"After trying for a family for years, we were overjoyed when our first attempt at IVF treatment in May 2006 resulted in a twin pregnancy. My pregnancy was normal, but when I was about 26 weeks pregnant, I felt as though I was losing fluid and I started getting tightenings. After a few days, I went to see my midwife. She checked me over and sent me straight to the hospital.
|One tiny twin will die|
"Later that day, I went to see my babies. Joshua was on a ventilator. He wasn’t strong enough to be held, but his older brother, Alexander, was doing well and came out that first day for a cuddle.
"Over the next few weeks, we fell into a routine of visiting the SCBU (special care baby unit) several times a day. Then suddenly, Alex contracted meningitis and his condition deteriorated rapidly.
"Eventually, we were asked to make an impossible decision about our son’s future. We were told he may never breathe independently again, and that even if he did, he would never be able to walk, talk or even swallow. We chose to remove all intensive care. On December 10 2006, Alex died in his father’s arms.
"I have no idea how we survived the next few weeks. I remember very little, apart from walking back into SCBU the day after Alex died. It took every ounce of my strength to walk past the room where we’d said goodbye to Alex, and sit by Josh’s cot. I wanted just to curl up in a ball and die, but I had another baby to care for.
"Having another child doesn’t make it any easier to lose a baby, but it does give you a reason to keep living. I felt better after the funeral, and desperately wanted Josh home from hospital so I could have something to focus on.
"We felt very alone. After the initial flood of cards and sympathy, no one called or wrote. Even family seemed to distance themselves from us and we felt as though nobody cared.
"I wish that even if people didn’t know what to say, they’d simply sent a card to tell us they were thinking of us. I wish they’d kept doing that, long past the first few weeks of accepted mourning. Josh is three now, and I still have hard days.
"The loss of a twin is unique. When you discover you're having two babies, you join an exclusive club. When you're kicked out of that club, you grieve not only for your lost child, but for the loss of your status as a parent of twins.
"You grieve for the lost future of your baby, for the memories you never had the chance to create, and finally you grieve on behalf of your surviving twin, for the closeness they will never know.
"I believe you have two options when you lose someone. You can give up living and merely survive, or you can grow strong in the memory of the child you loved, and live a life to make them proud. I chose to live."
[ I wonder: when will Josh be told about Alex? This book can help to start that difficult conversation, or if he knows already about Alex, it can help him to come to terms with his loss...