When To Tell Your Child About A Lost Twin During Pregnancy. (My Own Story From Yesterday Shared.)
When To Tell Your Child About A Lost Twin During Pregnancy.
(My Own Story From Yesterday Shared.)
There is a very specific reason I tossed today’s topic and brought up this one. Yesterday, I told my 6 year old (to be 7 tomorrow), about the lost twin due to ‘Vanishing Twin Syndrome’ that occurred during my pregnancy with her. I don’t know exactly how it happened, and I have wanted to reveal it before many times.
I was speaking to a woman at the local pool who was a twin herself, suffered multiple miscarriages, and had a hysterectomy due to a botch during her only son’s birth. Horrible stories she had to tell. We were talking so long that somehow when she left and me and my daughter had the silence to sit alone and have a bite to eat it just somehow came up and came out.
I’m sure very soon my husband will find out. Likely today. He’s the one that didn’t want me to reveal this before, as I wanted to years ago. I know I didn’t make it far into the pregnancy at all. I never even saw a heartbeat. But a loss is still a loss, no? He said she was better off not knowing, at least for now, which with him..extends until whenever maybe forever. I almost slipped up before, but went along with his wishes at the time, though I never lied. But yesterday it just felt right, and I really wasn’t sure how she’d react, and if I’d regret it.
I have spoken to others who have lost a twin during pregnancy. Some told very young, some state that the child simply knew he or she wasn’t conceived as a single baby, some waited. I’m sure eventually all moms would tell in time. I had to explain to her that such an early loss is quite a common thing in a multiple pregnancy. And that since we wanted her so badly I got early ultrasounds that most women don’t get. So in fact many people started out as a twin. I could have been a twin myself and would never have known.
1 in 8 conceptions start out this way, it is said.
At the same time you don’t want to strip away the ‘specialness’. It is a loss whether early or late, and being a twin is special. It was almost like walking a tight rope. If I said the wrong thing I might fall. I had been rehearsing it in my brain for years now. I didn’t want her to feel like it was a ‘freak event’. I didn’t want her to feel like it meant nothing either.
It just was very tough to handle, and again her reaction was very surprised and unexpected. On one hand she asked why I didn’t tell her sooner, but appeared to ‘get it’. On the other hand she kept saying, ”I’m a twin.” And talking about ’ MY TWIN.’ So much so I said, ‘Shh…wait until I tell daddy.” She used the word ’depressing’ at one point. I wasn’t sure I did the best thing at the right time when she said that, but then the reaction changed. I don’t know quite what to expect today.
It seems as if when the news sunk in, she said she sort of felt like she was in a way, and wanted to know what exactly happened. I told her everything that I possibly could, and how thrilled we were to have her survive and to be healthy and strong. I made sure she knew this was something that simply happens and not anything she caused or could have prevented. I had to cover all angles.
She used to say things like, ”I wish I was a twin to.” That kind of made me not want to say anything at that time because of the envy. And I wondered if she would look at her younger twin sisters that did make it to earth as a duo and feel like she missed out and was cheated.
I always said to her when she said she wanted to be a twin, that twins always share birthdays, and toys, and money is tighter, they share attention, and she can plainly see how the twins fight, at least at this stage of the game anyway. Then she would agree, ”I guess it is better to be just one.”
Down the line if a strong bond does grow between Annie & Allie which I have prayed for for 2 years now, I wonder if she’ll feel sadder then? I just can’t predict that. Maybe doing this at 2 or 3 years old before they even came to be, would have been best, but again, I succumbed to my husband’s wishes. I certainly didn’t expect to fall pregnant with a second set of twins.
Now that I’ve told her, I thought it would be discussed and fade out a little, but she was so shocked and wanted to know so much, that she had very often mentioned this twin up until bedtime last night. I have to tell my husband I told her, and just hope I made the right choice at the right time. I just couldn’t stick with how HE felt about it forever, ya know? That isn’t the way it should be. Maybe around her birthday wasn’t the proper time, but I didn’t think about that when it came out.
How is a touchy subject like this to be handled when you lose a twin in a pregnancy, whether early on or later down the line?
