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Interview 32

Age at interview: 41
Brief Outline: His wife's 3rd pregnancy' 20-week scan detected anomalies - baby's kidneys and stomach couldn't be seen. Specialist scan revealed baby had multiple abnormalities; parents agreed to amniocentesis which confirmed baby's problems were not inherited. Pregnancy ended at 22 weeks by induction. Since termination he and his wife (EAP07) have had another baby.
Background: Interview with father. Pregnancy ended in 2002. No of children at time of interview' 3 + [1]. Ages of other children' 7, 3, 9 months. Occupations' Father - IT consultant, Mother - mother, formerly TEFL teacher. Marital status' married. Ethnic background'

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Says he didn't know what to do with the diagnosis initially and describes how he and his wife...

Says he didn't know what to do with the diagnosis initially and describes how he and his wife...

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And I think, I think after that day it did sink in a bit because my wife was quite upset and I was still sort of, you know because it was the ambiguity of the doctors. I mean I know they have to, they're saying that yeah the scan doesn't pick out certain things and they can't be 100% sure. They couldn't say, 'Yeah, there's something wrong with the child.' They're saying well, 'At the end of the day whatever you do is going to be your decision. These are the pictures we've seen, this is what my opinion is - but I could be wrong.' 

So, it's like, what do you do? You know, how do you, how do you deal with that? 

I understand that, from a doctor's perspective, if you go ahead and say on their recommendation you, if they told you that, this is what you had to do, and you had a termination and the child was a perfectly healthy thing, then that would be terrible, I mean that would absolutely be terrible. 

They were doing they doing their jobs - they were very skilled in what they did - you know they did this every day. And I think as we were driving home, you know talking to my wife that's when it sort of sunk in. Because she made that point, she was saying that these people see scans day in, day out, and they can just go [clicks fingers]. The people in the original hospital, they, you could say okay they were trainee technicians or something that you know they knew a little bit, and they knew enough just to sort of say there was something wrong, but they couldn't tell you what was wrong, they wouldn't tell you what was wrong. 

At the specialist hospital I think, as I say they, they do it day in and day out, they know their stuff you know, they're professionals, and yeah, our second visit our consultant there basically told us in no uncertain terms the outlook, the prognosis, was very poor and that's what made us decide to have a termination.
 

The internet helped him think what questions he wanted to ask his doctors and also gave him...

The internet helped him think what questions he wanted to ask his doctors and also gave him...

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Yeah, we supplemented, we wanted to go in armed with all the questions. That's why you know, as I say the internet is a wonderful thing, you look it up and yeah I mean I'm sure there's false information there but it arms you with the questions that you are going to ask the consultant at your next appointment, because you want to know why. You know you obviously want to collect all this data and of course you have all the emotions going through your head, you're data gathering, it's almost, it takes over your life you, you're just looking at everything, yeah okay so this is, you know this is there so that's caused that and, you know, that's what you do. And it's sometimes better to do that than deal with your emotions at the time.

Do you think that's what happened?

I'm sure, I'm sure part of it, part of it is. It's almost, it's almost like you're helpless - you can't do anything so the only thing you can do is to do that and I think you do that to make it better, you know.

 

He found making the decision to end a pregnancy was like 'playing God'.

He found making the decision to end a pregnancy was like 'playing God'.

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I, think it was talking to my wife at the time was you know obviously at 22 weeks you can start feeling the baby inside you, and I think that was, that was very difficult you know, knowing that you were going to actually, in effect, kill this child. You know, having seen another child grow up normally, to actually sort of say, 'That that's it, you know... you're not going to make it,' - it's almost like playing God. It's saying you know, 'Okay I have the power to end that'.

 

He was very moved by the sight of his daughter and felt relieved that the doctors' diagnosis was...

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He was very moved by the sight of his daughter and felt relieved that the doctors' diagnosis was...

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Oh right, yeah, the, it was quite a quick labour and the baby came out in, in the sac, in the well yeah, in the sac, complete. Which was marvellous for my wife because there was no other complications - it was a difficult enough day without having to go in under a general anaesthetic, and have a is it, D & C or what? That's all you would have needed [laughs] that day. 

But no the midwife was very good and she cut the sac open, and you could see her sitting there and it was a girl, you could actually see her and it was a, I don't know, it was close as you could get to a religious experience, it was amazing. I mean beautiful little child and the consultant was spot-on, there was, what he said would be wrong with her was wrong with her, and it was like... you'd been through so many emotions and it was almost like a relief. It was unbelievably, you wouldn't have thought that you would feel that then, if you know what I mean, you wouldn't. 

