“Is she your first?”

September 17, 2013

As a mom to a new baby, I get this question a lot. And you’d think it would be a pretty easy question. Or maybe, if you are like me, it isn’t such an easy question.

Is she your first

Photography provided by Danae Wheeler {www.dwdesignandphotography.com}

Reagan is my only living child, but she isn’t my first child. In fact, Reagan is my third.

A few months after ditching the birth control, J and I were thrilled to see that positive sign on the pregnancy test (and at least 3 more … just to make sure!). We couldn’t contain our excitement and called our parents and siblings to let them know right away. Unfortunately, just a few days later I miscarried. And our hearts broke.

“Dear Lord, I would have loved to have held my babies on my lap
and tell them about you, but since I didn’t get the chance,
would you please hold them on your lap and tell them about me?”
{author unknown}

That’s when I learned that nearly 20% of pregnancies end in miscarriage. That didn’t make me miss my baby any less nor did it ease the ache over the lost dreams I had for the precious life taken-too-soon, but it softened my heart to other mothers who grieved silently, never having the chance to hold their little ones.

After a physical, I was given the green light to start trying again and we were blessed to get pregnant right away. I tried to contain my excitement, in case. This time we waited until after we saw our baby’s heartbeat to begin sharing the good news. When we passed into the second trimester, I breathed a sigh of relief. “We made it!” or so I thought.

Just before hitting the halfway point {20 weeks}, signs of trouble began. When I made it in to the doctor’s office we were shocked to discover that my cervix was dilated to 4cm*. I was rushed to the hospital but before my doctors could try any interventions, my water broke. There was nothing that could be done. Twelve hours later I delivered my stillborn son. We named him Samuel Evan after his grandfather and because of the story in the Bible {Samuel means “asked of God”}.

“The mention of my child’s name may bring tears to my eyes,
but it never fails to bring music to my ears.
If you are really my friend, let me hear the beautiful music of his name.
It soothes my broken heart and sings to my soul.”
{author unknown}

Reagan was born almost exactly 12 months after Samuel went to Heaven. She is my rainbow baby and brings her Daddy and I great joy.

But I still have struggled with how to answer the question, “Is she your first?” I have found it best to craft my answer based on who I am talking to. For the most part, when I am asked {by a sweet stranger in the grocery store or a new acquaintance at church}, I simply answer “yes.”  But when I am asked by another mom who I know will understand my heart and my loss, I share, “She’s my third. I’ve got two other precious babes in Heaven.”

Who do you share your mom-heartaches with? MOPS is a community of moms who gather together to talk about the highs and lows of motherhood. From first smiles and steps to potty training and starting school… and everything in between. MOPS mourns with moms who are hurting and celebrates with moms through each life victory. Find a group in your area!

Today I am giving away a FREE MOPS Membership (valued at $23.95 but worth so much more!).  Comment below for your chance to win. I will draw and announce one winner (using random.org) on Friday, September 20.

*I have since been diagnosed with Incompetent Cervix. More on that later.

60 thoughts on ““Is she your first?”

  1. xshawneex Shawnee

    Our daughter was born September 2nd and we chose the name Reagan too!! I am sorry to hear about your losses, but I am overjoyed at your opportunity to mother this sweet baby girl. Blessings to you and yours

    Reply
  2. StephanieStephanie

    This post really touched my heart. I lost my son at 17 weeks 10 years ago. I had 3 more babies after I lost him but I never truly allowed myself to grieve until last year. I now have 4 kids and when I am asked just how many I have that is exactly what I say. I just feel to sad to tell the story of my sweet baby boy. I miss him everyday.

    Reply
    1. rachelroliver

      I am so sorry for your loss. I understand the feeling sad to share. I feel that way sometimes too and at other times, I feel like his memory is to precious to share with just anyone. (((HUGS)))

      Reply
  3. Angela Hudler

    I’m so sorry for your losses. I was fortunate to give birth to a boy before my miscarriage so I can say that I have a 3 year old son when they ask. I don’t mention my lost baby to strangers. Even my husband tends to forget. I became pregnant 2 months after my miscarriage so logically I know that if I hadn’t had the miscarriage, my 3 month old son would not exist. But my heart still misses that baby.

    Reply
  4. Chrissy Durham

    This is a great post! I struggle with how to answer “How many children do you have?” Well, 6! Four that I hold and teach and nurture and 2 that my Savior holds. Sometimes, I explain. Sometimes, I just say 4. MY MOPS moms were and have been so wonderful when we lost our son. Even on days, now, 4 years later, I can cry on a shoulder and express my heart and they care. MOPS is so much more than a social group, they are life-sustaining at times!

