Category Archives: for when… a series of articles about different twin loss situations

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.

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for when… one or some of the babies in a multiple birth die

Being pregnant with twins (or more) feels like a very special and exciting time. Very sadly, sometimes things do not always go the way we dream of and one of the babies dies. The loss of one twin babies is such a confusing situation to find yourself in. To be full of sadness for one baby who has died but, at the same time… if it really is possible to feel both these feelings together… to be overwhelmed with happiness for another baby who has survived. 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 baby, 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 while grieving for a baby but needing to be fully present for another baby. 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.

Spending time with the baby that has died, is especially important even though there may be many demands on your time and energy with the surviving baby. This is the only opportunity that there is to be with this baby 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.

Take plenty of photographs together and apart with your surviving twin (if this is possible) and with your family, and taking footprints, handprints, is so important.  If the baby is too small or fragile to dress or handle often, wrapping your baby in a tiny blanket can be beautiful and many hospitals provide little baskets. Even if the baby does not look the best, still take photographs or get someone else to help. These will become precious and art work or digital work can be done on original photos to make 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, baby 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 baby… 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. Choosing the way to honour your baby that works best for you and your family plays an important part in the grief process. There are probably less rules and restrictions than you imagine regarding funerals and burial. We encourage you to refer to the Sands leaflet on “your baby’s funeral” for some more details about options for funerals, transporting babies and burial.

Parents often have many questions as they go on to raise their surviving multiple. How do we celebrate the life of our surviving child at the same time as honouring our child that has died? This often raises the most strongest feelings around birthdays and anniversary times. How to we tell our child about their twin? Will our child grow up to be happy and contented? These are things we may not be thinking so much about as we leave the hospital or maybe even in those early hectic days of sleepless nights and endless nappies but later as we journey on we are quite often surprised by the depth and the on-going nature of our feelings.  It can be most helpful at this point to read others stories and find ways they have raised their survivors so that we can go on with confidence and the knowledge that we aren’t doing this alone.

From our experience with so many twin loss families, we can encourage you to know that it seems to always be helpful to talk to your survivors about their twins in a way they can understand for their age. It seems to always be good to include these precious children in the story of your family and talk about them whenever it feels right. It seems that when this happens, survivors have every chance of being wonderful, happy people but with a unique and special story and outlook to their lives.

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.

Take care and do seek out all the help you can find at this time and in the future… it doesn’t matter how long ago your loss happened… it is never too late to be in touch or to create memories or remembrances or find new ways to honour your baby.

for when… one of the babies in a multiple birth does and the pregnancy continues

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 something goes wrong during the pregnancy which results in one of the babies dying before birth. The pregnancy continues on to allow the second twin to grow and get as close to full term as possible.

This begins a time that feels unreal and full of very mixed emotions. A time of uncertainty, a time of grieving for a little baby but trying to put that grief aside a little to concentrate on the other baby who is still to be born. This waiting time may also bring fears for the safety of the healthy baby. It means looking towards a birth that seems difficult to imagine or to know how to plan for. It means dealing with family, friends and even strangers in a situation that seems completely off the map. It is a situation that most people would have never realised could actually happen until they find it thrust upon them.

In the early days after hearing the news of the loss of your baby, things can seem confusing, numb, maybe a little like you are moving in slow motion. The mother may also have her own health issues that come along with pregnancy which are often increased n multiple pregnancies. 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 which allow you to approach the time of birth with a little more preparedness and knowledge.

As the birth approaches, most parents are wondering what the baby who has died, perhaps weeks or months before will look like, or even whether the baby will still be present at the birth. A twin who has died in the first and early second trimester is often described as a “vanishing twin” and may be reabsorbed into the mother’s body and not be physically present at the birth. A twin who dies later than this will most likely be seen at the birth. Often people imagine that the baby will be badly decomposed. Somehow, the presence of an ongoing pregnancy means the baby does not usually suffer as badly from the effects of having died such a time earlier. Some have been amazed by the condition of their baby that has died. It is important however to not expect the baby to look normal… but this is your precious baby and the time from birth to the burial is a special time for you to be with your baby. Babies don’t need to be perfect or even good for parents to want and need to see them. Most parents focus on what is beautiful about their baby and the fact that it is their baby than on the baby’s condition or imperfections. Often you may feel uncertain about seeing your baby. Those who have seen their babies would encourage you and say that you can do it and will be grateful that you did despite any fears. If you don’t feel you can do it right away, that’s okay, you might like to think about asking someone to take some photos which you can look at when you are ready and make a decision from that. You can ask to see your baby at anytime. Many do regret not doing enough at this time so don’t be afraid… you will be okay.

