Frequently Asked Questions

Vanishing Twin
Frequently Asked Questions

vanishing twin

My name is Caryl Dennis and I am a single twin.  I am not a doctor or psychologist.  The following answers are based on my research into and experience with the so-called Vanishing Twin Phenomenon (or Syndrome), subsequently referred to as “VTP”.

I have communicated telepathically and in the dreamtime with my “vanished” twin, whom I call Karyl.  I also have siblings who are twins and my youngest brother’s twin also vanished.  I am the creator and moderator of the Vanishing Twin Yahoo E-Group, which has been going strong since 2001, and I researched and co-authored The Millennium Children: Tales of the Shift (1997), which contains a large section on the VTP.

What are the signs of the VTP? 
Bleeding during pregnancy
Teratoma or Dermoid tumor
Left handedness
Extra fingers or toes
Cerebral Palsy
Imaginary friend
Feelings of incompleteness, loneliness or missing something or someone
Fascination with mirrors
Recurring dreams of a twin or “familiar” person
Sexual identity confusion
(It is possible to exhibit none of the above symptoms and still have experienced the in utero death of your twin.)

I just discovered I (or my child) experienced the VTP.  What do I do now?
Be gentle with yourself; integration of the VTP takes time and patience.  Education is the first step:  learn all you can about the VTP.  Do an internet search.  Post any questions you have on the E-Group.  Read My Twin Vanished:  Did Yours? by Dr. Brent Babcock and The Millennium Children: Tales of the Shift by Caryl Dennis and Parker Whitman.  Read the Vanishing Twin page on this site.  Check the links on the VTP Yahoo E-Group site.

Should I name my twin?
Yes:  I recommend that this be one of the first steps you take in coming to terms with your “vanished” twin.  It helps to personify him/her, and is a powerful way to begin the integration process.

Should I tell my child they had a twin in utero?  When?
YES, definitely, as soon as possible.  As is often recommended with adopted children, make them aware of their situation early and in a loving way, for example by acknowledging the absent twin on birthdays.  It is never too soon to know.  Whatever the circumstances, it’s almost always better to tell the surviving twin the truth as soon as possible, even if it’s not till adulthood. There are physical as well as emotional reasons that this is true.  And chances are, they already “knew” about their twin, consciously or not, and your acknowledgement of it may well come as more of a comfort and confirmation for them.

Are there physical reasons I should tell my child of his/her twinship?
Yes, definitely.  There could be issues with teratoma/dermoid tumors, chimerism, mid-line malformations, cerebral palsy, scoliosis and many others.

Should I talk to my mother about the possibility I was a twin?
Yes, if possible.  She may not have any awareness of your twinship, since doctors very often didn’t discuss the VTP with their patients in the past (and tend not to even today) because they have so few answers.  However, your mother may have known you were a twin and has kept it secret from you, believing that course to be in your best interest, or simply because of her grief over losing a child.

Whatever the case, learn as much as you can about the VTP before you talk to your mother about it.  I highly recommend Dr. Brent Babcock’s book, My Twin Vanished:  Did Yours?  his website.   Some mothers can’t or will not acknowledge the twinship, because they simply don’t know for sure, or they are unwilling to face the issue for one reason or another.  In that case, trust your own intuition.  The fact that you concerned enough to ask the question indicates that you may well be a surviving twin.

A good approach might be to ask your mother if she bled during your pregnancy, or did she get large early, or did anyone ever mention twins to her?

Know, though, that you may never get any “proof”.  Trust your intuition!

I have no “proof” I shared the womb with a twin.  My Mom says there was nothing unusual about my pregnancy.  Should I forget it?
Very often the mother has no indication she is losing a twin, especially when it occurs early in the first trimester.  The best medical estimates suggest that one in eight people begin life as a twin, so there are a lot of folks out there who are surviving twins and don’t know it.  The fact that you are interested in this topic and asking questions indicates that you experienced the VTP in utero.   Trust your intuition.

Does DES have anything to do with the VTP?
Diethylstilbestrol (DES) is a drug once prescribed during pregnancy to prevent miscarriages or premature deliveries.  In the United States, an estimated 5 to 10 million persons were exposed to DES from 1938 to 1971, including pregnant women who took the drug, and of course their children. In 1971, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advised physicians to stop prescribing DES because it was linked to a rare vaginal cancer.  After more than 30 years of research, there are confirmed health risks associated with DES exposure. However, not all exposed individuals will experience DES-related health problems.  (From the CDC website)

Because DES was prescribed for women who usually were bleeding during pregnancy, it is very likely they were losing a twin (that’s the most common cause of bleeding during pregnancy).  Thus, if the pregnancy came to term, the resulting child is probably a surviving twin.

My mother took DES because she bled when she was pregnant with me.

Is bleeding always present with the VTP?
No, some women have no symptoms at all.  It is probably the most common sign, however.

I had a teratoma or dermoid cyst.  Does that prove I was a twin?
I am not a doctor, but as far as I know, yes. I understand such growths are “by-products” of the twinning process (when it’s unsuccessful).   It does not mean, however, that you “ate your twin”!  (Some of the people I’ve talked to have told me that they were accused of exactly that, and worse.)

