn girl called Thea, my beautiful, healthy boy Elijah, and another still born girl named Eve. I have the ‘how many children’ issue a lot, and I generally take the easy option, and feel horrendously guilty after, i just can’t bring myself to see the pity or have the awkward silence I know will follow if I say 6.

  104. Thank you so much for this story. I have 3 children but I can only hold 1 in my arms every day. My other two are in the arms of Jesus and family members that have go on before the rest of us. My angels are being taken care of till I see them one day in heaven.

  105. I have 15 children, 2 adopted boys(4&6) my oldest daughter(10) and my youngest daughter(11 months) and 11 angels in heaven. All m/c at 6-10 weeks, except for my son Joshua, who was stillborn Feb 7 2005.
    We are also currently 7weeks pregnant.

  106. I loved this post. Thank you for writing it and being so transparent with your feelings. I can’t begin to know the pain of losing a child close to or after birth. But I always have a lump in my throat when I say we have three children because I had a miscarriage with our first child at 10 weeks. The pain of loss was great. I know that I will see that child one day, and he or she was and is loved immensely. It feels good and right to say here where people understand, that we have four children. Bless the Lord.

  107. I just saw your story from a friend who posted it in Facebook. I will tell you and everyone out there that I am so sorry for all of y’all’s loss. I have three children, a 21 year old daughter, a 17 year old daughter, then my late one a 6 year old little boy. He was born a month early, was in the NICU for 15 days. I know that is nothing compared to some of what you all may have gone through, but any of you who have had a child in the NICU probably went through what I went through. Worried, scared, wondering what was going to happen next, not being able to leave your babies side. I thank God to this day that he is alive and healthy (over weight, but alive). Now don’t think I’m here to rub that in your face because I’m not oh my I’m not, I just want you to know that I would do anything to help get a child back, to keep them here on this earth, I figured God had a plan for my little brat, as well as he did for all of your babies, that’s right YOUR BABIES! They were in your belly, they were a part of you, your family, they will always be part of your family never forget, and if someone ask you that question “how many do you have” don’t be embarrassed, stand proud and tall and tell them, if you want to go into detail go for it, if you want them to wonder about it then let them. They were your babies you will never forget them so let everyone know who they are!!! Again I’m sorry for all the losses, and never forget! Love to all!

  108. So sorry for your losses. No words can ever make it better, but hearing your story does validate other’s feelings, including mine. We have 4 boys, 3 you can see. Our baby would be 4 1/2 years old now. Sam Carter was stillborn at 39 weeks due to multiple knots in the cord & it wrapped around his neck the day before we were to be induced. I used to try to be sensitive to others, not to make them uncomfortable or the concersation awkward. Now, I just include him in the number & if they ask tell his story. He is mine & shall always be included and a part of our family as he deserves to be. I love ALL of my boys ❤

  109. It is truly amazing how I suddenly realized how I hold mine to my heart and keep them hidden. I’ve had 6 but three stay in heaven to be with their grandparents. My 2nd son loves to tell how he misses his 2 siblings that would be with him today. My sweet triplets.

  110. I have two children. One was killed by her mother and the mother’s doctor at about three months gestation. The second passed away in the womb from natural causes at about two months gestation.

    I’m not allowed to mourn the death of the child who lived the longest except in secret, because it is politically incorrect to mourn a termination of convenience, but that loss is every bit as deep and painful as the other.

  111. I have 3 children. Two are waiting in heaven for me. My first daughter saved my life as if I would have not become pregnant with her, I would have not discovered I had an aggressive form of cervical cancer. I was able to carry her 21 weeks until God decided to call her home. I have a grave site where we can visit her and a box of memories of items we bought especially for her. My 2nd was a miscarriage. I am truly blessed with my 3rd child/ daughter. She is now thirteen.