As I lay in the recovery ward, I noticed my husband standing near a wall, speaking to a nurse holding a small bundle. I knew it was Megan! Rhys had been placed in a humid crib to ensure that his body temperature was stabilized, so I knew that they had my baby! I felt so torn, and so very, very frightened! I desperately wanted to see my only daughter, to hold her and show how much love I had for her, but the words of the student midwife kept floating in my exhausted mind. I did not want to see a piece of meat wrapped in a baby blanket!

As I looked up, my eyes met those of my husband. He was calm and serene. He was absolutely amazing, because he could be my strength when I needed him, although he was hurting just as much as I at the loss of one of our children. “Trust me” my husband said “it’s okay.” I knew then that it was all right to look at the bundle that he now held in his arms. And I was so glad that I did! Megan was mine, and she was beautiful! She looked like a baby, except that she had to be wrapped extremely carefully because her body was so soft and spongy.

This was my only chance to hold her, and to say “hello” and “goodbye”.”

Lynne Schulz, mum to Megan & her surviving twin Rhys and author of the books “The Diary” and  “The  Survivor”

Take plenty of photographs and take footprints, handprints, if the baby’s condition allows. If the baby is too small or fragile to dress or handle often, wrapping your baby in a tiny blanket can be beautiful and many hospitals provide little baskets. Even if the baby does not look the best, still take photographs or get someone else to help. These will become precious and art work or digital work can be done on original photos to make 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, baby 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 baby… 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. Choosing the way to honour your baby that works best for you and your family plays an important part in the grief process. There are probably less rules and restrictions than you imagine regarding funerals and burial. We encourage you to refer to the Sands leaflet on “your baby’s funeral” for some more details about options for funerals, transporting babies and burial. Many parents find it helpful to make some arrangements before the birth since they have this opportunity while others find it better to wait until after the birth. There are no right or wrong answers, just what you feel is right for you at the time.

Parents often have many questions as they go on to raise their surviving multiple. How do we celebrate the life of our surviving child at the same time as honouring our child that has died? This often raises the most strongest feelings around birthdays and anniversary times. How to we tell our child about their twin? Will our child grow up to be happy and contented? These are things we may not be thinking so much about as we leave the hospital or maybe even in those early hectic days of sleepless nights and endless nappies but later as we journey on we are quite often surprised by the depth and the on-going nature of our feelings.  It can be most helpful at this point to read others stories and find ways they have raised their survivors so that we can go on with confidence and the knowledge that we aren’t doing this alone.

From our experience with so many twin loss families, we can encourage you to know that it seems to always be helpful to talk to your survivors about their twins in a way they can understand for their age. It seems to always be good to include these precious children in the story of your family and talk about them whenever it feels right. It seems that when this happens, survivors have every chance of being wonderful, happy people but with a unique and special story and outlook to their lives.

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.

Take care and do seek out all the help you can find at this time and in the future… it doesn’t matter how long ago your loss happened… it is never too late to be in touch or to create memories or remembrances or find new ways to honour your baby.

for when… it is thought one of the babies in a multiple birth won’t survive until birth or for long after birth

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 something goes wrong during the pregnancy and it is thought that one of the babies isn’t going to survive until birth or for long after birth.

This begins a time that feels unreal and full of very mixed emotions. A time of uncertainty, a time of grieving for a little baby that has an uncertain future but also thinking about the healthy baby and it’s needs.  It means looking towards a birth that seems difficult to imagine or to know how to plan for. It means being completely uncertain about how the next few weeks or months will unfold and whether the baby will survive until birth or not and then for how long. There are also feelings of hope against the odds that the baby who is unwell is perhaps not as unwell as it is thought. It means dealing with family, friends and even strangers in a situation that seems completely off the map. It means being asked to make decisions that no parent should ever be asked to make.

