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Michael

Age at interview: 32
Age at diagnosis: 32
Brief Outline: At a GP appointment at 32 weeks check it was discovered that Michael's partner (Helen - Interview10) had high blood pressure. Her blood pressure was monitored over 5 days, then HELLP syndrome diagnosed. Their son was delivered by emergency caesarean and spent 3 weeks in the neo-natal unit.
Background: Michael is a website manager. He and his partner were expecting their first child. White Australian.

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Michael and his partner (Helen - Interview10) were not really prepared for the early arrival of their son. They both assumed that they had another 8 weeks to get ready for him. However when his partner was 32 weeks pregnant she started to feel increasingly uncomfortable. Michael was aware that she was having tests for her blood pressure and was increasingly uncomfortable, but was very surprised when he received a text early in the morning, saying that their baby was going to be delivered that day. 
 
He packed a bag quickly, and rushed to the hospital. After visits from lots of doctors, he was put in scrubs and allowed into the pre-op room while Helen was put to sleep. He was then sent out to wait in a room down the corridor. There were over 10 doctors in the room when he left, but one of them kindly came down after 20 minutes to let him know that everything was OK and with some photos of the baby on his digital camera. He was then allowed in to see them after about 40 minutes. His partner was then sent to the high dependency unit (HDU) and his son up to the neo-natal ward, as he had been born at 32 weeks, 6 days.
 
His partner spent 2 days in HDU and a week on the post-natal ward before being allowed home. It was another 2 weeks before their baby was allowed home. He and his partner soon established a routine of visiting their baby every day and watching him slowly get stronger. Michael also focused on helping his partner get strong. They were both positive about the extra time that the baby’s stay gave them to rest and prepare – they would have preferred to have him home but it did allow them to get some sleep, get ready and prepare food for when he did come home. They did however find going in to visit him for 8 hours each day really exhausting. The interview was conducted when their baby was 14 weeks old, and they were preparing to travel home to Australia with him to visit family.
 
 
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Michael felt that doctors were very good at explaining to him and his wife why they were going to...

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And were you in the room when anyone came to explain to you what was happening and why they had to do the emergency C Section or had that all happened earlier?
 
I think they’d explained a lot of that to my wife in the morning, but I did sort of only arrive may be an hour and a half after she had sort of been woken up. So some people had come and explained it. Right you’re going to having the baby today because of this, this, and this. And she had a bit of explanation made to her, but then we seemed to have plenty of doctors that would come in and sort of explain everything.
 
Some of it, my wife had heard before, a lot of it was new to both of us, so… There sort of finding out a lot of information. There was possibly a bit of information overload because we were just trying to understand things ourselves, and there seemed to be this strong procession of, you know, one doctor after another doctor, another doctor, I don’t know if that’s normal or if it’s not normal, but there seemed to be a lot of doctors. My memory’s probably not that great, because I’m thinking of so many different things, but I have this sort of vague memory of being introduced to about four anaesthetists and it sort of, there was just one after the other, after the other.
 
They explained, there was a little bit of an overlap between some of them, but a lot of them were explaining, you know, slightly different things, as to what their role was going to be.
 
Was it difficult information to take in or just too much of it?
 
No I think they did actually a wonderful job of trying to explain it in a way that a medical dummy like me could understand things. So, there were lots of sort of key words that I was trying to make sure okay. Pre eclampsia, a couple of doctors had mentioned that. I actually have never heard of that before. I don’t know if it’s common or not common, but okay. That’s you know, what we’ve got here. So just trying to remember a couple of key words. And sort of take in as much as I could.

 

 

Michael's wife developed HELLP syndrome. He appreciated the clear communication before his wife...

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And were you in the room when anyone came to explain to you what was happening and why they had to do the emergency C Section or had that all happened earlier?

 

I think they’d explained a lot of that to my wife in the morning, but I did sort of only arrive may be an hour and a half after she had sort of been woken up. So some people had come and explained it. Right you’re going to having the baby today because of this, this, and this. And she had a bit of explanation made to her, but then we seemed to have plenty of doctors that would come in and sort of explain everything.

