The Taboo Subject: Infant Mortality and Disability

Infant Mortality

If you are pregnant with triplets, you probably are already aware that your pregnancy is considered “high risk”. Even though it has decreased significantly in recent years, the rates of infant mortality and disability are considerably higher for triplets and higher order pregnancies. Premature birth and low birth weights are the major factors contributing to this reality.

As difficult as it might be to think about, parents who have been through these sad experiences recommend parents expecting multiples have awareness about the risks involved. Discussing it with your doctor may be helpful to gain a greater understanding of the risks involved with your particular pregnancy, since each is a bit different.

Loss of One or More Infants

Family, friends, and other onlookers may not know what to say if one or more of your triplets dies. They may say unhelpful things, albeit with good intentions, such as, “At least it wasn’t your only baby” or, “You are lucky to have another (or two other) baby(ies)”. Their lack of understanding of how you feel might be frustrating, disappointing, or angering.

If this happens to you, remember that all feelings are acceptable, especially when experiencing a loss. Your emotions might be mixed or unpredictable. One moment you may experience the joy of the life of your surviving baby or babies, and the next unbearable sadness for your loss. All of these emotions might be exacerbated by your physical recovery and the demands of one or more newborns. 

Go easy on yourself and seek help and support as needed. It is your right to grieve your loss even amidst caring for your newborn(s). Your grieving might take months, years, or even a lifetime. It is a painful experience and there is no time limit on when you should “move on”, if ever.

However, time may give you experience in handling your feelings regarding your loss and you may find that you learn helpful ways to cope with these feelings. Everyone grieves differently, so give yourself a chance to discover your unique way to express what you feel inside. If caring for your surviving baby or babies becomes difficult for you as you grieve, be sure to reach out for support.

You may find healing in joining a support group for families who have experienced loss of an infant. Mental health professionals can also be of great assistance in this time of need. Don’t hesitate to reach out for help, especially if you have disturbing thoughts, such as harming yourself or others.

Infants Born with Disabili​​​​ties

If one or more of your triplets is born with a disability, you may experience feelings of loss, as reality does not live up to your hopes of a perfectly healthy baby or babies. You might feel uncertain or confused about what the future may hold for your family. Recognize your feelings and remember that all feelings are acceptable, even hurt, anger, frustration, etc.

Infants with disabilities may need extra appointments and special care needs. Work closely with your pediatrician and any other healthcare professionals involved to help your family adjust and to provide the best care for your baby(ies). Stay honest with yourself and seek support as needed.

Conclusion

While it may be taboo to discuss, infant mortality and disability are a real concern for parents of triplets. If you are pregnant with triplets and have concerns, talk to your doctor, other moms of triplets, or a mental health professional to help you work through your concerns.


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