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Conditions that threaten women’s lives in childbirth & pregnancy

Father's/partner's emotional recovery

We spoke to eleven partners or husbands of women who had had a severe obstetric emergency in childbirth – ten men and one same sex partner. We asked them about how they were affected by their partners’ near death experiences, and what their emotional recovery had been like. When talking about her husband, Alison T explained, “it was a very difficult time for him, obviously differently difficult compared to how it was for me… I think it was very hard for him, knowing that he could have gone into hospital and come home with a child, but have lost a wife.”
 

Sally found the fear and trauma of nearly losing her partner overshadowed what should have been a...

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Age at interview: 34
Sex: Female
Age at diagnosis: 33
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Sally' Yes, and I think there’s a real social pressure, because you know, people come out and say oh the moment I saw this baby, yes, but the moment I saw that baby was associated with me thinking I’d lose my partner. You know, that’s the first thing, I’d got this baby and I didn’t actually care I’d got this baby, you know, we spent nine months talking about it, you know, and I’ve got people going, “Oh what have you had?” And I was like, “I don’t care what we bloody had.” You know, “I don’t even know if Amy’s going to be alive in four hours’ time.” You know, and that, I really strongly remember having that feeling of I just don’t know what’s going on, I don’t know, you know, I was thinking Jesus we’ve got this baby and, you know, it was really, so for me, that kind of attachment thing, I think it’s difficult if you’re, if you’re a Dad or the partner anyway, because you know, I didn’t carry her for nine months, so whilst I felt attached, I felt a responsibility towards her, but I didn’t feel that bond, and I was kind of, not angry’s the wrong word with her, but seeing kind of Amy really struggle with the breastfeeding and being in so much pain, was definitely kind of, resentment about life changing, which comes with being a parent I think to anybody, you know, the fact that you’re up all the time, you know, you can, you can barely string a sentence and all those kind of those and what with that feeling of what have we done, but also just really resentful that, that Amy had had to go through, you know, and I think that got in the way of me bonding with [daughter], you know, initially and it felt like, you know, just all I do is get you up and give you to Amy and feed you and then we go get your nappies, so it just felt like this kind of… that the only emotion was negative. And, and it took me longer than you I think because you were breastfeeding but I think it took me four or five months to actually think, God how lucky we are to have this baby you know, and lots of friends kind of. We haven’t got masses of friends with kids, but kind of who say, “Oh instantly the moment I saw her…” And you start to think God is there something wrong with me that I don’t feel that, you know, I don’t feel that, I’m cross and I’m angry and you know. Amy’s knackered and she’s having to give herself injections and you know, it’s having to carry nipple shields around with you [laughs] you know, and she’s kind of anxious and stressed and you know, I don’t know, it’s difficult. It was difficult.

Amy' Hm.
 
Sally' I think. And you know, someone needs to tell you that’s okay I think. Someone needs to say and actually the consultant was the first person that said, you know, “You’ve been through major surgery.” 
 
The people we spoke to said that seeing their partner in a life threatening emergency took time to recover from. Craig, who thought his wife had died when he saw her in intensive care said that although he was trying to put it behind him and move on, it “still manifests itself sometimes.” Talking about her husband, Alison T said that two years after her amniotic fluid embolism (AFE), a very rare complication of pregnancy in which amniotic fluid, fetal skin or other cells enter the woman’s blood stream and trigger an allergic reaction, “every so often it hit him”. James’s wife also had amniotic fluid embolism and their daughter is now 3 ½. Moving house just after the birth meant he did not have a lot of time to think about it.
 

James and his partner relocated shortly after birth, so they had to focus on moving and starting...

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Age at interview: 43
Sex: Male
Age at diagnosis: 40
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Not as a kind of specific event. I think we probably should have, or should sit down and work through it as a couple really. Because of course, as, as my partner’s health improved, we then had to pack up home, relocate, more practical stuff kind of came in, like packing up the house, was… really, you know, stressful, and then moving up here, and… you know, it was really quite difficult, and that was, you know, we had to start doing that. Yes, a month after birth of my daughter, you know.
 
