Ep. 26 Annemarie McCathy, Psychotherapist, on the disenfranchised grief of parenting a critically ill child
For many of us, we take it for granted that our text will read something like “a beautiful baby girl was born at 5.55am, 8.2lbs, mother and baby doing great”, but for Annemarie McCarthy and her husband, the reality was far from this. The 20 week scan showed anomalies that would render the rest of Annemarie’s pregnancy a constant source of stress and worry. When baby Ruth took her first breaths alone, her parents hoped that the worst was over and, once reparative surgery would be completed, they would take Ruth home and get on with their lives. Little did they know that their epic journey to keep their baby alive was just beginning. Ruth’s complications were a lot more than they and the medical team first realised, resulting in numerous surgeries, interventions and four years on a life-support machine. By the time Ruth was well enough to shed her reliance on the various machines that kept her alive for the first few years of her life, her mother Annemarie describes herself as ‘an empty shell’. Trying to keep her daughter alive for five years had taken it’s toll on Annemarie and after her second child was born, she realised that she was in dire need of therapeutic intervention to help her to rebuild herself after the years of stress and trauma that her family had been through. In this honest and open conversation, Annemarie gives us an insight into the disenfranchised grief of having a sick child and how that experience would change everything about her life in the weeks, months and years that followed. It is truly such a privilege to bear witness to these stories.
#nicu #childrenshospital #disenfranchisedgrief #hiddenloss #livinginhospital #separation #divorce