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Posts Tagged ‘twin loss’

Lynda speaks to reducing multiples on Canada’s CTV National News, 8th May, 2017: http://www.ctvnews.ca/health/study-links-fetal-reduction-in-multifetal-pregnancies-better-birth-outcomes-1.3403262

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Question:

My twin sister passed away 3 weeks ago and I am having such a hard time with her death. Can you suggest anything that may help me?  My heart is broken, I don’t want to do anything but stay at home.  I would appreciate any help you can give me.  Thanks!

Response:  

I am so sorry to hear of your loss.  Of course you are having a hard time.  Your sister’s death was only 3 weeks ago.  We are not made to bounce right back in a short period after a loved one’s death.  Please don’t expect too much from yourself.  There is a group in the U.S. entitled Twinless Twins and you might find some solace in connecting with them. Once again, don’t expect to feel better immediately.  Be gentle with yourself, give yourself time and expect to have highs and lows as you try to come to terms with losing this special person in your life.  A grief counsellor who understands the unique twin bond may also be helpful.  Your doctor may be able to refer you to someone in your area.  Please accept my sincere condolences on your loss.

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“Losing a baby is hard.  Remembering them shouldn’t have to be.”

I think this is an amazing idea:

http://www.upworthy.com/this-mom-to-be-did-a-rainbow-photoshoot-to-honor-her-6-miscarriages?c=upw1&u=33bd9b904d25008cde93bd9c19d6921d53ed346e

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Supportive article:  http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2016/08/20/488991373/for-parents-who-have-lost-a-baby-some-aid-in-their-grapple-with-grief

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~”4 years (ago) I l lost my brother.  I still want to take my life. Why should I struggle through life? It’s so hard ..”

I receive a lot of messages such as the above and each one puts a lump in my chest.  The sadness, unhappiness, loneliness, and inability to see any future that so many survivors feel is astounding – understandable, but also astounding.

It is an enormous challenge to go from We to I.  There is no proper preparation for such a state.  From the very beginning two or more souls have been together, aware of each other, caring and “checking in” with each, sharing a birthday, sharing so much.  When the connection is cut, forever, what now?  Who is watching my back?  I have lost my best friend (some survivors say the feeling is worse than losing a spouse).  How can I possibly be anything or move forward without my special partner?  There may be survivor’s guilt. So many messages indicate that the survivor wants to die and join their co-multiple.

How do we help and support these very vulnerable folks at the worst point in their lives? How do we assist them in recognizing what they are feeling but encourage them to continue on to be the best they can be, without guilt: get an education, meet someone, perhaps have a family, travel, share their experience and still remember their true roots?

~I think understanding professional help is a good start.  Speaking with someone who is aware of the unique bonds between multiples and who won’t pooh-pooh a survivor’s deep-seated feelings is essential.  We know that multiples are aware of each other in the womb and these intense connections survive beyond the womb and remain throughout their lives.  A professional who is aware of the unique bonds and honours them when counselling a survivor, is a gem indeed.

~I feel quite strongly that the deceased co-multiple would not wish their survivor to join them in death.  What they would want is for their co-multiple to mourn and move on to live a healthy, happy life and enjoy what they can from life, free of guilt, while remembering and keeping a small part of their heart to remember their deceased.  I do not think for a moment that a deceased co-multiple would choose death for their co-sibling.  It just does not make sense that this would be the case.

~Suicide is, in my opinion, something that a desperate person chooses.  One who feels this is the only recourse left open to them.  They have convinced themselves that no one would miss them and the world would be a better place without them.  They cannot take the pain any longer of living.  Living is not an easy thing to do day in, day out.  We need tools in our toolbox to handle a lot of what is handed to us over a life time:  house burns down and we lose our things, crash our car, didn’t get the job we wanted, our best friend moved away, have trouble losing weight, to name a few – or we lose our co-multiple.  This can be a monumental challenge, but seeking the right support and resources can get us through and tomorrow can be a little brighter, promise.  The world would NOT be a better place without you and so many family members, friends and colleagues would miss you beyond belief.  Please, please, please don’t choose suicide as an option.  Life is not bleak every minute of every day and with the right support, you can get through.  You are not alone.  Plus who better to remember your co-multiple than yourself?  Only you know the details of your lives and are in the best position to remember and honour your special sibling.

