Hand to Hold's Official Blog: Written by Parents for Parents

They May Look Like Twins, But They’re Triplets

Surviving triplets, Lily & Avery

“Oh, twins! They’re so cute!” exclaims the lady in the checkout line at the grocery store.  In a nanosecond, I have the following conversation with myself: “No, they’re not twins, they’re triplets you just can’t see the third one.  Does this lady care that one of my girls died?  Am I just going to depress her and ruin her day by bringing to the light the fact that babies die?  How do I phrase it?  Surviving triplets?  Two of my triplets?  Two of three?  How much longer will I have to stand here?  Can I just turn and run away?  If I just say ‘yes, they’re twins’, have I dishonored Zoe and confused Avery and Lily?  Do I have the energy to deal with this today?”

I smile at the woman who is still admiring my girls and reply: “Actually, they’re triplets. Their sister, Zoe, is in Heaven.”  To which I usually get a surprised “Oh”, followed by silence and diverted eyes or an honest look of empathy accompanied by “I’m so sorry.”  But sometimes, I hear a quiet “I lost a baby once, too.”

I usually tell the person asking that they are triplets and I do this for the following reasons: Because they are, in fact, triplets who grew in my womb together, were born together and spent almost 4 months at home together after 9 ½ months in the NICU. They don’t stop being triplets just because one dies.

Second, it gives me a chance to say Zoe’s name out loud; which I crave daily.  And, more times than I can count, the person asking has lost an infant or child and much like the magical bond that exists among parents of preemies, it is the same for bereaved parents.  As one bereaved mother to another, I don’t have to explain the pain behind the smile.  I don’t have to hide my inner turmoil at the dichotomy of emotions I feel on a daily basis, as happiness and grief play tug of war with my heart.  The comfort of understanding and knowing you are not alone is like a warm blanket fresh from the dryer that radiates love throughout your entire body.  It is an opening to share your story and to know the person listening will not say something insensitive.

There seems to be an agreement that we will not judge you for the manner in which you grieve, nor will we put a time limit on your journey.  As parents whose arms also ache to hold their child one last time, we accept you for who you are, wherever you are along your grief path.  Each story is different, each experience a tragedy beyond comparison.  When we find even one person who understands what it feels like to walk around with a part of your heart missing, we find hope.  Hope that one day it might not hurt quite so much or that the pain won’t bombard our thoughts 100% of the time.  Hope keeps us moving forward, hope gets us out of bed each morning, hope helps us to remain present and invested in the family we do have left on Earth, and affirms that we are not alone!

My hope has come from a growing faith in God; living through experiences that seemed unbearable where I thought He had abandoned me.  However, when I reflect back over the years, He was closer than I even knew.  As the great Civil Rights leader, John Lewis so eloquently writes in his book, Across That Bridge: Life Lessons & a Vision for Change, “faith has power, but often this truth does not become meaningful to us until we are tested by a challenge we think we may not survive.  It is then that we experience how transformative our capacity to believe truly is.”

It is through my faith that I believe people have come into my life at just the right moments, not by mere coincidence.  Just when I needed someone who understood, there they were.  It is by faith that I have emerged from the dark valley of death and loss and now walk with my fellow bereaved parents in the warm sunshine.  Do hope and faith ever replace the longing in my heart for my daughter?  Of course not.  But it does confirm for me that this “new normal” is a good normal and many will benefit from just one little girl with a smile that made her whole body shine.

Have you lost a child?  Are you raising surviving multiples?  You are not alone.  There is an ever-growing network of parents, just like you, who are eager to offer you a “Hand to Hold.”  To read more about my personal journey through the premature birth of my triplets and raising my survivors please visit my blog, Tripled Pink or our Foundation’s website.

The author with her surviving daughters Lily & Avery (holding a photo of Zoe) and Cherie Brewer, with her surviving quintuplets Ben (holding a photo of Carson), Sean, Morgan & Maddie

Keira Sorrells About Keira Sorrells

Keira Sorrells (MS) is the mother of triplets, Avery, Lily, and Zoe, born at 25 weeks. Avery and Lily spent four months in the NICU and Zoe was there for 9.5 months. After coming home, Zoe was rehospitalized at 14 months and died suddenly from a secondary infection. As a result of those experiences, Keira founded the Zoe Rose Memorial Foundation which offers support to parents of premature infants and those who have lost an infant; as well as the Preemie Parent Alliance, which connects parent-led, preemie support organizations across the country. Her faith and connecting with preemie and bereaved parents has given her hope when it was hard to find. Follow her on Twitter, Facebook or on her personal blog.

