A-Z

Kerry

Age at interview: 27
Age at diagnosis: 25
Brief Outline: Kerry was expecting her third child. She developed bleeding and was diagnosed with placenta praevia. At 28 weeks she started to haemorrhage. Her son was delivered by an emergency caesarian and was transferred to special care.
Background: Kerry is a receptionist. She has three children and lives with her partner. White British.

More about me...

This was Kerry’s third pregnancy. She got pregnant with her third child just eight weeks after giving birth to her second. Her children were four, two and 16 months old at the time of the interview. 
 
During her pregnancy, she had some instances of bleeding from 21 weeks. At 28 weeks she was diagnosed with total placenta praevia and told that if she did bleed, she should go to hospital to have it checked out. 
 
At 28 weeks, while in hospital being monitored, she woke up at 4.30 am with blood gushing out of her. She called the midwife and who quickly called the emergency team. She was given an emergency caesarean to deliver the baby. She was awake throughout but has no recollection of her son being born. He was quickly taken to neo-natal intensive care (NICU) where he was very poorly. He stayed in hospital for 11 weeks, and at 16 months (at the time of the interview) was developmentally delayed and had breathing and enzyme difficulties. Kerry described finding bonding with him very difficult.
 
Kerry stayed in hospital for 2 days before going home to her other young children. She was unhappy that she was put in a ward with three other women who had healthy babies with them. Once home, she was not able to follow doctors advice and drove regularly to the hospital and lifted shopping for her family. This extended her recovery considerably. 
 
She developed flash backs, and severe anxiety and post natal depression. Her GP has been very supportive, and she started counseling which she continued for a year. She had regular panic attacks, mostly focused around bleeding to death. Her partner found the hospital experience terrifying, and was left in the recovery room alone, not knowing if his partner was alive or dead. No one came to tell him.
 
The experiences have had a profound effect on her and her children. Her eldest son refused to come and see her in hospital and her youngest, now only two, is very clingy and anxious.
 
 

Kerry was very frightened when she started to bleed. She felt doctors should have sat her down...

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I think that they should have, the day that they diagnosed the placenta praevia I think they should have sat me down and told exactly what it meant, and the dangers and the risks. No one ever put a bit danger on it. But obviously I looked it up myself and realised that there’s different grades of placenta praevia. It can be marginal. It can be a little but it can be complete. And then when I read the complete I thought wow. And it just made me think little things like if this was years ago before they had scans, I would be dead. Because no one would know that that baby cannot come out any other way, you know, then me and the baby would be dead. Or they wouldn’t understand why I was bleeding and it just, it’s a scary thought. I do think we’re really lucky that we have got the medical things we’ve got today. But I just wish they’d have told me a lot more and the way they carried on, on the emergency, I thought wow it is serious. All the consultants were there. It was a consultant anaesthetist and I thought… so it is serious. And why did they… I sometimes felt like it was, I hated going back to the hospital with the bleeds because the midwives were so, “Put yourself on the bed..”, and it was kind of, “oh it’s her again.” That’s how I got to the point of feeling, “oh she’s back again”.
 
I was in the labour ward. I just woke up, and I thought I need a wee, which is unusual for me. I just stood up and I just, I had to wee in the bed pan. They wanted to keep testing it and seeing if there was blood in it. Just when I stood up it was just, the floor, I could see just see red basically.
 
Okay, so what did you do?
 
I just leaned back onto the bed and grabbed the alarm and just, the midwife
came in and straight away she just hit this alarm and it was just doctor after doctor and.. I do remember them doing a physical examination of me as well, while I was bleeding which was really uncomfortable. I don’t think she got that far in when she had just seen how much blood was coming out. It was just straight away the bed was just soaked.
 
Okay and how long do you think the haemorrhage went on for?
 
I would probably say half, not more than half an hour. It literally happened and I was five minutes, within five minutes I was in the theatre.
 
Okay.
 
And it was, I just remember them pressing, and putting and messing about down there with like towels … While they were trying to sit me up, I remember having a midwife between my legs, and I can’t even, I wasn’t even embarrassed or anything. All I could see was just the blood, and all right it was on her gloves, and there was sheets and everything was just, and everywhere I looked it was red. It was so frightening.
 
