Recently while chatting with one of my neighbors she brought up how much she respected the fact that we chose to celebrate our twin's birthday this year. She began to tear up as she told me the story of her brother that was born when she was twelve years old. Her brother only lived for several days and he was never held by anyone in the family, not even the mother. When he died the family never spoke of him again. My heart aches for her, for her family. I can't even imagine trying to go on with life pretending that my child never existed.
I have had many people comment to me how strong I am. They tell me that I am so brave to speak openly about the loss of my children. Most days I feel neither strong nor brave. I speak openly about my son and daughter because I love them. I carry pictures of them in my purse that I am just as willing to show people as pictures of my toddler. I am so proud to be their Mom and it is impossible to hide that from the world. I don't think it's brave of me to speak about them, I think it's essential. My family is everything to me and they are part of my family.
Although I have chosen not to be quiet about the death of my twins I respect and understand why some parents chose to remain silent. It is not fun to watch the face of a stranger contort from a smile to a twisted, shocked frown when you answer their question of "How many children do you have?" with the honest answer of "One living daughter and two in heaven". It is uncomfortable at best. I'm sure there are several people that I have met that are simply too taken aback and may choose not to interact with me again. I'm okay with that. Those are not the kind of people I need in my life.
Last month while shopping with Gwenevere she spotted a sparkly shirt with two kittens and a balloon on it. In large words across the front it read "I'm The Big Sister". I purchased the shirt without much thought as well as several other sparkly shirts. She has worn it several times, for three days in a row at one stretch. I know she is not a typical big sister. There is not a baby in her home that she gets to help out with. However, she is a big sister. She has two siblings, both of which she talks about fondly. They are often woven into her pretend play and bedtime stories. I am aware that it will be awkward when a stranger asks her who she is a big sister to. I am okay with that. I am tired of the world being afraid to talk about pregnancy loss and infant death. If it means a few moments of discomfort with a stranger, I'm willing to do it.
It has been over a year since my son and daughter died. They feel just as much a part of our family now as they ever have. My love for them continues to grow as I find little ways to fit them into our daily lives. While they are no longer here, we have several treasured pictures and keepsakes that serve as beautiful reminders of them. I don't think I'm doing anything extraordinary by talking about them. I'm just being their Mom.