Comments

  1. We lost one of our twins at birth so I really relate to this post. The “conversation with herself” is totally what I do anytime someone asks me if we have any other kids. There is usually a long awkward pause as I have an internal debate about what I want to say and it usually comes down to “what do I have the energy for today” and how much do I want to get into. Our survivor is only one, so I have a little longer to work out what I want my response to be before he understands, but I imagine it will be something like what the author says, that he has a twin in heaven. Thank you for sharing this today.

    • Hi Jana…first let me say how sorry I am for the loss of your twin…there is no greater tragedy in life than losing a child and I hate that you had to “join this club”. I will be honest that I sometimes stumble all over my words and it doesn’t come out quite so eloquently. And sometimes my survivors “save” me by answering the question for me…they’ll say “No, we’re trip-u-lets. Zoe’s in Heaven”. Of course that REALLY catches people off guard when the words come out of the mouth of a child.

      In some ways it gets easier over time (it’s been four years since Zoe died) in terms of rehearsing what I will say and like you mentioned, what I actually have the energy for on any given day. And the times when I know I will be asked or it will come up, like when we started a new school year and met all the kids and their parents, or when we started going to a new church. In those instances I have time to kind of prepare myself. But these times when we’re out and about, it can catch me off guard and bring me right back to the day we lost her.

      The best advice I got about things like this was to try to have a statement prepared that I’ve practiced over and over again…like my “They’re triplets, Zoe is in Heaven”. That way it is kind of tucked away in the back of your mind and available for you to access. And I also have to remind myself that it is ok if the person asking doesn’t understand or doesn’t care to. Not everyone wants to face death, but I feel like the more I say it, the more awareness I’m drawing to infant loss which hopefully over time will result in greater sensitivity.

      I’m sending you lots of love today Jana…it is not easy. Please feel free to contact me any time 🙂

    • Jana,

      First let me thank you for sharing your story and I am so sorry to hear Zoe passed. I am a mother of twins, my son, Colton Matthew, died at 27 weeks which prompted the premature birth of his sister, Amelia Rose, at 28 1/2 weeks where she spent 5 1/2 months in the NICU and came home needing extra care. At first I struggled too with whether or not I would correct people when they said, “What a beautiful baby” or “Is this your only child?” and worry that I would “ruin their day” or make them uncomfortable or be judged in some way. But I also made the choice that I would correct these people and I too needed and wanted desperately to keep the memory of my son alive by including him everyday in my thoughts and daily activities. I feel that while I am sorry I may make someone uncomfortable, I am being honest to myself and honoring my son and helping my daughter to know she had a twin brother. So thank you for your story and you and your girls will be in my thoughts.

      • Keira,

        I am so sorry about my previous post I had meant to address it to you, but had just read Jana’s entry and so I do apologize about the mix up.

  2. Danielle says:

    I too was pregnant with triplets. I lost one at 3 months when there was no longer a heart beat when I went for a sonogram. I gave birth to twins at 23 weeks (5months) pregnant. Twin b (Madelyn) passed away at a month old in the Nicu and twin a Aleigha is now 2 years old and the only living one out of the triplets. I am never sure to say that she was a triplet since my baby passed inutero at 3 months pregnant. in the nicu she was considered a twin not triplet.since there was only 2 live births. Now I have a son who is 20 months younger than my daughter and when people see them they think they are twins since they are similar in size. I can totally relate to you since when I tell people no shes a twin and her sister passed away I get the shocked embarrassed “i am so sorry”… I hate getting that reaction since by no means am I looking for sympathy nor want people to feel uncomfortable, but I do feel I should acknowledge my daughters life and struggle in the nicu…..

    • Danielle, I have a similar situation to yours not know whether to say twins or triplets. My pregnancy began as quintuplets but two of them did not make it past the 1st trimester. So I’ve always called them triplets…but I will say since I lost Zoe (she was 14 months old) I think more and more about those other 2 babies. It never is easy. And as I mentioned in my post I also feel it is important to mention her. Just because you can’t see Zoe, doesn’t mean she has stopped being my daughter. I know you can relate 🙂 But I’m also sorry that you understand. xoxo

  3. Beautifully said Keira. Our older children always speak up to let anyone who asks know that Brody’s twin Brooks is in heaven. And the triplets I lost. They speak of them with such happiness where I still feel the happiness-grief tug of war you speak of. Pray that it becomes easier as time passes by.

