How many children do you have??

I still struggle with the “How many children do you have?” question. I still have yet to find a perfect answer to that. I feel that if I go the safe route and say 1, I am not honoring my son or his memory. Generally, when I say 2 and they only see Addy, they ask where the other one is. Sure, I can say “oh he is in heaven.”  But even with a smile on my face and the cheeriest voice ever, I still get “the look.” The look that says “I am so sorry, and now I am extremely uncomfortable and don’t know what to say.” Sometimes followed by awkward silence, sometimes by questions.  Either way, generally people are just making small talk and don’t want to know that much information but how or why do I not include my son? He is still my son. I HAVE 2 KIDS but it’s not that simple.


These days are getting better. My dearest Donavin is still very much a part of my every day life. So much so that in a way I forget he is gone. It is not that I pretend he is here it has just gotten to the point that it is easy to talk about him. Talk about his things. Feel proud that he exists and that I had part in that.  I love that but sometimes that can cause more harm because on those days if I find myself stopping to think about him, really think, it’s almost as if I lose him all over again.  If it’s just a “Honey, can you hand me Donavin’s blanket?” It’s fine. It’s when it turns into a “Honey, can you hand me Donavin’s blanket…that he never got to use” where it is not. It’s a very fine line. Sometimes that hits me. Sometimes it doesn’t. It is strange to have someone be such a HUGE part of your life, someone you think of constantly, someone you talk about, someone you miss and LOVE SO MUCH, be someone who you don’t know. How can a someone who is and will always be (in this lifetime) a stranger, mean so much you would give practically anything  to have them back. It is bizarre and endearing all at the same time.


2 responses to “How many children do you have??

  1. My mom is here visiting, and after reading your entry, I talked with her about it some. She has experienced some similar things as you. Her second child died shortly before birth. I asked her what she said when people asked her how many children she had. She told me that she would say “I have two, but one passed away.” or “I have two, and only one is living.” She said that it helped prevent further questions (such as “where is your other one?”), and it also gave them the option to continue asking questions or leave it be. She said it was a lot less awkward that way.

    I was born a few children later, and I grew up with my sister included just like the rest of us. I knew I had a sister that died, and she was very special to me (still is). Whenever people ask me how many sisters I have, I always include her. She IS my sister, and it doesn’t feel right to not include her.

    I know if it were me in your shoes, I would feel like you and would feel a need to include my son even if he had died. He is your son just as much now as he was before he died. It just doesn’t feel right to not include him. The love a mother feels for her own child is incredible, and I don’t think I could stand not including him.

    I have another friend who lost her son at birth (homebirth). It’s been about 4 years now, and she still includes him. When she sends holiday cards, she signs everyone’s name, including their little boy who died, as well as their new daughter.

    I hope that helps you some in figuring out a more comfortable way to respond. It’s something that just doesn’t seem right that a mother should ever have to deal with. You are such a beautiful person, and my heart breaks for everything you are going through. You are an inspiring person & mother. Thank you for sharing all your thoughts and feelings that you do. I know they are some of the most tender/painful thoughts & feelings that you could ever have.

    Lots of love,

  2. I think the answer is up to you.
    My thoughts – not that they have anything to do with your decision – are:
    Not saying you have 2 kids does not minimize his importance in reality. In a way, it just makes him something private, personal, a person who is too important to speak lightly of in “common” or brief encounters.
    Yet, to give people who are more than just “Hi friends” as I call them (you talk almost no more than an occasional, “Hi, how are you?”) the more meaningful reply, whatever that evolves to be at the time, might give the release and needed recognition of his constant presence.
    Being that Donavin is now somewhere outside of time, he is present. And can be accounted for any time you feel you wish to name him.
    It sounds like you are finding the answer, the actual words, to be the problem… while waiting through other’s awkward silence of not knowing what to say (or fear of asking) or the sympathetic questioning, you also are struggling to find the right words.
    There is no answer that will be “OK.” Because his not being with us is not “OK.” There is only the answer that satisfies your need to honor him. Whatever that may be today. Tomorrow, it may be a different answer.

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