How Many Kids Do You Have?

This blog post was first published at Still Standing Magazine.

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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?

Related: After Miscarriage: “How Many Children Do You Have?”

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?

Related: The Question: Is This Your First Baby?

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