I was sitting up in bed writing my few words this morning.
It was not my own bed, the bed is in ‘Grannymar’s Room’ at my daughter and son-in-law’s home.
Thirty five years ago, that bed did not exist and I did not have my daughter, never mind a son-in-law. I was a lady in waiting. Waiting with hope, waiting with expectation for a healthy happy baby. I neither knew or cared about the sex of my baby, though from the kicking, I was sure it would be a rugby player! She was!
I was ecstatic with joy when she was born on 6th of May and she brought the sunshine with her – a summer that lasted from May until mid October! – would that it were the same this year. The inner sunshine she brought to my heart grows stronger with every day. I was 31 years of age that year and that fact is important in this story.
I survived the ‘terrible twos’. I survived the 79,486 “Why?” questions and I survived being told I was wrong because “Mr/s (insert teacher’s name) said blah, blah, blah!”. We worked through the various stages of growing up and enjoyed many high moments, but also faced some very difficult times of loss and pain together. We survived all that life threw at us and grew to be the true friends we are today, with the added bonus for me, of a very caring son-in-law.
Back in November last year I wrote about another thirty-one year old woman who was not so fortunate. Savita Halappanavar. Ms Halappanavar died on October 28th in Galway University Hospital of septicaemia and E.coli, having presented with severe back pain on October 21st. She was found to be miscarrying and was told it would be over in “a few hours”.
I was angry. No, I was raging with anger and frustration. Not alone was that 31 year old woman denied all the wonder, love and joy that I had experienced, but she was denied life itself. Her husband Praveen Halappanavar was denied the life of the woman he loved and had to deal with the loss of the child they were expecting.
Galway was in uproar. The whole island of Ireland was in uproar. In fact there were demonstrations across the globe at the horror of what happened and in support of the whole Halappanavar family.
An enquiry was set up. Time passed.
Praveen Halappanavar was promised the report on the findings of the enquiry on 1st of April. BUT- The Health Service Executive played a rather sneaky hand… they issued the report at 5 pm on Good Friday. GOOD FRIDAY. When Ireland was distracted. Some were in church for the up and down of the road to Calvary, some were busy shopping for eggs of the chocolate variety and the remainder were racing along the roads in order to escape the mundane daily trudge on this four day holiday weekend.
This Health Service Executive report on the death last year at Galway University Hospital of Savita Halappanavar has found there was an overemphasis by hospital staff on the welfare of Ms Halappanavar’s unviable foetus and an underemphasis on her deteriorating health.
The final draft report says: “The investigating team considers there was an apparent overemphasis on the need not to intervene until the foetal heart stopped, together with an underemphasis on the need to focus an appropriate attention on monitoring for and managing the risk of infection and sepsis in the mother.”
We were right to protest.
I have another young friend in the South of Ireland who is a ‘Lady in waiting’ right now. Please do not get excited. This young mother of two went for a scan – early in the journey and was informed that the baby was dead. The advice given was: If the mother could cope mentally, then it was best to let the foetus come away naturally – and that could happen at any time, but might mean going the full nine months. The other option sounded horrendous and barbaric in this day and age.
My friend is playing the waiting game.