I will never forget how surprised I felt when I heard the news that I was expecting twins. The pregnancy was our first surprise, – and now: twins!
After settling into our new reality, the excitement began and so did the planning.
Within a couple of weeks, my partner had decided to take a transfer with his work so we could move from the west coast across Canada to be closer to family. In fact, he had already moved across the country to be begin training for his new position when I went – solo – for a follow up ultrasound with our new doctor, who specialized in twin pregnancies. I was prepared for a routine check up, and planning to return to work with images of my precious little ones. The doctor took a quick look with her ultrasound tools.
“There’s only one heartbeat,” she said, matter-of-factly. “There’s only one baby.”
I’d never heard of Vanishing Twin Syndrome until that moment. In fact, scientists have estimated that 1 in 8 people started life as a twin, while in reality only 1 in 70 are actually born a twin. Studies predict that Vanishing Twin Syndrome occurs in 21-30% of all multiple pregnancies.
But I didn’t know any of this at the time.
I’ll never forget how routinely the doctor explained it. I didn’t know what to do first, wipe the tears away or the ultrasound goo off of my belly. I left her office reeling, and went home to process how everything had changed – in an instant. I felt guilt, overwhelm, and shock. I didn’t want to send the sadness or stress hormones to my healthy baby. But I didn’t realize how much this experience would impact him regardless.
When our son was just three and a half, we were sharing carrot sticks and chatting as moms and small children do. Between bites, he suddenly said,
“Mommy, I wasn’t alone in your belly, was I? There was a little girl in there with me. She came in with me to be sure I wasn’t scared, but she couldn’t stay. I still miss her, sometimes I feel sad for no reason at all.”
For a moment, I was speechless and covered in goosebumps.
I pulled him up onto my lap and said, “I’m so glad she came with you, so that you didn’t have to come all alone. I’m so grateful to her. I’m so happy that you are here with Daddy and I. We love you so very much.”
He hopped down with a smile and went back to building a tower with his bricks.
I’ve always appreciated the innocent nature of kids, so much more connected to themselves and less attached to outcomes.
A child’s implicit knowledge of how they experienced their time in the womb stays with them, informing how their future relationships unfold. Another significant influence for each of us is the impact of the emotional history you share with your family, and how it begins even before you were conceived.
When your grandmother was five months pregnant with your mother, the egg that will eventually become you was already present in your mother’s womb. That means you, your mother and your grandmother all shared the same biological environment. Whatever your grandmother experienced—her traumas, her sadness, her grief—can become your emotional inheritance. We are more than individuals: we are the sacred vessels of genetic memories.
Our invisible patterns, formed in our childhood, shape our perceptions of the world. Unconsciously, they form our understanding of ourselves, of life, of our relationships and of what we believe is possible. Through working with thousands of people, I’ve observed that these patterns are only ripples of a much deeper challenge held far below the surface of our conscious mind.
Hannah started our session by sharing how sad she felt about not being able to relate or really connect with her mom. The distance had continued to grow over the years and what was usually there was a friction – an ever present irritation. When I asked her what she remembered about being a young girl, Hannah shared she was always independent and recalls that, when her siblings were born, she became mommy’s little helper.
Hannah revealed that her birth was a difficult one and that she was rushed into care immediately after birth, spending a full week in an incubator, separated from both of her parents. When we consider what is love, safety and comfort is for a newborn after 9 months in the womb, it is being close with her mom, hr smell, her touch, her milk, and her voice. This is what supports optimal brain development – feelings of safety within the body, and the foundation of relational trust.
As adults ,we can understand that medical interventions may be essential for mom or baby. But, the emotional toll this separation takes can last a lifetime. Our body remembers this sense of being connected to everything and the stark change of separation. When you notice early independence in a young child, this is often a coping strategy that developed from an early separation and they are doing everything they can to avoid being hurt again.
When we lose that connection with mom, either in the womb, or because of medical intervention or perhaps she had to return to work right away, it is very common to experience a distant relationship with our mother. It’s as if an essential building block of trust between mother and child was missed. The good news is, this can always be repaired, this is at the very heart of the work I do each day with my clients.
Our earliest experiences, while we don’t consciously remember them, have a profound influence on how we live our lives. I work with what the body remembers, releasing was has been held within for years influencing our relationships for years.