Wednesday, February 29, 2012

What's on my Mind and Diamonds in the Rough

What's on my Mind - Twins and Vanishing Twins


Did you know I'm a twin?  Yes, I am.  I am a fraternal twin.  My brother and I are as different as night and day, yet somehow we remain connected in a way that siblings don't.

Anyone who is a parent will tell you that birth is a miracle, that there are so many things that can go wrong.  Thanks to modern medicine, birthing is a much more enjoyable experience.

We all know there are two main types of twins:  monozygotic (identical) and dizygotic (fraternal).  We all know that all male and female combos are fraternal, that identical come from one egg that divides, and fraternal are two separate eggs.  There is no genetic link to identical twins, but it is now known that fraternal does run in families.

When my mother found out she was pregnant, she had no idea she was carrying twins.  She didn't find out until she came out of the anesthetic.  And what a miracle.  She had a healthy son - over 6 lbs and a very lucky daughter - barely over 4 lbs.  That was me.

Adorable, aren't we?

What are the odds of having twins or multiple fetuses?  It's more common than you think.  Conservatively, today, the odds are 21-30%  Oh, you don't see that many?  That's true.  You don't, because only 1 in 70 are born twins.

This is a topic I'm very much interested in and I have been doing a lot of reading about this.   Vanishing Twin Syndrome  happens when one of a set of twin/multiple fetuses disappears in the uterus during pregnacy, resulting in the miscarriage of that fetus.  If it is very early (within the first 8 weeks), the fetal tissue is absorped by the other twin/multiple, the placenta, and/or the mother (known as fetal resorption).

Thanks to current ultrasounds, twins or multiples can be detected during the first trimester.  Sometimes the doctor will request a second ultrasound, especially if only one heartbeat is heard.  The second may show the loss of one fetus.

In this very early stage, without that first ultrasound, a woman would never know she miscarried.  Some women might experience cramps or bleeding, but often there is no physical sign and she will carry the other baby/babies to full term and have a normal delivery.   Sometimes, she grows quickly in the first trimester and her uterus is larger than normal, and sometimes delivery can take many hours of intensive labor.  These are possible signs of vanishing twin syndrome.

The part I'm interested in is the effect on the surviving infant(s).  You see, they are now researching this deeper and there is a wealth of information on this.  Researchers are now discovering the emotional trauma of the survivor - the twinless twin.  It is now known that any time - any time - a twin or multiples suffer the loss of one, the effects are devastating.

First, let's check some facts in case you're wondering if that beautiful child you're carrying was supposed to be a twin.

Women over 30, women who have had other children, fast and early weight gain in the 1st trimester, and a history of fraternal twins in the family line.  It is no longer believed that twins skip a generation.  Now they are thinking it is vanishing twin syndrome.

The most important sign is if you, yourself, feel strongly you were meant to have twins or you have an 'empty' feeling after giving birth.

But the effects on the surviving child is the key.  Here are many of the indications:

The child feels like they should be a twin
The child is unusually drawn to twins
Sometimes haunted feelings that they're a 'parasite'
Mental illness diagnoses such as BiPolar, Schizophrenia, Borderline Personality
Troubling, recurring dreams of their twins
Fear of sleeping alone or in the dark
Fear of sudden loss or abandonment
Profound loneliness
Possible eating disorders, often over-weight issues
"Hearing voices"
Extreme emotional sensitivity
Feeling obliged to live for two, often wanting two of everything
Trouble with relationships, co-dependent relationships
Control issues
They don't want to compete against others
They don't feel deserving of anything good
Money issues
Low self-esteem
They think alot about death and dying/suicide
They are busy often
They have a strong imaginary inner life
They see the world differently from others
It is hard for them to let go
Feelings of longing
Sexual identity confusion
They have a deep longing for some undefined, missing part of them.
They have named their missing twin
They have an imaginary playmate that they talk to.
Possibly misplaced organs
auto-immune disorders

Unless the surviving twin is a Chimera, there is rarely any physical way to know, although a few
have been identified by Teratoma or dermoid cysts somewhere on their bodies.  These cysts are "by-products" of the twinning process, such as hair, bone, nails.

