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Wednesday, January 8, 2014

My 2014 Resolution: Tell them the REAL number

I knew the question was coming.  I struck up a conversation with a woman at Target the other day.  She had three adorable girls with her.  We discussed everything about motherhood and kids and then she asked the dreaded question, “How many kids do you have?” 

I am the mother of three amazing boys, two living and one in Heaven, our guardian angel.  Though my youngest was with us for only a few days, he was and is a huge part of our family.  But how does that translate to a random stranger who innocently asks you that question?

My answer changes with each conversation.  Sometimes I say two boys, sometimes I say three but stop at that, and sometimes I do go into a little more detail about our sweet little boy.  I feel guilty for not including all of our boys, I feel guilty for telling people I have three boys, leading them to believe I have three boys here with me, and I feel guilty if I tell them the truth and then see that awkward foot in their mouth look they give me.  Guilt, guilt, guilt. 

That was 2013. This is 2014: I’m done with the guilt.  Time after time, I’ve talked to women and men who have the same inner struggles; people who have lost babies through miscarriage, prematurity, sickness, or unforeseeable causes and couples who battle infertility, and long to see that plus sign on the pregnancy test.  Why do we feel so much unspoken pressure to silently put these experiences behind us and move on with a smile as if nothing happened?

We live in a society that openly discusses and embraces the amazing efforts to raise awareness  around causes such as breast cancer, multiple sclerosis and heart disease, just to name a few.  But why is something like the loss of a baby still such a taboo subject? 

Miscarriage happens to more women than breast cancer.  Odds are, if not you, than someone you know has suffered from a miscarriage.  These women and their partners struggle silently, feeling guilty that they feel so sad, knowing it was still early. Often people tell me they feel bad talking about their struggles in front of me because my baby was born and lived days before he passed away. That is so heartbreaking to me.  A baby is a baby, no matter how long they are with us.  As soon as parents see the positive test, or hear the first heartbeat, that baby becomes part of their family.  It’s not fair for them to cry alone late at night or fall into depression without feeling like they can or should talk about it. 

No matter how it happens, losing a baby or trying for years to conceive, has become a daily and even hourly occurrence. Yet we still don’t talk about it.  This is why, in 2014, I pledge to share my story as often as I can, to reach out to as many women that I can who have gone through these heartbreaking experiences and tell them they have a support group in me.  I realize everyone is different, everyone grieves differently and if you’re not up for sharing your story that’s okay.  But I hope by sharing my story we can start a conversation, and get rid of the taboo.  Lets talk, people!  For those of you reading who are lucky enough never to have experienced this, you can help by spreading the word.  Encourage people to give their REAL number and be proud of it.  Talk about it with your family, coworkers, your friends, anyone.  Just talk.    Women and men everywhere will thank you.
by Sara Raak

23 comments:

Anonymous said...

I am the mom to five. Three of which I get to hold daily. My 11 yr old is great at reminding me that we have two we will one day see in heaven. Thank you for this article.
Kenda Wathen

monkeyshxt said...

I applaud you and admire your courage to tell the truth. I can only hope the more of us parents can share sooner than later and stop hiding our children. Thank you for this. This has been just a little bit of guidance that I've needed for a long time.

Maggie said...

wonderful. I'm a mom to four; two with me, two in heaven. ♥

Anonymous said...

I have been saying five children for years. We have had the honor of raising 4 and have a sweet girl waiting for us in heaven. I know I have made people feel uncomfortable but I have to included her! May we all have the courage tonspeak about all our children

Anonymous said...

ive actually been trying to do this since I had my angel back in February. I don't understand why breast cancer is recognized year round and our angels are left out. I just had my rainbow Dec. 26th and keep getting the "is this your first" question. I have been telling people this is my second, and I lost my first to miscarriage. Their response is always "oh but this is your first to bring home?" This makes me feel like they don't see my angel as a baby. More people need to be made aware of how common this is!!

Scott Holper said...

I have always said "3"....lump in my throat, but pride in my heart. I feel I'm doing my daughter a disservice if I don't acknowledge she had a life. Even if it was just a brief one.

FC said...

Thank you :-)

I sometimes say I have 1,5 children. I say it not in a undervaluing way. But to make it a talkable subject. My halfchild, my first love - lost to a rare chromosomal anomaly and a cold in utero just shy of the halfway -mark.

But I also have what I call my unchildren (the children who never stepped out of my woven dream - a sentence hard to translate). I

begun my attempts almost natural (although alone) and 11 IUI's and 4 IVF's later I had to reconzile that my genes will never form a child. I took farewell of my unchildren, I let a floating heart drift away in the ocean and said goodbye in order to meet the children who I coluld have.

Little did I know that two embryodonations later I'd meet my halfchild one night in a hospitalbed. I would casket him, and bury him. I would love him. Over that - no genes mattered.

My rainbow arrived (also through ed almost to the day a year from his pressumed birthday) She is my love. Different and perhaps bigger, never my first.

I am the mother of two (or 1,5). I also wonder about my unchildren. Who would they have been? What would little half Aleksas have been?

But mostly. I am in awe my story didn't end in the cemetary (I know those who have had to give up - after birthing a fullgone child or living a few days with him) and I get to love a living sister too

Arlene said...

