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Sinead’s Story

 

Sinead was 19 weeks pregnant when her first husband, Geoff, tragically passed away whilst on holidays. At the time Sinead was 19 weeks pregnant and became a single mother to daughter Lily, 9 but she struggled with the enormous loss. However, she slowly began to get back on her feet and met Michael, who she married 2019. They welcomed son Dylan in January 2018.

Their journey to a third child has been a tough one. Sinead had four devastating miscarriages — one of which was ectopic and required surgery before she finally becoming pregnant with her rainbow baby Alby (“Sparky”) who was born in 2021.

After experiencing such loss, Sinead decided that something needed to be done to raise awareness, and to give hope to those who experience a pregnancy loss which led her to the spark a life campaign hence her youngest nickname!

In honour of maternal mental health week Sinead Hingston is telling her story:

I had always imagined in my early 20’s that I’d be married with 4 kids by the time I turned 30, but life had a different plan for me. I met Geoff, my first husband in December 2007, when I was 26 years old. I knew immediately he was ‘The One’. We had a whirlwind romance, moving in together after 3 months, moving to London the year after and getting engaged in Lapland in December 2009. We married the following Christmas and on our honeymoon in paradise, started to talk about when we would start our family. We started to try in the February, and I experienced my first ever ‘Big fat positive’ in April 2011. We couldn’t believe our luck!

It was the most exciting time, taking weekly images of my barely growing bump! (1st baby!!) and at 18 weeks pregnant we headed off to Portugal on our holidays for 2 weeks. We had a week of planning life and the future and where we would live and work. We had spent a week with family, who were due to leave a week in, when tragedy struck. On an organised boat trip off the Algarve coast, my world was turned upside down when Geoff went for a swim, and then took a turn in the water. He didn’t make it. At 19 weeks pregnant I found myself widowed and planning a very different and scary life ahead, moving back to Ireland with our Husky, and back in with my parents. I was 30 years old.

Miss Lily Geoff arrived into my world with a bang a couple of weeks before her Christmas Eve due date in December 2011. I have never felt a more bittersweet moment in all my life. She filled my days and became the greatest and best distraction I could have asked for. We slowly got into our own little routine and life started to become a little bit easier.

Fast forward a couple of years and I found myself at a friend’s wedding in Italy where I was reintroduced to a mutual friend of the bride, Michael (aka Green). We instantly hit it off. South African born and living in London, I couldn’t get enough of his lovely lilt. Then next few years were filled with trips back and forth to London town, and decisions and deliberations about where we would go from there. He made the brave move to Ireland in December 2015!

We put a deposit down on our first home together in Easter 2017. In the summer and with me getting no younger at 36, we had ‘the chat’ about whether or not we would try to make a tiny human together. We decided to give it a bash, thinking it would take much longer to get pregnant (that was my selling point anyway 😉). I came off the pill in May, and in June, experienced my second BFP and Michael nearly passed out! A week later, on the rooftop of the Marker Hotel in Dublin, he asked Lily if she would let him be her Daddy, and then asked me to marry him. We both said YES!! Dylan arrived with a bang, 6 weeks before his due date, just a couple of weeks after we moved into our home in January 2018. Our little gingerling became the perfect addition to our trio!

In January 2020 and unawares of the madness that the world was about to face, we decided to start trying to baby number 3. It took a tiny bit longer this time around, having to face 2 full cycles of BFN’s. (I know this is no time at all for most people, but for someone who blinked and was pregnant twice in a row, it felt like a lifetime!). In April 2020, I experience my 3rd BFP. Lockdown life had began, and having a 2 year old and a stressed and confused 8 year old at home, life was quite busy. I took quite a few tests in the first week, just to confirm it all in my head, but then at 5.5 weeks, I started to experience my first ever miscarriage, when I started to bleed at home. I was devastated. I phoned the maternity hospital to be told it was so early on, that nothing would show up on a scan, but I decided to go into A&E to be checked out anyway. I went in alone, as restrictions were tight and partners weren’t allowed. They did bloods and took urine samples, and a scan to confirm when they had said on the phone. It was too early to tell anything at all. The following day I was asked to go back in, as my bloods had shown there should be something visible. Thankfully, I was greeted by a wonderfully familiar face, a midwife who had looked after me so well during my pregnancy with Lily. Michael had to wait at home for the update. My second worst nightmare was confirmed that day when I was told it wouldn’t be a viable pregnancy. Initially there had just been a gestational & yolk sac, but no embryo, so I was asked to return a week later to see if there were any developments. I had hoped that there wouldn’t be, especially after another week of bleeding, but sadly, at the next scan, there was a little embryo with no heartbeat. I will never forget those words. I had to wait another week to confirm what we already knew and was scheduled in for my first D&C procedure at the end of that week.

