In December of 2014, Journey Through Bereavement founder, Brittney Bottoms, learned that her still unborn child had a genetic condition which would result in him being unable to survive outside of the womb.
Brittney elected to continue the pregnancy; however, she very quickly realized that formal perinatal palliative support for patients such as her did not exist. Absent this support, Brittney and her, husband, David, learned that most families in their situation are advised to terminate the pregnancy. Brittney and David felt isolated and alone.
Nonetheless, being determined to do everything within her power to meet her son, Brittney was connected with Labor & Delivery Nurse Cathy Jones from WellStar Kennestone Hospital in Marietta, GA who offered to walk alongside her and help throughout the pregnancy with respect to birth planning, doctor’s visits, etc.
When Brittney went into labor in the middle of the night of May 31, 2015, Nurse Cathy made it a point to be onsite at the hospital on her day off to provide assistance throughout the delivery and throughout Brittney’s time with their child after his birth. Cathy even took pictures and videos of their son, John Tate Bottoms in the operating room so that the family has pictures to memorialize their time with their son.
After John Tate Bottoms was born he lived for two hours and, thanks to Nurse Cathy’s support throughout their journey, the Bottoms family was able to make the most of their time with their son.
Following John’s birth and passing, Brittney and Nurse Cathy had a vision for creating a program which would formalize the kind of support the Bottoms family received so that other families walking a similar path could have the benefit of a perinatal palliative care program including the support of a dedicated Nurse Navigator.
In partnership with WellStar Health System, Brittney, Nurse Cathy and others worked to develop a formal program at WellStar named “Journey Through Bereavement” in honor of John Tate Bottoms.
Given the unique nature of the Journey Through Bereavement process, and the lack of formal perinatal palliative care programs in the United States, Brittney has been invited to speak at conferences around the country. Awareness of the program has resulted in both patients and the health systems who support them reinforcing the need for the services of Journey Through Bereavement so that other families are provided the same opportunity to make the most of their time with their children.