So, you know, just as my partner was getting stronger, I suppose normally you would have probably dealt with stuff there and then if you weren’t having to move, you know.
 
I don’t think about it on a daily basis, but I wouldn’t say I’d put it behind me. I think there’s still stuff to be dealt with at some point. You know, the big stuff in that you know, my partner’s health you know, and the fact that she’s alive [small laugh] obviously that’s kind of been dealt with, you know, in that she’s, she’s with us and looks like she will stay being with us.
 
No but all that fall out, I think, well in my own head there’s kind of something in the future, there’s something where we deal with it. Either we sit down, I mean I actually wondered if this would be the catalyst for us sitting down and talking about it. Yes.
Simon’s wife had a uterine rupture (a tear opening the womb directly into the abdominal cavity) and was in intensive care after the birth of their daughter, but looking back, he felt that despite their traumatic experience their first year was a very happy time.
 
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Simon's daughter is now two and a half. He doesn't think back to the hospital emergency on a...

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Age at interview: 35
Sex: Male
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Actually we’ve had a really happy year. Our first year, I remember people talking about the shell shock, and the toughest year and it’s a real strain on the relationship and all this kind of stuff, and I mean, it’s not as if I feel bad about saying it, and I remember [Hannah] talking a few months back about the birth experience and things like that and how often we are talking about, we were talking about how often we think about it, and you know, reminisce about it, and… I don’t really. And again that kind of makes me feel bad, and I actually had, you know, a really, really happy, there might be times, in our first year, and somebody might kind of think and probably its always been a bit wrong, given what we’d been through and what [Hannah] went through. But, you know, we did, actually, and despite all those things, we’re still able to have a really happy time. 
 
So it doesn’t haunt you?
 
No. If I’m honest. And that makes me feel a bit shallow at times [laughs]. But I mean there’s a picture upstairs, my little brother did it for a Christmas present/birthday present and it’s a picture of me holding [daughter] and it’s called “Day One”, because it was it was me holding [daughter] with [daughter] clutching [Hannah]’s top and it’s in [daughter]’s room. And so she’s now a huge old two and a half year old. But you know, I still kind of hold her like before she goes to bed and stuff, and that, that image of me holding [daughter] is actually now again connecting to that image. That brings it back in that sense of yes, that time it brings it back. But not, I mean not in a negative way, but just in that sense of how precious you know, they all are. 
 
But I actually don’t, I don’t get, you know, those kind of flashbacks to it, and I don’t… I’m not insecure about.. I mean if things started to go wrong again. Again if we went into a medical situation, yes, I’d think, I would absolutely have no faith in things working out right. I have no sense of invulnerability in that all and a precise of yes, that whole area’s bad and we shouldn’t go near it. But in day to day life, no, I obviously don’t. And I know, you know, [Hannah] does at times. And obviously she lives with the consequences in a very physical way. But I actually don’t, in some ways, I don’t connect the two things. Actually of the birth experience that she had, and that, and somehow I don’t, apart from conversations like this.
 
Mark’s wife was rushed to hospital in an ambulance and had an emergency caesarean after a placental abruption (the placenta separates from the lining of the womb). He has not felt traumatised by what he witnessed, but feels doctors could have taken a few minutes to explain to him what had happened and made sure that he was OK.
 

Mark feels he is ‘a pretty strong guy’, but that other men could have been very affected by...

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Age at interview: 41
Sex: Male
Age at diagnosis: 37
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So dealing with that particular time period, what do you think could have been done differently or better?
 
I think someone could have explained what had happened at that point. Why we were in that situation, why there was the need for the crash team. Why she had been whipped away like that. Just to fill me in. I didn’t think so much of it at the time, because I was so wrapped up in the emotion of having a new born child in my arms. But afterwards I thought, there was space there, to actually involve me a bit more in what was going on, and it wouldn’t have taken too much effort, given that they were all ready and able to dash in and you know, eight or ten of them there, at the crash, to keep one of them behind for a few minutes, just to make sure that I wasn’t less sturdy than I was. Because I’m a pretty sturdy guy, I think, I like to think I am. So I could withstand it, but someone who was not quite as robust as me, might have really gone to pieces at that point, not knowing what was going on. You know, I just sat there and I put my faith in the service I think and thought well if anything is going to go wrong they will tell me. As long as it’s no news is good news kind of thing, well that’s what I was thinking at the time.
 
