Jennifer Siefken (43). Chicago, Il
Mother to twins Emma (photographed - 5 years old) and Elizabeth.
Jennifer shares -
"Emma and Elizabeth were born at 26 weeks. Elizabeth was doing better than Emma, but she suddenly got sick and passed away at 25 days old.
I've always struggled with how I view my body, like so many others. When I was growing up, my three older brothers would regularly berate me because of my weight. So, it seemed ironic that after I had my girls, it made me sad that the only evidence of them was my c-section scar. Bittersweet, I guess. Now, a few years later, in my 40s, I'm seeing everything sag, and I feel very silly for not appreciating what I had. I'm also so frustrated that I care so much. I feel like I'm being wasteful devoting so much time to this topic- I just want to figure out how to embrace a healthy perspective.
The Dickens quote, "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times," seems to fit perfectly for me after having given birth to my twin girls. I had lost one baby and was terrified about losing both. Emma had heart surgery at two weeks old; Elizabeth died a week later; Emma contracted an unknown infection a week after Elizabeth died. When Emma got sick after Elizabeth died, I moved into a hotel by myself near the hospital (my husband stayed at the house and had gone back to work). After over two months in the NICU, Emma came home, and we spent the rest of her first year in "lockdown" due to her compromised immunity. A common cold would likely result in hospitalization or worse. Grief was delayed, because I was so worried about Emma surviving. That's all that I focused on, and that's how I made it. There was no room for previous expectations - I couldn't even remember them.
This project touches on the most personally significant parts of life to me. Also, I think that there is immeasurable value in perpetuating positivity for women on multiple levels. I realize how naive it sounds, but I don't understand why there is so much overt and underlying competition. Although there are some long standing societal norms that help contribute to this dynamic, I believe that we can choose not to buy into it. Ultimately, I believe in people who believe in bringing out the good in others, and I want to be a part of and support a project that values this ideal.