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Loss in Multiple Birth

In spite of everyone’s best efforts, there is a chance that you may lose one, more or all of your babies. In an effort to assist you face this difficult time, to guide you when you have to make certain difficult decisions (e.g. whether or not to see or hold your baby(ies), taking pictures, funeral arrangements) and offer ideas on how to deal with others’ remarks, the following has been prepared. May you find some comfort from these suggestions.

Vanishing Twin (occurs by about 12 weeks gestation)

Vanishing Twin occurs when at least one embryo does not develop probably due to the fact the embryo was not able to properly attach itself to the uterine wall to get the maternal nutrition it needed to properly grow and develop.  The embryo dies and is reabsorbed by the placenta or the mother’s body.  Vanishing Twin is not anyone’s fault.

Miscarriage (occurs up to 20 weeks gestation)

If you have lost your babies through miscarriage, you may feel empty or angry with yourself and let down by your body. You may blame yourself, your actions or attitudes or even that glass of wine or cup of coffee. You may find that friends, family or hospital staff don’t acknowledge the pregnancy or the depth of your grief. Remember, this has been a very real pregnancy for both you and your paratner. You have visualized the babies, ‘taken them for a walk’, ‘bathed and dressed them’, amongst other things.

You might wish to try to find out why your miscarriage occurred. Be prepared for the fact that there might be no definite answers. Try not to feel guilty. Talk openly about your feelings and the babies with a caring person. If desired, maintain some contact with the your local twin and triplet support club until you feel ready to let go.

Stillbirth/Infancy (after 20 weeks gestation)

Prematurity is still the leading cause of death in a multiple birth situation. There is no guarantee against the early delivery of your babies. In spite of the best precautions, it can still occur.

Grief can occur on two levels: at one level, the loss of a unique type of parenting experience; and the other the loss of your baby(ies). The emotions experienced can be varied and sometimes not even feel as if they make any sense: “Did I prefer one baby over the other?”, “Did I really only want one?” Be sure and talk about your feelings with a caring person. You may experience inner struggles as you try to deal with the joy of the birth of one baby and the loss of another. You may wish to push all thoughts of the dead baby from your mind and concentrate on your living baby(ies). You may be subjected to thoughtless remarks from family or friends – ‘you couldn’t have handled triplets anyway.’ ‘At least you still have a baby.’ ‘You have some babies who need you, get on with it!’ It is helpful if you take time to grieve your loss. We cannot move forward until we have grieved what we have lost. Children are not interchangeable and we cannot ignore the death of one because others have survived. Don’t be shy about reminding others that you have lost a baby(ies) and have every right to mourn for him (them).

Some important feedback received from bereaved parents:

  • Name your baby(ies)
  • See your baby(ies) if you can. Hold them, touch them, bathe them and dress them. Take all the time you need. Such contact helps with integrating the fact that your baby is dead. We cannot say ‘good-bye’ before we have said ‘hello’. The majority of bereaved parents find solace, comfort and some healing in seeing their baby(ies). Some grieving parents do not want to see their baby(ies). Don’t be talked into anything that you do not wish to do or which does not feel right for you. Whichever works for you is right way to proceed.
  • Take photos. Take pictures of your babies together and alone, as you wish. The photos can be put away until such time as you feel you might like to look at them or, if you feel unable to take the photos yourself, have a hospital staff member or good friend take some.  Over time, some parents report the photos help acknowledge that their baby(ies) really did exist.  These photos can also become very important for the surviving co-multiple(s) in understanding about their beginnings.
  • Ask any questions of your doctor that you might have. Ask until you have answers that you understand. Be prepared, however, for the fact that some questions may have no answers.
  • Plan the funeral or memorial service as you wish.
  • Don’t keep feelings bottled up inside of you. Talk with a caring person whenever you need. Join a local bereavement support group. This is important for both Mom and Dad/Partner.
  • As the parents, try to spend set aside some time to spend together to share your grief and lost dreams.
  • Be prepared to have ‘set backs’ – this is normal. We are not the same people we were before the death. We need to get used to a new reality. The loss of child stays with us forever and we need to learn how to incorporate our grief into our everyday lives so that we can keep on living. Be prepared to have grief feelings triggered for no seemingly apparent reason. Don’t ignore them. It is only by going through these painful feelings that we can eventually begin to feel any peace.
  • You may wish to think about including older children in the funeral in a meaningful way:  draw a picture, pick out the burial outfit, and such.
  • Try to include the grandparents in some meaningful way in either the funeral or memorial service. They too have a lot to deal with. They have lost a grandchild(ren) and in addition, have not been able to protect their own children from such terrible pain.

There are many good books available on grief.  Check your local Library and perhaps the library of your local twin and triplet support Chapter. Many are available on line at Amazon.com  In addition, Multiple Births Canada has written two booklets on loss and they are available from their Business Office. Multiple Births Canada also has a Loss Support Network which issues a monthly e-newsletter (except December), has confidential e-mail connection between the members and can refer you to appropriate support persons. If you already belong to a member Chapter of Multiple Births Canada, there is no charge to join the Loss Support Network although a donation of your choice to help defray printing and web site costs is greatly appreciated.

Please don’t feel alone in your grief. There are many caring people available to assist you.

Other Support Contacts:

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Vanishing Twin

In March of 1995, I began having cramping and experiencing pain in my lower abdomen beyond the norm.  I was 24 years old and turned 25 in June and did not know that I was pregnant.  I went to the doctor to try and determine what was going on.  I was seen by a Nurse Practitioner.  She was very kind and attentive.  I also had a low grade fever, and just did not feel “right”.  She determined that I had a “vaginal bacterial infection.” In addition, she did a pregnancy test which came back negative.  She prescribed an antibiotic and sent me home.

A couple of weeks later, I was still experiencing the same symptoms and continued to feel like “something just  wasn’t right”.  I returned to the Nurse Practitioner and she ran another pregnancy test (among other tests) and this time it was positive…I was pregnant!  WOW!!!  Because I was experiencing pain and cramping, she felt that there was an urgent need for me to have an ultrasound.   There was a Radiology department on site so she called down for me to be seen immediately.  I was in shock…I was happy, excited, and terrified all at once.  I was not married at the time, however, I was engaged and knew that my fiancé was going to be very happy.

Before the day was over, I was to be in even more shock, even more happy and excited, and even more terrified.  I was seen by the ultrasound tech as soon as I arrived.  I was eager to see what “my baby looked like”…knowing that it was early on and I would not be able to see much…the anticipation was tremendous.  As is usual, the tech had the screen turned away from me during the first part of the ultrasound.  So, I was just lying there waiting, watching her, being lost in my thoughts, and then I saw a change in expression on her face.

Her rather emotionless face turned very serious.  At first, I wandered what was wrong. When I asked what was happening, she said she wanted to “take some more measurements and get some additional pictures.  She said she had not been doing this for very long and that she wanted to let the Radiologist take a look at things.  She could see that I was worried and assured me all was okay.  She stood up and said that she needed to go get the Radiologist.  I knew it was common practice for the Radiologist to look over “the films” later.

