What physical challenges does a newborn Womb Twin Survivor face?
Because mind body & spirit are interconnected, separating out physical symptoms is difficult because they include deeply emotional/psychospiritual components. All symptoms are a direct result of the what happened in the womb for the survivor and each womb story is unique, so how the symptoms manifest depends on the experience. Details such as when the twin was lost, how it was lost, gender, zygosity, etc. shape the outcome. There are trends seen among womb twin survivors such as:
-Newborns can be in shock not only from the trauma of losing their twin but having to navigate birth solo and thus separate from the mother, when separation already means death. They may be unable to sleep or unable to wake up, they may cry incessantly and be clingier than other babies.
-Sometimes symptoms arise from the NICU depending on the length of time & experience there. The baby, in shock, loses critical attachment bonding with mother due to the often lengthy stay - which is an important "twin replacement" bond that would ease the transition into born life alone but instead, being cared for by various nurses reinforces separation anxiety which can stress the baby and have all kinds of physical repercussions.
-They need to feel a physical barrier in their proprioception to remind them of the good time with their twin (when space was tighter), rather than feel the vulnerability of open space such as when their twin died leaving them alone in it, which they feel guilty about taking up by themselves. The baby will smash it's body into the corner of the crib or cling tightly to another object. (google "The Rescuing Hug" videoclip)
-The baby may appear despondent with inward eyes due to their intense inner nature and hypersensitivity. They may delay speech to hold on to the non-verbal relationship imprint of their twin.
-They may exhibit anomalies such as dermoid cyst, chimerism, 3rd nipple, extra digits or teeth or other unusual markings/features. Ambidexterity. Skin sensitivity/Hypersensitivity.
-All kinds of eating issues show up, from mild to severe, usually originating from feeling guilty about getting more food and surviving. WTS often want to stay small and not be bigger than anyone, not grow, so they can be like their twin or they will show up the size of two or three people, eating for them all. Alternating between the two (as in yoyo dieters) is wonderful way to express duality which is their twin nature. (Not all WTS have these issues, it depends on what happened in the womb).
-As toddlers they may follow/stay in close proximity to caregivers in order to bond and make sure their "twin replacement" doesn't disappear.
-They may exhibit twin confusion by treating a favorite pillow or blanket like a person and go into panic if the object is lost. (buy two of a favorite thing so you have a replacement to avoid this).
-They may have a different sense of boundaries and safety - both personally and interpersonally (usually lacking).
-They may express thoughts about death, dying, killing, etc. as a way to articulate the confusing, unspeakable death which they witnessed before birth.
What can you do to help a very young Womb Twin Survivor? Foster their brilliance while dialing down their triggers, this will help give them the energy to navigate the day and grow. Give them comfort and love. Pick and choose when to give in - they need alot of attention generally but proper boundaries shouldn't be compromised, they should be reinforced (WTS need to learn to navigate the world just like everyone else even though they are quite different). Disagreements, disapproval, separations of any kind are threatening to a WTS so be ready for an unusual amount of anger (too much or too little). Do your best not to judge, be consistent and authentic. Be patient when they flip flop from alpha to beta, they are often two people in one so it gets confusing! Awareness is key...and we can learn to bring out the best in our very special Womb Twin Survivors.