How Many Kids do You have? Answering This Tedious Question…

number twoHow many kids do you have?

Is this your only child?

I get nervous every time these questions come. They used to seem so simple, but not anymore. Although it appears there is only one child in our home, we are really a family of four: Dad, Mom, and two girls. I want to talk about both of my children.  Yet it feels so tedious. I feel so many challenges each time I formulate an answer to one of these common questions.

First, wording is so critical. A few weeks after Esther died, I was on a speaking trip with my mom in Dallas. It was the first time I had ventured far from home since our loss, and it was challenging, to say the least. Several people we met asked how many kids I had. I was not about to leave Esther out, but I hadn’t had much practice answering that question yet. Twice I made the mistake of explaining that we WERE expecting another girl, BUT she died very recently. The problem was that before I could get the second part out, the unknowing listener offered happy congratulations. Their face then turned to horror as they heard the rest of the story. Needless to say, it was awkward for everyone. I learned the hard way that not everyone listens to the distinct differences between the words ARE and WERE.

Second, it’s just hard to explain. Yes I have another child. No she is not here. Yes, we were far enough along to know it was a girl. No, it hasn’t been very long since this happened. It’s hard to know what to include and what to leave out from an explanation with someone you barely know.

Third, it feels extremely sensitive. I want to say the most honoring things about my daughter. I get so picky about how I tell about her life. I don’t want to say too much because it’s special and sacred, yet I don’t want to say too little, as if she were not important. I don’t want to talk about her casually as if her death is insignificant to our family, yet I don’t want to breakdown and weep in front of someone I hardly know. Sometimes, I will replay what I said over and over in my mind, assessing every word and voice tone. I guess it’s because she is so special yet the memories are all I have of her. I want to honor and protect her legacy.

Fourth, there is always uncertainty of how the other person will respond. Some people respond sensitively, some calloused and hard, and some stay hurtful things without meaning to. It always feels like a risk. Like I am putting myself in a place of vulnerability and bracing myself for the response.

I wish that talking about children who have gone to heaven didn’t feel like such a taboo topic. I guess for the most part, people just don’t want to talk about sad things. They usually either gloss them over or pretend they didn’t happen. Facing the reality of tragedy and loss sort of bursts the “perfect world” bubble.

But no matter the obstacles, here is what I do know: I want to talk about my second baby. I need to talk about her. She is a part of our family, and just as much one of our children as Kyla is. To Adam and I, there is no question, we have two kids. Though not with us now, Esther has shaped who we are in so many ways. We will honor her little life as long as we live. And by honoring her life, we honor the sacredness and value of every life, no matter how short. She will always be included as one of our children.

As I continue on this long journey, I will keep learning the best ways to answer these now tedious questions. And while I do get nervous when I hear them, I also like being asked, because it gives me a chance to talk about my baby. My little girl who will never be known by this world, but will always be known by her mommy.


I would like to hear from you. How have you handled these questions after loss?




  1. Doug Cherry says:

    Thanks for helping us walk through this. I always say I have 5. But this will help!

    • Kalyn from Mommy's Heavenly Dream says:

      Thanks for commenting Dad! Thanks for saying you have five grandkids!

  2. Adam Waller says:

    Great post honey, I like to tell people that I have a baby in heaven!
    Love you.

  3. This question has always bothered me and our first loss was 10 years ago this year. Usually when someone asks I will say Caleb is my only child but I had a miscarriage before him. A teacher asked me this question the other day who didn’t know about our recent miscarriage so I told her about our two losses. I think it depends who it is for me too, b/c some people I feel wouldn’t understand so I don’t go into detail.

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