'I didn't want her to be alone.' The unique grief of losing one twin.

This story deals with miscarriage and stillbirth and could be triggering for some readers.

Estelle Dejean and husband Devon were busy parenting their two little ones, Thea and Zion, when the finance industry professional discovered she was pregnant.

"It was a surprise to find out we were having a third baby but even more of a surprise when our obstetrician told us it was baby number three and four!" Estelle told Mamamia.

Watch: A tribute to the babies we have loved and lost. Post continues below. 

Video via Mamamia

After a routine scan of the twins showed up an abnormality, the obstetrician referred the couple to a multiples pregnancy specialist at the Mater Mother's Hospital in Brisbane.

"Dr Sailesh Kumar told us that my rare type of twin pregnancy was called a monochorionic monoamniotic (MCMA) pregnancy, meaning that the twins were sitting in the same amniotic fluid and sharing the same placenta. 

"We were told it was a very high-risk pregnancy with only about 70 per cent survival rate. Being in the same sac, there's not much room for them to move around, and as the cords are loose, they can become entangled. We were also told about other complications with the umbilical cord and amniotic fluid and that one of them may not survive.


"We were both just stunned and the whole pregnancy was completely nerve-wracking."

Estelle and Devon with Thea and Zion when pregnant with her twin girls, Zailie and Thais. Image: Supplied.


Estelle says that from then on, she was regularly monitored by the team at the Mater to keep a close eye on her and the babies.

"Everything had been going very well, the twins were growing perfectly and when I got to 28 weeks, I felt so much more confident. Everyone at the hospital was so supportive, almost cheering me on to get to the end. 

"It was at my regular scan appointment at 31 weeks that everything changed. 

"I was chatting with the sonographer as usual and we were excited because I was due to have the twins in just 10 days' time. But suddenly she went very quiet, and I heard the words that no parent-to-be ever wants to hear: 'I am so sorry but I cannot find a heartbeat.'"

The sonographer went to fetch the midwife and obstetrician who both rushed in. Estelle recalls everything going black as the team confirmed her daughter Zailie had passed away.

"When I try to remember what happened next, everything is a mess. I was told that they believed her blood pressure had dropped so low it had caused Zailie's passing and that they needed to do something very quickly to save the surviving twin, her sister Thais."

After Devon arrived in just 45 minutes to be with Estelle, they were given two options, both with risks. One option was to wait another 10 days to give Thais more time to grow or to go ahead quickly with a c-section to get both babies out.

"I asked the obstetrician what he would say to his wife if she was in my situation, and he told me he would just go ahead now. Within another 45 minutes, I was prepped and ready for surgery.


"What struck me as the most incredible thing was from the moment I entered the theatre, the amount of love and support that the team gave us was amazing. These people I had never met before were hugging me, holding my hand and rubbing my hair whilst I was getting the babies out.

"I just felt like we were in an environment of love in such a cold place."

When the obstetrician took baby Zailie out, she was still pink and they briefly thought they might have made a mistake and tried to revive her, devastatingly to no avail. 

"As baby Thais was taken out, she was covered in cords and surrounded by machines and sent with a team to the NICU. The bereavement team were standing by to take Zailie. 

"That team are truly remarkable - they will move mountains for you. I am still in touch with nurse Sheree who promised me she would look after my girl. She put Zailie in a bassinet and wrapped her in blankets and she just stayed with her until I could be there.

"That's something that I will forever be grateful for because even though Zailie was deceased, she was still my baby and I didn't want her to be alone."

Estelle's beautiful twin girls were born on 12 May 2022. Baby Zailie weighed just 1.5kg and measured 42 cm long while Thais was 1.6kg and 43cm long. 


"They are identical twin sisters and looked exactly the same. I think that's the one thing that I'm grateful for, that I'll forever be able to 'see' Zailie's growth through her sister Thais."

With the help of a special Bears of Hope 'cold cot' bassinet, Estelle and Devon could have Zailie in their room with them for three days. 

"Until we said our final goodbyes, I just held her and slept with her for as long as I could. I cuddled and kissed her and told her how much I loved her. Thea and Zion came to visit them both and spend some time with Zailie which I think looking back now was important.

"With the amazing cold cot, we could also take Zailie into the NICU to visit Thais, nothing was too much trouble which I am so grateful for. I sat on the chair and I had them both placed on my chest holding each other's hands. 

"That was one of the most amazing experiences, it almost felt like everything was going to be normal. And I just remember during those three days I would think sometimes that she was just going to open her eyes. These are memories I will always cherish."

Estelle cuddles Thais and Zailie. Image: Supplied.


The bereavement team organised keepsakes for the family during the three days they had together.

"We were given a special memory box from a charity called Precious Wings that enabled us to keep a little locket of her hair. We had handprints done and got hand and feet castings. We had a special photographer from Heartfelt Photography come to take photos, and they were so discreet and respectful. 

"All those little moments to cherish forever and it's a complete free service. We've got hundreds of photos to look back on and it's something that I would not have thought about at the time as I was trying to survive the ordeal. But I am so glad the bereavement team did - they are all absolute angels."


Listen to an episode of No Filter about pregnancy loss. Post continues below. 

After going through such a traumatic experience, Estelle says it not only opened her eyes to the amazing work of the bereavement team at the Mater hospital in Brisbane but that so many other parents experience a stillbirth and desperately want to talk about the child they have lost.

"What's important to us now is that we can celebrate Zailie as much as possible, to speak her name and tell people we had four children. We want to talk about Zailie in the same way that we talk about Thais or Thea and Zion. Because when you've had a child that's passed away, you need to recognise that this child has lived; that your child existed, and it doesn't matter for how long. 

"I have met some incredible people and I've made a beautiful community on social media. I have found strength in raising awareness of what happened to us and I've met other parents that were in the same situation. It has been about trying to survive every single day and doing it with a community makes it so much easier."

After seven weeks in NICU, Thais is now eight months old (six months corrected) and she is thriving.

"When Thais reached her official due date on July 12, we organised with our pediatrician to have an MRI scan done to check if there was any brain damage. We were told she was healthy and happy, with no signs of brain damage. It was such a huge and wonderful relief and now she is just a beautiful bundle of joy. "


After everything the family have been through, Estelle's outlook on life has changed. She recently started an ethical clothing business with pregnant bumps and nursing bodies in mind. Her business From Zailie was born to honour her little girl and ensure she can keep on saying her name long into the future. 

"During that pregnancy with Zailie and Thais I felt so good. Even though I had morning sickness for four months, I just felt so happy and beautiful. I want to pass that feeling on to other women through our ethically made clothing that includes unique designs by Australian artists." 


As part of Zailie's legacy, Estelle says the business will also spread awareness about infant loss and she will donate a portion of the profits to some charities that helped her family in their time of need.

"We will start with three charities close to our hearts: Precious Wings Memory Boxes, Heartfelt Photography and Bears of Hope Cuddle Cots. In time we hope to add more charities into the mix.

"Ultimately, starting this brand is our way as a family to honour to our little girl and give her a legacy. To help others who are going through what we went through, to realise they are not alone. 

"When you lose a child that is all you want to do is keep saying their name and with From Zailie, I will be so proud to speak her name forever."

Red Nose provides vital bereavement support for anyone affected by the death of a baby or child. This includes families who have lost babies to miscarriage, stillbirth and infant death.

The Red Nose bereavement support line is available 24/7 on 1300 308 307.

Feature image: Supplied.