My story is not unique. 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage. If you think of miscarriage you might have an image of what it entails, a belief of what the process looks like. You might be wrong!
This day 2 years ago I presented myself at my antenatal unit for an ultrasound. This ultrasound was not the happy occasion I had experienced on my previous pregnancy. I was told they could not see a heartbeat. Not only that I was told that there was two but one had not progressed at all. We were devastated. We were told that we needed to come back in 7 days. This time allows them to assess if there is any growth within that time and it gives the baby a chance to try to beat the odds. The lovely Dr told me that we could discuss the options next week. I walked out of that hospital knowing there would be no happy ending. I knew how far along I was. I had no doubt about my dates. A silent miscarriage but inside I was screaming.
I spent 7 days at home preparing for what was to come. My husband went back to work knowing he would need some time to be with me the following week. I spent that week on google. Searching for any instances where medicine had gotten it wrong. I also googled what happens when they didn’t. What is the procedure? What will they do? I walked through the doors of the hospital 7 days later and again took my place on the ultrasound couch. This time there was a Midwife, Sonographer and a Doctor in the room. Their faces told me all I needed to know. They explained there was still no heartbeat. My pregnancy was unviable. They explained that the first baby had already begun to regress. I nodded and tried to remember every word I was hearing. When the Dr had finished speaking I asked what I needed to do now. What would happen next? At this stage the Dr glanced at the Sonographer and back to me. Nothing! They were going to do nothing. They explained that because the first baby had already begun to regress it had given slightly more space to the second and so it had measured less than half a millimeter in difference. For this reason they could not do anything for me. They explained that although my pregancy was certainly unviable, they could not help me. They gave me another appointment, appologised and explained that their hands were tied. As I gathered my bag, I remember the midwife saying that hopefully it would begin naturally and I wouldn’t have to wait.
I walked to my car and anger began to build in my stomach. I had words stuck in my throat and I couldn’t get them out. We drove home in silence. Once I walked inside I remember my husbands face. He couldn’t understand. My sister called. She couldn’t understand. My mother put the kettle on. She couldn’t understand. My best friend text. She couldn’t understand. My husband called his mother. She couldn’t understand. Why was I in limbo? Why would nobody do something? Why was I not given my options? Why was I sent away? My daughter couldn’t understand why I cried. My husband couldn’t figure out what he could do. Nobody could understand. The questions they asked were simple. I needed help and care and understanding and compassion. But what I got was the reality of being a women living in Ireland. Nobody could help me because of the 8th amendment.
I spent the following days questioning everything. If I needed something from the shop, should I go? What if I begin to miscarry while I’m there. I need to take my daughter to school. But should I? I met a friend one morning. I cried in Costa Coffee. She cried in Costa Coffee. Should I have even been in Costa Coffee? I needed to accept and come to terms with this loss. How could I? I was still carrying my pregnancy. I remember my sister visited. “What can I do for ya Aoif?”…..Nothing. Nobody could do anything.
I was admitted to maternity on the 24th April having begun to miscarry myself. I spent hours having pains, while my husband sat by the side of the bed and we listened to babies cry in the rooms around us. I remember thinking, I shouldn’t have to do this. I still think I shouldn’t have had to.
Miscarriage is hard. It is unspoken. It is painful. The idea that we live in a country that can add to this pain is harrowing.
The 8th amendment is not about for or against abortion. It is about care for women when they need it.
Take a look around at your wives, your sisters, your friends, your daughters, your cousins. The women you work with. The women who do your hair. The women who are your doctors, hairdressers, the women who teach your children. My story could be any of them. Now take a look at your brothers, your husbands, your sons, your nephews, the guys you drink with, the guys who work with you. They could be the ones sitting beside the bed of a women they are desperate to help and can’t. You know these people. You are these people!
If we do not repeal the 8th amendment nothing will change. In years to come if my daughter is ever that women, or my son ever has to hold the hand of that women, I pray they can access medical care when they need it.
The only love I was shown at that time, was from my family. I loved my babies. But the law certainly did not, love us both. My babies had no life. And I had no right.
Today I remember my 2 babies who didn’t make it into this life. And I pray that we repeal the 8th for the sake of my two babies who did.
REPEAL THE 8th AMENDMENT. VOTE YES.