In the early days after hearing the news of your baby, things can seem confusing, numb, maybe a little like you are moving in slow motion. The mother may also have her own health issues that come along with pregnancy which are often increased n multiple pregnancies. 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 which allow you to approach the time of birth with a little more preparedness and knowledge.

It is often very difficult for doctors to predict how long the baby will survive during the pregnancy or how long it will survive after it is born if it is not stillborn. It makes it a very uncertain time for parents who don’t know how short a time it will be for them to say goodbye to their precious baby and how to share the time with the healthy baby and it’s needs.

Find out some information about the sick baby’s illness so you can have some idea about what to expect about the severity of the illness, the symptoms and also about how the baby will look when it is born. As parents, we tend to focus on the beauty of our child and we notice this much more than any “imperfections”. Most parents have found their baby looked far better than what they thought they would and most parents are very glad to have seen their babies.

Take plenty of photographs together and apart with your surviving twin (if this is possible) and with your family, and taking footprints, handprints, is so important.  If the baby is too small or fragile to dress or handle often, wrapping your baby in a tiny blanket can be beautiful and many hospitals provide little baskets. Even if the baby does not look the best, still take photographs or get someone else to help. These will become precious and art work or digital work can be done on original photos to make 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, baby 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 baby… 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. Choosing the way to honour your baby that works best for you and your family plays an important part in the grief process. There are probably less rules and restrictions than you imagine regarding funerals and burial. We encourage you to refer to the Sands leaflet on “your baby’s funeral” for some more details about options for funerals, transporting babies and burial. Many parents find it helpful to make some arrangements before the birth since they have this opportunity while others find it better to wait until after the birth. There are no right or wrong answers, just what you feel is right for you at the time.

Parents often have many questions as they go on to raise their surviving multiple. How do we celebrate the life of our surviving child at the same time as honouring our child that has died? This often raises the most strongest feelings around birthdays and anniversary times. How to we tell our child about their twin? Will our child grow up to be happy and contented? These are things we may not be thinking so much about as we leave the hospital or maybe even in those early hectic days of sleepless nights and endless nappies but later as we journey on we are quite often surprised by the depth and the on-going nature of our feelings.  It can be most helpful at this point to read others stories and find ways they have raised their survivors so that we can go on with confidence and the knowledge that we aren’t doing this alone.

From our experience with so many twin loss families, we can encourage you to know that it seems to always be helpful to talk to your survivors about their twins in a way they can understand for their age. It seems to always be good to include these precious children in the story of your family and talk about them whenever it feels right. It seems that when this happens, survivors have every chance of being wonderful, happy people but with a unique and special story and outlook to their lives.

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.

Take care and do seek out all the help you can find at this time and in the future… it doesn’t matter how long ago your loss happened… it is never too late to be in touch or to create memories or remembrances or find new ways to honour your baby.

for when… a twin sibling dies

To lose a spouse is a tragedy, to lose a child perhaps the greatest tragedy most of us could imagine; but everyone had an identity before becoming a spouse or a parent. A twin is never anything but a twin until separation by death, and there is no way of untwining except by death. In the most intimate of bereavements, the surviving twin finds the foundation of his or her own identity undermined because twinhood bestows the singular oddity of a plural identity.

Rosemary Stark, twin of  Sheila

Firstly, we would like to say how deeply sorry we are for the loss you have suffered, the loss of a precious companion and wombmate. Your loss may have been recently, or some time may have passed since the loss of your twin. The loss may have happened around or before birth or during your childhood together or perhaps later in life. In all these situations we hope that by having contact with us you will feel the support and comfort of other lone twins who are part of this group and also have feelings similar to your own. As one of our members once said to us “I am fortunate to have a loving, supportive family around me and I felt supported and understood for the loss of a brother, for the way my brother took his own life and for all the details surrounding his death but nobody seemed to really understand the loss of my brother as my twin.” Only another lone twin can fully understand the feelings for when someone loses their twin.

Twin loss is different to other losses for a few reasons. Twins begin to bond long before their birth, from the time of conception. It has bee said that this bond may in fact be stronger than the bond formed between the mother and baby before birth. Raymond Brandt, founder of Twinless Twins in the USA writes in his book Twin Loss, about identical twins coming from one seed “What has happened miraculously is to split a person in halves, yet each of the halves is a whole person not one a shadow.” Perhaps, in the beginning there was one soul which divided into two. Like a candle lighting another candle, the same flame yet nothing is lost by either in the process.

