independent

Sunday 20 April 2014

Tragic Anna died wanting a baby girl more than anything

SHE was the mother of two beautiful young sons – but Anna Byrne felt there was something missing in her life and "dearly, dearly wanted a daughter".

When the petite 35-year-old nurse from Dunboyne, Co Meath, found out that her planned pregnancy was twin boys, she was "devastated".

She "began to notice baby girls everywhere" and avoided her friends – particularly those who had daughters.

Six days after attending a psychiatrist complaining that her mood was low, Anna was dead, having plunged from a clifftop at Howth summit.

Yesterday, her husband Terry told the inquest of her last words to him: "We told each other that we loved each other and she said 'I'll see ya later'."

Her grief-stricken family wiped away tears as details emerged yesterday of the tragic death last March of the mother of two, who was in the last days of pregnancy with her twins.

The coroner returned an open verdict after ruling that he could not say beyond a reasonable doubt that the loving mum intended to take her own life.

At Dublin City Coroner's Court were Ms Byrne's husband Terry who sat surrounded by family, while at the other end sat Anna’s parents, Anna and John Deeney, brothers Richard and Ciaran and sister Lisa.

Dr John Sheehan, consultant psychiatrist at the Rotunda hospital – who met with Anna and her husband just days before her terrible death – revealed details of what was on the mind of the woman who doctors considered to be at “low risk” of self-harm.

He met with Anna and husband Terry on March 2 last. The heavily-pregnant woman had been referred to his care by a midwife after Anna admitted that her mood was low.

She had suffered with depression from her early 20s but had not told Terry about her condition when they first met and he only found out once they moved in together.

Anna’s first pregnancy in 2004 ended in miscarriage but she went on to successfully give birth to two little boys, Joe and Aidan.

“However, she felt part of her life was missing because she had two sons and no daughter,” Dr Sheehan said.

Her next pregnancy was planned – but when, at 20 weeks, she found out that she was carrying boys again, she was “devastated” and unable to sleep for several nights.

She attended her GP but her mood was low.

She admitted she did not feel maternal and this woman who normally had a placid nature admitted to Dr Sheehan that she felt “overwhelmed” at the prospect of having four boys. The idea of having a daughter became a preoccupation with her. “She began to notice baby girls everywhere,” said Dr Sheehan.

Terry had told him that his wife “put on a front” but privately was “drained”.

But Anna had plans for the future.

The couple had discussed the idea of flying to Greece for a further pregnancy where they would be allowed to select the sex of the child through assisted reproduction treatment.

Ms Byrne was tearful at times during the interview and her mood was depressed – however, she did not have a “passive death wish” or feel suicidal, said Dr Sheehan.

Dr Sheehan increased her anti-depressant dosage and prescribed an anti- histamine to help her sleep.

He asked her to return to review at six weeks post partum.

But just six days later, Anna Byrne was dead.

Irish Independent

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