The Radiologist came into the room, introduced herself, and told me that she wanted to do an ultrasound herself.  She said that she wanted to take a look at a few things and then would fill me in on what was going on.  I was nervous.  Listening to them, talking and pointing things out, I was beginning to figure out what going on.  The Radiologist had only been looking at the pictures for about 30 seconds, but it felt like minutes, when she turned the screen toward me and asked if “I would like to see my babies”.  Wow!  “Do you have a history of twins in your family?”  I immediately got tears in my eyes.  It was amazing!  There they were…”my two babies”! You could see two very little hearts beating…it was totally amazing!!!  The Radiologist and the tech were so excited themselves.

The Radiologist continued the exam just to make sure all was okay.  Everything seemed perfect.  I was about 8 to 10 weeks pregnant.  The babies, she said, had a due date of December 10th.  As the news spread through the department, I was congratulated over and over. It was wonderful…so exciting.  I was assured that everything was great…both babies looked really well…and right were they should be.  However, since I had been having some cramping and pain, they wanted me to come back for another ultrasound in two weeks to just follow-up.  They also wanted for me to “take it as easy as possible”.  I was not “on bed rest”…but was just advised to stay off of my feet as much as I could.  I made my appointment and headed for home.

My mind raced and was in a thousand different places on my 45 minute drive home.  I arrived at home and laid down on the bed.  I was exhausted, overwhelmed, so, so excited.  My fiancé arrived home about 15 minutes after I did.  He looked at me and immediately knew something was going on.  I told him…”We’re pregnant”.  The look on his face was that of both shock and incredible excitement.  Then, I told him:  “oh, and by the way, we’re having twins”.  He was shocked and beaming.  I was beginning to really absorb it all.  Yes, I was really excited; however, at the same time, reality was setting in and I was overwhelmed by it all.  He was so happy.  He actually started jumping up and down on the bed.  We were in tears together.  They were, at this time, tears of joy!  We agreed that we would not tell anyone yet.  Though, I knew that it was going to be very difficult for both of us. The excitement of the moment was something we really wanted to share. However, we decided that we would wait until we were a little “further along” and knew that all was truly okay.

I returned for the second ultrasound two weeks later.  I was greeted by the receptionist with “Hi Mommy…how does it feel to be carrying twins?…has it set in yet?…I know you guys are so excited”.  Of course everyone in the waiting area overheard her and it began a big topic of conversation…many questions, etc.  It was so fun to listen to everyone to tell me how wonderful it was that I was having twins…strangers…so happy for me.  I came out of the ultrasound with additional reassurance that all was okay.  The pain and cramping had gotten much better.  With the exception of the morning sickness, EVERYTHING was wonderful.  I was beginning to allow myself to really be excited.  The feeling of being overwhelmed was “vanishing” with each day.  I was having twins…wow…it was wonderful!

My fiancé and I had decided that we would not tell anyone else until I was 3 months along.  Things seeming to be going wonderful.  My fiancé had not had a chance to “see the babies” yet.  He had not been able to make it to the two previous ultrasounds because of work.  My third ultrasound was scheduled on his birthday in mid-May.  He was definitely not going to miss this one. What an awesome birthday present to see his babies for the first time!  We really thought that we had passed the time were we should have any reason for concern.  Since my last visit, I had changed to a facility that was closer to where we lived and I would be able to deliver at a hospital that was a little closer to our home.  So when we walked into the reception area that day, there was not the same excitement and greetings that I had experienced at the previous facility.  I found out at the end of my appointment, they not even have my medical records yet. I had no idea that the tech did not have any idea that I was expecting twins.  I was just another expecting mom-to-be in for a routine ultrasound.  I laid there while she performed the ultrasound, my husband and I eagerly waiting to see the babies.  The exam seemed uneventful.  The tech just went about her “business” very quietly…moving the probe around, taking the measurement and clicking on the keyboard.  My fiancé had asked during the exam how everything looked and she said “great…I’ll be able to give you a look as soon as I get a few more measurements”.  When she was done, she turned to screen towards us and pointed saying  “you can see your baby right here”.  She began to point out the head, arms, etc.  We looked in amazement!  She clicked a button and printed some pictures for us.  We just sort of sat there still and silent as she told us that was all she needed for today and everything looked great.  I couldn’t make words come out of my mouth.  My fiancé said “well what about the other baby???”…”aren’t you going to show us pictures of it as well???”.  The tech looked at us with complete bewilderment.  A terrible knot sunk into my chest.  She asked him what was he talking about.  He said “we’re having twins!”  In a seemingly cold tone, she blurted out:  “I don’t know where you got that idea…you just have one baby in there.”  My fiancé, became very upset and insisted that she sit back down and look for the other baby.  In her still seemingly cold tone, she said that she had done a thorough exam and there was no need to do a further exam.  She told me to get my clothes back on and make another appointment at the front desk for 20 weeks.  That was that…she walked out of the room.

We sat there motionless and in shock…it felt like a bad dream…literally.  I sat up on the table, tears were beginning to roll down my cheeks.  I was shaking.  I looked at him for an answer…”what is happening?”  He told me not to move and he would be right back.  I could hear the discussion from the hallway.  He was insistent that a radiologist was going to come into the room immediately and do another ultrasound.  The discussion went on for several minutes.  He returned to the room and said the doctor would be in soon.  We sat there together for what seemed an eternity…it was probably only minutes.  The door opened and a very nice, but perplexed, Radiologist introduced herself to us and said that she “understood that we had some sort of confusion going on and that she was going to take a look at things”.  She asked me what I had been told previously and explained that they had not yet received my records from the other facility.  She performed the ultrasound and spent about 5 to 8 minutes “taking a look at things.”  When she finished, she stated that she “did not know what we had seen previously…but that I was only pregnant with one baby.”  She made me feel like I was crazy…there was no explanation…no anything…just “you have one healthy baby…everything looks great…see you back at 20 weeks”.

My fiancé and I sat there angry, confused, numbed…we did not know what to think.  There was no mention of a vanishing twin and we had never heard of it before…we really didn’t know what to think.  We tried to go upstairs to the OB/GYN Department but it was late in the day and none of the doctors were there.  We left a note with the receptionist attempting to explain what was happening and we were assured that we would receive a call the next day.  I did not go to work the next day.  I did not know what to do.  I was feeling devastated.  I did not know what was happening…was I in the process of loosing both of the babies?…should I be at the hospital?…I did not know what to think or do. I attempted to call several times and kept getting the main call center.  They said that they would call both of the facilities that I had used and someone would call me back as soon as possible.  I wanted to get in touch with the Nurse Practitioner I had originally seen.  I was told that they would contact her and have her or someone else from there contact me.  I was insistent that I needed to talk to someone immediately.  Finally, I was put me through to a nurse.  She was virtually no help.  She listened to what I had to say and advised me that as long as I was not in severe pain, cramping, or bleeding significantly that I was “okay”.  She said that she would contact someone at both of their facilities and have someone call me back.