    • Julie – it gets easier in some ways, yes…but it never really goes away. When I first lost Zoe another mom who had lost one of her twins 5 years earlier said it was like if you were to go to the ocean in the middle of winter when the water is icy cold. You stand at the water’s edge and a frigid wave washes over your feet. The initial pain from the cold can be painful but as the water recedes, the pain isn’t quite so intense and it a softer sensation left on your feet. Does that make sense? Love you lots Julie & I’ll see you tomorrow!!!

  4. 9 months ago we lost one of our twin boys. He passed away after 3 days of life, they were born at 27 weeks gestation. I have the same battle in my head, “what do I say?!” Just yesterday, a lady came up to me at work and “remembered me”. Ugh. “Ohh, I remember you! You were pregnant with twins the last time I was here! How are they?!” As I searched through my database of things to say to her, I looked around, there was that akward stumble of words… “They’re doing good, thanks”. I lied. I didn’t know what to say, I just wanted her to go away. In retrospect, I should of just told her. It’s the truth. Parker did pass away, why not just say it. Who cares if she’s uncomfortable, or feels bad that she asked me. It happened. When they find out it’s almsot like they feel bad for “reminding me” about him, as if I forgot.

    • Heather I’m so sorry for your loss and for that situation with that woman. I stumble over my words all the time and a couple of times I did just say yes they’re twins and move on. The important thing to remember is that this is about you and your family, what feels right to you is what’s important. And yes I totally get the part about people fearing they’ll remind you of your baby…it is so backwards. Elizabeth Edwards (the ex-wife of politician John Edwards) lost a child and she once addressed this very topic when she said “if you know someone who has lost a child and you’re afraid to mention them because you think you might make them sad by reminding them that they died, they didn’t forget they died. You’re not reminding them. What you’re reminding them of is that you remember that they existed.” So true!

      Sending you lots of hugs xoxo
      Feel free to contact me any time if you need to talk with someone who “gets” it 🙂

  5. Perfect post Keira, as you know, I can completely relate. I’m so glad we have found each other and I will forever be grateful for the support you have given me along the way.

  6. I have friends that also have lost one or more out of a set of multiples. I was incredibly lucky and blessed that my triplets were born healthy and are now going on 13 years old. Each and every one of you that has lost a child must face this on an almost daily basis and you have my sympathies. A friend of mine who has 2 of her quads uses the following to make sure that she is not slighting either her children that died or the “multipleness” of her remaining set. And yes, that is their birthright, being a multiple. When people make conversation and ask “oh twins?” She simply replies, no, they are two of a set of quads, XXXXX and XXXXX are with Grandma at the moment. She is not lying as the grandmother also died, and that way she feels she doesn’t bring a sad moment to a stranger’s day who was just trying to make conversation and she is still honoring the existence of her other two children.

    • Ruth – I had never thought of that…I may have to use that on days when I don’t have the energy to deal with it but still want to acknowledge Zoe. Thank you.

  7. Wow. This is so humbling. Thank you for sharing. I will be better prepared when run into a situation where someone has lost a child. Thank you for providing this insight. I cannot imagine what you go through. Your girls are beautiful and I look forward to meeting Zoe someday – right after I embrace our Saviour. God bless you!

    • Thanks Jennifer – that is exactly why we share our stories – to offer comfort to those who have similar experiences and to help others be better prepared to support their friends and loved ones when prematurity, loss, or chronic illness occurs. Thanks for taking the time to read the post 🙂

  8. Thank you so much for sharing your story, Keira. I lost a triplet as well. Born at 24 weeks gestation, she lived only 21 days. My two survivors are now 2.5 and I wonder all the time how and when to teach them about their sister. We have a wonderful children’s book about a boy who was a preemie, but I haven’t found anything about the loss of a multiple. How and when did you start teaching your survivors about their sister?

    • Kristen, I’m so sorry for the loss of your daughter. In response to your question: we have always kind of woven Zoe into our daily lives. Our situation was a bit different b/c Zoe was an older infant and spent a few months at home. Avery and Lily don’t have real memories of her, but they do have photos with her in them. I have always kept photos of Zoe out around our house – were you able to take any photos? Not everyone does this, for some it takes time to be able to display photos. When we say prayers at night we always ask Jesus to give Zoe kisses and hugs for us. And on their birthday and Zoe’s angel day we send a balloon up to Zoe and let them draw or write on them. I also have an oil candle that I light just about every day – it kind of symbolizes Zoe’s spirit being with us – and they know it is Zoe’s candle. They used to kiss a picture of Zoe before bed and say good night to her.

