Litttttt le Baby Conor Flavin My name is Jacqueline Flavin, I am Conor's proud Auntie and this is my story.When I met Conor for the fi rst time, I could see the resemblance already. He looked just like his big brother, Cillian, a much tinier version but just as perfect. So, it was really hard to comprehend that the baby I was holding wasn't alive; he looked so peaceful and like any other sleeping baby. Conor was born by caesarean on the 2nd June 2009, 13 weeks early. We were all told that he was really strong and would need some time in hospital until his actual due date of early September. Everyone was really excited and so happy that he was doing well despite being so premature. Conor's Mam and Dad would report back daily and send us all pictures and messages so we were all kept in the loop. He was thriving and we couldn't wait to meet the new addition. Conor was so strong for such a tiny baby and a real fi ghter. 17 days passed and he was even putting up weight. Everyone was thinking about how great it was going to be to have him home and imagining himself and Cillian being best buddies soon enough. We had no time to even get used to the fact he was sick when he lost his fi ght. We were all told he wasn't well on Friday night/Saturday morning and would need an operation. The next 24 hours would be vital. On Sunday morning, the 21st June 2009, I received a phone call from my Mam saying that we were allowed to go and meet little Conor, to say hello and goodbye all in the same visit. It was heartbreaking. I was literally a quivering wreck who couldn't even speak. Its such a cliché to say it now, but you really do expect the phone to ring a few minutes later and say it was false alarm and everything would be ok. I'd never heard of anybody's baby not making it home from the hospital, so why wouldn't Conor? Even when I was driving to the hospital I was full sure I would be resting easy in my bed that night after the doctors told us they had overreacted. I didn't have much experience of losing anybody close to me before, and the little I did have I was well prepared for. A family member who had lost a long battle with cancer, grandparents dying in old age, the kinds of experiences most people have had. Nothing can prepare you for the horrible reality of a baby's death. For seeing the anguished face coming out of the ward to tell you that this tiny little life was gone. It was surreal, unbelievable and devastating. As someone who is not the parent, you almost feel "silly" to be so completely devastated by the loss. You want to let them grieve and to be strong in front of them. But when it's a baby of 19 days old, it is so hard to keep it together. I was extremely angry and confused. We wouldn't know what his personality would be, we wouldn't be able to watch him grow up and become best friends with Cillian like we'd imagined. The few days that followed were the most horrifi c I have ever experienced. Reading a poem at the Service helped me to focus and I was glad to be able to share how I felt. I really didn't know how to deal with my grief but one thing that really helped me was the ISANDS forum. Reading other people's stories and experiences made it feel a lot more bearable and I felt less alone. It hurts so much and is so delicate, that nobody really talks about it. Personally, I needed to talk about how Conor's death made me feel and I needed to cry out in the open. So I did, for many weeks. But then, I wanted to do something positive to remember Conor and I suppose to take my focus away from the anger I was feeling. One day at work, a poster arrived on my desk for a 10k run due to take place on September 13th 2009. This was my opportunity to focus my energy on something constructive. I trained (a little) for the next couple of months, raised funds for ISANDS charity and then on Sunday 13th September in the unseasonably sweltering heat I ran 10k around Waterford in memory of little baby Conor. I thought of him every step of the way and I believe it was him helping me across the fi nish line that day. While every death is sad and every funeral hard, some solace can be sought in sharing memories. We didn't have that, we were yet to create memories with Conor and couldn't laugh at funny things he had done in the past or say "I will always remember how he did this or said that". But I will remember him always, and think of him often because he was real; we all held him in our arms and shared special moments with him. I am so grateful that we got to see this little boy, and for the 19 days he was with us he knew only love. Conor left a lasting impression on all of our hearts and lives, and will stay with us forever. I have fi nally realised just how each and every baby born really is a miracle and each tiny life is so amazing. Conor's passing has had a profound effect on me and all who met him. While this was the hardest thing that I ever went through, I am thankful for his life and for knowing him, however short the time. Love you always Conor, sleep well. Auntie Jac xxxxisands newsletter15
Our Father who .Th oughts fr om Kate's Dad.I believe a Mum becomes a mum when she fi nds out she is expecting a baby. From that point on her life changes while she nurtures a new life. If she has been smoking she will consider stopping. If she likes the odd glass of wine she may cut it out. She will consider when she will go for check-ups and scans. She will plan her Maternity Leave in the hours of the night she will plan the future, perhaps while sitting up in bed, cuddling her bump. One yet two.If things go wrong and don't work out as we all hope and pray they will: she is still Mummy. I believe Dad becomes a dad when the baby is born and only then will he start his planning. Football or Hurling, or Camogie? Gymnastics or Tennis? Fishing together whether it's a boy or girl. A summer evening on Lough Sheelin, water lapping beside the boat under a crimson sunset.But then things don't go the way the couple planned and the future fades, mist comes over the plans and into a dad's mind. He can't possibly know how to respond because we men are totally lost when it comes to handling the loss of a baby. We don't know what to say, at times we even don't know how to hug properly: we are afraid to break our fragile partners into small pieces. At least that is the way I was. But what has become clearer to me is simply that the loss of a baby you carried inside your body, a baby you gave part of your life-force to for months, must be far more terrifying to endure as a mum, that to watch it happen as a dad. If we feel lost and powerless then Mams must feel devastated, abandoned, confused, and why me.....why us...why..why..WHY.In the fi rst few days and weeks, even months, I felt so lost, so powerless, so useless. My mind was only a faint echo of what it was before. I existed in a world I retreated into - where I did what I needed to do to comfort the family and to arrange things. There was is a haze about me: at times it almost hurt to think. I tried to pray,. One day I got myself into our local Church, in the quiet my mind stopped whirling. Could I have done more? Am I being the husband I should be? I tried again to pray and began "Our Father who art in.." Hey! Hold on, that voice in my head jumps in. Why are you calling God Father? He can't be a father if he allowed this thing to happen. Fathers would understand, Fathers couldn't......"Thy will be done on Earth...."Hold on! Voice is back...So this was His will...He did it. Stop! Why are you even talking with God?"And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive......" But I don't forgive...never. Pretty terrible stuff I know, in fact looking back and reading what I'm writing, perhaps I should stop now. What am I saying ? Well if I can remember how I felt 26 years ago, then is there hope? Yes because from somewhere, from someone, and I still don't know where from or who from, small whispers arrive that help you arrange that sock-drawer of memories, good and bad, in your mind. We already had a boy and a girl: a family. They, young and all as they were ,helped. They still help. My daughter has just had her second baby, a little girl, and has named her after her sister.We didn't ask for this, it was a surprise but it also tells a tale that the lost Angel remains in every ones memoryFinally, we understood, that what happened just happened. We didn't cause it. We were not at fault. We didn't do anything wrong. It just happened and what was most important: it was outside our control. On The Meaning of Life, and The Actors Studio, on TV, as a last question interviewees are asked "When fi nally you meet God, what will you say?" Now they are expecting this question and have decided what their reply will be. Some people like to give a so-called funny answer like - God if you live in perpetual light: do you wear sunglasses all the time? Or God, if you have someone sitting on your right hand and someone sitting on your left hand: how do you wave at newcomers?I will be asking Him Why do you destroy parents by letting their babies die? And because I know He can never adequately answer that I will ask Him if I can leave and go to the other place. And He will say: you want to leave Heaven and go to Hell! That terrible, horrendous, terrifying, place! Then I will tell Him I have no fear of Hell. It's where I was for a long time after we lost Kate.