Why talk about this subject?  My heart goes out to these children and adults who can never resolve their issues.  So if you have a child with many of these symptoms or know someone who has these issues, then it's important for them to get help through therapy.  And the mother too.

Dec 21st is Womb Twin Day.  I think this is a great idea.  As doctors and researchers continue to discover more and more on this subject, it can only bring peace and relief to those affected.

Ok.  This is pretty serious and sad stuff, so let's move on to something more cheery.


Today is Gioachino Rossini's 220th birthday, born of course in a Leap Year.  Rossini was one of the world's greatest composers, with such works as 'The Barber of Seville' and 'Guilleme Tell Overture'.  No matter on many people have populated our earth, there are always - always - those diamonds in the rough like Gioachino Rossini.  Our world is a better place because of his music.

LHR my dear friends, and PAWS for Success.


Jennifer Jackson said...

I have a friend who lost a twin at birth. She is very sad thinking about the sister that she lost, even though many people around her believe she shouldn't feel anything as she never got to know her sister.

I don't feel the same way most people do. I can't imagine having the opportunity to have such a close bond with someone taken so easily...

The Desert Rocks said...

I remember doing extensive twin research when I was studying for my Master's thesis on relationships. I enjoyed your article which reminds me of my 2 pound brother and sister who were miracles back in the day and now are almost my age!

Lena Winfrey Seder said...

Donna, that is amazing you are a twin!I know they have a special bond, and that is amazing. Thanks for sharing! This is really amazing information. Sorry for those who lose twins. That is sad. And thanks for sharing the song! Take care!

Nikky44 said...

WOW!!!! I never heard of that, but we have twins in the family and i had always dreamt of having twins. My son who is 12 now, has most of the troubles you are describing, depressed, lonely and sad. He always says he is talking to his brother jake??? We have no Jake in the family. He says jake is his twin brother :)

Barbara said...

Such an interesting post, I had not heard about vanishing twin syndrome before. I had no idea you were a twin, but I agree you were both adorable.

Donna Yates said...

Jennifer, it is sad that we would rather deny than see the problem. How sad for her. It is something she will go through her entire life. At least you accept this. That's got to be a comfort.
The Desert Rocks, what an amazing true blessing. Wow. Truly a miracle. Extensive research about twins is still going on.
Lena, yep, I'm a twin. What amazes me is that we have nothing in common at all.
Nikky44, your son does seem to fit in this category, esp naming his twin. What a beautiful story, but sad for you and your family.
Barbara, I still think not enough is known on this subject, but if I can help bring people's awareness to it, I've done a good thing.
Thank all of you for your comments. I am thrilled this article has been so well received.

Scrollwork said...

It's amazing how much we did not know that science is now connecting the dots around!Thank you for teaching us about Vanishing Twin Syndrome, Donna.

Sally K Witt said...

Very interesting. I was pregnant with twins, and lost one early, and then miscarried the last later. It was devastating!

Because I went through 11 years of infertility treatments, that was so hard because it is the only time that I was pregnant.

I think that miscarriage is a big source of unspoken depression for women. It isn't supposed to be a big thing to hold on to.

Cara said...

The phrase itself evokes a sense of mystery, loss, and longing: "vanishing twin." Thanks for sharing what you've learned on this unusual phenomenon. I wasn't aware it was so common.

Kelly Hashway said...

Wow, this is interesting. I've always been really good at telling identical twins apart. It's a talent I have. I wonder if that means anything.

Beth said...

Unlike Kelly, I don't have the magical ability to tell identical twins apart...We have a set of twins working at my work...I don't know which one is Ron and which one is Richard...LOL

Karen A. Wyle said...

I found out about the trauma that twin survivors suffer in October 2010, and incorporated that trauma in my SF novel Twin-Bred. Dr. Mara Cadell, a main character in the novel, is a womb twin survivor who copes by keeping her lost twin Levi alive in her mind as a companion.

Pk Hrezo said...

