The sentence in question: 亡くなったことを知った当初は息子と会うことは考えられなかったという女性。

For full context: https://www3.nhk.or.jp/news/web_tokushu/2018_1130.html?utm_int=news_contents_tokushu_002

My attempt at translation: "A woman who knew it had died and originally couldn't think of meeting the child. [now follows her dialogue, see the article)"

So, first off, I don't know whether I should treat these は in the sentence as topic or contrast markers. In my translation I more or less just tried to figure out a halfway meaningful translation, because I was even more confused by 当初 preceding the first は. As I understood the content, this woman already knew the child was dead before it was born, and even though she couldn't imagine meeting it, she then asked for it (see context). Thats why I related 当初 to the 息子と会うことは考えられなかった part, in a way. But as I said, I'm thoroughly clueless on how to deal with this sentence correctly^^

up vote 2 down vote accepted

亡くなったことを知った当初は息子と会うことは考えられなかったという女性。

First of all, we can see that the whole bolded part is linked to the so called "quotation particle" と. So it's all what the 女性 "says" (いう).

亡くなったことを知った当初

If we take this part individually, we can translate it literally by something like "at first/the beginning (当初) I knew (知った) about the fact (こと) (he) died (亡くなった)" which would be "at the moment I knew he died" in (more or less) good English.

息子と会うことは考えられなかった

This part can be interpreted as "I couldn't think (考えられなかった) about the fact (こと) of meeting with my son (息子と会う)" = "I couldn't think about seeing my son".

Now you can just put the parts together and you something like:

A woman who says at the moment she knew her son passed away, she couldn't think about seeing him.

Basically the woman was told her son was dead because she didn't feel it anymore, and when she "gave birth" to her dead son, the 助産師 asked her if she would see him or not.

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