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Born on Christmas Day

The story of Jenni Sommerness’ birth is a wild one.

It started on Christmas Eve. Her mom went into labor early, in the seventh month of her pregnancy.

Jenni, of Breezy Point, gets the blessings and the drawbacks of being born on Christmas Day.

Her mother had gone into labor a month earlier, too, but doctors were able to stop the labor.

Jenni said that, as her dad tells the story, they went into the hospital in Grand Rapids on Dec. 24. Her dad claims (rather excitedly) that they were either in, or next to, the same room where Judy Garland was born.

Her mother’s labor began to get more serious, but when her dad asked a nurse to call the doctor, the nurse responded that she didn’t want to bother the doctor during his Christmas Eve. Jenni’s dad dragged a nurse into the room, and after seeing Jenni’s mother, she called the doctor.

The doctor ordered them to go to the Duluth hospital where there was better care for infants. Her mom and dad flew down the highway in an ambulance with lights and sirens the whole way to Duluth.

Jenni was born at 3 a.m. on Christmas Day, two months early and weighing only 3 pounds, 11 ounces.

She wasn’t able to go home right away, but when her parents finally did take her home she weighed only 3 pounds, 2 ounces.

“My head was smaller than (my dad’s) hand, and my feet didn’t reach his elbow,” Jenni said of her size when she was brought home.

Her sister, Angie, was 6 when Jenni was born. That Christmas, Angie asked for a toy called a Baby Alive. Instead, she got a real-live baby — Jenni.

Jenni was even doll sized. She was so small that her parents had to buy doll clothes to find anything that fit her.

She likes having her birthday on Christmas.

“I like knowing you’ll always be with family to celebrate. People are celebrating, even if it’s not birthday celebrating.”

Plus, she added, “Everyone always remembers my birthday!”

The only disadvantage, she said, is not having her own day. She shares it with the holiday.

Coincidentally, Jenni has a cousin by marriage who was born on the very same Christmas, but a few hours later.

Today, Jenni lives in Breezy Point with her husband, Mike, Pequot Lakes High School band teacher, and two children, River, 7, and Ali, 10.

She works with 4- and 5-year-olds at Little People Learning Center in Breezy Point. She studied early childhood development at St. Cloud State University and feels she has a connection with children.

“I’ve always liked working with kids. I was always the one taking care of younger cousins. I understand children, I think,” Jenni said.

She loves watching children learn new things and said watching kids can teach lessons.

“If you watch them, kids can teach you how to be in a moment,” Jenni said.

She’s also a knitter, former florist and avid gardener.

“She’s a hardcore crafter,” her husband, Mike, said.

The Sommerness Christmas tradition has evolved into a day to celebrate both Jenni and the holiday. It starts at her in-laws’ home, where the kids find their gifts from Santa. Her dad takes her out for breakfast and everyone hangs out by a bonfire or goes snowmobiling.

Later, Jenni opens her birthday presents, her mother-in-law makes lasagna (which Jenni likes, as she’s Italian), and every year they eat the cake of Jenni’s choosing, made by her husband and kids.