And how did you feel?
 
I just felt scared, because I’d never come across anything like this. I had no understanding of it, and I just didn’t expect to be in there and then you hearing words, hysterectomy, and you get, I could hear her shouting what my blood type was, and the doctor, and then I had the anaesthetist tell me he was going to put me to sleep if I lost too much blood. And I thought maybe if I’d have known a lot more I could have mentally prepared myself, that yes, you can haemorrhage. This is what haemorrhage means and you might have to have a blood transfusion. You know, things like that, I didn’t know like what happens when you haemorrhage. They never explained that if you haemorrhage, because I could have said then, well what would happen if I did haemorrhage and then remembering the main word hysterecto
 

Kerry had placenta praevia. She was in hospital being monitored after having had a smaller bleed...

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How many weeks between when you went in and when the haemorrhage happened?
 
Two weeks.
 
Two weeks okay.
 
Yes.
 
And what information were you given during that time?
 
Nothing at all.
 
What was your understanding of why you were in hospital?
 
Basically from my own research on the internet, while I was actually sat in the hospital, that it was complete placenta praevia and from what I read up on all the web sites it was serious. It was, you can haemorrhage, you can die, early labour. It’s all documented facts and I was just wondering why me midwife had never made a big deal out of it or you know, no one ever said to me, rush to the hospital. A little bleed can become a big bleed. I just thought “I’ll be all right”.
 
I was in the labour ward. I just woke up, and I thought I need a wee, which is unusual for me. I just stood up and I just, I had to wee in the bed pan. They wanted to keep testing it and seeing if there was blood in it. Just when I stood up it was just, the floor, I could see just see red basically.
 
Okay, so what did you do?
 
I just leaned back onto the bed and grabbed the alarm and just, the midwife came in and straight away she just hit this alarm and it was just doctor after doctor and I do remember them doing a physical examination of me as well, while I was bleeding which was really uncomfortable. I don’t think she got that far in when she had just seen how much blood was coming out. It was just straight away the bed was just soaked.
 
Okay and how do you think the haemorrhage went on for?
 
I would probably say not more than half an hour. It literally happened and I was five minutes, within five minutes I was in the theatre.
 
Okay.
 
And it was, I just remember them pressing, and putting and messing about down there with like towels… While they were trying to sit me up, I remember having a midwife between my legs, and I can’t even, I wasn’t even embarrassed or anything. All I could see was just the blood, and all right it was on her gloves, and there were sheets and everything was just, and everywhere I looked it was red. It was so frightening.
 
And how did you feel?
 
I just felt scared, because I’d never come across anything like this. I had no understanding of it, and I just didn’t expect to be in there and then you hearing words, hysterectomy, and you get, I could hear her shouting what my blood type was, and the doctor, and then I had the anaesthetist tell me he was going to put me to sleep if I lost too much blood. And I thought maybe if I’d have known a lot more I could have mentally prepared myself, that yes, you can haemorrhage. This is what haemorrhage means and you might have to have a blood transfusion. You know, things like that, I didn’t know what happens when you haemorrhage. They never explained that if you haemorrhage, because I could have said then, well what would happen if I did haemorrhage and then remembering the main word hysterectomy and I thought that’s mine, that’s a woman, its, and I’m thinking I’m 25 year old. And it was just so frightening.
 

My partner, he couldn’t even come in. He fainted outside but he couldn’t… So my sister had to come in. He said he’s never been so frightened in his life. Ever.  

 

Kerry started bleeding at 11 weeks during her third pregnancy. She was diagnosed with placenta...

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The third pregnancy. It was perfectly fine, but there was like eleven weeks I noticed a show of bleeding. I went to the hospital. They just said the baby’s heartbeat was fine. The scan was fine. They never thought anything of it. Sent me home. I went to the hospital for my 20 week scan when they noticed the placenta was covering my birthing canal. They asked me to come back three weeks later to see if it had moved off, subsided anywhere else. 
 
In between the time I was due to go back I started bleeding again. It was just a little bit to start off with. I went into the hospital, they kept me in for 24 hours after I stopped bleeding. Then let me home. Went back for the scan and this time they noticed it was firmly fixed, right across the birthing canal, which they call complete placenta previa. 
 