My body healed quicker than my heart, and on Geoffs anniversary in July 2020, we got our 4th BFP! I couldn’t believe it as I had no cycle in between. At 7 weeks we decided to go for a private scan, but again, no partners allowed. I went into the scan full of sore boobs and confidence and left a shadow of my former self. I collapsed into Michaels arms in the stairwell as I told him there was no embryo. There was no baby. There was no heartbeat. Instead, there was an empty sac. Confusion followed as the many many tests had shown there should have been a baby. A growing baby. From 1-2, to 2-3 to 3+ weeks on all the tests. There should have been something on the screen. Back into Holles St for an very intense internal scan and bloods later, and we were none the wiser Words were thrown around like ectopic and molar. All words I had never really heard or thought much of before. That was on the Wednesday, and by the Friday I found myself admitted with a suspected Ectopic pregnancy. On the Monday I was taken in for surgery where they located our little embryo, just rupture in my left tube. I said goodbye to both that day.

We were advised to wait a cycle just so we could date any subsequent pregnancies. We did what we were told and couldn’t believe it when we got BFP #5 in October 2020. I was brought in for an early scan to confirm there was an embryo in the correct place, and with Michael holding my hand, there they were, implanted beautifully in my uterus with a flicker of a heartbeat. We had the highest of hopes. I was brought in a couple of weeks later for a reassurance scan and all seemed perfect. We had a growing embryo with a strong heartbeat. Working from home, I found myself being very in tune with all of my symptoms. The following week I had been walking with the kids and my mom and had some niggly cramps, but nothing out of the ordinary for early pregnancy. A couple of days later however, I just felt something was off, and decided to phone Holles St. I had no bleeding or pain, just a feeling, so they said it was most likely just a lot of anxiety after 2 back-to-back loses, but they wouldn’t turn me away at the door if I wanted to head in to be checked. Michael was on a work call, so I assured him I was probably just being paranoid, and I would head on in on my own. I sat in A&E doubting my concerns, but sadly, within seconds of the probe hitting my stomach, I knew. I had one nurse holding my hand, the other saying that the baby was lying in a funny position, and they just wanted to do an internal. I held my breath… it felt like hours went past, until she confirmed what my gut had already told me. There was no heartbeat. They both left the room, giving me time alone, and I remember sitting up, pulling my legs up to my chest and the tears came. You think at 9.5 weeks and a couple of really good scans, you’re ‘safe’. A D&C on the 1st of December, had us facing our 3rd consecutive loss of 2020. I was broken but kept a smile on my face for Lily & Dylan. We had told them just 2 days before that I was pregnant, and having to break it to them, that their little sibling hadn’t made it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. Lily decided to name them Charley, as it was a unisex name, and took it all incredibly well.

In January 2021, we had the tests. I had endless bloods, and scans and a smear. All checking to make sure the everything was working properly. In late January, without my cycle returning, Michael asked me was I pregnant. We hadn’t gotten any results back from the tests, so hadn’t even considered trying again, we had hardly looked at each other, but he said my boobs ‘looked pregnant’! I laughed it off, then the following morning, curiosity got the better of me, and I did a test. A faint line appeared, our 6th BFP, and I nearly collapsed. I hadn’t even gotten my head around our previous miscarriage. Another test the following day confirmed it, but within a week, I started to bleed once again. A negative test confirmed what no longer was.

We soon got our test results back. They confirmed our loss in December was in fact a little boy and he had Trisomy 21, also known as Down Syndrome. We were both shocked as we hadn’t for a second thought anything would show up at all. Finding out he was a little boy, made the loss so much more real. All the other tests came back perfectly normal, and my AMH levels were surprisingly good for someone of my age!

We decided to take a couple of months off ‘trying’ and I decided to lose a little bit of the pregnancy & miscarriage weight from the previous year and get my head in the right space. In March 2021 I came up with the idea of lighting a candle every day for the month of April and try to manifest a healthy, full-term pregnancy. If the first day of your last period is on or before the 28th of March, you will still have a due date the same year. I called it #sparkalife. So, I lit the candles, and I imagined that positive pregnancy test. On the 18th of April 2021, on Michaels’s birthday, we got exactly that. Our 7th big fat positive. This one felt different. Would it be lucky #7? A friend nicknamed this little bean ‘Sparky’ and week by week, month by month, my belly grew along with my anxiety! I attended the incredible TLC Clinic in the National Maternity Hospital, a clinic run by Dr. Cathy Allen, for women who had suffered recurrent miscarriages. I had weekly scans from 7 weeks and couldn’t believe it when we graduated from that clinic at 12 weeks! Our little Sparky kept growing and growing. I couldn’t believe the stories of hope that I was being sent on Instagram, of other women doing #sparkalife and sending me their positive tests after years of headache! I decided to do a fundraiser to donate a top of the range ultrasound machine to the TLC Clinic, and on the 10th of December, I proudly stood beside the new machine in NMH after incredible support from so many people and businesses and the amazing Instagram community! Women attending the TLC clinic would now have an amazingly clear image of their own little sparks!

I was scheduled in for a c-section on the 16th, but just 2 days later at 1.05am, on the 13th of December, my waters broke. I was 37 weeks and 4 days and we were finally, after being pregnant on an off since April 2020, going to meet Sparky! We drove into Holles st like 2 excited children and were brought straight up to delivery and then to theatre. Just 2 hours later, our little man was lifted above the curtain, and it felt like someone had lifted a tonne weight from my chest. I could finally breathe again! He had made it earthside, screaming his head off.  He weighed in a 7lbs 4ozs of absolute perfection.

3 days later we arrived home with the final piece of our puzzle. Our little fighter. Our Alby.

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