Loss at birth

David’s story

46 years, 157 days, two and a half hours.

For the first two of those years I cried. So I was told, keeping all around me awake. I pined.

Forty-six years, 157 days, two and a half hours later I still pine the loss of my twin. Legend has it that we were both a mistake. My twin never survived the error. My mother almost didn’t. There was much of me and little of my twin. I had what was rightfully mine, together with what was rightfully hers.

I made my debut into this world a murderer. So legend has it. That I know not to be true. The physical body of my twin died at birth, but she has always been part of me. We have played together as children, we talk and share many things. We live as one.

For forty-six years, 157 days, two and a half hours, these feelings dared not to be shared. Who could possibly understand? Who could believe the way that I felt deep, deep inside, deeper than any other person could ever reach!
A good friend told me about the Lone Twin Network. I wrote. I waited, not knowing what to expect. I opened the mail. The Lone Twin Network and Newsletter. I read, glued. There were others who felt as I did. I cried. I cried for my twin, for myself and for those who have lost twins. Some at birth, others as children, many as adults. Twins all. Taken peacefully, suddenly, restfully or violently – all taken from us painfully. I tried to write; too many tears. I could not see. I telephoned; conversation was impossible through the sobbing. Forty-six years, 157 days, two and a half hours later I was for the first time speaking of the way I felt about my twin. Somebody was there to help, to understand, to reassure. I felt helpless, but gained strength from their strength and understanding.

I cannot explain how I would have coped with that day without the Network, or even if that day would have ever come. Neither can I write how glad I am that it did come, for now my twin has recognition from people other than me. It was as if a sun had burst into her identity, giving it light and warmth in her own right.

For forty-six years, 157 days, two and a half hours later, both my twin and I have friends who know and understand.

Dawn, I miss you dearly and always will, even though you are, and always will be, such an essential and integral part of me.

David Elvy.

Jill’s story

I was described as a ‘mardy’ baby, which means I was rather miserable. With hindsight I would guess that I was grieving for my twin sister Jacqueline, who was strangled by the cord during her birth.

I cannot remember a time when I did not know I was a twin. But in my family this was quite a talking point as my mother gave birth to a second set of twins two years after we were born. I had a brother and a sister who both survived. I think that always knowing I am a twin made it easier to accept than if I had been told about this later in life.

The most difficult times in my childhood were when the three of us argued, two girls against one boy – then my sister would suddenly change sides and it would be The Twins against me. It always took me by surprise and if I went to my parents to have a moan and to say that I wished I had my twin to turn to, their reply, which was supposed to comfort me, was that if my twin had survived they probably wouldn’t have had the second set! It never really helped me, but obviously comforted them.

I never really asked much about what happened to my twin, but understood that she, as a stillborn baby, had been buried with a woman at Lodge Hill Cemetery in Birmingham. When I was coming up to my fiftieth birthday I rang Birmingham Cemeteries and was sent a map of the cemetery marked with the position of my twin’s grave.

My own children asked for more details than I ever did and my parents were always very open with them as they had been with me.

On my birthday I went with my father, sister and husband to look for the grave. It was a bit rainy but this seemed appropriate, and after a little searching we found the grave with a peg marker which the staff had put there to help me. I left a chrysanthemum, my birth month’s flower, and a sprig of rosemary (for remembrance) on the grave. I took a photo, which is quite a comfort. It is the only direct link to my twin.

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 them, but of course you never can, and it is always such a disappointment when you face the fact that you can’t.

Jill Deeley.
(Chairman of LTN)

 

Paul’s story

Jigsaws can be frustrating and confusing but as more and more pieces slot into place you feel a mounting sense of excitement. Adapting a Forrest Gump quote, he might have said “Life is like a jigsaw, except you don’t have a picture on the box to know how it’s going to turn out.”

My life has been very much like that jigsaw which has become difficult to complete because a key piece was removed at the time of my birth. I had a twin brother or sister who was undiagnosed before delivery and in the distant days of post-war obstetrics, my birth was very problematic, with the result that both my mother and I almost died. After I was delivered the midwife realised there was a second baby and that is all I know, other than he or she did not make it.