The following afternoon, a Midwife from the second facility called me.  She said that she did not have my records yet and that the Nurse Practitioner that I had seen at the other facility was no longer with them.  Basically, she could not tell me anything until she received my records which she felt that she would have by the next day. She, too, reassured me that if I was “not in severe pain, cramping, or bleeding significantly that everything was okay”.  She made an appointment for me for two days later to make sure that would have my records and to call if anything changed.  I know now that I and my remaining baby were in no danger…however at the time,  I was terrified and confused.  Two days later, when we went in for my appointment, we were assured that everything was fine.  There was a brief, sympathetic explanation of what had “happened”.  We were devastated. And regardless of the “reassurance that everything was alright”, we were still scared that we might loose the other baby.  The internet did not exist [11 years ago] as it does today and there was no way to go home and “Google” it.  When we asked: “Where was our other baby?”, we were told that it was more than likely absorbed into my body.  We really were not given much information.  It was just confusing and sad.

We continued our 1 month visits and were seen around 21 weeks for our “regular 20 week ultrasound”.  Everything was great – they said.  We were able to find out that we were expecting a baby boy.  Based on the ultrasound, he now had a due date of December 20th.  We were excited. Things felt good.  We tried to let “the missing baby” drift into some secluded…forgotten  place in our minds.  We were focusing on having a healthy baby boy and fairly confident that we were safe.  We happily began to spread the news of Baby Boy due on December 20th to friends and family.  Other than morning sickness, the pregnancy was going great.

At 33 weeks, I informed by doctor that I was having some contractions that would come and go.  They didn’t feel too strong…just noticeable.  It made me nervous.  However, since “each contraction” would come and go, I was not terribly worried.  After telling my doctor what was happening, she decided to do an internal exam.  To both of our surprise, I was 3 cms. dilated.  I was prescribed Brethine.  I was allowed to continue working…I had a desk job. I was told to stay off my feet and on bed rest as much as possible.  The contractions continued off and on.  However, I did not dilate further than 3 cm.  Then at my 36 week check-up, my doctor noticed that my cervix had “thinned” significantly and the baby had dropped.  She felt like it would not be long.  Two days later, the contractions came back and this time they were different.  They were painful!  We went to the hospital around 10:00 pm on November 17th.  They were able to stop the contractions and sent me home the next morning…again take it easy stay off your feet.  The following Sunday, we drove about an hour and a half away to my Baby Shower.  The contractions returned.  I just couldn’t sit down.  I would sit down or lie down and then get back up and walk around.  I was not in terrible pain…I just couldn’t get comfortable. The “uncomfortableness” continued through the Baby Shower.  We drove home that evening.  I was really exhausted.  We went to bed around 10:30 pm.  I was awakened around 12:30am (Monday) with terrible pain like I had never felt before.  Somehow, over the next 5 hours, I walked around, would lie back down, showered in repetition…feeling like I was in some kind of dream.  It was really strange.  I finally woke my husband up around 5:30 am telling him that something is really wrong or maybe this is it.  I hung on for about another hour or so before calling the nurse.  Then, the contractions just stopped…it was bizarre!  The nurse said that since they had stopped, I should just come in to see the doctor when they opened at 08:30 am.   We left for the facility which was about 45 minutes from where we lived.  On the way, it all started again.  It was pretty painful.  We got to the facility, signed in, were told to wait and they would call us back in a few minutes.  While waiting, it all stopped again. I felt a significant amount of pressure but no contractions.  Strange.  The nurse said that they were going to do “A Non-Stress Test”.  She hooked me up and sat there waiting to see the contractions I had described.  There was nothing…nothing for over 15 minutes.  She looked at me like I was nuts.  I felt nuts!  She said that she was going to get the doctor to do an exam just to check things out and then they would probably let me go home.  In the 10 or so minutes that she was gone, I had 5 contractions…big ones!  When the nurse and doctor came back into the room, they looked at the strip and looked at me with astonishment.  When she checked me, I was 8 cm.  No one could believe it.  The hospital was about 25 minutes away and with the morning rush hour traffic, it could take an hour or more!  I had a ride to the hospital in an ambulance for fear that I could possibly give birth on the way as the labor started and stopped, again and again.  Our beautiful baby boy was born at 12:22pm after pushing for about 45 minutes.

There were some issues…as he was a month early.  Surprisingly, he weighed 6 pounds 12 ounces.  However, he did not have the eating thing down pat and we would find out in the next few weeks that his lungs were not quite developed. We had a few medical ups and downs early on.  However, today, he is a thriving almost 11-year old.  We have not yet told him of his “Lost Twin”.  It will happen soon.  We wanted to wait until we thought that he was mature enough to understand and handle it.  I think about his “Lost Twin” what feels like every day.  I wonder whether or not it was a boy or a girl.  I try to imagine two of him.  It is sad to think about at times.  However, we are so very blessed to have him.  We have been blessed again two times.  When he was 9 months old, we got pregnant again…this time with only one.  He has a gorgeous 9 year old sister.  Then, when they were almost 5 and 3 1/2, we were blessed with another beautiful baby boy.  They are now almost 11 (in 3 weeks), 9, and almost 6 (next week).  My husband and I have a truly beautiful family!

June

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One is Alive, One is Not

Please note that the information contained herein is general in nature and does not cover every possible situation.  If you have concerns about any aspect of your pregnancy, please consult your doctor.

For many months, you have delighted in carrying your precious babies beneath your heart.  They are very active and your belly grows almost daily.  Beating hearts have been visible on the ultrasound screen as perhaps have legs, arms or spines, depending upon which way they are lying.  One of the babies though is smaller (usually referred to as small for gestational age) and a little weaker than his co-multiple(s).

Then the unthinkable happens: the smaller one has passed away.  It is still early enough  in the pregnancy that it needs to continue for several more days, or even weeks, to give the survivor(s) the best chance at survival outside the womb.

This unbelievable and devastating situation is almost too much to absorb, let alone comprehend.  Shock as well as many questions leap into the parents’ minds in an attempt to understand what has occurred and why.  Following are some frequently asked questions:

Q: What is going to happen to my surviving baby(ies)?

The death of a multiple before 16 weeks of pregnancy generally creates no increased risk for the remaining baby or babies.  An after 16-weeks death of a multiple with a separate placenta from the other(s) is also not too likely to cause any problems.  When a deceased fetus’s placenta is shared with a co-twin (monochorionic), there is some risk of problems for the survivor, but not always.  With the death of a fetus when there is a survivor(s), the mother can expect to be closely monitored until birth. Your doctor can discuss your particular situation and explain a management plan for your pregnancy until birth.  While the mental strain can be very taxing, many women continue their pregnancy and have a healthy survivor(s).

Q: Will my dead baby hurt my living baby(ies)?

If the surviving multiple(s) is healthy itself, there will be no affect on the living baby(ies).

A deceased baby’s body begins to be broken down in utero and is reabsorbed by the mother’s body and/or the survivor’s placenta.  Depending upon how long after death it is delivered, depends upon what its appearance will be like when it is delivered.   Delivery can be expected to be earlier than previously planned if the babies share placentas and/or sacs.  Mom is carefully monitored until birth, so that the doctors can make timely decisions if needed.

Q: Did my baby ‘kill’ his sibling?

