Amidst the heartache and the unimaginable pain of losing their beloved baby son, a Dublin couple is trying to turn their family’s loss into something positive for other bereaved parents by attempting to raise €10,000 in aid of the two charities which helped them during their time of inexplicable grief.
The two benefactors of this couple’s generous initiative are ‘Féileacáin’ and ‘A Little Lifetime Foundation,’ both of whom provide an array of services and supports, counselling and workshops etc.,
Following what could have been considered ‘a text book’ pregnancy for Gillian Lee and Cathal O’Brien, their baby boy Daniel (Danny) was born sleeping just seven weeks ago on October 14.
Self-employed aesthetic practitioner Gillian and partner Cathal, a menswear sales executive, are loving parents to two beautiful girls, 15-year-old Ellarose, and little sister Claudia who is 15 months.
The couple had no idea when, weeks earlier, having excitedly broken the wonderful news at Claudia’s first birthday party that the new arrival was going to be their much desired first son and the girls’ baby brother, that an unspeakable tragedy was about to strike at the heart of their family.
According to Gillian: “We were absolutely over the moon when we found out we were pregnant so soon after Claudia. There’s quite a large age gap between our two girls, and the added bonus this time round was that, as well as our two beautiful healthy daughters, we were going to have a son. We were going to finally have our very own, much-awaited ‘five-a-side’ team! Life, at that time, literally could not have been more perfect for us.”
However, on October 10th that ‘perfect life’ took a devastating turn for this family when, attending a routine scan, Gillian was told her baby boy’s heartbeat could no longer be detected.
Danny was born four days later – A beautiful, perfect little boy in every way imaginable.
“Our world just fell apart. We didn’t know how we were ever going to cope. There are no words that I can find to explain to you what it was like for myself and Cathal to say both hello and goodbye at the same time to our infant son. We thought we were going to be taking our baby boy home in the car seat we’d just bought; instead, we laid him to rest in a tiny white casket.” said Gillian.
While in the hospital, the grief-stricken couple were visited by “wonderful representatives from Holles Street Hospital’s bereavement team.”
In addition, Féileacáin provided them with a cold, cuddle cot and a memory box which contained treasured items from A Little Lifetime Foundation, with the latter “reaching out to us on Instagram to offer us counselling,” said Gillian, adding, “we will of course take them up on this kind gesture when we feel we’re ready and able.”
A cold, cuddle cot is a cooling mattress which, when placed into a cot/Moses basket, can be used to prevent a deceased baby’s body from deteriorating; allowing bereaved parents and family members to stay with their child for days, even weeks in some circumstances, before they are laid to rest.
“We were so grateful to Féileacáin for providing us with the cuddle cot; it gave us precious time with Danny. We also appreciate their beautiful, much-treasured memory box, and much-cherished pictures of our darling son. Féileacáin also took casts of baby Danny’s little hand and footprints which they will deliver to us personally when they’re available. We cannot thank these charities enough. They were there when we needed them the most.”
However sadly, due to their being a lack of availability of the cuddle cots, it was unfortunate that baby Danny was 36 hours old before one became available for the couple.
“By the time we got a cuddle cot our little angel Danny had deteriorated, and that meant we got to spend less time with him than we would have hoped. We had to let our precious boy go sooner than we wanted to. Myself and Cathal don’t want any other parent to go through this, and it’s for that reason we’ve set up the gofundme page in Danny’s name on social media to purchase Féileacáin another cuddle cot, and to make a donation to A Little Lifetime,” explained Gillian.
Stillbirths are something of a global burden, with approximately 300 infants dying by stillbirth in Ireland each year. That’s 300 families devastated by the loss of an infant.
While a stillbirth gives rise to significant psychological trauma for the parents, it also affects grandparents, siblings, aunts, uncles and the wider family. In addition, it must be recognised that a stillbirth can prove to be physically challenging for the mother, with Gillian requiring follow-up in-patient hospital care which included her undergoing invasive medical procedures following baby Danny’s birth.
To date, the fundraising initiative has raised over €9,000, and both Gillian and Cathal cannot thank the generous people enough who donated.
“We are beyond overwhelmed by people’s generosity. One anonymous person actually donated €4,000. It’s phenomenal. We get to see who donated and we have personally replied to everyone to say thank you. People are absolutely amazing.”
For everyone who donates €5 they are entered into a draw for a €2,000 giveaway. Prizes include treatments from The Ivy Clinic and Bioskin Aesthetics, Louis Copeland & Sons, and The Coffee Drop. If you’d like to click on the gofundme link, you’ll find it on https://gofund.me/23e1258f
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