Fraternal twins also begin bonding as they share the same womb and this bonding continues and grows as much as the environment of the womb allows. Twin lives are so innately blended that moving from “me” to “we” is devastating. Surviving twins long for that perfect confidant they once had in their twin. Someone who understands them like no other. A woman, whose identical twin died at birth wrote, “I don’t think you ever get over the loss of a twin, even if you lost him or her at birth. There is always a feeling that you are searching for someone close enough to replace your twin but of course you never can and it is always a disappointment when you face the fact that you can’t.” Another who lost her identical twin at birth writes, “The effects have been deep and intense, at the very core of my soul. Perhaps the main result is that is that I have always felt very isolated and alone. I have had many friends throughout my life, many of them close, but I’ve always felt an intense loneliness which nothing quenches.” And another, “When your twin dies you’ve got to be an individual all of a sudden. You feel completely lost about what direction to go in life, and there’s a great feeling of loneliness even though you have heaps of family and friends around you…”

For those who lose their twin as a child, it is so important that the parents of the surviving twin, while caught up in their own grief for the loss of a precious child, understand and allow for the unique grieving process of a lone twin. As an adult, with a long period of attachment and life together and with much of their sense of self held within the twinship, the process of living life without their twin is a very difficult and long lasting journey. The surviving twin has never known what it is like to not be a twin. Because their primary perception of themselves is inextricably linked to their twin, the loss invades their deepest sense of self. We encourage lone twins to seek out others who understand the intense feelings associated with your loss. Many go on for years without meeting another twinless twin (after all, once their twin has gone, a lone twin is hard to identify in the community) and thus miss the opportunity of being with others who understand their grief. Gather strength and healing from meeting or reading in Hearts & Wings about others who have journeyed this same path and receive comfort in knowing you are not alone.

For virtually all my life I have been without him and yet I haven’t really. Once a twin, always a twin.

for when… one baby dies in a multiple pregnancy during the first trimester

You have discovered in these early days that you are pregnant with multiples. Now, so quickly into this special time, you have discovered that one of the babies has not survived and you must continue through the remainder of the pregnancy for the sake of the other baby or babies. We send our heartfelt sympathies and encourage you to seek out all the support you can.

With the introduction of ultrasound scanning, it is becoming increasingly apparent that more pregnancies begin as more than one but by the end of the first trimester (the first 12 weeks), a great many of these pregnancies have become singleton pregnancies. There may have been a bleed or loss of some tissue but in many cases the only clue to a twin pregnancy was the early scan which clearly showed more than one baby.

This phenomenon has been described as “vanishing twin syndrome”. While these babies may appear to physically vanish, they do not vanish from being and the early loss of a twin affects the survivor in ways that researchers are only just beginning to acknowledge and understand. For families themselves there is grief for the loss of a child and for the loss of the “twin” experience. The remainder of the pregnancy may be an anxious time as parents await the birth of the remaining baby with concerns for its well being plus the thoughts and grief for the baby who was lost.

Following are some experiences of families who have suffered the loss of a twin in this way. We hope that by sharing their stories with you, you will be able to begin to work through your own story.

Julie writes after the discovery that her twin baby Megan had died at around 15 weeks gestation:

Mentally, the rest of the pregnancy was extremely difficult. It is very hard to reconcile the joy and hope you have for one baby and the overwhelming sense of grief and loss you have for the other baby. Those emotions were two extremes, exact opposites, yet I had to live with them simultaneously. For the remainder of the pregnancy I had fortnightly sonograms to monitor both babies. At each one Chris would scan Thomas, explaining things as we went along. And he would always ask me if I wanted to see my other baby and I’d always say yes. It was comforting to see Megan still there with us. I would drink in those images of her trying to imprint them on my memory not knowing if this would be the last time I would see her. Whilst I grieved so very deeply for Megan, I also felt that for Thomas’s sake I had to focus on him and keep on daring to hope he’d keep growing as he should and make it to term.

