Sunday, August 24, 2008

Do you "count" the babies you've lost?

When someone asks if you have any kids, or asks how many you have, do you include in the number the baby or babies in heaven?

This is a great debate amongst those who have lost babies. Some strongly believe you must include every pregnancy in the count, as they are just as much a person as anyone we can see with our eyes. Others don't, often because it just gets messy. In a way, it's a real downer to say "I have two children here and two in heaven," but at the same time, maybe if everyone said that it'd become more understood and more accepted? "Two in heaven" leads most people to assume that the children had been born and sometime later passed away, and when they learn that the deaths were due to miscarriage or stillbirth, it's almost as if they dismiss the losses because they were "only" that kind of loss. Obviously they don't really understand what it's like to lose a baby.

Right or wrong, to many people it seems more tragic to lose a baby after birth than it does before birth. That is part of why we have to join together, share our experiences, and offer support to one another.

So for our own emotional well-being, and for that of those around us, should we not "count" the losses? I'm not going to give my opinion, as this must be left up to each person. I will, however, share what one woman told me: her answer depends upon who is asking, in what circumstance, and how she is feeling at that moment. If it's someone she trusts to handle things right, and if she feels up to going into more details, she includes the baby who died. But if she anticipates that the person will be dismissive or if she just doesn't want to "go there," she doesn't include the loss in the tally.

There are times when including the loss in the count can open up a really good and healing conversation - for you or for the other person. This is especially true if the other person lost a baby to miscarriage or stillbirth as well and has not felt free to talk about it with anyone.

I don't think you're wrong either way. Just something to think about.

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