Stephen McNeice
Stephen McNeice

17.28 22 Jul 2021


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A woman who has suffered three miscarriages during the COVID-19 pandemic has described the loneliness of having to tell her husband about what was happening via text message.

It comes as health and hospital officials are once again being urged to ensure maternity units follow guidelines on partner visits.

The HSE has issued guidance to all hospitals around when partners should be allowed in.

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However, the latest update was that four of the 19 units were not compliant when it comes to emergency presentations.

The situation has left many women confused about the restrictions - and left them wondering what exactly will happen when they arrive at their hospital door.

Rioghnach spoke to The Hard Shoulder today about how she's gone through the experience three times recently - once last May, again in November, and a third time just days ago.

She said she was 11 weeks pregnant when she had her first miscarriage.

She recalled: “I’d phoned ahead, and they said my partner couldn’t come with me. At the time, I think I was a little naive as to the whole physical process of miscarriage.

“I came straight into the hospital after talking to the nurses, and it quickly progressed into a medical emergency really… [but] I couldn’t have my partner with me, so I was texting him that I was going for an ECG and they were talking about a blood transfusion.

“At the time, you’re just processing it all… but this is clearly a miscarriage. But you’re saying this to your husband in text messages, and they won't confirm it until they've done a scan.

“It’s just very lonely, I think. It's not until you reach the doors of the A&E in a wheelchair... and this unknown nurse rubs your back, in the complete absence of your partner... that you realise you've lost your baby."

"The saddest thing I’ve ever seen"

Rioghnach was pregnant again late last year, but - 10 weeks in - she found out at a scan on her own that the baby had stopped growing.

She said: “I had to come out and tell my husband again the baby had died."

Again, Rioghnach had to go through the hospital procedures on her own - saying a flatline on the medical monitors “was probably the saddest thing I’ve ever seen - on my own, without my partner with me."

She noted: "It's a very visual picture. I think we all know it from the movies."

She said there was "no opportunity at all" for her husband to be present.

Just this week, Rioghnach and her husband have gone through the traumatic experience once again.

She explained: “We found out the week before last we were pregnant. We had the safety net that the restrictions were removed… for the cases of miscarriage. I thought ‘we can do it together this time’.

"It gave me a little bit of power, and I thought that it wouldn’t be so bad if the worse thing happens and we have another miscarriage.

“We did: we had another miscarriage two days ago… I really, really felt walking in the doors that he’d be allowed in with me. We really, really championed to get in the door.

"[But] there was no way of getting past the admissions [desk] - he was told to wait outside until it was confirmed.”

She described the experience of having other women in the hospital all going through their own experiences, but having to rely on each other to ask if they were OK.

For Rioghnach, the last year has been "so deflating".

She says she's lucky to have a "wonderful, healthy, beautiful" daughter born in 2018.

However, she knows other couples who've also experienced two losses during COVID and are now going through fertility treatment.

Rioghnach paid particular thanks to campaigner Linda Kelly for being a "selfless advocate" for her and other women who have gone through similar experiences during the pandemic.

Main image: File photo. Image by fernando zhiminaicela from Pixabay

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