Pro-life campaign desk on O’Connell Street, Dublin 1
Maeve, a 74-year-old mother of five, writes:
I would like to tell my story, as the Eighth Amendment referendum campaign has brought everything back to me. My husband and I were thrilled when we discovered I was pregnant, with our first child.
The usual excitement and morning sickness etc.. was not just for the first three months, but much, much, longer, and as I thought that this was all quite normal, I did not worry.
Our child was born three days after our 1st wedding anniversary.
Not hearing the child cry at the delivery, I realised that something was wrong. I asked the gynaecologist if there was a problem, and he said the he would talk to me when he had finished suturing me up.
I had been given three sleeping pills and an injection, the night before the delivery, to sedate me, as the doctors knew what was coming, but I did not.
What the injection was, I don’t know, but been a nurse myself, I decided that three pills, were too many and decided to take only 2 tablets, so I was heavily sedated, but still conscious, when baby was born.
Back in my room, the Night Nurse, who couldn’t have been more kind and compassionate, told me that I had had an anencephalic baby. Never having studied midwifery, I did not know what that meant. She explained that it was a child born without a brain, head not fully developed, 10 fingers and 10 toes etc.. but no head.
Because of not having any brain development, the child could not live, outside the womb. But our child lived for 10 minutes, and was baptised. When I requested to see the child, at delivery, I was told that it would be better, if I didn’t.
Luckily, my husband was present, and he did see Catherine Anne, whom we named after, my sister and one of the Nurses present at the birth. But, I never saw, or held, our first child.
The pain of not seeing, or holding that child, still remains with me, to this day.
The hospital concerned, in their wisdom, and probably out of kindness, offered to have the child buried, with one of the geriatric patients, who had died that day, and so save us the grief of having to arrange for a burial.
It took many, many, visits to that maternity hospital, and many searches through records, and many visits to various graveyards, throughout our district, to find where my child, was buried.
It was some 30 years later, having gone through the ‘Freedom of Information’ route, that we found the probable resting place of our first child. And so we have a small plaque, as a gravestone was not allowed, due to the fact that there could be more than one other person buried in that grave. But we can, and do go, some 41 years later, and visit that grave.
I want to appeal to all people, and particularly those who are still undecided, to vote no in the coming referendum.
In an abortion, a life is terminated. But please remember that there are many people, who cannot have children, who would be only delighted to either adopt, or foster a child.
In this modern world, where we are all striving for perfection, we should remember, that nobody in this world, is perfect. We all have our own individual imperfections, our defects.
Thank you for taking the time to read this, but as a 74-year-old mother, with 5 wonderful children, and 7 grand children, I feel so, so strongly, that it is necessary to vote No in the coming referendum, and to keep the 8th Amendment in our constitution.
Maeve is not a member of any pro-life group and is writing in a personal capacity.