They never really said anything about it, just told me that if you have any bleeds, or any shows of anything, come straight to the hospital. And that was that. And then I was about 24 weeks into the pregnancy, and I just remember waking up and I just felt really wet down below. I pulled the quilt back and it was just a big flood of blood all over the bed. 
 
My partner dialled 999. I was taken into hospital again. They never really made a big deal of it. It was just, you’ve got to stay in hospital. Keep monitoring the baby. Once you stop bleeding for 24 hours after, you can go home again. But I never got home. I just bled for the full, the remaining two weeks. And then the bleeding stopped on its own. 
 
 

Kerry had grade 4 placenta praevia (completely covering the cervix/birth canal) and delivered her...

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And then I was transferred up onto the main ward. And they did put me on the ward. Obviously into a room where, I think there three women with just like healthy babies and I was up all night traumatised and then listening to them with their babies. I just, it was so overwhelming, I just wanted to go home. I wanted to cry. And I did pester the doctors to let me home. I just wanted, I can’t. The baby I’d been told several times throughout the night, he’d stopped breathing, he’d been ventilated. They found an infection, a bleed on the brain. It was just a heart murmur that they wasn’t sure about how bad it was. I just remember the list was just ongoing and I thought, and they did tell you to expect the worst. He was really premature. And I’m in a room with three babies. I couldn’t, I was annoyed at that point. I was so annoyed at that point, I was like what if someone comes up now and tells me my baby’s died and then you’ve put me in here, and there’s three women. Every corner I turned was new born babies. I felt I was really angered by that. I did think that was wrong. And I was told it was because of bed spaces.

 

Kerry felt doctors should have sat her down and explained the risks and dangers of her placenta...

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I think that they should have, the day that they diagnosed the placenta praevia I think they should have sat me down and told exactly what it meant, and the dangers and the risks. No one ever put a bit danger on it. But obviously I looked it up myself and realised that there’s different grades of placenta praevia. It can be marginal. It can be a little but it can be complete. And then when I read the complete I thought wow. And it just made me think little things like if this was years ago before they had scans, I would be dead. Because no one would know that that baby cannot come out any other way, you know, then me and the baby would be dead. Or they wouldn’t understand why I was bleeding and it just, it’s a scary thought you know. I do think we’re really lucky that we have got the medical things we’ve got today. But I just wish they’d have told me a lot more and the way they carried on, on the emergency, I thought wow it is serious. It was all the consultants were there. It was a consultant anaesthetist and I thought… so it is serious. And why did they… I sometimes felt like it was, I hated going back to the hospital with the bleeds because the midwives were so, “Put yourself on the bed.”, and it was kind of, “oh it’s her again.” That’s how I got to the point of feeling, “oh she’s back again”. 

 

Kerry’s baby was born 12 weeks early because of her placenta praevia. At 18 months old he is not...

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He was in there for another seven days. He went back into Nursery 3. And he was fine, he’s come home. Nothing until he was about six month old and then I’ve noticed, like a really noisy breathing when he breathes. It’s like the only way to describe it is a grown man snoring really loud. People do look at you in the street and they must think, why she’s got that baby out. It sounds as though he’s got a chest infection. 
 
He was referred to [city] Children’s Hospital. He was diagnosed with subglottic cysts which is caused through ventilation. He was operated on in December for that. He was fine for a few weeks. He’s just recently over the last three weeks the noise has come back, so he’s due to see them again in three weeks over that.
 
He’s nearly eighteen month old. He doesn’t walk. He doesn’t make any noises. He doesn’t Mum or Dad or nothing like that. Playtime he doesn’t, he’s still like a little baby. If you give him a toy, like a normal eighteen month old, would like probably a book would probably try and turn the pages, he just chews on it like a baby. He’s really, he doesn’t like strangers. He’s really anxious.  
 
He’s got, as for his development, he’s really behind. He’s not really sociable. If a stranger were to come in the room and he was there, he would scream. You can’t take him shopping, you can’t take him to the [shopping] Centre or anywhere like that. He doesn’t like crowds. They think he’s slightly autistic. And he’s now being tested for problems with his liver and spleen. Something wrong with his enzymes which affect the issues to the brain. They think, they’ve tested him really for all kinds at the moment because he looks quite different to, like the other two, like, with the half Turkish, he’s really pale skin, blue eyes, blonde hair. His brothers are all dark skinned, dark hair, dark eyes. His eyes are really big. They stand out a lot. He does look, you can see when you look at him that something’s not quite right. But they are running tests, but they’re unsure at the moment of what exactly it is that’s wrong.
 