    Reply
    1. Ashley

      I love the way you put that, ” Four that I hold and teach and nurture and 2 that my Savior holds” that is a beautiful picture and I needed to read that! I am in that same boat. I miscarried my 1st pregnancy 12 years ago and my latest pregnancy this year, but I have 4 beautiful babies in between. Thank you for posting!

      Reply
  5. forreal

    Thanks for sharing your story.
    And thanks for getting the word out about MOPS. It truly is life changing!
    If I win, I’m donating the membership to another mom that would be able to join our group.
    Thanks!

    Reply
  6. Sara H

    I am blessed to have never gone through the pain of losing a child but I know too many women who have. I have found that MOPS is the perfect place to be transparent and share the struggles of motherhood, whatever they may be. Thank you for sharing your story.

    Reply
  7. Jessica

    I have a set of identical twin boys who are 8, then an almost 6 year old. Then I had an early miscarriage. I also then lost a stillborn son at 25 weeks from a very early onset severe case of pre-eclampsia. His name was Samuel as well. I almost lost my own life from that and we decided that it wasn’t worth risking our living children not having a mother so we started fostering. We adopted our daughter from foster care. She is 2 but we got her at 3 months. We also currently have a nine month old we got at 2 months old. I usually don’t tell strangers our story. Moms I feel more comfortable with and I do though generally.

    Reply
  8. infantangel

    Congratulations on your rainbow baby! I’m currently pregnant with number 2. We lost our first at 24 weeks due to pre-eclampsia and HELLP syndrome. I’ve been asked so many times already about this pregnancy, “Is this your first”. I have chosen to share the honest answer with almost everyone who asks.

    Reply
  9. Julie W

    I have 1 biological son, 2 angels in heaven from miscarriages (1 a girl at 13 weeks) and 1 adopted daughter. I agree it’s difficult to answer questions at times. Thanks for sharing.

    Reply
  10. Joan

    I saw that MOPS International shared this post…I can completely identify! I am asked all the time if my son is my first…he’s my only living child, but not my first. I have another son and two pregnancies lost too early to know girl/boy waiting for me in heaven.

    Thanks so much for sharing, I love hearing about how other babylost mamas deal with these easy, but not really so easy questions!

    Reply
  11. Heidi

    Thank you for sharing. I never really knew what MOPS was now I understand a little better! What a positive way to help us moms!!

    Reply
  12. Misty Raines

    I really appreciated this post…I also have two babies up in heaven. God has blessed me with a son who I named Samuel as well (For this Child I have Prayed…1st Samuel) Though it gets easier with time, you never forget them!

    Reply
  13. confessionsofanmpwife

    I feel the same way do often. Our first was a miscarriage, then we had Caitlyn. After 3 months of fighting to keep him (despite dr recommendations, bed rest & hemorrhaging) we lost our Michael (who is like God) at almost six months. We had our much prayed for Nathan (God gave) 12 months, 1 week later while my husband was deployed. I felt I could breathe again :-). And then He blessed us with Hanna (favored by God) and our family is complete.

    Reply
  14. Myrna Gold

    I have four children – I am parenting 3 here on earth. Schuyler resides in Elysian Fields and my consolation to losing him is that one day, Bryan and I will see him and know him. For now, we’re soaking up the three here on earth and delighting in them.

    Reply
  15. Susan Lauver Shue

    The question I get now is “How many kids do you have?”, and like you my response varies based on who’s asking and the circumstances. The quick answer is “4”, but sometimes I answer “Four children who walk the earth with me and 4 babies that were born to heaven.” I’m sorry for your losses. ::hugs::

    Reply
  16. Tara

    Your story resonated with me and so many others. I had two early miscarriages before my son, Samuel, even after years of trying to get pregnant. Then two more early miscarriages and a ruptured ectopic pregnancy requiring emergency surgery. Despite our losses, scars and tears we know God is faithful and in control. Can’t wait to see my babies in heaven.

    Also joining MOPs for the first time this year. I can already tell it’s going to be awesome!

    Reply
  17. samantha gray

    Please choose me. I have lost a few babies and have become a single mother if 2 and would love to join mops but can’t afford it.

    Reply
  18. sara

    Thank you for sharing your story. Before I was blessed with my son, I suffered a miscarriage too and it still hurts my heart even now. It is soothing to know that there are others who understand.

