The other day Micah and I were talking about Penelope and James, as we often do. Micah remarked that someday Gwenevere will have to tell the story of her brother and sister that were born and died. Two sibling that she never even met. Although I still feel pangs of guilt about many things revolving around their death I have come to terms with most of the decisions we made that day. One regret that I have lingering on is that our twins never got to meet their big sister.
Of course they would not have been able to meet her in their short lifetime. Micah and I were the only people that got to hold them before they died. However, our parents and my sister were all able to hold them and meet them even though they had already passed. In all the chaos of that day I never stopped to think that Gwenevere deserved to meet her baby brother and sister.
She would probably have no memory of them. She is far too young to understand the concept of birth and death. But someday, when we talk about James and Penelope, I would have been able to tell her that they were able to meet. I could tell her that even though she was only with them for a short time she was a wonderful big sister to them..
We kept both Penelope and James with us all night in our hospital room the night after they died. It wasn't until the next morning after they were blessed by the hospital Minister with a Unitarian prayer that we said our final goodbye. Shortly after, my Mom and Sister brought Gwenevere to the hospital to see us. She came in the room and snuggled with me in the hospital bed while trying to pull out my IV. I wanted to cry. I looked at her and I realized it was too late. The big sister never got to see or touch her little brother and little sister.
Several days after we were home I was putting laundry away and I saw her Big Sister shirt crumpled in the basket. I hugged the shirt and cried. I gently folded it and put it in the closet with all of my maternity clothes. I then went and got Gwenevere and brought her into my bedroom. We sat on the bed together and I showed her the few photos that we have of James and Penelope. I told her all about her brother and sister and how much I loved them and missed them. I told her how they were born too little to live. I knew she understood nothing of what I was saying, but it felt good to let her point to the pictures and say "Brother, Sister".
She may never get to be the typical Big Sister. She won't get to hold them, try to feed them bottles, steal their toys from them, fight on car trips about who's touching who, chase them around the house, take baths together, and grow up to talk about their crazy parents. But she IS a Big Sister. I will continue to talk to her about her brother and sister. I will show her their pictures and let her ask questions. Even though she never met James and Penelope, she will know that she had a baby brother and sister and we loved them very much.