Okay so that’s sort of waiting to find out?
 
They think all that would have been caused through premature birth.
 
Okay and that must be really worrying?
 
Yes. It is yes. Because he’s eighteen month old and he’s been through so much, and all because my placenta didn’t stick in the right place. That’s what I blame it on.
 
And how long did he end up being in hospital before he came home?
 
Eleven weeks.
 
 

Although she was unable to straighten herself from the pain, Kerry drove and did the shopping for...

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And what sort of state were you in physically when you got home?
 
I couldn’t move. I couldn’t straighten myself up. It was an effort to go upstairs to the toilet. I couldn’t cook. I couldn’t hold the babies. My son was only four and then obviously the middle one now, he was only eleven month old. He wasn’t walking. I couldn’t pick him up and it was like that for at least a week. I was basically just stuck on the couch.
 
Okay and did you recover physically quite quickly?
 
No, because I was going to the hospital twice a day to see the baby and spending a lot of hours there.
 
And that delayed your recovery do you think?
 
Yes. Because I was driving and I shouldn’t have been driving a few days after a section. I know I shouldn’t but no one said, you know, to the hospital it’s like £7 and doing that twice a day, I’ve not got that kind of money so, get to the hospital that many times a day. At the time me partner was facing immigration problems. He was just took into a immigration removal centre. So I was here with two kids, one in hospital, still ill myself and my partner was in London I don’t even know how I got through it at the time. Obviously I was trying to do my shopping. My Mum was brilliant, but she had a job as well. She would lose her job. So I was trying to get everything back to normal for the kids because their Dad had just been took away. So I was trying to do the shopping and I know, physically, I know they told me don’t lift anything, don’t, this was like two weeks after, don’t lift anything. You can’t drive. But I did I was driving to the hospital twice a day. Trying to do my weekly shopping. My Mum I’ll do it on Saturday. I was thinking well no, I need this now. The kids need… I can’t wait until Saturday. And I did just take a lot, a lot on.
 
And did that hurt your scar at all?
 
Yes. I was walking with my back in arched… I couldn’t straighten myself up. But I just thought, you know, they’re my kids, its, I have to, I have to do it.
 
 

Kerry was “really scared” by her scar.

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It was about twelve week later, before I thought yes, I’m OK. I was still getting cramps in my stomach and the scar was still quite open type of thing. But I remember the day after I had the section, about the tea time, it must have been about 18 hours later, I remember them saying, “Right you need to get up now. And go and get in the shower, and you need to take that off.” And I thought, can no one take it off. And she said, “No you need to do it yourself.” And I thought, I was, I just had things with blood then, that was it I couldn’t. I thought what if I open it and it opens it up or something. And I was in the shower for about an hour, and no one came to check on me to see if I was all right. I was absolutely petrified in the shower and thinking. I was trying to talk myself round to doing it, and in the end, I had to phone my partner and I said, “You need to come down now.” I said, “They’re make me take this thing off.” I was in the shower. And he had to come in, and he had to take it off. And I mean that was degrading for me. Because kind of I’d just had a baby, and I was, still if you’ve just had a baby you don’t want a man looking at your belly and all you’re bits, and I was just, I’m not that kind of girl. I’m quite, I like to get myself, I look after myself and I was thinking he’s going to see my jelly belly and it was, I was thinking oh God. And then I’ve got to let him rip that open and see that awful scar, right across me belly. But I thought they’re not going to do it, the nurses, its either him or me and I can’t do it. Because if, I mean I remember looking to the side and saying how bad is it? How bad is it? I was, and he was going, “It’s not too bad.” And I couldn’t look at it. I never looked at it for about two weeks. I couldn’t even look at me stomach. I used to have to like put my arm across me stomach just to pull my knickers on because I did not want to see that on my stomach. It really scared me.