Interestingly I only learned of this situation when I was in my early 40s and my wife commented during a programme on twins on the TV, “Well, as a twin you would understand that feeling.”  I was extremely puzzled and asked her what she meant. My late mother had told her of the circumstances of my birth but had never told me! I queried this with my brother and sister who both commented that they were surprised that I had never spoken of it. Strangely, I had always felt a huge sense of something missing and when I qualified a counsellor, I specialised in counselling twins, followed anything about twins on TV or literature and always knew it was really important to get the names of twins correct.

Some years later I discovered a UK organisation, The Lone Twin Network (LTN) which exists to support surviving twins who have lost their sibling. I always felt that as my twin had died at birth, I would probably be less affected than other people but I have never been able to shake off the sense of loss that I felt. Because my father died when I was seven years old, I always put my sense of loss down to his death and my attempts form close friendships to combat loss and loneliness was due to his death. During my childhood and adolescence I was not at all close to my younger brother and sister or to my mother so we drifted apart when I was 19 and I hardly saw them for some years.

After over 60 years I decided to address the issue finally. I had been a member of the LTN for several years and even set up a website for them but had never attended a meeting. I went to a LTN regional meeting and met with some 25 or so other surviving twins in central Manchester. Although about half those present had attended previous meetings, there was a slight tension in the room but gradually as members started to share their stories, led by the organiser of the event and the chair of the LTN — both are named Jill coincidentally — everyone relaxed. Although the stories were deeply moving the meeting never became mawkish or depressing. I was shaken by the number of stories from the surviving twins who, like me, had lost their twin at birth. Most significantly I began to recognise traits in myself that the others spoke of. For instance, several had experienced real relationship problems with siblings which sadly had continued throughout their lives. Fortunately I’m now quite close to my brother and sister.

The biggest light bulb for me was a realisation that the real closeness I have never been able to find in friendships is probably unattainable. The simple reason is I was trying to replicate the intimacy of a relationship with my twin. Many of you may feel that because I never knew my twin after birth and indeed had never even been told about my twin until the second half of my life, my expectations are unrealistic. I can only say that nine months in the womb is a long time in a very small place. All of the other birth-lost twins expressed a similar view.

The recurring theme that was expressed time and time again in the group was how helpful it was to be an environment where everyone understood the unique loss that is only experienced by a twin losing their sibling. Several spoke of other family bereavements but none came close to the total devastation felt at the death of a twin. With one birth in 50 being twins, it is no wonder that the work of the Lone Twin Network is so needed.

Paul Dicken

67 thoughts on “Loss at birth

  1. I am not a lone twin, but the mother of one, as of two months ago. I found this site because I’m worried about my son’s future and how the knowledge of his missing identical twin will affect him. I am looking for advice from lone twins. What did your parents do right when you were growing up? What could they have done different? How would you have liked or like your parents to help you? Were birthdays hard? My lone twin has two older siblings, I hope this helps him feel less lonely. We are trying to decide whether we should have another child someday. Thank you for any advice.

    • hi hallie, if you read my story you will find out that the hardest thing for me to deal with , and it still bugs me to this very day , is the fact I did not know, I’m sure if I had have been told as soon as I could understand my life would have been so ,so different, I’m sure of that, but on the other hand I always respected my parents as they must have had their reasons for not telling me or I expect the longer it went on the harder it got for them,, what troubled me more than anything was the fact everyone else knew and I didn’t, it has effected me deeply over the years to the stage I suppose I was and am difficult to live with , I say this as my wife after 44 years of marriage and knowing her for 47 years has just filed for divorce, so as I said if I had have known earlier then my life I’m sure would have been different and I would have been able to cope with things instead of bottling everything up as I have done all these years, I’m 65 now, she’s 62 and she’s never understood me, my daughters have though and I always have their support, so my advice is just please don’t keep ant secrets about the situation, birthdays don’t ever seem right to me, never have, always think, why him?, not me, so hallie just do what you think is right about having another child and just please, please keep everyone in the loop. I wish you well, brian read.

    • Hallie, in my experience a big part of being an early loss twin is that the brain while developing in the womb stored certain things as “normal”, like getting an instant response. The human brain in utero develops according to the situation it finds itself in and for a twin that situation is very different from a singleton. The presence and actions and reactions of the co-twin become part of its hard wiring. Single born twin children tend to come over over-demanding and are often labelled attention-seeking, which indeed they are: they are searching for the constant and immediate attention they shared in the womb. I’d make sure the child gets a lot of reassurance. It’s not necessary to cater to his every need immediately, even twins born alive have to learn this life has rules different from the womb, but he may need more and quicker reassurance than a true singleton.

