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Gemma

Age at interview: 29
Brief Outline: Gemma had three different pregnancies. Her first son was 6 weeks premature after her waters broke, her second son was born without complications and her third son was born 2 weeks early after bleeding during the pregnancy.
Background: Gemma and her husband have three sons aged 6, 4 and 6 months. Gemma is a full time mother and her husband works as a tyre fitter.

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It took a few years for Gemma to get pregnant with her first son who was born 6 weeks premature after a labour that lasted for 1 hour and 31 minutes. Gemma describes 27 pushes and her son was born. Her second son was also born after a short labour. Gemma had a miscarriage before her third son was born. She started bleeding at 17 weeks with her third son and was determined to hold onto 36 weeks before going into labour. He was born two weeks early.

Gemma loved being pregnant despite experiencing sickness during her first one and gave birth without pain relief. She had excellent midwife support during her pregnancies and was disappointed when she was not able to give birth in the local hospital because of complications. She found the staff and setting in the larger hospital poor. She was very upset when she was not able to see her first son for several hours after his birth because he was premature and she put in a complaint about her treatment. She found the ward unhygienic and the staff uncaring and unconcerned about the patients.

Social services have been involved with Gemma and her family since she and her husband split up for a while before her second son was born. She was given an extra two days of midwife support when she returned home with her second child and still has the same social worker. 
 

Gemma was initially unable to get pregnant but now thinks it was because she was worrying too much.

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No, it, well, I met [husband] in 2005 and basically I was on this injection. I come off the Depo and basically me and [husband] was like planning to have kids anyway. And I thought, “Why can’t I get pregnant?” So I thought there was something wrong with me. And then [Husband] said it could be him. So we both went to the doctor’s. But we were both fine. Nothing was wrong with us. So I said, “So why can’t I get pregnant and that?” But then I think cos I was thinking about, thinking about it, I couldn’t get pregnant. But, cos then our wedding was like coming up. So I thought, “Well.” That, sort of like I was more worried about the wedding than about being pregnant. So I thought, so then I, that’s how I sort of copped out with [child 1].
 

Gemma said to her unborn child, ‘You’re gonna stay in here’ after she’d had a miscarriage.

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[Child 3], basically I protected him I think cos I was, cos I was scared about miscarriaging. And I think basically, you know, again like, you know, I talked to him and said like, “You’re gonna stay in here. I’m gonna look after you. You’re n-, you’re not gonna give up. I’m not gonna give up.” So it’s like, you know, and, I think [child 3] was more like a fighter and that. Sort of like he was more on the go, like 24/7. But I must admit if I were to come pregnant again, I, I love, love it really and that, to be honest with you. Cos that’s the best thing ever is like to be pregnant and basically give natural birth without no gas and air, no pain relief and that.
 

The midwife told Gemma to close her mouth when she was pushing; her baby was born “after 27 pushes”.

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And then by Friday, woke up about 5 o’clock in the morning and then I had like more water basically going. And basically I said to [husband], I said, “I’m totally wet this time.” [Husband] said, “Oh, don’t worry cos the doctor said it will, you’ll be wet all the way through pregnancy now.” So I went back to sleep. About 10 o’clock on Friday like morning woke up and I went to the toilet. And I had a show. And I called [husband] and [husband] phoned up the [hospital]. And basically I got in to hospital about 11.20. [Child 1] was out at 20 past 1 and that. So that was, that was okay. But [hospital] was like really, totally let down. Cos when you get in there, you’re sort of like, “Oh, you want to push. Hang on a minute we’ve gotta go and get a torch.” “What do you want a torch for?” And basically so they got a torch, had a look, “Oh, yeah, the baby’s head’s coming out.” It was like, “Oh, but I did tell you. Hello.” So they put me in like the labour room and they told me like, you know, to push. So I pushed [child 1] out in about sort of 27 pushes. I sort of like was giving up cos I was so tired. So this midwife said, “Well, close your mouth cos basically you’re sucking him back in.” So I closed my mouth and out popped [child 1] basically. So that was a good thing. So that was like 27 pushes, like one hour, yeah, about an hour and 31 minute they classed it.
 

By her third child, the midwife told Gemma “you didn’t really need me”.

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But it’s quite funny because I was basically doing it on my own. Cos this woman, this other midwife, she was just sat on the bed, like looking away like, you know, like every now and then she used to like peek, see how I’m doing. Then she just sat on the bed, sort of like let me get on with it really. And as soon as she saw the head come out, then she managed to get the head and that. And she said, “Well, you’ve done a great job. Like you didn’t really need me, did you?” I said, “There you go” [laugh] and that.
 

Gemma cried when she couldn’t hold her baby who stayed in special care until he was 35 weeks old.

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Cos basically he was like premature and he was like he couldn’t breathe properly and he was gone all yellow. And he had like, basically he had to go in an incubator. And they didn’t really, basically as soon as you give birth to him it’s like, well, you had a minute to hold and that’s it. And then he shoot off. And then it’s like two hours later it’s like, “Where is everyone?” and that. So I’d say about [Hospital], it was not good at all.

So, so you gave birth at 7 and you didn’t see him till, till 5 in the afternoon?

5 in the afternoon.

And did anybody tell you what was happening in that time?

No. They, they did, they didn’t even see me until 4 o’clock, when this other midwife come in and said, “Right, come on then, Speedy.” That’s all she said, “Come on, Speedy. Right, we’ll run you a bath, freshen you up.” And I said, “When can I see my son?” She said, “Well, when we freshen you up you can see your son.” So basically I had a bath, got out quickly [laugh]. And she said “Well, that’s not long enough.” I said, “I want to see my son.” And she said, “G, you can see your son in a minute. But we’ve got to take some blood out of you as well.” I said, “Well, you could do that after.” And I said, “I’m gonna freshen myself up and go and get changed and go and see him. Can I see him now?” So I got dressed. And so they showed me where to go. And then me and [husband] went to see him. And he was in this like incubator with like tubes and everything in him and that. And I said, “Can I hold him?” Like, “No, you can’t hold him just yet.” I was like, “Can I just like touch his hand?” “Yeah, you can touch his hand.” And so they sort of like left us. And basically I started crying because you couldn’t hold your baby. D’you know what I mean? So then they told me like to go.

So then I was up in the ward like because you have to stay in there for like five days. But j-, then I stay in long, for a bit longer, like fourteen days. So we were like up and down town to town, like fourteen days, like for two weeks like up and down, you know, from town to town. And then eventually I think the best time was, to get him out of there was when he was 35 weeks.
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