At the end of February this year, my husband and I were delighted to find out I was pregnant with my first child.
As every mother knows, nothing prepares you for seeing those two pink lines. In my usual overly-eager and impatient fashion, I had already taken several pregnancy tests in the days leading up to my first clear positive, despite knowing it was likely far too early to get a reliable result.
I remember calling my husband into the room, and getting him to look at the test sticks with me, under various lights. “Can you see that? That really faint line?!” I’d say, full of excitement but with just a sprinkling of uncertainty. “Hmm.. not really!” he’d finally respond, after squinting at the stick for 30 seconds. This annoying process repeated itself for about a week - the longest week of my life.
My poor husband would try his hardest to see what I could see, or what I thought I could see, but never could. I knew he was probably right. Nevertheless, after coming home from work, one regular Tuesday, I decided to test again. I will never forget that moment when I saw the positive result.
It was overwhelming in the very best way possible. The enormity of knowing I was carrying a human life was awe-inspiring. I began praying to and thanking God, being cognisant that a unique new life had been created.
Roughly a week later, we had a small scare in relation to our unborn baby. This led to me approaching my local priest after mass one evening, to tell him about my situation, and ask for prayers and a blessing. There in the sacristy, after I told him I was pregnant, he stopped and looked at me in amazement. He said “When you came up to receive communion, a thought went through my mind that you were”. I was certainly not visibly pregnant at this early stage, so this revelation amazed us both! Once again, I felt very close to God, and my worries were very much lessened.
Fast forward to 17 weeks, my husband and I went for our much-anticipated scan. It was such an exciting time. We were both delighted with the possibility of either a boy or a girl, and of course, we knew it had to be one of them! Yet, as I lay there watching the footage from the ultrasound in real-time, I still remember the feeling of surprise and wonder when the technician said “it’s a boy”. It was as if the odds weren’t 50-50. It really blindsighted me. I wasn’t just carrying ‘a baby’, I was carrying my son.
Watch him below at 17 weeks!
A few weeks later, we had another scan in the hospital. I was going in that day for a blood test, and didn’t actually realise I would be having a scan, so it was a lovely surprise for us both! We absolutely loved getting to see our little boy wiggle around.
Of course, these scans are always somewhat more impactful for the father. I was aware of this little baby inside me since I was just shy of 4 weeks pregnant. I had been carrying him around and thinking about him constantly since then. I had been feeling his kicks for a couple weeks at this stage. But for the dad, these scans are a very intense and clear reminder that “by the way, you’re a father”. As we just got settled into the scan, and began ‘oohing and ahhing’ at his little movements, the midwife, without warning, changed the output on the screen from a regular 2D scan, to 3D. That hit us both like a ton of bricks. There he was! I teared up looking at his face properly for the first time, and my husband, who had been having a stressful day at work, became ecstatic. I could see already that our son was just like his dad.
From that point, we were hooked. I had already thought about going for a private 3D scan later on in the third trimester, but now I knew we just had to. It was so exciting to wonder how much he was going to develop in the meantime, and if he would still be his daddy’s doppelganger!
So, at 29 and a half weeks, we headed for another 3D scan. This was at the same place we had our previous scan about 12 weeks prior, so the whole experience began the same (except for a bit more waddling and uncomfortable shifting around on the waiting room couch). This time, however, we would get digital and hard copies of the photos taken - as well as video.
As the scan began, myself, my husband and the technician had a little laugh at my baby’s positioning - he had his hands and what looked like one foot in front of his face. “Gently press right here”, said the technician, pointing to a spot about 3 inches above my navel. “He will feel the pressure and move his hands”. Even though you trust the professional, and it does in theory make sense, I felt sceptical for some reason. Of course, I did just as he asked, and sure enough, there was my baby’s face - smiling peacefully!
My husband and I couldn’t stop audibly admiring him, gasping and ‘awing’ every time we so much as moved a centimetre. I got to see that our son was still his daddy’s clone, as expected.
The video, however, was the most amazing part. Nothing could prepare me for it. The range of emotion expressed in those few short seconds was astounding. We could see his little eyes opening, and him grimacing. I felt mom-guilt kick in at that moment, fascinated but also mildly worried that he was uncomfortable (which would have been my fault, I thought, as I was his entire world!). “Aw, baby, nooo, don’t be sad!” I said, as the technician politely laughed. Our baby son quickly relaxed his face and went back to resting calmly.
Shortly after, we finished our scan, got our print outs and left for home. I spent the car ride in awe. Despite it all - knowing I was pregnant from such an early stage, seeing him for the first time in a scan at 7 weeks, having multiple scans since then, and feeling his kicks and movements for weeks - seeing him move and smile and kick just doesn’t really ever become anything but intensely beautiful.
Watch him below at 29 weeks!
At some points through the pregnancy, regardless of my best attempts, I couldn’t help but think of my son in regards to abortion. Despite always being pro-life, and trying to raise awareness of the absolute right to life of all unborn babies, the reality of abortion just hits very differently when you are carrying a baby yourself for the first time.
I remember at around 5 weeks pregnant, being on O’Connell street with a few friends, doing a pro-life stall and trying to have conversations with people about abortion in Ireland. One woman, in particular, did not like what we were doing - and specifically said to me “I hope you never have kids”. In my head, I laughed to myself, thinking “too late”.
But the weight of what she said really struck me after. How could you ever say that to someone? How could you actually defend, and be so passionate about, the mass killing of unborn babies to the extent that you’re essentially wishing infertility on another woman? It was bewildering and sad. What would have rolled straight off me in the past, stayed with me, as an expecting mother.
Hearing my baby’s heartbeat for the first time, seeing his face, feeling his kicks, were moments of pure joy. But, sometimes, there were also sad thoughts. How many mothers have missed out on this, because they bought the lie? How many mothers are grieving right now in this country, in silence, because the same side that took their hand and led them into the abortion, won’t recognise the profound regret that so many of them have to live with for the rest of their lives? How many babies, like my son, have been killed?
My first 3D scan, pictured above in black and white, was at just 22 weeks. Under proposed legislation, supported not just by People Before Profit and Sinn Féin but also the Greens and Fine Gael’s Neale Richmond, I would have been able to walk out of that scan and book an appointment that same day for an abortion.
Being pregnant myself has made me realise just how profoundly wrong abortion is in relation to its effects on the mother. There is not a woman alive who could go through that, unscathed. It’s not “healthcare”, it’s not “essential”, and it’s not “empowering”. It’s an abrupt, violent end to a beautiful journey. At 31 weeks pregnant now, I’m just a few short weeks away from welcoming my baby boy into my arms. The crib is set up, the changing station is ready. But, as we work on our new awareness campaign here in Life Institute, I can’t help but think of the 33,000 babies that would have been. The 33,000 that should have been. We are their voice. We have to be.