“How many kids do you have?” It’s such a common and generally harmless question. But to the mother who has experienced pregnancy or infant loss, the answer may not be as easy to get out. What’s the answer? I mean if you’ve lost, what do you say?
I’m not sure if its related to all of the Back To School activities or maybe it’s a seasonal thought associated with summer and family vacations, but I often find myself being asked this question during this time of year. And I usually take a long pause, followed by a few deep breaths. Then I quickly think to myself, what do I say?
I start to wonder if the person asking is only interested in the number of living children. But then if I exclude the others, I’m acting as if they never existed. And then there are the pregnancies that I lost. At what point do they count? Can they be counted? Or does the person not really care. Actually, does this person even care how many children I really have or is this just small talk? And when I answer, what will be the follow-up question.
I continue to wonder, what do I say?
I never want to be hyper-sensitive to simple questions, but it’s rare that I do not get knots in my stomach when people ask me, “How many kids do you have?”
I remember being pregnant for the second time and getting asked repeatedly, “Is this your first child?” Because I had carried my first baby for six months, I felt like I had legitimate experience with pregnancy. So it was hard to disregard that experience and simply say, “Yes. This is my first child.”
But how could I say no without sharing the outcome of that first pregnancy?
And again I had to wonder, does the person asking even care about those details? Or is this more of a rhetorical question?
So, what do I say? What’s the answer?
Some days my answer is 1. Other days it’s 2. Sometimes I share the details of the first baby that I lost. Other times I don’t even bother. But why must I experience this dilemma over and over again? Why are you even asking such a question? Do you really want to know? Maybe you should ask the follow-up question first so that I’ll know how to answer. Or maybe you shouldn’t ask the question at all.
I know. It’s such a simple question.
But the answer for me?! Not so much.
So let me ask YOU, How many kids do you have?
Photo by Kristina Tripkovic on Unsplash
Kierra Sunae’ is an infant loss advocate committed to supporting families on their healing journey of life after infant death. As a wife and mom who has triumphed over tragedy, she is a ray of sunshine determined to make grieving hearts smile again… one footprint at a time.