When Millie Smith and Lewis Cann found out they were pregnant, they were ecstatic. When they learned it was twins? Double the excitement!
But tragedy struck soon, when the parents-to-be found out one of their babies suffered from a very serious condition called anencephaly. Anencephaly refers to the absence of a major portion of the brain and skull of a baby in utero. Babies born with anencephaly are not expected to live longer than a few minutes.
«During the scan, the doctor didn’t say anything,» Millie said. «I was very excited and loved seeing the little babies, but she was silent. Both Lewis and I immediately knew there must be a problem.»
Millie went into labor at 30 weeks pregnant. She gave birth to both babies with a bereavement midwife present for the inevitable tragedy. Callie and Skye were born to two loving parents.
The sick twin, Skye, defied the odds and survived for 3 hours after her birth before she sadly passed away.
«We were cuddling Skye when she passed away. This was the worst moment in our lives,» Smith said. «I have never ever felt heartbreak like that before. But I am proud that she fought for so long to spend time with us.»
The surviving twin, Callie, spent time in the hospital after birth due to being a month premature. Millie and Lewis spent every waking second at the hospital with their little girl. It got awkward, though, when other parents at the hospital would ask about their twins and hadn’t heard about Skye’s condition.
One of the most uncomfortable moments for Millie was when another parent of twins turned to Millie while the twins were crying and said «You are so lucky you have just one.»
«None of the other parents knew what had happened or anything about Skye. The comment was completely innocent and more out of humor. They weren’t to know that I did at one point have two. But the comment nearly broke me. I ran out of the room in tears and they had no idea why.»
Millie decided she wanted to do something to make her unique circumstances known, without having to tell every person in the hospital ward.
Millie designed a purple butterfly to place on Callie’s crib with the intent of letting people know Callie was one of a multiple birth, of which the other baby didn’t survive.
«I chose butterflies, as I felt it was fitting to remember the babies that flew away, the color purple because it is suitable for both boys or girls,» Smith said.
The hospital has since set up a system to inform parents in the ward as to what a purple butterfly means .
It’s a simple gesture that can take away a lot of painful conversations for other families who suffered the same loss.
Did you know what the butterfly meant?