As a mom who had to end her wanted pregnancy back in 1991, as well as a medical social worker with a specialty in maternal-child social work, a pediatric physical therapist, a hospital chaplain, a childbirth instructor, as well as a hospice founder, I have a unique opportunity to share with you at this time of crisis in your life.
I have degrees in both physical therapy and social work. When I was in my twenties, my first husband died from malignant melanoma. After his death, I became very involved with the early Hospice movement in America. I remarried in my thirties and was blessed with the births of two healthy children, both now in college. When they were little, I was certified as both a childbirth educator and lactation specialist. (Both ends of the spectrum of life.)
Several years ago I wrote about dealing with grief after ending a wanted pregnancy to share what I had learned, personally and professionally from my own experiences with grief over the last few decades.
In my forties, I became pregnant, to my delight, and to the delight of my family. Sadly, this midlife pregnancy ended in miscarriage. Then, with my biological clock ticking loudly, we decided to try again, for one more baby. At this point, however, I was faced with waning fertility. After months of trying without success, we tried fertility drugs. And, to our delight, found I was pregnant with twins. Within the first trimester, however, one little heart stopped beating. We named our miscarried babies Brewster and Cary.
The remaining twin lived on, and, in time, I began to feel her, fluttering inside of me. But, instead of the fluttering growing stronger, her kicks seemed to diminish with each day. Having never had or wanted prenatal testing before, I had not considered it this time, either. Until one day, when I had a strong intuition that our remaining baby had Down syndrome. So, we went for the amniocentesis. On the ultrasound, we saw our little girl and named her Katie. But the test proved my intuitions right. Katie did have Trisomy 21.
Our world was turned upside down. We spoke with doctors. We spoke with parents of children with T-21. We researched the literature from medical to ethical. We talked with our families. Our friends. We agonized and grieved every waking moment we had. And then, for our own reasons, we made our heartbreaking choice.
That was a long time ago. We have healed our grief. I came to this grief community several years ago to be here for all of you. To offer hope. To offer help. My “Long Grief Post,” as it has came to be called, was the result of the need I saw to educate other parents about the grief process after termination. It was passed around on our community listserv for many years, and then Ending a Wanted Pregnancy decided to make it a permanent part of this web site. This way it is readily available to anyone who could benefit from it. It’s been dividing into five sections to make it easier to digest.
Take the time you need to read all five sections and let them sink in. Share them with the significant people in your life so that they will understand more about the process of grief after termination. I strongly urge couples to take time to read these post together and discuss them, as this grieving process strains even the best of relationships.
Editors note: Thank you, Nancy for giving us permission to share your “long post on grief” and divide it into five posts. You have been a great friend and a rock-solid support to us for such a long time.