HEARTBREAKING: Reason Why Mum Feels Distraught Every Time A Stranger Says Her “Twin Boys Are So Cute”

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EXCLUSIVE: Mum Tracey Kirby has no problem agreeing that her little boys Henry and James are adorable – but the well-meaning comment hits her hard for a heartbreaking reason

HEARTBREAKING: Reason Why Mum Feels Distraught Every Time A Stranger Says Her “Twin Boys Are So Cute”

Most parents would love to be told that their children are adorable.

But when Tracey Kirby hears the words, “Oh, your twins are so cute,” she is filled with sadness.

As a devoted mum to three-year-old boys, Henry and James, she has no problem agreeing with the comment, which is often delivered by well-meaning strangers in the street.

However, it hits her hard – because she knows one little boy is missing.

Henry and James, from Bedfordshire, are triplets , but they tragically never got the chance to meet their sibling, Cayden, after he passed away in the womb.

The infant, whose name means “little fighter”, suffered what doctors believe was a cardiac arrest – his tiny heart gave up after fighting too hard, for too long.

Three years on, his mum Tracey and dad, Paul, still think of him every day. They find birthdays and special occasions particularly hard.

Tracey Kirby is pictured with her sons, James and Henry, as they share their first cuddle in hospital (Image: Tracey Kirby/Tamba)

And because Henry is Cayden’s identical twin, the couple know exactly what their tragic son would have looked like if he had survived.

“It’s hard, especially on birthdays and special occasions, because I do always wonder what it would be like if Cayden was here with us,” Tracey told Mirror Online.

“Obviously Henry is his identical twin, so I know what he would have looked like too, which makes things hard. I wonder whether the boys feel something missing – you hear of that multiple bond starting in the womb so it would make sense if they had that feeling of loss.”

The 34-year-old is bravely sharing her family’s story ahead of Baby Loss Awareness Week, which is running next week, from tomorrow to October 15.

She wants to raise awareness of Tamba (Twins and Multiple Births Association) and the UK-based charity’s new Bereavement Support Group Booklet.

The booklet is a collection of information, support and stories – including Tracey’s – from multiple birth mums, dads and grandparents who have suffered the loss or one or more babies.

James, left, and Henry, both now three, are triplets, but they tragically never got the chance to meet their sibling, Cayden (Image: Tracey Kirby/Tamba)

“There is a saying in our community that it doesn’t get easier, you just get better at dealing with it,” added Tracey. “But it still hits me when people call the boys twins – they’ll always be triplets.

“People think they’re being kind when they say ‘oh, but you still have two’, but there isn’t a day goes by where we don’t think about Cayden.”

Tracey and Paul, 30, discovered they were expecting triplets – identical twins and a singleton – during a scan at their local hospital in 2014. They were shocked, but delighted.

Although there was mention of some complications with identicals, they decided to remain positive and started preparing for the arrival of their three little ones.

However, at 19 weeks, the couple were told the twins had TTTS (twin to twin transfusion syndrome) – a condition which affects the flow of blood from the placenta to each baby.

Specialists at University College London Hospitals explained the condition means the recipient twin receives too much blood and has a large amount of amniotic fluid surrounding them.

Meanwhile, the donor twin receives too little blood and has a noticeable reduction in amniotic fluid.

This puts both of the babies at risk.

Henry is pictured as a baby in hospital next to his blue bear, which is 19cm long (Image: Tracey Kirby/Tamba)

James is seen as a newborn next to his own blue bear, which is the same size (Image: Tracey Kirby/Tamba)

“The idea of selective reduction [terminating one or more foetuses in the pregnancy] was discussed, but it just wasn’t something I was willing to do,” said Tracey.

“I just thought ‘I’m going to do the best I can for the three of them’. If we went for the
selective reduction, there was still a chance I could have a miscarriage so to us it wasn’t an option.”

At around 18 weeks, the couple found out all of their babies were boys.

Back then, the infants were known simply as the Singleton, Twin 2 and Twin 3.

Twin 2, who was eventually named as Cayden, had a bit of fluid around him but at this point doctors said they just wanted to keep an eye on him.

However, a few days later, at 19 weeks, the situation had rapidly deteriorated.

“We were told they’d become Stage 3 TTTS. There are five stages so this was quite a sudden change,” Tracey told Mirror Online.

“We were offered the selective reduction of Twin 3, because he was the smaller, recipient twin, but we just couldn’t do it. The doctors were all really understanding.

“At 20-22 weeks the TTTS had stabilised but they couldn’t perform a laser ablation because the babies were in front of the placenta.”

Tracey says it still “hits” her when people call her sons twins. Above, the boys on their first day of nursery last month (Image: Tracey Kirby/Tamba)

A laser ablation is a common form of treatment in the more advanced stages of TTTS.

The procedure involves putting a needle and camera into the mum’s womb, and using a laser to seal off the connecting blood vessels in the shared placenta.

It helps to correct the imbalance of blood flow in TTTS babies, but comes with its own risks.

By 23 weeks pregnant, Cayden had a lot of fluid around him.

His twin, in contrast, had nothing at all.