And we sat with her for quite a while, they gave us a card and you get a footprint, and they come in and take pictures you know. I couldn't believe how tiny she was, she was an absolutely tiny little thing, you know, wow, this is human life it's almost like a peek into something that you shouldn't really see you know. It's, yeah amazing it's like... and you get to thinking was I really, that was me one day. You know I sort of, obviously I was, I you know, fortunately I was alive but, that's life starting, it's incredible... fascinating. 
 

He was humbled by the special funeral service for babies and feels that the ritual of saying...

He was humbled by the special funeral service for babies and feels that the ritual of saying...

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We got all the parts back [from the post mortem] and there were, we had a little service in one of the churches, which I was very surprised about because there was quite a few people there. 

And it was very surreal because you go in there and there's all the little children there and there are tiny little boxes, lovely little white boxes, and they're all lined up you know. It takes you a while before they say like, 'If you want to hold your child through the service...' you know you, it's almost like, 'Well should we or shouldn't we?' And somebody will take the lead and then all of a sudden everybody goes there, and they, and they sit there, and you have this service.

And then the next day you have a funeral - a sort of mass grave - [at] an amazing little cemetery, and it's so colourful. And there's mobiles and bells and jangly things and you think crikey - you look at some of the children that have actually died you know, and it was very humbling I think.

And that was helpful?

Yeah, I think anything like that I mean... as you get older you can see the rituals in life mean things, and you might not agree with them, but they're very important to do, because you know obviously people have evolved and, and they do that, and you don't just sort of...'Well, there's a dead baby and we'll just throw it out in the rubbish', you have to say goodbye, you have to deal with it in that manner. At the time you think it's very difficult to do, but afterwards it's almost like closing the door, shutting the door you know, you can get on with your life, you can move forward. 

 

Describes how his physical relationship with his wife was affected by worrying about the risk of...

Describes how his physical relationship with his wife was affected by worrying about the risk of...

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Yeah, I, yeah. I mean the other thing I think I'd like to say is when my wife fell pregnant again. After the termination maybe about 3, 4 months, we got called in to see the geneticist and they thought you know we'd got all the information back, and maybe have some idea what went wrong, and would that affect another pregnancy because she's dead scared to go to get pregnant again. So I mean there's all these other things, knock-on effects like your sex life's different because it's, oh my God you know is it, is she going to get pregnant, is it, do you know I mean, and what would happen then? And there's all these sort of emotional loading you get you know, to have a physical life after that. A lot of people split up because of it, you know a lot of people do so I mean the only, it's [laughs] the only thing I'd say is to be as open and honest as you can, because it is a terrible strain emotionally - physically it causes a lot of problems. You have to communicate it's important to do that. 

I mean nobody's a perfectionist, but I think in, there is that error you know there, and there is always that thing that, you know, if your wife becomes pregnant is it going to end up in this sort of way again? Are you going to put yourself through this sort of thing? So if in doubt you don't end up being, I suppose, turned on or whatever, because there's always, there's that block, there's that, there's that psychological barrier that you have to, at some stage, you have to overcome, you know. 

And I think the only way you can do that is by talking to your partner, that is the only thing is, because you know, if she doesn't know what your feeling, she's going to feel rejected, and she needs that physical - not particularly sex - but she needs that physical, yeah, contact. Unless you go through it you won't know, you won't know that but, you know, yeah, communication is'

It's communication and trust then isn't it?

Yeah. If you do go through it does make you stronger, it does, it does. I mean we ended up having counselling for a while after that you know with Relate, because of a lot of other things you know - we had stress of moving and other things in your life you know that you don't need - and that actually ended with my wife being pregnant again [laughs]. So it does work, it's not, it's not all over and you know, and we've got a lovely family now, so things, things do, I think things do get better.

 

He felt helpless when he saw his wife in distress and thinks that it can be difficult for men to...

He felt helpless when he saw his wife in distress and thinks that it can be difficult for men to...

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Yeah, apart from holding your partner's hand on the day you do feel powerless and impotent, it's a terrible thing and, if you're a bloke it's even more terrible [laughs] I suppose - do you know what I mean? You always like to have some sort of control over a situation. And I think it's important that you know, maybe people should be more informed or fathers should be more informed about what's going to happen on that day, and you know how best they could help their wives, or partners you know.

It is you know, with hindsight, it is all geared around the woman, whatever reasons I mean, you, a lot of single mums around, and whatever, you can see the reasons why. I don't know whether counselling at the time would be good for me - I don't think it would have been - I don't think I wanted to do anything about, you know, with those emotions then. 

There's not until 6 months, a year later, then it sort of starts, I don't know, sinking in a bit more. Maybe you know you can. but sometimes I don't know what the benefit of counselling is. It works for some people, it does work for some people, for others it causes more problems you know.

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