“How many children do you have?” It’s a question most people don’t think twice about. It’s a simple conversation starter, especially when you see my toddler in tow. But, for parents with children here on earth and in heaven, it’s complicated. It’s taken me nearly three years to figure out how to answer that question.
I always expected the answer to be easy. I dreamed of the perfect life when I was younger; a doting husband, two children and a dog. I was blessed with the husband and dog, but that final piece of the puzzle was a struggle. After years of infertility, the stars were finally aligning when my husband and I learned we were expecting triplets. The initial shock turned into pure joy with the reality that our family would finally be complete.
Unfortunately, that reality was met with tragedy. A week after I delivered my babies four months premature, we left the hospital empty-handed. Two of our children, Parker and Peyton, were fighting for their lives in the Nicu. Our other daughter, Abigail, had passed away shortly after birth.
As the grief set in and we began to mourn our loss, I remember asking my husband, “What will people say when they see our children?” Strangers will never know that my two children are actually triplets. Instead, they will go through life looking like twins. Strangers will never know that our angel, Abby, was the fighter in the womb. Her strength saved her brother and sister, giving them a chance to survive.
55 days after the loss of our daughter, our son, Parker, passed away. Within two months, we went from the joy of expecting triplets, to the heartbreaking realization that we would only bring one baby home from the hospital. We were suddenly left with the struggle of celebrating our miracle survivor, while mourning the deaths of two of our children. In the early days, the pain from the losses was often unbearable, seeping into every crevasse of my body and deep into my soul.
One of the biggest fears of a grieving parent is that your child will be forgotten. That fear was ever present in the year following the birth of my children. After nearly four months in the Nicu, our daughter, Peyton, arrived home. It was then when I once again asked my husband, “What will people say when they see our child?” No one will ever know she’s a triplet; no stranger will even question if she’s a twin. To the rest of the world, she appears to be an only child.