Interview 09

Age at interview: 40
Brief Outline: First pregnancy normal, emergency caesarean after long labour. Next two pregnancies ended in early miscarriage. Now pregnant again and planning vaginal birth. (Interviewed again after vaginal birth).
Background: Children' 1, aged 2 at time of interview. Occupations' Mother- photo library co-ordinator. Marital status' married. Ethnic background' White British.

More about me...


The first symptom of pregnancy was a strange taste in her mouth, before she knew she was pregnant.

I was in a caf' with a friend and I suddenly had this weird taste in my mouth which I'd sort of had over the last couple of days and I suddenly, it was suddenly like a light bulb came on. It was like, 'Ah, I read that in a book, you can get like a metallic taste if you're pregnant.' And of course we were in town at the time, so I'm going to get a pregnancy test on the way home before we leave and as soon as we got home I trotted up to the toilet, and did it, and like, bing [laugh], positive. So a bit shocked, but yeah.

What went through your head at the time?

Just like confusion, you know - sort of happy but 'Oh my God, I actually am pregnant', you know, even though we were trying, so sort of mixed emotions, really.


It is hard to imagine what it will be like having a new baby and a toddler.

And how are you anticipating life with a small baby and a toddler?

[laughs] Trying not to think about it, because I know it's going to be really, really difficult. I just - well, I know it is, we both know it is. But again you can't imagine what it's going to be like until it happens, so I'm not, I'm just kind of, hmm, not thinking about it, [laughs] but I know it'll be hard.

Do you kind of get those feelings when you, when you look at your first child and think, 'How can I love another one?'

Yeah. Because she just gets all our attention. We love her to bits and, you know, you think, 'Well, how can I give any love to another one?' But people you speak to say you do, you just do, it just sort of happens naturally, so that's what I'm hoping is going to happen. And just try and involve her in the new baby and not, you know - so she doesn't feel like excluded.


Antenatal classes provided an opportunity to chat to other parents. She was more interested in...

Yeah, yeah. It was quite a small group, and again at the cottage hospital, so it's sort of a friendlier atmosphere. And from what I remember she got, she put us into two groups, and then we had sort of a tea and biscuit interval where you could have a chat, so it was quite relaxed. It was nice, yeah.

And did they start talking to you at that stage about birth plans, and did they encourage you to..?

Yeah, I think that was towards the end of the classes we got, got on to that, which was kind of the bit that we were all interested in, you know, and how was this baby actually going to get out?

What had they been talking to you up till then?

I can't remember, all sorts of, you know, how you were feeling and sort of more emotional stuff, I suppose. But actually you just want the nitty-gritty, you know [laughs]. Which was, so the more the classes went on it sort of got more interesting, I think.

Right. And did they talk about what happens after the birth as well?


Did that mean anything to you at the time?

Well yeah, I can't remember it all now, but we had like these, we were split into groups and she gave us little exercises to do. And then we'd have discussions, and she'd write down how every, sort of how people thought they'd, how the baby would change their lives. And, and she'd do things like diagrams showing how much, how much your day was broken down in sort of, at the moment into work and your leisure time and everything, and then when the baby came along how much time you'd be actually, have to yourself, which was like this miniscule slice on a pie chart and the rest was sort of baby time. So you know, those things were quite interesting I suppose.


She felt less interested in sex during pregnancy, partly because she was worried about...

Well, I suppose I definitely had a loss of libido. I wouldn't, you know, I just, but it was backed up by the fear of miscarriage because I had two miscarriages, you know, before I had this one. [baby noises] So, and I, so I just, it wasn't an issue. It wasn't even something I'd consider. I just sort of, it was 'No.' And I didn't really feel guilty about it or anything, so. Although I'm sure my husband would have had sex if it had been on offer, but he didn't push the subject, so.

And was that throughout pregnancy you felt that way? Or did it change?

No, I just, I felt that way the whole way, the whole way through. In fact I still probably feel that way now, actually [laugh].

I was saying that one thing that really annoyed me as well, my friend in the first preg-, with my first pregnancy bought me this book 'Everything you need to know about pregnancy, but only your best friend will tell you' or something like that. It was an American author. And there was a paragraph about sex, or a chapter about sex in it. And basically saying that you should be having, you should be having sex with your, sex with your husband and, you know, otherwise he's going to lose interest. And I felt so disgusted by what she'd written, I thought, you know, you've got to - in fact I was so disgusted I wouldn't read any more of the book. So like, I just, you know, I think it's up to the individual and not, she shouldn't be telling you whether, you know, you should or you shouldn't be having sex. 

