Twin loss is not an easy subject to talk about, but one that should be
addressed nonetheless. Some parents who discover they are expecting
twins will inevitably end up with a twinless twin after birth, and
commonly during the pregnancy itself. There are several causes, too
many to list. This type of loss is unique, bittersweet really. One
child is mourned while the other is celebrated. A dichotomy of emotion
too complicated to understand without having experienced it personally.
And, for those parents that have been through twin loss, it's a brave
The following article was written by Jodie McGinley, author of the McGinley Baby Journey blog. She is one of the most inspiring mothers that I have had the priveledge of knowing. For any parents out there who are grieving for a lost twin, you can read about her trek through twin pregnancy, twin loss, and parenting a twinless twin at McGinley Baby Journey.
I had lunch last week with a new friend of mine, Amanda, who oddly
enough, I met outside of my twinless twin son, Walker's pediatrician's
office. We were riding the elevator to the bottom floor when she asked
how old he was. I told her (at that time 4 months) and then asked how
old hers was. She said hers was 4 months as well. I noticed it was a
little girl and she was very small. So we continued our conversation to
the parking lot when Amanda told me that her baby girl was a twin who
were born very premature and they had lost twin sister. You can imagine
the bitter shock on my face when I responded that Walker was a twin too
and that we lost his twin brother. We were instantly engaged in each
others story and have continued to email each other and finally were
able to meet up last week for lunch.
It was good to talk to someone who had been there. Who shares the
confusion and who shares the frustration. Frustration of the comments of
people who say just the right thing to hurt your heart.
"At least you have a healthy one."
"Well, you have another baby to focus on."
"I can't imagine having twins anyways. It would be so chaotic."
If you are reading this and shaking your head, you now share the simple shame that I have burdened over the past 5 months. And no matter how many of these comments I have received and will receive in the future, I will never have that perfect come back. Each time holds a suprise of its own.
Don't get me wrong, I love talking about Eli and the boys. LOVE IT. Some people don't know how to take it or what to say and I do understand that. I fear each time we gather with our friends that they become uncomfortable when our situation or Eli is mentioned. We would never want anyone to feel uncomfortable. But I also don't want people to be afraid of us either. We don't sit around and cry all day nor will we when he is mentioned. But its the people whom we don't know or don't know well that are making the comments (as above). I assume they just don't know what to say. But in whatever the case, no one should ever belittle the fact that losing a child hurts, no matter if you had one baby, twins, or triplets. No matter if you miscarried at 4 weeks, 8 weeks, 20 weeks, or lose a full term baby. It all hurts the same. I have been there. I know this first hand. Our 1st miscarriage in 2007 nearly put me in my death bed. I was so depressed afterwards that I didn't care or love life anymore and couldn't see the hurt lessening up. I went through a rough time where I questioned God's plan for me and felt judged by Him. But as we ventured in and out of fertility treatments, suffered another miscarriage, and then received Eli's diagnosis, these events made me solid. Solid enough that when the boys arrived into this world in August, I was bulletproof to Eli's sudden prognosis and passing. God was preparing my emotional persona to be able to handle what was to come. I see it clearly now.
These are all bumps in the road. Trial and error. Proof to ourselves
that with God, ALL things are possible. No way on this earth could we
have pulled through Eli's passing without our Faith and with God by our
sides. No way.
Now, we are on damage control and are trying to reach out to help others in the mean time. We still ache. I am still running up on items that we had bought or presents that were given to us before the boys arrived. For example, this weekend while at my parents, I came across a basket that I had put together for Mom and her house of baby bath, baby lotions, double toys, and monogrammed burp rags. One saying Walker. One saying Eli.
I saw that basket and took a small gasp of air as I realized I had forgotten that I had made that basket for her house. I grabbed Eli's burp rag and held it a minute as I felt an overwhelming sense of loss. "He was supposed to be here too". Each milestone Walker hits, we will always remember Eli. This week, Walker is sitting up for about a minute before he topples over. He's trying his darndest to hold his bottle. And he jibber jabbers a lot. All of these things put the thoughts out there for us to think about what Eli would be doing at this point too. Would Eli be sitting up? Talking? Holding his own bottle if he couldn't sit up on his own? These are things we will never know but think about constantly. And this will be a lifetime journey for us as Walker begins to talk, walk, make friends, starts school, plays baseball, etc. We had those big plans for Eli too.
I remember last summer riding in the car with my mom as I was talking to her about what was to come with Eli. I told her that Jesse and I couldn't wait to let them play baseball during the summer. But knowing that Eli may not be able to walk on his own and be wheelchair bound, I told her that I hoped that the community would be willing to let Eli put on a jersey of his own as he sat on the sidelines and cheered his little brother on. These were the plans I had invisioned for them. Each detail of their lives was so delicately placed in preparation for my heart as I was on bedrest all summer long. It was a time of peace for me.
Never will there be a day that we don't think about him. And Walker will never be complete without him. There is a thing called "Twinless Twin Syndrome" that I've read about where a twin of a lost twin always feels that emptiness like something was missing. How in the Heavens are we going to explain this to him? I ask myself that all the time. I just hope to start out right by raising him to know about Eli, show him pictures, and make those trips out to the cemetery to see him. Maybe by the time we have to explain this to him, it won't be so awkward. Some parents may chose to shy away from this because of the hurt they endured or the 'uncomfortablity' associated with it. We are choosing to celebrate him. Eli deserves that. And Walker deserves to know about his brother.
So for anyone out there who is of the opinion that life is good 'because someone has at least 1 healthy baby out of the deal', I ask you to please reconsider your feelings. We are truly blessed because we are able to focus on Walker, yes. But we are equally yearning to hold our other half and are grieving the loss of one too. You might as well cut us in half. Life is 50/50 for us and our family right now. And its an awkward feeling that only families who have lost a twin know about.
It's getting to the end of January and each day I await the phone call from the monument company to tell me Eli's stone has arrived. I know it will be any day now and I couldn't be more excited for it. I'm ready to make that plot a home for him. I know it is only his physical body out there. I know where he is spiritually. But as a human who must hold on to physical thoughts and emotions, that cemetery, his plot, that small little area of grass needs to be his 'home' until I can make it HOME with him. Life is bittersweet in the sweetest way.
Learn more about twin loss from a parent who's been there: McGinley Baby Journey.