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Interview 04

Age at interview: 37
Brief Outline: She had an early termination, 2 miscarriages and a normal pregnancy. Her 5th pregnancy was ended by induction at 21 weeks - baby had Down's syndrome detected by amniocentesis. Since then she has had another baby.
Background: Pregnancy ended in 2002. No of children' 2 + [1]. Ages of other children at interview 6, 1. Occupations' Mother - formerly legal secretary, Father - Joiner. Marital status' married. Ethnic background' White British.

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Describes the contradictory thoughts that went through her mind as she decides what to do.

Describes the contradictory thoughts that went through her mind as she decides what to do.

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Then by this time we were, we were talking to the midwife and she was sort of - we were ringing her - and whatever. And by this time I'd made the decision that I was going to terminate the pregnancy, which was the hardest decision I've ever had to make in my life. It was, it was torment, pure torment.  

It wasn't, it wasn't easy, it wasn't straightforward. It was... my emotions were just all over the place. I was, you know, the little gremlins in the back of your head saying, 'You can't do this, you can't do this'. And then there was another one saying, 'It's the best thing'. And everything, my head was just about to explode. 
 
 

Her husband felt he would always have to be 'on guard' and protecting their child with Down's...

Her husband felt he would always have to be 'on guard' and protecting their child with Down's...

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He said that he would feel like he would have to protect that child for ever, because he's very very protective of our 6 year old now. And he said that he would just feel like he was on guard all the time. If anybody looked at them in the wrong way or, you know, and he said he c-, he said it wasn't for him, it was for the child. He just would feel like he was protecting that child on a constant basis, and it would just be too much pressure for him. And that he, and he thought that life was hard enough as a normal, healthy person, and to have added disabilities. 
 
 

She felt guilty for making the decision and struggled with her conscience about it.

She felt guilty for making the decision and struggled with her conscience about it.

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Then by this time we were, we were talking to the midwife and she was sort of - we were ringing her - and whatever. And by this time I'd made the decision that I was going to terminate the pregnancy, which was the hardest decision I've ever had to make in my life. It was, it was torment, pure torment. 

It wasn't, it wasn't easy, it wasn't straightforward. It was... my emotions were just all over the place. I was, you know, the little gremlins in the back of your head saying, 'You can't do this, you can't do this'. And then there was another one saying, 'It's the best thing'. And everything, my head was just about to explode. 
 
 

She felt her medical team were compassionate and supported her throughout her treatment.

She felt her medical team were compassionate and supported her throughout her treatment.

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They were very good, I mean they were just so kind. I'm very lucky in that respect because I've heard so many stories that hospitals weren't good, and that midwives and all, you know, the specialists and that, were not compassionate. But mine were, I was very very lucky. 

But I also, what helped me was that I took control of the situation. I knew what I wanted, I knew exactly how I wanted it to go. I didn't ask them what I could do. I said, 'I want to do this. This is how I want things to go. I want to see my baby. I want to hold my baby', you know, 'I want to take her down to the morgue. I', you know, it was all 'I' and 'me and [husband] obviously, you know, and [husband] was like, 'Do whatever you want to do, I will go along with you'. You know and he was fine.  

So I knew exactly what I wanted, which helped I think because they didn't have to sort of tiptoe around me thinking, 'Am I doing the right thing?' you know. I knew, I told them exactly or asked them, you know, to sort of help me get what I wanted. So they were, they were really good. 

So I went in on the Tuesday, and what they do is they give you three pessaries, which induces the labour. So they gave me the first pessary on the Tuesday, which actually takes quite a, well, 24 to 48 hours to start to work. So you have that, in some hospitals I know you stay, they said that I could stay but I wanted to come home. So I came home and then went back two days later to actually be induced and have the second pessary and the third pessary. And then that was when I gave birth to [the baby]. 

Where did that happen? Where did you give birth?

I was actually asked whether I wanted to go on to a side ward, a general ward, and do it that way, have a private room obviously. They said, 'Some ladies want to go onto maternity, some ladies don't'. And I said, 'Well, I'm having a baby, and I'm sure that [baby] would want to be with other babies.' So I went onto the maternity ward and they gave us a room of our own with a double bed and everything - a family room they called it - so we went in there. 

I had the first pessary at 10 o'clock and they, I mean they were really good, you know, plenty of sort of tea and biscuits.  And then the next one was at 1, and by this time the la-, the labour was s-, quite sort of strong and you know it was moving on [coughs]. I had the next one at 10, the next one at 1, and she was born at half past seven in the nighttime. Yep.

