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Dublin: 3 °C Tuesday 12 November, 2019
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Diary of losing a baby: One woman writes about her devastating pregnancy

“Our journey – so cruel – has not ended for us.”

Laura McGlynn

LAURA MCGLYNN SAYS she was disgusted to hear last week that Clare Daly’s bill is unlikely to pass through the Dáil. As a woman who has been through a termination for medical reasons, she fights passionately for better care for women in Ireland. Here is her story. 

Twinkle, twinkle little star, don’t you know how loved you are…

They are words which will forever remind me of our sleeping Angel baby who was too good to come into this world. As baby Darragh sleeps and his pain has gone… ours will be forever with us.

Early days

Finding out you are pregnant is a day that comes with shock, excitement and joy – especially when it is your first. The things you worry about include what buggy to buy, what room can be converted to a nursery, when to tell the family and whether it’s a boy or a girl.

Once those first 12 weeks past, you believe you are doing well. There is less chance of a miscarriage. That’s one hurdle down.

24 January 2014

The first scan. I am 15 weeks. Blood tests are my worst fear – I faint at the thought of them so I make sure my partner can come with me to catch me when I fall. Phew, that bit is over and we get to see our baby on the screen.

I’ll never forget the words from the doctor. “I can see a bit of extra fluid on the baby’s head. Don’t worry but I just want to get it checked.”

They could see me in an hour so off we went thinking “it’s just a precaution”.

My name was called and there were three people there to examine me. They did their measurements and I knew by their faces that something was wrong. My partner was holding my hand as we waited on them to hurry up and tell us what they were seeing.

Then the dreaded words: “I am really sorry but the baby has extra fluid. The likelihood is that there is something seriously wrong with your baby.” They recommended an amniocentesis and explained it was a way to find out what we were dealing with.

They went to organise the procedure and, lying on the table, everything was going through my head. “Stop and let me up ,”I said, “I’m not sure I want to gamble yet.”

They then arranged a midwife to come and talk and explain everything that could be wrong. It was all too much to take in. We were devastated.

25 January 2014

I got out my laptop and started researching. ‘They can be wrong,’ I told myself. ‘This can’t be happening to us. What did we do to deserve this? We have never caused anyone harm or did a bad thing in all our lives.’ We couldn’t understand this.

I was faced with all these facts and fluid measurements. What fluid were they talking about? I didn’t even know to ask the day before. I came across people’s stories and blogs and there was mention of blood tests to diagnose chromosome abnormalities. Then we found out about a panorama test from a friend.

27 January 2014

Monday finally came – after a long weekend that couldn’t go quickly enough. The hospital could see me today and I would know in 10 days.

I had blood tests and another scan. This time, I learned the fluid was going from my baby’s head and down past his neck. It was cystic hygroma fluid with an 8.8 measurement. I knew that wasn’t good.

My best hope was that our baby would just have Down Syndrome and we could get on with the pregnancy.

5 February 2014

Day 9. Just before lunch, I got the results. The midwife said she was sorry but that my baby had T21 (Down Syndrome). She explained what he could be born with but added that the cystic hygroma meant he might not survive until full-term.

6 February 2014

I called back with lots of questions and decided to have the amniocentesis as it is a diagnostic test and 100% accurate.

11 February 2014

The hospital arranged for a specialist midwife to be there before my test to go through everything again, answer our questions and explain the outcomes. Here, she explained that normal babies have fluid of 1.2 to 2.0 and they worry at 2.5. She reminded me that mine was 8.8.

We paid extra and had the tests sent to Scotland – otherwise we would be waiting nearly three weeks. We knew between that Tuesday and that Friday we had a lot of thinking and talking to do.

I was so stressed. I didn’t want to be here. I would rather end my own life than to have to end my baby’s. Nobody could help us. We had nobody in the same position to talk to. I researched more and more. I tried to read medical journals, tried to find positive outcomes for babies with fluid over 8.

I had to start thinking with my head, rather than my heart. Something we badly wanted and was so precious to us was going to be taken away from us, whatever we decided.

I was also told that when he passed away, depending on how far into pregnancy it is, I would not be able to deliver him. It would have to be a C-section as the malformations on his head, neck and back wouldn’t allow a natural birth.

mcglynn

My partner told me he would fully back me up, whatever decision I came to. He just wanted me to be OK.

12-14 February 2014

I chopped and changed my mind so many times. How could I go through with this? The thought made me physically sick. But I wouldn’t do this to my animals… how could I do it to my own baby? I read that they could feel pain somewhere between 20 and 24 weeks. I didn’t want to do that either.

After many debates, mind changes, tears and pain, I knew I had to do this to be kind to my unborn child. Why should he suffer? It would be a pain I would forever have to live with. As the mother, it’s you who feels him kick morning and night.

14-23 February 2014

We now have to arrange flights and I may have to stay two nights in Liverpool depending on how I am – it being my firstborn. My Mam and partner come with me for support and I couldn’t have done it without them. I warned them when I got there I may not be able to go through with it. I knew I couldn’t live with the thoughts of him suffering or my health suffering every morning, wondering if his heart is still beating.

24 February 2014 

Getting on that plane, I felt cheated by my country. Why did I have to make this journey and leave the surroundings and comforts of home when I needed them most? Why?
When I got to the hospital they didn’t need to rescan me. Two doctors had already seen my file and signed off on it. The midwife had told us that only one in five babies with fluid of 5 or more survive to full term and then they don’t live long after birth.

Mine was high at 8.8 so he wasn’t going to make it. Most babies usually go around 24 weeks with my combination.

And so it began. Yes, I had to delivery my baby, go through labour and, yes, push him out.

I knew my baby had gone before midnight as I didn’t feel any movements. I was thankful for this as I was very sick through the whole procedure.

