Screen Shot 2018-08-10 at 15.27.37There is so much about Motherhood and pregnancy that nobody ever tells you about. One of them is that you may have to choose to end a pregnancy for medical reasons. A difficult, heartbreaking but ultimately necessary decision.

Here Frankie Durden bravely shares her experience:

  • Termination for Medical Reasons.

  • This was not a term I had ever heard of before. I was only really aware of miscarriage, still birth and that some babies were born ‘poorly’.

  • I was 24 when I fell pregnant and pretty naive.

  • When I found out I was pregnant I instantly fell in love with the little person inside me. 

  • I pretty much told everyone I was pregnant as I was certain that I would have a Baby in my arms in 9 months time. 

  • I even bought a few outfits before my first scan (what was I thinking). 

  • I signed up to every pregnancy app and I could tell you how pregnant I was down to the day and the size of my baby. 

  • The day before my 12 week scan I remember calling my mum and saying what if something is wrong – I just couldn’t shift the thought.

  • I arrived at the hospital and the scan begun and there I saw the baby bouncing around on the screen and I heard the heartbeat almost instantly – relief. 

  • I relaxed and started asking questions ‘what can you see?’ ‘Can you tell the sex already’ 

  • What followed was a hour of silence no one spoke – the baby was scanned over and over again by different doctors and I think then I knew something was really wrong. 

  • I asked the sonographer as I couldn’t bare the silence any longer.

  • His reply was  ‘it doesn’t look good’.

  • I just burst in to tears.

  • We were taken to the quiet room and informed he was 99% sure the baby had Patau syndrome and listed off all the abnormalities he had seen on the screen 

  • Here are some of them. Six fingers on each hand, club feet, heart growing on the right side not the left, cleft palette and their heart beat was double the normal speed. 

  • For those of you who don’t know Patau syndrome is when chromosome 13 triples rather than doubles in every cell of the body causing a whole host of health issues. 

  • Most babies don’t make it to term, some live a few hours after birth but only 10% live to 10 or more. 

  • I was invited back the next day to perform a CVS and have more scans.

  • A CVS is a large needle being pierced through the stomach, into the uterus and taking a sample from the placenta. The sample is tested for chromosomal abnormalities and genetic conditions. 

  • I knew instantly I couldn’t carry on with the pregnancy knowing the baby would never come home.

  • I couldn’t grow a baby and never buy them anything, never decorate a room for them.

  • If the baby did survive to term their life would be limited. They would probably never leave hospital.

  • I just knew it was something I couldn’t put myself through and something I didn’t want for my child. 

  • I went back the next day for a CVS which was pretty brutal. They scanned the baby for two more hours.

  • I cried and cried as I lay on the bed surrounded by doctors and students. 

  • I was 13weeks6 days on the day of the termination.

  • I had a wonderful bereavement midwife who explained she felt the best option for me would be a surgical termination as she was worried seeing the baby would be upsetting. 

  • Of course woman do have the option to have the baby naturally before then , meet their tiny baby and take any little hand or foot prints if they wish.

  • Some choose to have burials some cremations.

  • There are no right or wrong you have to do what is best for you in that situation. 

  • I know for me I made the best decision. My partner also felt it was the best decision for him. 

  • The termination Clinic was hard. They gave me a red folder with my notes and a booklet saying ‘termination for fetal anomalies’ I held this book high when reading it so everyone could see. My partner laughed  and told me he knew why I was doing it.

  • That I didn’t need to as no one there would be judging.

  • Before they put me to sleep I cried to the doctors and nurses telling them I didn’t really want to be there and would have this baby if I could. 

  • Within a hour I was back in the car on the way home. Screen Shot 2018-08-10 at 15.34.05

  • I remember feeling like my heart hurt. 

  • It ached. It longed for things to have gone differently. 

  • The weeks that followed were dark. 

  • All I did was google. 

  • How quick can you get pregnant after a termination?

  • Chances of fetal abnormality happening twice.

  • Early pregnancy signs.

  • I was obsessed with getting pregnant.

  • I even joined baby centre chat rooms and threads devoted to all those that had lost babies. It was a relief to know I wasn’t the only one but I felt sad to know so many people go through the same pain. 

  • I was obsessed with the threads actually.

  • A phone call a couple of days later confirmed that the baby had full Patau syndrome and it was not likely to happen again. I was still at only a 1% chance of it happening in future pregnancies. 

  • They also informed me that the baby was a little girl. 

  • That hit home and for a few days after  I wondered if I should have met her, named her or had something to remember her by. 

  • The hardest thing for me was that I wasn’t sure what group I belonged in. Screen Shot 2018-08-10 at 15.35.59

  • I didn’t have a miscarriage, I didn’t have a still birth, I didn’t have a baby, I had made that decision to end the pregnancy and that’s something I think about every day. 

  • It was however the right decision. I healed quicker than I believe I would have had I gone to term or waited for the pregnancy to end naturally. 

  • My body hadn’t gone through many changes yet and to the outside world I didn’t look pregnant.

  • Not meeting her meant that I remembered her as a little bouncy baby on the ultrasound. 

  • If I’m honest I was scared to see her and wasn’t sure if I would cope with that. 

  • Having the surgical termination meant I didn’t have the physical pain of labour . I didn’t leave that clinic physically tired just mentally. 

  • 11 weeks after my termination I found out I was pregnant again. I went privately for NIPT testing and at 11 weeks it was confirmed this baby was healthy. 

  • I didn’t enjoy pregnancy. I worried at every scan, cried at most midwife appointments and was on edge it would all come crashing down at any minute

  • I became aware of just how precious pregnancy and life are. That so many things have to go right in those nine months for a baby to be born healthy. 

