How Many?

By: Kayla Leibner

Who am I?

I am a Christian.  I am a mother.

I am a wife.  I am a daughter.

I am a sister.  I am a friend.

I am more things, but these are the identities that are most important to me.  First and foremost, my identity is in Christ.  However, since becoming a mother, that responsibility consumes a lot of my energy and thinking.  Being responsible for my children requires a lot of work and effort, so as I have poured my heart and soul into motherhood (and continue to do so), it inevitably has become a large part of who I am.

I’ve heard about people who have an identity crisis due to job loss, divorce, moving across the country, and other life situations.  However, I never experienced this kind of crisis for myself until I lost a part of who I am.

From the moment our newborn daughter was pronounced dead, I was torn in two.  When Melody’s life was gone, part of my identity as a mother left with her. 

This correlation of child-loss and self-loss repeated itself nine months later when I had a miscarriage resulting in the loss of Jamie.  I reeled from the void and brokenness left in the wake of the losses of my babies.  I felt like I didn’t know exactly who I was anymore.

Very shortly after Melody’s death, I happened to cross paths with someone from my childhood while at the park with Kiley, who was two at the time.  I hadn’t seen this woman since I was very young, so she was eager to catch up on my life.  Seeing my toddler daughter with me prompted a most dreaded and difficult question.  “How many kids do you have now?”  Despite the pain of reliving and retelling the agonizing events that surrounded the death of our daughter, I explained that I had three children – my older son who was at school, my two-year-old daughter that was with me, and our youngest daughter who had just passed away. 

It was the first time I had been asked this question after our first loss.  I had worded my response carefully, as I was desperate to include my child that no one could see.  However, it seemed to be all for nothing as this old acquaintance of mine responded. “Oh, so it’s just the two kids, then.” 

If words could cause physical pain, the emotional hole in my chest would have been gaping, wide open for all to see. 

This conversation has happened more than once with others over the last four years.  Sometimes the result is similar, but other times my hopes of making my angel babies tangible for others is achieved.

Trying to balance motherhood between two worlds has proven to be extremely difficult and has severed my identity as a mom into two parts – the part that fights for my kids you can see, and the part that fights for my kids you cannot see.  This crisis of sorts will be something I’ll work through, and even struggle against at times, for the rest of my life.  I can’t begin to explain how challenging and complicated it is to have to speak your children into existence in situations like these.  My heart has been torn in two and is separated as it resides here with my living children and also with my sweet babies as they wait for me in Paradise.  I am still the mom of Melody and Jamie just as much as I am the mom of Jace and Kiley.

It’s not always easy for others to understand this, and I sometimes have to remind myself how blessed those people truly are because of their inability to do so – and I am glad that they don’t get it.  I wouldn’t wish this on anyone.  But as I try so hard to include my family as a whole, it can be enormously frustrating and emotionally defeating when others don’t understand that even though all of my children aren’t seen, I am and will always be their mother. My children are all equally valuable to my identity as a person, and especially as a mother.

I am Jace’s mom.

I am Kiley’s mom.

I am Melody’s mom.

I am Jamie’s mom.

I have four children.


About Kayla Leibner

Kayla is a Christian, a wife, a mom, and an educator.  Faith and spiritual health are a top priority for her and also for her family.  She strives to cultivate a supportive and spiritually uplifting atmosphere for her children at home.  Until the summer of 2020, Kayla was an early childhood educator, but she lost her job due to the Covid-19 pandemic when her school was forced to close.  The loss of her job turned out to be an unexpected blessing when she and her husband realized that she would be able to be at home with their oldest children as they completed school virtually. 

Kayla and her husband have known one another for sixteen years, have been together for eight years, and have been married for seven years.  They have four children together.  Jace and Kiley are their older children.  Melody and Jamie are their younger children – and also their angel babies. 

Kayla and her family have been on their journey of grief since August 2017 when Melody died shortly after birth, due to complications of a CHD.  Jamie was lost in May 2018 when Kayla suffered a miscarriage.  Their family has worked together and relied heavily on God for guidance and support through their losses. 

Kayla enjoys music (writing, singing, and playing instruments), art (sketching, drawing, and coloring for stress relief), and writing in her free time.  She began writing for Sharing Magazine in 2019, and she feels so blessed to be able to contribute to such an amazing platform in honor of her babies.  She hopes that her articles are able to provide support and comfort to families who read them.

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