On the 12th of May 2022, we became part of that club. The one no one ever wants to become a part of, yet doesn’t get a say.
I am hoping that by sharing our experience and heartbreak, we will help bring awareness around infant loss, because unfortunately, it is more common than we think, as well as bring awareness around Monoamniotic-Monochorionic or "MoMo" twins.
Early December 2021, we found out we were expecting baby number 3. After our first scan, we soon were told that baby number 3 was actually baby number 3 & 4 and that we were having Monoamniotic-Monochorionic twins. Monoamniotic-Monochorionic or MoMo twins refer to twins who develop in a single amniotic sac and share a placenta. This situation is very rare (about 1% chance of having this type of pregnancy in twins pregnancies & 0.01% out of all pregnancies) and may cause risk to the babies due to cord entanglement and other issues such as Umbilical Cord Complications, Twin-to-Twin Transfusion Syndrome, Abnormal Amniotic Fluid Levels, Low Birth Weight etc.
Due to this pregnancy type being considered high risk, I had to be closely followed by a special team and OB at the Mater hospital. From the very beginning, we were advised and reminded at every single scan and appointment about the risks. It felt surreal. We were scared but hopeful. For 7 months, I was the luckiest mama in the world, carrying my twinnies who were thriving, growing wonderfully & were beating all odds.
For a while, we forgot about all the risks & were planning our future as a family of 6.
"Oh lord no, there's no heartbeat. I'm so sorry let me go get your midwife."
On Thursday the 12th of May 2022, I went in to the Mater hospital for my normal weekly routine scan, not thinking my entire life was about to change. Everything had been incredibly positive this entire pregnancy, the twins had been growing really well and I genuinely thought that the risks we were warned about in the early days wouldn't apply to us. I thought we were safe. In just under 12 days, I was supposed to hold my baby girls in my arms and I was so ready to meet them and build a life with my 4 babies. I can vividly remember the words of the sonographer as she was scanning over "twin A", our Zaïlie girl; "Oh lord no, there's no heartbeat. I'm so sorry let me go get your midwife." And just like that, the new life we had envisioned, slipped away. One of our little girl's heart had just stopped beating.My midwife and obstetrician both rushed in, did further checks and confirmed. Time around me stopped. I fell into a dark hole. My body was shaking. I was screaming, crying, asking my midwife and obstetrician to please do something. To please save my baby. I prayed to God to give me my baby back. To not call her back to his sides just yet, she wasn't ready, I wasn't ready. But nothing I did or said changed the situation ... From then, I was given the option to keep the twins in for 12 days, until my "planned birth date", with the risk that Thaïs could also pass or go for an emergency c section, get the twins out, and pray that Thaïs wouldn't have any brain damage. You see, because of the twins sharing the same placenta, when one twin passes away, that twin's blood can start going to the other twin's brain via the placenta and possibly create brain damage.
We decided to take the risk and requested to deliver our babies. They quickly got a team together & sent me in for an emergency surgery. They tried but there was nothing they could do to save our Zaïlie's life. Just like that, she was gone. My obstetrician said that Zaïlie's heart had most likely just recently stopped beating as when she came out she was still a "normal & healthy" colour and he thought he had made a mistake. Unfortunately he hadn't. Her eyes forever stayed closed. We will never know why or what happened because unfortunately it is the risk associated with this pregnancy however my obstetrician believes my placenta didn't send back blood to Zaïlie fast enough from Thaïs and her blood pressure dropped so low that it caused her heart to stop.
Since that day, our family life has really changed and our dynamic was truly affected. We’ve all been having a really hard time, including our kids who didn’t understand why only one baby would come home. I've never found myself in such pain. I am a vessel, a walking body with no soul, running on auto pilot. Trying to grieve for your baby and still be happy to have one alive is the most confusing path to walk & the emotions are running wild.