  2. When I was a young child I used to have an imaginary friend, Peter, who looked just like me. I grew out of talking to Peter but have always had a concept of me1 and me2 when making decisions or when considering my feelings. I learned very late in life that I was a twin in-utero but I was the only one that went full term. I don’t know what to think. I do feel a sense of loss and found myself saying “that’s just like me” when reading some of some of the stories on here. But I can’t say whether I feel something is missing because all/a lot of people just do feel that or whether it really is because I am a twinless twin. I am very confused. But today is our birthday and I feel that I would like to show some love to my brother that I never knew, only recently knew existed but always felt was there. Much love to you Peter.

  3. I am going to be 38 tomorrow and it is a happy and sad day ! I wonder if people think I’m weird or maybe crazy , It just feels like a piece of me is missing and I will never find it . It feels good to know that I am not alone . You can try to explain how you feel but some people will never understand . We were born at 7 months and my sister didn’t make it . I will try to smile and enjoy our birthday just because everybody thinks I should !

  4. Hi, I am 60 years old and just now was able to realize that the strange and incredible feelings I have had all my life are because of the loss of a twin. My body was still feeling deep grief after much trauma in my life and healing of many experiences. My body was manifesting in many ways more grief and since the discovery of the loss of my twin (three days ago) through muscle testing, I am able to heal. All the feelings of loss, loneliness, self loathing, living in the shadow of other siblings, feeling like a split person but not, seeing twins in so many things, dressing my children alike, growing up wanting to be “twinners” with kids who would be my friends and then know that no one was my best friend… finally make sense. I feel complete for the first time in my life. I knew her name without hesitation. She has always been there. I have always known that I am never alone, tho I am alone. I couldn’t understand why people would feel it a strange thing to feel like I am not alone. Singletons rely on Jesus. I am glad that He’s there but I have always had someone besides him, i just didn’t know who or why I felt that way. I finally know her name. It is true that your body knows and will tell you if you listen.

  5. I am a twin. My parents had 3 sets of twins. Regrettably, my twin died at birth. It wasn’t until I was in my 30’s that I realized I had always purchased items in two’s. I never knew why I did that. I’ve always known that I was a twin. A friend said I wonder if it’s the twin in you that makes you buy 2? I’d never thought about that and now, I think that’s got to be the reason. My story differs here a bit. I question if my twin really did die at birth. She was buried and had a service but there have been some unexplained pictures that have crossed my path. My husband one day went onto a local radio website for music and there was a picture of this woman on there (to this day I don’t know if she was a guest or what?), but he sent me the picture and said where was this taken. I laughed, he laughed. But because it looked exactly like me, I sent it to my sisters asking, “hey, do you know who this is”….they both replied, “duh, it’s you”. I replied “no, it’s not me”! From this day forward I wonder if my twin was swapped? I know, far fetched, right? I tried numerous times to get in touch with the radio network and sending emails to inquire but never got anywhere. Deep down, I still question this today. It’s been over 12 years since…..

  6. i am so grateful to have the opportunity to be able to read stories like mine. i have never shared my story because I always feel as tho no one understands. I just wanna say thank you.

  7. I lost my twin only a few weeks in. Growing up when we would share fun facts mine would always be that I was a twin. I never felt ashamed or sad and when people would ask what I mean I WAS a twin, I would simply reply, “Oh it died, but its OK not like I knew it.” when I was in 7th grade my parents decided to home school me. I always talked to myself and imagine me in whole other situation where my twin was alive. I imagined I lived in Australia and My twin brother was caring and good with medical stuff, I was the the strong fighter and I did/ do stupid stuff. He would always tell me not to do it but when I did and I would get hurt he was there for me and take care of me. I imagined/fantasized that we became soldiers and he got shot during war protecting me. My parents do not know my twins gender but in all my fantasizes he is a boy with dark curly hair like mine on the top of his head and rich dark eyes like mine and fair skin, soft. I live in the states and I am the farthest thing from a fighter. I realized in seventh grade that I missed him. I would cry my self to sleep, alone. I always had to share a room with some one, I still do. I cant sleep alone I never have. I talk to my twin during the day and feel his presents at times like he is an angel. When I would cry i would tell my self to stop and that I was crying for no reason. I would try to tell my parents how alone i was they did not care. They did not care my brother died I thought maybe my mum would but She does not care and when I talk about it she rolls her eyes like I am making it up. I just want some one who understands me and the only person that does his my dead twin brother who I call petah. I need him because no one gets me and understand me. I need someone to comfort me like he did in my alternate life.

