The Question | Still Playing School

The Question

By Devany | Labels:
We were at a wedding last night (congrats, Jen & Mitch, we wish you the best!) when it happened.

It's a question you probably know before I type it if you've grieved a baby.  It's one we expect to deflect as naturally as a boxer weaves away from an oncoming punch.  Because we are bracing for it often.  And yet, when it unexpectedly makes it's connection, it's just as painful.

There was a mother of a former student catering the event.  She recognized me, made small talk, and then said, "So, any more kids?"

"No," I answered as I grabbed my salad.  No, for simplicity's sake and how long do you really have to listen since you are carving and serving more pork and do I want to cry since I actually put eye makeup on today and no.

On the walk back to our table, though, my heart screamed, "YES!"  Yes, more kids, another sweet baby girl, one I met and lost in the span of a third of a week, one who I carried and named and loved and wanted and I miss with every fiber of my being that is physically aching now that I said no!

I read a lot about perinatal grief before I lost V.  I still do.  No matter how much you read, talk, or know about what other mothers say will sting, sometimes it surprises you.  I remembering hearing about this from other families and thinking, "Then next time just say yes," as my husband suggested last night after I told him how bad I felt for denying V.  If you aren't a baby loss family, maybe you are thinking that right now.

It's not that simple.  In a split second of what is well meaning and polite conversation you have to weigh how well you know this person, how long you have to talk, if you will ever see them again, if you are strong enough to be explain if you say yes, if you are strong enough to handle the impact the rest of the day if you say no, if you can handle how their eyes will look at you and their face will change if you do tell the truth, and if you are wearing eye makeup.

If you are a baby loss family, are you nodding?  Or have you found a solution to this somehow?


  1. Oh yes - nodding - always being asked how many grandchildren we have - if I say one - I feel like I'm saying Raysen never was - but if I say two - then they say - how old are they - and I have to say one is two and the oldest would be almost 6 if he would have lived - do you go there or not? I hate saying one - but then again do I feel like explaining the reason he's not here with us - getting into all that in a grocery store for example with someone I maybe went to school with? Awkward and no right answer - guess it just depends on who it is and how we are feeling that particular day. Sometimes I say yes one is two and the other is in heaven. Even that usually involves more questions but I feel better for it afterwards.

  2. Oh how difficult this is! I know exactly what you all depends on how you are that day as to your answer.... who you are talking to, how you are feeling, etc. For me, with having older kids, when someone point blank asks me how many kids I have as they are all standing there (and we homeschool so they are always there), I usually have to say 6 as one of them will speak up if I don't. Of course, said person usually count heads & notices one is missing, to which I then say yes, my other son died which then brings on the uncomfortable "oh I'm sorry" as they hurry away for fear they may catch it or see me cry. Oh well, I've become less concerned with how others view us anymore. Noah is just as living and as real as all the other kids and it's become second nature now to include him. It does bother me how "taboo" infant death is and I want to break that silence for all us baby loss mommas.

    But it's still tough. I think of even when we go out to eat, and they ask how many in your family....I want to say 8 but really, there are only 7 of us to sit, so I say 7....and it hurts.

    1. I have not lost a child, but I feel like perhaps in another life I must have because I feel such pain for Moms that do. I know that I could not possibly understand how much pain you feel - not really, but somehow, a part of me thinks I do. I have read all of the comments on here and I feel so many emotions, and then, because I have a brand new baby girl, I feel a little guilty because why do I get to enjoy another baby when this terrible thing happens to other people. I think that is part of the discomfort people feel when having a conversation with someone who has lost a child. I don't know what to say either, but I want any baby loss mommas to know that you could talk to me and I would listen, but I just don't know what to say. I feel like I would say the wrong thing and sound insensitive, or I would just cry, and you might think, "what are you crying about" because seemingly, I have nothing to cry about. I have SO many emotions about enduring the loss of a child, and yes, the immediate question I would have is, "how do you get through this" - I have no idea if I could handle this at all. I don't know if any of my rambling makes sense or if it sounds right....I just know that I wish I could take the pain away from any Mom experiencing the loss of a baby. I also know that I wish I could find the right words. I know that I totally avoided the subject the other day with D, but thought to myself how well I thought she was doing but didn't feel like that was the right thing to say, because, it probably isn't. Just know that I personally shed many tears with the mere thought of losing a baby, a child, or having a friend that has gone through the loss. I wish I was more eloquent and could find the right words. I'm so, so, sorry for your losses.

  3. I have lost 3. I have a 2.5 year old girl. I lost two baby boys John and Matthew at 16 weeks gestation and another at 6 weeks. I chose to deliver and bury my babies. And I also hate this question. It is so difficult. My heart screams "YES! I have a 2.5 year old girl and 3 angels." I never EVER say it though, because it makes something so innocent and friendly turn awkward so fast, and I can never deal. I wind up feeling guilty and sad for the rest of the day and hating myself for not acknowledging my babies. Maybe one day, after the therapy starts working a little more, I will be able to say yes. We will see.