Losing A Twin: When One Twin Lives And One Twin Dies. Surviving The Loss Of A 2nd Half.
Losing A Twin: When One Twin Lives And One Twin Dies. Surviving The Loss Of A 2nd Half.
This post I’ve written for all the twin moms who have lost a part of their hearts be it before the birth of their twins, or in the days, weeks, months, or years to follow.
This is such a tough and tragic situation for any parent to face. Some may not go into a pregnancy expecting nor even wanting twins, but as time passes and a bond grows between mother and both children. A loss that is extremely devastating.
I feel fortunate to have two healthy babies here at home, but it doesn’t mean I haven’t suffered loss before and felt that anguish. I felt it a pertinent issue to discuss with my readers who may have gone through such a tragedy.
While nowadays twin pregnancies run smoother then ever before due to advances in technology and terrific prenatal care, things can still happen. It’s much like a singleton pregnancy, however, the more babies sharing a womb the more the risks do go up for each occupant. That is just a fact that nobody can deny.
Though most twins are born healthy it was something I thought about, and most multiple mommies do both before and after birth. I had a 1st trimester, vanished twin experience years prior. Was that going to happen again? Or would it be even worse and happen later on down the line? I was truly scared after losing my first born child and two other pregnancies.
I’ll never forget the day that the doctor told me, (2010 so with this set of twins), that for the second time I had lost one twin. This time it felt different. One week prior I had seen a strong heartbeat, I was slightly further along, I had pictures of my two healthy babies. It felt like a kick in the stomach.
I remember sharing this news with my online support group and receiving an outpouring of heartfelt cyber hugs and condolences. I felt numb, but I also felt skeptical. I knew I had a vanished twin prior, but this time I was further along. Shouldn’t the sac and at least some part of a baby still be there if it was only 6 days later? I had carried that sac on the ultrasound the previous time for at least 12-14 weeks.
Turns out that against all odds the doctor was wrong and intuition was right. Both babies were very much there upon the next ultrasound, and I remember searching for somewhere to go and get one done because I wanted to see. He must have been sheltering me from the view, right? I knew this doctor for many years, we had an amazing repour. Was he thinking he was doing me a favor?
I really wanted to see my lost baby for myself, and say good bye. I mean what were the chances a doctor with 35+ years experience missed a baby on ultrasound, though it did cross my mind to. That turned out to be the case against the odds. There was twin A and there was twin B, heartbeats healthy and strong.
I then spent the rest of my pregnancy fearing the worst.. A still-birth, complete loss…something bad! Then after I worried about cerebral palsy and other health issues. Then I worried about a SIDS death. I was just a mess of worry with two in tow thinking things I never did so immensely with only one baby.
Then I thought about the ones where the doctor isn’t wrong, or something goes wrong down the line, and a life is lost. These mothers who lose a part of them they fell in love with, and the twin that is forced to go through life without their other half. I cried.
Had I seen the first twin’s heartbeat with my now 6 year old daughter, healthy and strong, I know it would have been so much harder for me to move on from. I still wonder about who he or she would be, or if I should tell my daughter in the future. If so, when?
Let me discuss some of the feelings there will be, and the healing aspect of things after suffering a twin loss.
1. Your arms may be full but your heart may still feel empty.
Bringing home one baby from the hospital when you are expecting to bring home two, can be such a bitter-sweet experience that can leave a mother feeling empty inside. Like something crucial is missing. Family support, and spousal support is so important during this horrible time. If therapy and even medication is needed to help a woman cope during this gut-wrenching ordeal, I strongly advise it.
People may say, ”Be happy for what you do have”, which may be a true statement, but not one you will likely wish to hear right after the loss of a twin baby or child. It’s something that may take a while to realize, but one day you will. It takes time and support. Don’t feel guilty or selfish for not feeling 100% thrilled with what you have when a part of your heart has gone missing.
