for when… all of the babies in a multiple birth die

Being pregnant with twins (or more) feels like such a special and exciting time. Very sadly, sometimes things do not always go the way we hope and dream of and the pregnancy ends with the loss of these precious babies. There is also a very real grief over the loss of the dream of parenting twins.

In the early days after the loss of your babies, things can seem confusing, numb, maybe a little like you are moving in slow motion. Also, for the mother, there is a physical recovery to make without her babies to hold. Everyone’s feelings and reactions are different but there are some important things that can be done in these early days which most parents find helpful and that give an opportunity to create some precious memories which can be carried into the future.

No matter what age your babies are when they die, giving them names is part of the process of acknowledging their unique lives and gives them a place within your family and a name for your loss. Even if it is too soon to know whether your babies are boys or girls, many families have chosen names which are still suitable no matter what.

Spending time with the babies, looking them over, bathing them, taking them home, photographing them together and apart and with your family, taking footprints, handprints, is so important. This is the only opportunity that there is to be with the babies and so spend as much of this time together as can be arranged because it passes all too quickly. If help is needed with memory gathering, then ask others such as hospital carers, other family members or friends who can assist with making this all happen. Sometimes it can feel as if you don’t have the energy you would normally have so ask for others to carry you during this time. If the babies are too small or fragile to dress or handle often, wrapping then in a tiny blanket can be beautiful and many hospitals provide little baskets. Even if the babies do not look the best, still photograph them or get someone else to help. These will become precious and art work or digital work can be done on original photos to make the babies look they way they would have had things gone differently, if you feel later you would like to do this.

Gather other mementoes from their birth… hospital cards, bracelets, locks of hair, babies blanket, measuring tapes, anything that you think will later become meaningful to you. No one usually regrets the time they spent or the things they did for the babies… only that they wished they could have done more. Try not to miss any opportunity and do all the things you would like to do… no matter what you think others might think… don’t be afraid to listen to your heart.

Something as parents we never wish to do is to have to organise the funeral of our children and quite often this is our first experience of having to organise something like this. With all that has just gone on it is quite a daunting thought. Take your time and don’t feel pressure to hurry. It is your choice to do whatever you feel is right for you and your babies. Time can be taken to allow a mum to recover from a difficult birth so she can take part in the funeral arrangements and attend the funeral itself. Think about burying or cremating your babies together. Great comfort can come from knowing the twins are together. There are probably less rules and restrictions than you imagine regarding funerals and burial. Please refer to the Sands leaflet on “your baby’s funeral” for some more details about options for funerals, transporting babies and burial.

Walking out of the doors of the hospital without your babies can be such a sad a lonely experience and almost unbearable having to go home to a quiet house when you were expecting to arrive to something quite different had your babies lived. If these are your first babies, it was to be your first experience of parenthood and while you are always parents, you no longer have your babies here to love and care for. Going back to everyday life, perhaps to a work environment you thought you had left behind, to face others who might sometimes seem to misunderstand the loss you have just suffered is truly overwhelming and isolating at times.

It is very important to talk to anyone who understands and is willing to listen. Knowing you are not alone is an important part of healing. Many parents have found it helpful to talk to others who have lost twins (or more) and we encourage you to make contact with us at Twin Loss NZ.

Our quarterly magazine Hearts & Wings is the main way those who have lost twins can be connected together and for many it is the only way. Inside, there are stories, poems, articles and an anniversary column, “Always in Our Hearts”, where our lost twins names appear in print… just another small way to acknowledge their precious lives.