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Dublin: 17 °C Sunday 19 August, 2018
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'The nurses asked how we planned to keep him cold. This wasn't something we were prepared for'

Things need to change in Ireland though; I don’t want any other people to have to go through what we did.

Anonymous

I REMEMBER SITTING in the passenger seat of our car in Liverpool on the way to the ferry port to go back home, with the white coffin on my knees.

We had to stop at the pedestrian crossing to let everyone pass in front of us, and tears were running down my face.

This had not been how we thought it would go, when my husband and I discovered I was pregnant. We had already been through two miscarriages that same year, so we had been overjoyed at the prospect of a baby. Seventeen weeks in though, we found out it was not to be, again.

Two sperm had fertilised one egg

Our baby had three sets of chromosomes – two sperm had fertilised one egg, and instead of it splitting to become twins, one baby got three chromosomes. We were told this meant he was completely incompatible with life.

I should have miscarried by the time we got the news but, as one doctor told me, I had wanted the baby so much, so it just hadn’t happened.

The doctors at home told us that with this diagnosis, I was at risk of developing a type of cancer called choriocarcinoma, and it could mean I’d have to have a hysterectomy. The doctors also told me that the medical guidelines in all the text books for this kind of pregnancy – a partial molar pregnancy – is immediate evacuation of the foetus.

So I asked, if the medical advice is immediate evacuation of the foetus – why can’t you do it for me? They said that due to the laws in Ireland, they weren’t able to fulfil their duties as doctors, to me; they said it was quite upsetting for them, because I’m a long-term patient of theirs, facing a third pregnancy loss.

Liverpool

We decided to schedule an appointment in Liverpool for an abortion. I had felt, before we went, that I wouldn’t want anyone else in the room when they induced labour. But when we got there, I realised I’d made a big mistake – it probably would have been comforting to have my mother there.

We stayed in Liverpool for a week after the procedure had taken place. On the day we were making the ten-hour trip back home, we went to the clinic to collect our baby’s remains.

The nurses asked how we planned to keep him cold for the duration of our journey. This was not something we were prepared for, not something we’d realised you had to think about.

The nurses recommended going to a pharmacy and buying cold packs –the ones you crack to make cold. But, they don’t stay cold for very long, so every hour and a half on that journey, we had to lift the baby and replace the cold packs under him.

About 20 minutes into the ferry crossing, the water became very rough. We had left the coffin on the front seat of the car, and I worried it would fall off in the turbulence, and that we’d be faced with something even worse when we got back to the car.

I begged my husband to ask the ferry staff if he could go back to the car deck and put the baby in the coffin on the floor of the car. Luckily the staff allowed him to go down to the car and he was able to take care of things.

I still want to be a parent

I still want to be a parent, we both do, desperately. This experience was not something we’d ever want to choose, but it was good that we at least had the option of travelling, that we had that small bit of choice, even if it was to go to another country.

Things need to change in Ireland though; I don’t want any other people to have to go through what we did, with the extra complications involved with travelling, when they are having to face something as heartbreaking as we did.

I want people to vote ‘Yes’ to ensure that other women and couples do not have to go through the same experience as us, and that they can access the healthcare they need at home in Ireland.

The writer of this piece has chosen to remain anonymous.

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