How Many Children Do You Have?

I always enjoy doing our yearly Christmas cards. Taking a picture of the boys has gotten a little bit easier over the years, and getting them to both look and smile. At the same time. Designing the actual card. This is fun because I have such a respect for Art & Design, and at one point in my life seriously considered being a Graphic Design major. I still haven’t put that to rest. Who knows. Maybe I will get that degree someday.

Anyhow, while we were pregnant with Emily during Christmas 2012, I debated for a second whether or not to include “baby” on our Christmas cards. I even had the thought, “If we lose, it will be okay if everyone knows that we were pregnant. They would find out anyhow.” Little did I really know. Or really knew what that would feel like, and entail. For life, for that matter. We were about 8-9 weeks when I mailed out those cards. It was a way of us “announcing” that we were due with a baby in July 2013. It was fun to write “baby” on that Christmas card. Proud parents we were. And there was a picture of Matthew and Ryan on there. It was fun designing that card, and then seeing that we were a growing family.

This past year, I struggled. We were pregnant with our Michael. Should I write him on there, I thought? Do I include, “Emily” and then write, “baby”? I was really torn. I wanted to honor all of my babies. All family members. So I settled with just writing, “The Morrison Family”. That way I didn’t have to not include Emily and our baby on the way. I wasn’t sure how people would respond to that first way of wording our family – Matthew, Ryan, Emily, and baby. 

The same goes for when people ask the question, “And how many children do you have?” I just was asked that the other day. This business owner said, “Are these two all that you have?” I hesitated. He knew that we lost a baby last year. He did not know that I was pregnant this past winter with our Michael. So, I just said, “For now.” And I whispered to Emily and Michael as I was leaving this store, “And you two of course.”

I was at Target last summer and the check-out associate was young, in her early 20’s if even that. She saw me with our two boys, and said, “They are so cute. You should keep on having more.” Gulp. If only she knew. I did have more, I thought. You just can’t see her. Our baby girl died. I didn’t say anything. I just smiled, and collected my receipt. And headed for the door quickly to avoid crying.

Sometimes I do mention our babies in Heaven. Other times I just don’t. It just depends on the person asking. And sometimes the day that I am having. I have talked with other bereaved parents about this too, and a lot of them feel the same way. But when we do not mention our angel babies, sometimes there is a little guilt. And we feel the need to say something to our babies above, “You are a part of our family too.” There was a mother that lost her baby girl, and then went onto having a rainbow baby. She told me that so many times while pregnant, others would ask, “Is this your first?” She struggled too with what to say. 

I know in my heart that I have four children, even if I do not make it known all of the time. I also have realized through our experience to be sensitive about what you can see. But more so, what you can’t see as I talked about in an earlier blog entry called, “The Untold Story”. When we first got married people would ask, “When are you having kids?” I would say, “Whenever God wants us to have kids.” They wouldn’t say much after that. I can’t imagine if we were going through a loss, and somebody asking that. That is why I never ask when somebody is having children, especially now. And then when somebody does have a child here, people ask when will they have a sibling? I remember after Matthew turned one, people started asking us that. I know of people that have one child here, and lost a baby after. I can’t imagine being asked that question, when there is nothing more that you would want than to have a sibling here for that child. And then you lost. Or sometimes, couldn’t get pregnant again after their first. I know of others that have experienced that. Though different, is a loss too.

So, whatever you decide to say in response to, “And how many children do you have?” is your choice. You have to do whatever feels right to you in that moment and situation. And just know that if you do not mention your baby, it is okay. You are not alone. It does not mean that you do not love them. And I believe, your baby knows that.