25 February

Our baby Darragh was born a sleeping angel at 9.53am, measuring 22.5cm with my partner and mother present.

The midwives at the hospital are saints for what they do – their kindness and understanding will never be forgotten. I took comfort when the midwife said Darragh hadn’t suffered. She could tell by his body he was relaxed and looked like he was sleeping.

That gave me courage to be able to see him. My partner had gone to see him before me as I was being cleaned up after delivery. I only saw his head but my partner saw him before the nurse had dressed him and he was very upset and couldn’t believe the size of this growth compared to his little body.

We got to hold him and take pictures with him which will be forever treasured.

darragh

We also had to make funeral arrangements. How can my country do this? I can have his ashes scattered there – or, have special paperwork completed, come back to collect his little body by car and travel by boat with his remains locked in the boot. Our third option was to have a service there for him and have him blessed and cremated.

We decide what song we wanted played. Yes, Ireland – he will be alone at his blessing with the song we chose. Then he will be cremated and his ashes sent by courier to us. We were told there is a delay in cremations so it would be four weeks before he is finally back in Ireland with us. So now we await the email of when his blessing will be and then when to expect his ashes. Our journey – so cruel – has not ended for us.

24 March 2014

Unfortunately things didn’t end there.

On top of trying to grieve and move on to some kind of reality after a bad nightmare, I haemorrhaged and was kept in overnight.

This was really breaking point. To be back in hospital exactly one month later.

At noon, they took me for a scan which revealed there was still some product left behind.
So, back to the ward with more tablets inserted to breakdown the uterus again, so I had to lie there for two hours and not move.

I was then sent home on antibiotics to see if that will work. I am due to go back for a scan in two weeks.

Four weeks later – still no ashes, still bleeding, admitted to hospital again, and sent home in hope this will work.

31 March 2014

Still bleeding and sore but bleeding has eased off a bit.

Just got an email to say Darragh’s ashes are back and will be posted either today or tomorrow so I should have them back before the end of this week. Dreading it but this is the final part…

It’s been two months since we found out all was not going to end well. It’s been mentally, physically and heartbreaking… And the answer to the question which will never know still haunts me… Why?

9 April 2014

Ended up back in the Emergency Department after passing large clots and having heavier bleeding. Doctor in A&E scanned me and said there was still blood there – looked like about one to two weeks’ worth.

The doctor told me I looked anxious. She was right. I was terrified. I told her I was. I didn’t even want to leave my house!

I was told to go home and not worry as I had a scan on Friday anyway. I went home – they are the experts.

11 April 2014

Went for my scan. The first nurse scanning me said she couldn’t tell if there was something there so she would just get another opinion. Both of them checked and the second nurse said she could see something. I was told there as still a tiny bit there but they couldn’t tell if I had my period.

My GP called the hospital to get some answers.

17 April 2014

The hospital rang me and told me to come in for 8am the next morning to the early pregnancy unit for a scan.

18 April 2014

Attended for my internal scan. There was more retained product than the scan showed on Friday.

The doctor was so nice and couldn’t believe it had been eight weeks. She told me she would do a D&C. With that I was admitted. I was taken to theatre at 1.30pm and was told it would be a quick process.

When I got back, the clock said 3.50pm. When one of the team came around, they told me the process was longer, I had bled and the product had calcified so it was hard to remove. They had to get the consultant down. They removed most of it but couldn’t do all of it so there was still fragments there. They wouldn’t remove it as they were afraid of putting a hole in the wall of the womb. They drenched the inside of me with antibiotics and would give me more over the next 24 hours through the IV drip.

So after thinking I was going home a few hours later, I was now staying! I was feeling very weak and drained at this stage. My body has been through a lot mentally and physically since 24 January. Nearly 3 months… what a disaster… was sent home with antibiotics for a week… they are hoping the other fragments will come out themselves. I have a scan in three weeks to make sure all is ok.

20 April 2014

Can’t believe it’s Easter Sunday – in bed still sore and feeling weak – hoping this is the last of my journey of this disaster of a pregnancy. Really at breaking point… if this doesn’t work I don’t know what I’ll do. Can’t believe I haven’t broken down completely yet. In some ways it hasn’t hit me. If you had told me I would go through this, I think my response would have been I’d rather be dead!

Can’t believe it’s been three full months since this nightmare began. All I want to do is go on a nice walk on the beach or up the mountains to get a break, hopefully that’s not too far off now. My bed and four walls is all I’ve known for the past few months. Feeling trapped in my own house, body and mind. I really can’t understand why I had to suffer like this.

The next time I hear the word ‘unfortunate’ I’m going to scream.

2 May 2014

Had to go to my GP to get another letter for work. Not sure if I was getting a chest infection or not as my breathing hadn’t been right since the op but I thought that was normal but to be sure I booked in to have a check-up while I was going.

Was a little shocked and taken back after my visit. No wonder my inhaler wasn’t working… it’s not my asthma or an infection. Doctor said because I had lost so much blood, there wasn’t enough to create enough oxygen in my body so that’s why it felt like an effort to breathe! She was surprised I was let out so quickly. I didn’t realise I was as bad as I was.

My GP told me in her 25 years of practice and treating hundreds of women that I was her worst case to date. She told me how strong I had been through it all, even letting her students sit in on my story and willing to speak about it as openly as many don’t after terminations.

I was upset enough today as I should have been 30 weeks pregnant to the day. To think I’m still healing physically and stuck mentally and I can’t move on. I left my GP’s office and it was like everything just hit me, tears starting streaming down my face.

Today

Sleep well our little angel and I hope you know we did this for you, you will never be forgotten and will always be loved. You were too good to grace this earth like a star that shines so bright and when we see that star it will always remind us of you – twinkle twinkle, little star x

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About the author:

Laura McGlynn

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