When I answered a newspaper advert twenty years ago, I could never have imagined how different things would be today. At the time, I was desperately searching for answers and this ad offered my first real glimmer of hope. I was no longer alone, somebody else was in the same boat as myself. Shortly afterwards, the Miscarriage Association of Ireland was born.
When I had my first miscarriage in 1986 (having had a normal first pregnancy ), there was no support network in place despite the fact that every year in Ireland, approximately 14,000 women suffer a miscarriage. I felt very alone and wanted to talk to someone else who’d been through a similar experience. I couldn’t find information anywhere (miscarriage was a taboo subject in those days) so in desperation, I turned to the UK and discovered there was a Miscarriage Association which could provide the support I needed. Unfortunately, the following year I suffered a second miscarriage which left me wondering if I would ever again carry a baby to full term. This time I was determined to do something to correct the lack of support available following miscarriage and that’s when I saw the newspaper ad looking for people willing to form a support group. I contacted the person behind the ad and together we co-founded the Miscarriage Association of Ireland. I’ve long since moved on from the work of the Association but it has continued to go from strength to strength as a fully registered charity.
I was delighted to be invited to a Service of Remembrance last Sunday in St. Teresa’s Church, Donore Avenue, Dublin 8. Prior to the service, a new memorial stone was unveiled in the grounds of the church to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the founding of the Association. This stone is dedicated to all babies lost through miscarriage and ectopic pregnancy, to honour their memory.
(photo taken on camera phone)
The large church was packed to capacity for the interdenominational service. Every family was invited to light a candle during the service in remembrance of their lost babies. It was incredibly moving to look at all those candles flickering at the altar knowing that each one of them represented a life lost, and to reflect upon what might have been. This beautiful service brought me back to all those years ago when I had yearned to share my grief with others who had suffered a similar loss.
These days there is a full range of support services available through the Miscarriage Association. It has it’s own website and offers a telephone support line to bereaved parents. It holds a monthly meeting where people can meet in a supportive environment and if they wish, they can share their experiences with others who have been through similar experiences. The Association also has a series of specially commissioned Books of Remembrance in which to commemorate babies lost during pregnancy.
Thankfully, the majority of women who suffer pregnancy loss, go on to have successful pregnancies and healthy babies. My next pregnancy did result in another miscarriage but amazingly, it was a twin pregnancy and seven months later, I finally got to bring home a bouncing bundle of joy.
This being Remembrance Day and the 90th anniversary of the ending of the First World War, the words of Laurence Binyon’s poem are particularly close to my heart…
They shall not grow old, as we that are left grow old.
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.