As it is baby loss awareness week, I felt it was timely to share our tragedy that was losing our beautiful girl, Jessie.
5 months ago, we ended our daughter’s life when I gave birth to her on 16th April 2021. Just 5 days prior to this we were eagerly sat in the waiting room excited for our second scan. On the screen she was waving and kicking her arms and legs, bouncing around, full of life. Towards the end of the scan the midwife told us she had a teratoma attached to her spine but a second opinion from a specialist was required. Within 4 hours we were sat in a London hospital, full of questions, clinging onto hope.
Rich wasn’t allowed in the waiting room due to covid so I sat and waited with my mind going overtime wondering if this was my fault. The consultant confirmed the rare tumour was growing. We were told the tumour could grow bigger than Jessie which may result in fetal heart failure or premature labour. If Jessie could survive birth, she could have the tumour surgically removed but this was high risk with unknown outcomes. Our final ‘option’ was to terminate her life.
We knew we needed to make a decision, but I hoped there was another option. I wish I could explain the numbness felt in the days between the scan and the day Jessie was born, reeling knowing our world has just crashed at our feet. We decided the kindest and only ‘option’ for us was to terminate the pregnancy and end Jessie’s life. Waiting to end a life is incomprehensible. I went to bed each night stroking my bump, silently dying inside but just hoping Jessie’s final days were comfortable and she felt loved.
I was induced 5 days after the scan and gave birth to Jessie 10 hours later. She was born sleeping with one arm in the air and the other on her tummy, just how her big sister Charlotte sleeps. We stayed with Jessie that night and the next morning we were discharged. Leaving the hospital with a memory box instead of Jessie was the single most painful experience of my life. My motherly instincts kicked in and I spent the next few weeks at a complete loss, not wanting to do anything other than be with Jessie. We had a beautiful funeral service where we were able to say a final goodbye. As time has gone on and with some counselling, I’ve built strength and I can talk openly to family and friends who have supported us.
A termination for medical reasons (TMFR) is a sub community within the already taboo community of pregnancy and infant loss and is one of the least talked about types of pregnancy loss. I just hope by sharing our story, others that have experienced a TMFR will take comfort. It brings grief and heartbreak as losing any pregnancy does, and it also brings guilt and for some reason shame and regret. Even now I feel myself justifying our decision but we know our ‘choice’ to say goodbye to Jessie at this stage prevented her from experiencing a potential lifetime of pain and suffering.