  8. Hi folks, recently I have felt the loss is my twin like a gaping hole inside me. Almost every night when the hubbub of every day life subsides, I curl up crying. It’s a physical pain. I tried to see doctors about it but of course they don’t find anything. I’ve done enough research on neurophysiology to roughly know what’s happening in my brain, that the sensations from the trauma in the womb are still on replay in my brain, but it still sucks.
    I tried telling myself I have to stop occupying myself with it. My twin is gone, end of story. I can’t recreate him /her. But my brain is pretty stubborn.😄
    I could do with some cheerful words.😊
    Anjy

    • Let the feelings come. Do not hold back. cry if you need to because you are grieving. I know that feeling it will never go away. You can not completely fill the whole. how ever perspective is key for people like us. Think of it as your twin was not strong enough to live, so you have to be strong enough for the both of you. I learned this very young. I started grieving in 7th grade which is young for people like us. However you were chosen to live and the best part is. your twin is your guardian angel. Do you ever feel their presents as a small comfort in that gaping whole in your chest. That your twin. I talk to my all the time. He will sit at the end of my bed so I can fall asleep. You are special. We also as lone twins have a special telepathic gift. we can feel others emotions and understand them even if we have not been in their situations. This is because that telepathic bond we had with our twin was broken we can in a way connect it to those around us. We are always taking in info from the people around us. whether they are nervous or in pain. when a friend is going threw a hard time we can understand because of this gift. I recommend you research twin-less twins. There is a lot to learn and it all makes sense once you read it. I hope this helps!
      Lu

      • Hi Lu,
        thank you so much for your reply. Yes, that twinless-twins project is very helpful. I am familiar with Dr. Brandt’s work and also with that of Althea Hayton and Joan Woodwards. Did you ever come across the research by Alessandra Piontelli? She did the first long-term ultra sound study on pregnancies and wrote a whole book about twins. Tremendeously interesting.
        I’m a bit handicapped as far as the empathy stuff is concernec, because I’m Aspergers. It runs in the family, so I may have got it anyway, but I) sometimes wonder. My siblingns do have some traits of social awkwardness but none as severe as I am and there are studies which show that pre-natal stress can cause or intensify autistic symptoms. As it is, I am absolutely set on empathy and connecting with others and at the same time I’m very bad at it. I misread others, don’t know how to react, feel awkward and anxious in social interaction. I have all the craving for connecting of a twin and all the handicaps of a high functioning autistic. I’m a glorious mess, alright.
        Anjy

      • Hey Anjy,
        I totally get what u mean that you have craving. And when u try to help the craving people only think you are weird. My sibling would always make fun of me saying that I was socially awkward and they often tell me to just shut up. Or try not talking. I am rather small for my age but I was born late. I have a cleft palate and I’m rather slow learner. I guess people like us have to learn how to coup. It was super cool getting to learn about u. And meeting another twin less twin.
        -lu

  9. hi grace, only too glad that me and everyone else can be of help to you, I was a little younger than you when I found out, if you read my story it really messed with my head, anyway when I found this site it changed my life, only wish it happened years ago, only us who have lost a twin can understand what feelings we go through, good luck with the rest of your life and at least your parents are doing their best to support you, regards, brian.

    • Hi Brian, thank you first of all for replying to my story and it really made my day. I can’t begin to imagine how confused you must have been to find out so many years later. I do hope you find your brothers grave and if you don’t , when we all come to an end we will be re-united with them. Now you know the truth you know your not alone and my best hopes go out to you for the rest of your life.
      kind regards , Grace

      • hi grace, so glad I made your day, it’s what the site is all about, good luck and I wish you well, brian read.

