When we were pregnant with our multiples, the last thing on the minds of most of us was another pregnancy. The death of one or more, both or all of them brings that issue to the forefront in a way that we never could have imagined, and in the most difficult possible way. Parents who have suffered the loss of both or all their babies find themselves – even in the midst of the shock and devastation – thinking intensely about another pregnancy. If they had their babies after infertility, seeing their own, precious children for the first time adds even more urgency – and there are practical reasons that they may not be able to wait too long to try again, even though they had not expected to start over. For others who lost both or all their babies, it feels like there is an enormous chasm which must be filled. For those of us who lost a twin or higher multiple(s), we find ourselves holding a beautiful newborn baby or babies that we didn’t know we’d ever have – and at times all we can think about is having another one. Whatever actually does happen later, the issue of another pregnancy is right there from the very beginning, while we go through the very complicated grieving process in multiple birth loss.
For some, though, there is the knowledge that another pregnancy will not be possible, because they had a tubal ligation at the time of the birth. Some in our group have had to undergo an emergency hysterectomy after the birth of their twins or triplets, in order to save their own life from complications. For some with the loss of a multiple in childhood, another pregnancy is not possible because of their own age. These parents all have to deal with the loss being the final event in their childbearing, and not having another pregnancy – or even fantasizing about another pregnancy – as one way of dealing with their grief and loss. Some of our members in these situations have had very good experiences with adoption (as did a family who had lost one of their adopted twins to SIDS), and some are trying surrogacy as well. One family surprised themselves by adopting young twins who came to them through foster care.
Others have barriers to being able to conceive again – because of divorce, their age, or infertility, it’s not something that they can at all count on happening if they decide they are “ready”. Some have eventually not been able to conceive again, have suffered miscarriages, or have decided not to try further for medical or emotional reasons, and have had their family through adoption, though there are some who have not been able to do that for medical and financial reasons and do not have a living child. In families with a survivor, especially if there is another, older child, some parents decide that their family is complete even though they have one child less than what they had expected to have once they were having twins, and the same is true of families who have lost both or all their babies, had a older or subsequent child, and have been unable to conceive again. These stories, as well as stories of adoption, are very welcome in this section, as are comments on everything involved in deciding – and deciding when and how to decide – about trying to conceive again, or not, and how people come to terms with what their living family will actually be and when it is complete. We would also be very glad to include comments and stories on subsequent parenting. (See also our Siblings section).
For parents who do have a subsequent pregnancy, whether it’s a month or two later or three or five years later, and whatever was involved in becoming pregnant again, there are many, many emotions and realities. The kind of fear, vulnerability and related issues that mothers (especially) undergo are addressed in some of the resources that are listed here for subsequent pregnancy after a loss. For parents who have suffered a multiple birth loss, there are some special, additional issues that can be summed up by the question– Twins again?? (see our article below on issues in a subsequent pregnancy).
Heartfelt best wishes to all who are looking at subsequent childbearing (including adoption and other options) and parenting after multiple birth loss, and to those who do not know yet that it will be possible, or know that it won’t be. Heartfelt thanks to all those who shared their comments and stories in this section, and to CLIMB member Junelle Medler for gathering them and the book information at the end. Anyone is welcome to add to something from your own experience.