“It was a living hell. That’s the only way I can describe it. I am not over it yet,” she said of her nightmare yesterday.
Nothing will ever replace the babies that she lost. “I remember the other babies and still grieve for them,” Fionnuala said at her home outside Kilcock in Co Meath. Ailbhe, now 18 months’ old, was born after Fionnuala received treatment for a blood-clotting disorder. Her 15-year-old son Declan was born without any problems or complications. When he was two years’ old, Fionnuala started trying to have another baby.
She had three miscarriages before medical experts acknowledged something was wrong and began an investigation. “We didn’t want to give up. We wanted to know why I was having all these miscarriages when our first-born was fine.”
The couple found themselves on a very lonely road as they desperately searched for answers. “I miscarried some babies early. I’ve had stillbirths. We buried four babies,” Fionnuala explained. Declan was five when Fionnuala and husband Jim arranged to have one of their children buried. They made a point of including Declan, who helped carry the coffin and lay it in the grave.
She regretted that a lot of people were afraid to look at a baby that miscarried or was born dead. “I lost a baby girl at 16 weeks and she looked absolutely perfect, even though she was only as big as my hand.”
The baby was called Ciara and was the youngest child that Fionnuala and Jim buried. Unfortunately, how the miscarriage or stillbirth is treated still depends on the hospital and its staff. “People need to be given time to consider how they will deal with the loss of a baby in those circumstances,” said Fionnuala.
It was after losing baby Fiachra in January 2000 that the couple decided that the next pregnancy would be the last.
Fionnuala celebrated her 40th birthday the same year as Ailbhe was born.
When she can, Fionnuala urges women who have suffered miscarriages not to give up. “Don’t think the doctor knows best. If you are not happy with the answers, go somewhere else. Ask the questions. It’s your life, your body and your baby!”