No, one baby didn’t ‘kill’ the other.  The deceased fetus usually has substantial health problems through no one’s fault (e.g. anomaly within a larger organ such as the heart). Through ultrasounds, it is sometimes possible to diagnose that one baby is weaker and has a compromising health problem(s).  In twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome (with monozygotics), for example, the mother is closely monitored to try and prolong the pregnancy as long as possible in order to give both (or all) babies the best chance.  With some medical issues within the womb, however,  it isn’t always possible to successfully intervene and one baby dies.   Sometimes the death cannot be explained until the baby and the placenta can be examined after birth and even then, the reason for the death may not be identified.   Depending on when a fetus passed away and how many days or weeks later the mother gives birth, it is not always possible to identify the cause of death due to deterioration of the fetus and/or placenta.

Q: How is this going to affect my own health and emotions?

Physical complications for the mother after one multiple dies in the womb are uncommon. Careful monitoring of both mother and surviving baby(ies) during the rest of pregnancy can detect any signs of concern.   Delivery may occur earlier than previously planned because of this changed situation.

Emotionally the situation can be quite different.  Some women report feeling fear, isolation, confusion, devastation or horror.  Some report feeling particularly close to their dead multiple because they know this is the only time they will have him/her. They report a great sadness through the rest of pregnancy, unable to find any joy in the approaching birth because they will need to give up that baby. Others push grief aside, fearing it will harm the remaining child(ren) or cause preterm labor. They dedicate their energy to hopeful thoughts about the survivor(s).  Some hang on to a belief that there has been an error and at delivery, there will be two (or more) healthy and alive babies.  All of this is normal.

Q: What will the delivery be like?  What will happen?

Your doctor, hospital staff and grief counselors can help you plan a birth experience that honors your deceased child while meeting the medical needs of your living baby.   Depending upon at which stage the baby died, you may need a death plan as well as a birth plan.  Communication with your doctor about the delivery will help clarify what will happen and how things will proceed.  Don’t be afraid to discuss with your doctor your needs and fears.

Q: What will our dead baby look like at delivery?

Your baby’s body will be small (as compared to its co-multiple[s]) but recognizable as a baby if death occurred after the 14th week of pregnancy. There will likely be some distortion of features and discoloration (bruising).  Discussion with your healthcare provider or a grief counselor can sensitively prepare you for your baby’s appearance, and help you choose whether to view him/her after birth or not.   Some families choose to view their baby regardless, some don’t want to view the baby.  Don’t be pressured into doing anything that you don’t feel comfortable doing.  Whatever you decide to do is what is right for you.  You may wish photos to be taken either by yourselves or ask the staff to take them for you, should that be easier.  Photos can be an important consideration as this is the only time both (all) multiples will be together, should you wish to do so.   The baby can be wrapped in such a way as only a foot or feet, hands or face is visible for the photos.  The hospital staff will be able to guide you.  You may chose to have the photos taken, but put them away and not look at them until a later date when you feel more comfortable viewing them.  Sometimes one parent will wish to see the baby and/or photos and one will not.  People do not all grieve in the same way so understand that your partner may make a different choice from yours.  There is no right or wrong way to proceed, only the way that works for you.

Q: Can we spend some time with our baby?

Yes, you can spend time with your deceased baby, if you want to.  Be sure and let the staff know ahead of time if this is what you want to do.  Have a note written in your file indicating that this is what you wish to have happen.   You can take as long you want or need to take with your baby.  In addition, some parents have hand and foot prints taken as a keepsake if it is possible.

Some options to consider for the remainder of your pregnancy: 

  • If you do not wish to view the deceased fetus(es) during ultrasounds inform the technician.   The monitor can be turned to another direction.
  • Doctor’s appointments may be booked when no other parents of multiples will also be present.  If this is better for you, then you can request it.
  • More frequent doctor visits and/or testing will occur in view of your situation. This may be reassuring to you.
  • Talk with your doctor if you have any fears about the surviving baby’s health.
  • You can see your baby(ies) at delivery should you wish to do so.  If you do not wish to do so, that is OK too.  The hospital staff, at delivery, can help you with the decision, if that works for you.
  • If you do not wish to view your deceased baby, you still can hold him/her, usually wrapped in a blanket. This relieves the aching arms felt by some grieving parents.
  • If you wish an autopsy to be performed discuss it with your doctor.
  • You may need or wish to make plans for burial, cremation or hospital disposition of your baby’s body.
  • Consider if you have photos taken, they may also be important for your surviving multiple(s) to view and to help you begin the discussion of how he/she began life.
  • In any photos you may wish to include yourselves and any older siblings so you have a record of the whole family together.  For some families photos confirm that they truly gave birth to multiples and reduce later feelings of confusion.
  • Computer programs can create a combined photo from two or more separate images.  Some parents who did not take photos of the babies together, can thus create a combined photo.
  • Ask for the survivor’s birth certificate to clearly state that the child was one of the original number of babies conceived. The death of a triplet does not create twins.
  • Some hospitals offer an honorary birth certificate for the child who died.  Ask for one if you would like one.
  • Children are not interchangeable and you do not have to listen to such comments as “As least you still have one” or “You couldn’t have handled three.”   Feel free to inform the speaker that such comments are painful and only add to your grief.
  • Contact Multiple Births Canada’s Loss Support Network which offers a monthly e-newsletter, Forever Angels.  You are not alone.  Other families have gone through the same thing and it can be very helpful to connect with them.

Sources

Bereavement in Multiple Birth, Part 2: Dual Dilemmas, Elizabeth Pector, MD; Michelle Smith-Levitin, MD, The Female Patient, Vol. 27, May, 2002

Reading Resources

  • Twins, Triplets and More, Elizabeth M. Bryan, M.D., St. Martin’s Press
  • Guidelines for Professionals: Bereavement, Bryan, EM; Hallett F, Multiple Births Foundation, London England  http://www.multiplebirths.org.uk
  • Living Without Your Twin, Betty Jean Case, Tibbutt Publishing
  • Bereavement in Multiple Birth, Part 1: General Considerations, Elizabeth Pector, MD; Michelle Smith-Levitin, MD, The Female Patient, Vol. 27, November, 2001
  • The Worst Loss:  How Families Heal from the Death of a Child, by Barbara D. Rosof, Henry Holt
  • Empty Cradle, Broken Heart: Surviving the Death of Your Baby, Deborah L. Davis, Fulcrum Publishing
  • Men & Grief, Carol Staudacher, New Harbinger Publications
  • Trying Again: Guide to Pregnancy After Miscarriage, Stillbirth and Infant Loss, Ann Douglas and John R. Sussman, M.D., Taylor Trade Publishing
  • Empty Arms: Coping with miscarriage, stillbirth and infant death, Sherokee Ilse, Wintergreen Press

Support Organizations and Web Sites

0 comments on “Suggested Loss Reading List”

Suggested Loss Reading List

There are many helpful books on loss and grief available. Here is a loss reading list of some that I have found to be particularly helpful and supportive. I am very pleased to note that support literature for surviving co-multiples is on the increase.

If you have a read a book that you have found helpful and would like to share it, please let me know.