  10. I found this website quite a while ago and I read a lot of the stories and replies but never really plucked up the courage to share my story, I am quite a bit younger than most of the other people on here but it made me feel better in a way after reading all your stories because I don’t need a therapist or any medical help, I just needed to not feel alone in my situation. When I come across a pair of twins it just makes me smile, I don’t know why but I just feel a sense of comfort around them, as if we were part of a connected family or something. Anyway after months of though and going back to this website I decided to share my story;

    I lost my identical twin sister 10 days after our birth, she was called Rose. Due to her lack of food and nutrition in the womb, she had to be taken out 3 months early which meant I had to be as well. Being an otherwise healthy baby this caused a number of problems for me. I was born weighing 1lbs and a little scrorney thing too. I was left with a heart disease and a hole in my heart that never closed but now I’m fit and healthy.

    My mum is a midwife so I was always available to answers about my birth and Roses’. I used to do little presentations in class about our birth in primary school whenever the opportunity came about. I have always felt alone in my life but never depressed just in the way that a jigsaw is missing a piece, I used to think myself special because it wasn’t everyday you hear of a person with a similar story to yourself.

    I am an only child and I think that just made the hole bigger, not having that connection or special bond that siblings have that you try to understand so badly but just can’t grasp. So I stuck to imaginary friends ” mig & mog” that I knew I couldn’t see or didn’t exists but I felt a sense of companionship. I used to have bad reoccurring dreams when I was young that i base off of my past, they always used to make me scared of being alone and in one couldn’t tell the difference between reality or whether it was just in my mind in one dream. And this dream I still remember to this day, I guess that’s what lead me to being paranoid of being followed or watched or looked upon by something, I didn’t know what but it always frightened me. I never used to go upstairs on my own or anywhere in my house without my mum or dad and just felt very vonrable to bad things. Watching or reading slightly scary stories or legends just made things worse and I couldn’t get to sleep at night without dreaming or being woken up scared of things I just imagined would happen.

    When I was 11 I got a cat called Nutmeg, I’d had a goldfish before but didn’t have much experience in the department. She turned my life around, she would stay with me when I was alone or scared and just start to put a plug in this hole that has made its self in my life. I became a more confident, sociable person and felt a lot better about myself as a person. With my mum being 1 of 8 children and my dad being 1 of 3, they did not know the feeling that I felt and did not know how to understand it yet no one can unless you have a similar experience. But they supported me and with all my questions being able to be answer in full detail and love pouring into me I wouldn’t be where I am now, sharing my story.

    It’s our 14th birthday in 8 days time and I am very excited and I think about it as another year of being a more open, confident person. Thank you for all your amazing stories and feeling of comfort and may you not feel alone in this world because now I know I’m not.

  11. I found out last year, while having a reading by a well known local medium, that I was a twin. In great detail he listed pretty much everything about my life, my relatives and the complications my mom had during her pregnancy/my birth. I was shocked as was the medium who gave me the reading. everything that my mom was going through in early 1983, had made sense. I was born a premature baby at 6.5 months, 2lbs 4oz. My mom had bled throughout her pregnancy which at the time, she had no idea she was pregnant, and was told before that she could never have kids. i looked into the vanishing twin syndrome in more detail today, and was shocked to find that everything about me, leading to present day is because I am a womb twin survivor. I’ve always felt alone, missing something in my life, fear of rejection, severe anxiety, etc., all characteristics of being a surviving twin. Now just have to wrap my head around this. It’s a lot to take in, nobody really understands or cares here, and no one to talk about it to other than my mom. She finds this interesting, so I’m trying to ease her into this.

    • hi, crystal, I know just how hard this is for you and so do every other twin survivor, but you must talk about it and not bottle things up inside you like I have done through the years, I’m here if you want to chat, regards, brian.

  12. Ha, I named my twin Emily as she had never been given a name. I think she finds me exasperating, i apologise to her a lot. But she still loves me!

    • I gave my middle name to my twin but as for love I’m not sure. We possibly had TTTS and really threatened each other’s life. I link my lifelong fear of women to that time in the womb. The more a woman resembles me, the more I’m afraid of her. And I never look into a mirror.

  13. thanks for the reply. Yes, I’m an expert in this talking to someone others can’t see thing. Have been all my life, in fact, and when I was younger and comoletely unaware I was doing something unusual it has caused me much grief. I try to control it now, but am disturbingly unsuccessful LOL, since the presence of “someone” is so very real to me. It isn’t even as if this “someone” would always understand me or agree with me. We argue a lot. 🙂

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