And when, I mean, at what point did she die?

She actually died in my arms. They did say that, this was quite strange, because they explained all this to me, they were all very very good, very thorough, and I asked all the questions that I needed to know because I didn't want to feel that at any stage that I would regret anything or wish that I had have done something but I didn't. Because I knew that living with the guilt that I was going to was going to be hard enough, but I wanted to be happy, or as happy as I could be, that things had gone exactly the way I wanted them to be, go.  

So I said that I wanted her passed straight to me, that I wanted her to stay with me for the night, all these things. So when she was, when she was actually born they said, 'Some babies do actually take a first breath'. Because there is actually another way that you can do it as well. Some hospitals can actually inject the baby's heart, which will actually, the baby will die then inside the mum's tummy, and then be delivered that way, so the baby will be born dead obviously. But I didn't want that. So then she just died in my arms. Yeah, it was only, it was only a matter of seconds.
 

Her baby was born in the maternity ward and she feels glad that she had a chance to have a normal...

Her baby was born in the maternity ward and she feels glad that she had a chance to have a normal...

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I was actually asked whether I wanted to go on to a side ward, a general ward, and do it that way, have a private room obviously. They said, 'Some ladies want to go onto maternity, some ladies don't'. And I said, 'Well, I'm having a baby, and I'm sure that [the baby] would want to be with other babies.' So I went onto the maternity ward and they gave us a room of our own with a double bed and everything - a family room they called it - so we went in there. 

I had the first pessary at 10 o'clock and they, I mean they were really good, you know, plenty of sort of tea and biscuits. And then the next one was at 1, and by this time the la-, the labour was s-, quite sort of strong and you know it was moving on [coughs]. I had the next one at 10, the next one at 1, and she was born at half past seven in the nighttime. Yep.

She actually died in my arms. They did say that, this was quite strange, because they explained all this to me, they were all very very good, very thorough, and I asked all the questions that I needed to know because I didn't want to feel that at any stage that I would regret anything or wish that I had have done something but I didn't. Because I knew that living with the guilt that I was going to was going to be hard enough, but I wanted to be happy, or as happy as I could be, that things had gone exactly the way I wanted them to be, go.  

So I said that I wanted her passed straight to me, that I wanted her to stay with me for the night, all these things. So when she was, when she was actually born they said, 'Some babies do actually take a first breath'. Because there is actually another way that you can do it as well. Some hospitals can actually inject the baby's heart, which will actually, the baby will die then inside the mum's tummy, and then be delivered that way, so the baby will be born dead obviously. But I didn't want that. So then she just died in my arms. Yeah, it was only, it was only a matter of seconds.

I mean I had, I remember how I felt with my eldest daughter, because I had quite a bad pregnancy and labour, and ended up going for an emergency section. And at that time I felt deprived, you know, it was just to wake up, be cut open and there's this baby. It was very very cold and, you know, and I felt, I felt really I'd not... I felt upset but I felt that I'd let myself down because I couldn't have a normal birth. 

I mean I wanted so much to have a normal birth because my mum didn't have with any of us three. So although we sort of knew that I would have a section when I wanted to, you know, and I always wanted to experience a normal birth. And I know it sounds really odd but I experienced that with [the baby]. So she gave me something too, you know, and that's how I see it. So I'll always remember that you know obviously I will anyway, but you know she gave me that. 
 

Describes how she held her baby all night and talked to her about what had happened and why.

Describes how she held her baby all night and talked to her about what had happened and why.

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So I kept her with me the night and that, and as I say, [husband] by this time was fast asleep because he was absolutely exhausted. But I don't know what I was, what was keeping me going. I think what it was is that I knew that I'd only got that night with her, I wouldn't have any more time, and then in the morning she was going down to the morgue. So that was, to me I needed to spend that time. And I wasn't tired at all, it was really strange, and I hadn't slept the night before that either because I was obviously anxious about what was going to happen. 

And I just wasn't tired. So, like I say, I just kept her with me, kept looking at her and talking to her, and sort of explained to her why I'd done what I'd done and hoping that she'd forgive me one day and blah, blah, blah.  

And I think in the end I probably fell to sleep - it must have been about 6 o'clock in the morning - and I remember the midwife who actually delivered [the baby], she was really really nice, she even extended her shift so she could actually be there when she was born, because they would have had to change halfway through my labour, and she stayed, and she was there in the morning when I woke up. And it was very strange, and as soon as I saw her I just burst out crying.
 

She has kept a special box for her baby's teddy and photographs.

