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How do you cope following a termination for abnormalities?

(78 Posts)
majormoo Tue 23-Aug-05 13:29:42

Last week I went for my 12 week scan, and we were told the baby, which we later learned was a girl, had severe abnormalities (trisomy 13) and was incompatible with life. I had a termination on friday.

Life has obviously been horrendous since then.The first couple of days were shocking, terrifying and we just kept collapsing into tears. The weekend was very sad and exhausting. The last couple of days have been a bit easier, but it so hard to accept what has happened. I wondered if anyone had any advice on how to accept something like this? Our friends are disappeared off the face of the earth, other than my oldest friend, no one has called me since we told them. We do have great family support though and a lovely 2 year old daughter.

We have been told it is just very bad luck and is very unlikely to recur, but I will be terrified if I ever decide to try again. Physically the hospital said, just wait for 1 period and then, if we want, we can try again. God knows if this will be too soon.

A counsellor from Kings College Hospital will call us in a couple of weeks, as in Brighton, where we live, there is a 2 month waiting list for counselling.

moondog Tue 23-Aug-05 13:34:26

majormoo,no experience of this but I am so so sorry. I can't imagine how utterly traumatised you must feel. Re your friends..maybe they just don't know what to say? How would you want them to be with you?
I know that there are people on MN who have been through this.
You will find alot of comfort and good advice I know.

Poor you.

WigWamBam Tue 23-Aug-05 13:35:21

Oh, how awful for you. I can't find the words to say how sorry I feel that you have had to suffer this.

I have no words of wisdom really, as I haven't been in your position, but I did have a miscarriage many years ago, and it does feel better in time. You will never forget, but it won't always feel as awful as it does now.

People find it very hard to know what to say in this kind of situation, and sometimes they feel that it's best to say nothing. I do hope that your oldest friend is able to provide a shoulder to cry on for you to take some of the pressure off your family.

Two months for counselling sounds like a long time, but it will be here in a flash. Do get onto the waiting list - you can always cancel the appointment later if you don't think it would help you.

jabberwocky Tue 23-Aug-05 13:37:42

I am so, so sorry MM. I can remember waiting for the results of ds's amnio, wondering how I would find the strength if it was bad news. I just can't imagine your grief. Please keep posting, I'm sure it will help talking about it here.

alison222 Tue 23-Aug-05 13:38:35

Poor you I have no constructive advice to give but send you cyber hugs, and hope someone will be around soon who can give you some good advice.
I think how you are feeling is a natural grieving process. As you do already have a child it sounds like the advice is probably sound, its just bad luck, and unlikely to recurr.
I suppose in a way if the condition is incompatible with life then you wuld have lost the baby at some stage anyway. I think it may have been much harder had it been at a later date.
I'm not in any way trying to minimise th pain you must be going through and just very clumsily trying to find words to say that may give you some little comfort and to let you know my thoughts are with you

Rowlers Tue 23-Aug-05 13:46:48

No personal experience Majormoo but a friend recently went through similar. They had been trying for a baby for a long time, were over the moon and abnormalities were only spotted at the 21 week scan.
She had to deliver her dead baby at 23 weeks and has found it very very hard to get over.
Similar happened tom another friend who came through it all remarkably cheerfully. Her view is simple - it wasn't meant to be. But she's a tough cookie and is very pragmatic.
It's all so personal isn't it? How you get through I mean. Good luck, I hope you find your way through!

itdoesgetbetter Tue 23-Aug-05 13:54:02


well I have not had experiecne of a termination following abnormalities, but have had experience of a termination. they are horrible, there's no denying that and my heart really does go out to you. (((((((hugs)))))))

hopefully the time will pass quickly and you'll have your councilling, all I can advise is you will never forget your baby, I haven't after 8 years. please don't blame your self and keep the channels between u and DH open u need to talk about things betweeen u and grieve for your baby. I split up from my DP at the time 2 months later, only 6 months ago we started to talk about it, and honestly it was the worst thing we did by not talking at the time.

I suspect your friends won't know what to say for the best, or what to say to help you, tbh I don't think there is anything anyone can say, this is somehting u need to come to terms with together.

be good to urself, and don't expect much from urself over the next few months.

janinlondon Tue 23-Aug-05 14:26:44

Rign SATFA. They are fabulous people.

"Support After Termination for Abnormality (SATFA)SATFA provides information and support to families who are told that their unborn baby may have an abnormality. They also offer long-term support to parents who choose termination.

address: 73 Charlotte Street, London, W1 1LB.
telephone: 020 7439 6124
helpline: 020 7631 0285 "

Blu Tue 23-Aug-05 14:55:06

Majormoo, I'm so sorry.

DS has a bone missing in his leg, and I churned guilt and 'what ifs' around in my mind for so long. (was I too old, drank too much, used plastics in the microwave, a genetic misfit who shouldn't breed..) But one day the consultant said 'at the moment of conception there are so many millions of processes taking place that it isn't surprising that often, they don't all happen correctly'.

So, so sorry that your baby wasn't ever going to make it, it must have been a horrible horrible thing to be not pregnant after so many hopes and dreams.