Of course, this is a parent’s ultimate decision. There truly is no right or wrong answer on when you should tell, if you should tell, how you should tell. But most mothers feel the desire to be open & honest with their children. Waiting this long has been hard for me, honestly. You really have to go with your heart.
The subject may somehow come up on its own, or it may not. Like my daughter asked what the ‘empty black thing’ on my ultrasound photograph was. (The second gestational sac.) I refused to lie, but I can’t remember what my husband had told her about it. He didn’t know, especially with twin sisters, if it would make it all the worse for her, knowing what she may be missing. It just made it ‘extra touchy.’
A few opinions from others, from around the web:
”I do believe it would be a good thing to tell your baby that they were going to be a twin, after all twins do share a special bond that none of us even as parents of them can explain! If you do not say something he/she may go through life feeling some type of void but not really knowing what it is, i think it would be better to embrace the fact that they had a twin! Plus you have emotions too and should be able to share these openly as a family and not feel like it’s some big secret! Best of luck w/ everything and sorry for your loss!”
”Sorry to hear that you lost one of your babies. That’s a tough question. I would guess you should tell the surviving twin at some point, but I think when is going to depend a lot on your child. My pregnancy started out with triplets, a set of identical twins and a fraternal twin. One of the identicals died early in the pregnancy and I ended up having healthy, fraternal twin boys at 38 weeks. I am planning on eventually telling them that they had another twin, but I wasn’t planning on having that conversation with them until they were teenagers and maybe even adults. I don’t think it’s essential to them to know about it when they are young and potentially could scare them (e.g., if my twin died, am I going to die, etc.). However, I think it ultimately depends on what YOU are comfortable with and what works for your family and your kids. I’m assuming your older twins know about the loss of the other baby? If so, then they will mention it at some point to the little one. Better that it comes from you.”
”My 12 year old was a twin and we lost his twin at 24 weeks. We noticed that he had an obsession with his reflection…more that our other kids did. When he was 7 we told him that he was a twin and that his brother didn’t make it. He had questions but handled it well. He said he always felt like someone was watching over him..we told him that it was his brother. When we had our twins they were sextuplets (yes all natural) and we lost 4. Our twins are now 9 and they know. They love to tell people how there were so many of them. Also it will be hard to keep it from him when on his birth certificate it will say Twin Pregnancy and on all his medical records it will have it listed that he was the singleton survivor of a twin pregnancy. Good luck”
”So sorry to hear that. I would tell and probably start talking about in early on in their life so he/she grows up being aware and it is not such a big shock if they should find out later on. That way it is not such a big deal for them (of course it is a big deal for you) if that is all they have known from a young age. Hope that helps and best of luck.”
All of the reactions lean towards telling the child at some point in time. Most agree early on, while others think it’s best to wait. You know your child, their maturity level. In the end..you make the call.
This is the professional opinion of Dr. Thomas Verny
“ My preliminary interviews with over 200 “twinless twins” indicates that the loss of a twin in utero can have profound physical, mental and emotional effects, both on the surviving child and its parents — especially if it is unacknowledged. Unfortunately, I have found very few instances in which healthcare providers discuss these potential problems with the parents. The surviving twin may never learn of the loss of its companion; myriad psychological problems can result, with no context in which to process them. Parents are often left with unacknowledged feelings of confusion, loss and/or grief.
In my opinion it’s important to let your child know:
1. They had nothing to do with the loss.
You don’t want any survivor’s guilt. Make sure they know these things that happen are unpredictable, spontaneous, and not uncommon. The reasons have nothing to do with their survival.
2. It is special to be a twin, and they have an angel in heaven that is their own, and who loves them.
Again, some twins may already feel it, or may say they did have strange feelings along the way, even though they didn’t ‘know..know.’
3. How happy you are to have him or her in your world, strong & healthy, and how special your surviving twin is to you.
It’s not an easy situation to handle, and you can’t fully expect the reaction that you get, but like I did..go with your gut and never lie. I never wanted to lose my child’s trust by lying to her. I told her I waited until I thought she could handle it best, and let her know that means I think she is a mature, young lady now. That made her smile.
To all who have suffered the loss of a twin..my heart goes out to you and your angel. Also, I wish you luck in facing this very difficult situation. Your heart will lead you to the right answer.
” A loss is a loss at any stage, a child is your child at any age.” – Mama P.