  • I learnt that the 20 scan is not just about finding out the sex which I know lots of people think of it as.

  • It truly is a miracle.

  • 50 weeks after my termination I had a healthy baby girl in my arms. 

  • If you ever find yourself in this situation do your research. 

  • Take your time with your decision  the hospital will not force you into anything.

  • Do not feel bad if like me you feel like you need it over as quickly possible.

  • DO remember your baby and pregnancy and speak about them when ever you need to .Screen Shot 2018-08-10 at 15.29.14

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  • Reply outofhoursblog August 20, 2018 at 6:28 pm

    Such a heartbreaking story, I’m glad Frankie was able to hold a healthy baby in the end. I also joined babycentre forums as a way of helping me through my losses and found this helpful. As sad as it sounds, it helped me not feel totally isolated in my experience. Xx

  • Reply lifeoutoforder92 August 21, 2018 at 2:17 am

    I had to medically terminate my second pregnancy due to hyperplastic left heart syndrome. I was 21 weeks when I gave birth to my beautiful little girl Nyla Rose. I knew then and know now that I made the right decision. I wouldn’t change it. I still think about her every damn day <3

  • Reply Alice August 21, 2018 at 10:10 pm

    Thank you for sharing your story. I feel tense all over, after reading it. My first baby had Patau syndrome and I’ve never met anyone else who had this experience, or read their story. I’ve met lots of people who have had miscarriages, but never anyone who’s had to choose a termination. So it feels so good to hear your experience.

    The hospital told me the day after my 12 week scan that the bloods showed a high risk of Patau syndrome, but then I had to wait until 15 weeks for an amnio. So I then had to have a medical termination at 16 weeks, which meant being induced and giving birth to my baby. My Mum looked at her, but my partner and I chose not to. We have her footprint though.

    Because of this experience I never really enjoyed my second pregnancy, the reality of knowing that it can all go wrong was ever present. I also feared needing an induction, because of the memories of the termination. Of course I did have to be induced, which led to an emergency c-section and my daughter was ill, so we were in SCBU for a week. But she is now a happy healthy very nearly 4yr old.

  • Reply Kirsty August 23, 2018 at 9:34 pm

    Thank you so much for publishing this. I always feel so selfish and feel so much guilt for ending my pregnancy after learning that our boy Charlie had Spina Bifida and anencephaly and we were advised to terminate. I gave birth to him at 21+3 and it was the hardest and most painful thing I ever had to do, but felt that I wasn’t entitled to support since it was my decision to terminate. It still haunts me now and I live with guilt. At least I know that I’m not the only one who has had to make a heartbreaking decision that completely goes against the core values of motherhood. 🙁

  • Reply Helen August 26, 2018 at 5:32 pm

    Thank you for this post. I have a 19 year old daughter who has a rare neuromuscular condition called SMA type2. It’s a genetic condition that myself nor my ex husband knew we were carriers of. It means that she has extremely low muscle tone, is a full time powerchair user, needs help in everything she does; but it doesn’t affect her mentally at all. She’s missed a lot of school but has achieved 3 GCSEs so far (English – A, foundation tier maths – 5 and this year higher tier maths – 6 equivalent to a B), and is just about to start her A level English Lit.
    When we decided to have another baby we were told the best chance of having a health baby was the natural way. Each pregnancy carried a 1 in 4 chance of having a baby with SMA, and as I was nearly 40, IVF gave us a 1 in 10 chance, so off we went! I got pregnant pretty quickly but found out that this baby also had SMA. Hardly anyone knew I was pregnant and I had a medical termination at 12 weeks, and have hardly talked about it to anyone. We went on to have 4 rounds of Pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD is a specialised IVF procedure) but sadly none of them were successful. I think about my baby so often and will never forget them, but it was the right thing for me, my daughter and our then family. Nobody ever talks about this taboo subject as it’s so emotive, so it’s comforting to know that there are others out there that have been through the same thing. xxxx

  • Reply Katy September 26, 2018 at 11:37 am

    One of the Kindest things a friend told me about my medical termination was that I was already ‘ thinking like a Mummy.’ I did it because I couldn’t bear my baby to suffer his fated illness and she said I was putting my baby first. But I still feel so sad that he couldn’t be born with his twin sister. What a brave lady to write about this. Much love xx

  • Reply Heather March 5, 2020 at 5:02 am

    Thank you for sharing this. This is pretty much my story. Got the NIPT done and results came back as possible trisomy 13. Went in for an ultrasound next day at 12 weeks and immediately I knew. He was so sweet and happy looking, but we could see the Nuchal translucency at 9 mm ( supposed to be 2.5) and the 6 fingers on each hand. Baby had heart flow issues and doctors said they could see a cleft palate. I got a cvs done that day and preliminary results came back as 100% full trisomy followed by the karyotype a week later confirming full trisomy in 100% of cells. Not wanting to give up hope we met with the ob at 14 weeks who went over all risks to me regarding taking baby to term or terminating the baby. Prior to that meeting a second ultrasound confirmed only 2 chambers to the heart. It was believed baby would not live much longer in utero and for sure not to birth or after. I could wait til baby passed on his own but the risks to me were higher if I ended up having to deliver a stillborn midway through. Damage to my cervix, uterus, and risk of infections were much higher along with other complications if I continued. I am still awaiting my appointment but this by far has been the hardest moment in my life. All of the debating of the what if’s and what is the best to keep my child from suffering has taken such an emotional toll. I never thought I would ever have to face this. I took pregnancy for granted thinking I would be bringing a precious baby home. And unfortunately no matter which route I take that will not be the case. I am so sorry you went through this but I am so thankful you shared your story. It lets me know that I am not alone even though I wish that no one else ever had to or has to go through this.

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