    Reply
  19. Jacquie

    For now I have two here and one waiting with Abba. What I remember being very challenging for me with my second pregnancy is that until that point I naively didn’t expect to have a miscarriage. I was young and healthy, my first daughter was born with little trouble; miscarriage seemed uncommon and foreign to me. Then I found out that I was definitely pregnant, but there was no fetal heart rate at the same time. I felt robbed. For a long time I carried a heaviness inside. It was hard to grieve because most people didn’t know what was going on. Sometimes the ones who did didn’t understand. “You have a happy healthy child, you should focus on that.” That’s true, but I wasn’t the mother of one child, I had two children. I loved my daughter, but she couldn’t fill the void my baby left. I was mourning THAT person, the one I didn’t get a chance to know in this life. Also, I had unfulfilled anticipation. It was like all the worst parts of pregnancy with no discernible end in sight and no joyful prize to look forward to. G-d knew what He was doing when He ordained the wait, but it was difficult for me. When I did get pregnant again, I found that that alone didn’t relieve the sorrow I had had. Instead of sadness there was anxiety. Why should I expect to keep this baby when I didn’t get to keep the last one? I remember watching the days pass nervously. It was hard to breathe calmly on the inside, each day felt like a hurdle to overcome. When we made it past the first semester I felt a little better, but I did not have peace. I counted the weeks, yearning to reach the next checkpoint, hoping not to face tragedy again in the meantime. Each checkpoint helped a little bit, but didn’t fully give me peace. Somewhere along the line it occurred to me that my insecurity would not be assuaged until I was holding my baby in my arms postpartum. Lo and behold, this baby arrived safely, another healthy girl. Her birth did bring me much of the peace and closure I longed for, but I feel G-d reminding me from time to time that the days I have with my children aren’t guaranteed, and that I need to treasure what I have because I don’t know when that last day will be. (Sandy Hook was a sobering reminder of this, but an accident, or sudden illness, or Act of G-d, is just as likely to take not only my children, but my husband or any other loved one from me as some sudden massacre.) I still miss my unknown child and always will. I am grateful for the experience in that the personal tragedy has given me greater compassion for other moms and individuals who have faced sudden, tragic losses. I am hopeful too, because as a friend reminded me, my child isn’t “lost”. I may not have him or her here, but I have a hope of knowing my child in heaven, and that is great solace.

    Reply
    1. Jacquie

      I just wanted to add that having been in MOPS for several years now. I am starting either my 4th or 5th year. It is a fantastic ministry and it has greatly enriched my life, helping me be a better wife and mom. I’m not clear on where the contest for the MOPS membership is happening. I am already a member, so I am not looking to win a scholarship; however, for any ladies considering MOPS membership, I highly recommend it!

      Reply
  20. Sarah

    I agree…That is NOT suppose to be a tough question!! My first a little girl, Adyson Celeste (meaning ‘Child of earth, gift of Heaven’) was stillborn at 22 wks. When I was pregnant with my next I hated the question of “is this your first”. And my answer depended on who I was talking to but every time I answered ‘yes’ I felt guilty, like I was lying. I am blessed with 3 kids here on earth so I generally don’t get anyone assuming I have more, but I have one in Heaven whom I can’t wait to meet!!

    Reply
  21. Meranda Sizer

    Very touching. There’s so much that moms (including me) ask other moms without really thinking about all the possible answers and the awkward position we are putting them in to answer it. I will add this to the list of things not to ask a stranger…and to be very sensitive when asking a “friend”. All we can do is try and learn from each other. May God continue to strengthen you as you share this story…and live it day in and day out.

    Reply
  22. Amy s

    What an amazing post. I’ve had 2 miscarriages in 6 months. No children under our care yet, but I love the first poem. I have never heard of MOPS and hope I win so I can join.

    Reply
  23. Jenn

    Thanks for sharing! I have 3 babies in Heaven- never knew the term “rainbow” baby. But we have one of those too! 5 months old now!

    Reply
  24. Crystal

    Thank you for sharing your story. It is hard to explain to people about the little ones that we lost. I just hope that this story can bring comfort to others. I have 2 babies in Heaven and am so glad to have my other 3 here with me!

    Reply
  25. Dawn

    Thank you for sharing your story. We have 3 kids we get to see and love everyday and 2 who are hopefully playing together in heaven. We lost a baby just a month ago and now we are struggling with what to do now. Should we be content with the 3 we have or try to have another child?

    Reply
    1. Jacquie

      I’m sorry for your loss. Since you have asked for advice, here are my suggestions, please do with them as you will. First and foremost, prayer is important. If that feels like a copout, I understand, I do not say it to offend. In situations like these it is hard to know what to do. Some things might seem good in the here and now, but divine perspective can see the whole picture.

      Second, talk it out. Are both of you ready to try again? What are the motivations for trying? (Sorry again if this sounds dumb or antagonistic. From my own experience, in the immediate aftermath of my miscarriage I struggled with wanting to “fill the void”. I think I had a lot of selfish motivation for wanting to have another baby. All my reasoning from before still makes sense to me now, but I know it wasn’t all good.)

