On the 3rd March 2012, after 25 days of life, our first child left Earthside to watch over us always as an Angel Baby.
Niamh Therese Christina was born on the 7th February 2012 at 26 weeks and 6 days, weighing a good 960grams and looking cranky ( let’s face it, who wouldn’t be after leaving a nice snug little womb that early!) Niamh thrived for 13 days and we were so hopeful, feeling positive she would eventually be home with us. She was almost past the second week; the week when if a premmie is going to have something go wrong, it goes wrong.
On day 14, we got an early morning call from the NICU saying I should get into the hospital as Niamh’s health had deteriorated. She had developed severe Necrotising Enterocolitis. Over the following days Niamh had so many complications due to her illness, but it looked like she might pull through. Around day 22 the doctors started to lower the medication that had kept Niamh under heavy sedation throughout her sickness. I was so excited to see her move again (she was such an active baby before she got sick) but this was something that wouldn’t happen. She had had a haemorrhage in her brain that had previously not been detected due to being so sick, and this affected her ability to do just about everything. The only thing she could do on her own was open her eyes and move her forehead a little.
On day 25 we made the decision to redirect her care under circumstances we could control, so in the early hours of the morning of the 3rd March, in the quiet of the hospital, all support was withdrawn from our daughter and we held her as she took her last breath.
After losing Niamh it was a hard decision to try to have another baby, especially because we didn’t know exactly why Niamh came early, but we did know that I have a uterine condition that lends itself to premature labour. Was it irresponsible for us to try to bring a baby into the world knowing the challenges we faced, and that they may then face? Were we just trying to replace Niamh? So many questions and concerns….
Despite this, we did decide to have another baby and unfortunately went through 2 miscarriages. While this was heartbreaking, we decided to try one more time for a baby. In early 2014 we conceived and after a stressful, emotional and yet beautiful pregnancy our son was born on the 18th September at 38 weeks.
Oisin (pronounced O-shean) is truly the most beautiful special boy: an amazing gift made especially for us. He has his own personality and is very different from his sister and at times we still can’t believe he is here, the time just goes so fast. Sometimes looking at him, holding him, is so bittersweet: the overwhelming joy of him and the heartache of losing Niamh are both felt in equal measure sometimes.
And yet we are so much more fortunate than many families. We got to know our daughter, to say goodbye to her and tell her we love her, and we have our amazing, delightful and happy little boy (who has his own Angel looking out for him, lucky boy). Many people don’t have our happy ending, and for that we are so grateful.
While a little piece of our hearts will always be broken and there is sadness in our story, our journey is also one of strength, hope and love. That’s what Niamh taught us, and that’s what gave us Oisin.