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Simon

Age at interview: 35
Brief Outline: Simon's wife needed an emergency caesarean to deliver their baby (her second). She developed complications, including a uterine rupture, which lead to a haemorrhage and surgery. His wife spent several days in intensive care and a high dependency unit.
Background: Simon, a 35 year old marketing manager, is married with one daughter. White British.

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Simon was with his wife (Hannah– NM01) during the first part of her caesarean operation and saw his daughter being born. But once her complications developed he was rapidly asked to leave the room. He was not given any updates of Hannah’s progress until she had been taken up to intensive care (ITU), which was more than three hours later.

 

Simon was left looking after their daughter, but was not allowed to stay with her in the hospital overnight, which he found very distressing. Once his wife was transferred out of intensive care he was allowed to sleep on the floor of the high dependency unit (HDU) while his wife and daughter were there. He described those as special days, but he was again asked to go home for the two nights that Hannah was on the ward. He used up a large portion of his paternity leave while his wife was still in hospital, and it was hard managing to support her when she was discharged, and he had to go back to work. 
 
 

Simon was able to stay overnight with his wife and baby when they were transferred to the HDU.

Simon was able to stay overnight with his wife and baby when they were transferred to the HDU.

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And then you mentioned the HDU was a sort of period. Was it three days did you say?
 
Yes, it was two or three days, yes.
 
And you were staying, were you?
 
I was. Which I was thrilled at, after the experience of not being able to stay around beforehand. It meant we could be a three, you know, it meant the three of us could be together. And they, they brought just mats, they had like little mat things and put them on the floor, and put them on the floor and I slept on the floor next to [Hannah]. And you know, [daughter] was in one of those bedside cots, bedside cots, and  yes, so and for me, it was just that room, apart from, you know, going to the gents like that was just a room for three days. That was just a little concentrated bubble of time. A bubble. Yes, they kept on… I mean I don’t know whether, I was kind of a good thing or bad thing for them. I think the nursing team. You know, because I mean, I helped save labour, because I would do a lot of the stuff. I mean I’d d bits, kind of check catheters or fill up water, or look after the baby and all this kind of stuff. So they had of less ringing on their buzzer than they would have. But at the same time, you know, there was just this bloke hanging around [laughs]. And kind of asking questions, about things, and I don’t know. I don’t they, they seemed at times a bit bemused and it’s like, you could just go home [laughs]. There’s nothing you can do, but just go home and get some sleep and come back in, you know, she’s fine. And it was just the last thing in the world I would have wanted to do. So yes, I was just, thrilled to be able to stay and I wasn’t going to leave unless they made me.  So yes, because at the end it was the three of us together and I wasn’t going to lose that.
 
 

Simon talked about the difficulties his wife experienced with her digestive system as a result of...

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Well I mean there are a few consequences, I mean we didn’t know for a long, long, long time as to what… basically she had a lot of kind of stomach discomfort and she was very, very bloated, very, very sore and I think everything is still stuck together in slightly funny ways. So one of the things is she’s bloated or you know, still constipated or whatever, intensely painful for her. And, we had no idea what the causes were and that took months, actually that took a long, long, long time. That was actually this year really that we actually finally got some kind of you know, answers to what that was, so that was like two years afterwards, and we kind of, you go on line and you try and puzzle it out. So we thought it was like a wheat intolerance and so we try and, you know, adjusting diets and trying this and trying that and  you know, I mean, sometimes she would be like doubled over with it, and I mean the thing is that you don’t, she was in such intense pain with it that you lose that frame of reference of well is it an emergency now, when because, you know, she’s got her scars and various other things like, when do we actually call an ambulance or take her to hospital if something is painful, it’s not a call for action for it. And, and, just the lack of answers as to what it would be and was this now, how she was forever, and, and, and you know, she was a lot more tired, a lot of the time. She used to be kind of very kind of very busy and a very hectic life and you know, she could do that and she was not tired afterwards. And both things I think, I think the lack of energy, and just the, the sheer, you know, disruption to her life and the lack of answers for it, and the fact that this would now be stretching on forever. I think it kind of made her feel very old, as in like, right, okay, I’m 35, I’m now, not invalided, it is too strong a word, but you know, this is, I’m going to feel like this for more and I kind of went, sent her to the doctors and didn’t get too much answers, and then eventually she went back to her doctor, and they finally said, “Oh yes, that’ll be these adhesions, and you just need a low impact diet.” And this kind of stuff, “And take these pills.” And they gave her some pills and some powder that we take and it’s been brilliant. And it works pretty well. And actually that whole side of things, I think, hospitals really do need to sort out, of just… I mean the lack of joined up… because I mean in the hospital when [Hannah] was there, she got given a sandwich, you know, with a, you know, brown bread sandwich and stuff like that as her food. And why I think generally one of the reasons that she ended up being really, really bloated and having to stay for an extra day. 

 

Simon's wife was taken through for a forceps delivery after a long, slow labour and he began to...

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Simon's wife was taken through for a forceps delivery after a long, slow labour and he began to...

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And that was the first real stage of you know, going through into the scrubs, gown, and you have that first sense of crap. You know, it’s ludicrous, but you kind of watch the Casualties and the ER’s and you have the episode where it goes terribly wrong and everything’s fine as far as I could… and you have like that kind of feeling of, it’s not going to, but at the same time, crap.
 