Some partners felt that the emergency affected how they were able to bond with their new baby. Michael’s baby was delivered early when his wife developed HELLP syndrome (a combined liver and blood clotting disorder). He felt it took him a while to bond with his son, maybe because of the shock. It was only when they were able to bring him home from neonatal intensive care unit that the “shock had sort of worn off… well we got over that and then it was a lot more enjoyable.”
 
Although the partners we spoke to have all been deeply affected by their partner’s life threatening experiences, for some it has had a profound impact on their long-term health, including experiencing depression, flashbacks, a breakdown or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in the months/years since the emergency. Craig’s wife nearly died while delivering their twins. His twins were eight months old at the time of the interview, but he described the experience as the “most stress I’ve ever been under”. He has already had a vasectomy to make sure that they have no more children and don’t have to go through childbirth again.
 

Craig was not able to sleep for 2 ½ weeks after his twins’ birth, haunted by flashbacks. He was...

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Age at interview: 48
Sex: Male
Age at diagnosis: 48
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We went back and saw the surgeon. Who was dealing with it. She’s quite an important lady because everybody stands to attention when she’s walking around. And immediately you knew, that’s right, immediately you felt that there was a cover up going on… I mean majorly so. It’s only when I turned round and said, “Are you scared we’re going to sue you?” Or something. “Because that’s not our intention whatsoever.” “We just want…. I just want answers, because I’m not sleeping at all. I close my eyes and I then see, see what happened and you know, I need, I need somebody to explain to me in layman’s terms, exactly what went wrong and what brought us to this outcome really.” 
 
Yes, it’s probably the most stress I’ve ever been under. For the first probably four months, I just thought I was going to have a heart attack at any stage. I... I don’t think people can understand until it happens to them how stressful it is. Childbirth in general can be, for the male can be, I can only talk from the male side, can be very stressful. Because we’re there for the ride really. We’re not, you know, stroking our wife’s back, and saying what a wonderful job she’s doing and you know… you’re a passenger aren’t you on the whole, on the whole child birth thing. 
 
But ours was particularly awful. So much so… we decided we would never have any more children.
 
Dean’s wife had amniotic fluid embolism after their fourth child was born. He tries not to show his feelings, but two and a half years on he still has flashbacks.
 

Dean still has intense flashbacks to his wife’s emergency. He has never had counselling, but...

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Age at interview: 43
Sex: Male
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And so, yes, it’s not nice. I get flashbacks every now and again. They used to be really bad, really, really bad, because visions are, meant to be a happy time picking your baby up. I get, You know, your brothers and the siblings come along, and I thought I hope it’s not all like it is visions of her being whizzed passed me, my wife. Doctors and nurses running and all of a sudden me baby is whizzed straight past and she’s going to special care baby unit, you know, in an incubator. It’s not nice.
 
No.
 
And that’s what visions come back all the time and haunt me.
 
Still, three years on?
 
Yes. They do…. they’re not as bad let’s be fair I seem to block them out straight away, because I don’t like it, because when I’m working, on particular jobs, I have to concentrate on, and they go bang, just like that. It’s horrible. It’s not nice. I would like to see someone to get rid of it.
 
Have you talked to anyone about?
 
No. You. Only you. 
 
Did no one offer you any counselling?
 