2. Anger at people who don’t understand.
This may be even towards your own husband. He may be going through a terrible loss himself, but you may get angry thinking or even saying, ”I was the one this baby lived inside of all these months. I felt her kick, I am the mother. It just is worse for me.” Sometimes we can’t help but say, ‘You don’t understand” and forget, or at least minimize another person’s pain.
You may even get angry at God. Don’t worry, this is normal. Despite being raised very Christian and having that background, I remember a time and place where I cut God out of my life for a while thinking, ‘how could he do this to me of all people? I was always a kind, nice, a compassionate person. Why me? Why MY child?’
These are all normal feelings that need to be worked through. It takes time. I realize now that God only takes the best, and my son was just that. I will see him again and that gives me immense peace.
3. Thoughts of what should have been.
Even if you weren’t expecting twins in the beginning, it makes the loss no different and less painful. I remember after getting the news that one twin was gone, I saw a set of twins in a shopping cart at Pathmark, and it felt like they were staring at me. Perhaps it was because I had been staring at them. I felt drawn to them, and then on the inside quite broken.
It’s completely normal to imagine what the other baby or child would be like, look like, act like in the present and in the future. Who he or she would become. It’s easy to feel hurt when you see other multiples playing and frolicking together. It is normal to hurt and it is normal to cry. You must allow yourself to feel your pain and work through it. Though a loss is always there, it will get easier to survive in time. It doesn’t ever ‘go away’, but becomes more bearable.
4. Your surviving child.
If the child was old enough that they were aware of, and bonded to their twin, and suddenly a loss occurs, you may wonder not just about you, but how will he or she go on? Will she feel lost and lonely her whole life? How can I make this all better? A mother’s guilt: There is nothing more powerful, even with things that are completely and totally out of our hands and control.
My two sons were the best of friends. They were nearly Irish twins and did everything together for the better part of 10 years. He’s now a smart, kind, incredible young man, who remembers his brother and loves him still, but he has survived the loss. This is the only example I can use since it’s the closest story I have personally, to share here.
He will always love and remember his brother and the times that they shared. And he had a very hard time for awhile, and needed to grieve just as I did. It was a painful process, but I just want to say there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and you both can and will survive.
If your child has a hard time talking to you about the loss, or you feel unable to do the job due to your own grief, again therapy is an amazing tool I am proud to say I have utilized several times in my own life, and I’m certain it helped me become the strong woman that I am today. There is no shame in it.
Reactions & emotions after such a loss. These will ease up over time.
5. Emptiness, even loneliness despite your other baby still being in your life and in your arms.
6. The feeling of nobody understanding.
8. Immense sorrow
9. Envy towards those with healthy twins running around.
10. In the end there will be peace and eventually acceptance. This takes longer for some then for others.
Don’t deny yourself the right to not only feel like you have lost a precious child, but also feeling the loss of ‘my twins’, or this is a separate loss that only a twin mother who loses a child can possibly feel. It does compound the pain.
Don’t expect many people in ‘the real world’ to understand this added pain, but there are places you can go to on the Internet to feel more in touch with people going through the same.
Some lost early, some during the birthing process, some after, but they will all be in your shoes which I know has always helped me to feel like I’m not the only one going through a particular thing at some particular point in life.
I’ve listed some resources below for you. I hope they help and somehow you can find some peace through them..
Helpful resources of support:
Twinless Twins support group
Death of a sibling or twin
Twin Loss NZ
The Lone Twin Network
Twin to twin transfusion loss message board
Parents of multiples forever (POM)
**THE MOST IMPORTANT THING TO REMEMBER**:
YOU did NOTHING wrong. The loss of a child or twin child happens, and by no fault of your own. It does no good to beat yourself up inside because there is nothing you could have done to prevent it. I need you to know that and remember it always!
Torturing yourself only makes the healing process harder. Again, I hope the links above will help you to gain information and also connect with other moms dealing with the same. You’ll never forget, but there IS life after loss.
‘And from the ashes we will rise higher then ever before! We are the strong..we are the brave. We love and are always loved, even from the heavens above. We are mothers!’ – Mama P.