Chapter 3: Other circumstances that may impact your grief

Continuing pregnancy following diagnosis of a life-limiting condition

I've been there
Zoe speaks about taking things one day at a time and finding grace through a difficult experience. (3:22)Video transcript
Zoe speaks about how her decisions about Finn's care helped her in her grief. (3:22)Video transcript
Zoe speaks about a negative experience at the hospital. (3:22)Video transcript
Kimberley speaks about experiencing other people's judgments about their decisions for Ethan's care. (3:22)Video transcript

My obstetrician told me that most women would have terminated the pregnancy at 13 weeks, and he clearly thought I was making a mistake by continuing on. Since I had already made my decision, that was not supportive. I don't regret my decision.

We wanted to meet our son and give him the best life we could, even though we knew it would only be for a shorter time that we hoped. We were grateful for the help of the palliative care team because we knew he would be looked after before and after he was born; and he was.

Some parents decide to continue with their pregnancy after learning of a life-limiting illness. These decisions are also made with great care and love, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t challenges. Some receive palliative care during this time, but this is not always an option. You may have received well-meaning comments and congratulations from strangers on your growing pregnancy, while you experienced growing sadness and anxiety about your baby and all the unknowns you were facing.

It’s normal to feel frightened or emotionally overwhelmed by your knowledge or expectation of what is to come. You may also experience

anticipatory grief

Anticipatory grief is when a person starts grieving a loss before it happens.

. This can include complex emotions similar to other types of grief, including feelings of guilt and self-blame. To see other ways in which you might grieve, click the arrows.

What may help

  • Many parents report that when they reflect on the time they had with their baby, both while pregnant and after the birth, they sometimes find some comfort.
  • As with other losses, it may help to create special spaces and celebrations to keep your baby’s memory alive, reminding yourself that all your love for your baby still lives on.

Anticipatory grief is when a person starts grieving a loss before it happens.