Monday, 22 May 2017

Happy 1st Birthday to our Angel Isabella

It's hard to believe it's one year today, all I keep thinking about is this time last year she was with us, I keep getting flash backs of the joy she brought us when she was born, and then the heartbreak and pain in which we could not save her.

I somehow found comfort in the fact that she was with us this time last year, and I am petrified of the thought now that i can no longer say this as crazy as it may sound.

We should be getting ready for her first birthday party, but instead I am trying to find something that is weather proof to place on her grave, something I never thought I would be doing.

In my head I want everything  perfect and why not, I am still a mother who wants the best for her children. The process in which all parents have to go through, the first of anything is the hardest but keeping in mind that she is watching over us all and growing on the other side some how brings me to a smile.

Would you believe I saw a red butterfly today, it made me think of her, but this time it was not white as I would always see, it was a bright red, I like to think that's a sign from her telling me she is growing, and that she is around us always.

Happy 1st birthday our darling Isabella, from mum, dad and your big brother Keelan xx

Monday, 15 May 2017

Universal access to Foetal Anomaly screening to be made for Women Nationwide

Myself and Kevin are delighted to announce the passing of a Dail Motion by Sinn Fein’s Health Spokesperson T.D Louise O’Reilly who highlighted the current issues within Irelands Maternity Services. The motion included universal access to foetal anomaly screening across all Maternity Hospitals Nationwide, the full implementation of the National Maternity Strategy and a commitment to work with nursing and medical unions in the recruitment and retention of medical staff so that all maternity hospitals meet the ‘Birth rate plus standard’ for midwifery staffing, as well as international standards for consultant obstetricians and gynecologists.

Louise O’Reilly has called on the Minister for Health to swiftly implement the commitments made in the Dail with regards to the National Maternity Hospitals, she said that it is now up to the Government to stand by their commitment and that she will be following up with the Minister to ensure implementation of these incentives. This is a major victory for Women’s Health and the Minister must now accept the collective will of the Dail and act on the motion.

Words will never be able to describe our emotions, we are still travelling through our journey of loss, but we will always truly believe our angel was sent to us for a reason and this news just proved that.

Since the day I received a message from Cllr Damien Quigg who showed so much compassion for our campaign and pure dedication we believed as a small group of people we can make change. Cllr Damien Quigg connected us with T.D Louise O’Reilly during our Dublin visit for my Ireland AM interview, and I will always remember sitting in the room with my good friend Shauna, a fellow heart mum while we both told her our stories, I knew instantly from her reaction that she would not rest until our voices were heard and that is exactly what she did.

All those parents who spoke out about their heartbreaking experiences, the media who took it in their stride to share our journeys, to Cllr Damien Quigg who supported our campaign and set us in a direction were we would not have been able to go without him, and to T.D Louise O’Reilly who made not only our voices heard but the voices of all our angels in a place where change can be made, once implemented babies lives will be saved as a diagnosis will be made prior to birth, and parents to be, will be getting the service they deserve.

Its been such an incredibly hard time for us this last year and our Isabella’s birthday and anniversary is only around the corner but I truly hope with all my heart that she knows she helped make this change. 

In memory of our Isabella, our very own angel.

Monday, 20 February 2017

Meeting with National Programme Director for Women and Infants’ Health

Well since we started our Isabella’s campaign to raise awareness of CHD and promote that all women in Ireland should be entitled to the 20 week screening, we’ve received continual support from many families who have travelled a similar path as myself and Kevin, I feel through our own pain like many others are going through, it helps to speak to those who know and feel the same heartbreak.

Reading peoples stories, some with happy endings and others with sad, it really has given me even more drive to push this as much as we can. I still remember writing all our memories of Isabella to try and keep her alive in us, and even though she was only here on earth for a short time she incredibly left her mark.

With the help of the media making our voices heard the HSE are now listening.

Since we gained a response from the Minister for Health Simon Harris I received an email from Kilian McGrane, who is the newly appointed ‘National Programme Director for Women and Infants’ Health and will be rolling out the programme to introduce the 20 week anomaly scan to all expectant mothers nationwide . Minister Simon Harris forwarded my email to Mr McGrane and asked for him to meet with me regarding our campaign for anomaly scanning.
In recent weeks Mr McGrane has contacted me and welcomed an opportunity to meet with me to discuss the important issues raised in my email to the Minister.

I will be meeting with Mr McGrane at Tralee University Hospital on Wednesday 22nd February, he will also be joined with the recently appointed clinician, Dr Peter McKenna, who is the Clinical Lead for the Programme.

In the meeting I will be giving an insight from a parents perspective from our own personal journey and what we feel needs to be addressed, from the much needed scan to  also highlighting the lack of after care service to families whose baby passes away, specifically for parents and the siblings.
If you have had a similar experience or know someone who has and would like to raise any questions please feel free to contact me prior to my meeting and I will ensure your voice is heard.
I will keep you all updated, and I know Isabella will be with me.


