When Millie Smith and Lewis Cann’s twin daughters were born, they were ecstatic. Tragically, Skye only lived for three hours – but through this devastating loss, Millie and Lewis hope to help other families like them.
Millie found out she was pregnant in 2015 and was absolutely thrilled. She had a gut feeling that she was pregnant with twins, and around ten weeks, her suspicions were confirmed – she was going to have two identical baby girls.
Sadly, just two weeks later, Millie and Lewis received heartbreaking news. One of their daughters had a condition called anencephaly, and she wouldn’t survive for longer than a few minutes after childbirth. The young couple had to make the excruciating decision to continue along with the high-risk pregnancy, knowing that they’d have to say goodbye to one of their daughters and that the other baby was at risk as well.
Millie and Lewis decided on naming their daughters Skye and Callie. They wanted a name for Skye that would forever hold meaning.
“We knew that Skye needed to have a name before she was born,” Millie told Today. “Knowing she would only survive for seconds or minutes, I wanted her to be named during that time. Skye was somewhere we knew she would always be, that we could look up at the sky and remember our baby.”
After giving birth to the girls, Callie was rushed to the intensive care unit, while Millie and Lewis spent time with their baby girl, Skye, before she passed away. They were able to spend three precious and priceless hours with her.
“Lewis and I cuddled with Skye … and talked to her about our family and how we wished she could have grown up with her sister,” Millie told Us Weekly. “We told her how much we loved her. And I told her I was sorry that I hadn’t created her properly. I felt like it was my fault. I knew it wasn’t, but I always felt guilty. We told her she would never be forgotten.”
Days later, the grieving mother went to visit Callie in the NICU. A parent looked over at her and said ‘you are so lucky you don’t have twins.’
Millie knew that the comment was innocent, and of course the woman didn’t know their story; however, Millie couldn’t help but run away in tears. She didn’t have the guts to go back and talk to the woman about their situation, but she figured out another way to possibly help other families like hers.
Millie came up with a brilliant idea to place purple butterfly stickers on cribs of babies that have survived the death of one or more multiple-birth siblings.
Soon, stickers were placed on the appropriate cribs, along with a sign that read:
“When visiting this Neonatal unit as either a partner, relative or friend please be aware of the butterfly logo on each cot. This represents a baby that was part of a multiple pregnancy but sadly all of the babies did not survive.”
Callie is now growing stronger every day, and her parents have set up the Skye High Foundation to help them raise funds for the butterflies, as well as creating support groups and counseling for families who have lost babies.
The touching purple butterflies are now displayed at Kingston Hospital in England, with the idea catching on across the globe.
So, why the purple butterfly? “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,” she told Today.
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