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Amy

Age at interview: 31
Age at diagnosis: 29
Brief Outline: Amy was pregnant with her first child. She went overdue and was induced. After labour did not progress, she was given an emergency caesarean. She haemorrhaged and lost four litres of blood.
Background: Amy is a health promotion specialist. She and her partner Sally were expecting their first child. White British.

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Amy and her partner Sally were expecting their first baby, conceived with donor sperm. Amy was about ten days overdue when her waters broke. They went into hospital where doctors said everything was ok and sent them home. She was finally admitted two days later, on the Thursday afternoon, and on the Friday she was started on induction, with a syntocinon drip. However labour did not progress and Amy asked for an epidural. She had it put in, but after a while was able to feel pain and they discovered that the epidural had fallen out. By the evening, the epidural had been replaced but the labour was still not progressing so doctors decided to take Amy for an emergency caesarean. Their daughter was born and was fine. But shortly after delivery, Amy started to haemorrhage, her uterus was exhausted and not contracting. The atmosphere in the operating room changed rapidly. Sally, her partner, was asked to leave and wait outside. After an agonising wait, staff came to tell Sally that Amy was OK and she was allowed to go and sit with her for a while. Amy had lost 4 litres of blood and required a transfusion. Amy’s mother was also at the hospital and very worried, as she heard snippets of what was going on from staff. Amy was transferred to the high dependency unit (HDU) but was not allowed to receive visitors there, so pushed to be transferred to the post natal ward as fast as possible. In hindsight this was a mistake, as she was not given the same level of care and support with looking after and feeling her baby as she would have been in HDU. But she was desperate to see her parents. She found looking after her baby very painful and frightening in those early days in hospital, and when she came home. Amy also felt that the traumatic birth meant it took her a long time to bond with her baby. Sally felt also that she was so focused on making sure that Amy was OK, it took her a while to really feel a bond with their new baby. Amy was given very good support in the community and a year later is hoping for another baby, although anxious about how the delivery would go a second time. 

 

After her haemorrhage, Amy was transferred to her own room, which in hindsight was a mistake. She...

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Amy' They transferred me into a room, which in hindsight was a mistake, because I couldn’t, I mean I still had loads of various things…
 
Sally' Attached to you.
 
Amy' Attached to me, and I just wasn’t well enough to be… You know, obviously I couldn’t get out of bed, and you couldn’t stay.
 
Sally' They wouldn’t let me stay.
 
Amy' I had my own room but basically you went home, was it about 8 o’clock at night.
 
Sally' About 9 o’clock. You were so desperate to see your Mum and Dad though that you kind of traded staying with the support just so you could see your Mum and Dad.
 
Amy' Yes. And so it meant that even though obviously I had the bell and stuff and I could ring the bell. I was in a room on my own and no one really comes in, you know, unless they you ring the bell, and they come in to do their sort of checks every so often. Every sort of, I don’t know, few hours or something, but it kind of felt very. And once you went home I was absolutely terrified. I thought oh my God I’ve got this baby that I don’t even feel I know.
 
Sally' Hm.
 
Amy' Next to me and I couldn’t really lift her out the cot.
 
Sally' You couldn’t get her out the cot could you?
 
Amy' And I remember the next morning. Because overnight I obviously kind of managed to get her up and feed her, because I’d managed to start breast feeding a bit and the next morning I remember the nurses, the nursery nurse coming in, who sort of more deals with the babies, and saying, “Well she hasn’t been changed.” And she hasn’t been this. And feeling like great, now I’m useless at this as well. But I couldn’t, you know. I know I probably should have just rung the bell in the night and said, “Can you come and change her.” But I don’t know it was probably me. I’m a bit. I don’t like to kind of say to people.
 
Sally' Well also it’s our first baby.
 
Amy' Had stayed on the high dependency unit…
 
Sally' They would have done all of that.
 
Amy' They’d have done all of that and they would have you know, helped to get her out and put her on me so I could feed her and all that sort of stuff. And so I felt that there was no bond. I just felt like there was just this baby that’s you know, and obviously when they’re tiny she was sleeping a lot, and you know, she was just sort of…. I don’t know, it was just…
 
Sally' Yes, and you just don’t know do you. You don’t know until you change them two times, you know, when they’re that age. You know, until some kind of say or someone like your Mum or my Mum says. “Leave that, you know, or the nursery do those things.”
 

After her haemorrhage, Amy felt annoyed to hear other friends describing their straightforward...

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Amy' And I think the other thing that is difficult has been hearing other people’s stories, stories sort of about labour and with my kind of group of friends that I meet up with relatively regularly and them sort of talking about oh it was an awful experience and it was, you know, just that frustrates… and I don’t want to feel that because I’m very aware that for every woman that gives birth, however, you know, complicated or straightforward that’s their experience and that’s just as important as anyone else’s experience, but it really annoys me when you hear women who had relatively straightforward births…
 
Sally' Straightforward.
 
Amy' Go on about how traumatised they are and, and how kind of I don’t know how they don’t know they’re going to have another one, because it was so hideous and I just, I don’t know. Which, and I know, I don’t like, I hate being like that because it is, you know, it is a massive thing to go through, however straightforward it is and, and, you know, I don’t, you kind of think there almost need to be a forum for every woman to go and talk about her experience, because it is such a huge thing, and then it’s like, and to the hospital it just happens every single day, you know, in every single hour, you know, and yet it’s become very obvious talking to friends that it, it’s a sort of trauma for everybody however straightforward it is, and they kind of need that space to talk about it. And you know, I suppose if it’s straightforward like, I would be more than happy to listen to somebody’s experience, but I just get, I sort of have a very short fuse I think on it, and I think I wish I’d had that chance to have, to have that skin contact.
 