Mother to an angel 

Thursday, 19 January 2017

Equal access to standardized ultrasound services to be implemented throughout all maternity units

I am delighted to announce that since our campaign started for the right of all expectant mothers to be given routine detailed screening, we are finally seeing progress made. Minister for Health Simon Harris emailed me today confirming that the HSE National Service Plan 2016 committed to the planning and development of equitable access to antenatal anomaly screening throughout all maternity units in the context of emerging maternity networks.

In addition, the National Maternity Strategy is now clear that all women must and will have equal access to standardized ultrasound services. This strategy will be implemented on a phased basis over the coming years which will be led by the National Women & Infants Health Programme.

The newly appointed Director will be meeting with me in due course to discuss the strategy going forward, in this meeting I will be also highlighting the after care service for families who suffer loss of their baby, which through our own experience is seriously neglected.

Words cannot describe how we are feeling now, from such a dark and sad time in our lives our beautiful daughter shed some light from heaven, I knew in my heart she was sent here for a reason, I am so proud of our angel. Our campaign was never darkened around negativity, through our experience we saw a fault in the health care of maternity services and in our daughters memory we simply did not want anyone else to go through what we and many other families have gone through. I have always said that we wanted to work alongside the HSE and not against it and now they have started to implement a plan for all expectant mothers to receive routine anomaly screening nationwide so if anything has been detected proper procedures can be put in place before birth giving all babies a fighting chance.

I am blown away from all the support we have received since Isabella was born and when she grew her wings, I am so proud to be her mum, she is around us always and throughout our campaign this miracle has just proved it.

I will keep you all updated on further progress as this is only the beginning. 

Mother to an angel 

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

The months after is when you need support the most

I know it has been a while since my last post, but I don’t want to just write every week, this is a real life journey and I only write when I feel it is the right time to share  my recent experiences I’ve had while living life after great loss.

Everyday life since losing Isabella has changed, small things you don’t notice during your daily routines all of a sudden becomes a big deal, at one point I felt every time I left the house all I would see is babies and baby stuff everywhere; my anxiety grew so much I just wanted to stay at home all the time, my house became my sanctuary for me, my haven, my own space to lock myself away from society, I would always say to myself, ‘how and when will I start to cope’.

(In recent months i’ve found grief is truly like the ocean, it comes in waves and sometimes can consume you when you least expect it, don’t fight your emotions, roll with them like those waves, the more you fight and hold back the worse you will feel to which point you may sink into the deep dark obis of depression.)

I wake up every day to my routines of life itself, then all of a sudden it just hits me that I lost my daughter and will never be able to hold her in my arms again, it really does consume me at different times of the day but I am still learning to remind myself of the fact we had the chance to look into her beautiful eyes, while she stared right back at us knowing that she was loved unconditionally, these thoughts are what keeps me looking forward.

The support we had after Isabella was born and when she grew her wings was just amazing, our close friends and family helped organise her burial and really showed so much love and light during a time of such darkness. The following weeks we had people calling to our house on a daily basis which kept us going but looking back now I can see that it hadn’t sunk in still, we were numb, in shock, I knew what had happened but I hadn’t processed the fact that we have lost our baby girl. I do think that if it wasn’t for Keelan I could have sunk much lower, but this is a point you feel you’re at a cross roads and must try your best to continue on and learn to live your life after such a loss. 
I remember so clearly waking up the following morning after our final goodbye, the sun was shining so bright through our curtains, we just laid there in silence, in a state of shock not knowing what to do with ourselves, the door bell rang constantly by people calling to us, and at the time I just wanted to be left alone, but I got up as I did not want to look weak and then dived into washing all our clothes from Dublin, I washed the same clothes 2 or 3 times just to keep myself busy, as crazy as it sounds thinking about it now I just wanted to feel human again, I was trying to imagine that I would be doing this if she was still there and asleep in her mosses basket, I just wanted to feel like a mother to a new born baby while trying to block out the pain in case I fell apart even though inside I was broken, empty and felt useless.

I have come to the realization that support is needed more than ever months after losing a loved one, most people would presume as months have passed you start to learn how to cope, as they say ‘time is a great healer’ which it is very true however, emotions would start to sink in during the later stages of grief, when your days quieter down and people stop calling as much, this is when you have more time to think to yourself about what has happened, this is the crucial time you will need support.

I am so thankful for my group of close friends who have been travelling this journey alongside me, who knows when I am having a bad day or week, who would call for a cup of tea to talk about everything and listen to me, or just sit there in silence with me just so I feel their company there with me, letting me know I am not alone. I feel it is very important to share this if you know someone who is currently grieving that support is very much needed when months have passed, whether it’s a call, a text or just passing through for tea anything just to show that someone is still thinking of you would mean the absolute world, I know this because it means everything to me and has helped me get through the dark days.