“We had lots of specialists coming to examine me and a heart doctor told me all their hearts
were doing well,” said Tracey.

“In my mind that was enough – their hearts were healthy so they were all still fighting.”

Eventually, the placenta had moved in such a way that laser ablation could be performed as the babies wouldn’t get in the way of the needle.

When the camera went into Tracey’s womb, she saw live video footage of her three babies for the first time – a rare insight most mums don’t get to experience.

She recalled: “You see them properly on the screen, it’s amazing.

Tracey is pictured at 32 weeks’ pregnant, on the morning of her c-section (Image: Tracey Kirby/Tamba)

“I’ll never forget seeing Cayden when he was alive. His skin was really red from all the blood while Henry was quite pale, so we could make out who was who quite easily.

“I remember Paul looking at the screen and saying how amazing it was to see them so close – you could see their little finger nails and they both had blond hair.”

The surgery was followed by an agonising two-week wait.

Tracey and Paul knew that if all of their unborn babies survived the fortnight, the chances would be good for the rest of the pregnancy.

“Those whole two weeks I just couldn’t relax,” added the mum.

“But I knew I just had to get through them and then it would all be fine.

“The next week I had an appointment with a local midwife and she had a listen to the heartbeats – I couldn’t believe it when she said she’d heard all three.

“I was so happy and excited – all the boys were alive and it was just amazing. For the first time in my pregnancy I could actually relax and I really enjoyed myself.

“Later that day we had our appointment in London, but because we knew it was going to be fine, we went out for lunch before and instead of our usual anxiety we were happy.

Tracey, holding Henry, is pictured with her husband Paul, holding James, after the babies were allowed home from hospital (Image: Tracey Kirby/Tamba)

“But then our consultant listened to the heartbeats and found James’s and Henry’s. I made a joke
about Cayden being cheeky and hiding.

“The consultant then wiped the jelly off my belly and I thought ‘oh, he must have put too much jelly on, that must be it’. Then he put his hand on mine and said ‘I’m so sorry, he’s gone’.”

Tracey instantly went from a “massive high” to complete shock.

“At first I just couldn’t understand, we’d heard him that morning,” she explained.

“But he said Cayden had died the day before. It was just such a complete shock. I’d been on such a massive high going into the appointment, I couldn’t believe it.

“They said he’d probably had a cardiac arrest with all that extra blood pumping into his body.

“The local midwife was so apologetic afterwards but I told her she’d actually made things better.

“For those few hours between appointments, I had a little part of my pregnancy where I really
enjoyed it and I was happy.”

Tracey carried her three sons, including tragic Cayden, for seven more weeks.

Henry, left, and James are now all grown up. Above, the boys pose with the blue bears they were pictured with in hospital (Image: Tracey Kirby/Tamba)

“I knew [Cayden] was in there and with his brothers and I just wanted to keep things that way,” she said. “I saw a bereavement specialist and we started discussing the funeral.

“I thought about the birth and I knew the survivors would be whisked off to neonatal straight away, so I knew I wanted to have my cuddles with Cayden.

“Those seven weeks I had him in my tummy and I treasured that. I knew once they were born he
would be gone. I liked that he was in me and he was safe. For the rest of my pregnancy I could talk to all three of them and I was happy they were all together.”

At 32 weeks, on August 4, 2014, Tracey’s waters broke.

She was rushed to hospital for a c-section.

James, the singleton baby, weighed 3lb 6oz, and Henry, Twin 3, was 1lb 8oz.

Tracey said of the boys’ sibling: “We named him Cayden because it means ‘little fighter’ in Celtic. He carried on fighting until his little heart gave up.”

A funeral for the infant was held in a Catholic church near Tracey and Paul’s home. He was then laid to rest in another churchyard close by.

The Kirby family, from Bedfordshire, still visit Cayden at his resting place, especially on birthdays and Christmas (Image: Tracey Kirby/Tamba)

The couple still visit him, especially on birthdays and Christmas, and James and Henry know they have a little brother who isn’t here.

After receiving support from Tamba’s Bereavement Support Group, Tracey is now a befriender – talking to other multiple birth parents who have suffered the loss of a child.

Her story is one of many shared in the new booklet, which is available for parents and health professionals to order from Tamba.

“This booklet will be a real help to people,” the mum said. “When you first go through something like this you feel so alone, that’s how I felt.

“When I found out about the support and Tamba’s bereavement group I found it so helpful. It’s a comfort, but also sad of course, that you’re not the only one.”

Helen Turier, Tamba’s support services manager, said the Bereavement Support Group is an incredibly special community.

She said: “Sadly losing a baby to TTTS is something many of our families are all too familiar with.

“As Tracey points out, losing a baby and having survivors doesn’t make things any easier and
complicated feelings of wanting to mourn the death of a little one while still celebrating their
siblings’ birth is something you just can’t put into words.

“Our Bereavement community is so incredibly understanding and supportive – it’s sad it has to exist at all, but we’re always being told how appreciated and wanted it is. That’s why we hope this new booklet can be of support and comfort to families when they need it most.”

Tamba is dedicated to improving the lives and well-being of families with twins, triplets or more. It represents 18,800 members and 150 local clubs in the UK.

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