Bereaved mum of stillborn twins shares her heartbreaking nightmare
This mum carried her beautiful twin sons for 37 weeks, only for them to be cruelly wrenched away. She shares her heartbreaking story here.
Every mum knows the feeling of waiting patiently to meet your beautiful babies — entering your last trimester knowing you will soon hold them in your arms. As Australian mum Jacqueline Hoy reached 37 weeks of pregnancy -officially full term – and she blissfully counted down the days till her twins would come out into the world.
“It was only two more sleeps until doctors planned to induce me,” she shared on female-focused content site Whimn. “Two more sleeps until I was holding my babies. Two more sleeps until my life would become full of happiness and love for these two miracles we had created.”
So close to delivery, which mum could imagine that tragedy would strike?
The Monday morning seemed to be no different from usual. The 9-months-pregnant Jacqueline dropped her 8-year-old son off at school and began her daily tasks.
At the back of her mind was the happy thought that she would see her twins in two days, when her induced labour was scheduled. She and her husband Jonnie had already decided on names for their identical twins: Henry and William.
Then she noticed that her twins weren’t moving inside.
“I drank a glass of ice and lay down on the lounge as this normally gets them moving,” she recounted. “But after an hour I wasn’t sure that I was feeling them at all. I then had a sudden urge to throw up, so I called the hospital.”
At the hospital, the CTG machine was ready for her. The midwife couldn’t find the babies’ heartbeats, but this wasn’t too alarming — twin heartbeats are typically harder to pick up.
At this point, Jacqueline didn’t suspect anything was seriously wrong. In fact, she’d had a routine check-up just two days before, and received the all-clear.
“The midwife told me she was going to grab the OB Reg to do a quick scan. He brought the portable ultrasound machine in…”
It was only then, she shared, that “we received the crushing news that little Henry had passed away.”
This terrible blow swept through her, leaving her dumbfounded. “The overwhelming pain that took over my body was uncontrollable. I felt like I was trapped in a nightmare and I needed to wake up.”
“But I couldn’t escape.”
The next moments were a blur for the devastated mum. She was raced to a formal ultrasound where, miraculously, little William’s heartbeat was detected. From there, she was taken in for an emergency C-section.
“I remember lying on the table surrounded by what felt like 30 people working on me, telling me that I was okay and to keep breathing,” she heartbreakingly recounts. “But the whole time I wanted to yell and scream, ‘Please just put me out. Make this pain stop.'”
The only thing she clung to was the frail thread of William’s life. “I had so much hope that William would be OK. That was all I could hold on to.”
When she woke up after the surgery, it was to the sound of cries — not the newborn wails of William, but the sobs of her husband. With a mum’s infallible instinct, she knew what had happened.
“I realised without having to be told that William hadn’t made it either.My twin sons, my miracle babies. Taken straight to heaven, too precious for this world.”
They say twins are twice the blessing and double the joy. For Jacqueline, the loss of both her babies was the source of an unimaginable amount of heartbreak.
“The week that followed,” she writes, “all I had was questions, too much pain and the most unbelievable broken heart.”
“I remember that somebody once said to me, ‘you won’t know love until you have a child’. I don’t disagree with that statement. But I can assure you, you won’t know heartbreak until you lose a child.”
The mum of two other sons, 8-year-old Lachlan and 2-year-old Edward, couldn’t stop blaming herself. She gut-wrenchingly confesses, “Being their mother I immediately pointed the finger at myself. I should have known. I should have been able to save them. What kind of mother doesn’t realise?”
To make things worse, Jacqueline was constantly reminded of her grief by her breastmilk coming in — After 16-18 weeks, a stillbirth or miscarriage triggers the arrival of breastmilk just as a healthy delivery would.
Henry was later diagnosed as an “unexplained stillbirth”, while William passed away due to the twins’ shared placenta. Understandably, having this partial explanation could not soothe the aching wound that this double tragedy had struck. Three months have passed, she confides, but she’s “still in complete and utter disbelief.”
Jacqueline wants to publicly share her story so as to raise awareness about stillbirth. “Before my sons passed away,” she writes, “I had absolutely no idea how common stillbirth is.”
Studies put the global number of stillborns each year as a horrifying 2.6 million, with around 7200 babies stillborn every single day. Even in Singapore, with our low rate of infant mortality, stillbirth rates have ranged between 2-2.7 per 1000 total births in the last decade.
While the cause of death in many stillbirths cannot be established, stillbirth rates can be lowered thanks to early detection of maternal conditions like diabetes, and monitoring of high-risk pregnancies. Jacqueline says, “It’s believed one third of these heartbreaking losses can be prevented.”
For her, the frustrating thing is that we still refrain from talking about such tragedies. For many reasons like tactfulness or simply not knowing much about the subject, we typically avoid such sensitive subjects even with close friends.
“But I want to talk about them,” this brave mum states. “They are my babies, and every bit as important and part of my family as our other two children. I want people to realise that this happens to normal, everyday women. My husband is a general practitioner and I’m an early childhood educator, we did everything right. And yet, we still didn’t get to keep our twin boys.”
By talking frankly about stillbirth, Jacqueline ultimately hopes to raise awareness about such tragedies. “The more that people talk about stillbirth, the more awareness can be raised so that hopefully it can help to prevent other parents, siblings and families from going through the pain that we face every day.”
With her husband, she plans to run in this year’s charity run City2Surf as the Hoy Angels team, raising funds for the Stillbirth Foundation Australia. The inspiring couple have also become ambassadors for the foundation.
In an interview with POPSUGAR, Jacqueline revealed her hopes for more government funding for stillborn research. “If more research is done,” she says, “maybe we could then be given reasons why and they will be able to find out strategies to prevent it from happening to others.”
Singapore parents looking for support in their journey through grief can turn to the Child Bereavement Support. This support network welcomes bereaved parents who’ve lost a child of any age.
Online resources such as Babyloss and Brief Encounters, which provide info and support for those who’ve lost babies, are also available. More effort may be necessary to raise awareness about stillbirth in Singapore, so that fewer families need suffer the same that courageous mums like Jacqueline did.