If You See a Purple Butterfly Sticker Near a Newborn, You Need To Know What It Means

Millie Smith and Lewis Cann’s joyous expectation of twin baby girls turned into heartbreak when, after a precarious 30-week pregnancy, they welcomed identical twins, Callie and Skye. Tragically, Skye’s fragile existence lasted only three hours, leaving the couple to grapple with grief.

In the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), Callie slept solo in the incubator, and a thoughtless comment from another mother about the fortune of not having twins added to Smith’s distress. In her despair, Smith discovered Skye’s enduring legacy represented by a delicate purple butterfly.

The couple had learned during an ultrasound that Skye had anencephaly, a rare and severe birth defect. Despite the devastating prognosis, they proceeded with the high-risk pregnancy, naming the twins-to-be Skye and Callie. Premature labor led to an emergency C-section on April 30, and the couple was accompanied by a “bereavement midwife” to navigate the heart-wrenching loss.

The specially designated “Daisy Room” allowed the family to share precious moments with Skye before her departure. Callie continued her stay in the NICU, sharing the unit with other sets of twins, while Skye’s memory gradually faded from the awareness of those around Smith.

The inadvertent comment from another NICU mother about being fortunate not to have twins prompted Smith to create a symbol to advocate for parents dealing with child loss. The purple butterfly, chosen for its tribute to babies that took flight, became a poignant marker for an incubator representing the loss of one or more babies in a set of multiples.

The concept of the purple butterfly, now part of the Skye High Foundation, has spread to hospitals worldwide. Callie, now a seven-year-old, thrives, and Skye’s memory lives on through purple butterfly mementos, aiming to support families with babies like Skye. Smith’s advocacy and the symbol she created provide solace and support for parents navigating the profound grief of losing a child. The purple butterfly serves as a simple yet powerful reminder of the enduring impact of a child’s brief existence.

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