Tips from PAL Moms is column on PALS where we ask you, the PAL mom, for feedback about your experience during pregnancy after loss. We ask a question on our Facebook Page and hope that you can help answer some questions and also benefit from the answers all in an effort to relate and learn from fellow moms who “get it”.
“How do you answer the question, ‘How many children do you have?'”
Kristen – “Now that I am visibly pregnant (with my first child since the death of my son), I get the question ‘Is this your first?’ a lot. I answer truthfully: No, this is our second child. This leads to the inevitable: “Boy or girl/how old is your other child?” question. I also answer that truthfully: Our son died at birth.
“Sometimes people ask more questions after that, and I am honest with them. Sometimes they don’t, and I am okay with that as well. But I’ll always, always count my son as one of my children. The line I like to use is ‘It’s not my job to make others comfortable. It’s my job to honor the life of my son.’ I’m not pushy about it, but I’m not going to not acknowledge my son just because acknowledging him might make someone a little uncomfortable.”
Ashley – “I just lost my daughter, she was born still but stillborn at 38 weeks. She is our third baby, we also have two older boys ages 3 and 2.
“My husband and I were recently asked this same question and I immediately responded saying, ‘Three, we have three children.’ That lead to the next question, how old are they. I honestly told the woman the ages of our two sons and that our daughter isn’t with us any longer.
“It hurt. It was raw. Our grief is still so fresh. She was stillborn just 4 weeks ago. But I know in my heart I could never ever dismiss her. She is my daughter. She is my third baby. I have three beautiful children.”
Tiffany – “8 years later and I’ve found my answer varies. It depends where I am, who I’m talking to, how I feel, and the path the conversation takes.”
Marni – “I never leave my twin boys out. I’m not ashamed to admit that I’m a mum to 4 children twin boys and twin girls it is a bit of a conversation stopper but I’m proud with my mummy stripes on my tummy and my boys tattoos. You do what you feel is comfortable. I always say you don’t owe anyone a explanation as it is your journey not theirs.”
Dagney – “Such a great question. My husband and I always come to a wall of hesitation when asked. Usually he or I will respond with, ‘We have three but only two living.’ That would be our response when asked the name of our kids’ and the ages as well. I wish talking about babies that have died wasn’t so taboo… It would make things so much easier and not so awkward.”
Jennifer – “I say 4. People will often ask where my 4th child is and I explain that she passed away. It is time to chip away at that stigma that this type of loss shouldn’t be talked about.”
Terra – “I always include my angel. She’s forever 12 days old. I’ve said that many times.. People need to understand that when they ask such questions that not everyone’s story is a happy or positive one. Some moms leave the hospital with empty arms, some have their babies for a short time, some have children who have died at different ages due to natural causes or horrific circumstances.
“I honestly don’t think it’s our own grief that prevents some of us from answering truthfully. It’s our tendency to protect the other person from feeling awkward or uncomfortable. Say your angel’s name and speak for them as often as you can. And if it makes someone uncomfortable, they will think next time they ask such a potentially loaded question.”
Joey – “A lot of my friends say, 3 who walk and 1 who soars. I always include both my boys and answer questions as they come. My standard response is normally, ‘Two boys–Jack who Soars and his little brother Jiraiya Dragon who Roars.”
Jamie – “This is the hardest question for me… the absolute hardest. If I know I’m not just meeting you in passing, like a random person in a store, I’ll tell the person I have a girl at home, I’m growing my baby boy, and I have a baby boy in Heaven. If it’s someone in passing that I’ll never see again, I leave it with, ‘This is my second pregnancy and I have a 20 month old at home.’ It is my second pregnancy because we lost one of our twins. It literally pains me to say I have one at home and leave it at that… it pains me more to see the look on a strangers face when I say that I lost a child.”
Jenna – “I have found ‘two living sons’ works for me. Usually people look a little confused but do not often follow up with the typical question. Once in a while they do and I tell them about Philip.”
Samantha – “I say my son is my first take home baby. And that it took four losses and three years to get him. If they still seem interested i tell them about my chromosomes and that having a healthy baby is hard for me.”
Renee – “It depends on the day and situation. Sometimes I say five, but two are in heaven. Other days it’s too hard to talk about, and I just say three. It’s been two years since we lost our twin boys, and I still have hard days. I don’t like to show emotion in public so sometimes it’s easier to just say three. Other times I feel so guilty if I don’t include them, because they are still my children even though they are in heaven.”
Lindsay – “I’ve always struggled with this question, especially at work or other places where I’m not sure if I want to get into our long story with a stranger. But I recently read a response that I find perfect, so now I say ‘I have two children: one that walks and one that flies.'”
Rachele – “I also get asked all the time if this is my first pregnancy. I get so tired of that question. I say, ‘No, I have a son who passed away right after birth.’ I don’t care how it makes them feel because they shouldn’t ask a stranger a question they don’t know the answer to. So I answer truthfully.”
Krystal – “I tell them I claim 6, two step sons, my daughter, and three angels.”
Tasha – “I am visibly pregnant with my rainbow(28weeks) I lost my son 2 years ago to SIDS and it is still difficult for me to answer this question. I always say this is my 3rd pregnancy I have a 7 year old daughter and a son in heaven.”
*To read more Tips from PAL Moms about this specific question visit our Facebook Page.