In a mere matter of weeks following Millie Smith and Lewis Cann’s revelation that they were expecting twin baby girls, a heart-wrenching truth unveiled itself: only one would endure the journey ahead.
On the 30th of April, after enduring a precarious 30-week pregnancy, Smith delivered a pair of identical twins, Callie and Skye. Regrettably, Skye’s frail existence flickered away within a mere three hours.
In the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), Callie slumbered solo in the incubator, while her adoring yet grieving parents maintained a vigilant watch. Amidst the cluster of infants, an overwhelmed mother of healthy newborn twins, unaware of Smith’s poignant circumstance, inadvertently remarked that she was “exceptionally fortunate” not to have twins.
Crushed by these thoughtless words, the new mother found herself lost for words, unable to articulate her profound grief. It was then, amidst her despair, that she discovered Skye’s enduring legacy, embodied in a delicate purple butterfly.
In November of 2015, Millie Smith and her partner, Lewis Cann, received the joyous news of their impending parenthood. Smith, with a familial history of twins, had an intuitive inkling of a duo in the making. Ten weeks later, medical confirmation arrived, affirming that they were expecting identical twin daughters.
However, the elation of doubling their familial blessings was short-lived. Less than a fortnight later, the couple’s world was shattered when they learned that one of their unborn daughters had a devastating and fatal condition, rendering her incapable of surviving beyond birth.
During a pivotal ultrasound, a deafening silence from the doctor overshadowed their initial excitement at seeing their two unborn babies. Intuitively, both Smith and Cann sensed the impending somber revelation. The doctors conveyed the grim news that one of the twins had anencephaly, a rare and severe birth defect, affecting only one in 4,600 babies across the United States. This condition left a baby devoid of critical portions of the brain and skull, and nearly all infants born with anencephaly succumbed shortly after birth.
Confronted with the agonizing certainty of one baby’s imminent demise and potential risks to the other, the couple resolved to proceed with the exceedingly high-risk pregnancy.
Over the ensuing months, the twins-to-be were christened Skye and Callie. “We believed that Skye deserved a name before her brief existence came to an end,” Smith remarked. “Anticipating her survival for mere seconds or minutes, I yearned for her to have a name during that fleeting moment.”
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