What a Difference a Cert Makes

I’ve known it from the moment that we met, No doubt in my mind where you belong. I’d go hungry; I’d go black and blue, And I’d go crawling down the avenue, No, there’s nothing that I wouldn’t do, To make you feel my love. (Make you Feel my Love, Adele)

A few hours after Liam and Grace were born and died I got the first feeling of panic and dread. It suddenly dawned on me that Liam and Grace, my two beautiful children that looked so perfect could be classed as late miscarriages. Suddenly I was panicked. With my beautiful, perfect children beside me, I googled, “how many weeks to be classed a stillborn and how many weeks to be classed a late miscarriage”? The results were conflicting. I was very confused as some pages were saying 20 weeks, some 24 weeks. This meant everything to me, I literally felt I wouldn’t / couldn’t survive if Liam and Grace weren’t recognised as my children. I wanted nothing more in life than to be their mammy and I wanted / needed this to be formally recognised.

Soon the bereavement midwife came into the room and I asked her if Liam and Grace would be formally recognised by the State as it meant so much to me. I noticed her worried face as she asked me Liam’s weight. I felt she visibly relaxed when I said 640grammes, yes she said Liam will get a stillbirth certificate as he weighed more than 500grammes and Grace will get a birth and death cert as she was born alive. Well, I felt like I had won the lotto! How ironic is that? My heart was broken, I had my two dead babies beside me but I couldn’t have felt happier as I was being recognised in the eyes of the State (and therefore everyone else) as their mammy. Liam and Grace mattered and that meant the World to me.

The midwife explained that I wouldn’t be entitled to maternity leave as they were born before 24 weeks but nothing else mattered except those precious certs. But how cruel would it have been if Liam had been born a little bit smaller? How cruel is it that my grief would have felt so much harder by not getting a cert for him? I feel so sorry for any parent whose precious baby does not “fulfil the criteria” to be given a cert. For anyone who is blessed with a living child I’m sure the birth cert doesn’t mean a lot to them, it’s just a piece of paper, but for bereaved mammy’s and daddy’s it is everything. It’s all you’re left with to formally say your baby existed, to tell the World that your child mattered, to make you their parent.

Feileacain understand the pain and devastation for parents not to be given a cert and they are currently campaigning for all babies born before 24 weeks weighing less than 500grammes to be given a certificate of life. I don’t understand how anyone can tell a mammy who has just been through labour and holds her beautiful baby in her arms that they won’t be recognised in the eyes of the State. It is beyond cruel. I hope each and every one of these courageous parents, who are currently fighting so hard, get to experience their lotto winning moment and are given Certs of Life for their precious babies.

The further you take my rights away, the faster I will run. You can deny me, you can decide to turn your face away, No matter ’cause there’s something inside so strong, I know that I can make it, though you’re doing me wrong, so wrong, you thought that my pride was gone, oh no, there’s something inside so strong, oh something inside so strong. (Something Inside So Strong, Labi Siffre)


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