 
Some of it, my wife had heard before, a lot of it was new to both of us. Sort of finding out a lot of information. There was possibly a bit of information overload because we were just trying to understand things ourselves, and there seemed to be this strong procession of, you know, one doctor after another doctor, another doctor, I don’t know if that’s normal or if it’s not normal, but there seemed to be a lot of doctors. My memory’s probably not that great, because I’m thinking of so many different things, but I have this sort of vague memory of being introduced to about four anaesthetists and it sort of, there was just one after the other, after the other. 
 
They explained, there was a little bit of an overlap between some of them, but a lot of them were explaining slightly different things, as to what their role was going to be.
 
Was it difficult information to take in or just too much of it?
 
No I think they did actually a wonderful job of trying to explain it in a way that a medical dummy like me could sort of understand things. So, there were lots of sort of key words that I was trying to make sure okay. Pre eclampsia, a couple of doctors had mentioned that. I actually have never heard of that before. I don’t know if it’s common or not common, but okay. That’s you know, what we’ve got here. So just trying to remember a couple of key words. And sort of take in as much as I could.

 

 

Michael and his partner had met doctors and talked through what would happen if their son was...

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A few days before that, we had been to see some of the doctors in the hospital and one of the doctors who was a young doctor, she was about 30 years of age and she was talking, and she was talking about a possibility that we might have to have our baby earlier than normal. And we were like, okay that’s interesting. And she’d sort of explained to us that, she was born at 32 weeks herself and so part of me was sort of feeling, okay we’re almost up to 33 weeks now, and here’s you know, a well-educated, attractive doctor, whose obviously done really, really well for herself, she was born at 32 weeks and it hasn’t prevented her from doing anything at all. So that had actually sort of, that was in the back of my mind, thinking, okay there mustn’t be too much wrong with being born at 32/33 weeks. So there was that.
 
And I think we’d also had a discussion with a few other people, some friends who had had a baby earlier last year, also said that when we got past I think the 31 or 30 week mark, “Ooh that’s a major milestone.” I was like, “Really, why is that?” And they said, “Most of the organs are probably formed by that stage, so… “I obviously remembered that when we were in there being told we were about to have a baby in a couple of hours. So I was thinking that things should be okay at being born at 32/33 weeks.
 
 

Michael was grateful to one of the doctors who brought photos of his son out of the operating...

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So at what point did you leave her, when she was put to sleep or …?
 
Yes. So I got dressed up in the blue outfit and got to go into the operating room and then stayed with her for… until about the point, you know, where she just sort of fell asleep and then I left and all the rest of the doctors all seemed to come in.
 
And there were a lot of doctors?
 
There seemed to be, yes, I was surprised, there seemed to be, when I left the room there seemed to be at least ten people in there, and I got the impression that you know, one or two more might be coming in as well, so I didn’t, that didn’t panic me, but I was sort of surprised that we needed to have that many doctors or medical staff in there for the actual operation.
 
And how long… where did you go during…?
 
I went back down the hallway to the preparation room that we’d been in for the previous four or five hours.
 
Okay and how long did you have to wait there?
 
It was probably, twenty, twenty five minutes and one of the doctors had come in and told me that everything was okay. He was a sweet old man, he’d offered to take a camera into the operating theatre to take some photos for the birth. So that was nice. So he came in, initially after may be 20 minutes and sort of said. “Everything seems to have gone okay.” And I think he brought me one photo. No he brought back my digital camera, that’s what he did. He brought back my digital camera so I got to have a look at a couple of photos of our boy on the back of the camera, and then, I think he went away again. And so I spent some time looking at those. He came back with a printed out photo of our boy. So I think they must have had another camera that they took a photo of, and then he went away again, and then he came back a third time. So this was probably getting close to 40 minutes after I’d left the operating room. He came 40 minutes later saying that there’s, the family down the hallway’s missing someone. So got to walk back down the hall way and went in to see my partner cuddling our baby boy. So…
 
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