A-Z

Asun and David

Brief Outline: Asun and David were aged 33 and 36 at the time of their second pregnancy. Asun had been feeling unwell for a few days, and her waters broke at 23 weeks. She stayed in hospital and a few days later she went into premature labour. Their baby was born alive at 23 weeks and 6 days and lived for three hours.
Background: Asun and David are married. Asun is 33 and works as a nurse and David is 37 and works as a data analyst. They have a son who is 2 years old.

More about me...

Asun, aged 33 and David, aged 36, first child was 15 months old when Asun became pregnant for a second time. Throughout her pregnancy Asun felt extremely sick but otherwise her pregnancy progressed normally. At 22 weeks she became unwell with a urine infection. After fainting several times at work, Asun went to see a midwife. But she felt disappointed that her concerns were dismissed. A few days later Asun’s waters broke in the middle of the night. She was admitted to the maternity ward to rest to try to prevent the start of her labour for as long as possible. David found this time very stressful, wanting to spend time with his wife but having to go to work and also look after their son. After a few days a scan showed there was no amniotic fluid left around her baby and that he was not growing properly. Asun and David talked to the midwives and were told that their baby’s lungs would not develop properly and that he would have severe brain damage. Asun’s life was also at risk from infection. So they made the difficult decision to have their pregnancy induced if Asun’s labour didn’t start naturally before 24 weeks of pregnancy. Waiting over the weekend to see if Asun’s labour started was extremely hard for them both. They were relieved that Asun’s labour began before 24 weeks and she gave birth naturally without the need for an induction. 

Asun gave birth in the hospital’s bereavement suite which she and David found a helpful environment. The birth of their son, who they named Pau, was very quick but painful. Asun had been a bit scared to see or hold him as he was so tiny. But she and David were pleased to spend his short life with him. Asun really appreciated the midwife who helped her wash and dress her son, make memories with him during and after his short life. She also informed Asun’s employer about her baby’s death on her behalf. Asun and David found it very hard leaving Pau at the hospital but felt they wanted to spend time with their older son as Asun had been away for so long.  

Some normal pregnancy symptoms continued, and Asun found it extremely hard when her milk came in. It was painful and a difficult reminder that she had been so keen to breastfeed her baby. As Pau was born alive Asun was entitled to maternity leave. She has found her time off work gave her the time and space to help her recovery. She and her husband found the hospital bereavement team very helpful, in particular in helping to organise a funeral for their son. David decided not to have counselling but has found it helpful talking to friends and family. Asun and David were interviewed 4 months after their loss, and were thinking that they wouldn’t try for another baby as their experience had been so painful.
 

Asun explained how hard it was when her milk came in after the birth of her baby.

Asun explained how hard it was when her milk came in after the birth of her baby.

SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT
And I remember, it was very hard for me when - after everything happened, and then I was home and - and my milk. Do, do you say ‘came’, or?

Yeah, yeah.

Yeah. And I feel – It. Probably it wasn't paid enough attention to that. Because then you're supposed to be dealing at home with these four – I don’t know - maybe four or five days? And it just reminds you of that baby you're not going to be able to feed. And for me especially hard, because I fed [my son] for twenty months. So you know, it's, it’s - And I think they should give you more – more, more choices, or more - they should pay more attention to that. Because I remember when I was in hospital, all of a sudden, when we knew what was going to happen and stuff. I just thought is it going to happen? Am I going to have? And I went to ask them whether, you know. And the advice was 'don't do anything at all, just leave it, leave it as it is and it will dry up'. But I think - I my understanding is there is medication to - And I think you should be given the choice. You should be - you should be, you know, given not just 'leave it as it is', because it's painful. I mean, physically. But emotionally it's awful, because it just reminds you all the time what, what you're going through. And I think you could be spared that. So from my point of view, I think it would be good if - 

Because it's something they don't - It wasn't really looked after, if you know what I mean. It was just a little bit dismissed. Just 'leave it as it is', and that's it. And I think they should sit down with you and explain, and say what choices you have. Because you, you - First of all, you could have medication. You could - maybe there will be some mothers that would be willing to donate the milk, and that. But nobody - I think I wouldn't have, anyway. 

But maybe some people at that stage will think about that. But on the other hand, it could be a way of healing as well, for someone thinking - you know - I can, I can do something for - in some - somehow.