No. I would like some I must admit. I suppose being a man you don’t want none, you know, but at the end of day everyone wants this help at the end of the day if there’s a problem. You know, they may be able to get rid of them. The real of them… the vision… your daughter going past and all of a sudden your wife going past. It’s not nice. It should have been a happy time but luckily the one out there, she’s a monster, she’s nearly two and a half, [wife] she’s here. You know. Sort of she’s got to wear stockings now for the rest of her life, which is not nice. But what I keep saying to her, [wife] is, “Okay, now you’re wearing stockings now, or you can’t have a drink, like a glass of wine or whatever, or you can’t fly, you know. What would these women who have died from it, what would they give to be in your shoes and their husbands to be with them, yes. So think yourself grateful and lucky that you’re here. Because those women ain’t” and they’re not. Right. You know, husbands bringing up their children by their selves. My wife was lucky that someone turned round and said it isn’t me. If someone said I’ve got to wear stockings. Or can’t have a drink again. Or can’t fly. Yes, so, and. You know, so I do tell her off. But then obviously, she obviously down I can’t do this and I can’t do that. You know, but I then put her in her place. So I tell her, you know, all these dads and little kiddies go and visit their mums at graveside because they aren’t around. It can’t be fair. That’s the way I see it.
 
Tom’s wife had a pulmonary embolism (a blood clot in the main artery of the lung) and haemorrhage (heavy uncontrolled bleeding) after their second daughter’s birth. As his wife said, “there’s a lot to contend with. He had to say goodbye to me twice and that’s not an easy thing to do anyway is it?” He found the stress of that period overwhelming.
 

Tom found the stress of his wife's pulmonary embolism and haemorrhage and what happened after led...

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Age at interview: 34
Sex: Male
Age at diagnosis: 32
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Tom' Sure I basically after sort of emergency situation during the birth, the, one of the midwives in hospital said to me, “Are you okay?” That’s obviously quite traumatic. What do you say when you’re sat there holding a baby and you know, you just go, “Look I’m fine.” And get on with what you’re doing. And that was that really. And I think that to be honest it was probably around that Christmas time my Mum and Dad move into their house, and you know, they were just up to their eyeballs and like that created a bit of conflict to be honest, which it shouldn’t really have done. But the… I basically one way or other, had a nervous breakdown in February or March last year and I had to have three and a half weeks away from work. Yes, I was sort of very anxious about well whatever you care to mention having an imagination made it even worse.

 
And you know, I didn’t sort of want to, I didn’t want to leave the house or drive at one stage really. But you know, I managed to sort of slowly get on top of it. My employer didn’t help by maintaining the work contact, putting project lists in front of me, and not really listening to, okay there were heightened concerns that weren’t perhaps necessary. But when I raised work based concerns, although heightened they were dismissed without an explanation. And then around that time, February last year I took on an assistant to assist with work load which was about a year overdue. I’d been working at 150% capacity for a long time. It was too late essentially and I was now having an increase workload, having taken him on to manage it. So essentially I… after a few weeks and you know, a family holiday at Centre Parcs that didn’t go at all well.
 
Sophie' [laughs] No.
 
Tom' For one reason or another the girls got, both got chicken pox that holiday. But that is a different thing. Then I got home here and said, I called the health insurers and said, “You know…” I went and spoke to the GP actually. And he said, “This was, you’ve got a problem with OCD.” And I said, “Rubbish.” I said, “I’m stressed out.” It may be OCD but equally it could just be a very minor case of OCD that’s just blown out of all proportion because of the stress. And I maintain that’s what it was.
 
And but I got counseling, monthly sessions probably from April through to August on private healthcare with you know, an expert who was regionally recognised and was very good. And a very slow process of repeat visits, I mean monthly didn’t seem like an in -proportion response to what was a fairly severe absence from work, but looking back that would have been the right way to tackle it. You know, it meant a long term solution.
 
I think my Father helped a lot as well. And I think one way or another sort of towards the sort of the middle of that summer I was getting on track really, with help.
Rob’s wife, had placenta praevia (a condition where the placenta is in the wrong position and blocking the birth canal) and a hysterectomy five years ago. He has found his wife’s emergency has had a huge impact on his mental health.
 

Sarah describes how her emergency impacted on her husband Darren. He felt a lot of guilt and did...

