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Archive for the ‘twin loss’ Category

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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Question:  

I lost one of my twins in the womb.  My daughter is now 16 months old. I’ve been thinking what would be an appropriate age to tell her about her twin?

Suggestions:  

Hello,  I am so sorry to hear of the loss of your baby.  Nothing about losing a much-wanted child is easy.  I suggest to parents that they talk about the sibling as early as possible.  It is easier to begin with a young child then to try and break the news to a say, 14-year old who may be shocked to hear the information for the first time.  Teenagers have growing up issues to deal with and learning the truth about their origins later in life can be mind-boggling.  With a young child, the words are less important than with an older child and the parent gets chances to work through the way to deliver the news. When the truth is shared early on, the lost sibling is part of the fabric of who the survivor is vs them facing a completely different scenario at an older age and realizing that they are not who they thought they were.  Even starting now is not to soon.  “There should have been two of you.  Your Dad and I miss your little brother/sister very much and wish whole-heartedly s/he could be here, with us.” And such.  Short sentences, a few words as you also feel the ground for sharing.  It will no doubt be difficult for you as well.  

When your daughter begins to speak, she will eventually ask you questions.  Use age-appropriate language when answering, be honest, try not to avoid the topic – it may come up when you don’t feel like talking about the subject, and expect the same questions over and over.  This is how small children incorporate the idea of death.  It is hard for them to understand what it means to die.  Repetition helps.  “S/he was too sick to stay with us and be a family on earth”  is a gentle way to help her understand until she is older and better equipped for as much detail as you feel you can share.  Be prepared to cry sometimes and that is OK.  You can tell her you are glad to have her but not to have her brother/sister makes you feel sad.  You are helping her learn that life is not always fair, there are loving people around her nevertheless and she is not to blame because he/she died.  She may ask you at some point if the loss was her fault.  It is not her fault, nor yours or her Dad’s.  It was something sad that happened and you would change it if you could, but you can’t.

I hope these are some helpful ideas.  Please accept my sincere condolences on your loss. Lynda

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A parent’s challenge is to respect the multiple-birth bond, but also encourage their children to become happy, healthy individuals.  It can be easier to do things within the group and there is certainly much less pressure to socialize multiples, but are we doing them a favour when we constantly see them only or the majority of the time as a part of group?  I don’t think so.  I also think it is better for the children to be introduced to their separateness while they are still young, the younger the better.  In that way, doing somethings without their co-multiple(s) becomes a natural part of their lives and who they are.  Here are some ideas on encouraging your multiples to also go it alone:

1.  Encourage individual preferences, likes and dislikes amongst the children.  This can range from food choices, to book choices, to sport choices, to course choices.  Letting them choose their own clothes for the the day can also help them feel comfortable with choices that pertain to each of them individually.

2.  Grandparents may take only one for a sleepover.  This is so win/win for children, parents and grandparents.

3.  Going on an errand?  One on one time can be hard to have happen with multiples, so work that time in in the natural flow of things.  Take only one child on the errand: to the bank, for groceries, to the drugstore.  These little times apart present opportunities for parents to learn about each child’s particular ideas, thoughts, fears, and interests.  Helps with bonding as well.

4.  Don’t constantly dress them alike.  When they look like a package, they will be perceived as a package by everyone.

5.  This also goes for rhyming names.  We can do our children a huge disservice when we chose their names.  We are not always present to protect them as Larry, Harry and Gary need to go it alone sometimes.  Don’t help make them a target of ridicule over something they have had no control over even though the names may be a family tradition or because the parent thinks it is “cute.”.

6.  Separating their school classrooms can be an obvious choice.  They still see each other at lunch and recess but lessons are separate.  Stories at the end of the day are individual, with no competition between them.

7.  There is another very important reason to help our multiple-birth children also be able to be apart.  They arrive in the world together but they most likely will not leave the world together.  Giving them tools to learn to be separate from each other may be an important step in helping them deal with the future when their “We” will become “I.”  I have worked in multiple-birth bereavement support for nearly 25 years and it breaks my heard to hear from grown-up surviving multiples who cannot accpet or go on without their co-sibling.  They are stuck, in unbearable grief and cannot go.  Some are also suffering from survivor’s guilt.  Of course they will miss this very close person whom they have been together with since the beginning, that is natural.  What we don’t want is an inability to move forward, live a good life, and be happy just because their co-multiple has died.  A worse case scenario would be if the survivor(s) wished to join their deceased multiple.  Giving them some tools to be separate from each other at the beginning of their lives, while still enjoying and celebrating their bond, could be a gift that will present itself many years down the road.  You, as the parents, may not be alive to console and hold, so it will be even more important that the survivor(s) be able to work through their grief in a healthy manner.   Please remember that your children are individuals and multiples.

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If you or someone you know has lost one, more or all of their multiple-birth babies, consider

getting in touch with Multiple Births Canada’s Loss Support Network.  They can be reached at

http://www.multiplebirthscanada.org    They have been supporting bereaved families for over 15 years with

loss resources fitting many occasions (e.g. getting through the holidays), offer private e-mail Pen Pal connection

and a monthly newsletter, Forever Angels.  You are not alone.  We are here to help.

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