Jack Quann
Jack Quann

18.02 14 Jul 2021


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Sports journalist Kieran Cunningham, whose child was stillborn, says he and his wife were 'left in a room' to process the news.

Kieran recently wrote a piece about the loss of a child to mark Bereaved Parents Month.

His son, Paddy, was stillborn 14 years ago. Kieran told The Hard Shoulder he wasn't expecting it.

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"We had a normal scan... his heartbeat was fine and everything seemed grand.

"And then two days later Peggy was very worried because she hadn't felt any kicks for a while, and she had an instinct that something was up.

"We went back to the hospital just to get checked - we thought something might be up, but we didn't expect to get the news we did: that there was no heartbeat.

"It just knocks the stuffing out of you, and it's a difficult one for hospitals to deal with as well."

Kieran says having to wait to give birth is particularly tough.

"We were left in a room, and they said 'Take your time and then you can go off - we've given you some medication that'll help induce a pregnancy and you can come back in a couple days to give birth'.

"You're left there sitting, you've been told the most terrible news and just processing it.

"And then having to go through the normal experience of labour and the physical pain that's involved in that etc, but knowing what the outcome is going to be.

"It's just harrowing".

'A tiny white coffin'

Kieran says the process of coming out from the hospital with their baby was also quite jarring.

"You never really think that there's a morgue in a maternity hospital, it's an out of way place and that's understandable.

"Also when we collected the coffin.... there's a side door at the hospital, came into the alleyway and there's a couple of middle-aged guys drinking in the street.

"It was quite jarring, it's not like you're being pushed aside.

"I understand why they don't want you going out the front door carrying a tiny white coffin, but it all adds to the unreality of the situation.

"It does make you feel you're in a living nightmare".

And Kieran, who now has a son and a stepson, says it can be awkward when someone asks him how many children he has.

"People will say 'How many children have you?' and you say 'three', and then they ask their ages.

"And when you say 14, meaning Paddy is 14, they might ask 'Where is he at school'... it puts people in an awkward position straight away.

"You're always thinking about it, or you're forced to think about it all the time".

Kieran says sometimes he excludes Paddy from the equation, and he feels guilty.

"If it's somebody and it's a fairly brief interaction... I'd leave out Paddy sometimes.

"You feel very guilty about it... sometimes I just say 'We have three kids' and I just change the subject so there's not time for a follow-up question about their ages".

'Something men don't talk about'

On writing the piece, Kieran says: "It's something I wanted to write about for a long time, and it's something maybe to help me deal with it.

"It's a very difficult thing to deal with and it's something that always stays with you.

"You don't really get over [it], it's with you all day every day."

Kieran says he has received many kind messages, from men in particular.

"I normally wouldn't put stuff like that out there, and you don't know how it could go down.

"It's a very raw thing to put out in the public arena and it's something that maybe men, in particular, don't talk about a lot.

"It really opened my eyes to the amount of people who've gone through this experience.

"There are a lot of public messages and there are a lot of DMs as well - a lot of the DMs were from men in particular who'd gone through it.

"And they never really talked about it.

"You're so excited when kids are coming - you plan for them and you're shopping in advance and you're thinking of names.

"And when that's all just ripped away, and ripped away at such a late stage - and you still have to go through giving birth and then ringing up to order a coffin... it's just horrific".

'We took the coffin into an alleyway and men were drinking' - Kieran Cunningham shares his experience of stillbirth

00:00:00 / 00:00:00

    

Anyone affected by issued raised in this article can contact The Little Lifetime Foundation on (01)-882-9030

Main image: Kieran Cunningham is seen in Newstalk studios in 2016. Picture by: Newstalk

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Bereaved Parents Month Kieran Cunningham Paddy Stillbirth Stillborn The Hard Shoulder White Coffin

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