Step into the Light: Living in the Shadow of the Ghosts of Grief , Alan D. Wolfelt, Ph.D., Companion Press, 2007, 152 Pages, ISBN 978-1-879651-51-7 $13.95US; $17.95Cdn.

Wolfelt has written many thoughtful and supportive books on grief and here is another one.  He looks at why many of us carry our grief rather than mourning it.  It isn’t uncommon to feel afraid to face what hurts us.  We may fear losing control and never getting it back.  We may fear crying and never stopping (in fact, we do eventually stop crying.  After about 20 minutes, our body slows down and crying stops).  We may be under the impression that if we do not face our losses, then they didn’t really happen. We may be under the mistaken impression that if we “ignore” the pain, it will go away.  We may fear that the pain will be so great that we could “break.”  As common as such feeling or perceptions may be, Wolfelt encourages the reader to address that which we fear will destroy or cripple us and to mourn so that we can move forward and “step into the light.”  If we do not so, the grief will never leave us and will be carried forward with us to raise its ugly head and undermine us at every opportunity.

Here are a few quotes (from several) which touched me:
Only when we are no longer afraid do we begin to live – Dorothy Thompson
If my grief softens, I’m afraid I’ll have to admit he is never coming back.  And that is what I don’t want to face.  A workshop participant.
One heals suffering only by experiencing it to the full.  Marcel Proust

If the reader has difficulty in recognizing his/her pain, grief, physical problems or addictions, Dr. Wolfelt has included a survey to assist with learning about and/or recognizing which issues readers might be experiencing.  When it is all in a list before us, it can be helpful in coming to terms with what we are (may be) dealing and help us move forward to get the help and support need.

Another thing I appreciated about this book was the almost “interactive” nature of it.  Wolfelt encourages the reader to read the book with a pen and to underline anything that speaks to you, and/or to create a reflective journal of those words, phrases, paragraphs which meant something to you, and to add your own thoughts and feelings as you progress, hopefully towards the light.


Always My Twin
, by Valerie R. Samuels and Illustrated by Najah Clemmons, Trafford Publishing, 28 pages, softcover

At last a book for young co-twin survivors! Samuels gave birth to twin daughters Gina and Julia at term. Gina had Trisomy 13 and Holoprosencephaly and lived for 9 days. As Samuels describes, “She died in my arms, but not in my heart.” In order to honour Gina and help Julia deal with her loss, Samuels wrote this book. It is narrated by Julia who explains her parents sadness at losing her sister and joy with having her.  It is an easy to read children’s book, using language aimed at about age 5. It explains how the pregnancy began as two and that one of the babies died.

Always My Twin  is interactive in that the reader can complete sentences explaining how they feel about losing their co-twin, paste in a photograph and complete their own Family Tree. The touching illustrations “speak” so that the young reader can understand and perhaps relate to what they, too, might be feeling.

The book may be little, but it fills a gap for young co-multiple survivors in a big way!

If you are interested in purchasing a copy, it can be ordered online at: trafford.com/05-0937 or from Valerie herself at samuelsvr@yahoo.com

Sibling Grief: Healing After the Death of a Sister or Brother, P. Gill White, iUniverse Inc., 2006, softcover, 112 pages

When a child dies, people close to that child feel the loss: the parents, the grandparents, the siblings. While we tend to focus on supporting and providing resources for parents, the grandparents and siblings also have unique experiences. This book focuses on sibling loss and as bereaved parents, we need to be aware that the loss of our child(ren) also affects our living children. Depending upon the age of each child when his/her sibling dies and under what circumstances (born still, illness, accident, suicide), the situation can be very difficult for siblings as well. Not only are their parents not emotionally available to them for an amount of time (sometimes years), they have lost a comrade, partner, playmate, friend, confident and so much more.

While this book does not touch on multiple-birth co-sibling loss and the unique challenges faced by the survivors, nevertheless, there are many parallels included which parents will be able to relate to, understand and act on to support and assist their living co-multiples in dealing with a co-sibling’s loss.

White, who lost a sister when she was 15, has broken her book down into the different ages at which loss might occur and provided guidance and insight for parents at each stage. She breaks down the healing practices into 5 steps: learning about sibling loss and the grief process; allowing yourself to grieve; connection with other bereaved siblings; telling your story; and finding meaning in the loss.

There are a plethora of resources listed in her helpful and supportive book, also broken down into detailed categories so that bereaved siblings can make other connections as they might need. This book would not only be a terrific resource for professionals whose clients are looking for grief support around the death of a sibling but also for parents having lost a child(ren) and suporting/helping their surviving child(ren) deal with their own emotions around the loss.

Journeys: Stories of Pregnancy After Loss, edited by Amy L. Abbey, Woven Word Press, 2006, 183 pages, softcover

Losing a child is a parent’s worse nightmare. In our fantasies about our lives and how they will play out, we never envision that we will lose a child. In fact we have the most beautiful baby (or babies) in the world and everyone lives happily ever after. The truth is, that sometimes parents lose their baby. There may be no discernable rhyme nor reason to the loss, making the loss much worse as we blame ourselves, our bodies, the world.

Getting pregnant after a loss has additional issues: Will we lose another pregnancy? What are my chances of losing another pregnancy? When is the optimum time to try again? When another pregnancy does occur, time lines can be emotionally depleting, especially if they mirror those of the unsuccessful pregnancy. Such fears and questions are normal.

Journeys: Stories of Pregnancy After Loss, edited by Amy L. Abbey, chronicles stories of loss by parents whom have suffered the worst kind of loss. This touching and caring book speaks to the pain of losing a much-wanted and loved baby, through miscarriage, stillbirth or just after birth. One by one parents recount how their pregnancy progressed, some knowing ahead of time that their precious child would not live to feel the sun. Parents speak to their innocence about their pregnancy, their joys, and about the journey of the distress of their loss. Some share their disbelief with the news of their child’s prognosis and of processing that knowledge. They share how they coped through their loving relationships with each other, family and friends. Some had other children but the emptiness remains in spite of the subsequent joy of the birth of a healthy child.

I think it is important not only to tell the stories of precious lives lost, but also in letting us know that we are not alone in our grief. By sharing their stories, these courageous parents have honoured the short lives of their babies while at the same time extending a hand and loving spirit to other grieving families experiencing the same situation. Together we are so much stronger and the path, while still bumpy and often uphill, is somehow made a little better.

