Thursday, December 10, 2015

12 DOC: Day Ten: Kim Jackson

*This post is part of our Twelve Days of Christmas series. You can read more here.*

by Kim Jackson

Christmas used to be my favorite time of year.
I loved planning and putting together gifts, watching them get opened and seeing the excitement on my nieces and nephews faces when they opened them. It was amazing.
Two years ago at Christmas I was 34 weeks pregnant with my twins Noah and Tess. I had them both safe with me. But it was the first Christmas I was truly not happy and excited. I knew my time with Tess was drawing to a close, as she had been diagnosed at 12 weeks the birth defect Anencephaly. Several well meaning people gave me Christmas gifts for Noah, but there were none for Tess. I don't think that they meant to hurt me, but it was the beginning of pretending she didn't exist, and it shattered my heart.
Two weeks later my babies arrived. Tess fought like hell, and stayed with us for 30 hrs. It was amazing and perfect, but so short. The first 8-9 months were a blur of loving Noah and missing Tess. Then I was doing ok, until December. It all came back and overwhelmed me. I remembered spending that last month at home just feeling every kick and snuggling my babies close. I remembered that feeling of Tess being forgotten before she was even gone.
Halfway through December I decided that she would not be forgotten this year or any other Christmas. At least not in my house. She had a stocking up with all the rest. The stuffed monkey with her heart beat was included in holiday pictures. She had an ornament on our big tree, but I also put up a little one that was all hers in my bedroom. I bought a few things for a baby girl who would be her age and gave them away at the clinic I work at. She was there with us.
It helped, it helped a lot. It did not change the fact that she was not physically there. I still missed her horribly. I still felt like I was faking my way through, and I felt guilty that like so many other milestones in Noah's life, I couldn't be truly completely happy at his first Christmas. But I could breathe, I could function. I could make it a happy Christmas for Noah.
It also showed people in my life that I needed her to be remembered. My sister gave me a beautiful journal to write to Tessie, with a beautiful entry of her own. I am not sure she would have known how perfect that was if I hadn't been so open and insistent in including her in our celebrations.
I am sure that through the years Tess will always be part of our traditions. I doubt they will remain exactly the same. I think they will grow with us. When Noah is school age I will prob have him write letters to his twin sister and put them in her stocking for Santa to bring to her. I will get Noah involved in picking a gift for his sister, to donate.
I know Christmas will continue to be difficult, seeing my son enjoy it and missing his sister at that same time. Because Noah and Tess were twins, every milestone reminds me that there is one when there should be two. However, keeping her memory alive seems to help.
This year, I am dreading Christmas a little less than last year. I have a plan to include her. I will continue the things we did last year. She will have a stocking. She will have her tree. She will be represented in our family holiday pictures. I will buy a present or two to donate in her honor. Others may forget her, but she will be with our little family at Christmas, always.

Christmas used to be my favorite time of year. Maybe some day it will be again. For now it enough that I can make it Noah's favorite time of year, and keeping Tess with us.
~ ~ ~
Here's an idea for something special you can make in memory of your child. If you have living children, they can make one too!
Initial paintings
I made these paintings with my son, niece and nephew to put up in our home. Super simple. They loved it (all under 6). And of course they all helped making one for Tess too, so she was included.
Supplies: plain canvas (we used 8"x12"). Painters tape. Paint, painting implements (paintbrushes, sponges, etc, Noah also used a car that he drove through the the paint on his.
Steps: Tape the initial out on the canvas. (You can measure and mark first if you want. I just free hand put the initial on with the tape)

Give the canvas and paint to the kids and let them go to it!

Let paint dry completely, then remove the tape. (You're done!)

~ ~ ~

Kim Jackson is a pediatrician from Buffalo NY who decided that she was ready to have a baby, despite not finding Mr Right. She had IUI with donor sperm and got pregnant with not just one baby, but two. At 12 weeks she got the devastating news that one of her babies would not live long after birth due to the birth defect anencephaly. Noah and Tess were born 1/13/14. Tess lived for 30 amazing hours and was a beautiful soul. Noah is happy and healthy and sweet little boy. Kim is learning to balance loving Noah and missing Tess. She admins the group Parents of Twinless Twins on Facebook. She wrote the book, Two Little Monkeys.


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