 

Kerry had panic attacks and anxiety after her haemorrhage and her GP has been very patient in...

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And has the GP been helpful?

 
He’s brilliant my doctor, he’s fantastic. He is.
 
Tell me a little bit about how he’s helped.
 
Well I actually, since these panic attacks have started like, I’m cooking things up in my head. I used to think that I was ill all the time. Obviously I used to go about my periods regular. And then I thought I found a lump in my breast, which was phantom, and I went to the doctors about the lump, and as I walked in, as the buzzer buzzed I thought, my legs went to jelly, and I felt a panic attack coming on. I finally got to the doctor’s room and I just, I had the biggest panic attack I’ve had in front of him. And I don’t know, he didn’t know obviously know I was having a panic attack. I think he thought I was having an anxiety, well asthma attack. I don’t know what he thought, but he obviously calmed me down and when I kind of explained what had been going on, straight away. He wanted to refer me for counselling, but I was already having it obviously. He put me on the Cipralax. He’s seen me every four weeks. He put me in touch with support groups and things like that. And he was really patient, because I did keep going back. I thought I had illness after illness. Like all this was my periods. I always thought I was going to haemorrhaging and as a human I’d get fed up, I was in there a lot, but he was so patient. And brilliant. Yes.
 
Yes, I go less. He kind of, the words that he used did calm me down a lot. He said, I’ll never forget what he said to me, he said, “It’s like if you have a headache it doesn’t automatically mean it’s a brain tumour. It can be tiredness. It can be stress. It can just be a headache. It doesn’t always mean that it’s the worst of everything. You know, there’s always two or three things, symptoms that you experience and it doesn’t always mean that it’s something’s that’s going to kill you.” Because I was so frightened that I was going to die after that. I always thought I had something that was life threatening. 
 
And are you believing that a bit more now?
 
Yes. If I get a headache or a pain in my breast it’s just one of them things, people get them, it doesn’t mean you’re dying and that, I kind of tell myself what he said, it can be a number of things, it doesn’t mean it’s something so serious. And it does settle me down. That along with the counselling I was getting for my breathing techniques and things and yes, it helped a lot.
 
 

Kerry had placenta praevia. She was in hospital being monitored after having had a smaller bleed...

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I was in the labour ward. I just woke up, and I thought I need a wee, which is unusual for me. I just stood up and I just, I had to wee in the bed pan. They wanted to keep testing it and seeing if there was blood in it. Just when I stood up it was just, the floor, I could see just see red basically.
 
Okay, so what did you do?
 
I just leaned back onto the bed and grabbed the alarm and just, the midwife came in and straight away she just hit this alarm and it was just doctor after doctor and… I do remember them doing a physical examination of me as well, while I was bleeding which was really uncomfortable. I don’t think she got that far in when she had just seen how much blood was coming out. It was just straight away the bed was just soaked.
 
Okay and how do you think the haemorrhage went on for?
 
I would probably say half, not more than half an hour. It was, it literally happened and I was five minutes, within five minutes I was in the theatre.
 
Okay.
 
And it was, I just remember them pressing, and putting and messing about down there with like towels… While they were trying to sit me up, I remember having a midwife between my legs, and I can’t even, I wasn’t even embarrassed or anything. All I could see was just the blood, and all right it was on her gloves, and there were sheets and everything was just, and everywhere I looked it was red. It was so frightening.
 
And how did you feel? You said you felt…
 
I just felt. I felt scared, because I’d never come across anything like this. I had no understanding of it, and I just didn’t expect to be in there and then you hearing words, hysterectomy, and, and you get, I could hear her shouting what my blood type was, and the doctor, and then I had the anaesthetist tell me he was going to put me to sleep if I lost too much blood. And I thought maybe if I’d have known a lot more I could have mentally prepared myself, that yes, you can haemorrhage. This what haemorrhage means and you might have to have a blood transfusion. You know, things like that, I didn’t know like what happens when you haemorrhage. They never explained that if you haemorrhage, because I could have said then, well what would happen if I did haemorrhage and then remembering the main word hysterectomy and I thought that’s mine, that’s a woman, its, and I’m thinking I’m 25 year old. And it was just so frightening. 
 
