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Loretta

Age at interview: 54
Brief Outline: Loretta was 29 when she became pregnant for the first time. During a scan at 20 weeks her baby’s heartbeat could not be heard. Loretta’s labour was induced and she gave birth to her son who showed no signs of life.
Background: Loretta is 54 and is divorced. She has two children aged 19 and 23 years. She works for the civil service.

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Loretta was reflecting on her experiences 25 years ago. Loretta had been delighted to be pregnant as she had been told as a teenager that a problem with her uterus that might make it difficult. Everything seemed to progress well with her pregnancy until her 20 week scan. The sonographer asked Loretta to leave the scan room to empty her bladder and while she was away the sonographer and midwife told her husband that their baby had died. Loretta was upset by this approach, and felt excluded from their discussions. Loretta and her husband went home to make the decision about whether to give birth naturally or have a caesarean section. She decided to give birth naturally and her labour was induced the next day on the gynecology ward.

Loretta and her husband were left by themselves during her labour and when she gave birth only her husband was there to help her. Her baby was born showing no signs of life. She found the manner in which her baby was placed in a plastic tub to take him away particularly upsetting. Loretta only saw her son extremely briefly and didn’t get to hold him but she was later given a photo of him taken by the nurse. 

Loretta decided against having a memorial service at the time but looking back she regrets this. Five months after losing her baby, she became pregnant again. She found this pregnancy much more stressful, particularly around 20 weeks, the time when her first baby died. But her pregnancy progressed well and she gave birth to a son at 36 weeks. Loretta found the Miscarriage Association extremely helpful after the loss of her son as she could talk to other women who had had similar experiences. She has been in touch with the association for 25 years.
 

Loretta was told she would experience a mini-labour but found it extremely painful.

Loretta was told she would experience a mini-labour but found it extremely painful.

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[Sigh] it was, it was a good few hours. And even now, I can remember what I said - because they said it was going to be a mini labour. And when it finally came, [laugh] I can remember saying "Well, if this is a mini labour, I'd hate to think what a normal one is like." Because it was painful, really was painful. So it was probably about three, four hours. It wasn't very long. But when it came, it was very sort of quick. Which obviously was helped by the fact that he was only tiny. 
 

Loretta’s experience over 25 years ago was very different to more recent parents’ experiences.

Loretta’s experience over 25 years ago was very different to more recent parents’ experiences.

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And did you get to see the baby again?

Didn't get to see the baby again, no. I mean, only sort of when he first came out, I had a look at him then. But one of the nurses there, she actually took a photo of him, and put like - she had a Polaroid camera, took a photo and put a little carnation next to him. And it just showed you really the size of him, he was quite tiny still.

Which I thought that was quite nice. But yeah, no - we never saw him.

Okay. Did you ask? Did you ask to see him, or want to see him, or?

[Sigh] At the time, didn't even think of something like that. You know, it's only as time goes on, you think 'oh, we should have done this, we should have done that'. And they did give us the option to have like a memorial service for him. But we didn't go down that route. Which again now I'm thinking maybe I should have done something like that. But you know, at least I've got the photo, so. But we did name him, we called him Adam.
 

Loretta described how hard-going it was telling a health visitor her baby had died.

Loretta described how hard-going it was telling a health visitor her baby had died.

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And thinking of it, one of the other things just come into my mind. I was - it was a good couple of weeks after, I should think. And I got a phone call from the health visitor, who was going to make an arrangement to come round to visit me, to talk about the baby. And I was like, "Well no, I've lost the baby. Have they not told you that?" So obviously that went a bit skewiff, and they hadn't been informed. And that - that again, you know - you're then having to tell somebody that you've lost the baby, was quite hard-going.

Because it - Especially when it someone that should have actually known.
 

Loretta valued the time she spent with other parents who had been through similar experiences.

Loretta valued the time she spent with other parents who had been through similar experiences.

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Before I came home, there was - they called a social worker, and she came and had a chat with me, telling me how I was going to feel, and all this sort of thing. Which I can remember - even now, I can remember just sitting there thinking 'you don't know what you're talking about, so don't tell me how I'm going to feel'. 

But she did have a number of somebody who was starting a miscarriage group in the local area. So she gave me that. And probably a couple of weeks later I did give that a call. 

Was that helpful?

Yes, yeah. It was really - it was really good. It was over in [town]. And there was probably five or six of us, all at different stages of pregnancy. And it wasn't - the conversation wasn't always about the loss of the baby, it was just nice to just sit with people that you know had been through it. So we'd be talking about the TV programmes and all this sort of thing, but it just - if you wanted to have a little cry about something, you knew that they could understand a bit more, and you didn't get the sort of 'well it's been this long now, you shouldn't be like upset any more', etc.
 

Loretta described how her anxiety changed through her pregnancy.

Loretta described how her anxiety changed through her pregnancy.

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It was fine at the start. But as soon as I hit twenty weeks, I just seemed to go into a bit of a meltdown. Because I knew I'd got to twenty weeks before. So after that, it was quite [sigh] - quite hard going at times. Because I was always worrying, you know, if I tripped over, had I done something? But I still - I still then went out and bought bits. But only because I thought 'well I might as well just enjoy the pregnancy, because it might not last long', so. That, and that saying, I went through it thinking that it might not last.

So I sort of tried to make the most of being pregnant.

And did you manage to enjoy it?

On days that you could forget, yeah. Yeah. Yeah, there were occasionally when, you know, you did quite enjoy being pregnant and walking round. And then sometimes you'd sit there of a night, and you'd worry about it. 

Mmm. And how many weeks did you get to with -

With [son’s name]? I went to thirty seven weeks. No, thirty six weeks and five days I went with him. And had to have a planned Caesarean. 
 

Loretta really appreciated the support of other bereaved parents and it motivated her to become a telephone contact for the Miscarriage Association.

Loretta really appreciated the support of other bereaved parents and it motivated her to become a telephone contact for the Miscarriage Association.

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Before I came home, there was - they called a social worker, and she came and had a chat with me, telling me how I was going to feel, and all this sort of thing. Which I can remember - even now, I can remember just sitting there thinking 'you don't know what you're talking about, so don't tell me how I'm going to feel'. 

But she did have a number of somebody who was starting a miscarriage group in the local area. So she gave me that. And probably a couple of weeks later I did give that a call. 

Was that helpful?

Yes, yeah. It was really - it was really good. It was over in [town]. And there was probably five or six of us, all at different stages of pregnancy. And it wasn't - the conversation wasn't always about the loss of the baby, it was just nice to just sit with people that you know had been through it. So we'd be talking about the TV programmes and all this sort of thing, but it just - if you wanted to have a little cry about something, you knew that they could understand a bit more, and you didn't get the sort of 'well it's been this long now, you shouldn't be like upset any more', etc. 

Mmm. Yeah.

Yeah.

So was that in someone's house, or?

Yes. Yeah, we used to take turns. Went to her house. When she moved, I took over for a while. And now I'm just a telephone contact. Because everybody then went on to have children.

But you're still involved?

Yeah. Yeah, I'm still a telephone contact for the Miscarriage Association. 

Right. And what does that involve?

If somebody's rung up the main office, and they'll give them a local number of somebody that they can talk to. Mmm.

Okay. And do you get regular calls?

Not as many now, no. Because I think where you've got the internet, you can find out a lot more on there. You know, the Miscarriage Association has got their website. And there's stuff on there that - you know - can help you. 

Mmm. Mmm.

So I've not had a call for quite a while.
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