'He asks me why Mammy is in heaven?' - Husband's heartbreak at Dhara's death in childbirth
The husband of a woman who died in childbirth has described how he struggles to explain her death to their son.
Dhara Kivlehan (28) died a week after giving birth to son Dior.
She had been diagnosed with pre-eclampsia just hours after her son was delivered by Caesarean section in Sligo Hospital. An inquest found she died as a result of medical misadventure.
Speaking to the Irish Times her husband Michael explained that they had moved back from London to Leitrim "as we thought it would be a better place to raise a child".
He continued: "But neither of us ever imagined that a few days after he was born, she would no longer be with us.”
Mr Kivlehan's story is featured in a new exhibition - hosted by The Elephant Collective - that runs in the Courthouse Gallery in Ennistymon, Co Clare.
Mr Kivlehan welcomed the verdict of a 2014 inquest into his wife's death but he said much remains to be done to ensure that it is not repeated.
"Dior has just turned six and he is growing up without a mother; he shouldn’t have to go through that," he said.
“He asks me why Mammy is in heaven and I don’t know what to tell him because she should not have died like that and if I told him the truth it would scare the life out of him.”
“The maternity services in Ireland need to be sorted out.
“...The midwives know what to do, but because they have to wait for instruction from above, things get delayed – this is inexcusable.
“Ministers have promised myself and seven other widowers that automatic inquests after a maternal death will happen, but nothing has changed and until this happens, we are not going to let this campaign die.”
Mr Kivlehan said mothers of Ireland cannot die in vain and he is joined in the exhibition by other husbands and families struck buy tragic loss.
“The mothers of Ireland cannot be dying in maternity wards,” he said.
“These women bring the next generation into our country so they need to be looked after. There should automatically be a bed in ICU to deal with critical cases like Dhara – she was given a bed only to be taken out of it a short while later because someone who was passing away needed to be put in a quiet place – this sort of thing is appalling.
“I, and many other men, have been left without wives and our children left without mothers – it may be too late for us, but we are determined to do what we can to help others.”