“One twin” – it seems like a contradiction in terms…It was not something we ever would have imagined at the time of learning that we were expecting twin babies, and everything became “twos”. Yet for so many of us, because of the high risks in pregnancy and birth, it is the way it turned out: we have one to care for and raise while missing and mourning for his or her twin. We experience all the realities of becoming a parent at the very same time as all the realities of becoming a bereaved parent, and all in one package. Not this year and next year, but all at once now, and “my twins”. We grieve for our baby and for our twins being together, and we worry about the impacts on our survivor. It is often a deeply sad, confusing, and physically and emotionally exhausting time. We’re the last ones who need to be told to be grateful when a baby lives – yet finding joy in our survivor can be a huge challenge, for so many reasons, even though we need and want to all the more, and want our child to be happy.
As if this weren’t enough, many of us experience feeling like we don’t fit in anywhere, and that no one understands what we are having to go through and cope with. We also usually receive comments by others who may mean well but aren’t trying to “get it”, urging us to downplay or even deny our loss. (Like we want to hurt so much – but it hurts more to act like this baby was the only one or that our other child didn’t matter.) With all the attention paid to living multiples, and little shown of the risks and realities, it is also easy to feel that we truly are the only one and are much more unique than (sadly) we actually are.
Just when others think we are or should be doing fine, is often when we need the most support. Because of all the realities and pressures of caring for a newborn (and for many, having a tiny survivor who is in the NICU) none of us is in the position of being able to “only” grieve, as painful as that is. Many of us find that the grieving process really begins when we bring our survivor home, and for many of us that means after weeks or months in the NICU (and just when others might think everything would be “normal” now). Later also there are pressures from others and from within ourselves to be “fine”, to be coping, to not expect to spend much time thinking about our baby who died or doing what we need to do in relation to him or her. Sometimes we get used to putting our grief to the side and then it can seem scary to get in touch with it when we do have the opportunity or the need.
But – we have the same amount of grief as anyone who loses a baby, plus the grief for “my twins” and the concern for our survivor, and so it gets stretched out over a fairly long period of time – longer, not shorter because of having a survivor, and complicated, not “easier”. Besides our sheer feelings of losing our baby, we have a great deal to re-live and process emotionally, mentally, spiritually, and even physically about what happened, “why” it happened, and how to somehow integrate it all into our ongoing life. While all that is going on, we are dealing with a birthday which is also the birthday, and then the anniversary, of our twin who died…other landmarks and day-to-day reminders…issues about talking to our survivor and about what they may be feeling, and similar for any older children we may have…and often, issues about another pregnancy.
All of this is a big order, especially when we think we’re supposed to do it without appearing to be, and without support. We don’t recommend you try it alone! and hope that this section and others in this site will be helpful in some way. This section is focused on the loss of a twin during pregnancy, at birth, or in the days or weeks after birth. Also in this site are sections on the loss of a twin or multiple to SIDS (which is relevant to other sudden losses in infancy), and the loss of an “older” twin or multiple (after the age of 1). The section If You’re Pregnant Now focuses on the needs of those who learn during pregnancy that one of their multiples has died (“going longer”), or will not survive past birth (“knowing ahead”), or who are pregnant after one twin has born born prematurely and died (“delayed interval delivery”). Also, we are in the process of constructing a section on raising and talking to surviving twins and multiples.
Here are some of the articles on the loss of a twin which are available now (others are being developed) and please be sure to see everything listed in the Bibliography. Loss of a twin: If your loss is now