Sunday 23 September 2018

'Loved beyond words, missed beyond measure' - Woman who travelled to UK for abortion after fatal foetal abnormality pens poem in response to politician's 'soundbite'

Posters for the upcoming abortion referendum (Photo: Kyran O'Brien)
Posters for the upcoming abortion referendum (Photo: Kyran O'Brien)

Sean Nolan

A woman who travelled to the UK for an abortion following a fatal foetal abnormality diagnosis has written a powerful poem in response to a comment by a public representative.

Carmel Brennan spoke to Marian Finucane on RTÉ Radio 1 this morning to tell her story of travelling to the UK for an abortion after a diagnosis of anencephaly during her pregnancy with the daughter she would call Kate.

Ms Brennan and her husband Kevin went through a procedure in Guy's hospital in London to stop her baby's heartbeat before returning to Ireland to give birth.

Anencephaly is a condition where the large part of the brain and skull does not form and Ms Brennan's doctors told her and her husband that the child would not survive outside the womb.

After a consultant confirmed the diagnosis the couple researched others who had decided to go full-term with the pregnancy but Ms Brennan and her husband decided it wasn't the right choice for them.

The couple went to London in October 2017 and spent their last night with Kate, which Ms Brennan describes as "extremely emotional, distressed and sad" before returning to Guy's the next day for "the saddest and most difficult day of our lives".

After a short period a doctor came and told them, "Your little poppet is asleep" and then they went to the airport to return home where Ms Brennan would give birth to Kate.

Their local hospital scheduled an induction for the next day and Kate was born.

"I was told there is no joy in stillbirths and that is not true," he told Ms Finucane. "We got to say goodbye to Kate in London but we got to say hello to her in birth. It was joyful."

Ms Brennan went on to say the the debate over the upcoming referendum made it difficult to grieve for Kate and that a 'soundbite' by a public representative had driven her to write a poem called ''He said they are not loved'

"I'm not a poet but I found myself writing my feelings on this," she said. "I needed to be able to park it and deal with it. I thought of writing a letter to the person who said it but I felt that wasn't the right thing to do so I just wrote this for myself."

Here is the full text of Ms Brennan's poem:

I placed my hand on my bump, to feel her kicking and tumbling

Give me your hand, I said, and smiled, our last days of innocence

How arrogant we were I sometimes think

No skull they said to our frightened faces

You can continue with the pregnancy or travel

I said the words first, that was important

I can't I told him

And so we flew, scared and fearful

Who would we meet, what would they do

There is no joy, we were told, with a stillbirth

They were wrong, there is joy, it's just different

You still hold and kiss and love

You marvel at fingers and toes

You kiss her little nose

And the pain is so great too, you feel it will consume you and crush you

It never leaves you

Loved beyond words, missed beyond measure

Carmel went on to say: "My experiences tell me that abortion is a required medical treatment and is compassionate".

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