She has kept a special box for her baby's teddy and photographs.

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You know, I wanted to, the least I could give her was to die in her mummy's arms and not, you know, in my stomach with no touch, no feel, no nothing, you know. So that to me was what comforted me really. It was having that special time with her. It did make an awful lot of difference, and I've got the box, I've got pictures of us holding her and you know, all the little... I took two teddies because I put one in and then I had another one that I cuddled up to her. So I know that that teddy has touched her so when I touch that. Little things like that that just mean a lot to me, you know, they may not to other people but to me it's made an awful difference. And when I feel a little bit low or it's, you know, like I often do or a little bit upset, something touches me, whatever, I'll go and go into my little box and I feel close to her again. 

And I, and I feel that I did the best that I could at the time for everybody involved, including firstly [the baby] and my eldest daughter. 
 

She was touched to have been treated so considerately by the screening coordinator and felt that...

She was touched to have been treated so considerately by the screening coordinator and felt that...

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And we were walked down, which seemed like miles, down to the morgue. We said our goodbye's there. And then we came back and the antenatal screening, antenatal screening lady, she was really very very kind and helpful and she was always there for us. She rang up just after she was born to see how I was - or how we were rather - and she kept popping in all morning then to see how we were. And she walked down to the morgue with us. 

So there was her, the midwife, another midwife and then, and these three people I knew really well, it wasn't like I didn't, you know, they knew exactly the whole situation, which made me feel a lot better. So it wasn't like the health professionals were swapping and changing, you know. It was, and they were just, they were very compassionate in the respect of, the ward desk was just outside this room, and I didn't hear laughing and giggling and, you know, it was all very, they must have, somebody must have said to them, 'Look, you know so-and-so is going on'. And it was just quiet, you know, really sort of nice and quiet and peaceful. 

And they, this lady, she was the screening coordinator, she showed us out the back of the hospital so we didn't have to go out the main entrance. And they were just fantastic, really good. And then we sent them a card and thank yous, because they were, you know, it did really make such a difference, it did. 

 

Choosing songs for the funeral helped her feel more in control and that she was doing something...

Choosing songs for the funeral helped her feel more in control and that she was doing something...

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It was a hard day for everybody but, you know, it went as well as I expected - again we'd got special songs - we've got an [baby] disc as well, that we play her records - and we picked two particular songs that we wanted to play. 

I also read out, I didn't, I was going to read out but couldn't, a poem that I'd actually found in one of my ARC (Antenatal Results and Choices) newsletters, which was very touching, it was lovely. So again the funeral I organised, and it just made, at the time it just made me feel better that I was in control of something, because I wasn't in control of what was happening to the health of my baby. So I needed to be in control in another way and that, that just kept me going really, sort of making sure that everything was in place and how I wanted it. 
 
 

ARC (Antenatal Results and Choices) gave her people to talk to when her husband didn't want to...

ARC (Antenatal Results and Choices) gave her people to talk to when her husband didn't want to...

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But obviously I was, [husband] didn't talk about [baby] very much afterwards. He found, finds it very difficult, and still does now, so my lifeline was ARC basically, so I did have contact with people that had experienced the same. And I accepted that, you know, people deal with it differently, and [husband's] not really a talker. So that was fine. But I just felt very, very empty and this huge void, you know, and I just longed for, I remember I went back just before her funeral and held her two or three times at the funeral directors, and when I held her I just felt right, you know, I felt complete again, that was the thing. 

So then I started reading the newsletters from ARC and there was lots of positive stories in there from ladies, who had gone on to have other babies. And this just sort of put something in my mind, because I hadn't even thought about it, I was definitely not you know, and I mean I was thinking to myself, 'Right, I've just got to accept what's happened and, you know, I did what I could for her whilst I'd got her and blah, blah'.  

And now I'm sort of involved in different things, getting more involved with ARC becoming a networker there, to help other Mums that have got decisions to make or have already made the decision to terminate. And if I can help others like they did me, it was, at that time it was very important and it always has, it has been since [baby], that ARC have been there and I don't ring to speak to people, I just, just reading the newsletters is enough for me, just to read all the positive things that can come. 

And I find that getting more involved with ARC, it just keeps [baby's] memory alive for me, because as the time, I find as the time passes, people speak about her less. Whereas if somebody's actually been on earth, basically born, there's memories of them all around, whereas with [baby] there wasn't. I've got the biggest memory of her, I felt her moving, you know, nobody else did. So that to me, I, it, there's only other mums that can understand that that have been through the same thing. 

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