  112. I struggle with this all the time. We lost our first child at 21 weeks to annencephaly. It seems like everywhere I go people ask “Do you have kids?” Well, I’ve been pregnant, I’ve given birth, but I don’t have any babies at home to show for it. I usually say no, but the truth is I have a son. I had a very similar experience at a nail salon. “Do you have kids?”, “No”, “How long have you been married?”, “Two years”, “Two Years! Why no kids?”…I finally lost it, and told the truth “I had a baby 2 months ago, but he died!” I practically screamed it. In a weird way, it felt good to get it out, and I didn’t feel bad at all as I stared into the embarrassed, uncomfortable look on the woman’s face.

  113. Thank you so muh for sharing your story! I’m very sorry for all of your losses. I too can relate hen people ask the question, “how many kids do you have”? Depending in the situation depends on the answer I give, I always feel guilty when I don’t include my son that past away!

  114. I feel for you and I wish there was a way to make you feel less pain but I do thank you for your story cause I always wonder how my cousin feels her daughter would have turned 13 on the 2nd of December and she has a niece who is a week younger. Her daughter was shook to death by the babysitter the day before she would have been 2 months. I think about her a lot during this time of year and always makes me hurt for her. But I do still have a picture of her daughter up in my front room. I also went with her and she got a tattoo of two lady bugs in a leaf with her two living daughters Initials and then a lady bug flying of the leaf the Sabrina’S initials

  115. I’m so sorry for your losses. I have 2 daughters, my younger one who is 20, and my older one who died of cancer at age 22, almost a year and a half ago.

    It can be hard to answer that question, especially if it’s asked in a casual conversation, and you can feel that they’re not expecting something “heavy”. But it has also been a beautiful opportunity to share our experience and offers a deeper connection when we can both be vulnerable. Thank you for writing this!

  116. Beautiful. Thank you. I have four children. Two born to me, one adopted, and one lost to miscarriage at six weeks. I only knew I was pregnant for a week before I began to miscarry, and I had been on an emotional roller coaster about it already. We hadn’t been trying for a baby and were rather surprised and, frankly, I was terrified. I had taken a good walk and had a long talk with God and then came home accepting of the fact that we would have another baby to love. And then suddenly he or she (I’ll never know in this life) was gone, and I felt like a big chunk of my heart was torn away. It’s been a little more than five years now, and that hole in my heart is still there. I still grieve, but privately, because the last time I opened up I was told I needed to move on.

  117. Thank you for your story. My heart goes out to you. You are blessed with four beautiful children that you can hold, and the four you lost will always be with you.

    I had two children, a son who has blessed me with three grandsons, and a daughter whom I lost at 10 months 1 week. It’s been 31 years but the pain is still there. As they say, you never get over it, you just go on.

  118. My first son died at 26 weeks, he was stillborn. My oldest child died when she was three, I then had two other healthy children, another child I miscarriaged at 15 weeks and then my baby boy. I have 6 children but you only see 3. My husband and I get funny looks when people realize we have been married 22 years and our oldest (living) child is only 13. As if they have the right to judge.

  119. I’m so sorry for your loss. I have six boys, my third is an Angel baby.Ialways mention him even when others don’t like it, he is a part of me always. My little Owen would have been 9 on 2-4-05. I do find it hard to mention my two miscarriages because they weren’t confirmed, but in my heart I believed that I was pregnant.
    God bless you and your family!

  120. I resonate with all of this. However I have not yet had the chance to hold a child of mine. The most I’ve had is to see the tiny heartbeat on the ultrasound. All 4 wait for me in heaven.

    • Taylor,

      Please know that there are other women out there who are experiencing your same kind of pain. I have 2 children, both of which are waiting for me in Heaven. Not only do we have the grieving process for their lives being lost, but I am also experiencing so much fear and uncertainty about the future. I know you most be feeling this as you have lost so much more than I have. Just wanted you to know, I’m praying for you today.

