Posted by: irishdad | August 1, 2009

Considering an autopsy/ postmortem

It was quickly apparent after Littlegirl was born that there was nothing visibly wrong with her, and no clear cause for her death.

We had both felt her kicking away before we went to bed on the night she passed away.  My wife had even had a scan only that day which showed everything to be perfectly fine.

The upshot of all this was that an autopsy seemed like something we should do. While it was distressing to think of our little girl being handled and examined by strangers, we needed to know – or at least try and know – what might have caused her to slip away so suddenly.

Because she was born on a Friday there was a question mark over how soon the autopsy would be done, given that autopsies are only conducted during the week and the numbers of folks needing attention builds up over weekend. In this regard we were lucky as a string of phone calls went from a friend of a friend in Ireland, to another friend in Sydney Australia, who is the daughter of the doctor in charge of autopsies here in Dublin. In short, we were told that he would look after her personally.

After signing a couple of consent forms, preparations were made to have her taken away to another hospital, I think on the Monday afternoon, to be returned after a day or so.

We didn’t know what we wanted to hear from the postmortem. Did we want to hear that there was a problem, and it was identified, and maybe would happen again…or that the cause was unresolved and what happened to Littlegirl was just one of those things…I don’t know. The former is a scary prospect that may open a whole new vista of future troubles, while the latter leaves everything up in the air.

Ultimately, just like with the funeral and many other choices that get made under these difficult circumstances, all you can do is try to make the best decision at the time. For us the postmortem was the right thing to do, I’m sure some parents would feel differently. I guess we just have to go easy on ourselves and try not to have any regrets later on.

Lord knows you’re not in your right mind at the time.



  1. No you aren’t. You are doing a wonderful job of getting out your feelings…you will feel better, someday.

  2. It is one of those decisions you have to make quickly and you can never prepare for. There are risks both ways but you cannot undo it once you have done it.

    At the end of the day it is good to be able to live without regrets. We had one regret – our daughter was dead. Very few others. None that significant.

    Keep talking

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