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Age at interview: 29
Sex: Female
Age at diagnosis: 24
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There was a massive lot of guilt for him as well, because obviously as the father, as the man, obviously he’s contributed to me being pregnant, so, you know, and he just, he just couldn’t, he just couldn’t cope. He just couldn’t, because everyone was asking how I was, physically. I had a lot of people ask how I was physically. But nobody else really asked how he was. And how he was coping. 
 
 And he didn’t cope very well. And people didn’t know how to react to that. That side of things was really, really. Even our GP’s didn’t, they kept kind of, well it was almost very sort of like, oh pull yourself together, you know, it didn’t happen to your wife, and, and, it was a long, long time before we got any support at all. 
 
 He was put onto a waiting list, which was about, there was eight months just for an assessment. So during that time, the, the panic disorder just gets more deep seated, and more worse, and so he, he really struggled. He really struggled. 
 
And so what happened, he saw someone after eight months did he?
 
Yes, he saw, he had an assessment after eight months. They he had, so he went on medication for a while. He had a very, very brief counselling. He had literally six sessions because that’s all that the government sort of says that you’re allowed now. We, we saw a counsellor at the hospital who counsels… A the time he counselled people who’d had sort of, more sort of like still born and things like that. Nobody was equipped to kind of deal with this quite unique situation. And it’s just, it’s all the… it’s all the toughness of having a new baby. Plus all this other sort of trauma and upset. And we just, I think we are just one of the lucky couples that have stayed together. Which was not, it wasn’t easy [laughs]. You know, we came really, really close to not, not staying together. Which no one would believe, because we’re a very, very close couple. Hence why my husband took it so badly in the first place. Because he just couldn’t imagine his life without me, and it’s just horrendous, and it just impacted us on like, in every single sort of, every single part of our life, because then you know, you’ve got then financial hardship comes in, and then that’s an added worry and that’s an added stress and that’s sort of more on top of you. 
 
There was, there’s literally, you know, barely any sort of support that you could kind of like sort of put your finger on. It’s really, really difficult. And I do think that you know, it comes down to be sort of ill informed. 
 
How long was your husband not able to work for? 
 
He’s never returned to work.
 
He’s never returned to work?
 
No.
 
Okay. What did he do?
 
He was a… he did care work. So he couldn’t go back to a hospital. So it made that quite hard. And so he, he’s just, he’s just stayed at home, and settled in to being a house husband now, so … [laughs].
 
What would you say, I mean its five years on…
 
Yes.
 
He’s much better, yes, in the last, I would say in the last six to eight months he is much more like he used to be. I’d say for a good three years he was in a place, and I didn’t ever think that maybe we could ever get out of it. Because, it’s like, if you had, if you were stabbed somewhere and you
 
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Rob described his flashbacks after his wife's emergency. He experienced PTSD, agoraphobia and...

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Age at interview: 34
Sex: Male
Age at diagnosis: 29
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But that was the beginning of the end for me. That, that, that was my flashbacks, that was my nightmares, that was my you know. 
 
So I finally curled up in the corner and the kitchen and, and I’m not in the kitchen, I’m in that room. As I say I didn’t believe it when soldiers come back saying… you know, different people, and I think, well you know, I can imagine the vision that you could, you know, the, the memory of the trauma or whatever you know, whatever you saw in the war, whatever, you know, I can understand it would affect you. I totally get it. Buy to say that you can smell it and see it and be in the same room, no you can’t be like that. And there am I in my kitchen, although I’m not. I’m… and it’s the strangest feeling to actually be stood somewhere but be somewhere else. It was just horrific, and my whole life has fell apart.
 
So of course, I’d got my wife in Intensive Care… and then when she comes home, and we’ve got all this stuff going on. You know, new baby, my wife’s so sick she can barely move. You know, and bit by bit I’m starting to crumble away as well, you know, and the whole family’s just … well it’s just all fallen apart. Do you know what I mean? Emotionally and physically. Yes, all because of this one singular event that, you know.
 
I’m not saying, at the time I was, but now, we’re five years down the line, I kind of look back and think right, if we’d have had the baby at five weeks, that’s not to say that this potentially still couldn’t have happened, because with the placenta where it was, there was always going to be that risk wasn’t there, that we said, you know, there’s always going to be… complications. There’s always going to be something. 
 
