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Dublin: 12°C Tuesday 28 September 2021

'I was walking around with my baby growing inside me knowing she could die at any moment'

Arlette Lyons writes about her experience of having to travel to Liverpool to have a termination when she found out her baby had no chance of survival.

Arlette Lyons

THIS PIECE WAS taken from a comment posted on TheJournal.ie on the story about Senator Paul Bradford saying he believes there are no babies with fatal foetal abnormalities.

Senator Bradford, I would ask you to read my personal story and then rethink your insensitive comments. This is about choice. Many women choose to continue with their pregnancy and that is their choice, which should be supported. Others feel it’s best for their baby and for them and their family to end the pregnancy.

Myself and my husband were trying awhile to have our third baby. We found out on New Year’s Eve 2011 that I was pregnant and were both thrilled, as were our eight-year-old and five-year-old boys.

At my 13 week scan the sonographer recognised there was some fluid around the baby’s head and asked me to call my husband. This is when I knew there was something badly wrong.

My husband arrived and we were sent to see the consultant. After an hour we went into the consultant room for a more detailed scan. There we were told that the baby had a cystic hygroma and was very likely to have a fetal chromosome abnormality.

We were told that our baby would either die in the uterus or die straight after birth but more likely I would miscarry before 20 weeks. We were told the baby would not live and that there was no hope.

‘Knowing that at any moment she could die is like being in a horror film’

The consultant was amazing, compassionate, supportive and sympathetic.

I turned to the consultant expecting her to offer us an induced miscarriage or termination and I said, ‘So what now?’

Her response was to let nature take its course or go to Liverpool Women’s Hospital to have a termination. To say we were shocked was an understatement. Firstly to be told your baby has no chance of survival, then to find out we would have to travel to Liverpool for help only added to the pain. We were devastated and so so angry that we could not receive the treatment we needed here in Ireland.

We waited for the CVS results (a prenatal test considered to be 98% accurate in the diagnosis of chromosomal defects) but I knew in my heart there was no hope.

We received the results and the baby had trisomy 13 (patau’s syndrome) which is a cruel, horrific syndrome not deemed compatible with life. Our baby’s other organs had not developed correctly either. This was the most devastating news we could have received.

To walk around with your little baby growing inside you knowing that at any moment she could die is like being in a horror film. So frightening, so devastating.

‘I’ll never get over that we had to leave the love and support of our family’

We were not going to allow our baby to suffer. We were not going to allow our living boys to suffer and finally, I was not going to allow myself to suffer for a potential further 28 weeks. My suffering at the time was unbearable.

So we made the decision to travel to the women’s hospital in Liverpool. The maternity hospital gave us all the information we needed so myself and my mother made all the arrangements which was a heart breaking task, and also having to leave our two boys behind and arrange for someone to take of them.

My parents, husband and myself arrived on the Sunday evening and on Monday morning on 5 March 2012, I was brought in to have the termination.

The staff were very kind and tried to make the procedure less traumatic for us. I was put under general anesthetic. I left the hospital three hours later and we arrived back in Dublin on the Monday night heartbroken and devastated.

I can face the fact that this baby was never going to make it, but I will never get over the fact that we had to leave the love and support of our family, friends and the staff from the maternity hospital.

It was all very traumatic and extremely cruel to be sent to another country for the termination.

We were lucky to have access to the money, as I know a lot of people wouldn’t. We won’t ever forget the very much longed for and loved baby that we lost which we named Skye and I plan to bury the scan photos with my granddad.

But I will hold on to the anger of having to travel to another country to receive the help and treatment that we needed so badly at a horrible time in our lives.

I have since gone on to have a beautiful little girl called Freya who was born with a cleft palate and many other issues. This difference, Senator Bradford, is something that you and your party need to acknowledge.

Baby Skye had 0% chance of survival, baby Freya was born with special needs. I hope that you can understand the difference.

unnamed (14) Arlette with baby Freya

Arlette Lyons is the co founder of Terminations For Medical Reasons Ireland (TFMR) and is a mum to two beautiful boys and a very special daughter.

Read: Paul Bradford: “There are no such babies as babies with fatal foetal abnormalities”>

Read: Belfast court rules abortion should be available in cases of rape and fatal foetal abnormality>

About the author:

Arlette Lyons

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