‘We were blessed’: Amie’s bittersweet Mother’s Day
MUM of twins Amie Rohan will mark her first Mother's Day today with breakfast in bed, but with just one baby in her arms.
Amie and AFL star husband Gary welcomed Bella and Willow at 34 weeks on April 12, but lost Willow five hours later to anencephaly, a terminal condition where babies are born with an underdeveloped brain and incomplete skull.
Amie told News Corp Australia her first Mother's Day would be filled with mixed emotions.
"It's so special but bittersweet, a day of reflection," the 24-year-old revealed.
"It'll be special to spend the day together, acknowledging Willow, looking at photos of her and just being a family."
Gary, 26, who played his 100th game last week, said his wife was the most inspirational woman he knew.
"Amie's done so much to get the twins here, like every mother she put her body through so much to give us our gorgeous kids and I'll always be grateful for that,'' he said.
"She's a very strong woman and I think we've both pulled each other through this.
"We couldn't have done it without each other, we're a team.
"She's the best mum in the world. I knew she'd be an amazing mum before she was pregnant and I'm very lucky to have her as a wife and mother to my two girls."
The ecstatic first-time parents, high school sweethearts from Cobden in country Victoria, had their first scan on October 6.
"Gary was on one side of the room and I couldn't see the screen but he looked like he was about to faint. I asked if everything was OK and the lady doing the ultrasound grabbed my hand and said, 'You're having twins!' Gary was almost fainting in the corner,'' Amie recalled.
After returning from an off-season holiday nearly a month later, scans revealed heartbreaking news.
"We were told there was concern with Twin B's head structure and I cried. I knew instantly something was wrong,'' Amie said. "Anencephaly was mentioned ... and the doctor said 'Twin B is not compatible with life'.
"She said 'I'm just going to grab you a box of tissues'. She was struggling to tell us, and that's when I lost it," she said.
"For four days we felt sad and sorry for ourselves. I kept asking 'Why did this happen to us?' But it was happening to us, we couldn't change it but we had to find a way to deal with it because if we asked those questions each day it was going to be a long nine months."
The Rohans then had to contemplate what no parents should: Choose to terminate the whole pregnancy; clamp Willow's umbilical cord to stunt her growth and risk a double miscarriage; or continue the pregnancy knowing precious Willow's fate.
Amie said the decision was always to carry the babies full term.
"You see two beating hearts like we did then try and make a decision," she said.
"We said to each other, 'We've been blessed with these babies for a reason, we have to continue'.
"People get given situations in life because they can deal with it. We are such a strong team.
"I asked the (obstetrics) professor what he thought about continuing with the pregnancy and dealing with the end result when we got there and spending whatever precious time we had with the baby.
"He said 'I've delivered babies like this before, and I'll be your biggest support'.
"I couldn't bear the thought of doing something to my darling Willow and potentially losing Bella as well ... we wouldn't change our decision for the world.
"Meeting Willow and having those five hours with her were the most precious moments of our life."
TORN WHEN TWINS ARRIVED
On a Thursday autumn morning at 8.59am, Bella Rae entered the world screaming. A minute later came her identical twin Willow Nevaeh.
"She was so peaceful and calm the entire time. Having both babies placed on my chest was the best feeling in the world, and I cried the entire time,'' Amie said.
"Gary felt torn, he wanted to be with Willow and I, but didn't want Bella to be alone so he spent time with her before we moved to another room and took some beautiful family photos together.
"Both our parents, the grandparents, came up and met both girls then Willow grew her wings. It's like she knew we had the support there we needed."
While Bella slept in the nursery on that first night, Willow was by her parents' side.
"I just needed to have her next to me one last time. I didn't want to wake up and not have one of my babies with me,'' Amie said. "On the Saturday we had a service at the hospital, did a blessing and baptised Bella. It was beautiful."
The Rohans are settling well into life at home - in Coogee in Sydney's southeast, where Gary plays for the Sydney Swans.
Amie said the rollercoaster they had been on for nine months hadn't slowed. "It's been really hard for me to deal with and I will grieve for the rest of my life," she said.
"Some days I feel like I'm unstoppable with the most beautiful little family and other days I feel like Willow's my little girl who's here with me all the time and I don't acknowledge her enough. You've just got to feel every emotion and moment.
"People say, 'You're so strong and inspiring, how do you do it?' But no one knows how you're going to get through something tough until you're faced with a situation you simply have to get through."
Amie and Gary shared their pregnancy journey on social media, and have a close bond with their clinic team of professors, doctors and midwives at the Royal Hospital for Women in Sydney.
And through the hospital they have offered support to parents whose babies are diagnosed with anencephaly.
"We found out at 11 weeks and announced we were pregnant at 14 weeks. The best thing we did was share it because we had so many people reach out and share their stories and offer support,'' Amie said.
"That's when things got easier because we had that support and other families who've experienced the same thing were there for us and answered all our questions.
"Strangers gave us strength and that's why we want to give back."