To Sean … the first day of your life

I kept a diary from the start of 1984 to summer 2004 … it thus covers the first 13 years of Sean’s life.

We decided to try to have a baby while on holiday in Turkey in September 1990; Sean was conceived in London, where we lived at the time, the following month.

When I look to the entry for Sunday, 28 July 1991, I find that the day was ‘beautifully hot’. We had moved back to Dublin in March, as we wanted to bring up our child in Ireland. I woke at 10 o’clock that morning, and Pauline told me that she’d been having pains … we decided around 12 that this was probably the real thing.

I rang for a taxi … the driver, I noted, was a ‘carefree gobshite with four children who made jocular remarks about what men have to go through and so on, which wasn’t what Pauline needed to accompany her contractions’.

We had a long day at the hospital (The Coombe). For a time nothing much happened, and we thought Pauline might have to go home again … we hoped she wouldn’t.

My diary gives a blow-by-blow account of developments. I was with Pauline when Sean was eventually born at 11.42 pm – a forceps delivery. The first thing I really noticed about him, apparently, was his right ear. I wrote ‘To our surprise, it was a boy’ … for some reason we’d been expecting a girl.

I also wrote ‘We were both absolutely thrilled. We both held and cuddled him; he was weighed and washed.’ Pauline swore afterwards that Sean had smiled at her in his very first moments. I continued to hold him while she was looked after, then I went out and made phone calls to spread the good news.

I had a cup of tea and sat with Pauline for a while … ‘then, around 1.45, I left and got a taxi home. The driver was a paternity enthusiast whose wife had had a baby last year, so we spoke about these matters all the way. I had some tea and fig rolls, and watched part of a silly Danny Kaye movie. Went to bed, too happy and excited to sleep.’

Sean died on a Sunday too. He liked this song very much, and used to play it on the other computer. I like it as well … its message of love and boundless potential seems poignant now. But Sean lived and loved well. These posts are to celebrate him … not to mourn him.



Filed under Death, Memories, The music of what happened

26 responses to “To Sean … the first day of your life

  1. Marya

    Good morning,Brendan .. such a delightful photo !
    And a beautiful and touching celebration of Sean’s life you have shared with your friends … thank you for the privilege.

    Marya x

  2. Rainer the cabbie

    I apologise for the first driver. Yes you get that type, all too often actually. What I am doing there is a question I often ask myself, but them I imagine driving Pauline and you to hospital, and that makes it better. 🙂

    And of cause Sean was a special being, and we all realise that.
    That is why your posts are a pleasure to read.

  3. Thanks, Rainer … I enjoyed that … hadn’t heard it in ages. I bought the Rust Never Sleeps album when it first came out.

    Like many songs, that one seems more meaningful now. I hear them with different ears.

  4. Cymbeline

    Delightful photograph of a baby overflowing with fun and interest and faith in the world. I can hear the chortling.

    Bit harsh on the poor old taxi-driver, eh? Poor bloke was probably just trying to make you relax. Lots of taxi drivers do not want to have women in labour in their taxis.

    • Thank you, Cymbeline.

      Yes, perhaps a bit harsh – he was probably an OK bloke – but it’s what I wrote at the time. I used to see him around afterwards … I remembered him but he didn’t remember me.

      • Cymbeline

        Yes, he would have seemed intensely irritating at the time, of course. One of my sister’s friends is a nurse, and she made us laugh with her story of saying ‘come on, Mrs Jones, you are doing very well’ …. and Mrs Jones snarling at her and telling her to piss off and leave her alone.

        I see you had one of those contraptions with swinging toys. We had one of those too, but our babies were never much interested in it. Colourful waste of money, like most toys.

        • I think Sean enjoyed that toy at the time. He also had a row of toys at the front of his ‘baby bouncer’ that he used to make spin around very fast.

          A couple he was friendly with in Cavan have had a baby since Sean died, and christened it ‘Luke Sean’. They are going to bring it to show us.

