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Mike

Age at interview: 34
Age at diagnosis: 33
Brief Outline: Although Mike's wife (Joanna - Interview 07) had caesarean with her first baby, they were advised she could try for a natural birth. Jo went into labour at home, 9 days overdue. A searing pain developed. She had had a uterine rupture which was undiscovered. Their baby died in utero.
Background: Mike is a police officer, married with one daughter. His wife was expecting their second daughter. White British.

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Mike is Joanna’s husband (Interview 07). He was with his wife throughout her experience in hospital, but was not talked to or consulted. He found the whole experience terrifying. When she was due to be taken through to theatre to deliver their baby, who had just died in utero after his wife haemorrhaged, he defied the doctors by refusing to leave her, and stayed with Joanna throughout the operation. He was handed their dead baby, yet no one really took any notice of him/addressed him, although he was sitting there with his dead baby in his arms and his wife fighting for her life. 

 
Although his wife had been told that her baby had died before she went into theatre, she was so drowsy and weak that Mike had to tell her again when she woke up in recovery. He then had to tell their daughter (who was 2) that her little sister had died. He and his wife kept the baby with them in the hospital room for a couple of days so that family members (including their little girl) could meet her. 
 
Since being discharged, the feel they have been abandoned or forgotten about by the hospital. The report into their daughter’s death was slow and they have had to chase up meetings with the hospital and the report. No one has asked them for their story/side of events as would have been done in a police investigation. He feels that because they know the system better than most (they are both former medical researchers, and emailed the Chief Executive’s office) they have been able to make some things happen, but feel that others would have been completely abandoned.
 
The interview with Mike and his wife took place just over a year after their lost their daughter.
 
 

Mike refused to leave his wife when she was she went through to theatre to stop her bleeding and...

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Terrifying to be honest. Because I knew that we’d lost our daughter, but I could tell, I was there for the Caesarean of our first daughter, and there were slight complications in that as well. But I knew the way Joanna was in that first operation, how she was deteriorating, and I could see it happening again. So I was just looking at Joanna really. You know, and although the hassle that was going on around us, I remember we were just kind of looking at each other weren’t we? I know Joanna was kind of saying quite a lot about looking after our first daughter and things like that. 
 
The one thing she said to me was, “Don’t leave me.” And it was the anaesthetist consultant that came round and I said, “I’m coming in with you.” She was like, “Yes, that’s fine, that’s fine. It’s not a problem.” And then they kind prepped Joanna ready for theatre, and before we came out the anaesthetist wanted to speak to me. So she pulled me up. She said, “When I said you could come in, you are going to come in, but then you’re going out. So Joanna thinks you’re going to be there, but when she falls asleep you’re going to come out of the theatre.” And I remember my exact words to her were, “Then you’d better call security because nothing is going to drag me out of the theatre.” And she went, “All right, okay.” She said, “Well…” She said, “Well it’s not going to be very nice.” And I said, “I’m not leaving Joanna.” I said, “I’ve already lost my daughter. I’m not losing my wife.” And… it was a good five minutes or so, while they were just sort of getting a conversation between the consultants, and they agreed that I could come in, but they would put a big screen up. And I said, “I don’t really care what you do. I just want to be there for Joanna, because I couldn’t look her in the eyes, after it, and her saying, how was it and everything else. And also yes, I’ve lost my daughter. I know she’s no longer with us, but I didn’t like the idea of my daughter being born and no one being with her.” 
 
So I kind of muscled my way in really and then, it was like, for a Caesarean really. My daughter was born. She was next to me. I was holding her. But at the same, because I could hear what was going on, knowing how poorly Joanna was, and it wasn’t until I was in that operation how close I was to losing her. Even they were surprised as to how much blood she’d lost. They didn’t have enough blood on standby, so you know, there was a massive kind of rush to get more blood in. 
 
I, at some point in there, I obviously thought I’d be coming out of there and not only having to explain to my daughter that she hasn’t got a sister, but you know, she hasn’t got a mummy as well. And the realisation of it was just immense really. But as I say, the one person who took an interest there was that consultant anaesthetist. You know, I just remember this one kind of scene really. This one moment where I had my arm round Joanna. Obviously Joanna was out for the count, and I was holding my daughter, and I was just, you know, a mess basically and it was the anaesthetist who actually put her arm round me and she was stroking Joanna’s hair as well. I then ten minutes later we were out and it was kind of all changed. But the only thing I insisted as that my daughter stayed with us, and that was allowed. And she was kind of bathed and things like that, but again this was all when Joanna was asleep. And again that’s one of the things really that we’ll never ever get to experience really, is that one of those things where for our first daughter you did experience really,
 

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

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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
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