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When Your Child Is an Only Child, Even Though You Know He Isn't

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Our sons Charlie and Oliver will always be identical twins to us. But they are also individuals. We have had children, not a child. You can’t see Charlie, but we know Oliver has a brother. So when people ask us if Oliver is an only child, it hurts. It hurts because he’s not an only child, even though it looks like he is. So we will say yes and wish we could say no.

When you lose a child, there’s a constant balancing act between needing to keep that child present in your lives and needing to make sure your other children know they are perfect, they are enough. One thing we know we do not want is Oliver growing up with a shadow over him, feeling like his parents “never got over my brother,” that we wanted more than him. And the tough thing is, we do want more, we want Charlie so much. I want to be even more tired than I am now, with double the feeding and changing and smiling. So we walk this line with Oliver, of having Charlie alongside him, and we hope we can keep it healthy and happy, so he never feels sad or alone, as the brother who lived. This is something parents should never have to think about, but sadly, many do.

I want the world to know Oliver isn’t an only child, but I want Oliver to know he is. That yes, he has a twin brother, and we miss him, and as he grows bigger he will understand it more, but that he is enough.

So we will have a brother for him that he knows about, that he can ask about, see pictures and hold his feet casts if he wants to. And he will feel sad that he doesn’t have Charlie to play with. But he won’t feel like his parents wish things were better. He won’t feel like his mum cries all the time or his parents love Charlie more. Because it’s our job to show him he is loved. That he is more than we ever thought we would have. That he is perfect just the way he is, all the time.

So when you ask me if he is an only child? I will say yes. And always wish I could say no.

Lead photo source: Thinkstock Images

Originally published: February 25, 2016
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