~Don’t be shy about reaching out to speak with others.  The Internet is full of Web Sites, books, resources, grief information to help you help yourself get through.  Speak to your doctor, clergy person, or someone who feel safe with.  Every one of these resources is ready and waiting to support and assist you.

~Some surviving co-multiples have written books sharing their experiences of being with and being without their co-multiple.  Maybe writing such a book would also be good for you. Or simply keeping a journal for your own eyes can be very cathartic.  I will list some of the books written below.  I have read them all and each and every one of them is worth their weight in gold.

I sincerely hope you can find some solace in this world until your own time is decided and live a full and happy life, while honouring your unique birth experience and partner.

Sincerely,                                                                                                                                                      Lynda  (July, 2016)

Support For Survivors

Books

Living Without Your Twin, by Betty Jean Case
Who Moved the Sun?  A Twin Remembers, by Ron McKenzie                                            

The End of The Twins: A Memoir of Losing a Brother, by Saul Diskin                                

The Lone Twin, by Joan Woodward
The Survivor, by Lynne Schulz

On the Internet

Lynda’s Site

http://www.jumelle.ca

Multiple Births Canada

Loss Support Network

http://www.multiplebirthscanada.org

Twinless Twins Organization   (US)

http://www.twinlesstwins.org

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https://www.gofundme.com/ch6dyncg

In a tragic farm accident, the Bott Family of Alberta lost their three young daughters.  If you would like to support the family in any way, you can do so at the above link.   Our heartfelt thoughts and prayers go out to this family at this devastating time.

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Loss in the womb

Womb-Twin Survivors

Within a multiple birth, there are several possible reasons for loss in the womb.  One might think that loss in utero doesn’t have much effect on either the womb-twin survivor(s) or the parents.  Such an assumption would be far from correct.  Parents lose on two levels: their precious child is gone and so is a unique parenting experience; and womb-twin survivors lose their womb mate.  When parents do not tell survivors that they began life as at least twins, it is not uncommon for the survivor to develop fantasies about “being with someone else,” of being unable to achieve or needing to live their lives for two.  There can be survivor’s guilt.  If told later in life, survivors can have feelings of relief at not being “crazy” but sometimes too, anger at the parents for a lack of truthfulness and a wonder at what else may not have shared with them.  A womb-twin survivor shared with me once that she found her birth records when she was cleaning our her mother’s estate and they recorded a twin birth with her twin being born still.  The woman (in her 60s) was furious with her mother for not letting her know the truth about her birth and additionally, with the fact that she had no one to rail at in her anger.

For those wishing more information, here are the situations which can occur within a multiple-birth situation:

Vanishing Twin occurs when a fertilized zygote of a multiple-birth pregnancy fails to properly adhere to the uterine wall to attain the maternal nutrition it needs to grow and develop or the zygote itself is unhealthy.  Early ultrasounds, i.e. 6-8 weeks, will confirm a pregnancy and how many. Yet, by week 12, the uterine situation can dramatically change and one embryo “vanishes.”  This loss can happen within a triplet or more pregnancy as well. Over time, the empty sac Is absorbed by the mother’s body.  There is no harm to the remaining fetus(es) and usually no sign of its existence at birth.

It is the advent of ultrasound that has brought the phenomenon of Vanishing Twin to the fore. Before, parents would not have known they were pregnant with 2 or more. There may or may not have been bleeding which can occur despite pregnancy. Instead, the pregnancy continued to the healthy birth of a ‘singleton’ or ‘twins’ (from triplets) with no one the wiser that one had been lost.  Vanishing Twin seems to be more common than was previously thought.