This is very interesting. Thanks for posting it!! It set my wheels to turning for sure!!
Didn't know you were a twin... that is so cool!

Donna Yates said...

Scrollwork, thank you for reading the article!
Sally, my heart goes out to you. I agree about miscarriages - for the whole family. I lost a baby once - it haunts me to this day.
Cara, I'm glad you liked the article.
Kelly, interesting - you should look into this more.
Beth, I may be a twin, but I sometimes can't tell identicals apart!
Karen, I've thought about this for a story too, but your idea is much better. And the world needs to read this. Write!
PK, glad you enjoyed the article.

Jess @ The Secret DMS Files of Fairday Morrow said...

How interesting that you are a twin- fascinating article!

Stephanie@The Secret DMS Files of Fairday Morrow said...

How cool that you are a twin! I used to babysit two different sets of twins and I always found their relationships fascinating. It was like they had their own unique way of communicating. I have heard of the vanishing twin- but I learned much more about them today on your blog. Thanks for sharing all of this information!


Donna Yates said...

Jess & Stephanie, thank you for these comments. Twins do seem to have their own way of communicating. There was a lot to know here, I learned a lot from this research.

Sharon's Sunlit Memories said...

Donna I found this really interesting. The response you have had to this post shows that I'm not alone in thinking this. My mother's father was an identical twin (so much so even their wives could not tell them apart) and my father's mother had twin sisters. I was told it skipped a generation and that I should have twins but it never happened - I was quite disappointed about that.

Donna Yates said...

Sharon, I was told it skipped a generation too, but now researchers and doctors think that twins run in families without skipping a generation, and that Vanishing Twin Syndrome might be why. I am sorry you never had twins. You seem to have the patience that many of us lack.

Veronica Lee said...

I totally enjoyed your post and have learned so much from this. Thanks for sharing!

Have a nice day!

Donna Yates said...

Veronica, thank you for your kind comment and for visiting.

Pammy pam said...

wow this is amazing insight. i always was interested in twin studies because i thought i was destined to have twins, which run in my family, and i'd always heard they skip a generation. I have them on both sides. i did not, however, but my younger half sister, 15 years my junior had what i call MY twins!

after reading your post, i'm now wondering if i didnt in fact have a vanishing twin with my first born. he suffers from MANY of the issues in your list. And these are just the obvious ones.

I shall have to ask him.

as always, interesting post my dear friend!

Stephanie@The Secret DMS Files of Fairday Morrow said...

Donna- I have been thinking a lot about this post since I read it. Not only is the information fascinating- but I can see how it could be woven into a book.

By the way- what a cute picture of you and your brother. :)

Donna Yates said...

Pammy Pam, then there is a good chance this happened. As they say, it is much more common than people think.
Stephanie, you and Jess would be the perfect ones to weave a great tale out of this. I have some ideas of my own.

Elizabeth Young said...

This is absolutely fascinating Donna! I adore all twins and was desperate to have them myself! I even had my Doctor convinced and so he arranged for ultrasounds, all to no avail. Twins are special and everything I read made real sense. Thank you for looking into this vital and exciting phenomenon and sharing here!

Donna Yates said...

Elizabeth, thank you for visiting my blog. You might have possibly undergone the vanishing twin syndrome, especially if twins are on your mind. As they say, always trust your instincts.

jtorres1978 said...

Hi Donna. I just found out today that I'm a surviving twin. I was born in 1978 when there were no ultrasounds an at around 8 weeks my mom had some bleeding which the doctor said she was to be bed rested for almost two months. During that time he miscarried my twin. Twins run in the family and she was taking hormones to become pregnant. I asked her today at 33 yrs old bcuz I have always had recurring dreams of bonding with my twin in her womb! As crazy as that sounds. And all u mentioned on symptoms I have had them all. This new info has given me new life and meaning!

Donna Yates said...

jtorres1978, thank you for your comment. I am glad this has helped you. Some cities offer support groups or counseling too. I feel for you. This is difficult to live with and so often no one wants to believe you. Blessings sent to you.