“You’re alone from the diagnosis until the baby’s heart stops. Between that, there’s just a void.” – Nicola
In 2009, Nicola was 19 weeks into her second pregnancy when a routine scan revealed a problem with the foetus. After a more detailed follow-up scan medical staff told her that the impairment was fatal and there was no chance of survival. Nicola told Amnesty International: “I thought straight away that they would induce me but the nurse explained they couldn’t do that because it’s classed as a termination and wasn’t allowed in this country.” She remembers thinking:
“You just can’t leave me carrying the baby when the baby’s going to die. I can’t do it, I can’t do it. I just couldn’t comprehend, I just thought I was going to pass out… I think I cracked when I asked them when they would induce me. I was just so naïve. I just thought automatically that they’d induce me if the baby was that sick.”
Unable to afford the cost of travelling outside of Ireland in order to procure an abortion, and unwilling to “put myself and my family under the [financial] pressure” in order to do so, Nicola says she was forced to remain in Ireland and to continue with her pregnancy.
“I was conforming to what they do in Ireland. So a woman makes that decision, surely then there should be support for her once she’s made the decision to carry her baby – not to have a termination as they call it. There was nothing, no support for me whatsoever, nothing.”
Nicola went to the hospital every week for a scan. “Most women are getting scans to make sure their baby is alive. I was getting a scan to see if my baby had died,” recalls Nicola. After five weeks the medical staff confirmed that the foetus had died. “Straight away the doctor came in, we can take you in tomorrow, this evening, now to induce you.” Following her induction and delivery, Nicola developed an infection due to a retained placenta, which required further hospitalisation and care.
“If I had been offered the induction from the start, I could have been saved this whole trauma, I strongly believe. I would have been saved the trauma of our friends offering us money, feeling under pressure to make this decision, facing the trauma of all these infections and having to spend time in the hospital, reliving my story every night because people were coming in. When I think about it, I just feel nothingness, there was no care.”