search discussions

glow in the woods

front page
the archives
what is this place?
the contributors
comment policy

Parents of lost babies and potential of all kinds: come here to share the technicolour, the vividness, the despair, the heart-broken-open, the compassion we learn for others, having been through this mess — and see it reflected back at you, acknowledged and understood.

Thanks to photographer Xin Li and to artist Stephanie Sicore for their respective illustrations and photos.

for one and all > Do you have children

The past week I have really been trying to ease myself back in to do "normal activities". I decided I would try go to the hairdressers, id been putting it off for too long and my hair needed it. The last time I was there I was pregnant and blissfully unaware of what was to come. I knew it would be hard but I guess I underestimated it. As soon as I got there I wanted to leave, a young girl looked after me she was very polite and chatted about normal day to day things, but all I could think of was none of this shit matters, my baby died, I dont care! It was too much, but I pushed myself to get through it and stay until she randomly asked the dreaded question "Do you have any kids?" I just froze I wasnt prepared. This was the first time I had been asked, how the hell do I answer this. I thought briefly and replied; no. I figured this would be the easiest answer and a big part of me did not feel she deserved to know. I felt so guilty afterwards, I felt I had betrayed my daughter and I cried my eyes out when I got home.

How do you all deal with this question?
May 13, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJ
Wow J, it's like you pulled this from my mind. Firstly, I'm so sorry for your loss. And I'm sorry you had to go through that conversation, and that you've had to think about how do I respond to it. That conversation for me happened three weeks ago, and then twice in three days. I also said 'no', on the basis these people weren't people I knew well (hell, the first one doesn't even live in my country). I had thought prior, what would I say when I do get asked? Will I say yes or no? Because obviously the answer is yes to me. And I can SO relate about the guilt when it is a 'no' you say to these people instead. I felt like my son was somewhere, listening to me say the word that invalidated his existence.

I also know that sometimes, I will answer with yes. When I get to know someone new, when the situation calls for it, and sometimes when I just need to talk about him.

I'm not sure if you also feel this way, but over the past 10 weeks since everything went wrong, I feel like I spend a lot of time making other people feel comfortable around me, and putting them at ease with our 'new normal'. You start to soothe them. And I think answering 'no' is just an extension of that. We answer 'no' because it will make them feel uncomfortable, or embarrassed, or upset. So we keep it to ourselves, and the world around us doesn't know their question has been like a sledgehammer to our chests.

I also still have the 'blissfully unaware' moments of the 'last time I was here everything was still ok' and 'I was still pregnant when I last did that'. Those moments can throw days where you think you're doing ok into a sh*t day where you're willing people not to look your way. Please be kind to yourself when you realise that's happening.

May 13, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterS
J, my heart is breaking for you. Those initial re-entrances into society are so jarring. And then when you take a step back and realize that it's just the hairdresser (or grocery store or walk around the neighborhood or whatever it is) that's so difficult, it's really scary... because we all know things like seeing friends and family, or going back to work, or being around little ones... are not going to be fun either.

"None of this shit matters... My baby died... I don't care" is pretty much on repeat in my head all day myself. I hear you.

Ugh, you got so close without being asked the question! I have dodged so many interactions where this question could come up - I think it's only actually been asked once or twice in the past 11 months. Once I was asked how my baby was (by someone who didn't know she had died) and I of course had to tell the truth. (I wrote a piece on Glow's homepage called "Congratulations" about this encounter.) Once my husband and I were asked if we wanted any children, while we were at a work dinner with ppl who didn't know the story, obviously. I was looking at my plate when the question was asked, and I never looked up until after the subject was clearly on something else. My husband answered it, and he said that we did have a daughter born last summer but that she died. I felt he handled it well, and I was also glad I wasn't the one who had to answer it.

I think in one-on-one situations it would be a lot easier to say the truth than when it comes up in a group setting. I can think of a time when I was in a group where no one was explicitly asking about children, but we were going around saying the reasons why we were in this group. My reason was directly related to my daughter's death, but I didn't feel comfortable dropping that bomb on everyone so I made up something else. Like S said above, I think we tend to want others to feel comfortable around us and sometimes it's at our own expense.

No matter how you answer that question, I hope you'll go easy on yourself. The truth is that you wish the answer were blatantly obvious and standard, and you could confidently discuss your live child like everyone else seems to. Given the unexpected, isolating nature of the real answer, it's hard to know what to say. Sometimes the person asking the question isn't close enough to you or to the situation to really deserve to be let in to such a raw place anyway, unless for your own self you decide that no matter who asks, you want to mention your daughter. I think it's entirely up to you and could vary from person to person, day to day, situation to situation. Personally I want to mention my daughter when/if I'm asked, but I know it's not that simple and I have pretty much dodged these encounters anyway - so I can't honestly say what I have done or would do. This is why I avoid small talk like the plague.

I'm so sorry any of us even has to wonder about any of this. Hugs to y'all.
May 13, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterCameron
Thank you for your replies ladies. S, on some weird level its good to know there are other people going through this and have the same reactions, I find the guilt very hard to deal with right now but I guess its all part of it, im learning to handle each situation as it comes.

Cameron, I read your piece "Congratulations", oh my heart just sank for you. I can relate to it on so many levels, the crushing want to "pretend" everythings ok and boast about your little girl. I get that. The same happened us in the grocery store, our neighbour asked how things were going and my partner had to explain, I so wanted to say shes doing great thanks! I especially love the part where you say "Cora, my lifes littlest and biggest love, is a conversation stopper". Wow. How lovely and yet so true.

I wish we all didnt have to go through this and had our babies in our arms x
May 14, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJ
It took me a while to figure out how to respond to this one... but I settled on "one at home" (we have a 2.5 year-old, and we lost our second son, his little brother, a year ago). So maybe "none at home right now"? Some people will keep pushing... which forces me to tell them the full story, but by then I figure they were the ones who pried so they can handle the cold hard truth.

I met a woman a few months ago. We were talking about kids. She asked me about mine, and I asked her how many she had in return. She said "two at home". I knew what this meant, and we shared our stores: she had lost a baby at 24 weeks a few years ago.

I am expecting again and I keep getting the "is this your first?" question followed by "how many do you have?" I will answer something like "this is my third". And while it usually stops there, sometimes they keep going in which case I sometimes tell the whole story (again, I blame them for pushing).

It gets easier as time goes on, as now I can say that we lost our second son without bursting into tears. But that takes time too. In the beginning, I went back and forth a few times (sometimes sharing everything, sometimes just saying we simply had one child). I found that over time, answering "one" just didn't work for me, and I think I found a way that makes me feel comfortable (hence the "one at home"), and still often avoids the awkwardness.

Ultimately, you do what feels right for you.
May 15, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterAbby
Abby thank you for your reply. Im sorry for your loss. I dont think that question will ever get easier but it does help to be prepared especially in different situations so thank you for your advice. I will certainly keep your response in mind.
Sending you peace on your journey.
May 17, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJ
I answer "at home I've got ......", after an other bereaved mother told me what she did when a group of us had this very same conversation 2-3 months after my last loss at week 28. It's been helping me alot, but then there are those who are pushing it. They just have to deal with the reality. For me it's been over 2,5 years,
If our oldes is around when the question comes along, she telles everyone proudly that she is a big sister and that she has got two little sisters whom one of they are dead. It's the world that she knows, it's been like that "forever" Our middle daughter died when our oldest was two.