“How many children do you have?”– My Awkward Response

It was the first meeting of MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) for the year.  Brand new table set for 7 unfamiliar faces.  No one knew my story. And I didn’t have to tell it either if I didn’t want.

Then instructions were announced to the group. “There are star stickers at your table. Put a star next to your name for each child you have.”  I felt like Rachel Berry on Glee putting my one star after my name. And then I hesitated.  Do I put another on my  name tag?

After we placed our stars on our name tags, we were instructed to go around our table and talk about our kids and show pictures if we brought them.  It felt more like a hotel rating system.  Five stars- wow, you must be a mother superstar. Three stars- (most of my table was in this category) “The hardest transition is going from two to three kids.”  And then my turn came. “We have one child downstairs who is almost 18 months old. And we have a baby in heaven.”

When meeting new people, the hardest question to answer is, “How many children do you have?”  “Will I ever see this person again?” is usually the next thought in my head as to how to respond to the inquiry.  If the answer is yes, I might say my rehearsed line from above—even though I know awkward silence will follow or an “I’m so sorry.” If I choose to say I only have one child, I feel guilty for the next couple of days.  Generally, I choose awkward.

October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness month.  One of the reasons I choose “awkward” is because I want others to cherish the children they do get to hold.  Every baby is a miracle. I don’t know the accuracy of this statistic, but the leader of our M.E.N.D. (Mothers Enduring Neonatal Death) group stated that 1 in 4 pregnancies end in a loss.  That means there is a huge number of women (and men)—parents—who have experienced the same loss we have. (If you want to hear our whole story, click here).  Even though I know people feel awkward when I share about Grace Kathryn, our baby girl in heaven, I speak up for those parents who are too shy to say they lost a baby too.  Often times miscarriages are never mentioned as the loss of a child.

So, sorry, if we ever meet for the first time or perhaps we see each other again after a long lapse and you choose to ask me how many children I have, because we will have an awkward moment together.  It is my hope that my story will encourage someone else in the process.

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