Multifetal Pregnancy Reduction is the reduction of one or more embryos while still in utero, from usually a triplet or more pregnancy in order to give the surviving embryos, and Mom, the best chance of  being healthy.  It is not an easy decision, as the parents grapple with the pros and cons, usually in isolation from family and friends (who may not understand their dilemma), but in consultation with their doctor and other healthcare professionals. If reduction is chosen, it is recommended that a dizygotic (fraternal) embryo be chosen to be reduced as monozygotic (identical) embryos are closely linked and it has been reported that womb-twin survivors can be affected psychologically by the loss of their genetically similar co-multiple.  It may also be considered to reduce a zygote that is smaller or has identified health issues.

Miscarriage can occur in utero involving one or more fetuses within a multiple birth, and the pregnancy needs to continue for the sake of the remaining baby(ies).  It is very stressful when carrying one alive and one dead as parents worry about the health of the other baby(ies) and at their births, parents simultaneously experience the joy of birth and the pain of loss.

Some parents know ahead of time that one of the babies will not survive birth and can only remain alive while in utero.  This, too, is a very stressful situation as only in utero are both or all babies safe.  It is the outside world where one of the babies cannot live.

Complicated Grief

In-utero losses have complicated grieving processes for parents, particularly the Mother as she has carried the infants and probably felt them move.  This does not mean that the Father or Partner will necessarily be unaffected by an in-uterine loss. Any survivors may also experience their own level of grief.  Family, friends and counsellors don’t always identify or appreciate the depth of feelings around such losses.  Some of their comments show that lack of understanding:  “You are young, you can have more,”  “At least you still have a baby,”  or as one bereaved Mom of triplets was told by her mother-in-law, “You have two babies who need you, just get on with it!”

Parents/Mother

Grieving in-utero losses can be challenging for both parents.  The Father may initially feel sad and/or be worried about his wife.  It can be difficult for some men to mourn early loss. Mom has a different experience as she is the’ baby carrier.’ She may have felt them move and experienced physical changes in her body and emotions as her babies were developing.  Interestingly though, through the rest of a grieving woman’s life more often than not the idea of her lost child remains, even if that loss occurred in utero. The deceased child remains in thought, fantasy, prayer; an unseen member of the family but a member nevertheless.

Womb-Twin Survivor

Feedback received from womb-twin survivors indicates that they were indeed affected by the loss.  One survivor lost her twin just before their births:

“…..I used to feel guilty for being alive. ….I thought my parents hated me because I was not her……I often feel very alone and low.”

Another lost her twin brother 20 weeks after conception:

“[I] always feel alone no matter who I am with.”

Another lost her twin sister before she was born at 26 weeks gestation:

“….I think about her every day…..people’s reactions are hard to take – they don’t see or treat an in-utero loss as significant or as a loss.  Because of the skepticism around this issue, it’s almost impossible to talk about my twin to anyone.”

Still another who lost her twin at birth:

“There are obvious senses of loss, guilt, anger, need for closeness that I can’t explain.  They are worse around my birth day ([which is] her death day).  There is an overwhelming sense of being ‘half’ and I have tried to fill it by being better and more than anyone else.”

We know that multiples are aware of each other early on in utero.[1] It stands to reason that there may be feelings of loneliness, always looking especially in crowds, feeling incomplete, empty, sad for no apparent reason and so much more, as womb-twin survivors who began life so closely connected, attempt to find balance outside of the womb.  Doctors, therapists, counsellors, parents, researchers and pastors need to become aware of the unique grief feelings that can affect womb-twin survivors and recognize that even very early losses can have devastating and life-long effects.


[1] A Study on Twins Before and After Birth, Alessandra Piontelli, The International Review of Psycho-Analysis, 1989, Vol. 16, Part 4, Page 413

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