      I was so worried that they’d not think of her or not feel connected to her and my grief counselor, who is faith based, told me that I had to allow God to do that for me. She didn’t mean to not talk about Zoe, but that I didn’t need to “force” Zoe on them, if that makes any sense. And I have to say she was right. Now that they’re 5 1/2 they ask a lot of questions and their own grief has begun to surface. We have a lot of questions about Heaven – which I wrote about on this blog last month http://www.preemiebabies101.com/2012/05/questions-about-heaven/

      Once they started to do a lot of imaginative play Zoe would sometimes make an “appearance” and we’ve had some instances where they will tell me that they dreamed about her or that she was in their room. It never ceases to amaze me. There really is something to that “multiples connection.” And I’ve heard the same from moms raising twinless twins. That their survivors will draw pictures showing their family and they include their brother or sister.

      There is no right or wrong way to teach them and it may feel awkward, I know it was for me…for me it has been important that we talk about her, keep her present. I want my girls to grow up without that societal view that we don’t talk about death, especially the death of a child. We’ve also gotten some good books written for children – “Heaven is For Real, For Kids” is beautiful and also “Sergeant’s Heaven” is a good one. A friend gave me “Heaven’s Not a Crying Place” which is for parents on how to talk to children about death and grief. It isn’t just about infant or sibling loss, but I found some good points.

      I hope that helps. Feel free to email me or message me anytime.

      • That is wonderful advice, thank you! You’re completely right, it does seem very awkward to talk about death and heaven with a toddler, but I do want us to have an open and honest relationship. I guess there’s no better time to start.

        We only have a few pictures, just thru the windows of isolette – and none of us with her – probably the biggest regret I’ll ever have in life! I’ll definitely frame a few and hang them up where the kids can see. It seems like answering their questions about a photo might be a really good place to start a conversation.

  9. Lara Kitchens says:

    I had my twin boys at 24 weeks and 4 days last November. One of our boys passed away at 10 days old and the other went on to spend over 4 months in the NICU. Our surviving twin has been home for a little over 2 months now and the reality that he’s a twinless twin has really hit me now. I think about his brother every day and wonder when it will get easier. Will I ever be able to look at my son and not think that something is missing? It’s just so painful.
    The other part of this is that I hate that my son will always be thought of as a singleton. You talk about not wanting to dismiss your daughter when your two surviving triplets are asked if they’re twins, but I’ll never have anyone ask me if my son was a twin. I feel as if I’ll never get to acknowledge his brother’s existence unless someone knew me at the time our son passed away. I find that most people have avoided bringing our deceased son up because we still have one. I HATE that people think it’s okay to ignore that we had a baby die just because one of our multiples lived. I like that quote that someone posted by Elizabeth Edwards. All I want is for people to remember that he existed.

    • Lara, I am so very sorry for the loss of your sweet boy. There is no greater pain than the pain of losing a child. I often think about twin moms not getting that chance – just like you mentioned, but a lot of the moms I know who are raising twinless twins do find that they have opportunities to acknowledge their angels. The same with those who lose singletons – usually when someone asks the often dreaded question “How many children do you have?” or “Is this your only child?” Not that it makes it any easier and having to face that question is just hard. Zoe’s been gone for over 4 years and I still stumble on my answer most days.

      And yes, talking about death, especially the death of a child is still taboo, unfortunately…though I do think there is a shift in our generation in acknowledging. It hurts and its awful and that joy and grief tug of war rages on. For a long time I thought I was dishonoring Zoe if I was “too happy” one day. And when my girls hit milestones the thought behind the happiness is often “what would it look like if Zoe was here?” So sometimes I have to enjoy the moment with Avery and Lily and later give myself some alone time to just cry.

      I also had a similar fear about people not knowing about Zoe when we had to move from Georgia to Mississippi – we knew no one when we came to MS and it was really hard b/c I thought I would never get a chance to talk about her because no one here knew us or knew our story. I couldn’t have been more wrong – each new person I met asked the twin question or the how many children do you have question. And because I share our story with them I have been able to create a new network of loss moms who are local.

