Louis is our second-born triplet. He is survived by his brothers, Theodore and Oscar.
Catherine - Louis's mum
During pregnancy, Louis was our most active of the three boys. He was always bouncing around. So much so that the Maternofetal Medicine Specialist requested me not to drink coffee on the days I had scans so that he stayed still long enough for important measurements to be completed. At night, Julian (his dad) would often poke him and he would move in return. We knew that he was one cheeky little boy. Due to Louis being part of a triplet pregnancy, we were fortunate enough to be able to see him very regularly through scans and visually watch him grow into the beautiful boy he was.
Louis was part of a TCTA pregnancy – the lowest risk triplet pregnancy (with three separate placentas and three separate sacks). The specialists were as shocked as we were when Louis passed and told us that out of all their patients, we were the ones they were least worried about.
We had attended the hospital birthing unit to check on the babies as there was less movement than usual, in which they found three heartbeats. The following week at a routine scan (at 30 weeks gestation) we learned that Louis had no heartbeat. After discussing and weighing up the risks of both delivery and remaining pregnant, we made the uncertain and difficult decision to continue carrying Louis alongside his two brothers. For a month, Louie remained warm and hugged tightly in my tummy, until spontaneous labour started.
Two boys cried when they came out, but Louis was silent. I love that he was born in between his two brothers as a symbol of solidarity. When Louis was brought over to us in the operating theatre, wrapped in a blanket, it was instant love at first sight. He was the most perfectly formed baby, with the most beautiful face. He looked so peaceful. He had fingernails just like Theodore’s, and a cleft chin just like Oscar’s. His little button nose was something that stood out to me. Due to surgical complications, I wasn’t able to have any more time with Louis or the opportunity to hold him. Julian got the privilege of spending a considerable amount of time with Louis, which he will treasure for the rest of his life. I love hearing all the details about him and the time they spent together.
Our hope for our three boys were that they went through life being healthy and being kind. Nothing else mattered to us.
Louis remains a significant part of our family. Despite having two boys here with us, they are not our twins, but our two triplets. Louis is embedded into our conversations and everyday life in the most natural and loving way. We are so sad watching his brothers grow up without him, but feel so blessed to be chosen to be the parents of three beautiful sons.
I was on autopilot mode, making sure I stayed healthy and functioning for the rest of my pregnancy. When our boys were born early, our two surviving triplets were transferred to NICU.
For the following few months, I drew my attention to getting them stronger and home, and navigating being a new parent. As my emotions surfaced, I’d push them aside to focus on the newborn tasks at hand until they demanded my attention with such significant force. A close friend lovingly but firmly told me that I needed professional help, but I still couldn’t seek it myself. When the boys and I attended a residential stay at Karitane (to assist with their feeding), the Social Worker requested to refer me to Red Nose, in which I agreed and was soon contacted by the intake team.
Red Nose has supported me through online support groups, counselling, and education.
I was connected with bereavement counselling, which has been nothing short of a lifeline. Not many people are willing to squeeze into awkward places with you, allowing you to be vulnerable, and sit with you in your grief, in all its ugliness, and allow you to just be.
Through my Red Nose sessions, I’ve been given a safe space to express my grief, have my feelings normalised, and be supported through adapting to life without Louis. I’ve gained skills to understand the complex and painful emotions and developed healthy coping mechanisms that have enabled me to integrate grief into everyday life, and although I will always carry the pain and grief of losing Louis to the end, it no longer defines or consumes me.
Before receiving support from Red Nose, I wondered how the grief I was experiencing could ever be survivable. I now know with certainty that I can go through life and not just survive, but thrive. I sleep better, I have less nightmares, I am no longer defined by grief, I am able to be the best mum I can be to Theodore and Oscar, and I know that I am safe and supported at any stage throughout my journey.
The best thing you can do to help a bereaved parent through life without their child is to remind them that you acknowledge that their baby existed and is remembered, and the way to do this is by saying their name. Speak it freely, without hesitation. You aren't reminding them that their child died. Trust me, they remember every day. You're reminding them that their child's brief life mattered. Like any other parent, we are so proud of our children whether they are with us or not. We want to shout their names from the rooftops.
By getting behind Say Their Name Day, pushing insecurities aside, speaking their names, making room for them in your conversations and experiences, and opening up about child loss at any stage, we are allowing parents who have lost their children to know that they are not alone. Support through fundraisers ensures parents just like us, Louis' mum and dad, receive access to the vital support they couldn't do without.