The week leading to the appointment was a blur, it feels like I didn’t exist in my mind. I was reflecting with Anthony on the day I published my last post “Where It All Began…” and honestly I couldn’t remember much. Just after talking about it I started to remember things. I didn’t go back to work, how could I?, but I was enrolled in college for the Level 5 Certificate in Early Childhood Care and Education and I was about to submit my last assignments included the ones regarding Work Experience. I had literally finished to type my last assignment on the 4th of April, the day before we had the big scan and the bad news, crazy isn’t it? One day I went to the creche where I was working because I needed some signatures on my assignments. I just stayed in the office with the manager and my team leader came just to sign the papers. I then went to my college to submit all my work. I remember I was crying all the way to get there, I met one of the girls and I had to pretend I had a cold to explain my sniffles. I didn’t go to class, I wasn’t ready to explain something I didn’t know about yet. My tutor was so surprised that I went there just to give my work considering my emotional state but it was really important to me and it was something that was taking my head of what was happening.
We prayed so much that week. Even though I knew deep inside of me that the doctors couldn’t be wrong. I was honestly just waiting for the confirmation, I was preparing myself for bad news anyway. I remember looking at my belly and feeling detached from that pregnancy. Of course I was still loving my baby but I couldn’t understand how something that had brought so much joy in our lives already could also cause so much pain.
On the day of the appointment we were asked to wait for the doctors in the same room we were brought in the day of the scan. I hated that room and I couldn’t associate it with something positive. The doctor came in holding an envelope in his hands. He sat down and said that unfortunately what they’ve been fearing for was confirmed and that there wasn’t a way to sugar coat the news. Our baby suffered from Patau Syndrome and it was the most severe case as all his cells were affected. I had my head down while he was talking, staring at the same spot on the floor. I started crying, my eyes were actually stinging for the tears I cried during that week. The doctor said I had two options, going full term and have the baby but to be aware that he could live just a few hours or terminate the pregnancy.
At that time abortion was illegal in Ireland so he suggested other countries. He mentioned a hospital in the UK where other Irish couples in our same situation went in the past. They couldn’t make the call for us but they would pass all the information on my file to them if we were deciding to terminate the pregnancy. I had my decision taken, I thought about it during the week leading to the appointment. I couldn’t go full term, I couldn’t pretend that everything was fine and continue with the pregnancy. I couldn’t do that to Darragh and I couldn’t do that to myself.
They gave us the name of the hospital and the contact number, they were going to send my file over. They also gave us a list of professionals to help us going through the grieving process. That list would have represented something so precious during the first weeks after losing Darragh. They told us about a genetic test that we could take to determine if Darragh’s condition had anything to do with us and we agreed on having it done. I needed to know if Darragh’s syndrome was something hereditary even though the doctor said that Patau Syndrome is very rare, we just had bad luck.
After the appointment we talked to our families. I honestly can’t even remember talking to them. We also spoke with our managers, Anthony was given a week off while I was just signed off for a while. I couldn’t go to work knowing what was going to happen.
We named our baby. Darragh was one of the names we had picked if the baby was a boy and we gave him a middle Italian name too, Alessandro.
Anthony made the call to the hospital in the UK for me. I didn’t have the courage, it was too much for me. I honestly don’t know how I would have faced all of that without having him by my side like he did. He was so strong. They gave us the appointment for the 2nd of May. I had to wait 3 weeks, it was so frustrating.
During those weeks I studied for my exam in Child Psychology, I decided I wanted to complete my course, I had put all myself into that course and again it was something to take my mind off the upcoming events. I honestly don’t know how I managed to concentrate but in the end I passed the exam with a very good grade and I was delighted for that. Surprisingly I was finding the strength somewhere to feel alive and still be successful in something I loved.
I felt Darragh’s movements for the first time just a few days before flying to the UK. I was so happy I had the chance to experience that but it was sad at the same time. I remember Anthony was asleep and I woke him up, took his hand and put it on my belly to make him feel it too. On the days leading to the UK I was having trouble sleeping. I was constantly trying to imagine how would it feel to give birth and the absolute pain of not having a baby to bring home. I was scared.
The day before the flight I didn’t want to stay at home so Anthony, my brother and I decided to go to the Botanic Gardens in Dublin. It was a gorgeous sunny day and the place was actually packed. I love nature and I love flowers, it was calming and relaxing. I remember I didn’t want to go home but the place was closing and it was too late to go anywhere else. Going home meant packing the last things and realising that the moment we were going to lose our son was getting closer and closer. It was getting real and terrifying.
In the morning we said goodbye to my brother and headed up to the airport. I felt so uneasy. Normally you would be very excited when you are in the airport because it means you are going somewhere nice, for me is like that when I go and see my family in Italy. This time was none of that. I felt ashamed of being on that plane, I felt like I was being constantly watched from the other passengers. I thought who knows what they are thinking. I felt for all the women that had to go through the same thing as us. We were going to be alone in a foreign country. I couldn’t wait to get off that plane. Once outside the airport we got a taxi that brought us to the hospital. Anthony talked to the taxi driver during the entire journey. I was sitting quietly in the back sit. I just wanted to sink. I had so many emotions going through my head but most of all I was afraid I wasn’t strong enough to handle that delicate situation. I knew the outcome but I couldn’t predict the effects it had on me.
I am reading your posts regularely, I can hardly breath imaginimg myself in your story;you took the right decision Ileana, the most difficult one I guess but the right one and you are doing a great job to slowly let the pain go,the way you write is very intense and touching.
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