The experience of twin loss or loss of a triplet is far more frequent that we realise. Especially in recent decades with technologies like IVF in which it is common for more than one embryo to be transferred.
But how can you deal with twin loss in a way that can support your pregnancy? I have shared elsewhere what to say after miscarriage and my own personal experience. But this audio and article below came about in response to a message I received from Amata several weeks after embryo transfer, in which she shared that one embryo died.
The following is an extract of what she wrote:
Deirdre, I had this image of both babies having each other and I know how sensitive they are.... I really fear for this one.
Thank you so much, Amata, for sharing this with me and you are right. Babies growing in the womb are very sensitive.
We know from, for example, Bert Hellinger's constellation work that - apart from your own miscarriage grief - the loss of a twin or triplet in utero really does have an impact on the living child. Sometime referred to as the twinless twin experience, these living children often grow up with a sense that something important is missing.
A sense of confusion and even, somehow, a reluctance to live their life to the full. Because their twin/ triplet cannot do that now.
In our patriarchal world that sounds daft of course. How could these dynamics be happening? And how could they exist so early in life? But having worked with this theme in both my personal and professional life, nobody has to convince me that twin loss matters.
One of the reasons why twin loss can be so difficult for the living child (and parents) is because, in patriarchy, we don't have a place to process events like this. (More on this in my other post exploring miscarriage after 40). Still caught up in an intellectual debate about when life and relationships begin, we haven't received patriarchal permission to go there.
Because patriarchy needs proof first. Not just the proof that there was a twin. (You have this Amata, however very often this is not the case). But the big P (patriarchy) also requires proof that the living twin could be affected. I refer here, of course, to proof that satisfies the masculine. Feminine intuition does not count.
And 'knowing' from a place other than books, schools and experts simply doesn't get a voice. So we are left dismpowered in motherhood yet again, because we know that something significant has happen. But, because of our education, we don't know how to respond in a way that honours our children....and helps the living to thrive.
However, you are engaging your feminine wisdom Amata and it is very clear that you want to show up with your twin loss in a way that supports your pregnancy. (You might like to read another article I wrote on the meaning of miscarriage.) My intention here is also to empower you as a mother. (For ease, I will refer to your living baby as 'he').
So tip 1 is to explain to your living child what has happened. Even if he could not possibly understand - from a patriarchal perspective - what you are saying. Because he can feel it and he will feel that:
Very often in patriarchy we don't get validation for some of the huge emotional experiences that happen for us. Especially as children. But by actually explaining to your living baby what has taken place, you facilitate a processing of this loss in a way that will help him to thrive.
For example, you can explain that his twin has died.
A phrase we use in our house instead of death is 'has gone back to the sun the moon and the stars'. Because that feels more expansive. And my girls prefer it.
Use words that that feels nice for you because that is your feminine wisdom guiding you. And go on to tell your living baby that some of us come to the world for very short adventures.
But even if they are short, they are very important and very valuable. That the love between himself and his twin is real, true and very, very big .....and it does not go away when somebody dies.
In patriarchy, baby loss has not been discussed and these babies have not been seen as part of the family. But they are and and they belong.
Tip 2: Give this baby a place. It is important for your living child that his twin has a place. In that way, he doesn't have to search for his missing twin and can relax into his own life. So you can explain that, even if his twin died, this baby will always have a special place in your heart. If it feels good, imagine his twin being super cosy, comfortable and content in your heart.
And explain to your living baby that by living life to the full, we actually honour this baby who has died. Because we all have different journeys and each of them is beautiful, precious and whole. Even if it is much shorter than we we would have liked.
Play around with this kind of dialogue and these ideas until you find a version that feels good for you as a mother.
Often we are afraid to tell children about traumatic events because we only perceive the loss. We cannot imagine that there could be an interpretation that might actually be lovely for a child and for a family.
But when you are Engaging the Feminine®, along with understanding the value of being able to communicate around these things, you realise that this experience is not something to be afraid of. It is not something that is 'wrong', needs to be fixed or is better forgotten (like so much around female fertility).
Tip 3: Realise that this twin loss is a valuable part of your living baby's life experience. And it can be a gift. Even if we don't understand how yet. With this perspective, instead of having a huge, gaping hole in his life that can never be filled, you open to wholeness, understanding and curiosity. And a knowing that even if people we love are not with us in the way we can touch them physically, love continues nonetheless.....
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