The premature end of life

June 20, 2014

Writing 101, Day Thirteen: Serial Killer II

Earlier in the course, you wrote about losing something. Today, write about finding something. For your twist, view day four’s post and today’s post as installments in a series.


The premature end of life


I was privileged enough, quite early on in my midwifery career, to care for a charming family in very rare situation. They taught me a lot about how the decisions we make about pregnancies, have to be very personal and individual.  I found that even in the most tragic of circumstances there can be extraordinary moments that are unforgettable and life enhancing.

Sadly the family were carrying a baby with an incurable prognosis and likely a very short, difficult life. What were they to do?  They had wanted their baby so much. Family in this country and the home country of the grandparents, were waiting for the new generation.  The scans had been done and the details of the disorder explained and explained by Paediatric experts.  There was no treatment that would change the outcome for their baby.


There was then the big question. Do they carry the baby to full term?  The pregnancy had already reached twenty six weeks by the time the scans and the prognosis had been confirmed.  There was an opportunity to get to know their baby over the last ten maybe more weeks, to live with him in their family, albeit still inside his mother’s uterus.

The alternative was to consider ending the pregnancy now. There were some concerns about the mode of delivery if the baby was carried to full term. Why add the risk of a caesarean section, as this would then have implications for future births.


Extraordinarily, the parents made this a family decision as their religion did have a bearing.  Termination of pregnancy was not usual or accepted. This was God’s way.  I am sure there had been many a difficult conversation and discussion prior to admission to hospital. But having honoured their family and included them in the decision, they felt supported and empowered. The parents knew the family was with them, as they chose to end the pregnancy prematurely.

They had chosen this way to retain some control. They could make plans and organise the event as a celebration of the short life this child had had, without compromising his future brother or sister’s mode of birth.

I took over care during the labour and the mother was quite close to the birth. I have never attended a labour or birth like it before, or since.  The whole family were in attendance aunties, uncles, sisters, brothers, parents, grandparents and even some friends.  I was, at first, a little overwhelmed by the sheer numbers involved. What was even more remarkable was the maternity unit’s support and consideration of what was occurring.

The family took turns in being with the couple during the birth process. They brought food and flowers and gentle music was playing.

The mother had coped well with the induction process and thankfully reached full dilatation quickly and easily.  They had decided to be alone at the point of birth to have their moment with their son.

He was born and he cried. This was anticipated to happen, despite his very premature gestation. His mother cradled him in her arms and their relationship continued.   I remember the smiles; the love; the bond. He was expected to die quite quickly, but he breathed and breathed, so family were invited back into the room. He was held by them all, whilst still breathing.  I remember the Grandmother savouring her precious moment with her delicate grandchild. They all shared his very short life.

They shared jokes about who he looked like. I remember laughter and conversation. They told him stories of other’s births and lives. Then as the moment neared he returned to his mother’s arms once more.  There he died in peace with his whole family around him.



6 Responses to “The premature end of life”

  1. Wow oh my that was heart rendering and even near the end of your post I was hoping for a different outcome.

    She has an amazing family and incredibly brave I really don’t know how I could have done that xx

  2. lucciagray Says:

    What a difficult situation. I am speechless.

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