      The pain doesn’t go away – but somehow we learn to live with it. I wrote a great deal on my personal blog about my grief journey in those first couple of years. http://3sorrells.blogspot.com/2008_08_01_archive.html is a link to the 6 month anniversary of Zoe’s death. It may be helpful to read. Just know Lara that you aren’t alone, you really aren’t. I don’t know what I would have done without the huge network of loss moms and multiples loss moms who have supported me over the years. They helped me feel normal when I thought I was literally going crazy and most of all they understand and don’t say things like “Don’t you want to get on with your life?” I know Hand to Hold has a network of grief moms and I also have a number of friends who are raising twinless twins and want nothing more than to embrace moms who are newly bereaved. Please feel free to contact me if you need to. Sending you lots of hugs today Lara.

      • Lara Kitchens says:

        Thank you Keira. Could you put me in touch with the grief moms through Hand to Hold and possibly your friends that have also lost a twin?

  10. Melissa Hux says:

    Kiera,
    Thank you so much for this. Someone posted a link on the TTTS hope and connection page. We do have dual TTTS surviours, but we also had a stillborn son six years ago this coming Sept.

    Never have I read something so well put ~ My Husband and I are blessed with a large family and when people see us out they always ask … How many children do you have? That inner struggle of wanting our precious Pax to be honored and counted in the family is always there ~ and of course how to answer depends on what I am up for that day. As his anniversary approaches I find myself a little less able to answer because even though it does get easier and I do rest in the LORD that I will see him again … never a moment goes by that I don’t miss his precious life.
    Thank you for this so very validating post. It ministered to my heart and I am sure countless others.

    In Christ,
    Melissa 🙂

    • Melissa, my heart goes out to you as only a fellow bereaved mom can offer. Thank you for letting me know that my post touched you so deeply. I too rest in the comfort of knowing Zoe is sitting in Jesus’ lap waiting for me to get there too one day…but like you said, not a day goes by that I don’t think of her or miss her. I pray these months leading up to September will bring you moments of peace and moments of rest to feel close to your angel baby. I am only 4 years past Zoe’s death and I have found that the pain kind of softens, but doesn’t go away. How could it? These are our children who were deeply wanted and dearly loved – as they always will be. I often say it doesn’t matter how many breaths a baby did or did not take outside the womb – that is our baby, our miracle of life and their loss is just as significant as those who lose someone later in life. All pregnancy, infant, and child loss is the greatest trauma a parent could ever experience – everyone’s story is uniquely their own and yet we are all bound together by this common understanding of the little things that only we, in this club, would know about. I hate that we have all become members, but I am encouraged by the showing of support that does exist among our loss community.

      Sending you many blessings and prayers Melissa.

      Keira

  11. Keira~have to comment on Melissa’s post. You truly are a blessing to me & like she wrote have “ministered to my heart” so many times. Cannot say thank you enough. What a truly special person you are! I am so thankful to know you & call you friend!

  12. I’m so sorry for your loss.

    I wanted to say that this is written so beautifully. The quote about faith is so accurate. I thought I knew God before I had my twins at 24 weeks, but it was only when I was “tested by a challenge [I thought I] may not survive” that I truly understand what it meant to have faith.

    I think you have probably helped a lot of moms by sharing your feelings. God bless!

  13. Michelle, thank you for letting me know my post touched your heart. That’s the whole reason I write, so others will know the thoughts & feelings they can’t express themselves are valid and that God is real and so is his grace.

    I peeked at your blog and your twins are precious 🙂

    God bless you and your family.

  14. Wow, your message really hit home. See, I was pregnant with quintuplets. One died during the pregnancy at almost 4 months. Based on information and ultrasounds at the time, we believe this was an identical twin to my daughter. Then, when the surviving four were born, my son Jordan’s identical twin David died from a prematurely detached cord during the 5 minutes it took to deliver them. It’s been a constant battle when people notice the ‘triplets’. It’s even been difficult for my children and I to come to terms with the answers. Privately, we know that there are two missing. Publicly, they have become ‘the triplets’. Like many, what I tell people usually comes down to a combination of ‘do I care if this person knows the whole story’, ‘how much energy do I have today to deal with this’ and ‘our right to privacy is our choice’.
    But last week was their 18th birthday… I watched my three walk across the stage at graduation – and knew that at least one was missing. I took Jordan to the University for his orientation – and knew someone was missing. The second half of June is always difficult for me. Thanks for sharing your story at a time when I needed to hear others’ voices . Bless you.

