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Archive for the ‘twin loss’ Category

I have been supporting and writing resources for bereaved parents, grandparents and surviving multiples for over 32 years and a few thoughts come to mind for the latter, i.e. surviving co-multiples (SC). SC, even when they lose their co-multiple in utero, at birth, shortly thereafter or in early childhood, can grieve enormously for their special womb mate(s). Survivors who have had their co-multiple for years and decades before he or she dies, find it extremely hard to go from “We” to “I.” One man stopped shaving when his MZ twin died, because he could not bear looking in the mirror. It is not uncommon for a survivor to want to die, kill themselves, and join their co-multiple.
 
I have thought long and hard about to better prepare, if it is at all possible, the SC for when the time came when they must be alone. Of course there will be difficult days, unbearable grief, fear, loneliness, emptiness, feeling incomplete and so much more. But what if parents did better at the beginning of their multiples’ lives? By better, I mean teaching and encouraging their multiples to not only enjoy their multiple relationship but also be comfortable with being alone and separated from time to time from their co-multiple? Some ideas I have in mind are quite a few “DON’Ts”:
 
-DON’T give them rhyming names, or names which begin with the same letter as this presents them as a package;
-DON’T call them “the twins” or “the triplets” which also presents them as a group and there is no individuality in these labels, nor is their gender known;
-DON’T continually dress them alike. Once again, it presents them as a group and it can impossible to recognize the individual;
-DON’T always take them out only together. Split them up from time to time for errands, groceries, doctor appointments, sleep overs at grandparents and so much more. This helps them be apart, yet they can enjoy each other’s company upon their return. Parents also get one-on-one time;
-DON’T keep doing their hair alike. Let each individual personality shine through;
-DON’T insist they only sleep together or in the same room. Give them each their own space. Room in your house may be a challenge but there are ways to “divide” a room so that each area can reflect the personality of the occupant.
-DON’T insist they be in the same classroom because they are multiples. When possible, let them develop without them always being under their co-multiple’s eye.
-DON’T dress them alike each day for school. This is not only hard on teachers having to use their names and correctly tell them apart, but it is confusing for peers too. Not everyone appreciates your children dressed alike.
-DON’T insist that each be invited to the same parties. This can cause problems for any multiple not originally invited. Allow each to branch out, have their own friends and then do something special with the one not invited.
-DON’T force them to be in the same sports or after school activities. Allow each to shine on their own merits.  Yes it means you drive to only one place, but it also can negatively effect your multiples over the long run.
 
No studies have been put in place to see if any of these ideas would help support SC get through their loss experience later in life, but I wonder if it would be worth a try to see if encouraging and supporting individuality within our multiples would help over the long run. We CANNOT get caught up at the front end of our children’s lives with items that “make parents happy (such as dressing them alike all the time or giving them rhyming names),” when at the end of their lives they will need to face their permanent separation with no tools in their toolbox to cope. There is a good chance that we may not be around to help our survivor cope with the magnitude of their loss so it stands to reason that parents need to look at outfitting their multiples from birth for the time when they will eventually have to stand alone. Based on this, can we not consider some of the above, and maybe other DON’Ts as well, in order to ensure that our survivors have the best chance possible of not choosing the idea of killing themselves in order to be with their co-multiple???
 
For more in depth information on Survivors of Multiple Births, please see my Web Site at http://www.jumelle.ca
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It is common to have a balloon release at either funerals or memorials and let’s face it, the colourful balloons are appealing as they gently wend their way skyward, seemingly heading towards Heaven and where we believed our loved ones have gone.  They are hard to resist and all those present can partake.

PLEASE RECONSIDER A BALLOON RELEASE.  Some balloons are noted as being biodegradable but over what period of time?  If a released balloon is made of mylar, it is not biodegradable.  What about the ribbons or strings attached to the balloons?  Are they biodegradable too?  Balloons can float for miles and get caught on Hydro wires, in trees, come to rest in lakes, rivers and on the ground.  In these places they can be mistaken by birds, turtles and fishes as food and when ingested, they block their digestive systems causing death.  Birds’ necks can get caught in strings/ribbons affecting their ability to swallow and eventually causing their deaths.  Even their feet are at risk of becoming entangled when the ribbons are stuck in trees.  If caught on wires, balloons and strings can cause disruption to electrical services and in trees, at a minimum, they are an eye sore.

CONSIDER HAVING A HOMING PIGEON OR DOVE RELEASE INSTEAD.  This is equally beautiful and memorable service, doesn’t hurt the environment and the birds wend their way back home after they are released.

Do you have another alternative to balloons that you would like to share?

 

 

 

 

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On Mother’s Day, I can think of no Mother more deserving than a Mother who had to

give one back.

Erma Bombeck

 

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You must do the thing you think you cannot do.     Eleanor Roosevelt

Learning to accept what was unthinkable changes you.   Jackie Kennedy

We cannot afford to forget any experience, not even the most painful.

 Dag Hamarshjold

 

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Some ideas and suggestions which can go into a Memory Box:

  1. Plaster and/or foot prints, if possible.  Sometimes the hospital staff will take them, the funeral home or a local individual who specializes in such work.  They can also be framed into a shadow box as a cherished momento.
  2. Photographs in a variety of poses:  singly, together, dressed, undressed, just hands and/or feet, with parents, siblings, grandparents.
  3. Ultrasound pictures, cards, notes receive.
  4. Photographs from the funeral.
  5. Hospital bracelet(s).
  6. Special ornament for the holidays.
  7. Honorary birth certificate if baby was born still.  Make sure the hospital correctly identifies the multiple-birth.  The loss of one triplet, does not make twins.
  8. Death Certificate.
  9. Some items such as ultrasounds and/or photos can be etched into crystal.  An internet search will provide information regarding such services.

