Though it occurs much less often than “going longer”, and probably less often than “knowing ahead”, in recent years it’s become more common for doctors to attempt a delayed interval delivery when one of the twins or multiples is born very prematurely. After that baby is born, measures are taken to try to keep the remaining baby or babies in for as long as possible, with a better chance to survive and be healthy. Though there is not a great deal of information in print, other than individual case reports, the Bibliography includes an article in Iatrogenic Multiple Pregnancy, information in Newman & Luke’s book, and an article in Twins Magazine a few years ago.
It’s important to understand that it is often not even possible to attempt a delayed interval delivery, and even when it is tried, many do not succeed. We know quite a few who have (for example) given birth to their first triplet at 20 or 21 weeks, kept the others in but gone into labor (or infection) and had to deliver the other babies at 23 weeks, still before they were viable. (On the other side, there are mothers whose twin or multiple born earlier does live, as well as those born later.) We do though have a number of members who have lost one of their twins, triplets or quads after being born very prematurely, then given birth to a healthy survivor or survivors several months later. One mother who is active in our group gave birth to one of her twins at 18 weeks along, and his healthy sister at 35 weeks (and this experience came after losing both her twins in the same scenario of preterm labor at 18 weeks in her first pregnancy).
This situation of being simultaneously pregnant with a baby or babies while experiencing the death of a baby and having to go through all the realities of that – seeing and saying goodbye to the baby, making arrangements, going through the burial and so on (sometimes after the baby having been alive in the NICU for some time) – is clearly a really unique and challenging one, and all the more so when the babies are part of a “set”. In her article, “Rebuilding a Life After Multiple Birth Loss” (see the Bibliography) Elizabeth Pector, MD has pointed out some of the unique challenges, such as how to experience both of the twins together, and how to have a photo of them together. The biggest challenge for many has been how to grieve as much as they need to while fearful of being able to keep the other baby or babies in, along with being able to grieve later for the other baby and “my twins” or “my triplets” or more once the survivor is safely home. We hope that as this site develops, we can develop some further suggestions for parents who are experiencing a delayed interval birth after the death of one of the babies. Very special thanks to those who have shared their stories here.