Grace’s Story

On the 19th of March 2014 I spent 12 hours with my 4th baby, my 2nd daughter and the person that would literally change my life. 

I was 22 weeks pregnant when we found out Grace was terminally ill, she had, after many,  many examinations by professors of fetal medicine, thanatophoric dysplasia. This condition meant her long bones were measuring short (at 23 weeks Grace’s week measuring 12 weeks) the fatal part of this condition causes the chest cavity to not grow enough for her heart and her lungs. So ultimately upon birth when babies try and inhale for the first time, my baby girl would die immediately from respiratory failure as her chest cavity would crush her lungs. I’m sorry if this upsets anyone reading but unfortunately you cannot pretty up this condition. 

I couldn’t bear this to happen my baby, my dad died 2 years previous from lung cancer and I watched him take his last breath. How could I watch my tiny baby struggle to breathe and then pass away… I couldn’t. 

I asked when I would be induced and my consultant sympathetically told me they can’t induce early if there is no risk to the mother as its against the law in Ireland. My baby was dying, her movements were weakening and she would inevitably die from respiratory failure but this wasn’t enough to stop her hurting anymore. I had to be at risk. I was at risk everyday that I met people asking if “I had my bits bought for the baby, how long have you left, the twins must be excited for a baby brother or sister…”  I nodded and smiled knowing the baby in the bump they were admiring was not going to be in the pram I had my eye on or sleeping in her brother’s moses basket. I spent 4 weeks nodding along to people’s excited questions. 

 I was slowly losing my mind. 

Because of the fact I couldn’t be induced at home with my family around me I had to go somewhere where they understand what me and my baby were going through… We travelled to Liverpool on Paddys weekend amongst hen parties and revellers… We arrived to Liverpool women’s hospital where the midwives took over my care, they were angels to me and my little girl. I remember saying  to my husband that morning before the final scan to check Grace, they may have made a mistake in the two hospitals we were in in Ireland, we might get good news, her chest may be growing and allow her organs to grow. 

The professor scanned me for over an hour and he confirmed the diagnosis along with the devastating news that Grace’s lungs were no longer in her chest cavity, he couldn’t find them so they were either crushed already or just didn’t develop. I knew having an early inducement was 100% the right thing to do for that tiny baby at that moment. 

After 36 hours of an agonising labour, pain I would gratefully repeat over and over again… Grace arrived silently into the world at 4.45am, she was stunning the most beautiful little angel with a button nose and chubby cheeks. She had dark hair and gorgeous plump lips. Her face was perfect and her body was tiny, she was so peaceful. I have never experienced feelings like that before, I was holding my child and felt content but she was never going to look into my face, or yawn or cry for food. She was still. 

We held her all day long and talked about what life she would have had. A priest came and gave her a little blessing. We named her Grace Saoirse because she was free. We had a nap that day with her beside us and dressed her in a beautiful outfit the midwifes gave us… The outfit I brought was way too big. She was wrapped in a teddy her sister gave her and a teddy Grace gave me… 

At 5pm we had to leave her, we were booked to fly out the next morning. The hospital had  a little nursery made up for Grace, it had a cot and a dressing table, teddies and a beautiful mural of angels on the wall. After we said our goodbyes, last cuddles and kisses to her we placed her in her cot all wrapped up cosy with her teddy.  My midwife came in and took over looking after her. 

I sometimes can’t believe I actually had to do this, I had to leave my baby in another country. How cruel it is that we had to do this, it actually leaves me speechless. 

We arranged Grace’s funeral from the prayers right to the music I wanted played. It took place in a church in Liverpool and the priest who blessed her did her funeral and a midwife attended. We couldn’t go because we simply couldn’t afford to. I has to wait 3 weeks for Grace to come home. Her ashes arrived by courier… A man knocked at my front door with my daughter’s remains waiting to be signed. Again I say I find it hard to believe this is something parents have to go through, did I actually have to sign for my daughter’s ashes like an order from ASOS… 

The next few months were a blur, I can still feel the pain and darkness of those months. The feeling of drowning and anger… I can still feel them because I still go through these feelings but I’ve learned how to control them and cope with them now. 

Grace’s ashes sit on a shelf in our living room and we bring her to our bedroom at night, there are photos of Grace in every room of our house. I sleep with her teddy every night, I actually brought her teddy away to a hotel before callum was born and he was taken to the laundry with the bed sheets, I was getting into bed at home when I noticed he was gone, the hotel found him in the laundry and posted him home from Athy! 

Grace is very much part of this house like any of the other kids. Unfortunately due to the cruelty of this country none of her family could meet her and say goodbye. 