You know, so there was never, you know, I started to think well, you know, there was always going to be something, but it didn’t never need to be this. I think this could have been prevented, you know, something was going to happen, you know, that we were kind of prepared for a little… nothing’s ever little is it? But do you know what I mean? We were prepared for a little something, for a, for a minor incident that, you know, it might take a month or so to get over but we could work that. Do you know what I mean? But then we had this to deal with you know. 
 
But when we left hospital eventually that was it, gone. Never saw another doctor and there was nothing, you know, it was just, you just had to get on with it. And it was tough, it was real tough, really tough. I can’t even begin to tell you how bad it was. 
 
I couldn’t leave the house after that. Well I did, my wife would make me. I nearly, I’ve even broken a pint of milk. You are going to the shop, you know. Not in a horrible way, but, you know, because she totally sympathised, because her Dad is a psychotherapist, he’s a counsellor. So she got some advice and obviously he couldn’t comment specifically on what he thought I had, which he never done, even to this day he’s never said, “Well bloody hell boy, I could see this right at the start.” You know, he was very respectful, kept, you know, and just offered friendly advice to my wife where he was, where he was allowed to. 
 
So I was never allowed to stay in. I had to, you know, I did have to do little journeys, you know, and I am thankful for those, because it did actually, I couldn’t see it at the time. I was like crying, and “I can’t leave the house.” You know, but you know, it did help to break down that barrier, just getting that pint of milk every day. It did help. B
Some partners who had looked for support described how they had found it difficult to get acknowledgement of their distress and help for their depression or flashbacks. Tom felt, that although he was able to access counselling privately, there was very little support available for him or his wife. Rob finally plucked up courage to go and see the GP to ask for help but felt he did not receive much sympathy. He felt the message he got was, “‘your wife is the one who went through the trauma… you need to pull yourself together and be there for your wife’. And that was it for me; I fell into a pit of despair from there.”
 
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Rob felt devastated by his GP's lack of sympathy when he asked for help. Some support, even just...

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Age at interview: 34
Sex: Male
Age at diagnosis: 29
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You know, and hard for me to do, I plucked up the courage to go. And I went to the GP like to ask for some help, and you know what he said to me, right. I said, as I’m sat here now. He said to me, he looked me right in the eye, and he said to me, “Mr [name],” he says. “Your wife is the one that went through all of the trauma, and everything else. You just need to pull yourself together and be there for your wife.” And that was it. That for me, I fell into a pit of despair from there.
 
Because of course what am I going to come away thinking, I’m thinking, he’s right, he’s right. What is the matter with me? I’m having all these flashbacks and that. I can’t go to work, what sort of a man am I? I can’t, you know, I need to pull myself together, but equally I couldn’t. I couldn’t function. I couldn’t even, you know, couldn’t even tell you what day it was. Let alone anything else, you know, and my marriage was falling apart and, and everything. And he just tells me to suck it up. And that just made it worse and worse and worse. And you know, and I honestly didn’t think I was ever going to survive. You know, but if we survived that, you know, together we’ve got through that, and bloody hell, I mean that was hard, and then I started to fall apart. And then she had to then, you know, return the favour almost. Not that it’s a favour. But, you know, she, she had to then, she had to start nursing me back to bloody health. Do you know what I mean? And it took me four years. I can honestly say it’s taken me four years, may be a bit more, before. And I couldn’t speak about it for two. I couldn’t two years ago, if you’d sat me down here, I couldn’t have told you any of this. Not, not a word of it. I honestly, without just bursting into tears, and just going somewhere else. I couldn’t off.
 
