How many kids do you have?

Today when I picked Annika up from school it was storytime. She said she wanted to listen to the story before we went home, so I took a seat in the back row and waited. Midway through, the boy sitting next to her turned and asked

“Do you have a baby?” (baby-aby-aby-aby went the echo in my head)

Ouch. That’s a tough one. In the second or two it took me to respond, a million things went through my mind. Then, considering the fella is 3 and is probably looking for a simple answer, I responded

“No”.

He turned and looked quizzically at Annika.

“She died. And my brother too.”

And then it was over. Exhale. Inhale. Exhale.

Since Cole died, I’ve given a fair amount of thought to how I would answer the question “How many kids do you have?” I guess the answer will depend on the circumstances. My mood, who’s asking, the context. Easy enough to say, but whether or not I hyperventilate or pass out when actually asked remains to be seen. Fortunately I have not been faced with that question. Well, until today, sort of, by a 3 year old. I didn’t pass out.

Today was my first day back to work. It was harder than I thought it was going to be. And I thought it was going to be hard. The first few times anyone talked to me, I cried (I didn’t think I would). I tried to hide in my cube the rest of the day. And then I did something that probably wasn’t so smart (if the goal was not crying). I called Mary. Our nurse. What can I say? I wanted to talk to her. I had tried calling yesterday, but she was off. I had time to kill at work because my ID/password are broken, so I called again. She was there. And she said all the right things. Including “you’ll always be the mom of three children”. Thank you. It was so good to talk to her. It really was. Maybe not so good for my image at work. Sniffle. (Actually, it was OK. Only a few very nice people were within earshot. And I’m not that easily embarrassed anyhow).

And a related question: am I still a mom of twins? My heart says yes, but I will never have those twin experiences. So can I relate to twin moms? Can they relate to me? While I was on bedrest, about a week before the babies were born, I joined the local Moms of Multiples (MOMs) club. I signed up for a playdate group for Annika, eager to meet other MOMs and get some pointers before the little ones arrived. I signed up for the Halloween party. After they were born, and especially after Cole died, I was afraid to reach out to them. A babysteps (online community I belong to) friend from TX actually contacted them for me and an amazing woman reached out to me. She wrote the most heartfelt, comforting e-mails. She brought me a huge stack of books. She brought me a gorgeous plant – cyclamen – which I killed (sorry, Leah). She put me in touch with another incredible MOM, who’d just lost one of her daughters a few months earlier. When Lina died, the MOMs really came out to support me. They sent me e-mail and cards, posted words of support on the bulletin board, and organized meals. At first I felt strange…accepting meals, help from “strangers”. But I can’t describe the way my heart felt when we came home on the night Lina died to find a box of hearty food on our doorstep.

Anyhow, what I’m trying to say, is that the MOMs are an amazing group. They are so generous, sympathetic and supportive. But when it comes time next September to pay my dues… do I do it? Do I still “belong”? When Lina was still alive, I felt…yes. My child is still a twin. And sure, I still have twins. But without the experiences…do I belong?

On the MOMs site, there is a “roster” with names and addresses, spouses names and a smiley face for each child with their ages, calculated automatically from their dates of birth. I have 3 smiley faces. One says “3 years” and two say “4 months”. But Lina and Cole are not 4 months old. They are 23 days old and 3 months 1 week old. They will always be those ages. Forever.

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3 Responses to “How many kids do you have?”


  1. 1 Jen @ amazingtrips February 7, 2008 at 10:26 am

    You have three children. You will always be the mom to three children. You will always be the mom of twins.

    I’m so glad that the MOM’s have been supportive of you. But only you will know the right thing to do when it is time to renew your membership. Perhaps you will find the camaraderie of other mother’s within that group who have lost their children; or – perhaps you will find that support in another group.

    You’ve been in our prayers every night. Your pictures of Florida were great!!

  2. 2 Sheri-ct February 7, 2008 at 10:52 am

    Oh Patrice,

    I have tears in my eyes reading your message. I think about you everyday and pray for you every night. You are a mother of three and YES, you are the mother of twins and always will be. I am so sorry you did not get to spend more time with your precious babies, but they will live in your heart forever. They will live in many hearts.

    Sheri
    Babysteps and MOMs

  3. 3 jennc February 11, 2008 at 1:38 pm

    I am a little late on this, but just as you are the mother of three children, you will forever be the mother of twins. For a moment in time you had three hearts in one body. That’s an experience no one, and no event can ever take away from you. And they continue to live on through you Patrice and your heart, they are in everything you do, every breath you take, every beat of your heart -they are with you. And I hope in some small way it comforts you to know that they live on in the hearts of so many people that they touched. My heart breaks for you and Esref, and Annika too. Love, Jen


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About Me

I'm a grieving mom. I have one beautiful daughter, Annika, who's 3 years old now (born 12/28/04). I also had twins, Lina and Cole, on 10/04/07, born at just 26 weeks. We lost Cole after just 23 days due to complications related to his prematurity. Fiesty little Lina overcame so much and just when she was getting ready to come home with us, suddenly had a complication unrelated to her prematurity and passed away on January 11, 2008. This blog is about getting through it. More...

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