"We will forever miss her laughing face, her funny little air leak sounds, and the sparkle in her big beautiful eyes," said the grieving mom.
After giving birth to two sets of identical twins six months ago, which was described by an expert in obstetrics as "like 1 in 10 million"— Massachusetts mom Ashley Ness had settled into a new routine of taking care of her newborn quadruplets. Her partner, Val Bettencourt, sent the couple's three other children to school. Ashley packed up three of her four babies for trips to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Mass General for Children hospital in Boston, where they would visit the fourth, a little girl named Chesley, reported PEOPLE.
Mom Mourns Death of 6-Month-Old Daughter Who Was Both a Quadruplet and Identical Twin: 'So Proud of Her' pic.twitter.com/GETu4Ucmmv— People (@people) March 1, 2023
"Miss Chesley" — as Ashley, 36, called her smallest daughter — had struggled more than her newborn siblings since they arrived about 12 weeks early on July 28. "Just everything is happening to her," Ashley told PEOPLE on January 25. "And she takes it like a champ. She opens her little eyes and just stares at you, like, 'Hi.' She doesn't look miserable. Just like, 'Okay, mom, I'm going to be fine', " and "It breaks my heart," Ashley said in January.
On February 22, Chesley died. "My beautiful daughter, Chesley May, was called home to Heaven after a courageous six months of life," Ashley said in a statement shared on February 27 with PEOPLE. "Her passing leaves a huge emptiness in the hearts of all of us; her parents, her siblings, her family, and the NICU team at Mass General hospital."
Chesley underwent several surgeries and never left the hospital after she was born "weighing only 1 pound 7 ounces," according to Ashley's statement, she "was tiny, but so mighty!" Ashley continued, "Day in and day out she fought and fought and continued to beat the odds." She added, "Her strength was unwavering. Each time she overcame an obstacle we were so excited thinking that finally all the quads would be home together soon. We were positive that she would live a long and healthy life."
The statement further said, "We will forever miss her laughing face, her funny little air leak sounds, and the sparkle in her big beautiful eyes. We are so proud of her and know that she is at peace."
The twin quad phenomenon happens when two eggs are fertilized at the same time and then each fertilized egg divides again, according to Dr. Ahmet Baschat, director of the Center for Fetal Therapy and a professor in the Johns Hopkins Medicine Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics.
A lot had changed in the lives of Ashley, who put her work as a hairstylist on hold during her pregnancy, and Val, 48, a small-engine mechanic, since PEOPLE broke the news of the quadruplets' July 28 delivery.
Earlier, a GoFundMe campaign was launched to help the parents raise money for a possible home addition for their expanded family. The organizer has now shared Ashley's statement about her daughter's death on the page as an update.
While praising the family's "strength and resiliency" that "continues to inspire us," a hospital spokesman said in a statement to PEOPLE last month that Chesley was being treated for "ongoing lung complications related to prematurity, which can be made significantly worse by quadruplet gestation and severely low birth weight."
"Chesley has shown me more about life, love, and serenity than I ever knew," her mother wrote. "We love you sweet Chesley May and will forever share your courageous legacy!"
Cover Image Source: GoFundMe