So then it got into scrubs, and also I mean at that stage for me, the, apart from, well there’s not much you can do throughout but I had not been in that situation before, something quite as stressful as that, or in terms of just stupid things like theatre and blood and [Hannah]’s blood at that. And so again there was just that of fear of I’m going to balls it up. You know, hopefully I’m going to be okay, because I don’t want to let [Hannah] down. 
 
But you know, so we kind of went through theatre, [Hannah] was wheeled through, and [Hannah] was then worried understandably because that was started to conform, not conform, to her, it’s like fears beforehand. And we went in a strange and alien environment. It’s not one you want to be in, it’s a bit strange, and lots of people buzzing around and doing things, and kind of standing next to [Hannah], and they put the anaesthetic in and basically I was then staying up [Hannah]’s end of the screening and all sorts of things.
 
Again they tried to do the Ventouse, very physical thing, a surprisingly physical thing. You see people really physically attacking your wife. So that’s quite strange to see. And I expected things to be, I mean birth is not a delicate operation, but seeing a guy straining away, like… and yes, that wasn’t working. 
 
And so again there was sense of okay, right tick, tick, tick, definitely done the right… and they decided not to do a Ventouse, they just said, “Right okay, we’re going to get this baby out.” So it was suddenly going to be a Caesarean, which again was something we hadn’t wanted. And that’s really when things started to going properly tits up and yeah, so they started cutting and she, I mean at that stage, you know, originally kind of okay, fine, that’s a very quick ending. You know, fine, okay, that’s not really what we wanted, but there’s not much that can go wrong with that. You take out the baby.
 
 And then it did start to go wrong, and you know, they were struggling and then I think [daughter] came out, I remember [daughter] being huge. She was a big baby, she was like nine four or whatever, but I remember being quite shocked at that. At just how big she was. And then kind of I went across and briefly went to see her, and then you started to hear a few things back from back from [Hannah]’s side and from the doctors. 
 
And then I mean in terms of the order things went wrong in I can’t quite remember, but I remember [Hannah] starting to get concerned about feeling, you know, her, her sensation coming back, which is grim. Considering, you know, how she was, thinking how she was cut open on the table, and they started to say you know, I think [Hannah] copes better than I do, in terms of like the urology or neurology and get, this kind of stuff going on. 
 
And that’s pretty much where they kind of went, “No, go, go, out.” And please to go and take the baby and… I was asked to leave and had to go and wait with [daughter]… and again it was like they were just going to do some tidying up. Fine, and being like half an hour or an hour, but they just needed to, you know, to stitch her up and just to stitch [Hannah] up, and, but by that stage I real
 

Simon and his mother waited in an ante-room for a couple of hours, without any updates on how his...

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So I tried to go back through to the wards, the operating room. I just asked for some kind of update, and again the guy said, “Oh sorry, you know, you can’t, there’ve been a, there’ve been a few complications but everything’s fine.” And of course, by that stage, the everything fine message isn’t entirely believed. Not necessarily that they’re lying, but it just carries no weight in terms of emotional reassurance by that stage. Because everything should have been fine all the way along, but you know.
 
But anyway so I went back to wait some long, some more. And then after, I don’t know how long. You know, it’s one of those things, actually, now, you kind of think it will be totally like burned on your brain, and it’s not. But after ever so many kind of hours it was, one of the guys came through down, the anaesthetist I think it was, the anaesthetist came through and kind of said, well I mean, the good news is that [Hannah] was okay, [Hannah] was, you know, all right. But then that she’d had, she’d had various complications and had been taken up to intensive care. And they’d had to regulate her blood gases and so therefore she was on a vent. And, you know, I’d been able to go up and see her, in whatever it was, in a while.
 
And I was like, “Okay, okay thank you very much.” And that’s, that’s when I do remember actually being, getting, that’s like, you know, when it wells, just because she’s going to wake up on a vent, she’s going to wake up. That’s exactly what she was petrified of doing, and, and the image and experience that was so, you know, so much part of the bad experiences with her Mum, and that kind of stuff. And that’s what she was going to do, and she was going do it alone, because I wasn’t going to be there, and so I did kind of well at that. 
 
And then it was just a case of wanting to see her, and, and, get the, get [daughter] to her, get the baby to her because you know, we’d always wanted as much as a natural birth as possible and the baby being Caesarean, feeding as soon as possible and all that kind of stuff. And so then, it just became a case of right I just want to see her as soon as I can, and go and get baby to her.
 
And again, I don’t know how much time I’m afraid went by, but we went up and saw her and she was kind of tubes here and there and... actually I was surprised in theatre and afterwards in intensive care that that didn’t bother me too much. I, you know, I wasn’t, I wasn’t aware how I’d be with that kind of stuff, but actually it just was what it was, and that was fine. 
 
And she was actually okay, and by that stage I remember like, just in terms of talking about it before, you know, from that stage on basically my main emotion was kind of gratitude really that it had, you know, it had stopped. You know, it had got so far, and that was horrendous but the, she, you know, she was okay. [Hannah] was, you know, [Hannah] was okay. Not great, but she was alive. And [daughter] was alive and [Hannah] was alive and so yes, kind of gratitude at that and just kind of love and protection for [Hannah] really. Just that real sense of okay she’s gone through all this and I haven’t been able to anything else. You know, hopefully now I do get a chance to help her out and just try and protect her a bit from all of it. 
 
 

Simon's daughter is now two and a half. He doesn't think back to the hospital emergency on a...

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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.
 
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