On the 20th December, Antonia and I were due to introduce the next member of Clan Madigan to the world. Our world. But Mother Nature decided against this. What a cruel bitch she is, was my resounding thought at the time.
It was 4am on Monday 5th August and we were on a ferry off the coast of Brittany, en route from Santander to Cork. The end of our summer holiday. Antonia, 20 weeks pregnant, woke with pain and asked me to go find painkillers. By 4:20 she gave birth in our small cabin. Within minutes, the ship’s nurse, followed by the Captain and his crew, were there. At 6:30am, Antonia and baby Rowan Madigan were winched up, on a stretcher, to the open-doored Coastguard helicopter, which hovered in the air, with deafening sound-effects, 20m above the moving boat. They were flown safely to Truro Maternity Hospital in Cornwall, where the nurses took impeccable care of Antonia...
The loss of Rowan was devastating for us and our family. We were thrown into a world that we never realised existed. On speaking to family, friends and colleagues, in the weeks that followed, it became apparent that we were not unique and so many women have lost babies in various types of circumstances. And the grief is unavoidable, for all. The reason we are willing to share our story with you is borne out of sheer determination to ensure some good, however small, comes from our loss.
The week after our tragedy, I decided I would like to raise some money, by running a marathon, for The Coastguard Association. This is a registered charity which helps Coastguard personnel and their dependents in times of hardship. An easy decision for me when I think of Paul, the paramedic with Cornwall Coastguard. He was woken in the middle of the night, flown out deep into The Atlantic and dropped out of a chopper in the dark, only to be charged with taking control of the scene at our little cabin. The captain, crew, nurse and us all looked to Paul for guidance, and he is merely a volunteer. I also think of a few years ago and some of the scenes my brother Sam, an Air Ambulance pilot at the time, described to me. Extreme tragedies to say the least.
I chose a marathon in Brittany, as it felt appropriate in the circumstances. It takes place 2 weeks from today. Since then two friends, Ger and Pádraig, have decided to come and support me. Pádraig will also be running his first marathon and Ger will be there to carry both of us back to the hotel when we drop on the finish line. We ask you to try find a fiver down the back of the couch or the back of your iPhone, as it were, and press go. Please and thank you, it’s for an amazing cause. #RunRowan