Untwinned: Perspectives on the Death of a Twin Before Birth

Edited © 2007 by Althea Hayton and Reviewed by Dr. Denice Moffat

Althea is a Womb Twin Survivor from England who contacted me last year after finding me from the web page I had built on the Vanishing Twin Syndrome and asked me to write a chapter for her book Untwinned:  Perspective on the Deathof a Twin Before Birth which is available through www.amazon.com 

I got my copies of the book August 2009 and finally got the chance to read it a month or two later and was quite impressed by the litany of highly educated authors she had enticed to contribute. I was honored to be one of them.  

I often see clients who fight for the little guy, feel they have to take care of everyone else first before taking care of themselves (justifying their existence?), and have very deep-seated money issues (feelings of lack of self-confidence, subconscious need to punish themselves for surviving or making amends to others because they could not rectify the guilt of surviving while their twin did not? Some of these issues are resolved if the person discovers the core cause which can sometimes be a vanishing twin.  

Here are some things I found interesting in Untwinned.  

Lynn Schultz, founder of Murraylands Twin Loss in Australia, finds similar clients in her practice. She shares: “Those survivors who were not told about their twinship and later discovered by accident, were able to find answers to questions that had haunted them for most of their lives. It enabled them to put their life into some type of perspective, allowing them to move forward in a more positive way. (Chapter 4:48.) 

Chapter Seven is the story of Bryony Goode written by Jan Woodward, a psychotherapist who founded the Lone Twin Network in 1989. Bryony shares part of her history of being a twin survivor which may give further clues as to why some babies cry incessantly. Her identical twin died in utero late in gestation. Her mother did not know she was carrying twins at the time:  

“From the start, there appear to have been hints that the loss of my twin sister had affected me. I was a very unhappy baby, always crying and screaming. Often I would not be comforted or quieted by anything my parents did. As a toddler I couldn’t be left alone without becoming distressed.” (A built in fear of being abandoned?)   

Bryony also had experienced long-term depression and anxiety and had always felt that people didn’t talk to each other at a level which really mattered. She still seeks relationships that are empathic and telepathic.  

I thought this interesting as I never have been interested in talking about superficial things myself. I want to get to the guts of things right from the start (as many of you already know!)  

In Chapter 8, Dr. Charles Boklage, professor in the Dept. of Pediatrics in the Brody School of Medicine has studied twins for 20 years. He offers these statistics:  

Only one pregnancy in eight begins as twins. For every live born twin pair, 10-12 twin pregnancies result in single births. Using these estimates, 12-15% of all live births are products of twin embryogenesis. 

Chapter 13 covers memory access of the fetus. I learned that fetuses of women with chronic stress have fast heart rates and are very active. The fetus only calms when its mother’s stress levels have subsided.  

If the mother has used sugar, nicotine or alcohol to calm her nerves, she transfers the memory of use of these substances to the baby’s neurological system. The visceral memory of in utero exposure to these addictive substances is triggered unconsciously later in the life when stressful events arise leading to the compulsive self-medicating use of these same substances to calm the nerves. 

In past years, the medical profession assumed that the baby’s mind and feelings did not develop until after birth. Studying the Vanishing Twin Syndrome reveals a different story. We do have cellular memory, even in utero.  

Dr. John James (Chapter 16) concludes that: “losing a twin is one of the most powerful events occurring in the womb.” Even if the loss takes place during the first trimester (when it seems most twins decide to leave) the experience imprints into the physical and emotional development of the baby. He believes that the most effective healing procedure includes accessing in utero feelings and emotions, remembering that you are a twin survivor and forgiving the twin for leaving.  

I believe there is a 4th step as well which is to forgive yourself for living.  

Althea has a great resource section in the back of the book and a questionnaire which consolidates all the ideas brought out through the different chapters on the characteristics of a Womb Survivor which helps build a case (or not) in identifying yourself as one.  

If that Still Small Voice within is nudging you to explore this subject area, I highly recommend you listen to that voice and purchase a copy of the book.

My Vanishing Twin Syndrome article is one of the most visited pages on my website and I get lots of inquiries from mothers carrying twins, especially in this day and age of fertility drugs.

I sent a copy of the book to my mom who read it immediately. It opened up some very nice conversations with her and gave me more clarity on my life journey as a Womb Twin Survivor, so I just wanted to say thank you Althea! Nice job!   

Do you have a vanishing twin? Take the survey at https://www.altheahayton.com/form and see.