If you are the one going through the pain of loss you must keep talking and if you need someone to listen to you, you must pick up your phone or call to your friends or families house because talking is key to a healthy mind, remember it’s not getting over something like this it is learning to cope with it, this is what I have learned so far and still have so much to come. 

Thank you to my friends and family xoxox

Saturday, 12 November 2016

Isabella's CHD Awareness & Pregnancy Screening Campaign Video ~ Please share

I created this video to help promote our campaign for all women in Ireland to be entitled to a
 ' free routine 20 week scan'.

When our beautiful baby Isabella was born we were told everything was fine until a few hours passed and she had to be rushed to Dublin finding out that she had Hypo-plastic Left Heart Syndrome along with many other complications with her heart, they could not offer her surgery and so she grew her wings 5 days later. 
Isabella's fate could not have been changed however if it could have been different and she could have had surgery she could of well passed away upon birth as her heart condition was not picked up as this simple scan is not offered to all expectant women in Ireland. 

We do not want any other parent to go through the journey we have and are still going through.

We are waiting for Minister of Health Simon Harris to listen to our story and hopefully together make some change for our future babies of Ireland.

Please share, thank you 

Mother to an angel xx

Is it just coincidence or is our angel talking to us?

I am a big believer in life after death, I have been since I was a little girl through my own personal experiences, I think when someone close to you passes away you just have hope to have some kind of sign from them to let you know they are ok, but at the same time you do not want to drive yourself mad looking for it and be disappointed if you don’t see or hear from your loved one.

I am open about what I believe in and accept everyone has their own opinions about this topic but I wanted to write about this as I feel many people who has suffered loss always wonders if their loved ones are around them and some may even crave for some kind of sign which is exactly how I feel.

Only last week myself and Kevin were in our local Smyths store starting our Christmas shopping, we don’t get to do too many things with just ourselves as we are always busy so it was nice to have some quality time with just the two of us, as we waited in the queue with our hands full of prezzies I noticed this little girl skipping past me with long dark hair she was stunning, my heart melted and just smiled to myself trying to keep it together in front of Kevin and of course everyone else around me, it was when I heard her mother call her name ‘Isabella’.... I literally lost my breath from the pure shock of hearing her name, I looked directly at Kevin and his face just turn pure white, I wanted to drop everything and run, I could not believe it out of all the names we hear hers, I have never heard her name before as it is unusual which is why we choose it, why did we hear it, how was it that out of all of the places in the shop she said her name right in front of us, we walked out and tears were just pouring down my face feeling the pain of emptiness and realizing that we should be shopping for our 2 children and not one.

 As we drove back I thought to myself, what if this was meant to happen but to not upset us but as a message to let us know she is around us always, I suppose it is turning a negative situation into a positive and seeing things in a different light instead of darkness.

 During Isabella’s burial I asked one of my good friends to arrange a white dove to be released, I thought this could be a symbolic sign for her spirit to be released to the heavens above, my heart melted when she walked up towards us with a beautiful white basket, she opened it up and there the dove looked at us and then flew up into the sky, I looked up and noticed the sun breaking through the fluffy clouds as if an opening appeared welcoming our baby girl.

A few days past when Kevin’s brother said that he went to visit her grave and noticed a white butterfly on her cross, as soon as I heard I liked to think it was her letting him know she was still around, that very same week Kevin was in the garden and felt something on his hand, to his amazement it was a white butterfly, as he told me I could see in his face full of hope that it was a sign but I couldn’t help feel the emotion of jealously, why not me? Why as her mother have I not had a sign, I felt maybe I did do something wrong that I didn’t deserve it, but not long after she did said hello or so I like to believe. 

I remember it was the day of Bike Fest in Killarney, one of Kevins good friends arranged for him to have a tattoo to honor our Isabella which meant the world to Kevin, I remember I was sitting in the garden looking up in the sky waiting to leave, I looked across the garden and there the white butterfly flew across and over the fence, there it was my little sign, a tear ran down my cheek knowing in my heart she was letting me know she was around, that very same day my Nan called to check up on me I remember her words as clear as day, she said ‘ I am sitting here in the sun in my garden and I saw a beautiful white butterfly just came out of nowhere and flew right in front of me and it reminded me of our Isabella’  the phone went quite as I tried to process what my Nan just said to me, did I tell her? No I didn’t, out of anything that could have happened as a sign it was linked to a white butterfly, I then explained to her what has been happening and she said that it sounded like she wanted us to know she is always around.

I know this may sound out there, but isn’t it lovely to think something like this is symbolic, what is the harm in thinking this way? There is no harm in thinking or presuming this being linked but you would have to question is this just a coincidence? or is our little angel talking to us in her own little way, letting us know that she is still around us....well, I like to think it’s her, if you have a loved one and notice a sign, do not just ignore it and think you are just over thinking it, you should embrace it, believe it is a message from above saying hello, they are ok and they will always be around you..

Mother to an angel xx