Tiny Sparks of Joy, Having Repealed the 8th

Last Friday night at three minutes past 10pm.

Catching up with my oldest friend watching the results coming in and just getting happier and happier.

Wearing my together for yes tshirt on Saturday afternoon and feeling lighter than I have done for weeks.

Clare Daly. Every speech, every time.

Having a use for a ‘fancy’ box after seven years of shuffling it between homes and rooms. It will be a repeal the eighth memory box now.

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Tiny Sparks of Joy, Having Repealed the 8th

Turns out the bubble was bigger than we thought.

Just after 10pm on Friday I frantically refreshed the Irish Times’ website for results of the exit poll on the referendum. I thought I was seeing things when I saw the words ‘landslide in favour of repeal’ or some variation thereof. I burst into tears. This week has been exhausting and draining for me, so I cannot imagine how those right on the frontlines felt seeing the news. I then started panicking and we decided we’d endure another 90 minute wait for the RTE poll at 1130pm. I couldn’t have slept before then even if I wanted to.

The 1130pm exit poll results were similar and we couldn’t quite believe it. All day I’d felt anxious, and judging from messages from friends a lot of people felt the same. We’d reassured ourselves that we just needed one more vote than the other side, but we knew that would frustrate any attempts to legislate. We never even dared hope for a 60%+ figure in favour of repeal. We slept a little easier but we didn’t want to get too optimistic.

When the tallies started coming in we still couldn’t quite believe it. Photos from people at the count showed clear majorities voting yes across the board, Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Mayo – we couldn’t believe it but we started to relax a bit. I picked up a friend who came home for the referendum and we watched the results come in on RTE, feeling slightly incredulous and as though we could finally start to relax a bit.

The day wore on and we relaxed a lot. It was a clear and decisive win. I cried a few times. I didn’t expect it to be like this. Not so many years ago I dithered over wearing a black repeal sweater on the school run and finally decided to put it on and wear my cause across my chest. We got some stickers for our car but when they arrived we wondered if it was a good idea to put them on just in case. We put them on and handed spares to others.

Yesterday we realised the bubble we were in was pretty big. It is a bubble of the majority. The marches we went on represented the majority. It’s a good feeling.

Turns out the bubble was bigger than we thought.

I Get So Emotional

Praveen on Channel 4 news.

A video of Savita dancing.

Remembering that first donation in 2012.

The 2013 Oireachtas hearings.

The first march.

More marches.

The petitions.

More petitions.

The Citizens’ Assembly votes.

The Oireachtas committee recommendations.

The support for a referendum from so many political quarters.

Wearing together for yes tshirts to Holles Street.

Seeing the first set of Yes posters going up.

Seeing more and more Yes posters going up.

Our daughter counting our Yes badges.

The badges everywhere.

The cheery canvassers.

The confirmation of yes votes from unexpected people.

#hometovote

The realisation that this time tomorrow we’ll have cast our votes.

The thoughts of the exit poll tomorrow night.

The counting beginning.

The tallies.

The hope.

Please vote to repeal the eighth tomorrow. Please vote for change.

I Get So Emotional

Status Update: Bag of Nerves

Two more sleeps and we’ll be voting. That’s the easy part. The hard part will be Saturday, when the count starts. I’m nervous. I’m tired. I’m weepy.

I haven’t thought through what I’ll do on Saturday. I’ll probable be glued to the radio coverage and obsessively updating twitter on my phone.

I haven’t been able to concentrate on much this week. I know this isn’t a constructive use of my time but all I can do is read referendum updates.

I know if the worst happens on Saturday we’ll wake up on Sunday feeling defeated and angry. But we’ll have to pick ourselves up and move forward.

I hope this isn’t the case. I hope by late afternoon I’ll be able to breathe out deeply for the first time in weeks.

If you are undecided, please think of the women who are travelling today, tomorrow, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, who are feeling all the anxiety I am now but with the added trauma of knowing they had to leave Ireland for health care. Please don’t let your personal ‘I would never’ be ‘You can never’. Please vote yes, and help Ireland move forward to a more compassionate, honest future.

Status Update: Bag of Nerves

I said yes I will Yes

I don’t write about one big part of my life on my blog, but I will today. It is one week before we go to the polls to vote on whether we repeal the eighth amendment and replace it with the thirty-sixth amendment.

I have two children and I am nearly 21 weeks pregnant. These are all planned, chosen pregnancies. My first pregnancy was when I was 30 years of age. I had little or no idea how the eighth amendment affected maternity care. I was able to choose private maternity care with a consultant who provided excellent care and eventually delivered my daughter by c section at 39 weeks gestation. I had no idea back in 2012 that if I hadn’t agreed to that procedure, court proceedings would have been almost inevitable.