We strongly believe that Zaïlie stayed strong and waited until the right moment to pass, until I was in safe hands, so that both myself and Thaïs would be properly looked after. I know she's staying with her sister, close to her, making sure she's doing fine and growing strong. She's her little guardian angel. Thaïs means "the bond" and I feel she will always have this special bond with her identical twin sister. They truly were identical. Everything about these two was the same. We will get to watch Zaïlie grow through Thaïs and for that, we are so grateful.
The week after I got discharged, Zailie got taken to a funeral home whilst waiting for her funerals and we were able to visit her as a family, spend time with her and tell her how much we all love her. Thaïs was originally in critical care with a CPAP to help her breathe & as she developed her breathing skills, she was moved to special care. After a couple of months, she finally came home to us. NICU life was intense . We would drive daily back and forth from the Northside of Brisbane to the Mater hospital in the city to spend time with our little girl. When it came closer to her due date Thais had to get a brain MRI done & after so much stress, we were given the happy news that her brain scans came back as normal. It felt like a huge weight had been removed off our shoulders.
Looking back at our time at the Mater hospital, they were nothing short of wonderful and they even had a special team for our situation, beautiful bereavement midwifes, to help guide us and support us the entire time. Nothing was too much for them and they went above and beyond to make sure that we had the most beautiful experience in the midst of this trauma. We were lucky enough to get a Bear of hope cuddle cot which is a cold cot that allows you to have your baby with your in your room for as long as you need & help you grieve. We kept Zaïlie close to us and held, kissed and cuddled her for 3 days. I slept with her on my chest every single night like I did with Thea, Zion and Thais when she came home. I bonded as much as I could. Skin to skin. We thanked her for watching over Thaïs and taking care of her and we told her how much we loved and would miss her. She looked so peaceful, just like a sleeping baby. I really thought at times she was just about to wake up. We then got both sisters together for one last family hug and said our final goodbyes. It was the most beautiful way to say "until we meet again" to our precious angel. We got a Heartfelt photographer to come and take some beautiful photos of us 4 which we will forever cherish as memories. We also got some hand and feet casting made as well as some beautiful hand and feet prints and cut some of her hair so we could make some keepsakes and have her with us forever.
This situation is unfair. I am angry. I am sad. I am heartbroken.
For a very long time, I felt like I couldn't keep going. My little girls were robbed from growing up together and making those wonderful memories. Wherever I go now, I see twins. I don’t know if they have always been everywhere or if the universe is just even more cruel than it already is. When I close my eyes, I can see my girls, cuddling in bed, laughing, playing pranks on everyone and just loving life with each other. But this is not going to happen. I can see our future in the distance, the future that was meant to be. And my heart is ripping apart thinking I just cannot grasp it, it slipped right through my fingers. There is no right or wrong way to grieve or go through this type of trauma so we are doing it "our way" & the way that feels right for us. We are taking time, we are taking it one step at a time & we are riding the waves as they come.
There is absolutely no words to describe how broken we are, but one thing I have noticed is it has made Devon and I love stronger. We are supporting each other through this as much as we can and I can truly say he is my soulmate. And for that, I am grateful. How many people can say that they have truly found their soulmate in this lifetime?We will be grieving our baby girl for a long time but I want to also be able to celebrate her, tell her story and how incredibly lucky we are to have her choose us.
I may have lost my baby, but I'm still a mama of 4, a twins mama
Since her passing, Zaïlie has made sure we know she is always around. She has been sending us this beautiful little bird, who comes and visits us daily in the most unexpected places & has the courage to enter our home and stay with us to help heal our broken hearts.
We love you and miss you Zaïlie baby, you'll forever be in our hearts, forever hold a special place. When the time comes, we will meet again. We will dance amongst the stars together, sing for hours, laugh & hug for an eternity and I'll talk to you about all the memories we made as a family and how much we missed you. It's only goodbye my love.
If you'd like to help us support our favourite charities and help as many parents going through loss as possible have those special moments in the Hospital with their babies, please follow the charities links below do donate.
CUDDLE COTS - BEARS OF HOPE
PHOTOGRAPHER - HEARTFELT
KEEPSAKE'S BOX - PRECIOUSWINGS