For my baby, as well. You know, like it hasn't been in vain, or. Or maybe some people want just to leave it as it is. So. But I think more care needs to be taken on that. Because for my - for me, it wasn't. 
 

Asun found it very upsetting collecting her baby’s ashes. She and her husband David have decided to make a special place for them in their new home.

Asun found it very upsetting collecting her baby’s ashes. She and her husband David have decided to make a special place for them in their new home.

SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT
And I didn't want to go on my own. Because it was funny, but in my mind I would think how, how am I going to carry them? In the sense of he's my baby. 

Yeah.

So I didn't want to put him in a bag. I mean, the box. So we waited for a day that we could both go to collect him. I, - For me, it was difficult to go and get him, and for my husband it was difficult for him to be there and not with us. So we had, we met in between. So we went together to get him. And I remember, it's not significant, but his - it's a very little box. He had a - there was a piece of paper. I don't know, some sort of certificate. And there was a band around it, and it really upset me, because - It's your baby, and it's [sigh] - it's. I don't know, it's - it's - I didn't like it, having something - a piece of paper wrapped around him. It was, I didn't like it. It's - I mean, I didn't say anything or make a fuss. Minute we walk out, I just -

It didn't feel respectful?

No. It didn't. It didn't feel respectful. But I understand that for someone else, of course it's not what it means for you. So they might not see the same. 

And I, you know - that's why I didn't say anything or make a fuss, because I - you know, it's - For someone, it might be just a box. And a piece of paper. And a band. But it wasn't for me. It's not for me. Yeah, so we brought him home. Yeah. He's, oh - He's here with us at home. Because we, we're going to be moving house in a few months. We decided to- because you can scatter the ashes somewhere, or - But we don't have - There's not such a place where I would want him to be there forever, or. So we have decided that in the new house we will find him a place in the house, and that'll be his corner, or. And we'll probably put a picture of his hands, or - We don't want anything - Because if you're not ready, it's a bit shocking. The pictures are pretty shocking. So we will make, we will make a place for him at home. And at least he’ll be with us. I even joked, telling my husband we should take him on holiday with us. You know, I think that's taking it too far. But, yeah. 
 

Asun appreciated her maternity leave as it gave her time to heal and meant she didn’t have to worry about having a long period of sick leave on her CV.

Asun appreciated her maternity leave as it gave her time to heal and meant she didn’t have to worry about having a long period of sick leave on her CV.

SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT
But at least he gave me - he was born naturally. Which - He was born alive, so we have time together.

And he's given me this time off, as well to recover. So he has been kind to Mummy. Yeah. 

How do you think it would have been without that maternity leave?

[Sigh] I don't know. I don't know. Because. The thing is, it [sigh]. Being off sick for a long time, it doesn't look good on your CV. So it would have been more difficult. I don't know if I would be off now. Because I'm taking six months. 

I'm back in July. And not only that, of course it's just that I guess the healing process you need to go through is - it's pressure, somehow. Because you have, you have in the back of your mind, 'oh, I must get back to work'. So I guess you can’t fully - you can’t take it on your own time, I guess. And I think it's not fair. Because for me it would have been the same. But if he had been born dead, I wouldn't have had maternity leave. And it would have been a matter of three hours. Because he was born quarter to ten. If he had been born after midnight, I would have had maternity leave because he was twenty four weeks. But for me, those three hours - they don't make any difference. So for me, it would have been the same. 

But it would have meant I wouldn't have had the time to heal or recover, or started to come to terms with what happened in my own time, and without pressure there. So I want to think it was him, who gave me the time. Because he did. Yeah, because he - if he had been born after midnight, he was - he would have been twenty four weeks already, and they will have had to resuscitate him, or try to. And that would have been a very different picture for me, as well. Because I didn't want him to suffer.
 

Asun described her son’s reaction to the loss and how he suffered from her not being around while she was in hospital.

Asun described her son’s reaction to the loss and how he suffered from her not being around while she was in hospital.

SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT
But [son’s name] knew, well - I was pregnant. And he used to kiss my belly, and say his brother name. Because, we - we decided quite early what was his name. Or I don't know even - I think at the very beginning we knew - we knew his name. Or we - how we wanted to call him, rather.

