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‘I thought, how do you go on after losing a baby?’

THE MONTH of October highlights Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness
Month.
For Lisnaskea woman Colleen Tunney and her husband Liam, remembering their first born daughter Fionnuala is not just about keeping her memory alive but a way of helping other bereaved parents.
“For us everything had been fine. We went for our 20 week scan and basically had a follow-up at around the 22 week mark and found out that Fionnuala had passed away, so basically we had to go back into hospital to deliver her. It was just unthinkable.
“The birth was a very surreal experience and I just remember thinking how do people go on with life after this? You feel very alone. If you speak to any bereaved parent no matter what their circumstances are they’ll very much feel like they’re the only person dealing with this.
“I brought a camera with me on the day as the midwife had encouraged us to take photos. She explained how important it was and that it might not be something we wanted to look at now but would be down the line.
“We did little footprints and handprints of Fionnuala which are so beautiful to have. In the back of your mind you’re thinking this is
obviously a horrible moment but it was also the only time we had with
her.”
While Colleen admits that the grief of losing a baby isn’t cured
overnight, she credited the support of SANDS NI that helped her
through her darkest days.
“SANDS has been a great support for me and Liam and is a group
predominantly ran by bereaved parents.
“The whole idea for me was about breaking the silence. I don’t think I would have been able to continue with life if I couldn’t speak about
Fionnuala and the fact that our daughter was here, even for a short time.
“It’s a very historical and such an Irish thing to carry all your troubles yourself and to never speak of them.
“On many occasions people made me feel like it was uncomfortable to mention Fionnuala’s name or the fact she passed away.
“But what people find awkward or upsetting for five minutes is the reality of what bereaved parents must go through for the rest of their lives.”
Baby Fionnuala was buried just one day before Christmas Eve back in
December 2016 and the following year Christmas time for the Tunneys
had a special meaning after the birth of their second daughter Muireann.
“Muireann talks about Fionnuala everyday. It’s so normal for her,”
explained Colleen.
“Nothing compares to the pain of bringing your child into the world knowing they won’t survive. Raising awareness isn’t just about saying the names of our children and keeping their memory alive, it’s also about helping others to break the silence.
“It’s about helping them to have conversations about pregnancy concerns, confidence, to trust their instincts and when to call their GP, midwife or attend hospital.
“I’m a bereaved parent, our daughter Fionnuala Tunney was born on 15 December 2016. She was our first born child, and is now a big sister – soon to be again. She will be forever in our hearts.”

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The Fermanagh Herald is published by North West of Ireland Printing & Publishing Company Limited, trading as North-West News Group.
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