  • The Loss of a Multiple: Miscarriage, Stillbirth, Infancy , Multiple Births Canada
  • The Loss of a Multiple: Childhood, Teens , Multiple Births Canada
  • Empty Cradle, Broken Heart: Surviving the Death of your Baby , Deborah L. Davis, Fulcrum Publishing
  • Living When a Loved One has Died , Earl A. Grollman, Beacon Press
  • Men & Grief (a guide for Men surviving the Death of a Loved One), Carol Staudacher, New Harbinger Publications
  • On Children and Death , Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, Collier Books
  • Questions and Answers on Death and Dying , Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, Macmillan Publishing Co.
  • When a Baby Dies: A Handbook for Healing and Helping , Rana K. Limbo and Sara Rich Wheeler, RTS Bereavement Services
  • When Hello Means Goodbye: a guide for parents whose child dies before birth, at birth or shortly after birth , Pat Schwieber and Paul Kirk, Perinatal Loss
  • The Worst Loss: How Families Heal from the Death of a Child , Barbara D. Rosof, Henry Hold and Co., N.Y.
  • Forever Our Angels, Hannah Stone, 2006, Lulu Publishing, 96 pages, soft cover, $7.95 US.
    Web site: http://www.lulu.com/content/216306

Hannah Stone suffered three pregnancy losses along with the births of five healthy children.  Each of her children were much-wanted but not all of her babies were able to stay to be a family on earth.  While Hannah located books on loss, grief and others offering coping strategies, they did not meet her needs of wanting to know her feelings were normal and not feeling as if she needed to hide her loss.  As such, she decided to create the book she never found in the hopes that others might also find solace as she needed.

Her book, while not addressing multiple birth loss, is a collection of about 15 personal stories of miscarriage.  Grieving parents share their confusion, grief, numbness, having to put on a ‘happy face’ for others and some acknowledge their anger at God for taking their baby before s/he had a chance at life.  This is not a book about being fair.

When we share our grief and say our baby’s(ies) name, we honour our Little Lights of Life and confirm that our Forever Angels remain in our hearts.  The future is forever changed.  Parents learn that the world can be a cruel place and their discussion centres around the struggle to find a new “normal.”

While Forever Our Angels rips at the heart, families suffering the early loss of much wanted babies, will no doubt find comfort in knowing they are not alone in their grief.

Remembering Our Angels: Personal Stories of Healing from a Pregnancy Loss, Hannah Stone, www.lulu.com, March, 2007, softcover, 138 pages

Courageous and very sad families have shared their stories of loss(es), how they have handled their loss and how their lives have changed as a result of losing their precious baby(ies). While these stories are difficult to read, they are also compelling and the fact that these parents are honouring their children by sharing each aspect of their short lives, the reader cannot remain untouched. In fact, we shouldn’t be untouched. Nothing about losing a baby is fair or right.

Stone includes one family’s story of loss of one twin, and I submitted an article addressing some of the challenges multiple birth families must face and how friends, family, professionals and the community can do their part to support and assist each bereaved family.

For Surviving Co-Multiples

  • The Survivor , Lynne Schulz, 2003, Pleasant World – with Foreward by Lynda P. Haddon
  • Living Without Your Twin , Betty Jean Case, Tibbutt Publishing
  • The Lone Twin: Understanding Twin Bereavement and Loss , Joan Woodward, 1998, Free Association Books
  • The End of the Twins: A Memoir of Losing a Brother, by Saul Diskin, The Overlook Press
  • Twin Loss: A Book for Survivor Twins, by Raymond Brandt, Courier Printing Co.
0 comments on “Vanishing Twin and Multifetal Pregnancy Reduction: New Reproductive Technologies, New Losses”

Vanishing Twin and Multifetal Pregnancy Reduction: New Reproductive Technologies, New Losses

There are two types of losses which, in my opinion, are often overlooked, not only by family and friends, but also by many professionals, including medical practitioners, therapists and grief counsellors. Those two losses are Vanishing Twin and Multifetal Pregnancy Reduction.

For reasons which can be understood, although debated, one can see why they might be marginalized (it’s an early loss…, “you hadn’t yet had time to bond with your child(ren)” or “at least you still have one [two]”). However judging by the number of e-mails I receive from families with questions, disbelief, concerns and aching hearts, I think, as a society, we need to take a hard and long look at how we are supporting (or seemingly not supporting) families experiencing such losses.

Vanishing Twin (VT) is a surprisingly common situation, certainly judging by how many questions I receive (it’s the most hit-on article on my site). Even as a young girl, I can remember a couple of my Mom’s women friends saying something like, “It’s the strangest thing;  I’ve been bleeding but the doctor tells me I’m still pregnant.”  In hindsight and prior to the advent of ultrasound, I bet some of these women experienced VT.  Not knowing that they did might indeed be their story, and they continued on with their lives, thankful for their healthy baby.

In the messages I receive, parents narrate their stories, desperately looking for hope regarding the empty sac and asking “over time will there be a baby in it?”  Then there is the worry about the effect of VT on the health of the remaining embryo(s). Because ultrasounds are regularly performed at 5-8 weeks, we learn very early that we are pregnant and with how many.  Hence, to learn by 10-12 weeks the situation has changed dramatically is devastating to many families.  Doctors, ultrasound technicians, grief counsellors, friends, family all need to realize that the loss of these much-wanted children is two-fold:  first there is the loss of a baby, and then there is the loss of unique parenting experience. Passing off an early loss as “at least you still have one” is not the way to comfort anyone and only adds to the confusion and disappointment these parents feel while also depriving them of a right to safely talk about their feelings.

Multifetal Pregnancy Reduction (MFPR) is very complicated and in a recent 10-day period, I was contacted by six families facing reduction or who had just gone through it and were comfortable with their decision, and one who deeply regretted the decision and felt pressured to reduce or chance losing the whole pregnancy.  Here too, anyone coming in contact with families facing reduction needs to be in tune with the emotional strain, possibly lasting a life time, of having to decide to reduce.  Yes, a reduction offers a better chance to having healthy survivors; yes, a reduction improves the physical stress on the mother, and yes the brain tells us a reduction makes rational sense in so many instances.  None of this can be repudiated, but it isn’t just the brain making this decision; the heart is very much involved too and will not be ignored.  The heart is already in love with the babies within and wants desperately to believe that the pregnancy will continue to deliver healthy 3, 4 or 5 infants.

In some cases, it will and things work out, and sometimes things don’t work out so well for one or more of the babies.  There is the emotional strain of the decision:  Am I a killer of my baby(ies)? How will I ever tell the others?  When do I tell them?  Do I tell them?  My babies are already bonded in utero, how will a reduction affect the survivors?  All difficult questions and parents need informed guidance and support in finding solutions which will work for them.

MFPR is not a topic that can be easily discussed with family or friends.  The decision is usually made by the parents in conjunction with professionals and peer strangers who are located on the internet (e.g. other families experiencing or looking at reduction, caring support people and organizations who guide them along the rocky path).  Parents can feel very isolated, frightened and alone in making a decision which bears such significant and life altering impact.  If the discussion to reduce does include family members or friends, then it is no longer a “secret” and telling the kiddies of their origins takes on a new urgency so that parents have control over how and when the children are told.

There are no easy answers but one thing is for sure and that is these grieving families need society’s support, comfort, and understanding in a non-judgmental way.  They are mourning their losses and like any grieving individual, deserve a safe place to do so, with caring people all around them who do not minimize or de-legitimize their loss.  It is the least we can do.

By Lynda P. Haddon, Article copyrighted.

Multiple Births Canada
www.multiplebirthscanada.org

0 comments on “Timely Medical Response When a Baby Dies”

Timely Medical Response When a Baby Dies

For nearly 20 years, I have provided grief support and resources to parents losing one, more or all their multiple-birth children. On their behalf, I reflect on a situation which warrants some discussion.