  121. I haven’t been asked yet and I’m scare for what my response will be when they ask how many kids I have. It does take courage to blog about what’s going on, its a therapy in itself for me. I don’t know what I’m going to say. I do everything I can to avoid people and know that I won’t always be able to. My hair needs cutting so bad and I need a dental cleaning, but I can’t make myself make the call because I need to tell them over the phone so they don’t ask when I get there. I can’t. I too can’t believe sometimes that I carried a baby boy for over 40 weeks and never got to meet him, never hold him, touch him or see him. I think that’s what doesn’t make it real….
    If only…

  122. I had a miscarriage at 13 weeks between my two children. I ALWAYS think of that when people ask me too! I just say two, but in my heart, it’ll always be three.

  123. I have 1 child (so far) and 7 godchildren. Sadly, none of these 8 are here with us. I lost my son, Cam, to an early miscarriage 3 1/2 years ago. My best friend lost her 7 to miscarriages and stillbirths. 4 were miscarried before 12 weeks (Faith, Fraser, Greer & Claire), 1 was miscarried at 18 weeks (Scarlett), 1 was stillborn at 22 weeks (Liam) and 1 was stillborn at 20 weeks & 5 days due to complications from bacterial pneumonia (Fiona). The infection spread to “our” Fiona through the blood and she went to be with Jesus just days later on April 5th of this year. I love all of them dearly.

  124. Oh Yes a loaded question indeed!
    I was recently in a shop looking at stoves. The charming salesman was watching me as I examined the stoves and kept tabs on my 2 sons as they played a “superhero” chasing game around the store- much to my annoyance but his amusement!! As we discussed the merits of various models he asked me how many children I had. I made two false starts at an answer- not wanting to say 3 and just forget little Dáithí (an angel now 315 days- left us aged 2yrs and nine months) and not wanting to say 4 – I was so confused! Anyway- I said 4 boys! To which one of my superheroes paused his chase in mid step to pipe up the details- “Ya, we have 4 but two are gone- our big brother is gone to college and our little brother is gone to heaven- so she only has two left!” With that he rejoined the chase and I stood there dazed, saw the salesmans face and started feeling sorry for HIM!! Needless to say I was in no fit state to purchase a new aga stove after that! I politely exited the store a few minutes later.
    Later when I thought of the incident I still couldn’t decide what answer I should have given and I smile at how my son thought of his brother incollege is of equal consequence as his brother in Heaven. Out of sight, not out of mind!! For kids it’s just simplier!!

  125. The first time I heard someone publicly talking/posting abouth loss of a child, it was my long time friend, Stormy Mitchell. (She has two sons, one in Heaven and on here in her arms. She started a non profit organization called M.E.N.D. (out of Houston, TX) to help herself and others like her understand it’s okay to greive & talk about the children you’ve lost. Me, I have 7 children, 4 boys, 3 in Heaven & 3 girls -also in Heaven. I have my 7th and only living son because of my sister (who has more than 15% of her uterus that’s viable). Of the six, one son lived for only a few hours with me… and oh, how I wish I’d had pictures taken. The other 5 angels all went to sleep inmy tummy and just… I named everyone of my children. And my youngest knows his big brothers and sisters are keeping watch… just like big siblings do.

  126. This is a beautifully written and honest post. I am so sorry for your loss to this world. I read it through tears, and I am following you to read more, another day. It is such a hard question to answer, how many Children, I don’t know an easier way to answer it either. I am inspired by what you now do for other families, and their Angel Babies. The half of your family are beautiful, as I’m sure are the other half. Take care. Stephen.

  127. I’ve read all of these posts, and I’ve come to realize how many people are affected by infant loss. Sometimes we feel alone in this loss. I am a grandmother of two, but to most people I admit I say just one.
    my first, a tiny 1 lb, 13 oz preemie who thrived and was so strong, Kamryn Christopher. We had him for just 9 months when we lost him to SIDS. 2 months later my grandaughter came to us, she’ll never know her beloved cousin, but we talk about him sometimes and look at lots of pictures. Thanks everyone for sharing 😑

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