I hope you can get some help - but please look after yourself.


sweetheart Tue 23-Aug-05 15:26:35


I lost a baby to a heart defect in January so I sympathise with how your feeling right now. My best advice to you is to take time over your feelings and process them all fully rather than trying to brush them aside.

Take pleasure in giving your dd lots of cuddles and kisses - thank your lucky stars you have her as she will keep you going through the toughest times.

Don't worry about your friends - they won't know what to say to you. I found it was best to organise a big night out when I felt ready so I could tell them all what had happened in one go and then get on with the process of enjoying an evening out.

There is life afterwards....even though it doesn't feel that way now. Next time your pregnant you'll worry like mad but you'll get brilliant care and be very well looked after (says she who is now 25 weeks pregnant again)

Most of all, be good to yourself and dh and you can get through this!!!!!

sweetheart Tue 23-Aug-05 15:27:41

Oh, and if you need to talk to an outside please feel free to CAT me.

fisil Tue 23-Aug-05 15:36:05

Oh majormoo, what a terrible thing for you to go through. However you feel is exactly the right way to feel, and there is no time limit on your grief. And don't ever let yourself feel guilty because you have such a wonderful daughter, or for any other reason. Grief is so strange, any thoughts you have are allowable!

Mine was called a mc because it was at 9 weeks and was originally diagnosed (at 7 weeks) as a missed miscarriage). However, when I went back for the follow up scan 2 weeks later the poor little mite had continued to grow, but had no heart, no shape. It was just a blob. So I had a d&c for a miscarriage - that was how it was defined. But I still think about how it was growing. Maybe I'm the only person inthe world who will ever consider that it was human, but to me it was. We decided to leave it and not get pg again for a while, then we went on a holiday and started thinking "yeah, why not." And I got pregnant straight away, so it was only 4 months after the mc, and it was way too soon. I suffered from AND from virtually the very beginning. While things may well be different for you (you may be a much stronger person than me), don't feel any pressure, and don't even start to think about getting pg again until you are feeling much much better. Oh, and your GP or HV can be excellent for stopgap counselling when you're desperate - I used mine a lot.

edgetop Tue 23-Aug-05 15:50:48

hi this happened to me 12 years ago it was a very hard time . iwas 22 weeks.i was told my baby had lots of abnormalities they could,nt even tell what sex it was it,s heart facing wrong way all organs on outside of body,downs spinabifida.i was told the baby would not go full term and could not live on it,s own.for a while i just felt like it was happening to someone else.i was offered conselling but there was awaiting list .shortley after my marriage broke up .i through myself into work,went on holidays with the girls,i had good days and,s true time is a great healer,you don,t forget but the pain gets easier to live 1998 i met my dh we decided to try for a baby it happened really quickley ,they looked after me really well at the hospital did all the tests i must say it was a worrying time but worth it when he arrived perfect in every way i hope my story helps,

majormoo Tue 23-Aug-05 17:42:32

Thank you for all your messages. It does really help and stops us feeling so alone. My DH read them too and was really touched.

I do feel really lucky to have my DD and also a DH that I can really talk to. We just keep talking through it again and again and again to try to come to terms with it.

I know I shouldn't worry about my friends when we have so much else to deal with, but it would be so nice if people would just call to see how I'm doing, rather than treating me like a social leper. I am still me despite the fact I've lost my little girl!

Blu Tue 23-Aug-05 17:50:13

Would you feel brave enough to call a couple of really close friends and say 'I need you, I can't get through this without you, can we meet'?
That might help them understand that you DO want them - they are maybe thinking they don't want to intrude.

hello to your DH - you can post here too, you know!

Thinking of you Majormoo.

HandbagAddiction Tue 23-Aug-05 18:00:37

Majormoo - whilst this has never happened to me, I do have a friend who last year lost her 10 week old son because of a major heart defect. I know it's not entirely the same, but what struck a chord with your postings is when you said

" I know I shouldn't worry about my friends when we have so much else to deal with, but it would be so nice if people would just call to see how I'm doing, rather than treating me like a social leper. I am still me despite the fact I've lost my little girl!"

I've had several conversations with my friend since her little boy died along similar lines to what you have talked about. She cannot understand wny so many of her previously close friends seem to be completely unable to talk to her about everyday stuff, let alone provide her with any consolation about what has happened. And, the crazy thing is - she's actually desparate to talk to people about him.

May sound harst but I don't think we Brits do the 'death' thing very well. I genuinely believe that most people are often embarrassed in some way that they don't know how to behave or what to say - often worried that their actions and words will be inappropriate, ill-timed or even completely insenstive. Often they mistakenly feel that by talking to you about it, they will 'rake things up' for you instead of allowing you to move on. Again, ridiculous because part of you learning to deal with what has happened is through talking to people about how it is making you feel on a day to day basis.

I know it probably seems difficult right now, but I honestly think that you need to reach out to your friends and give them some guidance/steer on what you need them to do. Tell them that you need to talk about it, how you're feeling day to day, what you've been through, etc. Crazy really to think that the person actually needing the support is often the one who has to tell everyone else what form that support should take....but I think this is maybe the only way to make a breakthrough here. Otherwise, the longer you leave it, the harder it will be for both you and your friends to discuss.