She had back pain, gastric reflux and sleep problems in later pregnancy. She had to go to the loo...

Well, it's like the nausea is the, is the worst thing for the first trimester, and then that goes and you think, 'Oh wow'. And then everything seems okay for a while, but then backache. I had a - and I don't know if it was to do with the flight [to America] as well - but once we'd got back from that trip I had really bad lower backache and in my buttocks, you know, in your maximus gluteus. In there was really painful. But I had a massage, which helped to ease it off. And then quite early on in this pregnancy, probably from sort of six months, I've had gastric reflux. But the Gaviscon does work [laughs].

Does it stop you sleeping?

I've had insomnia on and off, but I can't kind of pinpoint what the problem is. I can't work out whether it's my back's just a bit, got a dull ache, or whether it's the baby that's waking me up or - I can't put my finger on it - or whether it's just sort of psychologically I'm worrying about something, I don't know.

Are you conscious of worrying about anything or..?


feeling more anxious, or less anxious?

No, no I'm not. But I had about a whole week where I just didn't sleep. Then I had about a week where I slept like a log and didn't want to get up, and now I just have the odd night where I don't. Oh, and the weeing. It's a complete nightmare. That's the worst thing about it. [laughs] From day one it's just like your whole waterworks goes to pot. Well, mine did, has. It's just kind of four times during the night easily, but you just kind of get up, plod to the loo and plod back to bed, and it just - but that's probably the worst bit, actually.


She had bleeding from a low-lying placenta. She stayed at home apart from two short stays in...

Well, I think I was thirty, thirty weeks, or thirty-one weeks. I just went to the loo and there was some dark blood there. And [baby noises, feeding] I had bled at fourteen weeks, but it was bright red. And I thought, 'Oh no', and you know having two miscarriages and everything, although I was pretty sure at that late stage that it wasn't going to, you know, nothing. I mean, even if I'd gone into labour there was a good chance of survival and everything. But, and luckily my husband was at home. He hadn't gone to, hadn't left for work, and I told him and I said, 'I think I'd better ring the hospital.' I mean there wasn't masses, but enough to be concerned about. And the midwife said, you know, 'Come straight in and we'll check you out.' And of course they kept me in. They like to keep you in for twenty-four hours just to monitor you and everything. And they were very good. 

They, you know, they monitor the baby's heartbeat and do all their checks and - I'm trying to think if I had a, I didn't have a - I went in twice, the second time I had, they scanned me as well. No, the first time they scanned me, because they wanted to, the consultant came in and checked me over and said, 'Go for a scan and we'll just-' [hesitate] They thought it was the placenta, probably, but they wanted to check, so that confirmed it. The placenta, there was - my placenta was lying down one side, right from my ribs down one side, and then the sort of tail of it was under the baby's head. And they, they were pretty sure that was what was causing the bleeding.

So at that stage was it actually covering the cervix or was it?

Yes, but just a very thin piece of it. It wasn't like the whole placenta was down the bottom. It was just like this sort of tail bit that was down there. 

And they sent me home after a day saying, you know, 'Just, if anything else happens come straight back in.' Because it stopped. The bleeding stopped. Then nothing for a week, and then the same thing happened again. So I rang them up. 'Come back in.' In fact I was at work and my maternity cover took me to hospital, which was very good of her [laugh]. So I went in, and again an overnight stop. And it's, it's very difficult, because like my husband was away and I have another child, you know, to look after, and to stay in overnight, it's not an easy thing to do. So there was a lot of logistical, you know, getting people to sort of babysit while my husband got home and everything. And again, they checked, they monitored everything and, you know, that, 'It seems to be ok.' 

And the next day the doctor said, 'Yes, you can go home, but you must come straight back in if it starts again' etcetera. I said, 'Well, it's really difficult to come, to come in. I live a long way away. I've got another child and, you know, my husband works away and.' He said 'Well, if the blood is dark it's not too much of a worry. So just ring and we'll talk to you about it.' And it did happen several times over the next few weeks, but I rang them up and they, you know, they sort of said, 'Well, if it's not going mad and it's not fresh blood, not to worry.' And after a couple of weeks it just stopped. And they'd booked me in for a scan at thirty-six weeks, and on that scan found out that the placenta had shifted out of the way. It doesn't actually move as such, but as your uterus expands it moves with it, so it kind of, just that little bit got out of the way. Because that would have blown the natural delivery out of the window, because that would have been a C-section.


