Happy family: Ger, Noreen and Ellianna Thompson, Murroe Picture: Michael Cowhey
A CHILD’S first day of school is a proud one for every parent but it was especially so for the Thompsons this Wednesday.
The courageous Limerick couple had seven miscarriages - and baby Kayla who died shortly after being born – before Ellianna arrived into their world.
Noreen and Ger were understandably emotional this Wednesday but there wasn’t a bother on Ellianna as she skipped into Murroe NS.
“We never thought we would see the day where we would be walking our daughter or son to school. I thought we'd never get that day. I saw my relatives’ children going off to school and I was thinking, 'Oh, will I ever have this?' but I have it now and it is great,” said Noreen.
They went through an unimaginable nine years before their now five-year-old girl was born. They christened her Ellianna as the name means ‘God has answered me’.
Noreen said the first day of “big school” was another milestone after Ellianna was born at 33 weeks and three days in room 33 of the University Maternity Hospital on May 19, 2012.
“I had to go for an emergency section. When I was brought down to her in the wheelchair about eight hours later, after me being under, I couldn’t believe she was mine. She had all these tubes but they said I could hold her. I will never forget the feeling when they put her in to my arms. She is the greatest miracle ever.
“The first milestone for us was Ellianna drinking a bottle when she was in neonatal. Then it was crawling, walking, playschool and now national school,” smiled Noreen.
Ellianna was as pretty as a picture in her navy uniform, new school bag and pigtails.
“I think there are about two or three who will be in her class from her Montessori school which is great. She's very good to make friends anyway. She is very sociable, she's like her dad that way, she'd talk to anyone. She is too grown up now! I still have a monitor in her room. She doesn't need it but it’s just for me - I still think someone is going to take her away,” said Noreen.
When Ger and Noreen shared their story with the Leader four years ago they got a huge response from parents who have gone through the grief of miscarriages and losing a child. After Kayla died they thought “never again” but somehow found the strength to continue their quest for parenthood. Ellianna was their reward.
“It's giving other people - that are still going through the struggle of it - hope. Here we are bringing our little girl up to school after thinking we'd never get that opportunity. It’s a happy ending,” said Noreen.
And not only have they helped others by talking about what they have been through, they have also supported charities financially. Noreen and Ger have raised around €30,000 for a number of good causes and Ger is running the New York Marathon this November.