Perinatal hospice care prepares parents for the end, at life’s beginning

The baby who would soon die arrived at 34 weeks, eyes shut, squawking. Her father cut the umbilical cord with a pair of silver scissors. A priest in blue scrubs sprinkled Holy Water on her forehead. A photographer circled the delivery room, capturing her last moments.

And Cathleen Warner quietly marveled: My baby is crying.

The doctor had said the infant’s lungs could never fill with air. Prenatal testing five months earlier had revealed a chromosomal abnormality called Trisomy 18. “Incompatible with life,” the physician told her on the Saturday phone call. Warner had dropped to her knees in the kitchen.

Now the baby’s heartbeat was fading. But she was still breathing. Perhaps they’d have at least five minutes together, Warner thought. She kissed the newborn’s cheeks, just like she’d envisioned, and prepared to say goodbye.


16th April 2016


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