I am a mother of 11 children. Six here and five in Heaven.
As of last week I am a Grandma of one in Heaven.
I have learned that Grandmas grieve too!!

April S said...

I am so sorry for your loss. And I am so proud of everything you've said in your post! Pregnancy and infant loss is still such a taboo in our culture and it makes those of us who have suffered feel isolated, alone and sometimes even ashamed. THANK YOU for talking about it. I had several miscarriages on my journey to my youngest child and while it was hard to share with others, I hope it helped even one other person cope.

Stacey said...

I am so sorry for your loss. Guilt is something I feel if I don't say I have two grandchildren. I don't want people to feel bad for asking me but I can't pretend she wasn't here. I have an extremely difficult time grieving for her. It has been a year and my heart hurts like it was yesterday. She will always be a part of our family and I will continue to say she was my first grandchild. I will grieve and miss her until we meet again

Anonymous said...

I applauded all of you for talking openly about something that is so much a part of many lives. I lost my 4th son in 1972 to SIDS. For many many years I struggled with the question of who to tell how many to questions. I felt like if I said 5 (i later had another son) it would make the one who ask uncomfortable but sometimes the guilt was too much and I just had to mention my son in Heaven. Now I'm totally comfortable with telling people when they ask exactly how many kids I have but, I'm 65!!! It took along time so I am so glad to see young Moms dealing with this openly. Hugs to all!!!!

Anonymous said...

I have 3 kids a 7 year old boy 2 year old little angle girl that's in heaven and my 3rd child is due in August. We always include our little angle in our life's. We will always include her as if she is still living, because she will always be with us and live in our hearts and mind forever. Thanks for sharing

Anonymous said...

I have three here with me and my grandmother has my other five with her, waiting for me! I have always thought how odd it is for some topics to be taboo, like the passing of a child. ( I don't like to say I lost my children, because I know exactly where they are!). I hope I am not offending anyone. Why do people freeze at this but it's not a surprise to have a table full of adults sitting around eating dinner while sharing details about their sexual dysfunctions? I'm sorry for being blunt.

bridgette said...

I give my real number a lot and I feel like I have done a lot to help make others aware of pregnancy & infant loss. But there are plenty of times that I say...I have 3 at home. The conversation might end there but if it doesn't I will generally tell people about my twin daughters in heaven. It's been 9 years for us, they were my first born and my daughters who never met their sisters talk about them- and even tell their teachers and include them in family tree school projects. We are very open about our loss and I think it helps other people to be open about their losses as well. Great Job!

Anonymous said...

I am a mother of 3 little boys. An 8 year old, 4 year old and one who got his wings to early. November 30th, 2013 I gave birth to a beautiful little boy, he had already passed away while still inside. He will always be my angel with wings. <3

Anonymous said...

I am a mother to 5. Three of them living 8, 5, 17 months and two angels who would be 7 and 3.5 years old. When people ask how many child I have I always say 5 but only 3 are living, most people look at you, maybe they don't know what to say, but it does feel akward sometimes. I just wish it didn't have to be that way, comfort those that have had a loaa and recognize the importance of that child's life, no matter how rief it is!

Amber La Barge said...

My son Hayden was born February 12th, 2009. He was born at 36 weeks he weighed 5 lbs 12.9 oz and was 18 in long.On October 11th, 2009 my son passed away from SIDS a day shy of being 8 months old. I always say I have three I don't care what people say or the looks they give me. I always say 3. I don't care if your child made it into this world and took a breath or if they didn't they are still your child. You felt them move, gave them a home. Know they are with god. Also want to say I am sorry to all you ladies for your loss. No words can really be said to a mother, a aunt, a grand parent, people that where close to the child to ever take that pain away nor will all people understand your pain. My son will be 5 next month he has a biological sister that could be his twin she is 3 and a half sister who is 2. He will never get the chance to meet them and they will know him. God bless all your broken hearts.

Anonymous said...

I would say if a baby pass away from 18weeks preg that's it's classed as a baby n would tell people I've got eg 8 one passed away n 7 alive cos no matter what the baby will always b ya child

carilyn said...

When asked, I am proud to say I have 11 grandchildren and 4 grandangels. Dakota was 17 days old when he died unexpectedly of undiagnosed bacterial pneumonia in 2012, then his mommy suffered three miscarriages before little Luke was born prematurely in 2013 (he is now 4 months and 11 pounds). And speaking from experience, grandparents grieve twice as hard, because they grieve for their grandchild(ren) AND for their child (the parent).

Sally said...

I am a mom to 6 with 1 angel in heaven and 2 miscarriages. The grieving process is life long in healing but one never forgets. God Bless all of you.

Dina Conklin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kim Baniya said...

I know how it feels and I encourage others to talk bout it ...However here lately I've begun to feel the same as above and tip the around it ...i love and miss my angel Anna ...and her story has saved a set of twins and a Lil girl ...but i need to not let go but still talk bout it ...

Anonymous said...

Grandparents need to embrace this resolution as well. I am the proud grandmother of 5 right now. Alexis is 7, Drew 5, Kendall 4, Harper 2 1/2 and Barrett - forever 6 1/2 months old: SIDS death. After his death, I started reading some grief blogs to help me better be sensitive to my daughter and son-in-law's grief journey. I vowed early on to be upfront with people regarding ALL my grandchildren.