And it’s still hard for me now and I don’t think I’ll ever properly get over it, because it was… it was so life changing that you, that you just don’t realise how these moments can change everything, and how rapidly events progress from there. You know, that the chain of events that just spiral out of your control, and you’ve got nothing you can do. And, and the fact that we had such a poor medical team, not helping us or supporting us anywhere. Just made it worse. I think if we’d have had a team that was half decent, I don’t think we’d have been in this, we’d have been in this mess now. I don’t think we would have been. You know, if we’d have got some help afterwards. But whatever, I mean I don’t know, whatever it might have been, couples counselling or I don’t know, just someone who gave a monkey’s to come round and help us, you know, or someone to come round and say, “Look while I’m sort of looking after the kids, you know, there’s someone that can help wash her or something.” Not that I mind doing that. And I did that. And I would do it every day for the rest of my life if that’s what were needed, but you know, there is no, nothing, you know, not anything at all, you know, if someone could just come round and do our washing or ironing for us. Just simple stuff like that, or like you say, just take her out for a cup of tea, and bloody, just a friendly ear, you know, just something, but we got nothing. 
 
Mike’s wife had a haemorrhage and their second daughter was stillborn. He has not sought counselling but found dealing with their trauma very isolating. While it has been possible for his wife to get emotional support from talking to her friends, he has found it hard to talk to anyone about their loss.
 

Mike and his wife reflected on how hard it is for men to find someone to talk to about their...

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Age at interview: 34
Sex: Male
Age at diagnosis: 33
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Mike' Yes, I think men are quite difficult to get support from, It was a lot of my friends, you know, empathised quite a lot, but then you expect your close friends to be able to discuss it on a, more of a personal note, but it’s surprising how many of those really close friends found it too uncomfortable. And even to the point where we… I don’t know how we managed it, but we managed to meet people who’ve had similar experiences in the loss of a child, and even the men we’ve met through here, you would expect, you kind of are, you know, you can chat, but you don’t talk about what happened. It’s kind of an acceptance of, ‘Well you’ve been through it too. Great. Hunky Dory. Let’s be on, let’s get on and do other things really. So it’s never…
 
Joanna' It’s not actually talked about, whereas like with my friends, I was able to really, like open up, the story of what happened and really go through absolutely everything.
 
Mike' Hm.
 
Joanna' And I don’t think you’ve ever really done that, that much.
 
Mike' No I do remember, absolutely making a friend of mine white once, in a pub, and he asked the first question, “How are you?” I remember just putting my drink down, and saying, “Well absolutely rubbish actually, because this, this, this, this and this.” But I could see the colour draining from him, because it was kind of …
 
Joanna' He didn’t know what to say.
 
Mike' … how are you mate? You’re all right you’ve got a drink in your hand, you know, everything will be all right. As opposed to he didn’t really want to know what was going on in my head.
 
Joanna' It’s not that they don’t want to know. It’s just that they have no idea what to say to you.
 
Mike' No, but there again you do find the odd person that you’ve never thought would, you know, not a close friend, but somebody who really, really understood you. But yes, no, I don’t think it’s talked about as much from the men’s point of view, I suppose as the women’s.
 
Would you like to talk about it more?
 
Mike' Me, personally, probably. Yes. I think I’d just into normal man mode really, I just kind of think just kind of get on with work and being a Dad and other things, like the decorating or whatever comes along really that just keeps you busy. I don’t know whether most men would feel like that. I think probably they get into work, and distraction is probably the natural reaction for most men.
 
 
Joanna' See distraction worked for me too, and it’s working even more now, because I’ve been back at work. I actually took a year off and I went back to work, at the beginning of September, and it’s worked an absolute treat. And I sort of think to myself, I should have gone back earlier. Because I actually for the first time in a long time, I feel as though I’m myself again. So actually, I don’t think, like people say, you’ve got to face your feelings and everything, but I don’t think it’s necessarily about being to be distracted by something that you enjoy doing.
 
Mike' No.
 
Joanna' And if that’s work then that’s fine. It’s if you don’t. If you have an unhealthy kind of inability to talk about it. But we talked at home. It wasn’t like, you know, we didn’t do that at all.
&nbs
Others had found the support they needed. John was able to find a counsellor who “really does understand where I’m coming from”. A year after the birth of their daughter and his wife’s emergency hysterectomy, he felt able to say, “I believe we are on the turn now… the counsellor, all I can say really, she’s fantastic.”

Last reviewed April 2016.
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