'I thought nothing could be tougher than the infertility journey until we sadly lost baby Molly at 23 weeks'
Infertility and stillbirth, two words that should not exist separately and certainly not together.
Our first child, Paddy, was born on the 10th of October 2010. 10/10/10 supposedly one of the luckiest days to be born. We had always wanted two children close together in age and so, when Paddy was just seven months old, we decided to try for number two. Fast forward three years and nothing. We had tried everything that had been recommended to us, natural remedies, herbs, accupunture, laparoscopies... Unexplained secondary infertility we were told.
Three years took their toll, we had put ourselves through it all. We where torn apart. Infertility is a tough journey, a road no couple should have to endure. After all pregnancy is part of our nature and something many women take for granted. Watching other couples get pregnant with second and even third babies left us feeling so very sad and a little angry at times. Why was this happening to us, what had we done to deserve this. Life seemed so hard then. We finally decided that I wasn't getting any younger and we simply had to try something new. In November 2014 we travelled to Prague to have IVF.
We couldn't believe our luck when two weeks later the second blue line appeared. We were finally pregnant! Finally our son, Paddy, would get the sibling he longed for. At this stage Paddy was four and all he wanted was a brother or sister to play with. He often asked why we didn't have another baby, and spoke about his friends and cousins who had multiple siblings, if only he knew.
The days leading to our 20 week anomaly scan, we were nervous and at times it didn't seem real that after so long of waiting and trying we were pregnant. It's ironic that on the day of the scan I went in fully expecting something to be wrong and was over the moon to be told we had a healthy, active baby. I remember that day so well, watching our little baby going crazy inside me. I felt the baby kick from about 17 weeks and I loved it. After the scan we planned holidays, talked about names and allowed ourselves to fully embrace being pregnant, everything new parents do.
On Sunday the 12th of April I was sitting in the Cinema with Mike and Paddy and suddenly something felt very wrong. I called the clinic the next day as it had been 24 hours with no movements. I didn't go in on the Sunday or the Monday, something I'll regret forever. On the Tuesday morning I went to the clinic on my own. 'I'm not getting your babies heartbeat' I was told. My world fell apart! Those words and that day will never leave me. Molly Culshaw was born at 23 weeks on Friday the 17th of April at 5.17pm. She was perfect and so, like her brother, we spent the night with her beside us in a cuddle cot. We held her, cuddled her and kissed her as much as we could.
On Wednesday the 22nd of April instead of carrying her car seat out of the front door of the hospital, we placed her in her coffin and walked out of the back door.
Molly means wished for child. We went through hell and back to get her here. Suddenly infertility had a whole new meaning to me, I was heartbroken and I still am. Paddy cried so much when he first heard the news and still does. Sometimes the siblings are forgotten but the lovely thing is that Paddy has never forgotten her, and always talks about his sister. I thought nothing could be tougher than the infertility journey.
A 'rainbow baby' is a baby that is born following a miscarriage, stillbirth, neonatal death or infant loss. In the real world, a beautiful and bright rainbow follows a storm and gives hope of things getting better. The rainbow is more appreciated having just experienced the storm. In October 2015 instead of night feeds and giggles with Molly we embarked on another round of IVF. Joey Culshaw was born on the 1st of July 2016, 15 months after his big sister. He brought us hope and joy. I will forever grieve Molly's future, her first words, her first steps, her communion, her first love, her wedding... She will always be my second born, my princess, my precious little girl.
* INM has a dedicated section independent.ie/babyloss where parents of all ages can share their stories of miscarriage, stillbirth and neonatal death. The section will serve as a
testament to the women and men who share their stories, a memorial for the babies lost and as a resource for other people who have gone through or are going through the experience.
Your stories can be anonymous or on the record and nothing will be published in any format without prior consultation with you. If you would like to be part of this and tell your story, email Yvonne Hogan at yhogan@ independent.ie