A North Texas couple started a foundation both in honor of the twin girls they lost during pregnancy and as a way to help other parents.
Brandon and Brooke Rawlinson of Midlothian are parents to 19-month-old Connor.
“Before you have a kid, you don’t really know what it’s like – that unconditional love for him. Both of us would do anything in the world for him. We just love him so much,” Brooke said.
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They were ready to have one more child and found out this summer, their family would be growing – a little bigger than they first thought.
Brooke was carrying twin girls.
“She looked over at me and just covered her face and was like, 'Oh my gosh, what are going to do?'” Brandon recalled. “It’s kind of that panic of…'this isn’t what we were expecting, but we were thrilled about it.'”
After their first appointment, they were asked to come back once Brooke was further along. They would later find out, she was experiencing what’s commonly referred to as a “mono-mono” twin pregnancy.
“Her fertilized eggs split later than most, so they were in the same amniotic sac and share a placenta,” Brandon said. “The reason that’s such a high-risk is because both cords are in the same amniotic sac and they can get tangled up, which is what happened to our girls.”
At 19 weeks, they went to their appointment as usual. Brooke says going into the appointment, she and her husband both felt ‘uneasy.'
Unfortunately, there was no heartbeat for either of their twin girls. Brooke gave birth to them the very next day.
“They hadn’t fully gotten their skin yet and so they didn’t look like what you’d expect twins to look like, but they were our little girls,” Brandon recalled.
To the Rawlinsons, they were perfect. Each twin weighed just over eight ounces, fitting in the palms of Brandon’s hands.
The couple decided to have them cremated, with the box handmade by Brandon, who owns a custom woodworking shop as a side business.
It was then they decided this is how their daughters could still make a difference.
“I told her [Brooke], 'maybe I can make these for people who need them, whether it’s for finances or just to take a little bit of stress of the situation for somebody.' She said, 'I think that’s a good idea,'” Brandon said.
The ‘good idea’ is now a foundation named after their girls, Audrey and McKenna. The foundation will build, personalize and ship, hand-crafted hardwood cremation boxes completely free of charge to a family in need who has lost a child from gestation to the age of 5 in the last six months.
They’ve already shipped their first few boxes to families, with some in North Texas.
“We’re happy that we’re able to touch so many people and families that are going through the same thing, because we know how difficult it is to be in the hospital and have to give birth and know that your babies aren’t going to take a breath or they’re going to die shortly after you give birth,” Brooke told NBC 5.
Right now, the family is working on partnering the foundation with hospitals.