Fitzy and BJ open up about losing their first child to severe spina bifida

Nova radio host Ryan ‘Fitzy’ Fitzgerald and his wife Belinda have opened up about losing their first child, baby girl Cayley-Jay, in an emotional new interview.

Nova radio host Ryan ‘Fitzy’ Fitzgerald and his wife Belinda Irons (BJ) have recalled the heartbreaking experience of losing their first daughter at 15 weeks gestation.

Back in 2008, Fitzy and BJ endured a devastating loss when a routine scan during their first pregnancy detected that their daughter, Cayley-Jay, had a severe case of spina bifida.

Speaking to Cameron and Ali Daddo on their podcast Separate Bathroomsthe couple explained that they were told the infant wouldn’t live very long past birth, leaving them with an excruciating decision.

“She was a severe case, so she wouldn’t have lasted too long, so we had to make a decision,” Fitzy recalled.

“It was a really tough one as well. And what the one thing that I do remember is that I thought, ‘Oh, this could break us like this is pretty full on’”.

He went on to remember the doctor’s advice about what to do next.

“The doctor said, ‘my advice is that you give birth and I think you should have the child and spend some time with the child’ and I instantly went, ‘No, no way. I’m not letting BJ this will really affect her. I’m not letting you do that’”.

But the couple eventually went through with the birth, and despite Fitzy’s fears that he would “haunt” them forever, he said brought them “much closer”.

“You know what it really was, it was a moment just to say thank you. We spent a bit of time with her … And we said our goodbye. And it was really emotional. And you know what Allison it really, it brought us so much closer together. Yeah, it was an amazing day.”

Reflecting on the day, BJ said the tiny baby girl was so small she “fit in my hand”.

“I remember when she came out, and she was just like a little doll like she was perfect like she had fingernails, and little lips.

“I remember just touching her little lips. And I was like, Oh my gosh, there’s a little tongue in there as well.”

She went on to say that when she saw signs of the baby’s underdeveloped spinal cord, it was clear the decision had been the right one.

“(Cayley-Jay) had this new really big open wound up her back. And I remember that, to me, I was thinking that that’s a sign that we’ve done the right thing. It was tough.”

After the gruelling day, the couple said they had a discussion about how they would explain Fitzy’s absence from the airwaves, revealing that they had initially planned to say it was a miscarriage.

“I remember we sat home that night and we’re like, do we just say we had a miscarriage? And we were like, yeah, and then the next day I woke up I was like, I can’t. I don’t want to be sitting here today talking about a miscarriage, when she was here for a reason. And this does happen. It happens. One in three women you know, and it’s okay. It was our decision. It wasn’t yours. It wasn’t mom’s. And we made that together.”

The next year, BJ fell pregnant again, going on to have two sons, Hewston, 12, and Lennox, 9.

Fitzy and BJ have been married 14 years. They first met in Adelaide in a moment Fitzy has described as love at first sight, going on to wed in 2008 at Adelaide Oval.

You can listen to the full two-part episode of Separate Bathrooms with Fitzy and BJ here.

Contact Pregnancy Loss Australia if you have suffered miscarriage or stillbirth and need support, or Sands on 1300 072 637

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