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How Many Children Have You Had?

This week we told our story to someone who hadn't heard it. It is sad to relive the details, but it feels so wonderful getting to talk about Tripp. The further we move away from his life, the less opportunities we have to talk about him.

Think about the last time you had a conversation with someone. It might have been a co-worker or friend. Maybe it was even a family member. What did you talk about?

Last night we had a group of Hugh's staff over for some socializing. Most of our conversations were framed around our children - what we were doing over Easter, vacations we took, and other humerous stories from our everyday lives. Even the conversatiosn that weren't framed around our children had our children in them. When we talked about landscaping a yard, we discussed if kids were going to be using. When we talked about students in our buildings, we related the stories to our own children. A significant portion of what we talk about is our kids.

Imagine if you rarely got an opportunity to talk about one of your kids. Imagine what that would feel like.

I am like any other mom. I like talking about my kids, in fact, I love it. But because Tripp isn't here, I don't get to mention how he just started waving good-bye. I don't get to elaborate on how we got him to sleep through the night. And when someone asks the question, "How many kids do you have?" I don't get to say 2, because I have one.

When we told Tripp's story on Wednesday the woman told us that years ago a dear friend had told her that the best way to find out about someone's family is to ask them, "How many kids have you had?" How many kids have you had? By putting it in past tense it gives moms like me an opportunity to talk about the child we might rarely get to mention.

Every since the woman told us this I have been saying, How many kids have you had? over and over in my head. I have even said it a couple of times outloud so I could get used to the sound of it. It seems a bit strange to hear the question posed like that, but maybe that's just because we don't talk about death very often.

Maybe someday someone will ask me, "How many kids have you had?" I know if they do, I won't have to hesitate, because if they are asking the question like that they know about dead babies and they won't be shocked or speechless when they hear I have one. By asking the question like that they will be expecting to occasionally get an answer like the one I would give.

I am going to keep repeating, "How many children have you had?" over and over in my head. This way the next time I have the chance to ask someone the about their kids, I ask them in a way that makes it a little easier for them to say, "Two. One in heaven and one on earth."


  1. I love this question. Thank you for sharing.

  2. That's a great question. Made me think of the question "how many times have you been pregannt?". I've been pregnant 6 times but only have 1 child. All of my losses were 13 weeks or less but I still think of all the times I was pregnant. It's good to remember.

    Leanne Curtin

  3. So true. And so important. You deserve the opportunity to be able to include Tripp in those conversations.

    Thank you for inspiring me. <3 I will also be working at getting this to stick in my head, for when I ask someone how many kids they have had. :)

  4. Karen - Here I am 3 days after writing that post and still chanting that question in my head. I love it too.

    Leanne - I also am going to start chanting, "How many pregnancies have you had?" I love this one as well. I always think that people like you will be the lucky ones in heaven - surrounded by all your children.

    Dani - I agree with the "working at" part. It is going to be hard to get that question to become automatic over the present tense version.


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