 

Shortly after her daughter had been delivered by caesarean section, Amy noticed the atmosphere...

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Amy' And then they delivered…. Once they had finally numbed me, they delivered [daughter] fairly quickly didn’t they? And that was all fine. I remember hearing her cry and I remember them saying it’s a girl, because we didn’t know and then them saying to you do you want to take…
 
Sally' “Do you want to come and cut the cord?”
 
Amy' Do you want to come and cut the cord and they took her off to one side and they said to us, “Don’t look. Don’t look round the sheet because you know, obviously, not for me for her, you’ll see all the bits and pieces.” And stuff like that. But of course the…
 
Sally' When they cut the cord they way, so I’m sat at the head and its over here, so you kind of just by looking back at (A) you can see, oh and I’m one of the most squeamish people in the world and it was, you could just be like oh….
 
Amy' And then I think quite quickly I must have started bleeding. But it’s all a bit of a blur really. Because I suddenly. I do sort of vaguely remember this slight sense of, the sort of mood changing and the music going off.
 
Sally' Yes, the music got switched off.
 
Amy' And I don’t really remember an awful lot after that, because I think I must have lost consciousness fairly quickly, but basically they said, I had had, the uterus hadn’t contracted quickly enough. And the… well when I saw the consultant as part of my follow up she said it was probable that because I had a lot of Syntocinon the uterus was just exhausted by the time they then did the C Section and whilst they expected there to be some blood loss it just didn’t contract at all.
 
So I then had a bleed. And they also I had a blood vessel tore as well and they were very vague about whether that was done by the surgeon or the by getting her out. Because she was a big baby she was 9lb 11, so she is a big baby so they were sort of very uncertain about how that had happened as well. And then I don’t really. They did actually, you brought her over, or somebody brought her over.

Sally' Yes, no, no, I came and sat down and cut the cord.
 
Yes, she took control. But then I started to get quite upset because obviously Amy was kind of. I didn’t have a clue what was going on. I didn’t know. You know, all I knew was suddenly the room was full of people. You know, absolutely rightly no one was talking to me about what was going on apart from the anaesthetist and so they said, “Perhaps you should leave.”
 
And of course, I think whilst they say that that’s probably the right thing for me to do, but of course I was starting to think, well why are you asking me to leave? What the hell is going on?
 

So I took, the midwife that had been with us, put [daughter] in the kind of cot, incubator thing and she was fine throughout. She was, she was kind of, they weren’t at all worried about her, or anything. And I kind of sat in the corridor. You know, just outside while they gave you a blood transfusion. While they were giving her blood, and but in the meantime Amy’s Mum who sat in the kind of reception area could hear them ordering blood for someone and knew… Because we’d been in there a couple of hours by this point. You were in theatre for almost thr

 

Even after she was discharged Amy felt very weak and was on extra iron injections for several weeks.

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Amy' No. I then went back a few weeks later for my check up with the consultant and had a long kind of chat with her about what had happened. And she explained some things. And I think we knew obviously stuff had gone wrong and we knew, you know, once I came home I was still very unwell. I was like, once I got to the top of the stairs I was out of breath and I just wasn’t really able to pick [daughter] up.
 
Sally' No.
 
Amy' I mean…
 
Sally' If I hadn’t have had four weeks off work…
 
Amy' I don’t know what we’d have done. We’d have absolutely… we’d have had to have someone move in with us, my Mum or your Mum or something even then because I just couldn’t do anything. I couldn’t even in the night lift her out of the moses basket right by the bed, and I was on injections. I had to give myself injections and various things.
 
Sally' Iron and stuff.

Amy' Iron tablets and stuff and I was on those for quite a long time. And when I went back to the see the consultant she was the sort of first person that said, I really remember her saying to me, “Oh you need to give yourself some time, because you might feel fine now in terms of sort of emotionally how you feel about it, but then when the kind of whole, I’ve got this new baby thing wears off, it might hit you and she said, because when you nearly die it can be a bit traumatic. And [laughs] that was the first time I think anyone had really said, sort of said how serious it had been and I hadn’t, and I’d been told that I’d lost about four, well I was told I lost about four litres of blood, but on the notes it says less than that. So I’m not entirely sure. But at the time I think we were talking about 4 litres of blood.
 
 

After her haemorrhage (heavy uncontrolled bleeding), doctors warned Amy she might feel anxious....

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Yes, she was, she did say you need to… But they all said give yourself a break, you know, and be, be kind to yourself and the midwives also said, “You know, if you ever become pregnant again, you need to think about this because it might sort of bring it all back, and you might be very anxious.” And I did have when I first came out of hospital I had nightmares, about, and it was always at night, it was about people touching me, and being all the sort of pain and stuff, but mainly people, because I remember, I do remember throughout it saying to people, “Just leave me along. Just stop touching me.” And like it was so painful. And so I had nightmares about that for a while, but they kind of disappeared, relatively quickly, within a few months, they sort of disappeared. But then I had, I thought it was all okay but then we went, we went and had a massage done, at a Spa place and he sat me in a position in the same, in a similar opposition to the one you have the epidural in when you lean over a pillow. And it just, I was just like, “You can’t sit me like that and don’t touch my back.” 

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