    • Hi Deanna, I apologize for the delay in responding and just want to tell you how sorry I am that we have this in common. I share in what I call “my season of grief” which usually goes from mid December (their birthday) through mid February (Zoe’s angel day). To think ahead to high school graduation and college as you’re living now – just reminds me that this really is part of who we are. These losses never leave us b/c they will always be our children, no matter how short our time with them is. Thanks for opening up Deanna and I’m glad my words brought some sense of understanding and comfort to you. Please do not hesitate to email me or contact me on Facebook.

      Keira

  15. Judith O'Connor Moreno says:

    Someone gave this to me, I don’t know who wrote it but changed it to put my son’s name in. I did not write this just want to share.

    ” Are they Twins?”
    I am often asked.
    Their true identity is cleverly masked.
    “No, they are not!” ” I adamantly say.
    This question is asked of me every day!
    “I now only have 2 of my original 3″.
    An explanation was now called for thee.

    ” 2 surviving triplets “, is my standard reply,
    And it ‘s always met with a terrible sigh.
    But a “Twin Mom” is all that you see,
    But, that’s NOT what I am, no that is NOT me.

    Can’t they hear what I’ve just said?
    Do they really need to be spoon fed?

    They are NOT twins as you may think,
    They are TRIPLETS……there was one more
    to the link!

    Forgotten he is, cause he is not here,
    But, we feel him close, we feel him near.
    I know to some, it may seem like only two
    they see.

    But PLEASE don’t forget our little angel Jorgie

    • Judy – thank you for sharing this poem. I want you to know that Jorge will never be forgotten! As I just wrote to Deanna – he will always live within you as his mom, though not outwardly for the world to see. I also want you to know about a remembrance event we do with our foundation, http://www.zoerose.org every October we light candles and read the names of all the babies we know of who have left our earth too soon or never had a chance to breathe outside of the womb. I’m going to email you in just a minute and we can talk at greater length. Just know you absolutely are not alone in this grief journey.

      Keira

  16. Keira,

    I hope I am not speaking out of turn, as I have never experienced the heartbreak you have experienced. I just wanted to offer my heartfelt appreciation to you for having the courage to share your story. It is very touching and you are allowing other women to have the courage to share their grief, their stories, and how to handle hard situations as well.

    I used to work as a social worker in the NICU and I felt so deeply when families would lose one of their babies (or any child, for that matter). I have witnessed parents losing one out of their three triplet children, and the pain they felt was just unbearable. I always wondered how one continues to live for the two (three, four) living babies while grieving for the one they have lost. I believe it takes such strength, love, devotion, and allowing feelings to flow. I want to honor those of you who have experienced these losses, as I know you never forget or “move on”.

    While in the NICU, I would witness staff referring to the babies as twins, once one of the babies had passed, not realizing how hurtful this felt to the parents who lost their child. I do think it is important for others (who have not experienced this) to understand that losing a baby does not change the “whole” and to receive education about appropriate language with families. One of the many reasons I love Hand to Hold and this blog. I am happy this exists for moms to get the support they need for one another.

    Again, thank you for sharing your story.

    Warmly,
    Dawn

    • Dawn, I truly appreciate your kind words and I couldn’t agree more about educating those who do not understand the experience and the hurt. As I often say about new parents in the NICU who are afraid to ask questions – I remind staff that as a nurse or doctor they do this every single day, but for a new parent – we just don’t know what we don’t know and we often don’t know the questions to ask. The same holds true in this instance with sensitivity in appropriate language – in many cases it just never occurs to the staff that calling surviving triplets “twins” would be hurtful – you don’t know what you don’t know. Education is the key and I too am thankful for Hand to Hold and this blog for taking part in drawing broader awareness to the various life circumstances we all face with fragile babies and with loss – step by step, bit by bit, we will make a positive impact on those around us and those who care for our babies.

      Thank YOU for recognizing this issue.

