Amid the mayhem and sleep-deprived nights of caring for their new baby boy, Joe Sim and Janice Tang sometimes still wonder how it would have been had his twin been born, too.
“Right now, we’ll always wonder whether the other baby was a boy or girl,” says Joe, a senior manager. Baby Jing Yi is the sole survivor of his mummy’s twin pregnancy. His twin had literally “vanished” in Janice’s womb before the second trimester.
Joe and Janice were surprised to learn that they were expecting twins during their first check-up with the doctor. Joe was particularly excited because his family had never had a history of twins. Janice’s aunt has twin children.
But excitement soon turned to anxiety when they were told that it looked like Vanishing Twin Syndrome, and to be mentally prepared to lose one of the babies.
“We were definitely surprised to see two embryos on the ultrasound, but were worried because one of the embryos was smaller than the other. I also experienced regular spotting,” says Janice, an administrative executive.
For the next two weeks, Janice tried her best to save the smaller twin by “taking things easy”. But when she saw the doctor again, the smaller twin had literally vanished.
No definite answer
“To us, it was a really strange phenomenon, but the doctor said there’s no definite answer as to why one of the twins disappeared,” says Janice.
“Vanishing twin” is used to describe a twin who dies and disappears in the uterus during early pregnancy, according to Professor George Yeo, head and senior consultant of the Department of Maternal Fetal Medicine at KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital.
Most, if not nearly all, of “vanishing twin” cases continue as healthy pregnancies, he adds.
While Janice was pragmatic about the situation, Joe was badly affected by the loss.
“Even though it was very early during the pregnancy, I was extremely sad because I felt like I had lost a child. We had a chance to have twins and that would have been something great and exciting for the family,” he says.
Janice adds that things would be very different if she had successfully carried through the twin pregnancy. She would have had to hire a domestic helper and give up her job to care for her three children.
“I believe that if you are destined to have twins, you will. Looking back, it could have been a blessing in disguise because my body constitution might not have been able to handle the weight and stress of a twin pregnancy,”
“Having twins is a gift. But now that we’re left with one baby, the most important thing is that he’s healthy – and we’re glad for that.”