First of all, I know I've already blogged about this. But, obviously it is still a sore spot for me so I'm blogging about it again in hopes that I will have some clarity on the subject. It's the question moms and dads have to answer often and I haven't come up with the best answer for it yet. But, I will.
"How many kids do you have?"
I know what I don't want to say. If I can get mad at someone close to me for saying - "I can't believe you're about to have your second child!" when infact this is my THIRD child, because this means THEY are denying my son, then I can NEVER deny my son. Not to the MaryKay lady, not to the bagger at the grocery store, not at a playdate or a mom's group.
So yesterday I am at a group and, because we have new people coming so often now, we were asked to introduce ourselves and say how many kids we have. In the past I have had a few moments to prepare, but yesterday it was my turn right after the facilitator had her turn.
I said, outloud, "I hate this question! I never know what to say!"
I continued, "Three! I have Joel - a toddler, I'm pregnant, and I have one in Heaven."
The girl next to me said, so compassionately, "Did you have a miscarriage?"
I wanted to scream or cry or hit something. "No, he was fullterm."
She continues, "Oh, that's stillborn, then!"
"Um, he was born alive," I mumbled...
"That's even worse!" she continued... but I didnt' hear much else...
As upset as I was over this little interaction, I still knew that I couldn't share it with just anybody. Only people who have been in my shoes, or have a great heart of compassion, will understand why this was upsetting to me. So, if you don't get it, just know that you're not alone.
A dear friend of mine said it well - If my loss is a big enough deal to me that I am going to mention it to you, it is not necessary for you to catagorize my loss.
In the past when this question arose and I only mentioned Joel, I felt terrible afterwards. As much as I don't want a total stranger to feel sorry for me, or to make the focus of a group all about me during a simply introduction, I CANNOT deny Gabriel as my son. He was not a miscarriage. I have had a miscarraige and NEVER feel the need to tell people about it. I have not named that child. I don't think of that loss like I think about Gabe. And I even feel guilt about that when I hear other women talk about their miscarried baby by name. But, I guess for me, the loss of Gabriel was so significant that the miscarriage was so different, so insignificant, in comparison. For others, a miscarriage may be the toughest thing they have to go through.
In the past, I have tried to chose my words carefully by saying Joel's not my only one, without coming out and saying that I lost my other son. Things like, "I have one child with me" or "I have one child at home." Not only does it make me feel like I'm confessing my other child was taken from me by the state, it just isn't cutting it.
Another friend of mine, who is very pregnant with her rainbow baby and is often asked if this is her first, will respond by simply saying "no" and if she is asked how old her first is, she resonds that "he would have been 15 months old." At this point I think this is my best bet. I am acknowledging Gabriel. I am acknowledging the fact that he is gone.
So, how many kids do I have? Three. Joel is two and a half, Gabriel would have been one and a half, and Zoe is due in July! That was easier than I thought...