  17. Laura H. says:

    Dear Keira,

    I happened to come across this blog, and I am a surviving multiple. I am a fraternal triplet. My sister and I are 27 now. We lost our brother in utero shortly before we were born at 30 weeks. We know we will see our brother again in Heaven one day. It is comforting to think that Jesus is all he has ever known! Our brother never had to struggle in this life. Heaven has always been his Home. In many ways, we thank God for that. That is a special blessing for him. As I’ve grown up, I’ve usually told people my sister and I are twins. Once I get to know people better, I then explain that I’m actually a triplet. Your post has encouraged me to always say that I’m a triplet (because that is what I am!). It is a way I can honor him and my mother. My mother had a very difficult time and still doesn’t like to talk about losing one of her babies. She spent almost 7 months planning for triplets, and that was taken away from her. It is a disenfranchised grief for parents and surviving multiples. As a surviving multiple myself, I think it is very important to remember my brother. I think your daughters will always be grateful that you talk about their sister and aren’t afraid of telling others about her. Thank you for sharing your story, and I am very sorry for your losses. May God bless you and your family always.

    Laura H.

    • Hi Laura, and thank you to Keira for making this site available, I am the one survivor of triplet girls, I am 63 years old and found out this information in my teens, my mum had no support in those days so wasn’t able to talk to me of her feelings and grief, so of course I wasn’t to mention them either, you just knew by the curt answers, my mum went though this grief on her own, when I came across this site I felt the caring and sharing that goes to support mums loss, I must tell you I also find myself talking to my sisters and acknowledging their existence, it is hard when I tell people I am a triplet, and mentioned my sisters Mary and Lois died soon after birth, they go silent and dismiss it, as well you’re not a triplet now, I want to shout yes!! we are still triplets, of course I refrain from telling them I speak to my sisters and that there was an occasion when I was in a life death situation some years back guess who told me to hang in there, yes two female voices begging me to be strong and stay where I am, As I read these letters tears well up that others feel the strength of their lost siblings and babies, thank you for giving me the courage to write and share.

  18. As you so eloquently described your “season of grief”, sadly I am about to enter my 2nd “season” which seems to run all year round, however intensifies before their birthday through the New Year. My pregnancy began as a quad pregnancy, but our “baby A” stopped growing at 14 weeks. She reabsorbed back into my system & ultimately became one with her brothers…whom I call the triplets. I say ‘she’ because I like to think my “baby A” was a girl. 🙂

    My triplet boys were born at 33 weeks & all 5 lbs. Sadly, my son, Nolan, passed away just shy of 3 months old after fighting an undetected case of Necrotizing Entercolitis (NEC). Despite having feeding intolerance for the duration of his short life, his case of NEC was not diagnosed until 1 week after he was discharged from the NICU & was 9 lbs….unfortunately the damage was already done.

    My surviving triplets are thankfully thriving & about to celebrate their 2nd birthday this upcoming weekend. I find myself juggling a familiar tug of war with my emotions – pure happiness, joy & pride yet closely intermingled with sadness, anger, guilt & longing for Nolan to be celebrating alongside his brothers, 3 yr old sister & parents. The phrase ‘it’s just not fair’ often comes to mind because as you know…it’s not. It’s not fair that Nolan died. It’s not fair that my surviving triplets & daughter have to constantly listen to never-ending questions about whether “the boys” are twins. It’s not fair that they will only know him through our memories & pictures. It’s not fair that my grief often distracts me from thoroughly being happy & when I do feel happy…I battle feelings of guilt &/or the endless what if’s. What would he look like? What would his personality be like? The forever what if’s….

    It’s my “season of grief” that often leads me to late night internet searches for other grieving mothers of multiples because frankly…who has time during the day! 🙂 That being said, I have read MANY blogs, articles, books & even spoken to other grieving mothers, but have never felt more at ease & comforted than when I began reading about your journey. Because that really is what this is all about…our journey. I like to think that I’m handling…or managing is probably a better word….my grief as best I can. I have 3 beautiful & healthy children who need me to be at my best. I have always been very open & vocal about Nolan to my family, friends & anyone who will listen for that matter. 🙂 My husband & I work to incorporate him into our lives without seeming forceful while trying to balance our new normal in the only way we know how. I am in awe at the honesty, raw emotion & curiosity of children. It’s so inspiring on so many different levels.

    I am often reminded how much my children actually do listen to what I say unless of course I’m telling them to eat their dinner or clean up their toys! As you’ve discussed, the constant question about twins is never ending. I’ve gotten my statement down & it’s usually, “No, they’re triplets, but I know they might look like twins. Their brother, Nolan, passed away when he was 3 months old.” I’ve found this seems to lessen the wind being knocked out of their sails a bit by acknowledging the obvious…they do look like twins to everyone else! Sometimes questions follow, but often a sweet & uncomfortable smile accompanies the tailend of that conversation. However just recently after a fun day at the zoo with my kids & after answering this same question countless times, for the 1st time my daughter actually answered for me. She said matter of factly, “no, they’re triplets, but they look like twins” & went on her merry way. My heart melted & I wanted to give her the biggest hug yet not wanting to draw too much attention to what she said for fear of seeming too forceful. I was just so proud of her. Such a simple thing to her yet….not. These are the moments that help keep my chin up & get me through those pangs of guilt for feeling truly happy. I am learning that I can be both & that’s okay too.