After an emergency caesarean first time, she wants to try a vaginal birth next time.

And what about birth plans this time? Have you thought about it?

Well, I'm not allowed to, I have to go straight to the main hospital. So I don't have any choice on that, but I'm, I've got to back at thirty-six weeks to have a chat with the gynaecologist to see how the baby's lying, how it's presenting etcetera. Because I would like to do what they call trial by scar, which is natural childbirth following a caesarean. But there is a danger of a rupture so - which I hadn't realised until I'd sort of chatted to her - so we're going to have a discussion at that point and see how things are and sort of make a decision from there.

So I suppose that's not the sort of thing they can really explain to you fully when you're actually faced with the choice initially.

Hmm. It's, again it's one of those difficult things. Only you can decide what to do. There's pros and cons. I mean the C-section's the easiest answer, really. You just book in and go in, and it's no distress on the baby and there's no rupture. But then you've got to recover from the operation, which I don't really want to have to do, so. And I'd quite like to experience birth, you know, so I'm, I'm hoping to go for as natural again as possible, but I'm quite happy to be guided by the professionals.


The epidural meant she couldn't feel the contractions and had to be told when to push, but she...

It's difficult because I haven't really felt labour so - because I had the caesarean last time I never got to the second stage - so it's hard to compare. But I couldn't really feel anything. I didn't have any desire to push which, you know, you're, they say you have. And I had sort of, I had these pains in my ribs, so they got me on my side to try and alleviate the pain in the ribs, which worked. But I couldn't really feel anything, but the midwife was very good and she talked me through what I needed to do, like put my chin down on my chest and sort of really push hard and everything. She said, 'You won't feel like anything's happening, but it is.' And she would, they had a monitor on the baby's head by this stage and she said, and the cord, she said you could see it coming further and further out. It was, so she said, 'We can tell that it's working.' So she was keeping me informed of what was happening and that everything, I was doing everything correctly, otherwise I wouldn't have known anything, really. 

I mean, looking back over that because it was you suggesting that you have the epidural. It didn't sound like anybody had actually talked to you about whether this might affect your ability to have a...


To be able to feel the push?

No. I hadn't, they didn't mention it to me, but I had spoken to other women who'd given birth with an epidural and I'd asked them what it was like. 

So I guess it's a toss up, isn't it, because it could have meant that... 

I know.

Because you couldn't feel the pushing it was...

It was. It was one, I knew the, what would happ-, that I wouldn't be able to feel anything, but on the other hand I didn't want to have a general anaesthetic if it went wrong. So it was, it was a difficult decision, but I'd rather it was that way. And in fact the pain was so intense when I got there it was quite, you know, secretly relieved that [laugh] I was having an epidural, really.


She was pleased to experience a vaginal birth with ventouse at the end. Recovery was much quicker...

They had a ventouse, two and a half little pulls at the end just to - she wasn't quite, she was nearly there but not quite, and he didn't want me to, to over do it so [pause] he just assisted a bit at the end.

Had they talked to you about that possibility when you first went to talk to them?

No. No. But I knew what ventouse was. My husband didn't. He was like nodding when the doctor was saying, and then he went, 'What's, what's that then, what's ventouse?' I said, 'It's basically a, the things that plumbers use to unblock sinks on the, you know.' And he thought I was joking until he saw it [laugh].

And what was that experience like? Was that OK for both of you?

Yeah. I was a bit concerned that she might come in, out looking like an alien with a, you know, long head or something, but she wasn't, she wasn't too bad.

So they, that wasn't something that you'd sort of thought about in your birth plan..


..whether you were prepared to have any? Had you thought about forceps or anything either or?

No. The midwife said when the doctor was out of the room - because he sort of was coming and going - that at some stage she said, as we were getting towards when I would need some assistance, she said, 'There might be forceps or ventouse. He might consider using one of those, we'll have to see.' So that was the first time that I'd thought about it. 

Would you have liked to think about it earlier, or did it not really..?