          Sean’s granny had given him a small amount of money to open a bank account … we are going to give it to them for the baby.

        • Cymbeline

          Yes; come to think of it, I remember the sound of a spinning barrel attached to the side of the cot. I would know that the baby had woken up when I heard that. Very fast spinning.

          A great honour that the young couple should name their baby after your son, and very kind of you to give them the money meant for him. You can be sure that it will be appreciated as more than money. You will enjoy having a baby in the house when they come to visit. Babies are lovely, I have always loved babies.

        • I wasn’t very interested in babies until I had my own … like many men, probably. I do like them now, especially if there is some connection.

        • Cymbeline

          Yes, perhaps that is true about men. Apart from the delight and interest, I think that the birth of his own babies made my husband feel conscious of the idea of God.

          Yes, you will especially enjoy the baby through the connection.

        • I think having children certainly changes a person’s outlook on life (or ought to).

        • Cymbeline

          ‘ought to’?

          So the childless person who thought that children were a blessing OUGHT TO change his outlook on life once he has children?

  5. Two points. First, I can relate to the whole getting out of England scene. Ireland is more child friendly and there is the ethnic question (though it was not as bad as when I was in the slums during the mid 1970s bombing campaign). Then birth. Oksana Ivanovna told me about when she gave birth in Belarus. Doctors had a fairly robust attitude (Shut up bitch being the kindest if one was noisy). Woman in the next bed threatened to cut of hubbys Khui after her ordeal.

    • Cymbeline

      Hello Mr Broxted. Yes, it is interesting how Brendano and his wife chose to return to Ireland for the baby.

      Do you wish that you had been brought up in Ireland?

  6. In case anyone that hasn’t seen it would be interested, I have also written about the last day of Sean’s life:

    • Cymbeline

      It seems to me that your son Sean arrived in this world in a blaze of love, and has left this world in a blaze of love.

      In between, he lived and loved well, as you have said.

      A life too short, and yet full.

      Goodnight, Brendano.

  7. Goodnight, Cymbeline … thank you.

  8. Cymbers that is an interesting question. I find it is a matter of accent, in Belfast it is automatically assumed I am English (therefore Protestant, Loyalist, a Man Utd supporter…)In some ways I regret not being born here. There is always a dislocation. 2nd generation Plastic paddies comme moi meme go 2 ways – either ultra British or over compensate and try to be ipso hiberniae hiberniae or thingy, more Irish than the Irish.

    • Rainer the cabbie

      Funny this Plastic thing. What you said about overcompensating is something I find in a lot of migrants to Australia.

      But then as the song says’s, That’s life :

      • Rainer the cabbie

        Sorry for the bastardization of this groovy song. Reminds me of my dancing days.
        But the clip is OK.

        • I was just listening to it, Rainer … thanks. I possibky prefer the simplicity of the original.

          Plastic Bertrand = world’s greatest living Belgian? (Unless he’s dead.)

  9. We had always planned to come home anyway, much as we liked London; the pregnancy just concentrated our minds.

    We’re Irish, and our children have enjoyed being Irish … definitely no regrets.

  10. The argument being defining Irishness. One could just as well say “I’m from Galway”. Yes Rainer the further one gets the more maudlin.

  11. I love the photo, Brendan.

    Sean is quite recognisable but only because I have been privileged to see him grow up by the wonderful photographs you have posted here.

    I didn’t know him as you did, but you and your wife were instrumental in bringing up a very special person, and of that you should feel proud.

    I’m so sorry you lost him but children always leave us, in one way and another. This was much too early, but he is so alive on these pages and yes, it is not the same, but I hope it helps.

    My very best wishes,


    • Thanks very much, Araminta. Regarding photos, my one regret is that we do not have more of him as a 19-year-old, which is how I picture him, really – taller than me, a man. Still, it’s good to have so many old ones.

      It does help to be able to blog about him here. I hope it helps others who knew him too … some have told me that it does.

      Your kind words are much appreciated.

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