So it was quite a familiar thing. He would kiss my belly, and say Pau, or baby. But then when I was in hospital, David my husband explained to [son’s name] why Mummy was in hospital. And he said that Pau wasn't very well, and. It was funny, because from that moment, [son’s name] never acknowledged my belly again. He didn't give me a kiss on the belly again, or call - or call him again. From that moment. So he would come to see me at hospital, but it's like - he, he wasn't there anymore. So I think after that we, we didn't feel the need to explain anymore, because it looked like he took it in even before we knew what was going to happen. Yeah. And I think - the only thing he suffered is me not being around, more than anything else. And I remember that the first day when I came back home, when that night he didn't want me to put him to bed. You know, I hadn't been here for a week, and it was Daddy who was doing it, so. And it was a bit hard, to feel - not rejected, but a bit of resentment from - It's understandable. I didn't get upset, but I think in the middle of the night he came to our bed, and he slept with us. So he was hugging me. And that was, a bit of comfort for me. Yeah. Yeah, yeah.
 

David Z found the toughest part was being in the hospital waiting for information.

David Z found the toughest part was being in the hospital waiting for information.

SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT
And, and the toughest part in there is when you're at the hospital, you're in the room - in the room, just waiting. Waiting, waiting, waiting. Nobody gives you any information. You don't know what's going on. You don't know if the doctor is going to come today, or maybe in three - in three days, or - or, I don't know. You're just there, and the - The communication is, was - was pretty bad at that stage. I felt like - Obviously we're not the only patients in the hospital or in the whole ward, and. And they're very busy, I understand, but can you just tell us what's going on? It's just - It would take you ten seconds, to just knock on the door and say, "Guys, the doctor's not coming today because he's super-busy, or - yeah, don't - don't wait anybody to come." Or, that's it. You're - At least you know that. And you just can do whatever, and. Or you're not expecting anybody, and if the doctor has a moment at some point, that's a bonus - that's bingo. That's, that's the way I felt. And, and - yeah. Lack of communication. Lack of information all the time.
 

David Z found it very tough balancing work, caring for his son and visiting Asun in hospital.

David Z found it very tough balancing work, caring for his son and visiting Asun in hospital.

SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT
I mean, I mean to me it was very tough because, was working and picking up the little one from nursery, going to the hospital and then here. It was, it was quite stressful. But, but I had to be strong. I had to pretend that nothing was happening, for the little one. And to keep live as, to keep the routine as poss- and the life as normal as possible for [my son], not realising what's going on. Although he felt something was happening. Because he - since Asun was at the hospital. He- So, couple of weeks before all this happened, we managed to put him to his bed in his room, he was sleeping without us. So, so it was like - yeah, that's a big achievement for us. And, and since - since Asun was at the hospital, then he - he slept with me every night. He wanted to be with me. He needed the dummy a lot. So he was all the time with the dummy. He - Yeah, he - It was kind of - He felt that he needed to be with somebody all the time. 
 

For David Z, spending time with his son and holding him was incredibly important.

For David Z, spending time with his son and holding him was incredibly important.

SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT
I knew - I knew I wanted to hold him.

Because I knew that he was going to die, so I just - just making the, spending the more time I can. I mean, any - any second I could. He was with us, I mean, and actually we - He was born at 9:46, and he died after - after midnight. But still, it was a - it was a dead body, no? We stayed with him all night. It's alright, I mean. Maybe if, if, don't know, few months back somebody was telling me "Oh yeah, would you spend like a night - a night with a dead body," you would say "What are you talking about?" But no, you do. You do. 

I mean, it's your boy. You love him anyway. Doesn't matter if he's dead, or not. You love him. Yeah. And I - But I was really sure I wanted to hold him, I wanted to feel him. Because I - I can remember him. I can. There's this - That whole experience is, is just - it's here. I mean, it will never go away. I mean, I can remember every second of everything that happened. Maybe because now is - it's quite recent. Maybe it was four months, five months ago. But still, I remember everything. Everything. I will, I'm not sure I will, I will ever forget. But, but yeah. The delivery was, was good. Good I hope, yeah. It was fine. Was fine. Yeah. But definitely, yeah - holding him, it helped. 
 

Despite being unsure about having photographs at the time, David Z described how much they mean to him now.

Despite being unsure about having photographs at the time, David Z described how much they mean to him now.

SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT
The memories we have is like pictures that - You know when you're there, and the baby's born? And you see the staff at the hospital that come with a camera. And you, you - you think 'this is crazy'. And they encourage you, "Do you want me to take pictures? You will, you will appreciate these pictures. Not now, not tomorrow, but in the future you will appreciate that." And they're right. They're right. Because I look at the pictures few times at home. And, and I'm glad that they took the pictures of him. And, and also they done handprints and footprints. 

And yeah, few things that we - we actually can - somehow can - You can feel him, no? You can see him. And yeah, the thing is, [my son] has to - he will know about him. We will tell him, tell about him.

We will tell him that he had a brother, and that's what happened. And what we want to do is want to put like a kind of a - a little corner at home, you know? With, with something beautiful that has his, Pau's ashes in there. And, and for [my son] to, to be able to see it, and feel normal about it.

And the way - And at some point in the future, he will understand that well his brother, which is dead and that's what happened, it's unfortunate that happened. But for him to understand that, well, that that's it, he had a brother. Not any more, but that’s it, he had him for a few hours. But that's - that's, yeah. I’m glad, I’m glad that they took the pictures, they done the footprints. Yeah, it was very nice actually. Yeah. Yeah, yeah I'm glad that they really encouraged us to do it, yeah. To have them. Yeah. Yeah, the way they treat you is, is fantastic. Honestly. It was good. 
 

David Z felt helpless at being able to comfort his wife after the loss of their baby.

David Z felt helpless at being able to comfort his wife after the loss of their baby.

SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT
My feeling all the time was, was helpless. You feel helpless, completely helpless. Because you - At this stage, or in these situations, there's nothing you can do. So, you - you can't, you can’t. No matter what you do. Because you cannot actually comfort your partner, because she's going through - So the way pregnancy is, and the way that everything works - it's different, the way the woman - the way you live it, and the way the women lives it. Because it's just different. Actually it's a part of you. I mean, it's like - I feel like more - Although I understand things is, it's like - it's like for you, that you carry the baby and it grows inside of you, and you deliver the baby. Losing a baby is like if you - I don't know, if you - like you lose a hand, or you lose something. And yeah it doesn't matter what you do, or how hard you try, it's always - there's nothing you can do that can, that can make your partner feel happy. Because the situation is just very sad. And it's very difficult. 
 

David described how supportive his employer was when his wife Asun was first admitted to hospital and when he returned to work.

David described how supportive his employer was when his wife Asun was first admitted to hospital and when he returned to work.

SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT
Luckily for me, I had - So at work, they were very flexible. So they gave me time off, as much as I needed. 

While Asun was in hospital as well, or?

Yeah. Yeah. So there was no problem at all. So, the day that happened - the day that, that Asun broke water, I just - I just call my boss and said, "Listen, this is the situation. Do you want me to book a day off of holidays or whatever?" He said, "No, don't worry. The important thing is your family, so just - just be there. Just, that's it - don't worry about work. Just be with your family, and that's what is important at the moment."

And yeah, I consider they helped me a lot. And when that happened, and when - when everything was over, and I went back to work, and - yeah. So my, yeah. My boss and my manager - so everybody was quite understanding, you know, with me and my situation. And they just had - Yeah, we had a few talks, and - and it really helped me. Really helped me. And it helped me that somehow that to go back to a routine, to be my mind busy. And yeah, talking to people, it helped me to just let it out, and that's it, and. Yeah. And just - just move on, no? I guess. But you never - 

How was it, going back into the work? How did people help you?

People helped me. I didn't tell many people. Because I didn't - I didn't want - Because sometimes people confuses things, the situations. And they tend to feel sorry for you. And that's the last thing you want, you don't want people to feel sorry for you. You want people to understand what you're going through. Well, not understand, it's just listen to me. That's it. 

But the way that people treat me at work was, was good. They, they - We just talk about it, and they - and I talked with the people I wanted to talk. And I told them the situation, how I was feeling. They asked me how was my wife. And every now and then, if you need time, if you want to talk, just let me know. And - And yeah, I think that was just the right amount. They - Because they didn't actually – They, they weren't nosy, nosy. And, or trying to just - No, no, it was just the right amount. So it's "Just tell me how you feel." And that's it. And "Let me know if you want to talk about it." And I think was fine. And every time they told me and remind me, "If you need time, or time off, or you want to go home, just feel free to do it." And yeah, that's the way, that's the way it worked. 
 