My partner, he couldn’t even come in. He, he fainted outside but he couldn’t… So my sister had to come in. He said he’s never been so frightened in his life. Ever. 
 
 

Kerry’s partner was planning to attend the emergency caesarean section, but was traumatised when...

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Do you think he’s…. how do you think the actual experience has affected him? Does he carry that with him still do you think?
 
I think he does yes. Like I say he’s a real closed book. He plays everything down but that day, when I got rushed in. He just got there, and obviously I think he… I was in the theatre room, I think I’d had the epidural and everything by the time he got there, and he was in the, all the blues, so I think he was planning on coming in, and then I just remember him walking in, and him just walking straight, like walking backwards out the door. And he’s hand on his mouth, and I don’t know if he’s seen the blood and he’s just freaked out. I think he feels guilty about that as well, but I know [partner] and he doesn’t do blood… he’s… And I just remember coming back out into the recovery room and he was, he was crying, he was red. He was on his own, his hand was in his head. He was pasting the room, and as soon as I come out I just remember him grabbing hold of me, and he said, “I thought you were dead, I thought you were dead, I didn’t see the baby, they just whipped him off. I didn’t know whether to go down there or stay with you. I didn’t know whether you was all right. No one’s come to tell me if you’re all right. So I didn’t want to”…And I think he was, he was all over with it. But…
 
So no one went out to tell him then?
 
No. He was left on his own in the recovery room. So he didn’t… I remember saying he didn’t know whether to go with the baby or whether to stay there. He didn’t know, he said, “I know that obviously my sister was with me, and she’s brilliant.” But he didn’t know whether, you know, do I go down there. Like is my girlfriend all right? He said, “There was no one around to ask, everyone was in there.”
 
 

Kerry felt that doctors didn’t really explain to her the risks of her placenta praevia. She...

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Even my midwife who had been through all three of my pregnancies, even she seemed limited on what she wanted to say, or what she did or didn’t know. All she used to say was the same, “If you bleed don’t leave it. You have to go into hospital and just have it checked out.” She was quite limited with what she… I was never given any leaflets, anything like that. Any information on it. 
 
And I go to the doctor’s surgery and my GP would print me off anything that he had. So I just thought why are they not doing it? I’m coming to like your ante natal clinics. I was going for like, all my appointments, and I’d been in how many times. I thought does no one want to actually to sit down and say it’s this? So, I think I feel like they played it down until… I don’t know I kind of felt they think she’s not going to haemorrhage. It won’t happen. That’s how I kind of felt, it won’t happen kind of thing.
 
But you’d rather have known what might happen?
 
Oh yes, I would rather they had sat down and said are you aware of what haemorrhage is? What it means. Expect, this is how much … I just thought I haemorrhage was when you was bleeding and it just trickled slowly out of you, but didn’t stop. That to me was what a haemorrhage was. I didn’t expect it to be the biggest gush. I felt like, to look at the blood, I can see it now, I felt like every pint of blood in my body was on the floor it was that bad. And I could even, I remember hearing it dripping off the bed onto the floor in the theatre and the girls, like they was mopping it, that was, and I thought oh … I just didn’t expect. I think if I expected it mentally, I could have prepared and it wouldn’t have been a big… And obviously my partner, he would have known what to expect and … And even though I was 28 weeks, I was in there bleeding for two weeks. I think someone somewhere would have suspected that something’s not quite right here, or it’s not stopping. It’s not easing. It’s going to, a little bleed’s going to lead to a big bleed and I kind of felt like they could have sat us down and started talking through the section a little bit. Because I kept getting told that they’d deal with it, doesn’t explain what happens on a section closer to the time. But surely they knew that it could happen at any time now.
 
I remember, I do remember a doctor from the neonatal coming up and telling me that about premature birth. He did come up. I think it was when I was about 21 weeks pregnant. And I’ll never forget what he said to me, that, “If a baby’s born before so many weeks they won’t intervene.” So I’m just sitting there thinking, God please don’t into labour now. I just felt that was unnecessary to say that to someone who was… But at the time I felt like that. But now I realise, you know, it’s better to have told me rather than me thinking why are you not doing anything, the baby’s… But at the time I just thought wow no one tells you anything except the really, really, really, really bad stuff, that you don’t want to really hear. 
 
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