Tuesday 24 April 2018

Mother who tragically lost three children describes her heartbreak: 'It was just a part of life'

Marie White, Special Merit Award Winner
Marie White, Special Merit Award Winner

Kathy Armstrong

A devoted mother who tragically lost three of her children has been honoured for her "strength, bravery, perseverance and positivity."

Marie White went through every parent's nightmare when two of her young children died and her two surviving boys were diagnosed with potentially fatal conditions.

Marie (68) told Independent.ie how her ordeal began in 1975, when her first baby Edwin became seriously ill following complications during childbirth.

Marie, who lives in Muclagh in Co Offaly, said: "My husband Raymond and I waited until we were married for four years until we had our first baby.

"Edwin was born in London, my husband and I were running a pub over there.

"He lived for four-and-a-half months and died on Christmas Eve, in England they didn't bury a baby until after New Year at that time so it was very traumatising.

"I thought that was just fate at that time, it was just a part of life."

Marie moved back to Ireland and within two years, she welcomed her second boy, Marcus.

She said: "Marcus came along a year and ten months later, he had really low sugar and the doctors couldn't understand it.
"He was 9 pound 14 ounces  and it was unusual for a big baby to have low sugar.

"He was kept in hospital six weeks to try and get his sugars right but he was a very sick child.

Marie White, Special Merit Award Winner, with Sonya Duggan
Marie White, Special Merit Award Winner, with Sonya Duggan

"I insisted on feeding Marcus myself every two hours day and night for five years, all he would take was about two ounces.
"I was so upset about losing Edwin and I was so afraid that something would happen to him."

When Marcus was three he began having seizures and doctors were baffled about what was causing them.

It was only when Marie brought him to Great Ormond Street Hospital in London that he was diagnosed with hypoglycemia, which is when a person's blood sugars falling too low and need to be regulated, sufferers can end up seriously ill as a result.

Marie said: "I was told he would either end up brain damaged or that he would die.

"I'd never heard of it before, his sugars kept dropping and he was having very bad seizures, he was put on nine tablets a day - some of which had to be sent from England."

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During this time Marie was pregnant again but tragically she suffered from a miscarriage.

She said candidly: "When I was told Marcus would either die or end up brain damaged I was over four months pregnant at the time and I lost the baby.

"It was an absolute tragedy."

In a heartbreaking twist, Marie lost her only daughter Katrina in a car accident within a couple of years.

She explained: "Katrina was the only one I ever got to bring straight home from hospital, then she went out one day and was suddenly gone.

"She was only five and a half and had been driving in the car with her dad, he was picking her up on his way to work.

"They were only a mile down the road from our house when they hit a wall, it was a bad accident and that was it, she was gone, it was my worst nightmare.

"My husband was in hospital for over a year before he could be operated on but he was absolutely devastated.

"Katrina was a doll, she was so beautiful and a really good girl, she was good at school and she never gave me an ounce of trouble.

"God wanted her though and that was it."

In 1987 Marie welcomed her youngest child Jerome, who was also diagnosed as a hypoglycaemic.

When he was one he suffered his first seizure and fell into a coma, thankfully he came around and was released from hospital after two weeks.

Marie and Raymond were given medication to administer if he ever suffered another seizure but she notes, "thankfully I never had to."

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She is delighted to say that neither Marcus or Jerome suffer from the effects of hypoglycemia now and they haven't needed to take any medication for it since they were children.

Marie says: "Marcus suffered from cancer a few years ago and that was a big thing but thank God he is okay today, he's married now and they have a lovely little boy, who is my pride and joy.

"Jerome is working as a doctor in Tullamore and he has a lovely girlfriend."

Despite all of her hardship Marie remains a very positive person and has said that she worked multiple jobs to help support her family.

She said: "I worked as a sacristan in the church for 20 years, I loved every minute of it.

"I also worked in drapery for a couple of years and and I did a care course so then I looked after people who had Alzheimers, I loved that too.

"After going through a life like this I just think that I love people in general.

"I always just wanted my kids to be able to follow their dreams, I worked hard because I suppose I wanted to do anything I could for my kids."

Marie was delighted today to win the Boots Special Merit for Courage and Compassion award at the tenth annual Boots Maternity and infant Awards today.

She was nominated by her friend Sonya Duggan and said she couldn't believe she was awarded the honour.

She said: "I was shocked, I didn't expect this at all, I am not someone who would talk about myself much.

"I want to say a big thank you to Sonya and her husband Seamus for nominating me, I was not expecting anything like this after all these years."

Nominator Sonya also explained why she felt Marie should be honoured.

She said: "Her life has been tragic in some respects and one cannot imagine the grief she has been through, but the strength, bravery, perseverance and positivity she continues to have is nothing short of admirable"

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