Really sorry to hear about what has happened though. .

RosiePosie Tue 23-Aug-05 18:49:20

Majormoo, some good friends of ours had a baby boy end of 2003. The scans did not detect any problems and he was born at nearly full term. It was only once he was born did they realise something was very wrong. He had a serious bowel disorder, spent 6 weeks in SCBU before passing away. It was heartbreaking. It is very difficult as friends to know how to behave in a situation like this, I don't know if I behaved in the right way. We gave them space in the early weeks as I know they were busy at the hospital and they had good family support. I just tried to act as normally as possible with them, but I must admit I found it very difficult as I had just had a baby myself. It has taken them a very long time to even begin to heal, they had counselling for over a year. I think the experience has bonded them more as a couple and happily they have recently given birth to a healthy baby boy. It is still such early days for you, be gentle on yourself, prepare to be in it for the long haul, but gradually things will become easier for you. Take care xx

edgetop Tue 23-Aug-05 19:16:54

i know what you mean about friends keeping out of your way, have you rang them for a chat,they might think you need time with your dh & dd.everybody is differant,i know when it happened to me i just wanted to talk about it,they are maybe waiting for you.

Eeek Tue 23-Aug-05 19:29:47

I had a termination because of an abnormality which would have killed my ds. It was the single hardest thing in my life. I find friends and family astonishingly insensitive to it now, although they were fabulous before hand. In my case everyone knew as I had it very late because of other reasons. I think it's difficult because termination is largely taboo, sick babies are hard to talk about and people can't cope with the combination of the two. You need to grieve and unfortunately it is very hard to get recognition for that because people didn't see you lose your baby. They do care, they just don't know how to show it. The main thing is that you and your DH hang together, grieve in your own ways, maybe mark the occasion with a church or other service and you will get through it.

Tumblemum Tue 23-Aug-05 19:32:12

marjormoo I don't have direct experience of your situation but I had a miscarriage earlier in the year and what helped us was talking about it together as much as possible, keeping what memories we had e.g. scan pictures, due dates etc... we are both christian but not actively practising I wish in hindsight we had seen a local vicar as apparently they can arrange some sort of service for a child lost through miscarriage whatever the child's age, still feel bad that I have not done this maybe we still will. My friends were not that helpful, a lot of our close friends do not have children so either was hard for them to understand or too painful re not having their own children.
Anyway so sorry that you are going through this, people said to me that it would get better and it did after the passing of time. What really really helped was talking to other mums who had been through the same as me, as they understood how I felt.
I am now just pregnant again but it is fairly loaded. Take great care of yourself.

Eeek Tue 23-Aug-05 19:37:28

Tumblemum - it's very common for people not to have a service at the time but to do so later. Your vicar is bound to understand and can create a service for you and anyone you want to attend. As I say my termination was much later so we had a full burial and I found it incredibly helpful. A service of some kind is a formal recognition of loss.

Tallbird Wed 24-Aug-05 08:05:04

Majormoo, I went through exactly the same as you in October of last year, so I do know the awful time you are going through.
The thing that got me through it was the knowledge that I would rather have discovered things early on than have had to go through the trauma of a stillbirth closer to term, or delivering a baby who didn't survive for long. I also found huge consolation in the fact that I also have a lovely dd - I think that going through something like this really makes you realise what an immense priviledge it is to have a child. I have to admit that I didn't tell even close friends immediately - after all, it's a bit of a difficult conversation to start...but when I did, I was lucky that they were all really supportive.
Can't really offer any specific advice as to how to get over things, as I think that everyone deals with grief very differently. For me, we decided to try for another baby immediately (and got lucky first time) - am currently 38 weeks' pregnant. This pregnancy has been pretty terrifying - especially in the early stages. I didn't find the NHS around here particularly helpful - would highly recommend going private for the 12 week scan / other testing if you can - I found the Fetal Medical Centre (which is actually run by the same team as at Kings) absolutely fantastic.
Thinking of you.

Bellajade Wed 24-Aug-05 09:02:08

I had a similair experience 4years ago when I was 19miscarried due to abnormalities and had a d&c op so I wouldnt have the extra heart ache of seeing my baby.I cant really tell you how to deal with it as 4yrs on I still get upset on the anniversary, even though I now have two healthy kids.I would just say dont bottle up your emotions talk to friends and family or counsellors.The thing I found hard was people pretending like nothing happened and talking about mundane things,sometimes you just need someone to acknowledge your loss.It is hard I know but just know that my lil angel was there to greet yours

majormoo Wed 24-Aug-05 13:11:31

thanks everyone for your advice and support.

Have had a bit of a teary morning -notes arrived from the hospital about disposing of the baby's remains and my dad called and said 'well I don't see why you found out the baby's sex. Still, if it had such dreadful abnormalities it would have died anyway.'

I feel much better now after reading all the posts.

Blu Wed 24-Aug-05 13:16:16

Just saying hello, Majormoo.
How do you and DH feel about the letter form the hospital? What do you think you want to do?

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