A Dartmouth, N.S. mother says she's living a nightmare after an apartment fire displaced her young family one week after the sudden death of her 18-month-old daughter.

Shannon McDonald said she knew something was wrong the moment she walked into her twin daughters' room on the morning of March 17.

"Something in my chest was telling me," McDonald told CTV Atlantic. "That big scary feeling that every mother has -- that they're going to walk into a room and their kid who is supposed to be sleeping is going to be dead.

"I felt that before I even touched her."

Nevaeh Kennedy was rushed to hospital, where she was pronounced dead.

McDonald said she was in a state of shock and she couldn't bring herself to deliver the tragic news to her family.

"It still doesn't feel real," she said. "It feels like a nightmare."

McDonald said only a day before Nevaeh’s death she had brought the youngster and her twin sister Nyla to their doctor for a routine check-up and vaccinations.

McDonald said she couldn't bear to live in the home where her daughter died, so the family moved in with relatives.

But last week, tragedy struck the family again when the apartment they were living in caught fire.

McDonald said she rushed out of the home and didn't have a chance to take Nevaeh's ashes with her. She said she eventually found a police officer who was able to re-enter the unit and recover her daughter's remains.

The family is now living in a temporary unit in the apartment building.

McDonald said she’s still trying to wrap her head around what happened to her little girl.

She describes Nevaeh as a healthy and happy little girl.

"She put a smile on everyone's face that she met,” she said.

McDonald said she's desperate to learn what was behind her Nevaeh's death, but she’s been told that it could take up to six months for the autopsy results.

"I need some type of closure," McDonald said. "I need to know why."

With a report from CTV Atlantic's Kelland Sundahl