Statment by Mandy - Muireann's mam
I think one thing that is underestimated in the world is the effect that words can have on your life, your feeling, your actions and there are only three words that I've heard in my 35 years that have ripped the life from inside me "incompatible with life"
I was pregnant with our much wanted and loved fifth child when at 20 weeks gestation Muireann was diagnosed with Patau Syndrome. ..... I'd never heard of the condition before so knew very little about it until I was told the condition was incompatible with life...... now for most people they are just words, just three words used in conjunction with a diagnosis with very little effect unless it's you that's hearing them while hugging your pregnant belly tight trying to come to terms with the fact that your little baby might not make it to your arms. The little baby you wanted, the little baby you planned, the little baby you already had so many plans for throughout their life.
Those words took her life from me there and then.....The condition I could deal with and try to understand but. those three words made me feel I wasnt carrying a beautiful little girl that we were lucky to have had in our lives for six weeks, but that I was carrying merely a mass of disfigured cells that was supposed to be a baby but wasn't, that it was something that didn't even have the right to be considered as a life, dismissed with suggestions of terminations as she kicked and wriggled inside my womb.. Haunted by those words I struggled to visualise a baby in my womb...... The confusion of how if she is incompatible with life was she kicking and wriggling around ...... was I imagining the kicks!!!!
Those words instill a fear inside people that may in those moments of pure grief be the basis of decisions made in that time. Believe me when I say that the diagnosis of any life limiting condition alone is enough for parents to know what is facing them and their baby, without taking the life from their child before they even have a chance to take a breath. Yes her life was short, too short, but in those six weeks Muireann cooed and smiled and kicked all the things babies should do she was living!!! She was loved!!
Im not asking that you lie to parents about the diagnosis and it's predicted outcome but to change that haunting term that accompanies it. Give these children the recognition of life, of love, of worth that they deserve, they are all loved and wanted, they are all someone's daughter, someone's son, someone's sister, someone's brother, they are compatible with life for as long or as short as their condition allows! A life spent surrounded by family and love, a life that will forever remain in the hearts of those lucky enough to have shared it!
Mandy Dunne - Mam to Muireann Dunne