Tuesday, May 12, 2015

One When There Should Be Two

written by Kim Jackson

Two tiny heart beats flickering on a screen. Twins! Amazing miracles that I've wanted my whole life, and there are two of them. My heart enveloped them immediately. They were my babies. They were so wanted, so loved from the first moment I saw their tiny flickering hearts.  I started planning for two car seats, two cribs, nursing two babies, chasing two toddlers, helping two little ones with homework.

Then all of that was gone, just gone. My one baby would never come home. She might die in utero, during birth, or at most several days after she arrived. All of the sudden I was planning for the birth of one baby and the death of the other. I was robbed of the happy pregnancy, planning for a perfect baby. How do you remain excited and hopeful for one baby, knowing that their twin won't live? How do you not let fear overtake you, fear that you won't ever get to meet her, or that something would happen to him?

And yet, she was alive at that moment. Looking at her on the screen with her perfect heart beating in time with her brother's. Watching her kick and punch him like a true sister. How could I deny that she was alive? She was alive and perfect as long as she was with me. 

Fast forward to the best day of my life. Both babies born alive! Both amazing and perfect in my eyes.

Twins! Tessie and Noah

Then she left. The void was instant and horrifying. Well meaning people say "at least Noah is healthy", "be grateful for what you have", "you're better off with just one anyway" and other such statements that tear my heart to pieces.  No one will ever realize how grateful I am for my handsome, smart little man. In fact I'm also grateful for the time I had with Tess. She came into my life for a short while, but changed my heart and soul forever.  She was worth the pain and sorrow!

I think, in my experience and what I have heard from other moms who have lost one or more of a set of multiples, though grief is horrible, it is the strange dichotomy of feeling that is the worst part for us. Many survivors have to fight hard against significant obstacles. We know what could have happened to them. We know that we could have nothing, and we don't. We have our survivors. They are amazing. They are fighters. We want to celebrate all their milestones. We do celebrate those achievements. And yet, there is always in the back of our minds, "there should be two". So while we are ecstatic when our baby laughs for the first time, or rolls over or takes their first steps, we mourn the fact that their twin is NOT here to do these things. It is like someone is squeezing our hearts. Joy and despair, love and pain coexist constantly. One minute your heart is bursting with joy over a new skill your child figured out, the next you can't breathe from the pain of knowing you won't ever get to see your other baby do that. 

And then there is guilt. Guilt that we couldn't protect our baby. Guilt that we can't be purely happy for our survivor. Guilt and sorrow for what they lost out on. Not just on their sibling, their twin, but also on the normal happy parents that they could have had. You don't want them to think that they are somehow not enough. They are everything. They are why you can push through the pain of not having their twin. Then when you are happy, that little stab of guilt that you aren't thinking about the baby you lost. How can you be happy when they are not here? How can you laugh and smile when their spot is empty? Does that mean you don't love them as much as the baby who is here with you?

I am sure that I sound bipolar. Someday I feel bipolar. I never knew that these extremes of emotion could exist in one person at one time. People want me to get back to being "me". I am me.  I am who I am now. I have been irrevocably changed by the short life of my little girl. In many ways for the better. A woman I know said it best, if you take a vase and throw it to the ground so that it shatters, then pick it up and glue it back together, it may look similar but it will never be the same. It is forever changed. Not necessarily for the worse, but definitely changed. I am learning to allow myself to feel my emotions no matter how conflicting. Starting to allow myself to let go of guilt.

How can you help a parent who has lost one of a set of multiples? The same way you would help anyone who has lost a child. Allow us to grieve. Know that we are beyond grateful for what we have. Don't feel you need to remind us of our blessings. We know. What I need people to know is that Noah and Tess were two separate individuals. They may have grown together, but they are not one. Having Noah does not negate the loss of Tess. Losing Tess does not negate the joy of having Noah. Everyday I fall more in love with my son. Everyday I miss my daughter. Everyday I think "there is one when there should be two".
~ ~ ~

Read more of Tessie and Noah's story HERE

Kim recently wrote an adorable book called Two Little Monkeys.

It's the story of a set of twins, one of whom has a life limiting illness. It's about the love their mother has for both of them and they have for each other in utero, shortly after birth and after one of them passes. It is meant to show that love remains, even when death separates family. You can order a copy HERE*. 

*proceeds from the sale of the book will be donated to the perinatal bereavement program at Kim's local hospital and or the wny perinatal hospice program. She says, "Both programs helped me immensely when I was pregnant with Noah and Tess and helped me to get amazing memories with my little girl".


Unknown said...

As usual, you have beautifully articulated the complexities of Tessie and Noah. Your beauty as a broken vase shines so brilliantly. You are not the only one changed throuh Tessie and Noah. You have changed those around you as well.

Unknown said...

Thank you for sharing! They both are so perfect! <3

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