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In 2013 in the UK, one in every 137 babies was either stillborn or died in the first 4 weeks of life

Here in N. Ireland, over 3 babies a week are stillborn or die in the first 4 weeks of life.

Our first baby, Louise, lived just 35 minutes. We were over the moon when we discovered at 15 weeks that I was expecting twins. Just three weeks later our joy was shattered when we learned that one twin was developing normally but that the second had many abnormalities. The description of this twin was similar to Louise's problems, but how could this happen? We'd been told that she was "just one of those things" and it wouldn't happen again. The rest of the pregnancy was extremely stressful with weekly scans to ensure that both twins were alive and learning that we were at very high risk of all future babies having the condition.

I was admitted to hospital at 36 weeks and the babies' heart beats were monitored 3 hourly day and night for 2 weeks. Finally it was decided to induce the pregnancy and this was probably the first real clash of emotions for me. I was excited at the prospect of finally being able to look after a baby like any normal mum but deeply sad that this would bring to an end my relationship with "twin 2". For weeks the twins had not changed position and I knew intimately the difference between their movements - if I hadn't known the outcome, I would have thought it was the quiet one!

Finally Rebekah was born - a beautiful perfect baby - followed twenty minutes later by Jayne who was obviously not well and lived just 20 minutes. The unreality in the delivery suite of having a perfect baby in one incubator and a dead baby in another can't be adequately described. We were allowed to keep the girls together for about 24 hours and so began the biggest conflict of my life. I felt guilty when I nursed Jayne - Rebekah was alive - she needed me more! - but my time with Jayne was very limited and it wouldn't come again.

Until the funeral a week later, we crashed between joy and sadness but were not prepared for how her birth was ignored. We received "Congratulations" cards with no mention of Jayne at all; Rebekah's birth was announced in church but Jayne's birth and subsequent death wasn't mentioned even though the funeral had still to take place.

Eventually we settled into the normal exhaustion and joy of looking after a newborn. It wasn't until I returned to work six months later, and people asked about the birth, that the loss of Jayne hit me again with renewed vigour. I longed for her again in a way that I hadn't done since her funeral and was deeply upset. Fortunately with the help of a good minister, I realised then that I had to allow myself time to grieve for Jayne just as I had been able to do for Louise.

Unfortunately Rebekah's birthday is always a mixture of joy and sadness and the loss of Jayne is also a loss for her; over the years we have had to deal with her sadness as she mourned the loss of her twin.