A mother who had to give birth to her stillborn daughter is urging businesses to light up to remember all the babies who were lost through late miscarriage or stillbirth on Tuesday.
Kristin Wall, aged 37, described herself as a "walking coffin" as she had to carry around her precious child for three days, knowing she was lifeless in her womb.
Tragically Kristin had also lost another baby in an ectopic pregnancy prior to becoming pregnant with little Robyn Grace.
The mother-of–three from Navan, Co. Meath, is now advising anyone else who finds themselves in a similar situation to take all the pictures they can before they have to bury their beloved baby.
Kristin’s life changed forever on February 17, 2013, when a lack of baby movement was first noticed.
“The pregnancy was fine. I had an early scan because of the prior ectopic pregnancy but that was all,” she said.
“I was 31 weeks pregnant and, knowing I was having a little girl, myself and my husband Robert had her name already picked – Robyn Grace."
“I noticed that her movements had slowed down so I rang the nurses in the Labour ward in Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda, who told me to come straight in.
“I was on an antibiotic and thought that was the cause of the slow movements and I was just about to waste their time
“Robert and my four-year old son Sam sat in the car while my mum Bernie came in with me. We had planned to go to the beach afterwards.”
Nurses couldn’t find a heartbeat and sent Kristin for an in-depth scan where she vividly remembers the words: “I’m sorry, there is no heartbeat.”
She said: “I started to panic and asked her to check and double check but the answer was still the same.
“Robert came in and I completely freaked out. I just couldn’t believe my baby was gone.”
As she was trying to make sense of what was happening, Kristin decided to opt for induction to give birth to her daughter.
“I was in complete shock. I remember thinking how am I going to get the baby out.
“I just wanted her in my arms but I didn’t want to have to go through labour, which of course I had to.”
Telling her little boy that his sister had gone to Heaven added to the twangs of guilt that Kristin was already feeling.
“Sam was devastated for a boy of such a young age."
"I felt so guilty that I wasn’t able to give him the sibling that he deserved. I was also feeling guilty, thinking it was something I did that caused my baby to die.”
As she arrived home to waiting family members, it suddenly dawned on her that she was in the middle of funeral plans.
“There was a funeral starting without me even realising it. The plot had been picked and the priest arranged before I even got home.
“I didn’t know which end was up. All my future plans were suddenly gone.
“I was a walking coffin and I just wanted it to be over. I also felt a little dead - just numb - within myself."
A few days later, Kristin packed tiny outfits to dress her baby in as she prepared to give birth.
“I got ready like any other mother gets prepared to have a baby except I knew I’d be carrying my baby home in a coffin.”
After almost 12 hours of a tough labour, Kristin gave birth to Robyn at 9.36pm on February 20.
“I was too afraid to look at her at first but, at 3lbs 7oz, she was perfect.
“The nurses, who were fantastic to me, took her to the mortuary after photographs and hand and footprints were taken.
“I couldn’t wait for the light to come and for night to be over. I wanted to get out of the hospital, but I was too afraid to go home.”
“I had to put my baby in a white coffin. No parent should ever have to bury their child."
As Kristin struggled through the passing days and months, trying to cope with her numbing grief, a miscarriage from an unplanned pregnancy six months later made her decide never to try for another child.
She admitted: “I didn’t want to go through the heartbreak or the guilt again.”
However, a shock pregnancy in 2015 led to her beautiful rainbow baby Dylan, who is now four years old.
“Every step of Dylan's pregnancy was terrifying. I bought my own Doppler to hear his heartbeat constantly, I paid for private scans and even when he was born, I was too afraid to sleep in case he stopped breathing.”
However, four years on and Robyn is still a major part of the Wall family.
Kristin said: “The pain of losing her has never eased but I’ve learned to live with it and we have made sure that she is still an integral part of this family.
“To anyone who has to go through the same nightmare, take as many photos as you can, while you can.”
The International Wave of Light on Tuesday, October 15, remembers all the babies who were lost through late miscarriage, stillbirth or infancy loss.
“There are already 50 buildings and hotels nationwide lighting up on this day and I’m urging all other businesses to do the same.”