First Christmas

Bella and I curled up this morning to look at the Pottery Barn magazine that came in the mail. I wanted to just oogle over girly, Christmasy stuff with her. We talked about Christmas, Santa, Jesus’ birthday, the tree. I looked at ornaments and stumbled on a page where you could have them personalized, or include a picture.

And instantly I thought of Preston and Julian. Putting their names on an ornament for our tree. I was ok doing this, trying to figure out which to get. I wanted to have a visible reminder of them during that time.

Then I looked at the angel ones, and for some reason, I thought, “I probably should get those I guess.”

Obviously I don’t have to. But there was something that almost made me think that it was the only kind I could get. Like those were made for moms with dead babies. Although of course they weren’t – but it was that reminder.

Flipping past, I hit a page about Baby’s First Christmas, and as much as I tried to hold it in, the thoughts of, “They’d be 4 months if…” washed over me. My grief therapist has asked me to let these emotions play out as they come – PTSD, grief, anger, whatever – and so I did. I just looked at those chubby little babies and thought of my own and started to bawl.

Bella was upset at first, but I told her I was ok, just sad. She asked if it was the two babies, and I said yes, and that it was ok for me to be sad because I missed them and wished they were here. Then she climbed into my lap and I rocked back and forth and cried, thinking of how different life would be right now if May 3rd had never happened the way it did.

Then Sam came around the corner and hugged me for a while. After a few minutes I wiped my eyes and went to clean up the house and start the day.

That’s how my grief is 6 months out. I’m learning to let it envelop me for a little while, to really feelย those emotions. I want Bella to grow up with a healthy understanding of emotions that our society perceives as negative or something to fear. I was afraid of grief and sadness for a long, long time. And now I have a different outlook on it all.

I won’t get those angel ornaments. I’ll get ones I would get for Bella – something with their names on it. A reminder of their life, not death.

 

 

Comments

  1. I am at 9 months, and it is the same for me. Sometimes it just washes over me and I have to just feel the pain. Which is especially awesome if something triggers it in, say, the checkout line of Target. Seems as if the void gets bigger as time passes, not smaller. The ability to move on instead of being debilitated for the day is the big change, though, one I am thankful for. xoxo

  2. I think that’s a wonderful idea. I think that’s beautiful that you are celebrating their lives — good for you. :)

  3. I love what you are teaching Bella. Feeling and sharing emotions is such a powerful thing. I’m married to the result of not creating this kind of environment and where grief is ignored instead of explored. I wish the adults in his life had done what you are doing with Bella.

  4. I know exactly how that is, how it can hit you. Six months used to sound like a long time to me. Except now, we’re almost eight months out, and it feels like nothing. It can still hit me again as strong as ever. I’ve thought about an ornament. I’ve thought about doing nothing, avoiding Christmas. Without a living baby, that’s easier than for someone with a little one. Eight months, and sometimes I still can’t believe that this is where we ended up.

  5. My first Christmas was only weeks after Cora died, and it was honestly strangely good, because I was so close and at least that day I was surrounded by friends, but then those holidays that came after were so hard. Sending you love.

  6. I am SO glad you will get ornaments! You will never, ever, EVER regret not celebrating the lives of your children, I promise.

    When my first son died almost three years ago, we had put his stocking up on the mantle before we left for the hospital to have him. I wanted him to know that we were so ready for him…and his stocking had been hung by the chimney with care. (The Pottery Barn train stocking!)

    Obviously, walking back into that house, empty-armed and stunned, seeing that stocking STUNG like few things I’ve known.

    But it was his. And still is, every year.

    We lost another little boy earlier this year, in April. I’d not yet bought a stocking for him (though I DID have a “My First Christmas” outfit) because we lost him at the beginning of the second trimester and was just getting to the ‘planning’ part.

    People do not treat his life with the same respect to loss that they do for my first sonโ€”a neonatal death vice a miscarriage.

    But I do. They were my sons. Equal in my heart and equal in my heart to my middle and living little boy.

    So you better believe that I ordered another stocking this year for my third son. When we hang stockings each year, I want my second son to know that his older brother and little brother were BOTH precious to me. People may find it odd that I order a stocking for a baby never to know it exists AFTER he’s dead, but I don’t.

    In our house, a person’s a person, no matter how small. How could my little Luke understand that his younger brother was just as real and just as loved as his older brother if they are not entitled to and allowed to share in the same things, regardless of gestation or breaths taken outside of the womb?

    So Pottery Barn Kids got another stocking purchase this year too…and the Train, the Dog and now the Reindeer will hang on my mantle, even though only the Dog Stocking’s owner will ever see them.

  7. I am about 9 months out and as the holidays are creeping closer I feel like I an lmsing my breath. I also wanted to lose it just looking at the pic of the angel cause my precious angels name is printed on there :(

  8. Bravo for facing that emotion head on and letting Bella be a part of it and explaining it to her. I hope I can have 1/10th of your grace if I ever need to have it. Hugs and love lady :)

  9. Kimberly Magee says:

    I a mat 10 months. My Isabel would be 13 months old. We had her for Christmas and less than a month later she was gone. Part of me dreads opening the Christmas boxes. To see the little pink Santa hat she and her sister wore on their first Christmases, her ornaments and the joy we packed away last year thinking we had a hundred more perfect Christmases to go.
    I almost don’t want to open the box, because she won’t be here. No matching polka dot Christmas jammies like last year. I wish I could skip over it all. Since I can;t rewind to January 17, I want to fast forward past it, but no, Christmas will come and there we will be one where there should be two, and the shadow of who is missing.

    • This broke my heart. I am just – so so sorry that Isabel is gone. :( I will be thinking and praying so hard for you all this Christmas season.

  10. Rita Graham says:

    My husband and I lost our precious twins, Lydia and Henry, shortly after their preterm birth April 28, 2012(living 32 hrs and 10.5 hrs respectively). Like you, it’s only been just over 6 months and I still can’t believe that this is where our life is now–we pictured it so differently–now thanksgiving and Christmas are here and can ‘t believe it…we missed them for Halloween costumes, next week missing them for thanksgiving n going out to cut down our Christmas tree, getting their stockings n ornaments–we too are going to have both for Lydia n Henry–always in our hearts, but so deeply missed it hurts terribly…We are so sorry for the loss of you twins,just one week after our babies…I’ll be praying for all of us to somehow make it…

  11. At 11 months here. Christmas will be difficult for us too since we had her funeral on Dec. 21st. I remember a morning when I just lost it as well, and my 2 year old (Ella) climbed into my lap and just looked at me and would pat my face and wipe my tears. We rocked and rocked. And every once in awhile, to this day, she will ask me if I’m missing Kathryn and if I’m going to cry in the rocking chair again. Reading this post made me cry as it brought back some tough memories. But it also comforted me to be in your company. I wish we didn’t have to be, but if we’re here, I’m glad it is with good companions. And for all the mama’s who have commented, I’m holding you all in my heart and thoughts.

  12. I just got that PB magazine today in the mail and my heart sank when I got to that page, thinking of you and your loss. I am so sorry.

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