Is it fair that the very things I love and celebrate most about my child are also the things I grieve the deepest?
My pregnancy with identical twin boys was confirmed at my 13 week scan. My sons, Sam and Finn, grew alongside each other in seamless unity. They were absolute mirror images of each other; even their body weights were within a few grams of each other – two perfect peas in a pod!
At 32 weeks into my pregnancy I felt relaxed. We were out of the woods and were waiting out a couple of weeks for the boys to grow bigger before their delivery date was confirmed. Sam and Finn’s nursery was ready; their clothes dresser was bursting with double ‘everything’ and our family just couldn’t wait to meet the twins.
Then, in an instant, on the Saturday evening after my baby shower, our lives changed forever. Sam turned and partially ruptured his umbilical cord. This led to the emergency delivery of both boys, but the rupture had caused Sam had to lose too much blood and he died the next morning.
I remember, still in utter shock and disbelief, being taken into the ICU to meet my surviving son, Finn Samuel (named after his brother). I looked at my tiny baby in his incubator and my first thought was: “He is alone; half of his intended whole”. I am not for one minute suggesting that Finn is not a whole person in his own right, but nature intended for him to have an identical twin and a cruel twist of fate robbed him and us of this gift.
For almost seven years now, I have been mothering this wonderful, beautiful ‘half of our expected whole’. You would think by now I would be used to it…. but Finn is a constant reminder of what should have been and it still hurts.
I have endured every bittersweet milestone – from bringing Finn home from a month-long stay in ICU, to his first day of big school all dressed up in his uniform. I smile outwardly, but all the time there is an unwanted voice screaming in my head ‘there should be two.’ Then there is the obvious pain of their birthday– by nature of definition a cause for celebration, but in my case, also a reminder of the worst day of my existence.
In the early dark months following Sam’s death, he was never for a minute out of my mind. Some days now I actually forget Finn is a twin whereas on others, the pain of what I have lost is still so intense that it takes my breath away. Finn on the other hand, does not yet appear to have more than an academic interest in Sam. He knows their story well, but luckily he seems quite unaffected by his brother’s absence. Maybe when he is older this will not be the case; I have no way of knowing.
What I do know is for me, the pain is real. Apart from the obvious twin status, I have also lost a child who, in an absurdly juxtaposed set of circumstances, I have a carbon copy replica of. I know that many would say I am lucky to know exactly what Sam would have looked like, and I agree, but in a way it is kind of like rubbing salt on a wound.
I love Finn with a fierce intensity. He has deep blue eyes, a cheeky smile and the most inquisitive of minds. He has been observed many times by strangers and friends alike, as an ‘old soul’. He loves engaging with adults and despite two older sisters and a younger brother, he is happiest when he is with me.
I have lost count over the years of all the times people have said to me ‘At least you still have one.” Of course, I’d take the pain over again in exchange for the gift of Finn, but to think for a minute that the joy of him erases the agony of his brother’s absence is absurd. Finn, like all children, has his own unique personality, strengths and weaknesses. He is very much a complete perfect being and I celebrate him every day. But a part of me will always wonder how he would have been with Sam growing up alongside him, the other half of his intended and our expected whole.
Writing my original book, Sam and Finn, about my twins, was the beginning of my road to healing. I believe that Sam still exists within Finn and that is the essence of my story. The book is now available, personalised with your own child’s name, for twin-less twins, singleton and multiple loss families. To view the book versions, please visit www.thestoryof-books.com or http://www.facebook.com/thestoryofbooks
GIVEAWAY: Together with Still Standing Magazine, we are giving away one personalised child loss book to a lucky reader. To enter, please like our page http://www.facebook.com/thestoryofbooks and comment “I am Still Standing” under the competition post at the top of the page. Entries close 28th September.