The absolute and complete game changer for me was the death of Savita in October 2012. It was the first time I ever thought about marching for something. Me, my husband and our baby (in a sling worn by my husband) marched in Dublin in the rain until it got dark when we reached Merrion Square. I felt deeply, deeply ashamed that day of my former ‘prolife’ views, formed almost entirely from the overtly religious nature of schooling in Ireland and an unspoken but present sense that abortion is always, always wrong.

The Oireachtas held hearings on the introduction of new legislation to deal with the X case and cases like Savita in January 2013. I was newly pregnant and still on maternity leave with a baby as I watched non medical experts explain, twisting and turning their words as they did so, why the eighth amendment was a good thing. I was overjoyed to see the doctor who delivered my baby speak robustly about how women and children are at risk in Ireland because of the status quo.

I returned to work and the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act debate was in full swing. People who now hold this legislation up as a reason not to repeal the eighth amendment seem to have forgotten that we saw them protest against it, saw their posters full of lies and heard their myths during the wearying ‘balanced’ debates on television and radio. Being pregnant while a whirlwind of debate about the contents of your uterus which omits you or thinks you’re untrustworthy isn’t pleasant.

My wonderful prochoice consultant delivered our second child by c section later that summer. This time I knew how the eighth amendment affected my care, but I also knew that we had to change this. That’s when me and my husband started really thinking about getting involved instead of letting someone else do it.

We have brought our children on marches in the rain and the sunshine. We have donated money, and donated again, and then donated some more. We’ve had uncomfortable chats with friends and family, sometimes leaving things and then coming back to them. We’ve worn the badges and the t shirts and the sweatshirts. We donated again just in case. We feel guilty for not canvassing.

In January this year we found out I was pregnant again. I’m 36 now, and officially a geriatric mother. We knew we wanted prenatal testing and our wonderful doctor advised it. We had the harmony test, the test that’s waved around as a reason to deny all women control over their bodies. We had the money to pay for it and it was a short train journey to the hospital to have it.

Less than a week later, when I was nearly 14 weeks pregnant, a call from my consultant told me there was a high risk for a trisomy. The test is not conclusive. You don’t get a definitive answer. My husband, who loves numbers almost as much as he loves me and our children, crunched the numbers. We decided we wanted definitive answers and agreed to the suggested course of action, which was amniocentesis.

We wore our badges and tshirts from Together for Yes to the appointment. We saw the foetus during a scan, a scan which was more painful than the amniocentesis itself. We watched amniotic fluid being taken from my uterus. My doctor and the nurse in attendance didn’t need to tell us what our ‘options’ were if the news wasn’t good. Days went by as we waited for the results and I spent most of them in bed, rereading comforting books from my childhood. A call from my doctor confirmed the initial results were clear but there were other test results to come. Another week later and we got confirmation that everything was fine.

Did the eighth amendment ‘save’ this foetus? Did I feel supported by it? Did my husband feel I was getting some of the best medical care in the world? No. No. No. We hadn’t fully decided what we would do if the news wasn’t good, but we knew that the ‘options’ are. In Ireland, you must stay pregnant; there is no other option.

I’ve come to loath the phrase ‘journey’ when it comes to the eighth amendment, but we have been on several of them over the past few years. I look back on 30 year old me, and 31 year old me, with a serious amount of bafflement. How was I so ill informed and so ignorant? How had I ever thought this crazy amendment, inserted at a time of fire and brimestone over creeping reproductive rights elsewhere, was a good thing?

It is no surprise that me and my husband and our wider families are saying Yes to repeal next Friday. We hope all our friends vote Yes too. I think many people are compassionate, but sometimes that compassion needs to be explored. I never thought I was a cruel person, but supporting the eighth amendment is a very cruel thing to do.

My Yes is most especially for my daughter. My wonderful, funny, clever, insightful daughter, who’s been marching since before she could walk. I hope that Ireland shows its compassionate side for her generation, and the ones after that. Please vote Yes for her, and her classmates, friends, cousins and every other girl and woman in Ireland next Friday.

I said yes I will Yes

Tiny Sparks of (Repealing) Joy

Following this funding tracker and reading the stories that go with it.

Following Louise on the tweet machine.

Seeing a local repeal group outside our village shopping centre yesterday. Next time, we’ll bring chocolate.

Our parents confirming they trust women and will vote accordingly.

The posters that encourage everyone to trust me and everyone else in Ireland who can get pregnant.

Tiny Sparks of (Repealing) Joy