What is a chimera?
An individual with cell populations derived from more than one fertilized egg.  According to Lawrence Wright’s article, Double Mystery,  “Charles Boklage cites (speaking of the chimera)…though it has rarely been detected, it may not be at all uncommon.  ‘Possibly some of us are twins who are walking around in a single body,’ Boklage says…Occasionally, blood donors are found to be carrying two different blood types:  it could mean that fraternal twins merged in the womb.  Of course, there is no way to determine whether identical twins have merged, since their genes and blood types are the same.  In those cases, the twins don’t vanish; they amalgamate.”

When I experienced the VTP, my doctor told me to be thankful I only had one child and to forget it.  Is this common?
The medical profession’s tendency to ignore or dismiss the VTP (or a mother’s grief in its wake) as a real problem for those affected by it is, sadly, quite prevalent.  Dozens of surviving twins and their mothers have told me of hearing that advice.  The psychological impact of the VTP is an area in which there are still a lot more questions than answers.

One of my twins just “vanished”.    Will my other twin be OK?
Chances are very good that, with the “competition” for sustenance and elbow room gone, the survivor will thrive.  Research indicates that we do retain memories from the womb, so your surviving child will “absorb” the fear and grief that you feel concerning your loss, so try as best you can to focus on your love for the surviving twin.  Maintaining a positive attitude, and taking care of yourself may not be easy, but doing so will greatly benefit everyone involved.

“I just experienced the VTP.  The doctor says my surviving twin is fine, but I’m scared and grieving for my “vanished” child…I’m so confused.”
We know there is memory in the womb; what the pregnant mother experiences, the fetus experiences, to one degree or another (see the previous question).  Consequently, if the mother focuses on her grief during the balance of the pregnancy, the surviving twin will be affected by that negative energy.  If possible, I would recommend that you put your grieving on hold until after your delivery (oddly enough, we seem to be able to do this) and focus your energy on loving your healthy baby and nurturing yourself.  Every time you feel a wave of grief or a thought of your vanished twin, send them love and move on.

No one ever told me I was a twin – I just always “knew” it.  Is that common?
Yes.  Twins often believe that everybody thinks he or she is a twin!  Chances are extremely good that if you honestly believe you are twin – even if it’s “just a feeling” – you probably are.

I have been fascinated with twins my whole life and I never knew why.  Throughout school, I always befriended the twins in my school and loved stories about twins.   Is this common?
Only for single twins, who usually think everybody is fascinated with twins.   My research has shown me singletons don’t tend to “obsess” on the subject.

I am a single twin and tend to be very psychic/intuitive.  Is that common?
Yes.  Perhaps communicating with your twin is responsible for nurturing the gift of perceiving the non-physical.  That’s what my twin told me!

My child, a surviving twin, appears to be talking to someone nobody else sees.  Could it be his/her twin?
Yes, surviving twins quite commonly have what is referred to as an “imaginary friend”.  It is not a cause for concern.   This sort of communication can continue throughout their lifetime and does not mean they are mentally ill.

Acknowledge the validity of your child’s experience and pay attention to what (s)he says to the invisible companion; it may offer clues to what your child is experiencing emotionally, and how you might be able to help.

Do other single twins tend to purchase things in “twos”?
Yes, that is a common tendency.  Twins seem to think in twos.

Is depression common with single twins?
Yes.  Whether they know of their in utero twinship or not, single twins very often experience emotions they don’t understand, such as loneliness, frustration, unjustified feelings of abandonment or isolation, as well as depression.  Fortunately, knowing about their “vanished” sibling often helps them integrate the subconscious effects of that in utero experience, which can help greatly to alleviate the depression.

Are other single twins gay?
The VTP does sometimes result in gender identity confusion.  A surviving twin may be a chimera – a blend of two individuals, one of whom was male, the other female.  Uncertainty or ambiguity concerning one’s gender has been known to ensue in such cases.

Single twins often seek to resurrect the emotional bond they had with their now-absent twin with a mate or life partner.  When a partner of the opposite sex proves not to be the “other half” they’re seeking, they may well turn to their own sex.  If that also fails to meet their emotional needs, they can become very confused – especially if they are not consciously aware that they lost a twin sibling in utero.

Do other single twins feel like they share their body with their twin?
Yes, this is a common feeling for single twins; I experience it myself.   I suppose there are those who would label this feeling as schizophrenic or some such thing, but I have met dozens of single twins who share my experience.

I’m left-handed.  Does that mean I was a twin for sure?
No, but it is a common sign.

Do other single twins feel like they communicate with their twins?
This is extremely common.  I have had on-going communication with my twin, Karyl, since I discovered my twinship at age 37.  My research tells me that the telepathic bond known to exist between twins continues whether or not both twins survive the pregnancy.  Acknowledging my twin, naming her, asking her to communicate with me, and then “listening” for contact certainly facilitated my process.

Practicing meditation or some other method of quieting the “internal monologue” is often quite helpful in opening to contact with any nonphysical entity, twin or otherwise.

Do other single twins have dreams of their twin?
This is extremely common.  My youngest brother told me he often dreamed of a particular young man; he thought it meant he was gay.  He pursued a gay lifestyle and died of AIDS at the age of 35, never knowing he was a twin until shortly before he made his transition.  Mothers, here is yet another reason to inform your surviving twin of their twinship.

Does everybody think they had a twin?
No, single twins think they had a twin; they may believe everybody else thinks so too, but that is not the case.

Can a twin who survived a few days after birth be considered a vanished twin?
Not technically; however, the survivor in such cases often experiences many VTP signs and symptoms.

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