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Returning to work after twin loss

24 years ago I had just started my first year teaching in a Year 1 class. I had worked the previous three years since qualifying to be a teacher, in a Reception class at my first school in Northampton. The staff all knew I was pregnant with twins from pretty early on as I was so poorly, but at that point very few parents knew. They were all so excited and couldn't wait for me to have my twins.

We started as usual with an Inset day and I clearly remember being very uncomfortable. I had horrible back ache and had to keep moving to try and get comfortable. I thought it was a normal part of pregnancy but in hindsight I think it perhaps wasn’t.

It was a week after being back that my labour started on a Sunday evening at 25+6. So I was exactly 26 weeks the following day when they were born. The exact details are blurred so I can’t remember whether it was myself or Dominic who let my headteacher know that I wouldn’t be in.

I had great support from my school and teacher friends while Charlie and Joshua were on the NICU, who sent cards and presents and updated the parents with our situation.

My class at the time made a lovely book of ‘Get Well’ messages and ‘we hope your babies are ok’ which must have been posted to me as I remember looking at it in the hospital. It is really precious.

After Charlie had died I remember having the realisation that I might be going back to school without either of my twins...

My school and colleagues continued to offer great support with quite a few staff coming to the funeral but the thought of going back was so hard. I was supposed to be at home with my twins…

The emptiness of the house was just too difficult though and I thought I must have cried out all of my tears after a month of being at home! So I decided to go back, a month after the funeral, at the beginning of November. At the time there was no offer of returning to work part time or having odd days in school to begin with. I think that would have been helpful if it had been the case. My headteacher was supportive though and tried to make the return to work as gentle as possible.

In hindsight I think it was too early but I just needed something else to do. It was ok actually - mostly, with the children being refreshingly honest and open about the fact that Charlie and Joshua had died. A little boy called up the corridor ‘Mrs Darke, your babies died didn’t they?’ whilst a few horrified teachers looked on!

A few of the children would draw pictures of me holding them too which are also precious memories.

I think my hardest thing was being in the staff room as it just felt like life was carrying on as normal which of course it was for everyone else. I think having something else to think about was definitely helpful for me but I struggled with everything feeling so unimportant and insignificant.

I also remember being in an assembly about Remembrance Day and feeling tearful, I wanted to get out without making a fuss but I was near the front…

There were a few things like this that would just hit me unexpectedly while things that I was prepared for such as Mother's Day I could plan for a little.

Thankfully I had good support so mostly it was fine at school and it gave me something else to think about.

When I was pregnant with Jess not long after going back, my colleagues were so pleased and took great care of me so that I could finish that school year before having Jess the following September.

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