“Decode the Meaning: The Significance of a Purple Butterfly Sticker Near a Newborn”

Millie Smith and Lewis Cann discovered they were expecting twin girls, but their joy was tinged with sorrow as they learned that only one would survive.

On April 30, Smith gave birth to identical twins, Callie and Skye, after enduring a challenging 30-week pregnancy. Tragically, Skye passed away just three hours after birth.

In the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), Callie rested in an incubator, while her parents grappled with the bittersweet reality of their situation.

A well-meaning but insensitive comment from another mother, expressing relief at having only one infant, deeply wounded Smith. In her moment of despair, a purple butterfly appeared, symbolizing Skye’s enduring presence and her role in comforting other grieving parents.

Millie Smith and Lewis Cann had welcomed their first child in November 2015. Smith, anticipating the arrival of twin daughters and with a familial history of twins, had a strong intuition about her multiple pregnancies.

Their world was shattered when, less than two weeks after discovering they were expecting twins, they received the devastating news that one of their unborn daughters had a life-threatening illness.

“During the scan, the doctor’s silence spoke volumes. While I was filled with excitement at the sight of our little babies, her quiet demeanor signaled trouble. Both Lewis and I sensed it immediately,” Smith recounted.

According to the CDC, approximately 1 in 4,600 newborns in the United States are born with anencephaly, a condition where parts of the brain and skull are missing, often resulting in a very short lifespan.

Facing the grim reality of this diagnosis, the doctors gently delivered the heartbreaking news that one of their babies had this condition, and it was unlikely she would survive long after birth.

Despite the daunting odds, Smith and Cann made the courageous decision to proceed with the high-risk pregnancy, fully aware that one of their precious babies might not live beyond birth.

When their daughters were born months later, they named them Skye and Callie.

“Naming Skye before her birth was important to us,” Smith explained. “Knowing her time with us would be fleeting, I wanted her to have a name to carry with her during those precious moments.”

The name “Skye,” she shared, held special significance, representing a place of eternal remembrance. “It symbolized a place where we knew she would always reside, a constant reminder whenever we gazed up at the sky.”

On April 30, Smith underwent an emergency C-section at just 30 weeks into her pregnancy, marking the beginning of their poignant journey. 

The couple received support from a “bereavement midwife” and were provided access to a “Daisy Room,” a dedicated space where parents could spend time with their infant before and after their passing, aiding them in navigating their grief.

“When the girls were born, both cried, which was a significant moment for us because we were initially told Skye wouldn’t exhibit any signs of life,” recalled Smith, grateful for the three precious hours they shared with Skye before she peacefully passed away.

In the NICU, Callie joined two other sets of twins also born prematurely, forming a small community of families facing similar challenges.

Initially, the nurses were aware of Skye’s passing, but as time passed, the topic became taboo, leaving other families unaware of their situation. Smith vividly remembered an innocent yet hurtful comment from another mother in the NICU, remarking on Smith’s apparent fortune in not having twins. The unintended remark triggered a wave of emotions for Smith, highlighting the need for clearer communication.

Determined to prevent such misunderstandings in the future, Smith conceived the idea of a visual symbol—a purple butterfly—to signify the loss of one or more babies in a set of multiples. This led to the creation of a poster for NICUs, raising awareness among staff and visitors.

The initiative, now known as the Skye High Foundation, has seen the purple butterfly concept adopted by hospitals worldwide, providing solace and support to countless families facing similar tragedies.

Today, Callie, aged 7, exudes vitality and happiness, and her sister Skye’s memory lives on through initiatives like the purple butterfly cards and support programs for bereaved families.

The Skye High Foundation offers a range of purple butterfly merchandise, with proceeds supporting their cause. Smith’s ultimate goal is to alleviate the pain experienced by families who have lost a child, irrespective of age, through increased support networks and awareness efforts.

Millie Smith’s compassionate efforts serve as a beacon of hope for those navigating the unfathomable loss of a child. Sharing this story can help spread awareness of the purple butterfly symbol, ensuring that families in similar situations receive the understanding and support they deserve.

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