This is my personal story about my termination for medical reasons (TFMR). Originally published on Spoken Grief, The Spoken Grief podcast hosted by Shuma Rouf that unapologetically talks about grief, death and loss. Originally published on September 20, 2020.
âMy story starts out full of innocence and love. My husband and I had a daughter together before we were married and we wanted a 2nd baby. We waited until after we were married in the fall of 2017 to try to have another baby. Overjoyed is an understatement for what we felt when we found out we were expecting a baby just a few weeks into our marriage.
Our baby was planned, wanted, so loved.
We announced to both sides of our families over Christmas and New Year's. Everyone was so happy for us.
I was thinking about getting a doula and I already had a midwife picked out.
But at our 11 to 14 week scan, everything was wrong. Our baby had so many anomalies; my doctor told us, "Your baby's heart will probably stop very soon." I just remember being on that ultrasound table, feeling time slow to a crawl and speed up all at once. It was like falling into a black hole and everything sounded tinny. The doctor kept talking but the words made no sense. Cystic hygroma, hydrops, no nasal bone. He asked us what our religious beliefs were on termination.
We were sent home with a piece of paper that said the probable cause of all her conditions, "Turner's syndrome" (I say her because we feel like she was a girl). The frantic Googling started and pulled up terms like "incompatible with life," "less than 1% survival rate," and some crazy Cesarean section called an "exit strategy." Very dangerous for both mother and baby, and typically with a very very poor outcome.
It did not sound good.
After other medical opinions and soul searching our decision became clear. We had to end the pregnancy. If we would have continued to (most like premature) birth, our baby would have suffocated in minutes or hours at most.
So we went through with the termination, an early 2nd trimester abortion, to save her suffering and to save my life.
The whole process was so traumatic and led to PTSD for me, on top of the horrible grief of losing a child.
My new view became the light streaming under my bedroom door, from inside the cave of my blinds-pulled-at-all-hours grieving den.
It took all my strength to get my oldest daughter ready for school, dropped off, and then I would come home and sleep. And lay. And sleep some more. And cry and cry. Unless I had a class or work to do (I was teaching from home).
My sleep was no respite. The nightmares were worse than my waking hours. I went through so many medical & psych professionals until I basically diagnosed myself with PTSD with a freakin' internet quiz. My official diagnosis came from a trauma-informed therapist. With EMDR therapy, my therapist helped me get the flashbacks and hypervigilance under control.
A lot of my trauma stemmed from the fact that I couldn't be straight about the way my daughter died. I was shunned, directly and indirectly, in a few so-called "christian" pregnancy loss groups. And I couldn't tell extended family members for fear of more shunning. To feel like you will lose your family, your place in your community...it made everything feel so shaky and fragile. And it still is.
I talk about my daughter and the pregnancy loss on my personal Facebook page, but I don't mention the "how." I still feel like I could lose the family and community support I so desperately need to go through grief well.
I recently decided to become a Baby Loss Doula, so I can help other families going through this deep deep pain, and I especially want to help others going through terminations for medical reasons (TFMR). It's a lonely lonely experience because it's a pretty uncommon type of pregnancy loss--and many of us do not share the details of our loss, so it's hard to find kindred spirits.
I loved (and always will love) my daughter and I made the best medical decision I could to take away her suffering and potentially save my own life. It matters that we could choose peace for her. It matters that I can continue to be mom to my older daughter. My own health matters. My life matters.
I just want to be seen as a loss mom. We named her Clara. Her name is Clara.
âThank you for reading my story.
I'm Sabrina Fletcher, The TFMR Doula.
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