When Millie Smith got her 12-week scan she found out that she wasn’t just expecting one baby girl – she was expecting two! Smith and her partner Lewis Cann decided to name the identical girls Skye and Callie.
Twins run in her family, so the news wasn’t exactly surprising. That said, her family has never had a set of twins in which both babies survived.
Like the other twins in her family, Smith’s set was also not destined to both survive. Doctors told the pregnant mum that one of the identical twins had a condition that causes the brain to develop abnormally. Smith notes, on her Just Giving page, “The doctors informed us that Skye had a condition called Anencephaly and that no baby had ever survived this, it was impossible. We made the decision to continue with the pregnancy to give Callie a fighting chance, although it was high risk, we wanted to try.”
The couple had almost seven months to prepare for the inevitable – that only one of their babies would survive. Smith told Babble, “Dealing for it and preparing for it was hard. But the more we talked about it the ready we were. I spoke about Callie and Skye on a daily basis at work and ensured that no one felt awkward talking about my pregnancy. I got to enjoy my pregnancy and got to look forward to meeting them.”
As they prepared for what was to come, Smith and Cann decided to donate baby Skye’s organs. Infants born after 36-weeks, who pass, are eligible to become donors. Not every plan works out, as Smith knows all too well, and she went into labour early – at only 30 weeks. This meant that they could not donate Skye’s organs.
Born at 2.3lb and 2.8lb, the girls were brought into the world via C-section on 30th April 2016. Premature, Callie was taken to intensive care immediately after birth. Skye came out with a cry, just like any other baby (even though Smith knew she very much wasn’t). The parents were told that Skye would most likely only live for minutes. She lived for three hours.
During her short life, Skye got to spend time with her mum and dad. The parents took their newborn to the “Daisy Room” – a special room in the UK’s Kingston Hospital (where the babies were born) for parents of infants who most likely won’t make it. The family cuddled together and dad took Skye to see her twin sister. The two were placed together in the intensive care unit’s incubator right before Skye passed. Smith writes (on her Just Giving page), “When Skye passed it felt like my world had ended, even though I had Callie, my heart was broken.”
The mum’s heart broke again when a passing comment by another parent sent her running out of the intensive care unit crying. Smith told the BBC, “I was in a neonatal ward with Callie, and there were three sets of twins crying.” She went on to explain, “A parent who didn’t know what I’d been through turned to me and said, ‘You are so lucky you don’t have twins’.” Smith added, “When she said this to me, it just broke me.”
The mum making the statement didn’t know about Smith’s situation, and never intended on hurting her. She simply thought Smith was the mum of one – having no clue that she had recently delivered two babies. Smith knew that she had to do something to help other parents who were in the same position that she was. Mums and dads who had lost a child during a multiple birth.
What was her solution? Purple butterfly logos. The stickers are meant to let other people in the hospital (friends and family members of other patients) know that the baby in the cot has lost a sibling.
The stickers, which have now been turned into laminated cards, were adopted by the hospital that Smith gave birth in. She hopes to have the butterfly logos make their way across hospitals in the UK. Not only are Smith and her partner helping other families through their purple butterflies, but they have also started the Skye High Foundation in order to raise money (through Just Giving) for bereaved families.