The 37 week sonogram confirmed that I still had both babies to deliver. Both babies’ sacs and the separating membrane were still intact although Megan’s body appeared to be fragmented. It was always very reassuring for me to see the separating membrane because I knew that while it stayed intact, each baby would remain safe and sound in their own sterile environment.

After the birth Julie writes:

The hardest part of the pregnancy was grieving Megan’s death and anticipating her birth. It was estimated that Megan had died at 14 w 6d gestation, approximately 10/12/2000 and by the time of delivery she had been dead for approximately 23 weeks. It was one of the big unknowns of the pregnancy, whether Megan would stay with us to the end of whether Thomas’s placenta would incorporate her sac/bady, the so-called “vanishing twin syndrome.

The following morning I got a message from the birthing unit to say the placenta was in storage so that I could come down and view it whenever I wanted. The midwife took me into the room containing the sterilising units and there on the bench was a kidney shaped bowl with my placenta in it ,covered with paper and my name written on top. She said she didn’t know what we were going to see as she hadn’t inspected the placenta prior to my arrival. I couldn’t glove up fast enough and ended up with the gloves on/half off in my haste. we fingered our way through the placenta. That was fascinating in itself but you can imagine my elation when I saw what looked like figure eight imbedded in the membrane. The top part of the figure eight had a black dot in it. The bottom part of the figure eight had a telephone looking cord coming away to the left and I said, “do you know, that to me looks like a head, an abdomen and the umbilical cord” and she agreed that it could well be. By this time another midwife had come to join us so I passed my camera over for her to take a photograph. Unfortunately, when developed this photograph didn’t really represent my memory of what I saw. Then I asked if it were possible for us to cut away the membrane so that I could better see the baby and she did. Again the other midwife took a photo. That was the last photo on the roll so I ripped off my gloves, changed films and asked if we could lay the body on the green paper. It was a painstaking process but she respected every request I made of her and slowly but surely she laid Megan’s body out for me to see. Megan’s head was facing to the left with her little arms crossed over her chest and her little legs tucked up, just as I saw in the 17 week sonogram. we were able to separate one arm and both legs from the foetal position. Megan’s form was not much longer than a paddle pop stick, quite flat from where Thomas’s placenta had compressed her against the uterine wall and she was kind of doughy looking. We could clearly see the slits where the fingers and toes had once been, her right eye that I had seen through the placental membrane and the umbilical cord. We turned Megan’s body over and we could see her left ear, the vertebrae and her rib cage. I was just amazed how perfectly formed she was.

I guess they were wondering how I would react to all of this but I would have to say I was elated and in my excitement I took more photographs. Then other midwives came in to see Megan’s body and they kept on saying, “look at this, you’ll never see this again, it’s a once in a lifetime thing”. They used the clinical term “foetus papyraceous” and they were all abuzz with excitement. I just kept on saying over and over, “she’s such a miracle, she’s beautiful to me.” In many ways I could have spent all day there just looking at her but I knew I couldn’t.

Another mum writes after finding her twin baby had died earlier at 13 weeks:

As February approached, my amniotic fluid level dropped so my doctor decided to induce me a bit early. Our daughter was born healthy and happy. Her twin was delivered with the placenta. That’s all we saw, and that was okay for us. Our baby’s spirit was in heaven and in our hearts, not inside that sac. (I never liked that name “vanishing twin syndrome”. Our twin didn’t vanish, physically or spiritually.)

Kirsten writes about the birth of her babies after discovering that one had died at around 12 weeks gestation:

I had a scan at 36 weeks which showed no sign of Jo (the other twin) which was very hard on me, but it meant my midwife would allow me to go through a home birth again. On March 2nd I went into labour and Regan was born and before and before the placenta came out there was a second bag of water which broke. I chose to believe that Jo was with us in spirit at least until that moment as we all thought that there was going to be nothing left. we could also see the remains of Jo and the placenta which means we had something to bury after all. We have buried Jo and the placentas with a pohutakawa tree which one day I will give to Regan.

The loss of a baby is always significant no matter how early the loss happened. In the cases of very early loss families may not be left with any physical evidence of a baby but ways can always be found to acknowledge this dearly loved baby and the grief it’s loss brings. Many have found it helpful to talk to others who have lost twins and survived this bittersweet time and so we encourage you to be in contact with us anytime about anything. Take care and do seek out the help you can find at this time.