      Lastly, you may want to consider waiting a little before trying again. I remember my OB suggesting a year before trying after my miscarriage. That seemed impossibly long; however, G-d seemed to have ordained my wait to be even longer, ~3 years. In retrospect I see how good that was, but I didn’t like it while I was in it. G-d may be paving the way for something different for your family for now. Are you willing to stop a moment to discover if or what that may be? (By the way, after having to wait three years for my “rainbow baby”- I didn’t know that term before reading this post- I have worlds’ more appreciation for the stories of Sarah, Rebekkah, Rachel and Hannah in the Bible. I had to wait only 3 years, Sarah and Rebekkah waited 20+years for their babies, meanwhile Rachel and Hannah waited an unknown time while their peers kept having babies like it was going out of style. After thinking on their trials I realized that I didn’t have it as bad as I thought I did, though I know it certainly was not easy.)

      If any of my words were helpful, I am glad to help. Otherwise, I wish you well and hope you find encouragement and wise counsel somewhere else. :)

      Reply
  26. Jenny Nold

    I love this blog for two reasons. One, I love MOPS and have been faithfully involved for the past 7 years! This year is my last as my youngest child started Kindergarten this year. I’m in my 2nd year of coordinating and will certainly miss the amazingness that is MOPS! Truly, you have to experience it to understand it, but MOPS has been the missing piece to my puzzle the past 7 years. I have given a lot to MOPS but gained so much more and believe in its ministry 110%! If you haven’t found a MOPS group yet…get out there and find one! I promise, you won’t be sorry.

    Second, I also have two babies waiting for me in heaven. Only, I conceived them before marriage and before I was able to support them. I believe and trust in God’s ultimate plan for my life and am thankful he has brought me to where I am today. God’s beautiful promises ensure that we will one day be reunited with those precious souls that first started us on this journey of motherhood.

    Reply
  27. Scarlett's Mommy

    38 week still birth.
    And baby girl born 18 mo later.

    I simply say…. “She is the second in my heart, but first in my home”

    Xoxo

    Reply
  28. Jenn... Busy mom of 3 that are 3 and under!

    I am so thankful to the friends that I have been able to make through my MOPs group. The support that they are able to provide is unexplainable. To be able to discuss the struggles of being able to get pregnant, or maintain a pregnancy with some one who can understand is such a relief. I was blessed with b/g twins via IVF after 2 yrs of trying. I actually enjoy being able to share with other moms that I had fertility problems in hope that those moms out there with similar problem will find hope! Thank GOD for leading moms together!

    Reply
  29. Lindsay

    Thank you for opening this conversation, Rachel! Clearly a blessing to many! And you are so gracious to offer a MOPS registration – surely that will bless some sweet mom! Love MOPS! And your sweet Regan is beautiful.

    So helpful to read how other mamas with babies in heaven answer “Is this your first?”… Our oldest little boy, Rhett, was born still at 40 weeks last year, from his cord twisting. We had 2 early miscarriages in the following 4 months, which I don’t think we really processed in the wake of loosing our son. We are SO grateful for our almost 6-month old Libby, born 13 months after her big brother. It is a tricky question every time. Thankful for your all’s wisdom :).

    Reply
    1. rachelroliver

      Thank you! I don’t know how much wisdom I have but you are sweet for saying it :) Our little girls are pretty close in age (and it sounds like our boys would have been pretty close in age too!). Many blessings to you! xoxo

      Reply
  30. Jamie Lynn

    Thanks for sharing… I am currently on my 7th. I have one little girl here with me who is 5. My 1st would have been 11 in May (still born at 37 weeks) I lost a little girl at 15 weeks last year and I had 3 first trimester miscarriages within all of them. I am currently 20 weeks and I now get every test under the sun! So far so good.
    Last week my best friend from HS lost her first baby boy at 39 weeks… It’s crazy how fast all of those feelings, that time has numbed, come back when someone close to you goes through it. You know exactly what they are thinking and experiencing… the two strongest most opposite feelings someone could feel! The greatest love and the biggest loss coinciding into one confusing moment, that leaves you with the emptiest arms. Even after 11 years I still ask the “what if,” it’s just not as often.
    Learning to be a mom to a baby you cant keep and loving them from afar is something only the strongest moms can do. I know i have my angels waiting for me and honestly i have gotten to the point where the ones i worry about are the ones who are here with me. There is a reason God needs my babies up there with him, and the ones he chooses for me to keep… I am thankful for!
    God Bless!

    Reply
  31. Cindy Rasmussen

    I love your story. Similar to mine. I too have an incompetent cervix (and two uteri to boot!). Our first baby survived (although born at 27 weeks) but we had many losses after that (including our son who was stillborn at 21 weeks) so the question I always got was “Is he your only child?” As time passed I typically settled for the “yes” answer but you are right that there were times when I would share more. I’m glad I found your blog and that you are sharing the hope from your story!

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>