There are some healthcare professionals who, while Mom is pregnant and for follow-up after birth, encourage appointments and answer questions; yet, if there is a loss by or at delivery they stop being accessible after the initial one or two postnatal visits; they refuse to provide a timely medical response.

Yet again, I heard from a Mom who, four months after the birth of her twin survivor, has no word on lab test results in spite of several calls to her doctor’s office.  She is afraid to call again because the staff has become cool and abrupt.  Another Mom said, “It’s been a year since the autopsy and I still don’t have any results. I’ve had to hire a social worker to follow up on the results because I’m so overwhelmed with grief and anger, I can’t function.”  And, from another Mom, “I know the office dreads my call.”

Think of the parents. They are trying to deal with a twin (triplet or quadruplet) survivor(s) [and perhaps other children as well], come to terms with and grieve the death of their baby(ies) and hopefully learn why he/she/they died. After repeated attempts to get information, some parents may be perceived as pushy or emotional, however handling the baby’s(ies) death requires getting report results from their doctor’s office and not making them feel side-lined, minimized or ignored.

We know doctors are busy, but why is it that bereaved parents sometimes cannot get timely feedback on autopsies, lab results from blood work/placental examination or other situations where the medical world explores why the baby(ies) died? Sure, some tests take time; however, initiating a call to the parents at least once in a while, until the answers come in, would be sensible, considerate, and an acknowledgement of the families’ grief and pain.

It’s true, some causes of death cannot be explained and parents may never learn why their baby(ies) died. If this is the case, then don’t those parents still deserve to hear, “In spite of all the tests, we don’t know why your baby(ies) died.”? Surely parents have been through enough already!

Even if certain tests take months for results to come back, let the parents know. Often parents fantasize about why their baby(ies) died, sometimes blaming themselves or each other. Such a situation puts an added strain on the marriage and marriages crack and break. As well, a preoccupation with getting results affects availability and parenting abilities for the surviving children.

One would think that being compassionate would be easy, and I suppose most days it is; but when one is too busy (and I strongly suspect that is a big part of the problem for many doctors, nurses and hospital staff), then compassion can fall by the wayside and it is the most vulnerable who suffer as a result.

0 comments on “Keeping Walker and Losing Willis”

Keeping Walker and Losing Willis

My husband Michael and I found out we were having twins on October 20, 2006 which also just so happened to be the day we were married. I was attending school in Tuscaloosa, Alabama at the University of Alabama and I started to feel so sick I could barely eat. I knew right then that I was pregnant, I just knew.

Michael and I were both excited and we went to the courthouse and got married as soon as we left the doctor’s office that day. We were just glowing and tell everyone down  at the courthouse that we were expecting twins.  Nothing could bring us down that day.

We spent the next few months guessing what sex they would be.  On December 4 we found out they were both boys. We named them Walker and Willis after each of our grandpas. I loved both of those babies with all my heart.

I continued to still be sick even in my fifth month and had trouble keeping food down, but I told God all the time I would suffer through whatever if only he would keep my babies safe. I really believed that he would. I never expected the news we got on January 3 when I went back in for a routine ultra sound.  Twin A no longer had a heart beat and from that moment I just went into complete shock. I started crying right there on the ultrasound table and I just couldn’t believe it. The doctor came in and told me he was sorry, he said we now had to focus on getting Walker here safely.  He sent me to a specialist who said that Walker looked very healthy and that Walker might even go full term.

I was so thankful to still have Walker fighting as he did, but of course I always thought of Willis and wondered what happened to him. I even wondered if it was my fault. I wondered why God would not want me to have both of my babies.  My mother in law told people that I needed to stop talking about Willis and focus on Walker. That really hurt, how dare her. Willis was just as much my baby as Walker, and he was Walker’s brother. I will never stop talking about him.

At home, I began to have anxiety attacks. I would wake up at night and just panic because I would not feel Walker move. Most of the time I would just shake because I was so nervous and scared for Walker. After several late night visits to the hospital and an ultrasound that showed Walker was not doing very good, they sent me to Huntsville where the specialist was to remain in the hospital and be monitored until Walker was born.  The nurses were so wonderful to me in the hospital.  They comforted me and tried to reassure me that Walker looked wonderful on the heart monitor.  And at night when they would hear me crying they came in there to hand me tissues and get me whatever I needed. I don’t know what I would have done without my nurses.

Dr. Bailey, the specialist was heaven sent. I don’t know if Walker would be here if it was not for him. He took such good care of us and he is the one who made the decision to put me in the hospital.

On March 6, 2007, at 11:22 p.m., Walker Joseph was born and Willis’ little body was delivered too by C section. Walker was beautiful and was sent immediately to the neonatal, he was only three pounds.  It sounds weird but I really thought more of Willis those first couple of days, because I knew that now I had to start saying my goodbyes to him. After all those months, he had been with me, even in death he remained in me.  Now I had to give him up. I held him close, and talked to him. I wondered why so many times, but that question will not be answered here on this earth, I know there was a reason.

After losing Willis, I remember the hospital staff that handled the birth certificate came and had me review Walker’s birth certificate. I noticed it said he was a single birth and I started to cry. I asked her why it didn’t say twin. She said it was not considered a twin anymore but she would ask for me.  In the end, they would not change it. It hurt but I tried to understand where they were coming from.

Walker is doing well, he is four months now and twelve pounds. He is a blessing, but of course I will always wish Willis was here with us. But Walker fought so hard even when his brother was gone. I often wonder what he thought when Willis was no longer beside him kicking and was no longer moving.  I thank God everyday for Walker and thank my nurses and my doctor that I now have a precious baby.

I often think about how I used to pray that God would take care of both of my babies and I now see that he has. Walker is here with us and Willis is in heaven where no pain will even touch him. That is what comforts me the most. Thank you so much for this opportunity to share about my babies.

Sincerely,

Brooke (Florence, Alabama)

0 comments on “I am blessed with twin boys…”

I am blessed with twin boys…

I am blessed with twin boys that are nearing their fifteenth birthday, and have had two singleton pregnancies since. A couple of weeks after my youngest son turned one in December 2006 I discovered that a surprise was on the way. At an ultrasound at 8 weeks the technician asked *Do you see what I see?* and I thought I was going to faint – it was twins, again! They were measuring right on target and both had strong heartbeats, and more importantly they had their own placentas and sacs. I went searching for my husband on his postal route to show him the pictures, I couldn’t wait until that night to tell him our news!

As the next few weeks went on I had two more sonograms at a perinatolgist’s office as I was seen as high risk because of my age (36). I actually got the nuchal screening done twice, because they felt the first was done a little early. The results were wonderful, and I was actually feeling occasional movement by both babies at that point (confirmed during a scan….one of the babies flipped as the tech was pushing down with the wand and we both felt it).

We were on cloud nine, and was feeling confidant as I entered my second trimester. Then, at my 16 week appointment my doctor couldn’t find Twin A’s heartbeat. I had a terrible feeling that something was wrong because I had actually felt different…less pregnant…in the last week or so. My doctor reassured me that A was probably hiding behind B, and I reasoned that it was possible since both babies’ heartbeats were virtually the same. I was told to come back in two days for a scan (tech is only in the office on certain days).

