Wednesday, January 11, 2012

David Cohen - Telling your daughter she is a womb twin survivor

I found this article by David Cohen in the Child Health section of the Telegraph: it shows how telling your child she is a twin will not upset her, but rather it will confirm something she already knew. This story is not unusual or strange,  it is being recreated in homes throughout the world.
My first daughter, Jessie, began life as a twin. We never knew she was a twin until six weeks into the pregnancy when my wife, Pamela, began bleeding and the twin was miscarried. The doctor who examined her called it a "blighted sac", a euphemism for a fertilised ovum that was defective or too weak to go the distance. Pamela was philosophical, relieved that the healthy foetus had survived, but for weeks I felt unexpectedly sad. Something had been lost, I felt, something no one wanted to acknowledge.
As the pregnancy developed, we seemed to forget about it, but then a strange thing happened: after Jessie was born, my wife said she kept on hearing another baby cry. She found herself searching for it and feeling, at feeding times, that she had to find and feed the other baby first.

The feeling was intense and it lasted six weeks - the exact amount of time that the twin had survived in her womb - but then it receded and we forgot about the lost twin again.

From the age of two - or to be more precise, from the age she could express herself verbally - Jessie yearned for a sibling, literally begged us for one. And when, two years later, we were ready to oblige, she surprised us by announcing that the new baby would be "her twin". We were convinced we were having a boy, but Jessie insisted it would be a girl, and when her sister duly arrived, she suggested we call her Kayla, a name that seemed to fit the gentleness of our new arrival.
Read more of this excellent article

Later in the article David Cohen writes:
We had never told Jessie that she was born a twin. It had seemed an unnecessary burden to place on those little shoulders. After all, what can a six-millimetre long foetus recall?
Then he describes how they told Jessica about her twin:
What if a parent simply never tells their child she was a twin? More to the point, should I be telling Jessie? My wife and I grappled with the dilemma. Why stir the pot? Yet, perhaps Jessie had a right to know.

So, one day, we sat Jessie down and we told her. She listened intently. She seemed to drink it in. Then she broke into a big smile. It was no big deal, though. She asked a few questions to establish the basic facts. Something seemed to settle inside her, to connect, to make sense.
Were you told about your twin? Or did your parents stay silent? What was that like for you?

1 comment:

  1. Bless these parents for telling their daughter about her twin. They have saved her a lifetime of grief and endless wondering. I was not told about my twin, but my parents are not to blame because they didn't know. I knew, though.... it took me forever to realize why I felt and behaved the way I did over many just goes to show that we survivors always know on some level that our twins are missing..regardless of whether it was documented or not.