    Thank you for sharing your story with the world, but selfishly…with me. It’s helped more than words can express. I think I’ll spend tomorrows late night internet search on how to make a Thomas the Tank Engine birthday cake. ;>

    Fondly,
    Melissa

    • Melissa,

      Thank you so very much for your comments. It means a lot to me to know that by sharing my pain and my healing, I’m helping someone else. That helps keep me open and honest. It is hard – and that isn’t even a strong enough word, is it? But I hear in your words your commitment to your living and your heavenly children – your love for ALL of them shines clear and bright.

      A recurring theme in my own journey these last few months has been “letting go” – next month you’ll read another post on Preemie Babies 101 about that – and I just posted something about it from a slightly different angle on my won blog http://3sorrells.blogspot.com I too have felt huge pangs of guilt when I felt happy for my survivors – and guilt if I didn’t cry “enough” one day. Over the last 4 1/2 years I’m finally finding those times are less and less and the realization that the best way for me to honor Zoe’s life is to be fully committed to her living sisters. That doesn’t mean I’ve forgotten Zoe – and it doesn’t mean I love her less. I’m not there 100% every day – but I try to keep my focused on that right now.

      I’m so honored you would share your story with me Melissa, and I am so very very sorry for the losses you’ve endured. Nothing makes it easy – but there is comfort in knowing we aren’t alone.

      Our foundation is having an a candle lighting remembrance ceremony next month. Please visit http://www.zoerose.org, I’d love to light candles for Nolan and Baby “A”.

      Feel free to email me keira@zoerose.org anytime.

      Sending you moments of rest and peace,
      Keira

  19. SO sorry for your loss! I have never lost a child so I have no idea on what thats like, I can only imagine the pain! I just want to say that however YOU feel you need to deal with it is the right way! It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks!

  20. I came across this site by accident, but your story resonated with me. I have never met any other triplets that had lost a sibling.
    I am a triplet, born almost 42 years ago, at 28 weeks, weighing only 2lb 13oz, my sister Karen weighed 2lb 2oz, my sister michelle weighed 4lb.
    Karen passed away at a week old. So most people only know us as twins, but I always have to tell people, no I am a triplet.
    We were always told from a young age that we were triplets.
    I always feel that Karen is with me. To such an extent that when my father passed away, I felt as if she was in the room to collect him & show him the way and also hugging me through the funeral service.
    Xxx

  21. Hi,
    Thank you for posting this. I find it very helpful in the situation I`m now in.
    Im a scandinavian woman and I lost one of my triplet girls about 3 months ago. They were born at 27 weeks due to preterm labour. My little girl died 12 hours after being born. Im struggling very much with her loss, and think of her every minute, every hour and every day. My surroundings seem to have moved on and constantly give me the feeling that my little girl is forgotten, as if she never existed. My family and friends now call my surviving triplet girls twins, and I just can`t stand it. I need them, more than anything, to acknowledge the existence of my baby because the rest of the world doesn`t seem to. This is making my grief so much harder to handle. I am now working on how to answer people when they ask if my girls are twins. Usually I say “no, they are triplets, but my third girl is in heaven”, but sometimes I have no energy left to involve strangers in this personal tragedy. Simply because the situation ends up with me feeling responsible for the unpleasant atmosphere that usually follows. I really need someone who can support me and give me some advice on how to cope with this. I live in a small country and there doesn`t seem to be many supertwin moms here, and sadly enough I feel that my closest friends and family aren`t there for me now-simply because they don`t understand. Does any of you know some support groups on the internet?

  22. I completely respect all the incredible moms who had to endure this tragedy. If a person does not know the whole story of a family, the person might innocently says “twins”. I know a mom who lost one of their triplets, just days after their extremely premature (27week) birth. The 2 that survived are now 7. She continues to very assertively tell people they are triplets, & say “you should not assume they are just twins”. Please forgive any uninformed use of the words “twins”, “triplets”….

  23. Mother born with 70s triplets one passed , boy feeling betrayed .

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