I was scared to death the day I went in..yet in the back of my mind I felt I was worrying over nothing, I just couldn’t fathom that one of our babies had possibly died when things were going so well. The tech quickly scanned over Twin A and honed in on B’s heart and started talking about how well the baby looked. At that moment I knew something was wrong, so I told her I knew that B was doing well as I could feel him/her and I wanted to see A. She went back to the baby and said *I’m so sorry, but your baby has died.* What I felt at that moment I hope to never experience again. The ache in my heart was worse than any I had ever felt before.

She estimated that he/she died around 14 1/2 weeks. The baby looked so peaceful, curled up like he/she was just sleeping. The technician was sweet and printed a picture for me, and then went back to Twin B to do a thorough scan. It was then that I found out we were expecting a girl, and that she looked wonderful. I was happy, but not like I should have been. Instead I cried for my lost child, I wanted answers that couldn’t be given.

I had been rear-ended a week before Twin A had died, but saw the doctor that day. They had found both heartbeats on the doppler and I wasn’t having any pain or bleeding so all my doctors think it had nothing to do with it. I was told that I may bleed or cramp, and that Twin A would probably reabsorb so there wouldn’t be anything left to test after the birth.

I have been monitored closely, and have slowly watched my little girl grow while her brother/sister still remains. Now that I’m 35 weeks, I have been told that I will deliver Twin A (named Jordan) after the live twin (Alexandria), but they really don’t know what to expect. They also couldn’t tell me what we need to do to make arrangements since the loss occurred before 20 weeks. We can’t afford any type of burial, and I was told by my one of my doctors that it may not be worth the cost to have him/her cremated. But I most certainly am not going to allow the hospital to just *dispose* of our child either. Every day I tell myself that I am going to call a funeral home, but I can never bring myself to pick up the phone.

Some days are better than others, some family and friends have been better about the situation than others. I have been told to get over it and to focus on my live children, yet they can’t possibly fathom what it feels like to carry a child that lives and one that has died. I’ve already been through the shock and anger, and am able to focus more on the coming birth of our daughter, and am so grateful that she’s doing well…yet I feel cheated. I should be preparing for two babies, not one.

0 comments on “At 6 weeks we found out… A Story of Loss”

At 6 weeks we found out… A Story of Loss

At 6 weeks we found out we were pregnant with twins. My husband and I were so excited because we wanted to have more children (we had a daughter already). We were scared at first because we wondered if we would be able to handle twins but as time went on we got more and more excited.

When I went in for my 12 week ultrasound the ultrasound tech started to look at my babies and we heard both heartbeats. She then momentarily stopped the ultrasound to check her computer to see which baby was Baby A and which was Baby B. When she started the ultrasound again she could only hear one heartbeat, even though both my babies were still there. My Baby B had died at that moment. She tried desperately to find a heartbeat and even went and recruited the help of other ultrasound techs to try and find it. She kept telling the other two utlrasound techs that the heartbeats were both there and now she could only hear one.

I was devasted! I wondered if perhaps this was a punishment for questioning whether or not I could handle twins. I cried so much that day and for the next couple of weeks.

It has now been 8 months since that loss and I have since delivered my Baby A and she is beautiful! Though my heart will always miss my beautiful Baby B and though I will never forget that I had twins inside of me, I will always look at my vanishing twin as a guardian angel for the little angel I was blessed with. I know how hard it is and I know that though other people try to be helpful they have no idea what you are going through.

Rejoice in the blessing you DO receive and I hope this gives comfort to anyone who is going through this great loss. Thank you for listening to my story.

0 comments on “One year into our marriage…”

One year into our marriage…

One year into our marriage, my husband and I decided we were ready to start our family. To our surprise, we were having identical twin girls! My pregnancy progressed normally and I felt great. We had even named the babies. “Baby A” was named Lora and “Baby B” was named Lilly.

At 32 weeks gestation, I went into the hospital because the babies didn’t seem to be moving as much as normal. An ultrasound was done and to our horror, Lilly’s heart was not beating. I can’t even begin to describe the raw,deep pain my husband and I felt at that moment. Like we just fell off the edge of the tallest cliff. Our lives flashed in front of us. I can remember thinking and I may have even said it out loud, “No, this is not happening….if I close my eyes, I’ll wake up from this nightmare.”

After repeating the ultrasound numerous times and staring at that one little heart that was just as still as the air in the hospital room, it was confirmed. Lilly had died. Those memories are so vivid. My doctor put his hand on mine and said, “I’m so sorry….” And, the tears rolled from my eyes. Just as they are now, four years later. It was December 22, 2001. My world was torn apart. We had to make a decision. Deliver now through emergency C-section, wait and give me steroid injections to help mature the surviving twin’s lungs before delivery, or just wait for my body to go into labor. My words were, “Take her out now, we can’t lose her too….please…please save her”. So we did.

I remember the nurse asking my doctor if she should prepare for two babies and the knife that was in my heart turned a little deeper when I heard him say, “No, that won’t be necessary.”

My doctor performed the C-section. Lora was born first–2:49 PM. Barely breathing. The delivery room was so quiet. She didn’t even cry. I wanted to die. I really did. I couldn’t imagine myself making it through this. So many thoughts were in my head lying there on the operating table. My doctor let me know he was now working on getting Lilly out. I have never prayed so hard in my life….”Please God, please let her be alive…please let me hear her cry…PLEASE GOD…PLEASE GOD…PLEASE GOD…PLEASE GOD!” Silence. The most horrible silence. It was really true. Lilly was gone–2:51 PM.

In recovery, through tearful eyes, we met Lilly for the first time. We met her first, the nurses and doctors were busy trying to stabilize Lora enough to have her transferred to another hospital better equipped with a NICU. Our family met Lilly too. Everyone cried so much. We all loved her so much.

Two hours later, Lora was stable enough for the transport. We got to see her briefly just before the team took her into the ambulance. It was a very short 1st meeting…some alarms went off just before they slammed the incubator shut and stormed out of the room hurriedly. Lora was “crashing” again. In all of this horror, all I could do was pray. One of my babies had died and no one was sure if the other would make it either. The ambulance had to pull over twice to stabilize Lora on the 30 mile transport.

Lora was put on the ventilator for 4 days and stayed in the hospital for about a month. We made it through another hospitalization about 2 weeks after she came home. It was rough. But, we made it. She is now 4 years old, healthy, and functioning normally. Lora knows all about Lilly. We speak of her often. She is very much a part of our life.

Two years later we were blessed with the birth of our second set of twin girls. Both survived and are doing fine. Lora is 4 years old and Lauren and Lindsay are 2 years old. Both pregnancies were conceived naturally. The second pregnancy was extremely stressful, of course, but everyone made it through just fine.

We are blessed to have our own little Angel watching over us. God, I wish she were here, but…she has gotten us through many of life’s whirlwinds. We owe it all to Lilly.

Love your children. Tell them everyday how much you love them and how lucky you are to have them. They are such precious gifts.

In loving memory of our little “Lilly.”