Little Allie is the next baby for this month. She’s also the first twin we’ve had the pleasure to meet. I truly couldn’t imagine going through a pregnancy being excited for twins and then only being able to bring one of my babies home. Thank you Courtney, for sharing your family’s story.
A note from Courtney, Allie’s Mother:
My name is Courtney Huck Hebert. I am an assistant professor at a university in Southwest Louisiana. My husband and I will celebrate 5 years of marriage in November. We have a 3 year old, Tab, and an 8 month old, Jude. Allie Elizabeth is our angel and she and Jude are twins.
By: Courtney Huck Hebert
1. How long has it been since you gave birth/been diagnosed?
I went in for my 20-week scan with the maternal fetal doctor on June 1, 2015. This was my first visit with the specialist and I was required to see him for the remainder of the pregnancy because I was having twins. I walked in expecting to leave with excitement because I would find out the sex of the babies. Instead, I left with my heart ripped out of my chest. Baby “B” had Acrania/Anencephaly. I went alone and had to wait all afternoon for my husband to get home from work to tell him.
The twins were expected to be delivered in mid-October but due to Polyhydramnios they decided to make their grand entrance on September 11th, 2015!
2. How and during what stage of pregnancy was your child diagnosed? How did you react?
Week 20 at the high risk doctor appointment. I was in disbelief. However, I refused to cry in front of the medical staff that was in the room with me. When I met with the doctor immediately after the ultrasound, I tried my hardest to keep my emotions in check and be as professional as possible. I am not sure why I felt like I had to do this, but the minute I got home the flood gates opened
3. Do you know what caused the defect for your case?
My OB believes that I wasn’t getting enough folic acid for twins
4. Did you ever consider terminating? Why didn’t you?
Termination never came up in conversation with us or any of the doctors. This may have been different if it was a single pregnancy but even in that case termination would not have been option.
5. Would you change anything about your experience?
I wish I would have spent more time holding Allie Elizabeth after she passed away. Jude was in the NICU (born at 33 weeks) and, at the time, I felt guilty about not being with him.
6. What was your favorite moment while being pregnant?
I craved ice cream during this pregnancy. Every time I ate one, Allie would go wild! I remember on August 1st I tried a banana split for the first time and both babies appeared to have been in love with it. This will be my own way to celebrate their birth, Jude and I will go to Allie’s marker and eat a banana split.
7. What was your favorite part of meeting your child?
First, Her beautiful smile! She was unable to move or blink but she had a smile on her face when she was born. Second, when the nurses swaddled her after birth they didn’t put a diaper on her. I remember she peed on me. This was so awesome because I am able to have a somewhat “typical” newborn memory with her as well.
8. Is there any special meaning behind your son/daughter’s name?
No. My husband and I were just talking over dinner one night and I said Allie and he loved it.
9. If you could tell anyone anything about your child, what would it be?
Even though she was only physically with us for a short time, she taught me more about being a mother and God’s grace than anything else I have ever experienced.
10. Birthdays!! How long did they live? Born sleeping?
She lived for about 90 minutes.
11. Do you belong to any support groups that have helped? Any that didn’t?
The only group I belonged to was on Facebook. I think that it did help somewhat. For me, the biggest help was my son.
12. What were your most effective coping mechanisms?
My son, Tab. He will never truly understand how much his curiosity and laughter got me through the entire pregnancy. Aside from my husband and family, Tab saved me.
13. How did it affect your relationships; marriage, family and/or friends?
I believe it made all my relationships stronger. My husband was concerned about what would happen between us, but I almost think it made us better.
14. How do you want them to be remembered?
I want Allie Elizabeth to be remembered as a saint.
15. What’s your favorite keepsake?
I don’t know if it’s technically a keepsake, but the lotion I used on her after she was born. Anytime I need a physical reminder of her I just put on the lotion and I instantly get to smell her.
16. What do you want everyone to know about Anencephaly/Acrania?
That it’s real and it can happen. I never knew about it until I got the diagnosis but I later found several women from my hometown who went through the same diagnosis.
17. What dreams and hopes did you have for your child?
I had hoped to see her daddy walk her down the aisle on her wedding day.
18. What kind of things did you do to bond with your child?
19. Did you have a baby shower or celebration of life? What was most exciting about it?
Since it was the 2nd pregnancy and I was having twins, my family and friends threw me a diaper and donations party. We received many diapers for Jude and some donations to help with the cost of a head stone. The most exciting part was seeing how many people supported us throughout the entire pregnancy.
20. Did you or do you have any other children? How has this loss affected them? Did they ask any questions? If so, what were they?
Tab was 2 at the time. He got to hold her and he knows that Allie has a stuffed lamb. I don’t think he remembers much right now but I do bring her name up to him from time to time.
21. How do you incorporate your son/daughter into your lives and the lives of your family?
We have a stuffed lamb that we include in all of our family photos. I also place it with Jude when he takes his monthly photos.
22. Did you have twins? Were both Anencephalic? How did having twins change your bonding? How do you cope seeing one twin and not the other?
Jude was not anencephalic but Allie was. I felt like I focused the entire pregnancy on Allie which is something I still feel very guilty about. Jude had to go to the NICU immediately so I only have one picture of the twins together. I think it was also good for me so that I didn’t have to see them together knowing how the scenario would end when we left the hospital.
23. Were there any unhelpful comments made to you? If so, what were they?
No! I didn’t hear anything that was unhelpful or hurtful, ever.
24. In what way would you want to inform the world of your child or Anencephaly/Acrania?
I would like to see more awareness of neural tube development and defects nationwide.
25. Do you run a blog, Facebook page or other support or organization? If so, what do you hope to accomplish with it and how has it benefited you? Links?
26. Were you able to keep your child with you after they passed? How long? What do you cherish the most about that time? i.e. their toes, eyelashes.
Yes. My sister-in-law made a beautiful gown out of my wedding dress for Allie to wear. I loved seeing her in it with her beautiful smile.
27. In what part of the world are you in? Have you met any other mother’s who’ve lost their child to this?
SW Louisiana. Yes, I have met several ladies. One of them who had twins like I did.
28. If you’ve lost more than one child to this, how did one experience change from the other?
29. How do you celebrate your child’s birthday?
It hasn’t occurred yet but I would like to do a baby item drive to donate items to the foster care system.
30. Mother’s day is soon, how do you celebrate? Is it difficult for you and in what way?
I think it will be hard.
31. Have you published any news articles or gained media attention? If so, would you mind sharing your experience and links?
32. Did you do neonatal donation? How has that helped you?
I had hope to. The idea of this was something that helped me better accept her diagnosis but because the twins came so early she was too small to donate.
33. Were you able to pump and donate your child’s milk? Why did you choose to donate or why not? How did it help you?
I pumped some for Jude, but due to him being in the NICU for a month, then stress got to me and I stopped soon after.
Courtney travels a road of child loss with grace and poise. To have twins and only be able to bring one baby home must be heartrending, I commend her for her strength. Allie will continue to be remembered and celebrated. Courtney’s idea to take Jude to have a banana split on their birthday is wonderful. This tradition will help Jude keep Allie close to his heart and help him remember that he has an amazing sister who was born smiling and will forever be his companion.