Morning all. I’m Siobhán Donohue @SiobhanDonohue and I’m doing the final leg for @TFMRIRE today. I’m 46, married to Joe and we have 3 kids, Ciaran (10) Aoife (8) & Cillian (4) as well as the baby we lost to FFA. I’m a GP by profession but on a break since Cillian was born
I grow up in Dun Laoghaire, studied medicine in Trinity and worked as a junior doctor in various hospitals around the country including Limerick, Portlaoise and Dublin before completing my GP training in Edinburgh.
I returned home in 2001 and have worked in a variety of GP practices down the years until 2013 when I decided it was time for a break. I now live in Bray so pretty close to my parents. You may have seen them in the last 2 weeks:…
My path to @TFMRIRE began in 2011 before TFMR even existed. That summer I discovered I was pregnant. I was delighted. I’d always hoped to have 3 kids and hoped to do it before I turned 40.
This baby was due a couple of weeks after my 40th birthday. Everything was perfect
Perfect until we got to the 20 week anomaly scan when our world fell apart. We were told our baby had anencephaly - the top half of the head never formed. There was nothing above the eyeline - no scalp, no skull, no brain. The bottom line: we would not get to bring this baby home
We were devastated. I remembered seeing photos of babies with anencephaly in Medical text books and being horrified that such a thing could happen. It became my nightmare scenario but now it was my reality.
I left the Rotunda after the scan that day and had to start letting people know. I sent a text to my boss first because I knew I wouldn’t have to explain what the diagnosis meant. I thought I’d be able to work the next day and actually did work the next morning!
Joe hadn’t been able to come for the scan that day so I had to let him know too. I sent him a vague text to let him know something was wrong but I couldn’t speak on the phone - I’d have to tell him when I saw him. And my parents - they flew to Italy that morning.
Mum had already sent a text to know how the scan went. I couldn’t answer her. My sister was with me for the scan. She answered the call when mum rang to find out what was going on and told her the news. It was a day or two before I was able to talk to her.
I’d arranged to come back to meet the consultant with Joe a few days later. We stumbled through that weekend trying to come to terms with what was happening. But we found out pretty quickly how hard it was to move through our lives knowing what we knew.
I brought Ciaran to a friends 4th birthday party. I thought it would be a welcome distraction for a couple of hours. But when we got there my friend asked if I was okay that I looked a bit pale. I smiled and told her I’d tell her later. I think I probably freaked her out
But I felt it was better to say that then to bring down her four year olds birthday party by telling her our news there and then. When I got home I sent my friend a message to tell her the baby had anencephaly and was not expected to survive.
I could see this conversation playing out over and over every where I went - the kids Creche; the supermarket and at work. People asking well meaning seemingly banal questions that every pregnant person gets asked about due dates and the baby’s room and speculation about gender
And what would I say? Would I pretend everything was ok and play along? Or would I retell the awful truth everytime. I’d be in bits. They’d be in bits. Day to day living would become intolerable. As could see myself falling apart as @DelsolClaire so painfully described yesterday
We returned to meet the consultant. It was a Tuesday. 5 days since the diagnosis. He told us in very measures tones that we could continue with the pregnancy. He said it would be a long 20 weeks but we could keep going. I shook my head at him and through the tears said “I can’t”
By that point I just couldn’t face the prospect of another 20 weeks of wondering when the baby would die. It felt like a cruel form of torture when I could feel the baby moving knowing he would never move when independent of my body.
I was caught in this inbetween world - a nightmare world where I was already grieving for a baby that had not yet died. I felt I’d be growing this baby to bury it and it would break me.
The consultant told us if we wanted to end the pregnancy early we wouldn’t be able to do that in Ireland but that he would send us up to speak with the specialist midwife in the fetal assessment unit. She met us in a small room off the assessment unit and made us tea.
She said they called her tea and tissues because that’s what she gave people! She wasn’t able to put us directly in contact with a hospital that could help us but could get us an appointment with Irish family planning Association who would speak to us about Liverpool Womens Hosp
We got an appointment with them for an hour later and headed straight from the hospital. We met the lady who brought us into her office, sat us down and asked us “why are you here?” I was confused - hadn’t she just been speaking to our midwife? Didn’t she know why we were there?!
It was months later before I realised she needed us to ask her for information about abortion services so that she wasn’t seen to be offering biased information under the regulation of information act. A further way our laws harm care givers and patients in these circumstances
So contact was made with Liverpool Womens hospital who offered us an appointment for the following Thursday - 1 week after diagnosis. We went home to book flights & accommodation and sort out who would look after our children. With everything in place we confirmed our appointment
And we were the “lucky” ones. We could afford to travel & pay for the procedure, we had family to look after our children, we were well enough to travel & had valid passports to make the journey. Many in similar circumstances do not enjoy these privileges & cant escape the 8th.
We boarded our early morning flight to Liverpool and sat on that plane with a hen party and business men as we tried to come to terms with the saddest news of our life. It was surreal.
