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THE PERINATAL DEATH OF A TWIN: Karla's Story of Attaching and Detaching

Authors

  • Jeanne E. Van der Zalm RN, MN

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      Address correspondence to J. Van der Zalm, 9413–97 St., Fort Saskatchewan. AB, Canada T8L 1S9.
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    • The author received a diploma in nursing from the University of Alberta Hospital School of Nursing and a bachelor of science in nursing from the University of Alberta. She has extensive maternal-child nursing experience as a staff nurse, a community health nurse, and a nursing educator. A mother of two sets of twins, the author has recently completed a master of nursing at the University of Alberta. This article is based on the author's recent clinical practice experience in the Advanced Nursing Practice II course in her graduate program.


Address correspondence to J. Van der Zalm, 9413–97 St., Fort Saskatchewan. AB, Canada T8L 1S9.

ABSTRACT

This article examines the attaching and detaching experience of a mother encountering the perinatal death of a twin. Her experience is related to the relevant theoretical and research literature pertaining to prebirth and postbirth maternal-infant attachment and detachment (grieving). Literature for both single infants and twins is considered. The experience of this mother suggests that elements of postbirth attachment may have been accelerated into the prebirth period. In addition, her postbirth attaching and detaching experience suggests that an attachment and detachment to the twins as a unit preceded detachment from the twin who died. The health care provider's role in promoting maternal well-being, and indirectly the well-being of the surviving infant, is described.

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