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Interview 17

Age at interview: 39
Brief Outline: After birth of first child she had 3 miscarriages. 4th pregnancy did not 'feel right'. Nuchal scan arranged privately, baby was small for dates. Had two more scans to investigate baby's size and due date. Specialist scan at 21 weeks, then heart scan and then amniocentesis. Doctors suspected diaphragmatic hernia but amnio identified chromosomal abnormality (Wolf Hirschhorn syndrome). Pregnancy was ended by feticide and induction at 24 weeks. (Since the interview she has had another baby.)
Background: Pregnancy ended in 2003. No. of children at time of interview' 1 + [1]. Age of other child' 4. Occupations' Mother - nurse, Father - lecturer. Marital status' married. Ethnic background' White British.

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She felt worried that the pregnancy was wrong even after doctors had tried to reassure her when...

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She felt worried that the pregnancy was wrong even after doctors had tried to reassure her when...

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Well since our son we decided to try for another baby after about two years, and unfortunately we had a lot of bad luck with three miscarriages in between that time, which we were investigated for and everything came out as fine, so it was just bad luck that that occurred.

And then fell pregnant with the pregnancy that went into 25 weeks, and that also was planned. And I think to be honest from the beginning of that pregnancy I did not feel comfortable. I didn't feel that that pregnancy was going to happen properly. I didn't feel relaxed at all.  

So I had early scans because of previous history and the dates were questioned. So when the sonographer was asking me when my last menstrual period was, it didn't seem to tally with what he was seeing or she was seeing on the screen. So there was some discrepancy at that point about whether the dates were correct. But nothing was kind of pursued at that point.  

And then we decided already that we would have a nuchal scan at a fetal medicine unit in [city], which we did. And at that point again the doctor who carried out that scan said that everything looked 'structurally sound' in quotes, but the baby was on the small side, and just to make reference to that if I needed to in subsequent scans.  

And I do recall coming out of that appointment and bursting into tears and saying, 'She's wrong, there's something wrong'. And my husband was saying, 'Well you've been reassured, they've told you everything's fine,' and I said 'They're wrong.' 
 

She felt anxious and uncomfortable during her first scans.

She felt anxious and uncomfortable during her first scans.

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It definitely wasn't with hindsight it was, that is, that was happening at the time. Each of the two scans prior to the nuchal scan I felt uncomfortable. I felt that every time the dates were questioned my stomach was lurching and I felt anxious. I had an anxiety that something was wrong. And I can't really explain it beyond that. It's almost like something instinctive. And it, you know on reflection, you kind of attribute that to a warning that this pregnancy is not going to progress. At the time I just felt I couldn't, I couldn't relax in the pregnancy, and at the nuchal scan it was the same and it was probably stronger because now weeks had gone on, and what the professional was seeing on the screen wasn't what I was feeling inside. 
 
 

Explains that as a mental health professional she had expected to be treated with empathy and...

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Explains that as a mental health professional she had expected to be treated with empathy and...

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But what I was going to say was that when we arrived for the appointment we had our local notes, and no one was very interested in those notes, and I think what was more alarming to me coming from a caring profession was that nobody spoke to us, and actually just said 'Okay, we don't appear to have a fax from your local hospital now why are you here?' - even though I'm sure there was one - 'Can you just tell us what's your understanding of why you are here?' Because to me that would be a very common sense way of ascertaining a little bit of information, albeit not medical, but most patients in a situation know what's going on with, about their pregnancy, and often probably are more accurate in terms of dates and times and specifics. So we weren't asked anything which we found rather and we tried to offer information which... we didn't feel we were being useful. 

I don't know why they didn't ask us anything. And in fact when the fax did come through there seemed to be additional information on the fax that we weren't privy to, i.e. the appearance of the baby and the nose. And I was saying 'Well there's nothing wrong with the nose.' I said 'Well what's that about the nose?' So then we felt even more disempowered, that we hadn't been informed of suspicions at our local hospital that had now come to light in a fax at the next hospital. So that was just you know more and more things were just getting loaded in to this anxiety pot really. But I don't know why they didn't ask us anything.

I think part, you know I know now, well at the time even I think, I thought, if they're too nice to you, I would become more emotional, so the more detached they are and professional, they can keep it on that level. Because towards the end of the day obviously you know, we're all, well me and my husband were more emotional, and then it was acknowledged, you know, 'This is traumatic. You've had a long day.' But that was as near as we got to any sort of empathy really, which... And its just, maybe it's that divide of, I've come from this sort of mental health background and they're maybe not, they're coming from a scientific, medical background, and they don't mean any harm, they're just not, they just don't take it into consideration at the time. That's not what they're focusing on. 
 

Seeing the legal paperwork made her feel as if she had done something wrong.

Seeing the legal paperwork made her feel as if she had done something wrong.

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Which is all the, because we opened it all of course - because I would - it was all the like Abortion Act stuff, which we read and then realised that the baby was a girl, which we didn't know, because we didn't want to know. And then we read that, read all of the, all the information first-hand because we hadn't received any paperwork at that point. 

And [we] just went through everything. And that, I don't know whether that was a good thing or a bad thing. I think seeing 'Abortion Act' written on a heading, you know it's like a legal paper, was sort of pretty powerful stuff. Because I never, I didn't really regard it as that. Because the legal framework doesn't really fit with the, you know the medical or you know the decisions you're making because of a medical reason - if you see what I mean - it seemed really, it's almost like you're doing something wrong, this is a legal abortion. But the, but the word itself is so negative, that whole connotation is so negative.
 
 

Explains why she decided not to hold her baby after she was born.

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Explains why she decided not to hold her baby after she was born.

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Before we started the induction of labour we'd been asked about our wishes for when the baby was born, and information had been given about how you might want to do that, and also had we got clothes for the baby, which I found really, really odd because my first son was 4 kilos or more, and I'm thinking what clothes could you possibly have for a baby born just half way through a pregnancy, with probable low, very low birth weight, it seemed obscene to me to be thinking about clothes. 

And then, then we'd been asked as I say about our wishes for when the baby was born, and we didn't know what we wanted, and we agreed that it would be best for the baby to be brought back into us at a safe distance, having being viewed by the professionals, by the midwife, to see whether or not we wanted to hold her. 

And when the time came, the midwife had brought the baby back and she same along with a health care assistant and the baby was in a very, very small basket, it wasn't a conventional Moses basket, it was a very small version of a basket, on a quilt, so the baby was kind of raised in a sense to be more visible with, in a shawl, like I think she had a hat on, I'm not entirely sure. And I just asked that they stay where they were, they didn't come too near, and the health care assistant was saying, 'Here's her little hands,' and sort of doing this sort of business. And we just kind of gestured that they weren't to come any nearer, and that we didn't feel able to hold the baby at that point.  

And then they said that they would take a photo, and do prints of the baby's hands and feet and stuff, and put it in a little kind of record book, and then they give you the identification tags, so you've got some, you know, memorabilia really of the event. 

But I think it, you know, for us, irrespective of the fact that the baby physically wasn't , not that I saw her close up, but wasn't hugely deformed in any way facially, it was still a shock to see this tiny mite in this already tiny basket. And I, neither of us were able to have the baby brought any nearer. So we didn't. 
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