Anne Dalton: ‘I’d be gone out of it if I had to carry the kids’
Parenting in my shoes: Camogie star on IVF and the importance of being open and honest
Anne and her children.
“You know the way some women want to experience pregnancy?” Kilkenny camogie star Anne Dalton asks. “That was never a feeling I would have had.”
“I hate needles, so that side of things, I’m not able for them. I’d do it if I had to do it but I’ll whinge and moan and complain and stick my head down my top so as not to look. I got stitches in training, two or three stitches the other day, and I actually think the doctor was looking at me like, ‘how can you go play camogie and you can’t get three stitches?’ And he had given me an injection to numb it and I was still shaking. I’d hate it. I’d hate the needle side if it. I’d hate the intrusion, what you have to go through and what not. It wouldn’t be a deal breaker for me but I’d hate it.”
Luckily for Anne, her wife Karen had no such qualms about pregnancy and carried the couple’s three children. “Karen carried all the kids, hence why I’m still able to play camogie,” Anne explains. “I’d be gone out of it if I had to carry the kids.
When you get to the other side of the journey and have those kids there, you just forget
“For me now I’m 32, to be honest if I went and tried to get pregnant and was lucky enough to get pregnant that would be the end of me playing sports because of my age. I’d be 33 by the time you’d have the baby, you’d be back playing at 34 and, for me, I don’t think I’d be able to compete at the age of 34 because your legs just go, the speed in your legs go. And it’s harder if you have a family to give the commitment as well.”
The couple are parents to two-year-old Tadhg and one-year-old twins, Seán and Ada. “So we’re pretty busy,” Anne says laughing. “We always laugh now if one of us has two of them, we always say, ‘it’s so easy, so easy compared to three of them’.”
Anne and Karen conceived their children through IVF. “Anyone that’s gone through it will tell you how stressful it is but we were lucky enough to come out with three amazing kids. When you get to the other side of the journey and have those kids there, you just forget. Don’t they say that about women going through pregnancy and going through labour that your body and evolution makes you forget how bad labour was?
“We went really fast after Tadhg. We went the six months after Tadgh was born thinking, ‘well look chances are it won’t work again’. We were basically hoping to do it in midterm February so that the first round, which we didn’t expect to work, to stick, we’d have that out of the way and we’d go again in the summer. You know yourself, the law of probability. But it stuck, so we were really lucky. We were in a different situation to a lot of couples that go through IVF. While it was stressful for us there were no complications there, I suppose fertility issues. So I can see how it can be a lot more stressful for other couples.”
Anne and Karen decided not to tell anyone they were trying for a baby. They wanted to avoid the “any news this month” questions. “That’s the last thing someone trying to conceive wants to talk about, because that’s just adding stress. It makes it harder. We didn’t tell anyone, even when we were going the second time with the twins.” Family and friends were hugely supportive and delighted for the couple.
Open and honest
Anne says she knows she will have questions from the children about their family. “It’s obviously something you think about before a baby is even born, because it is something that’s going to come up and to think it’s not going to come up, I’m not going to be asked is, I think, just sticking your head in the sand. So I think the main thing is to be very open and honest with them when they ask questions. Obviously ours are very young so that hasn’t cropped up yet.
“It’s something that you can discuss openly with them – some families have a mam and dad, some have two mams, some have two dads and there are families with one mam and there are families with one dad. As long as the kid is in a loving family and they’re looked after, that’s the most important thing. I think the main thing with that is to be open and honest from the outset and not shy away from the issue because it’s nothing to be ashamed of and I think if you shy away from it you could potentially convey to your kids that it is something to be ashamed of, when it isn’t.”
I’d be lying if I said I don’t care if they play sports or not
Anne’s children have always been taken care of by either Anne or Karen but they’re due to start in formal childcare shortly. “They’re going into a creche that I’m presuming, and I would expect, after a week, a couple of days, they’re going to love,” Anne says. “They’re going to be mixing with other kids. They’re going to be playing with other kids all day long.
“I said it to Karen, she’s going to have to drop them off the first couple of days because I’d end up bringing them into work with me probably because I’d be the soft one. I love being here with them but as people say, kids need to interact with other kids, and especially with the way Covid is now, they haven’t interacted the way they would have in a normal year. They can’t go to other people’s house, we can’t have people here with us so even that side of it. They need that and they’re going to love it but that doesn’t mean I won’t feel guilty.”
While the children are a little young to take to the pitches yet, Anne knows what her hopes are. “I’d be lying if I said I don’t care if they play sports or not. I’d love them to play sport because I see the advantages of what I’ve gotten from sport over the years and Karen used to play with Waterford, so she knows the advantages of playing sports. And not even just the physical side of it and the health side of it – the friends you make, there’s the social aspect of it.
“I’d love them to play sports. I’d love them to be interested in sports. But if they’re not, as long as they’re interested in something. I don’t care as long as there is a passion and there’s something that they love doing. There’s something that when they do it, it’s what they’re looking forward to during the week and that’s the main thing for me. Whether that’s sport or not, who knows. We won’t know until down the line but whatever they want to do, they’ll be given that opportunity.”
Parenting in My Shoes
Part 1: Vicky Phelan
Part 2: Lynn Ruane
Part 3: Keith Walsh
Part 4: Victoria Smurfit
Part 5: Billy Holland
Part 6: Joanna Donnelly
Part 7: Eileen Flynn
Part 8: Matt Cooper
Part 9: Hazel Chu
Part 10: Ciara Kelly
Part 11: Dil Wickremasinghe
Part 12: Alison Curtis
Part 13: Dáithí Ó Sé
Part 14: Brendan O’Connor
Part 15: Anne Dalton
Part 16: Gary O'Hanlon
Part 17: Paula MacSweeney
Part 18: Stephen McPhail
Part 19: Michelle O'Neill