We arrived at Liverpool Womens Hospital- the beacon of light in this story. From the moment we arrived we were treated with such kindness & compassion. Everyone we met told us they were so sorry we had to be there. I think they understood more than we did how awful our plight was
They explained what to expect in the days ahead. They rescanned me to confirm the diagnosis and sat and talked about what we wanted to do with our baby’s remains afterwards.
The diagnosis was confirmed and they gave me the first tablets to take & sent us off to return in 48 hours
We had 2 days In Liverpool a place I’d never been but which looked after us that weekend. We walked around like any other tourist but with a dark secret that we felt we couldn’t tell anyone. We bought a small hat to cover the baby’s head after delivery.
On Saturday October 1st we returned to the hospital for a compassionate induction of labour and late that night our little mite was delivered and as expected did not survive.
But we got to hold him and we named him TJ and we cried for the death of our baby boy. It was the first moment of peace I’d felt since the diagnosis and I knew we’d made the right decision
The hat we bought was much too big. They had a small mitten they used to cover his head instead. They took footprints & handprints and took photos and put them all in a memory booklet for us. We brought this teddy with us from Home. It was TJ’s for that night
There were so many other touching things about our experience in Liverpool but I’m running out of time to tell them here. Suffice to say that everyone went out of their way to look after us that weekend and I will always be so grateful for their care 💜
And then I had to get on a flight home just hours after giving birth& leave my baby boy behind to return home to my other children. I hadn’t seen my mum in 11 days. So much had happened. I would now date everything in my life in relation to this event. My life was forever changed
Changed but not all in a bad way. Lots of good things that came afternever would have happened if we hadn’t travelled. I became a runner. It was a form of therapy in those early weeks & gave me a whole new lease of life.
Then I heard @Arlettemlyons speaking to Ray Darcy one morning. She stopped me in my tracks - she was telling my story. I wrote to Ray and went on the show to speak about my experience and how it brought me to running.
I went to the first support group meeting and met the girls who set up @TFMRIRE. The sense of acceptance and understanding in that room was amazing. It was the saddest club of parents a club no one wants to belong to but there was a strength in the togetherness we all felt
We gathered and we organised and we pushed on doors and we eventually got to speak to those in power.All we had to tell them were our stories but the stories were all we needed because they speak for themselves. We did not get to speak to the citizens assembly...
...but we did get to go before the JOC. I sat in the public gallery and listened to @DelsolClaire & @gerryheed share their stories. There was not a dry eye in that room. It was and felt like a truly historic moment. We were listened to & we were being heard
Campaigning takes it’s toll and at the end of 2017 Gaye & Gerry Edwards left TFMR for personal reasons. They continue to campaign but in a personal capacity. In January I was made chairperson of @TFMRIRE and we took a moment to re-energise as the momentum built for a referendum
And when @Together4yes launched in the Rotunda hospital on Thursday 22nd 2018 I felt I’d come full circle. Because it was exactly 6& 1/2 years since I had been in another part of the hospital having the anomaly scan that changed everything.
As to the future? We know people will continue to receive devastating diagnoses during their pregnancy. We hope to see a compassionate Ireland that we be able to look after these people in their own country but they will continue to need our support. So we hope to increase the
..awareness of our support group @LeanbhMoChroi. We’d love to see a day where we no longer need the services of @TFMRIRE but we’re a long way off that yet.
We are hopeful but we are not complacent. We will tell our stories and relive our trauma to educate as many as we can on the realities of the harm the 8th causes pregnant people in this country. Share our stories. Educate those who do not know the realities
Support us in our fundraising drive to get leaflets to as many households as we can here:
And on May 25th join us to vote yes. Let’s stop punishing tragedy. Let’s bring compassion Home. #togetherforyes #StopPunishingTragedy #bringcompassionhome

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More from @YourRepealers

Apr 14, 2018
Good morning. I'm Claire Cullen-Delsol @DelsolClaire I'm 33, married to Wayne and have two kids, Carla 10 & Nathan 4. I'm a member of @TFMRIRE and have campaigned for #repealthe8th since 2015. Here's me on the right.
A bit of background on me, I was born in Dublin, raised in Carrick on Suir, moved to Cork for College, met Wayne, had Carla, moved to Waterford, got degree, got married, had Nathan. I work full-time for a not-for-profit, and my hobbies include food & jigsaw puzzles.
In 2015 I found out I was pregnant with our 3rd baby. Nathan was only 1, Carla was 7. I was working a job with a 100km commute & long hours & pregnancy was not in the plan. But as my dad says, "we plan, God laughs". It didn't take long to get excited about another baba.
Read 81 tweets
Oct 23, 2017
I'd like to talk a bit about @Lawyers4Choice, who many people probably know from our #8Committee marathon livetweets.
We're a group of lawyers, both academics and practitioners, mostly Irish by background and based in Ireland and the UK.
We're passionate about public education and awareness of reproductive justice issues across the island of Ireland.
Read 16 tweets

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