She blessed us with callum almost a year after she passed… She gave me callum when I didn’t even realise I needed him. She’s my motivator, my gut, my soul, my heart, my courage, my bravery and my eyes… She’s changed the way I look at things. I’m not the same person I was before Grace, I miss that Tracey but I’m learning to love the one I am now. 

This is Grace’s story she was with me for just 28 weeks but she left me with a lifetime of love. Losing her could have been the reason I stopped living… But having her is the reason I get up every morning. 

If love could have saved you, you would have lived forever xxxx

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63 thoughts on “Grace’s Story

  1. What a beautiful moving tribute to your sweet child. There are no words I can think of to even give you all any comfort. I think you give that to each other.
    Sweet dreams forever Grace.
    You were and will always be loved. X

  2. Rest in peace little angel. Awareness is needed in this country and your tribute to your beautiful daughter Grace will help other parents faced with such sadness x

  3. I’m sitting here in tears and so ashamed that you had to leave the country to deliver Grace…. I have no words to describe my anger….I admire your strength and wish you and your family every happiness for the future. I only hope that stories like yours help to change people’s attitudes …

  4. I’m in floods of tears reading this Tracey, such a hard thing to have to go through, made even worse not being able to have your family with you. Grace was a beautiful little girl, I’m so sorry you didn’t get to have more time with her. X

  5. God Bless little Grace and all my love to your brave Mummy and your family.

    My heart was also broken and it was healed by the gifts my lost little angel sent to me.

  6. Beautiful post wriiten for your sweet little angel Grace, she is loved by all of us even though we never got to see her or hold her. She would be so proud of you as her mum for your strength through the terrible heartbreak of losing your little baby girl. I’m so proud to call you my sister . Xx

  7. I’m so sorry for what our cruel rules took from you and your family, and all the additional hardship they caused. Your Grace is perfect. It’s a very beautiful thing that she was so well loved and cared for. X

  8. That picture of Grace is just beautiful. She is an absolute cherub. I’m so sorry you don’t have her in your arms still.

  9. How beautifully written. It is so obvious that baby Grace was loved very much.
    Its shameful how our country failed your family.
    I hope that one day our children can grow up in an Ireland that shows compassion and that other families will not have to endure the lonely journey to the UK for similar reasons 🙁

  10. It really upsets me that our country treats us women so inhumanely at a time when we are most vulnerable. Your story is so important to help people understand the heartbreak caused by forcing women to go to the UK. ❤

  11. So moving, awful you had to go through the ordeal of travelling abroad on top of the heartache of knowing your baby wouldnt make it. Just shocking that this can happen nowadays. It must have been horrific. No doubt she takes care of all of ye now.

  12. That is so beautiful and your daughter was very lucky to have you as her Mummy. I pray that Irish Politicians can show compassion and moreover common sense and humanity that this should not happen to another family, God Bless you and your family xx

  13. You are the bravest Mum and Dad to not allow your little Angel to go through that pain of suffering. You gave her the peace and love that she deserved and I’m sure Grace is now giving you so much more than you could have imagined. Hopefully this will show others not to judge and allow our laws to be amended to review each and every case individually. Thanks for being so brave and sharing your story as you have opened my eyes. Xx

  14. My heart is broke for you Tracey. No mother should of had to go through that, but I’m sure your little angel is looking after you and super proud of you and what your achieving. Good luck to you and your family xx

  15. Tracey, I cannot find the words to commend/salute you for sharing your and Grace’s story. My heart aches for you both. I gave birth to my little angel, George, in November 2009 at 27weeks due to preeclampsia. He is with me everyday as I know Grace is with you.
    Although my partner and I did not face any opposition medically we did however have issues with our parish priest regarding a funeral mass and burial. The social and religious attitudes and power, laws and medical morality in this country need a drastic change in regards to our autonomy as women and mothers and telling our stories openly, it seems, is the only way forward in order to start the conversation.
    This grief can be so isolating and I really do hope that you find some comfort in knowing that you have broken this for me. We are not alone.
    Thank you, Tracey. Sending you strength, love and light x

    1. All my love to you kayleigh and your beautiful angel George, I can imagine the issues you faced here with the church, thank you, if I can bring comfort or strength to one mother writing Grace’s Story has been worth it xxxx

  16. Omg you’re so brave . The hardest part of reading your story was having to leave her behind . Our country cares all about the wrong people , wrong sense of responsibility.
    You will forever have your guardian angel with you. Grace is at ease and free from pain . As I go to sleep tonight you your family and little grace will be in my thoughts .
    Xxxxx

  17. Tracey I am so angry for you, having to leave this country and you family. That time must have been so heart breaking for you and the ridiculous rules only amplifying it! Grace is a beautiful name and she was gorgeous and you are one strong lady xx

  18. Beautiful little angel. How absolutely horrific that she couldn’t be born and have her funeral here and that the rest of her family couldn’t meet her all because of a stupid, inconsiderate, antiquated law. How many more families have to suffer before its changed? Rest in peace Grace. Forever safe in the arms of angels.

