‘He died in my arms. We were absolutely devastated’

Sinéad Scanlon describes the traumatic birth and death of her son Milo in March 2015

‘Once we knew we were having a boy, we were overjoyed, my life was finally complete,’ Sinéad Scanlon told Cork City Coroner’s Court. Her son Milo died three days after being born in March 2015. Photograph: iStock.

‘Once we knew we were having a boy, we were overjoyed, my life was finally complete,’ Sinéad Scanlon told Cork City Coroner’s Court. Her son Milo died three days after being born in March 2015. Photograph: iStock.

 

Sinéad Scanlon had a daughter when she was 17, but her hopes of a second child were dashed five times in the years afterwards by miscarriage after miscarriage.

Two years ago, she became pregnant again. “Once we knew we were having a boy, we were overjoyed, my life was finally complete,” she told Cork City Coroner’s Court.

“We had everything ready. His nursery was painted and decorated. The cot was made and all his clothes were in his dresser. The changing unit was packed full of nappies . . . wipes, you name it, I bought it.

“We spent the whole nine months preparing for our new arrival,” she said. “To say you are expecting a baby is huge thing. I learned the hard way of the indescribable pain of nine months of carrying your baby only to be told that you are not going to be bringing him home,” she said as she detailed her experience after being admitted to Kerry General Hospital on March 25th, 2015.

Her labour began at midnight on March 26th and things began to go wrong from 12.24am. Ms Scanlon began to panic as she could no longer feel her son.

In the operating theatre, she had to wait for an anaesthetist to arrive to administer a general anaesthetic. In pain and confused, she had, she remembered, a moment of clear recollection.

“I remember begging the doctors: ‘Please save my baby’. The caesarean started, knife to skin and I could feel everything that was going on. The epidural was not sufficient. I was moaning in pain. Then I was knocked out,” she said.

‘He was beautiful’

“When I came around, I was met by Mike in an awful state, trying to explain to me that Milo was in a very poor condition. They wheeled me out of surgery and brought me to the Emily Ward to see Milo for the first time. I was on a trolley so I could only see him through the window. He was so pale.”

Doctors at Kerry General Hospital told Ms Scanlon and her partner Mike Mangan that their son would probably die, but they transferred him to Cork University Maternity Hospital to give him every chance. There, she held her much-yearned boy for the first time.

“When I saw Milo, he was beautiful. His colour had come around and I couldn’t believe how big he was – 10lbs – he was huge. He had chubby little arms and legs and a big chest and very broad shoulders. I remember saying to Mike, he is like a little robin redbreast.”

In Cork, Dr Peter Filan told them about the devastating effects the traumatic delivery had had on Milo’s brain. If he survived, he probably would not be able to walk or talk and he would have breathing and feeding difficulties. They could, she was told, let him “ go in peace, so he wouldn’t suffer”.

Milo was baptised in the neonatal unit on March 30th: “I had waited such a long time to hold him in my arms and all we had was a few precious hours. We turned the ventilator off around 7pm,” she said.

“We took turns holding him. We hugged him. We kissed him and took photos with him. We watched him gasp for air and he died in my arms around 12pm that night. We were absolutely devastated. Our beautiful baby boy was gone.”