It’s the news no mother wants to hear – and Angel Hind heard it twice. Over the course of four days, the young mother had lost both of her newborn twins. She was understandably devastated, unsure she could go on without her babies.
But everything changed for the 33-year-old three months later, when her doctors gave her a shocking update on her health. Hind said there was no joy, no excitement in the room when she heard the news – just complete silence.
Only a few short months before that day, Hind had felt all of the happy anticipation of a mother-to-be. She and her partner, 31-year-old Nick Smailes, both had twins in their families, so it wasn’t a huge surprise that the music teachers were expecting a boy and girl of their own.
But their initial excitement would soon give way to fear and heartbreak. On September 21, 2015, Hind went into labor when she was just 22 weeks pregnant. For babies born this early, there is almost no chance that they will survive.
Therefore, Hind’s doctors told her she would have to delay labor for a few more days and deliver the babies at 23 weeks, when their survival rate would rise to 19 percent. “Luckily I managed to hold on and they were born on the right day,” she told the Daily Mail.
Blake and Annabelle Smailes came into the world at a mere one pound, two ounces each. Despite their frailty, Hind said they both appeared healthy at first. “When they came out, they were both crying and breathing,” she said.
Doctors rushed to treat the newborns, taking them away from their parents to care for them and ensure their survival. But the medical team returned in less than an hour to deliver devastating news: Blake had already passed away.
Blake’s twin Annabelle was still fighting though. “The doctors were very pleased with her for a time,” Hind recalled. But soon, her condition would worsen, when a hole was discovered in the newborn’s bowel. She would have to undergo an emergency surgery to save her life.
But doctors quickly realized Annabelle wouldn’t survive either. “[They] told us she wasn’t going to last the night,” Hind said. “She died when she was four days old. She just couldn’t keep fighting. We turned her life support off and just held her as she went.”
After that, Hind and Smailes were left with the incredibly difficult task of picking up the pieces of their life after losing two children. “It was hard because you feel so guilty,” she told The Sun “It’s just the worst thing you could possibly go through.”
Then, three months later, her life completely changed all over again. Doctors told Hind that she was pregnant once more. And not only was she expecting, but she would be having a set of twins: a boy and a girl.
Hind described to the Daily Mail what it was like to hear the news. “It felt like groundhog day – as if we would be going through the same thing over and over again,” she said. And she didn’t experience any of the excitement of her last pregnancy either.
“It was really scary that second time,” she recalled. “The first time around was fun and exciting, but the second time everyone fell silent when they told us.” She also told The Sun that she continually feared something would go wrong again.
That fear “was a huge weight on her,” she told the Daily Mail, until she reached the 23-week milestone with no complications. At that point, she had lost her first set of twins, so she understandably feared another early delivery.
“But we got through to 23 weeks without any issues,” she said. After that, her babies remained comfortably in her womb until they were at a very healthy 35 weeks gestation. And then twins Ava and Mason made their debut in August of 2016.
Hind and Smailes decided to give their new babies very special middle names: Ava Annabelle and Mason Blake earned their monikers from their siblings, who Hind says will always be remembered. “[The twins] will grow up knowing about my first two,” she said.
In staying true to that promise, she and her partner even took the babies somewhere very special right after they were born. “The first place we took Ava and Mason when we left the hospital with them was to see the graves,” she said. “That was the first time we were all together.”
With her healthy babies celebrating their first birthday, their thankful mother has promised to give back to James Cook University Hospital, where staff took great care of her children. “They treated both of our babies equally even though they died,” she said. “I couldn’t have asked for anymore help.” In November 2017 she set up a Just Giving page with a goal of raising approximately $1,300 for the hospital’s neonatal unit, a small token of her appreciation.
Hind also decided to share her story at the same time, since other mothers’ tales of hope helped her survive the death of her twins. “When my first two passed away all the hope I had left went with them,” she said. “I didn’t want to be here any more.”
“You have a feeling that you’re getting punished but there are others like you and it does get easier,” she went on. “You never get forget but it does get easier.” And her story was just a testament to that fact. “I really hope my story will help others like me. Because you do need that hope, otherwise it’s hard to carry on.”