The loss of a baby, whether in-utero or shortly after birth, is the most heart-wrenching experience a parent can encounter. During this time, there is nothing more important than providing families an opportunity to love, celebrate, and grieve for their baby in a supported environment. At UTMB, our mission is to do all we can to provide comfort and empathy to those facing this most difficult time.
History: When our program started, Perinatal Hospice and Palliative Care was a service provided specifically for families dealing with a lethal in utero diagnosis.
Now: With time, it became wisest to combine all our existing services related to the heartache of losing a baby in-utero or soon after birth under one umbrella. To facilitate this, we named our team, that provides service to families dealing with a lethal in utero diagnosis, Abby’s Team. Abby was our first enrolled patient and her parents have helped developed this program into what it is today.
UTMB has a long tradition of serving parents struggling with the heartache and grief of having a baby with whom they must say goodbye. With the help of a President’s Cabinet Award, we began providing small memorabilia packets within our 14 RMCHP Obstetric Clinics and our Emergency Department to help women dealing with miscarriages and in-utero demises. Carolyn Nelson-Becker and Marlo Cochran are leading this program.
Our OB and NICU Bereavement teams have long been providing support for babies that have died in utero or in our NICU. Families are supported by a team of specially trained physicians, nurses, pastoral care, and care management professionals. Our additional training ensures that parents receive compassionate care during their stay with UTMB.Â Support from local groups has always been exceptional in the form of donations of money, blankets and outfits for these babies. Because celebrating the baby's life, no matter how short is an important part of this mission, we have recently improved our memorabilia program and will continue to hold the Annual Memorial Service.
In addition to their high risk Obstetrician (Maternal-Fetal Medicine specialist), women learning of lethal fetal diagnosis can be supported by Abby’s Team. This team is consulted when a woman learns of a lethal diagnosis. The team meets with these families throughout the pregnancy to provide anticipatory grief support and help families create the most healing delivery plans for themselves and their baby. It takes a small army of people to provide this service and at UTMB the commitment to support these families is exceptional and inspiring. Any woman delivering at UTMB is eligible for this program and we frequently have community providers refer their patients to us.
We are so pleased to introduce this expanded program, and we are indebted to those volunteers, medical providers, and funding agencies that have generously shared their time and resources with Joan and Garland's Harbor. We are proud to offer this level of care and compassion to our patients and their families.