  19. Im so sorry you had to go through that pain. Your beautiful angel will be with you everywhere you go. I believe they walk becide us every day but we just cant see them. Grace will live through your other children aswell. Such a sad story it shows what a kip of a country we are living in. Sending hugs your way . Little grace will be forever young xxxxxx

  20. I couldn’t just read and run. I can’t believe what you have been through, I knew the law regards abortion but didn’t know it’s was to this extreme regards induction. So sorry you went through what you did but you clearly have a guardian angel that watches over you and your children forever in your hearts

  21. Sat here in tears reading this. I’m so sorry for your loss. I can’t believe how cruel it is. Not only for you to have to suffer a loss of a baby but then the added to that the fact you had to come to the UK. I am so upset that you had to leave her behind and couldn’t attend the funeral. What a bloody awful and horrific law.

    Much love to you xxxx

  22. I couldn’t read this without leaving a comment. It’s behond crazy that you needed to leave your country to let you baby die in peace, I’m so cross and angry for you but have so much admiration for you sharing your story. Xx

  23. I’m so devastated for the way you were treated. No one should have to go through that. It’s absolutely horrific to think you have to go around acting normal when inside you are dying. Grace is so lucky to have such a strong and wonderful mommy. This law has to change to prevent this barbaric treatment in future. I’m once again ashamed to be Irish.

  24. So sorry for you loss Tracy and what you had to endure Grace will always be with you You have such courage to share your story and hopefully you will help other Bless you all xxww

  25. I am so sorry for your loss and pain.I am sorry you were treated in this way by our country.I hope and pray the law changes.Your little angel Grace is with you always your very own guardian angel.sweet dreams baby Grace.xx

  26. i am so sorry you had to endure this Tracey. So horrible that at the worst time ever you need to travel in order to save you little girl from pain. There is a vast difference between an unwanted pregnancy and an unwanted condition and it’s sad that some people cannot recognise the difference. I think you are very selfless and brave xx

  27. Im in tears reading this i think when you have your own children it makes it even more real cos you think why did that have to happen to Grace and not my child. Awful what the mother had to endure from start to finish. Going thru the whole labour in another country, having to come home without her. Its just not fair

  28. So sorry to read your story. What you had to go through was heartbreaking. I found out at 12 weeks into my first pregnancy that my much wanted baby had anencephaly, a fatal condition where the bones in the head don’t grow properly. It was the worst time of my life but would have been so much harder if we then had to go through what you did.

  29. Broke my heart to read this Tracey. I’ve no doubt Grace is minding you all every day
    You’re a true inspiration to us all

  30. Thank you for sharing your story. Mothers like us who receive a diagnosis of a fatal foetal abnormality are sometimes commented upon as if we had little regard for our baby’s life, when in reality our little ones were loved and wanted and are sorely missed. You told your story with dignity, which you were sadly denied by the ludicrous laws here. We live in hope for a change.

    1. I’m sorry you had to go through the same journey jen, hopefully change will come and no pregnant woman will have to board a Ryanair flight to have their much wanted babies xx

  31. I’ve just lost my baby boy 2 weeks ago at 24 weeks after going in to early labour. The pain is unbearable but reading your story makes it a little easier knowing that I am not alone and that I am only one of hundreds of moms that go through this each year. I was able to bring my baby home from hospital, I can’t even imagine having to come home without him like you did with baby Grace…thank you so much for sharing your story and no doubt Grace walks with you everyday within your heart X

  32. I’m so sorry that you had to go through what you did – it’s just awful! Rest in Peace little Grace – my thoughts and prayers are with you. x

  33. Beautifully written – can’t imagine what it must have felt leaving your baby in another country. It so sad, my heart goes out to you. Fair play to you for telling your story and keeping the gorgeous Grace’s memory alive.

  34. Tracey what a beautifully written tribute to your litte angel, no words I can say to express how sad and angry I am that you were forced out of our own country to endure all you went through. Your little angel will always be with you and watching over you xxx

  35. This made me tear up. I can’t believe that induction is not allowed if no risk to the mother. Hopefully Grace is resting in peace and I really hope you are feeling better too.

  36. Dear Tracey,
    Thank you for sharing. I am so sorry to read about Grace’s tragic story and that our country failed you and your family. Your strength is an inspiration and it gives me hope. I will be thinking of you and Grace when I vote to repeal on Friday.
    Thanks again, Jack

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