David Z felt that fathers’ needs were very much forgotten.

David Z felt that fathers’ needs were very much forgotten.

SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT
No, it's just that somehow we are forgotten, no? In some moments. Especially when you talk to people. People don't - Some people don't even ask you how you are. Just asking you "How is your wife, how is?" And you think well, what about me? You know? What happened if I - if I'm totally broken? What happened if I - if I'm devastated? So, what happened? But yeah, I think that more information for, for both, no? Or more - more assistance for – even for the father, is required. Because depending how strong you are, you may be suffering a lot.

And people don't even care, you know. Or even notice that you’re- that you need some help, no? You're actually crying for help, and maybe - maybe because of, I don't know, some parts of the society - maybe it's not, it’s not good if you're a man and you cry, you know, in public. And things like that. And it's like, come on. I think that the parents should be actually looked after a bit better, a bit more. Or not looked after, it's just asking more how you are, how - do you need anything, or do you need to talk about it, and you need some time, or. I think that that's what it is, no?
 

David Z felt that giving time to listen to each other and talk about things together helped.

David Z felt that giving time to listen to each other and talk about things together helped.

SHOW TEXT VERSION
PRINT TRANSCRIPT
Well obviously you have to be strong, because the person who goes through the worst, who is actually going through the worst part, is the mother. And yeah, just try to - Just listen as much as you can to your partner. Because they want to talk about it. So, in my case, Asun wanted to talk about it. And, and because the situation is tough for both of you, sometimes can, can - you're very irritable. Irritated? It's just hard. It's hard for both. And, but I feel that giving time to listen to each other and talk about it, it helps. It helps. Because it's - It can affect the relationship. So, that's why you have to be strong. And you have to understand as well. On both cases, no? The, the partner - So the partner needs to understand that you need your time and your space. And if you don't fancy to talk about it, if you don't want to talk about it - It's like what I said about counselling. Because you want to talk about what happened with Pau, it doesn't mean that I want to talk about it right now. So just give me some time. Or it's not the right time, or. And just - I think that not falling into, into like a silence, no? Periods, or trying to - Trying to understand situation. Or trying to okay, understand how, what is she going through? Or what am I going through? And, and let's talk about it, and - And talk about it in a good way, no? If the conversation just gets to a point when one of –when the conversation is getting to a point where I'm not feeling comfortable, stop it there. Stop it. Because, because both are going through very tough time. The conversation that start very innocent conversation talking about how you want, how you're feeling - it can end up in an argument. And you don't want that. You don't need that at that time. And yeah, I think it's just be cool, I mean keep it cool, and just listen to your partner. And if you don't want to talk about it, just be honest, like "Listen, I don't want to talk about it right now, because I don't feel like. Let's talk it later." Or, that's it. Or let everybody have space and time. Whatever, whatever's been. Because everybody's different. And if she wants to talk about it a lot and you don't want to talk about it a lot, then offer counselling, or - I don't know - what she needs to - Or offer her to spend time with, or him to spend time with family, or whoever he feels comfortable.

Because if you're not comfortable, you're not going to go through. You're not going to get over. Because you're going to be forced to the situation that you're not happy, and, and you just want to get out of that situation. And what you do is at some point you can, you can be stressed and aggressive and you want to leave, and, ah, that's it, that's not the point, that's not how to, you do things. So, yeah. My advice is this, is just to actually look, think about yourself, you know? As a father. So, how am I feeling? Do I want to talk about it? Is it the right time? Or who I want to talk- Do I want to talk about it with my wife? No, maybe not. Maybe you want to talk about it with, I don't know - go to somewhere and talk to somebody else - just do it. Whatever makes you feel better, do it. Because if you feel better, then you will go home, and because you're feeling better you will open up to, to your partner. And then you, you will actually be able to sit down and understand her, and listen to her, and - and it's a relief when you can talk. And, and let it out. And you see that the other person is listening to you. Yeah. Think it's just - just understand what you need, no? As a father, what do you want? Do you want to talk about it? Yes, or no. Is it the right moment? With who? And when? On your own terms, that's it. Whatever you need. That's what I would say. For whoever has to go through this.
Previous Page
Next Page