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Dealing with the Death of a Child

I decided to write this personal story of loss because there are many who have had similar experiences, know someone, or have friends who have lost a child and can relate to the feelings we felt. My hope is that this can help those of you who have experienced a terrible loss.

After we were married a few months, my wife and I were hoping to start our family. We were both in our early thirties in good health and were excited about what was in our future. We were lucky in that we didn’t need to try very hard (as our OBGYN later said we were “very fertile”). We thought we might have been pregnant and a visit to the OBGYN confirmed that we in fact were, but not with one – with TWINS. To say we were surprised would have been the understatement of the year. We went through the routine that other couples follow; doctor’s appointments, telling our parents & friends, and planning and as the weeks rolled by it became sort of routine.

During our 20 week visit we learned that my wife was going into premature labor and that her cervix was beginning to dilate. What started as a routine appointment soon became my wife being strapped to a gurney, admitted into the hospital, and then into surgery for a procedure known as a cerclage (where they use a stitch to keep the cervix closed). My wife had to stay in the hospital for 4 weeks on a magnesium drip to try to stop any remaining contractions. The doctors and nurses did a wonderful job and provided my wife the best care I have ever seen. I was also very fortunate to work for the company and with the people that I did, I received more support than I could have ever imagined.

My wife was able to return home on bed-rest at 24 weeks and after the 5th day the contractions returned and we went back into the hospital – she was going into labor again. After 2 days of labor the stress levels on her and the unborn babies were increasing, putting everyone at risk, so collectively we decided to have a shot of steroids, administered to help the twins lungs develop, and then opted for an emergency C-section at just shy of 25 weeks.

The twins were born and my wife began her recovery from the C-section. I couldn’t believe how small the babies were when I saw them; they were about 1.5 lbs. a piece. The babies were put in the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) and I was asked to speak to the doctors there. The doctors informed me that the babies had about a 10-15% chance of survival. My wife and I went through many stages of grieving after the twins passed and looking back I know I reached denial at this point, I couldn’t believe that our babies probably would not pull through this.

Our twins passed away 2 days later. It was the worst day of our lives. We felt as if the weight of the world was on our shoulders and it all came crashing down. Even though we knew that their passing was a very real possibility, it hit and hit hard. Immediately after their passing we started preparing for the funeral arrangements, dealing with things that I never thought I would need to do at 30 years old; a cemetery plot, a headstone, the funeral home arrangements, and the service. After the funeral, when all of the friends and relatives left, we tried to get back into a “normal” routine, was the hardest – our support network was still there, but it was just not as present as it had been a few days earlier.

There was a tremendous amount of grieving and healing that we needed to go through, this is not a complete list, but here are some of the things that we felt and learned during our experience:

  • Communicate – The power to express myself was something that I learned. Before this I was typically a person who kept things inside until I would burst, and at times I still did, but learning to speak to my wife, my family, and friends, about the things that I was feeling or going through was critical.
  • Friendship
    • My wife is my best friend, we have been for years. We were friends before we were romantically involved and I know I would not have been able to get through this without her love, guidance and friendship.
    • I am lucky to have a number of good friends, some were able to give more of themselves to me at that time than others, but in the end I knew that they all were thinking of us and would have done anything for us. Remember to communicate with them about what you need and to be grateful for what they are able to do. Remember it is not easy for anyone to see you in pain.
  • Time & Grieving
    • They say “time heals all”, I am not sure about that, but it does make it hurt less. I think about the twin’s everyday in some way, but over time it has changed from the pain, to the celebration of what we had, even for a short period of time.
    • My wife and I grieved in our own ways in our own time, some of it was ugly raw emotion, but we never directed it at each other, and we each had our fair share of guilt. We learned that we both needed to heal and that we needed to be there for each other in order for us to heal.
  • Faith – I am not an overly spiritual person, but my wife and I have been able to try to look for silver linings in most situations. We have a saying around our house that “if it is meant to be, it will be”. I will be honest this was severely tested in this case, but we were able to hold on to this belief in the darkest hours and it has served us well.
  • Support Network – This goes hand-in-hand with communication. Take people up on their offerings and try not to shut people out.
  • Personal Care – I was guilty of putting everything ahead of myself, take time to go to the gym, go out with friends, in short blow off steam and make sure that you are able to help yourself. After all, how will you be able to help your partner if you aren’t in a good place yourself?
  • Counseling – If I had to do anything differently this is the one thing I would probably do. There are resources or support groups that can help in many ways, from communication to understanding the grieving process and the things you may experience, to understanding that you aren’t alone in this, make sure you take advantage of services where and when you can.

The lesson here is that this was the worst day of our lives, but my wife and I were able to come through it together because we acted as a team. We made mistakes, but we never blamed each other, communicated, and were there for each other. We continue to look for the silver-lining in situations, and we now know wouldn’t be fortunate enough to have the two wonderful children we have today without going through our experience with the twins.

2 Responses to “Dealing with the Death of a Child”

  1. Dana Glazer says:

    Thank you for writing something that must still be so painful, something that I can’t personally even conceive of. I’m sure that for those who have gone through a similar terrible experience, this will be helpful and for someone like myself, coming from the other side of such a situation, I read with a sense of awe that you and your wife have come out of this okay. So, thank you so much for sharing. Now I’m going to give my kids an extra big hug and thank the stars that they are okay. Life is just so fragile.

    Dana

    • Threeboysandagirl says:

      Dana,
      Thank you for your kind note. It was a terrible experience that we went through, the worst of our lives, but my wife and I were able to work as a team and relied on each other and friends. My hope is that what I wrote can help in situations like these, but also in everyday life as well.
      Thanks again.

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