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Linda Leonard has created an amazing, comprehensive resource regarding multiple births in British Columbia, Canada 🇨🇦️ and beyond. This in depth brochure will be of interest to parents expecting twins or more, grandparents, healthcare professionals, researchers, grieving parents, and any one else with an interest in multiple births. Lots of information and resources re breastfeeding of multiples. I am so excited about this valuable brochure. Check it out here: https://nursing.ubc.ca/pdfs/twinstripletsandmore.pdf

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In 2006 I gave birth to fraternal twin boys who were sadly stillborn. I was 34 weeks pregnant. They weighed 5 pounds 4 ounces and 6 pounds 3 ounces.  I am also the mother of 4 living sons.

In August the year before, I had [had]my tubes tied so we would not have anymore children. I started to get sick after the procedure and told the doctor. She said that I might have an infection from the procedure. I also complained of pain, so she sent me for a ultrasound cause she said I most likely had cysts on my ovaries. A week after the ultrasound was done I called to get the results and found out I was pregnant again and this time with twins. My husband and I needless to say were very surprised but extremely happy about the news as we thought we no longer could have children. My first question was if they were OK  because I had the surgery around the time they were conceived. The doctor did not check before I had the surgery to see if I was pregnant.

Everything was fine right up till the end. Two weeks before they passed away, I went to the hospital in extreme pain on the left side of my stomach. I was given Tylenol, hooked up to a fetal heart monitor and then sent home. I was told what ever happened inside my uterus my babies were tolerating it well and that was it. No further tests were done. The next day I saw my doctor and told her what happened. She said if it happened again to go back to the hospital and only to come back to see her in two weeks. I never got to see her again. A week and a half later I had a ultrasound that was booked weeks before anything went wrong. [At that time] I was told they were perfectly healthy little boys. I had noticed that the baby on the left’s heart rate was lower than it normally was and I asked why. She said it was because there was really no more room left to grow, he wasn’t active and probably sleeping at the moment. 

On the Tuesday after my ultrasound I went for a nap before my husband had to go to work. I woke up and started to get supper ready for my four boys. I cleaned and then received a phone call from my sister-in-law that she wanted to take my youngest son for the night. I got him ready. By the time I had a few moments to sit, I [realized] that I did not feel any movement since before I went for my nap. I went to get something to eat and drink because usually that would make them move. When that didn’t work I tried to move them myself and nothing happened. I called my husband at work and told him I was going to the hospital. I told him I would call him because he was not allowed to leave unless I was in labor as I already called him home many times that week. I went to the hospital and they told me that they had one baby’s heartbeat but the other baby was probably hiding so they were going to give me a ultrasound to see and hear them better. That was the moment my heart truly broke. The doctor on call told me that both boys were dead. They said that they picked up my heartbeat earlier.  I asked them to call my husband at work. They couldn’t tell him anything on the phone and just told him that he needed to come. He arrived almost a hour later cause he went home first to change because he thought I was in labor and he gets really dirty at his job. When he arrived I heard the nurse tell him in the hallway just outside my room. I remember feeling so numb, how could this be happening to us? 

My stay in the hospital was very emotionally straining because of rude comments I had to endure from medical staff (which I did make a formal complaint about). It was hard enough to deal with what I had to go through then I had to deal with what these (so called) medical professionals were saying to me.  EXAMPLE:  A lab technician said “You had a baby?” I said “Yes, I had twin boys” she asked “Where are your babies?” I said “They passed away.” She replied “Oh you’re the one they are talking about downstairs.  You don’t want any sick or mal-formed babies anyway.  It’s for the best they died.” My sons were not sick , they were not mal-formed. They were healthy little boys. There were other comments as well.

I was told that Lucas died first and he was the baby on the left, the side I  first had problems on, and the baby whose heart rate was lower than it normally was.  I have yet to receive the results of the autopsy report.  I was told by the doctor who delivered my sons that the test they received back showed no cause. I can’t deal with the fact I am being told I buried two healthy little boys. I delivered my boys by c-section and it was discovered later that I had an infection from the surgery.  L. was born at 2:16pm and weighed 5’4 lbs. R. was born at 2:17pm and weighed 6’3 lbs. I remember returning to my room it was 4:30pm. The nurse brought in my babies and placed them both in my arms. I remember thinking they just look like they were sleeping but I knew they would never wake up from this sleep. I kissed each of their little heads and told them I was sorry and that I loved them. The nurse came and took them to another room.  I later asked for them again because I wanted to hold them individually.

We had two services for them because we live so far away from home. We had a service where we live which was open casket and which was the choice of two of my older children. I’m glad we did that because I was feeling a bit better from the surgery than when I originally saw the babies and this time I got the chance to kiss them good-bye without feeling all groggy from pain meds. We had to transfer their bodies ourselves back home which was a hard, long drive (7 hours).  My aunts put together the service back home which was more than I ever expected. I hadn’t been home in 2 years and it was really something to see how many people cared. My boys were not planned but I wanted them more than anything in this world and as each day goes by, I miss more then I think my heart can handle at some times.

 

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