Not really, actually, probably not, because I'd only worry about it, and then if you, when you have to make a decision when you're presented with the choices then it's sort of easier, really. I was just happy to go with what they suggested, really.

And how do you feel about it now, several weeks on, looking back? Are you pleased that it went the way it did?

Yes. Yeah. I was, I was very happy that I didn't have to have another C-section. I could have done without tearing because I did tear at the end, and the stitches but, you know, a lot of, that happens with a lot of women, doesn't it? So.

Was that explicitly because of the ventouse, or you don't know?

I don't know. No

Did they suggest an episiotomy or anything or...?

He mentioned it and the midwife again said when he was out of the room that it's better in some ways to tear than to have a cut because they heal better, tend, or tend to heal better, so.

Mm. Ok, so you went to, I guess you couldn't feel the tear happening with the epidural?

No, not at the time. Felt it afterwards [laugh].

Yes. Not a nice experience. So, kind of, what were your emotions at the birth? Did it feel different to last time?

Yes. Yes. It was, the nice thing about it was I saw the baby straight away and they put her on my tummy, so that was, you know, nice. That was, that was lovely. Because with the caesarean they sort of, there was a screen across, so I couldn't see what was going on during the operation. And then when she was born they took her and did the checks. So I didn't see any of that until they brought her round to my head, so in that respect it was a lot nicer. I saw her straight away and..<

After a long, tiring labour, she felt calm and relieved making the decision to have a caesarean.

And I think there's a lady doctor came in at some point, probably about half past nine, ten o'clock, and she checked me, and she said, you know, I'm not progressing how I should and she was happy for me to go on for a couple more hours, but she said, 'You really need to start thinking about having a C-section.' And I kind of looked at my husband who looked like death warmed up, you know, because we'd been at it so long, and I said, 'I'm fine with that. Let's, let's just do it.' So, and of course I already had the epidural in. It was just a case of wheeling me across and it was only sort of twenty minutes or something.

So you went straight ahead?

Straight into theatre, yeah. Straight into theatre.

So what was the experience of the actual section like?

It wasn't too bad. Everybody seemed fairly calm, and I was, because we were tired, we were quite calm as well. I just remember there being lots of people in the operating theatre, which I wasn't expecting. The porter wheeled me in, he stayed in, he was gowned up. My husband was gowned up, stood next to me. I had the anaesthetist behind me, and then there was about four other people. There was like the surgeon and maybe three nurses or something. There just seemed to be this whole crowd of people in this small operating theatre [laughs]. And they were very good, they all talked to me, what they were doing, and even when though they were busy setting up. And the anaesthetist was, you know, checking and checking again that I was, you know, that I couldn't feel anything before the operation started.


Parenthood has made her more emotional generally, and she can hardly bear news reports about...

Hmm. How do you think - I mean, kind of linked to that - being a parent has made you feel differently about life in general?

Oh, I'm, I'm much more emotional about everything. You know, I can't bear to watch programmes on the telly about, you know, children who are in poverty or distressed, you know. I find it really, really difficult. I mean, I could have watched it before and thought how horrible it was, but I'd have been quite detached from it. I just can't detach myself from it now. It's, anything, any inhumane act I just find incomprehensible. And I, it's just really homed that in, really, that it's, you know - and then there were, I, I got to such a state at one point I just couldn't believe the world we were living in and how people treated each other and, you know, it got quite, quite bad - not quite as bad now, thank goodness.

Yeah, do you think, does it make you kind of think about other mothers around the world, or - ?

Yeah, and I mean we watched Sport Relief which was on not long ago, and there were like these poor little children, you know. They're just, you know, they're still in nappies really, or they should be in nappies but they can't afford a nappy, and they're like working. They're on like scrap heaps picking out bits of rubbish to survive, you know. And you think it shouldn't be happen, that shouldn't be happening, you know.


She was not sure at first if she'd want to return to work, but she loves her job and decided to...

And had you always thought you'd go back to work?

I didn't make a decision on it, because I'd no idea what effect the baby would have on me, and I'd heard some mothers say that they really needed to get back to work and other mothers just wanted to be with the baby, so I didn't know how I'd feel, so I kept an open mind..

And what made you decide in the end that you wanted to go back?

Well, I love my job, and I'd had several jobs before that which weren't ideal, so I didn't want to let go of that job unless I had to, really, because, you know, they don't always come along that easily. And it's a nice place where I work. 

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