An Irish woman's social, political and domestic commentary
Tuesday, July 27, 2004  


All that birth stuff is starting to bore even me now, so I think I'll drop it: except for one last incident which was important.

When the night duty came on, an efficient, busy, ward sister arrived. Threw open the windows (our warm November spell was continuing) and announced that apart from the heat outside, things were "heating up upstairs" and we'd have to squeeze an extra bed into the ward. We all got pushed up a little and two extra beds were fitted in. The curtain rails didn't match up with the beds but mother nature doesn't book in advance so no one minded.

I woke up early the next morning to see that a Nigerian lady had been pushed in beside me. A nurse was taking her blood pressure and letting her know it was very high. Had she flown recently? "Tuesday". But this was only Wednesday. The woman must have gotten on a plane practically in labour. The result was a caesarian section and thankfully a healthy baby. She had no bag with clean clothes with her and said that a friend was due in later with her things. Maybe she went into labour early and her plans to have the baby in Ireland got rushed. She did have a mobile phone tho' and shortly afterwards must have been talking to the father. She was crying and assuring him that everyone was being nice to her but that she was in pain. When she'd finished I told her she should ask for painkillers which she did.

This is the result of the whole citizenship row. If you have your baby in Ireland its an Irish citizen (well, pre-referendum). More importantly it used to mean (altho' not guaranteed after the Supreme Court decision) that the parents had right of residency. Witnessing this distressed woman, I was conflicted.

On the one hand, she had endangered her own health and her baby's by getting on a plane in labour or knew she risked inducing it by flying. She was in a foreign country, pretty much alone, having perhaps her first baby and needless to say she was miserable. But this was entirely self-inflicted. But what circumstances inspire this determination to make sacrifices so you and/or your child get an EU passport? Desperation or greed? Did she do it willingly or was she bullied into it? It was traumatic for her and for the medical staff who had to treat a woman when they didn't even know her blood type. This shouldn't be happening, and thanks to the referendum denying automatic citizenship to those born in Ireland, it won't anymore and yet I was against the referendum.

Notwithstanding the personal misery lying beside me, the referendum messed with a principle, when I felt there should have been simpler ways to solve it.

I'd attended a friend's wedding over 6 weeks previously and had taken a train to the far-flung country mansion in which it was being held because I had been assured by the airline I wouldn't be let on the plane in an advanced stage of pregnancy. But some airline let this woman, and thousands like her on. What's the story? Was it British Airways, letting them all fly from London so their problem became our problem? Anyway, it was unsettling. So were the disapproving looks she got from the other women. Presumably the incidence of this will reduce now but knowing nature abhors a vacuum, you get the feeling that that tragic little episode is just being replaced by another even more tragic one. Oh well.

Here endeth birth stuff. Which is great as it means my therapeutic aim to cease dwelling on the subject and look forward to the next birth has been successful. Perhaps blogs are the new confessionals?

posted by Sarah | 14:25 0 comments
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