Vicci Dunne with her husband Paul and baby George (Image: Vicci Dunne)

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A mum has spoken of the pain of losing two of her triplets after contracting a common virus while she was pregnant.

Vicci Dunne travelled to Cyprus just before the pandemic hit the UK for IVF (In Vitro Fertilisation) treatment.

It was her and husband Paul's last try for a much-wanted second child after two miscarriages, Liverpool Echo report s.

Despite the world going into lockdown, the 36-year-old from Widnes, Cheshire, managed to make it to the hospital and back home on a flight pregnant with three babies.

She said: "You can take a pregnancy test 10 days after IVF, so I knew I was pregnant, I just didn't know how many there were.

"When I went for my first scan in April 2020 my husband and son, Alfie, four, could still come.

"On the way there I said to Paul 'I feel nervous' and Alfie asked why, Paul told him I had butterflies in my stomach.

"When we went in, the sonographer said 'there's one, there's another and there's another' so Alfie asked 'are they the butterflies?' and that is what they have always been."

Harriet, Heidi and George were briefly reunited after their birth
(Image: Vicci Dunne)

After a gender reveal in June 2020 Vicci was over the moon to find out she was expecting two girls and a boy – later named Heidi, Harriet and George.

Vicci, who works in recruitment, was told at her various scans that Heidi and Harriet weren't growing and to "prepare for the worst".

By nearly 28 weeks doctors were concerned about 'fetal demise' – the death of a baby in the womb – so Vicci gave birth by c-section to Harriet, 1lb 6oz, George, 2lb 9oz and then Heidi at 1lb 4oz.

The babies were rushed away for specialist care as Vicci herself underwent emergency surgery after haemorrhaging.

Baby George having fun with his big brother Alfie
(Image: Vicci Dunne)

She woke in a daze and was quickly called into a room to see a team resuscitating Heidi.

Vicci said: "I hadn't even seen her yet and there she was being resuscitated – it was completely surreal.

"I was crying in a full-blown panic just stroking her foot and willing her not to give in.

"The relief I felt when she was stabilised was overwhelming."

But Heidi had fluid on her heart and needed special care until Vicci's worst fears were confirmed and she was told Heidi wasn't going to make it.

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She said: "It was all about memory-making then. We got them all together and took pictures and then we were in a separate room where we held her and waited for her to pass away.

"You are just going through the motions really.

"They put her in a cold cot and sometimes would close the door quietly so as not to wake her forgetting that she wasn't going to wake up."

Baby George spent three months in hospital
(Image: Vicci Dunne)

Vicci's heartache continued when Harriet was found to have an infection and began deteriorating.

She said: "Harriet's lungs weren't working properly and when she had a blood transfusion all her numbers just dropped.

"It was so painful to watch it all happening again.

"Paul and I felt so alone. You are surrounded by nurses, but there are no family there, no one can imagine what you are going through."

That is when Wirral Wings – a charity that helps people who have experienced the loss of a child – stepped in.

Vicci said: "A friend had been in touch with them and they sent this beautiful hamper to the hospital – it was so lovely and everything related so much to what we were going through.

"I asked them if they could make dresses for Harriet and Heidi for the funeral from my wedding dress and I was amazed at the talent.

"The intricate detail of taking the beading off my wedding dress and basing their dresses on its design was incredible.

"I dressed the girls with the help of the funeral home and we had butterflies and rainbows on their coffins.

"The funeral was so hard. When someone passes it can be such a quiet and intimate moment, but there are so many faces at a funeral – it was the hardest day."

Vicci now helps Wirral Wings by talking to others who have lost their children and said it was important to keep talking after such heartache.

She said: "Wirral Wings give people the freedom to grieve by allowing you to share your loss and celebrate your children.

"I remember in the hospital a mum had lost her nine-month-old and I didn't know what to say to her even though I had just lost my baby too.

"You just have to talk – that's all.

"Forget about making people feel uncomfortable, talk about it, it helps, share your baby's life.

"And try and allow yourself to enjoy moments without feeling guilty, you can not let it consume you.

Keepsakes created by Wirral Wings
(Image: Vicci Dunne)

A post mortem revealed that Harriet and Heidi had all contracted cytomegalovirus (CVM) in the womb – a common virus that is usually harmless but can be fatal for those with weakened immune systems.

Vicci added: "Alfie never got to meet Harriet and Hiedi but we talk openly about them all the time.

"We use the idea of the butterflies that he talked about on that first scan and how they have flown off to heaven.

"Alfie and George get on like a house on fire and will be causing lot of trouble – but I wouldn't have it any other way."