Sunday, October 7, 2012

Pregnancy & Infant Loss - How Many Children Do I Have?

When you suffer the loss of a child, a gaping hole is left in your family as well as your heart.  If your child lived for any length of time outside the womb, be it seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, or years, people know you had a child and they can tangibly appreciate your loss.  That said, it seems like the closer the length of that life is to being no life outside the womb, the more people seem to not understand that you had a child.

I had a stillbirth.  The stillbirth was far enough along to have to have labor induced and to go through the normal "typical pregnancy" delivery of my son.  There was no rejoicing at the end of the delivery because we already knew he had passed away suddenly overnight.  The stillbirth was far enough along that it was beyond "miscarriage" and we had to involve a funeral home {that is a post for another day}.

I had a miscarriage.  It was early on - but I had already heard a heartbeat.  A life was already forming.

I have two daughters, ages 8 and 6.

How many children do I have??

If you've never had a loss, you probably have no idea how much of a struggle this issue is for those of us who have carried children.  Whether they survived or not is irrelevant.  If there was a life forming, there was a child {that is my own opinion - you may or may not share it}.

I have 4 children.  Not 2.  FOUR.  I have one son, two daughters, and one child whose gender will not be made known to be on this side of heaven.  But I believe that one day I will know.

Have you ever read the book Heaven Is For Real but Todd Burpo?

While I knew that my stillborn child was a son and I actually held him and knew what he looked like, the miscarriage was different.  I don't know what the gender of my child was.  I don't know what this child looked like.  I don't know anything about this child except that for a brief time it was.  Reading this book really helped me to know that this child did exist and that I will meet him or her one day in heaven.  I really would recommend this book to you if you have struggled with issues relating to heaven and your loss.

So.  4.  I have 4 children.

But how do I handle this when people ask me how many children I have??  You know what?  I decided pretty early on that the answer to that question really had to be situational.  I couldn't have a breakdown every time someone asked the question.  I decided {for me} that if the person posing the question was someone I rarely saw or would never see again, then I didn't have to go through the explanation of how many children I have.  Bear in mind, for the first few years, all I had were the two children I'd lost.  All I would say was "no I don't have children" or "none".  But if I knew them well, then they might get to hear my story.  My purpose wasn't to burden them with a tragic story, but my children {here or not} are a part of who I am.  My family is made up of more than just the four of us here living on this earth today.

I think that you have to do what is right for you.  It's hard to get over that feeling that you are denying the existence of your miscarried, stillborn, or other child who has passed.  I felt so guilty over that each and every time.  But you just can't do that.  You can't burden yourself with that guilt.  You're already so heavily burdened by your grief.  You don't need to add to the burden!  If it feels appropriate, by all means share your stories.  After all, your losses are a part of your life just as mine are a part of my life.  Answer in whatever way you feel is best for the situation you are in.  Unfortunately, a lot of people don't understand and things can get really awkward really fast if you lay out your tragedies at their feet when they aren't ready for it.  I'm not saying that's right or wrong - it's just the way some people are.

But know this.  Know that all of your children are counted by God.  He knows the number.  You know the number.  He knows your heart too.  Pray to Him and ask him for comfort and healing in this area if you are struggling with this.  But just know that however you respond to other people in conversation, if you say "none" or a number that only represents your children here on earth, you are not denying the existence of the one{s} you lost.


This month we remember all our babies who have died during or after pregnancy.  October 15th is National Pregnancy & Infant Loss Remembrance Day.  Please join Salena from {A Little Piece of Me} on the 15th as we link up and share our stories.  Please feel free to grab a button to help spread the word!

A Little Piece of Me

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