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Incompatible with life

We had been trying to have a child for a number of months, and both of us were over the moon at the fact that “we” were pregnant – I always, and still do, hate that phrase. By writing this post, I’m not looking for sympathy – I’ve heard enough apologies and condolences already. People are uncomfortable talking about this, for obvious reasons, but we need to talk about it.

I am doing this to let other people who are going through this know that they are not alone, that there are others, and we fully understand what you’re going through. It has taken me a number of years to come to terms with this part of my life, to accept it as part of who I am, and to try and continue on.

I remember it was a Thursday, a Thursday that I will never forget. It was a miserably day, dark and gloomy. I was still living in Carlow at the time, so I took the day off work and we drove to the clinic for the first tests of our baby. I’ve never been that nervous before, but it was an excited nervousness – I was a big ball of ecstatic, worried, overjoyed, and anxious. I was so proud of announcing that “we are here for our scan”, to the receptionist.

We did not tell anyone. There’s an Irish (and possibly it is the same in other counties) tradition that you don’t tell anyone the news that you are about to be a parent, until after the first trimester – for fear of losing the baby. I had always assumed that it was an old wives tale that had  no place in modern Ireland – not with our technology and low infant mortality rate.

The scan took place, and everything looked good. The staff were really fantastic, going over all the details. This is when it sunk in. Holy fuck, I’m going to be a Dad! I had to get my ass in gear, and be able to provide for my family. I left Blacknight, and started in ICHEC. A move from Carlow to Dublin, and from the private sector to a nice public sector job in academia. That’s what I wanted, a nice safe, and stable public sector job, so I could be a proper Dad and provide for my family. About a month after the move, however, things started to go downhill.

We went for another scan, this time in Dublin. Tests were ordered, and the body language of the doctor went from warm and inviting to cold and professional. I knew something was gravely amis when her colleague came in for a consult. He went over the scan, and asked both of us some questions. Then he brought me into the side office.

I will never forget what he said, “Incompatible with life. No chance of delivery”. These words still ring home today, even though a number of years has passed.

Options were given, both at home and abroad, and they were weighed up. I still believe we decided on the best option – travel to the UK and get an abortion. The fact that this is not possible in Ireland, under these circumstances (whether you agree with abortion or not), is shameful and abhorrent. You can criticize me, call me a monster, and hate every fiber of my being, but in the end it was our decision. I have to live with this decision every day of my life. You do not. You have no right to judge me.

At some point every single day, I feel the same sadness I did on the day we travelled to Birmingham. The only difference, now, is that I have been able to hide it better. Nothing will take away the despair and agony I feel inside. I still can’t believe this happened – surely this only happened to other people. Hell, there are days when I want to shut the world off, stop pretending that everything is alright, stay in bed and cry. I became considerably more withdrawn, depressed, drank heavily, and angry. I was angry at life, and at death. I was angry with myself, with my partner, with the universe… with everything. Our relationship quickly went downhill, before disintegrating entirely a short time after – the fact that it lasted as long as it did after the news is surprising. This event has drastically altered my view of life, and I know I will never be the same because of it.

The most important thing is to take the first step for help – to talk to someone. Please take it.

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